JapaCurry Truck

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With JapaCurry Truck now found and eaten, I think I've completed the main Japanese curry spots in the city.  Although someone just referred me to one on the outskirts, but I'm not counting that one..  The JapaCurry Truck was a hard one to knock off my list since 1), its a truck and I don't really chase after trucks (I prefer to let fate take its course), 2).  its usually only around weekday lunches in downtown SF.  I found this one on a Tuesday on Howard and 1st.  The line wasn't too bad and it moved pretty quickly.  From lining up to food in mouth time was probably 10 minutes so its definitely doable for lunch.
The menu consists of pretty much all things curry related from the traditional tonkatsu (pork) to karaage (fried chicken) curry.  For the non curry people, they do have a bento option.

First of all, the portion size, while workday lunch appropriate, isn't your traditional Japanese curry sized plate.  It's about half the size and a noticeably smaller amount of rice so you don't fall asleep during your afternoon meetings.  The curry comes in a separate container and can be made in regular or spicy.  I opted for the spicy and its not spicy at all.  The curry sauce is not as thick as some Japanese curries and has no chunks of vegetables.   
The chicken katsu is very lightly breaded so it doesn't have a coat of crispiness surrounding the chicken.  Even though the curry isn't that thick, it does coat the juicy pieces of katsu nicely, but there isn't too much flavor going on.  I still prefer Muracci's (see post HERE) over this. 

 The pumpkin croquette is a distinctly different item at JapaCurry.  Usually croquettes are made with the standard white potato as their starch, but JapaCurry uses pumpkin.  The pumkpin croquette doesn't have the fried crust that I prefer in most croquettes.  It's a little more apparent in the croquette because the inside is so soft so one bite is just a mushy mess, but the flavor is good.  The pumpkin reminds me of the sweet potato tempura that I love so much.  Also, there is a little too many vegetables included, even for me.  I would have preferred one more piece of croquette and a little more rice. 

A bite inside thec croquette exposes its orange, sweet filling.

Address:                JapaCurry Truck
                               various locations
                               San Francisco, CA 
Type:                      Japanese

Popular chomps:    pork katsu
                               pumpkin croquette
Chomp worthy:      pumpkin croquette       



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Being from the East Bay, I'm a little surprised I've never eaten at this spot.  Its known as one of the best burgers in the area.  It's even made Grubstreet's 50 best burgers.  TrueBurger is ironically located around the corner from Whole Foods in the Lake Merritt area of Oakland.  
The menu here is comfortably simple with no frills.  Chili, cheese, and bacon and some combination of the three make up most of the menu put out by former chefs from Delfina, Bay Wolf, Absinthe, and Jardiniere. 

 Hearty, beefy chili with melty cheese and sprinkled with green onions and a dollop of sour cream all over some McDonald-esque fries.  You don't have to rush and finish these fries because the cheese is melted nicely and doesn't clump.  Not sure if it was the smaller than expected portion or what, but this just didn't satisfy me.  The taste reminds me of Taco Bell hard shelled tacos, which isn't a bad thing in my book.

The portion size and shape of the burgers here remind me of Super Duper (see post HERE).  These burgers fit perfectly into your hands.  The cheesy bacon burger comes with cheese, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, and a garlic mayo. The patty is a little on the small side so if you prefer a more beefy burger, I'd suggest a double.  It's not one of those greasy burgers you can really sink your teeth into.  It's more of a clean tasting burger that doesn't leave you feeling guilty afterwards.  The fresh housemade bun doesn't hold up too well and ended up falling apart halfway through.

You can see the patty is a little on the thin side, but the bread is fluffy and fresh.
The breaded and fried mushroom burger reminded me of the mushroom burger at SuperDuper.  Juicy, but fried with a light crust.  The surprising feature of this burger is the stuffed mozzarella cheese inside the portobello mushroom, which would have been really awesome had I been more prepared for it squirting at me.  Although both burgers had a garlic sauce, I could only taste it in the mushroom burger.  I preferred this mushroom burger over the cheesy bacon burger and not just because I'm not a bacon fan.    

 The mozzarella cheese oozes out of the portobello in a very nice cheesy consistency and not oddly clumpy like most melted cheese..

I prefer my milkshake to be a little on the thicker side so that the first sip hurts your cheeks.  The milkshakes here are on the liquidy side, but they do have a real ice cream taste to it.
Comparing similar styles of burgers, I prefer Super Duper to this, but you can see its similarities right down to their housemade pickles.  I'm not sure if its the best burger in the East Bay.  I guess I'll continue my search for that. 

Address:                  TrueBurger
                                 146 Grand Ave.
                                 Oakland, CA 
Type:                        burger

Popular chomps:      chili cheese fries
                                  bacon cheesy burger
                                  mushroom burger

Chomp worthy:         mushroom burger
                                  bacon cheesy burger    


Trouble Coffee Company

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This coffee shop is a hipster haven in the middle of the Sunset.  Located by Outerlands (see HERE), Trouble Coffee is  a nice alternative if you can't bear the 2 hour wait.
Their combo called "build your own damn house" comes with a coffee, young coconut, and a piece of cinnamon toast.  The combo works as a hangover cure and really hits the spot after a "late night" with the caffeine to wake you up, the bread to soak up whatever is left in your stomach and the coconut juice to hydrate.
The coffee is smooth with a slight sweet aftertaste.  They also roast their own beans here.
They use the exact coconuts you can buy at Ranch 99 for less than half the price they sell it here for, but it came with the combo and I needed to satisfy my curiosity on this coconut and coffee combination.  It's an odd thing to serve at a coffee shop and even stranger to see hipsters sitting on a side of the street in Sunset sipping on coconuts, but its a refreshing beverage to help wash down the coffee and cinnamon toast.
The cinnamon toast is cut from a fresh loaf when you order.  The thick piece of bread is generously slathered with butter and heavily sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  The bread is nice and thick so you can really sink your teeth into it. 
For the non coffee drinkers, Trouble has other options besides their coconut juice.  Hot chocolate is one.  Its more on the milky side with a very mild chocolate flavor.
There are other toast options as well.  Nutella toast!  Who doesn't love nutella?  Especially slather all over a thick piece of toast.
Just a close up view of the thickness of the toast.
Address:                   Trouble Coffee Company
                                  4033 Judah St.
                                  San Francisco, CA 
Type:                         coffee/brunch

Popular chomps:       build your own damn house
                                   cinnamon toast
                                   nutella toast
                                   peanut butter and honey toast
Chomp worthy:          build your own damn house
                                   cinnamon toast
                                   nutella toast


Sketch Ice Cream

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After a long hiatus, Sketch has resurrected a couple blocks down from their former 4th Street location.  The winter chill has been settled in, but that has never stopped me from indulging in some ice cream.  I'm not usually a fan of soft serve ice cream, but Sketch's ice cream has a little more solidity than most soft serve ice creams.

Their minimalistic interior reminds me a little of Craftsman and Wolves (see post HERE).  They sell other nibbles like olive oil cakes, shortbreads, and even empanadas. 

Their famous Earl Grey ice cream was all sold out so vanilla bean on their housemade waffle cone was the next best option.  First of all their cone is just amazing!  Its small and wide so the ice cream touches every bit of the cone.  The waffle cone is light and kept it crisp to the last bite.  The flavor of the vanilla bean is clean and subtle.

Burnt caramel is one of the other popular flavors at Sketch.  Each bite is creamy and smooth with a strong salted caramel flavor - similar to Bi Rite's salted caramel (see post HERE).

Address:                   Sketch Ice Cream
                                  2080 4th St.
                                  Berkeley, CA 
Type:                         ice cream/dessert

Popular chomps:      earl grey
                                  burnt caramel

Chomp worthy:         burnt caramel  



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The weather just started getting cold in San Francisco and there is a little chill in the air.  The Christmas tree lots are starting to get set up in every abandoned space all over the Bay Area...sightings of Starbuck's red holiday cups..holiday season has officially started.


Casey's Pizza

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 Casey's Pizza truck is often found on Spear and Mission in Downtown SF on the weekdays.  I finally remembered to grab lunch at this food truck after months of passing it by with lunch already in hand.  At $17 for a full pie and $9 for half a pie, it makes for a decent priced sharable lunch.  After 1p, the full pies are $2 off and $1 off half pies!  
I've been curious to see how good a pizza made in a truck can taste.  Supposedly the pizzas are made to order, but I noticed that the wait for the pizza was less than 5 minutes!

The margherita pizza was a simple pie made of mozzarella, basil, and tomato sauce.  The thin crust is chewy, almost a bit too chewy for me, but it has good flavor with a touch of salt. 
The other vegetarian pizza was the arugula pizza topped with wild arugula, red onion, mozzerella, lemon juice, and chili flakes.  Usually, I like it to keep it simple with the margherita, but my favorite of the two was actually the arugula pizza.  The fresh bunches of arugula and the surprising hints of lemon juice and chili flakes made the pizza a little more delicious.

Address:                   Casey's Pizza
                                  San Francisco, CA
Type:                         food truck/pizza

Popular chomps:       margherita pizza
                                   zoe pepperoni

Chomp worthy:         margherita pizza
                                  arugula pizza


Freshroll Vietnamese Rolls & Bowls

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Freshroll is a Chipotle style concept with Vietnamese cuisine.  Its a nice food option in the Metreon when you are looking for something healthy and fresh tasting.
Freshroll serves up a choice of spring rolls, sandwiches (banh mi), or rice/noodle bowl.  You customize the protein, veggie filling, and sauce. 
I chose the lemongrass pork freshroll (spring roll) with their standard veggie filling (lettuce, bean sprouts, jalapenos, cucumbers, pineapple). 
Overall, I love the customizing concept and the meat is juicy and flavorful, but the rolling technique is just as bad as if I rolled it myself.  The rolls are hard to eat without all the ingredients falling out.  I was particularly curious about how the pineapple would taste in the roll, but it made the roll taste fresh.
  There are four dipping sauces to choose from:  peanut, citrus ginger, sweet & sour chili, and Vietnamese vinaigrette (which is the standard fish sauce).  I chose the Vietnamese vinaigrette, which was surprisingly good, but not as fishy as the regular Vietnamese restaurants.

Address:                   Freshroll Vietnamese Rolls & Bowls
                                  157 4th St.
                                  San Francisco, CA
Type:                         Vietnamese

Popular chomps:       crispy goodness
                                   spring rolls
                                   taro chips

Chomp worthy:          spring rolls     



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Who knew you could get an amazing brunch all the way out in Outer Sunset?  Apparently everyone did since the average wait is around 2 hours here.  Even arriving 10 minutes before opening, the wait time was still 2 hours!   

The coffee is sold by the pot with each pot made with freshly grounded beans.

I almost didn't order the levain toast with jam, but I'm so glad that I did.  Their specialty bread that they sell in house is cut into thick slices and served with strawberry jam and butter.  The bread is perfectly toasted  and a fluffy inside.  This bread is the same league as Tartine (see post HERE) and Acme (see post HERE).  The strawberry jam is so fresh with thick chunks of fruit.
Two slow cooked farm eggs on top of farro grits, grilled broccoli di ciccio, parmesan, and whiskey maple sausage.  They know how to make runny eggs really well here.  Popping these babies oozes a golden river of yolky goodness all over this dish.  The combination of grilled broccoli, which gives a slight bitter taste, the slightly grainy texture from the grits and the smooth, creamy yolk makes for a delicious bite.  One great thing I noticed about these brunch dishes is that nothing is overly salty and you can taste the fresh flavors of each of these ingredients in every dish.  The sausage was juicy and super flavorful with no salty aftertaste that is common in a lot of sausages.  
 Eggs in Jail at Outerlands - #9 on 2012 7x7 SF's Top 100 Eats

It seems like eggs in jail has been starting to appear on brunch menus in the city.  This simplistic dish combines all things brunchy into one plate.  A slow cooked egg is baked into a small hole of Outerland's famed levain toast and topped with crispy bacon.  Usually I'm not a fan of bacon, but this bacon was juicy with a smokey pork flavor without the greasiness.   

Cutting into the toast, frees the yolk from the baked egg and you can use it for dipping.

The dutch pancake here is served either as a savory or a sweet option.  The sweet option is served with rotating seasonal fruit while the savory is topped with maple syrup and ricotta.   Today's sweet pancake was served with blackberries and a dusting of powdered sugar.  A dutch pancake is similar to a popover so the cake is very light and doughy.  The pancake itself doesn't have much flavor, but if you happened to save the strawberry jam and butter from the toast, its the perfect compliment to the dutch pancake.

Address:                    Outerlands
                                   4001 Judah St.
                                   San Francisco, CA 
Type:                          brunch

Popular chomps:        apple cider
                                    eggs in jail
                                    dutch pancake
                                    toast with jam

Chomp worthy:           toast with jam
                                    eggs in jail    


Da Beef

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If you happen to be in the middle of SOMA and find yourself somewhere between too lazy to go to the Mission for a burrito and too sober to eat a bacon wrapped hot dog, Da Beef makes for some good late night eats.  This cart is open till 3a on Friday and Saturdays and the food doesn't make you feel too guilty the next morning.
They are mostly known for their Chicago style hot dogs, but they do offer Italian sausages, veggie, and hot links as well.  Also, you can tops these with chili, cheese, and bacon bits.
It's sometimes called a walking taco, taco in a bag, or a frito boat. The frito pie, as its referred to at this cart, is a bag of fritos cut open and mixed with chili cheese, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos, then eaten with a fork.  It's a delicious snack that is reminiscent of childhood memories as well as being one of the least messiest late night food options in the city. 
I can't vouch for its authenticity to a real Chicago dog since I never had a real Chicago dog, but it does have the sprinkle of celery salt and the neon green relish.  The dog comes sitting in a poppy seed bun and decorated with sliced tomatoes, jalapenos, and a crisp pickle spear.  The bun is super soft so it can be a little tricky to maneuver all the ingredients into your mouth without anything slipping out, but its worth it.

Address:                   Da Beef
                                  300 7th St
                                  San Francisco, CA
Type:                         hot dog/late night

Popular chomps:       hot dog
                                   polish dog
                                   frito pie 

Chomp worthy:          hot dog
                                   frito pie