Sunset district near the UCSF Campus, along Irving Street and 9th Avenue, has always been a wonderful place for gastronomical exploration. What the area lacks in fine dining is compensated by plethora of comfort food places.
Many eateries have come and gone, but there are those who had been there for more than two decades now: Italian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and Eritrean restaurants have existed there for quite some time. Indian food came later; Flipper Burger came and went.
Where P. J. Oysterbed used to be now stands Pasión, a Peruvian restaurant that has existed since January 2011. This is the latest venture of Jose Calvo-Perez, who owns Fresca (three locations in San Francisco).
I have tried a couple of Peruvian restaurants before, but somehow nothing struck me as anything special. This one, however, changed that view. I was in the neighborhood looking for dinner without any one place in mind. I have not been in the area to explore for a while, so I did not just want to go to the same old places. As I walked along Irving, I noticed a $1 Oyster sign. Yum! I had just missed Woodhouse Fish Co’s $1-Oyster-Tuesdays. This one advertises itself as $1 between 5-7PM. Why not!
The Bar area at 5pm was a happening place. My dining companion and I were taken around the bar to the dining place, a casual elegant place. Service was excellent, I can say that up front. Both the server and the busboy were both very accommodating.
What we ordered:
A dozen Oysters (Ostras): Half Marin Miyagi, half Blue Point, served with Mango Mignonette and Chipotle Cocktail Sauce.
Ceviche Quatro (we chose four of the 7 available Ceviches):
Ceviche de Atún: Ahi tuna, coconut leche, red jalapeño, ginger, jicama, onion, scallion oil, honey cashews.
Ceviche de Langosta: Maine lobster, cacao fruit puree, mango, papaya, tarragon, vanilla bean oil, red onion, serrano chilies.
Ceviche Julianna: Local halibut, cactus pear mojito juice, mint, rocoto lime juice, daikon radish, red onion, purple corn.
Ceviche de Camarón: Ecuadorian shrimp, tomato gazpacho juice, red onion, chives, roasted garlic, plantain.
Saffron rice pimentón sofrito, mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, scallops, chicken and chorizo, green peas
Avocado Panna Cotta: Pineapple tartare, pistachio ice cream, chocolate alfajor crust
Chocolate Coconut Bread Pudding: Peruvian lucuma crème anglaise, spiced pistachios, coconut ice cream
The Marin Miyagi tastes delicious by itself that it really needs nothing to accompany it. The Blue Point, however, can use a bit of the spicy chipotle sauce, but just a very little bit so as not to overpower it.
(Refer to the top photo for the Ceviche Quatro.)
The Atún and the Langosta ceviches are how one expects traditional ceviches would taste; but the introduction of cashew into the Atún is a nice surprise, a sweet and hard counterpoint to the sourness of the taste and the softness of the tuna. The coconut milk causes the appearance of the dressing to be more opaque than traditional ceviche dressing, but the taste is not overwhelmingly rich and creamy. As a matter of fact, it still tastes very light.
The generous serving of lobster is accompanied by the freshness of the fruity ingredients of the dressing.
Ceviche Julianna comes with the sweetest taste, perhaps coming from the cactus pear mojito juice. Red Onion and Purple Corn must have been contributors to the purplish red color of the dressing.
Ceviche de Camarón is the one with the subtlest of taste, almost to the point of bland. Perhaps I should have eaten this one first before the others, because having tasted the other three, the shrimp ceviche disappoints. I was looking forward to the gazpacho element of this ceviche, but I tasted none.
I have to confess that it has been almost 20 years now since I had a true Paella Valenciana, Paella de marisco, or Paella mixta, or any Paella made in, served in, and eaten in Spain’s Valencia region. Since then, I had disappointing successions of what tried to be passed off as Paella. There were exceptions, of course, but Paella to me is like Louisiana Cajun food: Best to eat it where it is originally made and served. Besides, I would be mistaken to compare this Paella to a Valencian Paella, since there was perhaps already Peruvian influence in it.
What we had tonight was perhaps more like Paella Mixta, a mix of chicken, chorizo, and seafood. It was less yellow than I had expected (a bit more orang-ish in color) but still tasted delicious: Thank goodness the rice was not dry.
Desserts were generous in portion. The Avocado Panna Cotta was subtle, and the pistachio ice cream was covered nicely with what seemed to be finely crushed pistachios. The Bread Pudding‘s Peruvian lucuma (purple corn) crème anglaise tasted very delicious.
All in all, a great surprise and find, a very much welcome place in Sunset.
CAVEAT: The S1-Oysters are only in the Bar Area (Happy Hour Mon-Fri, 17:00-19:00); however, oysters are $1 in both the Bar area and the Dining area on Mondays. Go to their website for more happy hour and special offers.
Pasión, a set on Flickr.
737 Irving St.
San Francisco, CA 94122
Tel: (415) 742-5727
Fax: (415) 742-5726
Mon – Thu: 17:00 – 22:00
Fri – Sat: 17:00 – 23:00
Sun: 17:00 – 21:00
Mon – Fri: 17:00 – 19:00