Last weekend, an all-time record of 100,000 food lovers gathered on a hot and sunny day at Pier 70 to attend La Cocina, Noise Pop, and Midway's San Francisco Street Food Festival. I've been attending for the past few years and make it my personal goal to not miss it. The festival is a celebration of community, culture and entrepreneurial spirit. It's an opportunity for vendors to showcase their food, while making a living doing what they love.
If you didn't know, this is the event where everyone brings their A-game, creating some of the most unique and best foods you'll consume. I'm talking about mango sticky rice cotton candy to mochi muffins to fried grasshoppers and crickets. The festival was especially awesome this year because they introduced a bunch of new things for attendees to enjoy: a taco, dumpling, and seafood island, chef's counters with seating, and a live music and cooking demo stage!
Here's a look at the memorable food we ate and the vendors we had a chance to visit:
Sugar & Spun's Mango Sticky Rice Cotton Candy
Sugar & Spun takes cotton candy to an entirely different level. I am amazed each time I try any of their flavors, but this one has got to be my favorite flavor right now. It really does taste like mango sticky rice.
Frozen Kuhsterd's Churro Kouign Amann Sandwich
How can you go wrong with a churro kouign amann sandwich with vanilla custard and oreos?
The kouign amann was nice, but it didn't increase my satisfaction for this treat. I think the custard alone was heavenly; cool, creamy and decadent. I am bummed I missed out on the pretzel sundae.
Wing Wing's Mango Mochi Muffins
The mango mochi muffins were one of my favorite and most memorable bites. The chewy texture and flavors of bright mango and pure sweet rice makes one hell of a combination. It reminds me of a Vietnamese snack called banh bo nuong, except less of a honeycomb texture, more tapioca-like.
4505 Meats' Frankaroni
If you've never had deep fried mac and cheese with hot dogs before, you need to do yourself a favor and head over to 4505 Meats' as soon as possible. It's kind of life changing.
Reem's Cheesy Man'oushe
It was so cool to witness Reem Assil making a man'oushe and seeing the handmade dough baked and toasted right in front of our eyes. Patrick and I had a sample of it during the media tour and fell in love with it, so we went back for more.
Inside is za’atar and Oaxaca cheese, finished with fresh cherry tomatoes, persian cucumbers, and mint. It really was the bubbly flat bread's chewy texture and toasted edges that made it so wonderful.
Nyum Bai's Kuy Tiew
I've been following Nyum Bai for a while and was so excited that our media tour did a stop at Nite Yun's counter. She offered us all a sampling of kuy tiew, a rice noodle soup in a beautiful clear pork broth with crispy garlic, slow cooked pork, sprouted mung beans, cilantro, scallions, and her mom’s hot sauce, plus some youtiao.
I cannot wait until her next pop-up.
El Pipila's Al Pastor Tacos
Guadalupe's fatty al pastor tacos are so good that I wish I was that napkin it laid on just so I could absorb all that lovely pork grease.
Rasoi Tasty Indian Kitchen's Curried Lamb Meatballs and Biryani
I regret getting too full and not saving enough room in my stomach to go back for Heena's Bollywood-style curried meatballs and biryani plate. Patrick and I had a sampling during the media tour and loved it. I don't eat lamb, but the meatballs were still lovely, flavored enough so that I could skate through the gaminess. It was really the aromatic, flavorful and secret-spiced rice that won me over. If you had a bite, you'd understand.
I met Johnny Funcheap during the media tour and it looks like he loved it so much that he came back for more. I've been drooling at the photo he posted on Twitter:
The Lumpia Company's Bacon Cheeseburger Lumpia
I've had Alicia's tamales a handful of times and I've gotta say that her tamales are one of the best I've had - very moist and flavorful. That salsa has a spicy kick though - you've been warned.
Lanxang Kingdom's Fried Grasshopper and Crickets
For most of the festival, we were hanging out with two of my out-of-town friends, Steph and Enzo, who flew down just to attend the event. It turns out that Steph has a thing for eating bugs - or more so, adventurous food. You really can't tell with how squeamish she was, as you can see in the photo below, but she gained the confidence to eat it after Patrick bravely made the first move without any hesitation.
There was a generous amount of bugs in one $5 order, so Enzo offered it to a few of the curious people around us, who all, amazingly, ate it without wincing. It popped into their mouths like it was popcorn. I wasn't going to eat the bugs, but after seeing everyone's reaction to how tasty it was, I decided to try the cricket (with my eyes closed). It was tasty, like a crispy dried shrimp. I took a small bite of the spiky grasshopper and that one was a little hard to swallow. It was an interesting experience, but I have no desire to do it again.
If you missed out on all the tasty grub from the festival, I have good news - you can still experience the food. Below, I've listed where you can find or track down all the vendors I mentioned in this post:
- Sugar & Spun: There's a limited number of prepackaged cotton candy at the Boba Guys on 3491 19th St San Francisco, CA 94110. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook to see what events they'll be at.
- Frozen Kuhsterd: Here's a list of all their events here.
- Wing Wing's: You may not be able to get a hold of their mochi muffins, but you can check out their fried chicken. Here's a look at their menu.
- 4505 Meats': It makes me so happy to say that you can get a hold of the Frankaroni any day of the week at their main location: 705 Divisadero (at Grove St.), San Francisco, CA 94117
- Reem's: Follow Reem's on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest updates.
- Nyum Bai: Nite is looking to do more pop-ups, but in the meanwhile, follow her on Facebook or Twitter to get the latest updates.
- El Pipila: You can find them at The Hall, 1028 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94102 or at Off the Grid on Fridays, 5-10 pm: 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123
- Rasoi Tasty Indian Kitchen: Heena does various events, follow her on Twitter to get the latest updates.
- The Lumpia Company: You can order in bulk on their website or follow them on Facebook to find out when their pop-ups and events are.
- Alicia's Tamales Los Mayas: SOMA Streat Food Park every Tuesday and Thursday 11am-3pm, Off The Grid Fort Mason every Friday 5-10pm, Off the Grid Upper Haight every other Thursday from 5-9pm
- Lanxang Kingdom: Follow them on Facebook to get the latest updates.
If you went to the festival, share your favorite bites below in the comments! I missed so many good eats; I wish I had two non-visible stomachs.