Archive | June, 2011

Breakfast Taco & Waffle+Fried Chicken Slider.

21 Jun

Marengo on Union is this small hideaway right above the infamous Bar None. It is a cozy haven for the whiskey-thirsty, serving intoxicating nectars in a springtime of colors, and delicious sliders to please their hazy patrons.

On a beautiful Saturday morning such as this one, Marengo was in all its glory. Early summer skylight shined through their half-opened sky roof.

This was not the place for your $11 breakfast platter. Here everything was served in small, bite-sized portion for some mix n’ match. Without reading much into it, I went  for the more unusual sounding: the breakfast taco plus the waffle and fried chicken slider. And my, were they looking glorious underneath the sun. Inside the taco was the soft-scrambled eggs topped with melted cheese and speckles of chorizo. Green cilantro shreds laid on top of the gold, salsa waiting to be poured.

To the side was the waffle slider: neatly stacked with a piece of crisply fried chicken in the middle, powered sugar dusted generously on top. Oh my my, oh hell yes.

So first try, the taco. As breakfast burritos are quite common (and a lovely choice as hangover cures go), I was not expecting much beyond an open-faced version. Wrong, obviously. Right underneath the bed of scrambled eggs light and fluffy yet rich with sharp cheddar, it came a crunch. A surprise, it was a small bed of golden hash brown underneath! The crispy texture was a fantastic juxtaposition to the cheesy eggs; topped with the salsa, the taco was a summer fiesta on my tongue. While the tortilla was a tad dry, I fully enjoyed this combination. Breakfast burrito, you have been topped.

A sip of my bloody mary and a breath caught from my excitement at discovering something so simple yet delightful, I moved onto the waffle slider: the slider bar’s version of chicken and waffles. The waffle was not soft and buttery but almost crunchy to the bite – which I learnt later was to soak up all that delicious syrup. The small piece of fried chicken was divine; a honey rub before being lightly breaded then fried, juicy still in the center. That hint of honey in the chicken made the idea of mixing savory and sweet (which I never appreciated much) harmonious.

While no ingredient here was out of the ordinary, the modern twist on breakfast food and their little touches of genius (hash brown & honey rub) made the dishes interesting and different to me. And seriously, what could go wrong with a place that comes with a “brunch cocktail” menu?

Marengo on Union |  1980 Union Street | San Francisco, CA 94123 | 415.441.2575

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All-In-One Sandwich.

12 Jun

Originally from Pittsburgh, Giordano Bros is a small corner joint on Columbus Ave, offering live music, beer and bites. It is, of course, also one of the biggest Steelers’ bar in the city. I remember many Sunday afternoons strolling past, peering through their almost floor-length window to see the place packed with cheering / tearing fans of black and yellow.

(not taken during football season)

Aside from providing Steelers’ fans a home-away-from-home, Giordano’s also serves up a Pittsburgh delicacy: the All-In-One Sandwich. This sandwich has a cult following that rivals Ike’s Place. Though, unlike the crazy options Ike’s has to offer, the All-In-One Sandwich is far simpler. Italian meat of your choice, provolone, cole slaw and fries. All of that sandwiched between two slices of bread. A dish made of unusual ingredients it is not, but it does comes on board under “familiar food goes wild”. Served with a fork in case you like to eat the spillage salad-style.

Now it sounds like a lot (and a combination slightly bizarre) to be packed into one sandwich – and ultimately, one bite. But it wasn’t. Imagine tasting it in this order: a slice of white French bread soft and sweet as the cloud, followed by the vinegary crunchy cole slaw, crispy ends of thick cut french fries with a mashed-potatoy center, then onto melted provolone, warm and hearty grilled italian sausage (in my case), and ending with another slice of fluffiness.

It was so delicious yet non-disruptive. The varying textures and tastes made this into a one-bite-wonder. It was messy yet fun (as the best foods always are!), and washed down nicely with some beer in an ice-chilled mug. I also soaked the bread with some leftover wing sauce to add a layer of tangy spice. All the simple awesomeness in one big, blissful bite.

All. In. One.

Giordano Bros | 303 Columbus Ave. | San Francisco, CA 94133 | 415.397.2767

Grilled Chicken Liver.

1 Jun

After a Memorial weekend of sausage and steak grilling, I thought I had exhausted whatever char-loving portion of my palette. Well, I was wrong. A breezy Monday evening, as if dragged by the insatiable ghost that is my appetite, I ended up here at Chotto, the local izakaya.


Izakayas have been making the rounds in San Francisco, spreading from Inner Richmond through the rest of city like wild, ridiculously delicious fire. Chotto was among them. Set in the Marina, its menu was rather conservative at first. They offered Japanese bar bites in forms of raw dishes and skewered meats, but was careful not to intimidate customers with the more traditional variations such as gizzards and skins. But with its spring menu came bolder in their experimentation, testing the Marina waters with more unfamiliar ingredients. Such was the dish I came from: yaki tori motsu, grilled skewers of daily chicken parts. Lucky me, it was chicken liver day!

The two skewered grilled livers came to me oh-so-beautifully. Their skins were lightly charred, with a nice crisp around the succulent lobes of liver. The skewers appeared to be only lightly seasoned; served on the side a wedge of lemon and a pinch of Shichimi, the Japanese “seven flavor chili pepper”.

When I bit into it, I tasted the thinly crisped exterior, then into a cooked, slightly meaty layer. But that layer only lasted about 2 millimeters into my bite. Then the lobe of liver bursted – literally – into a world of wonders. It had the texture between melted brie and the silkiest tofu – rich, creamy, smooth. Unlike the delicate flavor of monk fish liver, the grilled chicken liver was powerful, assertive, and full of life. While a piece of foie gets pan-seared carefully, these chicken livers were touched by wild flames and were re-birthed gloriously – straight into my belly.

A slight squeeze of lemon and a tiny sprinkle of chili pepper brought the sweetness of the liver even further, rounding the flavors perfectly. It was such a delightful experience from two not-too-tiny skewers of chicken livers. And yes, I ate them all. By myself. I’m not ashamed.

Bonus dish: the grilled pork belly skewers. It was firm and meaty, with tiny ribbons of fat in between. Delicious, and oddly refreshing; not something one would expect when the phrase “pork belly” was in the order. Yummy plus plus!


Next up on my Chotto experience: grilled cow tongue! They unfortunately ran out for the day – by 7PM! It seems that weird eats is in vogue here by the bay.

Chotto | 3317 Steiner Street | San Francisco, CA 94123 | 415.441.2223