Posted in Food, San Francisco, Travel

Pre-theatre meal…at the museum


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The Asian Art Museum is one of my favorite spots in all of San Francisco.  It’s full of fascinating art covering a vast variety of Asian cultures.  But its design is also very soothing, light, and airy.  It’s not at all intimiating like some modern museums can be.

So when my hubby and I were in need of a meal before heading to see Avenue Q at the Orpheum Theatre, we needed some options.  And because we parked for free right in front of the Museum, we decided to eat there.

I know, why would I write about what is basically a cafeteria in a museum?  Because it’s not ordinary cafeteria food.

The food at the Cafe Asia inside the Asian Art Museum is excellent.  For something quick yet delish, it’s the perfect spot.  And it’s worth a trip whether you’re visiting the museum for the afternoon, or not.  Just go to the front counter and tell them you’d like to eat at the Cafe.  They’ll give you a sticker and you’ll be allowed to eat at the Cafe and even browse the Museum Store!  Cool tip, huh?

It’s a little pricier than the usual food court restaurant or cafeteria, but it’s also much better.  Entrees run anywhere from $6 to $10 each. 

I had the Japanese Pork Pot Roast with Rice and Bok Choy.  The pork was tender and glazed with a thick miso type glaze and garnished with red pickled ginger.  It was a tasty dish that was both subtle yet hearty.  The flavors were classically Japanese, but the combination was very different from anything you’d find at a typical Japanese restaurant.  An innovative creation with wonderfully fresh, clean, creative flavors.

My husband had the Shrimp Stirfry with Black Bean Sauce and Veggies, served over rice.  The dish was clean and light, yet flavorful and satisfying.  The black bean wasn’t too overpowering and heavy, like it can be at many Chinese restaurants.  I never knew black bean sauce could be so subtle.  And the vegetables were cooked a perfect tendercrisp (the way they should be) and wonderfully fresh.   

On another previous visit, I had a bowl of Miso Soup and a pot of one of their traditional Japanese teas.  It was a wonderful snack because the soup had a clean flavor that wasn’t overly salty like so many miso soups can be.  And their tea selection is excellent.

The food here is elegantly presented on shinly white tableware that’s ergonomically pleasing with smooth, curved lines.  It adds to the zen feeling of the place.  This clean, simple, elegant design esthetic, along with the subtle yet distinctively flavored food is what sets this place apart from other casual eateries.  And if you happen to visit on a sunny day, there’s plenty of outdoor seating as well.

Food and service is quick, and despite my Japanese choices, they serve other Asian fare as well (pho, thai soups, curries, etc).  Some of their menu items also change periodically.

My hubby and I had such a nice meal at the Cafe Asia, we were practically skipping all the way to the Orpheum. 

And by the way, Avenue Q was fabulous!

Cafe Asia (Asian Art Museum) – 200 Larkin Ave. – San Francisco – 415.581.3500


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