Thursday, August 12, 2010

Yummy Yummy

Feeling a little blue about the weather yesterday, and a little under the weather besides, I decided to venture out into the Inner Sunset for some lunchtime pho. I ended up checking out Yummy Yummy, on Irving and 11th. 

I parked and sat down quite easily and chose between 14 or so different varieties of pho ... based on my morning sniffles and sneezes I chose pho ga (chicken soup) and waited briefly in the company of a NYT crossword puzzle for my soup to arrive.   

One of my favorite things about eating pho is the process of adding ingredients and seasonings to make a perfectly personal blend.  I start by adding a pile of bean sprouts and as much cilantro as made available.  Sometimes this requires asking for more, as I think every bite tastes better with at least one cilantro leaf.  I add a touch of fish sauce to get the right salty balance.  Last but certainly not least, I add a layer of heat including red chili oil and Sriracha until the broth gains a spicy tinge of red.

The broth itself was nothing special and did not offer a particular depth of flavor, but it was improved by the seasonings, and positively offset by the quality of chicken inside.  Every chicken piece was meaty, lacking gristle, and totally tender, and the portion of noodles, meat and broth was far more than I could tackle in one lunch sitting. 

Overall I left Yummy Yummy feeling much improved in health and mood.  I would definitely return for another Yummy lunch break!  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pupusas at Balompie #3

After all this talk of pupusas, I had to get one, and fast.  What better company than my Dad ... who first introduced me to pupusas at El Calderon as a kid? 

Dad drove up from Sunnyvale to meet me for dinner and a little father/daughter time.  There were a few other diners at Balompie when we arrived, but we had our choice of tables, and Dad chose the single table without any kind of view of April's Barca/Real showdown on replay on multiple TV's.  I guess it made for better conversation but I was surely missing the view of Iker.

We both ordered special #14 (my lucky number): two pupusas with rice and beans.  After a little negotiation we landed on four different types of pupusas to try; Dad ordered one chicken/cheese and a bean/cheese, I opted for pork/cheese and spinach.  I am shocked to report that the spinach was my favorite because of the way the spinach played off the cornmeal masa, closely followed by the bean/cheese that was my preferred choice as a girl.  All of them were quite tasty especially when washed down by a Negra Modelo. 

We were both quite impressed by the light, fluffy masa that encased the pupusa... not greasy or heavy whatsoever and the cornmeal flavor was quite heavenly.  Though we were pleasantly overwhelmed by the choice of fillings, I believe that none topped my memory of the El Calderon bean and cheese flavors.  Guess I still need to head down to Mountain View for a reminder!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Parada 22

When Parada 22 recently opened in my neighborhood, I was super excited to have Puerto Rican beans, rice, and maduros at my fingertips!  I personally think the Upper Haight needs some new life to the eating scene.  I love the food at Alembic, when you can get a seat, and am perpetually obsessed with Ploy II, but am otherwise finding the options kind of tired. 

Friday night, after hearing a friend's band play at Milk, I was looking for something tasty and quick and hopped into Parada 22 right as they were closing up the kitchen.  At the recommendation of the cashier girl (whose taste I assumed was impeccable considering she commented on and correctly identified both my ring and my bracelet!) we ordered two sandwiches to split: a Cuban and also a bistec.  Of course, I couldn't resist a serving of maduros on the side.

The atmosphere was charming, with turquoise walls, an array of pendant light bulbs, and a litter of photos and odds and ends evoking a hint of San Juan street corner. We waited inside for the sandwiches, which arrived fairly quickly, and were still warm and toasted by the time I got them home.  The platanos, not so much, but I was honestly too lazy and too hungry to heat them up.  The bistec was definitely the better of the two sandwiches, a nice version of encebollado, although for me it could have used a little spice.  I actually most enjoyed the sandwich with a bit of plantain added to each bite.  The cubano, on the other hand, was at first a little dry and also a little bland ... it did grow on me, but I think a cubano is one of the last things on earth that should be bland, really. 

As far as neighborhood eats go, I would go back to Parada 22 (although I would probably try a plato vegetariano or the camarones a la criolla next time versus a sandwich).  It will be nice to occasionally take a break from Ploy II, but if I am really jonesing for good Puerto Rican food and have a little time on my hands, I will still head up to Sol Food in San Rafael.  That place gets it right.