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Smashburger -taste!

I tried Smashburger recently and have to say it is probably my favorite chain burger, and is at least as good, if not better than most of the good local thin-style griddled burgers.
The burger really had a beefy flavor, and I think a lot of this came from the well-seared, nicely crusted side. There are those who will insist that smashing a burger automatically obliterates all juices, which is true if you do it wrong http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2... (smash other than an initial adhere as much surface area as possible to the griddle smash), but the burger I got got the juciness/well-cooked flavorful crust balance just right.
And as much as I liked the burger, the rosemary fries were my favorite. They were both well seasoned and well cooked to a crispy exterior, and even though they are nearly shoestring width, enough creamy interior potato to satisfy me.

about 7 hours ago
...tm... in Chains

Hapa Ramen -- What price ramen? [San Francisco]

It seems that Richie Nakano, the originator and driving force behind Hapa Ramen has been sacked from his own concept.
I never ate at the brick and mortar, but the menus looked interesting.

about 7 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Bay Area Food Festivals and Events, Spring 2015

I haven't noticed this in previous years, but
"For the past four years, members of the Cambodian community have partnered with Peralta Hacienda Historical Park to bring music, dance, food, and festivities to the local community. "
a celebration of the Cambodian New Year next Saturday, April 4 in Oakland.

about 8 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Buma's (former Marrow, Oakland)

I also really enjoyed the mushroom slice--it had really great mushroom flavor and texture and the roasted garlic blended in well in flavor, despite being (small) whole cloves.
I didn't care for the cheese slice too much. Though the sauce had the strong cooked tomato flavor I like for NY style slices, it also had the over-oreganoed notes I don't care for so much. The slice also suffered a bit from reheating, and the crust was overly crisp, a bit thicker than I like, and a bit less salt than I prefer, and despite looking like it had just about the right amount of char the outer crust had the slightly bitter almost burnt flavor.
That said, it is still one of the better Bay area pizzas, and I'd order the mushroom again, and regret not ordering the sausage, as it looked fairly good. I'll probably try a whole pie to see if the crust is a reheating problem, also because the first time I stopped in midday on a weekend they weren't doing slices, as they didn't want them to get old and stale on days without a lot of foot traffic and at that time were only doing slices for the busy weekday lunch crowd.

about 8 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

Mo's Hut, Oakland

This little Samoan/Hawaiian spot on Fruitvale Avenue has served me the first Hawaiian plate lunch I'm likely to go back for.
The Hawaiian plate was recommended to me, which at $12 comes with potato/macaroni/crab salad, rice and three meats--the defaults are chicken, short ribs, and teriyaki beef. The potato/mac/krab salad was much more to my taste than many plate lunch mac or potato salads--it had a noticeable mustard taste, and was much less sweet than I'd come to expect, and is a better use of surimi than "sushi".
Of the meats, the teriyaki beef was my favorite--very thin sliced and tender, with a teriyaki that was not overly soy sauced or sugared, as many are to my taste.
I'll be back to this friendly place to try some of their other offerings. The menu is basically a couple of signs, listing the meat options and a couple combos. Next time I'll try the Mo's or Samoan combo, which I didn't notice until the next patron ordered it--it includes bananas in coconut milk, corned beef known as povi/pulu masima, and a chop suey that appears to be made with mung bean noodles.

about 8 hours ago
...tm... in San Francisco Bay Area

black stone flower, chettinad cooking

I guess you've already found it, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1006540
but I thought I'd share that I found some at Vik's in Berkeley. I don't think I noticed it there in the years I lived nearby, and I'm usually intrigued by new to me items in the spice department, but I never sought it out. I also found something I had been on the lookout for--curd chilis.

Fresh Masa for homemade tortillas?

Interesting, for some reason I hadn't realized La Mexicana is a local place in Hayward. Most East Bay Mexican groceries carry La Finca and La Mexicana tortillas (and occasionally masa, though La Finca is more common for that). It seems like that prepared masa is for tamales, as it has lard and baking soda.

Pietisserie opens in Lake Merritt [Oakland]

It's been fully open since Valentine's Day, I think, and I finally managed to stop by. I was happy to see that they had the small sized tart available in a savory version, as I am not much of a dessert person. The quiche contained leeks, carrot, and some greens, and was quite good. It was a bit eggier than I usually make quiche, but the buttery flavor of the crust really melded well with the interior, and had a great texture, unlike the soggy bottom crust you often find on such items.

Frozen Custard in the BA?

As long as we're reviving an old thread, the Frozen Kuhsterd truck is at many Off the Grid and other events. He usually has some innovative flavors and toppings.

Vindaloo SFBA Dish of the Month March 2015

I tried two vindaloo inspired dishes at Juhu Beach Club recently, the vindaloo chicken wings and the pork vindalated pav. Both are based on the (Goan) idea of an acidic curry sauce. The wings were okay--they were whole wings, including the tips, and they weren't fried to a crispy level. The skin was a bit flabby--there was some unrendered fat and the sauce only made the skin flabbier. They weren't terribly spicy, and the sauce seemed well balanced between hot and sour notes, with a bit of sweetness thrown in, leading some at the table to guess there was tamarind in the mix. I didn't notice many other spice notes, but ate only one wing, as I was disappointed in the texture.
The pork vindalated pav was a bit more to my liking--spicier and more acidic, with more noticeable spicing. The pork is a stewed "pulled pork" style--pork shoulder cooked in liquid until you can easily separate it into threads. A little overdone and gummy for my tastes, but a lot of people I know like this style. I did enjoy the contrast with the slaw, and while the difference in the house baked pav is noticeable compared to say, Vik's, it's not a style of bread I appreciate so much that I think it's a great idea to pay $7 per pav vs. $7 for a plate of pav.

Japanese biru

I haven't been, but saw this notice that Umami Mart now has a Japanese beer store


How to eat frugally?

Oftentimes, thriftiness comes at a cost of much labor. To make the best use of one of the most thrifty foods, beans cooked from dried beans, I like to make a very large batch and use in many different dishes.
I usually cook a mild flavored bean in a large batch--anything from pinto to mayocoba to cannelini. Now that I have a pressure cooker I soak overnight in 1% salt brine, then cook for ~30 minutes in water, but I used to cook these in lightly salted water for 90 minutes. This could be boiled, then put in the crockpot. Some flavorings such as bay leaf, onion, and garlic can be introduced at this point, but it isn't a very efficient use of these flavorings. I'd recommend salt, though, either as a brine or as salted water in the longer cooking.
I usually end up with at least 3 quarts of beans with some liquid after cooking. I scoop them out into separate quart containers--some that are almost all beans, and some that are about 1/3 liquid. Those that are more liquidy I like to make into Mexican style beans--sauteeing garlic and onions, cumin, maybe tomatoes, possibly peppers, and mashed beans and liquid. This can be eaten with rice, a tortilla and egg, plain, encased in masa and fried, and probably many other ways.
Two of my favorite dishes for the beans that are more drained are the Italian tuna/beans/greens salad and the Indian rajma masala.
For the Italian, the essentials are a fish element, like the canned tuna you might get, or I sometimes use olive oil poached fish, or preserved herring. The bean element--I like to sautee the beans in olive oil, and oil is an essential flavor in the dish (TJ's has good deals on olive oil) and garlic. I imagine garlic powder would also work well. I like to add fresh red onion, but it isn't essential. An acidic element--fresh lemon juice is traditional, but I've had good luck with vinegar, or even dry souring agents like sumac. And the fresh element. A large amount of parsley, plus some red onion is the norm, but I've enjoyed versions with other greens like cilantro, arugula, or even lettuce.
The same beans can be used for rajma masala--though this means kidney beans, kidney are my least favorite kind of beans, and as I mentioned, I usually make this with pinto or mayocoba beans. I use something similar to this recipe http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/rajm... the essentials of which are to start some oil/butter/ghee heating, add cumin, then chopped onion, cook until caramelized, add some garlic, then chopped serrano/hot pepper, and other spices. Add tomatoes and beans and simmer for a while. This tastes great with rice or bread, or with a fried egg on top.

How to eat frugally?

I agree, I'm not a huge TJ fan, as I don't really like prepared foods, but they do have good deals on the things you mention--dairy, eggs, oils, and nuts. And liquor, though that is likely not relevant here.

Bay Area Burmese Restaurant Roundup 2.0

Sounds good. There is also Burma Bear, a combo of Burmese and their own style of BBQ. http://www.burmabear.com/where/

Moving to the Bay Area!

Yes, I agree with everyone that you'd get tired of the commute from the western parts of SF to Oakland every day. However, if you're interested in having dinner in the Richmond or Sunset, I've found that the reverse commute there, particularly around 5 pm by car can be surprisingly traffic free.

Lily's House now Happy Valley Restaurant? [Lafayette]

Yes, "Classic" in the sense that China Village uses on their menu, meaning these are the dishes you might expect to order at a takeout Chinese restaurant.
The Diablo Dish reporter even hedges her bets, "serving what she describes as Szechwan-style dishes. Yee tells me the most popular items include the Kung Pao prawns, the honey-glazed beef, and the crispy ginger chicken."
It reminds me of an annoying podcast episode I was listening to where they described most chinese restaurants in the US as Hunan or Szechuan because Kung Pao whatever and General Tso's chicken are the most popular menu items.

Mission Heirloom Cafe -- paleo food in N. Berkeley

I hope you didn't have any "bone broth" in your mouth.

Vindaloo SFBA Dish of the Month March 2015

Yes!! In my college Indian food takeout ordering days, I'd generally go for the vindaloo because it was a curry they would generally make hot. It wasn't until later, when I became interested in regional specialties (and had a grad school classmate from Goa, who didn't cook, just mercifully mocked the Indian food we were getting) that I understood the Portuguese origin of both the tiny state of Goa and many of its regional specialties. Luckily this was at the same time I would visit my grandma in suburban NJ and try several versions of carne de vinha d'alhos at Portuguese places.
Beyond cooking my own, I can't remember getting an acidic vindaloo (in the US). In fact, this blog post http://www.thetiffinbox.ca/2011/11/vi..., and bbulkow's mention (and wikipedia's explanation) of British vindaloo and phaal as very spicy versions of curry (usually lamb or chicken) with potatoes. As opposed to a Goan vindaloo with vinegar notes and usually just meat, perhaps even pork.
I wonder how it came to be tacked on to the generic Indian restaurant cannon, as it isn't the usual North Indian fare.

Michel Bistro - Oakland

I thought I had put something up here after my visit to Michel Bistro several months ago, but I guess not. My memory is a bit fuzzier now, but not so much that I don't remember that the food was great--well executed and well balanced, but my favorite part was the Domaine Chasson Cotes de Luberon I had with it. The reasonably priced variety of wines by the glass is a great reason to return.
The escargot with parsley, maitake, and brioche crumble had great flavor and a wonderful balance of textures--the dish much less butter-heavy, but just as flavorful as some staid presentations. The halibut with avocado, beurre blanc, couscous, peanuts, and pepper was terrific. In my mind, those things don't naturally go together, so I was intrigued. The fish was perfectly cooked, with separate crisp skin, the avocado melded quite well with both the couscous and beurre blanc, creating a rich, tangy, textured bed. The Spanish peanuts added occasional crunch and pleasing nutty note, and somehow, even though they seemed like the outlier on the list of ingredients, really brought the dish together.
This was a good value and the staff are great. It seems like a Bistro transported directly from southern France.

Dragon Beaux opens. [San Francisco]

It looks like Koi Palace has had a commissary in Millbrae since 2011. This article focuses on making mooncakes there.

Cooking Class at Curry Corner, Hayward

Thanks, I've never noticed this place before (probably, in part, due to the early closing time). It looks like it's Indo-Fijian, according to East Bay Express and Yalp.
Curry Corner
26657 Mission Blvd
Hayward, CA 94544
at Sorenson Rd

Burmese KItchen Re-opens on Geary Street. [San Francisco]

I haven't made it out there yet, but am on their email list, which lists a couple more central locations to get their tea leaf salad.

Can't make it to the Inner Richmond? We have our signature dish at the following locations:
Bulldog Coffee: 888 Brannan St. (Airbnb HQ)
The Coffee Smith: 401 Golden Gate Ave.

Looking for Best Yogurt in the Bay Area

Since this old thread has popped back up, I've found a new favorite, the yogurt at Crossroads World Market in Hayward is by far my favorite. Tangy, thick, and smooth. Probably extra fat.

French Fries: SFBA Dish of the Month December 2014

A bit late, but I just had the fries with the burger at Hopscotch in Oakland and they were some of the best I've had in a while. The outsides were crisp, not greasy, and the interior fluffy and flavorful. Just what I'm looking for in a fry.

First Smoke’s Poutinerie in the USA Opens in Berkeley

I stopped by the other day and have to say it is one of my least favorite of the mediocre student lunch options.
To be fair, I'm a bit predisposed to dislike poutine--I'm convinced people are just intrigued by its name and its absurdity. The best thing about fries are their crispiness--gravy is one of the most liquid substances you can put on them, unless you're trying to make a beer/fry float or something crazy. In addition, as a Midwesterner, I see cheese curds as a bland by product of the industrial cheesemaking process, which, when fresh can have an interesting squeak and freshness. When melted, they're just a bland but meltable cheese and to me, any flavorful cheese, even if non-melty (like the currently popularish feta "Greek fries" would be preferable.
But I gave the Smoked Meat Peppercorn Poutine a try while completely sober, and, expectedly, disliked it. For a place called Smoke, the "smoked meat" was the weakest among many weak elements. It was supermarket lunchmeat gelatinous slices, haphazardly placed in a couple big piles on the top. The best thing I can say is I detected some smokiness. The other elements were similarly mid-grade, and sloppily assembled. Although they were assembling several fryers to fry new fries while I was there, the fries in the bottom of my poutine showed no signs of having been crisp before the deluge of toppings. The gravy was gloopy and not very meaty. The mushrooms were good--better than their appearance in the pictures of dishes, where they appear severely undercooked. In addition to the parts being sub-par, the assembly was very sloppy, with the gloopy gravy creating a steaming top over the fries, and all of it squished in the serving box, with the sense that filling it to and over the top is a better thing to do than judicious, even placement of the toppings, or some attempt to not sog all fries.

Upscale ethnic dinner in the East Bay for Valentine's day

But think of all the skewered hearts you could eat!

Goat Cuisine in the Bay Area

I'd bet that "hung curd" means strained yogurt. I've often seen/heard yogurt refered to as curd by those who learned English on the Indian subcontinent.
Sounds delicious. I've enjoyed the goat curry at Kabana in Berkeley. Not a huge portion of goat, but good flavor (also Punjabi style). They appear to have a goat biryani on their online menu, though I haven't noticed it in restaurant before (online says weekends only.)

Upscale ethnic dinner in the East Bay for Valentine's day

Juhu Beach Club, along a similar vein of more expensive, more attention to ingredients/sourcing, not necessarily upscale. And tasty.

Does Berkeley Bowl have Finger Limes?

I ordered them from Good Eggs last year and they were from Stepladder Ranch, you could try contacting them.

Gum Kuo--no duck congee, but fresh rice noodle rolls [Oakland]

I've enjoyed Gum Kuo's rice noodle rolls in the past, but I was recently served two very gummy, not so great rolls. I don't know if it was an off night or if they've lost their touch with the rolls. There were still people lined up for takeout, mostly roast meats, so I doubt they've gone downhill entirely, but the gummy mess we were served was nothing like the delicate rolls of he past.