As the blog languishes, so have my cooking expeditions. Not to be too distraught, I’ve conveniently replaced my kitchen concoctions with global and local noshing. So, to add a new dimension here I will occasionally post some of those adventures, and I hope to be more diligent in the documentation this time. *fingers crossed*
In this inaugural episode, let’s start with a San Francisco hallmark of innovation and charm. And I’m not even talking about the food. AsiaSF is probably the premier pan-Asian transgendered lip-sync dinner show, but I can’t say I have much that I can compare it to. Yes, we came for the sexy, hilarious, entertaining performances of our glamorous and captivating hostesses. The food, I must admit, was secondary in thought and my expectations were quite low indeed. Walking into the surprisingly small space, I was disappointed initially. The dark lights didn’t hide that the room seemed crammed with tables, dominated by the large bar/runway down the middle, and that the decor appeared a bit shabbier than I expected but restrained in an attempt to class up the joint. (Yes, I have opinions; lots and lots of opinions). Our group sat at a table for 6 (it appeared that they are set up mostly for larger groups / bachelorette parties/ birthday parties etc) and we teetered on our barstools trying delicately not to back into the gaggle of giggling girls an inch or two behind us.
The menus are prix-fixe and set up, I believe, according to the size of the group. We had an appetizer, an entree and then the choice of dessert or a dessert drink. I appreciated that with every course, the servers offered for us to share these tapas-style. In all, actually, the service was quite impressive as water carafes were unassumingly refilled, cocktails were frequently replenished and each of the performers stopped by each table at throughout the evening to assist with service and check on us. Did I mention how drop-dead gorgeous the hostesses were? Yes? Ok.
Oh! right. The food. It was amazing. Yes, completely unexpected for me and I think the rest of our group as well. To start, we shared the seared ahi tuna, which was quite standard. We also had the porcupines, which we decided were exactly like deep fried shrimp spring rolls except with noodles on the outside and none of the fresh veggies and actually nothing like that at all. They were delicious. I was guessing that the mussels would be rubbery and come 2-3 to a serving (lowest expectations ever, I told you) and was surprised to received a large bowl of tender mussels in a delectable garlicky, curried broth. The grilled bread was put to good use absorbing every last drop we could of the savory, but not overpowering broth.
For the entrees, we had orange lamb that came with a Thai cucumber salad that had me asking “I didn’t know you could make a cucumber taste *more* refreshing!” The Vietnamese-style crab cakes, however were a bit dry and overall tasteless. I can’t say that I’ve had a good crab cake on the West coast as yet. The miso-glazed salmon, a rather ubiquitous dish at anyplace labeled ‘pan-Asian’ or ‘Asian-fusion’ , was actually more than competent in execution. The salmon was perfectly cooked medium-rare, still juicy and tender over forbidden rice and crisply contrasted with a fresh tomato and edamame salad that sang of summer.
The dessert course was hit-or-miss. The hit was a super dark, decadently dense warm chocolate cake that was almost like a steamed chocolate pudding. The miss was the pineapple cheesecake, so grainy and dry, with a weird unpalatable pineapple-relish on top that could have salvaged the dish if it were replaced by fresh fruit instead. Apparently the fresh berries were the best part. The cocktails were also quite well-prepared if not terribly exciting.
Alas, I won’t be reviewing the ladies’ performances; this is, after all a food blog. That you have to experience yourself.