I had to give the SO a bit of prep time to get ready for the food fest to follow so we took our first morning very easy and later found ourselves checking out several local museums (California Historical Society, Society of California Pioneers, Pacific Mint sub treasury and the Wells Fargo Museum). I also ducked into Ame for an impromptu tour (they were prepping for dinner service, which was going to include black truffles judging by the enormous tray of them in front of the garde manger). Though enlightening, this local historical research was also calorie depleting so we made our way to Bao Necci/Danilo’s Bakery for pizza and cappuccino. Based on at least one rec here and the friendly local who told us to, we ordered the pizza al piatto with prosciutto parma and mascarpone ($16.50), even though it was a whole pizza and by this time we were worried about ruining our dinner. Turned out not to be a problem as this pizza is light, with a super thin crust almost like a cracker but not dry. The toppings were delicious and the whole thing just worked really well. Quite possibly my favourite pizza evah. The place was busy and felt very neighbourly with lots of Italian being spoken. I asked about the pizza ovens in the basement which apparently survived the 1906 quake and fire and indeed they are still used, though my crafty hints to see them were not picked up on alas :-). The Miscela d’oro cappuccino was also well prepared and we both enjoyed this coffee which was new to us. We still had time for a stroll around North Beach and a return trip to the Schein and Schein gallery to buy an antique Fullerton whale print before dinner.
The eating resumed that evening when we met the BIL at Bund Shanghai. This room is quite sparse and oddly lit, managing somehow to seem both too bright and too dark. But it had comfy booths, attentive staff and an interesting menu so the décor rightly took a back seat. Based on recs here, we ordered rice cakes with Shanghai bacon and spinach ($7.95) and red-braised upper pork leg ($16.95). We also had XLB ($6.95) because I can’t help myself, and tried the steamed/fried nantou (6 for $3.95). The SO had really enjoyed a bean curd skin dish at a Hunan place in Burnaby recently so we took a flyer on salty cabbage stir fried with bean curd skin ($8.50) plus rice of course. The rice cake dish was the favourite, though we all enjoyed the XLB which had nice thin skins and a reasonable amount of tasty broth. The pork leg was good but not quite as unctuous or fally aparty as I had expected. There was just too much of the bean curd which I think would have made a perfect side dish. The one miss was the nantou which are those little steamed/fried buns you sometimes can order at dim sum. We got a mix of both and found the steamed ones inedible and the fried not much better – gloopy and stale tasting but hey it was only $3.95! The staffers were very helpful in guiding us through the menu and must have been tickled at our gwailowy attempts to decipher it: “What is that green vegetable going by, please?” and brought us a mochi in wine soup dessert gratis to finish off our meal. The grand total was a measly $49 for 3 with leftovers. While this was not the finest Shanghainese food I’ve eaten, it was solid and I would consider returning, ideally with more people. And I’m pretty sure they adhere to their credo of NO MSG which is a bonus. BTW the food here is not weirdly yellow, I was having issues with my digital camera. Well sated, we wandered up to Caffe Trieste for cappuccinos in 1/2 pint sleeves to wrap up our first day by the Bay.
Here are the links to the rest of our food forays this trip if you're interested:
Five days of fine foods in San Francisco March 2009
Dennis Leary-fest in SF: Canteen, Sentinel, Canteen, Sentinel
A maroon macaron in SF and two Gibraltars
To market, to market to buy some roast pig (SF Ferry Plaza)
Beef 7 ways at Pagolac, SF: a little meh; Murphy’s and Sharks at Johnny Foley’s. SF
Mission impossible? Dynamo, La Torta Gorda, Humphry Slocombe all in 1.5 hours after Canteen brekky, SF
Just another Manic Monday: going Dottie, then tamale, then Dol Ho-ey, then Cavalli, then Aziza-y in SF
Larkin Express (Deli) Burmese Kitchen: final lunch in SF
516 Green St, San Francisco, CA
640 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA