I only go home back to the Bay Area once a year for Christmas. This year, I was home for longer and made sure to take full advantage of all the culinary masterpieces that the Bay Area has to offer. Here are the highlights!
Craftsman and Wolves opened in San Francisco after I left the city. I’ve been dying to try their Rebel Within muffin for over two years. This beautiful savory muffin has asiago and parmesan cheese, scallions, crème fraiche and sausage mixed into the batter. But the true pièce de résistance is the soft-boiled egg inside. When you cut it open, the yolk oozes out and helps create a sauce to dip your muffin in. Craftsman and Wolves also served their Rebel Within with a small container of homemade Tabasco salt. Save that baby to sprinkle on other foods in your life. While it’s $8 for a muffin, it’s definitely worth it. Make sure to go early because they often sell out before noon! The woman in front of me in line bought 9 muffins to go. That’s how good they are.
I love ramen. While there’s ramen in Shanghai, I just don’t think it compares to what I can get at home. My friend took me to Ramen Izakaya Goku in the Mission. Since this was technically “2nd dinner” (we had appetizers at a Christmas party), I wasn’t starving so I decided to order the garlic clam ramen. I don’t often see clam ramen on the menu and this did not disappoint. Instead of the rich, fatty tonkotsu broth, this was a much lighter, but still tasty soup. I really liked how bountiful and fresh the clams were too. I love corn in my ramen so I paid a little extra for it, but I should have gotten another egg. It’s a perfect ramen egg– marinated and soft-boiled.
The only lobster roll that I can find in Shanghai is at Goga. While it hits the spot, it’s definitely not the best lobster roll that I’ve ever had in life. In the basement of the Westfield Mall in SF is Lobster Me. They have several different styles, but I decided to go for the Connecticut: warm lobster tossed with melted butter and chives. It was kind of annoying that you can’t order the lobster roll as a standalone. You have to order with chips and cole slaw (I upgraded the chips to fries). The sandwich was really delicious and I liked that the bread was thick and buttered. The lobster was plentiful and not overcooked. It’s definitely on the smaller side and almost feels more like a “snack” than a meal. I easily could have eaten another sandwich.
I always want to eat sushi when I go home and my brother took me to Niji Sushi in Mountain View. We split a sushi roll and each ordered a chirashi bowl. I was SO happy when my bowl came out. It was chock-full of fresh sashimi and definitely a healthy serving of food. We probably could have foregone that extra roll, but my sushi stomach was just too gluttonous.
One of my family’s favorite Chinese restaurants is Mayflower in Milpitas. We always end up going to Mayflower once or twice when I go home. This year was extra special because we special ordered a 12-lb. crab as a pre-Christmas dinner. The crab was HUGE and served three delicious ways: steamed, stir-fried with black bean sauce and noodles, and boiled in soup and rice. Mayflower serves great Chinese food (especially seafood) and also a wonderful dim sum lunch on the weekends. Be warned that the lines for dim sum are long and I’d recommend making reservations if you can.
I couldn’t get enough ramen and was more than happy to partake in the Dohatsuten signature ramen at Dohatsuten in Palo Alto. Dohatsuten serves Japanese tapas and ramen. The Dohatsuten ramen is very big with three kinds of pork: chashu, spicy minced pork and stewed pork belly. I like how rich and hearty the broth is and the noodles are also firm. This place gets busy and doesn’t take reservations so expect to wait a little bit if you come at a peak time.
Finally, the last thing that I wanted to mention was a new discovery, ice cream macaron sandwiches at Icebox in Cupertino. I have to admit that I had my doubts when I walked in. I started asking if they made the ice cream or the macarons in-house and they didn’t. The ice cream was made by a local creamery in San Jose and the macarons were also made by a separate vendor. It wasn’t sounding positive. However, my mind was instantly changed when I took my first bite. There were some really creative macarons cookie flavors and I liked how you could mix and match them. I ordered the birthday cake and churro macaron with strawberry cheesecake ice cream. My friend ordered the earl grey and pistachio macaron with vanilla ice cream. The macarons had a wonderful consistency. They were firm enough to hold the sandwich together, but still had a great soft texture, almost like eating softer marzipan. I was surprised how flavorful the macarons were too! I really liked the subtle birthday cake and churro flavor. If you prefer, you could order cookie ice cream sandwiches instead of the macarons, but I really encourage you to try the macarons!
It was great to be home and I already miss all of the food. If you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you have a chance to try them for yourself!
Note: Most of the photos were from my Instagram account: rbjello. Feel free to follow!