Posts Tagged ‘All she can eat’
Twin-ham and I took a much-needed trip to San Francisco last month, to celebrate my dear friend’s wedding to the man of her dreams. While the wedding was the primary reason for our visit to the “other coast,” we naturally took this opportunity to partake in the many lovely things San Francisco had to offer. In other words, we ate. And ate. And when we were done, we ate some more.
Right after checking into our hotel and freshening up, we immediately made our way to stop #1 on our itinerary: the Mission District. Known for its abundance of Mexican taquerias, it is often said that you’ll be hard pressed to find better Mexican fare north of the border. (And yes, that includes New York.) Naturally, we had to taste this for ourselves.
Our taxi driver dropped us off at the corner of 17th and Valencia, and we were immediately drawn to the bright lights coming from the sign that read, “Taqueria La Cumbre.” Locals may say that this place is terribly touristy–especially after it was featured on an episode of Man vs. Food–but we were more concerned about the food than looking like clueless tourists. However, a peek inside confirmed that the joint was packed with people who decidedly looked like locals. Then again, nothing could’ve changed our minds after we saw the gorgeously-huge menu on the wall.
Rather than diving into a legendary Mission-style burrito (we were actually having dinner about an hour later), we each opted for some “light” tacos. I couldn’t say no to the Baja fish tacos, and Twin-ham naturally went for the lengua en chile rojo.
I’ll be honest: I went into this thinking that Mexican food in San Francisco couldn’t possibly taste any different from the Mexican food I had had in Manhattan, Brooklyn, or anywhere else for that matter. I took a bite of my fish tacos, and while it was one of the better fish tacos I had tried in a long time, I decided that I was right to think that SF Mexican was just like the NYC stuff. Then I took a bite of the lengua. And my head exploded.
Call me crazy, but I swear my taste buds began doing the boogie the second that lengua touched my tongue (no pun intended). The meat was incredibly tender, the sauce had the perfect amount of heat, and the accompanying salsa effectively cut through the richness. While the red plastic basket and aluminum foil were decidedly no-frills, the dish definitely had complex layers of flavor. Twin-ham and I were officially hooked on SF Mexican!
Our tacos were polished off in about ten minutes, and we headed to Foreign Cinema for our dinner reservation (but not before dropping by Nombe for a plate of spicy chicken wings). While dinner was lovely, we went to bed with one question in mind: How soon could we get more Mexican?
It was a beautiful Saturday in the city (relative to the horrific weather we’ve been having lately), so my dearest Twin-ham and I decided to take ourselves downtown for some sunshine and good food. But as always, we were faced with the question: What should we eat on this fine day? A little meditation and a little more web surfing gave us our answer: PIZZA!
I’ve always been a huge fan of pizza, and I’m not one to discriminate. Whether it’s thick crust, thin crust, deep dish, square, round, topped with every meat known to man, or simply done with tomatoes and mozzarella, I will devour whatever you put in front of me. There is something so comforting about melted cheese on warm pizza dough that it’s hard to imagine a more perfect food. I am instantly transported to the times I ate reheated pizza slices during my summer trips to New Jersey, when I thought that I was eating some akin to manna from Heaven. Little did I know that the word ‘pizza’ could encompass so much more than semi-cold mushrooms and congealed cheese (which I STILL love, by the way).
A Neapolitan pizza revolution has been quietly taking place in New York, with the growing popularity of places like Motorino, Keste, and the now-closed Una Pizza Napoletana. I try not to get sucked into food wars, but I had to admit that this particular rivalry was a lot more interesting than the others going on in the New York food scene. Maybe today would be the first stage in this battle?
Despite the lovely weather, we didn’t have to wait too long for a lunchtime table at Keste. We were seated towards the back, close to the dome-shaped brick oven. The familiar smell of yeast, cheese, and fresh herbs filled my nose, and my saliva glands kicked into overdrive. Our server–a very charming fellow with a swoon-inducing Italian accent–took our order: one Pizza del Re, and one Rustica salad.
I was ready to gnaw my arm off in hunger, but fortunately, our server quickly returned with our Rustica. The salad was a perfect start to the meal: the dressing was acidic enough to wake up the taste buds without being overwhelming, and the artichokes had a creamy quality that made for a good bite of food when paired with the mesclun. And of course, the prosciutto was like icing on the cake. (And yes, I would eat actual cake wrapped in prosciutto. Don’t judge!)
But all thought of salad flew out of the window when the pizza arrived… The menu described the Pizza Del Re as “fresh mozzarella, mushroom, prosciutto di parma, truffle spread, extra virgin olive oil.” My first sniff confirmed the presence of truffle; my second sniff confirmed that sharing this pizza with Twin-ham would be highly unlikely.
While I stuffed my face with deliciousness, a couple of things occurred to me: (1) I should have considered ordering a pizza with some kind of vegetable (tomatoes, arugula, anything), because all this truffle spread was getting a little heavy, (2) the Neapolitan pizza crust was a little more dough-y than I expected, but in a pleasant way, (3) the combination of said crust and truffle spread was making me feel a little sluggish, and (4) perhaps sharing wasn’t such a bad idea.
I threw up the white flag after my second slice, and Twin-ham took over from there. All in all, it was a fantastic meal and I’m already looking forward to my second visit. But in the interest of fair and balanced reporting, I’ll have to drop by Motorino soon to see who truly reigns in the Neapolitan kingdom.
Welcome to the first post of our intrepid guest blogger, My Melody! Join her as she chows her way through the Big Apple and beyond.
Nothing says “Girls’ Night Out” like martinis, dimly-lit lounges, and flirtatious banter with handsome strangers. But when it comes to me and my girl friend S., our definition of a great night out usually involves a platter of fried chicken.
I recently became a huge fan of Korean-style fried chicken, made popular in New York by Bon Chon, Mad for Chicken, and Unidentified Flying Chicken (which also wins the Best Restaurant Name Ever award). If you’ve never had chicken cooked like this before, you need to finish reading this post and run to your nearest Korean fried chicken joint. Why? Because it’s crispy, savory, juicy, and piquant all at the same time, and you can eat an entire bucket of the stuff without feeling greased-out. (I’ll admit: I know this from personal experience.) In other words, it’s like crack in chicken form. I don’t exactly know how they do it, but what they do on a daily basis is truly a service to mankind.
But there’s another kind of Korean chicken that occasionally gets some press, and it’s served at a restaurant called Baden Baden, located within spitting distance from Mad for Chicken in Koreatown. Their website states that they specialize in ‘Tong-Dak,’ which translates to rotisserie-fried chicken. And while I’ve walked by Baden Baden many times in the past, I’ve never ventured inside. Clearly, it was time to do some reconnaissance work.
First impressions: After spending a little effort locating our destination (it’s on the second floor), S. and I walk into a place that looks more like a college dive bar than a stereotypical Korean restaurant. But we quickly spotted–and smelled–a server walking past with a tray of fried food, which confirmed that we were in the right place.
I had read beforehand that the only thing really worth trying was the chicken, so that’s what we ordered: a whole chicken, with the requisite side of fries and onion rings. (We ignored the look of shock on our server’s face.) The platter arrived soon after, overflowing with golden brown things that smelled like heaven, if heaven was a hot vat of grease.
Our initial thought: this was very different from the chicken we’ve had at Mad for Chicken; like the website stated, we were literally having rotisserie chicken that had a crispy-fried skin. There was also no glaze on this chicken, which I actually liked; the flavor of the chicken really came through, and even reminded me of the fried chicken I used to have as a child in Manila. The only thing missing? Big bowls of fluffy rice! I’m still not sure why Korean chicken joints don’t offer rice as a side order. Wouldn’t it be great if they provided little balls of rice wrapped in wax paper, just like they do in Jollibee?
Clearly, the chicken was a huge hit at our table, since the plate was taken away (empty) about 25 minutes after it arrived. Mad for Chicken still has the number one spot in my book, but I’ll definitely be heading back to Baden Baden for another round of Tong-Dak.