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Posts tagged “san francisco

Work, life, balance…no? Then it’s time to eat.

I was provided the Work Life Balance Equation by a co-worker of mine.  His original equation was something along these lines:

Work + life = Work life balance
I have no life, thus…
Work life balance = Work

This was passed along to other co-workers and one suggested that we needed to use a weighted average model:

Work(8hrs) + life(8hrs) + sleep(8hrs) = Work life balance
Work(12hrs) + life(6hrs) + sleep (6hrs) = I better be making 6 figures and partying every night
Work(12hrs) + thinking about work(2hrs) + trying to forget about work(2hrs) + restless bad sleep dreaming about work(8hrs) = Public Accounting

Now which one applies to me? That is the real question at hand and I can definitely tell you right now that I do NOT make 6 figures. If I was, life would be quite different and I wouldn’t really be thinking about my work life balance as much because I am getting compensated to not dwell on such things.  The first thing that actually came to mind was that this person was at least getting 8 hours of sleep each day, so I am already very jealous of this person.

The best equation for me would be along the lines of:

Work(12hrs) + personal hygiene (2hr) + life (3hrs) + trying to forget about work(1hrs) + restless bad sleep dreaming about work(6hrs) = My Public Accounting Life

Now where do I factor in my eating?  I guess that’s part of the “life” variable because I live to eat, but although I sometimes eat to live because I need the energy to keep up that 12 hour work variable.  However, when I eat, I try to eat things that I enjoy and makes me smile from the inside out.  This is when we need that special treat every now and then.

When I was up in San Francisco a couple weeks ago, I had stopped by the Kara Cupcakes in Ghiradelli Square for a cupcake.  I will admit that this was definitely influenced by the show Cupcake Wars on Food Network.  The judges GUSHED over Kara’s cupcakes and my curiosity of whether or not it was founded drove this trip.

The shop was simple and let its cupcakes be the star of the decor:

I contemplated for sometime on which cupcake to get and given the season, the Pumpkin cupcake almost won out.  However, the Chocolate Fleur de Sel had me convinced that if I was to try any of the cupcakes, this was the one to be inducted to her line of cupcakes.

It took everything in my power to limit myself to only one cupcake, so I got myself one and a bottle of water.  To my surprise, the bottled water was made especially for the store!

Here was my little afternoon sweet snack.  See that cute bottle?  I was truly and highly amused by it.  To think they put that much effort to their water bottles was a nice surprise.  Also, I loved their boxes that they had to hold their cupcakes for transit.  Although my cupcake didn’t need to go far (just to a table outside), it is a good idea for bakeries to have these holders because there’s nothing worse than a messed cupcake.

Look at my little baby.  All safe and sound, neatly tucked in its own individual carrying case.

I don’t have a shot of inside the cupcake, but it was filled with salted caramel.  The cake was a deep, dark, luscious chocolate cake and it was the moistest cupcake I’ve had in awhile.  Topping it off was an equally delicious chocolate ganache frosting with a light sprinkle of fluer del sel.  You would think that this cupcake would be immensely sweet, yet it wasn’t!  The flavors were all there: sweet, bitter, and salty.  The cupcake was balanced and it was a simple, really well crafted cupcake.

In retrospect, I feel like I could have had some more, but I was restraining myself from going completely overboard.  It is all about balance in life right?

I don’t have a balance in my life and I can feel it.  However, I am really bringing it upon myself by my own choices.  I guess I just haven’t learned how to say no to my own life events.  Just like how I learned how to say no to myself when I wanted more than one cupcake, I need to apply the same to my life at times.

My desire?  To achieve this equation:  Work(8hrs) + life(8hrs) + sleep(8hrs) = Work life balance.

Kara’s Cupcakes
Multiple locations in California


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!

The House

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

Shanghai House

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:

The House
1230 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

Shanghai House
3641 Balboa St.
San Francisco, CA 94121

One city, one day

I had less than 24 hours in one of my favorite cities in California and I wanted to do it well, but keeping it real and relaxed.

Since I was in Northern California for training up in San Jose, I decided to take the opportunity to spend the weekend up in the bay area.  I checked out the San Jose scene…not much to write home about, but I was going to meet my cousin up in San Francisco.

My cousin had moved up to the bay for school, then got a job and stayed up there.  I love San Francisco with my all and I have been up there a handful of times.  However, the cold weather just is not my thing (as noted in my previous post).  Still, the food up there is to melt for.

Anyways, I had texted my cousin ahead of time to let her know I would be spending the day up there and checked to see if she was free.  She was and thus, I had found myself my partner in crime to just eat and enjoy San Francisco.

By the time I got to her apartment, it was around my now “lunching hour” (as a client had rightfully deemed it “SALT” – Standard Auditor’s Lunch Time).

Whenever I visit San Francisco, I have to make a trip the Tartine. After having their almond croissant the very first time, I have become addicted. Yet, since my first time at Tartine and first time having the said pastry, I have never been able to make it there in time to get one before they run out.  And this time was no different.  I was so sad…but I was still hungry!


My cousin and I split an order of the Spicy Turkey sandwich.  Fresh country bread filled with LOADS of broccoli rabe pesto, holding down the peppered turkey breast and provolone, all press grilled to a crunchy excellence. The bread was delicious, but what really took me for a loop was the broccoli rabe.  It was somewhat bitter and I had to keep my mind open about it as I am not a fan of bitter tasting foods.  Generally, I think the provolone and olive oil helped mellow out the broccoli rabe and I did enjoy the sandwich!

I want to give a fair warning: if you have sensitive teeth and/or gums, probably best to stick with the pastries.  The sandwiches are crunchy and toothsome.  It takes a fair amount of work to bite and chew these sandwiches!


As I had mentioned earlier, I come to Tartine for their almond (or frangipane) croissant but have a hard time actually getting it!  Must work harder to come at a decent hour (aka right when it opens)!  Since there were no more almond croissants, I settled for a plain croissant.  It was a wonderfully flakey, not overly buttery croissant.  Perfecto!


My cousin got the “Morning Bun” which was a giant, cinnamon sugar, caramelized breakfast pastry decadence.  Soft and sweet, it was pretty darn amazing.  At first I thought it would be like either a cinnamon roll or a sugar donut.  No!  It was nothing like that and I can’t even begin to describe it.  Why not just share one again with me? 🙂

After our lunch (with breakfast) meal at Tartine, we waddled ourselves down the block towards the park.  However, we HAD to make a stop at Bi-Rite Creamery despite the fact that neither one of us had even finished our food and were carrying doggy bags.  The motivation was that neither of us had ever tried the famous house-made ice cream and we both needed something chilled and creamy to wash everything down.

Unfortunately, I did not take a picture (WHY?! I can’t remember!) but I do remember what I got: honey lavender and balsamic strawberry.  Of the 2, the balsamic strawberry won the best flavor hands down.

My cousin got the apricot sorbet and the brown butter pecan (?…can’t remember, sorry).  I tried both and was surprised at how much I liked the sorbet.  It was fresh and not overly sweet, but what got me was that I liked the tasted of it and I am not a fan of apricots.  Go Bi-Rite!

With our filled stomachs, we rested it off at the park in the Mission and people watched.  We are both golden retriever lovers so we were more dog watching and looking out for those golden cuties!  The being gals, we did our fair amount of shopping in Union

Finally we had walked around long enough to not feel as full.  That meant it was time for dinner!

Once again, I think it was just the haziness of the day of over eating and the fact that my brain was fried from work, I really cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant we went to dinner.  It was a place that I had asked my cousin to literally take me to eat where ever she wanted and loved the most while living in the city.

We ended up in a tiny little Chinese restaurant that was about 5 minutes (driving) away from her apartment.  The restaurant specialized in Shanghaize style cooking, which was what she and I grew up with.  Well…I grew up with both Shanghai (Dad’s side of the family) and Cantonese (Mom’s side of the family) style cooking, so I love both!

Big family style dinners happened a lot when we were younger, but the family has since dispersed a little and the generations are getting older.  As such, we ordered dishes that brought us back to those days…


The spread.  Honestly, I wish we could have ordered more, but we were both not exactly STARVING.  Yet, how could I go to SF and only have one meal?!

So we had an order of the Xiao Long Bao.  The skin was a little thick and could have been softer, but the soup remained intact within.  Thus, a great flavorful explosion occurred in my mouth when I bit into these babies!


The Shanghai blood in us requires us to always have a noodle (or 2) dish!

The Shanghai Style Chow Mein was what I used to live off of!  I would eat an entire, extra large order of this because I was a stupid child who would eat nothing else but noodles.  Of course, I have significantly expanded my food selections since then.  The noodles were good, yet the noodles were not as firm as I like them to be.  However, there was a good amount of vegetables in it so definitely a thumbs up.


Next up was a simple soup noodle with pork and pickled vegetables.

This ended up being my favorite out of the 3 things we ordered.  It was light, flavorful, and the noodles were cooked just right.   Also, I have come to decide that the Chinese pickles food much better than Americans.  It’s not as sour!  Or maybe I was just imagining it?…

I ended up wanting this whole bowl to myself, but I always remember to share especially when all have agreed to it from the beginning. 🙂


Leaving feeling warm, full, and happy, I need to get the name of the place from my cousin or at least the address.  What I do remember was that it was either on California St or Geary Blvd, and near Divisadero St.  So if anyone recognizes the food or even the table settings, let me know!!

That was my day in San Francisco.  Given that I had less than 24 hours in the city, I think I did it fairly well!  Til next time bay area!

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 9411

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110