Acquerello: Beef tartare with Parmesan cream and quail egg with truffle drizzle
1722 Sacramento Street (near Polk), 415-567-5432, www.acquerello.com
Like many upscale restaurants, Acquerello changes their menu fairly often, but when it’s available, the chopped beef tartare is one of the very best in town: rich, raw beef surrounded by a lush pool of Parmesan cream with just a hint of truffle; a Parmesan crisp balanced atop the beef serves as the platform for a raw quail egg.
Gamine: Oeufs cocottes (poach-ed eggs baked with cream)
2223 Union Street (at Fillmore), 415-771-7771, www.gaminesf.com
Oeufs cocottes are eggs baked in a ramekin with cream atop other savory ingredients. At Gamine they offer several varieties: salmon and goat cheese; tomato and basil; and prosciutto. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but the salmon and goat cheese is a real standout.
Il Cane Rosso: Clover Farm warm egg salad sandwich
Ferry Building, 415-391-7599, www.canerossosf.com
If you like grilled cheese and egg salad, here’s your chance to combine them into one tasty package. The folks at Il Cane Rosso whip farm-fresh eggs into a salad and spoon it onto Acme focaccia which has been slathered with bagna cauda butter (anchovies, garlic and olive oil); the egg salad is topped with aged Provolone and the sandwich is toasted until the cheese melts and the bread is crispy. They serve it open-faced topped with mixed greens.
La Folie: Triple T Ranch tempura duck egg on sweetbreads pancake with Frangelico almond pesto, wild mushroom salad and truffle vinaigrette
2316 Polk Street (at Green), 415-776-5577, www.lafolie.com
Yes, it’s a mouthful – but a delicious one. When you slice into the light, crunchy tempura coating of the warm, earthy duck egg, the yolk oozes out and mixes with the equally earthy mushrooms. The sweetbreads pancake is the perfect vehicle to sop it all up, including the stunning almond pesto.
My Tofu House: spicy soft tofu soup with egg
4627 Geary Boulevard (at 10th Avenue), 415-750-1818, www.mytofuhouse.com
All of the soft tofu soups at My Tofu House are good, but I’m a fan of the vegetable and the seafood soups in particular. You can also get a variety of meats as well as versions with fish eggs, dumplings and fried noodles. They bring a raw egg for you to crack into your soup – swirl it around in the piping hot broth until it cooks to your liking and slurp away.
get across town:
Mission Chinese: Savory egg custard
2234 Mission Street (in Lung Shan Chinese Restaurant), 415-863-2800,
Mission Chinese is the strange partnership between the traditional Lung Shan Restaurant, owned by Sue and Liang Zhou, and hip, young Danny Bowien, a Korean chef raised in Oklahoma. Bowien has cooked in both New York and San Francisco at topnotch eateries; he was the opening chef de cuisine at Farina, and in 2008 he won the Pesto World Championship in Genoa, Italy. But besides his eclectic resume and the pop-up locale, Bowien is creating hot food (both figuratively and literally) for an ever-growing foodie fan base. And word travels fast: this past May highly regarded food writer Mark Bittman mentioned Mission Chinese in The New York Times, where he compared it to New York’s famed Momofuku and described it as “one of the country’s hottest destination restaurants.”
There are a number of items on the menu that feature eggs and all are memorable (slow-cooked pork belly with soy-cured egg; porridge with oxtail, Dungeness crab and soft-poached egg; salt cod fried rice with escolar confit, Chinese sausage, egg, and scallion), but the one that stands out most for me is the silken savory egg custard – a chilly take on Japanese chawanmushi featuring sweet sea urchin, cured trout roe, rice wine, and shiso. It’s delicate and refreshing (and a nice respite from some of the other delicious but palate-blowing, sweat-inducing dishes). Bowien’s heart is also in the right place: Mission Chinese donates 75 cents from each entree to the San Francisco Food Bank (they’ve raised nearly $70,000 since July).