Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blue Gingko | Lafayette

 Spider Roll and Volcano Roll

     What's funner than playing with your food?? Blue Gingko feeds our imagination as well as our bellies with their innovative sushi rolls. On the left is the Spider Roll and next to it is the mighty Volcano Roll. For those unfamiliar, the green hill is wasabi and the yellow ribbons are ginger to cleanse the palate. The Spider Roll consists of soft shell crab, avocado, and greens. The Volcano Roll erupts with a spicy albacore tuna.
       Blue Gingko is located in Lafayette, CA, just a short drive from the city. I really love the creativity in their sushi rolls. You see the Spider Roll takes on the pinchers and creepy spider shape that almost gives you the chills... until you eat it of course. The Volano Roll is topped with cool, delicious tuna that resembles a volcano - Close Encounter fans, anyone?? 

 Agedashi Tofu

     For whatever reason, I always had a soft spot for Agedashi Tofu. I'm always in the mood for it. Blue Gingko's was great - crispy and light on the outside, warm and soft in the middle, and sitting atop a sweet sauce.


Overall Experience

     Blue Gingko was clean, relaxing, and quiet. The food was innovative, tasty, and photogenic (Is that a new requisite now? Not quite, but it doesn't hurt). Our waitress was extremely friendly and prompt, completing the great dining experience. Our miso soup was even on the house. A small but much appreciated gesture.
        I would not hesitate to recommend Blue Gingko for some fun sushi and great service.


Blue Gingko on Urbanspoon
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Monday, May 27, 2013

E'Angelo Trattoria

E'Angelo Trattoria San Francisco
Red Snapper, Mussels, Spinach Pasta with Bolognese

     After a day at the horse races on Memorial Day Weekend, we were ready for some filling, tasty food. Italian fit the bill, and E'Angelo's was our pick for dinner in the Marina!

Starters

E'Angelo Trattoria San Francisco
Mussels

     To start, we opted for these delicious mussels off of the specials menu. They were huge! The sauce they were in was so delicious, we couldn't help but sop up all of it with the complimentary bread.
       
Main Courses
E'Angelo Trattoria San Francisco
Tagliatelle Verdi alla Bolognese

      I ordered the Tagliatelle Verdi alla Bolognese, or Spinach Ribbons Pasta with slow-cooked Bolognese Ragout. You can't tell from the picture, but this is actually a very deep bowl of what felt like never-ending yummy pasta. This is a good thing, because it means I get the leftovers for a free second meal!

E'Angelo Trattoria San Francisco
Red Snapper Special

     Nick ordered the Red Snapper Special, which was very good. It came topped in diced tomatoes and a delicious sauce.  

E'Angelo Trattoria San Francisco
Side of grilled potatoes, carrots and zucchini 

     The Red Snapper Special also came with this yummy side of grilled potatoes, carrots and zucchini. It was a good compliment to the fish and the potatoes were especially tasty.

Overall Experience
      In a neighborhood such as the Marina, which is filled with plenty of new, trendy restaurants, it's nice to still have an old school Italian restaurant as an option for a nice dinner. 
     The staff was friendly and the owner even took the time to arrange our plate of mussels before I took my foodie picture. In my opinion, little details like this make all the difference in a dining experience. 
     I wouldn't call it my favorite, but if you're in the mood for some traditional, no-fuss Italian food, E'Angelo Trattoria is a great place to go. 


E'Angelo Trattoria on Urbanspoon
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pacific Catch by the Bay

Poke Bowl, Edamame & Pretzel Fish, Salmon Tempura Sushi

Pacific Catch | Inner Sunset

     
     On a sunny (but windy) Sunday in the city, a group of friends and I stopped in to eat at Pacific Catch for dinner. We had spent the day at a musical rendition of Once on This Island, put on by my old dance troop's company, and shopping at Target. It was a pretty fun Sunday. Here's an epic pic of us during the intermission of the musical:

Pacific Catch Restaurant San Francisco

      We worked up quite the appetite. Off to Pacific Catch!

Pacific Catch


Pacific Catch Restaurant San Francisco
Ceiling (Skylight just out of view)

     The atmosphere in Pacific Catch is really cool. It's wide open, with a tall pyramid ceiling, giant lantern lights, and wide windows where the walls could be. It sits on a corner, so half the wall space is actually windows. This is great for letting in natural lighting and makes the space seem even bigger than it already is.    

Starters

Pacific Catch Restaurant San Francisco
Peeled edamame and pretzel fishes

      Delicious and healthy edamame! For those who haven't tried edamame, think snow peas. The salted pretzel fishes gave an added kick of flavor. Great for whetting the appetite.

Main Dishes
Pacific Catch Restaurant San Francisco
Sunset Sushi Roll

     I ordered the delicious Sunset Sushi Roll you see above, which consisted of tempura sweet tofu, green bean, scallion, & carrot, wrapped with avocado, rice & nori, and drizzled with teriyaki sauce. I really enjoyed it - there wasn't too much of an overpowering crunch from the carrots, so I was able to really taste the other ingredients and textures. The teriyaki sauce offered it's great signature flavor. I also got a side of edamame just for kicks.

Pacific Catch Restaurant San Francisco
Japanese Wasabi Rice Bowl with Hawaiian Poke

     Rayna got the delicious Japanese Wasabi Rice Bowl with Hawaiian poke. It came with a wakame salad, avocado, daikon sprouts, cucumber, ginger, sesame seeds, shredded nori & soy-wasabi sauce. Hawaiian Ahi Poke is raw slices of Ahi Tuna. It was delicious, cool, and fresh!
       She also got the great Hinano beer, imported from Tahiti! Super points there.

Pacific Catch Restaurant San Francisco
Japanese Wasabi Rice Bowl with Grilled Salmon

     Greg ordered the Japanese Wasabi Rice Bowl with grilled salmon. Like Rayna's dish, this one also came with a wakame salad, avocado, daikon sprouts, cucumber, ginger, sesame seeds, shredded nori & soy-wasabi sauce. Yum.

Pacific Catch Restaurant San Francisco
Korean Barbecue with Marinated Skirt Steak

      Chester ordered the Korean Barbecue Rice Bowl with marinated skirt steak, green onion panchan, seasoned cucumber, shredded omelette, daikon sprouts, shredded nori and Korean BBQ sauce. It was pretty bomb.

Overall Experience
     Food and ambiance were spectacular! Still can not believe they had Hinano imported from Tahiti.
     The only thing lacking was the service. We came in and asked how long the wait would be for a table of four. They said about 15 minutes, and seated us near the bar. 40 minutes later, and we had not moved! We had to flag down someone to tell them we had been waiting. We were super hungry when we came in so this did not help. It wasn't a huge deal, but if we had known it would've taken so long we probably would have liked to know so we could have ordered some appetizers. 
     Overall, the experience was a good one and a delicious one. I would definitely recommend Pacific Catch for anyone in the area who is craving some good seafood!


Pacific Catch 9th Ave on Urbanspoon
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Alphabet Dining, Letter H : Hard Knox

Hard Knox Restaurant San Francisco
Chicken-Fried Steak, Chicken & Waffles, Cornbread Muffins, Jumbalayah 

It's A Hard Knox Life

      We're more than a third of the way through the alphabet! For letter H of our ABC Dining, we ventured to Hard Knox in the Richmond district. Hard Knox serves (spoiler: delicious) Southern Comfort Soul Food. 

Hard Knox Restaurant San Francisco
Cornbread Muffins

     We started with these DELICIOUS cornbread muffins. I wanted to eat a billion of them. 

Hard Knox Restaurant San Francisco
Chicken 'n Waffles 

     I ordered the delicious and amazing dish you see above - Chicken 'n Waffles. Three pieces of fried chicken, served with a buttermilk Belgian waffle and serving of maple syrup. Aka heaven. The thing I really love about chicken n waffles is that instead of eating the chicken with any special sauces or ketchup, you can justify eating it with the maple syrup - because, hey, it's right there any way! May as well! 
     The quality of the fried chicken at Hard Knox was top. It was cooked perfectly, with plenty of meat on the bone. They give you the option of all white, all dark, or mixed meat. It was hearty without being greasy. Perfect!
     The buttermilk Belgian waffle was thick and puffy and delicious.  The carbs in the waffle really complimented the protein of the chicken for a great meal, and the sweet maple syrup tied it all together. 

Hard Knox Restaurant San Francisco
Jumbalaya Rice

      Greg, visiting from Hawaii, ordered the Jumbalaya Rice. This delish dish consisted of shrimp, chicken, and beef sausage sauteed with onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes in a Cajun tomato-based sauce. Very good and not too spicy at all.

Hard Knox Restaurant San Francisco
Country-Fried Steak

      Rayna ordered the Country-Fried Steak - breaded cubed beef, fried and served with country gravywith a side of mac & cheese and greens. Fun fact: Rayna came late, so we ordered her 2 sides for her. She arrived before her food, and said she was hoping for macaroni and greens. Jackpot!! 

Hard Knox Restaurant San Francisco
Fried Catfish, Macaroni and Yam Fries

      Alex N. ordered the Fried Catfish - Two farm-raised catfish filets, seasoned, then fried with a cornmeal batter, with a side of macaroni and yam fries. Another hit!

Hard Knox Restaurant San Francisco
Fried Pork Chops, French Fries and Stewed Cabbage

      Chester ordered the Fried Pork Chops - Two 6 oz. center cut pork chops marinated in their special seasoning and fried, with sides of fresh-cut french fries and stewed cabbage. Another southern comfort culinary delight.

Overall Experience
     
     Service - prompt, friendly, knowledgeable on the menu.
     Food - delicious, hearty without being greasy
     Ambiance - casual, interesting, down-to-earth feel
    Long story short, I loved my experience at Hard Knox! This is my top restaurant of recommendation for Southern comfort food in the city. 
     
Hard Knox Cafe on Urbanspoon
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rickybobby Restaurant San Francisco


   For another date night after a windy SF day, Nick and I ventured over to Rickybobby. We were so glad we did! Walking in, RB is a smallish, casual restaurant, with cool art on the walls. They were even projecting Top Gun over the doorway. Classic.   

Ricky Bobby Restaurant San Francisco
Duck Salad with strawberries and pistachios

     I love when restaurants give you unexpected combinations of ingredients! Nick ordered the Duck Salad, complete with delicious fresh strawberries and crunchy crumbled pistachios. The dish healthy, yet hearty. The strawberries gave it an added sweet kick, and somehow the duck and lettuce complemented each other nicely. So good.

Ricky Bobby Restaurant San Francisco
Seafood Gumbo

     It had been a windy day in the city, so I opted for the warm Seafood Gumbo. It was delicious!! With corn, rice, oysters, shrimp, green beans, and sausage, it really hit the spot. It was hearty, warm and so tasty. It was slightly spicy, but nothing too crazy. I'm a lightweight when it comes to spices, but really enjoyed this dish. I highly recommend it. 

Overall Experience
     The ambiance was comfortable and casual, the service was prompt and friendly, and the food was delicious and noteworthy. What else can you say? I definitely recommend Rickybobby.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Dad's BDay Dinner!! Kokkari Estiatorio

Balvenie 17 year Peat Cast Scotch, Seabream Fish, Chicken, Sorbet, Baklava, and Chocolate Cake

     For my dad's birthday this year, we devised a list of the top restaurants for us, taking into account the cuisine type, neighborhood, and recommendations from friends. After much deliberation, we settled on Kokkari Estiatorio in the Finanical District. Here is our story.

Kokkari Estiatorio


Kitchen

Large wooden windows

Our cool Grecian plates

      The atmosphere of Kokkari is a great balance of warmth and sophistication. The tall wooden windows look out over a sea of Grecian fish plates and cloth-covered tables. Giant tapestries cover the walls, and large gourds and plants cover the floor. It's a great setting for a Greek meal.

Mezethes | Starters



Balvenie 17 year Peat Cast Scotch
     
     This is how my dad rolls. He loved his Balvenie 17 year peat cast scotch. Him and the waiter had a whole convo about how smoothly it went down. It made for some cool pictures as well!

Horiatiki - Classic Greek salad of tomato, bell peppers, cucumber, onion, oregano, olives, and feta

     The Horiatiki, or Classic Greek Salad, was crisp, fresh, and colorful! It was great next to the lamb riblets (below), which were a bit more austere. Traditionally, Greek salad does not have any lettuce. Instead, it's filled with a healthy combination of tomato, bell peppers, cucumber, onion, oregano, olives, and blocks of feta.

Arnisia Plevrakia - Grilled lamb riblets with lemon and oregano

     I was expecting more from the grilled Arnisia Plevrakia, or Lamb Riblets. There wasn't much meat on them, even for an appetizer, and they were missing the usual flavor party that I've come to expect from lamb. Perhaps this is a more traditional, Grecian presentation of the dish.


Dolmathes - Grape leaves stuffed with rice, dill, and mint

     The Dolmathes were absolutely delish - I highly recommened these! My roommate in college used to make them, and they never disappoint. They are kind of like sushi, save the fish and with more of a wrap. Rice is covered with delicious grape leaves, and dowsed in dill and mint. They are packed with flavor and really fun to eat. Like little tasty sleeping bags for the rice!

Kirio Piato | Main Course

Seabream Fish, de-boned, with spinach and lemon

     For my main course, I ordered the Seabream Special, which came with spinach and was de-boned at the recommendation of our knowledgeable waiter. It was utterly delicious! The white meat was buttery and melted in your mouth. The only setback was a small section of the fish which had been overlooked in the de-boning process. I quickly realized why the waiter suggested to get the dish de-boned, because the bones were tiny and white, so they blended in with the meat of the fish and thus could be very dangerous if ingested and swallowed. I had to eat the rest of my fish very carefully.

Souvla Tis Emeras - Seasoned Chicken + Potatoes with Lemon

     For his main course, my dad ordered the Soulva Tis Emeras, which was perfectly-seasoned chicken and potatoes. He and I both agreed that the potatoes in this dish were hands down the best potatoes we've ever had! I'm not sure how these were seasoned and/or marinated, but they were packed with hearty flavors. The chicken was also seasoned very well - not overdone, but definitely enough for a lot of great flavors. The darling, white potpourri-looking bag was a half lemon to squeeze over the plate. This touch of zest and detail really added to the fine-dining experience at Kokkari. 

Glyka | Dessert

Baklava, Sorbet, Chocolate Cake

     As good as the entire meal was, the dessert really was the cherry on top! We went all-out and ordered the Traditional Baklava, a Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake, and a Yogurt Sorbet. They were all AMAZING. I highly recommend all three, and here's why.

Traditional Baklava, with walnuts, honey, and a side of vanilla-praline ice cream

     I went straight for the Traditional Baklava, a personal favorite of mine. It was the first of the three mind-blowing dessert experiences at Kokkari! I literally couldn't help but put on an amazed, wide-eyed, raised-eyebrows face after my first bite. It was freshly-made, warm and flaky. The crunch of the walnuts against the sweet honey flavors easily swirled and melted in your mouth. The cool vanilla-praline ice cream could not have been a more perfect partnering.

Sokolatina - Flourless dark chocolate cake with sweetened whipped cream

     The Sokolatina is a flourless dark chocolate cake. It is delicious and extremely rich! Goes great next to the icy Yogurt Sorbet Gratina, below.

Yiaourti Granita - Yogurt sorbet with seasonal fruit granita and mint syrup

     I've saved the best for last. The Yiaourti Granita, aka Yogurt Sorbet Granita. Let me just take a moment of silence for this hidden wonder of the world. Seriously, if you go to Kokkari, and order nothing else, order THIS. You can thank me later. Every single bite is automatically, involuntarily followed by an amazed face, no matter how many bites you take. I will try to describe such an innate wash of deliciousness best I can. First, it will help to know that granita (in this case red, above) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and flavoring. In our dish, I believe the mind-blowing red flavor was a sweet watermelon and/or a hint of strawberry. The shocking and delightful thing is in the strength of the flavors that hit you. You are utterly ambushed by the taste of fresh, crisp fruit flavors, while simultaneously enjoying icy sweet sugar. The yogurt sorbet and mint syrup is a great tart juxtaposition to the sweet fruity flavors in the granita. Truly heavenly. 


Overall Experience

Traditional Greek Coffee, made over hot sands


     My dad and I really enjoyed our experience at Kokkari. We were there for a total of about 3 hours, but the time flew by thanks to the great food, service, and ambiance. The only real setback I experienced was the section of my fish that was not properly de-boned. That was a bit scary, but the rest of our experience was very pleasant.
     The food was delicious, and it's presentation was very nice. I loved how they put the half lemons of our main courses in little white potpourri-looking satchels, so the lemon juice didn't fly about.  The appetizers and main courses were very good, and the desserts were AMAZING.
      To me, the service and ambiance of a restaurant is as important as the food itself. Both the host and our waiters were very warm and welcoming, and our waiter was very knowledgeable about each dish and the various scotches. 
     The ambiance of Kokkari is as welcoming as it's service. From wall tapestries to tall wooden windows and giant gourds, it really feels like you could be in Greece. 
     I absolutely recommend Kokkari Estiatorio, especially their desserts - just double check that fish!




Dedicated to the best dad ever - Love you Dudu! :)

Kokkari Estiatorio on Urbanspoon
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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Exploratori-YUM | Seaglass Restaurant

Freshly-Shucked Oysters, Fauxnagi, Pizza w/ Egg
Freshly-Shucked Oysters, Fauxnagi, Pizza w/ Egg

Seaglass | Exploratorium


Michelle & I with the gorgeous Bay Bridge backdrop

     Last week my friend Michelle and I went to check out the new Exploratorium venue at Pier 15. We were not prepared for the awesomeness of the venue, but even more of a pleasant surprise was the restaurant inside the museum! For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Exploratorium is a San Francisco museum specializing in eye-opening exhibits on science - everything from plants, animals, space, gravity, senses - the list goes on and on. It's a fun place to learn about the world we live in.
     It's also a fun place for your sense of taste! 
     
     Fresh Oyster & Sushi Bar

       Seaglass Restaurant is set up cafeteria-style: the best cafeteria you've ever been to. I grabbed a tray and asked the chef for "3 oysters, please!" She shucked them right in front of me, as I ordered them. These have got to be the freshest oysters I will ever have! I absolutely loved the presentation of the ice, seaweed, oysters, lemons, and giant fish swimming in the ice, not to mention those gorgeous blue orbs. It really got you in the marine, seafood mood. Everything was spotless, fresh and clean. Very appetizing.

Hammersley Inlet Oysters on the Half Shell

     As expected, these were the freshest oysters I've ever tasted. Cool and refreshing, these Hammersley Inlet Oysters were placed on a lovely blue transparent dish. It was like eating as Ocean Royalty.

Fresh Sushi Bar

     Next, I moved down the line to the fresh sushi bar. Here I ordered a roll of Fauxnagi + Avocado Sushi, a twist on the classic Unagi + Avocado. The sushi chef was incredibly fast. It was a feast for your eyes to watch him in action. He made my roll in about 45 seconds.

Fauxnagi + Avocado

     As a huge unagi fan, I was curious to see how the fauxnagi fared at Seaglass. I was shocked at how good it was! There were sweet accents in it which were great against all the rice and buttery avocado. I got so excited urging Michelle to taste one that I dropped my chopsticks. Whoops! 

Carbonara Pizza!

     Lastly, Michelle and I split a personal Carbonara Pizza. This was absolutely delicious! It consisted of  pancetta, onions, and a sunny side-up egg. I loved that the dough was chewy (not a big fan of thin crust), and the egg was runny and perfect. The warm pizza was a great offset to the cool, refreshing oysters.

Our Exploratorium Stamps

Overall Experience

     We thoroughly enjoyed Seaglass. They spared no expense when it came to the Exploratorium food. Our dinner was fresh, unique and delicious. The beautiful presentation was the cherry on top, and solidified the oceanic ambiance. If you're curious, check out the Exploratorium's website!

Beautiful wooden structure outside the venue


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