Wednesday, November 18, 2015
We've had a run of good fortune lately in augmenting San Francisco's wealth of Vietnamese, Thai and Burmese food with new Southeast Asian options. First, there was Vinya Sysamuth's Lanxang Kingdom, the uncompromising Lao pop-up (red ant egg salad, anyone?) which will hopefully morph into a brick & mortar somewhere; more recently, Nite Yun's Nyum Bai started popping up in accessible locations with tasty Cambodian fare, and Tracy G. has been opening her home for Nyonya-side Malaysian sit-downs via Feastly. Now appears a new feature in our very spare Indonesian cuisine landscape, Suka Restaurant on Balboa St. near 6th Avenue.
The two Indonesian soups on Suka's menu are Soto Ayam and Bakso (listed as Meat Ball Soup on the menu). Soto Ayam, my choice for the meal (accompanied by chicken satay for additional protein) is Indonesia's star in the constellation of SE Asan chicken soups. It features a turmeric-laced spicy yellow broth (sans curry or coconut), noodles, half a boiled egg, and chicken. Other than (or in addition to) noodles, it may also include flat rice cakes or dumplings.
Where slurped: Suka Restaurant, 445 Balboa St. near 6th Avnue, San Francisco
Friday, November 13, 2015
My last two posts were reports on pop-ups (by Nyum Bai), so for a change of pace, here is a report on a pop-in by EatWithTracy in the Outer Sunset District. What I'm calling a pop-in here is what Hong Kongers like to call "private kitchens;" it is not a restaurant that occasionally pops up in unexpected places, it is a fixed location (usually a residence) where a talented chef hosts meals on a regular or irregular basis. You, the eater, can "pop in."
"EatWithTracy" is hosted by Malaysian expat Tracy G who painstakingly taught herself to cook the food she grew up with after moving away from Kuala Lumpur (presumably because the alternative was much worse). There's nothing surreptitious or clandestine about her "pop-in." You don't need a sponsor or say "Joe sent me" to get in; just make a reservation via the Feastly website.
|Rojak by Tracy G.|
Pop in for some Malaysian food and some Malaysian food education.
Where slurped: Somewhere in the Outer Sunset (see eatfeastly.com)
Monday, October 26, 2015
A mere eight days after I had a chance to enjoy Nyum Bai's Cambodian fare at its Mission Pie debut, it popped up again, like a pesky mole in a whack-a-mole game, three blocks down the road at Wise Son's Deli. My noodle hammer was at the ready, this time to hit on the chicken noodle soup called Banh Ghan on the menu.
I have to admit I'm winging it here with my post portem on this chicken soup experience; I didn't get a chance to pick Nyum Bai owner Nite Yun's brain about the origins of this dish, and Googling "Banh Ghan" yields practically nothing with the same or similar spelling related to Cambodian food. My sole "hit," interestingly enough, was for a dish at a fascinating diner-like restaurant in Stockton CA (where MS. Yun grew up) called Lucky Star Grill. This place, which now tops my list should I ever hit Fat City again, serves a dish called "Thick noodle banh ghan" along with other Cambodian and Vietnamese- and Thai-tinged dishes (plus Mongolian beef, for good measure). My best guess is that "banh ghan" is related to the Vietnamese term banh canh, which denotes a wide, thick rice noodle (which may or may not include tapioca flour) and can refer to a wide variety of soups using such noodles.
As I've noted elsewhere about khao pian sien, Nyum Bai's banh ghan relies primarily on the soul of chicken soup for its appeal. It's pure comfort, and almost as familiar and un-exotic as something your Caucasian grandmother (if you have one) night make. Feels right in a Jewish deli, too.
With my soup I had a texture-rich Camodian tamarind salad, which was as tasty as it was photogenic.
Sometime, somewhere, Nite Yun''s Nyum Bai will pop up again.
I'd hit that.
Where slurped: Nyum Bai at Wise Son's Deli, 3150 24th St., San Francisco