This is the third year in a row that I have published a list of my favorite tastes of the year. My personal rules for the tastes: they have to be something that I first tried in 2008, and they must knock my socks off. I am lucky that every year I am able to taste new dishes that completely change my culinary point-of-view. This year I delved more into Thai food, and spent a lot of time in San Francisco so not many dishes are from out-of-town. The tastes, in no particular order are:
Chicken noodle soup, Thai House Express. I was introduced to this soup in January of this year and have had it many, many times since. I enjoy the light broth of the soup and always order it with thin egg noodles. When chili paste is added from the condiments provided on the table, it makes for the perfect bowl of soup. 901 Larkin Street at Geary, San Francisco.
Burger and duck-fat fries, Spruce. Much to the consternation of the New Yorkers who read Serious Eats, I had the audacity to declare the Spruce hamburger as the best hamburger in San Francisco. New Yorkers could not believe that a great burger could be served on an english muffin. I stand by my decision, and can't think of many places I'd rather spend an evening than the Spruce bar with a burger and a cocktail. 3640 Sacramento Street at Spruce, San Francisco.
Sunchoke salad, SPQR. When a chef shuffle at SPQR occured last January, I was worried. After opening in October 2007, SPQR quickly became a favorite on my restaurant rotation and I didn't want the food to change. I needn't have worried. Chef de cuisine Chris Behr turns out solidly awesome food and I'm never disappointed. One of my favorite bites all year was their sunchoke salad served with tangerine pieces, radicchio and toasted almonds. The combination of flavors makes for a perfect bite. 1911 Fillmore Street at Bush, San Francisco.
Arctic char crudo, Bar Crudo. 2008 will be known as the year that I finally tried Bar Crudo. I was enchanted by the flavors of nearly every dish, but especially enamored of the arctic char with wasabi tobiko. Magic. 503 Bush Street over the Stockton tunnel, San Francisco.