Sunday, February 28, 2010

Out the Door on Bush

... is chef Charles Phan's home post, it being where he and his family live in the large flat just above this latest in his chain of Out the Doors. (In fact, we saw him puttering around in the kitchen on our first visit there.)

Phan's is a true rags to riches story. An immigrant to this country, he's now a celebrated chef and owner of several restaurants including ritzy Slanted Door in the Ferry Building. His success has everything to do with the creativity in his Vietnamese fusion dishes. Phan showcases bright, fresh flavors and ingredients that make for really wonderful food.

Out the Door's crispy-crunchy jicama and grapefruit salad with shredded red cabbage and carrots comes lightly dressed in a sweet soy sauce and has a healthy helping of candied pecans. It's super fresh and tangy.

Slow-roasted BBQ Niman Ranch pork ribs come smoking hot out of the oven, doused in honey and hoisin, with a generous sprinkling of scallions and cilantro.

The sauteed prawns in a garlicky soy sauce were tender and moist. We opted to leave the heads behind and enjoyed the fleshy flavorful bodies over some jasmine rice.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Slow Club's Still Got It

On President's Day, JG, JW and I went to Slow Club thinking we'd partake of an especially nice brunch (according to my sister who tried it out just a few months' prior). But it being Monday, there were no breakfasty items on order (brunch is relegated to the weekends), so we opted for lunch instead.

We quickly got over our initial disappointment when the food hit our table. Why? Because Slow Club is still doing it right—the last time I'd been was maybe 8 or so years ago. Sometimes the really old standbys are worth going back to.

My flavorful bowl full of fettuccini dressed in a fennel leek cream, pecorino romano, chile flakes, lemon zest and breadcrumbs had a nice crumbling of pork sausage along with melted leeks and wilted baby spinach.

JW's uber-tender and well-seasoned braised brisket came covered in a tart-tangy-peppery blend of horseradish creme fraiche, pickled red onions and baby arugula, sandwiched in a springy torpedo roll.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snack Time at Zuni Cafe

Nothing like a pile o' crispy pommes frites plus a glass of wine at Zuni Cafe to put the blush on a rosy SF afternoon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Heavenly Himawari

When workmate GC (who's married to a Japanese national) told us he almost cried over his bowl of Tan Tan Men deluxe (spicy savory ramen with pork belly, ground pork and stewed pork) at Himawari in San Mateo because it was so authentically delicious, JL and I decided we had to go as soon as possible. So a few days later, we three hightailed it down there for a midday repast and were transported to the 7th level of heaven (is there such a thing? at Himawari, there most certainly is).

Though I still do have a great love of the ramen at Ippudo in New York, I think Himawari's version is a tiny tad more authentic and homey, the pork broth ever so rich and succulent, the noodles a bit more al dente. Loved the added bite of cilantro and the soft-boiled egg thrown in. My only sadness is that the resto's not closer to home. Still, I'll try to make it down there every now and again—for an awesome bowl of ramen, why not?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Retreat at Zuppa

PM and I had a hearty and heart-warming lunch at Zuppa the other day ... a welcome respite from a day of drudgery.

We ordered up a big plateful of sweet roasted beets and braised fennel, sprinkled with a julienne of basil.

And followed with a generous helping of pasta tossed with pecorino and Parmesan, topped with a generous smattering of tender, springy clams. Mmmmm, mmmm, good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lovely Luce

I get why Luce got the nod from the French, earning one Michelin star for food that's not only really pretty, but super tasty too. Cousin MC2 and I hit the incredibly large eatery (you had to walk the length of 1/2 a football field to get to the bathroom for crying out loud) housed in the Hotel Intercontinental last week while Dine About Town was still on. Here's what went down:

A really toothsome assortment of baby beets accompanied by microgreens, a dehydrated crumble of truffles, and big gobs of blue cheese.

Super fresh slivers of Kona kampachi crudo with globules of yuzu. MC2 liked it well enough, but was jonesing for more of a citrusy tang to add some sparkle to the dish.

It was Luce's bouillabaisse comprising a couple o' hunks of branzino, amazingly tender rings of squid, baby octopus and shrimp doused in a pool of lobster broth that was our hands-down fave. MC2 kept saying she'd love a stein of the frothy broth plopped in front of her—"just give me a straw and I'll be happy," and she meant it. Oh yeah, and the crispety-crunchety pork belly and fork-tender pork cheeks with gigante beans and fennel shavings was pretty damn good too.

We loved the moist hazelnut cake with nutella “kiss,” hazelnut “cloud,” vanilla pudding and tangerine sorbet. The chocolate mousse with white chocolate shavings was more run-of-the-mill—no stand-out dessert was this; what we should've done was order Luce's third DAT entree (a beef tenderloin) instead. Oh well, there's always next time.