Halal Dastarkhan, San Francisco 08-2021

San Francisco has changed a lot since my last visit in 2011. Or maybe I have. Or both.

2011 was staying near the Ferry building, going to Fisherman's Wharf and riding bikes along to the Golden Gate Bridge. 2021 was staying near Union Square, surrounded by homelessness, drug addicts, and people peeing/pooing in plain sight on the street. How it has all turned.

Anyway, from a food point of view I was delighted to find an Uzbek place on Google mapsnear the hostel. And visiting Russia turned on my palate to Uzbek food (https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/depo-moscow-and-batman-and-uzbeks-moscow-06-2019https://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/uchkuduk-st-petersburg-06-2019).

There were so many items I wanted to try; lamb, rice and noodles in all their forms. But alas there is only limited stomach space and nowhere to store leftovers.

- Beef somsa (crunchy bun stuffed with lamb, onion, spices) USD6
- Manti (central Asia style dumpling, ground beef, flour, onions, spices) USD18
- Sofi osh (lamb, carrots, onion, rice, raisins, chickpeas, garlic, cumin, black pepper) USD15

Not better than what I had in Russia, but very good nonetheless.

Boudin at Bakers Hall, San Francisco 10-2011

It's been a long time since I actually visited Boudin. In researching my food venues for the trip, Boudin and their chowder in sourdough was extremely highly regarded. The first Boudin I walked past was at Fisherman's Wharf, complete with the artistic and impressive animal designs in the shop window.

I was enroute to dinner at Ferry Plaza so didn't stop in, but managed to sample Boudin's fare the next day (at a location that I can't precisely recall).

The sourdough revolution hit Melbourne around the time of extreme brunch cafe culture circa 2009 and I was there to embrace it. It was a farcry from the supermarket sourdough I was made to eat back in the early 90s when my mum tried to take wheat out of my diet (N.B I'm aware now that sourdough is still wheat based). Of all the types I've tried around various cafes and bakeries in Australia, none has yet surpassed my experience at Boudin - the crusty bowl exterior, the soft spongy bread and the unmistakable tangy sour taste that I search for. Other than the bread, the chowder isn't bad either.

A fantastic dish and one I look forward to revisiting. Next time I'll be sure to take some bread home too. My sourdough journey continues.

Boudin Bakery  Cafe Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, San Francisco 10-2011

The Ferry Building in San Francisco seems to be where all the city's best food congregates under one roof. In only a few days, I spent time at the regular store inside (think bakery, mushrooms & truffles, fruit & vegetables, meat, coffee), the restaurants (Hog Island Oysters, The Slanted Door), and also excitedly the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market.

Occurring every Tuesday & Thursday (1000-1400) and Saturday (0800-1400). Tuesday is supposedly quite limited, Thursday has the addition of hot street food vendors, Saturday is the biggest with restaurants also attending to serve food.

A lucky Thursday allowed us to sample Korean tacos, pizza and the most wonderful food van called RoliRoti. After a short queue, a RoliRoti sandwich with rotisserie chicken or pork with cooking meat juices soaking into the bread was incredible. The rich strong flavours enticed us to consider joining the now-immense queue of about 45mins just to have another one... maybe next time.

Gott's Roadside, San Francisco 10-2011

Before hitting San Francisco, I carefully read through the recommended 100 food items to try. Obviously getting to all of them was never going to be a goal, but picking the select ones that had the most promise gave me something to look forward to.

Gott's Roadside is a roadside diner-designed place, expertly located at the Ferry Building, where all good food in San Francisco seems to be.

The Ahi Tuna burger was the item on my prowl list. It ended up being a lovely fat slab of seared sashimi-grade tuna, served with coleslaw in a soft bun. It looks sensational and tastes very good. I felt it was missing something (unsure what, perhaps something to kick the flavour up) to make it great, but I'd happily go back for it.

Gott's Roadside on Urbanspoon

Poc Chuc, San Francisco 10-2011

One of the recommended districts to visit in San Francisco is the Missions. It is a poorer area that is known for good ethnic food, exploration during the day, and perhaps a shadier atmosphere at night.

In order to get there from the central and ferry parts of town, we decided upon the local bus. It wasn't the cleanest idea, with it being quite rundown and obviously catering to the more forgotten people in San Francisco. I didn't mind it, but some of my less adventurous travel companions felt a little uncomfortable. I leeched onto some very inadequate Blackberry internet to find a recommended Latin American restaurant for us to try. After a short walk around we came to Poc Chuc, a Mexican/Yucatan restaurant sitting all by itself in the quieter side of the Missions.

- Horchata - my first encounter with the delicious cinnamon milk drink;
- complementary crispy tortilla chips with a spicy dipping sauce;
- Tacos de carnitas (grilled pork leg topped with roasted tomato sauce);
- Camarones al Ajillo (tiger prawns, mushrooms, green onions and cherry tomatoes sautéed in a white wine garlic butter sauce, served with sautéed zucchini, carrots, red and green bell peppers and rice potatoes);
- Pescado Frito (pan fried fish, served with vegetable-bouillon rice and mixed salad and cherry tomatoes);
- Estofado de Borrego (lamb simmered with onions, carrots and celery, served with rice and a side of black bean puree);
- Poc Chuc (grilled citrus marinated pork, served with vegetable-bouillon rice topped with grilled tomatoes, red onions and a side of black bean puree) - the namesake dish was my favourite for flavours although the pork was a little tough.

Each dish was delicious and what I imagine true authentic Yucatan food to be. There was no frills, just strong flavours and simple cooking. Horchata lovingly washed down all the flavours. 

After dinner I took the bus. The others took a taxi.

Poc Chuc on Urbanspoon

Hog Island Oyster Co, San Francisco 10-2011

San Francisco has a wonderful food scene and likely my favourite of all the cities I visited in the USA. Given the coastal location, it isn't surprising that many of the local specialties involve seafood - Dungeness crab, seafood chowder, oysters etc.

With respect to the latter, Hog Island is a well respected company known for its sustainable farmed oysters.

The Hog Island Oyster Co restaurant at the Ferry Building along the harbourside is the place in San Francisco to eat them. They also branch out and import a variety from around the USA and even a few from overseas. Although we had a short wait in line outside, you are standing along the harbour and enjoying the world pass by, the sights in the distance, and the oysters being served up to the lucky guests earlier than you.

On our particular visit they had their usual Hog Island Sweetwater oysters and the other prevalent local Kumamoto oysters, as well as the respected Kusshi oysters from BC, and some I hadn't heard of before - Hama Hama and Blue Pool (Washington), Island Creek (Massachusetts) and even one from New Zealand!

If you feel inclined, there are hot options for oysters, of which we tried Casino (butter, Spanish paprika, bacon, shallots, thyme) and Lobster Butter (House preserved lemon, cilantro, lobster, butter). There are also a few serving sized dishes to pick from with clams or oysters.

All the oysters were fantastic and fresh, ranging from a light sweet flavour all the way to a strong ocean intensity. The cooked oysters were tasty also, although I always prefer fresh. We also tried the Clam Steamers (Manila clams with Corona beans and Mexican-style chorizo) which was a delicious heavily-flavoured clam soup.

Next time I would order whatever types of oysters you prefer - ask your server to suit them to your taste. The hot dishes are definitely worth a try if in the mood. The food quality and outdoor setting is worth a warm evening out.

Hog Island Oyster Company on Urbanspoon

The Slanted Door, San Francisco 10-2011

Of all my USA pre-bookings, this was one of the most anticipated. I maintain that San Francisco is the food capital of the USA and The Slanted Door was one of my happiest meals there.

I am partial to *modern* takes on Asian food and this was the only well reputed one I could find online (the others being Fatty Crab in NYC but having very mixed reception).

Being a large group, the prix fixe menu was left to two of us to decide from with some suggestions from the waiter. After much salivary debating, the final selections were:

- chilled greenlip mussels steamed in wine and lemongrass with roasted chili aioli
- grapefruit and jicama, red cabbage, pickled carrot, candied pecans
- barbecued willis ranch pork spareribs with honey-hoisin sauce
- mesquite grilled lamb sausage and kusshi oysters with chinese black olive and preserved lemon relish
- grass-fed estancia shaking beef, cubed filet mignon, watercress, red onion, lime sauce
- organic chicken claypot, caramel sauce, thai chili, fresh ginger
- wood overn roasted alaskan halibut with sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and thai basil
- hodo soy beanery organic tofu, with lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms and roasted chili

The desserts to top off were a couple of wads of fairy floss and a decadent rich chocolate roll, both of which were fun rather than fantastic, but a nice way to finish off the meal.

There were no bad dishes in the menu, only good and great ones. All had rich South-East Asian flavours that I savour the most. The most unforgettable was the Pork Spareribs with Honey-Hoisin Sauce - they were intensely meaty coated with a rich caramelised sweetness (and the only dish I can ever compare to my favourite Longrain's Crispy Fried Pork Hock). I also particularly liked the Grapefruit and Jicama salad as it was a nice contrast to the generally heavy cuisine of the USA, and the candied pecans made it more memorable than the typical Vietnamese goi salads.

Next time I would order several servings of the Barbecued Willis Ranch Pork Spareribs so I could have more than one to myself and eat my stomach cravings worth. I feel anything else would be quite safe in terms of quality, however I personally wouldn't get spring rolls or rice paper rolls as I don't see how a upmarket restaurant could make these particularly better and worth getting over more traditional establishments.

The Slanted Door on Urbanspoon