#73 (2014) M.Y. China: Wild Boar Scissor Cut Noodles

IMG_4102

The Place:

Located in the Westfield Mall’s “Restaurant Collection”, M.Y. China casts a great first impression with it’s polish and style.  The design is very modern, with lot of dark wood and granite, and a nice open kitchen.  That part is especially cool because you get to watch the noodle makers do their thing, stretching huge balls of dough into long, slender noodles.  Overall it feels like a nice mix between high end and approachable.

20121218-my-china-9

The Dish:

In addition to the noodles and the boar, the dish had bean sprouts, scallions, and wood ear mushrooms.  Simple, straightforward, and our type of dish.  One of the things M.Y. hangs it’s hat on is it’s noodles and we can see why.  The noodles in this dish were shorter, scissor cut noodles, that had a shape like a green bean.  The texture of these babies were soft, with a nice plump mouth feel, and a great vessel for the sauce.  The boar was juicy, and not at all gamey, and the veggies added a nice crisp balance.  Overall this was a solid dish, not much flash, but plenty of substance.

The Verdict:

We think there’s something to be said for good Chinese food, especially since so many people associate Chinese with the cheap takeout they get when hungover and too lazy to move.  M.Y. China is nice, the food is good, and getting to watch the cooks work adds a nice bonus to the meal.  If you find yourself in the mall, skip the food court and get yo self some noodles.

Dig In,

A & K

Pin It

And we are back! (with 2013’s #19 Craftsmen and Wolves: Rebel Within)

IMG_3491

 

It’s been a while party people!  After a winter hibernation (and very busy schedules) we are back on the food scene and ready to again adventure through the culinary landscape that SF has to offer.  So enough with the flowery hellos and tears of joy, lets check out some food!

The Place:

First off, what a name.  Craftsman and Wolves may be our favorite moniker of all time, and we’re jealous we didn’t come up with it.  Located on Valencia street in the Mission, Craftsman and Wolves is a modern take on a bakery (or in their words, a “contemporary patisserie”).  Every pastry and dish has elements of familiarity mixed with the type of interesting ingredients or techniques you see from top notch places around SF.  The modern interior is simple and hip, and lets the focus rest on the display cases full of goodies.

IMG_3489

The Dish:

A lot of places in SF are what we would call good hearted.  Craftsman and Wolves is just plain evil.  WHO PUTS A SOFT BOILED EGG IN THE MIDDLE OF A SAVORY MUFFIN!!!!  (sorry, caps lock got stuck there) What kind of evil genius enablers are these people?  Are they trying to turn us into addicts?  If you can’t tell, we are in love with this dish.  I mean, how couldn’t you be, just LOOK AT IT.

This dish is amazing.  The muffin itself is asiago, sausage, and green onion.  When you get it, it looks so unassuming, so innocent.  Yet when you cut inside the golden truth is revealed is all it’s gooey glory.  The texture is fantastic, not too moist, but not dry, and the egg drips out perfectly creating a little yellow pool.  All other savory muffins now have something to look up to.

The Verdict:

Stop reading this and go get one.

Dig In,

A & K

 

Pin It

#28 Anchor Oyster Bar: Clam Chowder

photo 1

The Place:

Now we’ve never been to Maine, but we imagine that Anchor Oyster Bar would fit right in to some blustery town along its coast.  Tucked into the Castro, this little spot features white tile, nautical themed wall decorations, a tiny kitchen, and a staff that you can tell has been slinging seafood there for a long time.  Speaking of a long time, the restaurant has been owned and operated by the proprietor since 1977.  We came on the perfect type of day too, a classic cold and foggy SF evening.  The type that makes you want something like clam chowder.

01-anchoroyster-9

The Dish:

We’ve found that clam chowder is a pretty subjective dish.  It seems that people like it in a lot of different ways, and not many agree on who has the best.  Some like it with potatoes, some like it buttery, some want big chunks of clam.  We say this because obviously a lot of people think it’s one of the best, but for us, it was just good.  It wasn’t earth-shattering or even our favorite in SF (that would be Tarantino’s).  We wanted a little more pepper kick and maybe a few more clams.  Now stay with us, because we did order a few more dishes, and those puppies were quite tasty.

photo 2-1

First off were the sautéed garlic prawns with roasted potatoes and vegetables.  So simple, so fantastic.  Maybe it’s due to the fact that the grill has possibly been there since the 70’s, but the smokey flavor that permeated that dish was heavenly.   Slightly charred veggies, garlicky shrimp, and a perfect snap of chili flakes (quick side note;  any place that puts the following on their menu like Anchor Oyster does gets points with us “We like to use red chili flakes). Let your waiter know if you would prefer not to have any”.  It was a great example of food cooked basically, but very well.

photo 3

The other dish we got to round things out was their cioppino.  Let’s put it this way, if the spoon can’t even fit in the bowl because of the amount of seafood, there’s a good chance things are going to be good.  That theory held up quite well in this case, as we were straight diggin’ this dish.  A nice spicy tomato broth with boatloads of seafood and grilled garlic bread has got to be one of the best combinations, and Anchor Oyster combined it well.

The Verdict:

While the clam chowder didn’t wow us, Anchor Oyster reeled us back in with the rest of their offerings and their old school setting.  If it’s cold out and you’re in the area, pop into Anchor Oyster and get yourself some high quality seafood.

Dig In,

A & K

 

Pin It

#46 Humphrey Slocombe: Secret Breakfast

photo 5

The Place:

Along with many other types of food in San Francisco, ice cream has been taken to some bold and interesting places in the last few years.  Humphrey Slocombe is among a handful of other creameries that have been successful with some pretty crazy flavors (olive oil anyone?).  They have two locations, one in the Mission and one in the Ferry Building, and we opted for the latter since we were already there for Blue Bottle).  The look of it is your standard ice cream shop, though once you start reading some of the flavors you will realize it’s not some ‘ol Baskin Robbin’s.  The staff was really nice, practically forcing us to taste a bunch of different flavors (ok, forcing might be a strong word). photo 4

The Dish:

So the title doesn’t give much away, but you may have figured out that Secret Breakfast is an ice cream flavor.  What flavor you ask?  Bourbon and cornflakes.  That’s right, bourbon and cornflakes.  Sounds weird?  It’s not, it’s amazing.  Humphrey Slocombe ice creams in general have a great rich texture, but Secret Breakfast pulls the best flavors from bourbon (cinnamon, honey, oak) and leaves out the burn that turns a lot of people off.  Throw in some crunchy cornflake clusters, and you’ve got a scrumptious ice cream.

If you really want to blow your mind, you can do what we did, and top a Blue Bottle Belgian Waffle (from our last post) with Secret Breakfast.  Your tastebuds may never recover.

The Verdict:

We’ve always said that Saturday Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building is a great experience, and Humphrey Slocombe definitely adds to that.  With friendly service, adventurous flavors, and damn good ice cream, it is definitely worth the trip.  Next time it’s a hot day, we definitely suggest heading to either of their locations to help beat the heat.

*As an added bonus for Saturday Farmer’s Market, we got to hold some adorable baby goats (his name is Mowgli).

photo 1-1photo 2-1

 

Dig In,

A & K

Pin It

#48 Blue Bottle: Belgian Waffle

photo 2

The Place:

It doesn’t get much trendier than Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco.  Leading the charge of the craft coffee craze, Blue Bottle benefits from lines out the door at pretty much any of their locations. They’re selling packaged iced coffee in Whole Foods, they were one of the first to exclusively make their cups of coffee by the pour over method (this means waiting a few minutes for your cup), and they’ve raised $25 million to continue their expansion (yes, 25).  Basically, they are hot shit right now.  Though with all the hype and accolades, the bottom line is that they roast and make some fresh, damn good coffee.

For our trip to Blue Bottle, we opted for the Ferry Building location so we could also enjoy the Saturday Farmer’s Market.  While there was a sizable line when we got there, we leveraged our insiders knowledge to go around to the secret window (it’s actually labeled Blue Bottle Secret Window and is not that much of the secret, there were still about 10 ppl ahead of us).

photo 1

The Dish:

Though coffee is what they’re known for, we were actually here for another reason, the Belgian Waffle.  We were a little unsure about what this dish would be.  Would we be getting a waffle on a plate with whipped cream or syrup?  Would it be one of those packaged, pre-made waffles you see in airports?  Turns out they make their waffles fresh to order, and serve them plain, all wrapped up in a coffee filter.  The waffle is right off the iron and is nice and warm when you get it.  Being sugar fanatics, our first thought was “oh, no syrup?”.  Our second thought was “ohhhhhhh man that’s tasty!”.  The first thing they did right was nail the texture.  The outside is lightly crunchy and crisp, while the inside is fluffy and releases a little steam off your first few bites.  Whoever came up with their batter is a waffle genius.  Though it’s not served with any toppings, the waffle has a perfect hint of sweetness, without going too far.  It is the perfect accompaniment to the full body flavor of their coffee.

The Verdict:

Though the lines can be painful sometimes, the waffle and the coffee make it worth the wait to try this dish.  If you’re from out of town it’s a good way to enjoy what is becoming an iconic SF brand.  If you’re a local, it’s another tasty treat from a delicious city.

Dig In,

A & K

 

Pin It

#18 Cotogna: The Prixe Fixe

photo 2

 

The Place:

We’ve noticed what we think is a growing trend in the restaurant industry, where an upscale restaurant will open a “sister” or “brother” location nearby.  Usually the new location is a bit more relaxed and casual (and cheaper).  It allows the owners or teams to extend their skills to a venue that’s more accessible to the general public.  We love this idea as it’s a win win for everyone.  The restauranteurs are able to reach more people and try new things without worrying about changing the expectations or possible reviews of their primary location.  The customers are able to experience the quality of the organization, but without having to break the bank or wait months for a reservation.  Cotogna, located near Jackson Square, is the little brother of the 2 Michelin star Quince, which sits right next door.  Quince is the epitome of an upscale restaurant, and very deserving of it’s two stars.  Offering only tasting menus, prices start at over $100 per person, and that’s not including wine.  Now while that is great and all, we may not be having too many meals there.  Cotogna on the other hand, offers a reasonably priced menu, wonderful ambiance, and a growing reputation for fantastic food.

photo 1

 

The Dish:

One of the best parts of Cotogna, whose menu is based on rustic Italian dishes, is it’s Prixe Fixe (fixed price) menu.  The menu changes, but it always consists of three courses, for $28.  Now some people may have had bad experiences with prixe fixe menus in the past.  We know we have.  Often they are small portions or unimaginative food.  We had heard great things about it, plus, it was on the list, so we were confident it wasn’t going to be a letdown.  The current menu consisted of an escarole salad with Dirty Girl Farm radishes and bagna cauda dressing, mezzi rigatoni with sausage and ricotta, and butterscotch budino with moscovado custard and sea salt.  Just to make sure we experienced as much as we could, we also ordered their house cured bacon, chile and broccoli pizza, and an artichoke ravioli.

photo 4

Disbelief is always a great feeling to have at a restaurant.  You stare at your food thinking, “how the hell do they get that flavor in there!?”.  That’s basically the way we felt through our whole meal, even repeating it out loud multiple times.  It’s one of the beauties of good Italian food, it looks so simple but tastes so amazing.  The salad was crunchy, salty, yet refreshing.  We’d never had chilled bagna cauda (usually it’s served hot, as a fondue, or a sauce), but man it kicks ass as a salad dressing.  The rigatoni was bursting with flavors of rich and acidic tomato, spicy sausage, and creamy ricotta.  The butterscotch budino was boozy,  and the sweetness was balanced out by the salt.  The pizza was fantastic as well, as the bacon didn’t overpower, but worked with the other flavors.  The only stumble was the ravioli, and that was only due to it being a bit undercooked, not because of a lack of flavor.

photo 3

photo 5

 

The Verdict:

We think we may have already tipped our hand on this one, but we thought Cotogna was fantastic.  We didn’t even mention the drinks either.  Not only were the cocktails fantastic, but their wine list only has Italian wines all priced at $40 per bottle (a very good price point for a quality SF restaurant).  We had a great bottle of Nebbiolo that really capped off the entire meal.  If you want good food, great service, and everything else that makes a meal wonderful (and who doesn’t?), Cotogna is a great place to get it.  We will be back.

Dig In,

A & K

Pin It

#34 Bar Tartine: Burger (sub Pastrami Sandwich)

photo

We haven’t really been going through The List at what anyone would call a fast pace.  We’re still working through the 2011 version, so from time to time we come across dishes that are no longer available.  Unfortunately, this is one of those times, as Tartine no longer has the burger on the menu.  Instead of the burger, we went for the above pictured pastrami sandwich.

The Place:

Bar Tartine is the direct relative of the afore-written Tartine Bakery.  This of course means that we went into this dish with high hopes and big expectations.  Bar Tartine is located in the Mission, only a few blocks from the bakery.  It’s a bit of a combination spot; part restaurant, part sandwich shop, and part retail.  The space is very functional and simple.  During the day it’s a bit more relaxed as people come in and out, ordering from the barista window, perusing the cookbooks (written by Tartine), and eating at the tables.  At night, it turns into more of a a full service restaurant, with traditional seating.

051-Bar-Tartine-4

The Dish:

In lieu of the burger we went for the pastrami sandwich.  We are big fans of pastrami, but we’ve found that for a simple sandwich, the quality really can vary a lot.  This type of dish is a great example of when simplicity and quality really make a difference.  The sandwich came toasted and consisted of hearty bread, a nice helping of pastrami, mayo, sauerkraut, and a dressing.  A couple bites in we knew that this sandwich was straight and to the point, but very good.  It was everything you would expect and want from a pastrami.  There’s something to be said about good consistency, like when you get a grilled cheese sandwich.  You don’t need extras or extravagance, you just want what you know.  In this respect, the sandwich is fantastic.

The Verdict:

We are now firmly of the mindset that if it has Tartine in the name in SF, it’s worth a try.

Dig In,

A & K

Pin It

#54 Four Barrel Coffee: Coffee and a Chocolate Spiced Donut

Photo 4

The Place:

You’ll often hear the term “hipster” when people are talking about San Francisco.  To some, that term has a negative connotation, to others it’s positive.  To us, it’s just an easy descriptor for a certain type of style that is common here, and a term we’d use to describe Four Barrel.  The second you walk in this place and you feel hip and just a little bit cooler.  Maybe it’s the fact that quality coffee has become very popular and Four Barrel is one of the leaders in the SF area.  Maybe it’s the clientele, or the people working there.  Personally we think it’s because they make some damn good coffee.

The space itself is split between the cafe area in front, and the roasting area in back.  The design is that modern rustic feel of which we are big fans .  A simple mixture of weathered wood and metal; sparse, but not soulless.  Having the roasting done in back is a pretty awesome move in our opinion.  Not only is it open so you can see everything going on,  but the smell coming out of that place is like heaven in your nose.

They’ve actually split the service area into two bars, one that does espresso based drinks and has snacks, and a station that is solely poured-over drip coffee (which is all the rage these days, but also very good).

fourbarrel

The Dish:

The combination of coffee and donuts used to be something different.  It used to be a cup of black stuff accompanied by a doughy sugarbomb that covered you in icing.  Somewhere in the last few years that combination expanded.  While you can still get your gas station coffee and donuts (which is still pretty decent), there’s been a growing trend of gourmet coffee with gourmet donuts.  We’ve seen maple bacon donuts, olive oil donuts (no thanks), Turkish coffee, mint coffee, and a plethora of other choices.  We’re pretty happy about this trend, and this dish is a good example of why.  The chocolate donut (actually made by Dynamo Donuts) is dense and moist, and has a very deep chocolate flavor.  It’s sweet, but it’s more of a natural sweetness, not overly sugary.  The coffee is very complex (at least to us).  Rich, dark, and with a mix of different flavors, it’s quite different from what you would get from a Starbucks.  This coffee wears big boy pants and it’s not afraid to show it.  When you mix the donut in with the flavors of the coffee and you have yourself a great start to the day.

The Verdict:

There are a lot worse ways you can spend your time than going to Four Barrel.  If you’re a coffee nut, this is definitely one of the places you want to check out.  If you’re not, it’s still pretty cool.  We also suggest this place if you’re not in a hurry, because it’s definitely better to take your time and relax here.  The only negative is a lack of wifi, which removes the possibility of it being a work space (maybe that’s the goal).  Give us caffeine and we are happy, make it really really good, and we are even happier.

Dig In,

A & K

Pin It

#27 Bix: Tuna Tartare and a Gin Martini

IMG_2550

The Place:

If there’s a word to describe Bix it’s swanky.  Tucked down a little alley by Jackson Square, Bix exudes a strong retro appeal.  With low lighting, mahogany panels, and a jazz theme, one almost feels like a martini is the only option.  We definitely felt like our level of class went up a couple notches just by setting foot in the place.  The space is open, split between bar area and dining room with a wraparound mezzanine upstairs.  We’re pretty sure this is where people go if they want to “hobnob” (do people still hobnob?).

bix

The Dish

Unfortunately, Bix no longer has the tuna tartar on the menu, so we settled for some gourmet deviled eggs to accompany our gin martinis.  We were a little apprehensive because until recently, neither of us were big gin fans, but we were ready for the challenge.

First off, we’ve been pretty happy with the recent growth in deviled eggs.  People have gotten quite experimental (we’ve seen ones with bacon, roe, pickled veggies, and plenty other ingredients), and have produced some great results.  Bix’s version was pretty straightforward, with only a little truffle and radish.  In this case, less was more as the truffle and radish gave the eggs a great little accent of flavor.  Not too much mayo either, and with a great texture.

On the martini side we were quite pleased.  Obviously any bartender worth their salt can make a good martini, but this was really more about ambience.  There was something about how the drink paired with the atmosphere that had us satisfied and feeling good.

 

The Verdict

We enjoyed ourselves at Bix.  Can you get a good gin martini anywhere?  Sure, but if you’re looking to up your cool quotient, Bix is not a bad place to do so.

Dig In,

A & K

Pin It

#97 Truly Mediterranean: Lamb Shawerma

Photo 2 (3)

The Place:

We’ve probably walked by Truly Mediterranean a dozen times out in the Mission without ever looking up at the sign.  All those times passing by without ever realizing a possibly delicious dish from The List was right there.  This is a common problem (we use the word problem lightly) for people visiting or new to SF.  There are just so many little restaurants, sandwich shops, and cafes that you kind of tune them out.  Luckily for us we have The List and had spotted the sign recently and headed on in.  It’s a small place, maybe 4 stools to sit on and the counter to order at.  As most shawerma and falafel places do, they have the spinning wheels of roasted meat sitting in the window, ready to be sliced from and served.  A pretty unremarkable looking place, though as we’ve probably said a dozen times, you can’t judge a book you are going to eat by it’s cover…..wait, that doesn’t sound right….oh well.

Photo 1 (6)

The Dish:

For those who don’t know, the most common shawerma is basically roasted meat with some sliced veggies and a variety of condiments, all wrapped up in pita bread (we’re being a little general as it can be done a few different ways).  At Truly Mediterranean we ordered the lamb shawerma, which appeared to have roasted tomatoes, onions, a yogurt sauce, and some sort of other spicy sauce all stuffed inside.  First few bites showed us that this was one of those times where The List had done well.  Shawerma is common enough in SF and since most taste pretty similar, you kind of assume there isn’t one “better” one.  Well this one is better.  For us the differentiator is the spice flavoring.  Typically shawerma have a a decent amount of flavor, but this one leaves the rest in the dust.  It’s like if a bunch of Ford Taurus’ raced a Ferrari.  We couldn’t tell if the flavor came from the meat or the sauce, but wherever it came from, it was straight up awesome.  It’s a slightly curry-like flavor but with more tang, and more distinctly Mediterranean.  Very rich, warm spices that have a medium to high heat.  The wrap also is STUFFED with lamb.  No half-assed attempt here, just a ton of lamb.  The tomato and onion mix in nicely, and the yogurt sauce adds the perfect balance to the spice.  To top it off, the bread has been lightly griddled and is warm, soft, and slightly crispy.

The Verdict:

Add another point to The List’s score.  It’s another solid dish that we will definitely try again.  This isn’t a sitdown place, so you can easily order and eat on the run.  Next time you’re in the Mission and thinking about grabbing a burrito, snag this shawerma instead.

Dig In,

A & K

Pin It