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San Francisco - Must Go / Must Avoid


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Hey all,

I'm taking advantage of Spirit airlines' $9 fare from Las Vegas to San Francisco. Leaving in a couple days.

We have our favorite places in Chinatown and North Beach. But we thought we'd try something new and see Japantown. Any restaurants in Japantown that are must-do? I'm not "flush" this trip, so budget "must-do" would be appreciated.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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ScoopKW, I read your post and I drew a blank on Japantown. For all the years that I've lived in the Bay Area, I've only visited and eaten at Japantown a handful of times, and nothing in particular stands out. The shops are more interesting than the restaurants, as I recall. When I want Japanese food or ingredients, I head to other Asian shopping enclaves in SF and the East Bay. For the best value for your money, good (or better!) food at reasonable prices, I tell people to head to the main drags of SF's various neighborhoods. Those places rely on regular clientele who live nearby, so if they aren't good they don't survive. Some places are: Chestnut St & environs in the Marina neighborhood; Valencia St/Mission Dolores area in Noe Valley; Clement St & environs in the Richmond district, starting around Arguello/2nd Ave and going up the avenues; 9th Ave & Judah, 20th Ave & Irving, 27th Ave & Taraval in the Sunset district. (Not that the Sunset is so special. I used to live there so I know more about it.) I'm sure there are other good eating and shopping areas in SF, but those are the ones that come most readily to my mind.

I don't know of any good cheap sushi restaurants in SF. Sushi may be one item on which you may want to splurge, for the freshest and best fish possible. I like sushi at Ebisu at 9th& Irving in the Sunset neighborhood, because it was my local place when I lived in SF, and I've known the chef-owner and his family for decades. The sushi there is always very good, but I wouldn't call it cheap. Do people have other recommendations for sushi in SF?

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Up until last fall, I lived in Japantown....

For budget and authenticity, look for Takara - which is in the part of the mall right behind the hotel, sort of away from the other restaurants in the main building. That used to be my go-to lunch once or twice a week with a KICK-ASS Bento Box for under $10: three slices of California roll, soup, salad, tempura, and then your choice of an entree (teri chicken, sashimi, pork katsu, etc.) Best deal in town, actually.

Tanpopo, up in the Buchanan corridor of Japantown has the best and most economical noodles in the city. There is often a line on Saturday nights and it is worth the wait. It is also the only place in town that makes and serves takoyaki.

Lastly, just across from Tanpopo is Sushi Aka Tombo, the BEST sushi restaurant in the city. His omakase is around $35 and a screaming deal considering the quality of the fish.

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I'll have to check out some of Carolyn's recs the next time I'm in the Japantown area, too.

Meanwhile, a couple friends were talking about the Off The Grid food events in SF, which they like. I haven't been to any of the events myself. (Really, sometimes I feel I don't get out enough.) My friends are fans of the Chairman Bao truck, but warn about the long lines. There is an Off The Grid event at Fort Mason in SF this Friday evening.

About Friday's event: http://sf.funcheap.com/grid-friday-night-food-truck-party-fort-mason-4/

A blog about Off The Grid: http://sacfoodies.com/2011/06/off-the-grid-san-francisco/

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Hey, just wanted to thank Carolyn publicly:

Tanpopo was GREAT. After the bowl -- cauldron is more like it -- we didn't have any room left for a bento box or sushi. We'll hit those next time.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Hey, just wanted to thank Carolyn publicly:

Tanpopo was GREAT. After the bowl -- cauldron is more like it -- we didn't have any room left for a bento box or sushi. We'll hit those next time.

Glad you enjoyed yourself! Part of moving to Napa means I no longer have access to these things the way I used to which I will miss when it gets cold and blistery this winter...

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  • 6 years later...
On 5/21/2011 at 11:38 PM, Carolyn Tillie said:

I reiterate that I think Attelier Crenn would be a much better choice than Coi considering you are looking for modernist-styled cuisine. Much more and consistent use of molecular techniques and far superior flavor combinations....

 

For sure.

 

And if you can't get in there, her restaurant Petit Crenn is a silver lining.

 

IMG_3151.JPG.606bc8b33e15be99e420704c2397ddd7.thumb.jpg.ddadfcecc4cbaa56140587a5b9f5d512.jpg

 

The brioche alone is worth the price of admission.

 

IMG_3154.JPG.8ef74eceb17820094c47d4bceda939bc.thumb.jpg.52b395fd76ed3aab225bd914781a2f55.jpg

 

Canapes.

 

 

Top: French breakfast radishes, herb butter.
Middle: Gruyere gougères,
Bottom: Oysters with shallot and samphire; tuna crudo, radish, shrimp cracker; cured trout, trout roe.

 

IMG_3157.JPG.5597edaf3c0723e7bba6ef1210d3ac6c.thumb.jpg.fbfa828ac2aafa3d883c943ebf7d1eb3.jpg

 

Seafood bouillabaisse, with clams, mussels, potato and fennel.

 

IMG_3159.JPG.5ef675fa15978390ed0b25c072cd1b96.thumb.jpg.59e1a73794bbaa3ef5a9d98f3ef8c5c8.jpg

 

Sourdough bread, with butter, crème fraîche and espelette pepper.

 

IMG_3164.JPG.714b34ec9a678bf3f7ed37dd01f08960.thumb.jpg.3e1638686cf4c00c1b1fb5894b571f67.jpg

 

I'm sure you're noticing a theme.

 

Pan-seared turbot, celeriac mousseline, pea shoot, with beurre blanc and herb oil.

 

This was outstanding.

 

IMG_3166.JPG.a9ddda48e1fc3f72e22e0d12cd4d5eaf.thumb.jpg.310b06ff8242cf51bf313154e75bc058.jpg

 

Gnocchi à la Parisienne, beurre noisette, mushrooms.

 

IMG_3168.JPG.ebc8016c3f96baae65b7461f6cee246a.thumb.jpg.e187ad044ce5578b33e8757c54588236.jpg

 

Whole-roasted cauliflower, almond crumble.

 

I was not a fan of this, mostly for the color and the fact that the nuts didn't really add anything. Was just "fine".

 

IMG_3172.JPG.0b46be27553e3c2a87a87fead8aefc4b.thumb.jpg.09f4aa1e5cae74f91d1cac0fbe8716de.jpg

 

Endive salad with green goddess dressing, shaved beets and Comté cheese.

 

Wonderful salad course.

 

IMG_3174.JPG.3fdc6dbcaa06966fd7aae40533da191a.thumb.jpg.cd0ae3d26883f3f1b27a96cd4e893416.jpg

 

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Valhrona Manjari chocolate ganache, brown butter crumble, grapefruit and orange, lime curd, buttermilk snow.

 

It was awesome.

 

IMG_3183.JPG.87ac5542bb83e138744aa708eb18cf24.thumb.jpg.7804a99db5794fff0aaeaa83938e6e71.jpg

 

Mignardises.

 

Background: strawberry chambord gelée.
Middle: salted caramels.
Foreground: strawberry macaron.

 

Service charge is included. With two glasses of wine, tax and additional gratuity, it came out to $125 per person.

 

Petit Crenn
609 Hayes Street (Laguna Street)
Hayes Valley

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