Category Archives: NorCal

[San Francisco] Hog Island Oyster Co

1 Ferry Bldg
Shop 11
San Francisco, CA 94111
Neighborhood: Embarcadero

Hog Island Oyster Co has locations in SF and Napa.  The oysters all come from its farm in Tomales Bay, about an hour north of SF.  For those of you willing to make the trek, the oyster farm is actually pretty fun, with its own picnic area right next to the bay. You can even buy oysters by the dozens and shuck your own oysters!  I think reservations are required for the picnic area.  When I went in July, there were so many families there – people bring huge ice chests filled with booze and marinated meats, and just sit around and barbeque the whole day!
The one in SF is less rustic than the farm, but easier to access.  It’s right inside the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero.  Go early since it’s a small place, lines queue up fast!  For faster service, sit at the bar and watch your oysters being shucked.
The place
The menu with fresh and baked oysters to choose from.  Order size for raw oysters is 1/2 dozen+.
Fresh bread is served!  Crusty and chewy, nom nom nom…
1/2 dozen kumamoto oysters – light & refreshing!  $18
1/2 dozen Hog Island Sweetwater oysters – plump & juicy with a smooth finish.  $15
My brother highly recommended the clam chowder, so we all got a bowl.  Each is made fresh when ordered.  The chowder is not thick like normal clam chowder, it’s more of a clam soup.  The clams are super fresh.  And all the juices is absorbed into soup, great to eat and to dip bread in.  YUM!  $14

Harris Ranch

24505 W Dorris Ave
Coalinga, CA 93210

(559) 935-0717


We’ve driven by this place whenever we’d drive to SF, but never had the chance to stop except maybe for gas.  So on the recent trip, I decided that it’d be a good lunch stop on the way back to SoCal.

Yes, Harris Ranch is a real operating ranch.  They are known for their beef, and serve it proudly in their restaurants.  The website now even sells their meat online.  It is also a hotel – it’d be an interesting place to stay.  Reminds me of the Madonna Inn in SLO.


Outside the restaurant


Tri-tip being smoked outside


Western-style interior.  I think most of the furniture is from real cowhide/cowhair


Cow-horn chair?  It’s the first I’ve seen!


Food!  First up: watermelon lemonade ($2.95).  Yummy!  Perfect for a hot summer day.  Unlimited refills!  Real watermelon juice with lemonade.


BBQ smoked tri-tip panini ($14.95).  Pretty sizable portion!  It was gooood….

Napa: Oxbow Public Market

610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
Behind the Napa Valley Wine Train station

This is called a public market, but it’s more like a cluster of restaurants.  You can find Three Twins Ice Cream, Hog Island Oysters, C Casa, Kara’s Cupcakes, Fatted Calf Charcuterie, a gourmet chocolate shop, etc. The restaurants line the sides of the building and the seating area is all around the center, much like a food court.

Great food and casual atmosphere.  Check it out the next time you’re in Napa!


Three Twins Ice Cream – all organic.  They have waffle cups, which I will definitely try next time!

Honey vanilla lavendar and lemon cookie ice cream.  Around $3 for a scoop of 1-2 flavors, like the picture.  Yes, this is considered 1 scoop!


C Casa: An Innovative Taqueria.  It’s like a tapas-style place with really unique tacos (spiced lamb, chorizo, skirt steak with blue cheese, etc) and small plates.

I tried their local crab salad ($13).  Loaded with crab meat, grapefruit, avocado and lettuce —  it was refreshing and so good!

Del Dotto Caves

Historic Winery and Tasting Room
1055 Atlas Peak Road
Napa, CA 94558


Yelp is my best friend whenever I travel.  I’ve found so many cool and unique places through Yelp.  So before my recent trip to Napa, I yelped a few wineries.  This one had really good reviews and it looked like a different kind of wine tour, so I was sold!  It’s $50 for the winetasting tour (led by candlelight) and reservations are required.  Check the Del Dotto website for the tour times.  Each tour is limited to 12 people.


The winery is a small one — they only produce 14K cases a year.  Since the winery is small, wines can only be purchased either at the winery or online.  According to our guide, the wines sell out every year. The winetasting is an interesting one, since they let you taste the wine straight from the barrel.  They also explain how different barrels/woods affect the taste of the wine.  If you like the wine that you tasted, you can order it.  Once the wine is ready to be bottled, the winery will then ship the wine to you.  Really cool experience, not to mention really great wine — would definitely recommend it if you’re ever in Napa.


The historic winery/cave


Brief history on the caves


Glass in hand – ready for the winetasting!


Barrel demo – French Oak


The caves – which is more like underground tunnels.  All lit by candles.

Pacific’s Edge

120 Highland Dr
Inside Highlands Inn
Carmel, CA 93923
(831) 620-1234
One of my coworkers had recommended this place since I wanted to celebrate the end of my exams.  It’s perfect for special occasions.  The restaurant lives up to its name — it’s perched on top of a mountain in Carmel and overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  On clear days, I hear the sunset is awesome.  🙂
The restaurant is labeled as a French restaurant but it’s more of a fusion restaurant.  Go with whatever the waiter recommends.  The sommelier (I know huh, very fancy!) will check up on you periodically to make sure you’re enjoying the wine.  The restaurant features mostly wines from Sonoma and Napa.  Get there a little earlier than your reservation time so that you can get a table with a better view.  The only down side to the restaurant being so close to the ocean: they place the tables close to each other, so it can get quite loud in the restaurant and you can clearly hear the conversation of the next tables.
The restaurant tries to provide a personal touch, so not only does the sommelier check up on you, the manager also greets the tables.  The manager actually thought I was Korean.  Haha… Overall, service is pretty good — attentive, but not overly so.
The view
Appetizer:  Hamachi with japanese cucumber, watermelon radish, lotus root chip, california select caviar.  I hardly saw any hamachi though!  Should’ve gone for the Pacific Northwestern oysters on the shell that the waiter recommended!
Day’s special:  Monkfish wrapped in proscuitto, with grilled porcini mushrooms, asparagus and parmasan gnocchi.  The fish was a brilliant idea!  Crispy on the outside and juicy/tender on the inside…mmmm…
Dessert:  Warm Valrhona chocolate tart with raspberry Coulis, chocolate fuillatine, lemon verbena ice cream.  This was also recommended by the waiter.  The chocolate tart was rich but not too sweet.  Yum!

Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurant

The Inn at Spanish Bay
2700 17 Mile Dr
Pebble Beach, CA 93953

(831) 647-7500


There are Roys all over the US, but I heard this one had the best view.  Since I was already going to be in the area anyway, my coworker had recommended this place.  It’s on the 17 Mile Drive in Pebble Beach.

Entrance fee ($9.50) for the 17 Mile Drive can be deducted against the meal, or against any restaurant located inside the 17 Mile Drive.  🙂  I went for a late lunch since it was quite a drive from LA.  The day was a little overcast so not much of a good view.  But, I can imagine that the view to be spectacular on clear days!

For lunch, Roy’s Bento Box seem to be a good deal at $24: it includes miso soup, california rolls, sashimi, small salad, special appetizer of the day (beef egg rolls) and a choice from 6 different entrees (filet steak, miso butterfish, macademia crusted fish, blackened ahi, grilled atlantic salmon).  Food was pretty good, although I still prefer their prix fixe menu – the hot chocolate souffle is just too hard to resist!

The golf course at Spanish Bay – maybe someday I’ll get to play here!


Complimentary edammame


Miso Soup – included with lunch bento box


Lunch bento box – I went with the miso butterfish.  Mmmm!