Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yummy Yummy Crab

The spicy roast crab at Vietnamese resto Yummy Yummy is hands down the best of its kind in SF.

The uber garlicky-fiery chile sauce is out of this world. My folks, whom I took there while they were in town, gave it the highest of all compliments (in their book), saying this had exactly the flavor components of an excellent Korean marinade (mind you, I did say Yummy Yummy is in fact a Vietnamese establishment).

My ma, who doesn't really care for crab at all, couldn't help but sneak a leg or 2 or 3 onto her plate; it was the garlic-chile-onion-scallion-sesame sauce that she was in love with. And so was Ioh yes, and the crustacean itself was damn good too.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Black Bean Noodles

Pasta of a different kind and equally as good ... this one—the black bean noodles (aka jia-jiang-mein)—hailing from Eastern Paradise in Honolulu, Hawaii.

I love this dish, which is available at certain Chinese restaurants catering to Koreans—typically, there's even a second menu written in Korean. The umami-rich, soy-based sauce also includes chopped onions and zucchini along with diced beef and shrimp. Some versions have squid and sea cucumber or diced potatoes; this one didn't. The whole thing is then topped with a julienne of raw cucumbers. I like to spike my noodles with a good swig of vinegar to give it a tangy bite.

Eastern Paradise's version was pretty good. But I've gotta say that San Tung's (which makes its pasta in-house) in SF is better. Sadly, I avoid that place like the plague because it's mobbed day and night (and no wonder, the food is really that good). I guess I'll just have to suck it up and go back. Maybe if I go on the early side of lunch over the weekend, the wait, not to mention the din and roar, will be minimal? We'll see ...

Homemade Pasta from Puglia

Grazie, SM, for the fresh pasta, which I'm told hails from his hometown Lucera in Puglia. This exact type is called troccoli. The long, thick strands are traditionally cut with a special brass rolling pin, something SM's dad made to do up his own batches of troccoli back in Italy.

And so, a few of us got to partake of SM's lovely handiwork (something he does on a daily basis) one Sunday night not too long ago.

We enjoyed the filling pasta with a simple veggie ragu topped with grated Parmesan along with a side of peppery arugula and cherry tomatoes. Sometimes it's the simple things in life that are the most satisfying.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hawaii Time

Nothing like a refreshingly ice-cold margarita accompanied by some baja fish tacos along the water, palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze, to let you know you're now officially on Hawaii time.

Now this is living.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Benu Bedazzles

I had a meal of epic proportions at uber fine-dining restaurant Benu ("I see rich people," I texted my pal AB as I waited for her to arrive), which took over Hawthorne Lane's spot in SoMa in just the past year. It was AB in fact who clued me in to Benu's worthshe had just finished writing up a piece on the incredibly gifted sommelier Yoon Ha. So, since I owed her a meal in return for the one she'd sported me at Coi ... here we were.

And what a mind-blowing meal we had, accompanied by some of the most inspired and creative wine (and sake). I told AB, "Let's become regulars." That's saying a lot, considering the pricetag on this place. But heck, Yoon Ha knows his sh*t and so does Chef Corey Lee (whose spent time in some of the most illustrious kitchens including The French Laundry). Koreans rock. Yes they do. Woooo.

Benu's cherry blossom granita with yogurt, cucumber and pistachio crumble ... a refreshing balance of tangy and tart with a bit of crunch and salt thrown in.

Abalone grenobloise with cauliflower, parsley and capers ... dusted and fried in panko, the shellfish was light and tender in consistency, and mild in flavor. The accompaniments brought the pop to the dish.

Creamy, sinful and oh-so-good foie gras steamed in sake, with the tiniest brunoise of peach, accompanied by kohlrabi, perked up by the bite of perilla sprigs, with a side of buttery brioche toast.

From the oak-acorn strozzapreti, Iberico ham, Himalayan truffle ... a lovely earthy, savory pasta.

This risotto was the dish that almost brought AB to tearsof joy, that is ... as I'm Korean (and we just don't do that kind of thing in public ... tiger moms don't condone such displays of emotion after all), I did not follow suit. However, that's not to say I didn't feel exactly as she did. The creaminess of the rice, flavored with corn and black truffle and given a generous helping of the most luscious sea urchin, which melted like butter on our tongues, brought us to our proverbial knees. We scraped the plate clean.

Duck with crisp-tender baby bok choy and jicama cubes. A really nice combo with a perfect sear on the medium-rare bird.

Andante Dairy cheese, compliments of another Korean ... oh so pretty and precious, really lovely stuff.

Almond brioche, apricot, buttercream, osmanthus ... A gorgeous-looking plate and equally gorgeous in flavor. The fragrant osmanthus flower is native to China and often used to infuse teas.

After copious amounts of wine and food, we were served a selection of scrummy truffles to go with our tea and coffee.

Phew. I gotta say, I'm beyond impressed. Benu really brought it. In spades.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In Season: Heirloom Tomatoes

The best heirlooms are the kinds you can eat ...

Yay, for the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market.