A rotating exhibit of the things I love most about living in San Francisco.

Posts tagged “Food Review

favorite restaurants in san francisco series, mission chinese food

Mission Chinese Food, the Mission, SF

Mission Chinese Food, the Mission, SF

I’ll say right up front I’ve never been a fan of chinese food, generally speaking. On the whole, the chinese (buffet) food that I’ve had in the past has been heavy: fried, oil-soaked, and drenched in brightly colored syrups that makes everything sort of taste the same. Mission Chinese Food is the opposite of that, and I had a wonderful experience with it!

An article could be written about how this concept even came to be. Responsible for two of the first popular pop-up restaurants in San Francisco,  Mission Street Food and Mission Burger, Anthony Myint and Danny Bowein actually operate Mission Chinese Food out of an existing Chinese restaurant, Lung Shan, at specified hours 7 nights a week. MCF shares the dining space and kitchen, and offers its own companion menu to the items Lun Shan already provides.  So, if you’re interested in trying MCF, first ensure you’re looking at the Mission Chinese Food menu, and here’s a link to it: (MENU) NOTE: You can order from both menus, of course, but Bowein is the one doing the cooking on the MCF side.

You’ll find novel foods on the menu. Myint says that MCF not only highlights dishes from many regions of China but also incorporates other asian influences as well to create something unique, a kind of “Americanized Oriental Food”. Someone known for his inventive interpretation of foods he loves, Danny Bowein has become a celebrity chef over the last couple years in his own right, and there’s a lot of press about his approach to cooking (beginning with Mission Street Food days and what was my favorite burger in town, the defunct Mission Burger). Bowein’s philosophy not only includes a focus on quality food but providing it at an affordable price, and contributing back to the community through charity, as well.

The Restaurant space: Lung Shan has been around awhile and if you like kitsch by all means, eat here. It’s cheesy. Definitely reflective of the eclectic neighborhood, it’s full of workers’ revolution posters and christmas lights and other items collected over the years. If your Tea Party friends from out-of-town haven’t imploded on their trip to San Francisco by this point, they certainly will here. On my visit, I called ahead and picked up my order rather than eating there, although I think that would have been fun!


shitake and oyster musroom dumplings in miso soup: delicate noodles, full-bodied deep umami flavor of the miso and mushrooms deeply satisfying. Strong notes of chives/spring onion, but not spicy. Nice balance to other dishes.
cumin lamb ribs; very hot and spicy, bright and flavorful. Served on the bone, with lots of peppers. Tender, perfectly cooked meat.

Taiwanese Eggplant (three types of gardlic and hot basil)- again, very spicy and perfectly cooked. A beautiful dish in terms of color and presentation, very bright in terms of flavor.

The Verdict: This is Chinese food I would go back for. Overall the servings were generous and the diversity of flavors and textures made the meal truly interesting from start to finish. No limp, nondescript vegetables with magenta colored sweet and sour sauce here!

INTERESTING FACT: Incidentally, my interaction was with Bowein himself, and I got the impression he’s a hard-working guy– greeting the customer, taking the order and cooking, all himself. And one more thing about Bowein, this guy in his twenties: did you know he took first-place in a world-wide pesto competition, in Genoa, Italy? From burgers, to pesto, to chinese, this is a chef to watch.

Lung Shan Chinese Restaurant
2234 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Neighborhood: Mission

(415) 863-2800

Hours: Mon-Sun 11 am – 10:30 pm

lunching in san francisco, chicken and waffles at Farmerbrown’s Little Skillet (and bratwurst. for reals.)

best fried chicken, chicken and waffles at Little Skillet, SOMA, SF

best fried chicken, chicken and waffles at Little Skillet, SOMA, SF

The best fried chicken I’ve found in San Francisco is at Farmerbrown’s Little Skillet, bar none. The skin is so perfectly seasoned, with lots of black pepper and a nice spice blend as a base. Crisp without being dry, the skin comes of cleanly and easily, releasing a plume of steam as you peel it away. Next you’ll start to pull the meat. It is succulent and juicy. The waffle is thick and dense, Belgian-style with deep pockets for your syrup but frankly, it’s so good you might not even need to use it. . . did I mention the dusting of powdered sugar?

best fried chicken, chicken and waffles at Little Skillet, SOMA, SF

best fried chicken, chicken and waffles at farmerbrown's Little Skillet, SOMA, SF

I’ve also tried another combination on their tempting menu, bratwurst and sauerkraut on a waffle. It works. Trust me.

bratwurst, saurkraut, waffle at Little Skillet, San Francisco

bratwurst, sauerkraut, waffle at Little Skillet, San Francisco

For a chicken and waffle place, Little Skillet makes a mean bratwurst. I dare say it is among the best you can get in the City. The sauerkraut is fresh and light- they didn’t go cheap. The waffle, unsweetened, makes an excellent bread, and serves as the roll for your sandwich. Don’t knock it ’til you tried it!

The verdict, I’ll be going back A LOT.

Seating, not inside. You place your order at a window, in an alley. There are some benches in the alley on which to sit. If it’s not raining, or super cold. It’s still worth it. Go.

Little Skillet (link to website and menu)

360 Ritch St
(at Brannan St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Neighborhood: SOMA

(415) 777-2777

Hours: Mon-Sat 9 am – 2:30 pm

Interesting factoid: do you know why chicken and waffles were thrown together in the first place? In an era in which jazz musicians were leaving their gigs in the wee hours of the morning (or night, depending on your point of view) it was too late for dinner service and too early for breakfast service so. . . they sort of combined them. The pairing was born!

the best chocolate chip cookie in San Francisco is at Goody Goodie!

Can there be any doubt why SFWeekly chose Goody Goodie Cream & Sugar as the best Chocolate Chip cookie? Check out this photo:

Chocolate Chip with Coconut Cookie by Goody Goodie Cream and Sugar, San Francisco

Chocolate Chip with Coconut Cookie by Goody Goodie Cream and Sugar, San Francisco

best bakeries in the bay area, octoberfeast

pretzel croissant, Octoberfeast, Berkeley, CA

pretzel croissant, Octoberfeast, Berkeley, CA

I’d never really understood why people love croissants until I had one in France. And, hailing from Pennsylvania Dutch Country as I do, I have always had a reverence for well-made doughnuts and pretzels, and my bar is set high in terms of quality.  While I haven’t found a doughnut quite as good as the best I’ve had back home, I may just have found the pretzel, and it’s by Berkeley’s Octoberfeast Bakery. When I saw their stall at the Stonestown Farmer’s Market one Sunday morning, the animal part of my brain was triggered and I made a bee-line for their wares.

Now just imagine, bringing the pretzel and the croissant together . . . the sum is amazingly more than the sum of its parts and this, dear reader, you will discover at Octoberfeast. Just go. Just get it. A pretzel croissant. It’s incredible.

But while they had me at pretzel croissant, and the pretzels, they have another item I want to tell you about, the RECTOR BUN. I had never heard of these, not even on my trips to Germany. They’re pastries that consist of a tightly rolled dough, dense and chewy like a sticky bun, firm on the outside and containing soft, flakey layers on the inside. The top is glazed and sprinkled with turbinado sugar. It’s a gorgeous and delicious thing, and very unique.

Octoberfeast a bakery out of Berkeley that retails in San Francisco at Rainbow Grocery and on Sunday mornings, at the Stonestown Farmer’s Market until 1pm.

Octoberfeast Bakery

1954 University Ave
(between Bonita Ave & Milvia St)
Berkeley, CA 94704

(510) 207-2320

Hours: Tue-Fri 8 am – 6 pm, Sat 9 am – 3 pm

great bakeries of San Francisco: Golden West

Golden West Bakery, San Francisco

Golden West Bakery, San Francisco

I meant to get this review out yesterday but alack, I had a busy day at work (keeping me in the office past six on a Friday, eek!) and next, today was spent doing a lot of cooking. (That cooking invariably includes getting the house ready for company, which entails catching up on a huge assortment of associated postponed chores. But I digress . . . )

My aforementioned long day at work Friday was fueled by a great morning cake, and that was sourced at Golden West, home of the most gorgeous signage in town and the reason for the gorgeous aroma permeating Trinity Plaza. (So the ‘Au’ is of course the chemical symbol for gold, and the sign is a representation of gold as seen on the Periodic Table of Elements.) Golden West is so inviting, located as it is in a narrow alley of the financial district, flanked by skyscrapers which keep the alley in shadow most of the day.  And in July, mornings are just plain cold and dark anyway, so the glowing golden sign is a real beacon! The food is your reward.

For my first sample from Golden West bakery I chose a raspberry (which the owner pointed out was market fresh) coffee cake. When handed to me it was STILL WARM. Nice touch. I clutched that bag of cake near- this July morning was 50 degrees or so and I’d just been on the scooter for about 20 minutes getting here from the Castro through morning rush traffic. Biting into the cake was gorgeous, there’s a nice crispy exterior which contains a very dense, moist crumb. The berries did taste über-fresh. They’d still retained their berry-ness rather than turning to mush, like frozen berries do. The cake was not too sweet, allowing instead the tartness to come through, rounded by a solid butteriness. And like I said, what a score that it was still warm.

The service was exceedingly friendly and everything points to a place to which I’d LOVE to return.

Raspberry coffee cake from Golden West, Financial District, San Francisco

Raspberry coffee cake from Golden West, Financial District, San Francisco

great bakeries in San Francisco, Thorough Bread & Pastry

If butter is love then this is an . . . ‘uncomplicated’ relationship.

Thorough Bread and Pastry, San Francisco

Thorough Bread and Pastry, San Francisco

I adore Thorough Bread and in fact, I’ve made it part of my week. It’s my reward actually. Conveniently located on the way to work, I love starting the workday here with the expectation of being greeted not only by the overflowing case of gorgeous pastries and breads, but also by the friendliness of the bakers who work there. (And, I’ll confess, B. in particular!)

A working bakery, you can watch a small army of bakers working, cheerfully I might add, just feet from you as you order your breads at Thorough Bread. The café is affiliated with the San Francisco Baking Institute, so you can expect consistency and the highest bar in terms of quality. The variety is bountiful. The butter is plentiful.

Everything I’ve ever bought at Thorough Bread has, in my experience, been the best of its kind. From muffins to scones to croissants to cookies and so much more, I don’t believe you can go wrong here. There are also other items on regular rotation that I’ve not seen before in any other bakery. You owe it to yourself to try the bostock for instance. . . a thick-cut slice of brioche soaked in rum which is then baked with a layer of almond cream with sliced almonds and finally, finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. Or try the Gibassier, an impossibly light and airy bready doughnut, gently perfumed with orange zest and cardamom, finished with a light dusting of sugar (still, overall it avoids being ‘too’ sweet) The almond croissant is to die for.

Beyond breakfast and breads, there’s a small menu of sandwiches available for lunch. Enjoy on in the lovely garden patio located toward the back of the store surrounded by birds, vines and succulents:-)

I’ve been spreading the word about Thorough Bread in my own small way because when I find a local business with heart, like this one, I want to support it in any way I can. I love my neighborhood- and Thorough Bread & Pastry is a big part of what I love about it!

Thorough Bread and Pastry

248 Church St

(between Market St & 15th St)

San Francisco, CA 94114

Neighborhood: Castro

This slideshow requires JavaScript.