Just off the plane and checked into my hotel on a Monday night in San Francisco. Stuck without a car, and not wanting to figure out the public transit just yet, I decide to stay in walking distance. Being a daytime tourist trap, the Fisherman’s Wharf area is pretty light when it comes to late night options. Applebee’s, Subway, and In-N-Out top the list. Don’t get me wrong, I love a Double-Double, grilled onion, protein style, but if I’m traveling, and blogging, then it needs to be a little more special.
After a bit of googling, I landed in The Pub BBQ, a BBQ bar with a late kitchen tucked away to the corner of Ghirardelli Square. It’s a typical dark wood paneled pub, but with BBQ. Quiet, with only me and a couple of locals, but it’s a Monday and there’s few tourists in February.
Deciding on a pint of whatever I didn’t recognize on tap, I found 312 Urban Wheat, a nice light cloudy heff from Chicago. (I may have to look up the brewery next month when I’m there.)
Considering this is a BBQ place, and not too touristy looking, I opted for the pulled pork sandwich with a side of tater tots.
Good, crispy, hot tots with house BBQ sauce for dipping. Very different BBQ from any I’ve had before. It’s apple cider tangy, sweet, heavy in the catsup and almost overwhelming celery salt, but not much molasses. Not quite Carolina style, but still worlds away from dark Kansas City sugary stuff. The pulled pork is served on toasted sourdough (this is San Francisco and Boudins is just around the corner). The pork is smokey, juicy, and tender, with a soft, but dark bark. Clearly this is prepared right and not just simmered in a crockpot. The pork is thoroughly tossed with BBQ sauce. Not sure if it was the same sauce as with the tots, but if so, it totally transforms on the meat. There also a house hot sauce, with the tang of Franks Red Hot, but some nice smokey flavors too. It blends really well with the BBQ sauce by adding heat without wrecking the flavor.
My only regret? It’s a beautifully clear night in the city and I forgot my camera and tripod.
Overall probably the best I would have found for late night dining without a guide. Next time you’re in San Francisco, step away from the generic seafood on The Embarcadero and try The Pub BBQ. Just don’t forget your chocolate soda upstairs.
Day one on our own in Indiana, and we decided to wander around the museums and attractions in White River Park, an urban park and cultural area in downtown Indianapolis. First we hoped to try the LS Aryes Historic Tea Room, but that is only available for special events. So instead we tried the cafe in the Indiana State Museum, figuring museum cafes usually have decent choices.
I selected the only thing that comes close to being a regional specialty, a fried pork tenderloin sandwich. This was delicious! The pork tenderloin was amazingly tender, literally falling apart at the touch. The breading was nice and crispy, holding the meat together. Topped with some lettuce, tomato, onions, and a spicy dijon mustard dressing, this was a well-constructed sandwich. My only complaint was that the crisp of the pork was a bit oily in flavor, but the texture was great.
Pearl is a sucker for corn, bacon, and soup, so how could she pass up the bacon sweet corn chowder. Loaded with corn, potatoes, and bacon, this was a rich hot creamy dish. She paired the cup with a half-sandwich, a chicken salad sandwich so loaded that she needed to eat half of it with a spoon! The chicken salad was delicious, with flavorful chunked chicken instead of shredded. A surprising touch was the addition of cherries instead of the usual raisins. The result added a nice fresh tang to offset the creamy dressing.
So, if visiting the museum area, check out the cafe. It’s a great option in an area with little else to choose from.
So I promised the details on this fantastic banquet we had on our second day. One of the most famous restaurants in Hong Kong is Yung Kee in Central. Renowned for its roast goose recipe, the restaurant now owns the entire 14 floor building that it is located in. It’s even been awarded a star from the Michelin Guide. We had a private room on the more luxurious 4th floor to celebrate the 75th birthday of my wife’s uncle.
Starting off the dinner was the infamous dish, 1000 year egg. Some consider it a delicacy, but apparently it’s a fairly common dish and is frequently used in congee. It had a jelly-like consistency, tasted somewhat like a pickle, and had the most amazing colors to it. My photo doesn’t do the iridescence justice. Apparently it’s made by wrapping a duck egg in clay, soaked with various salts and acids for up to several months. The longer, the better.
Following the egg was a treo of appetizers representing Health, Wealth, and Happiness. First, “money purses”, small pouches of minced pork, wrapped up in a layer of rice dough and boiled. The end result looks surprisingly like a tiny purse or bag that people used to wear on their belts.
The second of the treo was fried sea cucumber stomachs. I had never had sea cucumber before, and was quite surprised. The dish was light and crispy, with a slight ocean taste, but mostly it was like eating french fries.
The third of the set was a traditional dish that apparently is very rare today. Stacked up like coins were pork-fat medallions, duck pate, and water chestnut, slathered in an egg-yolk sauce. It was incredibly delicious, even though I generally dislike patte.
The next dish of the meal is the one the restaurant is famous for. The Roast Goose was prepared in a similar style to Peking Duck. Yes, it was as delicious as it looks.
Following the roast goose was a common delicacy for Chinese banquets, shark fin soup. This was the second time I had shark-fin soup, but a very different preparation from anything I had expected. It came to the table a very vibrant orange, and had a creamy consistency, although I doubt any dairy products were used. Surprisingly, there was no fishy taste to it at all, in fact if I didn’t know better, I would have sworn it was a cheese soup.
The next dish was also seafood, so I wasn’t thrilled when it arrived. Individual stuffed crab claws were then breaded and fried, making for very attractive dishes. Perfect portion size, and the tip of the claw exposed, made these very appealing and memorable. I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor and enjoyed the light chili sauce garnishing each claw when served.
Following the crab claws was the most visually impressive dish of the evening. A huge platter came to the table, arranging several different varieties of eggplant in a light sauce.
The purple chinese eggplant arranged vertically was stuffed with crab meat, and on top was sea cucumber. The photos are deceptive, each of those vertical towers was at least 3 inches tall.
My wife was very jealous, as she’s allergic to eggplant.
Even when portioned out into individual servings, the dish was very beautiful. I have to commend the servers at their plating skills. The techniques over the course of the evening as they split up the large dishes were very antithetical to what I’ve come to expect from Chinese cuisine.
After the eggplant came one final seafood dish, lobster noodles. The noodles were cooked in a lobster broth and were clearly the focus of the dish, even though there was lobster piled on top. Again, the photos are deceptive, as the full dish brought to the table was easily 30 inches across, a veritable mountain of lobster.
Wrapping up the main dishes were a huge plate of noodles (clearly the inspiration for chow mein) and fried rice. These are typical ends to a chinese banquet, allowing people to fill up with the over abundance of food. Considering how stuffed we already were at this point, it was mostly gratuitous, but I tried some anyways. Naturally they were delicious.
That brings us to desert. Since it was a birthday, there was a cake covered in strawberries, and of course, since it was a chinese banquet, we also had the ubiquitous red bean soup and fresh fruit platter.
And finally, the icing on the cake, ( there were mini peaches in the cake decoration), we had Longevity Peaches. However, these aren’t actually fruit; they’re steamed rice buns with a lotus paste and duck egg center. Shaped and colored to resemble peaches, these are a traditional birthday dish. There is a Chinese legend about a monkey who travels to a far-off garden to eat peaches that grant eternal life. Because of this, the peach is a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture, and peaches made from gold are often gifted for long-lived anniversaries or birthdays.
Each of these “baby buts”, as my wife likes to call them, was about the size of my fist, and I have large fists.
That’s it for this banquet. Only the second day of our trip to Hong Kong, and already we’ve shot over 100 pictures just of food. Next time, some local snack and everyday dishes.