San Francisco! What a lovely city! Of course, Mr. Spoon and I got there just in time for the first rain of the season. It poured on us for the entire first day we were there and was overcast for most of the rest of the weekend.
Riding on the upper deck of the tour bus in the wind and rain while speeding across the Golden Gate bridge was crazy, freezing cold and somehow still lots of fun.
We suited up in our ponchos and tried to stay dry for the next 2 hours while we toured around the city. A weekend is definitely not enough time to explore this super cool city, there was so much more we wanted to do and see! But luckily we did get a lot done while we were there.
Luckily we did get a few short hours of sunshine on the Saturday morning before it got cloudy and overcast again. We went out for a wonderful long walk around downtown, China town and Japantown in the city.
Union Square was packed with tourists like us but was definitely beautiful.
The gate to Chinatown. I think we started our walk too early because most of the shops were closed when we went, but we did get a chance to pick up some cool post cards and take a look around this vibrant neighbourhood. Apparently San Fran Chinatown is the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Pretty interesting! Looked like there were a lot of amazing restaurants and adorable little shops to check out.
Japantown, about a 40 minute walk away from Chinatown, was really the main attraction for me though. After seeing the long, snaking lines outside of the ramen shops near our hotel, I knew there was going to be an amazing ramen scene in this city. And I figured the best place to get my fix would be in Japantown. Also I figured I’d be able to check out the Japanese dollar stores, grocery stores, stationery stores and whatever the heck else cute stuff caught my eye. I loved this great little neighbourhood and wished we had more time to explore every little nook and cranny of it.
What we did have was enough time for lunch after exploring for an hour or two. We saw this place Ramen Yamadaya with this cute window display and we decided to go in to check out the menu.
They didn’t have the full menu posted outside the shop, but they did have this chalkboard with some tips on eating ramen outside in the hallway. This noodle shop was upstairs from another restaurant, and there was already a bit of a line forming when we got there. We wrote our names on the list and waited about 10-15 minutes for a table.
I believe Mr. Spoon got a kakuni shio ramen with pork belly. His looked great and came with lots of tasty toppings and some nice soy sauce poured in.
Mr. Spoon really enjoyed this ramen! He doesn’t normally like hard boiled eggs but said the one in this ramen was really good and well-seasoned. I mean that yolk is basically pornographic.
It definitely got me thinking about the time I had a delicious vegan ramen egg at Veg Out in London, Ontario before it became Glassroots. Margaret the chef made a delightfully realistic hard-boiled “egg” out of agar agar powder, coconut milk and black salt with some kind of mashed squash as the yolk and oh my lord it was an EXPERIENCE let me tell you.
Let’s just say this bowl got slurped down fast!
I ordered the vegan ramen and was soooooooo so happy! I can hardly even begin to explain how wonderful this ramen was! This photo does NOT do the ramen justice, okay, but I was really focused on slurping all that food into my mouth as fast as possible. I regret not taking more/better photos but I do not regret stuffing my damn face into this bowl like there was no tomorrow.
The toppings were: bamboo shoots, corn (added for an extra $1), fresh arugula, chopped wood ear mushrooms, spinach, scallions and sesame seeds.
I think at this point most of the people who read my blog are my friends and family, so, like, non-vegans. But I’m sure all of you have no trouble picturing this sad, grey, vegan existence where all you can find at “regular” restaurants is a pathetic undressed salad and soggy french fries. Okay, sometimes you’d be dead wrong because I can usually find or cobble together some kind of decent vegan option, but sometimes you wouldn’t be far off. Sometimes, like the time I went to get ramen in Vancouver this summer with my siblings, you’re just served a bowl of basically tasteless, thrown-together, half-assed noodles and watery miso broth with, like, no toppings.
This is not that ramen. This is life-changingly good vegan ramen, okay? Like, literally after we finished eating at this place I asked Mr. Spoon if we can just up sticks and move to San Francisco. Because that was probably the best lunch of my entire life. I mean if we moved, we could explore more San Fran neighbourhoods. And live in a cute, perfectly adorable little pastel-coloured townhouse on a rolling hill (okay, probably not cause they cost like a million dollars but whatever). And we could toot around the city on little cherry red Vespas….
But most importantly, we could eat our way through all the ramen joints in the damn city and never have to wear a fricking parka again. I think that sounded like a good idea. So that’s like 50% a joke and 50% kiiiinda real.
ANWYAY. So what made this ramen so fricking amazing is that from the first slurp, I could tell that this place actually CARED that their vegan customers had a great bowl of soup in front of them. The broth was out of this world. It was fatty. It was salty. The noodles had the perfect texture and mouthfeel. It was tasty in all the best ways. Everything was deeply flavourful and seasoned just right. I’m almost crying just thinking about it… *wipes tear* The toppings were so great. I personally would have never thought of throwing a pile of fresh, peppery arugula on top of a bowl of ramen but the contrast in taste and texture and the brightness it brought to the soup was just amazing. And you cannot skip the corn. Add the corn.
Seriously, I want to go back and eat it all over again. Apparently this place is a little chain around the SoCal area. So you could find it in a couple of other cities, too.
Later in the day we went for a walk around Fisherman’s Wharf. There was a sign for fresh-made beignets so…. I mean, who can resist a warm, freshly made beignet on a chilly day? Not us.
Yes it was a bit of a cheat, but sue me, I’m on vacation. I’m not perfect.
We both ended up absolutely covered in powdered sugar after eating these. Worth it.
We sat on the pier while eating the beignets and looked out onto Alcatraz. Spooky!
There were sooooo many tours and ferries going out to the island. It sounded like a lot of fun but we were really limited on time so maybe if/when we go back we’ll check it out next time.
Our first night in SF we saw the long lines at the ramen shops and although we were really tempted to wait to get in, it was cold and raining and we decided to walk down the street to a Thai place to share some noodles.
When we got there we ended up splitting some apps (REALLY crispy, delicious spring rolls and deep fried tofu) and deciding to skip the noodles and go back to our hotel room to eat disgustingly good American junk food for dinner.
Snack-sized matcha oreos.
The “painted ladies” aka “postcard row” of perfect, adorable Victorian houses near Alamo Square.
The skyline is so pretty!
The hills are just beautiful. Some hills were trickier to navigate than others but they were all unique and interesting. We definitely got our cardio in on this trip.
Of course Mr. Spoon wanted to stop at In-N-Out Burger in Fisherman’s Wharf. Apparently these double-double cheese burgers were really good. They sure look tasty! If only they made veggie burgers. I had heard of a little petition going around to get a veggie patty at In-N-Out but I’m not holding my breath. There’s like two things on the menu.
At least the fries were vegan! Yum, they were very crispy and delicious. I added some salt and they were just right for an afternoon snack.
For our last morning in the city I wanted to try out a local delicacy – expensive hipster toast. Apparently it’s something San Francisco is known for so I scoped out this little local cafe near our hotel and we trekked over.
There was the cutest little “parklette” taking over one of the street parking spaces outside of the cafe. There were a couple of wooden benches and lots of pretty greenery where people were sitting and enjoying their Matcha Chai lattes and Milk ‘n Honeys with cardamom.
I got the “Daily Toast” for $8 – “Thick slice of fresh Pain De Mie topped with house mixed marscapone and local farmers market fruits.”
So, yeah, a bit more dairy which is cheating but it was sooooo cute and delicious, I couldn’t not. I would’ve gotten a vegan option if there was one, but I just couldn’t leave SF without trying an overpriced piece of toast topped with artisanal, local, blah blah.
It was good! Now, time to re-create it at home using non-dairy cheese.
So those are the (mostly food-related) highlights from our visit to San Francisco!
Have you visited the city? Any recommendations on where to eat next time we go? Hit me up in the comments below and let me know what you thought of our tasty adventures in the Bay area.