view of San Francisco

San Francisco. Our first port of call on what was to be ten days of leisure, pleasure and lots and lots of eating. Well, not so much in SF but Vegas? Holy crap I actually had to teach myself how not to finish every single meal, but that is another story and thankfully another post, because having just stepped off the 10 hour return flight today, I can barely manage to log onto netbank to check my funds balance (or maybe I just don’t want to) let alone even think about Vegas right now. The sheer enormity of the place gives me heart palpitations, so we’re just not gonna go there today ok? We’re just sticking to nice, safe San Fran.

San Francisco was always going to be a winner, with or without the gastronomous delights. And this is because a very special friend of mine from university, who I haven’t seen for almost ten years, lives there and in this time she’s gone and gotten married, had two kids and two dogs (ok so she didn’t have the dogs but you know what I mean) and I hadn’t met any of them! Not cool. So here I was in San Fran to see Anh and the crew, and like I said, had I not eaten for the whole three days (pffft, like that’s ever gonna happen), SF would still have been sweet.

But good golly, surprise surprise I did eat. I mean, why else would I be writing about San Fran in a food blog? Duh.

So the eating. After an exhausting morning catching SF’s famous tram cars up and down the steep streets (yes, I realise we were just standing on the tram cars while they climbed, but honestly it’s exhausting just thinking about the insane SF hills), we wandered through Chinatown hoping to find some good dim sum.

Huge as the SF Chinatown may be, nothing really struck our fancy and feeling a little dejected, we wandered just outside of Chinatown in an area known as Nob Hill (yes, you can giggle, I did) and stumbled upon a gem of a Hu Nan restaurant.

At 3pm, there’s a queue outside House of Nan King, a sure sign of good food or brilliant marketing. Or both. Whatever, I was famished and as luck would have it, they had a table for two. FTW!

House of Nan King

We ordered the Famous Nan King Sesame Chicken (crispy chicken in signature honey sauce with sweet potato) and a serve of Bao Bing Wraps (5 hour simmered beef, scallion slivers and crisp chinese vegetables wrapped in a flour pancake with homemade garlic plum sauce) ~ the sesame chicken was nothing special but the bao bing wraps! What the heck is even a bao bing wrap?! It doesn’t matter cos when something is this delicious, I honestly don’t care what it is (except maybe bulls testicles because just by virtue of what it is, that would never be delicious). The soft soft beef, aromatic sauce and fresh floury pancakes, I kinda wished we weren’t sharing because I picked this dish, but unfortunately (I mean fortunately) Panu and I, we’re a “team”. Dang-it.

Anyway, a glance at other tables tells me that the Bao Bing Wraps are indeed the show stoppers and I wonder if they’ve ever considered calling it the Famous Nan King Bao Bing Wraps, as opposed to that sesame chicken dish. Cos that one, it’s so not famous at all.

House of Nan King
919 Kearny Street
San Francisco, CA, 94133
(415) 421 1429

House of Nanking on Urbanspoon 

That same day we get home at about 6pm, and we’re hustled straight out to dinner with Anh and her hubby, Johnny. They’re taking us to Kincaid’s, where the oven roasted red king crab & artichoke dip is apparently so amazing that Anh eats like two full serves on her own.

She totally wasn’t kidding.

We ordered a tasting plate starter which includes the dip, garlic prawns and teriyake tenderloins and lo’ and behold, Anh orders a whole ‘nother serve of dip. LOL. She’s insane, this girl, and she’s also stick thin… *envy*

Kincaids

Anh isn’t wrong – the crab & artichoke dip really is something special. I can’t really put my finger on it and my food memory has been perversely diluted over the past ten days, but it’s something to do with the incredibly flavoursome crab, the parmesan cooked into the sauce and the diced onions (because onions go with everything).  And here’s a tip: the dip is served with toasted bread but it’s actually better with the untoasted house bread they serve as you sit, so ask for more of that.

The other dishes were good but not mind-blowing, at least not compared to the two bowls of dip we lapped up. Oh I lie, the mango sorbet was thick, rich and yum.  So I guess when you hit up Kincaid’s for a meal, just go a starter and then dessert. No one will look at you funny. I think.

Kincaid’s
60 Bay View Place
Burlingame, CA, 94010
(650) 342 9844
website

Kincaid's Bayhouse on Urbanspoon

The next day we headed off to Fisherman’s Wharf to devour one of Boudin Bakery’s clam chowders in a bread bowl that is the size of my head. But before the eating fun began, we did some touristing, including checking out Pier 39 and the amazing utterly spell binding (but incredibly chatty and noisy) sea lions, and making a trip over to Alcatraz Island.

Like everything you see in the movies (such as actors, and sets – yes, I learned this at Universal Studios), nothing is ever as big in real life. Alcatraz Island is surprisingly small, but so full of history and intrigue that you just have to go. But alas, no food allowed on the island, so we did our thing and came back to the mainland for lunch. In thecattylife, it’s always about the food.

Fisherman's Wharf and Alcatraz Island

We headed down to Boudin’s at Fisherman’s Wharf. Note that there is a small Boudin’s cafe on Pier 39, but it’s not the bakery nor the restaurant. Walk the extra 5 minutes and it is so worth it, and you can even tour the bakery to see how hundreds of these adorable sourdough loaves are made.

Boudin Bakery

What can I say? Well worth the numerous recommendations I received. The clam chowder (I never really knew what chowder was) turned out to be a thick hearty soup, cradled in a big round ball of sourdough which quite literally was the size of my head. The chowder was divine, but more importantly, it soaks into the side of the bread bowl and oh my god, it is just so much fun scraping the bread off the inside and eating the tasty mush :)

Boudin’s Sourdough Bakery & Cafe
2890 Taylor Street
San Francisco, CA, 94133
(415) 776 1849
website

Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

That night, we had dinner at The House of Prime Rib, which was so goddamn ridiculously crazy-amazing-special that I sat in my Bellagio hotel room and blogged about it a mere two days later. I’m still thinking about the prime rib, and disturbingly about the cow torsos that get wheeled around the restaurant. I’m a carnivore, it’s in my blood, and honestly there is little I wouldn’t give to have that meal all over again.

So. San Francisco was a hit in every possible way. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge a number of times, had breakfast along the water in Sausalito, checked out the western sunset and drove down crazy Lombard Street.

But my most favourite part of the San Fran trip? It’s not really hard to guess. The House of Prime Rib of course! Haha, no I’m just kidding. It’s a close second, but my best memories will be meeting Anh’s kids and dogs and spending time with her, though not nearly enough.

Anh and kids

Thanks for having us Anh, love you lots x

8 Thoughts on “i left my heart in san francisco (or i may have lost it in the clam chowder bread bowl)

  1. She has a Shi Tzu! Awesome. I love them.

  2. Haha I don’t actually know what breed he is but his name is Chewy cos he’s like a miniature Chewbacca :) Anh has another dog too, Malty, but she wasn’t as cuddly as Chewy.

  3. omg i miss san fraaaaaaaan!! sounds like u had an awesome foodie packed time! know wot u mean about the C-Town too – not much there. Boudin’s looks amazing and i was drooling over ur pics of the steak – its not even 9am and im drooling over meat…And your friend is sooo pretty!! how cute are her kids!! Cant wait to read anout the rest of ur trip :D

  4. Your post brings back fond memories of SF – I want to go. And you are joking about what bao bing are ? Bao bing is Chinese for pancake !

  5. Mr Noodles: LOL I am THE DUMBEST Chinese person in the universe! It’s Official :)

    LittleWelsh: I know, my post is making me miss SF too. My friend is gorgeous and her kids are amazing!

  6. We have family in SF and I spent my high school years there, but it’s been ages since we’ve visited! Now you’ve reminded me of all we’re missing. The bao bing wraps sound so delicious but I’d be all over the House of Prime Rib, too – I have no problem watching cow carcass parade before me. Best of all, it’s wonderful that you spent time with your friend and her family (the kids are adorable!)

  7. Catherine on October 19, 2009 at 5:52 pm said:

    Oh Boudins clam chowder. I always bring tourists there, and to the sealions too… everyone loves them!

  8. Tangled Noodle: You should go back to SF soon, everything about the place is gorgeous, not just the food! And when you do, make sure you definitely hit up the House of Prime Rib!!

    Catherine: Yes, Boudins, Pier 39 and sea lions are like a perfect day trip package :D

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