Good Eats from San Francisco (and East Bay)


I took a recent trip to Northern California where I spent most of my time in San Francisco ¬†eating my favorite food (ice cream, 6 days in a row…not gross at all!), exploring the different neighborhoods, and soaking up the rare sun rays in the otherwise foggy city. San Francisco has such an amazing food scene, one that I greatly admire and respect. Since I was there for 10 days, it meant that I had plenty of meals to spend exploring all the good food SF and the East Bay have to offer!

Here are photos of some notable dishes and meals from my trip:

The shrimp ceviche from Chubby Noodle, a pop-up inside Amare bar in North Beach. The dishes were mediocre in my opinion, but I thought this ceviche was pretty good and I had a great time eating outside with friends while people-watching :)

The #5 combo from Cordon Bleu Vietnamese Restaurant, a hole in the wall in Nob Hill. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this cheap plate of food that comes with a delicious and crisp egg roll, flavorful 5-spice marinated chicken, a strip of beef kabob (random), and some tomato based sauce to go on top of the rice. Definitely enough for two meals!

This is the grilled pork on vermicelli from Pho Ao Sen in East Oakland. While they are known for their pho and bun bo hue, I almost always get the pork with vermicelli and love that this place gives you plenty of meat and provides a flavorful sauce!

The fried egg and bacon open face sandwich from Outerlands in Outer Sunset. Really long wait for a casual Friday lunch, but they really satisfied my cheese and egg craving! The bread was also really thick and toasted perfectly.

The fried egg sandwich (do you notice a trend here?) from Plow with crispy potatoes. Oh those crispy potatoes were almost like potato chips in cube form but with better seasoning and more substance. Delicious! The fried egg sandwich was tasty, though a little greasy since I added bacon. I also tried my friend’s lemon ricotta pancakes which I LOVED but I also do love anything lemon flavored.

The monkey bread from Plow is also a must-try!

Two scoops of ice cream (balsamic caramel and brown butter) from Humphry Slocombe in the Mission for a post breakfast snack. Balsamic caramel sounds pretty interesting and is definitely an acquired taste for most but I loved it since I’m a fan of tangy, sour and sweet! Brown butter is the ice cream flavor I wish I invented and is probably one of my all time favorite ice cream flavors, though I wish there was some crunch in there for texture.

If you’re in the Mission district in SF and feel like eating Mexican food that’s slightly healthier, go to Papalote where the lines are shorter and the food is definitely less greasy. The chili verde taco is wonderful and it comes with plenty of fresh goodies!

The crawfish beignet from Brenda’s French Soul Food is definitely worth waking up at 7 am on a Monday for.

So is their shrimp and cheese grits! A little heavy for breakfast, but I mean, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day right? Brenda’s will surely fulfill that!

Oh Ici, what a love-hate relationship we have. Love because it MAY be my favorite ice cream place in the Bay Area and this malted vanilla chocolate chip totally validates that statement. Their ice cream is just so light and good! It’s also probably the only place where I’ll even consider getting a cone because of the little chocolate surprise on the bottom of each one! Hate because going 5 days a week during undergrad really didn’t do my wallet any good.

Ah, Salumeria – a fun discovery in the Mission! Their roast beef sandwich is delicious and they have a wonderful seating area with great lighting, perfect for instagramming and food photographing ;)

Of course, every meal needs dessert! Not just one, but three! (I guess four if you count the scoop of Bi-Rite ice cream that I’m not picturing in this post). No trip to SF is complete without a Tartine visit. I was so tempted to get the Lemon Meringue Cake, but opted for a morning bun and banana cream tart instead! I do wish I got a slice of Tres Leches and I totally would’ve if I didn’t also buy a caramel chocolate mini loaf from Craftsman & Wolves that was sort of forgettable. Cool store concept though!

What better way to end my SF trip than with some duck on a bed of farro from Olea in Nob Hill? Chef Gabriel Amaya is truly talented and kind as well!

Looking at these pictures reminds me of what an amazing 10 days I had in NorCal. I’m truly blessed to able to enjoy such good food with even better friends! Thank you all for a wonderful trip!


Penang Yummies: Fruit & Dessert Edition

One of my favorite things about Southeast Asia is the abundance of tropical fruits that are available throughout the year. Of course, not every fruit is available each season, but luckily I came to Penang at a time when my favorite tropical fruits still tasted good! The thing about these fruits is that even though I live in Southern California (which has one of the best weathers in mainland America for growing produce), I definitely won’t find these fruits there! So whenever I visit, I always make sure to load up on these fruits whenever I’m in Southeast Asia :)

Mangosteens, one of the best fruits EVER! If you’ve never had a mangosteen, you’re definitely missing out! I probably ate 15 of these a day O_O but it’s because there’s actually a very small amount of white, fleshy, edible fruit inside.

The skin is thick and inedible and usually purple. The white part is very soft and comes in little wedges similar to tangerine wedges. If you’re lucky, the best mangosteens are sweet with a slight burst of juicy tanginess. There are small seeds in each wedge that often remains covered in some flesh.

The rambutan is another one of my favorite tropical fruits. It’s very similar to a lychee, but with hairy spikes on the outsides. I also find that it tastes better and sweeter than lychees! However it wasn’t at its prime season in July when I went to Penang :/

The durian! I came at a time when durian was in season. I kid you not, I smelled durian right when I stepped outside the airport. It’s sold on literally every block! Four words to describe it: oniony, mushy, creamy, spiky. Those spikes are SHARP! Can you imagine these things falling off a tree on someone’s head?! Durian vendors have thick workman gloves to protect their hands when they cut it for customers (I lost all my durian innards pictures :(). I personally don’t like the taste and smell of durian, but I probably had the best tasting durian I’ve ever had in Penang! It was sweet and creamy and I even missed the smell when I left!

This pretty thing right here is a dragon fruit! My only experience with dragon fruit prior to this was the Vitamin Water dragon fruit drinks that taste a bit like cough syrup. I was mildly disappointed at this fresh dragon fruit right here. While it was incredibly pretty and a vibrant magenta inside, it was rather bland ):

Jackfruit, which I didn’t know was a huge fruit like the durian with little sections of fruit inside. It’s especially good frozen :D

Longan – a sweet and juicy fruit that also reminds me of lychees.

The rest are snapshots of colorful, dessert-like items that I found throughout the hawker fare. Most of them are some type of rice cakes, which make for good snacks but not great dessert in my opinion, especially when you consume a carb-heavy dinner like we did every night. #fatlife

I love it when food is colorful and vibrant, and I definitely found just that in Penang!

Penang Yummies

There are days when I earnestly long to be in another country. I absolutely love traveling. I love being on a plane, taking off, landing, seeing new sights and smelling new smells (though some smells I’d really rather not smell), walking on foreign streets, taking public transportation, exploring city and nature, experiencing a different culture, and eating new foods. Traveling abroad is not just a leisurely activity for my family, but a necessity since we all live thousands of miles away from each other. My brother lives in Hong Kong, my sister lives in London, my dad lives in Malaysia and almost all of my extended family lives in the Philippines. I’ve listed the perks and downsides of having such a global family in my mind and one of the best things about it is that I get to travel more often than most people! This past summer after graduating college, I took a 2-month long trip to Asia and visited the Philippines, Hong Kong, Penang (Malaysia), China (for 27 miserable hours) and Mongolia to visit family and explore. When I visit another country, I always like to immerse myself in the country’s culture and my favorite way to do that is by eating local, authentic food! More often than not, local and authentic food is best found on the streets (be brave, Americans!) and in Penang, Malaysia, that was exactly the case. I had made a list of must-try foods in Penang and my dad made it a point to take me to every yummy place that he’d been to. I kid you not, I gained at least five pounds in the seven days I was there.

Most of our meals were eaten at hawker fares which resemble an outdoor cafeteria with many different vendors selling different kinds of food. There are benches to sit on where you can gather all the food you procure from different stalls. My dad also said that it’s actually cheaper to eat out (assuming you eat at a hawker) in Penang than it is to cook in.

I had plenty of noodle dishes in Malaysia, but this one was my favorite. It’s called Laksa – it’s sour, tangy and extremely spicy in the way that there’s spices scratching at your throat. I loved ever slurp of it.

Curry Mee – noodles with curry gravy and spices (I don’t even know what those brown things are. Tofu? EDIT: a friend of mine claims that it is coagulated pig’s blood, which actually makes a lot of sense. HAHA! Plus, she’s an expert on tofu so she’d know). And I have no clue what the one below is…oops.

Pasembur – another fave, it comes with deep fried items on the bottom that you choose from a variety of, ranging from squid to tofu. It is topped with shredded vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, etc) and a spicy, sweet, peanut-based sauce.

Rojak – a mixture of fresh fruits and vegetables (apples, cucumber, onions?!) with some cuttlefish slices topped with a funky-tasting prawn sauce. It was sweet and savory, spicy and peanuty. There was way too much going on. Does it sound weird? Because it definitely was and it was rather unappetizing in my opinion.

Char Koay Teow – flat, fried noodle dish that resembles Pad See Ew. Most universal dish in Penang and probably my ultimate favorite!

Nasi Lemak – rice cooked in coconut with cucumber, egg and anchovies all wrapped in a banana leaf. Nasi means rice and this rice was so good!

And then we went to a nice hotel buffet where I got to eat all of the above on a nice big plate with real silverware. I may have had three full plates…and while it was tasty, nothing beats the price, taste, authenticity and joyful experience of eating hawker food instead! Penang was truly a place with delicious food influenced by Indian, Thai, Chinese and many other cuisines and it was also filled with such kind and welcoming people!

P.S. There’s a part two coming up because one post on Penang food is not enough (: