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Richmond's Botto Bistro and its unusual approach to Yelp

I've been there a few times, with the most recent about two months ago. As much as I want to like this place, to be honest, I am always disappointed. Overall, I think the food is overpriced for what you get, and the flavors are bland.

I had high hopes for the pizza but again, nothing special. I prefer La Strada even though the food is more "old school".

The one good thing is that their pasta is served al dente. One this last visit I ordered the pesto, which is simple but obviously really good if done right. I thought their version was just okay, nothing different than if I were to have bought the sauce from the supermarket.

As for their "humor", personally I only think it works if you have excellent food.

Work lunch in SF for under $30

Thanks for the suggestions. The group wants SF vs Oakland, no Chinese or Mexican food....tough crowd. =)

Work lunch in SF for under $30

You're right, it's not. I should have proof-read and clarified my thought.

I was thinking it would be nice to have more of a sit down vs order at the counter burger place, but Gott's is also not your average burger and the Ferry Building is a pretty touristy/SF location.

And luckily, transportation and parking is not part of the budget.

Work lunch in SF for under $30

My work is planning a celebration lunch for 10 people. Half of the group is flying up from LA so it should be somewhat special, easy to get to from Oakland airport and maybe even a little touristy. But here's the kicker - it needs to be under $30 including non-alcoholic drinks and tip. (I know that's tight in SF but we're technically a non-profit.) Any ideas?

I'm a little out of the loop for cool places to go in SF but was thinking maybe Boudin in Fisherman's Wharf or even Park Chalet in Ocean Beach? (Ocean Beach is a little far from Oakland Airport but if it's a nice sunny day might be nice.)

They are not flying into SFO based on the airport they are flying out from. They are not the Mexican food in the Mission or Chinese food in Chinatown or Clement kind of crowd....with the low budget I am even thinking Taylor's at the Ferry Building might be hard but probably doable...

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

Calistoga dinner for 19...please help, Chowhounds

Hi, what's your budget?

Jook - SF Dish of the Month December 2013

I had the salted pork and preserved egg jook from Daimo last night and it was delicious. I like the consistency of their jook - not too thick or thin, lots of flavor (not sure if they use a chicken broth base or what), with lots of pork and egg. I like it with a little white pepper on top. Perfect winter meal.

Holiday Gift Ideas

Fabulous ideas! Brother-in-law runs an organic garden program at the winery he works at so he's set at home with all the trees, but I know my mother-in-law would appreciate the olive tree so thank you!

I looked up some recent books and I think the Cowgirl Creamery cookbook will be perfect. Any ideas on the tool that I could buy with it? I bought them a cheeseboard/knife set last year...

Holiday Gift Ideas

Apologies if there's already a current thread for this topic but when I searched I only found old threads.

Anyway, I'm looking for gift ideas for a my brother and sister in-law. They are tough bc they live in the Napa Valley, work in the wine industry and have access to lots of high end, high quality food and ingredients. I'm only getting them something food related bc I can't think of anything else. And while I love to get gift certificates, this family doesn't do that. So trying to think of a "thoughtful" give for around $100. Any ideas would be appreciated. Oh, and the sister in-law is a vegetarian.

Flora Report (Downtown Oakland)

Went to Flora last night. (We actually planned on going to Duende next door but it was closed for a private party.) I want so much to like this restaurant because it has all the elements - hip scene, excellent cocktails, great service, convenient location for me, etc. But every time I go, (about 6 times in the last year, all for work) the food is disappointing. And unfortunately, last night was no exception.

I ordered the steak entree and the whole dish, sides and all, came out cold. I generally would have sent it back but I was with business colleagues and didn't want to make an issue of it. The others at the table didn't eat much of their plates either.

Dessert I had the cast iron gingerbread which sounded delicious but was so sweet I only had a bite.

Flavor wise I thought the food was just okay, nothing special. (In the past I've ordered the burger, chicken, salad, pork and always left underwhelmed.) Yet the restaurant is always packed. The drinks are still excellent and the service was still good though. I'm curious what others have experienced in recent months.

Food idea needed for large party in Richmond park

Yup, they brought their own cook top and cooked onsite. They came about an hour before to set up and start cooking so by the time people arrived the food was almost ready.

Food idea needed for large party in Richmond park

It's been awhile but thought I would finally report back because the event went so well. We ended up using Garcia Brothers Tacos and they were awesome. It was I think $12 per person and we had a total of around 80.

The owner, Oscar, was very easy to deal with. He met up with us a few months before so I could show him the event site. He called a week before to confirm, and we were good to go. Oh, and he never took a deposit.

The $12 included chicken, pork and steak tacos, quesadillas, rice, beans, salsa and other condiments for the tacos. The food was delicious, and it was just so easy. I highly recommend them. (Many of our guests were so impressed they took their business card and one of them recently hired them for a party at their house.) I definitely plan on using them again.

Akiko [San Francisco]

Akiko the Japanese restaurant on Bush? You should be able to just walk in. I love this place. Have a great time!

Richmond: Huong Tra for Vietnamese

I order take out here at least 4 times a month. Usually we get one of the Phos, spring rolls or summer rolls, papaya salad, and the grilled pork, shrimp and egg roll over rice.

My huband likes their rice plates too, including the stir fried green beans over rice. I think it tastes kind of like mongolian beef, which isn't a bad thing, just doesn't interest me as much.

I've tried their Banh Xeo about a year ago but found it way too greasy, though might give it another shot. The best one I've ever had was at Slanted Door, and I'm not a fan of the restaurant. Obvioulsy there is a big discrepancy in the price of these two restaurants. But at Slanted Door you could taste the freshness of the ingredients and there was no excess of grease.

Another Vietnamese we eat at often is Pho Thai Hong. My husband likes the variety better there. For straight pho, I like Pho Saigon in Pacific East Mall. I think they have the best pho broth in the East Bay, but it's a bit farther than Huong Tra from my house so we don't go there as often.

Overall, I really like Huong Tra. It's close to my house, they are friendly, have solid food and is reasonably priced.

Oh, has anyone tried their sandwiches? I usually go to the Banh Mi place in El Cerrito for those so have never tried them here.

Marrow - New in Uptown, Oakland

Marrow just opened this week in Uptown, it's located in the former Looney's BBQ space. Looks to be a direct competitor to Stag's Lunchette.

They had about 4 sandwiches (grilled cheese, asparagus, pastrami I think, patty melt), a salad, fries, strawberry shortcake and a few other things.

I ordered the patty melt and fries and am extremely pleased. The patty melt is delicious, not salty like I usually find them. The fries are thin, shoe-string-like, which are my favorite. I'm actually slightly hestiant to write about them because I don't want the lines to get long like at Stag's! But this place is a great find. I think it's even better than Stag's.

I did a quick internet search and the owner used to own a food truck called Jon's Street Eats. They butcher their own meat in-house and try to use all the parts.

Wonton Noodle Soup - SF Dish of the Month (April 2013)

I agree, am surprised too. I eat at Daimo regularly and find their food to be pretty good. I think it's well priced and almost all of their dishes have excellent flavor.

About a year ago I felt like their noodles had the alkaline flavor due to reuse of the water they used to boil the noodles, but haven't experienced it for a long time. I ususally get my won ton noodle soup with roast duck, which I think they have the best of in the East Bay.

Chinese food for Chinese people (north bay)

I don't think there's a Chinese restaurant in Sonoma county focused on Chinese patrons =)

Chinese food for Chinese people (north bay)

You can try calling Fresh China to see if the owner Peter is around. When he cooks, the food is excellent. My family and I have had several banquet meals there with dishes off the menu. Depending on how many people you have, it might be worth a shot.

Assemble, Richmond

Finally made it to Assemble this weekend. I agree with the others that the new layout is nicer than the previous Broilerhouse. I like the bar right in the front where people can hang out and not necessarily have a full meal.

Two of us went for lunch and ordered the following:

Cup of Clam Chowder (good flavor, not too thick, lots of clams)
Cup of Soup of the Day - Ginger Carrot (the waiter didn't mention there was curry in it, which was a surprise but still pretty good)
Cesar Salad - nothing extraordinary but good
Tuna Salad Sandwich - fancy tuna with tapenade

Overall the food was good, nothing special but solid and much better than it was before. Service was excellent, which The Broilerhouse was lacking. I had a sip of my other half's Bloody Mary and it was a nice spin, more clam juice than a normal Bloody and nice and spicy.

My ownly slight issue was the price. I know the ingredients are fresh and the food was good, but we were both still surprised that the total came out to over $50 for lunch, without tip. Though, I'd still go back but probably not for a casual lunch. Maybe for dinner which they start serving next this week I believe.

Which SF Korean BBQ places give you lettuce to wrap the meat?

I finally made it back to Ohgane a few weeks ago. I haven't been there in several years so didn't have much of a memory of this place. There was a group of 4 of us on a Wed night. The restaurant was packed and we waited about 30 mins.

First of all, the ventilation in the restaurant is horrible, which is surprising because there were vents above each table going full force. It was so bad that two people in our party and to go outside for fresh air half way through the meal.

Food wise, none of us thought it was very good. We ordered the short ribs and spicy pork to grill. Also the dumplings, seafood tofu soup and jap chae. Despite the 15+ banchans you get, overall we thought the food was bland. Two of my guests were visting from Asia and remembered we went to Brothers the last time they were here, which they loved. They were so disappointed in the food that we had to take them to Brothers on their last night in CA.

I'd love to hear other people's experiences at Ohgane because clearly they are very busy and have a lot of loyal customers. Did we just go on an off night?

Scream sorbet going out of business??!!!

35k is completely possible depending on location and expectations. The business I mentioned is definitely not going to earn millions, but it will make a good living to support a family of 5, which is what the business owner wanted.

Scream sorbet going out of business??!!!

It's always sad to see a small business not make it. I generally don't like to comment on business plans etc because I know how hard people work to open their dream businesses and don't think it's fair for people to judge. But since the owner posted, I thought I would share my two cents (so yes, I guess I'm judging).

I agree with what Robert wrote about finding an existing location that already had the set up that was needed vs spending $80k+ on trying make the space work for the business. That's not including labor cost, vendor costs, etc. I mean, just in terms of numbers, how many scoops of ice cream would Scream have had to sell just to recoup that cost?

My entire family owned/has owned successul restaurants in the bay area over the last 30 years. Most of them are retired at this point, except my dad who still does restaurant consulting. I say "successful" because most have lasted 15 years plus and were able to be sold for a profit.

With that said, I'm also surprised at how much restaurants/food places in general spend on start up costs and general decor of the restaurant. You can have a beautiful space but if the food or service doesn't stand on it's own, it will never succeed in the long run.

I know of a 50-seat restaurant in this area where they spent a total of $35k including kitchen equipment, basic remodeling, initial vendor costs, permits, etc. The place has been opened about 6 months and is already in the black.

I think it's critical for new entrepreneurs to seek out advice/help from experienced people in the industry to look at the details of a business plan and exam all areas of cost. Otherwise what one thinks something will cost vs actual cost maybe end up costing them their dream.

Food idea needed for large party in Richmond park

Thanks, Melanie! This has been quiet an interesting journey.

I called Tacos Brothers Garcia and the guy Oscar was really nice. Quoted me $12/ person. It includes chicken, beef, pork tacos, quesadillas, salsa, rice, beans and catus salad. We're going to meet this weekend so he can check out the location.

I'll have my other half research the supermarkets and Los Montanas. There's one we've ordered food from before so maybe they will have catering too. Thanks for the suggestions!

Food idea needed for large party in Richmond park

Hello Chowhounders,

Hoping some of you might have some ideas for me. We are having a co-ed baby shower for about 80 family and friends in August at a park in Richmond. The reserved space has picnic tables and large barbecues. Hoping to spend less than $1k on food (not including drinks, desserts, etc).

We are hoping to keep this low maintenance given I think I'll be huge and uncomfortable by that time.

Here are some options we've thought of:

1. An initial thought we had was to hire one of those taco vendors that bring their own cooktop etc and make tacos onsite. We would then buy all the sides, etc. We went to a wedding in Concord years ago that had this and it worked out great. However, the one vendor we had in mind we can't find. Any chance someone might know another vendor?

Side note: taco trucks and other trucks will not work because the gate to the park is closed and they will not allow vehicles in - even to load/unload. And the actual picnic site is not close enough to the gate for people to eat by a truck and walk back.

2. Another thought is buy all the meats ourselves and hire two people to cook it. We would then buy all the sides, or make them. Any idea where we can hire such people?! We really don't want to ask family or friends because we want them to enjoy the party.

We are also opened to any other ideas though other catering options seems to be out of our budget. Please offer suggestions if you have any, thank you!!

Assemble, Richmond

I just called because I wondered the same thing. They are only opened for lunch from 11:30-2 daily. They should be opened for dinner later this month.

I had a friend who went to the soft opening last Friday and said he was pleasantly surprised by the food.

Hope to check it out this weekend!

Chilaquiles - SF Dish of the Month (Feb 2013)

Went to Tres Hermanas in Richmond this Saturday. Their chiliquiles is still delicous, surprising for such a simple dish - scrambled eggs with homemade tortilla chips, red sauce, onions, cheese.

Ramen Shop? (Rockridge, Oakland)

I overheard who I think was one of the owners talking to a woman sittng at the bar area. He said something about how because the broths take hours to prep, they have a morning shift that preps all the food. Which I guess makes sense, but still a lot of labor to pay for.

I hope they sell a lot of drinks!

Ramen Shop? (Rockridge, Oakland)

I finally made it to Ramen Shop and was pleasantly surprised. I ordered the Spicy Ramen with clams and ground pork belly. The ramen was cooked perfectly and the broth had this full-bodied flavor that's hard to find in most ramen restaurants. I especially liked the medium-boiled egg. Only minor critique is that the broth was a tad salty, but it still didn't stop me from having every last drop.

For $15 a bowl, I found the price reasonable given the careful preparation involved and the high quality ingredients used.

They had about 20 people in the kitchen (found out they were in the middle of a shift change). However, the numbers person inside of me is wondering how they will turn a profit with all that labor (there was also about 10 staff working the tables) and the cost of high quality ingredients, even at $15 a bowl.

Anyway, I ordered the Black Sesame ice cream sandwich for dessert. I love black sesame ice cream, but unfortunately did not find this that exciting. The cookie took away from the sesame flavor.

Regardless, I plan on going back soon to try the other stuff on the menu. I want to try the fried rice and tonkatsu ramen.

I hope this place makes it in the long run. The people were all very friendly and eager to please. Nice addition to the Rockridge neighborhood, and finally some good ramen in the East Bay.

Point Richmond: Boilerhouse Closing - Reopening as Assemble

Someone just sent this to me, update regarding Assemble.

M. Y. China: Some first impressions [SF]

Appreciate the suggestions. I really hope their food gets better because my mom wants to go in a few weeks.

M. Y. China: Some first impressions [SF]

Went there for lunch and was underwelmed. Had the truffle pork dumplings and the knife cut boar noodles. The dumplings had no taste at all. No truffle taste, no pork taste. Tasted like mush. They were juicy though but the skin was also too thick. The dumplings at Yang Sing are much better.

The knife cut boar noodle was okay. Kind of salty, and I like salt. The knife cut noodles were nothing special, similar to regular thick noodles I think. It had a texture a little like stir-fried rice cakes, which I prefer over these.

The best part of my lunch was the service. Everyone was very friendly. Plus the decor is upscale and elegant. I like the open kitchen.

Unfortunately, it was $35 for two dishes, not including tip. $18 for not so good dumplings wasn't worth it.

I'm curious how this place will do in the long run given that the there's so many better options for Chinese food in the area, especially since Straits is right next door and has been fairly consistent after all these years.

Oh, one question. As I was leaving, the manager asked what I thought of lunch. I said it was fine. But then on my way home, I was thinking maybe I should have said something (especially now since I'm writing about their mediocore food). I know I have very picky taste and a lot of people may disagree with me, that's why I didn't say anything. But he did ask, and maybe he was actually interested in hearing an opinion and might have done something about it for future customers. What do you think? Would you provide honest feedback?