Thursday, June 28, 2012

Numero Uno: El Tonayense Tacos

I'm seriously over the moon when the El Tonayense truck cruises on over to the Wharf and decides to park right next to the office. It's a rare occasion indeed; it's only happened twice in the past 6 months. But when it does, you better be sure I'm making a beeline for the black-and-gold roach coach, and I make sure to get out there well before noon (read: before the huge line forms and snakes down the street).

Why am I thrilled with El Tonayense? Well, for a mere $2 each, you can get tacos generously filled with well-seasoned, moist and flavorful grilled meat—I'm partial to the al pastor (spit-grilled pork), though the chicken's also deelish. All of 'em come with a smattering of onions and cilantro, along with a dousing of zesty hot sauce. I asked for spicy pickles on the side, and they piled 'em on. A most excellent and inexpensive noonday meal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Newsflash: Ramen Has Arrived at Ken Ken

... and in San Francisco, in general. You can get a piping hot bowl of porky goodness (yes, I'm partial to the pig) chock full of bouncy, springy home-made Japanese noodles in a number of neighborhoods in the city: the Inner Sunset, Inner Rich and the Mission, which Ken Ken Ramen calls home. It's something I've been waiting for—and lamenting the lack of—since I moved back from NYC (at the end of '06), where good ramen can be had in nearly every neighborhood from Hell's Kitchen on down.  Oh sure, San Mateo had and still has some great ramen eateries, Himawari among them. But SF sadly came up short ... until now.

Ken Ken Ramen had been on my list of places to try, ever since I'd read the pop-up had found a permanent residence in the Mission about 7 months ago. As we dropped in on a Wednesday, we took advantage of that night's special: the tonkatsu ramen, touted as "the king of broths ... a milky porky wonder." Ahhh, yes, it certainly is. Filled with braised pork, nori, pickled ginger, a soft-boiled egg, and scallions, it ranks right up there as one of my fave kinds of comfort food.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Doing it Up at Burritt Room and Tavern

I managed to catch the tail end of Dine About Town, squeezing in a visit to Charlie Palmer's newish Burritt Room & Tavern just a stone's throw from Union Square. Where many SF restaurants seem half-hearted about their participation in the two-week period where a set lunch and/or dinner menu are offered at a fixed price, Burritt Room & Tavern does it up right. JL and I happily browsed the selections for each of the three dinner courses, and this is what I chose:

Sweet corn chowder screaming of summer with a tiny crown of roasted fingerling potatoes, crispy bacon, sweet sorrel leaves, plus a drizzle of truffle honey.

Marinated strip steak grilled to a gorgeous medium rare accompanied by a mound of creamy potato puree, tangy piquillo pepper coulis, shallot confit, bone marrow butter and sauteed spinach. I practically licked the plate clean; it was that good.

Wild strawberry soup surrounding a soft cube of Greek yogurt panna cotta, sprinkled with a bit of hazelnut brittle and a tiny drizzle of honey balsamic glaze.

Burritt Room & Tavern is a keeper.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Hankering for Shanghai Dumpling King

I decided to give Shanghai Dumpling King another go, and turns out, the 2nd time round was better than the 1st. The soup dumplings seemed fresher, juicier and springier. And the pork chives were delicious as usual. So, we went back a 3rd time and inhaled another load of dumplings, along with the Shanghai-style stir-fried noodles and the braised string beans. Mmmm ... tasty.