Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Delica rf-1 (2/11/07)

Coming soon to this very spot, a review by the traveling Farofa of her lunch at Delica rf-1 in San Francisco 's inimitable Ferry Building. (French Fries didn't get to go along to San Francisco, and is shamelessly hoping that Farofa picked up some toothsome goodies that will survive the trip back well). In the meantime, nosh on these yummy pictures.

Farofa(F): As a first timer in San Francisco I was overwhelmed by the possibilities of places to eat, but having only one day of leisure I had to place my bet on a few options; I decided to spend the day walking around and ended up by the water at the inimitable Ferry Building, where I had lunch at Delica rf-1. Despite the bizarre name, it is a pretty outstanding place to eat.

Delicia rf-1 is the brainchild of Kozo Iwata, apparently inspired, as many other restaurateurs before him have been, by the Alice Waters 'fresh, local, delicious' mandate. The whole 'Japanese Deli' concept sounds a little funny at first, but it breaks down into a little bit bento, a little bit blackboard, a lot of very good produce made into very good food. It's in an ultra-modern space in the high-rent district of the Ferry Building just south of Chinatown), and the prices reflect that to a certain extent, but are overall pretty reasonable.

Though I generally don't care about vegan options, this might be a good place for those into non-dairy meat-free cuisine. The menu is vast and I wanted a little taste of everything... but restrained myself to a few samples – something fried, something soupy, something veggie, and something weird/different.

Above: Miso soup, Fried Oyster, Kakiage Tempura and Roast Beef Sushi

I like tempura and it’s often a sure bet for comfort food. There is only one way for tempura to be bad: if it's cold. The Kakiage Tempura (mix of shredded burdock root, carrots, onions, and edamame with white shrimp) was cold tempura. Is it too much to ask for tempura to be fried shortly before serving? Maybe I've been spoiled by the other 4,782 Japanese restaurants I have been to in my life, but it was most disappointing because the produce used was clearly fresh and good.

Fortunately, that was the only bad thing about Delica rf-1 (my mother would add that the tableware was also lacking, but I was hungry enough to not care). The fried oyster had a perfect crunchy outside and soft warm inside. I almost got another one because It had been a while since I had good fried Oyster (warning: stay away from Reading Terminal's Pearl's Oyster Bar in Philly). And while the tableware may not have been much, the view was spectacular.

I ordered Roast Beef Sushi for fun, it just sounded weird (and I’ve had successful experiences with weird-sounding sushi - fois-gras sushi being the best). The menu said “Our original sushi dish with Meyer Ranch natural, hormone-free beef, topped with baby arugula, minced shallots, and julienne radish, wrapped with Nori seaweed. Wasabi is included.” – and the result was a tasty sushi, though it had also been sitting on display a little longer than I would have liked. Interestingly, even though it was a two-bite investment, it filled me up the way a good roast-beef platter fills you in. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland.

Miso soup with Shimeji mushrooms, brown mushrooms, and age tofu. ($3.25)

I don't think anyone would consider Miso soup the highlight of a meal, but this one was a star. It was by far, the tastiest miso soup I have ever had - and I love miso soup. Miso soup is supposed to be served with sashimi to clean your palate in between different fish (among other things), but this one was made to shine: The miso was high quality, the shimeji and brown mushrooms were fresh, and even the age tofu (which I'm not a big fan of), was filled with the flavorful broth, making every bite as pleasurable as the last. I had a big smile on my face.

French Fries Note from Afar: Some bonus linkaliciousness with a recipe to duplicate Chef Iwata's sesame dressing (it says for over asparagus, I say for over anything)

Farofa: **** out of 5
French Fries: "Whining at the unfairness of the universe."

Forks Down Verdict: Farofa says YUM to this great lunch spot, but she hopes that if she ever goes back the tempura is hot.

Delica rf-1
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94111

(415) 834-0344

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