Driving homeward from Bernal Heights with a bag from Anda Piroshki, I thought about a promise I had made to a friend that she could have half of my piroshki.
She couldn't have half of any of them, I decided. She could have some, but certainly not half.
So I told myself, already full on the savory hand pies because I didn't wait to eat them. They had bites nicked off corners, or were half-demolished, as if a fox had gotten to them and scattered the remains all over the car seat.
She could, maybe, have just a little.
I'm not a selfish person. It's just the piroshki at Anda Piroshki are really good.
Piroshki, whether baked or fried, often sit cold in a display case all day, to be reheated upon demand. The fried ones are long and shapeless, like squeezed chimichangas, ooze oil and are particularly tasty in grim weather.
They are different at the Anda Piroshki takeout counter, where they are displayed in a hot case, a few of each kind, and baked several times throughout the day as needed. This is so they don't get stale and the fillings are kept fresh.
They have cute shapes, like crescent moons and fish, are golden brown with egg wash and generously filled. They aren't greasy, so they are nice to hold in two hands, like a child might.
The traditional potato and grilled onion was my favorite. The onions are completely softened and blended into the potato, which are whipped to lightness and suffused with dill.
A close second is the pornographically named Bunny's Pleasure, with its tender, finely chopped cabbage and carrots brightened with tomato. It's the recipe of the owner's mother, and it does indeed taste like someone's mother made it.
The beef and cheese piroshki was light, the filling ground so finely that the predominant texture is the soft, chewy crust. The apple and cinnamon variety made for a not-too-sweet treat, with the apples cut into thick wedges.
Those seeking to temper the carb-filled meal will appreciate the vegetarian borscht, which I found didn't lack for its meatlessness. Like all of Anda Piroshki's offerings, the flavors were balanced so that each ingredient was detectable on the tongue, down to the bell pepper and parsley.
My only real wish is that 331 Cortland Marketplace, the food court where the counter is located, had more seating, the better to eat fresh piroshki. They are best warm — eaten cold, the pastry tastes slightly stale. They do reheat nicely, which makes the business' Good Eggs delivery option appealing.
The owner, Anna Tvelova, is frequently present. Her eyes glow when she talks about piroshki, and she has the sort of warmth that makes me want to buy her food. That her food is good is a double win.
On one occasion, I decided to have a friend pick up my next order in an attempt to preserve some anonymity as a food critic.
"She wouldn't have ratted you out," my friend said when he returned. "She's so sweet!"
We then split our piroshki in half, and were, with the first bite, reduced to silence.
Be sure to order in advance to be certain of the availability of menu items when you come.
Location: 331 Cortland Ave., S.F.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays
Contact: (415) 821-9905, andapiroshki.com
Price range: $3.50 to $6.50
Recommended dishes: Vegetarian borscht ($6.50), potato and grilled onion piroshki ($3.75), Bunny's Pleasure ($3.50)
Credit Cards: All major
Reservations: Not accepted