Pardon the length of this, but I simply wasn't able to post this in bits and pieces with other concerns to take care of during this time.
It has been exactly one month since I last stepped foot in the Bay Area. That day, I went on the road with my partner to a place over 2000 miles away to start a new chapter in my life in the Midwest region of the U.S. That was the result from the news in early November that I received a job that would allow me to get me to the same side of the world as her after nearly two-years of long-distance dating.
Over time, I got to appreciate the chowy-laden goodness that was present in the Bay Area, and one thing I truly appreciate about my new partner is her similar mindset. But that wasn’t always the case, when often times, the notion of sheer quantity took precedence over true quality, and there wasn’t much willingness to expand beyond the tried and true. Thankfully, that changed for both of us, mainly spurred by a need to get our diets under control for health reasons. While our appetites (and waistlines) may have shrunk, our desire for foods you can savor has reciprocally grown.
However, we are still “Chowhounds-in-training”, if you will. When I finally was offered a job that would allow me to be with my partner, I had posted a thread asking what chowy goodness I needed to seek out here in the Bay Area before I left. But after some thought, I decided I really didn’t need to look at those responses, because I figured:
- I already had a general idea of what I wanted and needed to get to one last time
- Economics were going to play a role (moving is damn expensive)
- It wasn’t going to be perfect, because I was going to wing a lot of this anyway.
And thus, amidst all the chaos that comes with moving, the holidays, and tying up loose ends, I set out on this last quest of sorts. With 49 being a meaningful number around San Francisco, I figured that would be a great number to shoot for in terms of number of attempts at chowy goodness. An unexpected two-week trip to Florida for job training threw a crimp in that, but perhaps with all the double dips I managed at various locations, I succeeded anyway.
And thus, the final seven weeks...
A thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/803758) asking which food trucks were really worth visiting again gave me a nice little focus point for a mini-quest:
1a & 1b. Black Bean Veggie Burger and Double Whammy (11/08/11 - Doc's of the Bay)
2. Liba Falafel sandwich (11/15/11 - Liba Falafel)
3a & 3b. Baked Red Seasame Chicken Bun and Steamed Pork Belly Taco (11/30/11 - Chairman Bao) baked red sesame chicken bun/steamed pork belly taco -
1a. is not really traditional (the patty is very soft and falls apart easily) but is very tasty in combo with the slaw and challah bun. 1b, a mix of regular fries and fried green beans, is a nice change from the usual fried potatoes choice.
I loved 2., especially the crispy/crumbly texture of the falafel and the multitude of options at their ingredient bar you have to customize your order. Just slight demerits for a flimsy pita, which lessens its portability a bit.
Chairman Bao’s 3a. reminded me a lot of my parent’s tasty siopao buns, which I intend to try to duplicate sometime myself in here, and turned out to be large enough to make up lunch. Meanwhile, 3b. had nicely buttery pork bits with lightly crispy exterior.
Maybe, Depending on my Mood
4. Spicy Korean Beef w/salad (11/14/11 - Hiyaaa!)
5. Señor Burrito (11/17/11 - Señor Sisig)
6. Pork Korrito with Kimchee (11/23/11 - Seoul On Wheels)
I did like you could order the items from Hiyaaa! in the form of a roll or rice as well. The beef from 4. had a decent-enough kick and I liked how it blended with the salad. Solid dish, but something I’d have to be in the mood for rather than an automatic seek-and-find..
After the first bite, I thought Señor Sisig had sent me to burrito heaven; everything was perfectly melded. But alas, the remainder was plagued by construction issues that is typical of burritos as a whole. Too much rice IMO, and the subtle garlicky tones of that rice were often overwhelmed by the spice of the sisig and/or salsa. Close call here, but it’s not a must-do on a return visit.
The ingredients in SoW’s 6. were distributed much better, but I was surprised it had very little kimchee in it (a concession to non-Korean customers?) I’d have to be in a burrito mood to consider this one again.
Specialty’s - A Mixed Affair
7. Almond Chocolate Breakfast Bread (11/16/11)
8. Peanut Butter & Stuff Sandwich (11/21/11)
9. Sticky Bun (11/22/11)
One problem with coming into SF as early as I did for work was there weren’t too many places open before 7 AM. Specialty’s was one of those places that was, however, and I’ve spent a fair amount of cash there during my time in SF.
However, most of their morning baked goods were just merely okay and/or inconsistent depending on location. I’ve had bleh to pretty-good versions of 7. and 9. in the past, and on this final go-around, these versions were pretty typical. 8) was one of my guilty-pleasures bunch options: overloaded with carbs (cranberry sauce, sliced apples and bananas) but something that kept my appetite sated until dinner.
Their one thing I would love to have access to here: their wheat germ chocolate chip cookie: I will miss that that cube-like, softish, fall-apart texture mixed with pebble-like chocolate chips, flax seed and wheat germ.