Greetings from…some random stretch of highway between Boston and New York!
As evidenced by my recent lack of blog posts, I’ve had a pretty hectic travel schedule lately. Within the last two weeks, I’ve traveled to Seattle, Las Vegas, and Boston, and now I’m on a bus heading down to Manhattan (hooray for free wi-fi!). Despite falling a bit off the blogging grid, in between my travels I’ve still managed to squeeze in a few dinners at some great San Francisco restaurants, including two new discoveries and one old favorite.
Bushi-Tei Bistro: If you’ve been to the Japantown Center Mall, you know that it is filled with quite a few restaurants where you can grab sushi, noodle bowls, and other Japanese treats. On my most recent excursion to Japantown, we chose to eat at Bushi-Tei Bistro (the more casual outpost of the classy Asian-French fusion restaurant Bushi-Tei). From the outside, the Bistro looks unassuming, but inside it’s quite nice, with black and red décor and low lighting. The menu features a good selection of sushi, and a great selection of noodle bowls, from soba to udon to ramen. I opted for the Nabeyaki Udon Bowl, which, as you can see from the photo below, was approximately twice the size of my head. The bowl was filled with chicken, tempura shrimp, an assortment of vegetables, and of course, heaps of thick udon noodles, all in a deliciously flavorful broth. I hadn’t eaten udon in ages, but ever since going to the Bistro, I’ve been craving it and ordering it practically every time I go out to Japanese food. That’s admittedly only been maybe two times, but still, Bushi-Tei’s version takes the cake so far!
E Tutto Qua: I went to this Italian joint in North Beach last week for a friend’s birthday dinner, and it far outdid my expectations. North Beach faces a similar problem as New York’s Little Italy, in that the area has become overgrown with restaurants which claim to be “traditional Italian kitchens,” but are in fact just cheesy tourist traps with subpar food. From the outside, E Tutto Qua, with its prime location at the corner of Columbus and Broadway and its somewhat cartoonish sign, appears that it might fit that mold. However, the inside of the restaurant is lovely, with high ceilings and big windows, and the food is delicious! Our group split a margarita pizza as an appetizer, and for my entrée I ordered the saffron linguine with scallops and crab meat (one of the specials of the day). Everyone raved about their pastas, and the hilarious Italian waiters kept our wine glasses full, raucously sang happy birthday to my friend, and brought us a complimentary panna cotta for dessert. If you’re looking for reasonably-priced, high-quality Italian food amidst the North Beach tourist traps, E Tutto Qua fits the bill.
Umami: This Japanese restaurant in Cow Hollow has quickly become my family’s favorite place to go for dinner whenever my parents come across the bridge for a visit from the East Bay. It’s a great place to go with a group and order a bunch of appetizers and sushi rolls to share, particularly if you can catch their award-winning happy hour. Umami’s Sumo Hour runs from 5:30pm to 7:00pm every single day, and features half-off most rolls and appetizers, plus half-off any bottles of wine. Some of our all-time favorite dishes from the happy hour menu are the edamame hummus and the shibuya kobe beef sliders (trust me on the sliders…they’re a definite must-order). Umami’s sushi rolls are fresh and flavorful as well, and I’m also a big fan of their red and white miso soup, their spring rolls, and their miso-glazed black cod (not on the happy hour menu, but still out-of-this-world). The happy hour admittedly runs a bit early, so in my opinion Umami is the ideal spot for a casual Sunday night dinner with friends to unwind before the work week begins.
Hope Labor Day was lovely back in San Francisco! The humidity out here is making me miss the fog…