San Francisco Bay Area rss

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

Cumin Get It

What’s the best cumin lamb dish within 60 miles of San Francisco? Many hounds think it’s the cumin lamb at China Village. “Run, do not walk, to try their Village Lamb,” says a_and_w.

Spices II serves a cumin lamb hot pot dish that you can smell as you walk into the restaurant, because everyone’s eating it, says Pei. It’s highly addictive. coolbean98 likes the cumin lamb at Spices! 3.

The cumin lamb at Ark is still great, even after the departure of chef Jimmy Zhang. Also try the shrimp on a stick with cumin. Lori SF likes the cumin lamb, and the hot pot dishes in general, at the great-but-expensive Old Mandarin Islamic. And Robert Lauriston prefers the cumin lamb at Darda to both China Village’s and Old Mandarin Islamic’s versions.


China Village [East Bay]
1335 Solano Ave., Albany
510-525-2285
Locater

Spices II [Richmond]
291 6th Ave., San Francisco
415-752-8885
Locater

Spices! 3 [Chinatown]
369 12th St., between Franklin and Webster, Oakland
510-625-8883
Locater

Ark Restaurant [East Bay]
1405 Park St., Alameda
510-521-6862
Locater

Old Mandarin Islamic [Sunset]
3132 Vicente St., San Francisco
415-564-3481
Locater

Darda Seafood Restaurant [South Bay]
296 Barber Ct., Milpitas
408-433-5199
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Best Cumin Lamb dish within a 60 mile radius of SF

Western Food, Chinese Style

It turns out that, at Hong Kong-style Prince Cafe–whose menu includes such dishes as Japanese ramen, escargot, peanut butter porky bun, Denmark pork chop and a spam and egg sandwich–the thing NOT to order is the shrimp wonton noodle soup, as Dave MP recently found out. Instead, accept the place for what it is: American and European food, made by Chinese folks especially for Chinese audiences. This might sound suspicious at first, but if you’ve ever experienced the comforts of a Japanese home-style omelet filled with fried rice and ketchup, you will understand the possibilities here. So order the sizzling black pepper spaghetti. Or the borscht.

The presence of borscht on the menu is actually a good indicator that you’re dealing with a Hong Kong-style cafe. Hong Kong-style places often serve a tomato-based borscht, made with beef, potatoes, and cabbage, rather than the familiar beet-based variety, says Gary Soup.

PeterL recommends the Portuguese-influenced Macau Cafe, located in the Ranch 99 mall in Richmond, which offers a slightly different take on the standard Hong Kong-style tea cafes. anna thinks St. Anna Cafe Shop is one of the better Hong Kong-style cafés around in terms of food and value, and also recommends Denny’s Café (NOT to be confused with Denny’s Restaurant, of Grand Slam Breakfast fame) and Broadway Bistro in Burlingame, the latter of which serves an unusually wide variety of food.


Prince Cafe [Richmond]
5423 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
415-876-2828
Map

St. Anna Cafe Shop [Chinatown]
326 8th St., Oakland
510-893-1238
Locater

Macau Cafe [East Bay]
a.k.a. Orchid Bowl Cafe
3288 Pierce St., Richmond
510-559-7888
Locater

Denny’s Cafe [Richmond]
5530 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
415-386-3288

Locater

Broadway Bistro [Peninsula]
349 Broadway St., Millbrae
650-692-3378
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Prince Cafe–19th and Geary, SF–Report
Oakland–Saint Anna Cafe Shop (HK style coffee shop)?

Exquisite Gelatin Cakes

There are beautifully decorated gelatin cakes to be had from Princesse Bakery, says S U. Each layer is a different flavor–cream, espresso, chocolate–and the flavors are whispered essences, bold enough to satisfy, yet delicate. A bouquet of perfectly-formed gelatin flowers adorn the pretty cake. rworange likes the mango flavor, with a sweet, perfumy mango layer contrasting with a white passion fruit layer. Also: the gelatin is made from agar agar, so it’s vegetarian–enjoy. Princess Bakery also stocks loaves of soft white bread that comes in plain, cream cheese, or dried pork flavor.

SumoSizeMe reports that the beautiful cakes from Princesse Bakery are actually made off-site, somewhere in San Jose. Cam Huong makes their own, but rworange finds them to be totally tasteless and crude. The only thing minty about the mint gelatin cake is the green color, she says. Egg tarts, however, are pretty good and cost 45 cents.


Delicieuse Princesse Bakery [Downtown]
317 13th St., Oakland
510-763-8366
Locater

Cam Huong Cafe [Chinatown]
920 Webster St., Oakland
510-444-8800
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Oakland: Princess Bakery Gelatin Cakes

Creations Dessert House

Dave MP likes Creations Dessert House for the #52, sago with fresh mango juice and coconut, the perfect mochi dough, and the sweet balls with peanut and sesame paste, served warm. Hounds enthusiastically recommend the dish known as “glutinous rice ball with mixed fruits in 2 juices.” The desserts, and the nice black tea with a hint of lychee flavor, are much easier to enjoy now that they’ve installed real chairs and tables in place of the horribly uncomfortable furniture they used to have, says nsheth.


Creations Dessert House [Richmond]
a.k.a. Hui Lau Shan
5217 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
415-668-8812
Locater

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Creations Dessert House Report

Sucking the Marrow Out of the Goat Bone

The buffet at Turmeric Restaurant is totally respectable, says Soup, especially the fish curry and the goat. The goat is beautifully gelatinous, with big pieces of bone from which to dig out the marrow. The dishes reveal complex flavors and are not at all stewed to death. The heat level is very controlled, and gives the food a sense of sophistication. Also: the dessert fruit salad contains pomegranates.


Turmeric Restaurant [Peninsula]
141 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale
408-617-9100
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SF for 4 days

Nami Nami

Nami Nami an izakaya-style restaurant, the kind of place to drink sake or beer and eat Japanese drinking snacks, which are some of the best bar food in the world. snewdl likes the beef tongue, topped with finely shaved raw onions and tiny threads of red pepper. The cod is also excellent, broiled until the skin is crisp and served snowy-white on a bamboo leaf. Tasty garnishes include dried persimmon and mysterious red pickles. Also good: duck breast with mango and a salad of chrysanthemum greens with tofu skin. Happy drinking!


Nami Nami Kyoto Style Japanese Cuisine [Peninsula]
formerly Kamei Japanese House

240 Castro St., between Dana and Villa Sts., Mountain View
650-964-6990
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nami nami in mountain view

Egg Sponge Cake at Golden Gate Bakery

shnigglebob loves the gai don go, or egg sponge cake, at Golden Gate Bakery. It’s a vaguely cone-shaped yellow cake wrapped in parchment, light and soft and almost sticky. If you’re not in the mood for the textural orgasm produced by a warm, fresh, meltingly soft Golden Gate Bakery egg custard tart just out of the oven (uh, never?), try a lovely gai don go instead. Or in addition.


Golden Gate Bakery [Chinatown]
1029 Grant Ave., San Francisco
415-781-2627
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Golden Gate Bakery Mystery Puff- HELP!

Mission Pie

Hounds like the pie at Mission Pie, a brand-new pie-and-coffee shop. The apple pie has a great flaky crust and big chunks of tart apples, says asherandeva. It’s satisfyingly bright and tart, not overwhelmed by cinnamon, says augustiner, though those who like super-sweet apple pie might find the filling too lemony. Other offerings include an Italian dessert tart made with chard, raisins, rum, and lemon, and a savory pie filled with veggie curry.

Pies are made from ingredients grown at the Pie Ranch, including sustainably raised wheat for the crusts–and it’s staffed by the Mission High students who work on the farm. Stop in for some organic, fair-trade coffee and interesting pie–and be patient and smile, the servers are new at this!


Mission Pie [Mission]
2901 Mission St. (entrance on 25th St.), San Francisco
415-282-4PIE
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Mission Pie Open

Teance Tea Room

Teance Tea Room sells high-quality teas, predominantly Chinese teas, for brewing at home, but the real draw is the tea bar, where you can taste a variety of teas for a nominal cost. It’s perfect for helping you decide what to buy and take home. The staff is very enthusiastic about tea, and happy to educate novices. Morton the Mousse thinks it’s easily the best tea house in the East Bay, if not the entire Bay Area–even better than the highly regarded Imperial Tea Court. “If you love tea, or if you are interested in learning more about it, you must visit Teance,” he insists.


Teance Tea Room [East Bay}
1780 4th St., Berkeley
510-524-2832
Map

Imperial Tea Court [Chinatown]
1411 Powell St., San Francisco

415-788-6080

Locater

Imperial Tea Court [Embarcadero]
at Ferry Building Marketplace, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., #27, San Francisco
415-544-9830
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teance in berkeley–fantastic,or what?

Bobby G’s Pizzeria

Agent 510 likes Berkeley newcomer Bobby G’s Pizzeria for the nicely charred crust and high-quality toppings on their New York-style pizza. Slices cost $2.25 plus 50 cents per topping.

Toppings range from the usual pepperoni, garlic, and olives to the unusual, like soy cheese and smoked oysters. rworange notes that Bobby G’s takes the Hawaiian pizza (Paradise Pie) to a new level by topping it with a swirl of mango puree.


Bobby G’s Pizzeria [East Bay]
2072 University Ave., Berkeley
510-665-8866
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Bobby G’s Pizzeria–Berkeley