Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chef Webber and his California Fusion Cuisine is Front and Center at SF's Venerable Cafe Kati

One of the reasons to make a trip to San Francisco is to experience its world-class cuisine.

But after several culinary disappointments at highly recommended restaurants via Zagat and Yelp, imagine my distrust after a long-time family friend organized a group dinner at Cafe Kati, an Asian fusion restaurant.

After reading user reviews on Yelp and food critics' comments in Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit magazines, I felt less jaded and more hungry for good food and good company. I found both in a cozy Fillmore / Pacific Heights restaurant and much more.


Imagine our delight as the restaurant staff seated our group in a private room in the back of the restaurant. We found ourselves with the friendly chef/owner Kirk Webber who took it upon himself to share with us his passion of the blending of east-meets-west cuisine and his long-time love affair with food culture that began to bloom as he trained in classic French techniques in San Francisco and was further refined while working as a chef in Tokyo.

That's a long way from his roots back in the early 1980s of Orange County in an era that he described as devoid of cultural and culinary diversity.

The chef beamed with pride as he shared with us his restaurant's milestone of soon turning 20. That's a lifetime in restaurant years, especially in the ever-changing gourmet food scene of Northern California.

And if the delectable meal we enjoyed is any indication of things to come, Cafe Kati and its brilliant chef will be around for another 20 years to significantly contribute to San Francisco's delicious culinary journey.

In addition to the chef and his friendly servers, our group's food highlights included:

  • Vietnamese-inspired mango spring rolls
  • Crab Rangoon wontons
  • Peanut-crusted prawns on a bed of green papaya salad
  • Signature dragon roll of crispy prawns, avocado, crunchy cucumber wrapped with smoked salmon with a wasabi vinaigrette

Main courses
  • Grilled scallops served with a port red wine reduction of risotto of white corn, mushrooms, carrots and spinach
  • Miso-glazed black bass in a dashi broth season in a seven-spice Japanese spice mix, udon noodles, bok choy, green onions and a vegetable tempura
  • Grilled hanger steak in a sesame-soy marinade, spicy Spanish fries, green beans, yams, zucchini and sauteed spinach
  • Butternut-squash raviolis with a homemade sauce
What's your favorite restaurant in the Bay Area? And what would you like me to cover in future blog posts? I would love to hear what you think. 
    Know Before You Go:
    Cafe Kati
    1963 Sutter Street
    San Francisco, CA 94115 
    (415) 775-7313

      Thursday, May 13, 2010

      Guess Where Another Prototype iPhone Landed? Good Morning, Vietnam!

      Either this is a huge hoax or it's another case of a new fourth generation iPhone gone a missing. And of all places, it landed in Vietnam.

      The apparently brand new 14GB iPhone 4G is a cleaner design than the one purchased by Gizmodo.  After being flashed before the cameras to "How Deep is Your Love" by the Bee Gees, the iPhone was taken apart with photos to prove it.

      "It's a real Apple product," Tran Manh Hiep, a dealer for a mobile phone accessory store in Saigon told global news network AFP. "I plugged it into iTunes and it recognized it as an Apple device."

      He then filmed the prototype next generation iPhone and shared his review of some the gadget's new features, including a front-facing camera and round buttons on the new sleek look.

      Hiep also explains that this prototype is missing two screws on the right and left sides of the dock connector. That's different than the first prototype in Gizmodo, suggesting that it's a newer model and closer to the actual retail version. 

       Vietnam's tech-loving youth first posted the video on the TaoViet or Vietnamese Apple network.

      Since being posted onto YouTube, the video has burst into worldwide popularity with nearly 1.2 million views in just a few hours.

      Check out more photos from Engadget of this little high-tech hideaway or ... ahem ... stole-away that landed into Vietnamese hands.
      What do you think? Is the iPhone a fake or is another Apple engineer in deep trouble?

      Tuesday, May 11, 2010

      Pho Tweetup: Twitter Never Tasted So Good

      If you're like the average American office worker, you're pressed for time during the lunch hour. It's rare these days to go out and enjoy a good meal with good company.

      I often find myself eating lunch in my office. But I do deliberately try to get out into the world and experience Orange County's sunshine -- once in a while.

      For months now, Orange County Register's Jon Lansner or @JonLan and I have been trying to go to Little Saigon in the heart of Orange County for pho, Vietnam's national noodle soup dish.

      Pronounced "fuh," it's served with rice noodles, chicken, beef or vegetarian style over a piping hot clear broth that's been stewed for at least eight hours with spices. Then cooks sprinkle over each bowl sprigs of cilantro, sliced white onions and peppery scallions. And it was subtly delicious -- nuanced with spices and herbs at Huynh restaurant.

      The customize-it-yourself dish is complete by adding your personal touch of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander and rau ngai or Vietnamese saw-leaf herb. Add the garlicky Vietnamese red-pepper sauce and semi-sweet hoisin – and it’s nearly the perfect all-in-one dish. 

      Instead of just meeting over steaming bowls of pho and other tasty Vietnamese dishes, we opted to extend an open invitation via Twitter to anyone who wanted to join us.

      Just a day ago, we tweeted #OCtwEATup or Orange County meet-up via Twitter with an emphasis on EAT. It made sense -- open conversations via social media, open table and great discussions with some new friends:

      After the great conversations, the group of Twitterers stopped next door at a market with the scent and sights of fresh exotic tropical fruits.

      While the group soaked in the culture, I had to run back to the office for a 1 p.m. conference call. I traveled internationally for lunch, met some new friends -- and didn’t even realize it.