So I went to the first Off The Grid this year in San Francisco. I also went the following week for Saint Patrick’s Day. This place has been getting more and more packed. The foot traffic at this place is insane.
I had guava-habanero lechón sliders from the Cubs Kitchen tent. The sliders are basically lechón (pork) smothered in bbq sauce, pickles, and sweet and spicy habenero peppers.
The sliders were steaming hot when I got them. There was excess meat on it that was falling off. Sooooo good that I plan on visiting their restaurant in Millbrae.
Jinya Ramen just opened up at San Jose’s Oakridge. This place usually has a long line out the door and for good reason. Their ramen is pretty darn good. I normally don’t like to get on the hype train for these restaurants that come up from LA. I decided that my love for ramen was greater than my need to go against the grain.
I ordered the Jinya Tonkotsu Black with a side of curry rice. The Jinya Tonkotsu balck has Pork broth: Pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, served with thin noodles. I am a sucker for broth I often get into the debate of whether its about the noodles or the broth. For me its both. The broth here was really different from what I have had at other ramen restaurants. The rice and curry was just okay. Kind of a waste if you do not notice the noodle refill sign on the placards at each table like I did. Jinya does something I have not seen before. They will give you a free refill of noodles if you still have broth. If you are a broth sucker like me, you will notice this nice little perk after you have an empty bowl looking you in the face.
Slurp Ramen San Francisco China Town
So I came to Slurp Ramen with my cousin. He lives in China Town and told me about this cool Ramen place in one of China Town’s alleys. I ordered the tonkotsu black in order to compare it against the Jinya Tonkotsu black. Also because I prefer tonkotsu broth. The atmosphere at Slurp is a little more open than Jinya. Jinya is a bit cramped. Slurp is on the outskirts of China Town in an alley near the financial district side.
Slurp’s Tonkotsu black has Chashu, 1/2 egg, bamboo, wood ear mushrooms, scallions, seaweed with burnt garlic oil. I added additional chashu and added pork belly. The pork belly was really moist and flavorful. I have been to some restaurants where they don’t know how to cook pork belly and it ends up dried out and tasteless.
I really liked Slurp’s tonkotsu better because of the portioning. The bowl is bigger and the broth was served at a hotter temperature than Jinya’s. Slurp’s tonkotsu black also had a stronger garlic taste which is a big win for me. If you like the lighter garlic flavor then Jinya is probably more your alley. Jinya’s Tonkotsu black is priced at $13.80 with a free refill of noodles whereas Slurp’s Tonkotsu Black is priced at $12.50 plus the additional price for extra chashu and pork belly. An additional order of noodles would cost $2.00 at Slurp. When it comes to price and convenience, I would choose Jinya. When it comes to flavor and atmosphere, I would pick Slurp. Both have their qualities and more importantly both have excellent ramen.
So I went to BonChon over the weekend. After hearing so much about this place I decided to finally check it out. They are known for fried chicken wings. They are like the Korean Wing Stop.
I tried the soy garlic strips. The flavor is stronger in the strips than the drums, but the drums are crunchier. Its a trade off. I also ordered the pork belly buns. The pork belly buns come in threes. The buns are steamed and there is pork belly, coleslaw, cucumbers, and katsu sauce. The pork belly was very dry.
Luckily the bibimbap saved the day. Bibimbap has white rice, vegetables, red pepper paste, egg, and bulgogi. It is served in a sizzling stone bowl that makes the rice around the bottom crispy.
Overall I was not impressed with BonChon. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I felt like the food was too overpriced for the quality that we had. I don’t think I will go back to BonChon.
Hong Kong Claypot is one of my favorite restaurants in China Town. It has a mysterious romantic vibe about it. If that makes sense. It’s tucked away in plain sight. This narrow staircase on Grant avenue leads up to the restaurant. I like the seats near the window because you get a nice view of the streets of China Town. One of the many things I love about this place is that it is family owned. The owner works the floor all the time and her employees are so nice and dedicated. I always see the same people working all the time which gives me this welcoming authenticity. I have talked to the owner a couple of times and she is from Toisan China. Hong Kong Clay Pot is not exclusive for the Chinese like some China Town restaurants can be. The demographic of people that eat here are very diverse. I have eaten here when it is packed with Chinese people and the only language I hear is Cantonese. I have also been there when there are people speaking German, English, French, etc. I love this place and the food is really good as well. It takes me back to when I was a kid eating family style at a round table with a lazy susan.
We ordered corn soup which was pretty good. I never know what the soup of the day is. This was the first time I had it. We also ordered gai lan with beef. Gai lan is like a Chinese broccoli. One of my favorite vegetables. We also ordered cauliflower with squid, fried rice, and a beef clay pot. The cauliflower is a Chinese version that tastes really good. I have never had this type of cauliflower before. It is definitely something I would order again. The beef clay pot has beef, tofu, and mushroom. This was the first time I ever ordered the beef clay pot. Note that the yellow curry clay pots are also very good. Not sure what it is about this place’s fried rice, but I LOVE the fried rice here. So basic. I know.