R & G Lounge (SF Chinatown)

Originally uploaded by illewminator.
every time i go up to SF, i look forward to eating at R & G Lounge for upscale cantonese-style dining. i've never been disappointed by the food at this restaurant -- then again, i've been lucky enough to have always been a guest here so i've never had to pay, therefore, i have no idea how pricey it is. i just know i'm always impressed by both the quality and presentation of the food.

this photo is of a shrimp that was so huge, i had to take a picture of it. it looked like a baby lobster... and it was delicious. some other dishes that seem to be R & G specialties (since i've had them each time i've been there):
- chicken stuffed with sticky rice... my favorite, but requires 24-hour pre-order.
- salt & pepper fried crab... finger lickin' good!
- chilean sea bass (the biggest filet i've ever seen... it was lightly glazed with a soy/teriyaki-ish sauce and the meat was so tender, moist, and rich)

if the above dishes aren't enough of a tip-off that this is no ordinary chinese restaurant, the fact that they actually serve dessert should. the dessert was a visually pleasing red-bean concoction that sort of looked like layered jello, with a layer of pureed red beans, a layer of clear gelatin, and a top layer of white coconut jello. now i don't personally believe that any type of beans qualify as a dessert item, but the red bean fans at our table were in heaven.

the next time you're in SF, make the trip to R & G. it's on Kearny sort of on the outer edge of chinatown -- i forget the cross street (it might be Clay...). i just know it's a short block down from that park/plaza that's built over a public parking garage. look it up!



sashimi salad
Originally uploaded by illewminator.
for the best sushi in the valley, restaurant chiba is the place to go. ultra-fresh fish expertly cut by the friendly sushi chefs and served up by the best waitresses in town (and they love it when you share your sapporo with them!).

this picture is of the sashimi salad -- it's a bit pricey, but as you can see, you get plenty of sashimi and it is a delicious way to start your meal. i'm also not usually a spicy tuna fan, but chiba's spicy tuna roll is so delicious, i do order it here (and here only).

another favorite dish to order is the chirashi -- a generous and varied selection of sashimi served over a big bowl of rice. this is a great pick if you're not doing the family style thing or you're with non-sushi-eating people (chiba also has a full menu of of non-sushi items).

price-wise, chiba is not cheap. but with sushi, i think you get what you pay for and chiba is a good value for such high quality sushi.

the only trick to this place is finding it. it's located in a strip mall in a mostly latino, working-class neighborhood on the corner of vanowen and lankershim. and, in only-in-LA fashion, chiba's next door neighbor is a pretty happening-looking (and sounding) guatamalan dance club, so after your meal, you can go next door and work off your meal.


late night tip...

although the pacific dining car is well known for its above average steaks (at above average cost!), it is less known for it's great breakfast menu. located on 6th street, a couple blocks east of union, PDC isn't in a neighborhood that you'd want to get lost in, so for those of you who are directionally challenged, make sure you take someone who knows the lay of the land.
anyhow, my recommendations are as follows:

joe's special. - an exceptional marriage of eggs, sausage (homemade, i might add!), spinach, and onions. quite good. also available /w ham, i think.
roast beef hash - this is really good. bite sized pieces of prime rib mixed w/ onions, potatoes & other goodness, topped with a poached egg.
breakfast filet & eggs - the perfect "breakfast sized" filet accompanied by two eggs /w hashbrowns. (you can also subsitute tomatoes and/or cottage cheese for your hashbrowns, but then i'd probably laugh at you.)

there are numerous other items on the menu, and i've heard that they're pretty much all good, but these are the only things that i've tried.

each breakfast item is about $15 + tax & tip, so expect to pay $20 per person by the time you get out of there. (you'll want to tip nicely, because the service here is great!)

finally, i've saved the best for last. The Pacific Dining Car is open 24 hours a day! I believe they serve breakfast starting at 11 pm, but if you're arriving before 2 am, I would call first, just to be on the safe side. Dinner is quiet a bit more expensive (at least $50/pp), so getting stuck with only the dinner menu to choose from can become problematic...especially if you're trying to impress :).
here's a link to their website.