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

Overheard on the New York Boards

"The barbecue platter was phenomenal and the highlight of the meal. Peking duck was perfectly crisp with lacquered skin and tender, moist meat. The housemade pancakes were expertly made and fresh. The suckling pig had a crust of crackling skin and luscious pork that when sandwiched in the piping hot, pillowy and lightly sweet bao, exceeded the sliders at Momofuku." - Pookipichu on Chinatown Brasserie

"The Irish coffee is absolutely fabulous. My wife, who is Belgian, has always wondered why she couldn't find a good Irish coffee in NY. By good, she simply means: fresh whipped cream, dark coffee, and WARMED whiskey." - tbear on Keens

"WE NEED GOOD BAKERIES. With the noisy bread slicers. With the boxes with the red and white string tying machines...with the black and whites. The plain vs seeds. The sugar falling off everything. The machine you push the handle for the paper number that says 39 when they are still up to 17." - MoxieBoy

Sushi Cat is Here to Improve Your Week

A free online Flash game called Sushi Cat has got it all:

• Cute Japanese folk-pop music
• Heartwarming animated interstitial clips featuring a lovelorn spherical cat
• The chance to om-nom your way through an revolving set of pachinko parlors stocked with tiny cute bits of digital sushi


Crusty-Plate Duty

Crusty-Plate Duty

Should guests help you clean up? READ MORE

Not Your Typical Vietnamese Hole in the Wall

Although the banner over the brand-new Quan Bac says the food is French-Vietnamese, the name itself, "Northern Eatery," provides a better clue to what's cooking inside. From what hounds have reported, the sprawling menu has no more than the usual dose of French influence. But there are no complaints about the fresh, flavorful northern Vietnamese fare in a space that's a cut above La Vie in ambiance.

Cha ca lang vong is a show-stopper: sizzling Hanoi fish fillets with caramelized scallions, onion, and dill. It's a delicious combination that comes with cold vermicelli noodles, mint, cilantro, lettuce, and daikon-carrot pickle, says saffrongold.

Bun rieu, a meatball-noodle soup, features ethereally light, even fluffy meatballs in a stock with nice tomatoey tang, says sfbing. It's garnished simply with shredded cabbage.

The menu is huge, with 144 items before you even get to drinks and dessert, sfbing notes. There are plenty of adventurous eats, including snail noodle soup, crabmeat fried red rice, and pho with bull's penis. Too much? The unthreatening chicken version (pho ga) is really nice, says DezzerSF, on the light side in the northern style.

Quan Bac [Inner Richmond]
4112 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco

Discuss: North Vietnamese at Quan Bac in SF?

How to Make Slim Mints

How to Make Slim Mints

The Girl Scouts make them thin; we make them slim, and delicious. READ MORE

How to Make Left-Behinds

How to Make Left-Behinds

You may know them better as Girl Scout Tagalongs. READ MORE

How to Make Fijis

How to Make Fijis

Our take on the caramel-chocolate-coconut Girl Scout Cookies otherwise known as Samoas. READ MORE

Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies

Make Your Own Girl Scout Cookies

Our take on your favorites: CHOW's recipes for Fijis, Left-Behinds, and Slim Mints. READ MORE

Pickle Your Cocktails

Pickled things have been going strong on the trend-o-meter for a while, and now they are hitting the bar, going a few steps beyond the dirty martini. Grub Street has been a tireless picklespotter, noting that New York City's The Breslin is serving "off-the-menu pickle backs" (a shot of pickle juice to go with whisky) and Chicago's The Drawing Room is making a Chicago Dog Caipirinha, made with cachaca, sport peppers, and a celery-salt rim (there are no actual hot dogs involved).

Also spotted at 10 Downing Food & Wine in New York City, where a cocktail called the Pickle is made by muddling dill and cucumbers with salt and simple syrup; and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where the Black Forest Inn makes a Krautini with sauerkraut juice, Steinhäger (a mild German gin), and a touch of Kümmel, a German caraway seed liqueur. "I've heard more often than not 'I'm surprised how much I like it'," says Erica Christ, the bar manager at the Black Forest Inn. "People who would get a dirty martini really do like that pickley, sour, salty taste...Still we do get about one in five that is like BLECH!"

Make your own pickle-enhanced cocktail using our Martinowitz recipe (pictured).

Image source: Christopher Rochelle,

How to Roast Squash Seeds

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