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

Koo- San Francisco, CA

Koo is well-known as one of the best sushi restaurants in the San Francisco area. Their most famous dish, the spoonful of happiness, has been featured everywhere from SF Food to Yelp to Foodspotting. The restaurant itself has won many awards as well.

Of course, with such great reviews, we had to try it out. The “spoonful” of happiness, however, is actually two spoonfuls, accompanied with a shot of sake (which, it should be noted, I did not have). Aptly named, these two spoonfuls were like bursts of sunshine in my mouth, and even though I was sick, I could still taste all of the magnificent flavor of this dish.

The spoonfuls of happiness are definitely blog worthy, and I would definitely prescribe the heightened sensations of flavor in the spoons as comparable to the amuse bouches in michelin restaurants.

Unfortunately, we were a little late for their happy hour special of $5 a hand roll, but we still had a hearty, delicious meal at Koo. Happy hour does end at 5:30, and the prices then are much lower, so I would advise coming in a little before 5:30 if you’re going for dinner.
Above are the handrolls, with hamachi, unagi, spicy tuna, salmon, and dynamite rolls. Of these, the dynamite and spicy tuna were my favorites, though I am very fond of salmon. The hamachi and salmon rolls come with an addition of avocado, so avocado lovers! That’s a plus! I do think hand rolls are a little easier to eat than regualar sushi, but I’d still be careful not to drop the whole thing into your soy sauce! (I totally don’t do that)

Oh also– just a reminder, Koo is closed on Mondays, because that’s when fresh fish traditionally comes in (hence most sushi restaurants are closed on Mondays).

After munching on too many hand rolls, we got (wait for it) more rolls! YAYYYY! The rolls below are the koo roll, J&L roll, and baked scallop roll from right to left.

The Koo roll is as named, the restaurant’s signature sushi roll. Filled with snow crab, cucumber, shrimp, and spicy tuna, the koo roll is the leftmost roll and is topped with fresh avocado. This was one of my favorite rolls; it’s a little spicy, but that’s what makes it good. The J&L roll, the middle roll, is half rainbow and half dragon, combining two classics into one. Even though the Koo roll was by far one of the best rolls I’ve had, the baked scallop topped it by far. The scallops melt in your mouth, and the traditional snow crab and avocado combination only adds to the flavor.

I would go to Koo every week if I could, and I absolutely love this restaurant. It’s traditional, but blends new and unprecedented flavors together into combinations like the spoonful of happiness, at the same time turning classics like the rainbow and dynamite rolls and making it their signature by combining them. For information about hours and a full menu, visit http://www.sushikoo.com/

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

-Anya

SPOTLIGHT: Sugarfina

Sparkles of luxury candy and glimpses of sweet delights like sassy strawberries and peach bellinis. Now in quite a few cities, sugarfina serves luxury candy to the world, in miniature forms. They’re best known for their champagne gummy bears, which are non-alcoholic and artificially flavored. Prices tend to be pretty high, but for candy this good and so ornately wrapped, I think it’s worth it. You can visit the whole stock at their website https://www.sugarfina.com/

See? Ornate. In almost every city where I see a sugarfina (they’re usually located in malls), I always happen a visit and purchase my favorite πŸ™‚ champagne gummy bears.

Keep eating!

Anya

Tpumps vs. Boba Guys

Tpumps. All the way.

Here, I lead the discussion of the ultimate. boba. debate. Queue Star Wars soundtrack here. Dun dun dun!

San Franciscans are split between boba guys and tpumps. (shhhhh… we’ll ignore the non-boba lovers. pagans, I say, pagans!)

While both offer customized sweetness and a variety of flavors, I find that boba guys tends to have less of a “tea” taste and more of a sugary artificial flavor. I don’t quite see why so many people flock towards boba guys itself–maybe it’s the atmosphere– but besides the tea, I find that the tapioca balls at tpumps are a lot softer (which is usually an indicator of how fresh it is). In addition, the boba at tpumps is HONEY boba, which means it has a tinge of sweetness as well. At my previous visits to tpumps, I’ve also noticed that the menu has a wider variety of flavors and toppings, which makes it more customizable.

The concept of boba guys is appealing, however, because boba guys sells more than just boba. They’re also famous for their coffee, Taiwanese pineapple cakes, and rice balls. That said, I don’t think I’ll go back to boba guys given tpumps as an option.

As two boba places competing for the best boba in San Francisco, I think it’s safe to say that tpumps is in the lead. πŸ™‚ boba sugary caffeinated deliciousness it is 😍

tpumps: πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
boba guys: πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Let’s Roll- San Francisco, CA

On 1132 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122 with workers everywhere rolling and smashing ice cream mixtures, the atmosphere of Let’s Roll Ice Creamery is busy, bustling, and crowded. And a lot of waiting is involved. But wait! Stay tuned… it might be worth it.

The concept is hand-rolled ice cream–like little rolled up carpets of ice cream, but they’re not carpets. πŸ˜‰

They have a wide range of flavors– or mixtures, that is, like 3xberries and cookie monSTER (nam nam nam).

They said the cookie monster flavor was their best seller, so I got that and the 3x berries on two different occasions. I nam nam NAM-ed them up.

Yes, they’re very aesthetically beautiful. The ice cream itself is a little hard, but watching them make it is pretty transfixing.

That being said, they’re slightly pricy, and the wait is a little bit longer than it would be to scoop normal ice cream. That’s why I’m thinking about learning to make them myself– it can’t be that hard, right? Pshhhhh… yeahh… not that hard she says… *burns down kitchen*

Let’s Roll: πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

P.S. Did I mention infinite toppings?!?!?! INFINITE. TOPPINGS. YASSSS. Could anything be better?

Ba Bar- Seattle, WA

We have information on good authority that Ba Bar is the best Vietnamese in Seattle. We walk in, and it’s busy, crowded, and bustling with people. We get seated relatively quickly though, and I order coconut water to start. They actually cut the coconut so we can have the meat later with a spoon, after we’re finished. Service value, people. πŸ™‚

A house speciality, bΓ‘nh cuΓ΅n, was merited a separate station in the kitchen. We had the SΓ i GΓ²n Style, which came with pork, mushroom, and roasted peanut.

Truth be told, this wasn’t my favorite out of the dishes, but it was clearly done very well and the mixture of mushroom and roasted peanut went very well with the dish.

We also got the crispy imperial rolls– it seemed like every table got those– and they were amazing, especially the sauce. However, dishes like crispy imperial rolls can be found in almost every Vietnamese restaurant, whereas good bΓ‘nh cuΓ΅n can’t be found everywhere.

The bΓΊn bΓ² huΓ© was my absolute FAVORITE out of all the dishes, because the meat was so melt in your mouth delicious, and the broth was very tastefully done (pun intended πŸ˜‰ ). Our Cathy Ah-yi told us that traditionally, the Vietnamese didn’t put excess things such as pork blood cake in the noodles, but despite the addition, the food was delicious! And karsen chomped up the blood cake anyways.

This dish was Cathy Ah-yi’s favorite too! Who, by the way ordered all our dishes and is a natural favorite at the restaurant. She knows everything!

Another soup, the pho tΓ‘i nam came in, but it wasn’t as spicy as the bΓΊn bΓ² huΓ©. The meat in this one was amazing as well, I think because Vietnamese broth does such an excellent job of cooking a variety of meats.

Ba Bar changes their menu every once in a while, so you’ll have to look at their website for the updated version! http://babarseattle.com/

I LOVED this place. It was probably the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had, and the service was spectacular. I would definitely go back again. Warning though: this place can make you full– order wisely.

Love!

Anya

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

P.S. HAPPY PRIDE!!!!

Nopalito- San Francisco, CA

Nopalito is a popular Mexican restaurant in SF, with high ratings and excellent service. With food on the brain, we decided on ordering the tacos de pescado al pastor and carnitas, as per our waiters recommendation.

The tacos were very flavorful, and the oranges in them gave them a bit of a tangy taste. The fish and cilantro had a nice texture, and the tortillas themselves were extremely fresh.

The carnitas came soon after, and were presented in a sort of “make your own taco” kind of fashion. The carnitas, the cabbage salad, and the salsa all came separately, and there were warm tacos on the side for the filling. Here, I’ll include the original picture of the tacos along with my own separate make-your-own version.

The thing is, the tacos on the side came with only four tacos, not nearly enough for me to finish everything on the plate! Especially the carnitas. Surprisingly though, the “runner” of that day, who is somewhat of a “perfector” or “fixer” for every bad situation that could happen in the restaurant, refilled our tacos and cleaned everything when they were empty. Needless to say, this place had excellent service, but it should also be said that extra salsa is extra on the bill– and you have to ask for a side of avocado (it doesn’t come with the meal).

With comparison from other Mexican restaurants, especially Arizonan ones, I can say that Nopalito was delicious, but that you can get better Mexican food in other places. The service at Nopalito is seriously top notch tho. I mean seriously.

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ (Excellent service merits extra smiley faces, right? πŸ™‚ )

Bon appetit,

Anya

SPOTLIGHT: Lady Yum Macarons

Lady Yum is a Seattle-based macaron place. They have a location in Kirkland, but also a small shop at the airport. When we were there, they were also giving out samples! YAYAYAYYAYY! This happens when the maker crushes or smashes the macarons on accident, making them un-sellable. So we got to try the crushed macarons, as well as the ones we purchased.

Lady Yum sells flavors like toasted coconut, honey lavender, and unicorn! For a full list of their flavors, you can also check out https://www.ladyyum.com/macarons-new/.

When you taste Lady Yum’s macarons, you can tell that they make them fresh. That, along with their unique flavoring, gives them πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 3/4. Nothing quite meets French expectations, but this is certainly a good local option.