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Juicy Biscuits Covered in Sesame!

Just sampled a most delicious roasted eggplant. I was able to bag some small Indian eggplants the other day, and set about roasting them in my oven till they were blackened on the outside and tender, then skinning them. Once chilled, I drizzled on about 1tablespoon each of Menmi sauce, hot water, browned and finely chopped garlic with a teaspoon of rice vinegar. Everything got topped with bonito flakes. Mmm!

Found out Bombay Bazar (sic) closed down. I am appalled. This place, which was a combination Indian grocerer, sari shop and Indian ice creamery -- far as I can tell, SF's only Indian ice creamery for the last decade -- was where I got my lentils, paneer and asafoetida. It was a large lot on the Valencia corridor. The grocery part of the store has apparently been around for 30 years. Yelpers are indignant and suspect a developer's conspiracy. Every time I'd pass by there, I'd say to myself, "If I wasn't bogged down by my two bags of dhal, XL bag of deep fried dhal, frozen roti and must-chill paneer, I'd stop for that ice cream and salty lassi." Now, I cannot. I will be kicking myself for many years. Almond Date and Cardamom Fig kulfi suddenly sounds so much more tempting now that I will never have it at all.

Also, I had no idea the place was in trouble. If I knew, I would have gone there more often. Collected more interesting curry powders and spices, or something.

In other news, I wandered over to the Marina yesterday to see our amazing migration attorney, Juli Gammon. She is honest to goodness the nicest person I have ever met. If you ever need to deal with the USCIS, I highly recommend her. She is sweet, incredibly open to adding to the culture of the city -- and that is the hallmark of a great professional whose job it is to add to the cultural fabric of this country -- and seriously, one of the nicest people ever. Juli tipped me off on where to find awesome pho, and she is the fourth person to recommend I visit Clement St for all things Chinese and crispy, covered in sesame seeds. (This Chinese New Year, I have really felt my lack of hypnotic five spice mouse ear cookies. Do you know an alternative name for these swirly, deep fried biscuits? If so, tell me!)

I browsed about Union St. for a bit, as I wasn't in that neck of the woods often. It was a little odd taking the bus up from the Mission. As the bus passed through increasingly hilly streets, the bus stops started looking cleaner, less used-looking. The streets appeared more swept, and the houses more recently coiffed. The entire area smelled fresher, again, cleaner. As I began to wonder if perhaps I made some kind of mistake dooming the spouse and I to our much more earthy Mission, I began developing a strong sense of foreboding. I noticed the cars parked along the street were distinctly expensive, the pedestrians I was passing less multicultural and almost homogenous, dressed in stylish clothes designed entirely to look like they were casual wear. The shops were things I would, had I not felt increasingly more intimidated the longer I stayed there, probably been really curious about. There was, for example, a little shop called Pacific Puffs, and cream puffs are one of my favourite food groups. Something about this street reminded me of the expensive, upper-class shopping malls my parents would drag us to in Malaysia, where trendy one-of-a-kind stores stood alongside premium branded stores pretending not to be branded stores. I felt under-dressed in my shirt, jeans and sneakers.

The reason I started walking down that way was because I'd heard of a restaurant called Betelnut, and it piqued my interest. Betelnut is a name I associate with Malaysian or Singaporean restaurants, and truth be told, the chef at Betelnut is Malaysian. The menu vaguely reminds me of Slanted Door, an Asian-fusion restaurant I'm not terribly fond of after eating there once. Betelnut does have beggar's chicken wrapped in an actual lump of clay, and I haven't had beggar's chicken wrapped in tin foil since Malaysia, nevermind a lump of clay. Potential Valentine's Day place of eating? Hrm.