A friend who knows such things had been telling me for months that Mission Bowling Club served this otherworldly veggie burger, so this weekend I tried it for myself. Happily, my friend’s raves were justified: it’s an objectively excellent veggie burger. Part of what makes it so is that MBC employs a slab of panisse as the patty—the fried chickpea flour cake is this crisp-creamy thing riddled with edamame and various other members of the plant kingdom. Topped with a heaping spoonful of creamy guacamole, a smear of mildly incendiary sambal, and a small pile of sautéed fennel, it’s a balanced and deeply flavorful concoction; like the best veggie burgers, it’s a gutbomb masquerading as health food. My only quibble: for some bizarre reason, MBC has forsaken a bun for two chewy slices of sourdough bread. Such a mighty monument to animal-free eating deserves an equally ass-kicking foundation, one worthy of a burger, not a sandwich.
Decent lunchtime options are relatively scarce in San Francisco’s neck of the woods, but even if it were otherwise, I’d still keep returning to Yo Yo’s for their soba with tofu and seaweed. The tiny lunch counter, staffed by a very sweet Japanese couple, makes some of the best soba noodles I’ve ever tasted—without fail they always have a perfect bite-to-tenderness ratio. The chunks of tofu accompanying them are big and soft, the seaweed abundant and agreeably chewy, and the broth a deep, dark umami swamp. Topped with a scattering of scallions and a hefty dose of chili powder, it’s just gorgeous, the kind of food you’d swear can cure all ills, or at least a stressful workday.
Because I am basically powerless to resist the lure of a new (or old) ice cream shop, I paid a visit to Cream two days after it opened its new Mission location on 16th St. It yielded an ice cream sandwich, which is apparently Cream’s specialty—both the cookies and ice cream innards are customizable, meaning you can theoretically stand around for hours driving everyone to murderous rage with your indecisiveness. Fortunately, Cream’s employees know how to hustle and the line moved pretty quickly; I ended up with banana walnut ice cream sandwiched between two vegan tuxedo cookies, which are just chocolate cookies pock-marked with white chips. It was a good ice cream sandwich—nice dairy to carb ratio, and the ice cream contained some big walnut pieces—but I can’t say I’ll be back anytime soon. Between it’s morgue-like lighting, cramped, awkward layout, and Top 40 soundtrack dialed to 11, it has all the ambiance of an airport Burger King. It may be the most unwelcoming ice cream shop in San Francisco, though the staff does offer to warm up your cookies.