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Ran Kanom Thai Noodle - San Pablo

I noticed that there's a change of ownership application in the window. Different waitstaff this time, but I saw one of the same ladies in the back as on my previous visits.

Boat noodle still good, though maybe less strong herby-hot-sour than my last try.

I also noticed the new menu and look forward to trying additional dishes. The additional dishes make it more like my Hollywood favorites.

1 day ago
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Pakistani restaurants: any regional specialties?

I feel like Kabana and Indus Village are comparable in taste to Lahore karahi and Tayyab's in London.

Apr 10, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Pakistani restaurants: any regional specialties?

I went to a place in Dublin called biryani pointe that may be hyderabadi. It's part of a national chain of 15 or so restaurants, two of which an Indian from India friend likes lot. It was good, about half the dishes I thought were excellent. There's another in Santa Clara and a similarly named but I think unrelated Hyderabad biiryani pointe in Milpitas.

I particularly liked the chicken 65 and gobi manchurian and the goat curry.

Apr 10, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

The Punchdown - Oakland "natural" wine bar

There is a wine bar there now but it's called 1621 or something like that. Haven't been.

Apr 02, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Is it true that SF restaurants barely make profits?

Or the crowdfunding sites where money is "invested" for no interest in the business, and little or no real obligation from the funded.

Someone should start a funding site that actually can handle true equity interests. Does that exist? Too much lawyering, maybe.

Apr 02, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle - San Pablo

Made it up here a few times. Very promising, thai noodle dishes v. Similar to my Hollywood/San Fernando Valley favorites. Beef boat noodle excellent, I like that they have large and small size. Zen Yai in the Tenderloin may be slightly better due to broth complexity and meat/offal selection, but this is a close second. Balanced hot/sour flavones without adjustment. Chicken tom yum noodle v. Good, again close second to zen Yai. No other close version I know if in east bay/sf.

Enjoyed the flavor and consistency of the kao soy "gravy" but could have been slightly thinner and more voluminous. The opposite problem of most bland soupy versions around here. Did not like the dry egg noodles. I can accept it as a garnish, but the bulk of the noodles were also quite dry.

Packed leftovers from the steam table $5. Really like the morning glory with pork, in a sweet sour coconut milk sauce, slightly spicy. Jungle curry was good. Turmeric and pork stir fry also had good flavor but a little too salty for me.

Store sells Thai lays potato chips. 4-5 flavors including (I think) nam prik pao. I think there's also nam kao flavor bu I'm not sure.

Neither google maps nor apple maps could find it for me but it's in the same center as Sam Pablo Supermarket. Beware apple maps on this one.

Mar 31, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Souk Savanh Restaurant, lao and thai cuisine [Oakland]

I think there was a management or at least staff change, including cooks, over the past year, but it has been still as good as before, at least for the things I always order. See the other posts.

This is a place where "medium"is plenty for me 90% of the time.

Mar 31, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Is it true that SF restaurants barely make profits?

I certainly agree with this post.

Mar 31, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Is it true that SF restaurants barely make profits?

I don't know a lot about restaurants specifically, but It kind of amazes me that this discussion largely doesn't recognize the difference between net profit margin and return on investment. Someone pointed put revenue does not equal profit, but neither does it equal invested capital. Furthermore, the nature of the invested capital matters. If there is significant debt, that creates additional pressure on the operating margin. An owner-operator, paying herself a salary that is counted against operating costs, as it should be, might be satisfied with a sub-5% profit margin, depending of course on the amount and nature of the invested capital. Here is where discussions of the nature of the investors belong. Equity investments that only draw dividends from profits clearly have different effects than a bank loan or guaranteed investor dividends based on revenue.

There are plenty of going, profitable concerns that get by with operating margins in the 1.5-3.5% range. These tend to be large corporations with very large revenues, but you would be correct to suppose that the 1.5-3.5% would be unsatisfactory if it were ROI or ROIC.

Mar 31, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area
1

BBQ Hut at 6400 Shattuck. [Oakland]

Each time I've gotten them they are large baby back, decent amount of meat compared to say a chain parboiled baby back. Most of the bones more like a smaller St. Louis cut.

Mar 19, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Beer Lao, beerlao in SF

I can't get over how much I like Beerlao dark... I think I was introduced to this at Champa Garden in the early days , 2008 or earlier. Now mostly get it at Souk Savanh, occasionally Chai Thai when they have it. Would still love to be able to buy cases in Oakland, but will check out San Pablo Supermarktet if I get up to Ran Kanom.

The well chosen and medium roasted dark malt, lightened further with rice make this an awesome beer to go with the cuisine. Caramel notes are emphasized in the aftertaste, and it doesn't have any of the smokey notes more common in the current american fashion of dark lagers. Just much lighter overall.

Mar 12, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle - San Pablo

I think that pad thai and see ewe are normally not hot, though you are always welcome to doctor it up. So when ordered spicy it may not make the most sense. In contrast, pad kee Mao and boat noodle are dishes which are meant to be spicy. In thai town LA I have given up on ordering spicy and stick to medium. Places here I know to be more receptive, including some of the oakland Lao places, I also stick to medium.

I think the thin rice noodle "sen lek" or rice stick, is the most common type in this dish, based on my research ( I've not been to Thailand) but to be offered a choice is common. The other choice would be "wide, flat" or ho fun. Egg noodles do not make sense in this dish. Anyway, I am obsessed with boat noodle, and will have to make a point of getting up there soon. Current fave is Zen Yai in the Tenderloin, but mostly go to. Thai Noodle or Bangkok Noodle in Berkeley, Sawooei in ElCerrito. None of these are top tier, all too mild and without any acidity in the base. Thai noodle comes closest, Sawooei is a v. Good beef noodle soup on its own terms.

Mar 12, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

BBQ Hut at 6400 Shattuck. [Oakland]

I've been here three times now. Really enjoying it. The smoking is skillful and strong, but with a finesse and cleanness that is lacking at smokey j's lately and certainly at Everett and jones Berkeley. It tastes "clean" to me but not in the way that a place like Smoke does.

Brisket well chosen and fatty enough- it makes a difference. I curse the preference for lean that afflicts so many of the places here in CA. Baby back ribs, yes, but smoked to toothsome, not falling off. Was impressed by the mahogany effect combined with just salt and pepper. Links were good, semi coarse. I still prefer KC BBQ for those.

Chicken and rice Boudin, a special , was delicious.

Sauce was very good, fresh tasting vinegar and tomato base in mild or spicy. Spicy not as hot as smokey j's spicy. Tarter than KC BBQ.

Potato sale to me could have used more pickle or acidity. Not my fave. Standard southern "chunky mash" style but with some BBQ rub in it. Collards were plain vinegar cooked, but good in that context. Beans not my fave, but would order each time as a side.

Beer and wine.

I've noted in other BBQ threads that I've become a Texas partisan but this place works for me too.

Mar 12, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Bluebottle Opens new store in Oakland on Broadway near 40th

I have not been a fan of Blue Bottle, preferring Four Barrel, Ritual and even Bicycle and Verve. However, as an Oakland resident I would go to the Jack London cafe/roastery every couple of months to sample. However, I live quite near the new Morse building cafe and have the strong impression that the pour over coffee I've had there 3-4 times now has been better than at their other venues (JLS, mint, ferry bldg.) not sure why this would be since I am sure the beans are the same but maybe the skill level is better, or they are using a different amount of beans per cup?

Anyway, I like it, but their single origin roasts are much more than I want to pay regularly for.

Mar 12, 2014
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Jook - SF Dish of the Month December 2013

Are you using medium grain rice? I never get good texture with long grain, but the common calrose variety works great. I always finish on the stove so I can control consistency.

Dec 13, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Shanghai fish gluten

Definitely sounds like wheat gluten. In Taiwanese restaurants in the DC metro area it's common to find both gluten puffs- big and kind of slimy and light with sauce, but also variants mixing gluten, crumbled soft tofu, and seafood (crab seems most common) in a clear sauce.Does that sound anything like what you had?

Nov 05, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Sura in Temescal (on Telegraph)

I also found it closed at lunch about a month ago.

Oct 03, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Makgeolli Anyone?

I bought a $4 bottle at Koreana with millet grain infusion and it has to be one of the worst tasting drinks I've had ever. The bottle had a 1 year shelf life printed on it- commercial product imported from Korea.

It's also on the menu at Holy Cow Cafe, Oakland.

Sep 30, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

wine storage

cannot recommend anything personally, but have seen "wine storage" banners off of the 580 freeway in the Livermore area. Googling brings up some references for climate controlled, monitored storage.

Sep 13, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Indie coffeehouses

Well, clearly then we're speaking of different decades altogether. Also, when I talk about coffee I am talking mostly about brewed coffee. I do think in a lot of these threads we're talking past each other due to differing assumptions: espresso/brewed; not to mention the whole roast styles debate. It's my opinion that there are not clear ideals for these things, merely a range of preferences and we would do well to be clearer about this from the outset.

I don't mean to defend Starbucks particularly, but I do think it is worth noting how the beast has changed over the years. I certainly don't want to discount it's relationship to Peet's, which is pretty well documented and not at issue.

Sep 10, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Indie coffeehouses

Roma's the one at Ashby

Sep 10, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Indie coffeehouses

I can believe that; it certainly was at the time roasted distinctly a notch or two less dark than Peet's. I guess that's still true even today. By the same token, if someone who likes Starbucks finds Peet's roasts too dark, they would consider it a step down from Starbucks.

What I really remember from the early to mid 90's in Starbucks was that they still cared to emphasize sourcing by region (though not producer necessarily). They could still do that and it showed. Now it's all about Blend 1 Blend 2 Blend 3 simply because of their needed volumes.

Sep 10, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Indie coffeehouses

I moved to the East Bay in 1993, spending a lot of time in Berkeley, and all the most prominent places as well as obvious indie places on Southside and Northside (esp. Strada, Milano and a few others on Telegraph) served awful coffee. Starbucks at the time was really a step up, and at the time a totally different beast than it is now. There were less than 200 stores around then, but it just began the explosive growth following the IPO. (I think there were 2000 stores before the year 2000, and there must be at least 5 times that now). I was a regular Starbucks drinker in that period and felt it started out clearly better in terms of black coffee than post of the other places I would go to in those days (only occasionally made it to Peet's, which I found still too dark) and stayed so at least until 1996 or so. Around then I switched to Royal Coffee (McLaughlin) Max's Blend, which was my standard for another 12 years or so.

I am a recent convert (2 years) to the 3rd wave style that many of you don't like. That also goes to show how important individual tastes are in the whole question.

Realistically, supermarket canned coffee and similar commodity coffee is still the dominant coffee by sales and consumption volume in the country. Starbucks/Peets/other 2nd wave chains are differentiated over that in the minds of most people including significant fractions of Bay Area residents, even in the East Bay and SF. Most people are happy with their Starbucks and its ubiquity and consistency. Most people don't care that much about searching out an Indie coffee shop that they like.

Look, I roast my own coffee these days and brew mostly by individual drip. The reality is that Starbucks is good enough for most people who want something other than random diner coffee or Folger's.

Sep 10, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area
1

best dark roast coffee beans in Berkeley / Oakland area

Well, it's much darker than any Blue Bottle roast. I don't drink much dark roast any more, but that (the 1950) was one of my favorite darks toward the end.

I visit Blue Bottle from time to time but I never like anything I get there as much as I do most Four Barrel and Ritual beans.

I've also been roasting my own at home. Fun and comparatively inexpensive.

Sep 09, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Late night East Bay, re-visited

Holy Moly Cafe and Lounge, 4390 Telegraph Koryo Plaza, 1 am Mon-Sun. Recent visit for Korean wings was quite promising. Crispy, decent amount of sauce/glaze especially on the soy-garlic

Sep 06, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

best dark roast coffee beans in Berkeley / Oakland area

Supposedly most electric drip coffee makers end up spraying the water out too cold. The coffee I make at home on a Technivorm electric brewer or pour over at 205F tastes better than the pour over I make at work with the hot water out of the Bunn (195F).

The Technivorm is supposedly one that is hot enough. If that is all true, it's probably to do with the location and/or insulation of the "boil out" tube leading to the spray head. The Technivorm's is air insulated while most of the cheaper brewers I've had route through the water tank which must affect temperature.

The Chemex filters are heavier are have a reputation for brewing slightly differently than other paper. I would assume due to longer residence but I don't use one myself, though I have often drunk coffee from Chemex.

I've always liked Verve's 1950 blend.

Sep 04, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Tribune Tavern Debut [Oakland]

Went a couple times in the May-June timeframe. My experience was in between Robert's and Shanghaikid's. Drinks were in general good. Did not like a mint julep inspired concoction, but really liked their milk punch a lot (a clarified milk recipe served as a larger portion). Had some interesting wines on tap, the one we tried was quite good.

Food wasn't quite there. I like the general direction of the menu, but execution seemed a little off. Hamburger was the best thing I had, could have used better meat and/or a little more seasoning. Cooked correctly medium rare on request. Shepherd's pie was a little dry and could have used a little more herbs or spice and salt. Charcuterie plate was good. Short ribs again seemed like a decent recipe but ended up a little lacking in oomph almost as if the sauce was a little dilute.

Service was so so the first time and downright bad the second. We waited so long even to order we had to find the hostess again to get a manager to get us our server; even then long stretches with no contact. They did end up comping us our drinks.

I would try again, but mainly in hopes the food execution gets better. I am more tolerant of bad service than my partner, I don't think she'll go back unless I tell her reports have greatly improved.

Sep 03, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Souk Savanh Restaurant, lao and thai cuisine [Oakland]

I go here pretty regularly since the last post.

Pad Kee Mao is my favorite in the area. Medium is plenty spicy for me, occasionally bordering on my limits for pleasant heat. The only thing that might improve it is if it got a little wok char, but that might be difficult with the way the noodles are seasoned, which is much of what I like about the dish.

Kao poon katee is the other thing I really love about this place. One of the best SE Asian coconut curry broth based noodles that I know of in the East bay. Bamboo shoots add their distinct flavor. I add their hot roast chili paste and fried shallots and garlic to taste.

Nam kao one of the better versions that I've had in terms of the rice ball itself, as noted below very nice and crispy. Lettuce could have been dried better and other places give more herbs; only mint here I think.

Nuer kem (beef jerky) pretty good. Fried garlic ribs pretty good. I like their jaew (lime-chili sauce).

Beerlao dark almost always available. One of the cheapest restaurants I go to regularly.

Aug 22, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area

Southeast Asian Fish in Banana Leaf - SF Dish of the Month August 2013

This is not a category of dishes that I usually order, but recently had:

Mok Pa at Souk Savanh: The fish is basa and the marinade is green herbs dominated by dill. I did not notice the lemongrass as much. I enjoyed it, but I don't like dill that much and probably wouldn't order it again. About $8. Souk Savanh is one of my favorite restaurants these days; I've mentioned it in other threads. They almost always have beerlao dark.

Pepes Udang at Jayakarta: This was a big surprise to me. A friend was recommending it but I kept thinking the otak otak, which I have had in the past and which I find good but not great. The pepes udang (shrimp) I think has the same marinade as the ikan; turmeric and lemongrass and some alliums. Really delicious and savory in contrast to the herbiness of the Souk Savanh mok pa. Would order again no question, will try the fish next time.

Aug 22, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Astonishing condiment at Ao Sen [Oakland]

believe that it could be considered "Satay Chiu Chow" or "Sa Te Trieu Chau" in a broad sense. You can buy this in jars in Asian markets, but most of the brands don't have as much lemongrass.

Aug 20, 2013
twocents in San Francisco Bay Area