I thought I’d share the rest of my notable eats this week. Plenty of my meals and food experiences make it onto the blog as features. But there are plenty of meals that slip through the cracks–hence, this post that aggregates the “honorable mentions.”
Images 1-9, starting from top row, and going from left to right…
1. Jia jiang myun, a Korean-Chinese noodle dish with black bean sauce, was my favorite dish while growing up. When we got assigned to write about “our favorite food” in elementary school, everyone chose pizza and spaghetti and hamburgers except for me. I chose jia jiang myun. It’s as the East Bay Express calls it: the spaghetti and meatballs of Korea. You can get some at Yetnal Jia Jang, Korean Noodle House in Oakland’s Temescal district. Located on Telegraph Avenue at 44th St., the restaurant is run like a true bare bones neighborhood joint that reminds me of pho restaurants: fast turnover on the tables, lots of noise, super casual and jovial atmosphere. Plus one waitress serving every customer, if that gives you any idea of the vibe! There are several dishes there–the hubby and I had the fried mandoo, jjam bbong (a spicy seafood noodle dish) and the jia jiang myun. They do jia jiang myun best.
2-5. Salt House is a new restaurant created by the folks over at the super popular Town Hall. The San Francisco Chronicle reported on its highly anticipated opening just a couple months ago. Funny thing–we couldn’t get into Town Hall so we ended up at Salt House (we didn’t know the two were related when we made this split decision).
I’m not too fond of salt–so I was curious, in an on-guard sort of way. The place reminds me of SOHO in Manhattan: brick facade, industrial interior (the place used to hold a printing press), trendy decor. The sign for the restaurant is inches off the ground by the front door. The floral decor is a huge bouquet of cotton buds. There’s a gigantic chalkboard with the seafood menu. Despite my affinity for more plush and traditional decor, I liked the look.
But what about the food? It was good. I decided to embrace Autumn and ordered everything duck. The foie gras torchon was paired with clementine–very refreshing. Though the torchon itself was good but not remarkable, I’ll remember the clementine pairing for a long time to come. I liked their duck confit. Others at the table ordered a beet salad as appetizer, and they raved about it. I took a taste, and was a little turned off by beets slathered in a cream/mayonaise-y sauce. I like beets. I don’t like them with mayonaise. I had the upside down pineapple cake for dessert. I likee.
The hitch at Salt House is the service, and from all the other reviews I’ve since read, I’m not alone in this observation. It’s too early on in the restaurant’s life to slam them too much for it (there has to be an adjustment period), but they’ve got some ways to go. The biggest bumble: our entrees were late coming out. We wouldn’t have noticed (so immersed were we in our conversation), but the floor manager came out to interrupt our discussion to tell us, “I’m sorry your entrees are taking so long. They’ll be out shortly.” Oh. It was nice of her, but we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. And then we REALLY noticed that our entrees were late.
The other notable bumble is the fact that when it came time to ask for the check, we couldn’t find our server. In fact, we couldn’t find ANY servers. After craning our necks a bit, we noticed the servers were all crowded in a doorway by the kitchen, holding wine glasses. We guessed that someone had sent a bottle of wine to the kitchen and they were sampling the goods. I’m all for that, but did they ALL have to go at once?
But the service, when it was on spot, was friendly and I could see the potential of what might be someday.
6. Sciroppo di Rose: Rose Syrup. Impulse buy of the week (you know about my other impulse buys). I was standing at AG Ferrari’s checkout counter when I noticed this slim, beautiful bottle.
I am a HUGE fan of rose flavored anything. The other week, my hubby went to organize our pantry and walked out, with a bemused grin, holding 4 bottles of rose water in his arms. “Why do you keep buying rose water?” I guess I’m of the camp that thinks you can never have enough rose water…
So of course I picked the bottle up. The syrup inside shone in the afternoon sunlight, reflecting a color that reminded me of the red flaming autumn leaves outside. The liquid traveled in the languid manner of maple syrup as I read the ingredients, which included cane sugar, lemon sugar, and rose petal extract. I *had* to have this.
Later that day, I mixed a beverage of club soda, lemonade, and this very rose syrup. It was a delicious and unique combination. I’m now thinking of potential cocktails.
7-9. Homemade sashimi and sushi dinner. Sometimes, you just wanna eat freshly prepared sashimi while sitting in your pajamas on the couch. Really. I went to one of my favorite places for fish in Berkeley, the Tokyo Fish Market (located at 1220 San Pablo Ave., between Marin Ave. and Gilman Ave.) and picked up some sashimi grade toro, maguro, and hamachi. While there, I noticed the fresh wasabi root next to the tobiko.
Seeing the fresh wasabi root was like noticing a unicorn. Well, not really THAT awe inspiring–more like noticing a hawk circling in the sky. I had never seen rare fresh wasabi before and my impulses kicked in again; I bought half a root, and then walked over across the parking lot to the Tokyo Fish Market Gift Shop for a wasabi grater (I bought the boxed wasabi grater you see here):
I couldn’t wait to grate the wasabi and taste it. This is remarkable because I normally HATE wasabi. I normally eat sushi and sashimi plain, without any soy sauce or wasabi. The fresh wasabi was nothing like the green paste I abhor: it was slightly sweet as well as hot–the taste more complex and delicate. For instance, the sweetness of it reminded me of radish. Of course, since this was grated and not from powder, there was also a slight texture to the fresh wasabi paste, too.
This wasabi made dinner so special. I made some carrot sushi rice, a recipe I obtained from a friend of mine, and used it to stuff inari. The most decadent part of all of this was sitting on our couch, in our pajamas and bare feet, chowing down on all this good stuff.
What were YOUR notable eats this week?