Sunday, May 4, 2014

Inner Richmond, San Francisco (Picture heavy!)

Ack, May already! Time to play catch-up again with my posts! Let's start with Inner Richmond. Instead of Chinatown, hubby and I go here for Asian food and groceries. I've read that foggy Inner Sunset is another great neighborhood for awesome Asian food, but Inner Richmond is more conveniently located for us and so we haven't been too tempted ^.^ We'll see, when we get bored of Inner Richmond, we'll probably find our way over to the foggy side...

There are many many shops and restaurant in Inner Richmond and this is just a brief glimpse of the few hubby and I absolutely love. 

- Brothers Restaurant (Korean BBQ/yakiniku): Hubby and I LOVE Korean BBQ/yakiniku, and wherever we go we'd always make a point to find ourselves a good Korean place to get our yakiniku fix. We've tried several places here in SF, several others in different states, even in different countries, with the exception of South Korea itself which is definitely on our list of places to go. But hands down Brother's on Geary is the best yakiniku we've had. Surely there are better Korean food elsewhere, hell, there might be better right here in SF, but we wouldn't know it because every time we come to Brothers, we'd leave in a food coma and have no brain power left to ponder whether the grass is greener across the street.

I do admit it's a bit pricey here, but it's Korean BBQ/yakiniku which is pricey in general. You do have to tell the waitress you want BBQ, so she can seat you at a table with a charcoal grill. For BBQ, you do have to order a minimum or 2 meat portions, which has never been a problem with me and hubby as we always order 2-3 portions ^.^ Yeah, we're a pair of hungry hippos ^.^

My favorite thing about Korean BBQ/yakiniku is the dipping sauce into which I drown my grilled galbi and bulgolgi. But here at Brothers, they do not serve any sauce at all with their Korean BBQ/yakiniku - their meats are already so perfectly marinaded there's no need for any sauce! For a sauce fanatic like me, that's damn impressive, because whenever we eat here I wouldn't even think of any sauce! It's that good!

Admittedly I'm not overly thrilled with their kimchi, and while the side dishes, but overall they're nothing to write home about. But I will tell you that there is one particular side dish they make here that I'm absolutely nuts about and haven't had anything remotely as good else where - it's dried anchovies (I think) marinaded with slices of fresh jalapenos (left picture, small bowl on the far left above the lettuce), and ohmygoodgod it's goooooood. The little fishies are sweet and salty, and perfectly chewy, fragrant, and come with a bite. Damn, give me that side dish and my yakiniku and I wouldn't even notice, or care, if the sky's fallen. Once I asked if I could buy a small container of the marinated anchovies, and was told they can't sell it like that because the anchovies are expensive. So I settled for the tiny little bowl they give out for free with the yakiniku instead, and hubby knows to keep away that bowl because those anchovies are MINE. Well, I do give him a bite or two here and there ^.^

Another thing I love about this place is their jjigaes, particularly the yukgaejang. Our first experience with yukgaejang was actually in Japan, at Ojori where it was called "beef kalbi" soup, and we've been hooked on this hearty beefy soup ever since and can't stop ordering it at every Korean place we go. Granted, it's not as spicy here at Brothers as it should be, but hell I love it nonetheless! We've taken many friends here, and they all have said the same about this soup, YUM. So don't let all the red broth scare you. Try it! Their sundubu is really decent too (bottom picture), although I still love Tokyo Sundubu the best. I've taken many of my homesick Korean classmates there and they told me it was the taste of home, so despite being a chain restaurant in Japanese malls I'm going to stick to my gun that Tokyo Sundubu serves up some yummy and authentic stuff, and I honestly haven't found better since I left Japan! *sniff* Note to self: need to go to South Korea.

Now, there were a couple of times when hubby tried to venture out beyond the yakiniku and jjigae standards and tried a few new things, including jijimis (the fried pancakes), some stir fries, and even sweets. Let's just say we weren't in love. They weren't terrible, but not great either. So take my words for it and stick to what they do best here, yakiniku and jjigaes.

Dude, where's my yakiniku?

- Sweet Hut (boba teas): on Clement Street where all the shops and restaurants are. I do realize there are many boba places in town, but this place reminds me most of the perfectly soft and chewy bobas in Taipei so I only go here for my sweet teas. But there's a catch: order anything BUT their regular boba tea, the standard fare made with black tea. Not sure why but their regular boba tea just sucks in that instead of tasting anything like tea, it's more reminiscent of watered down coffee in both taste and aroma. But everything else is delicious! My favorites are the Plum Green Tea (tapioca green tea with 3 crushed salted candied plums - almost always order this!), Passion Green Tea, and Almond Milk Tea - all with less sugar, which you have to explicitly request, otherwise it'll be too sweet. And the funny thing is that they've had that "Grand opening" sign on there for at least a couple of years now, ever since hubby and I moved here LOL!

Here's the regular boba tea (bleargh) and almond milk tea (yum!). 

- Schubert's Bakery (bakery): and guess what, next door to Sweet Hut is a rather dangerous shop, for me at least, because every time I go in there, I'd leave with at least a few cakes and a couple bags of bite-size cookies. Schubert's is a German bakery that apparently has been around since 1911, a century-old bakery, folks! Holy crap! And sure enough, with all those years they have perfected their cakes, because, well, scroll down and take a look for yourself. I won't even bother describing, because Schubert's cakes taste as good as they look.

And just as good as the cakes are their various bite-sized cookies in cellophane bags. I'd say these cookies are even more dangerous than those cakes, because you just pop them in your mouth and promptly lose track of how many you've eaten. Next thing you know, half the bag's gone :X

Of course I have favorites: the tiramisu (the round ones without nuts), opera cake (top left), chocolate mousse (top right), truffle (middle left), cappuccino mousse (middle right), chocolate mousse with almonds (the round ones with encrusted sides). I also tried the Neapolitan (bottom picture, left side) and the Italian Rum (bottom picture, top right) but like the former ones much much better.

- Cafe Bunn Mi (Vietnamese cuisines): down a couple of blocks from Sweet Hut and Schubert's Bakery on Clement is Cafe Bunn Mi, a cash-only place for Vietnamese banh mi, pho and a few other noodle soups and plates. Again, I realize there are dozens of Vietnamese sandwich shops in town but this one packs my baguettes full of grilled meats, pickled carrots and radishes, fresh cilantro, cucumber and jalapenos slices, all for $4-5 which is a whole $1-2 cheaper than most places, like the similarly named Bun Mee on Fillmore Street. Of course you can get banh mi for cheaper than that in the Tenderloins, but it's further away and hubby and I are always here in Inner Richmond for groceries so we defer to Cafe Bunn Mi for our sandwiches instead. My favorite is the Lemongrass Steak sandwich with an added fried egg for extra $1. So worth it. Yum.

Tried several sandwiches here, including the Lemongrass Steak, Grilled Pork, Special Pork, Chicken, etc. My favorite's still the Lemongrass Steak with a fried egg ^.^ Tried the pho too, which hubby thought was decent, and a few other appetizer items, nothing too impressive. Stick with the sandwiches. 

If you're wondering, we get our Asian groceries here at New May Wah. They have pretty much all the things I need, save for some specific leafy vegetables that I haven't been able to find anywhere else. Oh well.

- Yummy & Yummy's Vietnamese Cuisine (shortened to Y&Y): yummy and yummy is right, and hubby and I have eaten here many times. When hubby and I are too lazy to cook, too lazy to call ahead to make a reservation, too lazy to dress up and go stand in line for a decent restaurant, I just throw on my jeans and hoodies and we'd get a quick fix from this place. They are a hit and miss though, unfortunately, both in terms of food and service, sometimes great other times meh. The only consistency is that it's cheap, and when we're that lazy about eating out (did I tell you we're two little piggies?), cheap is good enough ^.^

Love the grilled beef spring rolls, and funny enough didn't love the actual grilled beef on skewers. The skewers were much drier and not as moist as the spring rolls.

Had the Vietnamese rolled cakes (bánh cuốn, left) but wasn't impressed. Hubby liked it though and ordered it a few times. He also likes their pho but I think it's just okay. I do like their spicy beef noodles (bun bo Hue) though, because when I asked for it spicy, they actually made it spicy, like watering eyes and sniffling nose spicy, no joke, none of that aww-you-want-it-spicy-I'll-make-it-minty-for-you crap. It's so spicy poor hubby could only take 3 sips of the broth, so yeah they take my spicy request seriously there, which I do appreciate very much.

- Mai's Vietnamese Restaurant: randomly walked into this place one weekend. Decent food, though the place is horribly lit and ventilated. They really need to change the decor to allow more natural light into the restaurant! This is a full menu restaurant and not just a sandwich or pho house, so I did my standard authenticity test and ordered the shrimp sour soup (left), cat fish in a clay pot (right), and lemongrass chicken (bottom). Decent tasting, though not really authentic. The sour soup was too sweet, which I had to re-adjust with seasonings of fish sauce, and it was missing some serious core ingredients that are readily available from the New May Wah a few blocks down (I know because I see them all the time, and have bought them a few times to make this soup at home!), so it's clear this place either don't care or don't want to spend a couple more dollars to make an authentic soup. It could also be that people don't order this soup often enough for them to justify the extra bucks for the ingredients, but then why put it on the menu if they weren't willing to make it? The cat fish was also too sweet, and there was no re-adjusting to that, and the sauce was runny and watery. The lemongrass chicken was okay, but again the dish itself was swimming in a pool of sauce.

Anyway, throwing in some old pictures of when my cousin J. visited last spring. I took her to Inner Richmond for food and she was fascinate with these trees that were flowering bright red feathery flowers.

Anyway, on the way back from taking J. to the airport, I got stuck in traffic so I took a picture of the city while at a complete stop for several minutes ^.^' Yup, that's California traffic for you!


Ann said...

So many delicious food in this post!! I want to try it all!!

Sadly because I'm sick I have been eaten less than 1200 calories (I have to eat 1200/1500 calories or I gain weight) and I'm now 10 k fatter! :( but (hopefully) I will lost them soon :) and then gain them again in October when I'm going to SF!! :D

I love Korean Bbq! I did tried some sups while in Korea you should have seen their faces when I put lemon(lime? The small green one) on it! Or didn't want raw egg in my food (the texture make me sick) I don't know if the places were we eat weren't good ( we went with my sister Korean friend) or what but for me Thai/Japanese,Chinese,Vietnamese,................


D. said...

Hi Ann,

Oh, that's an interesting idea, putting lime in a Korean soup. I'll have to try that next time ^.^ What was the best thing you ate while you were in Korea? Either way, Korea's my next spot for a visit!

When you're in SF in October, check out Brother's Korean BBQ ^.^


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