Carb Fest in San Francisco
The best way to sum up my weekend up in San Francisco would be: “Carb overload” and “House”. I can probably guess that the first phrase shouldn’t need too much explanation, but the second one would need some background.
Before heading out to San Francisco, I naturally did my research to find myself some new places to eat because after going to San Francisco so many times, I realized that I had barely scratched the surface. I had two days there and I was promising myself that I would try at least ONE new place each day. The Saturday morning and afternoon was mine to use, as I was meeting up with CP and his dad that evening for dinner. CP already expressed his desire to go back to Delfina Pizzeria in the Mission. I was fine with that, but I always have an itch to try new places whenever I go out traveling.
Thus, I found myself wandering the city in morning after a light and quick complimentary breakfast at the hotel. (I needed my intake of fruits for the day!) Taking the BART all the way to the Embarcadero, I walked to the Ferry Building where the hustle and bustle of the Saturday Farmer’s Market was in full swing. My goodness…I had never seen such a busy Farmer’s Market and I really wished I had a fridge at that point. There was so many goodies to buy, but alas…my stomach says nay and I had nowhere to put it L. After my walk around the market, I walked up the Embarcadero and up to North Beach.
The walk was not as long as I thought it would be, but I was getting parched and growing hungrier. I had found a little hole in the wall place I read up online and was wondering if I would ever find it. Finally, my GPS on my iPhone told me I was getting close and ran straight into it!
To be honest, I would have never thought to look into this restaurant had I not previously done my research. It was off to the side from the main street and was very unassuming , small, and in a neighborhood that is primarily Italian, I would never thought to go here for Asian Fusion.
The interior was small, but they efficiently use every space possible. I loved the clean interior with its simple decorations. I felt very much at home when I stepped in. When I saw how big the place was, I immediately understood why online reviewers highly recommended in getting a reservation here as it got crowded real fast for dinner.
I had just arrived possibly a minute before they opened up shop at 11:30am. The waitress had to ask the back kitchen if they were open (aka ready for customers) and once she got the ok, I was seated by the window table. Naturally as you can see from my picture, getting seated was NOT an issue. I think this place would do better lunches during the weekdays and all around great dinner services. However, I had the restaurant all to myself on this Saturday afternoon.
The waitress came with the menu and I already knew what I wanted to try: The house made wasabi noodles. You had the choice of grilled pork or salmon. I wasn’t feeling like seafood that day, so I opted for the pork, along with a nice tall glass of lychee black tea.
When the plate came out, I was so excited! It smelled so good and I was literally drooling in anticipation. Here’s a nice up close shot of the beauty:
Starting from the bottom up: a nice sizable portion of wasabi noodles was the foundation, followed by a pile of julienned cucumber that nestled the grilled pork, and to top it all off was The House’s kimchi.
The noodles were cooked al dente and had nice pull and chew to it. However, I couldn’t quite get the “wasabi” in it which may be more subtle than in your face so the dark soy sauce covered the flavor. Nevertheless, the noodles were absolutely delicious. The cucumber I believe was to cool off the effects of spiciness, but since he dish wasn’t spicy (to my standards) it gave the dish a nice refreshing crunch. Now the pork was something left to be desired. It was just grilled pork, with no marinade, and was the saddest part of the whole thing. My advice to the cooks at The House: MARINADE YOUR PORK!!!! You have such great flavors going on here and then when you get to the pork, it’s pure disappointment. Truth be told, I had to stop myself and realize that all the other components were there to make up for it. The kimchi on top was not quite the traditional kimchi, with the spices and vinegar content toned down, and in addition to the napa cabbage, there was also red cabbage which gave the dish a nice “POP” in color.
Speaking of “color”, let’s just say my meal had a little “colorful” side to it as well. During my meal, a man in a long, gray coat was walking up the sidewalk by the restaurant. He stopped briefly by the window and then turned to me, made some random hand gestures and faces. Then he reaches into his jacket to pull out a “skin” mag to show me. I just turned away and the waitress only had a little apologetic smile and shrugs her shoulders. I’m guessing that they’ve seen their share of crazies walking about in front of their restaurant.
Overall, I would definitely order this dish again but I think maybe next time I’ll try it with the salmon. The House is now on my rotation list for San Francisco!
Whenever I am up in San Francisco, I try to meet up with my cousin who lives and works up there. I turn to her whenever I am in the area and need my Chinese food fix! Funny thing is, although she lives in San Francisco, she actually rarely eats Chinese food. It’s just strange how when you’ve grown up eating Chinese food so much that when you are an adult and are able to make your own meal decisions, it becomes rarer for you to choose to eat the food you grew up with. At least that’s how it is for my cousin and I, but we will both get our cravings every now and then.
My cousin gave me 2 options on where we could go get our Chinese food fix: either to a restaurant she had taken me to before, or trying a new one. Now can anybody guess which one I chose? J
My cousin had found this place also online and was concerned that there may be a long line since the restaurant was really small (do you notice a trend to places I eat?…) and that it was a Sunday, which is the typical day when Chinese families go out and have dim sum. We kept our hopes high and when we drove by the restaurant, it was not crowded at all. Score!!
We got to our seats and were presented the menu and a hot pot of tea…so far good. There were 2 other tables with families eating and everything on their tables looked delicious! My cousin and I were both so torn because we wanted EVERYTHING on the menu! Our family had trained us both to be eaters and to never turn down food. Yet, we both knew that would be impossible to order everything that we wanted. Don’t get me wrong; between the 2 of us, we can do a lot of damage at a dinner table as evidenced by our eventual spread:
Oh this glorious spread was the BEST (Asian) meal I’ve had since…a very long time? Let me guide you through our smorgasbord (starting from the far left):
Green Scallion Pancakes: these little babies were pan fried to perfection. Nice, crispy outside with the soft, chewy interior. This is the only time when I can say I really, REALLY enjoy scallions. I absolutely hate scallions as I have bad food associations from my childhood, but presented in this form, I will gobble it right up!
Xiao Long Bao: ok, hands down. I don’t care what I’ve said before on my site, but these…THESE little white, carb based, explosions of flavors were out of this world. I had to stop myself from jumping up and down and running all around when I bit into one. The skins of the bao was thin, not too doughy, but held together real nicely while it was steamed and as I cautiously picked them up with my chopsticks and spoon. Perfect vehicle in holding the magic within, while giving away with the softest bite…I want to find the person who made these and take him/her home with me. The inside was well balanced with just the right amount of pork and soup. I slurped shamelessly with each first bite and happily reached for more.
As I have grown older, I found myself loving these little buns more and more. I don’t quite know why I never really appreciated them when I was younger, but then again I was a misguided child. So many years…v_v
Soup noodles with pickled vegetables and pork: I must thank my cousin for getting me into this dish. It’s a great, light noodle dish to balance out any meals. When you have a table full of heavily flavored dishes and fried items, this soup noodle acts a great palate cleanser. The flavors are simple, clean, and by no means flavorless. The noodles were soft, but not mushy and worked perfectly with the crispy bean sprouts and pickled muster greens.
Shanghai style noodles: going from clean flavors, back to the heavy and in your face flavors. The noodles were the big, thick ones that are more suitable for stir fried dishes, which was a little too soft in my opinion. However, the massive amount of napa cabbage helped balance it out. The strips of pork were tender and were NOT bland thank goodness. The dish was really delicious, but it is definitely one of those dishes that stick to the ribs. This was a nice throwback to my childhood.
Back before I ate everything under the sun, I was a meats and potatoes gal. No, really…no joke! I would not touch any seafood, anything green (unless they were the green gummi bears or jolly ranchers), and I limited my animal proteins to only chicken and pork. Everything else, you can forget it! I would rather starve (as a form of protest) then eat anything that fell into one of those 3 categories. So back when I visited my uncles’ restaurant (one of which was this cousin’s dad), I would always order a giant plate of the Shanghai style noodles without the cabbage (or at least pick them out slowly). I literally grew up on this dish and now when I think back on it, it wasn’t uncommon to polish off one of these plates by myself along with couple small bowls of other forms of noodles.
I guess there are some things that one never grows out of no matter how much you change over the years. For me, my love of noodles will never be stamped out of me and this weekend just goes to show me that. I am definitely a more conscious eater, but I realized that if I don’t enjoy what I eat, what’s the point of eating then?!
Houses of awesome noodles:
1230 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
3641 Balboa St.
San Francisco, CA 94121