Showing posts with label san francisco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label san francisco. Show all posts

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Easy Car Rental and Road Trip to Napa with Drive Maven

During my recent trip to San Francisco, I got the opportunity to try out Drive Maven, a car-sharing service similar to Zipcar. Maven is General Motors' service, and you can rent GM cars by the hour or day from various locations around the country. For cities where parking is notoriously difficult and expensive like San Francisco, services like Maven is really useful when you need a car just for a day trip.
Drive Maven in Napa
Unlike Zipcar, there's no annual membership fee associated with Maven. Just like Zipcar, gas and insurance are included in the hourly/daily rates. In SF, the cars are parked in various garages throughout the city. To book the car, you can search the map for that city and select the most convenient garage for you.

I picked a garage on Taylor St, and they had new red Chevy Volt! I've been curious about this plug-in hybrid, so I booked it.
Drive Maven in Napa
Drive Maven in Napa

The Volt was $8 per hour - again it includes gas and insurance. Did I mention this VOLT was wifi-equipped? A lot of their cars are loaded with the latest tech, including Apple CarPlay and free unlimited 4G LTE WiFi. You bet I was instagramming using the car's wifi!

Everything is done with the Maven app. When you go to pick up your car, you can just unlock the car with your app using bluetooth. The car will detect that your phone is inside and you can start the car without a key (only when your phone is inside the car). Everything was seamless and easy (minus the tight spaces in SF's parking garages, but what can you do about that?). After that, I was off to Napa!

It was around lunchtime by the time we got to Napa Valley, so we stopped at Oxbow Public Market for lunch. The Public Market has a variety of food offerings, including Hog Island Oyster and Ritual Coffee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin Kouign Amann at B Patisserie (San Francisco, CA)

Because fall is the season for pumpkin desserts, I'm reminded of the absolutely amazing pumpkin kouign amann that I had last year at Belinda Leong's b.patisserie in San Francisco.

B Patisserie
In the first place, I love kouign amann. It's better than a sweet croissant (well, maybe). It's better than a cronut (yes, I had the real thing). It's a pastry folded with butter and sugar and baked until the sugar caramelizes.

Secondly, the kouign amann at B Patisserie is really, really good. It's better than Dominique Ansel's DKA, if I can be so bold to say so. Top all that off with the fact that sometimes you'll find seasonal fillings. Like pumpkin. Like delicious, creamy pumpkin filling.
B Patisserie

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Morning in the Mission (San Francisco, CA)

During my last trip to San Francisco, I stayed at an AirBnB in the Mission. We spent the first morning wandering around the Mission district, starting with breakfast at Craftsman and Wolves.


What we came here for is the famous "Rebel Within". At first glance this looks just like any other cheesy muffin. The Rebel Within is made with Asiago cheese, green onion, and Easton sausage.

But how special this muffin is is only apparent when you cut into it ... a perfectly poached egg inside with runny yolk!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Produce-Forward Cuisine at Verbena (San Francisco, CA)

Verbena is the new restaurant from Chef Sean Baker of Oakland's Gather. The hip Russian Hill restaurant is not a vegetarian restaurant, but its produce-focused menu is certainly vegetarian friendly.

While I normally wouldn't have ordered this based on the description, I was immediately glad the waiter suggested the Sprouted seed bread with chevre and beet sauerkraut ($7)
The housemade chevre has a nutty tone and the warm, toasted seed bread, even on its own, is outstanding.

Here, you will find hard-to-find ingredients in unusual combinations, like the Cardoons and Rhubarb with caramelized honey dressing, Douglas Fir yogurt, nepitella ($11)
Nepitella is an Italian herb also known as Calaminta. While I'm not a huge fan of the tart rhubarb, it plays nicely with the yogurt.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lunch with Chowzter at Mission Chinese (San Francisco, CA)

In anticipation of the Chowzter Global Awards in London this week, I thought I'd blog about the lunch I had with them in San Francisco (where Langer's #19 won the Tastiest Fast Feast for North America).
Our big group went over to the recently popular Mission Chinese Food - too early, they haven't even opened yet when we arrived. Being bloggers, we just took photos outside and studied the menu until they open. Mission Chinese had taken over the Lung Shan space, where they used to do pop ups, and they left the old sign.

Throw a bunch of out of town bloggers here and we will end up ordering the whole menu x 3, pretty much ... Of course, we had to try the popular Chongqing Chicken Wings ($11)
The crispy chicken wings were buried in peppers! As good as they were, the most surprising and addictive component of the dish was the crunchy tripe slices scattered at the bottom.

You can take a break from all the spiciness and tingly feeling the chicken wings left you with dishes like Tiki Pork Belly (in soy caramel, mandarin, pickled pineapple, shaved coconut, macadamia nuts - $10). And a tiki umbrella, natch.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brunch at Nopa (San Francisco)

Brunch is apparently as big in San Francisco as it is in Los Angeles, and there are plenty of great choices (which fill up right away). One of the places offering a more unique menu is Nopa.

Eggs are a staple brunch item for me so I went with the Curry spiced sausage, poached eggs, green lentils, kale, delicata squash, and coriander yogurt ($14)

The casing for the curry sausage gave a nice snap, and the sausage was flavorful. I also liked the runny egg yolk over the kale and lentils. My dish suddenly pales in comparison after trying my friend's dish, though:

Chile rubbed pork, fresh shelling beans, hominy, collard greens, and a black pepper biscuit ($14)
Chile Rubbed Pork
This was a hearty bowl packed with a lot of strong flavors. Tender chile rubbed pork? Intensely earthy collard greens? All check. It wasn't a dish I would've ordered at brunch (because it didn't have eggs), so I was really glad my friend did and I got to taste it.

Our other friend got the grass-fed Hamburger with housemade pickles, and herbed french fries ($13)

For part of dessert, we had a small order of the Custard French Toast, caramelized apples and maple butter ($6)
French Toast

It was a very buttery French Toast, but I could've used more apples. Luckily our other dessert was the Rome Beauty Apple Tarte Tatin, sweet creme fraiche ($8)
Apple Tarte Tatin
I always love a good apple tart tatin. This one could've had more flaky pastry, but the coolness of the creme fraiche made up for it.

It was overall quite a good brunch and the food came out in a timely manner despite being so busy (I'm sure they've gotten it down by now). When you're bored of the standard eggs benedicts and omelettes, try this place out.

560 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 864-8643
Nopa on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trotter's Protege Meets Chinese Bao at The Chairman Truck

Fine dining chefs jumping ship to sell casual, comfort food is not just a trend that started in the past year. Chef Hiro Nagahara, formerly chef de cuisine at Bar Charlie (Charlie Trotter) in Las Vegas worked with Mobi Munch to start The Chairman Truck in 2009, selling chinese steamed buns with unique, high end fillings like spiced duck confit in San Francisco.

(The Chairman was originally named The Chairman Bao, but then they got sued by Baohaus in NY since "chairman bao" was apparently the first item on their menu. Gotta admit, it's such a catchy name.)

Tofu Bao
Mobi Munch is actually an LA-based company, and when they outfitted The Chairman's second truck, they decided to hold a tasting for friends and media before sending it off to SF. The tasting was held at Mobi Munch headquarters in downtown LA, where I tried five of their offerings. The buns are usually $3.25 each for steamed bao ($6.75 for baked - not sure how big these are), $3.75 for duck confit and pork belly.

1st bao: Tender Pork Belly with Pickled Daikon
Pork Bun
First, let's talk about the bao itself. The bao is made using a 40 year old yeast brought from China 20 years ago by  the SF truck operator, Curtis Lam's uncle who was the executive chef of Yank Sing. The warm bao was great, neither too thick nor too doughy.

The pork belly was tender, not overly fatty, and the crunchy, tart, pickled daikon was the perfect accompaniment to cut the richness. The daikon is, of course, pickled in-house ("in-truck"?)

The 2nd bao is a spinoff of korean spicy chicken: Spicy Red Sesame Chicken with pickled cucumber and carrots
Chicken Bao

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Aziza (San Francisco)

With all the new restaurant opening and young celebrity chefs, it is easy to overlook older restaurants, but Aziza in San Francisco should not be. Aziza has been open for ten years (since 2001) but chef/owner Mourad Lahlou has continued to churn out great food. In 2010 it became the first Moroccan restaurant to receive a Michelin star and it has maintained that star since.

The restaurant is rather nondescript on the outside. A neon sign marks the location in amongst Chinese and Japanese restaurants in the Richmond district. Inside, a festively decorated restaurant typical of Moroccan restaurant. The food, on the other hand, is nothing like other Moroccan foods you've had.

Mate Mojito
We decided to skip the tasting menu and ordered what we wanted.
The cocktail menu at Aziza looked interesting and promising, but I was refraining from drinking alcohol so I went for the next closest thing: a Mate Mojito made by Taylor's Tonics ($6). Not really a mojito but it wasn't too sweet and was refreshing.

We started out meal with the lentil soup, medjool dates, celery, parsley ($8)
Lentil soup
A great lentil soup that also became a mini treasure hunt as we look for that burst of sweet from the dates. This was only a small hint of what Aziza is about.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Patisserie Philippe (San Francisco)

I spent quite a bit of time in San Francisco´s SOMA last year. One of the things I discovered there was this little patisserie, Patisserie Philippe. The macarons were in primary display atop their marble counters and the posted sign invoked Ladurée, the inventor of macaron and purportedly the best macaron shop in the whole world.


San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine
Bissap Baobab (Mission)
Blue Bottle Cafe
Butler and the Chef Bistro (SOMA)
The Chairman (food truck)
Coi (North Beach) **
Craftsman and Wolves (Mission)
Four Barrel Coffee
Masa's Restaurant (Nob Hill) *
Patisserie Philippe (SOMA)
Pizzeria Delfina (Mission)
Ritual Coffee (Mission)
San Tung (Inner Sunset)
Slanted Door
Verbena (Russian Hill)

Chez Panisse Cafe


Napa Valley:
Ad Hoc (Yountville, CA)
The French Laundry (Yountville) ***

South Bay (San Mateo/San Jose):
Falafel Drive-In (San Jose)
Wakuriya (San Mateo)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Butler and the Chef (SF): a Parisian Brunch in SOMA?

After driving up to SF with Kat's 9 Lives and LAist's Sam Kim, we figured we'd have one quick brunch before going our separate ways in the city. Kat recommended Butler and the Chef in SOMA since it was close to where we were and it has good reviews.

The bistro is located right in front of South Park, adding to its charm.
In contrast to the entrance which seemed small, the dining room extends far back. The furnitures gave it a cozy Parisian feel. We were seated in a narrow section next to the kitchen.

Fresh squeezed OJ: my personal brunch staple.
Kat said the eggs benedicts are popular here so I ordered eggs benedict with Niman Ranch ham (Served on toasted olive bread with house-made Hollandaise sauce and a side of baby spinach salad. $14)
I really enjoyed the fatty and flavorful ham. The toasted bread was a little hard to cut easily with a knife but other than that this was a good dish.

Someone else (probably Sam Kim) ordered La Parisienne crêpe (buckwheat crêpe, egg, ham, and emmenthal. $14)
I only had a bite of this but I liked the earthy flavor from the buckwheat.

Kat got the Belgian waffle with Nutella ($9)
The waffle was a little soggier than I would've liked but I liked the moistness inside.

I never expected to get mignardise following a brunch at a bistro, but these chocolate truffles were delectable.
While it wasn't an extraordinary brunch, Butler and the Chef is a cute place with good food. When I'm in the SOMA area again, this would certainly be on my list of brunch places to consider.

Butler & the Chef Bistro
155a S Park St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 896-2075
Butler & the Chef Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 30, 2010

Little Senegalese at Bissap Baobab (San Francisco)

Senegal (French: le Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal ... is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa.
--from Wikipedia

Besides the fact that it was in Africa, everything I knew about Senegal (for example, their official language is French) right before my dinner at Bissap Baobab I owe to a quick read of the Wikipedia article. We were greeted by a tall well-built guy speaking French.

The place was hopping and we had to wait a few minutes for a table. I decided to have a drink and tried the Tusker, a Kenyan pale lager ($4)

My friends went instead with the Coconut-infused rum. Be careful with these, they are as easy to drink as a Calpico soda and you can get drunk in no time (plus they're reasonably priced, making getting drunk even easier).

While we were waiting at a bar for a table, the bartender gave us some piping hot plantains for free!
Aloko (fried plantains, tamarind sauce - $4.75)
Well, it's hard to mess up fried plantains, and the tamarind sauce was an unusual but delicious accompaniment.

Though I was wary having African cuisine given my first experience involving mango pits (Nigerian), the appetizers we tried all had familar flavor profiles. The somone was similar to a potato croquette, a bit sweetened by corn and served with a creamy avocado sauce instead of aioli.
Somone (mashed potatoes mixed with corn, parsley, garlic, flour, and milk. Served with avocado sauce - $6.25)

The menu explained where many of the dishes came from, and I had no choice but to order the Tiep Dien since it was supposed to be the official dish of Senegal.
Tiep Dien (Red Snapper cooked with red Jolof rice - $18)

This somewhat reminded me of a seafood paella + jambalaya. The snapper is meaty and while it could be a little more moist, it was plenty flavorful and so was the rice. A rustic, comfort food dish. The Brazilians have their feijoada and the Senegalese have their tiep dien.

Bissap Baobab was a much better African food experience than my first, with more familiar flavors (I'm not trying to say the restaurant I went to before was bad, perhaps I'm just not used to it). It was a good, hearty meal with tasty and reasonably priced drinks and a fun vibe. Service was pretty slow though, so don't come here when you're in a hurry.

Bissap Baobab
2323 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-9287
Bissap Baobab on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Four Barrel Coffee, SF: The Cappuccino and Dynamo Donut Routine

When there's great coffee 4 blocks away from a BART stop, you STOP.
When the free UCSF shuttle goes from campus to that BART stop, well .. you take an extended coffee break every day around 4 and get a cappuccino and maybe one of the Dynamo donuts they also happen to be selling there.
Ever since Sam Kim from LAist told me about this place, that's pretty much what I've been doing ...

Four Barrel was started by the co-founder and co-owner of Ritual Coffee, Jeremy Tooker.
I had a hard time deciding between the free wi-fi at Ritual (there's no wi-fi at Four Barrel) or the dynamo donuts at Four Barrel, but Four Barrel's proximity to the 16th/Mission BART stop won after all.

The seats and tables are arranged like desks and you can see people working on their laptops but don't be fooled, like I said, no wi-fi, so just get your coffee and enjoy it.
Freshly roasted beans are always available for purchase, of course, from Sumatra beans to Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Burundi.
A strong and dark cappuccino that's smooth and without the bitterness.

The apricot cardamom donut from Dynamo was moist and held the fruit inside. Nicely spiced and the glaze wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. I was very happy with this.
The passionfruit donut was covered in chocolate chunks. A nice tartness and passionfruit flavor here. My friend passed on my invite to get donuts at Four Barrel but I brought her this anyway and she changed her mind and went to get her hubby a dozen Dynamo donuts the week after.

(On another note, the chocolate spice one in the first picture didn't fare as well with me. It had nice flavors but the donut itself wasn't as moist as these other two).

I'm not enough of a coffee connoisseur to tell you if the coffee here is better Intelligentsia, Ritual, or Blue Bottle (well I do think it's better than Blue Bottle ... ). All I know is that the coffee here is darn good and they sell Dynamo donuts. 'Nuff for me.

Four Barrel Coffee
375 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-0800
Four Barrel Coffee on Urbanspoon

Dynamo Donuts
2760 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 920-1978
Dynamo Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon

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