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Shanghai Flavor Shop in Sunnyvale

The order I got last Saturday were browned even higher up the sides than hyperbowler's. Really chewy too. I was surprised how high up the sides they had managed to cook them -- it was almost like they were cooked in an aebleskiver pan.

Shanghai Flavor Shop in Sunnyvale

I've got to agree with you hyperbowler. The shengjianbao were underwhelming for the reasons you cite. I've enjoyed better at a no-name place in Shanghai across the street from the World Expo back in 2010. Most reviews of the Shanghai Flavor Shop I've read say the SJB are the thing and the rest of the food offerings are easily missed.

Zante Pizza in Bernal Heights [San Francisco]

That's helpful as the article pointed me to Tasty Indian Pizza in Sunnyvale which is a lot closer to where I live. I like Zante, so I'll give Tasty a try.

Best place to buy coffee beans on the Peninsula

(Duplicate post.)

Best place to buy coffee beans on the Peninsula

Another option in MV is Moksha coffee sold out of the related Dharma Coffee on Whisman. They are also sold at ZombieRunner and Ada's Cafe.

Szechwan Chilli (San Jose) chowdown report

Five Chowhounds (well, 4 hounds and 1 friend of a hound) met for an exploratory chowdown at the recently opened Szechwan Chilli (that's the English name on the front of the restaurant) in San Jose (Lion Market plaza, Saratoga Ave. at I-280). (Just to surprise you, they've also got the name of Sichuan province spelled as Szechuuan and Szechuan on the menu.) With only 4 of us initially, we thought we would make a sampling foray and try a variety of dishes to get an idea of what the chef can do.

We ordered the beef combination (fu qi fei pian), green bean jelly (sichuan liang fen), spicy fish (xiang la kao yu), shredded pork with spicy garlic sauce (yu xiang rou si), Szechuan steamed pork (sichuan kou rou), sour bean fried minced meat (suan dou jiao chao rou mo), and hot and sour potato (suanla tudou si). I hope I got the pinyin right -- the written language is not my forte. The menu is marked with 1, 2, or 3 chili pepper symbols next to most dishes indicating progressively spicier preparations. Let me come right out and say that nothing about any of the dishes we had even made me think they were spicy, unless one were, for example, to eat the chili pods that came with many of the dishes. I don't know if they dumbed things down for us, but there wasn't the slightest pain in eating of the dishes. The Szechuan steamed pork had no chili symbol next to it, but did have some chiles in the dish. Most dishes are in the $7-$9 range. Only the BBQ fish dishes (including the spicy fish) and the spicy pot dishes are more expensive, all $32-$34.

So, with that said, my favorite dish was the spicy fish. The presentation was beautiful (look for pictures from Melanie), in a metal tray over a small sterno fire. We actually ended up extinguishing the fire as the fish was becoming overcooked. The fish had a health coating of whole cumin seeds on the top that really made the dish stand out for me. The beef combination, green bean jelly, and shredded pork didn't do a lot for me. They were fine, but not stand out dishes. The steamed pork was, unfortunately, not as impressive as the picture in the menu -- think meicai kourou, but with some chiles thrown in. Instead of thick, unctuous slabs of steamed pork belly, it was just thin slices of pork belly served a top a pile of weak meicai (or was it some other dried leafy vegetable?). I enjoyed the sour bean fried minced meat a lot as it was both tasty and friendly to my diet, and would have cheerily eaten more of the lovely shredded potatoes were I not on that aforementioned diet.

All in all, I'd say the restaurant is perfectly acceptable. I'd definitely like to try some more offerings from the menu, particularly a spicy pot and perhaps with instructions to the chef to serve some real heat. Perhaps, they just need to adjust to the fact that the local populace will actually eat authentic Sichuan food. Surprisingly for a Friday lunch in the Silicon Valley, the restaurant was not busy. Our group of 5 occupied a table that sat 10. I suppose word hasn't fully filtered out that they are open.

Chowdown Lunch Report: Farewell to Capp's Corner in SF's North Beach

Thanks for setting up the meal, Melanie. I'm bummed to see the place closing, but perhaps that's because I and many others didn't know about it or frequent it. So, to be upfront about my opinion, understand that this is old school Italian-American cuisine and indeed the restaurant has been around for decades. That said, I was surprised at how subtle the preparations were. I had, based on reading numerous rave reviews, expected the minestrone to be more flavorful, but it was, as Melanie noted, delicate. A little pepper and parm doctored it up fine. The sole and calamari were both quite pleasant, although I preferred the sole owing to it being just slightly more diet friendly with the single-dip egg batter. The cannelloni was pretty tasty and made me wish that I could have tried the veal tortellini that are only served at dinnertime. The white wine and garlic sauce on the linguini was very savory and I'm glad I was able to restrain myself from just drinking it down. Others at the table enjoyed it with bread, which was probably the rational way to enjoy it!

New Bay Area French bakery chain: La PanotiQ

It opened yesterday (1/19/2015). I stopped by today coming back from an eye appointment and it had a well-stocked case with assorted pastries, breads, and sandwiches. I tried a croissant and pain au chocolat. The croissant wasn't as buttery as I might have liked, but it was also definitely not one of those bready, fake croissants that many places sell. The pain au chocolat was also not as buttery as I liked, but the chocolate was a good consistency -- not too dense and not runny. As point of comparison, I prefer Alexandre's pain au chocolat. My son tried a giant, runny caramel macaron which he reported to be excellent.

New Alexander's patisserie venture, downtown Mountain View

I'm rarely downtown, but was walking around waiting for the dilation drops to wear off from an optometrists visit. I'd sort of given up waiting for Alexander's to ever open. I guess I was sort of lucky despite my lack of patience! Reading through other comments below, I can see I nearly missed out because of the initial lack of capacity.

I did stop by on the 17th to pick up some macarons as well. That's all they had (8 varieties). Tarts were in the process of being piped as quickly as they could.

New Alexander's patisserie venture, downtown Mountain View

Alexander's Patisserie opened up for business about an hour and a half ago. They'll be open daily from morning to night, with later hours on weekends. Today they were offering 7 different macaron (pistachio, lemon, passion fruit, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and coffee) and 4 tarts (chocolate, lemon, coffee, and vanilla). The tarts were nearly sold out when I got there around 4:30, while the macaron flavors were all still available.

I tried all of the macarons except coffee. The shells are delicate and not overly chewy, although care is needed to extra the individual macarons from the boxes in which they are placed after selection. These boxes have an insert to hold the macarons individually so they don't crush each other, but ironically when full make it difficult to extract the first macaron without crushing those around it. You've been warned. :-) The fillings were not greasy like some I've had, so you don't end up with that tongue-coated-in-oil feeling. The flavors are true but a wee bit muted -- Seve's (in Lyon, my gold standard) had brighter flavors. I liked the cocoa-y flavor of the chocolate, the bite of the passion fruit, and the mellowness of the vanilla. Only the pistachio disappointed on the palate, although it did give off a nice pistachio aroma when you bit into it.

Hopefully they will be expanding their offerings. I failed to ask the nice young lady at the door. There's seating inside if you want to consume your purchases on site and they serve coffee and espresso drinks as well.

Smokehouse 10 BBQ & Catering in Martinez

It's my sad duty to inform you that Smokehouse 10 is no more. I stopped by there today and there was an undated letter posted on the door indicating that the owners were regretfully shutting it down. And I was hoping to get one of those beef ribs I never got to try. :-( There's even a review on that other site just yesterday for Smokehouse 10 and there's no current indication on either that site or Smokehouse 10's own website that they are out of business. I ended up eating at another BBQ joint in Martinez as a consolation prize. No beef ribs there.

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Yume-ya (Sunnyvale) serves a single variety of okonomiyaki with seafood.

For those who haven't seen the dancing bonito flakes, I offer the following video taken at Okan, Brixton Market, South London:

I seem to recall Yume-ya's bonito flakes being finer than Okan's.

Juhu Beach Club to open brick 'n mortar in Temescal [Oakland]

Indeed, I'm embarrassed to say that I hadn't been back sooner. I meant to. It's definitely a destination for me when in the area. I did go back for dinner intentionally so I could have the chicken leg, but of course I found myself lured away from that choice by another temptation. Next time!

Juhu Beach Club to open brick 'n mortar in Temescal [Oakland]

I consider myself one of the lucky beneficiaries of your chance pairing of the two. The duck salad was really satisfying on many levels.

Juhu Beach Club to open brick 'n mortar in Temescal [Oakland]

JBC got a nice write-up in yesterday's Chronicle:

That was rather timely for me as I had just eaten there on Thursday for dinner. I enjoyed the lamb kofta (a meatball/duck egg concoction that will make you think of something akin to a Scotch egg) curry which was nicely hot. My son went with the three meat pavs of which he thought the lamb and chicken were the winners. He started with a special-of-the-day appetizer of zucchini fritters, while I started with the fava leaf duck salad because I'm a sucker for ducks and beets. If they hadn't had that, I would have gone for another of the special appetizers which was an assorted tomato salad. Both appetizers were excellent as well. We shared the desi jacks which I had enjoyed on my last visit. The sassy lassi was refreshing, although the menu doesn't note that it does have spices in it beyond the listed description. Having had the nimbu pani before, I wasn't surprised at the flavor and did find it better than the swill found at most Indian places. I still need the try the JBC chicken leg which is on my list of things to get to, if only I were in the East Bay more often.

Chobani passion fruit yogurt?

I believe it had to do with inspection of the factories and certification that they met USDA or FDA health standards for food preparation. Perhaps similar to the issue that arose with importing jamon iberico.

Chowdown Report: Rodney Scott in Exile Tour @ 4505 Meats BBQ in SF

Seemed to be cucumbers, onions, and vinegar. I'm not sure what was giving it the yellow color, but I don't recall thinking "mustard".

Chobani passion fruit yogurt?

As far as I know, the Petits Suisses didn't disappear at any of the usual sources. Perhaps because they are considered cheese products? Or the factory that produces them has been approved for export of products to the US?

Chobani passion fruit yogurt?

It can be hard to import foreign yogurts. Le Village (Brisbane) and later the Gourmet Corner (San Mateo) used to import Mamie Nova yogurts from France. I believe Gourmet Corner had to suspend that owing to USDA inspection requirements. I loved them while I could get them and do enjoy trying out interesting flavors while overseas.

Chowdown Report: Rodney Scott in Exile Tour @ 4505 Meats BBQ in SF

I wish I'd tried the hog with Scott's spicy vinegar seasoning. The pork I had was rather sweet. The brisket was quite good and didn't require any of the three sauces that were on the table.

The weather sure didn't put anyone off. Lines got pretty long it seemed. Great to see other hounds enjoying the BBQ for a good cause.

Btw, there were also pickles on the plate. Here's a picture of mine. (I got there early, so initially they were only handing out plates with brisket and fixins on them.)

4505 Meats to take over the former Brother In Laws/Da Pitt BBQ at 705 Divisadero [San Francisco]

Any idea what the different tickets indicate? There are Pit Patron ($20), Pit Believe ($50), and Pit Master ($100) tickets. Are these just different donation levels and all get you a plate of pig?

Mountain View for Two Weeks

Their website says they are temporarily closed awaiting patio seating. (In this season?) Peering through the windows, it looks more like the interior is being renovated, so it might actually be a goner. I guess there's always Muracci's in Los Altos for a curry fix.

Mountain View for Two Weeks

The last location of The Workshop in Palo Alto also seems to have gone under as well. It was papered over when I walked by on Tuesday. I guess the Mountain View location shutting down was just a preview of things to come.

Mountain View for Two Weeks

Presumably that's the Masa Sushi from San Antonio Rd.? I haven't checked, but I could see them wanting to move out of that building what with the fire that pushed Dittmer's out.

Any place one can buy Kouign Amann in SF?

Now that's a thing of beauty. Looks like I'm going have to try some other places to see how good they can be without actually having to fly to Paris or Brittany!

Any place one can buy Kouign Amann in SF?

I tried one at Chromatic yesterday and found it to be dry on the inside as well. If gooey on the interior is expected, I'm guessing they switched suppliers or I need to get there earlier than 2:30 p.m. to make sure they haven't dried out.

XLB and SJB at Shanghai Dumpling in Cupertino

Went there a couple of nights ago. The SJB had a very lightly browned crust on them. Nothing like the dark brown crust I got from street vendors or an awesome place near the World Expo in Shanghai, but acceptable. They're larger than the ones I got in Shanghai.

Steamers @ Tokyo Fish Market, Berkeley

Thanks for the tip. I used to bring them back with me when I returned from business trips to the Boston area, but the TSA has put the kibosh on that.

Arinell Pizza - big disappointment (SF Misson)

There's a certain nostalgia for Arinell's from Cal students who remember it as the place for a quick bite on the way from BART to campus. Heck, I started eating there at the age of 8 when I would get a slice while waiting for Humphrey Gobart to take me to the Lawrence Hall of Science.

My suggestion: double sausage and then doctor the slice with garlic powder, oregano, parmesan, and black pepper. Happiness. :-)

Cijjo: Gastronomic small plates, downtown Mountain View

I ate there the other night. I had the sweetbreads (yay, a restaurant with sweetbreads regularly on the menu in Mountain View!), burrata, and the pork belly. I enjoyed the sweetbreads which were served fried and plated over a stripe of a chunky tomato sauce. The tomato sauce was somewhat mild, but I was told they are experimenting with livening it up. The burrata was served over sliced, roasted beets and a slash of pesto. The combination was dynamite. The pork belly came with a cantaloupe puree and pickled carrots and daikon over frisee. This was the only dish that I thought didn't gel as a combination of flavors -- it was a bit bland as separate components and it was difficult to get the elements into my mouth together to enhance the complexity. The staff and the owner were wonderful about soliciting my input on all of the dishes and communicated my thoughts to the chef. I'm impressed by their attentiveness and interest in improving the menu.

I'm definitely going back -- the flamme, marrow bones, and oxtails are on the top of my list of things I want to try.