My cousin's wedding was a whirlwind. We didn't have much time to visit - only about 3 days all told, and it was a veritable nonstop stream of family activities and Chinese Banquets from the time we arrived on a Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning we were able to sneak away to Vancouver, short SkyTrain ride away from the Richmond Landsdowne station. A neighbour of ours had recommended Twisted Fork, describing it as a "feast of a brunch," and other online reviews indicated that we might have a nice, tasty time. We exited the Yaletown station, and walked a couple of short blocks to Granville. We anticipated a wait, having reached the restaurant around 11:30 or so.
We arrived in Kyoto in the evening, as dusk was just starting to fall. We’d been travelling all day, from Kanazawa in the North, by the Sea of Japan. It was too short a visit, but we wouldn’t be making the same mistake while were in Kyoto – planning a good 5 days in Japan’s ancient erstwhile capital. We didn't have any definitive dining plans, so once settled at Shunkoin Temple, we decided that ramen made for a fast and easy meal option. For many of our food recommendations, we relied on Kyoto Foodie’s blog and headed out to the other side of town in search of Takaraya Ramen on Pontocho, near Gion.
When planning our Japan trip we booked our Kyoto accommodations first, sensing while doing a cursory initial search, that we would have the most difficulty here for finding something within our requirements and budget. We didn’t want to stay at a standard Western-style hotel, and we also didn’t want to splurge on a $300/person/night Ryokan. (Heck, even a $100/person/night would have been a little steep for us.) That left a few mid-range Ryokan or Minshuku, and we didn’t necessarily want to stay at backpacker's hostels, either.
And that’s where Shunkoin Temple fit the bill, though I did send out more emails inquiring as to where other places had availability. In truth, my first choice had been the Guest House Waraku-an, found through Flickr friend San ku-kai’s beautiful photostream of his Japan trips. Waraku-an bills itself as a hostel, but has private accommodations available for couples and groups.
I’d only been to Ad Hoc once, and that was for a brunch some years ago. The brunch was a tiny bit of a disappointment. I thought too many sweet things were served – the meal started with doughnuts and ended with a banana split; the savoury course consisted of ham, eggs and potato rosli. That probably would have more than satisfied and delighted those with a sweet tooth but I’m definitely one who craves the savoury in the mornings. For those not familiar with Ad Hoc, it serves one 4-course meal 5 days a week, a different menu each night, and brunch on Sundays. They are known for their Monday Night Fried Chicken Dinners.
If ever there was a space that could inspire dreaming, it would be the inside of Outerlands.
It’s gorgeous, with walls, chairs and countertops made out of reclaimed wood. A slanting driftwood mosaic covers part of the kitchen counter. Proprietors David Muller and Lana Porcello initially started by feeding friends out of their ocean beach abode; soon the initiative blossomed into a full-fledged restaurant. And indeed, they seemed to have captured the feel of Ocean Beach perfectly. It’s moody, but warm, the grey light from typically overcast Outer Sunset filtering in via only 3 windows. There’s a sense of escaping to the end of the earth, and its distance from the rest of the city out on Judah and 45th may be both curse for some and a boon for those of us who live relatively close by.
Though the meal we had here is more than 3 years old, I still look back on Mugaritz, nestled in the hills of Basque country, so fondly as being the best dining experience we’ve had yet. And indeed, calling it "lunch," though it was technically that, is truly an inadequate way to describe what we ate, saw, and how we were treated.
I'm not sure when I would have finally gotten around to looking into Citizen's Band had not a couple of my good friends (also enthusiastic connoisseurs of good food and drink), K plus D, checked into it recently and given it a thumbs-up. As it happens, we would be in the neighborhood attending the Almanac Beer inaugural bottle release party of their first-ever brew: a Summer Belgian with Blackberries aged in oak. The party was at City Beer Store, a few storefronts away from Citizen’s Band.
So after we had managed to consume one of the last few glasses of Almanac's Summer 2007 sour brew, we trotted over to the corner of Folsom and 8th. Narrow, dominated by a long 12-seat old-school soda fountain-like counter on one side, and a series of two-and-four tops on the other, the restaurant (CB) looked small but bright and cheery, the walls plastered with postcards, vintage photographs and old prints.
Pasión has been open in our Inner Sunset neighborhood for about a year and a half now. We had eagerly anticipated its arrival and had a meal there the first week it opened (review to be posted). It belongs to the Fresca empire (3 locations in SF!) and is helmed by Jose Calvo Perez, specializing in Modern Latin cuisine - fusions of Spanish, Peruvian, Argentinian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Brazilian and Uruguayan influences.
We had not returned until they started with an amazing set of happy hour options - imho the best happy hour value in the entire Sunset (for folks who like shellfish and cocktails) – with $1 oysters, $5 cocktails (regularly $10) and half-price bar bites (regularly priced at $5- $10). Beers are $4 for drafts, $3 for bottles. There are probably better deals on beer elsewhere, but we go to Pasión for the oysters. Happy Hour runs from 5-7pm Monday-Friday.
Quite literally, the new (Korean) kid on the block (it opened on June 28th), Manna replaces Little Bangkok - a tiny Thai place on the corner of 10th and Irving. It's still small inside, but looks like it received a new coat of paint and somehow feels larger than the older restaurant. (I must admit that I might have frequented Little Bangkok only once, hastily ordering a lunch from their steam table one day, and don't quite remember the experience.)
Toyose is way out in the Outer Sunset, Noriega and 45th to be exact. So close is it to the beach I wonder whether folks have taken their orders of Korean Fried Chicken down to the coast, perfect for an evening picnic or twilight bonfire. It didn't hit my radar until the New York Times ran a story on late night eats in San Francisco, focusing on where folks from the restaurant industry tend to congregate after work. We live in the Inner Sunset, but it still took us 10 minutes or so - even late at night on a Sunday - to make it out to the outer avenues. It's a Korean restaurant located in the garage of a residential building and its only distinguishing sign is the one above of a winking chicken. Cheeky and appropriate.