Pan seared diver scallops – Pesce

Pan seared diver scallops - Pesce
Capesante. Field mushrooms, green onion, cream. $14
Pesce, San Francisco CA

Beautifully prepared scallops are a wonderful thing! These scallops were perfectly prepared and very tender. The cream sauce was pretty heavy especially since there was SO much of it for only 3 scallops, but it was still tasty.

Fort Funston
Fort Funston, graffiti on abandoned bunkers.

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Spicy miso ramen – Ramen Underground

Spicy miso ramen - Ramen Underground
With kakuni (braised pork belly) and boiled egg.
Ramen Underground, San Francisco CA

Wow, this ramen was really good. The spicy miso broth had a great kick to it and lots of flavor. They have a basic ramen bowl, and you just keep adding extra toppings at additional cost. It’s really about the broth and ramen though, and this place is solid in both aspects. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

7×7 Magazine’s The Big Eat San Francisco: 100 Things to Eat + Drink Before You Die – 2013

Memorial graffiti mural
Memorial graffiti mural, 24th Street Bart Station.

Chili prawns – Paraiso Grill

Chili prawns - Paraiso Grill
Prawns sautéed in a sweet chili sauce, garnished with green onion.
Paraiso Grill, Boracay PHILIPPINES

These prawns were really tasty, but someone at our table requested that they be peeled before cooking. NO!!! There’s SO much more flavor when they’re cooked whole, and I love sucking on the heads. That’s where all the goodness is located.

Green lobsters
Green lobsters ready to be chosen and cooked to order!

Pagolac – home of the worst group dinner to date!

Grilled beef sausages and skewers - Pagolac
Grilled beef sausages wrapped in wild pepper leaves on a skewer (bo la lot). Grilled beef wrapped over scallions on a skewer (bo cuon mo). Grilled marinated bbq beef skewers (bo lui).
Seven flavors of beef, $18.50 per person
Pagolac, San Francisco CA

Ugh, this place sucked so bad that I’m not even going to break up the menu items into separate blog posts so as to prolong my horrible memories of this dingy restaurant. I’m just gonna post all the food at once so that I can get it over with and wash my hands of this sad, sad place.

So we had a few people from work meet up here for dinner one night, and there were about 12 of us. We made a reservation since the restaurant is small and we wanted to make sure that we got a table. Even the reservation process was lame and super shady. We actually didn’t know if we had a legitimate reservation until we were seated. They have no phone etiquette or proper communication skills.

As we waited for the last couple of people to join us (parking is horrible in that neighborhood), we started ordering beers but they didn’t have half of the beers listed on their menu! I could understand if it was the last service of the night, but we were one of the first tables seated in the restaurant. And some of the beers we got were even room temperature, fail!

The restaurant itself is darkly painted, but you could still tell how gross and dirty the walls and “decorations” were. It’s obvious that this place hadn’t been cleaned in a LONG time!

After everyone arrived, it was like pulling teeth to get our order in. It wasn’t a complicated, we were all having the 7-courses of beef. That was prearranged so that service could run quickly and smoothly. But nobody wanted to take our order. We had 3 different girls working our table, but they would disappear and try to avoid us, as if that was possible since our group took up a third of the restaurant! Please, anyone, we’re hungry! We want food! Please!

Vietnamese beef carpaccio - Pagolac
Vietnamese beef carpaccio (bo tai chanh). Thin slices of rare beef marinated in lemon dressing seasoned with fresh herbs and crushed peanuts.

After they begrudgingly took our simple order (7-course beef for the entire table), the food started coming to us at the slowest pace imaginable. And the portions were laughably TINY! The beef carpaccio shown above was for 4 people. That means each person got one micro-thin slice of beef with a few slices of red onions, cilantro and crushed peanuts. We had some serious eaters at the table, so this first dish did not bode well for the remainder of the dinner.

Sliced beef - Pagolac
Sliced beef (bo nhung dam). To be cooked in a vinegar and onion fondue.

The time between dishes was excrutiatingly long. So long that you actually had time to digest the previous dish and remain hungry the entire time. This next course came out in phases so that added even more time until we could get food into our mouths. First, the beef came out. Then the vegetables and the rice paper. At this point we still couldn’t eat anything because we have nothing to cook the beef in.

Assorted vegetables - Pagolac
Assorted vegetables.

Rice paper wraps - Pagolac
Rice paper wraps.

Water bowl - Pagolac
Water bowl. For sealing your rice paper wrappers and rinsing your fingers.

Cooking pot - Pagolac
Our pot with 5 slivers of red onions.

Then they brought out this sad looking pot and just left it on the table without lighting it! We had to wait another 5 minutes before another person came over to actually get it going. And the flame was SO weak that we had to waited even longer for the water to actually get warm enough to cook the beef! Omg, kill me already! At this point I just wanted to cut my losses and leave, but because this was with work people I stayed to endure the rest of this lame-ass meal. We spent SO much energy and calories waiting, grumbling and cooking that the 2 slices of thin beef per person didn’t provide enough calories to offset what we lost! #FML

After that, we waited even longer for them to clear the pots and set up the next course.

Marinated beef slices - Pagolac
Marinated beef slices (bo nuong vi). To be grilled at your table.

Table grill - Pagolac
Table grill. We stared at this thing way too long. Unfortunately, nobody in our party had a lighter so it remained cold for some time, just taunting us and our empty stomachs.

Hot flame - Pagolac
They finally came around to light the flame.

Grilling beef - Pagolac
But we had to wait even more for it to warm up before we started grilling the beef.

At this point, I think everybody was counting in their heads how many beef courses we’d gone through already. We all wanted to know how much longer this torture was going to last and when we could all break to get more food somewhere else because this wasn’t gonna cut it. But we knew that each set up and break down between courses was just part of the prolonged punishment.

Grilled beef sausages and skewers - Pagolac
Grilled beef sausages wrapped in wild pepper leaves on a skewer (bo la lot). Grilled beef wrapped over scallions on a skewer (bo cuon mo). Grilled marinated bbq beef skewers (bo lui).

Thanks god three courses came out at once! Each person got one beef sausage, one scallion wrapped beef, and a part of a skewer. That’s just frickin’ ridiculous. It’s just enough food for you to taste, but definitely not enough to constitute a meal.

After this plate we waited a confusingly long amount of time for our last course. People were light-headed from hunger at this point and just wanted to leave so we wanted the final course as soon as possible. Perhaps the final course was something intricate and spectacular so that’s why it was taking SO long.

Nope. It was a thimble full of thin rice porridge with a few pieces of ground beef. #FML twice! I could have ladled that into 12 bowls in 30 seconds or less.

Vietnamese rice porridge - Pagolac
Vietnamese rice porridge with minced beef, green onion and cilantro (chao bo).

Now after all that, here’s the kicker! They WOULD NOT give us our bill. We literally sat there for another 15-20 minutes after everything was cleared, with everyone at our table trying to flag a server down, but they would not give us our bill! It was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen! Here we are, a large party taking up a third of the restaurant, trying to leave and they’re keeping us hostage! You’d think they’d want the space or something. #FML three times!

When we all said our good-byes outside, everyone was talking about where they were heading next. Some of the guys were gonna grab In-N-Out double-doubles on their drive back home. Some people were going to gastropubs for more food and drinks. We went to taco bell and stuffed our faces. That was the longest dinner I had ever endured where I came out even hungrier than I started.

The service was horrible, the portions were MINISCULE, the restaurant was flat-out dirty, and the beef quality was marginal. Would I got back? HELL NO!

7×7 Magazine’s The Big Eat San Francisco: 100 Things to Eat + Drink Before You Die – 2010, 2011, 2012 (What a joke!)

Combo 5 Garden couple’s beef – Barbecue Garden

Combo 5 Garden couple's beef - Barbecue Garden
Bo nuong phan hai nguoi. Beef with cheese, beef 5 spices, beef with lemongrass and chili, beef with honey, vegetables, and steamed rice. 209,000 VND
Barbecue Garden, Ho Chi Minh City VIETNAM

I liked all the flavors of beef and it was really fun cooking them on the grill. We had to change seats though to avoid the smoke getting blown directly at our faces. The servers were also very good at changing the grill tops when they got too dirty midway through.

Beef with cheese - Barbecue Garden
Beef with cheese. Can’t say I’ve had something like this before. It was kinda random, but delicious!

Tabletop grill - Barbecue Garden
Tabletop grill ready for some beef!

Saigon River
Saigon River from the Cau Mong Footbridge.

Grilled scallops – Hai Lua Food Countryside

Grilled scallops - Hai Lua Food Countryside
Topped with green onions and ground peanuts. 60,000 VND
Hai Lua Food Countryside, Ho Chi Minh City VIETNAM

Wow, these scallops tasted SO fresh, and they were very tender and juicy. The green onions, peanuts, and sauce made for a great topping to an otherwise simple, and straightforward dish. Perfect!

Hai Lua night market restaurant
Cooks at the Hai Lua night market restaurant. It seems like they can set this place up in 15 minutes or less! Pretty amazing.

Chopsticks - Hai Lua Food Countryside
Chopsticks.

View from the Saigon Skydeck
View from the Saigon Skydeck in the Bitexco Financial Tower.

Caramelized fish clay pot – Vietnamese Kitchen

Caramelized fish clay pot - Vietnamese Kitchen
Ca kho to. With chilies and scallions, served with steamed rice. 114,000 VND
Vietnamese Kitchen, Ho Chi Minh City VIETNAM

And this was the final straw! This sad clay pot with a single tiny slice of fish came out super salty and dry. Don’t be fooled with the illustrated menu depicting a lush clay pot with multiple pieces of fish. It’ll come to your table as sad as this picture looks! I love Vietnamese food but this restaurant gave a horrible representation of their delicious cuisine. Vietnamese Kitchen is getting away with highway robbery charging this much for crap food! Ugh, I guess you have to eat shitty food to appreciate the good meals. Lame…

Nightlife in the backpacker's district
Nightlife in the backpacker’s district. This is where Vietnamese Kitchen is so you’ve been fairly warned. Eat at any other restaurant, there are plenty to choose from!

Bbq pork fried rice – Makli Chinese Cuisine

Bbq pork fried rice - Makli Chinese Cuisine
Sauteed barbecued pork, egg, scallions with fried rice. $7.50
Makli Chinese Cuisine, San Francisco CA

Meh, I’ve never been a huge fan of fried rice by itself. Rice, for me, has always been something to dump the rest of your food on and to soak up the yummy sauces. It’s never been a stand alone entree for me; I can’t eat a bowl of fried rice all by itself. This fried rice tasted pretty good though, but they could have thrown in a bit more bbq pork.

Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park.

Hangtown fry – Brenda’s French Soul Food

Hangtown fry - Brenda's French Soul Food
Crispy oyster, bacon and scallion scramble with grits plus cream biscuit. $11
Brenda’s French Soul Food, San Francisco CA

Wow, another super heavy (but tasty) dish from Brenda’s. The fried oysters were pretty good, and they were big and juicy and filling. Omg, the grits was pure butter! It tasted great, but a couple spoonfuls was enough for me. The cream biscuit was also very rich. I liked the texture of it, but you really couldn’t eat the whole thing. Maybe I’m just used to eating more healthy lately so this dish was a bit too much for me.

7×7 Magazine’s The Big Eat San Francisco: 100 Things to Eat + Drink Before You Die – 2013

Union Square Christmas Tree

Union Square Christmas Tree.

Hot and sour soup – Makli Chinese Cuisine

Hot and sour soup - Makli Chinese Cuisine
Thick broth cooked with black fungus, bamboo shoots, tofu, scallion, vinegar, pepper. Cup $2
Makli Chinese Cuisine, San Francisco CA

I was skeptical of this place at first because it was a random Chinese restaurant that took over the closed down Daimaru Japanese restaurant space. We went here for dinner and had a pretty good experience. The service was friendly and the food was pretty good. These two dollar soups are a great value. I could categorize it as more of a bowl than a cup! The soup was nice and spicy and had a nice, deep flavor.

The Castro
The Castro.

Crawfish beignets – Brenda’s French Soul Food

Crawfish beignets - Brenda's French Soul Food
Spiced with cayenne, scallions and cheddar. $8
Brenda’s French Soul Food, San Francisco CA

Crawfish beignets - Brenda's French Soul Food
OMG, these were frickin’ amazing! These crawfish beignets are definitely heaven sent pouches of flavorful goodness. The filling is a cheesy gooey mess with chunks of delicious crawfish, and the beignet dough is wonderfully light and fluffy and covered in slap-yo-face spices. The addition of the scallions in the filling puts it over the top. These puppies are super rich, but you really can’t have just one! :)

7×7 Magazine’s The Big Eat San Francisco: 100 Things to Eat + Drink Before You Die – 2012

Creole Bloody Mary - Brenda's French Soul Food

Creole Bloody Mary: garnished with creole spices and pickled okra. $7
Ugh, this bloody mary was a major let-down. IT was all tomato juice with no hint of alcohol and it wasn’t spicy AT ALL! It didn’t have any creole flavor and was actually bland. We had to add lots of hot sauce to make it somewhat decent. Lame!

Mongolian beef – Jasmine Tea House

Mongolian beef
This dish was really good. There was a lot of tender slices of beef in there and they also packed in a lot of onions, scallions, garlic, and chilies. Definitely worth a re-order. $8.75
Jasmine Tea House, San Francisco CA

Poison oak
Young poison oak leaves (Toxicodendron diversilobum, Anacardiaceae), Bon Tempe Lake.