The San Francisco Bay Area has a high Asian-American population, with Chinese, Filipino, Indian, and Vietnamese populations among the largest and most prevalent in the region. With the large number of Asian immigrants living in the region, the Bay Area has a huge variety of Asian restaurants in nearly every region to suit your tastebuds.
I really love FIlipino cuisine. And why not find a great place to taste the best of Filipino cuisine but at Max’s? Max’s of Manila is an institution in itself: its lovely tagline, “The Place that Chicken Built”, whips up great chicken combos (pictured), as well as Filipino favorites like Sinigang na Bangus sa Miso (Miso-flavored sour soup with milkfish), Chicken Adobo, and Kare Kare (Filipino-style curry with ox tripe). It also serves delicacies like sisig, daing na bangus (grilled milkfish), and halo-halo for dessert.
Eating rice and a chicken viand has been my favorite combination since I was a kid. And after moving to the Bay Area in 2006, I grow to love real Chinese food even more. China Palace in Novato serves great lunch specials for under $8 with a soup and two egg rolls. My favorite Chinese-style chicken dishes include General Tso’s Chicken (pictured), Szechuan Chicken, Hunan Chicken, and Lemon Chicken. Gotta love the spice mixed in with white rice, and you’ll be satisfied.
Another aspect of the Chinese cuisine I love is dimsum. Literally eaten as snacks, I usually order several plates of yummy barbecued pork buns, various dumplings (shrimp, chicken, pork), and sesame balls. Three of my favorite dimsum places include Ton Kiang and Yank Sing in San Francisco, and the Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant in Emeryville. Atmosphere-wise, Hong Kong East Ocean puts you in front of the bay facing the City; variety of dimsum, Ton Kiang is the place; and for a real touch of class, Yank Sing is the way to go.
Indian also ranks high in my favorite Asian cuisines, and I have been to wonderful Indian restaurants that serve excellent curries and breads. Lotus Indian Cuisine in San Rafael, along with its sister restaurant Anokha Indian Cuisine in Novato, have wonderful (and cheap!) lunch buffet that changes daily, with unlimited servings of a curry dish, naan bread, and rice to your liking. If you are into Chicken Vindaloo (pictured), sample this popular Panjim (Goan) dish at the House of Curries near UC Berkeley on Durant Avenue where you can sample nearly a dozen sumptuous curries for less than $10 a plate. And don’t forget the naan bread: the House of Curries has some of the best near one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
And speaking of Berkeley, on my birthday, I went to a quiet, yet very fabulous Indian institution called Breads of India on Sacramento Street wherein its daily changing menu features exquisite curries, complete with naan pairings and drink recommendations. The restaurant that day whipped up a very tasty and melt-in-your-mouth goat curry with a spicy red sauce paired with a green onion and parsley naan bread. Add to that a unique rendition of Tandoori Chicken (pictured), and you’ll really have a great and filling meal.
Singaporean cuisine is akin to a blend of Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines, fused with Indian and Chinese geniuses. When it comes to Singaporean food, nothing beats Straits Singaporean Restaurant in San Francisco where you can sample delicious curries, from Beef Rendang to Chicken Curry (pictured), and enjoy snacking their crispy and soft Roti Prata served with a delicious peanut sauce on the side. On the weekends, they also serve brunch wherein you can sample unique Singaporean dishes like Murtabak Beef Hash (pictured, below), an Indonesian stir-fried dish with a poached egg on top, and wash down your meal with tasty drinks such as the Singaporean Soda or Mimosa.
The other Singaporean restaurant I discovered is called Singaporean Malaysian Restaurant on Clement Street between 9th & 10th Streets in San Francisco wherein I enjoyed their rendition of chicken curry served huge (even during lunchtime). However, the thing I didn’t like about it is that rice costs extra, although their Roti Prata with peanut sauce tastes delicious. It is one of those hidden gems in the city that you might want to check out for dinner.
My most recent cuisine discovery brought me to the once-isolated nation of Burma (Myanmar), with their unique and savory curries and seafood dishes. The Burmese restaurant I went to is called Mandalay Restaurant on California Street near 6th in San Francisco wherein I had their Burmese Curry Beef (pictured) which reminds me of beef stew, only it has much more flavor due to its complex mixture of spices and sauces. Also recommended is their rendition of Roti Prata called Balada, Burmese bread with a very delicious peanut sauce mixed with cumin and other spices. As for drink, I had a young coconut juice, with a whole coconut brought in to my table and tastes really refreshing.
Japanese food has been one of my mainstay favorites. For noodles, I really love the ramen at Ajisen Ramen at the Westfield San Francisco Centre, with their spicy broth made to your liking, and you can choose from spicy pork (pictured), spicy beef, or what I recently ordered, Premium Pork Rib ramen, made spicy with lots of chilies on the broth. Careful: it will make you sweat profusely!
Shrimp tempura has been one of my most craved foods. While I was in Manila, I went to Tokyo Tokyo at SM Megamall to have their crunchy all-shrimp tempura with endless rice and sauce. Now in the Bay Area, I recently found very taste-pleasing (and affordable) tempura set–served with 9 pieces of shrimp tempura, complete with rice, soup, salad, and dipping sauces, at the Lakeville Garden in Petaluma. Very close to my place, their tempura is out of this world from your first bite… very crunchy but not greasy, it is perfect with their wonder
ful Japanese rice.
ful Japanese rice.