Oh man, I’m so sorry I’ve been MIA. It’s been a crazy last few weeks, even for a workaholic like myself. More on that another time though – let’s just say, NOM Digital’s been experiencing a ton of success, and I’ve been hustling 25/7 to make sure all my dreams come true.
Anyways, I took my first official “vacation” a few weeks back. Pre-pandemic, I told my mom I’d take her somewhere special for birthday shenanigans, but COVID hit so that was obviously a no-go. We finally decided to take said trip 2 years later. We were originally planning on visiting Boca, but we ended up flying to SF instead. She’s never been to the Bay so I was excited to show her around.
Flying to SF with United First Class
My mom’s bougie AF so we flew first class since it’s a long flight. I didn’t think they’d have individual sections like they do for international flights, but they do which was a cool surprise.
I didn’t have my camera on me so I don’t have any pics to share, but it was a really enjoyable trip, and service was A+. They greet you with sparkling wine and keep the alcohol flowing the entire time so fully expect to get lit. The food’s actually pretty good, too! Not first class Korean air good but still good.
Accommodations: Palace Hotel
Full disclosure: I bought this travel package through Costco, and it was a pretty sweet deal. All in all, not too expensive for the roundtrip flight, hotel and car rental, and their refund policy’s usually good so that’s always a plus during turbulent times like this.
There were a lot of options to choose from, but Palace Hotel was definitely THE winner. Originally established in 1875, this was San Francisco’s first premier luxury hotel and the largest in the world. This historic hotel was nothing short of breathtaking, and I low key regretted not scheduling a photoshoot here because the architecture was incredible.
Since we arrived fairly late, we decided to keep things simple and enjoy dinner at the hotel after checking in. I’ve never heard of Pied Piper, but their food was actually really good.
They brought us some complimentary housemade chips and olives to start, and we munched on them while waiting for our entrees. We got their spicy peach and sopressata flat bread and their mushroom reuben to share, and it was delicious!
Let’s be real, no vacation’s ever really a full vacation for me! I woke up at 5:30 to finish all my work before heading to dim sum at 11 with my mom and Robby (my NOM Digital business partner). Everyone raves about Dragon Beaux so we decided to give ’em a shot. We wanted to go all out so we got a huge spread to share:
- Five Guys Xiao Long Bao: 5 different kinds of soup dumplings made with various skins and stuffed with different proteins like juicy pork, crab roe, black truffle and more. This was just ok – pretty for pictures but average in terms of flavor.
- XO Spinach Dumpling: LOVED this dumpling – highly recommend!
- Baked Purple Yam Bao: This was also phenomenal as well – stuffed with purple yam, this wasn’t too, too sweet, and it was beautifully baked. 10/10 recomend.
- Shrimp Rice Crepe Roll: this was just meh, but in their defense, I’m rarely blown away by rice crepe rolls.
- Abalone, Chicken Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf: this was also just ok! I thought I’d enjoy it more since I’m obsessed with abalone, but I’d pass on this.
- Stuffed Eggplant: this dish was an absolute must! Loved how it was cooked, and the flavors were really on point!
- Classic Shrimp Dumpling aka Har Gow: delicious, a staple for me for sure!
- Crab Roe Shiu Mai: another must – I’m big on shiu mai, and they do it so well here! Big fan!
- Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce: this was undercooked and tough so a pass in my book.
- Steamed Egg Yolk Lava Bao: another winner, this is a must try! Just remember to do a video of you ripping it open because yolk porn’s always a do in my book, ha.
Afterwards, we decided to do some touristy stuffs. Robby drove us to a “secret” spot where we got to enjoy stunning views of the Golden Gate bridge – perks of knowing an SF native.
We spent some time here chatting and taking in the scenery before heading to Fisherman’s Wharf to walk around some more. No trip to SF is complete without stopping by Ghiradelli so we split a sundae together before driving to Japantown.
I had a feeling my mom would LOVE Daiso – she’s never been – so we did some shopping before heading back home. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s kind of like a Japanese dollar store except 100x cooler. There’s everything from snacks to beauty products to stationary to you name it. So many cute things – I could honestly kill 1-2 hours there, and time would fly by!
We hurried back to the hotel to get ready for dinner because we had a reservation at Acquerello at 5:30. My mom’s not really into fine dining, but she appreciates good food so I was excited to take her to her first Michelin Star restaurant.
A while back, Acquerello did a collaboration dinner at Bresca, and I thought their food was fantastic so I decided to dine in person this time around. She reallllly didn’t want to do an extravagant tasting menu so we ended up doing the 4-course meal instead…which ended up being too much for her apparently, but that’s ok, lol.
The meal started off with small bites, and then for apps we got their Bufala stracciatella with charred ridicchio, candied hazelnut, truffle vinaigrette, 25 year balsamic and crudo of kanpachi, Sicilian pistachio, citrus, black tea. I’ve had their stracciatella before so I decided to do something different, but I low key regretted it because their cheese course is so ridiculously tasty. It truly is next level.
Then came our second course! I paid the small upcharge to enjoy their porcini mushroom and swiss chard raviolo with liquid truffle yolk, and Perigord truffles, while my mom enjoyed their ridged pasta with faux “foie gras,” black truffle and marsala. These dishes were straight up ridiculous – seriously some of the best pasta we’ve ever had. Christ.
Then came our main! I went with their Liberty duck with sour cherry, fennel, smoked honey and black cardamom, while my mom decided to get their olive oil poached black bass in saffron and shellfish broth with butter beans and prawn oil. I absolutely loved my entree, but I don’t think my mom was especially a fan of hers, lol.
After savory, they gave us a beautiful granita to cleanse our palate before indulging in dessert. My mom got the almond cake with candied Buddha’s hand, lemon curd and lemon balm while I got their chocolate mousse and sea salt caramel. Again, one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. Such an amazing finish to an incredible meal.
We were stuffed, but we made room for some mignardises before I dropped my mom off and met up with my friend David to check out a cool tiki bar! Deke recommended I go to Smuggler’s Cove so I happily obliged. This 3-story space was completely packed, but we managed to snag seats at their bar. To be honest, I wasn’t super impressed with my drink, but I thought the vibe was cool, and the bartender was really nice so I’d be down to go back.
Sooooooo, real talk. I didn’t realize my recap would be so freaking long so I’m going to split things up into sections. Expect at least a part 2 and 3 soon-ish! And for more on travel, make sure you click on the aforementioned link to see more. Until next time, friends!