Happy One Hundred Posts! πŸ™ƒπŸŽ‰

In honor of the 100 post special, I’ve compiled my nine favorite posts spanning from September 2011 to now. I hope you like them!

1) Tpumps vs. Boba Guys: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2017/06/26/tpumps-vs-boba-guys/

Now this one had to be on the list because A) I love boba, and B) I love boba. No, really. It’s unique because it’s one of the few posts I’ve ever written on this blog comparing two very similar and popular places among locals. Hopefully, future sophisti-kids will write similar comparison pieces; I certainly plan on it!

2) Salt and Straw- Portland, OR: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2017/06/10/salt-and-straw-portland-or/

Previous to visiting Salt and Straw, I’d never had a flight of ice cream before. Not only was it delicious, but now that I’ve experienced MULTIPLE FLAVORS AT ONCE I’ll never go back to a single scoop. πŸ˜‰ I had so many options that I almost (almost!) ran out of options to choose from!

3) Pequod’s and Lou Malnati’s– Chicago, IL: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2017/01/08/pequods-and-lou-malnatis-chicago-il/

Another first, this Chicago trip was the first time I had real Chicago deep dish style pizza. I’d never had the pizza, but I’d also never had to WAIT this long for my pizza. Apparently deep dish takes a long time to cook. With this kind of quality though, the wait is seriously worth it. πŸ™‚

4) Otium- LA: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2017/06/08/otium/

I picked Otium because it’s a representation of all the restaurants seeking to blend modern, experimental tastes and traditional French Laundry style cooking in their dishes. While it may sometimes seem like all the dishes in the world are already OUT there, restaurants like Otium proves us wrong with unique, never-before-heard-of dishes like porkbelly french toast (?!?!?!?!!). It might not seem good, but this version of chicken and waffles hit the spot. They not only manage to make new dishes, but they also find a way to make them delicious and appealing! That’s the rarity of a good chef. To me, good chefs are truly magicians in a kitchen.

5) Din Tai Fung- Torrance, CA: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2017/06/06/din-tai-fung/

A success story for foreign restaurants seeking to move abroad, Din Tai Fung is famous for their soup dumplings. In addition, Din Tai Fung manages to stay relatively consistent with the quality of their food (and not all franchises can say that). As a frequent customer (seriously by now they should be giving me my meals for free), I can say in all honesty that Din Tai Fung’s expansion has been a blessing to my enlarging stomach. πŸ™‚

6) Maison de la Truffe- Paris, France: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2014/07/23/maison-de-la-truffe-paris-france/

As far as I’m concerned, truffles should be immortalized as a foodie delicacy. Pasta? Add truffle. Burger! Add truffle. Sushi, add truffle. What could go wrong? The answer is nothing. Literally nothing could go wrong. So when I found a Parisian restaurant that SPECIALIZES in truffle, well, what’s not to like?

7) Paiche- Marina del Rey, CA: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2014/06/13/paiche-marina-del-ray-ca/

Paiche’s one of those foodie posts that represents my younger writing, pictures, and posting style. It’s nice to look at posts like these (and what I’ve written for 8 and 9) because they serve as a friendly reminder of my growth as a writer, a foodie and a person. πŸ™‚

8) New Zealand, Christmas, 2012: North Island, Kauri Trees, and Waipoua Lodge – a Karsen post: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2013/02/26/new-zealand-christmas-2012-north-island-kauri-trees-and-waipoua-lodge-a-karsen-post/

One of the few Karsen posts, this post is a popular one. He put a lot of effort into writing it, and I for one can truly appreciate it (and the pigs in the pictures). The pigs are so cute!

9) Lanesborough Hotel- Afternoon Tea: http://www.sophisti-kids.com/2012/07/26/lanesborough-hotel-afternoon-tea/

Another popular one and one of my personal favorites, Lanesborough was one of my first experiences with British afternoon tea. I loved dressing up for it, the music, the tea, the food, the company. To this day, afternoon tea is one of my favorite experiences and a lot of that is because of this meal.

Cheers, and happy (belated) national creme brulee day! πŸ™‚ Honestly, this country manages to find a reason to celebrate every day.

-Anya

Pomelo- San Francisco, CA

Right near the USCF campus, Pomelo is a restaurant meant for two and three person parties. It has an open kitchen, and serves delicious Asian fusion meals. The special for that day was paella, served with mussels and other delicious seafood.

And because it was the special of the day of course, we decided to get that and their famous noodles to share. The waiter said that their well-known noodles were featured in two dishes: the lanzhou and the manila. We ordered the lanzhou, which also came with lotus and tuna on the top.

While the texture and slightly peanut-y texture of the noodles was different and interesting, their special, the paella, was far better. Restaurants aren’t always generous with the seafood, but luckily, Pomelo was kind enough to lather both seafood and delicious flavorings on their dish.

The open kitchen was also a special luxury; restaurant-goers can eye their meals as the chef is cooking them, as well as notice the unique style of asian fusion cooking.

Though small and a little tight, I would definitely visit Pomelo again– and not all the items on their menu are as expensive as the paella. For reasonable prices, Pomelo offers excellent food, generous quantities, and quick service. In fact, there’s usually a line out the door.

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Bon Appetit,

Anya

P.S. Extra points for preparation πŸ™‚

Gary Danko- San Francisco, CA

With one Michelin star and several James Beard awards, Gary Danko links French cooking with modern tastes. They’re famous for their seared foie gras, but also serve dishes like roasted Maine lobster, branzini, and herb crusted lamb.

When we called for a reservation, the person on the other line said “there’s no way”. We only called a day in advance, and they were booked for the next three days– all evening. But miraculously, a reservation popped up when another group canceled, so we were very excited. We also happened to be going for a friend’s birthday dinner, so that made this opportunity extra special. πŸ™‚

Although the space was a little cramped and the tables were rather close together, the food came quickly, and in classic Michelin style, the servers came and went without so much as a notice.

When it was time to order, our waiter recommended the foie gras, ahi tuna, branzini, roasted Maine lobster, lamb, beef, and duck breast, as well as the warm Louisiana butter cake for dessert. An essential part of eating at a Michelin restaurant, or at least I think so, is trusting your waiter. Waiters and waitresses at Michelin restaurants especially, are professionals in their trade. In addition, they are also required to try every item on the menu so they are better able to assist and describe the dish to the customers.

I really wanted to get the foie gras, but as it turned out, so did everyone ELSE. πŸ™‚ So I shared the foie and the waiter’s recommendation, the ahi tuna, with my mom.

That’s the foie– beautiful, right? It was soft, melt in your mouth, and like a lot of French foies, it came with something fruity. In this case, that something fruity was the cranberries!

The ahi tuna was kind of disappointing, honestly. Initially, I was reluctant to get this dish, especially because you can get ahi tuna and avocado anywhere. But when the waiter recommended it, I thought “this must be good”, “trust, Anya”, and “they probably added their own restaurant flair ;)”. Unfortunately, I’m sad to say I’ve had better ahi tuna at cheaper places. The sauce was OVERWHELMINGLY citrusy, and the rest of the dish became overpowered by sauce!

The seaweed is placed on top of the tuna, and swarming underneath was that earth-shattering sauce (never again). Perhaps it’s unfair to be this critical, but for me, a bad start foreshadows a bad ending. And because Gary Danko’s is a Michelin restaurant, expectations are always higher. When it got down to that last taste, I made sure the foie was the last bite. Now that’s a dish worth writing about.

The duck breast– what the waiter described as his “favorite dish at the restaurant”– came in as my main course, but I also got a taste of the Maine lobster, so one seafood, and one meat and game.

Above, the lobster, was prepared beautifully, with a half shell on top for appearances. It’s nice when places detach the lobster meat from the shell for you, but ESPECIALLY nice when they add puree and delicious extras on the side. While I probably could have had the lobster and the puree by itself (it was that buttery and heavenly), the mushrooms and corn were an excellent addition to the dish.

The duck was a much better recommendation than the ahi tuna was. The preparation, the taste, everything was excellent. They were generous with the amount of duck breast they added onto the plate, and also added bacon braised endive and duck hash to the dish. These were good, but the quality of the duck as well as the port-glazed cherry could have also made an excellent stand-alone.

Also per recommendation, I ordered the warm Louisiana butter cake. It was sticky just like it’s supposed to be, and the peaches and ice cream were a nice addition. The dish wasn’t out of this world, but it was still delicious! For your visit to Gary Danko’s, however, keep in mind that the butter cake is very filling, so if you want it, make sure to save some room. πŸ™‚ After all, the food isn’t good if you’re not full afterwards (especially at a Michelin star restaurant).

P.S. I was a big fan of the cookie that came with the ice cream. πŸ™‚ Is it bad that I’m mentioning the cookie and not the butter cake as a whole?

Like many Michelin restaurants, Gary Danko’s has a cheese plate option. While explaining the specifics of each cheese to you, they let you choose four of the delicious cheese on the cart to end your meal with. In the future, I plan on getting the cheese plate instead of the butter cake, in part because at the end of every meal, Gary Danko’s brings out a complimentary dessert dish anyway (and it’s so impressive to have them explain cheeses to you).

These little dessert cakes reminded me a lot of the tea cakes accompanied with afternoon tea. I’m a big fan, and I believe these little desserts were better than our butter cake (aptly named, by the way). For our special birthday guest, Gary Danko’s also brought out a delicious, DELICIOUS chocolate dessert. Cheers Gary Danko’s!

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Thank you Gary Danko’s, for a wonderful meal, and cheers to all of you as well. Thanks for checking out this page! <3 P.S. The meal was good, but I'm not sure about awarding Gary Danko's a michelin star. That said, it certainly deserves lots of recognition for both its food and excellent service. Bon appetit, and keep eating! πŸ™‚

Dragon Beaux- San Francisco, CA

One of the most well-known dim sum places in town, Dragon Beaux has a line out the door before it even opens. And no reservations. On 5700 Geary St, and despite the mile-long line, Dragon Beaux’s excellent service and efficient management makes the line go quickly, and before I knew it, we were seated at a table. We got there when it opened– ten o’clock.

We ordered an assortment of beautiful dim sum, including their famous rainbow-colored soup dumplings! The outer skins come in flavors (which correlate to their colors) like spinach, regular flour skin, beet, turmeric, and squid ink. The insides are also different–ranging from kale, pork, beets, crab roe, and black truffle.

We also got more baos, wraps, and what I like to call “squid onion rings”, as well as a delicious pork dish. One of my favorites, something I have dubbed the “hairy taro”, also came out quickly. You could probably recognize it really easily, below. Here’s a hint: it’s the only hairy one. πŸ˜‰ In addition to these dishes, I got my favorite beef-based noodles, which are served in virtually every dim sum or Chinese restaurant.






I took pictures of my favorite dishes; there were so many! If you’re ever up for dim sum though, and you’re willing to wait in a long line, these are the dishes I would recommend ordering. Most of them can be ordered at most dim sum places, but some, like the rainbow soup dumplings, cannot. So I would definitely encourage getting that specific dish at dragon beaux. For drinks, we had jasmine tea, which was hot, and often refilled–a tribute to their excellent service.

Dragon Beaux is an extremely filling meal, so come with empty stomachs and a hunger for trying something new!

干杯 (that’s bottom’s up in Mandarin),

Anya (don’t worry, I’ll be sticking to the tea πŸ˜‰ )

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Yoshi’s Oakland- Oakland, CA

We came to Yoshi’s to watch some classic jazz–my first jazz concert, in fact. It was Count Basie’s Orchestra, and the music, the lighting, the drinks, and the congratulations made my night; and I can thank my uncle for that amazing experience.

Truthfully, we went to Yoshi’s to reserve the best seats for the concert (a nice thing they do for concert-goers), but it was actually an excellent meal, and we ordered dishes from tempura to sushi.

When we arrived, I was hungry, hungry, HUNGRY. But the service was excellent, and the food came right away (maybe they noticed me stealing glances at the kitchen πŸ˜‰ ). We started out with oysters and the hamachi crudo. The oysters came out hot– I almost dropped them back on my plate after taking a bite! πŸ™‚ They were delicious though, and the hamachi crudo, recommended to us by our wonderful waitress, was probably the best dish we had that night. Kudos!

After those appetizers, we ordered some sushi. We got the spicy tuna (eh), japonese, lobster tempura, spider, and warrior. I really like the fact that they name so many sushi rolls after San Francisco sports teams, although, I would not recommend the spicy tuna. First of all, it was blatantly MEDIOCRE, and second of all, it wasn’t even named after a sports team. Just kidding. It was okay, but I know you can do better the next time you visit Yoshi’s. Like the warrior! The warrior was the best out of the rolls we ordered, so if you’re just a couple people sitting at a table, I would recommend getting that as your main, or even as sharing dish. These are a few of the sushi rolls we ordered:



Yoshi’s serves pretty standard sushi, nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary. That being said, if you’re going for a concert there, I would definitely recommend going for dinner first, because they have excellent service and will give you the best seating possible. Their food isn’t too bad either! πŸ™‚

So (figures), I was still kind of hungry, so we ordered the vegetable tempura and the sea bass as a follow up. The tempura was a little greasy, but other than that, it was pretty good. Also, the sweet corn on the sea bass was pretty incredible, sweet and buttery that it was.

For dessert (come on, we needed to make up for the extra time!), we had the cafe brownie. Eh! Mediocre. The berries and gelato that we ordered later were much better (plus, they came with sake).

At the end of the night, I was feeling jazzy (pun totally intended). Yoshi’s was a delicious meal, and the concert was a stellar first jazz experience.

Food: πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
JAZZ!!!: πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Sharetea- San Francisco, CA

Another one of my new favorite boba places, Sharetea is a boba chain that replaced Bottles Up in Westfield Mall. Sharetea also has other locations in SF, however, like the one on 4th St, but we went to the one on Market Street.

Like any boba shop worth its name, Sharetea lets you pick your sweetness level, and has a variety of flavors to choose from, as well as fresh boba.

I got the black pearl milk tea, a classic that is always served at boba places, and one of the pluses I noticed was that Sharetea is very VERY generous with its boba. And this is a good thing– at least for me, because I’m mostly there for the boba, not the tea (tea you can get anywhere). Not only that, but the boba is high quality–and they clearly make it fresh to order. There seemed to always be a line, and like Tpumps (the ULTIMATE boba place in my opinion πŸ˜‰ ), Sharetea always has samples on the side for people waiting in line to try. This time, they had wintermelon tea, which is also one of my favorites, so we got one of those to go. Here’s a picture of my boba, below:

Although the tea itself was a little too sweet, I can say that that was no one’s fault but my own, for adjusting my own tea sweetness incorrectly. πŸ˜‰ Also, their generosity with the boba and excellent service certainly made up for the slightest over-sweetness.

Cheers! And here’s to boba,

Anya <3

Manna- San Francisco, CA

Manna is possibly one of the most popular Korean restaurants in the Sunset area. They always have a line out the door, so it’s hard to get a table on time. Luckily, we got there right when it opened, so we were their first customers! But the restaurant filled up fast.

We ordered their famous seafood pancake, and everybody’s favorite, the kalbi! As usual, they brought out what I like to call the “infinite sides” to keep us happy in the meantime. πŸ™‚


The kalbi was steaming hot, and as a lot of you know, it’s one of my favorite things to eat at Korean restaurants. I often put it on my rice with some kimchi and bean curd so the rice can soak up all the flavor of the meat and kimchi. It’s delicious. Truthfully, the seafood pancake was a little greasy, but it was high quality, and they even let us add kimchi to it! I would have liked to order more food for variety (sorry guys), but unfortunately there were only two of us, so there wasn’t much to go off of. πŸ™

That’s okay, though! I plan to go to Manna again and try more of their dishes; you might even see a follow up post! Thanks everyone for checking out my blog, I really appreciate it! Next time, I’m getting bulgogi too πŸ˜‰

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Solvang Ice Cream Parlor- Solvang, CA

Quaint, European, and touristy, Solvang is a small Dutch town with shops like First Street Leather, Solvang Shoe Shop, and Downey’s Dress Shop and Candy World. While walking around, we found Solvang Ice Cream Parlor, which turned out to serve one of my favorite ice cream brands–McConnell’s.

When we got there, the ice cream parlor had a line out the door. I got the chocolate-covered strawberry in a sugar cone, but for the first time in a long time, I ordered without trying any of the flavors first! There was such a long line, I felt obligated to. But no worries, it turned out to be delicious (it is McConnell’s after all).

A combination of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate, my chocolate-covered strawberry ice cream made my day, miraculously got rid of my headache, and (also miraculous) was consistent all the way to the bottom of my cone! Also, I only spilled on myself a grand total of three times. Hooray! Would definitely go again, especially on a hot summery day like that one.

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Iza Ramen- San Francisco, CA

Ramen has long been one of my favorite things to eat for dinner. Well, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Any meal of the day, really. In fact, you know those hypothetical questions people ask like “if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?”? Ramen would be up there. Way up there.

Iza Ramen is supposed to be the best ramen in the area, so naturally I had to test it out (see if it was up to my expectations πŸ˜‰ ). Located in the Lower Haight, it’s near one of my favorite ice cream places, Three Twins. Sadly though, the ramen at Iza made me too full to eat anything else.

We started out with some appetizers first, their karage fried chicken, which they are very well-known for, and the salmon tartare with chips.

The karage fried chicken was crispy on the outside, just the way I like it, and warm on the inside. The clear lemon sauce that went with it was also an amazing accompaniment.

The salmon was recommended to us by our waitress; it’s safe to say she did a good job ordering.

In addition to regular ramen, Iza also serves tsukemen, which is similar to ramen except the noodles are meant to be dipped in broth and then eaten. Often much stronger and saltier than normal broth, tsukemen is made such that after the noodles are finished, they have to be supplemented with a more bland broth to even out the taste. Then, the broth can be finished separately at the end of the meal.

As per recommendation, we ordered the tsukemen, though I personally preferred the spicy iza ramen; the broth in the tsukemen was just a little too salty.

The bowl on the right is the dipping soup, which they change to match tastes later, after the noodles are finished.

My favorite was the spicy iza ramen, below, which next time I hope to get with sweet corn kernels (I hear that’s the best).

The meat in this ramen dish was spectacular and melt-in-your-mouth-y as expected, and the spicy broth really hit the spot with my sore throat.

The award winning restaurant that it is, Iza Ramen deserves πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ for fresh food, excellent service, and a delicious meal.

Bon appetite,

Anya

Nopalito Part 2 (San Francisco, CA)

Since we’re staying in San Francisco for a while, we decided to visit Nopalito again, a second time. This time, we ordered a bit more, including the mole and the blue corn tamale.

We started with totopos con chile for the kids–it’s a little like Mexican nachos! The totopos con chile came with mexican cotija cheese as well, which is a salty kind of cheese and one of my favorites. Thinking back to the chilaquiles I had a few days earlier, I remembered that the dishes were kind of similar, and not only that, but both were rather soggy. It’s not that the dish was bad, it was just that it was a little too soggy and bland for my tastes. Granted, it’s an excellent sharing dish.

We also ordered the ceviche nayarita to share in the middle– this snack was more for the adults. This was one of my favorites actually. Generally, ceviche has that tangy citrusy taste that’s perfect for the summer, which I love, and it’s also good for you!

The blue corn tamales, which were also a little soggy, came in next. The sogginess was probably because the chef mixed the corn with the salsa for too long; in my opinion, a bit of separation between the two would have been better. But I’m just a teenager. πŸ™‚

Afterwards, the waiter brought us the same dish we got last time, the fish tacos. I won’t expand on these too much, but they had the same yummy oranges on the tacos that add that summery flavor we all love.

Surprisingly, even though quesadillas don’t generally stand out on the dinner plate as unique and exciting, I thought Nopalito’s quesadilla was by far the best dish we ordered, offering a bit of a twist to the normal cheese and tortilla mixture.

The quesadilla roja con chicaharrΓ³n was served in a long, crispy tortilla, with salsa and crispy pork belly to top, as seen above. The quesadilla was my favorite dish of the night, and I loved that the chicaharrΓ³n was added; it really improved the texture! Salty and crunchy, it blended very well with the cheese and meat of the dish.

One of the last dishes that came, the mole, was made well and served with chicken and tortillas. While it’s true that I’d rather have chocolate than mole (which is derived from chocolate), I believe this dish was still an excellent ending to our meal.

It even looks like chocolate!:)

Over and out, and see you next time!

Anya