Namu Gaji – My New Favorite Restaurant


Wow.  Have I found a jewel here in this great food city of ours! Now, to be clear, I haven't really "found" it...Namu Gaji has been in existence for quite a while but somehow I've never been and I feel like you just don't hear about it all that often anymore.  But this place - Blows. Me. Away.  It's one of those places that makes me stop, pause and moan a little after the first bite of each dish. So much so that the staff notices and pays me lots of extra attention because they can tell just how much I'm enjoying their food.  And who doesn't love that kind of patron?! Did all of this melodrama and attention annoy my date?  Probably. But it was a bad date right from the start so I turned my focus to the food...which in turn helped the sous chef turn his attention to me since we were sitting with him at the Chef's Bar.  Way to turn a bad date into a fabulous experience!

Namu Gaji is family run by three brothers and they source many of their ingredients from their own Namu farm.  They classify themselves as New Korean American cuisine.  On their site they refer to themselves as "humble, innovative and personal" and I couldn't agree more  For a slightly more expensive restaurant that serves up some of the most beautiful platings I've seen it is also extremely unpretentious, warm and welcoming.  Even on my first visit I felt comfortable enough on a busy Saturday night to hold up staff for extended chats like they were old friends.  That is rare to find in this city that isn't exactly known for it's service. The people working here truly enjoy their craft and are in this business to bring pleasure to others through their much so that I got a surprise freebie, special dish made for me on both visits simply because they could see my raw appreciation of their work.  I'm not saying to expect that, but wow.  Making me feel that they love me as much as I love them?  Good move and amazing customer service.

Now, I'm going to walk you through each dish...and there are a lot of them! But that's because I've been waxing on so much about this place that my friend decided to bring me back for a belated birthday dinner about a week after my first dinner here. And even still I'm missing a few dishes (like the delish real Korean taco they have at happy hour and the amuse bouche from each visit) that we forgot to snap pictures of before devouring!

So first up...the photo that starts this blog post. Uni. Buckwheat lavash, kumquat, mustard seed, egg white, pistou and of course, uni. This is the dish that made the sous chef and I buddies.  Why?  Because after my first bite and food orgasm sounds, I stopped and said, "Wow.  THIS is sex on a plate."  And I continued to repeat that to every staff member who asked how I liked it.  Little did I know the sous chef responsible for this dish, Mark Zawiski, was right in front of me and overheard this lavish compliment.  This works out in my favor later!

OysterThis next dish is Oyster.  Oysters with uni and panko breadcrumbs.  I got this on my second visit...but only because they had temporarily taken my Uni dish off the menu.  What?!  That's the dish I couldn't stop talking about! I teased the chef..."Wait, I call it sex on a plate and you take it OFF the menu?  I think you should have renamed it on the menu!"  He loved that and apologized and said it would be back on the menu tomorrow.  I pouted as big as I could and ordered the oyster dish since it at least had some uni in it.  While this was nowhere near as good as the true Uni dish, it was delightful and would be divine on a good first date.  Some of the oysters were a bit too big so they overtook the delicate uni flavor but on the ones where the ratio was right it was delicious.

But wait!  As I'm pouting about Uni being off the menu that crafty sous chef Zawiski is sneaking around right in front of me and making it up special for Katherine and I.  Imagine my delight and surprise when it gets brought over to us! Seriously, this is only my second visit here and I feel like a regular and special guest all at the same time. That's hard to pull off and so rare.  Man I love this Uni dish and Katherine did too!

Weekly Menu: September 14-20, 2014
Sunday: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe
Monday: Leftovers: Orecchiette
Tuesday: Dinner Out
Wednesday: Leftovers: Orecchiette 
Thursday: Board Meeting
Friday: Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Fried Rice
Saturday: Gala on the USS Hornet!
Fall is in the air, so I'm pulling out one of my old comfort food favorites this week...Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe. Being the singleton that I am it will help feed me most of the week whenever I'm home which is fantastic! But later in the week I'm getting my first Omaha Steaks shipment in which included Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin.  So I'm going to create a farewell to Summer meal and make pork tenderloin alongside some pineapple fried rice. I'm likely just going to make up my own fried recipe depending on what I have in the house, but I linked to a Food Network recipe for those interested in using a proven one.  A little taste of Hawaii as I say Aloha to an amazingly fabulous summer.  I'll, of course, make sure to post a version of my first Omaha Steaks blog post here as well.  Wish me luck!

As always, if you need a few more recipes  visit my menu archives and recipes to find other meals to round out your week. Happy cooking/eating...
Tapas Party!

Tortilla Espanola

I'm part of a lovely rotating monthly ladies dinner party and August was my turn to I decided to forego the traditional sit-down dinner and throw a Tapas Party!  This was particularly fun for me because it allowed me to go down memory lane a bit to when I studied abroad in San Sebastián, Spain and pull out some of my old favorite recipes from my time there that I haven't made in years.  It also gave me the opportunity to really cook a lot...which, yes, is a lot of work, but I truly do enjoy and haven't done in a while.  So what did I make?  Here's a quick rundown with recipe links included...

Tortilla Española...truly no tapas party is complete without this (above).  It is a signature Spanish tapa that you will find at every single tapas bar throughout the country.  While it doesn't sound particularly exciting (essentially a potato & onion omelet), trust me on this's always a huge hit.  This one always feels a bit scary for people to make, review the step by step photo recipe attached in the linked's really pretty simple and straightforward if you take it one step at a time.  And just be bold with the flip...own it and it will go perfectly! Traditionally it's served on top of a thin slice of bread but you can eat it on it's own as well (which I prefer).

Shrimp, Salmon and Egg Pintxo - this was my favorite of the entire spread!  Not surprising since it's a pintxo which is the Basque version of tapas and I studied abroad in Basque country.  So this was more reminiscent of the tapas that I ate while living abroad. Slightly more complex and often including amazing seafood.  The viniagrette that you make for this pintxo is to die for and I've been putting it on everything else since (it makes a ton though so you could 1/2 it if you want to). KILLS me that I've lost my pictures of my favorite tapa...guess that means I need to make it again ASAP so I can share the photo!

Pancetta Fig Crisps - ok, I took some liberties with the word "tapa".  This technically isn't Spanish but it is an appetizer that I've made several times and is always a huge hit so I decided to include it. Delish as always.

Pancetta Fig Crisps

Next up a a few "DIY" tapas:
Breaking News!

SavoryGirl's Perfectly Cooked T-Bone

This is going to be short and sweet, but wanted to share some exciting news with all of you.  Starting in October, SavoryGirl is now going to be a monthly guest blogger on Omaha Steak's blog!  So why am I so excited about this?  Well first and foremost I actually truly do enjoy Omaha Steaks' getting an opportunity to try out 2-3 each month is a big win for my belly and weekly menus.  But secondly, I'm excited because this will get SavoryGirl more exposure and maybe start to turn this into a bit more of a legitimate blog vs. the hobby that it has been for me over the past 4 years.  So I'm hoping a side-benefit of this is that it will make me start to focus a bit more and provide new, updated content more often like I used to when I first started out.  Win-win for me and my readers!

So just to be does this work?  At the beginning of every month I'll get to choose 3 Omaha Steaks products which they'll ship to me for free.  I then get to use them however I'd like...make up my own recipes, use them in existing recipes, entertain with them, etc...  From there I write 2-3 blog posts about the experience and send it off to Omaha Steaks within 2-3 weeks to be published that next month.  I'll send them photos too, but more often than not they'll use their own stock photography.  Now the cool thing for me, as someone who always has a lot to say, is that they actually don't want these posts to be product reviews and focused on the product alone.  So I'll still get to write in my true SavoryGirl voice about the recipe or party or experience like I always do...just mentioning which Omaha Steaks product I used at least once. Easy breezy way for me to still feel as though I'm being authentic. Especially since this is a brand I already know, have bought myself, and do enjoy...I would have never accepted the opportunity otherwise!

Stay tuned...I'll post links to my SteakBytes articles here of course and can't wait to hear what you think!  In the meanwhile, to get you salivating check out my past post on how to cook a perfect steak here.
Weekly Menu: August 31 – September 6, 2014
Sunday: Date cooking for me at his place!
Monday: Disappearing Zucchini Orzo with Grilled Shrimp
Tuesday: Leftovers: Zucchini Orzo with Shrimp
Wednesday: Drinks & Oysters HH then Dinner 
Thursday: Dinner Date!
Friday: Birthday Dinner with Friends!
Saturday: Leftovers: Zucchini Orzo
This week is going to be a crazy, fun one which is fantastic because it's leading into my birthday weekend!  The more celebrations and fun nights out the better in my mind!  Let me tell you - I love me some birthday!  For both me and others, so yes...I'm embracing a week of fun even though my big day is over a week away still!

Starting off I have a 2nd date having me over to his place to cook for for SavoryGirl?!  I love this...can't wait to see what he makes and how it goes.  Then I'm making an easy breezy Disappearing Zucchini Orzo with Grilled Shrimp (to use up that surplus of summer zucchini we all seem to have at this time of year!) that will fill my free nights throughout the rest of the week.  Then drinks and oysters with my real estate agent followed by a dinner out on Wednesday.  Another dinner date on Thursday and then we launch into my birthday weekend!  Dinner with 7 friends at Espetus Churrascaria...all you can eat, carved table-side Brazilian meat with yummy sides. I've always wanted to try it out so I'm really looking forward to it!

Clearly I'm almost no help with cooking this week!  So as always, if you need a few more recipes  visit my menu archives and recipes to find other meals to round out your week.  Happy cooking/eating...
Tú Lan – A San Francisco Institution!

Menu Cover at Tu Lan

First, let me say that I am a failure of a has taken me 8 years to try this San Francisco institution and now that I have I am kicking myself for the 8 years wasted not eating this amazing (and affordable!) Vietnamese food.  And truly, I'm not just saying that...just because others rave about a restaurant does not mean I agree (take the famed Boulevard for example).  This spot is truly worth a's a quick rundown why:

Tú Lan has been in one of the sleazier parts of San Francisco, 6th right off Market, since 1977 which is a feat unto itself.  They've recently renovated but honestly it's still a dive so I can't imagine what it was like before...I almost gave my out of town friend a heart attach walking the two blocks on 6th to get here and there wasn't much solace once inside.  But for me, that's part of the charm...I've lately been feeling kind of tired out on all of the fancy eating San Francisco has to offer and am really enjoying the many dives and bargain bite spots with character and sometimes surprisingly delicious food, like Tú Lan. The other part of the charm is that Julia Child loved this place, particularly the lemon beef salad.  Just the sheer thought of Julia Child in this neighborhood,  hunkered down and truly appreciating this simple but great food is enough to make me smile.  But the real reason to come check this place out is, of course, the food itself...

Imperial Rolls

First up, #1 CHẢ GIÒ...better known as Imperial Rolls.  I've had my share of Imperial Rolls over the years but these are to die for...and that's coming from someone who typically avoids fried food.  Perfectly crispy and crunchy on the outside and bursting with peppery, pork on the inside. I kept telling myself to not finish these, but we certainly didn't bring any home...oops!

Lemon Beef Salad

Weekly Menu: August 17-23, 2014
Sunday: Orecchiette with Melon, Pancetta, Mint & Ricotta Salata
Monday: Leftovers: Chicken Tacos
Tuesday: Leftovers: Orecchiette
Wednesday: Leftovers: Orecchiette
Thursday: Hopalong Board Meeting
Friday: Pool Party at Francis Ford Coppola Winery!
Saturday: Dinner Out
The melon at the Farmer's Market lately is out of control. Like seriously some of the best melon I've ever had...I can't get enough.  Ask everyone I work with, I keep bringing containers full of melon to meetings to share.  I'm like a melon pusher.  It's hilarious. Which made me think of this recipe I made a few years ago which was to die for...kind of a play on melon wrapped in prosciutto but turned into a meal.  Yum.  The rest of the week will be leftovers.  My soup stretched further than I expected last week so I didn't make the grilled chicken until Saturday and have leftovers to stretch into this week which is perfect.  Then I have a cooking-free (well except those breakfasts I love!) weekend full of fun.  Lounging by the magnificent pool at Francis Ford Coppola most of the day Friday and a hopefully fun and fabulous dinner date Saturday!

As always, if you need a few more recipes  visit my menu archives and recipes to find other meals to round out your week.  Happy cooking...  
Weekly Menu: August 10-16, 2014
Sunday: Dinner at Alexander's Steakhouse!
Monday: Summer Minestrone Soup
Tuesday:  Drinks & Dinner Out
Wednesday:  Leftovers: Soup
Thursday:  Grilled Chicken with Rapini & Tomatoes
Friday:  Leftovers: Chicken with Rapini
Saturday:  Drinks & Dinner Out
August has arrived and our typical San Francisco summer appears to have arrived with it.  Foggy, windy, cool.  But instead of complaining about it I'm embracing it by making one of my favorite summer soups this week.  It's a simple but yummy minestrone chock full of squash and tomatoes.  Super healthy and delicious.  Later in the week I'll keep it simple with an easy grilled chicken dinner, but I'll be using a dry rub that my wine-club sent me to spice things up a bit.

As always, if you need a few more recipes  visit my menu archives and recipes to find other meals to round out your week.  Happy cooking...
Weekly Menu: August 3-9, 2014
Sunday: Camping in Tahoe!
Monday: Camping in Tahoe!
Tuesday: Asparagus Mushroom & Goat Cheese Frittata with Sweet Potato Homefries
Wednesday: Leftovers: Fritatta and Homefries
Thursday: Drinks/Dinner Date
Friday: Brooke Visiting!  Dinner Out
Saturday: Party Bus to Napa with 6 Great Friends!
I'm going camping, I'm going camping!  Yippee!  I thought I wasn't going to get to go this year now that I'm no longer with my built-in camping partner in crime (and apparently none of my friends camp) but that same great ex-husband gave me his car while he's out of town for two weeks.  So I'm taking an impromptu solo trip up to Tahoe to get at least a little bit of camping and Tahoe beach time in this summer!  I've never camped by myself but I'm actually really looking forward to the experience.  And some solid me-time is in order...especially after this week which ended up being crazy busy and unexpectedly weird in not the best way.

Then next weekend one of my closest friends is coming to visit which I'm super excited about...but in between all of that fun I'll be whipping up a seasonal frittata and my famous sweet potato homefries.

As always, if you need a few more recipes  visit my menu archives and recipes to find other meals to round out your week.  Happy cooking...
SavoryGirl’s Strawberry Shortcake

Ok, full disclosure...I re-post this every year now...but it's so yummy and the strawberries at the Farmer's Market are so amazing at this time of year that I just can't help myself. I don't want any of you to miss out on this delicious, easy homemade summer dessert!  I also just made it for my quarterly team meeting this week and it got gobbled up by all 20+ of them so quickly that it reminded me of what a crowd pleaser it is...easy breezy for a picnic. Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake! I grew up eating those little sponge cakes you buy at the store with cool whip but over the years I've developed a completely homemade strawberry shortcake recipe that I absolutely adore. It's super easy and well worth the tiny bit of extra effort over store brought. My recipe below makes enough for about 8 servings...and once you try it, you'll never go back to the store bought version again!

Berries: 3 baskets of fresh, ripe strawberries 2 tsp. sugar

Quarter strawberries into a medium sized bowl...if they're larger strawberries cut into sixths or eighths. Sprinkle with sugar, stir, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is called macerating...the sugar softens the berries and pulls the juices out of the berries so that you get a nice natural sauce along with your berries.  Add a bit of good balsamic vinegar and/or thinly sliced basil if you're feeling playful.