I have spent many Christmases away and this year will not be any different as Dennis, Stanford and I are spending Christmas in the city. But I still feel a little homesick when this time of the year comes. Christmas is huge back home, filled with traditions and brimming with Mom’s great food. Plus I particularly love the fact that the festivities are stretched two weeks out with more food and more presents over New Year’s and my birthday in January. As the youngest and the only boy in a family of eight, I fancied the lavish attention when I was growing up.
To shake off the holidays blues, I decided to seek out food in the city that reminds me of home and make up a list of my own favorite Filipino comfort food. At the top of my list is a plateful of fresh, crispy, and juicy Jollibee Chickenjoy.
Growing up back in Manila, a trip to Jollibee with my Mom and sisters was more than a treat, it was an event. My family wasn’t well-off and I certainly looked forward to the rare times when we would treat ourselves to fried chicken with rice, and french fries if we were lucky. My sister, Vangie, actually started her restaurant career at Jollibee. She would bring home goodies like burgers and fries every now and then and I would stay up late to wait for her when she worked the night shift. And when my sister, Liz, bought a tiny second-hand Toyota, we would cram five people and drive to pick Vangie up at Jollibee and get free vanilla and chocolate fudge sundaes on the way home.
Those were the days.
Today was my second trip to Mission Burger in ten days. I have been raving about their burger ever since I discovered their clandestine operations at Duc Loi in the Mission and I promised Dennis that I’d take him there as soon as we get the chance. Dennis is my trusted burger connoisseur, among other things, and so I was curious to know what he thinks of it.
After a hike from the Dogpatch to Dolores and back, we made a pit stop at Mission Burger for lunch today. I was thrilled. Dennis got their burger and fries and I, on the other hand, feasted on their new offering: the fried chicken sandwich.
Harrison free-range chicken with crispy chicken skin, pickled jalapeño, cucumber, shredded lettuce and secret sauce on an Acme roll.
It was amazing.
The sweet and hot pickled jalapeños complemented the crispy and salty fried chicken very well. And the crispy chicken skin was a wonderful bonus. It was a bit messy but all great fried chicken sandwiches are messy anyway!
Just a few notes about Mission Burger. Should you order fries? Absolutely. If you’re not a lemonade person, such as myself, grab a drink at Duc Loi since they only serve mint lemonade and nothing else, not even water. The dining area is a little snug and you may end up enjoying lunch on a milk crate but, seriously, who cares? And their sandwiches are only $8, it’s an amazing deal. They’re even donating $1 from every sandwich to the San Francisco Food Bank. And a final word, they’re open everyday except Thursday.
A picnic of fried chicken, garlic fries and strawberry shortcake. A beautiful ballpark by the bay. And an elegant production of Il Trovatore.
Where can you have all three in one place?
Only in San Francisco.
It was a real San Francisco treat to be one of the 25,000 opera fans at AT&T park who joined the 3,000 more at the Opera House for one of the city’s most-loved operas, Verdi’s Il Trovatore. The San Francisco Opera production, a debut for music director Nicola Luisotti, was brilliant. The women of the production shined with powerful and moving performances.
Opera at the ballpark proved yet again that the city is in love with the opera. And that I am in love with the city.
Here is a link for more information about San Francisco Opera’s packed fall season.