Another Saint Patrick’s Day Blog

As I started thinking about Saint Patrick’s Day a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon Robert’s Corned Meats Co. in San Francisco. They are a family owned and operated business for over 100 years that specialize in corned beef and pastrami. They sell their cured meats to restaurants around the Bay Area including Tommy’s Joynt, Brennan’s Restaurant, and Mel’s Drive-Ins; supermarkets including Andronico’s and Mollie Stones; and hotels including the Marriott, St. Francis, Hyatt, and Hilton. In addition, they have a small retail shop where the general public can buy their meats.

The shop is only open Monday through Friday during the hours of 7am – 3pm with a lunch break between 11:30am – 12:30pm. I have a friend and coworker who loves to cook that I was sure I could convince to spend her lunch break taking a field trip with me to the City from Oakland. There was no arm twisting there. We planned to go last Wednesday and the rain wouldn’t stop us.

Robert’s is located in SOMA at 1030 Bryant Street. I had heard that close to Saint Patrick’s Day to expect a long line. Because of the rain, the shop was pretty empty of customers. Debbie and Rigo were there to greet us. We were newbies so we learned the corned beef were packed in varied sizes and sold at $3.99 per lb. Rigo helped my friend while Debbie helped me. I ended up purchasing two of the smaller pieces, one 3 lb and one 5 lb. My friend bought several items and had to write a check because she didn’t take enough cash out of the ATM!

Two years ago, Robert’s celebrated 100 years and the then mayor Gavin Newsome presented a proclamation to Robert’s Corned Meats that on March 17, 2010 and every Saint Patrick’s Day thereafter will be designated as “Robert’s Corned Meats Day” in San Francisco.

My friend and I have since cooked our corned beef and decided that it is worth the trip to San Francisco even in the pouring rain to get their corned beef. The meat alone had the right balance of fat and meat. Their method of corning as well as the pickling spices provided perfect flavors. The great thing is we no longer have to wait until Saint Patrick’s Day to get good quality corned beef.

For those wondering, the meat at Robert’s Corned Meats is not grass fed. Although I am still conscious, I have begun making few exceptions. For those wondering what to do with their leftover corned beef, last year I posted my recipe for Gourmet Corned Beef Hash.



Got Lop Cheong?

For the first two years of my life, I lived on Powell Street in San Francisco Chinatown.  San Francisco Chinatown is the oldest and largest Chinatown in North America.  When my family moved to Oakland, we still spent a significant amount of time there.  We would go there at least once a week so my mother could go grocery shopping.  I remember waiting outside of storefronts with pink plastic bags in both hands.  Even though many of the stores sold the same items, my mother would look for the freshest products with the best deals.

Stores and restaurants in Chinatown come and go, but one shop that still exists today is Wycen Foods Inc.  This shop located uphill on Jackson Street is where my family gets our “lop cheong” or Chinese sausage.  I would never buy packages of lop cheong that doesn’t have the Wycen name on it.  As a kid, I was very happy to eat the flavorful dried pork sausage with rice.  Wycen makes and sells the best cured meats.  In addition to pork sausages, they sell other items such as Chinese bacon, cured chicken, and jerky.  I’m lucky because my grandmother will occasionally buy me a bag of lop cheong, which can be stored in the refrigerator and last a long time. Every now and then I get the urge to have lop cheong.  I would take one out of the fridge and cook it up and eat it with rice or ramen.