A feast at Khai Vietnamese Nouveau

by foodhoe on May 11, 2017

655 Townsend Street, SF, CA  | 415.724.2325 | website | reservations

Mr. K and I recently went to visit Chef Dương Khải’s new restaurant which is located in the design district of San Francisco.  It creates a cozy little restaurant row along with destination restaurants Omakase and Okane tucked in amidst the design showrooms and tech companies.  The tiny restaurant has just 20 seats which makes for an intimate setting to enjoy the ten-course tasting menu showcasing Chef Khải’s signature creations based on the simple dishes and flavors found in his homeland which he elevates with impeccable ingredients and prepares with refined and modern techniques.

We felt very pampered by our server/host Roberto who poured wine pairings for us from Lincourt Vineyards and tended to our every need.  Chef Khải himself served many of the dishes to us while describing his inspirations and interesting facts about the ingredients.  We began with glasses of chardonnay to enjoy with the fresh seaweed salad which was like exploring a jewelry box filled with beautiful slices of onion, juicy grapes, and tomatoes, tossed in a light house dressing then garnished with chopped peanuts and fresh mint.  He told us that it reminded him of a dish his mother used to make and that he imports the seaweed from Vietnam which is colorless because it is harvested by hand from deep waters.  The dish explodes with salty, sweet, acidic flavors and we loved the variety of textures from all of the vegetables and wonderful snappy crunch from the seaweed, which looked like delicate, edible coral.

The next course was dramatically presented with thick rice crackers tucked into a dried coral base. It was fun to pull the crackers out to spread with Wild Matsutake Mushroom Pate then drizzle with local honey and Himalayan salt.


Chef Khai told us that he foraged for the mushrooms in Oregon and although we were doubtful about pouring honey on mushroom pate, it was one of those times where the sum is greater than the parts, the pairing of sweet and savory flavors on the delectably crunchy crackers really sparkled on my tastebuds, and I just can’t resist the crunchy texture of those shrimp chips.

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Sanuki Udon at Kagawa-ya in SF

by foodhoe on May 3, 2017

I have to tell you about a new udon restaurant Kagawa-ya that opened up in the mid-Market area of SF recently.  It’s named for the Kagawa Prefecture in Japan which is known as the udon prefecture because there are over 600 udon shops and the region’s per capita udon consumption is seven times that of the national average (even though it is the smallest prefecture in the country!).  Sanuki udon noodles are its soul food (named after its historical name), the thick long flour noodles have a soft and silky quality combined with a springy elastic texture.  They are usually served in a hot dashi broth with toppings such as tempura fried seafood or vegetables or cold with a dipping sauce.  Kagawa-ya emulates the classic self-service style of Sanuki udon shops in Japan, offering fresh, high-quality food at reasonable prices in a location that is conveniently close to bart and public transit.

It’s in a bright airy space with high ceilings, a modern, minimalist style that includes a little bit of nature.

The owners, chef Sean Lim and his wife Katherine Chiao traveled to Kagawa prefecture in Japan to study the fine art of making udon noodles so they could share this delicious regional specialty with us.  It is a fast casual restaurant where you walk up and take a tray, peruse the menu, place your order, pay, and then carry your food to your table.  Behind the counter is an exhibition kitchen where you can see the noodles being made from scratch.  Be prepared to make important decisions about your bowl of noodles.

You choose from a variety of styles, the classic Kitsune served with warm dashi, or a cold version, one with sliced beef, a beef curry udon, a creamy kabocha udon or a vegetarian mushroom curry over rice (prices range from $9.50-14).

Chef Sean Lim has a degree in the culinary arts and worked at the Palace Hotel as a sous chef and also trained with Master Sushi Chef Akifusa Tonai and Executive Chef Kuni Oshikawa at the now closed Kyo-Ya Restaurant (which was our favorite Japanese restaurant because of their exquisitely refined cuisine.)  His background and training shows in the fine quality in every aspect of each bowl of noodles, which are made from scratch daily.  You get to choose your toppings for the soup (green onion, pickles called fukujinzuke that are a traditional accompaniment for curry, grated daikon – a must for the tempura dipping sauce, and the fried bits of tempura batter that brings richness and texture to the bowl. [click to continue…]

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BBQ for a cause at Lucille’s Smokehouse in Concord

April 23, 2017

April is Autism Awareness Month and Lucille’s BBQ is supporting this by donating $1 to Autism Speaks everytime you order a Blueberry & Basil Margarita and they are participating in the Round It Up America, where you can round up your purchase to the nearest dollar amount (or more) and help families across the country through research, education, […]

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Drip Line Coffeehouse in West Oakland

April 16, 2017

Last month I was invited to check out an exciting new coffeeshop that can be found deep in the vast industrial section of West Oakland.  It’s a little off the beaten track, but you should definitely make an effort to find it, because it is a hidden gem that has more than just coffee, good company and a […]

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Burger Lounge in Walnut Creek

April 7, 2017

2920 Ygnacio Valley Rd, Walnut Creek | 925.433.8958 | website I recently discovered a new shopping area in Walnut Creek called the Orchards, which is anchored by Safeway on one side of Ygnacio Valley Road and Whole Foods on the other.  There is plenty of parking and a few lunch spots that are definitely worth […]

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live sea urchin from fresh catch

March 21, 2017

Look at these beauties!  Last week I signed up for a really cool service called Fresh Catch, a local CSF (community supported fishery) who procure the very best seafood from traceable, sustainable sources every week and delivers it to your home.  I immediately jumped at the chance when my friend Brenda sent me this link because I was smitten with the […]

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Omakase at Kinjo

March 1, 2017

2206 Polk St, SF 94109 | 415.921.2222 |  facebook page Last week Mr. K and I were invited for an omakase feast at Kinjo, a new upscale sushi house which opened in Russian Hill earlier this year.  The plain curtain gently swaying in the breeze caught my eye, which is a good thing because the signage is so subtle, […]

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