skool.

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skool has been on my to try list since it opened two years ago. and i finally made it for a late saturday dinner with a few friends (one of whom is a diehard skool fan). the service was exceptional, and the food delicate, flavorful, and interesting. we enjoyed several bottles of red (which our server was happy to let us sample before committing), two dozen washington state oysters, mushroom fries, hamachi crudo, mussels, crab risotto, shrimp and scallop ceviche, and a trio of desserts with two rounds of espresso martinis on the side. not only did the food win me over, but the espresso martinis was on par with my beloved nopa, adding a twist of creaminess all its own. we will definitely be back!

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borobudur.

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i have been going to borobudur for almost eleven years. of all the san francisco restaurants i discovered with my under-developed 18 year old palate, its one of the few i still visit and love! i prefer to dine here in a large group so i can order more and get a little of everything. some favorites: tiger beer (from singapore), roti prata (fried dough/bread with curry dipping sauce, not traditionally indonesian but so good!), soto ayam (chicken soup), martabak (with meat or veggies, like a scramble with a crispy shell), rendang (the most tender, flavorful beef), capcai (mixed veggies), and you really can’t go wrong with anything else. its a little piece of home in those moments when all i want is to be back in indonesia.

 

zazu.

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the restaurant was buzzing on a sunday evening when we made our second and more enjoyable visit to zazu, the first was a monday farm dinner (prix fixe so limited menu tasting) and i was feeling under the weather. the housemade ginger mortadella salumi was different than what i associate with mortdella and less salty than what i expect from cured meats, but served with perfectly picked fennel. house-bacon wrapped dates were sweet, salty, sticky, and a must-try. a highlight was the trio of veggies from the garden: fava salad, radish, avocado and sesame dressing salad, and marinated artichoke hearts. grilled octopus salad wasn’t a stand out for my taste. pork plin (hand pinched ravioli) with sage butter was full of flavor yet delicate.

finally picked up our order of 2010 futures from thomas george estates and enjoyed a great bottle of pinot noir with our dinner. funnily enough, thomas george also makes zazu’s house wines, so we traded a little sip with the neighboring table and compared the two 2010 pinots – they were definitely different and unique.

dessert was a glass of bubbles, and and cardamom ice cream affogato. the cardamom ice cream was way more intense in flavor and less sweet and creamy than we expected. i wanted to love it but found it overpowering and switched it out for a standard scoop of vanilla.

had a great evening, the low point being our server, seems everyone in the restaurant paid more attention to us than he did, never once checking how our meal was going.

mission chinese food.

finally tried mission chinese food after all the reviews and hoopla. arriving before 8pm seems to help avoid crowds and a long wait, and we got a cozy table by the windows in the front. main downside of my visit is not being with a larger group, two people can only reasonably order so much food. the tea smoked eel (basically a rice noodle spring roll with eel, hamhock, and veggies), and kung pow pastrami were the clear highlights for me. hainan chicken rice was also good, but arrived late due to a mix up and i could’ve used it sooner to balance the spice. the mongolian long beans put us over the edge of fullness, and one bite had tears streaming down my face from the heat – definitely beyond my threshold. i’d go back with a larger group or friends who are already fans.

ippudo, new york.

i love ramen. a lot. and ippudo is worth writing home about. the lunch set is pretty epic; a side salad, your choice of rice bowl (in my case fried chicken), ramen (my choice:  the akamaru modern with housemate noodles, umami miso paste, pork, cabbage, mushroom, scallion, plus a seasoned soft boiled egg!) i wanted to eat here again as soon as we left and am sad they don’t have a san francisco location.

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