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Berkeley Indian Places near Shattuck & University

We got takeout from the new location in March. Delicious but, to our non-Pakistani palates, wildly spicy. Almost inedible. We had gone once or twice a year for the last few years and it did seem like the heat level was creeping up. We have not tried asking them to tone it down—has anyone had success with that?

Chocolate pot de creme or mousse in the East Bay or Marin?

I've had chocolate pot de creme multiple times at Cesar in North Berkeley.

King of Noodles [SF] - Lamb noodle soup - quick report

+1. I've had this dish three times and loved it (in the three trips I've made to Kingdom of Noodles). Someone with a better MSG detector than mine should weigh in on the composition of this soup—I always think it tastes too good to be true.

A decent piece of chocolate cake

+1 for the Cheese Board chocolate loaf. Very moist and studded with chips. Maybe not what the OP wanted, though, since there is no frosting. Likewise, and even more off-topic, the Cheese Board double chocolate cookies are phenomenal.

Kiraku - New Izakaya in Berkeley

$35-$40 was with everything included, but only one of us had a beer.... I did order the ramen midway through the meal after realizing I would still be hungry otherwise. I didn't check the sake prices.

Kiraku - New Izakaya in Berkeley

We went recently and loved it, but orders are small, so it's not cheap: $35-$40 a head before you are truly full and satisfied. We had short ribs, fried sweet corn fitters with matcha powder, yuzu chicken udon (lemony, good), shoyu ramen (a fine specimen), black cod in sake lees (my order and my favorite of the night), spicy fries, and a raw fish special that I unfortunately did not try but that my companions said was delicious. The grilled squid on someone else's table looked fantastic.

Norikonoko next door was shuttered with a vague sign about opening again soon.

Food items that might "Wow" a pre-teen?

I was just remembering the whole quails at Bodega Bistro which are delicious with their lime-pepper sauce. Come with feet for sure, and possibly head.

Bodega Bistro
607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Real ice milk

I'm a snob who insists on only buying frozen treats with no guar/filler/stabilizers/corn syrup, which usually means premium full-fat ice cream. But I can't get enough of Nieves Cinco de Mayo. Last time I went, four of us each got a serving, and then we had to go back for an extra scoop of strawberry to share. I haven't seen any ingredients lists, so maybe it is all guar for all I know; but seeing Grandpa and Grandma mix the flavors and run the churner in the back of the little place, I doubt it. The real point is, such a light, creamy treat always hits the spot. Thank you, Ruth and other 'Hounds, for turning us on to this amazing place.

Smokey J's Q House - BBQ in Berkeley

We got our food about 8:15pm. The potatoes were crispy in places and greasy throughout. But good!

Smokey J's Q House - BBQ in Berkeley

Four of us went last night. Between us we sampled the brisket, pulled chicken, pulled pork, pork ribs, and poultry sausage. Loved everything except the pulled pork, which was fine but on the dry side. I can't comment on the sauces; I had the fall-apart brisket, used the shaker of dry spice rub at the table and loved the clovey, exotic taste. One dining partner detected smoked Spanish paprika. I ate every last piece of my side order of crispy potatoes with garlic and onions, but since they come in a pool of chicken fat from the rotisserie, it's a major calorie bomb and not for everyone. Cole slaw, on the other hand, is mayonnaise-free, healthy, and sweet-vinegary. Both sides were delicious.

I found the place and clientele a bit upscale relative to most BBQ joints I've seen. One wall is covered with framed clippings of media coverage from Chef J's previous stints cooking in Mumbai! Free watermelon after the meal, and free sweet tea with lime.

Best Pho on N-Judah west of Sunset Tunnel?

PPQ has been my favorite for years and years. But I believe it changed ownership recently and when I tried it in early February, my favorite dish--summer rolls--had gone significantly downhill, IMO. Padded with celery, which I didn't like.

Chinese New Year Banquet at Saigon Harbor

My favorite was the plain old braised fish littered with what I assume were ginger and leek julienne. Loved the sweet wine broth it was served in--reminded me of the sauce you get with tempura in a Japanese restaurant, in a very good way.

Perfect PIQ (Pane Italiano Qualita) Bakery in downtown Berkeley

I went to pick up a baguette and foccacia last night and was not blown away. I don't know enough about Italian bread to rule out the possibility that they are doing a true Italian style which I happen not to like? Baguette was fluffy without much crunch in the crust. Not so different from a Safeway deli baguette. Chocolate "soft biscotti" were a bit better--mostly cinnamon/spice flavor with a hint of chocolate. $9 for a bag of 4 or 5 (admittedly large) cookies!

Take out fried chicken in or near Berkeley

+1 for Summer Kitchen. Out of this world, ultra-juicy. Caveat is that we only tried it once, and it was fresh from the fryer, piping hot.

Berkeley BART station to UC campus - best place to stop for food

Meridian (a block or two in the opposite direction, on University) just re-opened. We haven't tried it in its new incarnation, but the old burger and duck fat fries were great. And the large screen TVs are definitely still there.

Fruitvale taco crawl, 2010 edition

Yes, many thanks to Ruth for the tour. I agree that the tinga at La Torta Loca was hard to taste under the crema, lettuce, etc. on the sope but caramelizy-oniony-sweet when unadorned on the huarache. And thanks to Tom for finding the handmade tortillas, for sale by request at the cash register inside La Mexicana at $6 for a dozen. On my way out, the waitress handed me a sample tortilla on the house, smeared with refried beans--possibly the best thing I ate all night!

La Torta Loca
3419 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

Crixa Russian cheesecake

Agreed. I don't even like cheesecake and I love this stuff. It's almost savory and very light. You get the curds of salty farmer cheese on your tongue.

Dan Sung Sa - Oakland

I was at Dan Sang Sa last night and loved it. We were considering the plain fried chicken wings, and the friendly waiter recommended we get the soy and garlic sauce on the side. The wings came deep brown and shatteringly crisp, hot out of the fryer. The sauce was so-so, compared to OBBQCT's, which in its hedonistic sweetness I find more addictive. But I was perfectly happy eating the wings plain. We also had beef and vegetables over rice in stone pot. This was perhaps even better than the wings, owing to a liberal dosing of oil throughout, which allowed the bottom of the rice to fry against the hot stone bowl surface. The mushrooms and zucchini and carrot shavings were savory with a hint of sweetness, and a fried egg topped it off. Really superb.

Ethiopian Chowdown at Enssaro, Oakland

My favorite was the doro wat. Very rich with spiced butter, both sauce and drumstick. I'd definitely go back for that.