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.


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.

Continue reading

Making Japanese Food in my French Kitchen– Oyakodon Recipe


One of my favorite dishes, oyakodon!

It’s a little ironic that I’ve been eating a lot of Japanese food in France. With a limited kitchen (no oven and an electric stovetop), it’s just easier to make really simple dishes and Japanese food fits that mold. Chinese food requires high heat and a wok to make excellent stir-fry. The oil tends to splash out a lot. I haven’t been motivated to deal with that mess in my kitchen.

This week, I made sushi (for the first time), oyakodon and soba noodles with chicken and broccoli.

Making Sushi

Making Sushi for the First Time

Sushi Ingredients

Our Fillings for the Sushi


Final Product

My classmate taught me how to make sushi and it truly is an art. He had a special way of making the Japanese rice that involved washing, draining, soaking, cooking and then covering it with a moist towel to make it perfect. After he mixed in the sushi vinegar, we were ready to go! For the filling, we used imitation crab (which is surprisingly quite abundant in France), carrots, avocado, cucumber, tuna mixed with Japanese mayonnaise and a special egg concoction (dashi broth was involved). You will need one of those bamboo sheets to roll the sushi and make it perfect. It was a lot of fun (and also very delicious).

One of my favorite dishes is oyakodon, which is basically chicken and egg over rice. I used to always order whenever I saw it in a Japanese restaurant. It’s so simple, but really “homey”-tasting. Earlier this year, I researched multiple recipes and finally attempted to make the dish on my own. I was SO happy with the end product. Since moving to France, I’ve already made oyakodon twice and I thought I would share my recipe. I don’t even have the same ingredients in France (no Mirin or green onions), but it’s still turned out pretty good!

Continue reading

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.