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Help - ISO Kids Friendly Bristo/Tapas/Small Plates Restuarants in San Mateo/San Carlos Area

I am looking for a kids friendly restaurant for either bristo, tapas, or small plates (the intent is to be able to share with everyone at the party) in the Peninsula. It will be for dnner this Saturday, and we have a party of 8+ (including kids), so it's better to reserve a table soon. Thought about Chika, but not sure if it is still open, as the website is not working.

Please help. Thanks all.

Apr 29, 2008
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Requesting recent tasting menu recs


Jun 22, 2007
vwoo in Los Angeles Area

Requesting recent tasting menu recs

I will be visiting from San Francisco next week, and may want to give Opus a try. Can anyone tell me how do Grace and Opus compare to some of the restaurants in northern California, such as Marensa, Michael Mina, or Masa?

Jun 22, 2007
vwoo in Los Angeles Area

Sushimaru Sunnyvale is Moving

Sushimaru Sunnyvale will be moving to Miilpitas Town Center. Their last day in Sunnyvale is June 24. The new address is:

599 E. Calaveras Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035
Tel: 408-945-9999

Jun 18, 2007
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday Buffet Brunch Suggestions

I would like to take my dad (who is visiting from LA) to a nice Sunday buffet brunch. Dad is a big fan of seafood, but doesn't like raw shellfish/fish too much. So far I am choosing between:

Top of the Mark (SF)
The Terrace at Ritz Carlton (SF)
Garden Court at the Palace Hotel (SF)
Cityscape at Hilton (SF)
Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

Any recommendations? Other suggestions are welcomed as well.

Thank you, thank you!

Apr 11, 2007
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Le Charm - Poor Service

I was at Le Charm for a group dinner last Saturday. Food was OK but not too good, and service was quite disappointing.

We started with a bottle of the house wine, and found there was a big chip at the glass after our server poured it full. Our server took the glass away and disappeared. We had to remind her that we wanted a replacement, and we noted our server’s long face.

While waiting for the last person to arrive shortly (and we knew what that person would order), we suggested our server to take our orders. Our server simply responded “yet to wait” and walked away.

No one came and checked with us after each course. Were we invisible?

Food was OK, but not too many choices for appetizers. I ordered the pork and duck rillette, it was a bit salty. The filet was executed very nicely with a piece of foie gras on top. The sauce was very tasty, I liked it a lot. Glad that I did not order any desserts. The orange crème brulee was overpowering. The apple tarte tatin was not very appealing, my friend only had a couple of bites and the whole dish remained untouched. Profiteroles looked very nice, yet I did not have a chance to taste it.

With this price range, I know I should not expect too much. But with this level of service, I doubt if I would go back again. Sometimes it’s not only the food, the service matters too. There were a few discussions between Le Charm and Chapeau, my choice would follow the majority, I’d pick Chapeau.

Nov 06, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

manresa report... (long) "the egg" was overcooked

My dish-by-dish review with pictures is posted at:

Sep 01, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Manresa Review - Dish by Dish with Pictures (very long)

If you plan to go to Manresa in the near future (within a month), I suggest you not to read it. Keep a little surprise to yourself =)

The bread and butter: they offered olive or sourdough. I am never a fan of sourdough myself, so I picked the olive. A very rich olive taste and aroma (I could smell strong olive the minute I entered the restaurant). The butter wasn’t as good as Bouchon or Hog Island Oyster Bar, it has a very mild flavor, that I could not really tasted it until it started to soften an hour later.

Amuse Bouche #1: Olive Madeleine: this little Madeleine was very powerful. I like the texture, crispy outside and a little chewy within.

Amuse Bouche #2: Citrus Cocktail: very refreshing. The grapefruit (I believe it was) was peeled nicely. Combined with bubbles on top, that makes a good match.

Amuse Bouche #3: Corn Croquette: surprisingly good. The filling was amazingly creamy and soft. Unlike the Japanese corn croquettes, the filling was more watery. It’s the best corn croquette I’ve ever tasted.

Amuse Bouche #4: Egg with Sherry Vinegar and Maple Syrup: everyone talks about this egg dish, Capriana and I had very high expectation on it. Previous postings were right, the egg was very creamy yet a bit overcooked. The yolk started congealing around the sides. Regardless, it tasted very good. The yolk, sherry vinegar, and maple syrup made a nice harmony with each other. Capriana asked how they removed the top of egg, one of the server explained the top was removed with mechanically with a device (we thought it was done by hands).

Foie Gras: the whole lobe duck foie gras was poached in milk to accomplish this heavenly dish. Texture similar to all seared foie gras at other restaurants, but does not have that seared coating. A very intense and full flavor. The accompanying beet and other condiments did not provide the expected sweetness and sourness complementing to the dish, yet the foie gras tasted too great even if it stands alone.

Tomato Salad: a new version of “salad”. I am very impressed that the chef jumped out of the frame and introduced this creation. Corn puree sits at the bottom, topped with half tomato and cucumber jelly, and basil oil; then garnished with Parmesan cheese flakes (like bonito flakes in Japanese dishes, I remember having it at West, Vancouver) and crispy Parmesan. The tomato was unbelievably sweet and juicy. The juice splashed out of Capriana’s mouth to my side of table (see pictures with spots on the tablecloth). We were told that the tomatoes were picked daily at their own organic farm in Felton.

Risotto with Monterey Spot Prawns: a very powerful dish, we could smell the aroma of prawn when it arrived at the table. It’s never easy to prepare spot prawns, as it will be dry and chewy when overcooked. Chef Kinch chose to prepare it medium well. Risotto was nicely prepared with prawn broth from the heads and shells. Decorated with a think layer of foam on top.

Sardine with Saffron Sauce: garnished with fennel. No surprises. The fish smells and tastes very comparable to the Japanese dish Saba-Shioyaki (grilled saba with salt). We thought it’s not very outstanding, so did the couple next to our table.

John Dory with Fennel and Corn Pudding: we were surprised to be served another fish dish. And yes, corn again. The fennel overpowered the dish, I had to leave that aside.

Guinea Game Hen with Mashed Yukon Potato: hen was remarkably juicy and tender, almost the best I had ever tasted. Just a little awkward when mashed potato was served. Again, topped with foam of some sort (can’t really call this foam, it’s very thin, should call this “bubbles” instead).

Lamb with Deep Fried Corn Meal and Eggplant: Lamb was roasted in its own juice, not surprisingly too good. To me, it’s just regular lamb, nothing very special. Lamb, corn meal, and eggplant did not complement with each other at all. The deep fried corn meal was too salty; the eggplant was too sour. With all those nice dishes up front, I was expecting to end my savory dinner with a more decent meat dish.

Fig Sorbet with Fig and Muscat Grapes: if this is designed to clean my pallets, I don’t think it serves its purpose. This is a very mild sorbet, I could hardly taste the sweetness. It wasn’t very smooth either, I could taste little ice within.

Buttermilk Beignets: Chef Kinch topped this dessert with a slice of peach and his signature foam again. The peach was lovely, guess it’s ripe on the tree. As for the beignet, I personally didn’t like it, had to pass mine to Capriana.

Chocolate Cake: my last hope to better desserts, yet I guess Manresa is not found of its pastries. At least, it’s the best among all. The toffee filling with peanuts tasted like Snickers to me. Chocolate mousse on top was fabulous, very smooth.

It was a very nice dinner at Manresa, if they can work harder on their pastries, it would have been prefect. The corn croquette, egg, foie gras, and spot prawns were excellent. I thank Chef Kinch for introducing new ideas to culinary, the tomato was remarkable. It was a very good experience at Manresa, and it’s awakened my interest to tasting menus again.


Sep 01, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

manresa report... (long) "the egg" was overcooked

Capriana94555 and I were there last night. With two tasting menu and wine pairing, our bill was $404.

Sep 01, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Sumiya Going Downhill . . .

Good deal, as it's 20% off the entire bill, including alcohol.

Aug 31, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Sumiya Going Downhill . . .

You are not the first to suggest going to Sumiya at as it gets later. I arrived at the restaurant at 7:30pm, normal and usual dinnertime, and if I must arrive later than that, I’d rather pass.

The Japanese style grills for one side grilling is not my favourite. Good point for preventing the meat from over-drying, but not too damp in this case. Likewise, this method will lead to charcoal fuming on one side of the meat only.

The sansho powder helps a bit.

Assuming the restaurant opens at 5pm, two and a half hour should have made the charcoal hot enough.

Aug 31, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Sumiya Going Downhill . . .

Responded to a post on Sumiya last Wednesday, and decided to give it another shot the same night, and ended up disappointed. Seems that food quality has gone downhill. With multiple visits, we almost tried everything on the menu, and came up with the following comments:

·Chicken skin: finally it’s available last time, but very disappointing. Like other places, the chicken skin was actually pan-fried. It didn’t taste as good as Lakuni or the deep fried version at Saizo. The chicken skin was tasteless, and it had a weird taste like rubber band.

·Beef tongue: texture was good, but it was grilled on one side only. That makes it very strange, as one side was nicely grilled, but other side was not.

·Chicken wings: always very good, we had 3 orders. The skin was very crispy, yet the meat was soft and juicy, perfectly accomplished.

·Chicken gizzards: wasn’t dry and salty enough. Personally I have a mild taste, yet I had to add more salt on mine.

·Chicken liver: was made just right, but still expect a little drier outside.

·Sausage: good, must eat right away to enjoy the crispiness of the skin.

·Pork belly: similar to beef tongue, was grilled on only one side, not as good.

·Quail egg: made with fresh quail eggs, very good. The yolk was soft and fluffy.

·Duck: not very tasteful even prepared with tare (Japanese sauce).

·Eringi mushroom: the mushroom absorbs the charcoal aroma that makes it tastes very strange.

·Shitake mushroom: this one goes well with the charcoal aroma. Bonito flakes were added on top to enhance flavor.

·Chicken hearts: we once tried it, but it wasn’t very fresh (a little stale taste). The quality varies from time to time.

·Chicken meatballs: always my favorite, the onion brings up the sweetness, very good.

·Chicken thigh with green onion: so-so.

·Eggplant: prepared the same as shitake mushrooms, with bonito flakes on top.

·Unagi liver: don’t think it was prepared in-house. Can get the same thing elsewhere.

In conclusion, food quality has dropped tremendously, we were very disappointed. We were the first crowd to visit when it first opened, and we were very satisfied, yet it cannot maintain such consistency. The 20% off coupon offer at Bay Spo may draw some new customers, yet I doubt if I will return shortly.

Aug 31, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Gochi or Saizo?

Tanto is still my favorite. Saizo and Gochi tie for second place. Sumiya has not reached its consistency, should wait for another month.

Aug 23, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Cleo Brazilian BBQ - Drink List?

I am planning a birthday dinner for 10+ ppl this weekend, and Cleo is one of my choices. This crowd drinks moderately, and I wonder if Cleo has a decent drink list, which includes draft beer, sangria, or even wine?

Aug 21, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Pepper Lunch, Milpitas report (w/ pics) Just ok lunch.

I am somewhat a regular at Pepper Lunch. I like their curry katsu rice, which is made with lots of beef and veggies. Katsu is fried just right, crispy outside, juicy inside. Rib eye on sizzling pan is a good deal too.

Aug 09, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area

Casa Azteca in Milpitas - Any Reviews?

A co-worker picked Casa Azteca for group lunch tomorrow, any signature or "can't miss" items I should order? Thanks!

Jun 28, 2006
vwoo in San Francisco Bay Area