Seven Meals I Hope to Eat Again in 2013

Ramen’s Equal? The Bun Mam Soup @ Bun Mam Soc Trang, East Oakland.

If you’re reading this, then the world hasn’t ended. I, for one, feel relieved. There’s still so much great food to eat out there; I just wasn’t ready for our global unraveling quite yet. So, with the future confidently in mind (at least as much as it can be), I offer a handful of foods that I hope to revisit next year. thirstybottles2Although I don’t like to repeat my meals out very often (as just one person, I’m trying to cast my culinary net as wide as possible), some foods prove so memorable, that they inevitably foster cravings. These are the same meals that eventually become my favorites, and they comprise the few times per year that I will eat “off the record,” just for the pure sake of eating, but without any official blog entry (these meals are usually fodder for my Facebook page instead).

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My fascination with noodle soups is well documented: I’ve covered ramen extensively, and to a lesser degree, pho. Here in the Bay Area, pho tends to be a bit more homogenous than ramen, and therefore, a little less interesting from restaurant to restaurant. Bun mam, however, is a rare find in any form. The Bun Man soup at Bun Mam Soc Trang, pictured above, is one of the hidden gems of the Oakland dining scene.

Read more about Bun Mam Soc Trang

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The Torta Cubana @ That's It Market: Chorizo and Egg, Breaded Beef, Hot Dogs, Bacon, Ham, Queso Fresco, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickled Jalapeño, Guacamole, and enough Mayo to bring it all together.

The Torta Cubana @ That’s It Market: Chorizo and Egg, Breaded Beef, Hot Dogs, Bacon, Ham, Queso Fresco, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickled Jalapeño, Guacamole, and enough Mayo to bring it all together.

Few sandwiches are as brazen as the torta cubana at That’s It Market in the Mission District. It’s a lovable beast, and a hodgepodge of wonderfully fatty calories. I once made the mistake of eating this sandwich lunch before a San Francisco Giants game. It killed my appetite at the ballpark, which for me, is practically unheard of.

Read more about That’s It Market

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Tonkotsu Garlic Ramen, with Pork Belly @ Miki Restaurant, San Francisco.

San Francisco ramen doesn’t garner much respect from the true ramen aficionados, all of whom look to the South Bay for the best versions of ramen on the West Coast (and most likely, in the United States as a whole). Still, the City cannot be dismissed outright, and Miki is as fine as any bowl of noodles in San Francisco.

Read more about Miki Ramen on my Ramen Run-Down

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Mmmm… ‘Bap: The Spicy Pork Bibimbap @ Bowl’d Korean Rice Bar, Albany.

Remember when fajitas ruled the 80s? It was the sizzle that sold that dish, and it made the price of skirt steak (then relatively cheap and unheralded) skyrocket. Fajitas have now become passé by California standards. We’ve now evolved to embrace bibimbap, which features the same sizzle (thanks to its hot stone serving bowl), but with much more interesting condiments, or banchan.

Read more about Bowl’d Korean Rice Bar

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The Double-Up @ True Burger, Oakland.

The hamburgers at TrueBurger have an essence to them that is difficult to articulate, but it originates with a well-developed char (known in science as the Maillard reaction). TrueBurger hits all of the other marks, as well.

Read more about True Burger

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The Back Rib Sandwich @ Solbar, Calistoga.

This week, I learned that the McDonald’s McRib was originally developed in order to fill a void created by the almighty Chicken McNugget. What’s more, Rene Arend, the first executive chef hired by McDonald’s, was responsible for both creations. The Back Rib Sandwich at Solage’s Solbar is everything the McRib pretends to be.

Read more about Solbar

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The G&G Burger @ Goose & Gander, St. Helena.

The G&G Burger at Goose & Gander occupies the very same spot once owned by the Kobe Beef Burger at Martini House, a restaurant where I once cooked. Those were the days (although the Martini House has shuttered, the same burger is still available at Oxbow’s Kitchen Door). Even though I remember the Martini House fondly, this G&G Burger marks an improvement over the former Kobe Beef Burger. Might be the melted bone marrow add-on.

Read more about Goose & Gander

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