Good Karma & Great Food at Tangerine SF
Opening day was on December 2, 2002. Sean’s mother passed away a few short month’s later in Thailand, and she never had a chance to see her son’s restaurant. As Sean went to Thailand to take care of her funeral arrangements he swore to himself that whatever it was going to take, he would keep the restaurant going. The restaurant took on much larger significance in their lives.
With a very philosophical outlook on life Peter said that he feels that there is so much love embodied in this place. When his restaurant is full of people it is the most satisfying feeling for him. Virtually every day he has his evening meals here as well as brunch. He feels comfortable here.
My delicious starter: fresh bread with flavoured butter
Tangerine SF offers Pan Asian / Pacific Rim cuisine. Peter described it as California cuisine with Asian sensibilities. Sean, a shy but very talented chef, is very creative and loves to come up with unusual dishes. In addition to great food, the portion sizes at Tangerine SF are generous, and the prices are reasonable. Peter added that they have always wanted to offer diners great value and smiled when he said that the portion sizes are calibrated to the appetite of the owner.
But Tangerine SF is more than just a nice restaurant in a great neighbourhood. Peter and Sean have always had a heart for the community and have gotten involved in a variety of ways, helping local organizations. Every first Monday of the month, for example, 15% of all restaurant sales go to the Lyon-Martin’s Women’s Health Centre. This clinic was founded in 1979 to provide health care to lesbian women who lacked access to non-judgmental and affordable health care.
Butternut Squash Soup and my favourite corn appetizer: Spicy Corn Fritters
Every first Wednesday of the month 15% of Tangerine SF’s sales are donated to an organization called the New Leaf, a non-profit multi-purpose counseling centre for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities of San Francisco and the surrounding area. Tangerine SF regularly makes contributions to local organizations, provides gift certificates and hosts special events.
Peter’s next door neighbour is a public-school principal in a school where 80% of children come from socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Peter added that “this school is a place where miracles happen”; the principal is so inspiring that people simply want to be part of his initiatives. To help this organization, Peter and Sean hold regular fundraising events where they close their restaurant for half a night to hold a benefit event. This month two of these events are scheduled at Tangerine SF.
Sea Bass Adamame
As we continued to talk, Peter’s philosophical side revealed itself some more. Throughout his travels he has experienced many different cultures and realized that there is a greater power out there, regardless of what people might call it. Even back in college he and his friends were asking themselves “what does it all mean?” As long as he can remember, Peter has had an interest in the deeper issues of life.
We enjoyed ourselves listening to Peter’s life experiences and philosophies, and the environment at Tangerine SF was indeed attractive and pleasant. Peter made some suggestions from the menu, including Spicy Corn Fritters which were an absolutey delicious slightly sweet appetizer made from kernels of corn held together by a sticky caramel type sauce. Given that my preference is usually vegetarian food, the menu at Tangerine SF with its 25+ appetizers was a delight to my senses. I also had to taste the Cauliflower and Broccoli with Fried Garlic and while I was feasting on these creative appetizers my travel partner Leslie enjoyed a Butternut Squash Soup with a crispy Goat Cheese Wonton, followed by a Sea Bass Edamame, which is a seared sea bass with edamame-black bean sauce, served with sautéed jasmine rice. The exotic sweet and savoury tastes just melted inside my mouth.
Cauliflower and Broccoli with Fried Garlic
For dessert we had a real tangerine filled with ice cream, beautifully presented in an elegant long-stemmed glass, garnished with orange and lemon slices. Of course a sampling of Tangerine SF’s famous home-made cheese cake could not miss. Our taste buds had truly been satiated by this symphony of eclectic flavours.
Finally, towards the end of the evening, Sean, the chef himself, joined us and together with Peter showed us the 60-seat restaurant. It was evident that these two business partners shared a deep love for one another and for this business that they have so painstakingly built. A lot of thought and care has gone into the design of this stylish eatery. Tangerine SF features beautiful art by local artists. Impressive large size canvasses of colourful paintings were adorning the wall, and huge exotic flower arrangements decorated the bar. Tangerine SF offers a sophisticated yet comfortable ambience and a large patio is located outside the large panorama windows.
For dessert: home-made cheese cake and a real tangerine with ice cream
At close to midnight we left this restaurant, still inspired from this long conversation and from the positive karma that emanated from this place. Our delicious dinner at Tangerine SF had not only been an exceptional culinary experience, but our conversation with Peter had revealed a spirit of love and human caring that you do not often see in a business establishment. Somehow I had gotten the feeling that Tangerine SF was much more than a business venture; it was a symbol of Peter and Sean’s love for one another and their way of making a positive contribution to the community.
During our three days in San Francisco several people had mentioned that San Francisco is a very compassionate city, a term you do not often hear in connection with a big urban centre. Tangerine SF was a perfect example of this spirit.
Sean and Peter behind the bar