San Francisco Brunch Circuit

Tartine Manufactory | SF

Tartine Manufactory | SF

I write about brunch a lot. In San Francisco, brunch is practically a religion. While I do love a good brunch, I can’t stand waiting 2+ hours for food. I thought I’d write a quick and dirty guide of some of the best places to brunch in SF and what is and isn’t worth your time.

If it wasn't clear, I love Tartine Manufactory.

If it wasn’t clear, I love Tartine Manufactory.

One of the most exciting openings of 2016 was when renowned Tartine Bakery (600 Guerrero St.) opened a 2nd location at Tartine Manufactory (595 Alabama St.). Finally, Tartine’s bread could be available to the masses and not just at 4pm onward in the original Mission location. Tartine Manufactory is in a bigger airy space, complete with a full-service bar. While the offerings are different at Tartine Manufactory compared to the bakery, there are plenty of choices to delight your fancy.

Porchetta Sandwich at Tartine Manufactory

Porchetta Sandwich at Tartine Manufactory

It is worth the trip to Tartine Manufactory solely for the porchetta and fried egg sandwich. I kid you not. It is that good. On a beautifully toasted brioche bun, you’ll find layers of rich, thinly-sliced porchetta, a slightly runny fried egg, fresh watercress and crunchy pork rinds. The pork rinds make the sandwich by adding extra texture that complements against the runny egg yolk. This is heaven in a sandwich. If the thought of eating a porchetta sandwich is going to put you in a coma for the rest of the day, there are plenty of lighter choices. I highly recommend whatever their open-faced sandwich is for the day. I’ve had mind-blowing smoked trout on a healthy, hearty bread, as well as mascarpone, homemade apple butter and apples on their country bread. Their coddled egg is also a great alternative for a lighter brunch. It comes topped with trout roe and 3 pieces of the country bread (my favorite of all the Tartine breads) with za’atar spices.

Brunch at Plow | SF

Brunch at Plow

Plow (1299 18th St.) is the perfect place to hit during the week if you can. Weekend lines can be 2+ hours. If you are lucky enough to snag a table, you must order the buttermilk biscuit, which comes with life-changing honey butter. I also recommend their signature brunch dish, the plow. I always struggle at brunch because I usually want both savory and sweet dishes, but don’t want to order two entrees. The plow is perfect because it comes with two eggs, house made pork sausage patties, mini lemon ricotta pancakes and plow potatoes. Their sausage patties are full of flavor, without being too oily. I love anything lemon and their lemon ricotta pancakes are light, fluffy and wonderfully zesty. The corn muffin is a total pass (save your calories for the biscuit) and while the French toast is solid, I’d rather eat the pancakes.

Spread at Zazie | SF

Spread at Zazie

Zazie (941 Cole St.) is another SF brunch institution (I’m telling you… people take their brunch really seriously here). I don’t know why Zazie had never been on my radar, probably because I never go to Cole Valley. But apparently, Adele likes to brunch at Zazie so my friend and I had to try. Similar to Plow, expect long waits on the weekend, so try and come during the week if you can. What I liked most about Zazie is they let you customize the quantity of your order. For the eggs Benedict, you can order just 1 and the same goes for their pancakes. I love any restaurant that let’s me order multiple dishes (again, I’m into both savory and sweet for breakfast).

I ordered the eggs Benedict with avocado, bacon and cheese and my friend ordered a scramble. We decided to split Sarah Jane’s flight, which comes with 1 buttermilk pancake, 1 ginger pancake and 1 French toast. If you come to Zazie, you must order eggs Benedict and get the home fries (screw ordering the salad, people). Their Hollandaise sauce is absolutely perfect, creamy without being too heavy and having a wonderful citrus flavor. Zazie’s home fries are the best home fries I’ve ever had in my life. They are roasted in a way where the outside is crispy but the interior is still soft and chewy. Zazie roast their home fries with garlic, which gives their potatoes an extra layer of complexity. They are to die for. Out of the flight, the French toast and buttermilk pancake did not impress me. I would order the ginger pancake again, primarily because it’s topped with fresh lemon curd (love me some lemon) and a poached pear. It even tastes amazing cold the next day!

Beignet Flight at Brenda's Soul Food Kitchen | SF

Beignet Flight at Brenda’s Soul Food Kitchen

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Shanghai Breakfast Eats: Egg and Taoyuan Village

Egg Spread

Look at the spread! Egg in Shanghai

Who doesn’t love a good breakfast? This is a long overdue post because Egg (12 Xiangyang Bei Lu; 襄阳北路12号) has been open for over a year and it’s probably one of my favorite cafés in Shanghai. It’s a chill place to grab a cup of coffee and do some work.

Yangmei Soda + Latte

Yang mei Soda + Latte

When I want a good cup of coffee, I can count on Egg to deliver. I’ve been disappointed multiple times on expensive places that serve coffee for 40-50 RMB (I’m looking at you, Farine). Egg is the only place that I can find cashew milk lattes and the owner, Camden, happily makes her own cashew milk. If coffee isn’t your thing, fear not as there are plenty of other libations to choose from. Camden is always serving some type of seasonal flavored soda and there’s even beer and wine. Most recently, I had a yang mei soda, which is made from fresh fruit nectar. Note: If you don’t know what the Chinese fruit yang mei is, check out my blog post where I went yang mei picking!

Egg's Hippie Bowl

Egg’s Hippie Bowl

By far, my favorite dish at Egg is the Hippie Bowl. This Instagram-worthy bowl is full of barley topped with roasted carrots, radish, kale, feta and an egg that is pickled in beet root. The vibrant dressing really brings this whole dish together. Normally, I’m a big meat eater, but this is one of the few times where I’m happy to eat vegetarian. It’s a hearty bowl and you can tell that Camden pays attention to the details because even the barley has flavor.

Egg Shanghai

When my sister and I went, we ordered the hippie bowl, cornbread waffle, breakfast taco, carrot fritters and apple pie pancakes. The cornbread waffle comes with cola-braised pork, pickled yardbeans and tomato jam (plus a fried egg). I really liked how the cornbread waffle wasn’t too dense and had nice flavor, which paired really well with the tender pork. I fell in love with the tomato jam. I want a jar of that jam to just spread on all things in my life. The carrot fritters were also really tasty and naturally very sweet. The apple pie pancakes were a special for the day and they were my 2nd favorite dish. The pancakes were thick and cake-like with amazing cinnamon sugar cooked apples. The only thing that I wasn’t a big fan of was the “taco” because there was too much sauce and it was messy to eat. Egg is open every day from 8:00am to 6:30pm.

Taoyuan Village

Taoyuan Village

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Hong Kong: Chachawan and The Cupping Room

Hong Kong's Chachawan

Hong Kong’s Chachawan

I actually first heard of Chachawan (206 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan) because there was a buzz in Shanghai when “Chachawan” opened. Lo and behold, Shanghai’s Chachawan was a complete fraud and copycat of the Hong Kong establishment. They literally even copied the logo. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), they couldn’t copy the food and since then, the fake Chachawan has been renamed StreeThai.

I guess the positive side to all of this drama was that Chachawan came on my radar. While I was in Hong Kong, I happened to be staying close by and absolutely fell in love with the place. Chachawan doesn’t serve your “typical” Thai food and you won’t be finding your normal curry dishes or pad thai on the menu. Instead, they serve dishes from the northeastern region of Thailand, Isaan. Having never visited Thailand, I can’t vouch for the authenticity, but I can certainly vouch for its deliciousness!

My friend and I started our meal with the highly recommended Gai Yung, grilled chicken thigh. This chicken has been marinated for 24 hours in garlic, pepper and coriander and then grilled inside wooden chopsticks. The outside skin is crispy and the chicken is moist and tender. I really loved the side sauce and recommend keeping it to douse your other dishes in it. We also ordered the Yum Makuar Yaw, which was an eggplant salad topped by a giant prawn and a soft-boiled egg. The eggplant had a wonderfully smoky flavor, but still had a level of freshness with the mint and coriander. The prawn was HUGE and grilled to perfection with the meat having that hint of natural sweetness.

We were both obsessed with Khao Pad, crab fried rice with egg and spring onions. Even though it’s a simple dish, it was chockfull of crab meat and reminded me of comfort food. My favorite combination was actually taking the sauce from the Gai Yung and pouring it over the rice. I didn’t really like the sauce that comes with the fried rice. Make sure you save room in your stomach for Roti Gluay aka Thai banana pancake. This crispy roti has a beautiful glaze of condensed milk on the outside and is filled with thinly sliced bananas. I’m not even the biggest fan of bananas, but I will happily order this roti every time I go to Chachawan.

Chachawan does not take reservations and also does not let you order food for takeout. So expect a wait. On the plus side, you can grab a drink at the restaurant/bar next door (same owners) and can chill out while you wait for your table. Honestly, I really enjoyed the food and would happily wait again for a table.

Cupping Room

Hong Kong’s: The Cupping Room

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Recipe: Super Easy 3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes

I don’t have an oven so baking is out of the question. Flour is useless to me because I really only use it when I bake cookies or cake. I’ve been searching for easy recipes that don’t require a lot of ingredients (and no oven) and came across this super easy banana pancake recipe.

At first, I was a little skeptical. Can you really make pancakes just out of bananas, eggs and peanut butter? How does the consistency come out? They came out surprisingly well! For anyone suffering from Celiac’s or Crohn’s disease, they’re also gluten free. I added a note at the end if you want to make a vegan version.

3 Ingredient Banana Pancakes: Cooking

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