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

Best. Dim. Sum. Ever.

Dol Ho is the single greatest dim sum LaserGecko has ever had. Ever.

This is not a place that’s trying to earn your business by luring you inside with, well anything, says LaserGecko. There’s no décor. There’s no service. You have to grab a menu and seat yourself, squeezing into gigantic tables with other eaters. There’s arguing coming from the kitchen. It’s packed with Chinatown locals, who are all gabbing with each other and swapping tables and talking. Service is slow, and if you ask, you’ll be told that the dim sum will come out “when it’s ready.” When it comes out, the diners pounce like a pack of wild dogs. Sometimes, there’s none left for you.

The dim sum is, if you haven’t figured out by now, completely fabulous.

They have the most incredible siu mai. Theyre are giant meatballs filled with crunchy bits of vegetable. They are almost too good to eat, but LaserGecko managed, somehow. And the steamed pork buns… Let’s be straight. LaserGecko is doubtful of steamed pork buns. LaserGecko is doubtful of Chinese barbecued pork. Because LaserGecko is from the South, and most other barbecued pork isn’t really his cup of tea. But, says he, “these damned steamed pork buns were just the best damned things on the planet. The bread was better than ever. Their pork on the inside was nothing but pure, made-with-love goodness.”

And the last surprise? The bill. The dishes are mostly $1.50, the specials are a staggering $2. You can easily feed two people for under $10. LaserGecko felt as if he were stealing from them.

So go, everybody, and be a thief.

(Last note: Dol Ho is temporarily closed from March 7th to April 1st. Vacation or something like that.)

Dol Ho [Chinatown]
808 Pacific Ave., San Francisco
(415) 392-2828

Board Links: Dol Ho: A bit slow, but You Must Go!
Dol Ho closed 3/7-4/1

An Exceptionally Large Burrito

gordon wing is impressed with the majestically huge burrito from Hacienda Grill. It’s stuffed with carne asada, rice, beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and salsa. The beef is tasty with a bit of chew, and the rice is just great: well seasoned, and not overcooked. Everything in this burrito is super—even the cheese has more flavor than usual.

The burrito could satisfy anybody’s appetite. It’s probably enough for lunch for two normal people. We’re talking 12 inches by 4 inches here, people.

We normally feel that you demean the food by giving its measurements, but for every rule, there is an exception. 12 inches by 4 inches of raw burrito power.

Hacienda Grill [Richmond]
1000 Nevin Ave., Richmond
(510) 233-0800

Board Links: Huge burrito at Hacienda Grill-Richmond

A Very Good Mexican Bakery in Sonoma

Pasteleria La Mixteca is a very good Mexican bakery, says Eat Nopal. There’s product coming out of the oven all day long. Walnut smoothies are good, though perhaps not for everybody. Tres leches cakes are a mixed bag—they’re the moistest and freshest versions around, but too much artificial frosting flavor. Try going for the flavored variations with less frosting.

Pasteleria La Mixteca [North Bay]
a.k.a. Maya Bakery
18981 Highway 12, #B, Sonoma

Board Links: Pasteleria La Mixteca

As Close to Singapore as You Can Get in the Bay Area

Dolcetta knows her Singaporean food. If you’re looking for Singaporean food, stay away from Indonesian restaurants. They may be neighbors, and the names of dishes may be deceptively familiar, but the foods are quite different. And she thinks the most authentic (whatever that means) Singaporean food you can get out here is at Old Town Singapore Café. Their Hainanese chicken rice is excellent.

Her other favorite for decent Malaysian food: Banyan Garden.

Singapore Old Town Cafe [East Bay]
Ulferts Center
4288 Dublin Boulevard, #109, Dublin
(925) 833-8300

Banyan Garden [East Bay]
1771 Decoto Rd., Union City
(510) 324-8506

Board Links: best Singaporean foods

How to Get Fish at Manila Oriental Market

Newcomers might find the fish service counter at Manila Oriental Market a little intimidating. There is a ticket dispenser that is always empty, a “Now Serving” sign that always reads “01,” and a ton of people crowded around the counter, all waving what appear to be little raffle tickets.

Never fear, says indychef. It’s confusing at first, but once you become a regular everything goes smoothly. Don’t feel intimidated by the number system – just ignore it. “I always do,” says indychef. “You just gotta hustle a bit and grab the guy who’s in charge. He’ll take care of the rest. Prices are negotiable – don’t tell anybody.”

Manila Oriental Market [Peninsula]
950 King Plaza #112, Daly City
(650) 878-3328

Board Links

How do you get fish at MOM?

Lengua Special

gordon wing has been won over by the lengua (tongue) special at La Perla Taqueria. It’s one of the best preparations of tongue ever – braised with lots of vegetables, like green beans, potatoes, bell pepper, jalapeno, tomato, and carrots, until tender and savory. It’s available only on Wednesdays, it comes with chips, salsa, and delicious tortillas, and it costs $7.00. katya likes the pineapple agua fresca.

And if you like lengua, sfoperalover highly recommends the tongue at Panchita’s #3. The place is not so much a taqueria and more of a Nuevo Latino cuisine place, but the braised tongue is absolutely incredible.

La Perla Taqueria Restaurant [South Bay]
1150 Mcginness Ave., San Jose

Panchita’s #3 [Mission]
3115 22nd St., San Francisco

Board Links

If it’s Wednesday it must be Lengua–La Perla
Impromptu La Perla Excursion

Cheesecake, Light and Dense

Lots of hounds love the cheesecake at Zanze’s, with the caveat that it’s much lighter than the heavy, dense New York-style cheesecake that many people prefer. The texture is light and almost fluffy, says gordon wing. As for the dense New York cheesecakes, Robert Lauriston thinks that the best one around is from Just Desserts. rworange agrees.

Zanze’s Cheesecake [Ingleside]
2405 Ocean Ave., San Francisco

Just Desserts [SOMA]
101 4th St., San Francisco

Board Links

Best cheesecake in SF?

Ethereal Fettucine

Carrie 218 admires Vivande Porta Via for its magnificent homemade pasta. “I have found it to provide the most ethereal fettucine in the city,” she says. Order anything that has their house-made pasta in it–though the house-made fennel sausage is also great.

Doodleboomer loves the portobello mushroom risotto, and highly recommends the butternut squash soup, if you can get it. Robert Lauriston agrees that the food is good, but objects to “paying restaurant prices to eat in a deli.”

Vivande Porta Via [Fillmore]
2125 Fillmore St., San Francisco

Board Links

Vivande Via Porta

Food Therapy: Banh Khot, Birria, Chicken Soup, and Pancakes

pane has been on a comfort food crawl lately, sampling some of the best food therapy options available in the area. Drown your troubles in the banh khot at Lotus Garden–so time-consuming to prepare that it’s no longer featured on the menu, but often available by request. Warm, rich, and crispy on the bottom, they’ll cure what ails you.

And try the birria at Chava’s. The thick, spicy goat stew, served with tortillas, onion, cilantro, and lime, “really hits the spot on rainy nights when you’d rather not watch Pride and Prejudice for the eleventh time,” says pane.

Caldo de pollo at El Delfin, with chicken on the bone, big chunks of vegetables, and a nicely fatty broth, is supremely comforting, and a big stack of moist, fluffy blueberry and banana buttermilk pancakes at Hidden City will take care of any lingering anxiety.

Lotus Garden [Mission]
3216 Mission Street, San Francisco

Chava’s [Mission]
2839 Mission Street, San Francisco

El Delfin
3066 24th Street

Hidden City [East Bay]
109 Park Place, Richmond

Board Links: Comfort Food Roundup

Donut Madness

P. Punko, inventor of the Pork Snorkel, has a particular fondness for late-night donut action. Bob’s Donuts is a particularly great neighborhood donut shop. The warm, gooey apple fritters are especially enticing as they come out of the fryer–typically between 1:50 a.m. and 2:05 a.m.

Rolling Pin Donuts makes okay donuts. The best that can be said for them is that they taste like really fresh and good versions of Hostess products. And the cake donuts at the Cupertino branch of Donut Wheel are totally awesome.

Bob’s Donut & Pastry Shop [Polk Gulch] [
1621 Polk Street, San Francisco

Rolling Pin Donuts [Peninsula]
429 San Bruno Avenue, San Bruno

Donut Wheel [South Bay]
10250 N. De Anza Blvd, Cupertino

Board Links

Donut madness: Bob’s, Rolling Pin, Donut