Mary Sue Milliken, the co-chef (with Susan Feniger) of Border Grill in Los Angeles loves when she has an excuse to visit San Francisco. She recently made a trip to attend the Bon Appetit Magazine ”Uncorked” event at Hakkasan restaurant. “Hakkasan had really, really yummy Peking duck served in a moo shu pancakes with caviar,” she says. Here, she shares other food highlights from her trip.
“I’ve eaten here twice. The first time was really lovely but the second time I just adored it. The original location was in the Richmond but now the owners have moved to a corner in the Mission across from Dolores Park. The food is Asian-inspired with a heavy Korean and Japanese influence. I find the very modern and innovative without the constraints of being too authentic. Lunch is really casual. They make a real-deal Korean taco with kimchi salsa and nori and the menu has a lot of hangover, stoner dishes like Gamja fries which are like a Korean take on poutine topped with short ribs and kimchee relish and kewpie mayo. I love their Japanese fried rice pancake. I’ve always had a savory version but here it’s a bit sweeter and has an egg on top. They also make excellent Korean stone pots. The pots come to the table and make the rice all crispy and nice.” 499 Dolores St., (415) 431-6268, namusf.com
“When I’m in San Francisco I always stay at a friend’s house in the Mission, which allows me to shop at the awesome Bi-Rite Market. As a chef, it’s a great palce to go to get inspired. They always have some product I’ve never seen before. On my last visit they had calamansi, an odd southeast Asian citrus that is like a cross between a tangerine and kumquat. The market also sells Bi-Rite ice cream by the pint. They make amazing flavors that are always changing based on the season, such as orange cardamom and roasted banana.” 3639 18th St., (415) 241-9760, biritemarket.com
“You are in for a real treat if you stop in this shop. It’s spectacular. The bean-to-bar chocolate is really delicious and they only make three kinds, each a single origin cacao they bring in from different countries. They always mix up the countries but when I was there they had chocolates from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and I really went nuts for the Madagascar chocolate. They roast the cacao beans on property and also make amazingly tasty desserts and hot cocoa. You can buy a set of three chocolate bars. I get these for gifts. They also make a really unique cold drink from the fruit of the cocoa bean. It doesn’t taste chocolatey at all. It’s really fresh and fruity.” 740 Valencia St., (415) 349-0942, dandelionchocolate.com
PPQ Beef Noodle House
“When I’m in San Francisco I love going out for Vietnamese food at PPQ. They make the best rice noodles in beef broth. It’s so delicious. The soup broth is made with charred onions, ginger, star anise, and tons of herbs. It’s such a great broth—so flavorful. You can choose what kind of meat you want. I always get tripe and then raw beef on the side so I can just barely cook it in the soup. Sometimes they have a raw beef tartare, I call this Vietnamese carpaccio, on the specials menu. It is drop-dead fantastic. I could eat it every day.” 1816 Irving St., (415) 661-8869, ppqsf.com
“Bar Jules is a tiny little place run by Jessica Boncutter. She does the best Sunday brunch. The restaurant is in Hayes Valley so it’s nice to shop and then I reward myself with brunch after. They have a cool wood burning grill and do great grilled mussels. At brunch, you can’t go wrong with the grilled skirt steak and eggs.” 609 Hayes St., (415) 621-5482, barjules.com
Photo courtesy of Mary Sue Milliken.