Shizen Vegan Sushi – Mission San Francisco

1 Jul

IIMG_1295’ll admit it. I was skeptical when a friend suggested we eat at a vegan sushi restaurant. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I’m not much on raw fish, but vegan? I trust my friend and went along for the experience without much hope of enjoyment. I’ll also admit that I was so wrong. This place rocks!

The interior is simple, yet beautiful. It’s the sort of place that welcomes you the minute you step inside. The staff is attentive and treats you as if you are part of the family – big kudos for this. There isn’t any attitude and you won’t feel as if the staff doesn’t want you there.

The shoyu ramen was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It’s flavorful, and beautifully presented. This is worth the trip alone. Other highlights of the evening included the tempura shiitake mushrooms stuffed with house-made “crab” meat and matcha sea salt. The futomaki roll was loaded with tofu, spinach, IMG_1296mushrooms, kanpyo and inari. The combinations of flavors in this one was in my opinion one of the best of the rolls.

Shizen Vegan Sushi is a must be sort of place. Try as this little doggy did, words cannot adequately describe the subtle textures and flavors of just about every thing that is placed in front of you. Don’t let the word “vegan” deceive you. This place is sublime. You won’t ever miss the fish.

My rating…5 Paws

ShatasSignature_2-5

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.

Shatasdogbowl.

Ritual Coffee – Mission, San Francisco

25 Jun

IMG_1305I know this review isn’t going to be too popular with some people, but I’ve never been one to go along with the masses; besides a good dogfight is good for the soul.

Ritual Coffee on Valencia was one of my go-to places for coffee and some writing time. The space was warm and inviting, the coffee always perfect, and the staff friendly. It was a community spot for folks to come in out of the chilly San Francisco weather, sit down with friends over a cup of coffee, or with a notebook and pen, or computer. It’s what a coffee shop should be.

Fast forward to 2015. Ritual Coffee underwent a massive remodel in 2014. This was my first time back since. Whoever designed the interior space or thought this was a good idea should be taken out and shot.

The new Ritual is cold and sterile. The design makes you feel miniscule and dwarfed immediately making you feel unwelcome. Most of the tables are gone though with the chilly atmosphere, one doesn’t want to linger, and my guess is that is exactly what they want. They want their customers to come in grab a cup and go. No more lingering, no more community feel. The customers are no longer welcome to sit and be a part of what made Ritual Coffee great. The redesign is a concept to get the customer in and out as quickly as possible, to serve more is to, afford the increasing rents of the Mission.

The pastry and baked goods were terrible. Either they were days old or the baker doesn’t know what they are doing. The IMG_1306croissant literally crumbled when I touched it (see picture) what ever happened to moist, flaky, pastries? I couldn’t even eat it as it just kept crumbling. Oh, and let’s talk about the price. Two pastries and two coffees came to twenty-two dollars, yes twenty-two dollars! No thank you, never again.

Simply put the design doesn’t fit. It has nothing to do with the neighborhood it once supported. It’s as if Ritual Coffee has turned it’s back on the community and the people who supported it, all for a quick buck.

I will not return.

My rating…1 Paw

Shata's Signature

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.

Shatasdogbowl.

Celia’s Mexican Restaurant – Lafayette CA

23 Jun

FullSizeRender 3Anyone who knows me knows that I am obsessed with Mexican food. This little doggy could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner not to mention dessert, late night snacks, well you get the picture. Yesterday, my dear friend took me to Celia’s in Lafayette and let me tell you my tail was wagging all the way through my lunch.

Celia’s isn’t some high-end, fancy Mexican place that does frilly foo-foo food. This is your basic Tex-Mex, Mexican style food and it is done with perfection. The chips are fresh, warm, and salted with care. The salsa is mildly spicy if that makes sense. The flavors of onions, cilantro, tomatoes, are balanced so that one bite isn’t all onion and another bite all tomato. All the flavors in every bite, it’s oh so good.

I ordered the Chile Relleno Especial. The Chile itself was mildly spiced, perfectly battered, and stuffed with a blend of cheese and ground beef. It was topped with Celia’s house-made red sauce and served with some of the best rice and beans I’ve had in a very long time.

There are ten locations in and around the Bay Area so you don’t have to drive to Lafayette to satisfy your cravings for Mexican food, but you do need to get to back side to Celia’s.

My rating…3.5 Paws

ShatasSignature_3.5

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.

Shatasdogbowl.

Kiji – Mission, San Francisco

21 Jun

IMG_1284I don’t eat a lot of raw fish for various reasons, but when I do and I’m in San Francisco, Kiji is the only place for me.

It’s a small, elegant restaurant tucked away in the Mission on Guerrero. Did I mention it was small? And it gets crowded but luckily they do take reservations. The menu is diverse and has an assortment of hot and cold starters along with a long list of rolls to choose from. For vegetarians out there reading this, they have a ton of stuff and it’s delicious.

We started the evening with the Hamachi Carpaccio. This dish alone is worthy of a visit. The thinly sliced yellowtail tuna literally melts in your mouth. It’s topped with a delicate spice, truffle oil, sea salt, and a thin sliver of jalapeno pepper. [Pictured at top]. The next item on our menu tour was the vegetable pan-fried gyoza. They were warm pockets of heaven and cooked to perfection.

The Valencia roll, tuna, avocado, and cucumber was delicate and fresh and topped with a spicy and tantalizing salsa. The veggie futomaki roll was for me the surprise star of the evening, with its smoky wood flavor of the gobo and shiso, it complimented the other vegetables without flaw.

There are a lot of sushi restaurants in San Francisco. I’ve tried more than I care to count and Kiji always comes out in the top two or three of my go-to spots. If you’re in the Mission, stop by, it’s worth the trip.

My rating…5 Paws

ShatasSignature_2-5

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.

Shatasdogbowl.

The Liberties – Mission, San Francisco

20 Jun

guerrero-street-san-francisco-arc-005After a six and a half hour flight, the wait for luggage at SFO, and the cab ride to the Mission, I was ready for some good food. My concern was that it was a Friday night 8:30. I decided the best plan of action was just to start walking and see where I ended up. And that plan worked to my advantage.

I’ve walked, or been walked depending on one’s perspective, by The Liberties more times than I care to think about and never once stopped by. Why? I have no reason except to say that I get stuck in my food ruts. They were, of course, busy, but they were more than happy to find me a seat. Thank you!

As it was coming up at midnight East Coast time, I didn’t want anything too heavy though the bangers and mash sounded good. I decided to go with their grilled cheese sandwich, a bowl of tomato soup, and an order of tater tots. Oh of course I ordered a tequila and tonic. My new favorite cocktail, for those not in the know, but I digress, back to the food.

The tater tots were cooked to perfection. The tots were golden brown and crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside and served with a side of chipotle mayo, which was spicy and warm and just matched the tots in perfection. The grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread was again golden and crisp on the outside, and oh so cheesy on the inside. To add more yummy in my tummy, the tomato soup was thick without being chunky. Topped with parsley and croutons. It was the absolute perfect meal.

Oh and their cocktails, at least my tequila and tonic was top notch.

If you’re at the edge of the Mission and hungry for some great pub food, The Liberties is the place to go. From the friendly service to the great food and drinks, you won’t find a better place in the surrounding blocks.

ShatasSignature_3.5

My rating…3.5 Paws

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.

Shatasdogbowl.

Maysville – New York City

3 Jun

IMG_7932Teeter Totter is a phrase I like to use to describe things that have its ups and downs. A trip to the dentist, for instance, the down…some discomfort and unpleasantness at times, the up…shiny clean teeth. A movie is another example; good popcorn, terrible movie, or perhaps the movie has its own ups and downs with each scene. I’ve never thought I would have to experience this Teeter Totter during one dinner. But that’s just what you get, or at least I did at Maysville in New York City.

The Up: The ambiance and setting are charming and well done. The lighted bar wall highlighting the hundreds of whiskeys and bourbons is warm and inviting.

The Down: The servers were robotic at best. No emotions, nothing to give you a sense that they want you there. They also don’t know how to talk about their selection of whiskeys and bourbons. It’s called better training folks.

The Up: The crispy grits with country ham and bourbon aioli was done to perfection. It was simple, well presented, and delicious.

The Down: The asparagus salad was a complete mess on the plate. The asparagus was overcooked at one end and undercooked at the other end. Bites were either too salty or not salty enough, and it looked as if there were three different sauces on one plate. It was a complete disaster.

The Up: The fresh ricotta filled pasta with smoked mushrooms. Everything about this dish was sublime. The dish was simple, elegant and every bite was a piece of art.

The Down: The slow roasted arctic char was another huge disappointment. The arctic char was cooked well, but the mint overpowered the entire dish. Quite frankly the mint didn’t belong on this dish. The grains were a mix, but what that mix was I couldn’t say. They were dry and too heavily seasoned. Again it was a complicated dish that just didn’t work.

Maysville doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. There is a lot of mint on the menu and some “Southern’ish” charms, which I am guessing they did because of the whole whiskey/bourbon theme, but there is just too much not to like about this place for me to recommend. They need to focus on the simple dishes and leave the complicated one’s to a chef who can execute them with more success.

My rating…2 paws

ShatasSignature_2-4-2

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.

Makli – Castro Neighborhood, San Francisco

19 May

IMG_1137I absolutely love Chinese food. What’s not to love right? Then why is it so hard to find decent (and here I mean edible) Chinese food in the United States. Most of the time despite my best efforts the food just fails. It’s either overcooked, undercooked, or swimming in a greasy mess that is supposed to be called a sauce.

Makli in the Castro neighborhood is unlike all of the rest. It’s amazing. It’s an unassuming place, and frankly you might walk right by this place without thinking twice. Pay attention people! This place is a gem for anyone who is craving a great Chinese meal. Best of all, this place gives you vegetarian options like you would not believe, including, vegetarian hot and sour soup. Yes, you read that correctly.

On my most recent trip to San Francisco, I was staying at a bed and breakfast just down the street from Makli. Hot and sour soup is a must no matter where I’m at and I have to say, Makli has the best. It’s spicy hot and tantalizingly tart all at the same time. You won’t find any better. The vegetarian lo-mein is just the opposite. It’s warm with that faint smokiness you can only get with properly prepared lo-mein. The vegetables are seared and slightly charred and cooked to a tender-crisp perfection.

The next time you’re in the mood for Chinese, get your little paws over to Makli. You won’t regret it and you can bet my first meal back in the city will be here too.

My rating…4 Paws

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With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.

Shatasdogbowl.

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