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Imm Thai, Berkeley

That's just how much Thai food costs out there, crazy, I know. Restaurants there in the burbs are way more expensive on average then out here.

They do have the little condiment trays, but you have to ask: chili garlic sauce; chili vinegar; ground dried chili; and one other thing.

Imm Thai, Berkeley

It's very good here. The broth has excellent body from a true stock, and the sweet and sour seasoning is well balanced. The default spiciness was moderate, and I added some ground dried chili. The roast pork with red char siu coloring was very good, as was the ground pork. Minced green bean, peanut and pork rinds were all present. I know this dish from LA. Thai Town restaurants as Tom Yum Noodle Soup, or occasionally Hoy Ka noodle; only recently have I heard the name Sukothai noodles. No offal here; in LA some places include liver, pork balls, and/or fish cake. I've also had it with little dried shrimp, but it's fundamentally a pork soup. Ran Kanom in San Pablo also does it, but it doesn't quite have the punch of my favorite places; it's still good enough that I'll order it regularly. Imm Thai's is better, as good as my Hollywood favorites. Looking forward to trying some other things there too. It's attractively decorated now, too, and the restaurant overall smells great. It's surprising how often restaurants with this type of menu have all sorts of non-food smells impinging on the experience. At least on this one visit, it just smelled like some great tasty cooking.

Khao Mun Gai

May also be the chickens they use too, the "Chinese" chickens are more gamey.

You should try a couple of Vietnamese places. E.g. Pho Ao Sen in Oakland. Many serve a chicken rice and almost always I've found them to be the most chicken-y in terms of the rice. They typically will serve only a ginger-garlic sauce rather than the Thai bean sauce.

I used to like it at Sawooei Thai in El Cerrito but I don't think they make it anymore. It wasn't super chicken-y but it also included some warm spice aromas that were very nice.

Recently I visited the "famous" Savoy Kitchen in the San Gabriel Valley (LA County) and would love to know a similar place around here.

Looking for small 6-8 oz. cans of Sauerkraut in the Eastbay?

Don't know if you want shelf stable, but Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods now carry at least two producers of fresh sauerkraut, many of which come in smaller containers. In particular I am thinking of Sonoma Brinery which I buy in small containers for 2.50-3.50, and which are very nice. The volume is similar to the smallest cans of kraut.

Mochi at Yuen Hop (Oakland Chinatown)

I have bought them within the past few months at the Cam Huong sandwich shop on Webster between 9th and 10th. This is distinct from the bakery a block or two north. I would guess that the Cam Huong on International would have them too, but can't say that I've seen them there.

These are quite perishable- I had one left on the third day and it had started sprouting a fine mold. It was still pretty warm then. Enjoy quickly.

Michel Bistro - Oakland

Thanks for the info on the Peyros.

I was confused about the cheese, I didn't read my menu closely enough, or just forgot. I guess it could have been aged white cheddar, but it really tasted like the white part of a firm blue (but no blue streaks) or less-salty feta. Anyway, I didn't like the cheese on it. I generally order burgers without cheese anyway, this was just unpleasant and distracted from the rest of the burger for me.

Michel Bistro - Oakland

Tried this, enjoyed it a lot. Moderate barnyard/leather otherwise fairly juicy cherry/plum. Very smooth, presumably due to the age? Or maybe the vinification? I have not had a lot of Madiran, so don't really know the baseline.

I enjoyed the lamb burger, especially the Vadouvan, but I've decided that I am done with Feta or hard blue on burgers. Tartare was also good. Nice atmosphere, a good addition to the neighborhood. I especially appreciate the price point and portion size.

Comal - Berkeley

I would prefer that too, but unless or until non tipping becomes standard it's probably better to do it this way. I hate tipping too, and would prefer a fixed service charge included in all prices.

China Village (Albany) is open!

Went a couple more times since this post; one for a large group lunch. Especially the latter meal I did not have any service issues. Food was consistent, good, and would not hesitate to go back. It's now been much longer since I've been to Ancient Sichuan, so would hesitate to recommend that over CV.

Best Khao Soi in SF?

The lauded Kin Khao downtown has it on the menu- organic/sustainable, etc. I have not had it, but if you don't mind spending more for quality and refinement, this may be your place.

Outside of SF, Ran Kanom in San Pablo had one of the best gravies I'd had in the area, albeit a little salty. The one I had had chicken drumsticks though I think they offer an option for other cuts. Few noodles, I was a little hungry after lunch.

Chai Thai in Oakland has a good soup, almost as good as Ran Kanom but cruder, not too salty (called Chiang Mai Noodles or Thai Khao Soy) Noodles are abundant but not that good. I haven't been to the related Thai House/House of Thai restaurants in years, so will refrain from comment. Thai Noodle (Berkeley) also has it, but soup is bland, noodles low quality ramen noodles. I like other stuff there but not this.

Lao restaurants all seem to have Kao Soy, but it's always a bean paste based broth without yellow curry or coconut- you might be interested in trying Kao Poon, which has coconut, but not yellow curry, and strong bamboo flavor.

Good luck and post back with whatever you find. Your picture looks great.

Classic Guilin Rice Noodles - Oakland Chinatown

I really enjoyed this dish. Between soupçon's blog and liuzhou laowai's blog I felt very compelled to try this ASAP. The dominant note on first tasting is of the sour fermented bamboo shoots, and those who find this flavor too stronger funky may not like it. I am not as sure about the savory soup base, I did not distinctly note black bean though it very well may be; roasted dry chili sauce and the beef and pork sautéed with ginger and black pepper were strong elements. The tomato slices and green vegetable (a lettuce like A-tsai) were welcome contrast. The offal had to be gizzard, probably chicken. My wife noted how the many elements assembled last minute created many layers of flavor, and these flavors were bold, not at all subtle. We also appreciated that there are many accompaniments here that could be had for $1.50-$3, which encouraged ordering and sharing.

I had been here once before to try the classic Guilin rice noodles and also liked it. My experience was similar to others with those noodles.

Highly recommended.

Comal - Berkeley

I didn't read this or the Inside Scoop article closely enough, but I went to Trou Normand this week and there was no mandatory service charge and everything was still conventionally tipped. I though it was good- impressed that all the meat is butchered and cured in house, and the pork chop was very good, but it was a little spendy for me.

Where to buy nama age deep fried tofu in Berkeley?

You want deep fried tofu cubes, is that right? Typically the braised stuff is not then also deep fried, and tends to be denser. In any case, I agree with Tokyo Fish and Berkeley Bowl; in Richmond 99 Ranch has every variant of prepared tofu. My wife prefers to deep fry her own; I understand if you'd rather skip, but it does allow you to get it how you like it.

I want to say that I've seen small cubes of fried tofu at Whole Foods as well, but since I never buy it I am not sure.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Stopped by the Local 123 airstream at Albany Flowerland- super pleasant on a warm afternoon, and noticed that they're roasting their own beans now- similar to Flying Goat, maybe a tad lighter than FG's "2.5 Wave" as I remember it. Haven't been to the San Pablo cafe in some time, but would assume that these beans are on offer there too.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Don't believe so, though many have been influenced by their experiences as consumers.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/...

Bouchon in Yountville

Had a really nice California Italian meal at Ciccio in Yountville last weekend. Guanciale and brussels sprouts pizza, porchetta, roasted cauliflower and Jimmy Nardello peppers were all outstanding (four separate dishes). Arancini were good. Compares favorably in execution to my local favorite Pizzaiolo in Oakland. Casual, friendly service.

Blood Sausage / Morcilla

Barlata has always had it on their menu, though they are closing soon.

Newish place Venga Paella also has it on the menu.

In my limited experience, the Korean product is not a good sub if you are craving Spanish/Latin sausages. Very different. Look into any Argentinian/brazilian places you can find, too.

Champa Garden (Oakland) report

Google is really great for public transit. Have used it all over the world; a lot of times they can even tell you when the next bus or train is etc. etc.

Bar Tartine Fall 2014 [San Francisco]

I understand your point about acidity. I am known for liking sour drinks and foods. I make liberal use of vinegar in cooking and as a condiment; I never fail to add lime to my pho or bo kho; I miss acidity as a component of my beloved boat noodles at establishments that don't include it by default. I love a good choucroute garnie and will eat it down to the last shred of sauerkraut.

That said, many of the individual dishes bordered on unbalanced in acidity, to me. And certainly the meal overall was notably unbalanced in that way. I don't make a fetish of balance; one of my most enjoyable meals recently was a starter of a loaf-style blood pudding with warm spices, and a main of a savory/spicy traditional blood sausage. That's a lot of the same.

I didn't mention the cocktail that I had that was also acidic without balancing body or sweetness. Many bad cocktails are very sour (too much citrus) and then have a ton of simple syrup to poorly balance that out. In contrast, the Bar Tartine cocktail was thin and spare, acidic from the fruit and lactic whey. It had very little body, I would not be surprised if there was no added sugar, and certainly nothing like egg white. I can totally imagine that some people would identify that spareness as a positive aesthetic choice, but to me I appreciated the conception but missed too much some balancing sweetness and/or body. The Linden St. Biere de Tartine, in contrast was an excellent complement to the food. It's a dark sour, but the heavy malt body provides a balancing sweetness.

The various threads are interesting in that they do seem to identify acidity and/or the perception of acidity as one of the key fault lines in terms of BT appreciation. I cannot tell based on one visit whether or not this is due to variance in cooking or variance in customer preferences or variance in customer taste perception. If I had to guess, I would rank in order of importance: preference; perception; cooking. But again that's just a guess.

Bar Tartine Fall 2014 [San Francisco]

I see that I was pretty confusing in that sentence. I should have wrote something like: "Like other restaurants at that level it sources high quality ingredients, is food centered and not a scene, but it is creative and its menu is differentiated from most." I don't necessarily mean that it is more creative than other places, just that it is different.

I had in my mind high-end casual California Italian like Pizzaiolo in the East Bay, but perhaps you're right, it should be compared more to the places you mention. It's certainly quite a bit more expensive than the places I usually go to.

The potatoes had the chewy skin you describe, due to the smoking no doubt. I wouldn't have described them as mealy, though they were somewhat dry, again due to the smoking I am sure. I kind of think they'd be better with a lighter smoke or different smoking technique so that they retained more moisture.

Bar Tartine Fall 2014 [San Francisco]

I was inspired to visit this place by last week's hilarious thread.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9900...

Having read some comments here on Chowhound I had some idea what to expect but didn't really know where I would fall on the scale. I have to say that I probably am right in the middle. Robert Lauriston and others noted a couple times that there is a strong emphasis on sour flavors and I certainly concur. The apple and beet soup was almost shockingly so, probably because of the addition of what appeared to be a very actively fermenting red cabbage sauerkraut. After I got over the tartness it kind of grew on me and my companion, which sort of surprised me. I have been known to snack on small bowls of sauerkraut in the evening, whilst she often complains about excessively sour foods. Other than the sour, each of the elements of beet apple and sour cream or whatever that dairy was were fairly mild and contrasted with each other without being super assertive.

Flatbread with mushrooms and farmer's cheese was surpisingly good. It looked like it was in danger of veering into oversauced soggy grossness but it actually held up very well and the thick layer of melting fresh cheese became like a very rich white sauce that managed not to overpower the mushrooms. Can't remember the spinach, though.

Beef tartare was pretty disappointing. The seeded crackers were too seedy for me and didn't enhance the tartare. The green tzatziki didn't have that much flavor other than sour from the yougurt I guess. Not sure what the green was. The tartare itself seemed kind of bland- the main element seemed to be tiny cross-cut rounds of pickled green beans.

I liked the smoked potatoes, the overall effect of the black garlic sauce plus smoking did make it seem like barbeque. Did not much appreciate the flavored mayo or aioli on the side.

The other dish we liked was the black cod with green chili sauce, greens and mushrooms. The broth had a fishy umami to it, I wonder if there was kombu or dried bonito used in it, or if it all came from the piece of black cod. Anyway it was very nice along with the very nice lightly cooked greens and mushrooms. Though again, with a surprising acid base, I think lemon.

I don't obsess over bread, but I do enjoy a nice Acme rustic or pain epis with decent butter. The tartine bread I can see is justly praised with a moist, fluffy flavorful crumb and crisp crust. I don't know about best in the world, but I won't argue. I thought the cultured butter was ehh.

Atmosphere was pleasant; service was also pleasant and largely unobtrusive, though a couple times it took a minute longer to get some attention when I wanted it. Overall I can totally see the judgment that Bar Tartine can be polarizing; everything was executed with care and skill and quality ingredients, but the surprising presence of acidity almost everywhere seems likely to annoy a lot of people. It surprises me only a little that there are so many people who love it- it's creative and fairly differentiated from most of the other restaurants at that level- high quality ingredients, food centered, not a scene; but honestly, it surprises me that there aren't more naysayers. The specific flavor profiles of the dishes I tried do not seem like they would go over well with even the majority of "foodie" types. I like sour stuff, and it started to get to me a little bit.

I'm glad I tried it and could go back again, but I'm not in a hurry.

Another recent try:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7841...

Lost & Found Beer Garden - Oakland

Thanks a lot.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

I haven't been for a long while, guess I'll have to stop by and check it out, thanks.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Are you sure Cole roasts their own? I bought their beans for 15 years as Royal then Cole and always thought that they were roasted by McLaughlin, which has relationships with Royal Coffee (the Emeryville green bean importer). I used to go to the cafe all the time, and people used to tell me that Bette's blend at Bette's Oceanview is the same as Max's blend from McLaughlin. From my perspective it's all hearsay, I don't have direct knowledge, but I feel like I heard this many times over the years.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

In one of my other posts I mentioned that Cole is roasted by Royal Coffee, actually I believe the roaster is McLaughlin coffee in Emeryville. Cole Coffee used to be called Royal Coffee before an ownership change.

Anyone seen this brand? Sze Chuan chili Paste from Taiwan

Thanks for the tip. It's a good cooking fermented chili paste; works well in Sichuan cooking like ma po tofu. Good salty-umami fermented chili flavor in contrast to non-fermented sauces.

Anyone seen this brand? Sze Chuan chili Paste from Taiwan

Bought this some time ago at 99 ranch Richmond. Have not seen it since. It's our favorite for cooking, a smoothish paste of fermented chili with some seeds. It's possible I've missed seeing it as well; hints as to last sighting also appreciated.

East bay preferred but all suggestions welcome.

Lost & Found Beer Garden - Oakland

Any more recent reports? Reasonable to have a group meal here? Or eat elsewhere, stop by for beer?

Any clear images of a recent beer list? Yelp is pretty blurry for menus.

Baby friendly craft beer East Bay/ SF

I find that I can only get babies to take sweet porters and Belgians without sour. I have seen babies crawling about Hog's Apothecary, and agree that the Dock might work- certainly it seems pretty mellow in the early evening. Barclay's of course has a long list and is family friendly though the food is not as good.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

I'd definitely agree that there's still a large range of variation in the final product, a substantial amount of which lies within the beans. But at the same time the range of possible flavor profiles for a given bean is very large and contracts as the roast progresses.