Alba Ray’s

With what seems to be a shortage of Creole and Cajun food in the Mission, Alba Ray’s has become a welcomed addition. They have a family style meal where you can add smaller plates to sample. And actually their appetizers will give you a good range of their menu. It was almost tapas like, which was great. With our group of five, we covered most of the dishes we wanted to try. The price tag is a bit high. Very high for those who had these dishes in the South, but hey, this is crossed with California.

The service was great. Very attentive staff. Given that it’s been open for less than six months, it’s pretty awesome. They’re running a great crew here. Even handled our botched salad gracefully.

Overall, the food was good and the atmosphere was lively. The space was large enough to split the dining and bar area. So if you don’t have a reservation, you may have luck at the bar with the tables around there. But if not, enjoy their bar. It’s fully stocked with all the comforts.

Alba Ray’s

2293 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
+1 (415) 872-9409

Verdict: Worth a try. Come with a big group to sample more dishes.


A Taste of Hitachi Japan

Can you imagine a craft beer from Japan opening a gastropub in the states? In San Francisco of all places? A city where people flock to the latest micro breweries, eagerly anticipating a new flavor discovery. Well, Hitachino Nest Beer stepped up to the challenge. Not only did they bring their beers, but they brought food and ingredients from Hitachi, a city in the Ibaraki Prefecture. Their noteworthy gift, Hitachigyu, a well known brand of wagyu in Japan, and a cooking style that’s got people curious for a taste. One thing to note is that they now have an online reservation system. A great upgrade to the previous lottery system requiring you to sign up to their newsletter.

Friday dinner here we come!

Currently, they offer a $79 tasting menu with a $30 beer pairing that’ll give you three 10 ounce pours with one full beer at the end. Tempting, but given beers were $10 a piece, we decided to make our own selections on beer… and sake. After ordering, it took a bit of time to get started. But once it did, each dish came out at a good pace. Though, each course you could finish within minutes. There were a few misses but the ones that stood out, knocked it out of the park. You’ll wish you had more. But alas, it was after all, a tasting menu.

Overall, you will like the unique flavors, both in the dishes and in the beers. But with only a tasting menu, you might leave hungry. Unless of course, you order more. I’m hoping they will switch to a full dinner menu.

Hitachino Beer & Wagyu

639 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
+1 (415) 792−6160

Verdict: Stick to the bar and order those sous vide jars of goodness. You might not get to try the wagyu though.


Omakase at Sushi Yoshizumi

If you pay careful attention, you’ll notice Chef Akira Yoshizumi and his staff are carefully timing the courses. Each time you’re finished, within minutes you’re presented with the next along with a detailed explanation. That is how you should be treated during omakase. Include amazing food and an intimate atmosphere and you got yourself Sushi Yoshizumi, a modest and unassuming establishment in the heart of downtown San Mateo. Sure, you may walk by it. Except with all the rave reviews and that prestigious Michelin star, you’ll be seeking this place out. I sure did.

Once we got inside, you’re up close and personal with the chef and owner. The seating around the sushi bar was everything one would expect from a place that specializes in the traditional ways of sushi. Minimal. There’s no fancy flowers, refrigerated cases of fish, or even soy sauce between you and the chef. It’s his journey he’s prepared for you. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy.

The Yohei Omakase was priced at $145 USD. It included six types of otumami (small snack size dishes), twelve types of nigiri, owan (soup), and dessert. We also added a mini sake pairing at $50 USD. The whole meal was a little under 2 hours to complete. Most of the time was probably due to my awe of each dish and making it a photo op. So I’m pretty sure you’d finish in less time. Not to say you should eat and go. This place is a place for you to get to know the food and the person behind creating it. Chef Yoshizumi is a very friendly guy and makes time for you. He was more than happy to answer questions. And throughout the meal, he was calm and collected creating each dish. Never rushing to complete things. We basically had front row seats to watch a master at work. All of that, made this dinner spectacular.

I sure am looking forward to coming back here again.

Sushi Yoshizumi

325 E 4th Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
+1 (650) 437-2282

Verdict: A must try for sushi enthusiasts who doesn’t mind that price tag.


That Slow Cooked Short Rib

It’s been awhile since we had Thai food and what a better way to get back into it by checking out Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine. A place that prides itself in using locally sourced organic ingredients, then using it to make some unique looking and some amazing tasty dishes. For me, it was the beef short rib that caught my eye. In its Instagram worthy glory, this in-your-face slab of meat was basically taunting you to try it out. At least, that’s what it did to me and it didn’t disappoint. Non-carnivores, your mileage may vary. However, as good as the short rib was there was another star dish of the night.

So I hope I didn’t paint the wrong picture. This is a place has a huge range of Thai food. All pretty amazing as we found out. We decided to order family style even though the dishes were more individually focused. But I can’t imagine how one person can finish some of the dishes we had.

As for the service, in addition to our waitress, there were many servers going around helping out. I think we had about three others come by and check up on our drinks and meal. This was great. They even helped us portion out our beef noodle soup. Though it was probably due to the messy job we were doing. That short rib was monstrous to deal with. You should have seen it!

Anyways, great service overall, especially for a busy Friday evening, and great food. This is the type of place I see myself revisiting often, especially when friends are in town. See you soon farmhouse kitchen!

Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine

710 Florida Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
+1 (415) 814-2920

Verdict: Although it’s on the pricier side, I recommend trying this place out.


Mara Premium Hand Roll Bar

What exactly is a premium hand roll bar? Well, at Mara it’s a casual restaurant that serves good quality fish wrapped up in a nori. You might think of temaki, the cone shaped hand roll. But it’s not a cone. You may think it’s an uncut futomaki, made with several ingredients. But that’s not it either. The hand rolls here are made to emphasize the crispness of the nori while giving you the same sushi quality of fish and rice. All while being tucked inside The Market within the Twitter building. I guess this place must get lots of business during lunch. And I have to say, they are optimally set up for the lunch crowd.

When I got there it was easy to find a seat. The place was only open for six weeks and it was Friday after five, most people were on the way home or to a bar. I happened to need a bite to eat before starting my weekend. I ordered the five hand roll set for $21.95 (a reasonable price in my opinion) and my first round came out quick. The chef kept an eye on me and made sure once I finished a roll, I had another ready. This was perfect for my situation. An eat and go establishment similar to their sister and neighboring place, Poke Bar. All in all I spent about fifteen minutes there and ordered some food to go.

Once I was done, I paid at the register and was on my way. I won’t compare it with a similar venue down in Los Angeles, but I’m sure glad this concept is here in San Francisco. Though it’s kinda in a tough location, an area you don’t find yourself in or seek out. But if you’re around, you may want to stop by.

Mara Premium Hand Roll Bar

1355 Market Street Ste 100
San Francisco, CA 94103
+1 (415) 767-5130

Verdict: A great place to grab a quick bite to eat without sacrificing quality. Can this please be the bar for fast casual?

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