Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.
Michael Rodriguez likes the Chinese Sichuan-style hot pot at 328. There are four soup bases on offer–original, hot and spicy Sichuan, satay, and Chinese herb. Order you soup, and then order a few of the 50 items on the menu for cooking in the steaming broth. Options include meat, live seafood, fresh seafood, mushrooms, tofu, vegetables, noodles and dumplings. It’s very tasty and warming, and the price is fairly modest–around $35 for two, including sake. Michael Rodriguez has eaten a lot of good means in China, and finds that this place feels very much like being in China.
328 Hot Pot & BBQ Restaurant [East Bay]
328 14th Street, Oakland
Board Links: Oakland Hot Pot
Hounds like the chocolates at the newly-opened Charles Chocolates store, especially the Mojito Hearts. lmnop loves the blood orange pates de fruits–the flavor intensifies and develops while you eat them. rworange thinks they’re juicy, but that the blood orange flavor is indiscernable. Dark chocolates filled with peanut praline and orange twigs are also recommended. Check out this new shop that’s not owned by megaconglomeratecorp, as lmnop puts it. It’s a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Charles Chocolates [East Bay]
6529 Hollis Street, Emeryville
Board Links: Charles Chocolates–Emeryville
ashleys is impressed with the Hungarian food at DJ’s Bistro. This small restaurant, hidden in a small strip mall in Concord, serves up delicious, authentic goulash with spetzle and great apple strudel. Just ask all the Eastern European folks there, drinking Spaten/Pilsner beer on tap and raucously watching sports. Melanie Wong loves the tripe soup–the serving size is huge, but you’ll want to finish every luscious spoonful.
DJ’s Bistro [East Bay]
1825 Sutter St., Concord
Great Hungarian/Eastern-European Food at DJ’s Bistro in Concord
BBQ Man Café, while not wonderful, has improved since it opened. Now it’s a totally reasonable option for getting a barbecue fix, says David Sloo. Pulled pork, however, is moist and exceptionally tender–clearly slow-cooked with gobs of attention. Brisket is also tender and makes an excellent sandwich–it’s probably the best thing there. Pork ribs are dull–not dry, but not anything special. Skip the boring coleslaw and go for the tasty, satisfying beans–whole, rich-maroon kidney beans cooked with fresh red pepper. And watch out for the sauce. If you don’t ask for it on the side, they’ll pour a whole lake of the sweet, mildly spicy, utterly undistinguished barbecue sauce over your meat.
BBQ Man Café [Peninsula]
555 Willow Road, Menlo Park
BBQ Man Cafe in Menlo Park.
gordon wing recommends the delicious boudin blanc sausage from Taylor’s Sausage. The traditional New Orleans-style boudin blanc is stuffed with pork and lots of rice; this version is very savory and juicy, not at all greasy. It comes in hot and mild versions, so take your pick. It’s a snack available all over New Orleans–you peel back the casings, squeeze out the filling, and enjoy. (The casing is rather chewy, so most folks don’t eat it.)
Taylor’s Sausage [Downtown]
907 Washington St., Oakland
Boudin Blanc–Taylor’s Sausage
Egg foo young is one of those dishes that was largely popularized in a bygone time, but is still comforting. Countless American housewives through the ages have tried their hand at it, only to have it dubbed “egg foo yuck” by their culinarily backward children. But for tasty, old-school egg foo young, you need to find a tasty, old-school Chinese American restaurant, like Gim’s. Gim’s is definitely old school, says Ruth Lafler, who gets her egg foo young fix there–three thick, heavy patties are served smothered in brown gravy with a side of rice. In fact, she hesitates to recommend the place to someone who likes real Chinese food–it is what it is: cheap, old-fashioned, gloppy Chinese-American comfort food. Enjoy.
Gim’s Chinese Kitchen [East Bay]
2322 Lincoln Ave., Alameda
Egg Foo Young
Best Taste is prime chowhounding grounds. They serve excellent, sophisticated food for very low prices, says grocerytrekker, including a very refined soup of black chicken, ginseng, and jujubes ($1.99). This soup is full of medicinal ingredients–in English, the soup is sometimes called “Chinese penicillin.” Frog and mushroom porridge features half a dozen big chunks of frog legs, shiitake mushrooms, and tasty congee ($4.50). Lots of frog leg options are available. Pork kidney stir-fried with ginger and scallions ($6.50) is quite mild and tender, without the ureal tinge present in most kidney dishes. And the wor wonton ($5.50) is excellent, if that’s your thing. “I watched the young ladies making those wontons, so I suspected they would be good. And they were,” says grocerytrekker.
Best Taste Restaurant [Chinatown]
814 Franklin St., Oakland
Black chicken & frog legs at ‘Best Taste’ Chinese, Franklin Street between 8th and 9th, downtown Oakland
Aussie meat pies recreated for American palates often consist of tough crusts stuffed with ingredients that are too good for you, says Tabetai yo. But the pies at Kearny Street Handheld Pies are authentic and delicious. Spicy eggplant pie with olives and tomatoes is excellent. Basque beef pie is nicely spicy, filled with pleasantly soft meat. It’s not an Aussie-style pie, but it’s quite good nonetheless. The whole wheat crust is tender and delicate. Two pies cost $5.75 and are enough for a meal for a normal person.
Kearny Street Pie Company [Financial District]
307 Kearny Street, San Francisco
Kearny St Handheld Pies
Jess Leber loves Bluebottle coffee, but prefers coffee roasted by a guy named Wayne.
You acquire this coffee by searching on Craigslist (try terms like “coffee,” “bean,” and “roast”) and e-mailing the guy your coffee needs. He then roasts it to your specifications. The procedure for acquiring it is a bit weird–you slide your money through a mail slot, and Wayne has your coffee waiting for you in a box outside. “Last time, I found myself humming ‘Waiting For The Man’ by the Velvet Underground,” says Jess Leber.
Wayne the Passionate Coffee Roaster
contact through Craigslist
That Coffee Guy in Rockridge
East Bay coffee to rival Blue Bottle
The food at Cerrito Speakeasy Theater is two levels above other theaters in quality and one level below in price, making it a very chowish place, says EdwardAdams. Enormous nachos are topped with real stuff, not fluorescent orange cheese product like in other theaters. Grilled beef sandwiches (“Zombie Cow”) and slices of chocolate cake are tasty, and everything is served on real plates, not paper. Even the popcorn comes in a real bowl. rworange notes that you can also buy bottled and draft beer like Trumer Pils, and wine like Ile la Forge viognier, so you can feel like you’re in a real speakeasy.
Cerrito Speakeasy Theater [East Bay]
10070 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito
Cerrito Speakeasy Theater