Archive for April, 2009
Day 2. Japantown! The weekend we went was the last weekend of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, so of course we had to go! There were so many people and vendors and food and did I mention people already? It was pretty crowded. We took a taxi in, and thank goodness we did. My friend Phu joined us that day and told us it took forever to find parking. There were live bands and taiko drum demonstrations among other things. The smell coming from all the fresh food being cooked, from red bean filled pancakes to the bar b q being grilled, was heavenly.
But before I begin on the food. I was told I wouldn’t actually see sakura trees in Japantown, which I thought was boo, but my sister and I found out about the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park had tons of sakura trees and other flowers. We of course checked it out and the blossoms were still in bloom! The full size photos are on my flickr page. They also have a mini cafe serving tea while you enjoy the view.
After our visit to the tea garden, we headed to Japantown, and we started with the spam musubi. Spam is a sort of breakfast food staple among Filipino (and Hawaiian) households. We like it fried, with rice and a fried egg. Yum. Anyways, this one stand was selling spam musubi! It was sushi rice, topped with a slice of cooked spam, eel sauce, and wrapped with a thin strip of seaweed wrapper. It was sooooo yummy. My sister and I ended up buying a couple each to save for a midnight snack of sorts. Sorry I don’t have better pics, but it did not last long enough to take photos after opening.
Even the toy from kidrobot wanted a bite. heh.
Next were the pancakes filled with red bean paste. The line was forever long, but you couldn’t resist, because as you walked by, you could smell the sweetness of the pancake batter cooking. They were soft and light and filled with a sweet red bean paste.
The only line longer than the pancake line was the beef takoyaki line. Takoyaki is typically a fried dough ball containing octopus and other vegetables, but there are different variations. As you can see, this was of the ground beef variety. I’ve had takoyaki before in NYC, minus the octopus, and that was definitely better. However, for the price and considering they had to feed the masses, the beef takoyaki I had was worthy of the wait in line.
After that, we were pretty much full. We waited for Phu and co. to arrive and we just ventured out into all the shops and bought manga and cool pencils at Kinokuniya. It felt good to sit down. It was starting to get hot, but that cool bay breeze swept in once in a while making it a beautiful day to be outdoors. Once Phu showed up, it was time to eat again. They were hungry and who was I to say no to food? We decided on ramen at Sapporo-ya in the Kinokuniya center. We don’t have ramen in Houston, not that I know of anyways. And I’m not talking about the 10 for a $1 you find at the grocery store either.
My sis and I shared the bowl of soy sauce ramen with bbq. It was pretty good, in my opinion, but what do I know? The only other time I had ramen was in Hawaii and it was wayyyyy too salty. The noodles were a little smushy, but the broth and the bbq was yums. The boiled egg really added to the ramen. Maybe it was the texture or just the taste of it with the bbq and noodles, but I found every bite better when I had egg in it. Service was just okay and it’s a tiny spot, but overall, it was okay. There are probably better ramen spots in the area, and one that I’ll talk about again on day 3, but it was the closest one at the time.
This day was full of lines. Lines for pancakes, takoyaki, ramen, and then came the line for Sophie’s Crepes. It was out the restaurant and it was also worth the wait. The crepes are thin and crisp, yet soft and flaky. You can choose your own items or they have a variety of goodies to put in your crepe, from hot fudge and strawberries to ham and cheese. I stuck with the nutella, banana, and vanilla ice cream crepe. It was definitely tasty. It was a nice cool treat after a day in the sun.
It was food overdose by this time. We decided to walk it off by going to the Haight area and checking out the shops. There were tons of different boutiques and restaurants, and if you’re a shopper you might like this area. I just wanted to go to kidrobot. Bought a few toys. So cute! And after a long day of wandering the streets of San Francisco, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation before dinner. Oh yeah, we ate more. Hah.
Phu & I made a trade. Sprinkles cupcakes for Filipino banana chips. I think I’m the winner in this trade off. The cupcakes were rich and moist and Phu was kind enough to buy us all milk from the local convenient store.
And that was our 18th floor view at Hotel Nikko. Well, after getting some rest in, we headed to a sushi joint in Union Square. I am sorry to say that for the life of me, none of us remember the name. We went because a friend suggested it and she didn’t even know the name, only that it was good and we should go. The seafood was fresh, but as I stick to the cooked stuff, I ordered an ebi tempura roll and the spider roll. That was a well cooked soft shell crab.
And that my friends, was the end of day 2. It was exhausting, but it was definitely fun. Thanks Phu, Hong & Megan for driving up from San Jose to hang out with us for the day!!
P.S. I miss it already.
From April 17th-21st, I was in San Francisco for the very first time. My sister and I decided to take a sister trip and so we did. I call it a food tour, because honestly, we mostly ate. We saw the sights as well, but food played a large part of our trip. This will probably be a full 4 day series of all the yums we had. We arrived at 11am. Checked in by noon. Hopped on a cable car and started our “day”.
Our first stop for the day was Fisherman’s Wharf. We were complete tourists this time around, and we were okay with that. The weather was beautiful. Sunny, cool breeze, and not too hot. A friend of mine suggested we find Boudin Bakery (http://www.boudinbakery.com/) and get some clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. It was indeed a treat. I’ll probably say this over and over, but the seafood in SF tasted so fresh. The clam chowder was rich in flavor, and the ingredients were well cooked, and the bread was fabulous. It’s also fun to see the bakers making cute animal shaped sourdough breads.
And what meal would be complete without dessert? Lucky for us, Ghirardelli Square was close by. We made our way uphill to Ghirardelli Square (http://www.ghirardellisq.com/ghirardellisq/), which has been there since the late 1800’s. My sister and I opted for hot fudge sundaes. She had the brownie hot fudge sundae with dark chocolate syrup, while I had the original hot fudge sundae with milk chocolate syrup. I promise it tasted as delicious as it looks. Three scoops of vanilla ice cream, with three pumps of hot fudge, topped with whipped cream and a brownie.
After our tasty treat and a tiring trip back to the hotel, we took a mini break. We stayed at Hotel Nikko (http://www.hotelnikkosf.com/) in Union Square, and let me tell everyone. What a wonderful place to stay. The staff was friendly and extremely helpful with directions and suggestions. The room was gigantic and the bathroom even more so. The beds were cozy and the pillows were fluffy. Nap time was an awesome time. I can’t even say I missed my bed because this was much nicer. Hah. The hotel sports a full service spa, indoor pool, a Japanese fusion restaurant called ANZU, which we didn’t get a chance to eat at, but it’s a pretty good spot according to yelp.
Luckily, Union Square has tons of restaurants. It’s a more touristy spot, with all sorts of shops and malls around the corner, but it was definitely a good place to stay. So after an hour of rest, we ventured out to the surrounding areas and tried to get some shopping in. Shops close early in SF. 8pm on a Friday? That’s just not normal to me. Anyways, we decided we needed to eat again. And, walking back to the hotel, we spotted a sushi joint called Hana Zen (http://www.hanazenrestaurant.com/) and decided to give it a try.
My sister is the sushi fanatic, and she got her usual salmon nigiri and hamachi roll, but that night they were serving otooro, which is fatty tuna belly. Apparently, it’s a delicacy to have and it’s seasonal so you can’t get it just anywhere or any time of year. Other places we went to didn’t have it available. Anyways, the waiter convinced her to try it, and she did. She was soooooo happy because it was so amazingly good that she paid for dinner that night. Hah. I, on the other hand, had the steak terriyaki. I’m somewhat of a steak terriyaki snob and only have 2, now 3, places where I love it. I like meat medium well to well done, and usually when it’s cooked that long, the meat is tough and hard to chew. Well, the meat here was grilled, tender and juicy and it was topped with an excellent terriyaki sauce that wasn’t too tangy or too sweet. Veggies on the side along with steamed rice. It was delicious.
That my friends, concludes day 1. It may not have seemed like much, but it was definitely plenty. We knew the next day was going to be an early day, so we basically called it a night and hopped into our comfy beds. Day 2 is going to be fun filled with pictures from the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Here I just threw some red scallions and red potatoes together into the oven. It’s really simple and tasty. The scallions really permeate the potatoes and the olive oil. Spring onions are in season so this would also take advantage of them and the weather (being not too warm to use the oven).
- 2lb red bliss potatoes
- 1 bunch of scallions or 1 spring onion
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450. Cut potatoes into 4ths or 8ths depending on size. Slice scallions on the diagonal into long pieces. Toss together with a few tablespoons of olive oil, few dashes of salt and pepper in a baking dish or cast iron pan. Bake for 25mins or till potatoes are done.