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Hanabi is not a hater. Well usually Hanabi is, but not when it comes to vegetarian and vegan foods. Hanabi is very judge-y though. It’s not that meat or dairy free foods are bad, it’s just that there needs to be a greater level of creativity and attention to detail when preparing these foods. Let’s face it, even an over-cooked or simply a low-quality cut of meat can be made to taste passable in one way or another. You can add cheese, even horrible processed cardboard cheese and save hopeless dish. But, you can’t really save poorly executed vegan or vegetarian dishes. The ingredients are just that fragile and requires a deft hand to put it all together. With that said, Hanabi usually hates fake meat and fake cheese. That’s a big part of what in Hanabi’s opinion drags down meat and dairy free cuisine. But, Hanabi wanted to try a new vegan burger place on Haight St. called VeganBurg. He actually liked it, and it inspired him to do a vegan-burger battle. He put VeganBurg up against an old time favorite from Sacramento, the Sunflower Drive-In. Listen to see who comes out on top. Hanabi also checked out 633 Bistro in Seattle and is clearly still on a Lent kick, so he opted for a ginger beer from Smalltown Brewery.
Hanabi finally scored a reservation to The Progress! The Progress is the sister restaurant to the much ballyhooed, and totally exceeds all such ballyhoo, State Bird Provisions. They are in fact neighboring restaurants. While State Bird serves their playful dishes dim sum style, The Progress’ menu changes daily and goes for a family style approach. It’s such a creative way to serve such creative food. For $58 a person, you get four different starters and you can choose four different larger items. It’s about as simple as it gets, but it’s also an exciting change from the standard service of individual plating for a tasting menu. Some of the hits of the evening would have to be the grilled octopus. Octopus is basically my favorite seafood. If it’s on the menu, I’m getting it! We also got down with some spot on mackerel crudo which was a perfect start to the meal. Since it can’t always be meat all the time, we opted for a celery root ravioli which came with a nice little apple puree. Delicious! We also have to brief you on a restaurant called The Lost Pelican. Where we has things like fried green tomatoes and a muffaletta. To finish it all up we riff on an article about pre-cut food. Work on those knife skills people!
I never intended to speak of the Super Bowl, post­Super Bowl, but I couldn’t help it considering where I spent my Super Bowl Sunday. Hanabi and some pals went to Hi­Tops a gay sports bar located in the Castro district. Talk about a well run sports bar, this place was on its A­game. They were packed, but neat, clean and efficient. The food was next­level pub grub. The killer nachos stole the show! Pork chops too boring for you lately? I say dress them up with Hanabi’s weekday porchetta hack. Hanabi also went to Mexico for a weekender. How about a little fried opah sandwich from some of the most beautiful waters you’ll ever see?
There’s a spot in town where you’ll recently find Hanabi whiling the hours and drinking fancy cocktails, and eating octopus bits, it’s called ABV. They do octopus right, served with potatoes covered in smoked paprika and a squid ink romesco sauce. Top it off with a libation made with mescal and pickle juice and you have Hanabi’s attention. Hanabi also drops a little shout out to a pepper that is not only inexpensive, but delicious and getting easier to find. The shishito peeper or it’s Euro-cousin the pardon are amazing little peppers that are full of flavor and easy to prepare.