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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Coke and Peanuts!

Coke and peanuts has been a southern treat for decades. RC Cola was used for this snack in a bottle too. As strange as it sounds, this combination of salty and sweet is really good.

Take a few swigs of coke to make room for a good amount of peanuts. You can add more as you drink. The idea is to have a mouthful of coke, including some nuts to chew. Don’t add too many nuts, or the coke will foam all over the place.

For the optimum experience, use coke in bottles made with cane sugar.

Debbie M says the book White Trash Cooking has a recipe for Coke and peanuts called “The Quick Pick Me Up” and a diet version that calls for Tab and dry-roasted peanuts!

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Coke and peanuts

Hot Pot at Zone 88

The hot pot at Zone 88 is beloved by all. One of the big draws is the variety of broths available, like duck with beer, or spicy rabbit. david kaplan particularly likes the black chicken broth, full of herbs but also other surprises, like dates and wolf berries. Ruth Lafler puts the place on her “recommend” and “go back” lists–the spicing is hot, but also layered and complex. Dip tasty things like fatty beef and little eels into the bubbling broth, and also try tasty Sichuan dishes–like the Chengdu chicken, little nuggets of chicken, dry fried with a salty crust and literally buried in dried red chile pods.

Lunch runs about $25 per person, including drinks, tax, and tip.


Zone 88 [Portola]
2428 San Bruno Ave., between Silver and Silliman, San Francisco
415-468-6488
“Map”:

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hot pot at Zone 88

Nice Chickens

jhleung loves the Hainan chicken rice at ABC Bakery in Chinatown. For $6.50, you get delicious flavored rice, a quarter free-range “yellow fur” chicken, and soup. Skip the miserable wonton noodle soup, but try the Hainan chicken rice–you may be back for more, like, the next day.

Another excellent find: the salt water chicken (yeem-shui in Cantonese, yen-swei in Mandarin) at Porridge King, located in the 99 Ranch mall in Daly City. “This is my favorite chicken in the entire Bay Area,” says jhleung, who admits he has eaten it every Thursday night for the past twelve weeks in a row. The salt water chicken is delicately poached and served at room temperature, and has a highly desirable, slightly gelatinous texture. It’s not free range, but it’s tender, tasty, and ever so slightly pink at the bone.


ABC Bakery Cafe [Chinatown]

650 Jackson St., San Francisco

415-981-0685

Locater

Porridge King
in 99 Ranch Mall
250 Skyline Plaza, Daly City
650-992-8899
Locater

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Recent Chicken Finds

Catch of the Day: Superior Trout at Brooklyn’s Damis

Damis in Greenpoint makes pierogi, bigos, and all the Polish standards, and for all we know they could be stellar. But a waiter steered Monkey Man Jake toward the trout instead. Smart waiter. Dusted in flour, quick fried in butter and lemon, dressed with lemon-dill sauce, this is one outstanding plate of fish. It comes with dill mashed potatoes and perfectly cooked vegetables, and goes down great with a bottle of Zywiec beer.

“Unlike most stick-to-your-ribs Polish food,” Jake adds, “this was light, subtle, and melt-in-your-mouth tender. I don’t know how I’m going to order anything else.”

Damis Polish American Cuisine [Greenpoint]
831 Manhattan Ave., between Noble and Calyer Sts., Brooklyn
718-349-7501
Map

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Damis–Polish in Greenpoint

Ennio and Michael Revisited: Solid Italian in the Village

Greenwich Village fixture Ennio and Michael gets scant attention from chowhounds, but it has a loyal retinue of regulars, and dkstar1 can see why. It’s a dependable spot for satisfying Northern Italian chow, fairly priced–better than much of the competition in a neighborhood rich with Italian options.

If lasagne is among the daily specials, get it. It’s a traditional version, made with hearty meat sauce, and it’s delicious. Pastas generally seem to be a smart order. The signature rigatoni alla Ennio–with chopped sausage, onion, peas, and mushrooms in creamy pink sauce–is tasty, well cooked, and amply portioned–not in Babbo’s league, but at $16.50 not nearly as expensive, dkstar1 notes.

Also good: spiedini alla Romana (mozzarella breaded and covered in anchovy-caper sauce), baked asparagus with a crisp Parmesan crust, mussels in red wine-garlic sauce enlivened by chiles, and, for dessert, huge fresh cannoli. Meat courses are popular but variable. Rack of lamb with rosemary (at $29.75, the priciest entree) was a healthy serving of six ribs, but slightly overcooked and served with lackluster potatoes. Service is gracious, discreet, and unpretentious.

Ennio and Michael Restaurant [Greenwich Village]
539 LaGuardia Pl., between W. 3rd and Bleecker Sts., Manhattan
212-677-8577
Locater

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Ennio and Michael’s–Review

Yeti: Nepalese Meets Japanese in Sunnyside

The menu at Sunnyside’s Yeti straddles an imaginary border between Japan and Nepal–and so far more hounds are lining up on the Nepalese side. It’s not that the Japanese food is bad. Miso soup is lovely and bright-tasting, loaded with seaweed and fresh tofu. Sushi is serviceable, and a generous helping of shredded sashimi distinguishes the otherwise ordinary Yeti Salad.

But what really steals the show is the Nepalese stuff: intense garlic-buckwheat leaf soup, tasty momos (dumplings) with lively hot sauces, and other Himalayan dishes. “I find some surprising and delicious food here,” says Monkey Man Jake, who loves the well-balanced thalis–varied, ever-changing combinations of small bites presented in a bento-like box. A jerky-like beef appetizer is exotically intriguing but only for diehard jerky fans, cautions melon. At lunchtime, an appealing buffet offers five or six hot dishes plus steamed bread, cooked greens, and a fresh-looking iceberg and radish salad.

Beyond the chow, service is uncommonly pleasant, the mood festive and warm. “It is one of the coziest, sweetest little restaurants I have been to in a long while!” melon writes.

Yeti, open since spring, isn’t the first restaurant in the area where Himalayan cooks have put their stamp on a Japanese menu. Yamakaze, just four blocks away, added Tibetan specialties to its lineup of sushi and noodles earlier this year–and makes much better momos, says tracyk.

Yeti Japanese and Nepalese Restaurant [Sunnyside]
43-16 Queens Blvd., between 43rd and 44th Sts., Sunnyside, Queens
718-784-9384
Map

Yamakaze Restaurant [Sunnyside]
39-11 Queens Blvd., between 39th St. and 39th Pl., Sunnyside, Queens
718-361-8232
Locater

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Sunnyside–Yeti

A Vietnamese Orgy of Beef

The promiscuous lover of beef should try a seven-way, and there’s no better place in OC than Pagolac, says elmomonster.

Beef seven ways is a Vietnamese classic meal, and not as overwhelming as it might sound–most of the courses are pretty light.

1. You start with bo nhung dam, a shabu shabu-like dish of thinly sliced tenderloin that you swish in a simmering vinegared broth and then wrap up with herbs in rice paper.

2. Bo la lot are stubby meat stogies that pack a wallop of beefy, spicy flavor. The la lot wrapper tastes kind of like a cross between grape leaf and nori, with a peppery bite.

3. Bo sate (you may have noticed by now that “bo” means beef) is supremely tender pieces of grilled tenderloin, rolled up with slivers of ginger at the center. Like a great steak, but no cutting involved.

4. Steamed spheres of ground beef packed with mushrooms, peas, and bean thread noodles are known as bo cha dum. They’re crumbly-soft and pleasantly fatty–good with shrimp chips.

5. The best meatballs elmomonster has ever had are the bo nuong mo chai, beef sausage balls seasoned with a touch of five-spice and wrapped in caul fat so they baste themselves while broiling. Result: smoky scrumptiousness.

6. As you near the end, a salad is most welcome: bo bit tet. This time the sliced tenderloin comes sluiced with tart Italian dressing over a bed of refreshing butter lettuce.

7. The last course is chao bo, a clear soup of rice, minced beef, scallions, ginger, and star pasta–yep, just like that in Campbell’s Chicken ‘n Stars soup.

Seven courses of beef (bo bay mon) is $13.99 per person.


Pagolac Restaurant [Little Saigon]
14580 Brookhurst St., Westminster
714-531-4740
Locater

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Beef 7 ways at Pagolac

Dinner Rolls That Really Impress

Thee’s Bakery makes some damn fine dinner rolls, says the ever-picky JudiAU.

“When warmed in the oven they were revealed to be very fine with a soft pillowy interior, deep yeasty flavor, and a sheen that may in fact really be butter! I was impressed because nothing, ever, has come this close to my mom’s. Five days later an unopened package was still in great condition….I was very pleased, and to quote Mr. JudiAU–hey, how often does that happen?”

Thee’s is definitely underrated, chimes in Paliman, who puts in a vote for the hamburger buns, hot dog buns. and petits fours.

A dozen smallish rolls are about $5-6.


Thee’s Continental Bakery [Fairfax Village]
The Original Farmers’ Market
6333 W. Third St., Stall # 316, Los Angeles
323-937-1968
Locater

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Awesome yeasty rolls

Upscale Chinese at the Kitchen

An upscale Hong Kong-style restaurant based in the Bay Area, the Kitchen, has extended its reach to Alhambra, reports Chandavkl. He’s dined at the Millbrae original and says it’s one of the best Chinese restaurants up north.

Dim sum is very good and delicate, with some unusual dishes like cheung fun (rice noodle roll) with a crisp-fried exterior. Fish paste with egg white and milk is also a thing of custardy goodness. On opening, the dim sum menu was only in Chinese, but we hear they’re getting menus with English translations. It’s a hybrid ordering system, with dim sum circulating in carts and by order from the menu.

The dinner menu has a lot of innovative items. They’re also open late, till 1 a.m.

Food is kind of pricey–dim sum runs $1.90, $2.80 or $3.80 per order. Almost nothing on the dinner menu is under $10.


The Kitchen [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly NYC Jumbo Seafood
203 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra
626-289-4828
Locater

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Checking out the Kitchen

Lemony, Creamy, Tangy Dessert Topping (and Cannoli Filling!) with a Heart of Goat Cheese

By combining creamy goat cheese with Meyer lemon zest and heavy cream, nja came up with a delicious and silky cream with just a touch of tang and richness. With a bit of honey, it’s a great complement to cakes and pies; with more goat cheese and a pinch of nutmeg, it’s a dynamite cannoli filling.

Meyer Lemon Goat Cheese Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
2 oz. soft fresh goat cheese
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar, or more to taste

Place 1/4 cup cream, lemon zest, goat cheese, and honey in the top of a double boiler. Stir until cheese and honey melt. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Once cold, strain through a fine sieve and discard lemon zest. Whip the remaining cream and 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar in a separate bowl. Taste the whipped cream and lemon-cheese mixtures for sweetness; if you will want a sweeter product when it’s all combined, add more powdered sugar to the whipped cream (it’s hard to adjust the sweetness once it’s all mixed together). Stir about 1/4 the whipped cream into the cheese to lighten it up, then gently fold in the remaining cream in 3 equal additions. Serve immediately or keep well chilled for up to 3 days, stirring briefly before each use.

Cannoli Filling Variation

Follow the same procedure as above, but increase goat cheese to 4-5 oz. and leave out honey. Add a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg to the 1/4 cup cream with the goat cheese and lemon zest. After straining the cheese mixture, add 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar and beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until stiff and chunky. Continue as above with whipped cream and powdered sugar, and pipe into cannoli shells.

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Success: Meyer Lemon Goat Cheese Whipped Cream for pies, cakes, and cannoli