Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter U: Udupi Palace

My friend Samantha was kind enough to treat me to lunch for letter U of Alphabet Dining. We went to Udupi Palace on Valencia, and did not know what was in store for us!

Udupi Palace serves Southern Vegetarian Indian cuisine, which means it does not offer the classic Tikka Masala and garlic naan. Instead, we were treated to an assortment of new flavors, spices, and dishes.

South Indian Thali

To start, we ordered the South Indian Thali. Thali is an Indian meal made up of various dishes, and at Udupi they vary day by day. 

We were given daal (Indian Lentil Soup), a special rice, chapatti (unleavened flatbread), plain rice, sambar (pigeon peas), rasam (tamarind soup), yogurti, and dessert (the jelly ball).

I was blown away by the dishes on the platter- dipping the Batura Bread into each cup, I experienced entirely new flavors with each and every bite! The yogurti was great to calm the senses after trying a hot dish.

 Spinach Masala Dosa

We also enjoyed the Spinach Masala Dosa, which is a rice crepe smeared with spinach and stuffed with spiced potatoes. It was warm, spiced goodness. The menu lists it as being a "thin" crepe, but the outer shell is spongy and full of flavor. The potatoes were spiced but not too spicy - just enough for a kick. 

The potatoes within the crepes were stuffed only halfway through. The rest of the crepe (I assume) is to be dipped in the wonderful sauces which come neatly organized for your tasting pleasure.

The Dosa came with Sambar and Coconut Chutney. My favorite sauce was the one on the left, which had a slightly sweet taste to it.

Batura Bread

Instead of naan, Udupi's Southern cuisine offers the Batura Bread seen above. It is essentially a fried, puffy bread, much thinner than naan but with more texture. 

My Plate

The loud colors warn your palate of the bright flavors to come. I loved the use of stainless steel plates. Their glimmer, catching the rays of the mid-afternoon Mission sun, complemented the bold colors in the dishes - not to mention looking great in photos!

One note: Udupi is cash or check only, so come prepared! It is well worth the trip.


Monday, October 28, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter T: Thep Phanom

For letter T of Alphabet Dining, my dad and I ventured to Thep Phanom, the adorable and delicious Thai restaurant in the Lower Haight. 

Tom Kha Pak - Assorted Vegetables in Coconut Soup

We began with the Tom Kha Pak, a delicious, warm coconut soup with assorted veggies! There's a distinct lemon-citrus twist to this dish, which gives it a light, fruity flavor to go well with the creamy coconut soup. 

Crispy Tofu with Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad

Forever a tofu fiend, I ordered the Crispy Tofu in peanut sauce, with a cucumber salad. The tofu was perfectly cooked - crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with sweet peanut sauce for some great protein and flavor. The cucumber salad served as a refreshing crunch to offset the soft tofu texture.

Basil Salmon - Broiled Filet of Salmon in Spicy Basil Sauce 

My dad ordered the Basil Salmon, with broiled filet of salmon in a spicy basil sauce. He enjoyed the kick of the spicy sauce, which complimented the blander salmon.


Espresso & Ice Cream

For a post-dinner treat, my dad ordered the espresso and vanilla ice cream, which came served in this darling cocktail glass and topped with mint

Caramelized Fried Banana, Ice Cream, & Fruits

For my dessert, I opted for the Caramelized Fried Banana, which came complete with vanilla ice cream, kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, and a topping of mint. It was sweet and amazing! I definitely recommend Thep Phanom to anyone in the mood for Thai in SF.

Thep Phanom on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 25, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter S: Squat & Gobble

Letter S brings us to Squat & Gobble on Fillmore. I've actually been coming here since I was a baby. It looked oh-so different back then and all the menus were just printed out on folded paper. We've come a long way since then!

Entree Crepe

My friend Brian and I met here for some card games and lunch. He got a sandwich, and I got a savory crepe. It was one of those warm days in our Indian Summer, and the fruit and salad combo just called to me.

Chicken Pesto

Specifically, I ordered the Chicken Pesto Crepe, which came stuffed with roasted chicken breast, mozzarella, pesto & sun-dried tomatoes. They offer a side of salad, fruit, or potatoes. Insider's tip: You can mix and match if you're really lucky, as seen above. Yum! 

The crepes at Squat & Gobble are always the perfect amount of healthy, yet delicious, yet filling. The crepe shell is neither too thick nor too thin, and neither too crispy nor too soft. Goldilocks would approve.

Southwest Veggie Burger

Bri got the Southwest Veggie Burger, with a homemade veggie patty of back beans, cilantro, chick peas, fire roasted corn, chili verde & red peppers, topped with roasted tomatoes & spicy chipotle aioli, served on a grilled foccacia bun. Oh, and a side of french fries, of course. 

The burger was flavor-packed and smelled amazing. Like the other dishes, each ingredient is fresh and tasty.

Dessert Crepe

Strawberry Nutella Crepe

For dessert, I had a Strawberry Nutella Dessert Crepe and a dash of whipped cream. It was even better than it sounds and looks. The nutella was warm, the strawberries were fresh, and the crepe itself was fluffy - they are generous with their servings here, which I can always appreciate. 

To top it all off, the service is wonderful. The wait staff is attentive and friendly, and you can find the owner himself relaxing at a table most weeknights. It's a great local venue, especially if you're craving a crepe!

Squat and Gobble Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter R: Radio Africa

For letter R of Alphabet Dining, we opted for the Ethiopian - Moroccan cuisine of Radio Africa. Situated in Bayview-Hunter's Point, Radio Africa is casual yet trendy, with large glass windows and window booths to recline on.


We ordered the Roasted Leg of Lamb, with green beans, couscous, and chermoula. The flavor of the lamb was absolutely delicious and juicy, but the consistency was so tough it hurt our jaws, especially after finishing the whole plate. The green beans were crisp and the couscous was tasty and fun. 

Shiitake & Crimini Wot

We also ordered the Shiitake and Crimini Mushroom Wot, complete with snap peas and parmesan cheese. I don't even like mushrooms and I thought these were pretty good.

"Chocoalte Decadence"

Radio Africa offered a single, glorious dessert the night we were there: The Chocolate Decadence, with market fruit and cream. We laughed at the name of the dish until we tried the warm lava cake, topped with another warm layer of thick chocolate syrup. Decadent was a fitting term for the dessert. The strawberries and blueberries were tart and fresh, balancing the dark cake and leaving us wanting another serving each!

Radio Africa and Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 21, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter Q: La Quinta

la quinta san francisco

Letter Q of Alphabet Dining drew me to the Mission District, where I grabbed an enchilada for lunch. Like their street sign and much of Mexico, La Quinta is beautifully decorated with bright colors. A large map of Mexico adorns the wall: 

la quinta san francisco

la quinta san francisco

A local favorite, La Quinta has steller Yelp reviews and a 100 out of 100 health rating. Neighborhood residents speak in a sing-song Spanish as joyful Mexican music plays overhead. 

la quinta san francisco
Enchilada Plate

I ordered the Enchilada Plate. Yelp warned me about the generous servings at La Quinta, so I opted for the "half order," which was still a ton of food served in a family-sized bag (I ordered to-go). 

My plate consisted of rice, beans, a chicken enchilada, two warm, handmade tortillas, a bag of chips, and a side salad. Very worth the $7.50! 

The Enchilada was arguably the best enchilada I've ever had. I could have eaten three more (or tried very hard). The chicken was flavorful and juicy, melding perfectly with the melted cheese and fluffy tortilla. The rice was sticky and sweet, balanced well by the bland beans. I definitely must recommend La Quinta for anyone searching for some genuine Mexican food in San Francisco.

La Quinta on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter P: Perbacco

perbacco restaurant san francisco

For letter P of San Francisco Alphabet Dining, we were fortunate enough to dine at the chef's table at Perbacco in the Financial District. Katie, wife of Nick's friend Chris, was celebrating her 21st birthday and knew the chef from her work in LA's restaurant industry. Perbacco is an amazing venue any day of the week, so to have a VIP table made for an extraordinary dining experience.

Perbacco Appetizers 

perbacco restaurant san francisco
Salumi Piemontesi - Salumi Misti

Mouths dropped at the introduction of the Salumi Misti, which was essentially an enhanced charcuterie plate. The waiter detailed the ingredients of each meat, which included foie gras, salami, and bacon, just to name a few. 

This dish really raised the bar for how good meat can taste and the work that can be put into its preparation. It doesn't have to be just a slab of ground beef with a side of fries; it can be varied, flavorful and exciting enough to be it's own plate entirely. 

perbacco restaurant san francisco
Pesce Crudo
Melon, Hamachi, Figs

This Pesce Crudo was entirely refreshing and seemed to be some sort of nature's candy.

perbacco restaurant san francisco
Heirloom Tomato Salad

Our party was in agreement on our obsession with the Heirloom Tomato Salad. The tomatoes were impossibly fresh and ripe with colorful flavors. The burrata cheese that topped it all off was melt-in-your mouth delicious.

Perbacco Entrees

perbacco restaurant san francisco
Stracci, Devil's Gulch Rabbit Ragu, Roasted Carrot Agrodolce

perbacco restaurant san francisco
Risotto, White Corn, Roasted Golden Chanterelles, Smoked Pancetta

perbacco restaurant san francisco
Roasted Wolfe Ranch Quail Breast, Filled with Golden Chanterelles, with Farro Verde

perbacco restaurant san francisco
Capicollo Arrosto - Pork Shoulder, Salad and Seasonal Fruit

Everyone was thoroughly satisfied with their entrees. I ordered the Liberty Farm Duck Breast, which was delicious but a little tough. The consensus was that the main dishes were great but the appetizers were spectacular!

Perbacco Dessert

And then there was dessert. We ordered the Brutti ma Buoni - "Ugly but Good," Piemontese Hazelnut Cookies. They were served with chocolate syrup in the form of "Happy Birthday," which Perbacco is known for often doing and is a great touch in my opinion. The cookies were absolutely scrumptious, though not the prettiest, just as their name suggests. They were crumbly and had a vanilla/white chocolate flavor to them.

perbacco restaurant san francisco
 Brutti ma Buoni 

perbacco restaurant san francisco

We were also brought some delicious dark chocolate and cookie pieces, one for each of our party. Another example of the great attention to detail.

Dining at Perbacco was, to put it simply, exquisite. The wait staff was attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable. The atmosphere was classy and upscale. The food itself was divine - you could really see the care and preparation that was put into each and every dish, from the intricate Salumi Misti to the simple Brutti ma Buoni cookies. Definitely worth a visit!

Perbacco on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 19, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter O: Out the Door

crispy imperial rolls, shrimp, pork, mint, peanuts, red leaf lettuce, noodles

For the 15th installment of our Alphabet Dining, we sauntered up to Out the Door in Lower Pac Heights. This inconspicuous restaurant offers Vietnamese Fusion cuisine and a casual-yet-classy atmosphere. It is a satellite of the infamous Slanted Door on the Embarcadero.

We ordered Crispy Imperial Rolls, with shrimp, pork, mint, peanuts, red leaf lettuce and a side of noodles. Everything on the plate was deliberate and the ingredients were extremely fresh. The rolls were thick and hearty without being greasy, and the side of red leaf lettuce was a refreshing addition.

BBQ pork spare ribs, spring onions

We also ordered the BBQ Pork Spare Ribs, which came sprinkled with spring onions. The ribs were delicious and fell right off the bone. The spring onions gave a unique kick to the dish.

Overall Experience

Out the Door certainly lives up to the reputation of it's namesake, Slanted Door. We enjoyed fresh ingredients, expertly prepared meals, and a charming atmosphere. My favorite part was the warm hand towels given to us prior to the meal - an extra touch of class! Plus, the food came out quickly - perfect for a quick weekday bite.

Out the Door on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ABC Dining, Letter N: Nombe

nombe san francisco

For letter N of our Alphabet Dining, Rebecca and I ventured over to Nombe in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District. Nombe is a Japanese Fusion restaurant, known for it's unique menu.

nombe san francisco
Bacon-Wrapped Mochi

We started with Bacon-Wrapped Mochi. I like bacon, and I like mochi, but this dish just didn't quite cut it for me. The mochi was deep fried before wrapped in bacon, resulting in too much fried food and not enough mochi flavor or consistency. I prefer the bacon mochi at Izakaya Sozai, since they do not fry their mochi. Instead, they serve regular mochi wrapped in bacon. 

The fried popcorn-like dish at Nombe was far too chewy and bland for our taste.

nombe san francisco
Bacon-Wrapped Peach Salad

I enjoyed our second dish much more than the first. The Bacon-Wrapped Peach Salad was interesting because the peaches themselves seemed to be grilled along with the bacon. This made for a different, tougher consistency than you are used to with peaches. These peaches combined with the greens gave a healthy, refreshing flavor, while the crispy bacon provided a crunch and added some protein to the dish.

nombe san francisco
Ramen Burger

And now, for the Shoyu Ramen Burger! In place of buns, this burger offers fried ramen noodles to sandwich it's main ingredients: 50% Wagyu, 50% Nombe Pork Belly Patty, Mizuna, Tomato, Sushi Vinegar Onions, Shio-koji Japanese Cucumber Pickles, and Bacon

nombe san francisco

The Ramen Burger was an innovative and tasty dish. The beef and pork belly patty overpowered any taste of the ramen itself may have had. I'm a huge pickle fan, so I enjoyed the tart, pickled cucumber flavor. The only thing I would change would be the size of the burger (they were very tiny), as well as the stability of the ramen bun (it fell apart as you ate the burger). 

The atmosphere of Nombe is relaxed and casual, and we had a few different waiters who made sure we were taken care of. 

The only downside I saw was that a lot of their menu twists seem to be centered around deep frying and/or bacon. While this can be a unique fusion to classic Japanese dishes such as mochi, it does not need to take over the entire menu.

That said, I always appreciate a restaurant who takes a risk with unique menu twists. Nombe's Ramen Burger is delicious and different, with Japanese pickled cucumber flavors and fried ramen for buns. I would come for this burger but skip the bacon mochi.

Nombe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Roadtrip, Day 7: Boston, Massachusetts

I wasn't sure what a 7 day coast-to-coast roadtrip would be like, but "quick" and "ending too soon" were not phrases I was expecting to use to describe the experience. The truth is, the trip went by in a flash. By the time my mind had registered that we were in Utah, we were already halfway through Nebraska. Once in Boston, I was finally grasping the notion that we had driven from San Francisco all the way to Massachusetts.

We spent our last day in beautiful and historical Boston, sprinkled with statues of the Founding Fathers, impressive architecture, and scrumptious dishes. 

Gorgeous church in downtown Boston

Skyscraper in downtown Boston

Nick & I on the duck tour!

We took a duck tour, which was a great tourist bus trip that drives into the Charles River and becomes a boat. Yep! It was as fun as it sounds. I even got to steer the boat for a while!

View of the Charles River from the duck boat

Boston Skyline

After exploring the city, we stopped in to Boloco for a couple amazing and unique burritos. Boloco stands for Boston Local Company.

I got the Texas BBQ Burrito, which was so delicious. It's a combination I never would have thought up, but it strangely works.

Apologies for the blurry picture. Nick ordered the Tikka Masala Burrito. SO amazing!! Definitely recommend this one.

Driving the Duck Tour!

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