San Francisco CA

This is the last posting on the San Fran trip.  Thanks for bearing with me!  Anyway, L and I were going to go to Haight-Asbury for a sushi dinner after Alcatraz.  We got in a cab and suddenly realized that our cab driver had been driving for a while and hat we were no longer in commercial area, but increasingly residential.

We asked the cabbie where the heck he was going, but he clearly had no clue.  So we told him to take us to Japantown to the best sushi place there.

He took us to Benihana.  I kid you not. 

So L and I decided that since they were a chain, we’d try something else.  So we went to Iroha in Japantown

  • Food: L and I got an order of tempura shrimp.  The photos were taken by L because my camera died — thanks L!).  It was crispy fried goodness.  I ordered the chicken ubon noodles.  They didn’t have any fried tofu on the menu.  L ordered either the salmon teriyaki and miso soup.  I didn’t try it, but she said it was good.

Iroha  Shrimp apps  Close up shrimp  Chicken udon  Salmon

  • Service: Our server was very polite, but did not speak a lot of English. 
  • Atmosphere: It felt older, but comfortable.  Tables were filled of people speaking Japanese and locals who knew where the good restaurants are in Japantown.   
  • Price: $
  • Overall:After walking around all day (and still being on East Coast time), the Chicken udon noodles were really good.  I was trying to beat a cold so the hot soup provided great comfort.  The bowl was the normal “big bowl” that you come to expect when you order noodles in a Japanese restaurant.  I would go back, but I’d rather try other restaurants in Japantown.


  • Reservations were unneeded when we were there! 
  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30 AM-9:30 PM; Fri & Sat 11:30-10 PM
  • Address: 1728 Buchanan Street; San Francisco, CA 94115 (it’s on the 2nd floor)
  • Ph: (415) 922-0321

I mentioned I was in San Francisco, CA recently and hit Alcatraz.  Wow, it was a fantastic tour.   First of all, definitely go at night.  They offer so many “extras” that you wouldn’t get if you take the day tour. 

For example, we were able to go up to the gun gallery.  We heard the story on “The Great Escape.”  We saw the hole where they escaped (kinda, it was dark!). 

Anyway, I took some photos of the kitchen and thought I’d share.  Enjoy!

Alcatraz Island  Welcome sign  Dining sign 2  Dining sign  Kitchen  Kitchen 2  Dining area

L is way more outgoing than I am, so she struck up a conversation with everyone.   In this case, she asked the doorman where we should go for breakfast in the Haight-Ashbury area since we wanted to walk around the ‘hood.

He recommended Squat and Gobble in Lower Haight. 

Haight Ashbury  L's breakfast  My breakfast

  • Food: We both ordered an omelette.  I ordered the West Portal with fontina cheese, lox, tomato, capers, and dill weed.  Yum.  There was a ridiculous amount of lox which was fantastic.  L got the Lower Haight with veggies, mozzarella, and pesto sauce.  It was also really good.  But the star of the breakfast were the potatoes.  They were crispy on the outside yet soft when you bit into them and you could taste the Rosemary seasoning which made them amazing.  I’ve ordered a lot of potatoes in my life but I’ve never tasted anything like this before!  I think they were the best I’ve had so far! 
  • Service: You order at the counter and then they bring it out.  Although there were only 3 people in the entire place (counting L and I), I still had to go to the counter to ask the server for more coffee.
  • Atmosphere:  It’s a casual coffee shop and reminds me of Tryst, but they have no sofas, only real tables and chairs. 
  • Price: $
  • Overall: I can forgo the omelette, but if I ever get a chance to go back to Lower Haight, I will stop in here for their potatoes.  You must try the potatoes! 


  • Hours: 8 AM-10 PM daily (available for take-out)
  • Address:237 Fillmore (between Haight and Waller)
  • Ph: 415-487-0551

I will continue the House of Nanking story now.  L and I walked for 3 HOURS looking for House of Nanking.  I kept checking my little map that said, “1919 Kearny Street.” 

When I tell a story, I will sometimes take creative freedom and exaggerate so the story secures the emotion I’m looking for — whether it’s humor, sadness, etc. 

Trust me when I tell you I am not taking any creative freedom here.  We honestly spent 3 hours looking for House of Nanking.  In this time period, we walked through Chinatown, (a bit) of Nob Hill, Little Italy, and Telegraph Hill/Coit Tower.  (See why L is a great friend?  She never complained.  Though I think I’ll never live this story down.)

We ended up on Kearny Street but it suddenly stops at 1700 to a huge cliff.  So we walked around, towards Fisherman’s Wharf and thought we’d meet it at the 1900 block. 

Readers who known San Francisco well will know that I made the error and it’s actually 919 Kearny Street.  We never made it. 

So now we’re at Fisherman’s Wharf area (Embarcadero neighborhood), starving, and have a little over an hour until our Alcatraz night tour (highly recommend this one, I’m not a tour person but this was amazing!).  We asked one of the local construction guys where we should go for lunch and he recommended the restaurant on the corner called Houston’s

I did not know they were a chain, but after the 3 hour walk, I was starving and would have eaten at a McDonald’s.  For the fact I went to a chain in SF, I’m sorry.  I know there are a million excellent places in SF to go. 

  • Food: It was good with a decent menu.  We ordered the Oak grilled artichoke which was really tasty.  I ordered the sashimi tuna salad.  The mango was not ripe so it was hard but did have a little flavor.  The dressing, as L likes to say, “tasted a bit like summer.”   I think it’s because of the cilantro.  L ordered the Farmer’s Market Vegetable Plate which had spinach, brussel sprouts, squash, cabbage, and couscous.  I did have a photo, but for some reason, I can’t find it now.  I hate brussel sprouts, but these were actually pretty good.  The cabbage had goat cheese and was tasty too.  Weakest item on her plate was the couscous because it had way too much citrus and it was overpowering.   

Houston's Menu  Oak grilled artichoke  Bread & Olives  Sashimi Tuna Salad  Sashimi Tuna Salad

  • Service: Our server was very nice and was speedy with the Diet Cokes.   That was a good thing because we were thirsty (though not so good when we were walking around). 
  • Atmosphere:Casual.  It reminded me that I was in Cali when it was about 75 and sunny outside and I had asked if we could sit outside.  They said they’re not serving outside.  What?!?!  Inside was dark woods and reminded me a bit of McCormick and Schmick’s
  • Price: Between $$ and $$$
  • Overall: It was good.  I regret the meal only because it was a chain and I do prefer to eat at local establishments if possible.  It was also the most expensive place we ate at the entire trip! 


  • Reservations accepted.
  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30 AM-10 PM; Fri & Sat 11:30 AM-11 PM
  • Address: 1800 Montgomery Street; San Francisco, CA 94111
  • Ph: 415-392-9280

Welcome to San Francisco!  I went to visit one of my oldest friends (she’s not old, just that we’ve known each other a long time).  I’ll call her “L.”

Anyway, L moved to the San Fran-area a few months ago for a job.  I had never been to the San Fran area and it seemed the stars aligned.

I flew out on Thursday morning on a 5 AM flight and arrived in SF around 11:30 AM.  I was starving when I landed so while I was really happy to see L, I was ready to start eating.

We hit Chinatown right away to find this restaurant I had heard was fantastic called House of Nanking (although from these reviews, am thinking it’s good we missed it — sorry, not to spoil the story or anything). 

Chinatown Street

Anyway, we decided to get dim sum at the next available restaurant and that was this one called Grand Palace.  I’ll continue my House of Nanking story with the next posting.

Golden Palace Window  Golden Palace Window  Golden Palace Window  Pan fried pork dumpling  Shrimp dumpling  Grand Palace menu  Shrimp Dumpling

  • Food: Since we wanted to try to go to the other restaurant, we decided to only order shrimp dumpling and pan-fried pork dumplings.  Both were really good.  What I liked was the fact they were simple.  What L liked was that it was $8 total (ha ha).  What I didn’t like that the chopsticks were plastic. 
  • Service: I’m not used to people being in my face and I have a tendancy to get overwhelmed if it happens.  I don’t mean that they got in my face in a mean way as much as they were anxious to get people to sit down and order.  They were polite and offered many suggestions — it was just a lot of information getting thrown at you right away (and remember, I’d been flying for 7 hours). 
  • Atmosphere: Simple and definitely casual.
  • Price: $
  • Overall: It was good and I’d like to try other offerings sometime to sample what they really have to offer. 


  • Hours: Daily 7:30 AM-10 PM
  • Address: 950 Grant Ave; San Francisco, CA 94108
  • Ph: (415) 982-3705

Hi Readers,

I have been gone on vacation to San Francisco.  I still posted daily, but recognize I didn’t keep you updated on food news.  My apologizes.

I’m going to work on getting my photos and postings up for you soon. 

Bay Bridge