Not much could spoil me more than the opportunity to go into the city two days in a row! Usually we only get one day to do as much as we possibly can. So, it was a real treat to not only get to go again but to have Paul's younger brother Eric as our driver and tour guide. If there's anyone we know that loves food equal to or more than us, it would be Eric.
The garden was maybe smaller than I expected but still a spectacular beauty. It was a lovely day to be there as well. Busy, but still enjoyable. Warm, but not too hot.
Besides walking around viewing the garden, they also offer a little spot to enjoy some traditional teas and little snacks. Sharing between the 4 of us meant we didn't get much but it was a sweet little treat for midday.
After the tea garden we walked around the park a bit. The grounds are vast and we only saw a small part of it. Which was okay on this day since we had more places to go and more food to find.
Eric suggested The Fatted Calf. Because of the name alone...I was up for trying it out! This little gem of a spot delivers quite a meaty punch. It was hard to decide on just one offering so we opted for three or four items. A couple salamis, paté and a baguette before heading to a local park.
A little view of the city, some shade and a park bench was what we needed for our impromptu picnic. This park is one you've probably seen but didn't know what it was called. The one you see in the t.v. show Full House and which hosts views of the "painted ladies". Alamo Square was a perfect place to stop and enjoy our salted, cured pig parts.
After our picnic, we loaded up and headed toward the Mission District. Parking in the city is often times hard to come by and this part of town is no exception. We literally drove around 20 min. to find a spot but it was well worth it.
Luckily, my itinerary had three places all within about two blocks of each other so we could easily walk. After all the food we were planning on having...that was a welcome activity.
First stop. Namu Gaji. I first heard of this spot from the Food Network show Man Finds Food. Guess there's some drama about Adam Richman these days but I'm not posting any opinion on that. Just stating where I found this place. Not pictured here, but worth talking about, was their barley tea. Toasty, earthy flavored drink. Comes iced and pairs perfectly with their food.
Admittedly, we originally wanted to try a dish that was talked about on the show. An off menu item combination of two dishes already on their menu. The Loco Moco and the kimchi fried rice. As I talked with the waitress about the dish though she kinda discouraged us from getting it. Basically because it's a gut bomb. Instead we opted for the special of the day. Okonomiyaki. Paul and I learned to make these many years ago after taking a Japanese cooking class but I imagine they're all a little different depending on where you get them. In general, it's a sort of savory pancake with shrimp, scallions, pickled ginger, cabbage and topped with bonito flakes, mayo and okonomi or tonkatsu sauce. I honestly don't remember all the ingredients in this one but kimchi was used. It was hearty and was plenty for all of us to share. This one came with the added bonus of being topped with cracked eggs, cooked until the whites are set and the yolks run golden. We were not disappointed in our change of direction with this dish. No, not one bit.
The walk from Namu Gaji up to our next stop brought us by this beauty...Mision San Francisco de Asis or more commonly known as Mission Delores. One of the many fascinating architectural gems in San Fran.
Asian dumplings at Chino were next on the list. Being early in the day it wasn't crowded so we had our choice of seats.
Since the okonomiyaki was so filling, we opted to just do drinks and share two orders of xiao long bao (which are also referred to as "soup dumplings"). Tender dough stuffed with a deeply flavored, gelatinous filling. Which when steamed melts into a delicious, albeit lava hot, broth. Do take care when eating these!
The last stop because we were literally right there, was Bi-Rite Creamery. I've been here once before and had the Sam's Sundae (after seeing it on a food show many years ago). Probably wouldn't have picked it otherwise.
This sundae comes with their chocolate ice cream topped with a bergamot olive oil, Maldon sea salt flakes and fresh whipped cream. Strange to think about but delicious to taste. I will admit that this time around they were a little heavy handed on the salt for my tastes and I was pretty full from our eating extravaganza but I still enjoyed it and would get it again. Be warned that there is often a long line to get in. Which is usually a good sign when it comes to food. They are pretty efficient and the line goes fairly quickly. So don't be scared! Get in there.
That wraps up our last full day in San Francisco/Marin County. So much good food. Beautiful architecture. Rolling hills. Ocean. Bridges. An overall amazing city to visit. Can't wait to return.