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Dear readers and fellow foodies,
Welcome to the first restaurant review on Just One Cookbook. Nami has asked me to contribute to her blog from time to time with reviews on restaurants that we feel strongly about. As Nami mentioned in the previous post, we went on a stay-cation in Half Moon Bay this past weekend and we chose to dine at mostly local restaurants during our short trip. When we go on trips, I tend to seek and support local restaurants for several reasons. The most important reason is to truly taste the local flavor and understand why the spot is popular, and secondly to avoid tourists. On this particular trip, we had two very satisfying meals at a few local restaurants but today I will talk about our Sunday brunch at Navio Ritz Carlton. I spent a few days prior to the trip studying the menu before committing to making a reservation for the brunch.
We actually debated on the brunch since it was $88 per person, and if you include tip and CA tax it’s over $100 per person. For comparison, a full course dinner at Wakuriya (Michelin 1 star Japanese restaurant that we’ve been eyeing on) is $90. Navio typically only do two seatings for their Sunday brunch, one at 11 AM and the second at 1:30 pm. Reservation is required. We made a reservation for the 11 AM spot. We got to the restaurant at 10:50 AM and there were at least 70 people waiting in line in front of us. And before 11 AM there were at already another 20 people behind us. The seating preference is first-come, first-served and we were lucky enough to get a window seat. As we passed the dessert section walking through the restaurant to our seats, it caught my eye how each individual dessert plate is perfectly placed.
Navigating my way through the different food stations, I realized that the food layout is extremely well done, brilliant actually. There was almost no wait at any of the food line except for the raw bar, and even that was only 15 – 20 seconds at most. The food were presented in multiple sections, and they are: pastries, sushi/sashimi, cheese, raw bar, cold cuts, dim sum, salad, single serving, traditional brunch, and desserts. Instead of going into details on what is served in each section, I will briefly describe the highlights of the each section.
For my children’s, most of their food came from the American brunch section, eggs, bacon, and mini pancakes waffles. For the pancakes and waffles, I topped them with fruit compote instead of syrup. Very delicious! The presentation of the food was done quite nicely. Instead of serving all the food in large dish, Navio offered several delicate dish in their own mini serving dish. The seared scallop not only looked great, each piece was seared to perfection and the taste was very elegant.
From the sushi/sashimi section, the Mrs. loves salmon so I got some salmon sushi as well as slices of salmon sashimi for her. For us it’s the true test of quality by tasting the raw food and it passed with flying colors. We were both surprised by how fresh the salmon was. Since Nami and I both don’t eat wasabi, the sushi chef was able to make the sushi without wasabi for us on the spot.
For me personally, the highlight was the raw bar. Navio served raw oyster, littleneck clams, and caviar. All the seafood from raw bar were spectacular and I am getting hungry again while writing up this post and looking at pictures.
Last but not least, the desserts section. The attention to detail was amazing, from the silver cappuccino bean on top of tiramisu to delicate strawberry and banana chocolate truffles, we were in sugar heaven. In addition to the individual dessert offering, there were also 4 flavors of artisan ice cream, 8 types of cookies and truffles each.
We managed to taste 75% of the food choices with multiple runs to the raw bar. As far as the food goes, it’s definitely not your average Sunday brunch quality. Starting from the sushi which Nami and I absolutely agree are top grade to the gold flakes on lychee shots, we agreed that Navio strived to achieve perfection on each and every dish that was served. The service was amazing (I think they replaced my silverware 6 times during my meal) and the atmosphere is fantastic. We had a perfect view of the ocean and the golf course. Despite it’s very expensive price tag, I believe it was reasonable for the quality of service and food that was provided. Will I go back there anytime soon, probably not, but it’s definitely somewhere I would want to go at least once a year to celebrate special occasions. Next time when you visit San Francisco and want that amazing brunch experience, don’t forget Navio on your list.