Friday, July 8, 2011

Restaurant Reviews from Our 4th of July Weekend in San Francisco, CA

Hubby and I decided to spend the 4th of July weekend in San Francisco.  We love going there because it's a pretty easy drive and is just so different from Los Angeles.  This trip was mostly about eating and enjoying time with friends. One of the highlights of the trip was meeting my blogger friend, Nami, for the first time!  She has a wonderful blog called Just One Cookbook that mostly concentrates on Japanese food.  We clicked immediately when I first met her in the blogosphere.  It turns out she is a Dragon like me, but a whole cycle behind me;o)  Please check out her blog...

We met Nami and her husband Shen for a fabulous Chinese Feast at Koi Palace in Daly City on our way into San Francisco.  We were so busy eating and chatting that I didn't take any photos, but we had Soup Dumplings (XLB), Peking Duck - 3 Ways...Skin, Soup & Lettuce Cups, Ong Choy (Chinese Spinach or Hollow Veggie), Suckling Pig, Geoduck & Salmon Sashimi.  The food was delicious and we chatted it up for almost 3 hours! Towards the end of our meal there was a commotion at a table near us.  We looked over and there was a huge platter of something.  It turned out to be a huge pile of shark fin!  A $1,000 worth!!  Unfortunately, they didn't offer us a taste;o)

The next day we met for brunch at nopa with another set of friends.  Again, no pictures, but the food was wonderful! We shared most of it...Goat Cheese Bread Pudding...I usually don't like Goat Cheese, but I loved it!  Maybe cooking it makes a difference;o)  Smoked Trout w/housemade bagel, Salad w/Pluots, Garlic & Sage Sausage, Chili Braised Pork, Hamburger, &  Custard French Toast.  Loved the fact that they have loose leaf teas and some unusual cocktails.  I had the Negroni Frizzante, a Negroni w/Cava added ;o)

Dinner was at Prospect, it was good, but not great...  The menu sounded really good, but a lot of it was over salted.

**Please excuse the poor quality of my photos for this post, but they were all taken w/my iPhone w/out the flash.**

Toro Tartare @ Morimoto Napa
Nori Tsukudani, Wasabi, Sour Cream, Chives, Guacamole & Rice Crackers

When we were at brunch with our friends we were discussing other places that we'd be going to eat.  We talked about driving out to Napa for the day for lunch and they reminded me that Iron Chef Morimoto had opened his restaurant out there.  I was excited to try it out, but unfortunately, couldn't get a reservation :o(  You need to make it on Open Table and there was no availability.  When I called in, I couldn't get a real person to pick-up they just said that reservations are made online.  Next best place to go was Tyler Florence's new place Rotisserie & Wine, they just recently started to serve lunch, so was probably the reason we were able to get in.  When we got into Napa and to the restaurant it turned out that Morimoto was right next door, so we walked in to see if we could get in...Score!  Yes, they had availability :o) So, Tyler out, Morimoto in!! We had gone to Tyler's Wayfare Tavern in the past and I wasn't overly impressed, so I much preferred going to Morimoto.

Loved this place!  I wish that he'd open one in LA.  We learned that his restaurant in Philadelphia & NY has investors and the one in Napa is his first one solely owned by Chef Morimoto and it's his baby :o)  They said that he comes in at least once a month.  He also recently opened one in Waikiki and working on another one in Mexico City.

The first time I saw the Toro Tartare dish was in a photo that my brother had taken a few years ago. I had no idea what it was, but it looked intriguing!  Then it was featured on Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate and I had an Aha After seeing that episode, I so wanted to try that dish!  So, first thing I asked when we sat down in the Napa location is if they had it...yes, so happy and it was worth the wait!

It's chopped up Toro (Fatty Tuna) & Akami (Reg Tuna) and served with Nori Tsukudani, Wasabi, Sour Cream, Chives, Guacamole & teeny tiny Rice Crackers.  Nori Tsukudani is seaweed that is cooked down to a paste, it's a common condiment in Japan.  The dipping sauce wasn't your usual soy sauce, it also had dashi (bonito broth) added to it.  Then they give you these little shovels to use instead of chopsticks and you mix and match whatever condiment you like.  I want to make this at home next, it shouldn't be too hard as long as you have the ingredients...

Duck Meatball Soup

The whole menu looked really good.  Hubby had a box set which included Veggie Tempura, Miso Soup, Sushi & he picked Braised Black Cod all for $25.  I had the Duck Meatball Soup which was light and refreshing, they put grated Mountain Yam in the meatballs which makes them super fluffy and the broth had a little bit of a kick to it too!  I wished that I could have it with udon, but they wouldn't allow it...they said that all the noodles were portioned out, so no!  They make all there udon & soba on sight!

I also had some sushi & sashimi.  What's nice is that even sashimi is served by the piece.  I had Otoro, Kinmedai (Big Eye Snapper) & Wagyu Beef as Sashimi (w/out rice). I also had the Uni &  Kanimiso (King Crab Tomalley) as sushi (w/rice).  I had to try the Kanimiso because it sounded so interesting, I've never seen it as a sushi item.  I didn't really like it, it really was JUST the tomalley, I would have liked it if it had a small piece of crab with it.  When we were in Paris, there was a Japanese restaurant called Aida that grilled lobster and then used it's Tomalley to make a sauce...decadent!  I wrote about it in a previous post....

Roast Chicken

Our last night we went to Alexander's Steakhouse. We really enjoyed this place.  When I first looked it up on the internet, I thought I found the wrong place because there was so much Asian stuff on the menu such as sashimi.   It turns out that the Chef is half Japanese.  Unfortunately, since we went on a Sunday night he wasn't there, but the food was all still very good.  Hubby had the roasted chicken that was smoked for 3 hrs over Bincho coals.  Those are the same coals that Yakitori places use.  It was incredible how smokey the chicken was.  There was also braised daikon served with it, but it was braised too long in too concentrated soy sauce sauce, so it was a bit salty.

Prime Dry Aged Rib Eye w/KimChi Butter

This was my dish and I loved it!  Who would have thought to serve a full on steak w/KimChi!  Well, at Korean bbq's you get sliced meat w/KimChi ;o)  The KimChi is usually served with the Filet, but they let me change it out and have it with the Rib Eye. It also had a side dipping sauce of Spicy Sesame Oil.  They also have Wagyu Beef and do their own dry aging.  The service was very friendly and professional.  We loved the bartender, Steve, (his father grew up in Burbank;o) with his innovative drinks.  He made us some New Orleans type cocktails like the Vieux Carre & Sazerac and even gave us our last round on the House! What I really like about San Francisco was that they are a gin town! Every bar that we went to had at least 10 different types of gin and only a few Vodka. Alexander's even had Citadelle Gin which is a French gin and is very hard to find, it's one of my favs!   LA is starting to get more gin, but doesn't compare to SF.

Complimentary Cotton Candy

It was a nice touch that they serve cotton candy at the end of the meal.  This one was a blueberry/cherry flavor :o)

My Sculpture...

You can only eat so much cotton candy, I had more fun playing with it than eating

View from Alioto's @Fisherman's Wharf

I know that Fisherman's Wharf is considered a tourist trap area, but I really like going to Alioto's!  We often stop here for lunch before our drive home to LA (or we love going to Swan Oyster Depot).  It's so civilized w/their view and white table cloths.  They even provide a traditional Finger Bowl after you finish eating your cracked crab;o)  The rest of the food is ok, not great...

Cracked Crab

I know that Dungeness Crab isn't in season in San Francisco now, but I love getting it still.  It's really hard to find plain old, hot cracked crab w/drawn butter nowadays.  It just seems like such a SF dish to me.  This version at Alioto's is called "For the Adventurous"  It's called this because it's not all completely cleaned up for you and you need to use a crab cracker & bib to eat it.  I wouldn't have it any other way!  I love this version because it is served with the crab soup/fat in the top shell.  When I was drinking the "soup" the waitress said that the only people that appreciate this part are Asians &  She also suggested that I put the fat on bread...yum...wish I had thought of that before!

With the lid on...

Dabney Coleman Steak

Our last dinner for 4th of July weekend was our old haunt Dan Tana's right by our house.  I just can't resist their NY Strip Steak...the best in town :o)  Is it bad having two fatty steaks, two nights in a row??  I wrote a little about Dan Tana's in a past post...

My loot from Dean & Deluca :o)

I love going to Dean & Deluca when we are in the Napa area.  We stopped by here after our lunch at Morimoto.  The store is located in St. Helena.  I know most all the stuff you can buy at other stores and probably for a lot less, but I just love going there!  I got...Giant Posole (hominy), Small Posole, Black Rice, Dried Fava Beans (this is the 1st time I've seen dried), Cheese Scraper, Coffee Measuring Spoon, Glass Container and Mariage Frere Tea (not pictured).


  1. Aaah! Great post. 1. Jealous you got to hang out with Nami! 2. I will be your date (or 3rd wheel) if Morimoto ever opens in LA- he just opened one up in Hawaii! 3. Everything looks aaaaamazing- I want the Toro, the steak with the kim chee butter and the goat cheese bread pudding.

  2. Ohh Nami and you finally awesome!! I am waiting for that day:))
    Everything looks fantastic..I would love to dive in that food and enjoy it!!!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  3. I know we were so busy eating and chatting! Well hopefully you will come up again soon or we'll visit you in LA (and I can get to see Lindsey too! And Sandra, you fly to LA!). I'm glad to hear you had good weekend with lots of delicious food. I hope to go to Napa while my mom is here... I still have so many restaurants I want to try!

  4. Kecker, I was waiting for either you or Nami to write a blog posting about your meet, how exciting! I was with my family at SF but didn't get to visit Nami due to a very busy traveling schedule, but she offered me many good restaurant suggestions which was just wonderful. Glad to see you had a great time, thank you for sharing!

  5. It's great that you've met with Nami. Your post made me so hungry. Love crabs (my blog is proof of that). Just look at those babies.

  6. Super fun trip! It's awesome that you got to meet up with Nami :) I bet that was a blast! Buzzed

  7. What a cool and informative post. I love visiting SF and these reviews will be useful. I'd be hard picked to choose one.

  8. Thanks, Lindsey, I hope that Morimoto decides to open a restaurant in LA soon :o)

    Thanks, Sandra, it really was great meeting Nami!

    Nami, it was great seeing you. We will definitely have to get together again soon :o)

    Jeno, isn't SF great! What places did you eat at, I bet everything was good :o)

    Adora, I know, yum,

    Parsley, thank you!

    Thanks, Mike, I glad you liked my write up! I hope you get a chance to eat at some of the places too :o)

  9. So jealous that you were able to meet Nami in person! She is such a sweet person and I just love reading her blog =)

    It sounds like you had a food-filled and fun trip for 4th of July!

  10. Sounds like you had a fun and delicious weekend! I like SF and it has been a while since my last trip there. It is wonderful that you got to meet Nami.

    The food looks delicious and I would like to try that Toro Tartare. That steak on kimchi is an interesting combination :)

  11. Oh my gosh. Every single one of those dishes looks delicious. I'm not a sushi fan, but I find it to be one of the most beautiful and creative types of food ever. The spoke to my heart. I love it just like it is with drawn butter. (But I wouldn't drink the broth. Of course, I'm not Asian.)

  12. Hi Kay! So sorry that I'm too busy to catch up with your posts recently :(
    This is a great post with so many yummy dishes! So happy that both you and Nami enjoyed your meet up!:D
    What's Toro Tartare? Looks interesting and yummy! I don't like wasabi though... love the duck meatball soup and the roasted chicken too!
    Oh how I wish I could go SF some days too! To meet up with both of you and of course to indulge into all these delish food! :D

  13. Thanks, Peggy!

    Thanks, Biren :o) SF is always a ton of fun and good eating. I love Kimchi w/just about everything!

    Mom Chef, I actually didn't like sushi until I started to go out with my husband, my parents thought I was weird. If you do ever want to try it, start with tuna and work your way up;o) It's funny how hard it is to find just simple crab w/drawn butter nowadays!

    Lyn, don't be sorry, we all get busy and get behind in reading everyone's blog! Toro is fatty tuna and tartare just means it's raw and chopped. Usually the term tartare is used for steak:o) Thanks always for your sweet comments!

  14. I'm so jealous you went to Morimoto's in Napa i was just saying how I'm dying to go there or any of his places. I might be holding out to go to Waikiki. For the sake of food education ;) He is my favorite chef since i was young watching iron chef Japan.

    That Toro looks amazing and your version you made at home from your other post is just fantastic as well.

    I love your blog you have a new follower. take care -Kimberly

  15. Thanks, Kimberly! I hope that you get a chance to go to Morimoto's restaurant, I think going to Waikiki would be perfect :o) Thank you for your sweet comments!!

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