As San Francisco is the gateway to Napa Valley and is only 67 miles distant, it seems appropriate, from time to time in this space, to comment on Must-Try restaurants in the Golden Gate city.
The House is one such restaurant, a beacon of culinary delight. How can a place this good stay under the radar for so long? Just thinking about The House menu as I type brings a smile to my face.
The House is pegged “Pan-Asian," but the term is off-putting. I prefer “Asian Fusion,” suggesting a marriage of Asian flavors and ingredients with western, or Californian, cooking techniques. But the problem even with this term is that most restaurants offering “Asian Fusion” rarely offer more than “Asian Con-fusion,” a cacophony of cuisines that fight each other.
But The House is different. The two families who run it have a sensitivity to flavors and food combinations that you just don’t find in other Fusion restaurants. Or, for that matter, in many restaurants of any culinary persuasion.
The Ahi Tuna BLT is a prime example of a Perfect Dish served here. I have been known to drive to San Francisco for the express purpose of having it. That’s a 150-mile (round trip) drive for a sandwich. And even more startling is the fact that it's worth it!
Chef Larry Tse sandwiches freshly caught, just-seared, Pacific yellow fin tuna, crispy bacon and lettuce on a thin, buttered slice of grilled ciabatta bread that has been liberally swathed with tangy, homemade, wasabi mayo. The sandwich is served with a tasty miso-dressed salad of fresh baby greens. If there is a tastier, more compelling lunch item in San Francisco, I don’t know what it is, or where it is served.
For dessert, don’t miss the mango-tapioca pudding, a sensual confection of creamy nirvana. There are not enough exclamation marks in my computer to truly express how I feel about this pudding. (Hmmmm….. I must speak to Apple about fixing this system error….)
Other desserts, including the homemade pies, are also merit consideration. The care, thought and execution that go into appetizer and main dishes continue through to the end of your meal. Nothing is left to chance.
While Larry tends the stove, his wife Angela works the room, suggesting wines (which she selects for the restaurant), or beer, to complement the food. On the days that Larry is absent, Angela’s brother, Michael, cooks. And at all times, Nicaraguan-born Oswaldo, the lead waiter, will have a suggestion, or comment, to make about your food selection and wine pairing. Oswaldo has a good palate and broad knowledge of regional wines. (Any guy who identifies Grgich Hill’s Napa Valley Chardonnay as his favorite Chard knows what he is talking about!)
The House is hard to find. The sign outside is small and the confusing star-like intersection of Grant, Broadway and Columbus is enough to give your GPS device a nervous breakdown. But there is much reward in reaching this dining Xanadu.
One final note: The House is also small, not much bigger than your neighborhood Starbucks. Don't be shocked when you enter and think to yourself, "Jim had us schlep half-way across the country for this?" Let me reassure you: The food served is of the caliber you expect to find at a high-end, landmark San Francisco restaurant. The difference, however, is that at The House, they meet, or exceed, your dining expectation, which rarely happens at the big-name restaurant.
The House, 1230 Grant. Open for lunch six days, and dinner only on Sunday. 415-986-8612.