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Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi

Thanks for the report - brings back wonderful dining memories for me. Particularly in Hue - the fried plantains at the street stalls were one of the best for me.

Highway 1

Check out the Mexican restaurants in Guadalupe, north of Santa Barbara on Highway One and walk it off taking a wonderful board-walk hike out to the Pacific ocean at Oso Flaco Lake state park, just north of Guadalupe. Or just drive out to the Gaudalupe Dunes for stunning sand dunes and ocean vistas.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...

Jan 26, 2015
glbtrtr in California

How to get breakfast in China outside your hotel

We saw less than a dozen westerners during our four days in Harbin, and they all turned out to be Russians. We were in the main tourism venues ....for plenty of Chinese tourists for sure.

They were lined up well into the street every time we went past for the often recommended three-story Russian restaurant "HuaMei" on the Central Avenue. It was in all the China tour agency guides as the place to dine in China, and it seems the young Chinese like to be trendy.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...

No other US tourists that we saw in this central core of Harbin, so we were lucky at least we ran into English language menus and names on restaurants and cafes. Often no pictographs for mens room or ladies room, just Chinese symbols.

How to get breakfast in China outside your hotel

You do have to stuff your face into this item to eat this - they hand it to you in a paper cone insider a small plastic bag that helps contain it. As found in most Asia eating places - no napkins and you will need to clean your fingers and face after eating this - all well worth it because this was delicious. Noticed a small sink in the back of Food Street where you can clean up. But again, bring your own tissues to dry off your hands or hand wipe packets.

Thank you for letting us know the name - Jian bing - Bingo! Our first worry was when they slathered on the chili sauce not knowing how hot this would make it but this being a sweet chili sauce it just brightened all the flavors and added no extra hotness at all.

Highway 1

Pismo Beach -where 101 and One combine along the coast - funky old coastal town south of San Luis Obispo - Mo's BBQ - try the Philthy Phil ribs with all the side dishes combo. Stop by HotLix just down the same main street heading towards the pier for an array of saltwater taffy and novelty candy items - we love the coffee-flavored salt water taffy.

Las Conchitas/Mussel Shoals - south of Santa Barbara before Ventura right off 101-Highway 1 - Cliff House motel has a wonderful waterside setting outdoor restaurant for your last feeling of being along the Pacific with the waves coming in and the palm trees swaying - food if basic, but the setting on a sunny day can't be beat.

Carpinteria - south of Santa Barbara - main street Linden Ave - GiannFranco's - very nice young chef takes on Sicilian Italian with wonderful fresh flavors.

Jalama Beach - south of Lompoc Highway One on a 20 minute side road to the ocean - famous burger and remote seaside vistas - get a "burger pass" for short-term parking in this county park instead of paying the overnight parking fee.

Might consider taking Highway 146 detour via Las Cachuma near Buellton and return to Highway One/101 just north of Santa Barbara and explore the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang. Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Ballard and try the variety of restaurants and wine sampling in this area (research CH) or take Stagecoach Road off Highway 146 to the Cold Springs Tavern for a delightful rustic old cabin restaurant tucked in among the trees. Caution: two-lane highway with some speeders and high accident rate.

Jan 25, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Harbin - China - Ice Festival 2015

Trip Report:

"FOOD STREET" - right next door to the Ibis Hotel in Downtown Harbin - small stalls with great variety of breakfast and lunch items. We loved the large filled crepe pancakes for breakfast - I had the "vegetable"one which had shredded lettuce and DH had the double egg/bacon one. We went back twice they were so good. Also had a bakery with lovely looking sugar fried breads and Portuguese egg tarts. Tables inside for self-service sit down casual eating. Good local place and able to see what others are ordering to know what to try because there was very little English spoken, You paid each shop keeper cash. And always as we found bring your won "napkins' or tissues.

CAFE U-9 on West 11th Street near Central Ave pedestrian walk way - excellent food. Large magazine sized menu in Chinese and English - not really a menu but a large picture book so we did a lot of pointing and hoping for the best. Not sure how to put a meal together but our choices were so good: picked cucumbers, honey roasted pork, the green dumplings and the white steamed ones with two Harbin beers came to only approx 100 Yuan. No US credit cards an kind of understood they wanted a chip and pin card, not the standard US credit or debit cards. We paid cash. Would have gone back there every night and worked our way around the menus and probably would have re-ordered the same thing twice.

CENTRAL AVENUE - STREET FOOD: Freezing cold but everyone is out walking and enjoying all the delights of this pedestrian mile lone avenue - lots of cafes but we ate sausages off a stick and those wonderful ice-cream bars everyone eats in the cold air. There are kabobs of all types cooked on open grills. I tried would looked like little fried dough balls that were drizzled with something sweet looking and then sprinkled with some sort of topping - walnut shavings? Nope, first bite said these were fish balls of some sort and that was shaved dried fish. Good for what they were but I was craving something sweet so those went into the handy waste cans up and down the street.

RUSSIA - 22 West 10th Street - through the Europa Mall off Central to the street behind it join east actually. Utterly charming word carvings, sweetly dressed waitresses, high quality kitsch and I think associated with the equally charming Russia Cafe and Food on one of the side streets off Central Ave.

We both had borsch and I had the seafood in cream sauce and DH had the beef stew pot. Everything was disappointing, not bad, but not good either. Mainly, not very Russian or what I was expecting to be Russian. Borsch without a trace of a beet or shredded cabbage? I wouldn't bother to go there for the food but it is worth it for the setting.

RUSSIA is located a few doors away from the older Europe West restaurant which we also checked out to see the amazing variety of choices on the menu before we decided to try the "real" Russian at the RUSSIA restaurant. Sorry we made this choice as the Europe West looked like and interesting if highly eclectic experience.

Snow Sculpture exhibition on Sun Island had food stall and great ginger tea in warming huts. Took the cable way over to the island which was an easy access from the river front Stalin Park area.

Took the hotel shuttle bus to Ice and Snow world which also has large food service areas and we got a strange combo at KFC - chicken nuggets with Portuguese eggs tarts which hit the spot in the cold night air.

I got the impression with hit and miss one can dine very well with a great deal of variety in Harbin. A very chow-worthty city. Or one could just keep going back to Food Street and Cafe U-9 and die a happy man.

Stop over at Inchon airport in Seoul had lots of food choices - a very nice airport for an extended layover. Even transit "visa free" free trips for an hour or several hour duration that can take you into town and food markets for more local exploration. We couldn't manage it with our schedule but something to know about if you find yourself on a layover in Seoul.

Food on Korean owned Asiana Airlines was pretty good - offering both a western and korean menu for the dinner service. And China Eastern to Harbin offered cold mulberry juice along with coffee, tea or soda choices - lovely.

How to get breakfast in China outside your hotel

Trip report -Harbin China - near the downtown Ibis Hotel West 9th Street.

We found a place called "Food Street (in English among the Chinese characters) right next door to our downtown Hotel Ibis. Lots of individual stalls open in the morning and we finally tried the street food item we had looked at so often in other Chinese cities and loved it for breakfast.

Sorry I don't know the name, but it was the very large, thin crepe pancake that has a smeared fried egg and sesame seeds on one side and then brushed with sweet chili sauce, some fried won ton skins for crunch and a variety of choices of other fillings. I had the "vegetables" which was shredded lettuce and drizzles of mayonnaise (7 Yuan) while DH had the double egg and "bacon" one (13 Yuan). So good we went back the next day.

Breakfast at the Ibis Hotel was as advertised, expensive in comparison and not so good. We got there late and most items would work for a US 'lunch" with little familiar for a US breakfast. It was at least freshly made, but cold by the time we got there and marginal. Fried rice, bean sprouts, pickled vegetables, filled dumplings - bread kind, toast, various hot cereals, milk, muesli, milk tea, tinned orange juice, asian canned fruits. Filling and would have been better had it been not, but not as terrible as reported in Trip Advisor.

But Food Street was a lot more fun, more local, very nice people who were happy to help even though almost zero English. Plus a wonderful bakery which had lovely looking fried breads, sugar donut type breads and the ever welcome "Portuguese" egg tarts.

Where to Eat in the Sacramento Area--Specifically Woodland, CA???

Davis is a major college town - might have some good choices.

We used to drive to Woodland to get beer because there was an alcohol sales limit around UC campuses back then and Davis itself was pretty small so basically it was a dry town. Then we'd go drink it by Putah Creek (the real creek) because it was way out in the wilderness, waaaaaay long time ago at Davis.

Jan 16, 2015
glbtrtr in California

[Malacca, Malaysia] Malacca's # 1 Breakfast at Mee Goreng Hassan Tengkera.

Great report. I was drooling ... and envious. Recently started each day with nasi goreng at an old school Singapore hotel too, but it did not come close to what you just showed us. Yum.

Brought back memories of the bus stop between Singapore and Malacca that had the best little baked crispy peanut butter filled somethings -they put the batter and filling into a grill press.

Oh my they were good and could never find them again in Singapore.

Seoul and Jeonju trip report

Please, what can you tell me about the Inchon airport. It looks good from the website with lots of restaurants and even activities. We have a few long layovers there and would love to hear more about it.

Driving from LA to SF on 101, where to stop?

Mo's BBQ in Pismo has four BBQ sauce choices - we like their Philthy Phil the best having tried them all - it is their regular I think but pumped up a bit with a little heat. They let you pump them all out in server cups so you can add which ever one you like best. But mainly it is the sweet, tender, fall off the bone pork ribs we keep coming back for... and the jugs of their Philthy Phil to take home.

Jan 14, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Emerging foodie regions in California

Add a side trip to Carpinteria and Giannfranco's too. Restaurant real estate has gotten expensive in Santa Barbara, so young chefs look to surrounding locations and are worth a nod.

See Oakland above, after SF priced just about everyone out of the market.

Jan 11, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Emerging foodie regions in California

An upcoming place that is starting to surprise is the city of Oakland.

Jan 11, 2015
glbtrtr in California
1

Emerging foodie regions in California

Ventura Food Tours sounds interesting if you do come to this area - don't know anything about it other than the website link in a local newspaper story.
http://www.venturafoodtours.com

There is also a very large rose garden estate that does tea at the height of the rose season on the back road to Ojai from the coast. Roseland?

Jan 11, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Emerging foodie regions in California

We loved that you asked because we all learned something from the discussion.

Jan 11, 2015
glbtrtr in California
1

How to get breakfast in China outside your hotel

Thank you for the helpful suggestions if we visit a food court in Harbin. How does one buy the food?

Point and ask the shop keeper and hope we understand the number of Yuan?

Or do we pay for it up front at a central register first and then present a ticket?

What should we expect to pay for some soup, dumplings or buns in this market setting, so we can have some ready small cash. I am not expecting any English spoken or written.

Do people bring their own chop sticks, napkins etc?

Thanks.

How to get breakfast in China outside your hotel

Great book called Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking which takes the reader decade by decade through Russian history since the Revolution as seen at the family table of the author.

http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Art-S...

She mentions mayonnaise a lot as one of the joys of soviet cuisine and was surprised to learn this ended up on the Russian table after Mikoyan visited the US in the 1930's to observe US food production and he came back to Russia with mayonnaise. It was a shock to her to learn this was Hellman's addition from US cuisine that got it started, not Stalin.

I guess that covers Russian salad too.

How to get breakfast in China outside your hotel

Our big issue is it will be very cold and we will be walking.

Apparently taxis are a nightmare during the Ice and Snow Festival. It is costing us $100 to just get from the airport to the hotel in a pre-reservation taxi, after hearing the horror stories about getting kicked out on snow drifts if you did not pay their exorbitant "festival" fares.

So we are going to be looking mainly for eating places we can walk to ...in -34 degree weather! Yes, this is a vacation. But one I look forward to getting over with, than looking forward to actually being there. Ice and Snow Festival has been on my bucket list so grit my teeth, I am going to see it.

Our hotel is quite close to the main Central Avenue so it will not be hard to find something, even western fast food. But mainly the early breakfast hours are the concern since most are open only by late morning. The one good western hotel for breakfast - the Shangri-La sounds a bit far for an early morning walk. And there are no other western hotels around us.

We certainly will not starve and can easily bring some breakfast bars and have hot tea or Swiss Mist to get our mornings started in our room. I just needed to know what I could expect to find that passes for breakfast and your posts have been very helpful - soup, dumplings and noodles. All good.

Hope to report back, because this town is pretty much off the radar but looks full of interesting options with its Russian/Chinese mix. There are several restaurants with "Western" in their names and they are all Russian, though one has pizza with mayonnaise on it. (!)

Emerging foodie regions in California

I initially agree with you about the Pierpont Inn for dining, but recently read a credible report that made me think they had upped their game, though I have not been back myself in some time.

The new review made me want to give it another shot. However, when in this area there are a lot of very small places in Old Town Ventura to try as well.

Thanks for the tip on the Lure Fish House. Menu looks very good.

Jan 09, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Emerging foodie regions in California

Santa Paula (Highway 126) is the citrus capital of the world - charming valley and roadside fruit and produce stands. Hozy's is the place to dine. Go when the blossoms are at their peak. Avocados are prime there too. See if you can get a tour of Limoneria, a lovely art deco packing plant. They used to do orchard dinners - check their website. One dines well at the historic Pierpont Inn in Ventura where you can stay, and you can also do a taco crawl along the main streets in Oxnard. Nearby Ojai also has very unique citrus selections too - pixie tangerines and the sweetest grapefruit. Surrounging Ventura County has major strawberry fields.

Jan 08, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Far Western Moving to Orcutt in 2011

Thanks for your good report. We tried the new Far Western with great trepidation shortly after it opened because we had long been fans of the old site, which can never be duplicated for its sheer ancient funk as an old railway hotel.

But they did do a very good job with the new place, and we enjoyed our hearty burgers there. More than willing to keep the new Far Western on our regular out of town stops. It remains a local go-to place and has been well-embraced by its former crowd of regulars.

I am sorry the little trip-worthy town of Guadalupe lost this historic anchor and that the wonderful La Simpatia mexican cafe also in Guadalupe looks like it will never re-open on that block in town again either.

Jan 08, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Driving from LA to SF on 101, where to stop?

#15 La Superica and a Brazillian Coffee Chip chaser - my idea of heaven. And a boat load of dairy fat. Which is why it is sooo good. At least living here, we can walk between the two spots and end up with net zero calories!

Jan 06, 2015
glbtrtr in California
1

Driving from LA to SF on 101, where to stop?

Melanie Wong has some good suggestions for Mexican in Salinas, though I find this town a difficult on-off access from 101.

Jan 06, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Driving from LA to SF on 101, where to stop?

Not Mexican, but we love Mo's BBQ in PISMO BEACH - Philthy Phil ribs with bbq beans and their amazingly fresh cole slaw. Timing would be about right. We go out of our way to hit Mo's on a regular basis and pick up their jugs of BBQ sauce.

Don't undersell the classics and wonderful kitsch at the Madonna Inn - Copper Cafe just south of SAN LUIS OBISPO. BLT combo with salad with fresh blue cheese dressing and a slice of pie/toffee crunch cake is a roadie favorite for me

Pismo also has some fans for its Mexican food. KING CITY is also a good midway stop and if you turn right on Broadway and head into town away from the fast-food chain places to the left, there are a whole string of Mexican places others have found they like a lot - explore CH for the recommended ones.

Jan 06, 2015
glbtrtr in California

How to get breakfast in China outside your hotel

I will be in Harbin China, but assume this might be a good question for much of China - how to get a western breakfast outside of one's hotel. It seems like most cafes only open late in the morning for more savory items. What is open around 8am?

Our hotel is right near a very large underground shopping mall with apparently a food court, but don't know what we will find.

We do know McDonalds and Starbucks are down the street, but what should we look for in a shopping mall food court that would satisfy a "western type" breakfast desire - hot beverage, juice/fruit and some sort of cereal or hot good breads. Nothing sticky or sweet.

Eggs, maybe but nothing too exotic at this time in the morning. Scorpians on a stick or a stuffed pig head with marrow sort of thing. And I can do without congee (Picky, picky, picky I know - but breakfast prefers comfort and not adventure for me.)

I know I will see lots of stall selling all sorts of strange looking items to my eyes. How do I choose, how do I pay, where does one go to eat what they purchase or do you eat it on the run?

Thanks for any tips that might be useful in this very cold, northern Manchurian/Russian city. All reports conclude breakfast in our hotel is horrible and expensive.

Castro Valley Groceries?

Al's Market - corner of Parsons Ave and San Miguel had a reputation for better than average produce.

San Luis Obispo-area wineries

Thacher in the Far Out Wineries group won the best of show red (Zinfindel) for the San Francisco Wine show a few years ago. Quite a surprise for a new winery. Small low key place, rustic setting and good folks who are happy to share and talk about what's new. http://www.thacherwinery.com

Jan 01, 2015
glbtrtr in California

Thoughts on these Paso Robles Wineries/Restaurants

Since it has rained the hills will be green again which makes it a spectacular time to take the Far Out Wineries route west of Paso Robles, out Peachy Canyon Road and beyond. http://www.travelpaso.com/experiences... And always: drink and drive responsibly.

Dec 30, 2014
glbtrtr in California

2 Nights in Avila Beach

Madonna Inn and its high kitsch and permanent Christmas decor south of San Luis Obispo on Highway 101 would delight an 8 year old, good classic food for the parents too. Save room for the quite glorious toffee crunch cakes.

San Luis Bay Pier has simple dining choices and often barking sea lions just a few steps away at the water level. There is a fish market on the pier and some walkaway seafood cocktails you can eat at open tables outdoors if the weather is good.

Pismo Beach has a lot of good family dining options too which is a bit south of Avila. A search of this website will bring up the most frequent recommendations.

Dec 28, 2014
glbtrtr in California

Looking for help with winery recommendation Santa Ynez

I think there is a lot of shopping entertainment for teens in Solvang and it is a very safe environment to leave them on their own like you suggest. Plenty of food choices too that would interest that age group. Great shoe store on the main drag.

However, since there are now wine sampling shops also in Solvang, the parents might want to not do the extra driving to a vineyard or even Los Olivos and just go their separate ways staying in Solvang itself and then meeting back at a certain time.

http://www.solvangusa.com/explore-sol...

Dec 27, 2014
glbtrtr in California