Monthly Archives: May 2007

Burma Superstar!

When I say Burma, you say Superstar.
Burma (Superstar!) Burma (Superstar!)

First off, you have to love the name. It puts you in a good mood before you even crack the menu.

Then, there’s the issue of choice: Their vegetarian selection makes me downright giddy.

Finally, the food. It throws your mouth for a wonderful loop. Is that India I taste? Thailand, what are you doing here? And where the hell did the felafel come from?

We started last night with the obligatory Tea Leaf Salad– tea leaves, tomatoes, lettuce, fried garlic, sesame seeds, peanuts and split yellow peas. I say obligatory because you damn well better order it when you go. Trust me. The tea leaves bring a smokey funk to the dish that’s hard to resist, while a bright squeeze of lemon gives it a charge of acidity.

Then we had the Samusa Soup. A soup that feels like a big, warm bear hug. At first glance, it’s a jumbled mess. Samusas (hand wrapped pasta filled with curry and potato) swim with broken felafel, lentils, cabbage and onions in a thick curried broth that will remind you of your favorite Indian take away. Savory, tangy, and spicy in perfect measure.

We added the Stir Fried Pea Shoots with wine and garlic, and the Tofu Tower, which sits on top of a nest of watercress, mushrooms, and bell peppers in a chili and black bean sauce. Both dishes were good, but maybe less surprising than the others. The knock-you-on-your-ass delight of the salad and the soup was a hard act to follow. Of course, their Coconut Rice another story all together. Think of it like cocaine. Once you try it, you’re going to want A LOT more.

Wash it all down with a cold, dry Singha, and you’re looking at one fine, reasonably priced, vegetarian feast–well worth the schlep out to 4th and Clement. (I know, I know. It’s not that far. But I tell ya, anything past Masonic seems like a long haul to me.)

Good stuff, friends. I’m jonesing for some more Coconut Rice as we speak. So, if you’re holdin’…

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Filed under On the Cheap, Reviews

Chez Days Continue: Chez Maman

One Chez was not enough for me this week. So the aforementioned Mike and I decided to have lunch at Chez Maman. Before we left the office, Mike wondered aloud if I’d have any options there. (He’s a sweet boy, that Mike.) So we checked their site. And I proceeded to do back flips with joy.

Several veggie apps: check.
A bundle of salad choices: check.
A veggie panini: check.
Vegetarian burger: check.
Vegetarian crepe: check.
Vegetarian quesadilla: check.
Vegetarian entrée: nope, but I forgive them, anyway.

The meal was just what we needed on a blustery, sun soaked San Francisco day. We split the Warm Goat Cheese with Arugula and Cipollini Onion salad. The onions lent just the right amount of sweetness. Then I enjoyed the Vegetarian Crepe (filled with ratatouille, or so it seemed—not mind-blowing, but good enough) while Mike dug into a burger smothered in more goat cheese. Thankfully, he shared his fries, which were divine.

Who knew Chez Maman offered so many vegetarian options? (Apparently everybody but me.) Plus, the waiters are très French—just like they are at Chez Papa—so you get to feel all Euro while you listen to zem recount zee daily specials. Seriously, is there a monthly boatload of sassy French waiters and waitresses shipped to San Francisco to keep Chez Papa, Chez Maman and Plouf running? Or are they all faking it because they know idiot Americans like me eat that shit up? Either way, count me in.

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Chez Spencer

Seriously, dude. Don’t get me started. I’m in no mood.

Risotto. Why can’t I quit you?

We had a big client dinner last night at Chez Spencer. Which, in several respects, was quite lovely. You can’t beat a table on the patio there—it feels like you’re in your own private tent on some exotic, French-themed safari.

There were fourteen of us, total. We called several weeks in advance to make the reservations, and we let them know there’d be vegetarian guests in attendance. With a party that large, they required a set menu. So you’d think the chef would have plenty of time to think up something wonderful. And by wonderful, I mean something other than risotto.

Nah. Why bother?

So, my $65 prix fixe got me a butter lettuce salad, risotto, and a Meyer Lemon pot de crème. I have to tell you, I felt a little gypped. Though I realize my venison and steak eating friends got the better side of the bargain.

I’m not writing today to bitch about the food. The salad was quite nice—great dressing, actually. The risotto (“Truffle scented, Honjimeji mushroom with Shaved Parmesan) was tasty, and the pot de crème was decent, though nothing to write home about. In fact, I’ve heard from several people that the food at Chez Spencer is usually good, with occasional off nights. And their list of specialty cocktails is reason enough to return.

I’m just pissed at the risotto. RISOTTO. Risotto, risotto, risotto. It’s not you, Chez Spencer. It’s everyone. Yep, I’m pretty much angry at the entire culinary world for its lack of imagination. My wonderful coworker, Mike, who has heard my rice-rant many times before, saw the dish on the menu and burst out laughing.

For the love of all that’s holy, won’t someone please surprise me? I’m not a marathon runner—I can’t keep carbo-loading like this.

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Filed under Major Coin, Rants, Reviews

Weird Fish

What’s so weird about Weird Fish? Maybe the fact that vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters alike can sit down and enjoy a meal together. Now that’s downright freaky. Weird Fish serves up good, old fashioned, nail-the-basics food at reasonable prices. (Of course, my definition of nailing the basics is broad enough to include fried pickles and tofu tacos.)

weirdfish1.jpg

Their food isn’t fancy—rather, it’s personable. It’s a meal that feels like a fun conversation with an old friend, versus, let’s say, a lecture from a grad school professor.

So go. Get there early and snag a table, ‘cuz they don’t take reservations. Then get your eat on and revel in the fact that at Weird Fish, we CAN all just get along.

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Baring It All

A’ight Sam, et al.

In the spirit of those immortal classics, “Bring it On” and “You Got Served”, I present to you…the contents of my refrigerator. Uncensored and Uncut.

I’ve never felt to naked and ashamed. Except for that one time in college, but that was after I sobered up.

The urge to curate and art direct was almost overwhelming. But I resisted. The photo is a bit dark, but I’m going to pretend it makes me seem moody and mysterious.

fridge2.jpg

First off, you’ll notice I’m bi. There’s milk AND soy milk. San Pellegrino AND Coke. Dog food AND cat food. (Though the dog prefers the cat food, and the cat prefers the dog’s.)

Other curiosities of note:

A Costco-sized vat of sun-dried tomatoes
Not one, but two bottles of Sriracha (aka “Hot Cock”)
Tecate and Oranjeboom, though I’m not a huge beer drinker
Tofurky slices
Six or seven kinds of Mexican hot sauce
Handy, pre-washed bags of veggies, including spinach and broccoli
A Gap bag (I shit you not) full of assorted condiment packets
One half-used tube of Amore double concentrated tomato paste
One half-used tube of Le Cabanan harissa
Some truffle spread
Non-fat organic yogurt from TJ’s
Hummus (also TJ’s)
A bottle of Handley Late Harvest Riesling (2003)
An emergency bottle o’ bubbly (Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Extra Dry)
A big ol’ bottle of lemon juice from concentrate
And a half loaf of Alvarado St. Bakery California Style Complete Protein Bread

You know, I never claimed to be a chef. Now you see why I’m always going out to eat.

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Pizzeria Delfina

Work sucks.

Not because I don’t enjoy what I do. (I actually love it.) And not because I’m lazy. (I’m only moderately lazy.)

Work sucks because it keeps me from writing reviews in a timely manner.

Case in point: I had dinner at Pizzeria Delfina last Tuesday night. Here it is Sunday, and I’m just now getting around to writing about it.

It seems like every other person in San Francisco lists Delfina in their Top 10—hell, their Top 3 if we’re just talking pizza—but whenever I thought about going, I was too hungry to wait in line. This time, however, I had a patient partner in crime. My wise, wonderful friend Julie.

We showed up early, so the wait was doable. (If you’ve never been there, the space is tiny. Just like a pizzeria should be.) We lucked out and got a table by the window after a short ten minutes. It gave us just enough time to start salivating with anticipation at every dish that passed by.

The best/worst thing about Pizzeria Delfina is the painful paradox of choice. (Props to Barry Schwarz.) (P.S. I’m not really complaining. I’m just trying to sound literate and clever.) Choice is something I’m simply not used to having anymore. Usually, I scan the menu for the solitary item I can order, then thank my lucky stars if it’s something that actually sounds reasonably appealing. But Pizzeria Delifina’s menu is another beast all together. The antipasti list is friendly and extensive. And five out of nine pies are vegetarian. (Six if you ask them to leave the anchovies off the Napoletana.) I felt like a kid in a candy store—a candy store drizzled with warm olive oil. Continue reading

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