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Obsessed

Grace Nguyen is obsessed with Uni (Sea Urchin Roe)

It’s a texture thing, I think—and that it tastes just like the ocean. It’s so refreshing to me. My boyfriend Chad [Newton, chef at Fish & Farm] doesn’t like it at all, but I order it wherever I see it. One of my favorite preparations is Lissa’s staff meal, on the menu at Ame: cuttlefish noodles, tossed with uni, wasabi and a quail egg. Perfection. Generally I prefer it chilled, in the Japanese style, maybe over rice, which is how they serve it at Katana-ya—but at Okoze, a sushi restaurant near my house, they do an oyster shooter with sake, quail egg and uni that I like a lot.

Liza Shaw is obsessed with Sparkling Sake

I got turned on to sparkling sake when I was in Tokyo last fall to do a spot-check on the A16 there, which opened in September. I go three or four times a year to talk to the cooks about new recipes and see how things are running. We were at this yakitori place in Ginza, some seriously down and dirty spot that’s a celebration of the chicken. They put all parts of the chicken on a skewer—tail, neck, gizzards. But we started the meal with sparkling sake, and that’s how I got introduced to it.

Daniel Hyatt is obsessed with Sandwiches

The great thing about sandwiches is that they can be so many things—it’s just a stack of bread, meat, vegetables and condiments, and the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. When you get a good sandwich it’s like a symphony. Bread is very important—lots of places in San Francisco use toasted sourdough baguettes or Dutch crunch, which just tears your mouth apart.

I go to Charlie’s Deli Café, which is near my house in Bernal Heights. It’s a straight-up deli, and you can get anything you want. Their specialties aren’t any big deal, and I don’t have a particular favorite, but they make a good sandwich, and you can eat it across the street at Precita Park and watch people play with their dogs.

Obsessed: Gayle Pirie (owner of Foreign Cinema) on Onion Rings

“I’ve always loved onion rings. There is a majesty to them when they are done well. My ideal version are the ones we serve at [my new restaurant] Showdogs, sweet onions that we soak in buttermilk and then batter with rice flour. But when you need a fix, you need a fix: If we have meetings at Foreign Cinema, we’ll frequently indulge in a white paper bag of rings from Jay’s Cheesesteak. They are sort of the classic, overbreaded, super-crunchy style. Zuni puts out a good onion ring—Judy [Rodgers] and I are of the same school. There’s always a gorgeous onion under a lacy, crispy crust. In the late ’80s, before I had kids, I used to go to Edinburgh Castle. I’d order a lager-and-lime and onion rings and douse them with malt vinegar.

Meg Ray Is Obsessed With Chicken Korma

“Tracking down the perfect chicken korma became something like a vision quest for me. Honestly, I took out $100 from the bank and then went to nine Indian restaurants. In a row. My favorite place is Lahore Karahi—their korma is different than what I normally like. It’s a little less creamy than the usual, but the spicing is perfect. They don’t sell alcohol there, but you can buy Kirin at the corner store and it’s a perfect match for the korma—better even than [Indian lager] Taj Mahal. And it’s cheap—a plate of korma, with rice, is only $9.80 and it can easily feed two. My second favorite spot is Little Delhi, on Eddy. It’s like an old ’50’s diner converted to an Indian restaurant.

Jeff Hollinger Is Obsessed With Tacos

“I lived in the Mission for 9 years, right around the corner from El Tonayense taco truck parked on 22nd and Harrison. I’d go twice a week for the cabeza [head] and carne asado tacos, because they are cheap and the ingredients are in perfect proportions. Cancun is another favorite—I always overdue it, ordering enough for 3 people even if I’m alone. I usually get a few carnitas and carne asado tacos, a side of grilled onions and a quesadilla or two. I eat half and then take the other half for later—I have to stock up now that I no longer live in the Mission. Now I live in the Sunset, and Tommy’s has become my new local Mexican joint as a result of the Mission withdrawal. At Tommy’s my favorite is the panucho, which is offered only as a special.

Obsessed: Gayle Pirie (owner of Foreign Cinema) on Onion Rings

“I’ve always loved onion rings. There is a majesty to them when they are done well. My ideal version are the ones we serve at [my new restaurant] Showdogs, sweet onions that we soak in buttermilk and then batter with rice flour. But when you need a fix, you need a fix: If we have meetings at Foreign Cinema, we’ll frequently indulge in a white paper bag of rings from Jay’s Cheesesteak. They are sort of the classic, overbreaded, super-crunchy style. Zuni puts out a good onion ring—Judy [Rodgers] and I are of the same school. There’s always a gorgeous onion under a lacy, crispy crust. In the late ’80s, before I had kids, I used to go to Edinburgh Castle. I’d order a lager-and-lime and onion rings and douse them with malt vinegar.

Dave McLean Is Obsessed With Cheesesteaks

Dave McLean’s Magnolia Pub has been a fixture on Haight Street for 10 years, during which time it’s attracted a devoted following of brewpub aficionados. Of course, Dave’s obsessed with beer (and makes some of the best around) but, as befits a Pennsylvania native, he also enjoys a good cheesesteak.

David Bazirgan Is Obsessed With Barbecue

Wondering where the chefs go for a bite on their days off? David “Baz” Bazirgan has a penchant for barbecue. Something about slow-cooked meats—tender, touched with smoke and eaten out of hand—makes him a little bit fanatical.

Gummi Candy: Where to Get the Good Stuff

Jon Darsky, pizzaiolo at Flour + Water, talks about his current obsession.

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