On Christmas eve, we headed to dim sum as a family before Flo, Paul and their kids headed back to Chicago to celebrate Christmas at home. We went to Hong Kong Lounge II in the Laurel Heights area because it was on the way to SFO (and open on Christmas Eve). They don’t push carts at Hong Kong Lounge II so you order from a sheet instead and they bring out everything when it’s ready. We definitely over ordered and ended up with this:
A blessing in disguise because Flo and the family were able to take it on the plane and had a second lunch on their way home!
While in San Francisco, Paul and Flo took us to places they used to frequent when they lived on the west coast. For brunch, Paul took me and his kids to Hollywood Cafe, a cute (and small) brunch spot in Fisherman’s Wharf. The interior is so small that you have to go outside and to the warehouse next door to use the bathroom, but otherwise a cute and charming spot near the water.
We lined up outside and waited for our turn to get a seat (we got there a little on the early side because we hadn’t had breakfast, but 15 minutes after we got there a huge line formed behind us). When we sat down, the service was prompt and friendly – I ordered the Marilyn Monroe breakfast (French toast and fresh fruit):
They’re super generous with their portions of fruit – they pile it super high in a bowl and it’s mostly berries, not filler fruit like grapes and cantaloupe!
The french toast was a pretty standard diner’s version of French toast (better than most diners, not as good as Ken’s!). After our hearty brunch, we drove out to the Palo Alto area and walked around Stanford before heading back to the hotel for a family dinner!
Mitchell’s Ice Cream in San Francisco has been around since 1953 and they are known for their weird flavors that they come up with (flavors like halo halo, the popular Filipino dessert, mango guava, yuzu, etc). There’s also always a line out the door, no matter what time of day it is:
We grabbed a number when we walked in and luckily had time to think about the flavor we wanted to get:
I sampled a bunch of flavors and decided to get the strawberries and cream:
Ken didn’t sample any flavors (he didn’t want to hold up the line) and ordered the grasshopper pie (mint ice cream with fudge and oreo cookies). He thought it was a little on the sweet side so we had to switch halfway through – the ice cream is really delicious and worth a visit (the line wasn’t too bad and they also have pints to go!)
Since Ken’s sister, Flo, and her husband, Paul, used to live out in San Francisco, they knew a bunch of good places to eat in the bay area. We ventured to Thanh Long while we were in San Francisco because it used to be a favorite of theirs. Thanh Long has a few sister restaurants but I think they are all known for the same thing – crab!
Thanh Long has been around for over 30 years (so they must be doing something right!) We started off the meal with some calamari:
And then got straight to the main course – fresh crab (don’t worry, it wasn’t crab from the California coast, which you’re not supposed to eat right now!):
The restaurant is also known for their garlic noodles and garlic rice (by the time the rice came around, my hands were way too greasy):
Another shot of the crabs and the garlic noodles:
The food was very good (although I thought the garlic noodles were a bit on the plain side) and it was just enough food for all of us. We had a really fun time and then got an uber to Flo and Paul’s favorite ice cream place, Mitchell’s, afterwards!
While we were out in California, Ken and I met up with one of my friends from kindergarten for dinner at Bar Tartine. Julia and I have stayed in touch and always pick up where we last left off – for a while, she was living in New York after college and we used to always go swimming at the Y together (what a long time ago!). She moved to California for graduate school and decided to stay there (but hopefully she’ll decide to move back to the east coast some time soon!)
Julia lives by Bar Tartine and I wanted to go there because I love their bread and pastries and thought their food might be delicious as well. We started out with their porridge bread, which you order for the table, and an order of butter with kefir:
The porridge bread has the most delicious texture ever; the innards are really soft (almost so soft it’s porridge-like) and the crust is crispy and has a light sesame flavor.
You can either order a la carte or order their tasting – Julia suggested we order a la carte and Ken and I were on board. We started with the beef tartare:
The beef tartare came on Tartine’s bread and was accompanied with tonnato and dried tuna – the tuna flavor threw me off a little but otherwise it was a really delicious dish.
We also had the carrots with sumac yogurt and sunflower tahini:
The carrots were flavorful on their own and the yogurt was a nice refreshing flavor but I thought the sunflower tahini flavor was too thick for the otherwise light dish.
Next we had the chicories salad with feta, sweet potato and avocado:
The salad was way too overdressed and heavy, plus the combination of feta and avocado made the salad a bit too mushy for me.
Finally, we ordered the sprouted lentil croquettes with kefir and coriander:
Me and Julia after dinner:
We enjoyed catching up and thought the food was okay, but the flavors weren’t as bright and fresh as I thought they would be – everyone speaks so highly of the restaurant and while I thought the food was good, I didn’t think it was that memorable or worth another visit. Maybe the pre-fixe is better, but none of us were wowed with our dinner.
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