San Tung Chinese Restaurant

Wow, this is my second Chinese food post within a short amount of time, I didn’t plan this.

I swear.

It’s just that I recently stumbled upon this article on 7×7’s website discussing the top 10 places to get a good meal under $10 in my neighborhood, the Inner Sunset.

I am pleased to say that in the 8 or so months that I have lived in the neighborhood, I have tried half of the restaurants mentioned. Not too bad for someone who usually cooks at home.

Just putting it out there, I love good Chinese food. Trouble is, I have had very little good Chinese food in my day – despite the fact that I live in San Francisco for Christ’s sake! I believe excellent Chinese cuisine exists, the problem is if I am ordering Chinese its because I don’t want to cook and I am hungry. So it needs to be close – by way of delivery or within a few blocks of my house.

A few months ago, I was suffering from a bad case of the stomach flu, so my dear friend Scott drove me home. Scott has been working in the kitchen for the better part of 10 years and knows the best places to eat in the city so when he says a place is tasty I take his word for it. No questions asked (except for what I should order).

While he was driving me through my neighborhood he was pointing out various places where delectable morsels could be found, but since I was on the verge of barfing I wasn’t retaining much of the tidbits he was throwing out. I vaguely recall him mentioning a Chinese place where you could order any, and he meant ANY, part of a chicken dry fried.

A week later, when I was up for eating real food again I wracked my brain for the name of the place he had mentioned. Because of my decrepit condition at the time, I couldn’t for the life of me remember which Chinese place he had pointed out amidst the dozens that dot the streets of my neighborhood.

So bless the foodie gods who dropped the 7×7 article in my lap, for it talks about the very same restaurant!

Which brings me, finally, to the afternoon lunch Matt and I spent at San Tung.

When we walked in I noticed that we were the only non-Asian patrons in there, I took this as a good sign. If the food is authentic enough for those from the same culture, its good enough for me.

We were seated at a table with some other people sitting there. Sort of family style, we just didn’t share food. While I was scoping out what they ordered I noticed the illustrious dry fried chicken and I drooled a little bit.

(For a look at the complete menu, click here).

San Tung has an extensive lunch menu so we couldn’t help but take advantage of the cheaper prices. As we scanned our options we sipped on some beautiful Hot and Sour Soup.

This is one of my favorite soups, I have been know to eat it by the quart. Tofu, peas, willow tree fungus, bamboo shoots, and delicate whipped egg swam happily in a tangy yet slightly spicy broth.

In between sips of soup we nibbled on some complementary kimchi. Both of us LOVE this stuff so much, I think we asked for 3 plates throughout the course of the meal.

Neither of us were starving, but next thing we knew we had ordered 4 dishes, plus rice!

I pray my waistline will forgive me.

Our order went a little like this:

The lunch menu special of Curry Shrimp – complete with crunchy onions, green bell pepper, and thinly sliced carrots. Unlike a lot of places offering shrimp, San Tung did an upstanding job of not overcooking the succulent meat. The sweetness of the shrimp and the slight kick of the curry were quite the pair atop a small mound of rice.

We got brave and ordered cold Pig’s Ear with a five spice rub and soy garlic sauce. The flavor was nice, but preparation was not my cup of tea. The fat on the ear was slightly congealed giving each bite an overly gelatinous mouth feel. I’d try it again, but I think I would prefer them fried.

The star of the meal was hands down the dry fried chicken Scott recommended. By far the most wonderful fried chicken my mouth has ever had the pleasure of meeting. The golden brown, perfectly crisped skin burst open to reveal tender and juicy meat. We ordered the sauce on the side, which is definitely the way to go. Doing so allowed us to appreciate the heavenly taste of the meat on its own. The sauce though. The sauce. Whole chilies, diced green onion, and minced garlic basked in a sweet yet spicy sauce that clung to every crevice of the chicken each time we let the two meet. This is the dish that will keep me running back to San Tung again, and again.

A little background – I adore nuts. Nut butters, nut sauces, nut flours, candied or spiced nuts, nuts in my yogurt, nuts baked into sweet treats – you name it, I’m nuts for nuts. The 7×7 article praised the Noodles with Peanut Sauce so of course we just had to order it. I was giddy with excitement for these house made noodles topped with shrimp, baby scallops, water chestnuts, mushrooms, onions and peas smothered in a spiced peanut sauce to arrive at our table.

By the time our other dishes arrived the lunch rush hit, and hit hard, so every employee was running around in a frenzy, giving us no opportunity to inquire about our noodles. It was only when we were finished with our meal that a waiter dropped them at the table topped with a handful of julienned cucumber, but without an explanation as to why they were so late.

The dish certainly looked good, but the sauce did not live up to my nutty expectations. The sauce was lackluster – overly spiced and watered down and the noodles held no texture, turning to mush before I even had a chance to chew. Perhaps a result of the overwhelming rush, but I was disappointed.

Working as a waitress in a restaurant, I understand that things get chaotic and mistakes happen on occasion. Having been on both sides of the dining experience though, I believe that an apology goes a long way and I would have left a much happier customer if one had been provided.

We packed up our leftovers (all 5 boxes of it) and nibbled on fortune cookies after we paid and headed out. As a firm believer in second chances, I have no trouble saying that San Tung hasn’t seen the last of me. I fully intend on returning soon to reunite my taste buds and with that dry fried chicken and give those noodles another try. Maybe I will just try ordering earlier in the day.

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Red’s Java House

Do you ever just crave an honest to goodness burger?

No fancy extra toppings, no crazy sauces (though I love to get down on a spectacular burger like that every once in a while).

But sometimes, I just want a straight up burger, with cheese.

This is why I get on my knees and thank God for places like Red’s Java House.

This place is a no frills, back to the basics old school burger joint right on the water at the Embarcadero at Pier 28.

The menu options go a little something like this:

 

My favorite part of the menu – “We Don’t Serve Lettuce or Tomato”

Red’s is just so sassy.

This place hasn’t seen a renovation in quite some time, ain’t it just grand.

The menu is already extremely simple, but Matt and I came here for 2 reasons, a cheeseburger, and fries.

So that’s exactly what we got

These burgers were special however because instead of a sesame bun, these babies were served on a sourdough roll.

WOW!

What a concept. Way better than a traditional bun, in my opinion. But then again, I loveeee sourdough, and think everything tastes better with it.

Pretty much the cheeseburger consisted of:

Beef

Cheddar Cheese

Chopped Onions

Mustard

Pickles

So, yea, it erred on the tangy side with the mustard, pickles, and sourdough.

My fav.

Literally right as we sat down with our food, the lunch rush came. A testament to how good this place is. Soo glad we didn’t have to wait though cause we were starving!

The back of the restaurant opens up to a waterfront patio area, and covered outdoor bar with fun music and lively patrons. Every seat in the back was taken so we headed back inside and enjoyed the padded bar stools.

Still fine by me!

When it comes to a good burger, I’m like a momma tiger protecting her cub

Matt chose to be an adult while he ate

I chose to be a child and play

Like my wonky eye?

Overall, this place is perfect to stop for a quick bite to eat while walking along the waterfront. If you’re sitting outside though, the fun drunken atmosphere begs you to sit back and relax for a while. Inside, the service is friendly and the decor will encourage you to reminisce over the generations past. The food is straightforward, unadulterated, and a combo (burger, fries and a drink) is under $10, which is exactly what you need sometimes.

Red’s Java House, I’ll see ya again soon!

RAW Food Challenge Day 3

Hello hello!

I woke up feeling very energized this morning, I was a good girl and went to bed at 10pm (instead of my usual 2am). It’s amazing what a little extra sleep will do for ya, isn’t it? Oh and I wasn’t even that cold this morning, ’cause I’m a smarty pants and slept with 2 pairs of socks on, a sweatshirt, and 4 blankets! Gosh, it was great!

I got up and noticed it was a little dark in my room. A little background, I have a large 5 sided bay window in my room, and I shut the blinds every night so that the sun doesn’t wake me up, so my room usually is a little dark. I guess what I meant to say was, I noticed my room was a little darker than usual.

I took this photo on a sunnier day

(My comment about my 5 windows and all that sunshine was NOT me complaining! I am blessed, beyond blessed to live where I do. I love my bright windowed room!)

I pull up the blinds and surprise surprise, it had rained last night. Not a big deal, but it gave everything that rainy greyish tint to it, which is not motivating in the morning. I needed to counteract that lazy grey feeling, immediately.

What better way to fight the grey rain than with a tropical breakfast?!

(There is no better way)

Breakfast: Mango Smoothie and Banana Nut Bites

I really liked my smoothie from yesterday, like a lot, a lot a lot. But I’m trying to not repeat recipes until this challenge is over, so I can really highlight just how much can be done if you choose to try or adopt the raw food diet.

I kept the almond milk and the frozen banana and upgraded that peanut butter from yesterday to the very tropical mango!

Sometimes I can really make a mess

If you’re like me, clean up your counter and then start blending your smoothie!

Recipe goes:

2 fresh Mangos

1 frozen Banana

1 1/2 cups of Raw Almond Milk

4 ice cubes, optional (I did this ’cause I only used 1 frozen banana and I like my smoothies cold)

Blend it together for a minute

So bright and sunny! Exactly what I needed!

But, it was lacking protein…so I whipped up some little Banana Nut Bites

Its as easy as 1, 2, 3

1. Slice 1 Banana into bite sized pieces, on the diagonal

2. Spoon a tiny amount of raw Almond Butter onto each slice

3. Pick up each slice and lay it almond butter side down onto raw hulled Hemp Seeds for a second

Flip them back over, put ’em on a plate and you’re ready to go!

All together now!

I know its only Day 3 and I have quite a few more breakfasts ahead of me, but oh my gosh, this might be my favorite! Like most of the stuff I’ve been eating, this really filled me up without giving me a food coma, but the creaminess and richness of the mango, banana and almond butter really left me feeling SO satisfied!

Snack: Kombucha

Breakfast was so filling I never even needed my snack today, so I just drank my Kombucha, today’s flavor was Botanic No 7. I’ve never had it before, it was a little “spicy,” nevertheless tasty.

Lunch: Fruit Salad with a Coconut Lime Puree

The grey weather today was touch and go, so I wanted to continue to ward it off with my tropical theme, I have all this fresh fruit laying around so I started chopping it up to make a fruit salad.

Then I sliced the cantaloupe in half and cleaned out the guts and it hit me

THIS CANTALOUPE WOULD MAKE THE PERFECT FRUIT BOWL!

To fill with all of this good stuff

By the way, look at how closely these grapes grew together!

I don’t know about you guys, but every time I see a coconut I start singing “you put the lime in the coconut and drink a bowl up, you put the lime in the coconut…” (you get it) in my head and sometimes out loud.

There I was hacking at my coconut with the biggest knife I had singing when all of a sudden, another brilliant idea hit me! I should put the lime in the coconut!

Wait, what?

What is this crazy girl talking about?

Well my friends, I was just gonna use the coconut water and meat to make a nice puree to use as dressing, but my subconscious was attempting to and succeeded in steering me in a different direction.

I grabbed a lime out of my fruit bowl, zested that thing SO good and then juiced it!

I also gotta ask, does anyone know an easy and good way to remove coconut meat? My arm was exhausted after scraping just part of one half

I am pretty pumped because when I do finally scrap all the coconut meat out, I will be halfway done constructing a coconut bra. So, someone, please throw a luau.

Back to my lunch

Isn’t it gorgeous?

I used my trusty food processor to blend the coconut water, meat, and lime

This may be the most beautiful shade of green

I scooped some of the puree on top of my fruit, and wouldn’t you know it, I had enough of the water left over to drink!

This was a GREAT lunch! I didn’t take a photo of it, but I sprinkled some sunflower seeds on top for some extra crunch!

Dinner: Vegetable Sushi Two Ways

I had work tonight, so right after I finished lunch I set to work on making my dinner so I could take it with me. I really like the idea of something easy and utensil free to eat at work, since tonight I was working up front, I wanted something I could sneak bites of from under the counter without the hassle of a fork and knife.

What’s easy, utensil free, and raw?

Sushi!

Almost

If you make it without rice

And cooked fish

So, that’s what I did.

I started by making another batch of Pico de Gallo (tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime, salt)

Then I took a piece of Nori and put it on my sushi roller, like I really knew what I was doing

Then I laid a gorgeous piece of red chard on top of that

Scooped a few big spoonfuls of pico de gallo on top of that and smeared it into all the cracks

The rest is history

Then I rolled it and sliced it in half, like so

This roll was bright and complex with all the flavors going on, for real, this thing is packed with flavor, but it lacked a certain richness. Sushi, in general, is only momentarily gratifying since its such a light dish. I decided to make another type of roll to really fill me up.

Avocado seemed like the best way to add some substance to the sushi, since I didn’t have any sashimi lying around!

I didn’t want to just do the typical slices of avocado, I wanted to leave out the pico de gallo on this roll and make the avocado a spread. I must admit, my food processor has never had this much action before, it’s great! I scooped 1 avocado into it and then squeezed the juice of 1 orange in too, because I wanted this roll to still have a citrus brightness that would be absent otherwise since the pico de gallo was the vessel that brought citrus in the last time.

Boy, this was AMAZING! You all will be seeing this pop up in other recipes the rest of this week, as dip, as dressing, you name it.

I repeated the Nori on the sushi roller, laid down a chard leaf and then smeared this ‘cado spread all over it

Red bell pepper, carrot and sesame seeds completed this medley. At the last minute I popped a couple slices of avocado in there, cause I love it so much.

Mmmmmmmm

(Well, I knew this would come out sooner or later…I am not the most expert sushi roller/sushi slicer. Please don’t hate me)

I think I much preferred this wrap since it was smothered and covered in avocado.

Overall, today was good. I got lots of work done and I never felt lethargic or real icky. I will admit, work was a struggle. For those who don’t know, I work in a Brazilian-Italian restaurant as a waitress mostly, but sometimes I work up in the front on the phones and doing take out orders. Hearing all the customers tell me all the things they were gonna eat was hard. Smelling all the wonderful scents wafting out of the kitchen was worse. Much worse. I still have 2 more days of work while I am on this challenge, its gonna be a rough. Wish me luck!

I finally just got home and am drinking my daily allotted cup of tea to warm my soul, and fingers, and toes, and body in general. Goodnight my food lovers, I shall write more to you tomorrow.

Fresh Pico de Gallo

There are times, quite often actually, when fresh salsa is so relevant to a meal.

For those times, I call upon my trusty Pico de Gallo recipe.

So easy, so fresh, and the perfect way to add tons of visual appeal to the top of your meal

Like a lot of my recipes, I don’t have exact measurements, I’m more of an eyeball the amount, taste and then readjust if necessary kind of girl.

I prefer to use cherry tomatoes for just about anything involving tomatoes because I find they burst with more flavor than most other tomatoes and they rarely have that mealy texture that can be quite common with larger tomato varieties. But, to each their own, if you love tomatoes on the vine, have at it!

That being said dice up some multicolored cherry tomatoes

Then throw in equal parts green and yellow onion

And TONS of cilantro, for good measure

Toss together with a fork

Salt and Pepper to taste

Oh, and don’t forget the citrus zest! I usually like using lime better, but I only had a lemon, so I used it, and it was still delicious!

I love putting this on a multitude of meals; any kind of South of the Border type meal requires this, but also pretty much any light dish that includes white fish or shrimp or chicken. This salsa is the perfect sidekick!

White Fish with Tomato, Capers, and Olives

Now here is the main dish for my dinner with Chenoa. White Fish with a salsa like topping. Spinach, olives, tomato, capers, onion all blended with a generous portion of white wine. This recipe was from the Food Network, like the green beans. Once again though, I altered the recipe to entice my taste buds.
I have really been craving fish lately, and as I am trying to expand my culinary horizons I have been making an effort to cook with it. Once Chenoa arrived we made our way to the store. After perusing the store for the best deals on everything we headed to the seafood section. The original recipe called for Sea Bass and I was looking forward to trying it. When I approached the glass encasing (that really doesn’t do much when it comes to encasing the fishy smell) I was shocked – SHOCKED – at their quite pitiful selection of Sea Bass. First of all, the didn’t have any fillets, only medallions. I could have dealt with that. But then on top of it, right next to these puny little medallions was a sign that said “Previously Frozen.” Ew. No thanks. I will use something else.

Not knowing my white fish options very well I asked the man behind the counter which fish he suggested. We came to the consensus that Dover Sole would be an adequate substitute.

If you are an inexperienced fish chef like myself, then let me REALLY recommend this recipe. Not only is it is quick but the hardest part of the prep work was slicing the olives (which you could buy pre-sliced). Oh and the diced onions,  but hey that’s not so bad.

I cut up both the olives and onions before cooking the fish to save time afterward. I diced a whole yellow onion and sliced the a can of olives thin, each olive was left in about 3 to 4 pieces once I was done wielding my knife. (The original recipe called for only half a cup of olives, but I figured we might as well use the whole can cause I really like ’em).

I have noticed, as perhaps you have from my previous posts, that I have a habit of color coordinating my cutting board to whatever color the item I am chopping. Alas, I don’t have a black cutting board, so the trend was severely disrupted. It’s a tragedy, really.

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