Day 4: San Francisco
I started the morning with a nice complementary breakfast buffet down in the lobby. I didn’t put much effort to plating it. The egg white frittata was quite good, not something I often see at these free breakfasts.
This was kind of an unusual but refreshing day - I didn’t really have any plans so I just ventured out and see where the city would take me. Right outside my hotel was Fisherman’s Wharf, but there was some construction going on nearby so it wasn’t as crowded as usual.
I continued walking west towards the Palace of Fine Arts, which despite two previous visits to this city, I’ve never actually been.
This is a beautiful and well maintained monument, surrounded by a nice lake and garden - perfect for a stroll on a sunny day. Afterwards, I continued heading west towards Crissy Field and the Golden Gate Bridge.
This was as far as I could go after realizing how far I had walked. The views were great, there was a nice sea breeze, and lots of dogs playing on the beach. I then headed south towards the Presidio, a former military fortress and present-day park.
There wasn’t much to do here and it was around lunchtime, so I took an Uber to a restaurant called Dumpling Time, based on the recommendation from a friend. There was a short wait to get in, then I tried their Xiao Long Bao and Shrimp Toast, which is a You Tiao stuffed with shrimp paste. The XLB was pretty good but I still prefer Din Tai Fung's. The Shrimp Toast was very unique and really tasty.
After lunch, I wanted to take the bus into Union Square. Since I was a bit early, I just kept walking to the next stop, while exploring the Design District. I saw several tech company offices here like Zynga, Adobe, and Stripe. The bus never came, so I just kept walking towards downtown. It was getting a bit sketchy, so I picked up the pace and finally reached Union Square, where I had stayed during my first trip to SF for WWDC 2014. Not much has changed - just as sketch as I remembered.
I then headed towards the new Salesforce Transit Center by the Salesforce Tower, a very noticeable addition to the SF Skyline.
This new transit center serves local trains, long distance busses, and the future terminus of the proposed California High Speed Rail... one day. On the roof of this vast building was an urban garden, which kind of reminds me of the Amazon Spheres in Seattle in some respects.
Despite being open to the public, it was well maintained, very clean, and polished - a stark contrast to the streets below. Some IB English class could definitely write something about this juxtaposition and how it was a microcosm of the societal inequalities in SF and beyond. Fortunately, my IB days are long behind me and I could enjoy this park for what it was.
Unbelievably, I ran into one of my favorite youtubers that talks about credit card points and miles - AskSebby. I knew he was based in SF but never thought I would just randomly bump into him - what are the odds! This trip was funded almost entirely on these travel hacks that I learned from people like him.
I was pretty nervous and he was with some other people so I just got a picture and left, but that was a cool experience. By now it was about 4pm, and there was one place I’ve always wanted to go due to a personal connection. Since I had time, I decided to go for it and took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Berkeley.
Back in high school, UC Berkeley was my dream university. While I tried my best, ultimately I did not get in. Looking back, I have absolutely no regrets, but I always wanted to visit one day.
Walking through the famous Sather Gate and seeing the Campanile Tower was pretty cool. These are icons I’ve seen countless times online and even briefly had as a desktop wallpaper. Although to be honest, after spending so much time on the UBC campus, my alma mater, there are few schools whose campuses can impress me, and Berkeley is not one of them. Obviously campus landscaping and building architecture are not reasons to pick a school, but UBC definitely has that part nailed. Spoiler alert, I would visit a campus on this trip that gives UBC a run for its money.
Anyways, after this (sort of) walk down memory lane, I headed back to the city and to my hotel. From the Embarcadero BART station, I took a street car that was actually built in the 40s and used in several other metro areas before SF.
Back in my hotel, I saw that I had walked over 25km today. It really didn’t feel like it, but I guess it’s a good way to burn off all that food from Vegas. After some rest and some ironing, I headed out to dinner. I debated about this a lot, but decided to go for it and booked a seat at Petit Crenn, a restaurant by a local Michelin Star chef Dominque Crenn. I’ve seen her on Netflix’s Chef’s Table and numerous Amex ads. She was ranked the top female chef in the US recently and her flagship restaurant, Atelier Crenn, has all 3 coveted Michelin Stars. Of course I wasn’t planning on dropping $400+ for dinner, so I went to her more relaxed bistro-like restaurant, Petit Crenn.
This place has an open kitchen, so sitting at the bar and being able to watch the chefs prepare every dish was a real treat. There is a 7 course prix-fixe menu that changes every day. This restaurant focuses on seafood and vegetables done using a fusion of French and west coast techniques.
Pricing is really not that bad for this level of quality, and the tip was already included, as was a glass of Rosé. Since all the items are already listed, I’m not going to go into too much detail.
These leeks were truly outstanding. The texture and depth of flavor was totally unexpected and delicious.
The trout (which looks a lot like salmon), was the best piece of fish I’ve ever had. It was unbelievably soft and tender, with incredible flavors.
Overall, this was an excellent meal and I would say well worth the price - especially in an expensive city like SF. Now comparing this to the last Michelin caliber meal I had just 2 nights ago, I would say Twist is still objectively better, but the cost was also much higher.
This was a very long, but very enjoyable day that took me all over San Francisco.