San Francisco Bay Area rss

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

Flaky Chinese Turnip Pastry

For some of the best turnip pastry (luo bo si bing), head to Kingdom of Dumpling, or its frozen to-go sister shop, King of Chinese Dumpling, says K K. The outer layer is “flaky and great,” and inside there is “perfectly sliced julienne daikon and very finely minced pork … when cooked right the interior is moist and juicy.”

Kingdom of Dumpling [Sunset]
1713 Taraval Street, San Francisco

King of Chinese Dumpling [Sunset]
1426 Noriega Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Chinese Breakfast–Siao Bing Places in Bay Area?

Little Michoacán in Redwood City

A recent article in San Francisco magazine dubbed a stretch of Middlefield Road in Redwood City “Little Michoacán,” reports Robert Lauriston, who asks other Chowhounds for their opinions. Sushi Monster knows the area well, and isn’t too impressed with the magazine’s information. He offers his own advice for this outstanding stretch of taquerias.

Although Rincon Tarasco does plenty of trade in tacos and tortas, “the real draw here is the big plates, such as lengua, camarones and guilotas (quail),” says Sushi Monster. “The machaca con huevos—the Norteño equivalent of the very traditional Michoacán specialty aporreadillo—is a hearty, deeply satisfying plate of shredded, dried beef over scrambled eggs, swimming in a sweet, tangy red sauce.” And the place also scores high “on two major tests: handmade tortillas to order, and serious red sauce.”

The best place for birria is Taqueria Apatzingan, says Sushi Monster, where it is prepared a bit drier than at some of the other places. He skips the chile oil–based red sauce, and goes for the tomatillo instead.

Panaderia Michoacan 4 is a combo mercado and bakery, with a comfortable place to eat. The lengua is memorable for a slight cumin/curry background note, while the mild red salsa is better than the hot here. (Note: This is the branch on El Camino Real, not the one on Middlefield Road itself.)

kareng1972 says that the El Camino Real branch of La Casita Chilanga is one of the best Mexican places in all of Redwood City: “It has the best tortas ever!” Sushi Monster agrees, adding that the suaperro (beef rib) is delicious in a taco. There is also barbacoa de borrego available on Sundays, says wally.

Sushi Monster points out that you won’t be getting Michoacán specialties at most of these places, except for maybe the quail at Rincon Tarasco. “Most of the best restaurants in Little Michoacán are focused on providing basic Mexican food to their immediate neighborhood clientele,” he says. “The regional specialties are not what you’re going to find in almost any of the taquerias … The best of Little Michoacán is really the best of a half-dozen Mexican states.”

If you really want to try authentic Michoacán specialties, Sushi Monster recommends that you head to one of the full-service, sit-down places such as La Pachanga or Las Parrillas. But he also thinks that anyone looking for “flat-out great food” should stick to the taquerias.

Rincon Tarasco [Peninsula]
3200 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park

Taqueria Apatzingan [Peninsula]
3305 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park

Panaderia Michoacan 4 [Peninsula]
2561 El Camino Real, Redwood City

La Casita Chilanga [Peninsula]
761 El Camino Real, Redwood City

La Pachanga [Peninsula]
3102 Middlefield Road, Redwood City

Las Parrillas [Peninsula]
3284 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park

Board Link: Michoacano in Redwood City?

Perfect Chicken Liver Salad

The chicken liver salad on the lunch menu at Eccolo “may be the best dish I have ever had there,” says Morton the Mousse. “There were two generous skewers of wood-grilled chicken livers, wrapped in pancetta, nice and rare with a beautiful char. The skewer also contained a few delicious, soft croutons infused with liver juices.” The meat has “none of the overly bitter or harsh metallic flavors I associate with sub-par liver.” It’s all served over a simple salad of frisée and mâche.

Eccolo also serves “perfect” beignets, says Morton the Mousse, that are “light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside.”

Eccolo [East Bay]
1820 Fourth Street, Berkeley

Board Link: Chicken Liver Salad and Beignets at Eccolo

Hand-Cut Noodle Glory at Shanghai House

Euonymous is amazed by the great, chewy texture of the pan-fried, hand-cut noodles at Shanghai House. And the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) were the most attractive Euonymous has ever seen, with thin wrappers “meticulously folded around the delicious pork filling.” The only downside was a slight lack of soup inside.

However, several hounds have warned that Shanghai House has different Cantonese American and Shanghai menus with identical covers. Just ask if you don’t get the one that you want.

Shanghai House [Richmond District]
3641 Balboa Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Shanghai House: Report

Mashed Plantain Tamales and Guatemalan Rellenos

rworange has discovered there are great snack foods available at the Panaderia Guatemalteca in Richmond. The secret is they are only available on Saturdays, and you have go early as they sometimes sell out by 8 or 9 a.m.

There is a different special each week. Last Saturday it was rellenitos de platanos, which are mashed plantain tamales stuffed with sweet beans. “They were very good,” says rworange: “sweet, with lots of banana flavor.”

However, rworange’s favorite is the Guatemalan version of chiles rellenos. It’s quite different from the Mexican version, and involves peppers stuffed with minced chicken, shredded carrots, potatoes, slivered red peppers, and green beans, all battered and fried.

The only item served every Saturday is tamales. The ones here are distinctly Guatemalan, larger and moister than their Mexican counterparts, possibly with a whole chicken leg or bone-in hunk of pork in the middle.

From the daily bakery selection, there is quesadilla. In Guatemala, this means a buttery pound cake, covered with sesame seeds.

Panaderia Guatemalteca [East Bay]
653 23rd Street, Richmond

Board Link: Richmond–Panaderia Guatemalteca–Guatemalan rellenitos, chuchitos, tamales and more

Cold Tangy Broth With Kimchee and Noodle

Jong Ga House’s yul moo kimchee soup is a “delectable” tangy broth with buckwheat noodles and sometimes the occasional ice cube, says 10foot5. You can’t order the soup; it is served as an appetizer, and only as a replacement when the seaweed soup runs out.

As for the regular menu, DezzerSf always gets dol sot bi bim ba (rice and pickled vegetables served in a hot stone bowl) and also likes the kimchee fried rice. Mushrooms are good there, reckons Marc Wallace, who adds that the mushroom bi bim bap and mushroom yuk gae jang are both “quite tasty.”

“The soups are rockin’,” adds jason carey, who “had this beef and egg one that was great.” Unfortunately, he can’t remember what it was called.

Jong Ga House [East Bay]
372 Grand Avenue, Oakland

Board Links: Cold Kimchi Soup
Jong Ga House in Oakland

Turkish Ravioli and Lamb Dolma

Troya provides creative Turkish cooking, unusual dishes, excellent service, and good value, reports susancinsf. The dolmades were “probably the best” she has ever eaten: “The lamb stuffing was rich yet subtly flavored with vinegar and delicious. I’d go back just for these. I almost ordered more right on the spot.”

Manti (Turkish ravioli, stuffed with lamb, and drizzled with yogurt) were “toothsome little pillows, perfectly al dente, delicious,” continues susancinsf. And the beef türlü (a type of stew) featured meat that “really did melt in your mouth,” like a good pot roast.

Hounds report there’s not much of a crowd, even after a recent positive review in the SF Chronicle. “That place really deserves more business than it gets,” says Robert Lauriston. “There really aren’t many restaurants in that price range that offer food that good and atmosphere that pleasant.” (He also reviewed Troya a little while ago in SF Weekly.)

Troya [Richmond District]
349 Clement Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Cafe Troya Update

Jac’s Asian Comfort Food

rworange has discovered “the glories of the baked pork chop cutlets with spaghetti” at Jac’s Asian Bistro. “The huge plate of spaghetti came bubbling from the oven covered with two large breaded pork chops. I can’t remember when I’ve eaten so much food in one sitting. But there are times you need to submit to hot, primal, cheesy, bubbly goodness and enjoy every last bite.”

There is a choice of red and white sauce (rworange tried the red sauce, which is similar to something from a Chef Boyardee can), while the cheese was of the “yellow longhorn” variety. “There is an art … a true skill … to turning such ungourmet ingredients into a wildly delicious and satisfying dish. It is comfort food in the highest form. I salute you Jac.”

For $8.88, you get pork chop cutlets with garlic bread and Russian borscht. Yes, borscht. But rworange likes Jac’s “slight wackiness,” including the fact that the salmon and avocado egg rolls are only served on Sunday. But you should probably be aware that there are three menus: rworange was only given the Hong Kong one after asking about the cutlets.

It’s open until midnight most of the week, and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Jac’s Asian Bistro [East Bay]
10166 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito

Board Link: El Cerrito: Jac’s Asian Bistro (9am-2am) – Oh my goodness (really!!!) … I finally ‘get’ Hong Kong-style coffee shops

The Bay Area’s Best Indian Buffets

Turmeric serves the best Indian food in the Bay Area, says katya. “Seriously. And it wins in both the buffet and dinner service categories. They simply serve some of the tastiest Indian food out there.” And this is a Chowhound who keeps a ranked list of the 20 best Indian buffets in the region, so listen up.

Turmeric’s lunch buffet, at $11, is a good deal. Even better is the $13 dinner buffet, which is only served Friday through Sunday. There are a lot of “unique delights” you won’t find elsewhere, reports katya, such as a make your own papdi chaat bar, with all the fixings (fried round balls, raw onions, cooked potato, chickpeas, yogurt sauce, cilantro, tamarind, and mint), as well as gobi mussalam, which is giant mounds of baked cauliflower, topped with sliced almonds. katya also recommends the potato and spinach cakes, and the boti kabob and malai chicken, both of which are made with good-quality meat.

“I’ve also ordered dishes off the menu and Turmeric again is amazing,” adds katya. The veggie samosas were “easily the best I’ve ever had.”

Other folks recommend Amber India, with a couple of caveats. First of all, the lunch buffet is a better experience than dinner, says Claudette. Second, several hounds say the Mountain View location is better (and cheaper) than the Santana Row branch.

Turmeric [South Bay]
141 S. Murphy Avenue, Sunnyvale

Amber India [South Bay]
2290 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View

Board Link: Turmeric in Sunnyvale – Wins the Bollywood Oscars for Best Buffet and Best Non-Buffet Meals

Crisp Suckling Pig at the Cottage Eatery

Cottage Eatery is an unpretentious, untouristy gem, says MSK. The crispy suckling pig with Umbrian lentils, braised romaine, tomato, and saba seems like the restaurant’s signature dish. It’s roasted, pressed, then seared until it falls apart under your fork into the lentils and greens.

The grilled baby octopus appetizer features crispy, salty, warm tentacles, sitting on cool bits of citrus and chickpea. And the beet ravioli with poppy seeds is “delicate, and out of this world,” says MSK.

Cottage Eatery [Marin County]
114 Main Street, Tiburon

Board Link: Cottage Eatery, Tiburon…Wow!