I had friends in town this weekend, all of whom like to eat, so I was able to try a number of places that I had earmarked for sometime as well as some old favorites.
Burger Joint on Valencia
The burgers were exactly as I like them. They werent so large that they overpowered the bun, nor did you have to try to stretch your mouth like a python to fit it in. The bun held up well to the juicy burger and didnt start falling apart halfway through. The French fries, however, were almost inedible. They somehow had no flavor at all, they didnt taste like grease, or potato or salt. The just didnt taste. Even with catsup or malt vinegar, the blandness of the unseasoned potato made it taste wrong. A friend said it tasted like they were supposed to have some sort of spicy rub on them, which would complement the bland potato but, since they didnt, almost everyone just left them on their plate.
Pork Store on 16th at Valencia
When I lived in the Haight, I would take any weekday vacations I had as an opportunity to go to the Pork Store, just because I would then be able to get in without waiting in an obscene line. Then I would try to remember why I really wanted to go there in the first place. I had the same experience this time. I was so excited that they had this second outlet with much more seating and we wouldnt have to wait and then I found that my meal was really no better than many other breakfast places that I dont return to. I blame the failure this time on my ordering French toast, something I rarely eat but was craving an exact variation in my mind of that day. Not the fault of the kitchen that they couldnt know exactly how I like my French toast, but the biscuits and gravy that we shared with the table tasted as though someone was trying to make up for a lack of flavor with a shaker of salt.
Is there something at this place that I should be ordering to make me crave it as so many people seem to?
Kujke Market in Daly City
I happened to be driving by and begged to stop by and check out the salad bar of pan chan I had been led to believe was here. I was not disappointed. Almost an entire wall of the store is taken up by the most delicious little treats and there is a second separate standing station with pan chan imported from Korea. The woman manning the station was incredibly helpful, suggesting things, shaking her head at others and keeping up with me as I frantically filled 14 little containers. Actually everyone in there were helpful, the woman at the checkout counter talked us out of the more expensive soju we had picked out and pointed us towards her personal favorite. Dinner that night was a bottle of soju and all the pan chan everyone could eat.
Yum Yum Fish Irving at 22nd (ish)
Wow. The fish here was amazing. The albacore almost melted in my mouth without a hint of mushiness and I have been dreaming of the yellowtail belly ever since. I tried the Provencal fish soup it needed more flavor of some kind (garlic or herbs), or larger chunks of fish or something to lift it from just being a tomato broth. I have to agree with Melanie (I think it was) who said that the rolls are marred by the poorly cooked sushi rice. It is just too tough and without the hint of sweetness and vinegar to work well in a roll. It was lovely with the nigiri because it could stand up to the sweetness of those large slices of fish, but I didnt like it at all in the maki. We had ordered a Dungeness crab California Roll and when I peeled the rice away (inside out roll) it was fantastic, whereas with the rice it was only okay.
TC Pastry Irving at 22nd (ish again)
Just ran in here for some sesame balls, perhaps the best I have had from a take out bakery. They had an extra crunch on the very outside layer that completed the textural experience for me.
Marco Polo Gelato Taraval at 24th (ish)
I tried the cantaloupe and the durian. Turns out I dont like durian at all, but now I know. The cantaloupe was fantastic, the very essence of the fruit, the strawberry was a little bland and not exciting. My friend got some combination of vanilla, chocolate, caramel and pistachio that they had, I cant remember the name, that was fantastic.
Fattoush Church at 26th (ish)
I always love this place and was quite happy with it again. I had the smoked salmon eggs benedict and was lucky enough to score bites of the corned beef hash and eggs scrambled with cheese, chorizo, avocado and salsa. All were excellent. I think my favorite part of this place is that they, above any other breakfast place I like, dont skimp on the good ingredients. If it says corned beef hash, corned beef will be the majority of what is on your plate, if they say crab frittata, huge chunks of crab will be throughout the dish. I feel that so many places say smoked salmon and it is there only for color. Sorry, my own little rant there.
Indian Bazaar Valencia between 16th and 17th
I was a little tipsy but desperately wanted a scoop of ginger ice cream. It was fantastic though I had to explain to anyone who tried a bite that it was ginger ice cream, not pumpkin. I dont know if that was a factor of the booze everyone was drinking or if it tasted more like pumpkin pie spice than just ginger.
Good Luck Dim Sum Clement at 9th
We ate in and got some to go. This place amazes me with a line halfway through the store at 8:45 am. It was a Sunday, granted and I should have known better, but we were still shocked to see so many people there. I am starting not to love this as much as I used to does anyone else think they are starting to slide a little bit, and things are starting to taste more alike and less like the main ingredients or do I just need to readjust what I am looking for?
Brothers Korean BBQ Geary at 6th (ish)
My second time here and I think I have realized that I just dont like it as much as Wooden Charcoal or Hahn Il Kwan. My main problem isnt even the food, it is how smoky it gets in the annex (the only place I have eaten). I had to go outside a number of times for fresh air, something that has never happened to me at any other Korean BBQ restaurant. I am not sure whether I like the food less here, but it is hard to tell since I am generally hoping we finish fairly quickly and just get out.
The Patio Dwight at Telegraph
I found out (much to my chagrin) that, in addition to being closed on Sundays, the Cheeseboards cheese counter is closed on Mondays as is the pizza place. Sigh. I tried to remember where Gregoires was, but since I couldnt even remember the name at that point, well not the correct spelling, I couldnt find it. So we ventured up to the campus area and I tried to sell Intermezzo but was told in no uncertain terms that they werent waiting in line for half an hour for a salad. Remembering the Patio getting good reviews and a you better try it quick because it will probably close soon recommendation, we went there. What a great space! They are using a quote from Jim Leff on their take-out menu now, and talked to us for a while about the food and their plans. We sat out on the sunny patio and enjoyed a lamb sandwich, an order of chili cheese fries and a philly cheese steak. I barely got a bite of the lamb sandwich so I can report that it was tasty and apparently well-loved. The chili cheese fries were everything they should be, the fries were well seasoned and crispy and able to hold up to the delicious chili and they cheese was, horrors to some people, ideal for me, a melted American cheese that lay in a blanket on top. The cheese steak was not what any of us had imagined at all, but once we let go of the image with the hoagie roll and the overstuffed meat and cheese bomb, this sandwich was excellent. In a round ciabatta-esque grilled bun with good tasting steak and cheese, it was even served with lettuce and tomato which proved to taste great with this incarnation of a steak and cheese sandwich.
Darbar Polk at Pine
By this point I could barely taste anything anymore, but I gave it my best shot. I loved the vegetarian dishes here but the lamb in spinch didnt thrill me much, it tasted like the lamb had been thrown in there on its way to the table rather than cooked in the sauce. However, that might have been true since we were a table of 12 and while most of our order made it to the table quickly and easily, getting that dish was some kind of accomplishment. The samosas were flaky crispy and their dal and bengan bahrta (please excuse my spelling) were some of the best I have had in the city.
Tartine 18th at Guerrero
Fantastic as always. We had the ham and cheese croissant heated, a slice of quiche and finally my first taste of the bread pudding. I see what everyone means about the size. I felt like I was eating it for an hour and barely made a dent. I was jealous of the open faced sandwiches going by me, I have never managed to be there at a time where they were serving lunch and now that is my new goal.