Glaze SF

Chicken teriyaki from Glaze SF - am I the only one who wonders about the boob rice trend in restaurants like this?

Chicken teriyaki from Glaze SF - am I the only one who wonders about the boob rice trend in restaurants like this?

While I continue on my never ending quest for the Perfect Biscuit, Daniel has a food related quest of his own -- to finally find teriyaki in San Francisco that matches what he believes teriyaki should be.  He’s picky about the quality of the meat -- he’s picky about the flavor of the sauce -- I don’t know what else he is picky about, but there has never been anything in our great city to suit him.  And we’ve ordered teriyaki from what seems like dozens of restaurants.

 

Naturally when I saw a new teriyaki-centric restaurant was opening on Fillmore, I knew we’d soon be checking it out.  It’s called Glaze Teriyaki Grill, and it claims to be “Seattle style” teriyaki.  While I’m still unclear on what “Seattle style” constitutes, everyone says that teriyaki is to Seattle what burritos are to the Mission -- it’s ubiquitous and a cheap version can be found on every corner.  Glaze already has 3 locations in New York, but this is the first west coast location.

 

Glaze teriyaki Grill is another entry in the new trend of casual dining that seems to be taking over.  You order at the counter and then pick a table (apparently there is a back patio, but I didn’t check it out).  The servers will bring out your food in no time flat, but you bus your own dishes at the end of your meal.  They also seem to do a brisk business in takeout orders.  The decor is stylish and very hip, but not self consciously so.  It was a very comfortable place to be, though I hope they solve the smoke issue - since they are grilling inside, the door was left open to air out the room.  It got a little chilly.

 

Daniel and I ordered 2 different combo plates so we could try more of their dishes.  Each teriyaki plate comes with a hefty portion of a protein, 2 large scoops of white or brown rice, and a side salad.  Daniel ordered a combo plate that had 2 types of meat, and I ordered the chicken teriyaki combo that included vegetable gyoza. 

Chicken teriyaki and steak teriyaki with vegetable gyoza from Glaze SF

Chicken teriyaki and steak teriyaki with vegetable gyoza from Glaze SF

I wish I had a criticism to make this interesting, but everything was delicious.  Portions were huge -- the gyoza were tasty but I really didn’t need them to complete the meal.  Daniel’s steak was very tender and the chicken was flavorful, if a little overly salted (though I found I didn’t notice it anymore past the second bite).  The teriyaki sauce was thick and plentiful - so often we have ordered teriyaki and found just a dribble of thin sauce over anemic looking chicken.  At Glaze, the chicken tasted fresh and you could see the grill marks that left behind a slight and pleasant charcoal flavor.

 

There are so many variations of what you can order that it can be a little overwhelming while standing at the counter.  For instance, at the time I thought it was an oversight that there was no larger salad and meat option without rice.  However, when I go back to theirwebsite I see that they do have salad plates -- I was just too inundated with new delicious information to notice.  And while I’m on that note, we tried the carrot ginger and the sesame dressings -- I have no idea what I’m ordering next time because I liked them both equally.

 

Glaze is simple, fast, cheap and delicious -- how much more could you want?  In some ways it reminded me of a very much superior Asquew Grill.  They both were cheap and fast and heavy on the protein options.  Glaze may be narrower in flavors than Asquew, but the food is 10 times better.  And that’s what it comes down to.  In an expensive city, in an even pricier neighborhood, Glaze Teriyaki provides a cheap and healthy option for diners.  I plan to return, especially once they start their promised delivery service. 

 

And Daniel has finally found his San Francisco teriyaki bliss.

Birthday Dinner at Aziza

I try to be a good human being most of the time, I really do.  I try to be generous with my time and energy, to think of others and put my friends and family first.

Most of the time.

But for about a week every January I am entirely, insufferably self centered.  And do you know why?  

JANUARY IS MY BIRTHDAY MONTH!  HOORAY FOR BEING BORN!

(I realize that it is now February, but honestly I’m still reeling from all the January love.)

Since my family and friends aren’t all in one city any longer, we tend to spread out this Very Important Holiday throughout my birthday week, which means I get to be the center of attention for a full week every year.  Birthday texts, hellos on facebook, voicemails of folks singing “Happy Birthday” -- for one week I welcome all of the attention!  (I am the baby of my family, if that wasn’t already apparent.)

This year I am having 3 separate birthday meals.  This is the tale of the first.

My partner Daniel took me out for an extravagant meal at Aziza, a beautiful Moroccan restaurant in the Outer Richmond area of San Francisco.  Though this area does have a good number of wonderful ethnic restaurants, the Outer Richmond is known mostly for near-constant fog rolling in over rows and rows of houses.  I like it, but people don’t really think of Michelin starred food when they think of this highly residential neighborhood.  Aziza is a wonderful exception to that!  As soon as you walk in the door, you are enveloped by the warm and romantic atmosphere that has been cultivated by Mourad Lahlou, the owner/chef.  The main dining room is spacious and dimly lit, with Middle Eastern accents and a prominent bar.  And it should be very prominent as I enjoyed some of the best cocktails of my life that evening!  

I tried the brandy cocktail muddled with persimmon, chai and a touch of brown sugar.  It was pulpy and thick, with a chai design trailing over the top.  Not overly sweet or overly alcoholic, it was exquisitely balanced - the kind of mixology I know I would never have the patience to create myself.  I’m happy to let others take the wheel when it comes to exact measurements like this!  Another standout was the vodka cocktail with fennel, dill, saffron and black pepper.  I expected the savory to be overwhelming, but it was a refreshingly tart drink with herbal notes that made me feel more virtuous than fruit ever could.

The food was also superb.  Our main courses were lamb shank over barley and prunes with a saffron reduction, and chicken roulade with shitaake mushrooms and pickled vegetables.  While these dishes were incredible and I’ve rarely had such well prepared food, they didn’t feel as unique as the rest of the meal.  My lamb shank was as luscious as any lamb shank I’ve ever had at hole-in-the wall Moroccan restaurants -- this one just came with much fancier accessories.  The sublime food of the night came in the form of the duck confit basteeyah.  Basteeyah is usually ground chicken and almonds with cinammon in a filo shell - it is my mother’s favorite so I’ve had a few different renditions in my  life.  The Aziza dish blew them all away.  Savory and sweet balanced each other out and kept me coming back for more.  The scent of caramelized onions made my mouth water and the powdered sugared filo dough shattered on my plate before I inhaled it.  It was rich and perfect.

Next year, I plan to try the tasting menu at Aziza on my birthday - if another gorgeous restaurant doesn’t steal my attention first!

Have you been to Aziza?  How do you feel about Moroccan food?