Last month a group of us traveled to San Francisco to celebrate our friend, Derrec’s birthday, as well as getting our grub on. It was also our friend Meuy’s mission to get a 12th Man photo at the Golden Gate Bridge. As expected, we endured plenty of heckling and dirty looks as we went through the city, representing the 12th Man and the Seattle Seahawks!
12th man in enemy territory
Extremely popular spot located on 3rd Street that serves up Korean/Mexican Fusion dishes and has people lined up out the door and down the street. It’s a pretty small spot that’ll immediately hit you with the aroma of spices the second you step in. One thing that was great to see as our group ate, was despite being super busy, the staff still stepped out of the kitchen to walk through the floor checking on tables and customers.
bulgogi bibimbap $9.95
Served with brown rice, this bowl was visually, very appealing. The pickled daikon and cucumbers provided a bright crunch that was nicely balanced by the fermented and mildy spicy flavors of the kimchee. The sprouts also added an additional layer of bite. The bulgogi was tasty and very tender. My only knock on this dish was the marinade HRD uses for their bulgogi – it was too sweet for my taste. It would have been better if the savory flavors were more present.
spicy pork kimchee burrito $8.95
The spicy pork kimchee burrito is the quintessential example of fushion food. Upon taking my first bite, I was immediately taken to flavortown! The pork had a nice spice to it and was also very tender. The rest of the ingredients all fused together wonderfully. There was crunch from the sprouts, cucumbers and pickled daikon, while the sour cream added a creamy component to each bite. The biggest surprise for me was the diced kiwi that was also thrown in, that added a pleasant sweetness.
crab roll $8.5
We spent the afternoon meandering up and down the Wharf and wanted a quick and easy bite. I picked up a crab roll at one of the seafood stands and was thoroughly disappointed. The filling was probably 90% mayonnaise and 10% crab and wasn’t cheap! But that’s to be expected for food in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.
Fun and family-friendly restaurant located on Columbus Ave specializing in Italian food and focusing on garlic. If you’re a garlic lover, then this is your spot because they use a lot of garlic… a whole lot of it! Vampires beware!
entrance off columbus ave.
chicken & asparagus pasta $19.95
Cherry ordered this dish which consisted of ideally cooked al dente fettuccine tossed with chicken breast, asparagus, roasted tomatoes and pine nuts. The chicken was moist, the asparagus was fresh and the roasted tomatoes added a bright note to each bite. The sauce was balanced and didn’t drown out the other ingredients like other pasta dishes can suffer from.
garlic braised short rib $22.95
I ordered the short ribs, which were perfectly braised and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The sautéed garlic gloves atop the short rib provided a pleasant earthy spice and two sides were very good. The creamed spinach had hints of garlic and was both savory and creamy while the mashed potatoes also permeated with garlic.
The Pork Store Café is another very popular breakfast spot in the Haight District that had a line out the door as we walked up. It is a very small diner with a large counter to eat at while watching the cooks prepare food. There are also a handful of tables along the wall allowing just enough room for the servers to pass by. Overall, the food was your average American diner food with the only thing stood out, being our extremely rude server. When asked if we could split the check, we were immediately met with eye rolling and attitude as she stormed off stating, “Yeah… so next time, tell me before I bring the checks!” What didn’t make any sense to me, our server making a huge deal about re-writing five items on two checks…. it wasn’t rocket science.
entrance off haight
pork store special $9.5
I decided to order the special that was named after the restaurant. The two pork chops were dry and flavorless. I had to rely on the table side hot sauce to aid in finishing this plate. It came with two eggs, hash potatoes and a homemade biscuit. I ordered the eggs over-easy which were cooked fine and the hash browns were your average fare found in any diner. Their biscuit was actually pretty good and may be the only highlight of the plate.
chicken apple sausage $7.75
Cherry went with the apple sausage plate. The apple sausage was tasty and carried nice flavors of the herbs and spices within. Her scrambled eggs were cooked well and her hash browns and biscuit were the same as mine – average hash and tasty biscuit. She was a little underwhelmed at the portion of sausage when the dish came out. You would think that a menu item named chicken apple sausage, would yield a hearty serving of sausage. It did not.
Ending day two, our friend Meuy had a hankering for some lengua tacos and navigated us to El Gallo Giro. Located in the Mission District on 23rd St. El Gallo Giro is a taco truck serving up some tasty and authentic Mexican fare.
23rd & treat
Cherry went with three tacos pollo (chicken) and I went with a trio of carne asada (steak), al pastor (spicy pork), and lengua (beef tongue). All the tacos were flavored nicely and very satisfying, but the carne asada was my favorite. They were finished on the grill which gave the meat a nice crunchy crust that added great texture to each bite.
The night prior, we celebrated Derrec’s birthday. I won’t get into the details of the shenanigans that we got into, but plenty of alcohol was consumed. What better way to cure a hangover than a big bowl of beef soup!? Enter Yummy Yummy.
five spice chicken w/vermicelli $9.25
Cherry decided on the five spice chicken vermicelli bowl. The chicken was fried wonderfully with crispy skin and tender meat. The spices used were savory and when mixed with the sweet fish sauce and vegetables underneath the vermicelli, it resulted in an extremely fresh and light, yet filling meal.
bun bo hue $9.5
Deciding to expand my foodie repertoire, I ordered bun bo hue for the first time. The reason it’s taken so long, was the fact that the coagulated pig blood, that’s also served with the dish, deterred me. But you can’t be a true foodie without trying foods that are preconceived as unappetizing, right?! The bun bo hue had thick pieces of beef shank and pork loin that were on the chewy side. The pig blood was actually tasty – it had the consistency of a firm tofu and didn’t have any irony flavor that is usually associated with blood. The broth was extremely flavorful and full of spices and depth. I can confidently say that bun bo hue is a new favorite soup noodle dish for me and I’ve ordered it several more times since this trip.
Our last meal was spent at Champa Garden, a Laotian and Thai fusion restaurant off Ocean Ave. Champa garden literally sits at the end of a residential street and from the looks of it, it was recently opened. The interior was very clean and modestly decorated. After a weekend of eating, Cherry and I were pretty stuffed so we opted to share some wings and fried rice.
fried chicken wings w/sweet chili sauce $6.95
These wings which were perfectly fried, providing golden crispy skin and tender, moist meat. The chili sauce is the standard sweet chili sauce you can find in any grocery store but provided a nice sweet kick to each bite.
basil fried rice $7.50
The basil fried rice was delicious. We ordered it with chicken, which was cooked nicely and blended well with the the onions, bell peppers and basil. I don’t remember them asking what spice level we wanted but it came out quite spicy – which I enjoyed.
This most recent trip to the City by the Bay proved to be a memorable trip on all fronts. We got to partake is some delicious food, visited all the popular spots people want to see and got to spend time with an amazing group of friends. Cherry and I love San Francisco so much that we’re trying to plan another trip there in a few months – this time with Rylie!
china town . sf, ca