Trying to eat something delicious, each and every day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hong Kong Lounge and Tajine

Serious good eats alert this weekend! Sadly, I was without a camera at both restaurants, leading me to resort to yelp-stealing for the following photos. I know, it's beneath me, but it was either that or let these amazing meals slide. I could not do that latter.

Hong Kong Lounge is the new name of a dim sum location we've long enjoyed. Lucky for us, the new owners have not only lowered the prices, they have upped the quality! We've only been able to brave the long lines once so far, but dare I say the quality is close to that of Koi Palace in Daly City, with about 2/3 the price tag? Dim sum for two was $30 after tax and tip, and only because we ordered generously off the specials menu. Dishes of note included the coffee-glazed pork ribs, shrimp rice roll (chang fen), and daikon cake. We will be back soon (with a camera!)

And sort of the opposite situation: old favorite Tenderloin spot Tajine re-opened awhile ago in nicer, bigger digs. They share a space with a bar/lounge, but the food is as good as ever. Prices have gone up a few dollars, but portions are also larger. I think because the space now makes more sense for large groups, they've gone the family style route full force. Service was as friendly as ever and the bill for three people (and leftovers) was under $90 after tax and tip. We really enjoyed the white bean tajine, split pea dip, and I thought the cous cous was exceptionally fluffy and flavorful.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Russian River Vacation: Day 1

What a weekend! We're finally home from vacation and I'm ready to start re-capping. C and E got in Wednesday night, and after a good night's rest we were off to a rollicking start on day one of their vacation, which was a walking tour through several neighborhoods.

We started off with a healthy breakfast of fried eggs on whole wheat toast and homemade yogurt with raspberry compote.

The eggs were from Prather Ranch in the Ferry Building, which always carries pasteured eggs from Soul Food Farm. The yolks aren't the most orange I've seen, but they have a distinctly rich and nutty flavor.

We bussed down to the Mission and took a walk through one of the alleys with murals in them. I love this one of Where the Wild Things Are.
I also love this because it's so incredibly elaborate and fun to look at. I forgot the name of the artist, but I've seen an entire gallery show of this type of art. It's amazing.

Our first coffee stop of the day was the original Philz on 24th. Drip coffee poured to order. E had a Turkish, which has a lot of cardamom and a mint leaf in it. I had the Arabic, which was rich but not exceptionally flavored. C had a decaf Peruvian and loved it even though she doesn't handle caffeine well. After grabbing these, we kept walking.

Several blocks later we were at Ritual Roasters. E's caffeine craving was still going strong and he had a cup of black coffee from the Clover machine. I have to say, that's a good cup of coffee: clean, crisp, almost like wine or tea in how clear and bright it was. E said he could have drank it all day.

But even coffee fiends need to stop for lunch. We had carne asada and lengua tacos at El Cumbre.

Mmm, lengua. My visitors claimed to never have had lengua tacos before, and were impressed with the meat's tenderness.

After lunch, we wandered around a little and discovered the new Paxton Gate toy store. It's an amazing space with really fun handmade toys.

More coffee! Four Barrel was our third stop. They have a really cool open space with high ceilings, boars' heads mounted on the wall, and a lot of cool antique machinery on display.

E and I shared a cappucinno.

After all that coffee, it was time for dessert. We took a stroll towards Noe Valley and shared a cup of bread pudding at Tartine. As always, the custardy bits were delicious.

More dessert. I couldn't resist; it was only a block away! Bi-Rite ice cream. I had the caramel swirl and E had cherry almond. Everyone tasted the salted caramel, which is still my fave, and C decided she doesn't like lavender in food.
We enjoyed our ice cream as we walked back toward Market Street via the Castro. Then we hopped on an F car and stopped in at Zuni for afternoon drinks. Of course, we got the famous bloody mary.

We also got some shoestring fries to munch on, along with bread.

More coffee! We were really full after the huge bloody marys and all those fries, so we took a walk and ended up at the Blue Bottle on Linden Alley. E and I had Gibraltars.

After that, we walked all the way home and basically passed out for awhile before dinner at Zitouna. This is the Mosaic of Africa assorted salad plate. It was fine, but it was kind of too many things on one plate for me.
Mint tea with plenty of sugar.
House made Merguez sausages. They were good, but I begin to suspect Merguez is not for me. It's always on the dry side.
Lamb tajine with white beans. Really really tasty broth and fork tender meat.

Vegetable cous cous. I didn't know that all the cous cous dishes come with a side of vegetable soup, or I would have gotten cous cous with meat on it. In any case, the cous cous was perfectly cooked and the vegetables were very refreshing.

After dinner we went to Bourbon and Branch. My favorite drink of the night was the Devil's Advocate, even though I had to steal this photo off flickr and I"m not sure if that's what it is.

And, because enough is never enough, we had late night snacks at La Mar. This is the chifa ceviche.

And the Nikkei, which along with the classico retains the title of favorite ceviche flavor. What a day: four great restaurants, four of the best coffee roasters in SF, two of my favorite dessert places, and farm fresh eggs. And that was just Day 1! I was very proud of my visitors.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cafe Zitouna

We found a new neighborhood gem tonight. And cheap too! Cafe Zitouna is an unassuming corner cafe, the kind of place that looks like it has a 50/50 chance of either selling burnt coffee and stale pastries or being an ethnic gem. Luckily for us, Zitouna turned out to be the latter.

Not being terribly hungry, we settled for one entree and the hummus with warmed pita bread ($4). The hummus was very creamy, had a nice garlic flavor, and was topped with fragrantly grassy Tunisian olive oil.

Then we shared one of the lamb tajines ($10). The dish was nicely done, but I wouldn't order it again because I just don't like artichoke hearts, green olives, or frozen peas very much (at least not when I'm paying to dine out). The broth of the tajine was really tasty though, and I could have had a bowl of it as a soup. Which reminds me that next time I'd go for a bowl of lentil soup and half a lamb shawarma sandwich, or a cous cous topped with one of several stews. I can't wait to go back and sample more goodies.

The menu shows a nice variety of items (including mint tea and what is rumored to be good coffee) without being dauntingly long, and the service is friendly. One downside of their being devout Muslims is that the restaurant closes at 9:00 p.m. daily so that those who need to can get to prayer. Too bad for us diners, but I admire their commitment.

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