It’s just a little less than a year ago that I did the 1st food tasting tour in the beautiful city of San Francisco. It’s certainly a wonderful memory of food and new friendships. This time I seized the opportunity when hubby had a conference to attend during this particular week. I reconnected with the foodie friends from last year to have our 2nd food tasting tour in the Bay Area.
The restaurants we visited this time are more scattered around different parts of the city. We spent some time driving from place to place to taste particular foods. Once again, my dear friend Dabin Lo planned the route and drove me and the others around to hunt down the various delicious foods.
During the 4 days I visited a total of 15 restaurants and small eating outlets. Most of the food was very good. And some I revisited a second time on the last day of the trip. The selected choices I will be sharing here are based on my low carb eating lifestyle and my personal preference for authenticity, flavor and texture.
Authentic Asian flavor fix – M.Y. China
The first thing I was craving for upon arrival in beautiful San Francisco was a real Asian flavor dinner. I couldn’t let the first night’s dinner be any kind of food just to get by.
We went to M.Y. China – 845 Market Street, 4th Floor of Westfield shopping mall. The Martin Yan restaurant right in town! Walking into the restaurant I went, “Wow!”
Just the décor and set-up of the restaurant was a treat to begin the evening. I love the open concept of the kitchen stretching the entire back wall of the premises.
The center section was where all the wok cooking action was going on with glass screens dividing the dining area. I stood there for a while just to watch the chef toss the food skillfully in the wok and create 3 feet high hot flames! Expanding to both ends was a long open counter where the major food preparation, plating and quality checks were going on. Very impressive! The food better be good, I thought! Between my husband and me we ordered 3 appetizers to begin the meal. The Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (steamed dumplings) was a good start to the evening. It was a great idea that the dumpling was served in an individual spoon. As I picked up the dumpling from the top with the chopsticks, the pork fillings and the broth in the dumpling fell out from the bottom of the wrapper onto the spoon!
It worked perfectly well for me as a low carber to enjoy the dumpling content from the spoon and discard the starch wrappers. The meat fillings and the broth were both very tender and flavorful. Wonderful! I could eat a whole basket all by myself!
The next item was wonton soup. Personally I was not much into this wonton soup. For my low carb eating lifestyle, I prefer an aromatic clear broth rather than a starchy broth. I would have prefered the wonton to be wrapped with a thinner wrapper. But the wonton filling was very tasty.
We shifted our focus to enjoy a super tasty deep fried tofu. It was soft in the center, lightly crisp on the outside, sprinkled with a spicy salty spice, topped with bits of red pepper and spring onion. It was delicious!
With these good treats, we continued to order our main entrees. The wok stir-fried lamb with ginger and spring onion was very flavorful! And the flavor of the steamed Sea Bass slices with Chinese wine, ginger and mushroom reminded me of the steamed fish my parents used to cook for me during the Singapore days.
That was a wonderful first dinner experience! It was so good that on the last evening of my food tasting tour, I had to return to this restaurant to try the steamed lobster with garlic. Needless to say it was good!
This restaurant is certainly in my keeping list!
A relaxing Sunday in the heart of San Francisco
I am lucky to have a husband who agrees to go wherever I suggest for meals. He knows I’ll pick the best. Ha!
Lunch for the 2nd day was at a long awaited place that I loved on the last visit. Back to Chinatown! Yee’s Restaurant at 1131 Grant Avenue and the Hong Kong style roast goose! I had to take Dan to that restaurant to taste the roast goose this time. Well actually I was the one craving for the roast goose.
We ordered half the goose and ate it all! It was as good as it was last year!
When lunch was over, I started to think about where to go for dinner. The recommended place was Roy’s on 575 Mission street. Roy’s restaurant focuses on Hawaiian fusion and we decided to give it a try.
The restaurant has a very nice quiet and romantic atmosphere, which is perfect for both of us. We had the green papaya salad to start. It was tangy and refreshing. Perfect with a glass of red wine. Dan’s entrée was a chicken breast confit and grilled shrimp served with a creamy curry spiced sauce. I took a taste of his dinner and it was good. The curry sauce was certainly very fusion. It was almost the consistency of Japanese curry but not sweet.
My dinner was the all time favorite black cod. The soft and buttery texture of the fish is my favorite. It was marinated and pan seared very well. I could eat it just on its own without the sweet and tangy sauce that came with it, which I felt it overpowered the fish. So I avoided most of it.
Overall it was a nice experience in this restaurant dining with my husband on a Sunday evening.
The Food Tasting Tour Day Begins!
Dabin Lo is the guy. He always makes me feel so welcome visiting San Francisco by planning ahead the choices of restaurants to visit. And the other foodie friends support the activity by arranging their work schedule around the date. They all are such great hosts.
This time Dabin drove the others and me around the city to hunt down the food. If you want to know my friends in San Francisco, join their Facebook group, “The Foodie” and “Show me what you eat”.
That little place reminded me of a Hong Kong old style tea house where the locals go every morning for breakfast and tea. The older folks sat around reading the morning paper while some caught up with their friends during their market time. Many people streamed in and out of the café to buy take-away breakfast.
We sat at a table near the entrance and watched the action in the café while enjoying our dim sum and tea.
I can describe the dim sum in this café as “down-to-earth”. No frills, a hole-in-the-wall place where you
rub elbows with the locals. As we sat down the hostess promptly delivered a hot pot of Chinese tea and the freshly prepared dim sum varieties on a cart.
The dumpling was steaming hot as I bit into it. I
tasted the freshness of the meat and shrimp, no MSG and somehow the texture was not oily like
most dim sums. Not that I mind if the dim sum is oily
since I love eating fat. But I guess that’s what most people would like. It was delicious!
We enjoyed eating the 3 different types of steamed dumplings and decided to try a baked item. I picked the BBQ pork pastry puff. When the plate landed on
our table, my first impression was the puff was too big. I began to imagine the texture would be thick and firm with very little BBQ pork filling in it.
As I broke open one of the puffs with a pair of chopsticks, the whole puff fell apart easily. The pastry was
thin and soft, and filled with plenty of BBQ pork cube fillings. I took a bite. The BBQ pork was not too sweet and the pastry just melted in the mouth.
It was one of the best tasting BBQ pork puffs I’ve ever had. If I want to burn my carb count for my once in a while treats, this could be it. I estimate it to have about 15g of carb per puff.
After the dim sum breakfast we continued on our route to try the 3 best oxtails in the city. The 1st restaurant we came to was at Sun Kwong Chinese restaurant on 1400 Jackson Street, at the junction of Hyde street.
This restaurant is on Nob hill, a small place with a friendly Cantonese-speaking lady taking orders, as authentic as it gets and very popular with the locals. My friends ordered the specialty braised oxtails, the crabmeat egg flower crispy wonton soup and the braised beef with bean curd sticks.
I took a small taste of all the items and found that the food was cooked with too much starch. The oxtails and beef tasted pleasant but it was too bad it was soaked in thick starchy gravy. The crabmeat egg flower crispy wonton soup, as I was pre-warned by Dabin Lo before arriving at the restaurant, didn’t contain real crabmeat. The soup had egg beaten into it with shredded artificial crabmeat and thickened with cornstarch.
But it gave me the idea that I could recreate this crabmeat egg flower soup at home. With a good chicken broth as base, I could drizzle beaten eggs into the soup to create the flower and add real chunks of fresh crabmeat. And instead of adding the crispy wonton into the soup I would add some Teochew style meatballs as a great alternative. If I want to thicken soup, I normally use Gumbo File (pronounced Fi-Le) powder made from fresh sassafras leaves, which has almost zero carbs. That gives a more condensed consistency to the soup.
The next place we headed to for another tasting of oxtails was a place I’d never expected. It was in the warehouse district toward the south of town. Mariposa Cafeteria was located within the industrial area at 1599 Tennessee Street, between 25th and 26th street on Potrero Hill. A very basic canteen set-up, we stood in line to buy food and find our dining table. This is the place where workers around the industrial area come for lunch. And a few local foodies would drive there to have a meal.
Braised oxtails and roast pork are their signature dishes. An order of either would come with a huge portion of steamed cabbage and rice. I mean a huge portion that could feed a family of 4.
We ordered both their signature dishes. The oxtail was very good. The meat was tender and the sauce was flavorful and not starchy. Accompanied with the steamed cabbage it was very pleasant. I skipped the rice, of course.
My favorite of the two was the roast pork. They slow-roast the pork for long hours before searing it and drizzle a light browned sauce over a bed of cabbage. It was quite a surprise!
The following place for oxtails tasting was another 20 minute drive towards the west: Mr. Fong’s BBQ and Noodle House at 950 King Drive, Ste 101, Daly City.
Their signature dishes are BBQ meat and the oxtails. We ordered a place of BBQ combo that includes roast duck, five-spiced soy chicken and the crispy skin pork belly. I liked the three of them very much! The meat was very tender and juicy and full of flavor. Eating them with stir-fried garlic Dou Miao green vegetables was just perfect!
The oxtail was quite a surprise. I was reluctant to try it because it was coated with batter. I took a small bite and was surprised how soft and tender the meat was. The flavour was good but it has more carbs than I like.
Among the three oxtails we tasted, personally I prefer the one in Mariposa.
We ended the food tasting tour at 4 pm and my friends were all full and tired. They were surprised that I was still full of energy and going for dinner with the girls in the evening.
I said, “I was just tasting selectively and didn’t eat the carbs.” 😀
Dinner with the girls
Two hours later, dinner with the girls was at R&G at 631 Kearny Street. I was very surprised the restaurant was so crowded on a Monday evening. All the tables were full and the server couldn’t wait to send us out the door when we finished the food. Without our asking, he just placed the bill in front of us while removing the last empty plate on the table. When we told him that we had not been asked about dessert, his reply was that there was no dessert tonight. Wow!
The food was decently good for what we ordered. We had the miso black cod, salt and pepper crab, braised duck wings, sweet sour pork ribs, clay pot beef and a green vegetable Dou Miao. Of all the dishes, I like the miso black cod best.
Despite the hurried pay-up and please-leave treatment, we girls enjoyed our night connecting and getting to know each other.
2nd day of food tasting with SFO foodies
The event for the next day was a dim sum lunch with a group of SFO foodies I met last year. It felt like being with old friends.
While we headed south, Dabin spotted the Bacon Bacon truck. We were looking for the Bacon Bacon cafe yesterday but they had relocated. We came past the StrEatFood food truck park and their food truck had just arrived! We did an immediate stop to check out the food trucks in the park.
But the Bacon Bacon food truck was not ready to serve food. So we wandered around the park and we spotted another food truck, the Benedict Arnold’s brunch truck. I had to try the Eggs Benedict!
The first thing I learned was, the price for food from a food truck wasn’t cheap! It was a sit-down restaurant price! The San Francisco Eggs Benedict I ordered was $16. It had 2 poached eggs on crabmeat drizzled with hollandaise sauce. It had some potato hash that I requested not to have and I left the grilled buns behind. The ingredients were very fresh and delicious!
Since the Bacon Bacon truck was not ready to serve food, we decided to come back after dim sum.
Grand Palace at 359 Grand Avenue was a very nicely decorated Chinese restaurant, big open space with a décor similar to Chinese restaurants in Asia, clean, roomy, grand and posh. This is the perfect place for a Chinese wedding dinner. The restaurant was busy during lunch hour. Food carts were flying every each way and the servers were very attentive to our needs of refilling tea, and scooping soups for each individual. We ordered many varieties of dim sum among 12 of us around a big round table. Dim sum baskets were stacking up on our table!
There was plenty of food, conversation and laughter around our table. It was so much fun seeing my friends again! At that moment I declared that this was going to be an annual event. I love food and I love my friends more! 😀
We ordered plenty of dim sum to share. As usual, I picked around the low carb choices to eat. May be someday soon, my friends here in San Francisco will be influenced by me to eat low carb too.
After a wonderful dim sum and catching up with each other, we reluctantly bid good bye and look forward to the next get together.
Dabin Lo and I returned to the food truck park to look for the Bacon Bacon Truck. At this time, all the food trucks were opened and serving food. There were at least a dozen different food trucks and many varieties of food. We stood in line for the Bacon Bacon truck.
We bought a bacon bouquet and the pork belly bun. The bacon bouquet was a nice idea for someone like me who wants just the crispy bacon strip for a snack. But to my disappointment, the bacon strips were tough and dry. Maybe this is what most people like, cooked till all the oil is out. I wished it were less cooked and not so dry.
The pork belly was very good. It had a thick slice of pork belly topped with an egg and some arugula greens sandwiched in between the buns. I took a bite into the pork belly together with the soft center egg but without the buns. It was juicy and tender. This is the kind of meat with fat layers perfect for the low carb eater.
This was the last day of the food tasting trip. And as I mentioned in the beginning, dinner on that last evening was again in M.Y. China to end this wonderful trip.
For the last two food tasting tours we have been focusing on Asian food. I’m sure there are many good local American eats waiting for us to find. That is going to be the agenda in the next food-tasting trip.
If you have any favorites please share them with me! Until next year – to the 3rd San Francisco Food Tasting Tour!