this past week i had a friend in town from new jersey. he'd never been west of chicago, and subsists largely on pizza and cheesesteaks, so i felt it was my native san franciscan duty to diversify his diet.
disclaimer: we were on a tight budget, and since he was totally new to ethnic food, i wanted to ease him into it. thus, we did not go to the most authentic places, and i don't pretend that we did. i wanted to give him an experience that wasn't too intimidating, so he'd go back to jersey and try more stuff on his own.
sushi: okazu ya on taraval, $20/person. like every other time i have been to okazu ya, the sake (salmon) was excellent and the hamachi pretty good. i'm a tamago addict; theirs is pretty good. there were lots of tasty shitake in their respective maki. california rolls had a bit too much mayonnaise. nice, ripe avocado. tekka maki fish consistency was not good. overall, a place i like for affordable sushi.
burritos: papalote on 24th and valencia. $7/person. i thought my chicken mole burrito was excellent, and love the smooth and smoky salsa they serve. they grill (not steam) tortillas here. they also grill chicken to order, so it's not dry. 99 cents to upgrade to super, which has lots of cheese and sour cream and guacamole, not just a slice and a dab. i love this place.
vietnamese: mangosteen. $15/person. i really like mangosteen for lunch, but i wouldn't go back for dinner. the lemongrass chicken was good, but hard to cut since the plate was slippery from sauce and the knives not sharp. tamarind prawns ($14) came with 4 large prawns and a gooey sauce. most disappointing was the garlic noodles, which were soft/mushy and almost sticky, with none of the bits of herbs that always are there at lunch. very friendly and attentive staff did not make up for a deeply disappointing meal.
"dim sum": ton kiang. $20/person. i know, i know, but we didn't have time to go to koi palace. the dumplings (shrimp and scallop/ shrimp and chive) were fine but unexciting. calamari was over-breaded. the chau siu bau (sp?) were delicious, but small. we snagged a fresh plate with three huge bay scallops wrapped in the shrimp that ton kiang uses to stuff everything; it was incredible. juicy, sweet, fantastic. also a fresh plate of the delicious salt-and-pepper whole fried shrimp. and ended with fresh/hot (10 min wait) of the "nai wong siu ben"... those egg custard dough coins... i don't know what to call them but i adore them and these were great.
indian: chutney (on jones). $10/person w/ leftovers. aloo gobi (sp), chicken tikka masala, and chicken boti, plus rice and naan. all delicious. the tikka masala wasn't as complex as it could be (and sparse on chicken), but for $4, great! the chicken boti was interesting; herbs in the middle of the kebabs. i'm not sure what i'm supposed to do with the plate of salad veggies they give you... thoughts?
the mission was a success; the jersey boy's now going to seek out ethnic food in newark (suggestions?). he even learned to use chopsticks while here!