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2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Great tips for our next visit. We have done the Coit Tower (several times over the years) especially to look at the murals there too. The SF Art Institute is down on our lists of must-dos on our next visit. Thank you!

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Now that you mention it, they were Afghani. And the hummus was very good indeed which tempted me until my partner reminded me that we were not checking luggage and would probably not be allowed on board with it.

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Belated but heartfelt thanks for your recommendations of Yank Sing and the Farmer's Market on the saturday morning.
Here's a quick run-down of our SF visit.We arrived from Toronto on the friday, mid-morning and managed to check in our hotel to drop our bags and dash to the Swan Oyster Depot to gorge ourselves on chowder and cracked crab. Having said no to the vile Air Canada sandwiches and being famished made our lunch at the Swan taste like the ambrosia it was. Back to the hotel for a nap (3 hr time difference and a couple of Anchor Steams can knock you down). Woke up and did a quick shopping at Macy's Easter sale and got tickets at the hal-price booth for the 9.30pm sho of Beach Blanket Babylon. Went for dinner first at the North Beach Lobster Shack. Slightly disappointing as they still have no beer or wine license but you can byob (the liquor shop on the corner fixed that) and also they had no clams. Tried the lobster bisque and was underwhelmed. Lobster (live from tank) was still very good and a dinner for two is $65.00 which is very reasonable. Howled at the show which is a lot funnier than last year's edition. We got to the Ferry building market at 8am and were astounded at the over-all organic-ness of it all. We saw fruits and vegetables that we had never seen before. We went to Primavera and watched all the yummy food being dished out and bought ourselves a pineapple-cucumber concoction that was delicious. We spent two delicious hours touring the various stalls in and outside the building, sampling a few things (one stall-keeper literally thrust a huge piece of pita in my hand slathered with a piquant and very tasty hummus). My favorite samples were the fruit. I have rarely tasted such delicious sweet oranges and tangerines. Needless to say some left the market with us.

Shortly after 10am we made our way to the Rincon Center which we fell in love with. The wonderful thing there we discovered were the amazing Anton Refregier murals that we spent a good twenty or more minutes admiring. Our next joy was walking into the atrium to go to Yank Sing and spotting the waterfall for the first time. Wow! The shine shining brightly as the water fell was simply beautiful. We got a table right away and were surprised at how quickly the restaurant filled up. This was the highlight of our visit. Frankly we have never seen such a variety of dim sum dishes anywhere. Not even in Hong Kong, unless we missed something when we there.
The stand-outs for us among many,were the shrimp toast, the chicken in mushroom caps, the scallops on skewers, a dumpling dish which we were told is a signature dish of theirs,the peking duck and prawns with walnuts that were out of this world. My partner had an epiphany over this dish. To accompany this we enjoyed the most fragrant of jasmine teas and absolutely amazing attentive service. Yes it was expensive, but worth every penny and the setting could not have been more glorious. Xiao Yang mentions Lai Wah Heen here in Toronto, however I think as good as it is, the experience is a completely different one and does not invite comparison as both restaurants are radically different in setting, style, service and energy. The weather during our entire 30 odd hours was sublime. We walked back in a euphoric daze to our hotel to check out and take the Bart to Oakland airport for our flight to Las Vegas. Frankly we should have stayed on two more days and passed on Vegas. Many thanks again to everyone who made suggestions and needless to say we look forward to our next visit to your beautiful city.

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Just as a point of interest, I have been to Lai Toh Heen and as a physical venue it is quite impressive. As to how it compares to Lai Wah Heen in food experience, it compares wel,l but I still find the original has the edge over its newer relative.

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Thank you for the suggestion!

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

I would try Dim Sum in every city I go to, just because I like it! For instance, the first time I ever had Sushi and tempura was in San Francisco in 1981 when a friend took me to a Sushi place just off the Castro and 18th. I have never forgotten it as it opened a whole world up for me. I have had sushi all over the world since, and a lot of it much superior, but I still remember that incredibly delicious first taste of discovery in SF. Also the first time I ever had pot stickers was in SF back in the early 80's in some little joint near Pacific Heights.Courtesy of my same adventurous friend, now deceased. I don't think I have ever had as good potstickers since. The best lobster I have ever had in my life was in Newfoundland caught the same day I ate it. I have enjoyed fresh lobster in Scotland, Brittany,Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. All delicious.Yet one the best and reasonably priced lobster dinners in recent memory was at last year at The Lobster Shack in North Beach in your fair city with also some of the best steamed clams I have ever had. Clams (quahogs,cherrystone) are not as popular here in Canada so I eat them whenever I can when I travel to the US. We have some amazing oysters bars and restaurants here in Toronto (Starfish is a particular favorite haunt of mine) and yes Dim Sum (La Wa Heen notwithstanding) is ubiquitous in the city and Lobster too is flown in daily from our East Coast (The Lobster Trap here in Toronto is a great place for it and way off the beaten track). However you have unique specialties like cracked crab (amazing at the Swan Oyster Depot) cioppino and sand dabs at the Tadich Grill ( I started going there in the mid-seventies) and elsewhere, wonderful Italian restaurants and of of course your city's atmosphere is incomparable. There are so many different takes on food everywhere one goes and I just happen to enjoy trying them and comparing them, even if they are deemed better elsewhere.
There are in my city some pretty amazing places to eat Dim Sum and Lobster (IMHO) and many other cuisines and I'll happily refer you to them when you are ready to swing by here in June. Meanwhile I know the same is true of SF and I, and my partner, look forward to enjoy as always.

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Thank you so much! That is a superb suggestion in regards to the Farmer's Market. We went to the Ferry Building last year, but not on a weekend, day for a great oyster lunch at the Hog Island Oyster Company and did some light shopping (there was/is a great kitchen store there). That now really does give us a plan for Saturday morning. Maybe we will forgo the Dim Sum as for us it is a habit on weekends as here in Toronto. I just hope we are blessed again this trip with good weather as were were last year! I will happily report back when we get back.

Again, many thanks!

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Thank you!

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Many Thanks!

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Hello again!

I am hopefully taking you up on your offer of help exactly a year later! We are coming in for a flying visit on our way to Las Vegas and will be over-nighting in SF on Friday before taking off for the Oakland Airport to catch our flight to LV in the afternoon

My question is can you please recommend a decent place to have dim sum near the Union Square area (that is where our hotel is). We will have until about 2pm before we have to take the BART to Oakland, so any suggestions would be very welcome.

Thank you!

Winterlicious - Tundra (pleasant surprise)

Winterlicious/Summerlicious is a minefield. The best meals I have had have been at Batifole, Bistro 990, Thuet and be;ieve it or not, The Sultan's Tent/Cafe Maroc on Yonge Street. The other restaurants I have tried over the years created a "menu" that was long on cheap and mediocre and short on any kind of "wow factor". I thought the idea originally was to sample the cuisines at restaurants with a menu that used some of their typical "everyday" dishes as opposed to a "cut the corners invention". Having looked over this year's winterlicious, I have not found many menus that tweak my interest. I'm happy to hear that Tundra is delivering the goods with mainstays that are part of their regular menu. I agree that it is a good close place to dine when going to either the ballet or the opera as other than it there is nothing around that is comparable. Not even Monsoon.

Good chow in Niagara????

Try Wolfgang Puck Cafe right opposite new Fallsview Casino.

Thuet - WTF?

It is such a shame to read about Thuet's service issues, however it seems to be a common complaint all over the city. I haven't been to Thuet in a while (I'm trying to get the most out of my Spoke Club membership as there is little else to go there for but to eat and drink and rub shoulders with the wannabes) but I do remember the food and service being exceptional.

Need Niagara/St. Catherine Recs.

I ate at the Wolfgang Puck Cafe in Niagara Falls last week and it was actually (shock,awe and surprise!!) very good!!!. It is located in the Fallsview area right accoss the street from the new Casino. I had the wild mushroom soup which was delicious and the linguini with clams. The clams were actually fresh and the pasta perfectly prepared. Worth going to as most other places are pretty awful.

Lobster Season, who's got the good deals?

Still the best in my humble opinion, is The Lobster Trap on Avenue Road just south of the 401. They fly in their lobsters daily and the 1 and 1/2 lb lobster dinner can still be had for just under $40.00. Their site is:

http://www.thelobstertrap.ca/

Seafood dumpling search...

The best seafood dumplings I have tasted in this city (they are mostly made of shrimp) are served up at your shorter namesake's Mimi's, 688 Gerrard E. in a noodle soup. They are superior to any others I have had.

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

Hello and thank you!

We are still basking in the afterglow of our trip (we came home on friday and now are prepping for the return to work tomorrow (sigh).

The kinks in the Lobster Shack are simply that they haven't yet found their rhythm in putting out the food. We ordered steamers that were absolutely wonderfiul and that came out within fifteen minutes of ordering, but then we had to wait another thirty plus minutes for the lobsters. When they arrived they truly were worth the wait and the sides were very good too. Fresh tasty boiled lobsters, perfectly cooked corn on the cob, delicious clarified butter for dipping and generous tasty fries. We were two of about six customers at the time and luckily in no rush, so we we were fine with the waiting. Another couple seemd a little perturbed for having to wait. The restaurant had run out of rice (offered as an alternate side to fries) but forgot to tell the waiter who seemed embarassed to have to relay the news to the couple who had just ordered it and also had no lobster bisque which was on the menu.

The owner apologised many times to the couple and to us for the wait, but offered no explanation as to what was taking so long. As they didn't have a license, a drink on the house could not be offered, however maybe a conciliatory gesture of a dessert or coffee might have been appropriate to those that were feeling the wait more than others.

Thank you so much for the offer of help for our next trip. We shall definitely keep that in mind, and needles to say should you ever venture north-east to Toronto, we shall be happy to do the same!

Is there any point to Toronto Life's ratings?

hmmmmm.......yes???

2 Canucks, 3 Great Days in SF

After coming from Toronto and spending three relaxing days in Lake Tahoe my partner and I just enjoyed three more great days and nights in San Francisco with wonderfully co-operative weather. We mostly chose all our meals by researching the Bay Area Chowhound files (for which we are truly grateful) as each meal ended up being a memorable one! The criteria we followed was that each place could be visited in very casual attire as we were travelling with only carry-on. This left out the dining emporiums where tasting menus are the norm or where one engages in banter with a sommelier.

On our first evening, The North Beach Lobster Shack (532 Green St) was where we had superb steamed clams and delectable boiled Maine lobsters (you get two 1 & 1/4lb lobster dinners for $50.00). The place is very new having only been open three weeks and is still going through birth pangs. It had no beer and wine licence so I went to the corner store to pick up a six-pack of cold Anchor Steam which was a perfect accompaniment.(In fact we feel that Anchor Steam really does go with everything and we had it as our preferred drink with every meal, already having sampled some great wines in Tahoe).The owner, who looks like Penny Marshall's brother Gary, was very welcoming and the place is very casual and folksy. We had a lot of fun, though they still need to work some kinks out.

We are not breakfast people so we tend to just eat well at lunch and dinner.

For lunch we chose the Swan Oyster Depot on Polk and California where we lined up for a few minutes to get a seat at the always full eating counter before gorging ourselves on delicious clam chowder, combination cocktails of crab, shrimp,clam and oysters and superb cracked crab. Everything tasted wonderfully fresh and was sooo good. As we were going to see Jersey Boys that evening we chose a restaurant close to the Curran theatre and lowered out expectations. Happily, however, we can recommend The Indonesia on Post St. The food was delicious and inexpensive.We ordered beef and chicken dishes that were tasty and mildly spiced, a very good bean sprout,green onions and tofu dish and the dessert of deep fried bananas with mango ice cream which was out of this world.The service was kind and very attentive and the bill was very easy on the pocket.($55.00 for two).

We decided to have a late lunch the next day as we were going to see Beach Blanket Babylon and knew we had to line up early (6.45pm) to get decent seats to see the show as it is a first come,first seated policy.

We chose The Zuni Cafe on Market St as a "special last day in SF" treat and had good (if not great) oysters and the Chicken for Two which was "Oh My God" delicious.We were sat at a table by a window that was open and as the day was gloriously sunny and warm, it made the whole experience fantastic. Nathan our waiter, could not have been more attentive and pleasant. We thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant's ambiance and the people watching on the street as we enjoyed our drinks (Anchor Steam..again!) while whiling the hour away that it takes for the orgasmic chicken to be prepared in. We began our lunch at 2pm and left at 4pm very full and very,very happy.

After laughing ourselves silly at Beach Blanket,we walked down Columbus to Brandy Ho's which was sparsely crowded. It was nearly 10pm by then and we looked over the menu, realising that we were still a little full from our Zuni lunch. However we still managed to share an excellent Dumpling Soup and ordered each a Brandy's Dinner which is a stir-fry of beef,scallop,shrimps and which we watched them cook in big woks. Simple fare yet everything was fresh and very tasty and reasonably priced.

We loved out time and San Francisco and cannot wait to return and next time we will bring dressier duds so that we can try more upscale menus.

Help Dim sum in Chinatown East

May I suggest MiMi's (just a little further East from the Pearl Court and the Grand) and which though Vietnamese and does not serve Dim Sum is so far more delicious than either the Pear or the Grand?
A selection of appetizers (deep fried spring rolls, barbecue sausages..etc) will give you a sort of Dim Sum experience and one of their amazing Phos or soups as a main course is a joy to behold. I have truly converted from the on and off experience at either former mentioned Dim Sum eatery into an afficionado of MiMi's as the quality is consistent day to day.

Quick Batifole Comments

Thuet has an excellent one and is worth checking out. In regards to Batifole above I have learnt that the best thing to stick to when going there are the daily specials for consistently good results ot the simple items on the menu such as the liver or entrecote. I had dinner there earlier this week and the special was a veal flank steak in a green peppercorn sauce ($16.00) and it was superb. My guest and I shared an order of very good frites ($6) to accompany (they are huge) and had a wonderful appetizer (all are $8.00) of endive salad and terrine and charcuterie. We ordered Kronenbourg beers ($5.50) as we agreed their wines are overpriced and the selection underwhelming.

good time for oysters in toronto?

There was an old adage that one should only eat shell fish (oysters,mussels) in a month that had an 'R' (September through April) in it, as in the summer months shellfish could be poisonous to eat. Now as most shelllfish is cultivated it is safe to eat in the summer as well. Nevertheless the best oysters to be found in this city, in my humble opinion, are at Starfish as I know that Patrick the owner prides himself of the quality of what he purveys. In particular the very best oysters (againg IMHO) out of a very wide varied selection are the Galways he imports from Ireland. They are exquisite. Also if you go and are fortunately find that the little Nova Scotian scallops on the half shell are on the menu, try some as they are a true taste sensation. Also virtually any dish you have at Starfish is commendable (far and beyond better than Rodney's) even if you are a meat eater as I took friends there not long ago and one of the party detested anything and everything from the sea and ordered the steak frites and declared it the best he had ever had. `````

Places for a quick bite near the Castro Theater

If you like seafood such as crab Louies,great chowders,scallops,shrimps..etc you might like to try the Anchor Oyster Bar and Seafood Market at 579 Castro St. it looks like a tiny diner from the outside and I make sure I visit it at least once every time (as I have done for the last thirty years) each time I come to SF (I live in Toronto, Canada). It is a tad expensive but the seafood is always impeccably fresh. The Castro has gone through many changes over the years ( I had wonderful friends who lived and died there) but the Anchor has always remained a constant and stalwart institution that I have always treasured re-visiting.

Vichyssoise...

Vichyssoise is really a summer soup as it should be served chilled. I think it might prove difficult if not impossible to find any restaurant who would serve it at this time of year.

Can an excellent dining experience be had in Niagara Falls?

In the new Casino Galleria's there is what they call the "upscale" (for Niagara Falls anyway) dining room called "17 Noir" that has a decent asian menu as well as "haughty cuisine" as I the locals would call it and right accross from it in the Galleria an acceptable Pan-Asian restaurant namely the Asian Pearl. For finer dining choices one would have to go to Niagara-On-The-Lake, a twenty-five minute car ride away.

Mediocre meal at Monsoon

Went to the the ballet at the new Four Seasons Opera house last week and had a very mediocre meal at Monsoon. Began with the dim sum appetizer plate for two which was stunningly unremarkable and moved on to the shrimp wrapped pork which gave one a true chewing challenge.Very disappointing.

Is there any point to Toronto Life's ratings?

Toronto Life has never had much credibility in its reviews as it looks to the restaurants it lists to advertise.