My San Francisco & Napa Valley eats

*Dojima Ann | Dojima on Urbanspoon

A nice and cozy Japanese restaurant just a little off Powell Street. K and I came here on our first night in SFO just to get something quick and hot since it was surprisingly cold. Dojima Ann was located near our hotel so we dropped by early enough to be seated before the rush started. I had an udon with chicken, egg and tempura (the name which I have already forgot) and it was delicious! The soup is miso based which was quite unusual because most of the Japanese restaurants I’ve had in Perth serve noodles in a dashi stock. So this one here was not as sweet which is just the way I like it. I would have preferred them to serve the tempura in a separate plate though – it was way too soggy when it was served. Service was quick and friendly though.

*Lori’s Diner | | Lori's Diner on Urbanspoon
Downtown (and other locations)

A very retro 50′s diner that has an all-American menu. Serving size comes in huge portions enough to be shared. It says in the menu that the French Toast is famous so that is what I ordered with an Oreo milkshake. The french toasts were good in a sense that they were thick and fluffy. Other than that though they were quite tasteless. Adding syrup does not help either because their syrup is also tasteless and not a tad sweet. K had Buttermilk Pancakes. She liked the first few bites but after that they were dry enough to make you want to stop eating. I really wanted to try the breakfasts with eggs like omelette but they make the omelettes with 3 eggs but I don’t think I need that much eggs. The ambiance is good and all that, with 50′s memorabilia and red and white diner tables and seats, and service was very friendly but I once is enough to give me that diner experience. They have a store at the international airport too, just in case you need to get a diner fix before departing the US of A.

*Pier Restaurant | | Pier Market Seafood on Urbanspoon
Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the many restaurants in the Pier 39 area offering fresh seafood and the famous clam chowder. K and I decided to dine here because it looked clean enough and it was in the heart of  the Pier 39 shops. Obviously, we had to have the clam chowder sourdough bowl. It was very good – creamy and tasty. The sourdough bowl that it comes in is from Boudin Bakery, a pioneer sourdough maker in the city. We polished off the bread as well. Yum. I wanted to have a bread bowl for myself but we decided that we wanted to try other food too so we shared a bowl and had a seafood grill. The grill had 4 prawn skewers, 1 swordfish and 1 salmon. I only enjoyed the prawn skewers; the rest were just plain grilled seafood. We tasted nothing exceptionally fresh about them.

*Chipotle |

Quick and fresh burritos and tacos in Downtown and that’s all they serve. I had the beef burrito that looked small until they wrap it up; very very filling specially when you have it at 10pm. I especially loved the cilantro rice!

*Oriental Pearl | | Oriental Pearl on Urbanspoon

How this restaurant made it to the Michelin restaurant guide list and Rachael Ray’s recommendation is beyond me. Walking along Chinatown looking for a place to eat, we dropped by Oriental Pearl based only on those 2 recommendations displayed proudly inside the restaurant. It’s a bit dodgily located on the second floor of some building and first instincts told us to get out this place but, no, we walked in anyway and asked for a table for 2. It was rather empty when we first got there but quickly filled up as dinnertime came around. For starters, we had a dim sum sample consisting of pork, beef and prawn dumplings. Mediocre at best and the prawn dumpling wrappers were disgusting. Tasted like they were made with rancid flour. Then we had tofu soup with minced meat and seaweed. This was the only dish I enjoyed/liked for the night but there was only about 3 blobs of minced meat in the soup. A bit of a rip off. After much debate K and I ended up ordering a veggie yee mien. This was certainly one of the worst noodle dishes I have ever had – in SFO or elsewhere in the world. Noodles were tough and spongy as though they were not cooked through and the sauce was mainly soy sauce. You know what? The noodles I make at home are way better than this. No kidding. If there’s one thing good about Oriental Pearl was that the service was definitely friendly! The waiters can speak and understand English properly so there shouldn’t be any problems.

*Cafe de la Presse | | Cafe de la Presse on Urbanspoon
Nob Hill

I’ve had one of the best meals of my life here at Cafe de la Presse in Nob Hill just outside the Chinatown gate. A little exaggeration? Probably so, but enough justification. K and I have been eyeing this restaurant since 2 days before we actually ate here because it looked tres chic. One very late night we managed to finally make it here and left with no regrets. Is it weird that I’ve never ever had french onion soup until I ordered it here? That was my appetiser. It wasn’t as sweet as I imagined it to be so that was a big relief. Well that was why I have never had french onion soup before – I don’t like sweet tasting soup (like dashi based ones). Chunky onions with a slice of baguette topped with cheese made my insides all warm in the cold foggy weather. The size it came in was perfect too. It left room for an entree (or mains as we call it in Perth) without me being too full. I had the confit du ganard maison – duck confit with mushrooms and potatoes. O-M-G. Crispy duck skin with duck meat that falls off the bone sitting on top of mushrooms that were sitting on top of sliced potatoes drenched in duck fat. ‘Nuff said. I polished everything – skin, fat and all – and I am as happy as can be.

K, on the other hand, opted for a lighter and less filling choice. She had tomato soup with basil to start off then followed by a shrimp cocktail. The tomato soup was tangy and tasty, not overpowered by cream so it was not too heavy. The shrimp cocktail, she said, was very refreshing. Fresh and crisp prawns with cherry tomatoes and a few leaves of lettuce – it sounds just as light as she wants her food to be.

*Bangkok Noodles | | Bangkok Noodles on Urbanspoon

Bangkok Noodles was a surprisingly good find in Downtown. After a long day of shopping we walked to the restaurant closest to us and found great Thai food. There is a non stop waiting line to this place. K had the pad thai and I had a tom yum soup with noodles. How Thai are we? Both dishes were excellent and great value for money.

*Honey Honey Cafe and Creperie | | Honey Honey Crepe House on Urbanspoon
Nob Hill

K has been bugging me to go to a cafe to have a proper breakfast where she can sip coffee and read the paper. After much research we stumbled upon Honey Honey which had awesome reviews. This place turned out to be just around the corner from our hotel so we went there first thing in the morning. Wow, the line was super long and the place is full. There were literally no empty seats. So while in the line we were starring at the chalkboard that lists all the food they serve – omelettes, crepes, sandwiches, salad, pasta, soup - and it was impossible to choose just one. We finally got to the till and ordered a Miami Heat crepe and eggs florentine. All that hype just led to disappointment. The crepe was not very crepe-like but the filling (chicken, cheese, avocado, scallions, hot sauce) was not too bad. The eggs florentine were horrible which disappointing because it was a breakfast special. Tasteless hollandaise sauce and soggy english muffin underneath. I would say it’s not worth coming back for a second try.

*Bistro Jeanty | | Bistro Jeanty on Urbanspoon
Napa Valley

A 2009 Michelin star awardee restaurant in Napa Valley that blew me away with its Sole Meuniere. A sole that melts in your mouth with mashed potatoes, butter, lemon and capers. This was a simple dish with complementary ingredients used at their finest. I’m just not entirely sure what to do with the star shaped lemon pieces that were on top of my fish. Were they to be eaten too? I was such a FOB so I ate one anyway just to try it and it were sour as. Duh! So I resolved to just leave them alone on my plate to make it look pretty. K had the beouf bourguignon that looked small but is actually very filling even just halfway through the dish. I had to help her finish it. It was a traditional French beef stew with the beef very tender but that also holds its shape.

This is a French bistro serving familiar homey French food like the ones we had plus coq au vin, salad nicoise and filet au poivre. Unfortunately the waiters were not French men but they were very friendly. One even had a little chat with us. We told our waitress we were in a hurry (because our tour bus leaves at a certain time) and she made sure that the kitchen prepared our dishes first which, in fact, was what happened because our food was served within 10 minutes.

And oh, eat that complimentary baguette. It is very very good. Ask for more if you need to.

*Bouchon Bakery | | Bouchon Bakery on Urbanspoon
Napa Valley

A block down from Bistro Jeanty is Bouchon Bakery, also a Michelin star awardee apparently. K just had to try the stuff from this bakery so we rushed out of Bistro Jeanty and fast walked down the street. There is a nonstop line that forms outside the bakery – a sign that it is good, which is why people line up for it for up to 40 minutes, but which I find deceiving because the bakery is not spacious enough inside to begin with. You start from left to right gazing upon croissants and tarts and macarons while placing your order and the entrance to the bakery is where you start gazing so, obviously, only 2-4 people can go in and be served at one time. To add to that, people take forever to decide what to get which I understand because there is so much to choose from but is almost annoying when you are time pressured and the sun is burning your skin.

Onto the products…K and I had raspberry, pistachio, espresso and mocha macaroons and a blueberry and lemon tart. Hmmm, were they worth the wait? Honestly speaking I’m undecided on this one. They stuff we got were not bad but they were not the best. We waited in line for so long only to find out that they have a store in New York, too, which we are headed to in a few weeks.

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