White Shrimp and Chive Dumpling; Pomegranate Pork Chops; Chocolate Truffle Cake with Toffee Ice Cream
Occupation: Disc Jockey–DJ The Maestro
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: The House
Reviewed The House: Monday, January 9, 2006
I am seriously addicted to restaurants. I have dined out twice per day for the last twenty-one years. I have sought professional help, but it is worthless. Going to restaurants is why I was put here on Earth. You can’t fight destiny.
In a lifetime of trying to make my tongue happy, I have found that The House is the best place to tame and satisfy my culinary lust. I have had lunch or dinner here over one hundred times, and it has never let me down.
The House is the ultimate Asian fusion restaurant, but that category does not do it justice. You can get amazing curry noodles with chicken, the best Japanese udon soup on earth, addictive Chinese chicken salad, or Korean-style short ribs, but you can also get Western dishes, like classic steaks, barbecued pork sandwiches, and shoestring potatoes. It seems that bringing together Asian styles is just its starting point.
The curry noodles with chicken is what first got me addicted to the place. It’s a drinkable creamy yellow curry that always stays this side of too hot. Beautiful and thick slurpable noodles and fresh veggies fill the bowl. It’s topped with lovely strips of chicken. This place has been so kindly accommodating that they let me substitute salmon for chicken. I dream about this dish in my sleep.
My friends Liz and Steve couldn’t believe I had never tried the deep fried salmon rolls for an appetizer. What a fool I was. This is one of those dishes that makes you reassess your view of what food could be. It is sort of the result of your favorite sushi bar teaming up with a healthy Kentucky Fried Chicken. You dip the roll in a hot mustard sauce and then inevitably get an orgasmic look on your face.
Before you start eating, you receive a free appetizer. It is a small bowl of cold pickles in a hot sesame sauce. It is both refreshing and exciting and puts me in the mood to gorge.
My favorite thing about The House is you can go in any direction and not go wrong. There’s sea bass that melts in your mouth, Caesar salads with scallops, pork chops in a pomegranate sauce, fried calamari, perfect fish specials with mashed potatoes or garlic noodles on the side, and lots more. Everything is good, so you can just relax and explore. I have introduced many people to The House and they are always impressed and always willing to put out afterwards.
The staff is the perfect combination of friendly and efficient. Oswaldo turns me onto great Salsa music. Jeff gave me tips on where to eat on my trip to Italy. The co-owner, Angela, gave me advice on where to eat in New York City. This is not only a great restaurant, but a place where good people have come together. Larry is the mad genius in the kitchen. This guy just exudes honesty, integrity, and soul. A lot of restaurants try to be more creative than the next place, but Larry is creative without sacrificing deliciousness.
For desert you could try two of my favorites. Either coconut crème brûlée with passion fruit or mango tapioca pudding, but like the kids use to say, “It’s all good.”
Lunch is a great bargain at The House. You can get amazing meals big enough to fill you up for $8 to $12. Dinner entrées cost between $12 and $25, but my friends and I always feel like we get our money’s worth, and it is generally our first choice if someone is having a birthday.
The House is located in the heart of North Beach, so you can make a fun afternoon or evening out of eating at The House and then walking around the lively neighborhood.
Parking can be frustrating in the area, but there is a big new parking garage on Vallejo and Stockton across from the police station. This is a two-minute walk from the House.
All I am saying is if you like a wide variety of Asian food and you like having your culinary butt kicked then you owe it to yourself to check out The House.
Occupation: Behavior Specialist for the Orinda, Moraga, and Walnut Creek School Districts
Location: Pleasant Hill
Favorite Restaurant: Havana
Reviewed The House: Saturday, January 7, 2006
Down a small side street in North Beach, a neighborhood known for being over-run with Italian restaurants, there is a little place that specializes in Asian Fusion cuisine: The House. The House is so cozy that one could blink and pass it by; however, this would be an unfortunate mistake. Despite its small, casual atmosphere, The House specializes in innovative and amazingly fresh meals.
Upon entering The House, one is struck with the quaintness of the space. The simple storefront leads into the minimalist décor within. Simple photographs line the walls above the bamboo colored tables. This minimalist environment is more about showcasing the uniquely inspired food combinations. Upon entering, we were seated promptly (we were already fifteen minutes late due to parking). The table had to be pulled out for me to sit, as tables are very close together. In fact, The House is not a restaurant for intimate conversation. Besides sitting side-by-side with fellow diners, the noise level at The House forces one to shout to be heard. After being seated, a plate of Asian pickles was promptly brought by our server who was helpful and always smiling. Service was quick and efficient with little time to ponder the wonderful food that was being presented.
The House’s menu is intriguing with many wonderful selections, as well as a list of nightly specials. We started our meal by ordering a glass of wine off a list that favors seafood dishes and includes wines and beers from around the world. For a starter, we chose the tuna tartare and the deep-fried salmon roll. The fresh, pink tuna marinated in soy, was served on crisp chive chips. It was artfully arranged to look like a flower on the plate and it was surrounded by a light orange essence with each chip containing the perfect amount of tuna. The deep-fried salmon roll was fresh — rare salmon surrounded by nori had a golden crust, like a spring roll, on the outside. The star of this dish was the spicy Chinese mustard sauce for dipping. For my entrée, I selected one of the specials: the black cod recommended by our server. This dish was nothing short of amazing. Black cod cooked rare (undercooked for some people’s taste) with a brown crust on top served on a bed of bok choy. On top of the fish was a fresh California roll filled with crab, avocado, and wasabi, and then artfully cut on the bias. Glazed onto the plate was a soy-balsamic sauce perfect for running the fish through. My companion had one of The House’s known specialties: the sea bass. The sea bass was perfectly grilled and accompanied by a soy-miso dipping sauce, bright garlic green beans, and sesame soba noodles. Despite the large portions my companion and I were practically licking the plate to enjoy all the goodness. So, it was with despair that the meal took a nosedive at dessert.
After seeing the dessert menu and deciding on the chocolate truffle cake, we were sadly disappointed that they were sold out at only 8:30! Our waiter had difficulty strongly recommending anything else, but we decided to try the crème brûlée with passionfruit purée. The dessert was promptly brought out and we were disappointed with the lackluster custard and watery purée. The best part of the dish was the caramelized crust, which was thick and sweet. Even though The House does have an extensive tea selection, we were not inclined to linger over tea, as the uncomfortable chairs and noise of the restaurant does not lend itself to lingering. The House is a wonderful restaurant with exceptional cuisine, artistically presented in a casual atmosphere. I can’t wait for my next visit to try more of The House’s innovative and fresh cuisine!
Occupation: Web Director/Writer
Favorite Restaurant: El Huarache Azteca
Reviewed The House:Tuesday, January 10, 2006
A visit to The House is a well-deserved treat, especially for the post-holiday blues. I can’t find anything too critical to say about this place, other than I wish I could afford coming here on a more regular basis. (I certainly would come back and bring friends here for those special occasions.) I would say that the restaurant succeeds on most counts in creating a fusion of mostly Asian-inspired dishes. The flavors are sharp, if sometimes a bit too high on the sodium scale. The steamed sea bass stands out alone — without the help of additional sauces — as a very simple, strongly gingery presentation. The meat on the sea bass was almost silky and exceptionally white. The House stands on the cusp of a new generation of California cuisine that brings together the flavors of regions, such as Asia and Latin America, that are defining the future of this state. The best of these restaurants emphasize freshness and are transparent about their influences (without claiming to have invented the dishes out of thin air). In this regard, I am curious about the background and experiences of this chef: what brought him or her to this kind of cooking? How have they reworked it from the source traditions? I applaud The House for what it tries to do and encourage the chef to continue to explore the alchemy of influences that exist in California.