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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.


Donut Savant in Oakland has the Cron't. I brought an assortment to the office recently and while I didn't snag one, someone who did and has had the original has said the taste was very similar. I did not bring any filled ones though.

The donuts I did try impressed me with their sophistication in terms of batter recipes and ingredients.

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

"Why do I like Four Barrel and Sightglass, but not Blue Bottle or Peet’s?"

Let me take a stab at it:

Second wave coffee as represented by Starbucks and Peet's is roasted very dark, typically right up to if not into second crack. There is more than a hint of carbonization present at these levels, and their coffee has typically been brewed with higher bean to water ratios than typical old school "bad" coffee. At more than twenty years old now, second wave dark roast is the reference style for many who are now coffee enthusiasts with their daily Starbucks or Peet's or others. At this level of roasting, differences in beans are greatly reduced, broadly reducing the differences between beans of varying quality not to mention terroir and acidity.

The Third Wave roasters, are generally and correctly thought of as lighter roasts than second wave. But to call it lighter is misleadingly simple, setting it up as a binary difference rather than a very broad range from barely into first crack to just short of second crack. In this style differences in bean quality are preserved as are differences in terroir, especially acidity. Especially at the lighter side of lighter roasts, acidic beans remain very acidic and if you don't care for that, it's going to suck.

I no longer care for Peet's or most Starbucks because I no longer really tolerate any hint of carbonization. I also feel like they brew their coffee a little too strong for my taste (too much beans per cup).

Four Barrel is one of my favorites because their main target roast seems to be on the darker side of Third wave; never reaching any hint of carbonization but definitely to the point that carmelization is apparent and a strong note on the same level as the beans' floral and fruity qualities. Because of this roast level and probably bean selection they tend to be low acidity as well.

Sightglass is similar in roast, maybe a bit lighter, though their bean selection sometimes seems to emphasize acidic "bright" coffees, which I enjoy less but maybe you like more.

Blue bottle roasts also into this range, lighter than Four Barrel perhaps. The problem I have with Blue Bottle seems to be some combination of bean selection and brew practice. I almost never drink the coffee and think, "oh that's tasty". To me it typically lacks any distinct fruit or floral profiles as well as carmelization. I think they also brew it lighter than I normally like (less beans).

A lot of newer roasters like Flying Goat and Verve, and a lot of Seattle roasters like Zoka seem to me to fall between Second and Third wave, distinctly darker with often a hint of carbonization but less than Starbucks/Peet's.

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

If you guys like darker, that was probably the reason why you didn't go with the Behmor- they very clearly discourage you from going into second crack. That said, I've pushed beans up to and through second crack without fire, though if you have a high chaff bean it could be a problem.

Those were accidents where I became distracted; normally I stop the roast within 2.5 mins of the peak of the first crack.

Also you pretty much have to run their cooling program, so total time is longer.

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

"you like what you know" is both regional and historical; witness the striking differences between the coffee culture in Seattle and Portland; two cities that to outsiders differ in size and scale but are otherwise remarkably similar. Even newer roasters in Seattle average much darker than the Portland players, and result of the strong second wave coffee culture already established where Portland I guess rode the third wave to become a or the North American epicenter of that trend.

Regarding brewing techniques, I've become pretty jaded by single pour over, but I still prefer paper filter over French press, and have enjoyed aeropress as well. I think it's interesting that a lot of the newer coffee bars that feature rotating roasters are going back towards commercial brewers, especially Fetco, that get they temperature and extraction just right on a commercial scale. I use a technivorm at home now but still do Clever dripper if i just want a cup at work.

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

Here's a 2010 thread that you may find relevant, though dated. A number of links and similar general discussion.

In that thread I describe a little my conversion to third wave over Cole Coffee (roasted by Royal Coffee). My favorites have been Four Barrel and Ritual, less so Sightglass (somewhat lighter and fruit forward) and Verve (somewhat darker perhaps closer to second wave). In the past year I've been roasting my own and have been struck by how much better it is than most bags of Four Barrel that I buy, depending on the origin. Because of the own roasting, I'm not up on the newer places, but I have liked Contraband (SF) and Chromatic (SJ). In general I find most darker roasts unpalatable now (Cole/Royal, Peets, Starbucks). It sounds like you prefer lighter roasts; once you swing into that range there's so much variation in the degree of roast and the bean origin and quality matters so much too.

I'm a Blue Bottle non-fan; I don't hate it, but it never really impresses. I sometimes go to the Webster headquarters, sometimes to the new Broadway location, which I find to be more consistent. I think it must be a combination of bean selection and brewing method (bean to water ratio) that throws it off for me.

If you're not getting good results at home, maybe you want to look into optimizing your brew method; if you like French press make sure your water is hot enough and you may want to get a "sweater" for your pot. I prefer paper filter and use a technivorm or a Clever pour over with water just off the boil.

Very high quality green beans are 5.50-7 a lb from Sweet Maria's in Oakland, if you're willing to learn to roast.

Another thread from last year highlighting the "rise" of Starbucks and conflict with indie coffeehouses in the bay; this is a separate issue than second wave vs. third wave.

Where I can I get good dry aged steaks?

FWIW I just had the $24/lb dry aged rib eye from Oakland WF and it was good. I don't think they are aged for a very long time, but enough to get some of the intensification of flavor, and either young enough or well trimmed to minimize the funkiness.

Not Dim Sum brunch after getting off plane

Sorry about that. It is the major surface road (CA highway 82) running north-south on the Peninsula, crossing through most of the towns along the way.

Not Dim Sum brunch after getting off plane

I would trust the city building garages, especially Embarcadero plaza, more than I would the open lots, though no place would be risk free.

In this case you might just drive to El Camino Real, just west of the airport running north-south. Lots of restaurants, many with parking out in front, surburban style. I don't really eat there, so have no specific recommendations though. Maybe some people can chime in. I see diners, Chinese, Viet, Mexican amongst others.

Pickings are thicker heading south, but it's a quick jaunt back to the highway.

Not Dim Sum brunch after getting off plane

If you click your own username it will bring you to a page of posts you made.

Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Market might be enjoyable, although later in the morning it's pretty crowded. I would recommend parking in the Embarcardero center parking lot and get validation. Or Golden Gate plaza. I would say most areas in SF, Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond it is not a good idea to park on street with visible luggage.

best dimsum in oakland?

I go to Happy Valley all the time because my wife likes dim sum and finds it satisfactory to good. Easy to park and very cheap. It get slagged a lot in these threads; I am highly aware that there is better dim sum available, but I like it enough that I don't have strong urges to go elsewhere. It's also the kind of place that you can go to in running clothes after a morning workout, which is a big +++ in my book. Sounds like Peony is worth a try again; I go to Emeryville East Ocean once a year or so and it's always good quality stuff but comparatively expensive.

Has anyone been to Joy Luck recently? It used to be the winner in cheapness and always seem to have enough good items to make it worth it to me, but once I started going to Happy Valley the relative ease of going to that side of the lake won out, and it was sometimes just as good to better.

My Taiwanese born mom and aunts visited recently and enjoyed it, even compared with the more expensive places they frequent in the Rockville, MD and Northern Virginia region. Not that they're experts or anything.

Probably depends on what items you prefer too. Har gow in particular have too thick skins here.

East Bay BBQ

BBQ Hut in Oakland opened a few months ago, Shattuck at Alcatraz. I was very impressed at about a month in; very high quality meats, consistently smoked, and a good portion for the price. More recently, the portion size has declined. Everything well smoked and seasoned, which is a big thing for me. Brisket generally not too lean. I enjoy the links and ribs. Solid ketchup based sauce, better spicy. Clearly they cater but they don't seem to have any particular catering menu, so best call in.

I did have a disappointing 4 meat combo recently, where the brisket was all dried out and oversmoked.

Don't care for their baked beans, potato salad or collards.

East Bay BBQ

I like Smoky J's and their distinctive sauce, though the brisket and ribs were not as good on a few visits over the last 6 months. Not bad, just not as good as before. Hopefully a temporary dip.

East Bay BBQ

Stopped in recently while in the Concord area; had links and beef to go. Links were a pretty tasty spicy smooth (red) ground. In general I prefer coarse, mixed, but these were pretty good. Hot was hotter than most. Was provided with both a red and a brown sauce, like many of the "Hickory Pit" style places in the East Bay, though here both were distinctly barbecue sauce, where the "Brown Sauce" at the other places is more like gravy.

Brisket was too lean and underseasoned for me. This was in the evening though; many places are only good for brisket at lunch. Smokiness mild but present.

Single visit review.

East Bay BBQ

KC's is solid for catering if you like the style; we've used them pretty regularly over the years. It used to be my favorite 15 years ago before I converted to Texas gospel. I still go from time to time; links are some of my favorite. Everything is sauced unless you specify otherwise, beef is often too lean for me. Ribs solid.

Hip, casual place for a small celebration in Oakland?

Hog's Apothecary- awesome CA beer list, food way better than it has to be, excellent really.

Hog's and Ramen Shop are no reservations, if that matters.

Ruth's annual birthday dinner dilemma -- 2014 edition

Not to mention casual

Any Good Coffee in Downtown Oakland?

Modern Coffee on thirteenth, weekdays til 5 pm

Grilled Lamb Skewers / Kabobs (Chinese Islamic / Muslim) in East Bay?

The cumin version is very nice, but they are tiny skewers, the total amount of meat maybe equal to one skewer at a lower end place. That said, they are very well done, well seasoned with a good amount of both salt and cumin. The soy-scallion version is also good.

China Village (Albany) is open!

So I've been about three times since it reopened. Each time I would say that I've had a good Sichuan meal though few of the dishes were outstanding. I still think back to the golden days of 2002-2003 with some fondness.

I almost always order:
1) fu qi fei pian aka husband and wife combination aka beef flake and tripe
Sauce is one of the better versions around; Ancient Sichuan (Golden Bowl) is comparable.
2) If not that dish I get numbing spicy tendon; last time was pretty good. The current version seems to be less spicy hot and more numbing which is an acceptable variation.
3) Dry fried green beans have always been good whenever I order
4) Wok charred cabbage. I frequently order this and although usually good it's never been as good as it has been up to the late 2000's.
5) West style spicy fish soup. This is consistent, but I'll complain again about use of basa vs. firm white ocean fish.
6) pork shoulder, either mild or spicy version, is consistently excellent.

So overall, your description sounds like pretty much of a disaster, and I find it hard to understand why, though I don't really doubt that that's what you got.

To provide some general color, I've found the service overall to be consistently off-putting in that there's always at least one note or interaction that is borderline rude from the waitstaff, often from one of the otherwise friendlier servers. I find the runners and bus staff consistently fine. Also, I've always found Mr Yao kind of curt, so I don't really interact with him much. I've never had the kind of involved discussion that others have described.

Nowadays I slightly prefer Ancient Sichuan though that place definitely has its own problems.

Secret Menu at Zen Yai? [San Francisco]

It is generally beef blood, even if you order the pork version. I've been eating this stuff for years and in general I've never noticed the metallic taste you get with any congealed blood cake.

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.

Pakistani restaurants: any regional specialties?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Is it true that SF restaurants barely make profits?

I certainly agree with this post.

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.