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SF Dish of the Month (May 2014) - Nominations/Voting

Off the top of my head, places in the South Bay that offer joong year-round include Joy Luck in Cupertino (at lunch, in the cheung fun cart, not to be confused with law-mai-gai) and all branches of Cooking Papa (item A1, $9.50).

There's also the Shanghai form of it, which I've seen at Little Shanghai in San Mateo and Shanghai Bistro in Millbrae. Other Shanghai places like Shanghai Dumpling Shop likely offer it too.

Apr 30, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Lure + Till in The Epiphany Hotel (Palo Alto)

At lunch, all the entrees were a few bucks cheaper and matched up pretty closely to the preview menu.

Mar 30, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Happy noodles [San Mateo]

For anybody wondering where the Happy Noodles chef went, he's now working at Fey in Menlo Park according to the owner.

Mar 30, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Lure + Till in The Epiphany Hotel (Palo Alto)

We stopped by to try a few of the fresh pastas that caught my eye in Melanie's original post.

- First, we tried the Mafalde, curled ribbons of pasta that nicely clung to a rich bolognese made of pancetta. The pasta was perfectly cooked, and the hearty, chunky bolognese was flavorful without being overly salty. Straightforward but well-executed. We'd definitely order this again.

- We also tried the Tagliarini, described as being accompanied by "braised hen jus, rosemary and thyme blossoms and turnip". The tagliarini reminded me of ramen (and tajarin) but was too soft for my liking. The sauce was an emulsion of pureed turnip and hen jus, topped with the blossoms, breadcrumbs and egg. This made for an interesting flavor profile - creamy, mildly savory, and surprisingly citrusy with accents of herbs. Not quite my cup of tea, but I'm glad to have tried it.

Though this was just one visit, I think Lure + Till's off to a promising start. Once the restaurant settles in and gets "discovered", I hope it inspires more restaurants like it to open up shop in Silicon Valley.

Mar 30, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Dim sum in San Francisco with good vegetarian options? [Split from "Best Dim Sum in SF"]

I don't know if YS serves this, but a common vegetarian option is a called "so gao" which literally translates to vegetarian dumpling but is understood to be filled with a blend of julienned mushrooms, bamboo shoots and a little more.

It's almost identical to the filling used in Cooking Papa's Rice Noodle Roll with Assorted Mushrooms (RR15).

http://www.mycookingpapa.com/menu/men...

Mar 27, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Friday dinner near-ish the Mission or Glen Park bart [San Francisco]

How quickly does Gialina fill up after opening time on weekends? I've been wanting to try it for a while.

Mar 26, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Thoughts about dinner (not dimsum) at Koi Palace? [Daly City]

As ckshen says, it's a cultural thing. There are many well-heeled Chinese families that don't enjoy eating at home no matter what and will make the trek to entertain themselves and others. Koi's just about the only place locally that stocks the exotic seafood and has the menu breadth that these families are looking for.

Mar 26, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area
1

New Port Seafood in Cupertino

Since you mentioned the Joy Luck clams, Joy Luck's still offering the same surf clams but at a higher price of $5.88.

On a recent-ish visit, we found the clams not to be as good as before. They oddly now plate them in a mini dish rather than in the shell, something I've never seen before but was the same for other tables. Disappointingly, it was a "dead" clam this time because it was a tinge sour and lacked its characteristic bounce and natural sweetness.

It's part of a string of disappointing surf clams we've had recently around the area. Usual offenses include overcooking the clam, picking clams with too little meat or using subpar accompaniments (overcooked vermicelli, plain vs. chili-infused soy sauce, garlic that's too salty, etc.).

Mar 25, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Thoughts about dinner (not dimsum) at Koi Palace? [Daly City]

The lazy susan on the table's also a dead giveaway that it was a large party.

Mar 25, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Thoughts about dinner (not dimsum) at Koi Palace? [Daly City]

Ah, favoritism in Cantonese restaurants. It stretches back to the beginning of time. Virtually every Cantonese restaurant I've been to from the top to bottom plays its favorites. It's repugnant to many, but it's just part of the culture.

- Favorite customers get to skip the line during dim sum service. They huddle somewhere in the back of the restaurant far away from the host stand, so you usually don't see this. Attempts to point out open tables that are held for regulars are met with half-lies about them being "reserved."

- Favorite customers get treats throughout the meal, like complimentary XO sauce at the start and real desserts at the end (mango pudding, almond cookies), rather than the usual red bean soup.

- Managers kiss up and spend lots of time at certain tables, change their plates frequently while completely neglecting others.

- Customers "bribe" the hostess with little gifts, hoping to become favorite customers in the future.

- Sometimes, favorites get more generous portions than the norm, or they get the "prime" picks of certain dishes. Many restaurants cook dishes in batches (waiting for multiple orders), and they come out at the same time, so it's easy to notice this.

- This isn't about favoritism, but it is about service. Generally, service at these restaurants is poor. But they are *awfully* quick any time it comes to the check. They are efficient in serving it and more so in taking your money and seeing how much you've tipped. Contrary to the negligent service they provide, they're watching the whole time.

@KK - Ah, Yung Kee. Don't they also segregate based on whether you're a tourist or not?

Mar 25, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

85 Degrees C (85C) Bakery Taiwanese chain coming to Bay Area (potentially Newark / Union City / Fremont)

A few weeks back, they appeared to be doing on-site interviews in the parking lot. It can't be too far off, I assume.

More businesses are starting to pop up in that Cupertino plaza including a Bambu and Snowflake tea house (coming soon). One may wonder what the anchoring supermarket will be. It'll be this.

http://www.marina-fresh.com/home.html

Marina Fresh is not related to the Marina chain already in Cupertino, Fremont and San Mateo. Confusingly, it's part of another chain in San Jose called "Marina Food."

Sources:
https://www.abc.ca.gov/datport/LQSdat...
http://companies.findthecompany.com/l... (matched the owner's name)

Mar 15, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

What's up with Nopa? [San Francisco]

I can't speak for NOPA's practices, but my impression's that restaurants allocate a small number of tables to OpenTable and leave the majority for those who call in.

I got lucky with Cotogna by calling in the same day and got the slot that I wanted when that wasn't showing up on OT.

Mar 12, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

What's up with Nopa? [San Francisco]

@Robert - We walked in around 5:15 PM.

Mar 12, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco lunch options - advice appreciated

I'm in a somewhat similar spot where we'll be driving up from the South Bay on an upcoming weekday for lunch. As such, we'd like something worth the drive since this doesn't happen too often for us.

I've already been to Cotogna and Perbacco, so I'd like to try something new but still worthy of the drive.

We've been looking at...

- Prospect
- Boulevard
- Zuni
- Park Tavern

We're open to other ideas as long as it's not Chinese (or other Asian cuisines), which we have plenty of down below. We particularly like Italian, but all the hot spots seem to be dinner only besides the two already tried.

Mar 12, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

What's up with Nopa? [San Francisco]

This is just one data point, but when I stopped by a few weeks ago on a Sunday, before opening time, they weren't able to seat us walking in till 10 PM at any spot, communal table included. We ended up going to Nopalito instead.

Mar 12, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Lure + Till in The Epiphany Hotel (Palo Alto)

I passed by the hotel over the weekend on the way to Tacolicious and was intrigued by it. On paper, it looks like a promising addition to Palo Alto.

The fresh pastas in particular look interesting.

(As a related aside, there's another restaurant of this sort opening up soon in San Mateo called Block 34. Ex-TFL chef according to the construction signage.)

Mar 12, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Dinner in DT Burlingame or San Mateo on someone else's expense account

It's worth noting that San Mateo Prime (suggested earlier) and Broadway Prime are run by two brothers in the same family, so the food/experience will be similar in both. (We've had both over the years.)

Mar 08, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Dinner in DT Burlingame or San Mateo on someone else's expense account

It's been a few years since I've gone, but my last visit to Sushi Sam's was excellent, and I'd definitely return. Haven't been on a weekday night, but it gets crowded pretty quickly even for weekday lunch.

Pizzeria Delfina in Burlingame is good, but I wouldn't bring someone out of town unless they don't mind the "cozy" seating arrangement.

Mar 06, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Cooking Papa (Foster City)

Yikes, that's a 180-degree turn from what I'd expect from them. (I only go to the Santa Clara location.)

I'm most surprised by the slowness part. Cooking Papa serves quickly to a fault, to the point where we'd joke and time them from when they took our order to receiving the first dish, usually within the 2-3 minute mark even at peak capacity.

Mar 06, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

MP food truck update

Not sure if this is the right place to do this, but Off the Grid's also starting up a weekly gathering in Cupertino @ Whole Foods on Tuesday nights, 5-9.

http://www.mercurynews.com/cupertino/...

Mar 05, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Excellent off the beaten path affordable Cantonese at Yum's Bistro in Fremont

Shek baan would be rock cod. Hung lung's this one, courtesy of Melanie.
http://static.flickr.com/25/100956290...

It's similar to "kinki" in Japanese (or perhaps even the same fish).

I define sleepy as still-alive, but little/no movement, sometimes accompanied by being "permanently" upside down.

Mar 05, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

San Mateo: best Chinese near 92 & El Camino after 9pm?

I'll second the recommendation for Cooking Papa. It's not the same style as the other spots, but the food's consistently good.

Silver House wasn't as good on a return visit a year or two ago when we tried the things they used to be good for. The surf clams (which were oddly charged by the pound rather than each) were overcooked, and the ja-jee-gai (crispy chicken) was dry/overcooked. Other dishes we had that day were only OK. It's a shame because this place was previously pretty good for cheap Cantonese fare in the area.

Mar 05, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

SF or Peninsula Fresh Pasta restaurant

Thanks for mentioning Portola Kitchen. We've been there once for a mid-week lunch, and the Lumache's exactly as you describe, a light chewy pasta accented by chili. It's simple and homey.

I wasn't impressed with the pizza (undercooked, below blonde on our visit) or the service, so we haven't returned, but it's another choice in the area that hasn't been talked up much.

(Curiously, in your picture, the pizza is rather done. It must have been an off-day, but all the pizzas leaving the kitchen looked pretty similar in doneness.)

Mar 05, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Excellent off the beaten path affordable Cantonese at Yum's Bistro in Fremont

Hmm, thanks for the tip on that. We generally keep to steamed fish at home or splurge when we travel overseas where the selection's much better.

The "hung lung" (the red groupers) in particular can be a little sleepy. It's something I've noticed for that species in practically every restaurant I've visited in the past year (Koi, Saigon, Joy Luck, Asian Pearl, etc.)

Mar 05, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

SF or Peninsula Fresh Pasta restaurant

We've tried most of what's on bbulkow's list over the years, and I'm in general agreement with what he's said. To add to that, there's Vero in Palo Alto and Locanda Positano in San Carlos, not to be confused with Locanda by the Delfina group. I didn't really like either of those.

I've been to Osteria Coppa twice, first when it was new and a few weeks ago. The chef used to work at Quince, so some of the signatures from Quince/Cotogna show up, like the Raviolo, Agnolotti dal Plin, sformato, butterscotch budino. Regrettably, none were available on the revisit. The pizza's are still no good, but the pastas were improved. Not up to SF standards but decent for the area if a bit pricey at $20 each for some.

The only other place I've been to on the Peninsula that I'd return to for the pasta is Donato Enoteca.

@bbulkow - Vesta serves pasta?

Mar 05, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Excellent off the beaten path affordable Cantonese at Yum's Bistro in Fremont

The literal translation is "concubine" clam, which is also the same moniker applied to some preps of steamed chicken. That's why the term "princess" sometimes comes up. I've also seen it translated as "giant" clam.

The chicken/fish maw dish sounds like a play on the classic "jade" chicken dish, deboned, then steamed with ham, shiitake and you choy in a similar broth.

Good to hear that Yum's is still going strong.

Mar 05, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Cotogna review [San Francisco]

I ended up snagging a last-minute lunch reservation last week. Good thing because a crowd of about 20 people formed around opening time.

We didn't get to try everything we wanted (no sformato or pizzas), but we got a good sampling of starters, pastas and desserts.

- Yellowtail Crudo
- Prix Fixe (Creamy Garlic Soup, Lasagne, Butterscotch Budino)
- Raviolo
- Agnolotti dal Plin
- Apple Tart

Overall, I really enjoyed the meal with the exception of the Lasagne, which was rather salty and heavy, in contrast to everything else which was light. (I wonder if they'll let you sub a different choice for an extra fee? Should have asked.)

The Raviolo and Agnotti were standouts, but everything overall was very solid. I appreciate the restraint that pervades the cooking here - everything's lightly dressed, allowing the ingredients to shine through.

I'll definitely be returning down the road to try out the pizza (which we saw and looked great), the sformato and some string pastas when more of those return to the rotation.

Mar 01, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Sushi In Santa Clara/Banh Mi

Your choices for authentic sushi in Santa Clara are pretty slim.

There's Sawa Sushi in Sunnyvale if you're looking for a splurge meal. Omakase only - no a la carte or ordinary stuff here.

For a more "normal" meal, Sushi Tomi on Saratoga Ave, just off 280 is a safe and reliable choice that accommodate different budget levels from preset sushi plates all the way up to omakase.

Beyond sushi, Santa Clara and the immediate area have some pretty decent non-sushi Japanese spots. If you haven't had these styles before, they're worth a try.

- Sumiya and Gaku for skewers.
- Orenchi and Santouka for ramen.
- Iroriya for robata. I haven't been here, but it's gotten rave reviews so far.
- Other izakaya choices are Tanto, Dan, Saizo.
- Gochi in Cupertino is a perennial favorite. It's more fusion small plates than izakaya though.
- Gombei does homestyle Japanese comfort food and conveyor belt sushi.

Feb 24, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

The Kitchen Millbrae - any recent updates/comments?

Is the Kitchen's dim sum similar/identical to Asian Pearl's? The menu posted above looks identical, so I'm curious...

Feb 20, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area

Koi Palace in Milpitas?

I have pretty fond memories of ABC Milpitas. In the late 90's/early 00's, it was one of the top spots for dim sum (alongside Fook Yuen and Harbor Village). When the dim sum chef left a few years later, the quality noticeably decreased along with the crowds. We also stopped going.

He allegedly resurfaced at Joy Luck Cupertino and eventually ended up at Zen Peninsula. Not sure where he's at now. Interestingly, most of the steamed dim sum at Joy Luck Cupertino still tastes rather similar to ABC's in the early 00's.

Feb 19, 2014
Jon914 in San Francisco Bay Area