Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Weekend of Food Debauchery

1305 Park St
AlamedaCA 94501 
Pad See Ew - stir-fried chowfun-style noodles with chicken, egg and chinese broccoli.
Never have I had noodles that were so clearly wok'd.  Hard to know whether how this compares to food in Thailand, but the dishes here continue to wow me, even when I think it can't get any better.  The food is complex to the n-th degree, and if you stay late into the night, when the crowds have tapered off, if you're lucky the shy but ever-gracious chef will come by with a tired smile, touch a hand to the back of your shoulder, make sure you're doing alright.

I've walked away from what seems like countless dinners at La Penca wondering, "What the hell did I just pay twenty dollars for?"  In contrast, I have walked away from almost every meal from here more than willing to pay more for what they've offered...probably shouldn't say that too loud.
 One of Homeroom Racing Cafe's greatest attributes is their condiments: a giant squeeze bottle of sweet chili sauce (which is ironically always half empty), pickled jalapeños, a shaker of white pepper, a dark, hellish looking liquid that tastes like a delicious cross between black vinegar and soy sauce with just a hint of fermented fish, and this stuff, dried red chilis toasted in a wok and then coarsely ground (pictured above).  The stuff brings a flavorful smokey aroma and then goes off like gunpowder on the tongue, a brilliant compliment to the Cafe's coconut milk and chicken soup.

736 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118

Malay Paste (Ma Lai Go) - I've got this strange obsession with Ma Lai Go.  I'm sort of a freak for this stuff.  I have absolutely no idea what it has to do with Malaysia, except that it's a popular street snack there.  There are two types that I've encountered on my quest for the best in the Bay: the super-eggy, Velveta yellow kind and the complex brown sugar type, which often has a more delicate crumb.  Good Luck's version turned out to be the latter, and a great version at that.  If there's one thing to take away from this sampling it's that these were some of the cleanest tasting dim sum items we've ever had.  The ingredients in play were concentrated and clear, not muddied with cheap filler as some dishes tend to be.
 Jin deui - fried sesame ball
 There are certain things you eat because they taste good.  The calories, the quality of the ingredients, the nutritional value, no.  Jin deui are these things.
 Char siu bao - steamed, yeasted ball o'white bread (though usually cut with lard, hubba-hubba!) filled with a tacky, sweet mix of onions and BBQ pork.  Ok maybe char siu bao you can feel a little better about eating.  Gotta have your protein.
 Part of the charm of Good Luck - the stonefaced woman seated at the first table, constructing box after box after box like some bad Darren Aronofsky flim.
1737 Haight Street
San FranciscoCA 94117
 East Coast sensibility with a West Coast attitude adjustment.
 Best god-damn pizza in SF thus far.

495 Castro St
San FranciscoCA 94114
 Came all the way from across the city because the hankerings I get for the salmon burritos I used to get here manage to keep me up at night.  
Me: "Hey so the 'grilled fish burrito', that's still with salmon, right?"
Lady behind the counter: "No."
Me: "Oh...so what fish is it?"
LBTC: "Tilapia."
Me: "Ok but it used to be salmon, right?"
LBTC: "No."
Went ahead and ordered it anyway (pictured above).  In a nutshell: too crestfallen for anything other than that salmon burrito (that I apparently made up) to hit the spot.  Too little fish, too many beans, too bitter to care.
 The only thing I can't hate on, however, is their salsas bar.  The charred tomato will burn a hole right through your esophagus, but it's so good going down.  Not to mention their tomatillo-avocado, really easy to do badly, but done so righteously here.

456 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

 Bourbon & Soda - Cape Cod
Shout out to Eric, our bartender - ripped like a gorilla and cute as a button, not easy to pull off.  Also love him for gifting me a great drink when he took, "Another bourbon and soda," for "A blueberi Stoli and soda."
 Castro Theater - photo credit Isaura Facundo

Unfortunately there also might have been some post-bar drunk-food that was so bad it's not even worth posting here.  Let's just say a pretty terrible mole tamal (that I can't even endorse despite being enamored by the location) and a giant buttermilk donut procured at a sketchy downtown donut shop some time around midnight (I think) go down like mother's milk when you're swaying on your feet.

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