Came back from a week in San Jose and San Francisco. Thanks to the excellent recommendations I got on this board, I enjoyed my food greatly. Here is my report of the meals I had in SF.
Tadich Grill - Went with a colleague at lunchtime. This is really the perfect recommendation. We were seated around the middle of the bar at lunch, and really enjoyed the atmosphere. The cioppino was superlative. Broth just the right consistency and full of flavors, sea scallops, prawns, shrimps, clams, crab meat, some oily white fish (halibut?), everything cooked to perfection. Pricy but well worth it! Nice service BTW, especially for such an storied place. If I didn't run out of meals, I would have returned by myself and try a fish dish as well.
Bizou - went at dinner and the place was pretty empty for a Thurs night, maybe 50% at 8pm. Had the Petrale Sole in capers butter sauce with sugar snap peas, hand torn croutons. It was pretty good, but nothing special. I kind of expected super fresh ingredients and interesting flavors from a Cal-French-Med restaurant. The combination of ingredients didn't quite work for me either. (I read after I came back that Bizou will be closing shortly. I guess this explains a lot.)
Sears Fine Foods - Went for breakfast the next morning. The pancakes were very good - fluffy, light, not too sweet but tasty enough to eat without maple syrup. I really liked the decor and atmosphere and watching the Powell St cable car roll by. I probably won't need to keep coming back, but would recommend it to other visitors as a must-try place.
Yank Sing (Stevenson St) - it was a disappointment. I love the decor, the setting (it was a warm sunny day and the patio was open), and the service, but the food did not live up to the rest. The shrimp dumplings were good, but scallops dumplings (no scallops, just ground squid, wrapper too thick), vegetarian dumplings (fillings uneven, bland), and fried taro dumplings (oil-logged) were bad. Poor tea selection (only jasmine, pu-erh, oolong, chrysanthemum), high price. Afterwards, I walked around Chinatown to check out other places. New Asia, Y Ben, etc, but none looked tempting enough for a second round. Oh well, next visit.
Golden Gate Bakery egg tart - I was in Hong Kong recently and had egg tarts in several of the most famous places, and sadly they all sucked. GGB on the other hand served a wonderful egg tart. The filling had the right taste and consistency, the pastry was flaky and light. OK, maybe the base was a tiny little bit tough and it could be even less oily, but really it was an excellent egg tart.
Swan Oyster Depot - waited for 15 minutes around 1pm, so I guess that's not too bad. Fun place, oysters so so.
Well, sadly this is all I managed to eat. I visited the Ferry Building towards the end of the day, and checked out Hog Island and Slanted Door, but decided that I was still too full (the taro dumpling from Yank Sing killed me), and the place too hectic (Friday evening rush) to sit down. Also most of the other market places were out of food or closing. I think next time I would visit at lunchtime and sample different food. Ended up getting the Italian combo at Mastrelli for later at the airport, which was OK. Oh, brought back some Recchiuti chocolate - the MR burnt caramel was my favorite.
I still keep thinking about the cioppino and egg tart, so I guess these are the highlights of my SF eats!