Tag Archives: Chicken

San Francisco – Wayfare Tavern

What more can I say about chef Tyler Florence? He is my culinary god that I worship day and night. I can safely say that he is one of the sole reasons that manifested my food obsession. The days of Food 911 and Tyler’s Ultimate were the good days of Food Network, unlike the new-age shows dominated with cupcake decorating and cake building. Maybe it’s all the Bourdain I’ve been reading, and his hatred of everything Food Network. Whatever it is, I’m growing further and further away from this once sacred channel. Sorry about the side rant, where was I? Oh yeah, when I heard Tyler (we’re on a first name basis now ok?) opened his new restaurant Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, it instantly rose to the top of my restaurant bucket list.As I made my way into restaurant, my jaw literally dropped, flabbergasted. Seeing Tyler stand in the kitchen with his arms crossed, I felt like a young teeny-bopper seeing Bieber for the first time in person. Screw Bieber-fever, this was Tyler’s Ultimate Fever. We’re lucky enough to be seated at a booth next to the open kitchen, I saw Tyler wave at me (not us, just me). However, I thought he was waving at somebody else, disregarded the gesture, and refocused my attention to the waiter. Again, I peeped over at the kitchen, and Tyler waved again. Acting like a dumbfounded idiot, I reciprocated with the most awkward wave that I will remember for the rest of my life. Sigh.

The meal started with warm buttery popovers that were crusted on the outside and ultra soft on the inside, served with some softened butter. Just awesome. I love when restaurants actually are meticulous and put some TLC in the bread they serve.

While sipping on some amazing Napa grown wine, a flurry of dishes is brought out before us.

Beginning with the Seared Sonoma Foie Gras served with roasted plums, tarragon and sea salt on grilled sourdough. What a phenomenal dish. The plums were sweet and succulent and a perfect complement to the buttery foie gras.Next on tap was a pretty similar dish, but something that I always order in the Salt Roasted Bone Marrow. The marrow is plated over a bed of Parsley-Shallot Salad with a Veal Demi-glaze on a Sourdough Toast with Molasses Butter. I’ll have to confess that I do love the foie gras more than this dish, but the bone marrow was no pushover either. I just think it was missing the unique element of something sweet to balance the saltiness.Our final appetizer was the Santa Barbara Sea Urchin from their raw bar. The sea urchin is presented on top of a Sweet Corn Puree, Bread and Butter Pickles, and Chervil. The dish was absolutely superb, and epitomized San Francisco dining with the use of fresh, in season, ingredients. The lightness of the sea urchin and sweet corn paired perfectly with the saltiness of the previous ones.On to the main events! This is Tyler’s rendition of Steak and Eggs. A Petit Filet Mignon topped with Soft Eggs, with toasted Dungeness crab, Asparagus, and a buttery Béarnaise. He should’ve called it the most decked out Egg’s Benedict in the world. Again, you notice the quality of ingredients in every bite and the perfect execution of every dish.The Wood Grilled Chicken Paillard is an artistic masterpiece of colorful ingredients served with Marin Organic Tomatoes, Frisèe, Bacon Lardons, Watercress and a drizzle of Roasted Chicken Jus. Honestly, if this is the kind of dishes that farmer’s eat, you can call me Old McDonald, because I’m putting on my overalls and carrying out my pitchfork.Finally, comes my dish, their Organic Fried Chicken dipped in a Buttermilk Brine, served with Roasted Garlic, Crispy Wood Herbs, and Lemons. To quote Usher, O-M-G! Drop everything you’re doing and fly out to San Francisco, make your way into Wayfare Tavern and order the most amazing Fried Chicken you’ll ever have in your life. The chicken feels as if it’s quickly fried and then finished off in the oven, since there’s no oily residue at all. The herbs and crust are simply divine. Every bite I smear the roasted garlic like it’s butter and squeeze some of the fresh lemon. This is in a whole different class of Fried Chicken, screw Shake and Bake, KFC, Popeyes, even the highly touted chicken at Blue Ribbon doesn’t compare. Mr. Florence, I see you in an even higher light.You might ask yourself, can this meal get any better? And my answer to you would be yes! (emphasis on the exclamation mark). Along with the three entrees, we also ordered a couple of sides, which included the best Macaroni and Cheese in the world. The Baked Mac and Cheese is laced with Jack Cheese, Garlic Breadcrumbs, and topped with Chives and Smoked Olive Oil. The cheese not only had extraordinary flavor but also had the perfect consistency, not too thick and not too watery. The use of larger macaroni pasta was a magnificent touch. Please, no more, this food-gasm is unbearable (in a great way).Our final dish was the Creamed Corn that was also topped with Smoked Olive Oil and Chive Blossoms. Continuing with the theme of the day, flawlessly executed and just marvelous to eat. I honestly think I’m running out of synonyms for this entry.But wait! There’s more! You thought that was all that we ordered? Keep dreaming, I have to end this momentous night with some dessert. Enter Big Papa’s Banana Cream Pie, filled with Banana Custard, Vanilla Wayfares (get it?), and topped with a Toasted Meringue. I’ve always loved banana cream anything, but just imagine Marie Calender’s Banana Cream Pie stepped up a few notches and that’s what we get here. Although it is a bit sweet, sharing this dessert amongst a few friends ends up being the perfect finishing touch.On our way out, we’re even presented with little Ginger Snap cookies that would’ve made the Keebler Elves quit their jobs.

I truly can’t say much more about how utopic the night has been. I enjoyed beyond a doubt one of the best meals of my life with some of the greatest people (Thanks Tiff and Vanessa). My only advice about eating at Wayfare Tavern (which would’ve made my night complete) is what I learned at the end of the meal. Is that Tyler loves meeting his guests and fans and is a very approachable individual. If you were like me and were simply waiting for him to come around and interrupt your meal, you’d be at a loss. Our waiter told us that we should’ve asked him to meet Tyler. But this only gives me more reason to head back to San Francisco and visit Wayfare Tavern Again.

Wayfare Tavern Scores:
Food: 10/10 – My first and quite possibly only perfect score. Not only did I enjoy great food, it was a great experience.

Restaurant Environment: 10/10 – To personally be at your restaurant shows a lot and how much you care about your actually restaurant.

Service: 10/10 – A kind staff and great recommendations, helped garnish a perfect score.

Value: 10/10 – To set this straight, you can’t enter Wayfare Tavern thinking Dollar Menu, but for what you get. I’ll gladly pay my first born.

Overall: 10/10

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Hide Chan Ramen

I don’t know how many times I have to reiterate myself, but I love ramen! It’s definitely one of my most favorite foods ever. Honestly, picture yourself gazing out upon a freezing New York night while enjoying your delicious warm bowl of ramen. Surreal no?After reading an interesting blog post regarding Hide Chan and their unique offering of ramen, a couple of friends and I decided to grab a quick bite there.

The Pork Buns although delicious are nowhere on the same level of the ones served at Ippudo. The pork is grilled and seared which brings out a ton of flavor. However, they’re not as tender as you would’ve expected, I occasionally had a tough bite. Disappointing. The sauce is a perfect medium, where it’s tasty enough to give it an extra dimension, however mellow enough where it doesn’t dominate the flavor of the pork. Also, what’s up with the iceberg lettuce? Kind of ugly no? The chicken wings have a nostalgic texture and flavor that reminded me of something my grandma used to whip up back in the day. So, brownie points for unknowingly striking up memories from my past and serving it up on a dish.Let me introduce you to the Mega Ton, and boy does it live up to its name. I know I should’ve took the picture along with another dish, but just trust me when I say this bowl was HUGE. Those pieces of delicious pork were all the size of a baby’s knuckle. A common downfall with such generous sized dishes is the drop off in flavor and overall quality of the dish, however not so with the Mega Ton.Next up is the Hakata Spicy Miso Ramen. The hot rayu oil poured across the bowl resonates through out the entire dish when it’s stirred in. Although done well, the dish lacks a certain facet of uniqueness and just feels like something that I’ve had in the past.Ahh. The Hakata Kuro Ramen aka the Black Ramen, the sole reason why I actually chose to eat at Hide Chan Ramen in the first place. Although you probably can’t notice much in this black mess, the bowl is packed with individual flavors that marry and become a dish. The first thing that you probably notice flavor-wise is the garlic, which I absolutely love. Another great addition are the black mushrooms (which I don’t know exactly which kind), almost have the texture of seaweed, but taste great!Finally, we have the Hiyashi Tskuke-Men with a dipping soba broth laced with spicy sesame oil. I was impressed by how well all the ramen noodles were cooked, but especially with the cold ramen. Usually, the noodles become too starchy and tend to stick together (you’ve seen it when making spaghetti, and letting the noodles set). However, the ramen still held a brilliant texture and when dipped into the broth, you get hit right in the mouth with a straight haymaker of spicy heat. Unfortunately, this dish was not perfect. The portion when compared to Mega Ton, was absolutely pathetic and felt like a side order. Also, I guess this is general for all ramen, why skimp on the meat? I mean really.. 2 pieces? I love to see my ramen come with a whole blanket of meat, but until that day, I can only sit here and rant.

Hide Chan Scores:
Food: 7.5/10 – The food was well prepared, but maybe I have a ramen bias and always think ramen is prepared well.

Restaurant Environment: 8/10 – I love being able to sit in the tiny tatami and enjoying great time with friends.

Service: 9/10 – Unfortunately, my friend waited by herself for half an hour, and I waited with her for another half an hour, the servers never threw a fit.

Value: 6/10 – Around $10 for the regular bowls of ramen, and $15 for the Mega Ton, seems a little more than average.

Overall: 7.5/10

Yakitori Taisho

After watching a rerun of Bourdain’s No Reservations: Tokyo, I suddenly developed an immense craving for yakitori. Thank goodness for Yakitori Taisho.My friend and I waited a good 20-30 minutes before we were seated at the bar in this minuscule joint. However, after being seated, you actually get a sense that you were transported to Japan and were scarfing down yakitori skewers in the heart of Tokyo. Traveling half way across the world with just 1 swipe of your MetroCard. It’s a great feeling.We started off with an order of Okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese pancake with squid, shrimp and pork doused with okonomiyaki sauce and mayo (the yummy Japanese kind) then topped with bonito flakes and aonori. The first couple of bites were wonderful, but as it went on, it felt like a chore. The heaviness and thickness of the sauce and mayo starts to get to you. When we finally reached the middle, which had all the delicious good parts, we had already grown sick of the okonomiyaki.  Next came an order of Grilled Miso Salmon. I prefer the stronger taste of cod, but this will have to do. The salmon was still pretty yummy, especially the charred salmon skin. Add a little squirt of lemon and a dollop of the daikon and you’re good to go. Oh my goodness… look at that cornucopia of awesomeness. Where to begin? This behemoth plate of heaven consists of an order of Yakitori Taisho’s A special and B special. The A special is a chicken lover’s dream. And by chicken lover, you better damn near love a chicken to eat chicken uterus. Ok, I’m just kidding, there’s no chicken uterus, but the special does contain a double serving of chicken, chicken skin, chicken gizzard, chicken meat ball, and pork. Yummm.. I feel like Andrew Zimmern. The B special consists of a more conservative fare, chicken, chicken meat balls, scallion, shrimp and beef. Boring Boring Boring, but delicious. 

The shrimp at Taisho is not bad, but the damn shell of the shrimp is near impossible to peel off. Isn’t yakitori supposed to be quick? I don’t feel like spending my whole time peeling shrimp. What’s that on the right you might ask yourself. Steak?Gyutan! aka Grilled Beef Tongue. Once you get past the fact that you’re almost making out with a cow, cow tongue is one of the most amazing things in the world. The odd texture keeps you baffled until the very next bite. Is it chewy? Is it tender? Is it tough? What is it? Well let me tell you, it’s delicious, that’s what it is.Back to the lovely chicken. On the left, you have your more traditional chicken skewer, on the right you have a grilled chicken gizzard. To be honest, it was actually pretty good. The gizzard has a rougher and tougher texture than regular chicken meat and also has a stronger and more bitter flavor.

Yakitori Taisho Scores:
Food: 7/10 – The yakitori did end up satiating my craving, but unfortunately the okonomiyaki did not.

Restaurant Environment: 8/10 – Although I don’t really physically fit in the size of the restaurant, the mental vacation to Tokyo was a delight

Service: 7.5/10 – The food was brought out quickly, but we could barely fit it on the little space we had. Thanks for just staring at us while we struggle.

Value: 8/10 – A buck for just about anything but a cluck.

Overall: 7.5/10