Hometown Glory, Bay Area Edition

Christmas Treats

Christmas Treats: Prime rib, homemade macarons, baked brie and Peking duck.

I had a brief but wonderful trip back home, full of good times with family and friends (and lots of food). I flew back home on Christmas Eve and was welcomed to a wonderful feast of Chinese and Western food. My cousin made amazing homemade macarons and baked brie (he even has a special wood-fire oven in his house). However, nothing could beat the Peking duck. My aunt has a brand-new steamer oven (I didn’t even know those existed) so we had freshly-steamed buns to pair with the three ducks. Yes, we had three ducks and prime rib. That’s my family for you.

Tonys and Super Duper

Pizza from Tony’s and cheeseburger and garlic fries from Super Duper Burger in San Francisco

One of the best days of my vacation was spent in San Francisco trying Tony’s Pizza Napoletena. The line for Tony’s is always CRAZY long (like 2-hour wait long), but I was determined to try their margherita pizza, which won the world pizza cup in Naples, Italy. They use special dough so they only make 73 margherita pizzas a day (talk about a good marketing tactic–exclusivity). My friends and I also ordered the Cal Italia pizza, which was the gold medal winner of Food Network’s pizza champions challenge. This pizza had asiago, mozzarella, gorgonzola, sweet fig preserve, prosciutto, parmigiano and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

I loved the pizza. It was even better than Delfina’s because even though it was thin crust, it didn’t get soggy. While the margherita was delicious, the Cal Italia pizza completely won me over. I loved the combination of the slightly sweet and savory that came from the fig preserves and the prosciutto. The pizza was cooked perfectly with a thin, crispy dough, but fluffy crust. The Cal Italia would have definitely made it on my list of 100 Things to Eat in San Francisco Before You Die. If you go, I’d recommend going early to put your name down (they don’t take reservations) OR even ordering your pizza to-go and eating it in Washington Square Park.

While in SF, I also got to check out Local Edition, an awesome bar that opened up right before I left SF last year. It’s the same owners of the Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch so you can expect highly-skilled bartenders making quality cocktails in ’20s Newsies outfits. No night would have been complete without some garlic fries and a cheeseburger from Super Duper Burger, one of my favorite SF burger chains.

Pinkberry

I love you, Pinkberry.

Bay Area Treats

My sister got me hurricane popcorn for Christmas!!! Mexican food from Fiesta Del Mar, sushi from Masa’s and brunch at the Rick’s Cafe.

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SF: Jackie’s 100 Things to Eat Before You Die

Mussels

Poulette Mussels at Plouf

Egg Custard Tarts

Egg Custard Tarts at Golden Gate Bakery

Salmon Ochozuke at B Star Bar

Salmon Ochozuke at B Star Bar

If we have met, you’ve probably heard me mention 7X7′s  100 Things to Eat Before You Die. It’s been the unofficial guide to my eating adventures in San Francisco for the past three years. I get excited when I can try something that’s on the list and check it off (I’ve eaten 40 things off the list this year). While I have a lot of respect for 7X7, I find that I don’t always agree with everything on the list. I question why some dishes made it, while others were overlooked.

Strawberry Fields Drink

Strawberry Fields Drink at the Tipsy Pig

Considering that today is my last day as a San Francisco resident (sniff), my parting gift is my list of 100 things in San Francisco that you should eat before you die. This is the best of the best (at least in my world). Some of the things overlap with the 7X7 list. I’m sure there are so many other delicious foods/drinks that could be added, but I can only vouch for the items that I’ve personally eaten. In no particular order, I present to you:

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A Basque Feast at Piperade

Dungeness Crab Txangurro

Dungeness Crab Txangurro

My friend Tina celebrated her birthday recently and I was part of the task force to find a restaurant that could handle a table for 12. Finding a restaurant that’s open on a Monday and that can hold such a large group without charging a fixed price is almost impossible. I finally found the perfect restaurant, Piperade. Piperade gets MAJOR props for being so incredibly nice and accommodating. When I first made reservations, it was only going to be a group of 10. When I had to change the reservation to 12 people last minute, they were incredibly flexible. I even asked for a “nicer” table since we were celebrating Tina’s birthday and they made sure to give us a gorgeous, round table at the center of the restaurant. Piperade is a smaller, intimate restaurant that serves Basque food, influenced by Spanish and French regions.

Calamari "a la plancha"

Calamari "a la plancha"

Garlic Soup with Shrimp and Bacon

Garlic Soup with Shrimp and Bacon

Piperade

Piperade

Duck Filet with Huckleberry

Duck Filet with Huckleberry

Black Cod with Broccolini

Black Cod with Broccolini

Orange Blossom Beignets

Orange Blossom Beignets

Apple Tart

Apple Tart

Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche

Chocolate Cake with Creme Fraiche

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The Perfect Combination of Sushi and Tequila at Hecho SF

Hecho Sushi

Get in my belly

My two favorite foods are pizza and sushi (though not together), but I may have found my favorite combination ever– sushi and tequila at Hecho in San Francisco. Hecho has the best sushi that I’ve ever had in San Francisco. Hands down. I don’t think I’ve ever had such fresh fish before. Please do not believe the 3 stars on Yelp. This restaurant truly deserves 5 stars.

While definitely not a cheap meal, I am willing to pay more money for high-quality food. That’s what you get at Hecho. The menu is simple: sushi, otumami (small plates) and yakimono (skewers).

The owner, Joseph Manzare, traveled back and forth from Tokyo while coming up with the concept of his restaurant. An Italian-American from the Bronx, his passion and love for Japanese food truly shines when you talk to him. My friend Sarabeth and I have eaten at Hecho twice now and both really enjoyed the food. Plus, Sarabeth lived in Japan for a year so I trust her judgment when it comes to “good taste.”

Himalayan Himachi

This was a winner, Himalayan Himachi

When you go, feel free to ask the sushi chefs what is live or fresh. They’ll be more than happy to recommend a few dishes for you. Sarabeth and I have eaten the agedashi tofu, Himalayan hamachi and the pork belly yakimono. The agedashi tofu was fried perfectly (the batter wasn’t too thick) and the pork belly yakimono is a little bite of heaven (teriyaki-glazed and served with a little bit of mustard). The standout dish was the Himalayan hamachi. The dish was cured yellowtail with thin slices of dried, candied jalapeno and lemon oil. As if that wasn’t impressive, the fish was served on a gorgeous salt rock. The longer you kept the hamachi on the rock, the saltier it would get.

In terms of fresh fish, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but Sarabeth and I were amazed by the kurodai (black snapper). The chef took a torch and lightly seared the fish, making it melt in your mouth. I was in love.

I do not pretend to be a tequila or sake connoisseur, but Joseph gave us some really good tequila and sake while we were there. Also, he has over 80 different types of tequila at his restaurant and the man also owns Tres Agaves; he knows his tequila. While you’re there, be sure to order the 7 spice margarita. Instead of lining the glass rim with salt, they actually line it with shichimi togarashi (7 spice powder). I could not get enough of this margarita and its spicy kick.

Moral of the story: if you truly love sushi and appreciate fresh fish, go to Hecho! Order yourself a 7 spice margarita too, and you’ll be on Cloud 9.

How I “Savored” Sens

Do you want 30% off your entire meal, including food and drink? Then, you should definitely use Savored. You pay a $10 reservation fee and then your entire pre-tax meal gets a 30% discount! My co-worker/friend Amy tipped me off to Savored last week and they were running a special to make reservations for only $2! I was impressed by the number of San Francisco restaurants that were participating. Plus, there’s even better news. Savored has partnered with OpenTable so you can rack up your OpenTable points too.

View from our table

I chose Sens Restaurant because I heard amazing things about the location and their happy hour food. First of all, the space is gorgeous. Located at the top of Embarcadero Center 4, we had a fabulous view of the Ferry Building. The restaurant had a warm feel to it with a fireplace and just lots of space. I’m glad the tables weren’t all squished together.

Sens has modern Mediterranean food with a smaller menu. We started our meal with the “Lamb’s Lettuce Salad.” The salad is a little misleading because there’s actually no lamb in it. The waiter explained that the mache lettuce looks like “lamb’s ears.” The salad had strawberries, fennel, crushed pistachio and red endives. It was tossed in a light vinaigrette. The salad wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really impress me that much. I wouldn’t order it again.

Mmm...flat bread

Their daily flat bread was seasoned with a fava bean puree and topped with roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and feta cheese. This was super delicious. I was in love with how flavorful the roasted tomatoes were and I learned that they were actually roasted in their wood-burning oven. My only complaint (and I seriously never thought I would complain about this) was that there was too much cheese. Before you hark “cheese blasphemy,” you should understand that the feta cheese made the flat bread too salty. I was loving the combination of everything on the flat bread but was overwhelmed by saltiness. I found that by picking off about half the cheese off made all the difference. I do commend Sens for not gypping on the toppings. Continue reading