SF Eats and Treats Pt. 2

Welcome back to part 2 of SF Eats and Treats! In this post, we’ll touch on a few restaurants and eateries we visited on our S.F. trip. I think the best way to eat your way around the city is to do your research and find places you want to go to and then check out some hole-in-the-walls that you didn’t see on Yelp. Let’s get to it!

One of the big events on our schedule was to meet with our friends Annie and Sri. They flew out to S.F. from L.A. on a day trip and we decided to meet up at a very IG-worthy coffee shop called Home Cafe. Unfortunately, it was pouring this day, but what’s better than a hot latte to warm you up?

Home Cafe is in the outer Richmond District where you can find your classic coffee or get a little creative with drinks such as their birthday cake latte, nutella late, coke-tastic and a few other intriguing flavors. The atmosphere is very homey, with friends and family meeting to catch up.

We ordered the Birthday Cake Latte and Nutella Latte. Normally, you order expect to order these drinks, post a few pictures and get a sub-par tasting drink. To our surprise, we enjoyed sipping on our drinks along with the amazing art created for each one. The Birthday Cake Latte was full of creamy, vanilla flavor. From what I’ve read, they use oat milk which was certainly a first for us. The drink is on the sweeter side, but you can adjust the sweetness when you order to your liking. The Nutella Latte was equally delicious with that rich hazelnut cocoa punch. We will be back to try the other lattes!

Next on the list is a popular brunch spot called Kitchen Story. Luckily for us, this was only a few blocks away from our Airbnb in the Castro District. Kitchen Story is a fusion between California and Asian cuisine that continuously wins award for their food. After eating a few dishes there, we know why!

We ordered the Mascarpone Stuffed Deep Fried French Toast (makes your mouth water just reading the title), Ribeye Omurice and Matcha Latte. The Mascarpone Stuffed Deep Fried French Toast was fried to perfection with a thick crispy outer shell while being light and fluffy within. You could taste the mascarpone stuffing oozing out with each bite, giving you a creamy, rich, but subtle flavor. The toast itself was not overly sweet, so drizzling the maple syrup on top gave added the perfect amount of sweetness. Being the bacon guy I am, I added the Millionaire’s Bacon on the side. As if regular bacon wasn’t good enough, this was the thickest slice of bacon I have ever seen with a honey maple glaze that really put it in the MVB (most valuable bacon) conversation.

If you’re not familiar with omurice, it’s a thin, fluffy omelette often covered with ketchup, sitting on top a bed of rice. This dish is immensely popular and can be found everywhere in Japan. The Ribeye Omurice was equally light and fluffy with tender ribeye meat, seasoned to perfection. I was pleasantly surprised by the rainbow potatoes that came with the dish. The potatoes were Chilean purple, Yukon Gold, Gemstone Red, Russet and Sweet Yam. Unless you’re a potato connoisseur, you may have not have hear of these variations (like me), but they complimented the omurice by providing savory and sweet notes.

Bonus food tip: S.F. has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. There are too many places we would recommend, but if we had to chose just one, it would be Golden Gate Bakery for the best egg tart I’ve ever had. There is often a long line, so make sure to come early!

When you’re in S.F., make it a priority to try new foods and restaurants. The diversity, quality and unique foods you’ll find make it one of the best cities for foodies like us!

-Colin

SF Eats and Treats Pt. 1

San Francisco (i.e. S.F., The City by the Bay, The City, Fog City – but not San Fran as local friends have educated me on), has some of the most delicious and diverse food in the United States.

Fun Fact: According to the last census bureau available, San Francisco has the most restaurants per capita of any city in the U.S.

Our favorite thing about being a food in San Francisco is the diversity, quirkiness and commitment to standing out from the crowd. Your options aren’t limited to cookie cutter chain restaurants you can find on any block. If you want to have a simple home-style cooked meal at a hole-in-the-wall or if you want to dine like royalty, you certainly have limitless options to chose from.

Tip: Anytime you’re planning to go on a trip, make a list/bookmark which restaurants you want to visit. If you’re planning to go to a few on the same day, try to group the ones that are close together or in the same vicinity so you don’t waste time traveling back and forth to different locations. Also be mindful of days open, hours, attire, if reservations are available, etc. so you come well prepared to have the best experience as possible.

To satisfy our asian cuisine cravings, we went to Dumpling Time in the Design District. Ironically, it was right across of a Thai massage place I had taken Lisa to a couple of years ago. This isn’t your typical dumpling restaurant like Din Tai Fung in L.A., but a more of a modern interpretation. Dumpling Time can get very crowded, so make sure to go when they first open or during an odd hour if you don’t want to wait.

Watching our dumplings being made

We got to the restaurant when they opened and we were seated right away. We ordered the Tom Yum Goong Xiao Long Bao (6pcs/$9.50), Pork Bao (3pcs/$6) and Seafood Gyoza (5pcs/$10). This was the perfect amount of food for the both of us.

The Tom Yum Goong Xia Long Bao is one of their most popular dishes. It’s a soup dumpling with pork belly, shrimp and coconut milk, wrapped in “beet skin.” I know what you’re thinking…beet skin?!? I was shocked as well, but I think the beet skin would be Dwight Schrute approved. The beets give the dumplings a vibrant red color. The dumplings were delicious with the mix of pork and shrimp and the beet skin was not overwhelming at all. They’re not quite as juicy as the dumplings you will find at Din Tai Fung, but we would certainly order them again. Make sure you try it with the vinegar sauce included!

Tom Yum Goong Xia Long Bao

There are two varieties of Pork Baos you can order, steamed or seared. We went with the seared option because we wanted to try something different than your typical steamed bao. The bao was light and fluffy on top with a crispy bottom. The pork was savory and delicious. Not the best bao we’ve ever had, but we’d give it a solid 4/5 stars.

Seared Pork Bao

We saved the best for last. Our Seafood Gyoza was the last dish to come out and I would have waited another hour if need be. The Seafood Gyoza has crab, scallop, shrimp with spiced chili butter, wrapped in a spinach skin. Again, something we would normally be slightly hesitant to order. After eating some of the best gyoza in our lives in Japan, this was an immensely pleasant surprise. The seafood was juicy and cooked to perfection, but the skin was the star of the show. The spinach skin provided the gyoza with an exotic green appearance and was lightly fried without giving you the grease fingers. If we could only order one item, we’d order this again in a heartbeat.

Seafood Gyoza

Dumpling Time will certainly be on our list of recommendations to friends and family visiting San Francisco. We’ll be returning on our next trip back to the bay to try the rest of the menu. Stick around for pt. 2 and let us know your S.F. food recommendations!

Cycling Across Golden Gate Bridge

One of our favorite things to do in San Francisco is riding bikes across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. We did this for the first time a couple of years ago when Lisa lived in the city. We had such a great experience, we knew we had to do it again on our trip there!

Fun facts:
1) At the time of its opening, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.
2) Instead of the widely recognizable “international orange” color the bridge is today, it was almost painted yellow and black to make it easily visible for naval ships to pass. However, the bridge was painted orange to compliment the natural surroundings and enhance the bridges visibility in fog.

It’s not often that we ride bicycles (in fact, we don’t own any here in Arizona), but there isn’t anything like riding freely, hair flowing through the wind, on one of the most well-recognized bridges in the world. It brings Lisa back to simpler times when she was in a bike gang in elementary school (story for another time).

We always rent from Sports Basement because of its proximity to Golden Gate Bridge, reasonable pricing and their staff is always helpful in adjusting our bicycles to our specified needs. They also have an extensive collection of outdoor clothing and equipment. If you’re planning on cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, make sure to rent from the Presidio location as they have another one located in the Mission District. We paid $24 each for our bike (helmet included) and our friends Grant and Summer paid $50 to ride on a tandem bike together for 3 hours.

If you start your route from Sports Basement, you will pass Crissy Field, a former U.S. Army airfield. This is a perfect spot for picnics, playing frisbee, walking your dog and getting that Instagram-worthy picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, you can head down Marine Drive where you’ll be riding along the coast and approaching the bridge. At this point, you’ll need to bike up a fairly steep hill, so make sure to change your gears as needed.

Crissy Field

The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles across and has east and west sidewalks. We spent approximately 30 minutes crossing the bridge each way (including stops to take pictures). The east side walk (bay side) are open to pedestrians and cyclists on weekdays until 3:30 P.M. On weekdays and holidays, it’s pedestrian only. Since we biked on a Friday, we shared the east sidewalk with pedestrians. Luckily this day wasn’t crowded compared to the last time when there was an anti-vaccination rally being held (again, story for another time). Be mindful when riding your bike and make sure to always be aware of pedestrians. Always stay to the left side of the sidewalk and tell pedestrians when you are passing. There are a lot of seasoned cyclists out there, some who think they are the next Lance Armstrong, but don’t let them intimidate you. Once you cross the bridge, you can ride to the Golden Gate Bridge View Point for another spectacular view of the bay and bridge from another perspective. The west sidewalk opened around 4 P.M. for bicyclists only, so there was more more room to cycle freely. On your way back, you’ll see the other side of the bridge (not as scenic but extremely relaxing with breathtaking views of the Marin Headlands. Once you’re back on the other side of the bridge, you can return your bike and make sure you have all of your belongings.

Golden Gate Bridge View Point

Whether it’s your first time riding or a seasoned cyclists, make sure to appreciate your surroundings, take memorable pictures on the bridge and most importantly have the time of your life cycling across one of the wonders of the modern world. The Tanners would be proud (hope you’re old enough to get that reference)

– Colin

Brooks or Bust

Between being on our feet for work/school all day, cardio, weight training and walking numerous miles when we travel, having a shoe we can count on is extremely important to us.

Both of us have had big name brand shoes (Adidas, New Balance, Nike, etc.), but out Brooks shoes have been the most comfortable, durable and functional shoe we have had yet.

I bought my first pair of Brooks Ghost 10 running shoes 2 years ago after a recommendation from a sales associate at Tortoise & Hare Sports. Once I tried on my first pair of Brooks, I haven’t looked back.

Brooks started in 1914 as a small family-owned shoe factory in Philadelphia and has a long history of making a variety of quality shoes worn by professional football players and Major League baseball players. Have you ever seen the rubber stopper on the front of roller skates? You can thank Brooks for that too!

In 2001, Brooks geared its focus solely on running. Now they are some of the industry leaders in fit, feel, ride, style and performance in running gear.

One of my favorite aspects of Brooks running shoes is that they are really comfortable for people with wider feet. I struggled with my previous Nike shoes that always fit on the narrower side and would give me discomfort after a long hike or run. Even “wide” shoes just never fit quite right. Brooks uses a revolutionary 3D fit print (maintains structure, flexibility and lighter weight), guide rails (allowing hips, knees and joints to move your with your specific motions), full integrated shock absorbers, Brooks DNA (specifically provides cushioning specific to your needs), a rounded heel (reduce stress on your body), etc. That’s just a few aspects of the shoe, here’s more of the benefits below!

I currently have the Brooks Ghost 11 and have used them during cardio, weight training and traveling in San Francisco. The Ghost 11 has a slightly softer midsole, more flexible in the upper and a fraction wider compared with my previous Ghost 10 shoes. The Brooks Ghost 11 currently retails for $120.

Lisa has had the Brooks PureFlow 6 since April of last year. To this day, her shoes look like it just came out of the box. She has a bad habit of stepping into her shoes (just like me), yet they’re still able to hold there shape, unlike other shoes she’s had where they get deformed over time. They are tremendously comfortable for her when she’s in sim lab doing her dental procedures, at the gym on an intense leg day or walking around the city when we go on vacation. A vast majority of faculty at her school also claim Brooks shoes are their favorite, especially since they’re always on the move.

There’s no one shoe fits all when it comes to brand preference, but we can’t imagine going back to any other brand of shoes for everyday wear. I would highly recommend trying them and checking out their shoe finder function to see which shoe fits your intended goals https://www.brooksrunning.com/en_us/ShoeFinder! We don’t have any financial ties to Brooks, but we wanted to share our experience because we’re so excited to have found our perfect shoe. Let us know if you get a pair!

Colin