20 February 2010

Sweet November (San Francisco Part 6)

Now it just seems like my posts about San Francisco will just never end, doesn't it? To be honest I hope they don't, but of course I have a finite number of pictures from when I went last November to January. Basically what I'm doing is giving you a ton of reasons why you should go too - at least once (more) in your life. By the way, Sweet November was kind of a funny casting decision. Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron together again! To rekindle their scorching chemistry from... The Devil's Advocate. Yikes! Anyway. Above is a picture of my cousin Kyle being taught by Mr. (Sensei?) Valero at Hapkido class. I'll tell you more of my babysitting adventures another time.

The Wok Shop
Blog research brought me to The Wok Shop in the heart of Chinatown. I must have spent an hour there just looking around - and without a doubt, the greatest ratio of time browsing : square footage of shop EVER. It is tiny but packed. I thought I'd be able to find a branding iron for making stylish dorayaki but even that is super-rare, so I came away with a cleaver and a moon cake mold instead. The owner is super-helpful. If I had more luggage space, I would have gotten a seasoned wok. (They are available on Amazon as a merchant.)
St. Peter and Paul Church
This is Saint Peter and Paul Church in Washington Square just west of North Beach. When Marvin and I met up here, this was where we parted ways (and I owe him the name of the place, so here it is).
Loving Cup
Loving Cup, duo of rice puddings
Uncle Rob once told us a story about how he saved the day for a pudding shop by making water ganache for them on the spot. Loving Cup is that store and while I didn't have ganache with my duet of rice puddings (vanilla and Nutella, I recall), it was still what I envisioned a perfect rice pudding to be. Just lovely. And I finished it even though I was ready to explode from the lunch I had prior to it...
Shalimar interior
Shalimar Murgh Shahi Korma
... Shalimar Indian and Pakistani restaurant. Some people say that it is a hole in the wall. Some people say the staff is unfriendly. Some people say that it could be a lot cleaner. The ones I listened to are the ones who said that you will likely not find better Indian food anywhere in the United States period. Some even went so far as to say it is better than any Indian food they had in India, but maybe that's taking it too far. But I can be easily deceived after my lunch there. See that plate of 5 chicken thighs with some fragments?
Shalimar, after tornado
Here it is 15 minutes later. Murgh korma shahi ($6.95). Take note. And a plate of chawal (rice) that was probably meant for 3 people. And naan. And I finished it thinking that I had to have every single bite of it because I might never know such awesomeness again, seriously. It is worth coming back to again and again, and for only $11 total (I might have over-ordered, heh). The staff is not really friendly, but they are not unpleasant either, just kind of aloof and wondering why I want to take pictures of their food. So there you have it: the epicenter of awesomeness.
Thorough Bread and Pastry
Thorough Bread and Pastry, pastries
Thorough Bread and Pastry, sticky bun
I was walking along Castro street on my way to Tartine again when I encountered Thorough Bread and Pastry (get it? Thorough bread? eh...), a relative newcomer on the SF pastry scene. I thought that I might give Tartine a break and give TBaP a try. The staff comes from The San Francisco Baking Institute. I only had the sticky bun, but it was a pretty delicious sticky bun (I'm not even usually a fan). I hope to return to taste some more dessert-oriented offerings.
Pizzeria Delfina
Pizzeria Delfina, pizza
You have to be thankful for the vast diversity of immigrant cuisine in San Francisco, otherwise diehard Italian food-lovers would never have developed the art of pizza-making to its current San Franciscan state, which has a unique flair. Pizzeria Delfina (shown here is the California St. branch, the only one open for lunch) is arguably one of the very best. But the quality comes at a price, so I ended up ordering the least expensive one, Napoletana (tomato, anchovies, capers, hot peppers, olives, oregano). The waiter read my mind and warned me that it would not have cheese, so I added some for an extra charge, not knowing that it probably would have been awesome anyway. How good was it? Do you ever eat something that was scorching-hot but you couldn't stop even though you were murdering your tongue because it was just that good? Yeah. I'm a glutton.
Koi Palace
Koi Palace interior
Speaking of excellent immigrant cuisine, we now end this leg of the journey (yes... there's more) with Koi Palace (technically not San Francisco, as it is in Daly City, still accessible via MUNI and Samtrans). Koi Palace is so hardcore that maybe only one of the waiters speaks English (exaggeration, maybe). Because nearly everyone who eats inside is Chinese, so you know it's good. Unfortunately, my aunt and I were unprepared as to how things proceeded, so we sat there like dunces for a while. Once we figured out (er, a waiter told us) that all you have to do is make pencil marks on the menu and they'll bring your orders, we enjoyed...
Koi Palace chow mein
Koi Palace XO Dumplings
Koi Palace Lychee Jelly
... Noodles and fried rice, magnificent XO spicy sauce Dumplings (heat rash-inducing, just the way I like them), lychee pudding, steamed barbecue pork buns (personal weakness #1), har gaw (personal weakness #2). It is one of the big 3 of the best dim sum restaurants in the San Francisco area (the others being Ton Kiang and Yank Sing). I vehemently agree.
Pick Up After Your Dog
Damn SF Hippies! Just kidding. Photo taken at Noriega St.
This is the last stop of this MUNI, but your transfer should be coming in next month or so and we'll explore some more places I visited. I hope you enjoyed my stories and my food, and I was able to share some of San Francisco's shiny happy sunshine with you!

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