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smiles33's Profile

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Le Bernardin/Daniel

We had a couple stellar dishes (abalone and foie gras!) at the bar at Daniel 2 weeks ago while waiting for our 10 pm dinner reservation. Note that you actually have to sit at the bar. We originally sat down at a table in the lounge area closer to the entry and had to move in order to eat.

FWIW, DH and I vastly preferred Daniel over Le Bernardin, but we loved EMP and Jean Georges even more.

1 day ago
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Actually, we were already home in CA by the time you posted. See below for my brief reports from Betony, Annisa, Daniel, and Jean Georges. I enjoyed myself immensely!

1 day ago
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Sunday:
We had an 11:45 lunch reservation at Jean Georges before flying out from JFK. DH and I LOVED every moment of this meal. Now, to be fair, we didn't have time for the tasting menu so we only had 3 items each.

I started with the Peekytoe Crab dumplings while DH had the Yellowfin Tuna Ribbons. Then we both had the Foie Gras Autumn Salad. I finished with the suckling pig and DH had the roasted sweetbreads (which I loved and ended up switching with DH, as I preferred it over the pig but he said the pig was still awesome!).

I also liked this dining room the best of the 4 restaurants. Betony felt too large and empty. Annisa felt too small and crowded. Daniel felt overly formal and a bit too stuffy (it didn't help that I could see the cameras on the ceiling pointed at the guests). Jean Georges felt elegant but relaxed, spacious but not empty.

Anyhow, I just wanted to thank CH'ers for helping me plan a fantastic eating weekend. Now we go back to eating healthy, homemade, lean protein meals or simpler restaurant meals from the various ethnic restaurants popular here in the suburbs!

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Saturday:

I had a work event all day but DH went to Esca (thanks for the rec, Kathryn!) and enjoyed 6 crudo and the grilled octopus. He was very happy with his seafood!

For dinner, we had a late 10 pm reservation at Daniel. We had talked about possibly going to EMP and having an appetizer or two at the bar. But we weren't hungry at all at 5 pm. By the time we got hungry around 7:30, we figured it would be impossible to get a seat at the Bar. Instead, I called Daniel to see if anyone had canceled so that we could get in before 10. The woman said we could order appetizers at the bar, so we headed for Daniel.

We originally sat down at a cocktail table closer to the walkway into the main dining room, but we were informed we couldn't order appetizers there. So, they moved us to the bar. We had a few rounds of cocktails as we waited for our 10 pm reservation. My favorites were the French 75 and the White Cosmopolitan. I also tried From the Field (lavendar infused gin) but didn't order a second one of that.

DH had the Margaret Thompson (ginger beer cocktail that looked like a coffee!) and also asked the bartender to surprise him with an off-the-menu ginger beer cocktail. I tried it and thought it involved more complex layering and subtle flavors, but ultimately I agreed with DH that Margaret Thompson tasted better. He ended up sticking with Margaret Thompson for subsequent rounds.

Since we were hungry, we ordered the Abalone (which I don't see on the website menu) and the Foie Gras appetizers. They were both OUTSTANDING. I'm not a fan of abalone, normally, but this was the best preparation I have ever had. The foie gras was the best we had all weekend (even better than Jean Georges!).

If we had ended the meal right there, we would have walked out of there blissfully happy and wanting more. However, we still had a dinner reservation so when we were escorted to our table (about 20 minutes early!), we opted for the 7 course tasting menu. I think we should have held ourselves back, but the excessive cocktails probably made us a bit overly ambitious.

You can see the tasting menu on-line, but to run through it quickly:

- chilled oysters en gelee
- sunchoke veloute (quail breast, black trumpet custard, and WHITE TRUFFLE!)
- sea scallops
- Atlantic Turbot
- Wagyu Ribeye
- Jardin Exotique (a dessert of papaya, tamarind parfait, pomegranate pearls, passionfruit mint sorbet)
- Atome rouge (tainori sphere, chocolate almond financier, red fruit-black tea ice cream

The absolute best item on the tasting menu was the sunchoke veloute. We were both SHOCKED by how amazing this was. I think it's the white truffle that elevated this dish and made it so exquisite. I could not believe how amazing the smell of that white truffle was when shaved onto our plate.

Sadly, the rest of the meal was filled with more lows and never hit that high note again. I did not like the Aleppo seed crust on the sea scallops. The turbot was good, but I'm not really a fish fan so I wasn't giddy with joy. The wagyu was disappointing--DH thought the ribeye tasted more like flank steak.

I also found the Jardin Exotique dessert off-putting. I like tangy/sour tastes, but this was just too sharp/strident for me. Fortunately, the second dessert was much more pleasing.

All in all, the abalone, foie gras, and sunchoke veloute were exquisitely prepared and possibly some of the best dishes I've ever had. The inconsistency between items on the tasting menu was disappointing, though. If we were to return, I'd love to re-order those 3 items.

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Thanks, Kathryn! That is a great explanation and I agree with the description of the cocktail being very smooth.

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Friday:

Picked up breakfast to go for a friend who is a new mom at Treehaus (see separate Chowhound thread about that). It was a disappointment but it was fast and convenient.

Lunch was a casual dine-in affair/meeting.

Dinner was at Annisa, with DH coming straight from JFK because his flight was delayed.

I had the Fennel Grapefruit Gimlet (delicious!) while DH had the Ginger Vodka Cooler (he has a thing for ginger flavored cocktails). We weren't quite hungry enough to do the tasting menu, so we shared 3 appetizers and then had an entree each. I ordered the foie gras dumplings, while DH ordered the squid with Thai basil, and we shared the sea bass sashimi. Then he had the Spanish mackerel while I had venison.

I was disappointed by the foie gras dumplings. I felt like the skin was just a little too thick in proportion to the delicate filling. The squid was better than expected (I usually don't like squid unless it's fritto misto). The sashimi was solid but not earth-shattering.

I did enjoy my venison and I think it and my cocktail were the highlights of the meal. All in all, I think this was a delicious meal but was overshadowed by our later meals at Daniel and Jean Georges.

No photos, as I usually don't take them if DH is with me.

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

I'm back! The trip was a huge success when it comes to indulgent "adult-only" meal experiences. Thank you all for your suggestions and tips.

Let me start chronologically.

Thursday night:
I had dinner alone the first night as my DH couldn't join me until Friday night. I had a 9 pm reservation at Betony. I started off with a cocktail (we didn't drink a sip of wine all weekend--it was a joy to sample so many cocktails!). I decided to ask the server for her recommendation and she urged me to try the Betony Milk Punch (with crystal clear and a spirit of your choice). I opted for vodka. I can't really explain how it was made and still am not quite sure how it is derived from milk. It was very innovative. I don't think it'll be my regular drink of choice, but it was a nice change of pace.

I decided to go for the foie gras bonbons, the hot foie gras, and the grilled short rib. I have to say I was disappointed by the bonbons, as it just felt a bit too gimmicky. The cashew "crust" distracted too much from the flavor and texture of the foie gras, IMHO.

I loved the hot foie gras preparation. It was beautifully presented and I loved the tonkatsu broth (and I think the dark oil was charred scallion oil?). I was very impressed by this course! I thought I had read that it was paired with ham hocks, but it tasted more like pork belly to me.

The short rib was delicious, but I don't think it was mind-blowing (given all the pre-dinner hype). The side included a green vegetable (cabbage?) wrapped around some sort of unknown item (it seemed like shreds of meat but I really don't know). At that point, I just finished the plate!

I took photos of both just to show DH, since he was still in CA with our girls. Yet I ate several bites of the foie gras before I took that photo so I think this is just a photo of the pork belly!

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

Weekday breakfast to-go near Midtown/West Chelsea for new mom?

I wanted to update this thread. I went last week but I ended up pressed for time (left my hotel at 9 am EST and then got stuck in traffic) so I went to Treehaus because I figured I could get the greatest variety of fare in the shortest time. For about $40, I picked up 2 slices of french toast, about 2 cups of fruit salad (raspberries, strawberries, and melon), a small 1 cup portion of veggie frittata, 3 strips of bacon, about a cup of potatoes, 1 almond croissant, 1 chocolate croissant, 2 (bad/chewy/stale) bagels with chive cream cheese, and 2 small bottles of OJ.

I personally ate a bad bagel (so chewy and flavorless that I think it was worse than the kind you buy in the grocery store here in California!), a few bites of the frittata and potatoes, a strip of bacon, and the OJ. I was not happy with any of the prepared food (the OJ was perfectly fine). The quality felt like Denny's (or worse), as they had been sitting there on the steam table for who knows how long.

Fortunately, my friend (the new mom) inhaled the fruit salad (it did look fresh!) and one slice of french toast, before I had to leave for a business meeting. I left her everything else and don't know if the croissants were any good. I do regret not grabbing one for the taxi...

Also, I realized, as I went to find the cashier, that Treehaus had a counter tucked in the back where they cooked some items fresh to order. Damn. I wish I had seen that before I loaded up my 4 boxes of food! They weigh the boxes to determine the price. $40 seems way overpriced for what I received, but oh well. My friend appreciated the food I brought and we had a nice chat.

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

Kid-friendly yet high quality food in North Shore Lake Tahoe?

This is a SUPER old thread (that 2 year old daughter in my OP is now EIGHT!) but OB's used to be a casual "locals" restaurant in Truckee that was a bar/pub. It was priced out of the area once more tourists flooded in. Looks like it closed sometime in 2008 per a quick google search...

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in California

Where to eat with a large group (9 people)

Interesting--I would have thought Perbacco, Boulevard, and Wayfare Tavern (all of which I've enjoyed as just a party of 2) would be too crowded and awkward for a party of 9. Perhaps it's just where I've been seated?

We went to La Mar as a party of 4 (2 of whom were our kids under 8) and that outdoor section overlooking the waterfront could be great for a party of 9!

Where to eat with a large group (9 people)

When you say atmosphere, do you want a lively crowd and high energy (as opposed to the lower buzz/higher formality in fine dining)? Does that mean you'd prefer to avoid private dining rooms? Where will you be and how far are you willing to travel? Is your budget limitless?

I don't often go to such large dinner parties in SF with a group of 8+ people, but the one that immediately comes to mind is one many years ago where the focus was on 1) good conversations (and not just eating great food in a noisy but "cool" place), 2) budget-friendly (this was back in my grad school days), and 3) convenient location to BART (many of us were in the East Bay). Thus, we grabbed a private dining room at R&G Lounge (a Chinese seafood place on the edge of Chinatown) which has great crab and some other Chinese specialties that aren't available outside major cities with large Chinese communities. But being in a private dining room is a very different atmosphere than being in the main room.

Plus, if the focus is really on the best food you can get for such a large group, I have to say many of my favorite SF restaurants can't easily accommodate a group of 9. I'm very curious to hear what others suggest!

Weekday breakfast to-go near Midtown/West Chelsea for new mom?

That looks like a great place to pick up a variety of savory and sweet options! It looks much better than what *I* think of as a typical diner. Thank you!

Nov 11, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

Weekday breakfast to-go near Midtown/West Chelsea for new mom?

The menu looks good, but I didn't realize it was a steam table type set-up as opposed to being prepared when ordered. It would be faster, presumably, but I'm always a little worried about food that's sitting around...

Nov 11, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

Weekday breakfast to-go near Midtown/West Chelsea for new mom?

I know there are some great specialty shops in NYC, but I'm hoping to make one stop at a place with a variety of options. Thank you for the head's up re: delivery--I guess I just have stereotypes in my head of cheap ethnic food being delivered, as opposed to the "wholesome" (meaning more butter!) higher-quality food I'd want to get for a new mom!

I have a tight window before my first work meeting so I think it's easier if I just bring it with me. Plus, my mom has made me a bit neurotic about visiting empty-handed (even if I did order food to be delivered while I'm there!). But thanks for the tip!

Nov 11, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

Weekday breakfast to-go near Midtown/West Chelsea for new mom?

Ooh, both of those on-line menus look amazing! Thank you so much for the recs.

Nov 11, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

Weekday breakfast to-go near Midtown/West Chelsea for new mom?

Hello again, NYC CH'ers! Thanks to several great recs in my earlier thread, I've got my lunches/dinners planned for my upcoming trip to town. However, it turns out that instead of "sleeping in" and skipping breakfast on my first morning in NYC, I'm now going to squeeze in time to see a friend who is a new mom. They're in West Chelsea and I'm staying in Midtown East, so I'd love recs for a nearby restaurant that's open around 9 am on a weekday as I want to bring her food when I visit.

I'm not sure if there are many options, but if I can be a little picky, I'd love to have both savory and sweet options and something indulgent (as opposed to greasy diner food). Her baby isn't even a month old yet so I'm sure she's sleep-deprived and eating whatever she can get delivered!

I'll be either using Uber or a taxi, but I don't want to trek anywhere too far as I'll still be on CA time (so I don't want to get up at 4 am PST just to buy food from somewhere far).

Thank you for your help!

Nov 10, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

Custom Cake for wife's "40"...

OP: if you're looking for craftsmanship and "wow" factor, I have an old high school friend (in the South Bay) who makes stunning cake creations. I'm always impressed when I see her posts on Facebook. Her blog is here:

http://pamscustomcakes.blogspot.com/

She has real talent and can make a variety of styles! I attached a few here as examples.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

I just clicked on the first thread re: your meet-up and am intrigued. I've actually never had Hunan cuisine, despite going to hundreds of Chinese restaurants as a child and young adult with my immigrant Chinese parents. Now that I can enjoy spicy food, I'd love to try it. My family is very into Northern food and Taiwanese food (and my parents can't tolerate spiciness), while DH's family prefers Cantonese fare.

P.S. Saw the photo from that Chowhound meet-up and noticed the T-shirt and reference to Zingerman's. Never visited Michigan before, but I LOVE all the options on their website...

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

LOL, but Walnut Creek has a VERY different demographic. It's not as immigrant-heavy, which, as I mentioned below (if they're anything like my immigrant parents), means immigrants may be more reluctant to spend a lot of money on food or branch out to non-ethnic fare. My dad still says that non-Chinese cuisine "is ok" even if it's a beautiful cut of meat from a very high-end steakhouse, perfectly executed French food, or some other exquisitely prepared meal. Sigh.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

I've been to the SF Shalimar off O'Farrell years ago, and I *think* I went to the Fremont Shalimar 10 years ago, but I don't remember. Given my in-laws and DH's reluctance to eat Indian, I probably won't get there anytime soon...

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Yes, Massimo's is perfect for those seeking a quiet, traditional white tablecloth restaurant in FUN where they can linger. Emphasis would be on the dining experience, not on outstanding food itself. It's decent food, don't get me wrong, but they certainly know their niche and cater to an older more traditional crowd. We last went for a 60th birthday party in the private dining room years ago, if that helps illustrate the point...

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Not yet, but thanks so much for the rec! We don't get out to that neighborhood much (it's not exactly close to the in-laws) but I love Burmese food and usually only get it in Oakland or SF.

Who carries vacuum sealer bags?

Costco sells FoodSaver bags for a fairly reasonable price compared to Amazon. The downside is that it includes a variety of sizes. We really don't use the smaller bags in the Costco pack since DH largely uses them for his sous vide machine. So I prefer to order just rolls of the large bags from Amazon.

Haven under Charlie Parker [Oakland, Jack London Square]

Adding this to our list! DH is a sucker for house made ginger beer and that pork (especially the crackling!) sounds divine. Thanks for the detailed review.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Not yet. We haven't been back to many parts of Newark since 2004, which is when we moved, as it's not that close to my in-laws. Looks like it may be worth trying out since it's just a 15-20 minute drive from their place!

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

My in-laws have lived in Fremont since the early 70s, after moving from SF, so they've witnessed the dramatic changes. I believe they were one of the few Asians in their neighborhood at the time (they are 4th generation Chinese American, speak "perfect English" and actually don't speak a word of Chinese). Anyhow, I think the pipeline of immigrants from Asia into Fremont (and Cupertino and Saratoga, which is where my own parents live) started in the early 90s. I remember being one of only 2 Asian kids in my 1980s public schools, but by the 90s, there were a TON of Asians. In my Calculus AP class senior year of high school, only 3 students were not of Indian, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, or Thai descent. Two were Russian immigrants with thick accents and 1 was an American-born white boy (of unknown European heritage) whose father was an electrical engineer (yeah, I grew up in the "old-school" Silicon Valley).

Anyhow, the demographic shift has meant there are a ton of Chinese and South Asian restaurants that are fairly "authentic" given the immigrant community and its expectations. It also means that if these folks are anything like my dad (an immigrant from Taiwan who was originally born in China and fled Nanjing after the Communists invaded), they would never spend more than $50 on a dinner for two. I suspect that restauranteurs are unwilling to risk opening a "Palo Alto" or "Oakland" type restaurant in FUN until the community demonstrates its willingness to spend the money.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Thanks, eatzalot! I know many CH'ers don't live in SF or Oakland, but it seems like so many posts are focused on those destinations. DH grew up in Fremont but I grew up in the South Bay, so we're always on the lookout for new places to try.

That's so funny! Is it the same? It was Pearl's! Which I only remembered because you mentioned it was someone's name....I remember we went twice and the first time was a shockingly good meal given my very low expectation for Fremont. The return visit (on Valentine's Day when they had a prix fix menu) was less impressive, so that may be why we didn't return again for a while (and then they closed). I found this old review for it when trying to confirm its name:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article...

We also tried some place near Niles (Essanay Cafe) whose online menu sounded so good but whose food was atrocious (leaden lumps of dough that were supposed to be gnocchi!). We were also the only diners who weren't over 60 and white. Sigh. I see it's closed now, but that is what passed for "fine dining" in Fremont.

What I wouldn't give for a place like Perbacco, Tadich Grill, Bay Wolf, Evvia, Joya, etc. to be located in Fremont!!! It's not like I'm asking for Saison, French Laundry, Benu, or other exclusive high-end fine dining options! Alas, restauranteurs apparently don't think that FUN residents are ready to spend that kind of money.

We DID try Il Porcino maybe 4 years ago? My in-laws gave us a gift certificate for there to celebrate a birthday/anniversary when we lived in Newark. I recall it was decent, but not necessarily good enough to make a special trek. I think that's the problem with many of the FUN options. If I lived next door, then yes, it would be good on a Friday night/weekend when we didn't want to eat at home. Yet I don't know that any of these places are worth the drive from elsewhere in the Bay (though I do REALLY like the chaat at Chatpatta Corner and the crab at Yum's).

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

We don't get over to Milpitas very often at all, but I remember eating at that Darda and liking it MUCH more than the Fremont version. But my favorite is still Chinjin Eastern House in West San Jose (which is conveniently very close to my parents' home!).

Perhaps I'll get to try some of the Indian places the next time I'm in the area without DH? I once tried a tandoori chicken pizza from a place in Newark that had arcade games (like Chuck E Cheese) but it wasn't that good....I'm eager to try better versions.

Musing in Fremont

This is awesome! I just wrote up my own list of some Fremont/Union City/Newark places I've tried and the one gap, which I acknowledged, is that I don't know any of the South Asian options since my in-laws and DH don't really like that cuisine. Would love to hear your feedback on my list!

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/994075

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

I'm meeting up with friends from all across the Bay in Fremont due to its central location for those coming from Santa Cruz, Walnut Creek/Lamorinda, and the Peninsula. Figuring out where to eat (and given some friends' dietary restrictions) made me realize that there isn't much info on this area generally.

I know few, if any, tourists head to this area and I'm unsure how many CH'ers head out there either. My in-laws live in Fremont (DH grew up there), we used to live in Newark when we first married, and we also have friends in the area, so I've actually eaten at quite a few places. Sadly, there seem to be very limited options: chain restaurants (which I avoid like the plague) and ethnic restaurants whose quality has to be personally assessed.

Anyhow, I thought I'd offer a list of Fremont/Union City/Newark (FUN) places I've tried and see what other folks recommend!

Chatpatta Corner (Fremont, near the Ardenwood Park right off Dumbarton Bridge) has great chaat. It's a cash-only establishment, vegetarian, and it's counter service. I'm not a chaat expert by any means, but I love their pani puri and pav bhaji.

Darda Chinese Food: this is next door to Chatpatta but I've had sketchy meals here. Lamb with green onions is my go-to dish at Muslim Chinese restaurants (and I love Peking House/Chinjin Eastern House which is now in West San Jose, but used to be in Fremont, Campbell, etc. over the past 20+ years). Darda's version had stringy lamb and was just inedible. Their sesame green onion pancakes are good, but if I'm heading to this neighborhood, I prefer Chatpatta.

Simply Thai: This is on the other side of the Dumbarton Bridge off-ramp from the first two restaurants, so it's technically Newark. We don't eat Thai very often, but I like this place. Great green papaya salad, mussuman curry, pineapple fried rice, and what I find most impressive: it's probably the best table service ethnic restaurant I've had in the entire area. There's a very attentive staff, who are friendly and polite, and our water glasses were filled before they reach half-empty.

There are many strip mall restaurants in the same area as Simply Thai, but I can't recall where else we've tried. I think there's a Japanese restaurant across the street from Simply Thai but it wasn't memorable. For really good nigiri, we tend to drive to the Peninsula.

The one exception is ramen. We've been to 3 ramen houses in the FUN area: Yokohama Iedkei and Tadamasa, which are both in Union City, and Dohatsuten in Fremont. Dohatsuten is a trek, as it's in South Fremont close to Ohlone, but I recall it was good the one time we tried it years ago. I really liked the Black Garlic ramen at Yokohama Iekei while my DH loves their other cooked options (beef tongue and some sort of deep-fried fish).

A few doors down from Yokohama Iekei, in the same strip mall, there's a tiny counter-service/cash only Vietnamese place, Cam Huong, where I've picked up banh mi. I like their grilled pork ones and it's a good balance of crusty bread/pickled vegetables/meat (unlike some places that are have too much bread or not enough meat)! I have never tried anything from the steam table--I've seen flies landing on that food so I only get the banh mi. I know, it's probably wishful thinking that flies aren't landing on my banh mi ingredients!

I never would have found Yum's Bistro but for CH, as it's located in a small strip mall in the middle of nowhere, a total residential neighborhood. This a tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant is run by an amazing Hong Kong chef. I know it's gotten a lot of love on CH and I count it as one of my favorites in the FUN area. I absolutely love the crab (we ordered lobster once, it was good but not mind-blowing like the crab). I also enjoy the scallop fried rice, the sticky rice stuffed chicken, and a few other specialties. I HIGHLY recommend pre-ordering your meal (even if you're dining in!) if you're going with a large group as it's one amazing chef and a TINY kitchen. There are also certain specialties you can only get if you call ahead. Even when we have gone right at opening and been the first guests, it still takes a long time to eat. The wait is worthwhile, but make sure you don't go when you're starving!

In another strip mall located off a much busier area, the Fremont Blvd./Thornton Ave., we've tried Satomi Sushi (not worth returning, IMHO), QQ Noodle (the Fremont location subsequently closed but they have other places in Milpitas and Cupertino where you can get their House Special, the spicy pork sauce with finely cubed carrots and potatoes over dry noodles, as well as their cold appetizer of thinly sliced pork with super garlicky sauce!), Gangnam Tofu (Korean BBQ place, reasonably priced, but not worth a special trip).

Further along Fremont Blvd. is De Afghanan. I haven't been in a while, but went once to the new sit-down restaurant location. Years ago it was only a tiny flattop, a counter, and 6 chairs but they had to best bolani (a potato-stuffed flatbread) and kabobs, so we'd just order to go if we couldn't sit. When we tried the sit-down restaurant, it was the slowest service EVER. So we haven't been back. If I have a craving for Afghan food, we just go to Salang Pass across the street.

Salang Pass: Another Afghan restaurant, with a nice traditional seating area on the left (low tables and ornate pillows) with great food. I like their borani kadoo (pumpkin), mantoo (dumplings), quabili pallow (lamb over a nicely spiced rice with raisins, carrots and almonds), and bolani.

There is a large South Asian community in FUN, so I know I'm missing out on some great options that must cater to them. Sadly, my in-laws don't like Indian and DH isn't a big fan, so I've only tried a few and they have all been Indian buffets. Arka on Warm Springs, Bombay Palace in Newark, and a place in Union City near the Hayward Costco whose name I have forgotten.

There are a TON of Chinese options in FUN and I know we haven't hit most of them. My in-laws used to drag us to China Chili (a white tablecloth Chinese restaurant that had very few Chinese people!) but we haven't been since we married and I started suggesting other Chinese restaurants. I prefer Northern Chinese fare, noodles, dumplings, etc., but there aren't many of those in this area. I have been to House of Dumplings on Mission (not sure if that's Hayward or Union City) and found it to be a great option. There's also a place in a strip mall in Union City (New China?) but usually we go with Yum's Bistro. My in-laws have had us meet at BK Bistro for dim sum, too.

When it comes to "white tablecloth restaurants" in FUN, I've been to two with my in-laws (usually for special occasions): Massimo's and Papillon. They have higher prices, but I haven't been impressed with them at all (especially Papillon--talk about 1980s decor, including the tables/chairs--how can you set prices that target "date night" diners yet offer such dismal ambiance akin to a hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurant?). DH and I would much rather drive to Oakland, Palo Alto, or even SF than celebrate a special occasion in FUN. Years ago, when we were still dating and DH was home for the holidays, his parents recommended a cute little place in a house off Fremont Blvd. in the Irvington district. Sadly, it has since closed. It's sad that in the 15 years since, no other entrepreneur has stepped forward to fill the void that would offer "date-night" dining in FUN.

I look forward to hearing other CH's opinions of both my list and your leads to other places in the area!