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Pho Ga : SFBA Dish of the Month November 2014

The gelling report on Champa Garden's fer leftovers is that it didn't gel in the fridge. I'm not surprised, as this is a flavorful, though less chicken-forward version.

about 22 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Pissed Off Pete's (Excelsior District, San Francisco)

Looks great--I was just mushroom foraging near Salt Point last weekend and found mostly boletes (porcini, in the list on instagram) and some chanterelles. 'Tis the season.

about 22 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Grocery Cafe- Burmese food! [Oakland]

They were open tonight when I drove by just before 5 pm and I'm really glad I stopped by. Their soft opening menu is $7 each, for the offerings listed above, I believe. I got the mohinga and the tea leaf salad and I couldn't be happier to have this place relatively nearby my house (though my waistline might disagree).
The tea leaf salad was very generously proportioned and included a good variety of well-fried mix-ins. It was noticeably spicy after mixing--I assume the chili spice came from an oil or within the tea leaf mixture (I've gotten prepackaged fermented tea leaves that were labeled "spicy" before) and there was no noticeable mix-in of chili. One of the best tea leaf salads I've had.
The mohinga was also good. I was most impressed with the yellow pea fritters included with the noodles. They had a great crisp texture and had, I believe, a mixture of yellow peas, yellow pea batter, and fried shallots.
The entire interior was set up with tables and chairs for a restaurant. (There is also a back area that in daylight looks rather inviting with succulent plantings.) I asked whether there was going to be a grocery eventually, and there was a bit of a language barrier, but I believe the man working (a man a generation younger than William Lue) confirmed that it would be just a restaurant for the foreseeable future. I did spy a large bag of non-standard carrots (large, yellow and light orange) on the counter, though.
I'll be back, though the current hours seem sporadic enough that anyone outside the area might want to try to call first before stopping by. I'd driven by a couple other times this week during the stated hours on Facebook without luck.

about 22 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Hapa Ramen -- What price ramen?

Does Hapa name their sources? I don't find anything after a cursory look at the website, even a blanket, non-convincing, but popular in the Bay Area statement like 'We use sustainable local ingredients when possible', though I did find a link to "HAPA RAMEN’S RICHIE NAKANO TALKS ABOUT MASTERING SOCIAL MEDIA".

The ramen prices seem high, but the price of the steamed buns and most appetizers seems pretty reasonable.
http://haparamensf.com/Hapa_Food_Menu...

As for seasonality vs. tradition, I found in my couple visits to the Farmer's Market version of Hapa that the seasonal ingredients sometimes detracted from the broth--I particularly remember an asparagus version. If it were a veggie-forward soup, but as it was, it detracted from the pork broth.

Grocery Cafe- Burmese food! [Oakland]

Thanks!! I'd seen some activity recently when I drive by occasionally to check it out, so I walked over today and found it closed at 4pm--it probably would have been weeks until I tried again were it not for this post.

Pho Ga : SFBA Dish of the Month November 2014

Not a silly question, in my experience it is made with chicken broth. Though, like sundeck sue below, I am also generally confused that I don't find any pho ga as chickeny as a Jewish/American chicken noodle soup.
I've ordered pho ga very few times since moving to SF 8 years ago, seeking out the much-lauded pho ga at Turtle Tower, and tasting my friend's beef pho. Neither of us were very impressed, partially due to the effort of getting to their, at the time, single location that closed early and was generally busy. Part of the disappointment was that I hadn't adequately noted that they specialize in "Northern-style" pho, with few warm spices notes, but also because I envision a good chicken soup as very rich and chickeny, whereas i feel like the chicken broth pho restaurants are going for has a much lighter quality. I can't tease out in my mind (but maybe I'll try to experiment on my leftovers) whether it is mostly because I make thicker broth with a higher chicken/collagen ratio, or whether the carrots or wheat/egg noodles are influencing my overall perception of richness.
I'm curious if others have the same perception, and what parts/techniques generally go in to the pho ga broth.

Pho Ga : SFBA Dish of the Month November 2014

I tried the pho/fer at Champa Garden in Oakland. It was a bit different from the Vietnamese, Viet/Chinese versions I've tried before in that it had a bit more seasoning in the soup initially. There were thick cilantro stems and bolting leaves in the broth, adding a nice herbal/acidic flavor. There was also a slightly noticeable light oily layer on the top that had some red chili flavor and color, and I noticed a bit more toasted garlic background. The chicken soup itself was a bit thinner than I expected, and slightly sweet. It was served with accompaniments of fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, and plenty of lime wedges. The noodles$6.95 for a medium portion (which is plenty for one).
Again, not my favorite dish on the menu, but a decent soup.

Pho Ga : SFBA Dish of the Month November 2014

Thanks, yes, 1212 E 12th St. It's to bad places didn't continue, but at least I named a city.

I'd also like to add that I took a cup or so home, as I generally tire of even a small/medium portion of pho ga. It gelled lightly, a bit less than I was expecting.

Where to buy nama age deep fried tofu in Berkeley?

For the remainder of the Hodo tofu, I would make http://userealbutter.com/2010/11/30/s...
A recipe originally from Mark Bittman, that I can't link to behind the NYTimes paywall (and possible video).
It's a hot spiced oil poured over a pressed tofu and celery salad. The oil is a DIY 5+ spice, so it probably won't clash with the tofu. I used to make this with Hodo's Green Tea tofu, but I believe they stopped making it.
Also, many of the shops in Oakland Chinatown are likely to have it, if that's more convenient than 99 Ranch. I'm pretty sure Yuen Hop does.

Pietisserie opens in Lake Merritt [Oakland]

Thanks for the info, I walk by frequently and saw the buildout finished a while ago (maybe August), then brown paper go up over the windows, and no pie yet. It's good to know it will be opening soon.

Dragon Gate - New Taiwanese Food Venue in Oakland

I also tried the beef noodle soup and it was really great. I was slightly after lunchtime, and the soup cost $11, though that seems to be the cost at any time now, according to the take-out menu I have. It was certainly a good deal for the price, though I generally consider myself a fairly hungry person and it seemed like a portion size for two to me, as a meal, not an appetizer.
The broth was rich, beefy and aromatic. The portion I took home gelled easily in the fridge. The beef was flavorful, plentiful, and tender, and the daikon was really great. The pickled mustard really completed the dish.

Burmese Kitchen closing, another victim of the out-of-control hi-tech economy. [San Francisco]

Ha ha, thanks, I've literally been LMAO at the self-seriousness of your post, and attempt to put out flames with gasoline. While many of the responses have focused on speculative or tangential issues, the OP is very relevant, and the impending loss of Burmese Kitchen has been sadly noted by myself and others in other threads. In non-disputed facts, Burmese Kitchen is closing and the proprietor (who anyone who has been there more than once sees as a genuine and caring guy) cites the changing nature of San Francisco.
It is not totally off topic, as Burmese Kitchen is a very good place to eat. Many of the Vietnamese and Burmese immigrants settled in the Tenderloin came here as refugees during very difficult times. The refugee organization I've volunteered with hasn't placed anyone in San Francisco in years due to high rents, and this has most definitely altered the landscape of restaurants in the Tenderloin. Be it only from tech, or from a general increase in wealth and limited geographical area, rents and prices in SF have been skyrocketing and this definitely affects the ability and type of restaurant that can move in. And rather than favoring the best and brightest, it often favors chains that can support initial loss stages.

Pho Ga : SFBA Dish of the Month November 2014

As it was near my polling place and I hadn't been there before, I stopped by Wing Wah Pho Ga in Oakland. I'm not a bit pho ga afficianado, but I found the version here to be good (where the bar for good is above what I find to be typical of places not specializing in pho ga--a thin broth with light chicken flavor, and likely MSG enhancement).
The broth was reasonably chickeny, with no enhancement noticeable to me. It is served with a ginger-scallion sauce in the style of the nearbyish Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe. The noodles were standard thin reconstituted pho noodles. The chicken, though the shredded off the bone option was suggested, was on the bone chicken with noticeably yellow skin and a rather chewy texture, though not as intensely chickeny as I had hoped. White onions were also present in the broth. Garnish were ginger scallion sauce, slightly tired bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapeno, and lemon, cost $7.25.
The quality was good enough that I'll stop by the place again, though not necessarily for pho ga (not that I'm saying there was anything bad about their pho ga, I just prefer bolder flavors). I can't tell if they left the pho ga in their name due to the previous establishment at that spot, Pho Ga 69 #1, or if they emphasize it. The menu has plenty of rice plates, the other table there ate the time ordered beef pho, the bun bo hue and banh cuon sounded better than average on yelp reviews, and bun mang vit is a menu item. After seeing that, I can almost picture my server as being at Bun Mang Vit Thanh Da before it closed, so perhaps that is the case.

Brie: Cheese of the Month (November 2014)

Thanks for organizing jpr54_1.
I picked up two types recently, Fromage de Meaux Rouzaire and Brie Nangis (my googling leads me to believe this is also by Rouziare, though that wasn't stated on the sticker. These seem to be two of the top US imports, as they are pasteurized).
I don't think I've ever really bought or payed much attention to anything labeled "brie" at the cheese counter before, so I decided to start this structured exploration with cheeses from the region where AOC brie is produced.
Unfortunately, neither impressed me as noticeably different from the many platters of nameless brie I've had at grad school functions. Comparing the two head to head, they were actually quite similar, but if forced to name a difference I'd say the Meaux was slightly butterier. Both had the texture I've come to expect from endless brie platters, a smooth, soft, slightly rubbery paste.
As true AOC brie (from unpasteurized milk, aged under 90 days) can't be imported to the US, I think my next trials will be in the artisanal American realm.

Nov 02, 2014
...tm... in Cheese

Fresh Turkish Delight near San Mateo, CA

I've seen it at the Hayward branch of Crossroads World Market. There is a Palo Alto branch I haven't been to, but assume would also carry it. Not being a sweets person, I haven't tried it, so I can't vouch for the quality.

Burmese Kitchen's Special of the Day: Goat Curry [San Francisco]

I've bumped it up on my priority list to get back to Burmese Kitchen before it closes on November 26, as repored in eatersf
http://sf.eater.com/2014/10/29/708657...

It's one of my favorite Burmese spots, back to the Larkin Express Deli sandwiches day.

Landlord troubles were cited, and he hopes to reopen.

Where can I buy fresh flour tortillas?

According to Kenji at Serious Eats you can get them at Safeway in SF, though I didn't notice them at the smaller East Bay Safeways I stopped in recently. I did, however, pick up a normal sized pack (20 oz) at Lucky on E 18th St in Oakland.
While I like them better than your standard commercial tortilla, I prefer La Palma's slightly thicker, more flavorful tortillas. Does anyone know of a good homemade flour tortilla in the East Bay?

Top spots for Vietnamese food in Oakland

I think the sign on their door might say 8 pm, and they were open that late for a while, but in the previous months I've found them closed at or slightly before 7 pm.

Pupusas : SFBA Dish of the Month September 2014

I tried some pupusas at Los Cocos in Oakland (Fruitvale Ave and 14th St). I ordered a revueltas and a loroco. They came out not terribly crispy, but browned on the outside, and slightly less done than I'd like on the inside. The revueltas filling was one of the more flavorfull I've had in recent memory, however, with plenty of pork flavor in the bean/cheese mix. The curtido was quite crunchy, with what I perceived to be a vinegar note (rather than fermented) and plenty of picked onions. The hot sauce was a fully pureed tomato salsa in a squeeze bottle. Overall I wasn't too excited, though I've never been a huge fan of pupusas. My favorite part of the meal was the tamarindo agua fresca I got, after being told they were out of coco and ensalada. It wasn't too sweet and was ade with real tamarind pulp.

most varied Vietnamese herb plate

Of the inexpensive East Oakland places I've been going to recently it has been hard for me to distinguish seasonal/availability variation from dish variation, though culantro and rau ram seem relatively common. One place in the East Bay I remember having a surprisingly varied herb plate is Anh Hong in Berkeley. I find pretty decent, and at the chowhound in 2009 we got an herb plate with fishmint and rau ram http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6634...
I have been back for just bun, and have gotten fewer herbs--maybe fishmint goes with a particular dish, or maybe you just have to ask. I wouldn't be surprised, as it is generally unappealing to me (even though I like fishy fish).

Captain & Corset in Oakland Uptown

That's too bad--I was really interested in the menu posted online, but never made it. I guess I'll have to see where Sophina Uong goes next.

2014 Oakland Eat Real Festival, Sept 19 - 21, Jack London Sq.

By 7:30 there were enough lines that it made it difficult to walk through the festival, the lines were spotty and many of the longest were at trucks that go to several OTG events per week. I got the panucho from the Nido stand, as I've yet to go there and there was no line. It was quite tasty, though seemed a bit overpriced at $7 (a price I would have been less annoyed by if I were sitting in their restaurant, drinking, rather than standing and trying not to flick the cabbage garnish onto my friends' shoes.)
I also got the lamb poutine from The Whole Beast stand, with a very short wait. It was really good, with plenty of smoky lamb chunks, a thin in texture, but very flavorful chorizo gravy, and a crumbled sheep's cheese. The fries remained crispy.
I was also interested in Burma Bear, "Californa-style BBQ perfectly paired with traditional Burmese cuisine", particularly the ribs with biriyani, but was quite full by that point.

Issue roasting chicken thighs on foil lined baking sheet?

I've had many vegetarian friends understandably worried about cooking meat. Since you likely aren't experienced in eating chicken cooked to different temperatures, various recommendations are likely confusing. There are two main factors: is this safe? (have I killed the bacteria that may be lurking on/in the meat?) and is this a texture of chicken your family wants to eat? (Dark meat can remain a bit gummy until about 175 F). Pinkness isn't necessarily a reliable indicator of doneness, as various salts can keep the color a bit pink, even when thoroughly done. In some of the lower-end grocery store chickens that are injected with brine solutions that I've roasted the meat in the drumsticks often remains pink in color, but thoroughly cooked in texture, even when the temp reads 180 F.

To answer the safety question, scroll down to the graph here, taken from the USDA guide (which is extremely cautious). It shows that if the temperature is 165 F (or above) the meat is at a safe level instantaneously. At slightly lower temperatures, the meat must be held at that temperature for longer, for instance 140 F for 35 minutes.
http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/04/so...

If your family has typical tastes, the preferred cooking temperature for thighs is 175-180F, so the only thing relevant from the above safety info is that if the center of the thigh is 165 or above it is safe to eat, even if it just reached that temperature 1 second ago. As others in this thread have mentioned, chicken thighs are much more robust than chicken breasts to cooking. The breast meat becomes mealy and dried out at lower temperatures, which is why people are often worried about overcooking chicken.

Sep 18, 2014
...tm... in Home Cooking

Where to buy fresh lard?

I used to by it at one of the Mexican groceries on 24th St. in San Francisco. Now, in the East Bay, I've gotten it from Three Stone Hearth (I got some off the shelf at El Cerrito Natural Grocery, but I think you can order/pick up from Three Stone Hearth directly.) I've also gotten it from Massa Organics at the farmer's market. They don't have it every time, but it is in their online store now.
The Mexican versions I've gotten tend to be porkier and darker, probably rendered at a higher temperature with more meat bits in them.

HAMBURGERS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month for August 2014

I like the idea of kimchi mixed into the burger--I'll have to try it next time friends insist on turkey burgers. It seems like it could the flavor and moisture that is almost always missing from the non-red meat burger genre.

Aug 29, 2014
...tm... in Home Cooking

Dim Sum Chowdown at Peony, Oakland

Thanks for checking it out. And in my observation, even thought it is more expensive then the surrounding (dim sum, Oakland) offerings, it is by no means absolutely expensive. I found it a good value compared to good SF/Peninsula dim sum, or surrounding Oakland Downtown/Uptown brunch offerings.

Kainbigan Restaurant (Oakland)

I stopped by the other day to check it out. It's been in the neighborhood for a year or so, and seems to be publicizing their delivery capabilities. I got the chicken adobo with garlic rice. I think this was the first adobo I've truly enjoyed. Others I've felt were too bland, too soy/magi sauce, or to dry, but this was very well balanced in acidity, and very moist dark-meat chicken.
I'd tried Lucky Three Seven further out on Fruitvale, but the adobo was much sweeter, which isn't my style.

SFBA Dish of the Month (Sept 2014) - Nominations/Voting

HAR GOW

Anyone used Good Eggs/Fair Share specialty food delivery services?

I agree. I've ordered only a couple of times, but if you're happy with what is listed and the prices, go for it. As mentioned, the prices are a bit high, but perhaps worth it to get breads without a trip/wait in line. Though some of the higher prices I saw as a convenience fee, other items I haven't seen elsewhere, like finger limes. Their customer service is very responsive, as others have mentioned.

Chowdown Report: SF Excelsior Food Crawl Part I (Aug 2014)

I had always liked the feel of the Excelsior when I was driving through, but rarely had time to stop by. It is one of those less expensive areas that are quite rare in SF these days--and the business corridor along Mission Street looks alternately like it hasn't changed since the 50's, and has weathered several influxes and departures of immigrants. Most shops seem to be aimed at the value minded consumer, serving large or hearty portions for not that much money.

I enjoyed the stop at Kadok's. I hadn't had tokwa't baboy before. Though I enjoyed the lightly fried, but soft from boiling pork belly with fried tofu and a soy/vinegar dipping sauce, I prefer the crispier lechon kawali with it's companion, liver sauce, if I'm going to dive in to a fatty dish. They also have crispy pata on the menu. They have locations in Daly City, Union City, and Milpitas.

Los Planes de Renderos had some good pupusas, I enjoyed both the rice and the loroco versions. The plantains with "milk custard" are called empanadas on the menu, in case anyone is looking for them, and puzzled, as I was, by the salvadoreno use of empanada for a dessert item. I also ordered the atol chuco, a boiled purple cornmeal drink served hot, in a gourd. While I didn't really like it (nor really expect to), the beans on the bottom were perfectly cooked and made me want to get a bean based dish next time.

I intended to get an order of nam khao at Maneelap Srimongkoun to go after the hounds split up, but they were closed from 3-5 so I kept walking and stopped by El Pollo Supremo. It seemed like a generic grilled chicken joint, with the exterior branding of a chain (I've always liked their sign). While waiting for my two piece I noticed a wooden carving of Cuba on the wall, though I didn't notice too much specifically Cuban on the menu. I did add a side of moro rice. The chicken was fairly juicy, though the seasoning on the skin tasted a bit artificial to me. The black beans and rice were okay, decent texture, but not much in the way of aromatics.

I also noticed that Mike's Liquors is more than a usual liquor store--they had beer brewing equipment out on the sidewalk, kegs of Free Flow wines, and more of a wine selection than I would have expected.