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Korean Chowdown Report: Dong Baek in San Francisco

This was another good meal, and while I generally enjoyed all the dishes, it was again the panchan that made me the happiest, All of it tasted very fresh, with many different flavors and textures. My favorite was kimchee made with what looked like baby choy sum - crisp and delicious.

I think we ended up ordering interesting and well-matched dishe, thanks to a great group of dining compatriots! Memorable for me were:

Spicy rice cake. I found the rice cakes to be softer and slightly less chewy than I'm accustomed, and I enjoyed the black pepper that along with the hot pepper paste sauce.

Goat meat stew. A new dish for me, and I really enjoyed the strong flavor of the broth.

Oyster Jun. Nicely cooked and juicy oysters. Good ratio of oyster to fried batter.

Noodles with black bean sauce. I've only had this dish a few times, and this version was comparable. Sauce was a little sweet for me, but that can be remedied at the table,

Fish egg and vegetable soup. Generally good, but not exceptional.

Dumplings - a nice complement to what were mostly spicy dishes.

While I'm not sure I can put Dong Baek on a list of must-visit Korean restaurants in SF, it's definitely worth a visit if in the area. I think it has improved with the new management.

Dong Baek Restaurant
631 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109

When you want a casual glass of wine...

Yes to Cav, Birron and Terroir. Also:


Hidden Vine

Pho Ha Noi, San Jose

I visited Pho Ha Noi early this morning, and ordered Pho Ga with intestines, and thin noodles.

Really nice pho. Broth was golden, clean and fragrant; the chicken was tender and juicy with a nice mix of light and dark (with skin - yay!), but it was the noodles that made me the happiest. So fresh, perfectly cooked, and no clumping. :) I think I was fortunate to be there at 7:30. Even though the sign said open at 8:00, they were open, and noting my confusion about entering, the owner welcomed me in, saying "We're on Vietnamese TIme!"

I can roll with that.

Back to soup. I would have enjoyed more intestinal parts, getting only slices of kidney and most of the liver. I suppose I should just ask... Also, it was odd that a northern place would serve basil and bean sprouts, but I didn't mind.

BTW - My humble opinion is that Sricha and/or Hoisin sauce are best used in a separate bowl mixed with some nuoc mam, and used for flavoring meat only.

Pho Hanoi
1759 E Capitol Expy, San Jose, CA 95121

Saffron Grill - North Indian cuisine

Finally visited this place last night. We shared Vegetable Pakora, Fish (Tilapia) Masala, Navratan Korma (Mix vegetables cooked in a mild cashew cream, raisins and saffron sauce), Roti, Rice and Saffron Rice Pudding for desert.

Overall, I was pleased, but not stunned. Everything was good and fresh tasting, the wait staff were congenial and the restaurant is charming, though the bathroom could really use a good cleaning, fresh paint and a new toilet seat (yuck). I'd return, but order differently (hopefully the trout tandoori will be available), and ask for more spice in my dishes. They were likely playing it safe with us.

Vegetable Pakora
4 pieces, good flavor and nice presentation, but not as crispy as I would have liked. My favorite version of this dish is still at Lahore Karahi.

Fish Masala (medium spice)
Fish was noit overcooked, sauce was tasty and not greasy. I'd order it even spicier next time.

Navratan Korma
Also fresh tasting and vegetables were not overcooked. However, this was not my preference for a vegetable dish, as cream-based Indian dishes don't wow me so much.

Roti was warm and chew (in a good way). However, next time I'd order Naan. Rice was nicely cooked, but I would liked more flavor.

I could have skipped the Saffron Rice pudding, but I typically don't enjoy desserts. I found it kind of blah, but my friend liked it. The doughnuts sounded good, though!

FYI - The Cabernet Franc we brought paired well with the food. I like a fruitier red with Indian food, though beer is always a good match!

Saffron Grill
1279 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA

Dong Baek - new management

I've been visiting Dong Baek in the Tenderloin for about 5 years, mostly because of it's proximity to my apartment, as I wouldn't consider it a destination restaurant for Korean food in SF. Recently I noticed a sign indicating "under new management". Because of the cold weather (and my oncoming cold) I was craving a spicy soup, so I went for an early solo dinner.

No much has changed inside that I could tell, just some table rearranging and new lighting, but the front of house staff were all new to me. Also, the tables now have small boxes with metal chopsticks and spoons.

I ordered Yuk Gae Jang (Spicy soup with beef, clear noodle and vegetables). While I'm not an expert on this dish, the flavor was good and spicy, with a nice ratio of broth to noodle/vegetable/meat. The beef was somewhat chewy, but I don't think this dish calls for a high-grade.

What stood out for me was the Panchan, which seemed fresher and with more distinct flavors then I remember from previous visits to Dong Baek. None were new to me, but it was a nice selection (about 9) for lunch time, though I didn't care for the iceberg lettuce and carrot "salad" that came with the meal.

I was also given three complimentary pot stickers, which tasted handmade, and had a delicious vinegar sauce.

Dinner was $12 + tip.

I'll try it again and report back, but those whom have tried Dong Baek in the past and found it lacking might re-consider if in the area.

Dong Baek Restaurant
631 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Saffron Grill - North Indian cuisine

Loos nice, and thanks for the report. I will try.

Lers Ros Thai - SF - Report

This dish has impressed me too!

113) Quick fried marinated trout with mango sauce. This is definitely a winner. The whole fish is cut in half lengthwise, lightly battered, and fried. The tail, head, and most of the bones were crispy enough to eat, but the flesh was not dry at all. The mango sauce, which sounds horrific, is a actually a lime-chili sauce with green mango.

Lers Ros Thai restaurant (Tenderloin)

I'm happy this place is getting some attention. After three visits, it's my favorite SF Thai restaurant, and compares well with some of the places I like in Thai Town Hollywood.

I agree, the whole spice level thing is usually a conundrum, because how can you really define medium? I have tried using a number (on a scale of 1-10), but typically find once a restaurant gets to know you, they can get the spiciness close to where I'm happy.

Should also note, I didn't like Sai Jai on my one visit, but THE has typically pleased my palette. Lers Ros Thai has a much better menu, in my opinion.

Sunday @ Trend Restaurant, Mountain View

Well said about the muted flavors. I did have moments of peppery numbness, but not as many as I expected. I also like the flavor combination of the pickled vegetables, and would take home a jar for snacking. :)

Sunday @ Trend Restaurant, Mountain View

I enjoyed the meal (table 1), but most enjoyed our appetizers, but a few entrees were memorable, notably N12 Szechwan Dry Cooked Frog. Yum!

All appetizers were excellent and would order them again. Standouts were A8 Chicken Gizzard, A17 Spicy Beef Tendon, and A28 Sliced Green Bean Jelly. A11 Sliced Bacon Cut Pork was hard not to like, of course. Complimentary pickled vegetables were appreciated.

Entree likes...

N12 Szechwan Dry Cooked Frog (this dish alone, plus a couple of appetizers and beer would have made for an afternoon of happiness.)
I35 Seafood Handmade Noodles (I was craving chewy noodles)
D3 Pork intestines Boiled with Blood Pudding in Clay Pot (very happy with the broth)

Wanted to like E22 Old Fashioned Tea Smoked Duck but prefer Peking Duck
Orange Beef had good texture but found sauce too sweet

F14 Flaming Stir-fried Pork Kidney - I love KIdney but found the sauce overpowering
E18 Szechwan Braised Chicken with Taro - too salty for my tastes

Not listed but enjoyed - small (about 3' diameter) beef pies/dumplings

From Table 2 - Pumpkin Cake, a small bite was plenty.

I was very full by the end of the meal, which may have affected my entre judgment, though the final course of hand-cut noodles made me happy.

And yes, thank you Melanie and Nancy for organizing!

Lers Ros Thai restaurant (Tenderloin)

Noticed this restaurant was opening a couple weeks ago and went today for a solo lunch.

Had the wild boar stir-fried with galanga, chili and peppercorns, with a side of sticky rice. While this dish was not as good at what I can get at Palms Thai in Hollywood, I was pleased with lunch.

I asked for spicy, and the heat was close to what I wanted (could have been spicier).The sauce had a very nice round flavor, and the boar was tender enough to make me think it might be pork...maybe(?).

Most intrigued by other specialty items you don't normally see on SF Thai restaurant menu, like stir-fried clams in sweet chilli paste, a couple of frog dishes, and quail. I'll return and report again.

Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St (between O'Farrel & Ellis)
San Francisco, CA 94199
(415) 931-6917

South Bay Viet Lunch returns to Cao Nguyen

Now inspired to make a version this week-end!

South Bay Viet Lunch returns to Cao Nguyen

Hi Karen:

I just make it myself with roast duck from a place (Sorry, don't recall the name) in outer sunset, lotus root, mint, cilantro, cherry tomatoes and prepared fish sauce *Nuoc Mam Plah" to taste. You can use or substitute other things, like thinly sliced purple onion, cabbage or lemongrass. I wouldn't cal it authentic, but it's a good summer dish, especially with a Rosé.

South Bay Viet Lunch returns to Cao Nguyen

This was a nice lunch, though I think I enjoyed my first visit to this restaurant the best. Thoughts on each dish below:

#4 Banh khot (fried rice flour shrimp cups) - 2 orders
- This dish is not a favorite of mine, but they make it well here

#23 Duck salad with ginger nuoc mam dressing
- good, but I prefer a roasted duck salad, with flaky skin!

#5 Grilled Quail (though I think grilled was not quite the technique used)
- better than anything I can get in SF

#155 Claypot pork/catfish (I requested half pork & half catfish)
- Tasty with rice

#150 Frog legs in yellow curry sauce (on the menu it's Ech Xao Lan)
- may favorite of all the dishes, but maybe I was just craving yellow curry.

#151 Sea cucumber and black mushroom (over baby bok choy)
- nice to have with our dishes. Remindd me of a Taiwanese dish, but I'm not familiar.

#111 Butter fried chicken wings
- did not try these.

#53 Bun Mam - pork and fish noodle soup with fat vermicelli
- excellent broth flavor, and fragrant.

Thanks for organizing, Alice, and nice to meet some new people, of course!

South Bay Viet lunch series resumes: Thien Long

I've not been to the original location but I parking was no problem on a stormy Sunday. The location is just two turns (about 5 minutes) off 101 Hwy. The smaller mall around the restaurant seems very new, with some shop interiors still being constructed. We strolled after lunch and found a cute take-away Viet bakery/cafe, a Hue Viet restaurant, a Mexican and Thai restaurant, neither of which I inspected, what looked like a standard Tapioca/bubble tea place. The mall outside our restaurant area had a Target and looked uninteresting, so I didn't explore.

South Bay Viet lunch series resumes: Thien Long

This was a great lunch, and well-worth the debris-strewn drive down 280! My thoughts on each dish below:

Goi du du bo kho: green papaya salad w/ dried beef
- papaya was balanced blend of chewy and crispy; I can't recall the beef...who ate it all?! :)

Chim nuong: grilled butterflied quail
- oh my. 2 nicely-sized quail, with a truly delicious sweet, smoky flavor. Perhaps just slightly overdone, but not at all dry. They provided a bowl of salt and pepper for sprinkling, which balanced out the sweetness of the meat. I occasionally dipped the edges of the meat into my bowl of chili-oil. Most memorable and easily my favorite of the meal. I'm anxious to have it again.

Pho ap chao don: fried bricks of pho noodles w/ beef and vegetable stir fry & gravy
- This was a new dish for me; the chewy noodle bricks were fun to eat, and once I augmented the slightly-sweet sauce with chilies, I found it satisfactory, but didn't compare well to the stand-outs of lunch.

Lau (described on their menu as for 2)
- I was most surprised at the amount of food we got in the $20 hot pot. the mussels were my favorite, but everything was very good quality, and the broth had nice, round flavor, though a little more spice would be appreciated. Easily worth more that $20...and would feed more than two people. It came with a sauce (new for me), brown, medium-bodied and slightly vinegary, which I used to good effect, mixed with the noodles. We tossed the rest of the noodles in remaining broth, which I would have enjoyed more if I hadn't been end-of-meal full.

Cha ca (also for 2)
- I haven't had this dish since I was in Ha Noi (at Cha Ca La Vong I'm proud to say), and it was one of my favorites here. I took such pleasure in preparing a bowl full of torn lettuce, herbs, chili-infused nuoc-mam, grilled onion and nicely cooked tumeric fish. So tasty!

The restaurant was clean and pleasant, and the staff were attentive and kind. For large parties, I would recommend ordering in stages, so you're not overwhelmed with food, unless you like that kind of thing.

And as always, a bevy of fine dining companions, who kindly accompanied me to culinary happiness.

best Singaporean foods

I had a quick lunch there today at 12:00. It was mostly full, and busy for the one waitress and cook, who did double duty busing when the lunch rush ended.

Malayasian/Singaporean/Indonesian cuisine in NorCal has typically disappointed me, likely for having eaten many good things in all three countries with great happiness.

Skipping the lunch specials, even though they seemed a good deal, I instead chose the fried rice noodle with shrimp and chinese sausage that was pictured in the window. I forget what it was called on the menu, but it's a favorite of mine.

Unfortunately, it was merely ok, worse so because it cost $8.50!

The wide noodles were too soft for my taste, and despite asking for spicy, there wasn't much heat until I added the chili sauce. The 5-6 shrimp were plump and nicely cooked, but the scarcity of chinese sausage disappointed me. It became better when I asked for lime and used chili sauce from the counter. I also would have liked more green onion, and less bean sprouts.

However, this restaurant felt like it has potential; I'll go back to try other dishes, particularly Roti Prata.

South Legend in Milpitas

OK, now that I've posted photos, my thoughts on the lunch, which was delicious. I most liked the varying heat and spice flavor of each dish, but certain ones kept my attention.

Cold Pork Kidney
- easily my favorite, and a new experience. Served cold. Enjoyed the texture and density of the kidney slices.

Pork Belly with Sesame Sauce
- well-balanced. Hard to dislike.

Dry Braised Eggplant with Fish Sauce
- complex and rich

Cumin Lamb
- surprising flavor for a Chinese dish (for me)

Couple Beef
- always happy to eat things soaking in chili oil

Szechuan Fish with Chili Pods
- beautifully presented and would eat again.

Shredded Duck with Chinese Celery
- can't recall distinctly but enjoyed

Cold Chicken Feet
- great flavor but the payoff doesn't merit the work required to ingest (for me)

I would happily return to this restaurant.

South Legend in Milpitas

Photo for:
9. Cold Chicken Feet

South Legend in Milpitas

Photos for:
5. Szechuan Fish with Chili Pods.
6. Dry Braised Eggplant with Fish Sauce
7. Couple Beef
8. Cold Pork Kidney

South Legend in Milpitas

Photos for:
1. Shredded Duck with Chinese Celery
2. Pork Belly with Sesame Sacue
3. Hot and Sour Soup
4. Cumin Lamb

Dim Sum Bar -- Clean-cut takeout

corrected - wheat noodle in the XLB, but alas, no soup for me (well maybe if squeezed the dumpling) :)

Dim Sum Bar -- Clean-cut takeout

I've been to both Emperor's Kitchen and Dim Sum Bar. I only tried dim sum items.

Emperor's Kitchen (visited last week)
Har Gow (shrimp dumpling)
- good flavor with nice shrimp pieces, but loosely packed. Fell apart while eating
Scallion dumpling with shrimp
- as above.
Pork Sui Mai
- good flavor, nice size

For around $6.00 I got three dumplings each order. They seem to have more dim sum items that Dim Sum Bar, as I also saw taro cakes, but wasn't hungry enough to order them. I didn't try any steam table items. The atmosphere is ok, but when I was there they had a commercial american pop radio station playing too loudly.

Dim Sum bar (today)
Crab & Pork "XLB"
- certainly not inedible, but not even close to bad XLB. No soup, thick rice noodle. Consider this a Sui Mai variant.
Har Gow
- somewhat better than Emperor's Garden for being firmly packed
Pork Sui Mai
- large, decent flavor

For around $6.00 I got three dumplings each order, with free tea (through) February. It's a more pleasant dining experience than Emperor's Garden.

I didn't expect either of these places to be unexpectedly good, and the dim sum satisfied my immediate craving. However, I'd rather make the effort to take the 38 Geary to the Richmond for cheaper, better dim sum. I don't think either of these places will elevate the level of Chinese food in the Tenderloin.

Steam table items rarely interest me, and when I'm craving local chinese food for lunch (or dinner), I visit Szechwan Second on Ellis, which I like.

Scott Howard Dine About Town report

Our reservation was 9 people at 8:30 on a Friday, which in theory past the first seating rush. As I understand it, one of the tables they needed to form it was occupied past that time. We did feel compelled to complain (nicely), and the meal was hardly ruined.

As for wines, I was pleased to to find a number of non-California selections below $50. I enjoyed every wine we had, and the sommelier was helpful at that level.

Scott Howard Dine About Town report

I was with a group of 9 for a Dine About Town dinner at Scott Howard last Friday, 12 January. Some details escape me (blessed wine!), but my taste buds have a good memory.

Overall it was a very enjoyable meal, and $32.00 was a good price for the three courses, though I didn't care for dessert. That said, I would re-consider this restaurant for a night of fine dining, but only during the week. Service was attentive and friendly once we were seated.

The table started with some nice raw oysters and a tasting of the cauliflower soup; gratis because we had to wait 45 minutes for our table (due to lingering early diners).

- Hama hama oysters Serrano chili salsa • Rice vinegar & sake mignonette
- Cauliflower soup Ancho chile syrup

Wine #1 was the Sauvignon Blanc, Pascal Jolivet, Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, 05 and #2 was a Pinot Noir (I didn't pick so i don't recall the name). #3 and #4 were suggested by the Sommelier in our price range.

To start I had the Hamachi appetizer

- Hamachi Pickled cucumber • Curried mayonnaise • Ponzu • Herb salad
This was three generously cut pieces of fish, not too chilled, with very nice accompanying sauces and greens.

We ended up passing our entrees around, and I liked everything I tasted on my side of the table.

- Maine scallops with Maitake mushrooms • Potato puree • Saffron sauce
The scallops were perfectly cooked, generously-sized and the sauce well-balanced.

- Pork Shoulder with celery root puree, braised kael, maple syrup glaze
Another fine combination of flavors. Succulent pork.

We also had two orders of the signature Pork Belly, which I happily ingested.

- Pork belly Celery root puree • Mustard greens • Cider glaze

I tried another entree, I think the Lamb Loin, but at this point our wine drinking was in full effect...

- Lamb loin with sunchokes, artichokes, endives, olive jus

Desserts were fine I suppose, but I don't generally care for dessert. I enjoyed the cheese selection, and we shared a bottle of Roederer Estate, Brut, Anderson Valley, California, NV

Okonomiyaki please

I'm perfectly happy with the Okonomiyaki at Mifune in J-town.

The secret is out... Chef Andy Wai's own restaurant in San Mateo

I just read through this thread and must say it is full of the reasons why I enjoy Chowhound so much–genuine pursuit of tasty things (and the people that make them) without pretension.

New Tenderloin Dim Sum restaurant

Walking home today I saw construction finishing on a restaurant on the north side of O'Farrell, between Leavenworth and Hyde. I also spied aluminum steamers and then stopped to ask what kind of restaurant it was and when it would open. Chinese & dim sum was his reply, opening in 2-3 weeks.

It was loud because of the construction, so I didn't continue the conversation. There's no name on the door, and they were installing a window. The dining area looked smallish and casual.

I'll report anything else I find out. I'm excited to have it, as that's one of the few things not easily available in my neighborhood.

San Jose Viet Lunch Group goes to Cao Nguyen

"I'm getting spoiled and picky..."

Hilarious - yes you are, as am I. I could do Nha Toi for another 6 lunches and be happy. :)

San Jose Viet Lunch Group goes to Cao Nguyen

Driving here, I was very excited to see the high-percentage of Vietnamese signs in the area. It reminded me of Westminster, CA.

I didn't dislike this restaurant, but admit that recent trips to Nha Toi have me severely spoiled for Viet meals.

My notes below:

1. Rice flour "cupcakes" with coconut milk and shrimp (banh khot)
- I've had these 2-3 times at Ngoc Mai in the Tenderloin. I like this dish. It was tasty and well prepared.

2. Lime-marinated beef salad (goi bo tai chanh)
- fine, but not inspiring. I've had better.

3. Deep-fried pork intestines
- tasty. tasty tasty! The smaller pieces had just the right amount of crunch and chewiness. Sauce was too sweet and improved with fish sauce/chilles. Would order again.

4. Grilled quail
- ooh. Really nice. Perfect rolled in salt/pepper with fresh-squeezed lime. More please.

5. Beef with vinegar "fondue"
- very good flavor on the fondue. I would have liked thinner-sliced beef. Generally as good as others.

6. Sweet and sour soup with catfish (canh chua...)
- improved with nuoc mam and chili sauce. The catfish was plentiful and tasty.

7. Pork braised in claypot (thit heo kho)
- overcooked and not enough sauce. Flavor was fine, though.

8. Salt and pepper squid
- poorly done. Neither crispy not juicy. Far from awful, just uninspiring.

9. Water spinach sauteed with garlic (rau muong xao)
- good and flavorful.

10. Grilled marinated pork (thit nuong)
- Nothing to complain about

11. West Lake soup with beef
- I enjoyed, but far from sublime.

I generally found this a nice restaurant, but wouldn't specifically go here again. In the area I wouldn't refuse it. Of course, I absolutely enjoyed the company - it aids in digestion.