When I was a kid growing up in San Francisco, it was not uncommon for my birthday dinner at home to consist of Chinese roast duck with plum sauce, followed by a St. Honore cake decked out with mini cream puffs.
Because Chinatown and North Beach bump up against one another, my Mom would often trek after work to pick up provisions for dinner from a nearby Chinese deli, then stroll over to an Italian bakery to buy my favorite cake.
Part Chinese, part Italian – it made perfect sense. And it was a most delicious way to celebrate. So much so that when the folks at Columbus Craft Meats invited me to create a recipe using one of their premium salami, I immediately thought of fried rice. Columbus was established in 1917 in North Beach, long before today’s craft salumi craze took hold. It’s what I grew up with, tucked into sandwiches or just nibbled by the slice out of hand.
Three Northern California franchises of the wildly popular The Halal Guys are set to open.
But it’s lucky San Jose that will get the first one, beating to the opening date the ones planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin and downtown Berkeley.
That first Halal Guys will open 11 a.m. June 3 at The Plant, 81 Curtner Ave. #20. The first 100 guests in line will receive a free entree and the first 2,500 guests in line will receive a choice of a complimentary Halal Guys t-shirt or pair of sunglasses.
Get ready for gyro sandwiches, chicken and rice platters, and their famed white sauce and hot sauce.
The Halal Guys phenomenon began in 1990 when three guys from Egypt had the smarts to realize that Muslim cab drivers in New York were hungry for quick halal food. What started as a sidewalk food cart is now a booming franchise with locations not just in New York, but also Southern California, Houston and Chicago.
Thanks to delivery service Caviar, which was ferrying orders ($11.99 for platters) from the Halal Guys for a preview that ended last week, I had a chance to sample some of the food a few days ago.
A sherry-laced ice cream to fall head over heels for.
Pedro Jimenez, so glad to finally make your acquaintance. Just where have you been all my life?
It was only recently that I got to know this fabled white Spanish grape that’s typically dried in the sun to make a dark, syrupy dessert sherry wine.
A friend had gifted me a bottle of Bodega Dios Baco Pedro Jimenez and I was waiting for just the right moment to open it. When I did, I was greeted with a heavy-bodied inky wine fragrant with the scent of raisins and dates. The taste was figgy, almost sticky toffee-like, with a bit of aged balsamico on the finish.
It would be great alongside cheese, salumi and almonds. Or used in a sauce to finish duck or quail.
Chef Tokunori Mekaru of the new Sushi Hashiri in San Francisco.
To say I felt like a one percenter last week is to put it mildly.
It’s not everyday that I dine on a $300 three-hour kaiseki meal at a sushi bar, even if I was invited in as a guest of Sushi Hashiri, the new Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, two days before it officially opened to the public.
I realize few people will have the means — or even the inclination — to spend that princely sum at a sushi bar. Instead, we nonchalantly throw a $9 package of nigiri rolls into our cart at the supermarket, no matter if the rice has gotten a little hard and the seaweed too flabby. So accustomed are we to the run-of-the-mill stuff that we almost forget how transcendent sushi can be in the right hands.
Then along comes an establishment like Sushi Hashiri to remind us of that fact. It is the sister location to the smaller Hashiri that opened in Tokyo in 2012.
Chilled snap pea broth with ebi and sturgeon caviar.
Glistening silver shad nigiri.
The 42-seat restaurant, which includes a 10-seat sushi bar, is led by Executive Chef Takashi Saito, who helped open Ame in San Francisco; Chef Shinichi Aoki, late of Kaygetsu in Menlo Park; and Chef Tokunori Mekaru, who hails from Hashiri in Tokyo.