A Foodie Weekend in San Francisco 

Trying to narrow down the world’s best foodie destinations is no easy feat. I have my own list of favorites and San Francisco is definitely one of my favorite foodie cities! When one of my childhood friends notified me she will be arriving in San Francisco from Manila on the same week I’m there, we decided to meet up. Together with another friend who was coming from San Diego (the three of us attended the same all-girls Catholic school in the Philippines), we made a reservation at The Westin St. Francis at Union Square and planned a girls getaway. Taking advantage of San Francisco’s robust food scene, our  itinerary  revolved around its gastronomic culture (because we are all self-declared foodies 😄).

Our hotel

Friday

We first started our dining experience at Yank Sing, one of San Francisco’s most famous dim sum destinations located  at Rincon Center near the Embarcadero. We ordered their usual dim sum specialties such as har gau dumplings, pork siumai, snow pea shoot dumplings, bbq pork buns, stuffed crab claw, and a large pot of hot tea. I’ve been to many dim sum restaurants all over the world and I have to agree that Yank Sing is one of the best I’ve had. However, critics (including my friends) usually grumble at two things: the price and its authenticity. Though prices are high, the quality is what you pay for. It’s considered ‘Americanized’ only because it is rather upscale, in a white-tablecloth setting, certainly different from the usual dim sum atmosphere you’d find in Chinatown. With all the five dishes we chose, we ordered the har gau and the siumai twice and the bill came up to over a hundred dollars, including tip. So be prepared to roll out those hundred dollar bills, especially if you are with a large crowd. Definitely not for everyone’s budget.


We headed towards Union Square, wanting to burn off the calories from our lunch and hoping to leave space for tonight’s dinner. We took a ton of pictures, just like the tourists, we also took photos at several touristy spots!

That’s me on the left 😉

The (sweet) Hearts in San Francisco


These heart sculptures are displayed in several locations throughout the city and each is a creation by different artists and they were intended for the  Hearts in San Francisco, an annual public art exhibit started by San Francisco General Hospital Foundation for the purpose of fundraising. The sculptures are auctioned each year and proceeds go to research and vital programs at the hospital. By the way, this was inspired by Tony Bennett’s song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” (my sentiments exactly each time I leave San Francisco).

In the evening, we dined at B44 at Belden Place, a narrow pedestrian-only alley located roughly between Chinatown and the Financial District. Belden Place serves as the hub of the city’s small French American community. B44 is a Spanish restaurant specializing in Catalan cuisine.


We ordered paella, and several tapas (gambas, grilled morcilla sausage, roasted chorizo, mussels, scallops and shrimp with romesco sauce),and a pitcher of Sangria. We thought the prices were reasonable, however,  I didn’t think the food was exceptional but it surely satisfied our cravings.

Saturday

If there’s one thing that San Francisco has it down, that would be breakfast and brunch. But if you’re like me,  who do not believe that breakfast is the king of meals and rather content with just coffee or tea in the morning, there’s Starbucks in about every corner in the city. Today, we planned to do a walking food tour, a guided eating tour of North Beach, the Italian district in San Francisco. My friend found a Groupon deals with Sidewalk Food Tours for about $45 each.

North Beach is the Little Italy of San Francisco. Similar to New York, the location borders Chinatown. But unlike New York where Chinatown has pretty much overran the Italian side, North Beach, in my opinion, still has kept its place and character, despite the overpowering Chinatown next to it. But to reach the Italian side, you must of course navigate your way through Chinatown.


The tour’s meeting place was at Cafe Trieste. There were over a dozen participants and our guide spoke to us about what to expect from the tour.

We went to five different establishments (two were dessert places), a couple of them had a reserved table for us, and the others were either standing or searching for a vacant table somewhere. The whole tour lasted about 2 1/2 hours.


Our top pick from the five restaurants was a sandwich from Molinari, an Italian delicatessen. The sandwich had salami, roasted peppers, olives, and mozzarella cheese (made in house).

Sampling of the foods we had from the different restaurants

The other restaurants were not as memorable but we did like the truffle shop they took us to.

We wanted to spend our last evening together at a trendy, up-and-coming dining spot. We chose to celebrate our successful girls weekend at SF MOMA’s (Museum of Modern Art) flagship restaurant and currently one of the  hottest restaurants in the city, In Situ. The restaurant opened in June, in a space off the lobby inside the museum. The concept of In Situ is to bring the world’s best dishes to San Francisco. Corey Lee, the three-Michelin-star chef, replicates some of the iconic dishes cooked up by renowned chefs from all over the world. None of the dishes in the menu is originally his own. Thus Lee’s vision offers diners the opportunity to try dishes that may not be normally  accessible to everyone, a damn genius concept. There is no need to jetset around the globe searching for some of those Michelin starred dishes, instead they are now found in one place.


My dinner was accompanied with Schönram pilsner from Salzburg, Germany. For starter, I ordered Shrimp Grits, inspired from WD~50 restaurant in New York City by chef Wylie Dufresne. The shrimp was grounded to have a grits like consistency. For those of you who aren’t familiar with grits, it’s a Southern type of porridge made from corn ground into a coarse meal then boiled.

With this dish, the grits are shrimp, not from corn. I don’t like the consistency of grits but this was delicious.

For my next order, I had the Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes, a David Chang inspired dish from his Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York City. It was way too salty and the rice cake had a weird consistency. For $22 this was not worthy of the price.


We all tasted each other’s dishes. Shown below is The Forest, a quinoa risotto with mushrooms and parsley, a Mauro Coagreco inspired dish from the restaurant Mirazur in Menton, France.


My friend ordered the Liberty Duck Breast with French green lentils and apples, with an aged red wine vinegar sauce. This was inspired from the famous chef Tomas Keller from his award-winning restaurant, The French Laundry. I didn’t get to taste it because I don’t eat duck.

Here are some of the dishes we all sampled:

Octopus and the Coral, braised octopus and seaweed by chef Virgilio Martinez from the restaurant Central in Lima, Peru

Glazed Chicken Thigh, onsen egg, lettuce, sansho, teriyaki by chef Hiroshi Sasaki from the restaurant Gion Sasaki in Kyoto, Japan

My favorite of them all; Wasabi Lobster, mango jelly, thai vinaigrette, wasabi marshmallow by chef Tim Raue from the restaurant Tim Raue in Berlin, Germany

 

This is a dessert called Interpretation of Vanity, moist chocolate cake, cold almond cream, bubbles and cocoa by chef Andoni Luis Aduriz from the restaurant Mugaritz in Errenteria, Spain

Sunday

It was time for me to leave so I packed my bags, took an uber ride to SanFrancisco Int’l Airort, and a few hours later, I was back to reality! That’s it folks as you can see I left my heart stomach in San Francisco. But I will be back…..

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