We recently visited San Francisco for the very first time and got to see the famous sites and taste the delicious food that the city had to offer. Thank goodness I packed thicker clothes since it was foggy and quite chilly and windy most of the time we were there. There were many unprepared tourists who were wearing oversized “San Francisco” hoodies to keep warm! Some of our highlights included visiting Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, riding a jam-packed cable car, exploring Alcatraz with its fascinating audio tour, walking down Lombard Street and watching “Billy Elliott” at the Orpheum Theatre.
I had previously researched some of the food hotspots to hit on yelp, but at other times we randomly chose places to eat that appeared good (i.e. they were frequented by many patrons or there was a long line-up outside). We stayed in Japantown at the “Hotel Kabuki”, which was connected to a Japanese mall (hence the number of Japanese places we visited). We had so much fun exploring the many Japanese shops (like Daiso and Ichiban Kan!) and eating the delicious food. I thought I would highlight some of the memorable food we ate in San Francisco in this blog post :)
New England Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bowl, Pier Market, Fisherman’s Wharf. I love clam chowder soup, and what could be better than eating it in an edible bread bowl from Boudin Bakery? The soup was delicious and it was fun scraping the sides of the moistened bread bowl when the soup was done. We really didn’t know where to eat at Fisherman’s Wharf, but we enjoyed Pier Market. This place was bustling, and we had a beautiful view of the harbour.
1/2 Dozen Oysters, Pier Market, Fisherman’s Wharf. I LOVE oysters, so I was really excited to try these. They tasted absolutely delicious- probably the best oysters I’ve ever had, but then again, I don’t live near the water, so it’s not often that I get to eat freshly shucked oysters. We ended up ordering more since they tasted so good :)
Hot Fudge Sundae, Nob Hill Chill, Hot Chocolate, Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, Ghirardelli Square. We were told to try the hot chocolate and dessert at Ghirardelli Square, so off we went. The hot fudge was warm and rich and tasted so good combined with the creamy ice cream. I was definitely scraping the sides of the cup to get every last bit of hot fudge. The Nob Hill Chill was a great treat too (reminded me of Serendipity’s Frrrozen Hot Chocolate). Their famous hot chocolate was rich with the perfect amount of sweetness. Even their little samples of chocolate were creamy and delicious. Needless to say, we bought some chocolate to bring back home too :) After this calorie overload, we hopefully walked most of it off as we trekked to Lomboard Street…
Udon, Suzu, Japantown. When it’s chilly out, nothing is more satisfying than a hot bowl of soup. This bowl of udon noodles was hands-down my favourite udon noodles and soup I’ve ever had. We knew that Suzu was popular because it was always full and had a constant line-up of people whenever we passed by. I now understand why. Their hand-made udon noodles had the perfect texture and chewiness, and the broth was deep and flavourful. Ryan thoroughly enjoyed the ramen noodles he ordered too. How I wish I could have another bowl…
Pistachio macarons, Miette Patisserie, Ferry Building. Macarons are one of my most favourite treats since they’re both so pretty and delicious at the same time. I love trying the macarons of different cities (I love NYC’s Bouchon Bakery) and have dabbled in making them myself (that’s for a future blog post :P). The macarons at Miette Patisserie were very unique in that all the flavours were of a similar colour, in stark contrast to the bright colours usually displayed behind the glass at other macaron establishments. I believe they use very fresh and mostly organic ingredients (and grind up whole almonds instead of using almond flour). The result was a deliciously chewy macaron with a fabulous texture, very different than other macarons I had previously tasted. I would definitely go back for more! The Ferry Building was a fun place to walk around with many unique food options available.
Dry fried chicken wings, San Tung Chinese Restaurant. I had heard about these wings on yelp, and they were indeed tasty. They were crispy and full of flavour, reminding us of the chicken at Bonchon.
Lychee frozen yogurt with multi-coloured mochi and strawberry, mango and lychee pop-pops, Moyo’s, Japantown. You all know how much I love frozen yogurt (I even make my own now with my recipe here). I loved the vast array of toppings that were available at Moyo’s. Never before had I seen “pop-pop’s”. At first glance, I thought they were tapioca pearls or coloured boba. I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into one and a burst of fruit flavoured juice/syrup exploded out. The mochi was chewy and sweet as well. I still prefer Pinkberry frozen yogurt, but I loved the toppings available here.
Bento box with seared albacore, Takara, Japantown. Takara was right outside of our hotel, so it was the first restaurant we saw. We decided to try it out for lunch, and within 10 minutes of opening, the entire restaurant filled up! We knew we had chosen a good restaurant :) They offered very well-priced bento boxes and lunch combinations with a variety of options. The above bento box with seared albacore, delicious and lightly-fried tempura, salad, Califoirnia rolls, deep and rich Miso soup and rice costed only $8.50 (bento boxes in other neighbouring restaurant were going for $11-13). We also tried their fatty tuna rolls (soo good!) and came back for lunch a second time. On the second occasion, I tried their grilled mackerel, which was also extremely tasty.
Japanese crepe (green tea gelato, red bean paste, matcha sauce), Sophie’s Crepes, Japantown. This place was always busy too, so we thought we’d give their sweet crepes a try. We totally forgot to take a proper food shot of this crepe because we were too excited to eat it, ha ha. It was fun watching them make the crepe and put in all the fillings. The gelato was delicious, but more importantly the crepe was amazing. The crepe was light with the perfect amount of sweetness and a delightful crunch to it (I find most other crepes tend to be more chewy and too soft).
Steak tartare, Cafe Claude, Union Square. After a busy day of shopping at Union Square, it was wonderful having dinner at Cafe Claude, tucked away in a small alley. The ambiance was romantic and cozy (and dark as evidenced by the picture above) as there happened to be live jazz music since we were dining on a Thursday evening. I absolutely love French food, and their escargot and French onion soup were both rich and flavourful. It was my first time eating steak tartare, and it certainly was a unique experience. The waiter prepared it table-side with a raw quail egg. It was strange thinking I was eating raw beef even though I eat sushi and sashimi all the time. I’m not sure if I would eat it again, but I’m glad I tried it out.
Custard tarts, Golden Gate Bakery, Chinatown. These egg custard tarts were famous and highly touted on all the food blogs. We heard there was usually a line-up around the corner, so we were very surprised when we were the only ones there. The Golden Gate bakery is very unassuming on the inside and easy to miss if you’re not specifically looking for it. I even questioned whether we found the right place (particularly since we were the only customers inside). The staff told us that they were currently sold out, but that they were making some new batches. We paid for a dozen to put a hold on them (just in case they sold out again when we returned!), went for lunch, and then eagerly came back to retrieve these famous tarts. Other tourists were there too at this time, and they tried to take pictures inside although the staff quickly pointed out their sign reading “No photographs allowed!”. Perhaps they’re worried someone will steal their recipe and methods? We took them outside and each tried a tart. The custard was smooth, silky and sweet, and the shell was flaky and light. They were indeed delicious and lived up to their hype :)
Bulgogi, YakiniQ, Japantown. Across from our hotel was YakiniQ with a sign advertising “All-You-Can-Eat Korean Barbecue” for $19.99. We upgraded to the $23.99 per person menu that included marinated beef (bul-go-gi), prime beef tongue and pork neck meat. We were really happy with our decision to pay more because the bul-go-gi was to die for! It was extremely flavourful and tender, and it seemed like the beef had been marinating for a very long time. This was our favourite dish at YakiniQ and we ended up asking for a few more orders of this.
Mixed fruits shaved ice, YakiniQ Cafe, Japantown. Next door to YakiniQ is their quaint Korean-style cafe. This shaved ice was a refreshing treat with delicious fruit, chewy mochi, and red bean topped with creamy ice cream. My mom tried their sweet potato latte which was very unique. They also have macarons here, but we were too full to try them out.
Have you been to any of these places? Or are there places you can recommend for the next time we visit San Francisco? I would love to hear your suggestions (e.g. better places for oysters, dessert, etc)! There are still many places I wanted to visit and try (like the Jelly Belly Factor tour and Bi Rite Creamery’s salted caramel ice cream), but I guess I’ll have to wait for the next time I visit the City by the Bay!