San Francisco Bay Area rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.

Great Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

After searching the Bay Area for Taiwanese beef noodle soup, vliang is thrilled to have found a great version at TMM Desserts, a strip mall café in Millbrae. The broth is multidimensional, with a hint of anise, vliang reports, and is neither too spicy nor too oily. The la-mien/ramen noodles have bite, even by the time you reach the bottom of the (huge) bowl. And the beef, the ideal combo of lean meat, tendon, and fat, is cooked to melting perfection without losing any of its flavor.

TMM apparently started out as a tea and dessert place, and now is branching out into Hong Kong/Taiwanese small eats, with some Shanghai dishes to follow. There’s no English signage outside: You can find it next to the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.

TMM Desserts [Peninsula]
350 Adrian Road, Millbrae
650-259-9213

Board Link: OMG, I Found My BNS!!!

Hunan-Style Bacon at Ton Kiang

Ton Kiang’s steamed bacon with dried mustard greens is the best version of this Hunan dish Robert Lauriston has found. The waiter even muttered “good dish” when augustiner ordered it, which is always a good sign. The sauce is haunting, continues augustiner, especially when mixed with the rice.

In the East Bay, Robert Lauriston says your best bet is Great China, while lexdevil reports there’s also a “rock solid” rendition of the dish available at Daimo.

Ton Kiang [Richmond District]
5821 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
415-752-4440

Great China [East Bay]

2115 Kittredge Street, Berkeley
510-843-7996

Daimo [East Bay]
3288 Pierce Street, Richmond
510-527-3888

Board Link: Hunan Bacon

Ramen at Caffeine in SF

An excellent bowl of ramen can be found, for now, at the Geary Street café Caffeine on Friday and Saturday nights. Tabe Trucks is serving up ramen at the counter before launching its mobile truck business.

There’s rich, buttery chashu; firm noodles (the wavy, eggy kind); and perfectly cooked soy egg with a slightly soft yolk. The broth is shoyu-ish, leaning toward the chickeny side. It’s lighter and more in the Tokyo vein than it is at Santa or Himawari, says vliang.

Order at the counter, and take a seat—there are only about six tables. A bowl of ramen is $8, and comes topped with chashu, egg, bamboo, bean sprouts, scallion, and nori. You can get extra chashu and noodles for $2 per portion.

Caffeine [Tenderloin]
835 Geary Street, San Francisco
415-928-5888

Board Link: Tabe: new SF ramen option

Royal Oak British Pub & Restaurant

The old Baltic Square Pub in Richmond is now the Royal Oak, a real British gastropub serving traditional dishes like fish and chips, meat pies and pasties, and bangers and mash. The chef is from Liverpool, and almost everything is made in-house (the pasties are a two-day operation). Bangers come from Saag’s.

Fried fish is a fine example of the genre: a long piece of delicate fish in a light, greaseless batter, says rworange. She passed on the chips, but was pleasantly surprised by the “mushy peas”—about the consistency of mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s pie is “really, really good,” adds J T.

Ye olde English décor hasn’t changed much from the Baltic days, except for the addition of more British tchotchkes. Dinner entrées average $12 and come with chips, sautéed potatoes, or mashed spuds.

Royal Oak British Pub & Restaurant [East Bay]
135 Park Place, Richmond
510-232-5678

Board Link: Point Richmond: The Royal Oak British Pub & Restaurant

Thorough Bread and Pastry

The famed San Francisco Baking Institute, where the bakers of Acme Bread et al. get schooled, opened Thorough Bread and Pastry earlier this year, and praise has been piling up. The baked goods—made by students at the institute—compare pretty well with those from Tartine Bakery, and the prices are a bargain. Not much of a crowd, either, and there’s a really nice courtyard in back.

The sourdough bread has a nice crust (often hard to achieve with this acidic dough); baguettes are great and a little fluffier than Acme’s product, notes Windy.

Ham and cheese croissant is on the light side, but with a crisp exterior and distinct flaky layers, says david kaplan.

There are other homey treats like brownies and sticky buns as well as fancier French pastries.

Thorough Bread and Pastry [Castro]
248 Church Street, San Francisco
415-558-0690

Board Link: Thorough Bread and Pastry?

Santa Rosa’s El Michoacano

A young Michoacán woman tipped off Eat_Nopal to El Michoacano for its enchiladas. But these aren’t your ordinary enchiladas: They’re enchiladas placeras, sort of a cross between chilaquiles and quesadillas.

The corn tortillas get quick-fried in a mild chile sauce to a nutty al dente state, folded around some Cotija cheese, and shredded cabbage, pickled jalapeños, crema, and pickled pork skins are piled on top. Eat_Nopal tried them “con huilota,” which means you get a whole quail, fried carnitas style, on the side. The thigh and breast are the texture of duck confit, while the rest is “so crispy you can eat just about all the bones.”

The menu includes a lot of pedestrian items, but there are other interesting choices, like bacon-wrapped shrimp with quail. And the basics are executed well, including the fresh and spicy salsas, and creamy, subtle, savory beans.

There are a bunch of Mexican restaurants in Santa Rosa, but the only others Eat_Nopal gets excited about are Antojitos La Texanita and Taco Max. At La Texanita, kare_raisu urges you to try the sopes and pescado zarandeado.

Restaurant El Michoacano [Sonoma County]
500 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa
707-546-4074

Antojitos La Texanita [Sonoma County]
1667 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa
707-527-7331

Taco Max [Sonoma County]
329 Coddingtown Center, Santa Rosa
707-528-3212

Board Links: Quail Confit Enchiladas Placeras at El Michoacano (Santa Rosa)
Taquerias, etc. near Santa Rosa

Lebanese-Mexican Mash-Up

Run by a superfriendly Lebanese Mexican couple, Wally’s Café draws its tasty, homey food from both the proprietors’ cuisines, reports rworange.

We’re not talking fusion. Most of the menu looks like generically Mediterranean dishes, but they’re prepared with Lebanese flair, like tangy pomegranate chicken, marinated in juice and Lebanese spices. It’s delicious with skordalia, a creamy, garlicky dip.

Mexico City–style tamales, not on the menu, have a light masa and tender stewed pork from a family recipe, says rworange. There’s “a nice touch of heat,” as well as a hint of what may be fennel.

Tilapia is always available, served either Mexican style, dredged in flour and fried, or Lebanese style, with tomatoes and onions. Pork chops are another constant, says Wally’s wife, Angelica.

The baklava is flaky and light, not too sweet; rworange also recommends the Lebanese coffee with cardamom.

The restaurant shares space (in a separate room) with the Bank Club, a bar serving up $3 Trumer Pilsner on draft.

Wally’s Café [East Bay]
3900 San Pablo Avenue, Emeryville
510-597-1303

Board Link: Emeryville: Wally’s Cafe and The Bank Club–a roadhouse with Lebanese Mexican food and draft Trumer Pilsner

Rincon Latino’s New Cocina

Rincon Latino, a little neighborhood grocery store, opened an eatery next door a few weeks ago, reports gordon wing, and has since added to its menu (which is now also translated into English).

The fried pepper quesadilla is “absolutely great,” says rworange. It’s a large tortilla folded in half around grilled onions and peppers, with “just enough cheese to hold it together” during its plunge into the deep-fryer. Crema, queso fresco, shredded lettuce, and tomato go on top. The green salsa is very good, the mild red not bad.

rworange also tried the consome de chivo (goat consommé) on the specials menu. The broth had hints of smoke, tomato, and black pepper, and there was lots of rice and chewy hominy. The chivo taco features meat that is “tender and not fatty.”

The house-brand tortillas contain some artificial “extras,” notes rworange, who recommends you opt for the Central American tortillas instead, if available, as they’re preservative free.

Rincon Latino [East Bay]
12851 San Pablo Avenue, Richmond
510-236-1197

Board Links: Richmond: Rincon Latino Kitchen–consume de chivo … the finest $2.50 meal ever
Rincon Latino Cocina

Wine Flights, Calvados Flights, Sake Flights

Flights (basically tasting menus for drinks) are traditionally the province of wine, and there are wine flights aplenty in San Francisco. Several hounds suggest trying those on offer at Cav Wine Bar, Incanto, and Bacar. Cav in particular has lots of unusual, delicious flights available, with bbulkow recommending the German reds. For a budget-conscious option, try the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, says osho. For $10 you can essentially build your own flight from the wine club selections, and also bring in your own food.

But San Francisco boasts flights of every variety. Jardinière has all sorts of alcohol flights, says bbulkow, including Calvados and vintage port. And there are sake flights available at O Izakaya, a Japanese bar-food joint, and Ame, a high-end Japanese fusion restaurant, says Carrie218.

Cav Wine Bar [Hayes Valley]
1666 Market Street, San Francisco
415-437-1770

Incanto Restaurant [Noe Valley]
1550 Church Street, San Francisco
415-641-4500

Bacar [SOMA]
448 Brannan Street, San Francisco
415-904-4100

Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Building, San Francisco
415-391-9400

Jardinière [Hayes Valley]
300 Grove Street, San Francisco
415-861-5555

O Izakaya Lounge [Japantown]
1625 Post Street, San Francisco
415-614-5431

Ame Restaurant [SOMA]
689 Mission Street, San Francisco
415-284-4040

Board Link: best places for ‘flights’?

Two Sources for Cantonese Roasted Duck

Chowhounds dig the Cantonese roasted duck at Happy Bakery. It’s “nicely flavored and beautifully roasted, with very little fat under the skin,” says Nancy Berry, who adds that the soy sauce chicken, served with tasty ginger and green onion relish, is even better. ChowFun_derek is also a fan of Happy Bakery duck, which he says isn’t slathered with overwhelming levels of five-spice, “so the flavor of the duck itself shines through.”

The roasted duck at Cheung Hing is another hound favorite. “The duck is consistently delicious,” says Windy.

Happy Bakery [Ingleside]
1548 Ocean Avenue, San Francisco
415-337-8198

Cheung Hing [Sunset]
2339 Noriega Street, San Francisco
415-665-3271

Board Link: Cantonese Roast Duck