I used to be a serious student of the Pakistani restaurants in the Tenderloin. I started my education with the addictively oily lamb curries of Shalimar, and made my way down to the first ever Pakwan, located just half a block away. I rejected Chutney as subpar and I embraced Punjab Kebab and Lahore Karahi (which has now closed and reopened). But ever since I started working at SF mag with its offices nowhere near the Loin, I haven't been stuffing my face with naan, and dahl, and curries quite as often as I'd like. Until the other day when I stopped into the Pakwan on 16th Street. I ordered the Karahi chicken curry, which was totally good—actually very good indeed and finished with my traditional cup of chai with a spoonful of sugar and a sprinkle of salt (you must balance it with salt), just like the good ole days. —S.D.
Hot tea is not usually my thing. At best, a cup or two of Lipton in the morning helps me cut down on my caffeine intake. But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate a good gadget, and the new outpost of Samovar in the Mission (411 Valencia St) has gizmos-aplenty. It opened this morning (I had a chance to try it out last night at a preview). They make their sencha, oolong, and Earl Grey in specially-designed brewing vessels built in Utah that look almost like old vacuum tubes. When you want a cup of tea, they weigh it out, whir it up, and pour it right in front of you. It's deeply cool, and the resulting brew isn't so bad either. —S.L.
While I love San Francisco’s abundance of Neapolitan pies, I have a special place in my gut for the square, unapologetically cheesy slabs sold at Golden Boy Pizza. Part of Golden Boy’s appeal is that you can see the pizza in the window every time you walk by; I’ve done so enough times now that I drool involuntarily each time I turn onto Green Street. There’s nothing pedigreed or local or organic about Golden Boy—for all I know, their mozzarella is made from Plasticine. But I really don’t care. Few food-related pleasures rival that of the instant gratification I experienced the other day when I walked out of the store holding a box containing two vegetarian pesto slices freighted with sliced black olives and already starting to weep grease through the cardboard. I ate them both on a bench in Washington Square Park, savoring their chewy crust and impressive reserves of salt and fat. I’d call this the perfect drunk food, but that would be doing it a disservice, since it’s just perfect food, period. —R.F.M.
Last night I stuffed my face at Chino (which, full disclosure, is owned in part by Sara Deseran) with many wonderful things. My favorite was the yuba salad, its ribbons of smooth, chilly tofu skin studded with tiny pickled shiitake mushrooms and glossed with cilantro-ginger salsa verde. It was bright, vibrant, and compellingly chewy. Tofu skin can be a tough sell—like other tofu products, it can go slimy and bland in the wrong hands—but I, for one, am in thrall to its powers of persuasion. —R.F.M.
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