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

Rye Bread

The perfect pastrami sandwich requires not only good pastrami, but the right corn rye bread, too.

Metropolis Baking Company makes two sizes of New York rye. Their version comes close to Miss Otis’s memories of bread from delis under the 13th Avenue El in Borough Park, Brooklyn, where they’d cut a hunk from a huge lacquered-looking loaf and sell it by weight.

Robert Lauriston says Acme Bread makes a great rye once a week–though others find it too artisanal and dense to make a good pastrami sandwich. He also recommends great rye bread at Bennett Valley Bread & Pastry, and at Pure Grain Bakery, which makes the bread served at Speisekammer.

The Bread Garden makes a straight rye bread that makes rworange very, very happy.

Very good German country rye bread is available from the vendor who also sells giant pretzels at the Serramonte Farmers’ Market.

Max’s Bakery makes very good marble rye, available at Molly Stone’s, which also sells rye baguettes, if you’re looking for maximal rye-crust area.

Palo Alto Baking Company makes a good rye.

Trader Joe’s sells a pretty good corn rye bread.

Metropolis Baking Co [East Bay]
707 Heinz Ave., Berkeley
510-848-7263
Map

Acme Bread [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Building, Shop #15, San Francisco
415-288-2978
Map

Acme Bread Co [East Bay]
2730 9th St., Berkeley
510-843-2978
Map

Bennett Valley Bread & Pastry [Sonoma County]
3375 Industrial Dr., Santa Rosa
707-575-9345
Map

Pure Grain Bakery [Solano County]
600 Eubanks Ct., Vacaville
707-451-0991
Map

Pure Grain Bakery [Solano County]
11 Town Sq., Vacaville
707-447-4121
Map

Speisekammer [East Bay]
2424 Lincoln Ave., Alameda
510-522-1300
Map

Bread Garden [East Bay]
2912 Domingo Ave., right off of Claremont Ave., Berkeley
510-548-3122
Map

Pretzel vendor [Peninsula]
at the Serramonte Farmers’ Market
3 Serramonte Center, Daly City
Map

Mollie Stone’s [Peninsula]
22 Bayhill Shopping Ctr., San Bruno
650-873-8075
Map

Mollie Stone’s [Marin County]
270 Bon Air Shopping Ctr., Greenbrae
415-461-1164
Map

Palo Alto Baking Co [Peninsula]
381 S. California Ave., Palo Alto
650-321-3234
Map

Trader Joe’s [Citywide]

Board Links: Corn Rye Bread Nominations?

Hawaiian Breakfast and 24-Hour Hawaiian Barbecue

New, new, new! Island Cafe has everything your Hawaiian heart could desire, including Hawaiian breakfasts! Portuguese sausage and eggs turns out to be a hunk of rectangular sausage–sort of like Spam with an advanced degree in tasty–plus eggs, all over white rice. Chicken loco moco involves crispy chicken, with eggs, rice, and macaroni salad. Eggs are consistently perfect.

Coffee is fresh, hot, and Kona.

Even better, Island Cafe is open twenty-four hours.

Island Cafe Hawaiian Breakfast & BBQ [Sunset]
901 Taraval St., at 19th Ave., San Francisco
Map

Board Links: Island Cafe Hawaiian Breakfast & BBQ at 19th Ave & Taraval

The Cure for Summertime Heat Is Cold Buckwheat Noodles

Crave a refreshing lunch? Try #13 at Pyung Chang–buckwheat noodles in cold broth with kimchee, a.k.a. mul naeng myun. Melanie Wong loves the slushy, very pale, and slightly sweet broth. Add a bit of mustard from the squeeze bottle, and it’s cool, zingy perfection. The buckwheat noodles are firm and springy, as good naeng myun noodles ought to. They’re topped with thin bits of sweet cucumber, daikon kimchee, a bit of crunchy Asian pear, and half a hard-boiled egg. It’s just the ticket for hot summer days. The place is air-conditioned, too.

There’s also truly great panchan–zucchini braised with garlic, topped with toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onions. The zucchini becomes thoroughly infused with the flavor of garlic.

Sahn Maru offers three different cold buckwheat noodle dishes, and they’re all great. Maya S and her buddies ate every last bite of noodles, seafood pancakes, and sizzling spicy chicken.

We must add that Sahn Maru has three cold buckwheat noodle dishes on offer. Five of us tried them all last Saturday along with a seafood pancake and a sizzling plate of spicy chicken. Not a bite was left. The owners/staff were watching the US/Italy game with much gusto but managed to serve us well. Air conditioned, too!

Pyung Chang Tofu House [Temescal]
4701 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
510-658-9040
Map

Sahn Maru [Temescal]
4315 Telegraph Ave., at 43rd. St., Oakland
510-653-3366
Map

Board Links: Mul Naeng Myun @ Pyung Chang, Oakland

Hand-Shaved Ice Raspados

There’s a pretty good raspado cart outside of La Raza Market, reports rworange. Raspados are shaved from a big block of ice by hand, to order, and their syrups are pleasing. No English is spoken–she ordered what she assumed was mango, but which turned out to be vanilla.

These are properly done raspados–well-mixed, with no extra syrup or untoothsome patches of white ice.

Raspado Cart [East Bay]
2131 MacDonald Ave., outside La Raza Market, Richmond
510-232-4339
Map

Board Links: Richmond–the raspado cart

Chavez Supermarket for Al Pastor

We’ve heard many, many good notices for al pastor at Chavez Supermarket and Taqueria. Unlike most al pastors, which are oily and gross, this al pastor is clean and good. There is much love for it in both tacos and burritos. Note that the Redwood City location is just opening right about now.

Chavez Supermarket & Taqueria [East Bay]
1157 W. Tennyson Rd., Hayward
510-783-4052
Map

Chavez Supermarket [Peninsula]
817 Arguello St., Redwood City
650-367-9745
Map

Chavez Supermarket [South Bay]
666 N. Fairoaks Ave., Sunnyvale
408-736-3793
Map

Chavez Supermarket & Taqueria [Peninsula]
5th St. near El Camino, Redwood City
Map

Board Links: Chavez Supermarket & Taqueria, Hayward?

Dumplings for Breakfast

What better breakfast is there, asks Poot, than a bowl of delicate dumplings in tart broth? Breakfast dumplings at Out the Door are pretty much the best you’ll find this side of Yonghe, the famed center of Chinese soy milk. Dumpling wrappers are made from rice flour–they’re translucent, thick and pleasingly chewy. Vegetarian steamed dumplings are also fantastic. Morton the Mousse recommends crispy duck, and rare beef salad.

Out the Door is actually the takeout window for the Slanted Door. While most love this pair of Vietnamese restaurants, Gary Soup finds both sterile and overpriced.

Out the Door [Embarcadero]
Ferry Building Marketplace, One Ferry Building, shop #5, San Francisco
415-861-8032
Map

Slanted Door [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Building #270, San Francisco
415-861-8032
Map

Board Links: I love Out the Door

Fresh Pani Puri at Chat Patta

Pani puri is one of the great pleasures of life. It’s the epitome of mouth drama. You pick up a little fried, hollow crispy bit of bread, crack a hole in the top, and drop in various fillings–stuff like potatoes and chickpeas in tamarind sauce. Then you fill the fried bread with pani water–a cool, minty, thin liquid. Put the whole thing in your mouth–quickly, please–and bite. And there ensues a crunchy, minty, cool explosion and subsequent flood of flavor.

Pani puri at Chat Patta is unlike other pani puri, says Melanie Wong. They’re made one at a time, to order. And they’re absolutely fresh, without any of the old, stale taste you get at your typical joint. The puri shells are so thin they’re transparent, yet they manage to retain all the pani water.

And there’s more. Chat Patta is, in general, Melanie’s favorite outpost for Indian snack foods. Their choley bhature ($5.50) is her favorite version, an outstanding tasting watery broth filled with choley–spiced garbanzo beans. The secret? They use more black cardamom and roast the pods longer than most. The broth has a dark, inky color, and a deeper, more complex taste than any other choley bhature she’s had. Mix chaat ($4) offers a little of everything.–meaty garbanzos, super-fresh sev, onions, and cilantro. Pav bhaji ($5.50) are fantastic. There is great life in their uneven textures and blended vegetable flavors.

Samosas are a buck apiece, and are outstanding. The crust has an interesting pebbly, crumbly texture–so much better than the usual leaden, tough-crusted blobs. They’re served dangerously hot, right out of the fryer.

Desserts? Falooda ($3.50) is made with pistachio ice cream, basil seeds, sweet syrup, and noodles. Their version rocks. Gulab jamun ($1.50) are fried to order and come out blazing hot, topped with a very light syrup of uncommon delicacy. The gulabs are well browned and amazingly tender, with just a bit of chewiness. These are now her favorite gulab jamun in town, edging out former favorite Ajanta.

Fruity mango lassi is frothy and wonderful. Mango shake with ice cream is less good.

The ladies behind the counter are sweet, loving, and they will occasionally take a look at you and inform you that what you really need to sooth your tired soul is aloo puri. And they will be right.

The Chat Patta branch inside the Dana Bazar is standing room only. Order your pani puri one at a time from the counter and gobble them while standing between stacks of dried foods. At the Ardenwood location, you actually get to sit down. And they’ve got longer hours. But the two locations are identically priced and identically spiced.

Chat Patta Corner [East Bay]
34751 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
510-505-0400
Map

Chat Patta Corner [East Bay]
in Dana Bazar
5113 Mowry Ave., Fremont
510-742-0555
Map

Ajanta Restaurant [East Bay]
1888 Solano Ave., Berkeley
510-526-4373
Map

Board Links: Chat Patta Corner and Dana Bazar, Fremont–Fresh Pani Puri

The Crepe of the Vietnamese

A Vietnamese crepe (banh xeo) is a more hot-blooded affair than a French crepe. While the latter is a thing of grace and delicacy, of yielding textures and measured softnesses, a Vietnamese crepe is closer in aesthetic to, say, a fried bar snack. The outside is thickly crispy, the inside a bit melty and oozy. The way my Vietnamese mom used to make ‘em, the inside of the crepe was still clearly a form of batter–and you liked it that way.

Oh, and Vietnamese crepes are filled with sprouts and shrimp and pork.

Edie’s favorite Vietnamese crepes are at Bodega Bistro. The crepes next door at Mangosteen are good, but not as delicious. Bodega Bistro is open seven days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

veebee’s favorite Vietnamese crepe is at Lotus Garden. Her second favorite crepe is Angkor Borei. Though Angkor Borei’s crepe is not quite Vietnamese, it’s pretty close, and, in any case, it’s simply a real good crepe. Her third favorite is that at the aforementioned Bodega Bistro, though they can occasionally be undercooked and gummy.

Mike Lee’s favorite Viet crepes are the ones at Le Soleil.

Bodega Bistro [Tenderloin]
607 Larkin St., San Francisco
415-921-1218
Map

Mangosteen [Tenderloin]
601 Larkin St., at Eddy, San Francisco
415-776-3999
Map

Lotus Garden [Mission]
3216 Mission St., San Francisco
415-282-9088
Map

Angkor Borei [Mission]
3471 Mission St., at Cortland, San Francisco
415-550-8417
Map

Le Soleil Authentic Vietnamese [Richmond]
133 Clement St., San Francisco
415-668-4848
Map

Board Links: vietnamese crepe recommendations?

Thai Satay

Thai Satay may look and feel like every other little Thai restaurant in town. No weirdo-specials, no regional intensity. But nearly every Thai standard on the menu is prepared either competently or brilliantly. It is, consequently, the winner of katya’s survey of Peninsula Thai restaurants.

Her four favorite dishes are:

Egg rolls: filled with silver noodles and chicken, and entirely ungreasy. These are perhaps her favorite egg rolls in the Bay Area.

Cold vegetable spring rolls: filled with glass noodles, tofu, and bean sprouts. Not quite as good as the egg rolls, but still satisfying.

Pad kee mao: wonderous, with a good level of spiciness. And…

Yellow curry chicken: with a nicely complex sauce.

Also excellent: red curry, mussamun chicken, pineapple fried rice, panang chicken, and rad na. Quite good are tom kha gai, garlic pepper chicken, and sweet basil chicken. Not so good: cashew chicken, chili paste beef, and baby corn chicken. There also the excitingly named F.B.I.: fried banana with ice cream. Sadly, it is less than ballistically delicious.

One last note: order stuff medium spicy. If you get stuff very spicy, they just throw on lots of excess chili oil and pepper flakes. Sloppy and unmodulated spiciness. Not good.

Sun-Thu, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri-Sat, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Thai Satay [Peninsula]
173 E. 4th St., at S. Ellsworth, San Mateo
650-342-3617
650-342-6451
Map

Board Links: Thai Satay in San Mateo – Great Curries and Egg Rolls But Don’t Get Busted by the F.B.I.!

Korean Fire Chicken

umetaro found a buldalk restaurant during a drunken post-sushi stumble. Buldalk is Korean fire chicken, a.k.a. “kill my mouth and make me scream” chicken. Fire chicken is the latest Korean craze–brutally spicy barbecued chicken, typically consumed by drunken twentysomething Koreans.

At this place, there’s no panchan, the rice is old, and the maekju is Americanized (which, in this case, means smaller pitchers and mugs). The acoustics are terrible, too–loud and echoey. But you can get buldalk with ddeok, and it’s satisfyingly spicy.

In brief: this place wouldn’t survive long in Seoul, but as San Francisco’s only buldalk restaurant, it’s worth a visit when you’re in the mood for chicken and pain.

It looks like they open at 5:30 p.m., and stay open as long as they’re busy. The restaurant sign reads “Korean Restaurant” and “Fire Chicken.”

Unnamed Korean Restaurant [Union Square]
East side of Taylor St., between Post and Geary, San Francisco
Map

Board Links: buldalk (fire chicken) restaurant