Sunday, October 17, 2010

Merkato - Vegas Off The Strip

When people think of Vegas they think of all the glitz and glamour. Sometimes I just want good food without breaking the bank. One of my guilty pleasures is Merkato, an Ethiopian restaurant. Each dish is under $10 and they have generous portions. You can easily walk out of there with a bill less than $50 for 4 people and be full!It was here that I discovered one of the most delectable Ethiopian spices that packed a punch. They sell the spice next door at the market. Unfortunately the quantities are pretty big so I have yet to pick up some for home. Rest assured that I always ask for an extra dish of the spices to kick everything up a notch.

The dish that I always have is the Kitfo, which is completely raw meat. It is usually mixed with a lot of spices. For those who are not quite ready for a raw dish, they do offer to sear it or cook it to your liking. As for me, raw please! I am usually the only one who consumes this dish, but it is one of my favorites.

Can't wait to be back in Vegas this weekend and get my fill again of Ethiopian food at Merkato. Eating with your hands hasn't been more fun.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Book Your Reservations Now! SF Chefs 2010 Restaurant Week

Do you have any plans for the week? Well cancel them and change your calendar to come up to San Francisco to enjoy the tastiest and award-winning restaurants at a special rate. SF Chefs 2010 Restaurant Week presented by Visa Signature and the National Pork Board offers pre-fixes at $35 and $50.

"Taste San Francisco! Experience new restaurants or return to your favorites. Enjoy a wide range of local restaurants offering "SF Chefs Showcase" dinner menus during the week of the event on Union Square. The three course menus will showcase each chef's unique style and creativity. What's more popular than pork? Each menu will feature one or more courses featuring pork. Of course vegetarian options will be available"

There are so many fabulous restaurants participating in this week long event. Sample the culinary excellency each chef has to offer featuring the succulent and popular pork. Hurry and book online before they run out of reservation space.
Below are the participating restaurants:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hurry and Book Now!

It is that time again! The Sf Chefs 2010 celebration of the finest cuisines that San Francisco has to offer. There will be events through out the week of August 9th - 15th. For a recap of my wonderful experience last year, click here. I was able to meet Chef Thomas Keller and attend the View From The Top seminar, which will be held again this year. There are many free demonstrations at various locations. Mark your calendars and make plans to attend all the spectacular events that the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and Visa Signature has to offer. Hope to see you there!

Below is the Schedule Overview:
2010 Schedule Overview

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010Wednesday, August 11, 2010Thursday, August 12, 2010Friday, August 13, 2010Saturday, August 14, 2010Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Spruce (San Francisco) - Q

I've been wanting to try Spruce ever since it made it into Esquire's annual 20 best new restaurants list. I've always trusted Esquire's list, as it has introduced me to many great new restaurants in the past. In fact, I had just gone to Luce, another of this year's 20 best new restaurants, the weekend before and had a fabulous meal (I'll have to post that one later), so I was eager for another culinary experience.

When I first entered Spruce, I immediately noticed the bar. It seemed mellow but a good place to grab a cocktail before dinner. Since I was there for an event, the hostess led me through the main dining hall to the private room in the back. The dining room was extremely dark, but I supposed that lends itself to a romantic atmosphere. As I weaved through the packed dining room, I saw couples after couples enjoying their dinner in candlelight, although I don't know how they can see what they are eating.

The private room was a little brighter, albeit not by much, but at least I was able to make out the faces of people I knew. The private room was reasonably big and held two long tables that seated ten each. Since it was a big party, we got to pick from a pre-selected menu. I chose the beet salad for appetizer, which came beautifully arranged. It looked like beef carpaccio to me, but again you can't really tell the difference in that light. The salad was refreshing and had a good balance between flavors and the textures of the beets and greens. I chose duck for my entree because the menu said it came with foie gras (and I can never turn down foie gras), and it did not disappoint. My eyes lit up as a generous cut of fatty foie gras atop of my duck materialized in front of me. The duck was flavorful and tender and the foie gras... hmmm, foie gras needs no description. The dessert was the most forgettable part of the meal - it was a trio of mini desserts: chocolate cake, some sort of cream with pomegranate seeds on top, and some other cake. (As you can see, it was truly forgettable.) Overall, the dinner was good and the food was solid. I would probably come back more often if I lived in Laurel Heights.

The best part is... (drum roll please) I think Spruce deserves a Q! I know it may sometimes seem that I've forgotten the these of my blog, but trust me, I haven't! I'm always looking out for high-Q places but they can really be hard to find sometime. As I passed the bar and dining room it looked like there were quite a few sophisticated and well-dressed men there, and the atmosphere is certainly romantic. My perception may also be skewed because there were a number of cute men at the event that I attended. Nonetheless, Spruce deserves a solid Q and I hope to find more places soon!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Shabu House (San Francisco)

If you are hungry and love meat, then you need to check out Shabu House. "Shabu shabu" is basically the Japanese version of fondue where you cook meats and vegetables in some sort of broth. Shabu House offers an All-You-Can-Eat option after 8PM everyday. I don't believe they take reservations for parties under 4 so be sure to show up early before it gets busy. There is usually a line on weekends, but it's definitely worth the wait. Besides, the longer you wait, the hungrier you get and you can eat to your heart's content! Prices have changed but it's still around $30 per person and there is also an All-You-Can-Eat & Drink option for a little bit more.

There is 3 broths to choose from. You can have either the traditional shabu of plain water, a ginger chicken soup, or spicy miso base. For me, I always pick spicy miso because it gives the meat and vegetables the most flavor! Once I have had the spicy miso broth here, it has spoiled me for other shabu places. This is one of the main reasons that makes Shabu House stand out. There are containers of garlic, daikon, and green onion on the table for you to mix with the sauces. Traditionally they give you a ponzu sauce and a sesame sauce. You can season, taste, or create the sauce to your own liking with the 3 accompaniments. With your meal, you get the traditional vegetable plates and udon noodles to add into the shabu. Of course this is unlimited as well, so feel free to ask for any particular vegetable but don't forget to save room for the meat!

The best part of the whole deal is the meat that they offer. You can choose either lamb or American Kobe beef or a combination of both! Personally I get both to start so I can see what meat is good that night. Most of the time I prefer the lamb. All the meat is freshly shaved to order so it may take some time for it to come out if they are busy. It might be a good idea to order the next plate of meat a little early if it's busy. The meat is usually pretty good and goes great with the spicy miso broth. To top things off, they serve you a scoop of ice cream at the end, which is a great way to cool off after a hot meal.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Double Decker Buffalo Wings

If only I knew about this place or thought about yesterday. After lots of research, the second place I chose was the Double Decker in SF. Albeit, it's located in a shady area as most people commented on the internet. The interior seems pretty clean where they prepare the food and the funny thing was everyone there was Asian, I think they spoke Cantonese. Everyone there was friendly. I just wish that we went on Wednesday night when it's all you can eat wings night for $11.95! Yum Yum! Of course we had to try it out ourselves to see if we liked it and then come back I guess. The dining area or waiting area by the kitchen was tiny. I didn't walk upstairs to go to their "dining" area.I ordered the Garlic Fries because I am a devout garlic lover! When I got in the car, I took them out immediately and they were so fragrant. Sadly, the fries were kind of soggy so they weren't that good and they lacked flavor. I know the pictures looks somewhat good, but to be honest I did a lot of color touch ups because it looked too bland. What really surprised me was that the Buffalo Wings were pretty good. They were much better than I thought they would be. Ms. Lin and I love good buffalo wings, but there seems to be a limited supply up in SF! The prices were reasonable and they were tasty. Their sizes were a little small, but it's still a better deal than Little Star Pizza. The buffalo sauce was tasty but a little bit on the sweeter side and not too spicy. Unfortunately I don't like things too spicy and Ms. Lin loves it hot! So we always do mild with hot sauce on the side for her. On the internet I read that they offer Inferno and I asked in Ms. Lin would like that but she actually declined! BOO! Maybe if she goes back by herself she can try the Inferno, if she dares!All in all I was satisfied with this place. The food was good and the prices were decent. They are on my list of places I might eat next Wednesday! Although once we go there for all you can eat wings, I am sure our pictures will be up on the "black listed" wall. O=P I kept looking at the fresh burgers they were making and they also looked good. They use a special ranch for their meat. I just might order take out and have them deliver to the apt. Yum Yum!

Double Decker
465 Grove St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 552-8042

Saturday, April 10, 2010

San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival

This will be one of many adventures we had on Sunday at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan Town, SF. I guess you can say that I am a huge fan of Japanese culture, so I dragged Ms. Lin to the festival with me. A few years ago I went to the Pasadena Cherry Blossom Festival and that was a HUGE disappointment. The only thing they had that was a cherry blossom was a puny cherry tree stick. It definitely wasn't worth the hour and a half trip! Luckily this festival was just 10mins away in Japan town and free, so why not! Sounds like a lot of fun. Ms. Lin and I definitely did not enjoy getting up early to go to the festival. Parking was murder too, but that's just a price you must pay. ^_^To start off the festival posts. I am going to talk about the yummy foods we tried. The first thing I got was Imagawa Yaki, like a pancake with sweet red bean filling. Typically I despise anything with beans in it, but I thought that I should be open minded and try some fresh pastries. At first we thought the line we were standing in was the Takoyaki line, but we made a mistake. So I took it as a sign that I should just wait it out and give this a try! The people there were super friendly and funny. I talked to some of the guys and told them that I came from the OC. They joked around that I came especially to see the two guys making the Imagawa Yaki. So they struck a pose! ^_- Of course I had to pay tribute to them on my site!All in all the snacks were hot and fresh. Ms. Lin commented that the dough had a salty tastes. I think that's done on purpose to bring out the sweetness of the red bean paste and to add flavor. They were a nice little snack. I still don't really like red beans but the atmosphere of the fair and the people there just made everything enjoyable!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

RN74 (San Francisco) - Q

When I heard that Michael Minna opened a new wine bar and restaurant in SOMA, I thought that it would be fun to go check it out. The name RN74 refers to a national road ("Route Nationale") in France and the restaurant is located at the Millenium Tower (301 Mission St). It was a Tuesday night, and it was completely packed when we arrived. Fortunately we had reservations and got seated immediately.

I started off with the Foie Gras Terrine with grilled peaches and toasted brioche. I usually prefer seared foie gras than terrine, but it seems to be harder and harder to find "real" foie gras in SF these days so any foie gras is better than no foie gras! The terrine was actually quite good and very smooth. The fatiness of the terrine was nicely complemented by the grilled peaches.

For entree, I got the Grilled Prime Beef, which came with fingerling potatoes, bacon, haricots verts, and black truffle. The beef was cooked nicely, but it didn't really stand out and you can probably find more flavorful beef/steak elsewhere. And for $28, the portion was quite small (only two pieces of beef). We got Warm Beignets for dessert because I've been in love with beignets ever since going to New Orleans. The were nice and crispy, but it's always hard to find beignets as good as Cafe du Monde in New Orleans...

Of course since this place is a wine bar, we had to try some wine. RN74 has a nice selection of wines by the glass, and I started with a glass of riesling to go with the foie gras terrine and a glass of cab with the beef. The bar was very happening all throughout the night and there were plenty of good-looking professionals getting their fill of after-work stress relievers (aka alcohol). Since it has been a while since I found a good place worthy of a "Q," I'll have to come back soon to enjoy some glasses of wine at the bar!