With its aisles of pickles, snacks, noodles, frozen foods, condiments, drinks and a complete Korean meat counter with thinly sliced short ribs, pork and seafood soup kits, Kukje is the ultimate store for Korean cooks. For those of us who aren't, the immaculate deli department presents many exciting options with rows and rows of refrigerated Korean side dishes; an island of hot dishes; and tasty, pre-wrapped meals to-go.
As a cucumber lover, I was in heaven with at least 10 different cucumber salads and pickles, including two favorites: ever so lightly cured Asian cucumbers sliced lengthwise with carrot ribbons; and hunks of raw cucumber in salty red chile paste (both $4.99/pound). Tiny flowerettes of broccoli rabe seasoned with garlic and red chili flakes ($7.99/pound) could work on an antipasti table.
An independent Korean bakery at the front sells soft white breads, cream-filled croissants and sesame candies, while the side of the Kukje is dedicated to rice cookers, cooking utensils and Korean ceramics.
Kukje Super Market
2350 Junipero Serra Blvd., Daly City (650) 992-0333
NEW CHEF AT GRAND CAFE
The dramatic, Belle Epoque dining room at the Hotel Monaco has a new chef, Mauro Pando, and a new menu that is strong in hors d'oeuvres, charcuterie, salads and raw seafood platters — perfect before or after theater. Check out the tomato salad with Roquefort timbale ($10); buttery, garlicky escargot ($9); and roasted marrow bones with oxtail marmalade ($12). A versatile wine list offers many explicated glasses.
501 Geary, San Francisco (415) 292-0101