Friday, July 29, 2011

South Bay: King Egg Roll

I have been going to King Egg Roll for as long as I can remember:

It's really close to my house and I make at least one trip every time I am back in the Bay.

King Egg Roll offers a variety of stuff from typical Chinese take-out fare to dim sum and Vietnamese sandwiches:

However, this is my favorite section:

Because so many people go to King Egg Roll, none of the food sits very long.  Everything is always freshly fried.

What I love most about King Egg Roll is its egg rolls.  (No surprise there.)  King Egg Roll has effectively ruined all other egg rolls for me.  I cannot eat other egg rolls without lamenting how they cannot compare to King Egg Roll.  There's just something about the filling that's different from other places.

Anyway, King Egg Roll is our go-to place for party platters.  I was home last weekend for a friend's wedding and got dragged by my mom to her cell group's barbecue on Saturday.  We were trying to decide what to make for the barbecue, but ultimately gave up and just went to King Egg Roll for a party tray:

Just look at that filling:

Soooooooo gooooooooood.

Unfortunately, prices keep rising at King Egg Roll.  I can remember when egg rolls were 45 cents apiece.  Now they're 75 cents.  I don't know how high they can go before people start deciding that they're not worth the price.  I think my cut-off point might be 80 cents.  $1 per egg roll is just insane...even if they're that delicious.


King Egg Roll
980 Lundy Ave
San Jose, CA 95133
(408) 729-8307

San Francisco: Straw

Ever since AF sent me a SF burger list, I've been wanting to go to Straw.  We kept putting it off, hoping that another Berkeley friend of ours would be able to make it into the city and join us sometime.  Unfortunately, we were running out of time and it simply didn't look like it was going to happen.

So AF and I went to Straw by ourselves for our 2nd dinner:

Straw is designed around a carnival theme, which thankfully doesn't translate to clowns all over the place:

Not sure how goldfish fit into the theme (maybe kettle corn would have been more fitting?), but I certainly never turn down goldfish crackers:

Here's the reason why Straw was even on our radar in the first place:

The ringmaster is a...prepare yourself...DONUT BURGER.  Can anyone say Paula Deen?  Sounds scary, but it really wasn't at all.  Unlike the glazed confection I was imagining, the donut wasn't particularly sweet.  It tasted...rather like a normal burger with a slightly different bun.  Kinda disappointing actually.

The mac attack was quite good though:

It was basically elbow macaroni doused in creamy cheese sauce and topped with apple cubes and maple glazed bacon.  It was cheesy without being overpowering and the apple added a nice contrast in both flavor and texture.

AF was really excited about the inverted root beer float:

Instead of the traditional root beer float, the "inverted" version is a marriage of cream soda and root beer gelato.  I'm personally not a lover of root beer (unlike my sister), but I loved the root beer gelato.  Combined with the cream soda, the resulting concoction was much creamier and smoother than a regular old root beer float.

The service was rather...okay, very slow, but they did seem understaffed.  (The hostess somehow ended up in the kitchen plating all the dishes.)  Other than that, Straw is quirky and fun and definitely worth a trip.

203 Octavia Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 431-3663

San Francisco: San Tung Restuarant

AF and I spent a good chunk of Sunday afternoon walking around Golden Gate Park.  We sat under the windmill, speculated where people would dump bodies, tried to spot the elusive bison...and then jumped on a bus to get to the other end of the park.  What?  Golden Gate Park is huge!

Due to some delays, what was originally planned to be an afternoon snack turned out to be dinner #1.  Since we were in the area, we really couldn't miss the opportunity to check out San Tung Restaurant:

The place was packed.  Ridiculously so.  We gamely wrote AF's name on the small whiteboard and prepared ourselves for a long wait.

It actually wasn't all that bad.  We got in within the hour:

I was a little surprised by the kimchi:

The red chili flakes were rather deadly.  At least for weaksauce like me.

I felt bad just ordering one entree, so we decided on a plate of pork dumplings since the sign on the window advertised San Tung Restaurant as the "king of dumplings.":

I don't usually like to order dumplings or potstickers in Chinese restaurants, because they're both  pretty basic stuff that you can make at home (with better ingredients).  I have to admit though, these were pretty decent dumplings.

This shot is pre-vinegar (I like to pour vinegar directly into the dumpling):

What San Tung Restaurant is really famous for, however, is their fried chicken.  There are two types, dry and wet.  We ordered dry...but it came rather wet:

If that's dry, I wonder what wet looks like.  Anyway, it was SPECTACULAR.  The sauce was sweet and sour and finger-licking good.  Really.  The chicken itself was super crispy on the outside, but juicy inside.

For the chicken you can choose between "diced" and wings.  Wings, all the way.  What's better than gnawing meat off the bone?  The meat is way juicier that way.  The diced chicken we saw on neighboring tables just looked wimpy in comparison.

Worth the wait?  I think so.  I would also come with more people to sample more things.  Not going to lie, the potstickers I saw being brought to other tables looked plump and super legit.  I'm salivating just thinking about them...

San Tung Restaurant
1031 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 242-0828

Thursday, July 28, 2011

San Francisco: Devil's Teeth Baking Company

After Mama's, AF and I took a little detour to the mall before setting off for Devil's Teeth Baking Company for their beignet Sundays:

That little detour for sunglasses cost us our beignets!  We found out to our horror that they'd run out of beignets a little over an hour before we got there.  Apparently, that was the first Sunday that'd ever happened.  Uh huh.  Of all the luck...

The setup at Devil's Teeth is very simple:

Open kitchen, display case, and a couple of counter seats lining the window.

Beignets were out of the question, so we asked the staff what the most popular item was.  To our surprise, the guy serving us said that the most popular item, in his opinion, was not the best-tasting one.  Well, okay then.  Since we made that huge trek out to the Outer Sunset, we wanted nothing less than the best-tasting thing they had to offer.  The guy suggested either the cheesecake or the carrot cake.

We went with the carrot cake:

I hadn't had carrot care in so long that I'd forgotten how delicious it could be.  The cake was a single thin layer, which was great for a multitude of reasons: 1) the cake was super moist, 2) perfect frosting to cake ratio, and 3) just enough cake to satisfy without being too much.

The most appealing part about Devil's Teeth Baking Company is its friendly, laid back atmosphere.  The staff are all incredibly nice and told us that we could sample anything we wanted.  What other bakery lets people pick what they want to sample?  Also, Devil's Teeth provides chalk for kids to have at it on the sidewalk.  They're even thinking of installing a sandbox!  

The Outer Sunset can be a bit of a trek, but there's a lot in the area that's worth exploring, Devil's Teeth Baking Company included.

Devil's Teeth Baking Company
3876 Noreiga St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 683-5533

San Francisco: Mama's on Washington Square

Since our weekend plans were delayed due to AF's canceled flight, we had to squeeze as much as we could into what time we had left.  This was critical considering how AF wasn't sure at the time if she could make it back to the Bay Area during the remaining weekends of July.  We had to make that weekend count.

So we started off Sunday with brunch at Mama's on Washington Square.  Mama's had been at the top of our list from the very beginning, but we kept putting it off as other things came up.  Finally, it was time.

I knew that there would be a ridiculous wait - all the reviews online warned of it.  I also knew that the Monte Cristo (which I was DYING to try) was on the lunch menu and thus wouldn't be served until 11:00am.  Calculating in the expected 1+ hour wait, AF and I decided to meet at Mama's at 10:00am.

I arrived a bit early at 9:45 and the line was already terrifying:

Good thing I got there early.  Even so, we still didn't make it inside until 11:20am.

Once you're inside you aren't immediately seated.  Instead, you line up at the counter to place your order and then wait for a table to open up:

There aren't that many tables.

Standing at the counter is doubly painful because not only can you see everyone around you eating, but you can also see what's going on in the kitchen and everything they're churning out looks GOOD.  Suddenly you aren't sure what you want anymore.  In fact, you want everything.

Luckily, the guy who took our order was really friendly and apparently Mama's grandson.  Who better to ask for recommendations than the actual grandson?  We also asked him if Mama's was always that busy and he said basically, yes.  The only time it slows down a bit is around 1:00pm on weekdays.  Noted.

The food came pretty quickly once we were seated.  Here's the long awaited Monte Cristo:

That's turkey and ham sandwiched in cheddar and havarti cheese bread that's dipped in egg and grilled and served with homemade blackberry jam.  Uh.  Talk about a really happy party in your mouth.  I wanted to weep, it was that good.

The jam was also amazing, though I still think the raspberry preserves at La Note may be the best.  (I haven't been to La Note in Berkeley for so long that I'm starting to fear that I'm just hyping it up in my own mind...)

Mama's grandson suggested the french toast sampler over the smoked salmon omelette we were contemplating:

The sampler comes with three different kinds of french toast: Banana nut, Swedish cinnamon, and chocolate cinnamon.  Definitely all delicious, but it kind of paled in comparison to the Monte Cristo.

I am such a fan of Mama's.  I would come back all the time if only the wait wasn't so long.  If I ever do return, I'm definitely getting an omelette.  The omelettes we spotted on other tables looked DELICIOUS.

Mama's on Washington Square
1701 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-6421

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

San Francisco: Monk's Kettle

Monk's Kettle was on my list of must-eats in San Francisco and it wasn't difficult at all to convince AF that it merited a visit.  And that's how we ended up at Monk's Kettle at the end of our food-filled Saturday:

The interior space is quite small, but cozy:

Monk's Kettle has an almost alarmingly long list of beers - more than a few pages full.  I don't know how people could ever decide on what they want.  Luckily, the food menu was much more manageable.

We started off with an old school pretzel knot with cheddar fondue and house mustard:

The pretzel had a doughy texture and went oh-so-well with the cheddar fondue.

We were curious about the braised beef cheeks with polenta and horseradish:

Can't say I detected any horseradish, but the beef cheeks were divine.  I could see where other people may find it a bit on the greasy side, but I was sopping that stuff up with the pretzel.

After confirming that it was indeed a sandwich, we got the chicken paillard with bacon jam, frisee, acme foccacia, and a side of fries:

Bacon jam should be on EVERYTHING.  I would've enjoyed the sandwich even without the chicken.

We decided to splurge and get dessert.  The one that stood out to us was the strawberry shortcake:

Not sure how I feel about the shortcake.  It was more like a cracker than a cake.  On the other hand, the whipped cream was spot-on.

A very enjoyable meal, one that I would love to repeat if I ever get the chance.

Monk's Kettle
3141 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 865-9523

San Francisco: El Farolito

AF and I have been talking about trying menudo for the longest time.  A little Internet research led us to El Farolito in the Mission:

Basically your typical taqueria:

Unfortunately, we were misled.  While their online menu included menudo, when we actually arrived at El Farolito, we discovered that the posted menu had a piece of paper covering EXACTLY WHAT WE WANTED TO ORDER.  Guh.

Determined to make the most of our trip, we each ordered a taco.  I got the lengua (of course):

AF got the carne asada:

Incredibly disappointed by the menudo fail, but hey, at least we got some good tacos out of it.  (Though I still prefer the lengua tacos from Maxwell Street Market in Chicago.)

If I had more stomach space, I definitely would have tried a burrito or a quesadilla.  A man sitting at the table next to us had a burrito and it looked goooood.  But since we had actual dinner plans after El Farolito, the tacos were the most we were willing take in.  Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself regarding how much food your stomach can actually handle...even if you want to eat everything.

El Farolito
2779 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-7877

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

San Francisco: Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop

I've passed by Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop many, many times on my way to the MUNI stop and have always wondered about the little Asian lady working inside.  Is she the owner?  Who is Bob?  I finally had a chance to investigate further when AF and I dropped by after Swan Oyster Depot:

Okay, so maybe there was a tiny debate over the wisdom of going in there when we had two other food places planned for the evening.  But that was quickly resolved when we saw the array of donuts in the window:

Since we couldn't make a decision, we hung back until everyone else in the shop bought their donuts and left before approaching the counter and asking the little Asian lady behind it what she would recommend.

Basically, she said that everything was good.  Ooookay...well that certainly made things easier for us...

When one of the donuts we'd been eyeing was identified was a yeast donut with crumb cake topping, we instantly knew what our first purchase would be:

So pillowy and dreamy:

All the cake donuts are supposed to be quite popular, so we randomly picked the one with maple glaze:

You can never go wrong with maple.  Dense without being dry and not at all overly sweet as maple donuts often can be.  Perfect.

It turns out that the little Asian lady isn't Bob.  She's just an employee.  And get this...I forgot where she said she grew up, but she speaks Portuguese!  So many surprises at Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop.  Definitely worth a trip back.

Bob's Donut & Pastry Shop
1621 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 776-3141

Monday, July 25, 2011

San Francisco: Swan Oyster Depot

AF got stuck at LAX two Fridays ago and the next available flight wasn't until the day after.  So instead of taking a ferry to Alameda and joining CL and her brother on a tour of St. George Spirits on Saturday, I whiled away the time until AF finally arrived back in SF in the afternoon.  Determined not to let the unforeseen blip bring down our spirits, we quickly rallied and came up with a food-filled itinerary for the rest of the day.

First stop was Swan Oyster Depot:

Swan Oyster has some pretty strange hours.  It's only open from Mon-Sat between 8:00am and 5:30pm.  This means that if you work 9-5 on weekdays, your only chance of scoring some oysters is to show up on Saturday.  In retrospect, we shouldn't have been surprised by the super long line when we arrived around 4:00pm.

The spread of seafood in the window certainly didn't help to make the wait any less painful:

Given the limited number of seats, there was some worry about whether or not we would be able to get in before the 5:30 closing time:

Luckily, we made it with time to spare.

The menu is pretty straightforward:

As you can see, prices aren't exactly law student friendly.  Since we had other food places lined up, we decided to keep things simple.

We started off with a cup of clam chowder:

Not as thick as I usually like my chowders, but the rich flavor of the thin soup quickly won me over.

Limitless bread and butter for $1.00:

And of course, the reason why we waited in line in the first place, the oysters:

Half a dozen blue point oysters to be exact.  I don't know if they threw in the extra oyster by accident, as part of common practice, or out of pity, but I ain't complaining.  Super fresh and super delicious.

Absolutely loved my experience at Swan Oyster Depot, despite the long wait and the prices ($13 for half a dozen oysters?).  One day when I'm making the big bucks, I'll be back to really pig out.  Maybe even try one of their seafood salads...

Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-1101

San Francisco: Ike's Place

It's a crime how little I've seen of my best friend since my summer in SF began.  We tried to remedy that two weeks ago by meeting up for dinner.  Well...dinner after some thrift store perusing.

When we finally got around to dinner, we made our way to Ike's Place:

Ike's Place has gone through its share of drama, but it's been resurrected in a new location and from what I can see, business hasn't suffered a bit.

The interior is sparse, but efficient:

There's two lines, one for ordering and one for online/phone orders.  There are no tables to eat at, though there are some chairs lining the wall.  If you feel confident enough to eat while balancing your sandwich on your lap, snag a chair as soon as one opens up.  

The posted menu doesn't actually have every sandwich offered listed on it, only the most popular ones.  You should definitely check out Ike's menu online first.  It's really easy to use and has a nifty filter system to help narrow down the options.

After paying for your sandwich, you'll be directed to the chips stack to pick a bag:

Ike's has a huge vegetarian and vegan menu.  My best friend went with the Pilgrim:

It included vegan breaded chicken (whatever that means), cranberry sauce, sriracha, and havarti.

I ordered the [Name of the Girl I'm Dating]:

Which consists of halal chicken, honey mustard, avocado, and pepper jack.  Sooooo delicious.  The perfect balance of sweet and savory.

Additional bonus:

I can't remember the last time I had one of those caramel apple suckers.  It definitely brought me back to my elementary school days.

There are so many sandwiches to choose from and so many of them sound amazing (I sort of skipped over the vegan section).  If I actually lived in the city, I could see myself making multiple trips back to Ike's to try as many as I can.

Ike's Place
3489 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 553-6888
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