Directly following my trip to Peru, I left on a research trip to the West Coast for two weeks. What was I researching? Glad you asked: a book on Stadium Eats! Um, yeah, without a deal in sight currently (hint, hint, anyone reading this who is interested!), I went to preemptively scout out the 6 West Coast stadiums and eat my way up and down the West Coast at the same time, starting in San Francisco, working my way down to Los Angeles, then San Diego, back up to San Francisco and then to Seattle! Phew! Tune in at 4:15 EST (or 1:15 PST, lunchtime on the West Coast) for the next 6 weeks to see what I ate and where I ate it… and how I gained 10 lbs in two weeks!
Directly across from Ichiban kan (one of my favorite Japanese stores in San Francisco) inside Japantown is Mifune Don. I have walked past this restaurant about a thousand times since I first discovered Japantown, but either it was an off-time (ie, between lunch and dinner) and it was closed, or I wasn’t hungry. (Oh, it was a sad day when I realized that not everything stays open between lunch and dinner… spoiled child I am, from the city where things hardly ever close.) I finally got to try the place – and how! – on my first full day in San Francisco on this trip. I was trying to make up for not eating dinner the night before, so I … went a little crazy.
The lunch special menu was inviting and brightly colored. And well, pretty cheap, I think. I’m not sure. On vacation, money worries tend to flee my mind and I just eat and buy whatever I want… (yes, two weeks was a dangerous time for me…)
I decided to order two lunch specials. Yes, the waitress looked at me a little strangely, but let it go. First: niku soba, because I’ve never had straight up hot soba (in broth)… I always get the soba you dip into broth to warm up. I was curious if the soba would hold up or if it’d keep cooking and get too soggy. Well, the broth was a strange, slightly-over-sweet liquid that I couldn’t find myself drinking very much. The gyoza was superFAIL… mushy, bland, and terrible dipping sauce, I was incredibly disappointed with this set. Utter FAIL. (I order gyoza as a tribute to BF, who adores gyoza; light, thin skin, crispy exterior, juicy innards: I know what makes a good gyoza, this isn’t even personal preference at this point, this is just a standard to which all gyoza are held!)
Not wanting to over-meat, I chose the kitsune udon – I love udon (as anyone who talks to me regularly knows: in the winter, I make myself miso udon constantly for dinner). The broth was marginally better here; maybe my tongue was becoming accustomed to it? The kitsune or the deep fried, then soaked tofu skin, was lovely, retaining the broth and sweet, while the udon was alright. It wasn’t amazing nor bad, but it satisfied. As for the croquettes – well, deep fried mashed potatoes with katsu sauce to dip them in, I don’t think you can go too wrong here. These were actually veggie croquettes, so there was a sprinkling of veggies inside as well. Yummy, crisp and properly fried!
As I was eating, I looked around my booth and discovered a lot of articles praising Mifune Don’s okonomiyaki, but there was no way I could justify ordering that as well at this point. As it was, I struggled to continue eating once I’d hit the wall – I really shouldn’t have eaten more at that point, but I trucked on and managed to eat a decent portion of everything before I had to completely give up.
It’d been hit-or-miss, some stuff tasty, and others superFAIL. And as I walked away towards more shopping, into the other part of the shopping center, I passed another few places with lunch specials that looked good and realized that Mifune Don also had another location in the same mall, with better lunch specials, with more options. I was kind of upset with myself at that point that I’d “wasted my stomach space” on the smaller menu, but I had to give it up: I’ll be back, and I’ll know better this time to hit the other location. I’d wondered why this one was so completely empty – there were a lot more people at the other one. Doh!
Yvo says: Tasty enough, much of it, although I guess it was 50/50 really. I wouldn’t mind going back to try the okonomiyaki, or just to eat some other stuff for relatively inexpensive prices – lunch came out to a little under $30 with a nice tip, and service was great (I think I amazed the woman with how much food I put away). I’m sure there are better places in the shopping center – and I will find them by trying all of the places
not that great but not that bad either