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Soursop / Guyabano in the Bay Area?

I saw it at Berkeley Bowl last Sunday.

Hatch Chiles 2012

The chiles I bought were from Young Guns Produce, Inc. Their website ( states they are a grower, packer and shipper with a warehouse located 5 miles north of Hatch. They sell 10 lb bags of frozen fire-roasted chiles (mild, medium hot, hot and extra hot) for $35 from the website.

Hatch Chiles 2012

I bought a case at noon today at the San Ramon Nob Hill for $24.99. Benjamin, the "Produce Manager of the Year", who was manning the roaster, said that Raley's had switched suppliers after receiving a lot of complaints last year that the chiles weren't up to par. He noted that these were extremely fresh, which means they blister better and are almost skinless when they're done. Sure enough, after 13 minutes of tumbling around in the iron cage over high flames, the peppers were cooked and clean. I'm set up for the year.

Although they were planning on only roasting today and Saturday, Benjamin said they've had so many calls that they ordered more chiles and plan to roast on Sunday too. He noted they sold 50 boxes last year in San Ramon but he expects sales will be greater this year. The sweet peppers were already sold out when I arrived, but I was really interested in the spicy ones. He gave me a roast chile to try and it was superb.

Beijing Cuisine - Dublin

I came across a small restaurant called Beijing Cuisine next to the 99 Ranch in Dublin (7265 Regional Street, 94568). No décor to speak of, and their lunch menu is geared for American tastes (General’s Chicken, Broccoli Beef, etc.) but their dinner menu is interesting and intriguing. I ordered the hot and sour soup, which had a nice peppery balance without being overpowered by vinegar, which I like. I followed with an excellent zhajiangmian, fried mutton slice with green scallion and steamed rice. I also enjoyed Beijing yoghurt, which I never had before and did not see on the menu. The attendant suggested I try it. I am going to check out more of their offerings next week with a Northern Chinese friend but in the meantime I share their dinner menu (in the original unexpurgated version, and available all day):

Old Beijing Spring Pancake (6 Pancake) (Braised Pork/Ham/Scrambled Eggs/Pork Fried Leeks/Bean Sprouts Fried Fan/Onion/Sweet Sauce) (23.95)
Noodles w/ Soy Bean Paste Beijing Style (7.95)
Beijing Beef Noodles (7.95)
Stirred Flour Ball with Meat (7.95)
Old Beijing Fried Pancake ((7.95)
Xianghe Fresh Pork or Beef Pancake (6.95)
Pork Buns with Green Onions (6) (5.95)
Beijing Onion Cakes (5.95)
Doornail Meat Pancake (3) (3.95)
Fresh Meat Pancake (3) (3.95)
Sesame Layered Pancake (1.99) w/meat (3.50)
Fried Rice and Fried Noodle (6.95)
All Kinds of Fresh Dumplings (12) (5.95)
Steamed Pig Liver in Beijing Style (1.95/each)
Lamb Kebabs (1.75/ each)
Beijing Roast Duck (order 3 Day in Advance)
Duck Bones with Tofu Soup
Duck Fired Bean Sprouts
Pancake (6), Beijing Onion and Sweet Bean Sauce (32.59)
Beijing Mutton Slices Cooked in Hot Pot
Soup Base: Spicy Clear Half & Half
Meat: $6.50
Lamb, Beef, Shrimp, Triples Fish, Fish Ball

Crystal Monochoria (5.95)
Crystal Pork Leg (5.95)
Beijing Pickle Pork (5.95)
Beijing Roupi Dong (5.95)
Smoked Chicken (5.95)
Beijing Pickle Duck (half) (12.00)
Blueberry Jam Yam (4.95)
Berry-Red Osmanthus Lotus (4.95)
Preserved Eggs Tiger Paper (4.95)
Vegetable Salad (4.95)
Garlic Eggplant Salad (4.95)
Beijing Jelly (4.95)

SOUP (Small, Medium, Large)
Shandong Braised Sea Cucumber (6.95) (8.95) (10.95)
Sour Mustard Fish Fillet Soup (6.95) (8.95) (10.95)
Stewed Mutton Soup (6.95) (8.95) (10.95)
Soil Chicken Soup (6.95) (8.95) (10.95)
Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup (6.95) (8.95) (10.95)
Hot and Sour Soup (5.95) (7.95) (9.95)
Vegetable Tofu Soup (5.95) (7.95) (9.95)

Chestnuts Roast Chicken (12.00)
Hong Worse w/ Fish Chicken Bamboo Shoots (9.95)
Diced Chicken with Soy Bean Sauce (8.95)
Kung Pao Chicken (8.95)
Chicken with Garlic Sauce (8.95)
Fried Chicken Pieces with Green Onions (8.95)
Chongqing Spicy Chicken (7.95)
Roasted Garlic Chicken Wings (7.95)

Beijing Roast Lamb (Sesame Cake 2) (24.95)
Beijing Pork Leg (14.95)
Braised Intestines in Brown Sauce (11.95)
Fried Mutton Slice with Green Scallion (10.95)
Fried Beef with Green Onion (9.95)
Fried Shredded Tripe with Cilantro (9.95)
Stewed Pork with Brown Sauce (9.95)
Steamed Pork with Rice Flour (9.95)
Fried Pork Meatball (9.95)
Jiao Liu Meat Ball Beijing Style (8.95)
Stir Fried Pork with Sweet Bean Sauce (8.95)
Beijing Muxu Pork (8.95)
Sweet and Sour Pork (7.95)
Soft Fried Pork Tenderloin (7.95)
Beijing Twice Cooked Pork (7.95)

Braised Sea Cucumber w/ Green Onions (Seasonal)
Braised Prawn in Soy Sauce (10.95)
Stir Squid Coils (10.95)
Catch Fried Cuttlefish Silk (10.95)
Sweet Zaoliu Fish Fillet (10.95)
Beijing Sauce with Shrimp Balls (10.95)
Walnut Shrimp (9.95)
Green Beans Stewed Shrimp (9.95)

Sand Pot Pork White Meat (11.95)
Sand Pot Pork Meat Ball (11.95)
Sand Pot Turnip Mutton (11.95)
Sand Pot Tomato Beef (10.95)
Seafood Tofu Pot (10.95)
Fungi of Burning Pork Pot (9.95)
Chicken Stew Mushroom (9.95)
Secret Makes Eggplant Pot (8.95)
Chicken Grain of Bean Curd Pot (8.95)
Mushrooms Vegetables Pot (8.95)
Assorted Inner of Lamb Soup (Seasonal)

Mushroom and Bamboo Shoots (8.95)
Dry Shrimp Fried Green Beans (8.95)
Season Vegetables (7.95)
Dry Shrimp Braised Spinach (7.95)
Beijing Cook Eggplant (7.95)
Acid Hot Potato Silk (7.95)
Vinegar to Slip Chinese Cabbage (6.95)
Celery Fried Lily (6.95)

Their phone number is (925) 556-1698.

Fish cheeks?

Has anyone seen fish cheeks (kokotxas) for sale in the Bay Area? Whole Foods near me doesn't carry them and Draeger's said they would ask around but didn't sound too hopeful. I need them for this weekend, if they're available. Thanks in advance.

Y de Galicia ¿que?

I'm planning a month-long driving tour, stopping in Segovia, Burgos, Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo, A Coruña, Pontevedra, Ourense, Leon, Salamanca and Avila, before heading back to Madrid. Although I have been to Spain a half dozen times in the last 15 years, restaurants rise and fall with enough regularity that it's best not to make assumptions. Your posts have been helpful in getting ideas for a number of these cities and my thanks go out to all of you, because you have made my planning so much easier. While any suggestions you make for restaurants in the mentioned cities are greatly appreciated, I would like to seek your guidance on the following: in Galicia, does any one town stand out as the culinary center of the region? If so, do you have special mentions? Quality is the sole criterion. Thanks again!

Mar 28, 2011
nestorius in Spain/Portugal

Hainan Chicken at Banyan Tree (Union City)

One recent Saturday I went for lunch to Little Sheep at Alvarado Niles Blvd and Decoto Road in Union City. It was packed and I was hungry. Little Shen Yang was also backed up with customers, so I decided to try Banyan Tree, which advertises "Malaysian Singaporean Thai Cuisine", in the same strip mall. They had less clientele than the other joints, so it was actually peaceful and pleasant. I was promptly seated and ordered a Tiger beer, a roti canai and Hainan chicken.

The roti and beer arrived quickly. The roti was hot and freshly made. The curry dipping sauce was delicious, one of the best I have had in the Bay Area, and I enjoyed every bite. The cooks were busy in the open kitchen and the "whoosh" of the gas flames on the woks gave this place an interesting, industrial atmosphere. The other tables were being served plate after plate of enticing preparations (one clam dish made me regret my chicken order) and the clients seemed to enjoy them all. I don't pretend to be an expert, but my Hainan chicken and rice was excellent. The chicken was very flavorful and moist, the rice with a pronounced chicken stock flavor, and the chili-garlic-ginger sauce tasted freshly made, with kaffir lime juice. I ate half the chicken and rice and took the rest home for another meal. I asked for the bill and got a pulut hitam as a courtesy dessert. Beer ($3.50), roti canai with curry sauce ($3.25) and the half chicken with rice and chili sauce ($8.95) made for a reasonable value. I want to go back and explore the rest of their menu. Has anyone eaten here recently?

Little Sheep
34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

Little Shen Yang
1749 Decoto Rd, Union City, CA 94587

Banyan Tree
1771 Decoto Rd, Union City, CA 94587

where for lunch in Pleasanton or San Ramon area?

Laurus and Blackhawk Grille might be the kind of venue you are looking for. For steaks, try Forbes Mill Steakhouse. All are in the San Ramon area.

Forbes Mill Steakhouse
200 Sycamore Valley Rd W, Danville, CA 94526

Blackhawk Grille
3540 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506

3483 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506

best Bay Area olive oil?

I stopped by Amphora Nueva yesterday and liked the place. The owner, Mike Bradley, is passionate about olive oil and clearly loves the business. He and a partner have an oil extraction plant in Tunisia, which supplies part of his inventory. The current events there have him concerned but optimistic. He loves to spend time with each customer and gently guides them to defining their likes and dislikes. I was curious if he was going to press the current Tuscan-grassy-peppery fad on me. Instead, without prompting, he talked about how weather and climate conditions create harvest periods of differing lengths and thus different flavors in oil. When I confessed to being partial to the fruitier olive oils, he gave me a number to taste but within a spectrum that slid to the spicier oils as a control. We were still talking when I noticed my 30 minutes at the parking meter were overdue. I abruptly excused myself, bolted down the block, fed the meter, and when I returned, I leisurely spent time sampling the oils we had talked about. I left with a bottle of nocellara del belice from Sicily, a frantoio from Portugal, a Chilean arbequina and an hojiblanca from Australia. They have a special offer: if you buy two bottles, they will give you a third 200 ml bottle of your choice free.

Amphora Nueva also sells flavored oils and balsamic vinegars. While I love a good balsamic, my taste in vinegars wanders elsewhere so I did not spend time on these. The other customer assistants were helpful, enthusiastic and friendly. The only regret I have is their location. I was lucky, but parking could be a challenge. They are open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Amphora Nueva
2928 Domingo Ave.
Berkeley, CA
Tel: (510) 704-9300

Where can I buy Shark brand sriracha sauce in bay area?

Which one did you buy?

Where can I buy Shark brand sriracha sauce in bay area?

It would appear that Shark brand does not contain red dye. The sauce has a rust orange color and the label states that the ingredients are: Chili (35%), Water (25%), Sugar (20%), Garlic (10%), Salt (5%) and Vinegar (5%).

Where can I buy Shark brand sriracha sauce in bay area?

Two 99 Ranch markets I visited recently do not carry Shark.

Where can I buy Shark brand sriracha sauce in bay area?

I found Shark brand sriracha today in a small Cambodian market in Oakland. It is called Sontepheap Market and is located at 1400 International Blvd., #C, Oakland, CA 94607. Their phone is (510) 436-3826. Good price, too: a 25 fl oz bottle for $2.99. Next door is a Cambodian-Chinese "fast food" place (nothing fast about it though), where I snagged some sour sausage and papaya salad. Mighty fine.

Sontepheap Market
1400 14th Ave, Oakland, CA

Afendi Turkish in Petaluma

After picking up a holiday goose near Petaluma, I decided to stop for lunch at Afendi's. I ordered the eggplant salad (patlican salatasi - $6.95) and the "spicy veggie salad" (ezme salatasi - $6.95) for starters, served with warm bread and hot tea. I followed with an Adana (spicy ground lamb) kebab ($8.95). While the whole meal was very tasty, the ezme knocked me out. I could not get enough of it. It was better than any I've had before, and I think it was due to the ground walnut, which I had never seen before in other places, and how all the ingredients were so finely chopped.

It was a slow day, so the chef-owner, Joe Besir, sat with me to plan my next trip to Istanbul. He must have spent 30 minutes talking about travel agents, hotels, bus lines and places to avoid, while I enjoyed my meal. We also discussed peppers, olive oils, his restaurant in New York, and how goose is prepared in Turkey. Eventually more patrons arrived and I left, promising to take him up on his offer to contact his travel agent. Meanwhile, I have an extra helping of ezme and bread waiting in my fridge for tomorrow's lunch.

Afendi's Turkish Grill
299 N McDowell Blvd, Petaluma, CA 94954

Want chuletas ahumadas! Best Richmond area carniceria?

Forgive my ignorance but are the chuletas ahumadas any different from smoked pork chops? I mean, is there something the Mexicans do to smoke them that differs from the German-style chops? I happened to get some excellent smoked chops at the Housewives' Market and a chipotle sauce sounds like a great way to go.

Housewives' Market
907 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607

Art's Jamaican Market closed

While habaneros and scotch bonnets are related and about as hot, the bonnets have a special flavor. That same flavor is found in a sweet pepper called aji dulce or aji cachucha, commonly available in Caribbean markets on the East Coast from Miami to New York, but not here. There's nothing like it.

Art's Jamaican Market closed

Yesterday was their last day. The owners are moving back to Jamaica, so I will have to look elsewhere for fresh scotch bonnets. Oriental Lucky Mart in Oakland carries them frozen but if anyone sees fresh ones, please let me know.

Oriental Lucky Mart
535 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Art's Jamaican Market (now Minto's)
4042 Broadway, Oakland, CA

Shark Meat or alternative ?

I have bought shark steaks at the new Berkeley Bowl in Emeryville but I'm not sure if it is always available. I recommend you call. I agree with Robert that swordfish would make a good substitute.

Berkeley Bowl
2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

Does anyone know how to make hot sauce?

I'm not sure who Frank is or what his hot sauce tastes like but I think I can give you some simple guidelines to follow and you can discover your own.

1. You need a heat delivery system. Hot peppers may be the obvious choice, but I've had hot sauces made only with black peppercorns and they're delightful.

2. You need a flavor delivery system. That will be a liquid, because it's a sauce, right? Most folks will think of vinegar, but oil, water and fruit juices can work as well. For example, many sauces are tomato-based and in the Caribbean, papaya-based hot sauces are quite common. Avocados, peaches, mangoes, figs and so many other fruits are the base for hot sauces. You can combine all four (fruit+water+oil+vinegar). You can use oranges, limes or lemons instead of vinegar. Experiment. It's hard to make a bad sauce.

3. You need seasoning. Heat from chilies or peppercorns by itself is not terribly interesting. It's the garlic, cumin, cilantro, allspice, oregano, or other flavor agent that gives the sauce its character. Sometimes its just salt and one other ingredient, and you're done.

You can blend it all together or leave each contribution to hold its own weight. It's all good. You can make it fresh or cook it. If you're not happy with the result, it's easy enough to start all over.

Sep 01, 2010
nestorius in Home Cooking

Where to find batata baroa or mandioquinha?

Well, I have used the frozen variety only to make "sancocho", a Caribbean stew of root vegetables and the meat, poultry or fish of your choice. It works for that purpose. In Venezuela it is called "apio criollo" (creole celery, perhaps for its similarity to celery-root) and is usually boiled. I have had it as a fried pasty and as a sweet spread ("marmalade") in Colombia, but I have not tried these dishes with the frozen variety.

Where to find batata baroa or mandioquinha?

You might find it in the frozen foods section of Latin grocery stores under its Colombian name, arracacha.

Hoppers, lamprais and other Sri Lankan fare at Kadupul

Kadupul has been a pleasant discovery for me. While I do not consider myself an expert on Indian cuisine in its various regional expressions, I was surprised by how different the Sri Lankan cuisine, as done here, was from Tamil and Kerala dishes I’ve known. I just assumed there would be a greater similarity. Someone made the argument to me that Sri Lanka has been exposed to Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, etc., contacts over time and thus the difference. Perhaps. In any case, I have eaten here at least six times since April when it opened. I’ve really enjoyed the food, and I always discover something new.

A recent lunch included an item at the steam table which really delighted me. It was a yam curry with a black fruit in it which had a citrus-tamarind flavor to it (that’s as close as I can describe it). I asked the owner about it and with a large smile he brought back a bag from the kitchen with what looked like black wrinkled nuggets. He explained that these were a dried fruit called kudampuli, which is commonly used in South Indian and Sri Lankan fish curries. Other dishes included various curries featuring crab, eggplant with tamarind, and one with yuca (manioc) which was outstanding. The steam table usually has a chicken curry, some form of dal and, of course white and yellow rice, all of which are tasty but are rarely the dishes that capture my attention. Today’s choices included a turnip curry, sautéed long beans, stuffed peppers with banana blossoms, and a jackfruit curry with dried fish, and they were all superb.

I started exploring their menu by ordering their “mutton” lamprais which was a delight. I love lamb, but it was the curried samba rice and the rest (the caramelized onions, the plantain, the eggplant and boiled egg) that really stand out. The intensity and balance of flavors made the lamprais a most satisfying dish, unlike some steamed leaf-wrapped dishes I have had from other cuisines. I also have enjoyed the string hoppers (appam), the frikadels, and the chicken kottu roti.

The place is beginning to attract a steady clientele, which is a relief because for a while there I thought they might fold like so many start-ups, especially during this economic downturn. Evidently word has spread and by noon the place is full during lunch on weekdays. Yes, it may be cash-only, and the service may be enthusiastically clumsy at times, but I don’t care because the food is the central attraction here. I haven’t been disappointed yet.

8939 San Ramon Rd, Dublin, CA 94583

Best Colombian food in the Bay Area?

Unfortunately, Colombian cuisine has not found much traction here in the Bay Area, unlike the East Coast. The few attempts over the years that I have known have either closed or added Mexican/Central American items to their menu. All are "costeño" restaurants, offering what I consider to be the less complex cooking of the Caribbean and Pacific coastal regions -- fried foods ("fritanga"), yuca, arepa, rice and beans.

That's not to say these dishes can't be found elsewhere in Colombia, but the cuisine of Andean highlands (the stews like “ajiaco” and “mute santandereano”, and the lamb dishes), the uber-haggis "lechona tolimense" -- a deboned suckling pig stuffed with rice, peas and other goodies, then slowly roasted over coals, the regional tamales from Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Bogota and Tolima, the many varieties of potatoes and tubers with their associated dishes, and the barbecue culture ("piquete") of the Llanos provinces, none of these are well known here.

Having said all that, some Latin markets (Mi Pueblo, for example) sell packaged products like pan de yuca, almojabanas, dried "guasca" leaves, and frozen chorizos. It's slim pickings, though.

Duke's Mayonnaise - where to find it in the Bay Area?

I just bought a 16-oz. plastic jar of Duke's Real Mayonnaise ("The Secret of Great Southern Cooks") at Cost Plus World Market for $2.99. They also carry Duke's sandwich spread and tartar sauce.

I Love Living in Houston!

Can you share an address for Pierson & Co.?

May 31, 2010
nestorius in Houston

Brazilian / Portuguese "quesadilla"?

You may be referring to a queijadinha.

Sri Lankan Cuisine - San Ramon

Kadupul is a new restaurant which will open sometime in April, according to its website. It is located in a small strip mall on the corner of Alcosta Blvd and San Ramon Valley Blvd. This is the same location where Turkuaz Turkish Market used to be. I happened to drive by and I stopped to see if I could snag a menu. Peering inside, I could see that the remodeling is not finished but it appears that they might make their deadline.

This seems to be a restaurant spawned from a catering business. The website announcing the opening of Kadupul links you to what appears to be a catering service located in Livermore and serving a Bay Area. The catering menu looks mighty fine. More info at:

Kadupul Sri Lankan Cuisine
8939 San Ramon Valley Blvd
San Ramon, CA

Sonic Drive-In now open in Hayward!

It's a burger chain. I am familiar with it from Houston. It has a following just like In-N-Out does. Wikipedia has some background on it.

99 Ranch to open in Pleasanton?

Thank you both. Given the proximity of Dublin's store, 99 Ranch must be pretty sure that the Dublin/Pleasanton area can support two stores. They've also just opened a store in Houston, TX, which already has a number of large and established Asian markets, so they seem to be in an expansionist mode. Good luck to them.

99 Ranch to open in Pleasanton?

Their website indicates that a Pleasanton location is "coming soon". Interesting, given that they've just opened a site in Dublin, and now Concord. Does anyone know where the new site will be?