Beretta, where have you been all my life? There’s a new restaurant opening up in the Mission District every five minutes so it was easy for Beretta to get lost in the mix. I ignored the rave reviews and kept telling myself I’d visit eventually. Well, eventually happened and I’m hooked.
Beretta is famous for its cocktails — some of the best in the city, in fact. I think it should also be famous for its bruschetta. I sampled their burrata bruschetta walnut bread and mushroom truffle honey, and oh my goodness, Internet. This stuff is amazing. Creamy, nutty, earthy, sweet, savory, this dish has it all. I’m scrambling to replicate it at home.
I never tire of mushrooms, so I also tried Beretta’s mushroom, tomato, fontina, and thyme pizza. You guys, we have another winner. You know that nice sort-of-papery and sort-of-soft thing that happens to mushrooms when they’re sliced super thinly atop pizza? This pizza is perfect at that. What it’s even better at is the crust. Thin, crispy, chewy crust. Heaven in cheese and carb form.
Is there anything that Beretta doesn’t make well? I guess I’ll have to keep visiting to find out.
If there’s one thing San Francisco has no shortage of, it’s dim sum restaurants. (Also hipsters and insufferable coffee snobs, but that’s another story). I met up with friends one foggy morning to check out the Richmond District’s Hong Kong Lounge, and after a two-hour (!) wait, we were seated.
Do you like fried things? Do you like doughy things? Do you like savory-salty things? Then Hong Kong Lounge is the place for you. Our little plates of dim sum seemed never-ending as we sampled bites of shrimp dumplings and turnip cake and rice noodle rolls and sweet sesame balls. And that was just the beginning.
No vegetables here. No sir. I suppose we could have shared a plate of steamed greens but that would have taken up precious room from more dim sum. We spent the next hour in a gluten and seafood-induced eating stupor, dousing our bites with chili oil and soy sauce, enjoying every morsel.
Hong Kong Lounge is a solid dim sum restaurant, if you’re willing to endure the wait. Pack a jacket, endure the biting Richmond District fog, and soon you’ll be feasting on some of the best dim sum in town, too.
Who hasn’t reviewed the Slanted Door? Sure, it’s a tourist favorite and it’s been open for years, but Charles Phan is a solid chef with a solid cadre of restaurants, and the Slanted Door is where it all started.
Nishan (you may also know him as Mr. Canada) took me here for a birthday lunch a few months ago, and we started with the crispy imperial rolls. These may be ubiquitous on every Vietnamese menu but these by far the best I’ve ever had. Filled with taro, cabbage and glass noodles, they were refreshing and flavorful alongside lettuce leaves and a vinegary dipping sauce.
We also shared a plate of seared Angus steak alongside velvety king oyster mushrooms. A garlicy, syrupy sauce complimented the steak but the mushrooms were the real star here.
We finished with the caramelized catfish claypot; a promising dish, but my least favorite. The sauce was sweeter than I expected and well, not full of fish flavor as I’d hoped it would be. Still, the catfish was fall-off-the-bone succulent and satisfying.
Don’t miss the drinks at the Slanted Door either. Oh, and the view. Where else can you get such a stunning view of the Bay Bridge? Charles Phan may be expanding his restaurant empire beyond the Embarcadero, but the Slanted Door will always have a place in my heart. (And stomach.)
Do you like Skrillex with your sushi? No? How about A Tribe Called Quest? Either way, I hope you like your nigiri with a heavy dose of bass, because Ryoko’s in San Francisco’s Union Square is part industrial strength speakers, part sushi restaurant.
Okay, I’m exaggerating. Still, the first time I visited Ryoko’s for dinner, I was not prepared for the house dj spinning his tunes at full blast, and right in the center of the crowded restaurant at that. This is good in my case if it’s Tribe, but not so much if it’s Skrillex.
Let’s talk about the food, though. On this visit, my dining companions and I started with a plate of agedashi tofu: slightly crispy on the outside, and oh-so-soft and molten on the inside. A healthy dusting of bonito flakes held us over while we waited for our sushi.
Our plate of toro nigiri was tasty and fresh and the slabs of tuna felt more like butter than meat. Our maki sushi was a treat, too, and while the yellowtail was on the bland side, the futomaki were just right.
Dining at Ryoko’s can be hit or miss depending on what the dj is playing and what iterations of sushi you order. And oh, be prepared for a wait. Very prepared. Ryoko’s may be a bit of a dining gamble, but it’s a popular one at that.
What’s a no-frills and super authentic Thai restaurant doing in the heart of Union Square? I would have never thought to try out Bangkok Noodles until after a night of outfit hunting, I found myself ravenous. Located on the busiest block of Powell Street, I sat down with my dining companions Karen and Anoop and we quickly ordered, with the smell of garlic, shallots, and spicy broth permeating the air.
My seafood noodle soup did not disappoint. Flecked with loads of fried shallots and topped with fresh herbs, I added a couple of drops of chili sauce and went to town. This dish had just the right ratio of seafood to chewy noodles, and the warm broth was what I needed on a rainy San Francisco evening. Bangkok Noodles has non-noodle dishes on the menu too, but why deviate from a good thing?
Bangkok Noodles is cash-only and the wait can be long, but it’s worth it, especially in Union Square, where quick and good eats can be hard to come by.