San Francisco

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Restaurant Review – Bryndisi Italian Restaurant (San Francisco)

Published June 21, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening Bloggy Friends, well I’ve had a productive day today thank goodness. Two days ago I was bed ridden sleeping 15+ hours and waking up to eat bland fish porridge and watching episode of Judge Judy & Ready Steady Cook. Today, I listened to my GP and had a day off from work to stay home to rest. Thank God, I am getting better – my tummy is less sore and my appetite is slowly coming back, I even sneakily ate alittle of my salt and pepper squid & cheese bake broccoli left overs from Pandabear’s last night’s dinner. Cos I had my usual fish porridge, I’m on light diet – which consists of plenty of fluid, soup, porridge, no dairy, no sugary food and no fat!! Life is boring without those categories of food, lunch time I found some left over cuts of pumpkin and made myself some pumpkin porridge. Tonight I said to Pandabear I’m so sick of my light diet food of 3 days. He said to me well, why don’t we get some Red Rooster for dinner tonight that way you don’t have to cook and rest more. I got excited my eyes lit up and I was ready for my mayo chicken roll along with some gravy mash potatoes along with a healthy drink of Vitamin Water.

After finishing my dinner, I was regretting it cos my tummy didn’t feel too well. Pandabear was like slow down with your eating you finished your dinner within 15 minutes that’s why your tummy is not feeling too well. So I decided to go upstairs and continue reading a book by Tow Siang Hwa – Foot Prints in the sands of time an autobiography of Dr Tow Siang Hwa’s life and watching an episode of Masterchef. So as I was saying I had a productive day today, feeling better than yesterday I’ve decided not to sleep for 15+ hours today but woke up around 11am and ate some brekkie, washed some loads of washing, contacted GP clinic to see how I can avoid queuing up at Medicare to claim the gap, contacted the Car insurance as the renewal is coming up and it’s so expensive – I saved myself an additional $70 bonus 🙂 and read through the whole book of Foot Prints in the sands of time by Dr Tow Siang Hwa- an inspiring book which I would recommend to all readers. My only questions is there’s not much mention of his kids? I wonder why, I shall ask him myself when he next visit Perth again. 🙂

Anyways, still in the mindset of San Francisco we decided to have a nice Italian meal for our dinner so asked the concierge which Authentic Italian Restaurant would he recommend, he suggested a few and advise us to rock up to this alley of little streets which consists of Italian, Greek and American Bar & Grill restaurants. I was so excited a whole street of Italian, Greek and American Bar & Grill restaurant – how exciting. So we decided to walk there cos it’s only a few blocks, when we got there it was fascinating – neon lights and signs displaying each little restaurants, there were at least 6 restaurants to choose from. So we decided to go through each restaurants to briefly look at their menus. Each restaurants had a staff standing outside giving customers a copy of their restaurant menu. Finally we got to the last restaurant called Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare, a nice lady was showing us their menu which consist of wood fired pizza, pasta and meat dishes. We decided let’s tried this Italian restaurant it was rather packed inside so they sat us down a table of two outside freezing cold. Fortunately they had a heater on outside.

Neon lights & signs

Neon lights & signs


Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare

Bryndisi Cucina Di Mare

okies, so we had a look through our menu, I suggested we must try their woodfire pizzas and grab a pasta to share that should fill our tummy. So the waiter came, he sounded italian so he got us some fresh warm bread rolls – complimentary that’s nice and we get to dip into this awesome spinach olive oil – I was sure there’s another herb in it but was too hungry so I scoffed it down.

bread rolls with spinach olive oil

bread rolls with spinach olive oil

Now when it came to ordering the waiter arrived and asked us what we should have. I went we want a woodfire pizza and a pasta dish, for the woodfired pizza I chose a pizza by the name of Capricciosa – which consists of artichokes, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, prosciutto and tomato and I asked the waiter “is there a signature pasta dish that you could recommend to us?” he replied “certainly mam, if you like our pasta dish – Linguini Allo Scrigno – which is a pasta baked in a pizza crust which consists of tomatoes and seafood. I was really excited I’ve never had a pasta baked inside a pizza crust – really looking forward to it.

So the pizza arrived first – wow it was huge and the presentation was fantastic, all the fresh ingredients and colour on a thin sliced woodfire pizza, the waiter layered it on top of a wire stand which made it look even more impressive.

Capricciosa Woodfire Pizza

Capricciosa Woodfire Pizza

The Linguini Allo Scrigno shortly followed, and the presentation was amazing. The waiter gently placed the dish on the table.

Linguini Allo Scrigno

Linguini Allo Scrigno

You may be amazed how I could remember the dishe’s names with my fish memory. Well, I wrote them down on my book that’s why! Ha there’s no way I could remember those names. Anyways, the waiter slowly made a cut and the moment he cut it open the steam of fresh seafood aroma rushes into us – it smelt delicious.

Linguini Allo Scrigno cut opened

Linguini Allo Scrigno cut opened

Now I asked the waiter whether we could eat the pizza crust on top, he said ofcourse you can dip them into the sauces and it taste great! So that’s exactly what I did, the pizza crust was crunchy and tasty – not doughy, thin and when you dip them into the pasta sauce it was very flavoursome. However, I had to remind myself not to be carry away with this pizza crust when I had a whole woodfire pizza to finish. So we must be pretty hungry cos both Pandabear and myself managed to finished the whole pizza and our pasta baked dish. The seafood was fantastic fresh, mussels, prawns, fish & scallops were tender not over cooked. I generally don’t like tomato based pasta but the tomato based sauce was infused with the seafood so it gave that extra bit of kick when you eat it. I loved it! Certainly was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten. The food waiting time was great, we received our meal within 10-15 minutes. The staff were friendly.

Here’s my ratings:

Dining Experience: 4.5 star
Food Experience: 4.5 star
Would I recommend: Absolutely YES!

When the waiter came back to collect our empty plates he asked us how we went with our dishes – I said “Balisimo” he replied in some Italian I have no clue what it means maybe some where along the lines of ‘That’s great, we hope to see you again’ so before we left I told the girls we really enjoyed our meal and we found out the lady was the owner’s daughter and apparently they own another 2 Italian restaurant down the streets selling different dishes. How bizarre?? Wouldn’t they be competing against each other? Well, perhaps they all got their different signature dishes and specialties, I said I would come back to try another two if I have time and it turned out we didn’t have time…oh well, there’s always next time 🙂

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Restaurant Review – Grand Hyatt Restaurant (San Francisco)

Published May 21, 2010 by Mary Jane

Long time no see bloggy friends, it’s been more than 2 weeks since I’ve updated my last blog. I must really apologise, time is really flying and I’ve been caught again amongst busy things. Having to come home from work after gluing myself to the computer for close to 8 hours, the desire to switch on my mac and post my blogs have been really really low. But anyways, tonight I’ve decided I’m going to upload some photos and do some update on my blog. Well, I’ve nearly finished posting all the restaurant reviews from San Francisco, except for one final restaurant…that is the Grand Hyatt Restaurant. One night, we thought to ourselves so lazy to go out to dine at a restaurant – why don’t we just dine at the Grand Hyatt Restaurant, surely our experiences of dining at restaurants inside the hotel is usually quite a good one. So we thought anyways…

Grand Hyatt Restaurant

Grand Hyatt Restaurant

window view seat

window view seat

We booked for a table of two, when we arrived at 6.30pm there were hardly any customers. The decor was neat but kinda old, all tables were set up with wine glasses and cutlery and some tables were joined together so we thought to ourselves maybe we’ve came a little early. Nevermind, it just means our food will taste better cos we’re the first customer there. The Asian waiter sat us down next to the window where we could see a beautiful view of San Francisco City and was very friendly spoke fluent American English and offered us some drinks. Pandabear and I spotted the tropical fruit punch non-alcoholic and ordered this for both of us.

Tropical Fruit Punch

Tropical Fruit Punch

The fruit punch arrived and it was very tasty – I could taste a mixture of pineapple, orange, and some other flavours which I couldn’t pick up but Pandabear loved it and ordered 1 more glass of it. We weren’t feeling too hungry so thought we’ll order an entree to share – which was prawns cooked in tomato based sauce and polenta. Pandabear isn’t a polenta type of guy, but I convinced him if it was cooked properly it will be silky smooth similar to mash potato so he was convinced. We were served with hot home made bread rolls that was lovely. When our entree arrived it was tiny like 3 prawns and to be honest the presentation was pretty average, now I would expect for the presentation of a dish, you have to at least make sure the sauces don’t splatter around the plates…but I could spot some sauce stains on the white plate. The prawns were over cooked, the polenta was rough and grainy instead of smooth and the tomato based sauce just didn’t have that kick. It was disappointing…

Prawns with polenta in a tomato based sauce

Prawns with polenta in a tomato based sauce

Now for mains, Pandabear loves Caesar salad – now you can’t go wrong with a Caesar salad it’s so easy to make and I wouldn’t usually order a caesar salad in a restaurant, but unfortunately Pandabear loves Caesar salad and he’s not adventurous enough to try other salads. So we had that..when it arrived, I stared at the plate – the lettuce looks so miserable they didn’t have that crispness looks in them, seemed a little soggy drenched by the salad dressing, some shavings of Parmesan cheese and some anchovies with a thin piece of bread that’s meant to be croutons?? The dish just looks miserable and lack of that freshness in it. Very disappointed how can you go wrong with a simple caesar salad???

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

So my main course finally came and I’ve decided to try their fish with creamy white sauce pasta served with asparagus and mushrooms. Sounds rather nice and I was thinking to myself if they stuff up this dish, I will have to give them a very bad rating. So my main arrived well, the presentation was still a little lacking, spotted some sauce stain again and it just looks as though a whole pile of mushrooms have been dumped on top of the fish. The garnish needs to go and I could see the oil oozing out from the sauce which kinda puts me off. So I taste it and it actually didn’t taste that bad, except it’s definitely very creamy and oily – I love the mushrooms & asparagus, fish was tender but the pasta was way too oily and it lacks in seasoning. So it’s edible but lacks in flavouring. I passed the rest of the dish over to Pandabear and asked him to eat it cos I couldn’t finish it. The serving size was decent though….

fish with white sauce served with mushrooms & asparagus

fish with white sauce served with mushrooms & asparagus

So both entree and mains were disappointing, the waiter came back and said would you like to have a look at the dessert menu?? I was thinking long and hard and decided well, let’s see if they can make it up with their dessert. Maybe, just maybe their desserts will blow me away…..so I spotted a chocolate lava cake served with strawberries and icecream…yum yum…I haven’t had chocolate lava cake for ages…so I asked the waiter is this dessert good? He replied it’s one of our best dessert highly recommended. So I thought to myself, why not give it a try. When it arrived, the presentation looks good – the strawberries were fresh, the chocolate lava cake looks moist except the icecream has already melted leaving a pool of melted icecream…now the test was to cut through the lava cake and to see the chocolate lava running and oozing out from the cake. When I cut it open it was dry there were no sauces oozing out. I was very disappointed!! The chocolate lava cake had failed miserably, we still finished our dessert – we never waste food unless it’s totally not edible…

chocolate lava cake with strawberries & icecream

chocolate lava cake with strawberries & icecream

Cut open lava cake - no lava!!

Cut open lava cake - no lava!!

After a disappointing meal, it was time for some rating:

Dining experience: 3 star – just pass as the waiters were nice and friendly
Food experience: 2 star
Would I recommend: Definitely NOT!!!

Gadget Review – Prawns De-veiner & peeler

Published May 6, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening bloggy friends, well I’m pleased to advise that I’ve finally resolved my IT nightmare problem today. I said to myself last night there’s nothing I could do about it – don’t worry just pray about it and go to sleep it’s a thing to sort out for next day. I had to go and speak to IT straight away the next morning to see whether they can retrieve our important files within our department which I have accidentally deleted it from our network drive which you can’t retrieve from the recycling bin!!! So I phoned IT around 8.30am and I was so glad to speak to one of the senior IT support guy who asked me what is the name of the folder that I have accidentally deleted and I told him what it is, and when he tried to salvage the files he said there’s no such folder by that name??? I did a search of all the folders incase they have sneakily been shifted to another folder within other drives – during my madness of multitasking? Unfortunately, I still couldn’t locate the folders???

Then as I hang up the phone sat in front of the computer, mumbling to myself trying to figure out what ways I can retrieve the missing folder. Suddenly, I got this brain wave working – bingo I’ve figured it out – I was trying to back track the steps and it’s definitely really hard when you have a fish memory. So I stood up decided it was time to walk to the IT department and explain to them how they could retrieve this missing folder. After explaining to the senior IT support guy regarding retrieving the back up tape from Tuesday of a certain folder, I felt much better so walked back to my station patiently waiting for IT dude to retrieve the folder. Then suddenly I had another brain wave shock…I realised that I might have deleted some other important folders which I can’t really remember – fish memory. So I quickly flick and email and then I received an instant reply from another IT dude to call him to discuss this. All in all, I had to walk myself to the IT department again and sat down next to this tall looking System Administrator (with some help of chocolate & lemon lollie bribe we both double checked against the folders I need against the ones they have backed up. I thanked the tall-looking system admin guy he replied “Not a problem, next time I’ll have to charge you a chocolate tower” So all in all, I’ve had to speak to 4-5 different IT staff – but it was a happy ending in the end cos I got my folders back (even thought they were back to the original state and I had to start shifting and transferring stuff again, I shut myself off from everyone around me so I can have total concentration and managed to clean the drive! Yay)

Anyways, back to gadget review – well we are still in the mindset of San Francisco and I bought this nifty little prawns De-veiner & peeler from a Chinese shop down at the China Town. I’ve decided to cook a prawn pasta dish which I have watched from Food Safari and try to replicate the recipe. So I took out my nifty prawns De-veiner but the only problem is it didn’t really give any instructions on how to use it?? So I had to guess, by holding the end bit with my hand – ripping the prawn head off first and insert it inside the prawn shell and just rip the shell apart and using the tip of the gadget to pick up the slippery veins…it seemed to work. Here are the pictures…

Prawns De-Veiner & peeler

Prawns De-Veiner & peeler

Gadget in action

Gadget in action

I would recommend this gadget as it’s pretty cheap, and quite useful – except my only criticism was it didn’t have any instructions on how to use it – so I had to guess…do they just assume people know how to use one???

Restaurant Review – Burger Bar (San Francisco)

Published May 3, 2010 by Mary Jane

Now, I’m nearly towards the end part of San Francisco – it’s a place with great people and great food. So, we’ve heard people raving about the burgers in US saying how they are delicious and super size. So we found out this restaurant in Macy’s department store called Burger Bar who is renowned for serving awesome burgers. I believe this place is owned by Hubert Keller, the menu has some info of this chef and he seemed pretty cool and I’ve watched a few episodes of his cooking and it seems pretty impressive. So we caught a lift up to about level 8 to the burger bar and when we arrived the restaurant had pretty casual decor, a bar and some tables – now how the restaurant stands out is the view you get from sitting by the window side you can view the whole area of Union square.

The waitress was nice and friendly sat us a table near the window side which had a great view. We went through the menus, it was hard deciding which burgers to pick there were so many varieties…anyways Pandabear decided to go with the fancy burger. A surf & turf burger, black angus, grilled half lobster, grilled green asparagus on a plain bun served with skinny fries – sounds pretty gourmet to me. A higher end scale of burger range. When the waitress brought it out, the presentation was fantastic – however I thought the grilled lobster looked a little overcooked. When Pandabear cut into his burger – it was too large to eat by holding it in your hands. He tasted the burger and said the burger patty is yummy but the lobster was dry and overcooked. So he was alittle disappointed with his surf and turf.

Surf & Turf Burger

Surf & Turf Burger

I went for the American Classic Black Angus beef, American cheese, crispy bacon, tomato, onion on a sesame bun served with skinny fries. I always believe you can never go wrong with a classic dish. When it arrived I saw a large piece of gherkins on a red onion. How interesting, and the presentation looks great. The crispy bacon lying on to of the cheese and the bun. I know its enough to cause a heart attack but the taste was well worth it. Apparently, I was told you can have unlimited gherkins and onions all you need to do is ask the waitress. There are also a tub of mustard & ketchup (in Aussie land we call them tomato sauces) sitting on your table for you to use as much as you like. I was pretty stoked with my classic burger, the Pattie was well cooked and it went so well with the rest of crispy bacon, cheese, gherkins and onions. I even manged to to put them together and eat them like a burger – it requires great skill.

American Classic Black Angus Beef

American Classic Black Angus Beef

The view was fantastic, while we were waiting for our meals to arrive – I was staring outside looking at different people standing, sitting, talking, bike riding around the union square area. It was rather entertaining and waiting for our meals didn’t seem too long. The food serving size was generous and delicious.

Union Square

Union Square


The waiter occasionally came to our table to check on us in terms of how was our meal going and whether we need more drinks. So that was rather good. Now it came to pay time, we couldn’t locate anyone around – so we walked towards the cashier place waited for a few minutes, thought to ourselves where are the waiters/waitresses – people could have easily sneaked off without paying. So feeling a bit impatient and we saw a waitress walking towards us, she didn’t apologise for making us wait to pay??? That sort of dropped down the standard of customer service & dining experience.

Here’s my rating:

Dining Experience: 4 star
Food Experience: 4 star
Would I recommend it? Yes

Restaurant Review – Hang Ah Dim Sum (San Francisco)

Published April 24, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening Bloggy friends, well today I managed to wake up around morning time rather than sleeping till afternoon and I decided to go grocery shopping after been locked and quarantined at home for 3 whole days I was eager to go out for the fresh air and sunshine. Anyways, I managed to buy some groceries and got home and bring in the crispy dry clothes and had some pumpkin porridge for lunch. I had just enough time to rest for a bit and head towards church for Children Ministry Training. I’m awaiting to watch for an episode of Iron Chef.

Anyways, as I’ve mentioned earlier San Francisco have one of US’s largest China Town. So we decided to have some dim sum for lunch, to be honest there were so many dim sum restaurants we were contemplating which one we should go. Then suddenly this elderly lady gave us a flyer and asked us to try out at Hang Ah Dim Sum – she said ‘please go and try very delicious!!’ I read through the menu flyer seems like the typical Dim Sum menu. Anyways, I asked her whereabouts it is, she pointed towards the up hill side of a street all the way up the top. I was thinking, I really couldn’t be bothered walking all the way up hill to a dim sum restaurant. But the elderly lady insisted on taking us there, I felt a bit bad anyways – we decided to try it. It was a bit of a climb I was amazed the elderly lady was so fit walking faster than us, I was struggling to follow her.

Now when we got there, it was on a weekend so we were expecting the whole restaurant to be fully packed. But there were still some empty tables, plus not many Asians in the restaurants – I was whispering to Pandabear – I’m regretting of coming to this restaurant. The restaurant had one waitress and she seemed tired and impatient, handed us the menu and walked away. Can’t blame her, she was the only one working as a waitress and cashiering as well. Thankfully, both Pandabear and I weren’t that hungry so we spotted their dim sum special – which consists of special fried rice, 1 x prawn dumpling, 1 x pork buns, 1 x Pork dumpling, 1 x pan fried dumpling and Pandabear felt like radish cake. When we received our plate of dim sum, I was like wow the bun is round instead of the usual pointy shape, all the dim sum was warm not hot. After we ate our dim sum, we waited and asked when is our fried rice coming? Apparently they forgotten about our fried rice. When it came, I stared at it and whispered to Pandabear it looks like home style fried rice instead of restaurant style fried rice. We didn’t finish, cos the taste was bland.

Dim Sum Combo

Dim Sum Combo

Radish Cake

Radish Cake

Fried Rice

Fried Rice

Here’s my rating:

Dining Experience: 3 star
Food Experience: 3 star
Would I recommend it? NO!