Fireside

Thank you to everyone who commented in the last post. I have to say that I totally agree! Actually writing blog posts is not time-consuming, it is the social media part that accompanies it. When I first started blogging, I thought that photo editing was challenging but now I have everything down packed and I can edit many photos in a short amount of time. I love reading all my friend’s blogs in the morning and when I have short windows throughout the day but do not always have time to comment. I always felt really guilty and would wait to make my rounds before posting a new entry on my blog before realizing that it was really unproductive. Not being so rigid about that took away a lot of the anxiety I had with this hobby and now I can say I fully enjoy it again. 🙂

If possible, do you mind answering the question posted on the bottom?

Anyways, enough of blogger talk. We have food to mesmerize over! I first heard of Chino while eating at Z Cuisine in Denver with my sister back in January. (mmm..still having dreams about their cassoulet)

Our waiter/bartender gave me the inside scoop of this place since his brother-in-law was part of the opening team. I kept it in the back of my mind and my eyes lit up when I saw the sign being put up as I was driving down Guerrero Street. That was a few months ago and I finally had a chance to stop by last Thursday.

I heard from friends that their ambiance was playful but did not expect such a sensory overload. I loved the hanging lights and it made me feel like I should have been dining al fresco under the stars.

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The decor fit the fusion mood perfectly and it was cute to look at various things from my childhood. I do not know if any of you ever made a trip to Toy Boat in the Richmond but that was the first thought to come to my mind with all the vintage 70s toys.

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It did not take us long to get into business since I am pretty knowledgable with Chinese dishes. Our first selection was the (wait for it) Nick Balla’s Dope Ass Japan-O-Mission Wings ($9) with fishy-limey-hot-n-sour sauce.

I expected something different based on their over compensated menu name but these wings still got the job done. I loved how crispy the skin was but the spicy lover in me wished that they had a little bit of kick.

Also, my favorite part about Chino is that everything on their menu is less than $10. You cannot even get a kids meal at McDonald’s in San Francisco for less than $10 these days so I thought it was awesome for them to use that price point.

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I am happy that I cleared up a question burning in the back of my mind for at least 10 years after ordering this dish. Rice cakes are called lean gao in Chinese and I was never able to talk to anyone about it since I did not have the English translation. We ordered these “spicy porkey rice cakes” ($7) with hot pepper paste and braised bok choy and imagine my surprise when I bit into it and realized exactly what it was! Now I am not constrained to the Chinese translation and can order rice cakes at whichever Chinese restaurant I choose. Land of the free, right?

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The staff shipped me to the back to check out the dumpling masters at work. I had a good chat with them in Chinese and they were really fun to talk to. These dumplings look green, I wonder what they were wrapping!

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Chino’s quintessential dish is the Xiao Long Bao ($9) which is what sparked the idea for the restaurant. If you never had XLB before, it’s basically a soup dumpling originating from Shanghai. You take a small bite first to release the steaming hot broth (make sure everything stays in your spoon) and then you eat everything in one bite. When I went to Shanghai a few years ago, I ate almost 30 of these bad boys. They are so good.

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My favorite dish of the night, of course, was the braised pork noodles ($8) with sichuan peppercorns, peanuts and Chinese mustard greens. I could probably use my search bar and pull up 500 times I mentioned how much I love sichuan peppercorns (and how they are my favorite flavor in the whole world) but 501 times will not hurt. Seriously so good, I wish I had ordered two of these so I can have one the next day.

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The cold sesame noodles ($6) were served with cucumber, summer squash and mushroom. I am usually a big fan of cold asian noodles and was really glad I ordered this. However, the dish could have used a teeny bit more flavor. Bland is a frightful word to use when describing food but that is the best adjective my dining companions could come up with.

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Overall, I might have fell into the buzz and hype which is hard not to do with this food-driven city, but I also made sure to keep in mind they have only been opened for less than a month and are still working out the kinks. Totally understandable. I love the ethos of this restaurant and see the great potential they have down the road.

PS: Easy Breezy for dessert.

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What do you wish to see more of on the blog? Restaurants? Recipes? Lifestyle posts? Miscellaneous? All? None? I am putting my big girl panties on for the comment section and can handle any dish you wish to share. 🙂

Kin Khao

There is always a new “you have to try this” restaurant in San Francisco. This month it is Kin Khao, a Thai restaurant that recently opened in the Parc 55 hotel downtown. After reading Sandy’s post and seeing that Michael Bauer (our local food critic) was going to post a review soon, I jumped at the chance and made a reservation before it became too well known (read: busy).

A little backstory: the owner Pim was one of the first original food bloggers and managed to gain a lot of honor in the food world with recognition and awards throughout the years. Kin Khao is her tribute to the childhood dishes and flavors she picked up while being born and raised in Bangkok.

I do not speak Thai but I am assuming that their language structure is a little similar to Chinese. We would say chi fan, which directly translates to “eat rice” but really means “let’s eat!”.

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I knew after looking at the menu that I had to order the Pretty Hot Wings. How can you go wrong with a fish sauce+garlic marinade, tamarind and Sriracha glaze? To say they were delicious would be an understatement, although I did expect them to be a lot spicier. My dining companion is the type of person to start sweating at the sight of peppers but was not phased by these chicken wings. Perhaps my batch did not have as many chills compared to others.

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I also wanted to show off the original bottle of Sriracha that they use in Thailand. I wish I had more of an opportunity to try it but the food was seasoned to a T overall and the additional heat was not necessary.

Kin Khao has an impressive list of cocktails and I almost gave in; however, the Thai Ice Tea was calling my name and I answered without hesitation.

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The first dish to come out was an unique take on a traditional Pad Kee Mao. This is usually one of my staples when I go eat Thai but I never had it with rabbit before! It is not located on their menu online so I can’t remember everything in it but from the picture alone we can assume that there is basil, julienned peppers and onions. What you cannot see is the Bird’s Eye Chili that leaves you unable to close your mouth from the slow, burning pain. Worth it every time.

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Next is Pim’s take on a traditional Cantonese dish that I remember from my own childhood: Khao Mun Gai.

The chicken was poached with ginger and served alongside rice that was cooked in chicken fat. I love how the dish was presented with the long sprigs of cilantro because it did not last long after I poured Pim’s special sauce (in the following picture) and mixed everything together.

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What was really interesting about the dish (above) was that it came with a side of ‘intense’ chicken consommé. The waitress told us to take a sip every few bites to cleanse the palate.

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Okay, now what I have been waiting to share. I do not know if your eyes are even worthy to look at the picture below (and to be honest, Sandy got a better shot).

The real star of the show was the Massaman Nong Lai. Man oh man, this might have been the best thing I ate these past two months.

First, the bone-in beef shank is braised for over 24 hours in a medley of complex flavors such as house-made Massaman curry paste, coconut milk, burnt shallots potatoes. (oh, the potatoes)

Second, you might notice a little spoon and that is where the jackpot is at the end of the rainbow. Nestled inside is rich, melt-in-your-mouth bone marrow; it does not sound too appetizing but I am thinking about going back just for those few bites. Really makes the curry worth the $26.

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We wanted to get desert but felt like a good ol’ fashioned San Francisco It’s-It instead.

And to leave this off with a surprising fact:

I rarely take pictures of myself. Yes, this blog has like 10,000 almost identical pictures of me eating, smiling and/or laughing but I never remember to take selfies. So here I present to you, my first selfie of 2014.

(do not worry, the car was parked and I realized I forgot to take one at dinner so I had to find a way to make up for it.) 🙂

Also, after opening this picture on my computer I realized how horrible my iPhone front camera is. Time to upgrade…iPhone 6 when are you finally coming out?

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When eating different cuisines, do you prefer traditional or fusion?