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foodzings: July 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oodles of Noodles

After running around to potential customers and not having any time to eat, I finally had a chance to grab a bite before heading back home. I stopped by this chain, Noodles & Company, because when you're in the middle of suburban Maryland and starving, you just go to something that seems like it can't be that bad. So there you go.
And I love me some noodles, so I had high hopes. That's what they have here - noodles! Lots and lots of noodles. Asian noodles, mediterranean noodles, and american noodles. And some soups and salads too. And a little bit of dessert.
It's a nice, bright, and airy space, and I think they have free wi-fi! I got the japanese pan noodles - broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, sprouts, sesame seeds, cilantro, and udon noodles in a sweet and spicy soy sauce. You pick your meat and I went with sauteed beef.
The things that make up this dish are so good. How can you go wrong with udon noodles, beef, veggies, and sauce? Well, apparently, in many many ways. The noodles were overly flavored. The sweet and spicy soy sauce wasn't particularly a good flavored sauce. And it seemed to be only on the noodles. The broccoli was severely undercooked. I don't like mushy broccoli, but this was practically raw. And the meat, which was really tasty and extremely tender, did not have any of the sauce on it at all. It's as if they cooked up the noodles and veggies and sauce, and then just sort of dumped in some heated up meat afterwards. The meat was of high quality, and just tasted peppered, but had absolutely none of the sweet and spicy soy sauce flavor. So the components of this dish had tons of promise, but it was extremely poorly executed. But due to my starvation, I scarfed it down. Needless to say, I was highly disappointed. Oh well. It's always a crapshoot when you go to a chain.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sushi Yoshi Tysons Corner

Had to make a quick overnight trip to the DC area earlier in the week for a work jaunt. We were staying in the Tysons Corner area, so I consulted my trusty yelp for a sushi recommendation. Purely by proximity, I picked Sushi Yoshi. It's a cute little spot in a particularly cute and old-timey neighborhood. Everyone was very friendly and for a monday night, there was a nice mix of people there. I've never had okonomiyaki before. I know what it is, and I've seen it plenty on tv, blogs, etc, but I've never tasted it. They had a seafood okonomiyaki special, so I decided to give it a go. It's basically a pancake, with whatever you want to put inside it. This particular one was seafood, and it included salmon and other treats from the sea. It was topped with two different sweet and savory sauces, and one of them was extremely spicy! It's pan fried until the outside is crispy. What was it like? Well, it was like a fishy, crunchy, mushy pancake! I liked it. But I wasn't crazy about it. It's something fun to try and share. Now I can say I've had okonomiyaki!
We then got a bunch of sushi and a few rolls. Obviously, you can see various salmon, tuna, etc. The top roll is the mexican roll - shrimp, avocado, and tempura Flakes served with spicy mayo and jalapeno sauce. Loved it, and the sauce was nice and spicy. The middle roll is the costa rica roll - spicy yellow tail and mango with jalapeno sauce. Another awesome roll. How could I say no to this... it had mango on it! The bottom roll is the bagel roll - cream cheese, avocado and smoked salmon. Another great roll.
For being such a random pick, we totally lucked out. This was the highest quality sushi. The fish was super fresh and all the sushi and rolls were carefully prepared. Sometimes it's really easy to find mediocre sushi. I'm so glad we found good sushi! Service was good and it seemed like this place was actually run by genuine Japanese! I highly recommend checking this place out if you're staying in Tysons Corner.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beans For Dessert!

So it's summertime in Philadelphia, and while it hasn't been excruciatingly hot lately, it's been hella warm. And humid. Perfect for a cool treat. So while dropping by Assi with some friends the other week, I picked up a box of these popsicles. BBBig! Yeah, that's right. And it's a popsicle made from sweet red beans.
Crazy, right? Well, actually, not so much. In the lands where people who look like me come from, sweet red beans are quite often used in desserts. Sweets, pastries, candies, and ice creams! The idea of a red bean popsicle is not strange to me, but I grew up with it. But I can see how you may find it offensive. But you have to remember that this is sweet red bean, and not a plain bean. This is not refried beans on a stick. It's sweet and delicious. Now there are actualy hunks of beans in there, so that part actually is a bit strange. But I guess it's not really too much stranger than eating a fruitsicle where you bite into hunks of strawberries or mangos. But yeah, the whole hunks of beans is slightly offputting, but trust me, it's good.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trader Joe's Win

I picked this up on a whim the other day while I was at Trader Joe's. I'd never tried one of their frozen chinese meals before, so I thought why not. In reality, I could just get chinese from my takeout place around the corner, and it would require no effort, but I thought I would just try it. I love it! It turns out that this is a best seller, if not the best seller at TJ's. And I can totally see why. There's multiple ways to heat this up (it comes frozen) but I did it skillet style. So it takes about 10 minutes to cook and you end up with something that genuinely tastes like it could have come from a chinese restaurant. And I got 4 decent servings out of it. And I think it was like $6-7? Totally worth it!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Waiting At Puerto Alegre

For my last meal in San Francisco, we finally decided to go to Puerto Alegre, to see what all the fuss was about. It was fairly early for dinner on a Sunday so there was no wait! Which is apparently a rarity here. The decorations are kitsch. But I liked it. Especially the horrible wood panelling.
Laminated menus. We're talking high class here! Complimentary chips and salsa. The chips are fantabulous. Thin, crispy, and not at all greasy. The salsas... eh! The one on the right was more pico de gallo-esque, but with a bunch of tomato sauce. The one on the left was just strange. That one went mostly untouched.
They're apparently famous for the margaritas, so we got one. If famous = strong, then yes, they're very famous. Whoo! I felt like I was breathing fire for the rest of the day. Good though, but a bit strong for me. When I saw the couple next to us sharing a pitcher, I wondered who would puke first.
J got the two taco platter. Perfectly fine.
I wanted one enchilada in green sauce, but I was told I couldn't just get one. So I just got one red one instead. Also perfectly fine. Rice fine, beans pretty ok. I like the shredded lettuce salad with russian-like dressing. It was a nice bit of veg.

Service was ok. Our waiter was... puzzling. He was like a little cartoon character. And had questionable hair. The food was ok, but nothing to wait hours for! So it must be the beyond strong margaritas that's the draw. And that it's brimming with hipsters. Prices are quite reasonable too! Bye bye SF! Until next time...

Puerto Alegre
546 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 255-8201

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Bi-Rite And Dolores Park

In the Mission there are two famous ice cream spots - Bi-Rite Creamery and Humphrey Slocombe. Bi-Rite is within a hop skip and a jump so we finally got to go there on Sunday. Humphrey Slocombe is on the other end of the Mission, and quite the walk away. I'd been wanting to go all during my visit, but honestly, it was never really ever hot enough! I told you it's cold and windy! I don't get motivated to stand in the cold wind to get ice cream and then freeze my buns off eating cold ass ice cream. On Sunday, it was super sunny and a bit on the warmer side, so I insisted we go!
Bi-Rite, the grocery part, is across the street. The creamery hand makes all the ice cream using local and organic ingredients, in small batches. They have your regular flavors, as well as some wilder ones.You can also take pints to go! And they have other snacks and little food item bits.
Ah, check it... melting in all of the sunny glory. Banana and coffee toffee ice creams. The banana is amazing. Like totally amazing. And the coffee is good too. But the toffee on the coffee? Oh. My. Gawd. I want to eat this crumbled toffee out of a bowl with a spoon. Unbelievable.
And while it was the middle of the day, we enjoyed the sunshine one last time in Dolores park. Ice cream, the muscat wine we'd picked up from Madonna Winery the weekend before, and a loaf of acme bread we got from the bi-rite. It was a perfectly lovely way to spend an early sunday afternoon. I don't know what the open container laws are in SF, but they've got to be loose! I mean I know this isn't vegas... but everyone is boozing it up in Dolores Park, and not on the down low either. Whatever it is, I love it!

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Monk's Kettle - Finally!

When we dined at Frjtz the other night, A and E had actually first suggested Monk's Kettle. Since J loves it and had been talking about going back since we went in November, we all wanted to go there. But we knew it wouldn't happen because they're always packed and they don't take reservations. By the time we went and wanted to put our names in, it was going to be an hour and a half wait or so. We scoffed. And then we went to Frjtz and ate like kings.

So we did stop by Monk's the next night. The girl at the door (not the regular moustached hipster dude) told us there may be a 45 minute wait. We decided to just go for it and bide our time. Then about 5 minutes later, they called us. Basically, the girl didn't have any clue. So we essentially had no wait. Unless it's in the middle of the day, this is quite a rarity at Monk's Kettle.
And we got a proper table! A really good one! Right next to a couple of old dudes who seemed to be on a first date. Cute, but not cute. They were kind of annoying... like they were trying to hard! Ha! So here's the big monk's kettle beer list. They have tons of beer, on draft and in bottles, ranging from a few bucks to hundreds of bucks. If you're into fancy expensive beers, this is the place for you! We splurged on this asparagus appetizer - fresh asparagus fire grilled, drizzled with a lemon vinaigrette, and topped with thinly sliced prosciutto and shaved ricotta salata. Man, it was really good. Everything I expected, and more! It would only have been better if there were more! I got the pulled pork sandwich - ‘Coleman Natural Hampshire’ beer-braised pulled pork with house made Porter BBQ sauce, on a Metropolis poppyseed kaiser bun, with jicama slaw. The sandwich was good, with the sauce being surprisingly sweet. With it being a beer based sauce I expected it to be more savory, but it was really quite sweet. Perhaps too sweet. The fries were heavenly, as usual. I love this skinny type of fry. The jicama slaw was weird. I sort of liked it, but J thought it was gross. I could see why it would weird people out. Jicama is strange in general, and the flavor was rather odd. I dug it, but that was just me.

J just ended up getting a burger. You know what burgers look like. They have good burgers.
Service was good. The food came out fairly fast. Actually, it came out much faster than the last time we ate here. And that time, it was lunch and the place was deserted. On a busy saturday night, the food came out fast. Strange. It gets really crowded here folks. There weren't any other free tables, and there were people standing at the bar. If you want beer and tons of strange beers to choose from, this is your place. But you'll spend a lot of money. If you're up for that, then stop by!

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Golden Boy Pizza Slice

J had been talking about this Golden Boy Pizza earlier and how amazing it was. He even showed me pictures of J2 eating in the middle of the night. We didn't mean to go here, but while we were walking around north beach, he realized it was nearby. And so we made our way.
It's thick square pizza baked on focaccia. J wanted to get one with all kinds of vegetables but I nixed that. I wanted pepperoni and he didn't. So we settled on cheese!
It was good, but I didn't see what the hype was about. I think for me, there was too much oregano. The dough is good though. I'll still pick franzone's any day!

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Dim Sum Take Out

We did tons of walking on saturday. Probably too much! We walked through chinatown, through northbeach, and then from fisherman's wharf all the way down to the ferry building. That's a lot of mileage! Along the way, we had some eats, including dim sum from Good Mongkok Bakery. It's one of those places that's takeout only. And it's 3 for $1.50. Or something ridiculously cheap like that. We had some shrimp ones and some other shrimp ones with other stuff in it, and some other vegetabley ones. Honestly I have no idea. I just pointed! I just know it was yummy!

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Universal Cafe Brunch

The mission is a pretty big area. Most of the time, we stayed in the mission dolores area. But there's so much more. We ventured out to a totally different part of the mission for brunch. Universal Cafe is actually kind of in between the mission and potreto hill. It was a lot of blocks away.
We anticipated a wait, but it wasn't actually as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe 10 minutes, tops. We sat at the counter and saw all the action. A delicious cafe au lait, served with real silver. Or at least I thought it looked like real silver.
J got one of the specials, which was some kind of short rib ragu with fried egg and fresh cranberry beans. Remember when I said that J doesn't like ribs? Well, he got this anyway. And it turned out that much of it was fatty as well (which is why he doesn't like ribs), but this was fine, because I ate the fatty bits for him. I've never had cranberry beans before, and they were delicious! This was a good pick.
I went with the french toast. Oh my gosh! This was some of the best french toast I've ever had. It's made with thick acme bread, and it just melts in your mouth. It was served with raspberry and peach sauce and creme fraiche, along with syrup. I loved it, loved it, loved it.

Service is good, and food comes out really fast, considering how crowded and busy it is! They really know how to be efficient here! The place is small and adorable too, with a bit of outdoor dining. I can see why it's so popular! Definitely worth trying for dinner!

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Frjtz At Frjtz

Frjtz is a belgian fries, crepes, and mussels joint in the Mission. They also have another location in Hayes Valley. It's a casual place on Valencia. You order your food, get a number, and they bring it out to you. They have beers and booze and other food too.
A grimbergen. We all agreed that this beer was super tasty. It's belgian, and I believe this was a blonde, but as we can all see, it's quite brown. And yummy.
They provide carafes of water so you can hydrate yourself. A enjoyed a hoegaarden while I took advantage of a passion fruit soju mixed drink. Fruity and strong. Yeeha!
The frites! Extremely thick cut, which surprised me. Hot and crispy. With the large, you get your choice of two dips. Amongst us, we picked thai chili ketchup, white truffle artichoke ketchup, parmesan peppercorn ranch, and spicy yogurt peanut. Here's the low down... thai chili - ok and spicy, artichoke - amazing, ranch - eh, it's ranch, and the peanut - thick and peanutty. I think we all agreed that theh artichoke was the best of the bunch. These freis were great. And not greasy either. I was picking the crumbs...
A got the mussels, the thai kind. She loved it. And the leftover broth was enjoyed by all. She even got extra bread to sop it all up.
The rest of us got sandwiches. The sisley - roasted pear, cheddar, gorgonzola, chipotle remoulade, and avocado on focaccia.
The rest of us got sandwiches. The basquiat - grilled chicken, pesto mayo, caramelized onions, swiss, avocado on focaccia.
The velasquez - prosciutto, mozzarella, roasted pineapple, roasted pepper mayo on focaccia. All sandwiches were served with a spring mix salad. Good food with good friends. Not exactly cheap, but worth it! I probably drank too much... ha! Ok, not here, but definitely at Gestalt where we spent the rest of the night...

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Noodles In Japantown

We had walked around japantown a little bit before catching our movie at the kabuki, but we stopped by on Friday for a proper visit. Whence in japantown, one must eat japanese food!
By the time we got there, we were absolutely famished, so we pretty much just stopped at the first place we saw. That was Suzu Noodle House. So glad we did!
It's a noodle house, so get noodles! We both ended up getting some lunch specials. J got a tuna over rice bowl along with a lovely udon soup. I love udon noodles. I love how thick and chewy they are.
I got some chicken curry, which was super good. I love me some japanese style curry! If you haven't had japanese curry before, please try it. Beware, it's not like thai curry or indian curry at all. There's no yellow, green, red, etc. variety and there's no coconut milk in it. It's quite different. And by different, I mean better. And the curry itself is thick. I grew up with my mom making it so it's something that I've loved for a long time. And to this day, it's still my favorite style of curry. I don't like coconut milk, so in reality, it's not much of a contest.
I also got some soba soup. I was in the mood for some soba noodles, for some reason, so I went for it. Typically, I enjoy my soba noodles cold, in the zaru soba dish. This was the first time I'd had it hot. And it was delicious! They make their own noodles here, and while we didn't try the ramen noodles, the soba and the udon were great. Tasty and cooked well. The broth on our soups were also nice and strong and flavorful. Service was nice and polite. The food came out fast! And since we got lunch specials, we got tons of food for a great price.

Suzu Noodle House
1825 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 346-5083

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Dolores Park Cafe

Right across from Dolores Park, there's the adorable Dolores Park Cafe. I don't know how they scored such an awesome location, they must have signed some kind of pact with the devil. There's indoor seating along with some limited seating out front.
A cool and refreshing smoothie along with a cafe au lait. We wanted to fuel up before playing tennis across the street. And no, I can't play tennis... not at all.
Cobb salad! I don't know what kind of bacon this was, but it was especially good. Blue cheese on the side, and also blue cheese dressing. A little too much blue cheese if you ask me. Would have been better with something less creamy and super light. But all the components of this salad were super tasty. Excellent tomatoes!
I wasn't super hungry, so along with the smoothie, I just had this lemon blackberry muffin. Super good. It's a lovely little spot.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Mexican In The Mission - Happy Hour Special

You can't go 2 yards in the Mission without coming up on a Mexican restaurant. They're literally everywhere. So when J came down to the Mission the other night and wanted a burrito, we headed off to Puerto Alegre. Except as usual, there was a huge line at the place. Annoying. So we went down the block to El Toro, also on Valencia. It's a nice and bright cafeteria style type joint. You pick up your food, head over to the salsa bar, and then pick a seat and chow down.
I got a two taco combo (even though I only asked for one). It comes on a huge plate with rice and beans, guac, a side salad, and chips. That's tons of food. I got one pork and one beef. Good and good. The beans weren't as good as I'd hoped, but still pretty good. Like I said, they have a salsa bar, which is really one of my favorite parts of eating mexican food in general. And as usual, my trusty lime jarritos. For whatever reason, I was reaching for the jarritos instead of the sidral. The chips were really great, super crunchy and not greasy at all. I forget what kind of salsa I picked, but it was a smoky one. The burritos are huge. I did not partake of one but I enjoyed some vicariously through J and J.

El Toro is infamous for their weekday happy hour. From 3-5pm they have $1 tacos, $2 beers, and $1 agua frescas. Not too shabby in this economy! We didn't go during this crazy happy hour, but this is definitely good information to know. We had done some indoor climbing earlier in the day at Mission Cliffs, so we were tired and starving and scarfed all the food down right quick. Good food, good prices, friendly service, and the place is clean!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eating And Watching

There's a fancy Sundance Cinema in japantown. Not only do they show cool movies, but they also serve food and beer! They have popcorn and candy too, and sodas and coffee and other snacks.
But they also have pizzas and sandwiches and little snacks! And cocktails too. And they also have a restaurant next door, Sundance Kitchen, that serves a full menu. And you can reserve seats for your movie so you can pick your favorite spot. And the seats are really nice with plenty of room for you to put down your food and drinks. Thanks Robert Redford! It's like the Alama Drafthouse in Austin but a little bit more upscale. Gawd, I miss the Alamo Drafthouse!

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Mediterranean In The Park

It was a really nice day, so we decided to grab a quick dinner and go eat it in the park. We stopped at Truly Mediterranean, a teeny little takeout spot on 16th.
They serve middle eastern fare, kabobs, falafel, shawermas and such.
There's the big spit with all the layers of the lamb meat for doners and shawermas and such. That's my sandwich parts being grilled.
J's athens burger in a pocket - seasoned ground sirloin with pita and tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, seasoned onions, salad, and tahini sauce. This same tahini sauce he proceeded to spill all over his formerly nice linen pants.
My kefta kabob in lovash - seasoned ground lamb and sirloin rolled in lovash with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, onions, salad, and tahini sauce. No tahini sauce spilling by me. And a delicious lime jarritos which I picked up at a mexican place around the corner. It was lovely outdoor dining, until it got too cold to be enjoyable. Which happened a lot during this trip.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chowin' At Chow

Even with so many places to choose from, sometimes it's really hard to actually pick a place. We threw out tons of ideas, but then we ended up at Chow. Chow happens to be E's favorite place to eat. J likes it too. But it's a bit overpriced for what it is, which is comfort food.
It's a nice size, and always packed. People are always waiting. When we got there, we grabbed the last table. Score!
J got the entree of the day which was the fish tacos. These were quite amazing. They should have these on the menu every day. They have a regular schedule of daily specials.
I got the fish of the day, which was a pan grilled halibut with garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans in a saffron. This was a lovely dish, nice and light. I love flat fish like halibut and flounder.
J said that we had to leave room for desserts. When he was here last time, he had ordered a dessert and said to the waitress that he wanted the small one. E told him that they know that you would want the small, and so you don't need to explicitly tell them. All of them come in small and large. Well, wouldn't you know it. We ordered apple pie a la mode and strawberry and rhubarb cobbler a la mode. Two desserts for two people. And the bitch brought out larges. Can you believe this? Why would two people ordering two desserts want two larges? If it were four people ordering two desserts, then maybe, but not when it's two people. It just wasn't necessary that's all. This was like one sixth of an entire apple pie with ice cream on top. Delicious, but the size of it wasn't necessary.
The cobbler was also amazing. I've never actually had anything with rhubarb before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. It was really lovely and sweet. With a nice crumble on top and really good ice cream on top. But again, we just didn't need so much. We'll remember this for next time! Service was ok, considering she stuck us with such large desserts. The food didn't come out very quickly, but I heard that it normally does. Well, not this time. It is definitely good and solid food, if not slightly overpriced.

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