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Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)
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August 8-15, 2006
My body is a temple, not an amusement park.
It doesn’t take a nutritionist to figure out that my recent dietary intake has been off the (dangerously) pointy end of the food pyramid. For this reason, it seemed like it was time for something pure and that means sushi.
Ozumo gets fully booked at lunchtime so I was glad we made a rezzie. Chubby and I waltzed by the impromptu diners at the bar and headed for the sunny dining room in the back. The focal point of this room is the large, square sushi bar:
...manned with a crew of knife wielding fish cutters.
We started with miso soup ($3.00):
... which had chunks of tofu and would have been standard issue if it wasn’t for the plentiful wakame seaweed.
The server told us the specials (sans prices) and we requested the dynamite roll ($16.00):
... which did not live up to it’s name unless you count the explosive price for this lackluster, tempura battered maki with a dense, homogenous, mildly spicy, tuna filling. The shower of scallions and tobiko made it look nice, but as my friend TW says, “just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s good to eat.”
My Mifune Bento ($13.50) came with some pleasant taro and hijiki salads. The maki were standard issue California roll and spicy tuna. The nigiri:
... included tuna, yellowfin, salmon, cooked shrimp, omelet and eel. The salmon was the best of the bunch with a buttery texture and subtle flavor, the rest were what you would expect.
Chubby got the Kurosawa Bento ($19.50):
... which had a taro, seaweed and spinach salad as well as nigiri sushi and sashimi. This was the better of the two bentos (since the maki in the Mifune were meh…maybe they should rename it “meh-fune”?)
We got a pot of green tea ($6.00):
... which was served in a heavy iron pot (difficult to maneuver with furry paws) once we got it into our cups (from this anvil serving unit) it was fragrant and delicious.
It’s obvious that they put a lot of care into the design so it’s a shame that the chairs look so uninviting. They are a pale yellow advertisement for Scotchguard. The various food, beverage and hair product stains are seriously unappetizing (and you really don’t want to sit on them either.) If I were a re-upholsterer, I would have tried to drum up some business “on the spot.”
I was reminded of Postrio when I entered the (clean and well stocked) restroom and heard language tapes. I’m all for multi-tasking in the banjo.
As San Francisco lunch experiences go, this was okay. It’s a good place for office lunches because they can easily accommodate big parties (in the dining room or in their private area that is walled off with sake bottles.)
I don’t think we’ll be heading back anytime soon, but if they re-do their chairs, I may consider it.
I was excited to try Eric's in SF and have to say, I was wildly disappointed-had the walnut prawns and they weren't served in such a peculiar fashion, but they still sucked.
I hear that the SF version is served in a lacy potato basket and without the cherry on top. Given the choice, I would pick the maraschino version cause it makes me feel like I’ve had the full on “go big or go home” experience.
It’s interesting that the two restaurants have different recipe playbooks, but I guess that’s true of many of our local chains even if they use the same ingredients.
Sarah also writes about the shrimp sundae:
I sit at my computer every morning, bleary-eyed but excited to see what you ate the day before! It is a vicarious experience for me. I promise myself that as soon as I get out of grad school hell, I’m going to eat out just as much as the Bunrabs! About the walnut shrimp, I think that is just the way that dish goes. You have to order it once to figure out if it floats your boat. I'm pro-mayo but the whole thing feels a bit too much.
Thanks for the hard work!
I too can be “pro-mayo”, but yesterday
I gave my mayo-nays.
I was excited to hear that Eric’s Restaurant was opening an outpost in San Rafael.
I had heard raves about the
food at their San Francisco mother ship and wondered if this new
restaurant (which took over the location Tsing Tao) would live up
to the hype.
These caught me by surprise. I envisioned
a stir fry, but it was a tostada fused with a sundae. The battered,
deep fried shrimp were slightly oily and dampened with an aesthetically
disturbing, mayonnaisey sauce (in case I needed some more oil with
my deep fried food.) The crunchy elements were the deep fried pastry
basket and the candied walnuts. This entrée/dessert combo was
crowned by a maraschino cherry.
To be fair, there were plenty of dishes that
sounded as though they contained absolutely no reference to an ice
cream dessert. There were people in the restaurant enjoying less
Fear Factor-esque food (than my dish) and they seemed to be enjoying
themselves, but I can’t
help but marvel at this particular cuisine…I wonder if the maraschino
cherry was introduced to Hunan and Mandarin cooking by Marco Polo…
Tsing Tao Eric’s Hunan
and Mandarin Restaurant
From today’s bunrab email, Aaron writes about another local chain:
That's so sad about the San Rafael Crepevine. Sounds like the kitchen staff is about as flat as the flavor of those pancakes. The whole thing is very funny to me, as the Berkeley situation is just the opposite....Pretty decent food with rude and ineffective service...oh well!
I think that consistency is difficult to achieve in one restaurant. When you start multiplying, it’s almost impossible to re-create the same chow unless everything comes from a central kitchen or out of a can and robots are involved…actually, a robot restaurant could do pretty well around here…
I love quickbreads. Biscuits, muffins and scones activate my brain’s carbo pleasure zone. So imagine my disappointment when the widely praised pumpkin pancakes ($6.95):
... from Crepevine were doughy, flavor
The people who worked there were friendly
and efficient so at least something at Crepevine doesn’t fall flat.
There are those motivated and energetic enough
to make it to the Saturday Ferry
Building Farmer’s Market early
and there are those who refuse to set the alarm and must pay the
penalty of jumping into the veggie mosh pit later in the day.
... booth, but the Monterey calamari ($8.00):
... sounded way too good to pass up.
Chubby got a breakfast sandwich ($8.00):
held a slightly overcooked omelet. The firmer than ideal egg texture
was soothed by applewood smoked bacon, basil and mozzarella. Home
fries came on the side. These potatoes were nicely seasoned but didn’t
have the almost burnt, crispy edges that push spuds to their full
Before we got to our marketing, it was time to have our cups of Blue Bottle coffee ($2.00 each):
... that we ordered before
eating (it takes a long time because they brew it to order and there
was a non-stop line of addicts.
The Downtown Bakery and Creamery:
... has a much faster moving queue since everything they sell is ready-made. I got a nectarine and blueberry galette ($4.00):
... which had a crisp crust that was peasant bloused
around slices of ripe stone fruit and small blubes. Just the right
dessert when perusing the fruity offerings for sale at the booths down
... which was a XXL variation of the garden
variety version. The filling was a rich, fruity, paste encased in a
firm cake, not bad, but not craveable.
... which is a fancy, puff pastry
pop tart. It had a flakey, sugar-dusted light crust which was out of balance
with the small amount of raspberry pear filling. The flavors were all
there, but it needed more fruity texture and acidity to make it balanced.
Then it was off to get some
charcuterie (at Fatted
Calf) and grab
some juicy peaches before hitting the road (after a quick pit stop.)
... of those with XX chromosomes as I whizzed
past to use the XY room (or “I past to whiz” if that order
Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
From today’s Bunrab email Anne writes:
I just read your review of the E & O Trading Company. Living in Mill Valley, I've been there twice (not sure why I tried it a second time!). I agree with your thoughts - the food is mediocre and not very interesting. I also think it's overpriced. When the bathroom is the best part of a restaurant, it's not a good sign...I really love reading your reviews, especially since many are for places in Marin. Your pictures are great as well. Keep up the good eating and writing!
Maybe E&O stands for and Eh & Overpriced. We’re glad you are enjoying the Marin coverage and more is in the works. Thanks for your support.
Caffe Macaroni attracts a mix of tourists, locals, business people
and large office birthday parties.
...may not have been the ethereal, cloudlike,
ideal, but in this festive, convivial environment, it didn’t
make any difference (I did clean my plate.) Since the
Chief is a regular,
our table got special attention and a great time was had by all.
From today’s bunrab email bag, Elle writes:
I love reading your musings everyday but I wonder...do you ever gain weight? If I ate like that I would be a two ton Tessie.
Yes, weight gain is one of the side effects of eating in the San Francisco Bay Area, but through vigilance and a strict regimen of daily scale monitoring, I try to remain under two tons at all times.
Chubby also got an email from a fellow blogger. Catherine writes:
I was just LOL at the In-and-Out Biblical references you found - that's pretty darn interesting. So I'm meeting a friend for dim sum this weekend - he picked Yank Sing, which I haven't tried. When I lived in the city we went to Ton Kiang. Does Chubby have an opinion?
Those are two of the best Dim Sum places in the city. I like Ton Kiang for their hustle bustle (as well as the chow.) Yank Sing is a little more posh and probably good for catching up with your friend. in terms of volume (audio, not food.)
What makes the fried chicken sandwich ($7.25):
... from Bakesale Betty work is the crunch from the
crusty, deep fried, boneless chicken. This
well seasoned breast is padded with a jalapeño and red onion slaw in
a soft torpedo roll. It’s a craveable sandwich that you should
eat on site (so all of the crispy bits are preserved.)
... which will make
you hollaback for more. They weren’t shy with the spices in this
moist, sugar dusted, potassium loaf.
... is a populated with bits of candied
ginger and dried pear. As usual, Bakesale Betty hits the spot.
Mo bad luck
If you visit her site, you can see Amy has been busy doing some burger research. She knew about our quest for the best burger and had recommended Mo’s as a superior specimen.
I ordered a cheeseburger ($6.35):
... medium rare
and it was delivered bloody rare (which is within
my meat eating range of doneness) so I dug in. It could have used
another cycle on the rotating grill to give it a better sear. As
prepared, it was of the tartare persuasion.
use aged Angus beef and punch them into discs that match the bun size
(so you have no meatless bites.) Their toasted bun is strong enough
to stand up to juices, but soft enough to complement and not dominate
the sandwich. A slice of red onion, generic tomato and leaf of lettuce
accessorized this overly mayonnaised tower.
Chubby got the California burger ($7.35):
... which comes with jack cheese and avocado. The anger management/punching bag activity on the patty didn’t help this to rocket to the top of our burger list. It was good, but not great. He got his with a side of chili ($1.95) which wasn’t bad. It had a good chilli flavor and nicely textured beans. He asked if crackers were available and the pleasant waitress said they didn’t have crackers so she brought croutons instead.
I didn’t get a chance to stop for lunch until 3:30 when options narrow drastically. E&O serves straight through, switching to the dinner menu at 4:30. The only tricky bit is that it’s such a strange hour for a mid-day meal that it’s hard to get (and keep) the attention of those feeding you.
The waiter realized that I had
been waiting a long time to place my
order so he comped me a cup of jasmine tea to sip while my meal
was being prepared.
... sounded more interesting than it tasted. The preparation was served cold which muted the flavor of the grilled lamb. The chilly pencils of asparagus were slightly wilty and the flavor had gotten tired of waiting around, so it left. The woody stalks should have been trimmed a little further and the curry vinaigrette dressed salad contained no evidence of the pea shoots that were listed on the menu.
I decided that my naan order had gone unheard when it did not arrive with my salad, but as I was reaching the half way point on my lunch, the waiter told me that the cook had burnt my naan and was making a new one. I decided to stop eating until it arrived so I didn’t have to eat my bread for dessert.
The spicy sweet potato naan ($4.95):
... fulfilled it’s spicy description with a hot (but not too hot) kick, sadly, there was no depth of flavor. The cucumber raita had a cooling effect, but this dish was in need of layers of spices rather than simply relying on the caliente factor.
The Asian inspired décor and moody lighting attracts cocktail seekers.
I’ve been turned away by the daunting
weekend crowds at the popular bar in the past.
The unisex washing up area, bifurcates into the men’s and women’s rooms. Very stylish.
I might have caught them on their collective
cigarette break or shift change, but my lunch was lackluster. This
might be a better place for a cocktail and a skewer of chicken than
a place to focus on a meal. I might try it again, but it’s
not at the top of my list.
Entire contents copyright © 2006 by BunRabCo. All rights reserved.