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The FiveThirtyEight Does Burritos

Nice writeup of El Castillito. Interestingly they like the Mission location, despite it not doing so well on Burritoeater's list.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/ou...

Aug 05, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Damn, I didn't realize they had katsuobushi on the side. This version was pretty good I thought, it just needed more components because it was a little bland. Katsuobushi, more sauce, more fresh benishoga, maybe a fried egg...

Aug 04, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Agreed. I've never had okonomiyaki in Japan but imo the Namu Gaji version was too sour, and I felt like the oysters didn't add anything. They really need to rebalance the flavors. I think kimchee can work in okonomiyaki (it certainly works in Korean pajeon) but you need fewer elements going on.

Aug 03, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Hopscotch (Oakland)

I've had the kimchi fried rice here for brunch and wasn't impressed. Underseasoned and lacking the acidic bite of good aged kimchi. The rice wasn't spicy at all. I liked the use of soft boiled eggs but I wish they were a bit warmer.

We had the spicy miso wings for an appetizer and this was disappointing too. Small wings and the skin was soft and rubbery.

Jul 28, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Week in SF - Critique this list and suggest a meal

Mission Chinese is still worth visiting at least once. I think people are just tired of the hype. I was there a few months ago and had a fine meal.

Jul 14, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Week in SF - Critique this list and suggest a meal

Agree with Namu Gaji. I've eaten probably half the menu and I've eaten tons of Korean food, and in my mind I would barely call Namu Gaji Korean. The flavor profiles and textures just aren't quite the same.

In the MIssion I'd suggest Range.

Jul 14, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Bay Area Ramen

Izakaya Sozai is decent for San Francisco but that's not really saying much. The bowl I had used some black pepper which made it sorta interesting, but the underlying broth and noodles and chashu were about on par with Yamadaya in Japantown, another place which is decent but not great.

In my opinion the only two destination spots are Ramen Shop and Orenchi. Ramen Shop if you want a California creative touch, Orenchi if you want a really good tonkotsu.

Jun 23, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Akiko sushi vs. Ino recommendations please [San Francisco]

Hijacking this to report a recent trip to Ino (after having visited Akiko, Maruya, Kusakabe, and Ichi).

My god. I don't think Ino belongs in the same tier as the other four. I honestly think my neighborhood sushi joint (Kiji in Mission) is better than Ino. Completely ignoring any issues with service (which honestly was not that bad), Ino was far too heavyhanded with the wasabi which killed almost any opportunity for me to enjoy the fish. Not that it mattered since he mostly served me bland cuts. The ankimo was good, the mackerel was decent, but every other nigiri I was served was lean and tasteless. Ino doesn't even bother with acids or sauces to brighten fish like hirame. Ino also has this curious practice of serving me two nigiri of every fish for an omakase order. I later learned that I can order single pieces with less wasabi, but from the fish I was served I just don't think it would be better than a place like Ichi or Akiko, to say nothing of holy temples to sushi like Maruya or Kusakabe.

Maybe I just need to become a regular and learn what precisely to ask for, but after my one meal I would not recommend Ino to anyone.

Jun 18, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area
2

Kusakabe [San Francisco]

Wow. IMO the best omakase experience in San Francisco now, hands down. The problem with the omakase at Akiko or Maruya is that the quality is inconsistent. The sushi is amazing, but the filler stuff in between is mostly forgettable. Not so at Kusakabe. In fact dishes like the duck dumpling miso soup and the crispy tofu in dashi broth with ikura were some of the highlights of the night. Service was excellent and attentive. I can only dock it points for an inferior ambiance to Maruya.

I've posted some photos here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/r888888...

May 31, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Where should we eat on Valencia near 22nd (the Marsh)? [San Francisco]

Papalote is one of the better taquerias in SF on 24 and Valencia.

Feb 18, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area
1

The Cavalier [Union Square, SOMA, San Francisco]

So I thought the burger here was impressive, like a cross between the Nopa and Zuni Cafe burgers. The bun was sturdy, almost felt like focaccia? A little bit of crust but tender. The beef was well seasoned and cooked exactly as I ordered, medium. The tomato chutney and mustard added just the right amount of acidity to cut the fat of the beef. Burger was incredibly juicy but not messy, could easily eat it with my hands. Fries were also excellent.

Feb 13, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

best chicken wings in or near the Mission (SF)?

I was really impressed by the wings at Phoenix Bar, which is surprising because you wouldn't think it would have good food. But the wings were large, meaty, crispy, sour and spicy.

Feb 03, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Ramen Yamadaya, SF Japantown - It's Yummy! Report w/ PICS

Wow, I had the complete opposite reaction. I only went once and ordered the tonkotsu yamadaya bowl with some garlic crushed into the broth.

For starters the chashu was inedible. Overcooked to the point where the fat was rubbery. The pork belly was in a similar state. The broth was okay. The noodles were soft and in my opinion a bit overcooked.

I had the kara-age combo and this too was overcooked. Tough and stringy chicken meat.

I guess I can go back and try another bowl. Maybe it was just a bad night. For comparison I had a bowl at Waraku recently, which is around the corner, and it was much better.

Jan 12, 2014
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Maruya on 16th, best sushi in SF?

I've heard that one of the chefs here gave a great omakase presentation and the other one not so much. It'd be great to find out which one is the good one.

Nov 21, 2013
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Eater's list of 20 underrated restos [San Francisco]

I love Lolo. Not too pricy, a good variety of tasty Mexican tapas, and very good cocktails. It has been getting busy lately but on a weeknight you should still be able to find a table without a reservation.

Sep 26, 2013
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

New chef at the Palace? Has anyone been? [San Francisco]

I went a week ago and tried the five course tasting menu. For the most part I found the dishes unmemorable. Another restaurant that focuses a bit too much on presentation over flavor. And they do that annoying thing where you can upgrade individual courses for $10 or $20 (I skipped the truffle and wagyu upgrades).

Yuca amuse was oily. Oyster was just ok. Grilled lobster bite was nice but the other preparations (ceviche and soup) were not. The pork course was not notable aside from the extremely hard rind.

The highlight was the steak, which was served with some braised bitter greens and au gratin. I kind of wish they had just made this a full blown entree and skip the other courses. It wasn't especially creative, but the simple preparation and flavor contrasts made this the best dish.

Dessert wasn't memorable either.

Sep 09, 2013
ajyi2012 in San Francisco Bay Area

Northern Chinese Layered Bread

A&J serve this. They call it thousand layer pancake.

Mar 26, 2013
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore
1

Solo dining in NOVA or DC

Georgetown is not exactly convenient to get to.

I've pretty much never had a negative experience with solo dining, but usually I end up sitting at the bar or going on a week night when business is slower.

Jan 16, 2013
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

I'm in Bethesda

Yeah Assaggi is awful.

Passage to India and Jaleo are the only two destination restaurants in Bethesda. Food Wine & Co can be good. Shangri-la is decent Nepalese/Northern Indian cuisine. Grapeseed can have a good tasting menu sometimes. Redwood usually has good pasta. There's a food truck by the Women's Co-operative called One3Five that makes good sandwiches and soups.

You can get crab cakes at Newton's Table but they're out of season right now and super expensive.

A little bit south of Bethesda is the new Range in Chevy Chase which is getting a lot of good reviews. Further north into Rockville you get some decent ethnic eats. Pizza CS for Neapolitan, Spice Xing for Indian, Sichuan Jin River for Chinese.

Jan 14, 2013
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Sushi in N. Bethesda/Rockville?

I like Temari in that they give you huge slabs of fish for sashimi, and the selection is decent. But the times I've tried it the texture made me think it was refrozen.

Jan 05, 2013
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Eating expensive tasting menus solo?

So I would love to experience meals at Minibar, Rogue 24, Suna, Komi, etc but my friends are not exactly keen on spending $150+ on a meal so I'm the only one interested. Is it unusual to make reservations for one at these places?

Nov 30, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Cheerful Restaurant DC/VA to get someone's mind off a tragedy

bd's in Bethesda has closed.

Nov 28, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Mosaic Cafe, Rockville

I live near Mosaic and I enjoy my meals there as well. The waffles, as you've mentioned, are amazing and I try to order some every time I visit. I've also had their pork medallions which were outstanding: crispy and juicy. I think they do tend to overcook their vegetables though.

My only problem has been the abysmally slow service, although I think it's gotten better lately.

Nov 28, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Is Ben's Chili Bowl worth a visit?

As others have mentioned, the main reason to come here is after a late show at the 9:30 Club or Black Cat. You should be drunk enough that you can barely walk straight. It's at moments like these that a chili half smoke tastes divine, and the reason why Ben's is still populated by locals.

I would not come here without getting drunk first.

Nov 26, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Moa in Rockville?

I enjoyed my haemul bibimbap. Mine had a lot of...oil, but it was very tasty. A bit too much squid, maybe. They do a respectable bulgogi, although it's kind of hard to fuck that up as long as I get plenty of lettuce and ssamjang on the side.

Anyway Moa is my favorite Korean restaurant in Rockville. It's better than Arirang, Lighthouse, or Jon Won. It doesn't really compare to anything in Annandale or even Ellicott City but it's good enough to sate my hunger for Korean comfort food without me having to drive 40 miles.

They actually serve what I think is the best jajangmyeon in the area (way better than Jon Won). It's not on the menu so you'll have to ask for it.

Nov 12, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Ramen in DC for lunch - where to go

The broth is definitely delicately flavored, and the noodles are thin. However for someone used to bold flavors from the ramen at Toki/Ren's, it left me a little disappointed.

Oct 31, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Ramen in DC for lunch - where to go

Sushi Taro offers ramen once a month which they announce on their Facebook/Twitter. I've eaten it during lunch. I know that doesn't exactly help you but FYI.

I've also eaten at Ren's at noon and it's definitely one of the best ramen spots in the DC area.

Oct 31, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Dawson's arrives in Rockville

Coincidentally this is the reason I frequently visit Balducci's in North Bethesda. They have a decent beer/wine selection and everything else is about as good as the old Whole Foods in Rockville.

Oct 30, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Dawson's arrives in Rockville

Fresh Market is basically just an upscale Giant. The produce is generally better quality and I can buy stuff a la carte. I hate buying a huge package of mushrooms for example because I only end up using half of it. At Fresh Market I can just buy 4 or 5 mushrooms. Same with their meats (who the hell needs 6 sausages!?)

Whole Foods is better but the new location has awful parking.

Oct 30, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore

REPORT - Sakuramen

That's a shame the tonkotsu wasn't very good. My impression is tonkotsu ramen isn't really something you can just toss onto the menu: you really have to work hard at improving your recipe for years and years. The good tonkotsu places I know are pretty much dedicated to its craft.

Anyway my Sakuramen experience has been mixed. If you go next time I would suggest the Spicy Miso. I asked for it as hot as they could make it and it was so spicy that I couldn't even finish it, so I definitely want to try a scaled down version. The noodle quality was good at least.

As far as ramen goes I've been to Toki, Ren's, Temari, Satsuma, and Sushi Taro. IMO the only two worth visiting are Toki and Ren's. I've heard of Tanpopo but my friend didn't like their ramen and I don't really want to trek from Rockville to Annandale for potentially mediocre ramen.

Oct 25, 2012
ajyi2012 in Washington DC & Baltimore