Razzle's Travels

Cocoon Urban Day Spa – Manis and Pedis
July 21, 2008, 12:05 am
Filed under: CA, Northern CA, San Francisco, Spa

So when my best girlfriend suggested we go after work one day to treat our little toes, I tried to find somewhere that was a midway point for both of us. Enter Cocoon Urban Day Spa in the SoMa part of town. Location is a few uphill blocks away from most of the financial district, but if you are lazy like me you take a cab.

It’s a bit hard to find from the street, as the building didn’t have an easily noticable sign, and shares a space with a restaurant. The space is on the second floor, and is also part yoga studio.

The manicure/pedicure room is huge! and has windows on two sides, so full of light. While you can occassionally hear the traffic from the street below, for the most part you forget that you are right downtown.
They had brownies and strawberries for us to snack on, and for the ladies that came in after 5 pm they offered champagne. It might have been because we were using a coupon? Coupons on thier website are pretty good, they are limited by time of day but that just gives you an excuse to cut out of work early!

Service was great, they were running late, but the ladies that worked on us were all very nice and sociable and did a great job. Even when I smashed my nails upon paying. We got the ultimate mani/pedi combo, which for some reason I thought included paraffin, but instead just had warm booties and mittens. Still very relaxing and a good way to spend an afternoon.

They have one person doing your nails while the other does your toes, so it’s efficient and you don’t have to sit around and wait too much. And so you know it’s sanitary they also use metal bowls for the pedicure water and not the sometimes unclean plastic tubs most places do. However, they do still have massage chairs. It would be a great place to go with a group of girlfriends for an afternoon of treatments.

I haven’t gone back to try any of thier other treatments, but it seemed they only had a couple treatment rooms. And the space that seemed to be the yoga studio seemed a bit small. Maybe they have small classes.

I will definitely return for another treatment soon! Oh and you cannot tip on your credit card, so make sure to take cash for tips (otherwise you have to pay the atm fee downstairs).

Location: 330 first street, second floor
san francisco, ca 94105


Salt House – San Francisco
April 5, 2008, 7:09 pm
Filed under: CA, Food, San Francisco

The Salt House opened a while back, but I finally had a chance to grab lunch there this week. I am a huge fan of Town Hall, the partner’s other restaurant a couple blocks away and have eaten many a satisfied meal there.
I arrived very late for lunch, so my friends had already eaten bunches of oysters, and 3 dishes of thier pickled vegetables. Apparently those were quite good! We did get another dish for the table, but the two of them inhaled it before I got a chance.
Since I was late I had my friends order for me. They ordered the chicken. Which as the waitress informed them is a salad, even though it is on the entree portion of the menu, and doesn’t use the word salad in the name or description.
When the waitress brought it to the table I could see why. It was possibly half a roast chicken and not greasy at all, with perfectly crisp skin. It laid across a mixture of baby spinach, radishes, and the thickest, meatiest, chunks of bacon I’ve ever seen. Sprinkled with finely chopped egg and tossed with a dressing that I couldn’t identify but wasn’t heavy or oily. There were some crimini mushrooms in there as well, that didn’t distract me enough to realize I was eating them.
I rarely order salads, but this is one I would certainly get again.
One of my friends is a vegan, and there was nothing on the menu for her. However, the kitchen threw a dish together for her with vegetables and some salsa verde. It was colorful and smelled amazing! She said it tasted as good as it smelled.
Our other friend got a rueben turkey sandwich on rye, with some red relish and a side of very yummy chips. He didn’t share the sandwich with me, so that speaks as to how tasty it must have been.
Despite being full, we had to have dessert. I got a molten chocolate cake with chip whip and mint-chip ice cream. I was slightly disappointed with the amount of ice-cream on the plate. Literally a teaspoon size. Which Mr. Turkey Sandwich picked up with one spoon and swallowed in one bite! I guess it was good……
There was a drizzle of mint oil on the plate and while the melty, yet not warm chocolate cake didn’t have any mint flavoring, swiping it along the mint oil gave it a very very minty flavor. The chip whip was a clever mix of homemade cream with teeny tiny chocolate chips thrown in.
The other dessert at the table was mango pudding with forbidden rice and cream. I had a couple bites of this, and it was so rich and mangoey! I love when I can taste the freshness of the fruit in dishes. It reminded me of mango sticky rice but ten times better.

My favorite little thing to love about the restaurant are the glass milk bottles they leave at the table with water. They have a very cute pirate type of design on the bottle that made me want to put it in my purse and take it home. However, if you want ice water here you must ask for it, the water they bring to the table is room temperature.

I have to admit I like the ambience of Salt House better than Town Hall. My one complaint about Town Hall is the acoustics. No matter where you sit, it reverberates with all the conversations going on in the restaurant. Salt House has the same high ceiling space, but it wasn’t loud. Decorated to fit with the loft style of the SOMA location and with an open kitchen, it was very airy and yet welcoming at the same time.

Location: 545 Mission Street, between 1st and 2nd across from Golden Gate Law School.

Indian in SF on the cheap – Pakwan and Naan n Curry
May 16, 2007, 1:26 am
Filed under: CA, Cheap Eats, Food, San Francisco

San Francisco has lots of inexpensive Indian- Pakistani places. All of them good, most of them in multiple locations. There’s something different about Indian – Pakistani that I love and can’t seem to find outside of the Bay Area. It’s somehow more spicey or flavorful than just straight up Indian.

Pakwan was the place I fell in love with Chicken Makhanwala (Butter Chicken). Different places call it by different names, but as best as I can tell it’s basically a creamier (butterier?) version of Chicken Tikki Masala.
I used to hit up the (now defunct) location on Clay Street in the Financial District fairly often, because for about $8 (less if it was the daily special) I could get rice, chicken and naan in good sized portions. My problem with thier food is, no matter how full I am, I can’t stop eating it until the plate is wiped clean with some naan. They have since moved and now have a location in the Tenderloin district (which due to an influx of Indian fast food places is dubbed little India).

Naan -n- Curry is another of my favorites. They have locations all over the city, but I’ve only been to thier locations in North Beach on Jackson and on Berkeley’s famed Telegraph St. The location on Jackson is very run down, but the food still tasty, and always crowded at lunchtime. Strangely, the Telegraph location is much cleaner with better ventilation. At both locations, you order up front and grab a table after the fact. Don’t forget to get your water, chai, and silverware yourself. There is no table service here. Then again, with the low prices you weren’t really expecting that.
Onto the food, I usually tend to get the lamb curry here. It’s greasy, but that is how I like my lamb curry, sometimes they manage to get it mixed well. Thier naan is delicious, plain and straighforward. Thier chana masala is also inexpensive so I usually order one of those too. And then I am faced with the fact that my eyes are always larger than my stomach.

House of Nanking – The Best Chinese In San Francisco
May 15, 2007, 12:40 am
Filed under: CA, Cheap Eats, Food, San Francisco

If you go to SF and get only have time for one Chinese restaurant you simply MUST get yourself to House of NanKing in North Beach.

Yes, there will probably be a line at lunch time, and yes it is worth the wait.

No, do not ask for a menu. They will give you one, and let you order from it, but don’t. Let them bring you whatever they will. I guarantee it will be better than anything you would have ordered.

Usually you will end up with some sesame like chicken dish. It’s the best chicken you will ever have. I believe once I got some sort of beef dish as well. It may have been 5 spice beef. I never understand what the chef says he is bringing me, but I also never leave unhappy. Or not extremely full. If you must order an appetizer, opt for the potstickers or the onion cake. This place made me fall in love with the concept of onion cakes.

The portions are huge, so get one main dish to share. The prices are low, the quality good. It is a very casual restaurant and the kitchen is in the window, so if you are sitting in the half with the kitchen you can see all the delicious food being prepared.

Location: 919 Kearney (at Jackson, near Columbus) (415) 421-1429

Masa’s in SF
April 5, 2007, 12:42 am
Filed under: CA, Fine Dining, Food, San Francisco

One of my top 3 restaurants and meals ever. Masa’s is an institution. Everything about it is top notch, the atmosphere (classy, yet not stuffy), the service (perfect in every way), and of course the food. Oh my, the food. Our dinner took about 3 hours and because we I can’t resist a 9 course option we both had to roll out of there and climb straight into bed.
When doing the 9 course tasting menu, they don’t give both diners the same dishes. This worked out well, as we shared (well, most of the time). We had champagne to start, a sweet really good wine with foie, and a pinot noir with the poultry. I wish I had remembered the wines.

Amuse bouches:
Lobster broth (a la French Laundry – where Gregory Short was a Sous Chef and worked under Thomas Keller for 7 years) – EXCELLENT
Ahi tempura – I thought good, P (my companion) thought greasy. had a yummy sauce.

Caviar course:
Souffled oyster with caviar – P LOVED!
Potato blinis (also from French Laundry) with creme fraiche, salmon gravlax, and caviar and a lemon oil – YUM!

Raw fish course:
Tuna tartare with mango, avocado and a mango sauce and brioches – P only let me have a tiny bite it was delish. Might beat out Aqua’s tartare as my favorite.
Yellowfin tuna and hamachi sashimi with wasabi oil, daikon, and something else – I did not love. But I don’t like hamachi and the wasabi was overpowering for me since i hate it, gave it to P. He loved it.

Shellfish course:
Diver scallop, with black truffles, and some yummy sauce. – P thought best scallop he’s ever had. I agreed that it was delish, but liked my crab salad more. Mostly because there was more of it.
Maine crab salad with english peas, and a pea sauce, red radishes, mint oil and pea shoots – SOOOOO YUM.

Warm fish course:
Red sturgeon with fava beans – light and yummy
Halibut with italian butter beans and applewood bacon – yum yum. I liked his fish better, but these beans were better.

Foie course:
Cold canadian foie sprinkled with some tasty salt with brioche and muscat gelee – P thought too rich so I got half of that without having to share mine. Soooo good! Like butter it melted in my mouth. Of course he ate all the brioche so I just had mouthfuls of foie. Never a bad thing.
Seared foie on a brioche with orange marmalade, a Madeira sauce, and tangerines – fuckin amazing. P commented that I never look as happy as I do when I am eating foie.

Poultry course:
Duck breast with duck jus, potato gnocchi, and a little duck leg – Excellent gnocchi, very good breast.
Squab with squab sauce, a tiny squab leg, wilted spinach and the best potato gratin I have ever had. – I liked the leg more than the other parts of the squab, it was a bit too salty. P liked my squab more, I liked his duck more.

Beef course:
Saddle of lamb with brussel sprouts, with lamb belly served with bacon -P didn’t like the belly, I thought the rest of the lamb was good.
Prime rib eye, forest mushrooms, and white asparagus – delish! We both agreed my course was better. Gave P most the shrooms (I have a huge aversion to them), but in the end I tasted some and they were good.

Palate Cleanser:
Apple Arugula Sorbet with pear soup – would never think to try arugula as a dessert, soooooo amazing! Very clean and fresh.
Hibiscus Sorbet with rose water gelee – I love hibiscus and rose water so I loved it. Paul loved the gelee.

Flourless chocolate cake with a chocolate chicory latte (very interesting, it was foamy on top, but then the two other layers were cold and not liquidy) – he loved the latte. I thought the cake was just eh.
Basmati rice clouds, three of them one with creme anglaise (fuck i love that), one with rum raisin ice cream, and one with tangerines. – I just want to know how one makes rice feel like meringue.

But wait, there’s more! The waiter brought out the dessert amuse bouche cart. I can’t even describe it. There were a zillion things on it. Including: fruit jellies, pineapple coconut cake, something I got and don’t remember what it was, Turkish delights, candied orange peel, caramels, nougats (softest he’d ever had said P), lollipops, an amazing selection of chocolates including Meyer lemon milk chocolate, chocolate mole (had chili and other spices, P said it was amazing), mocha chocolate and I can’t even remember what else. We were told to pick as many as we wanted. But I think we both felt funny asking for one of each thing and limited ourselves. In retrospect, that was silly.
So yeah, amazing doesn’t even describe the meal. If you want a mouthwatering dinner in SF, money is not an object, and don’t want to wait 2 months for a reservation, go here!