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First time to Nopa [San Francisco]

Another first-timer review. Went with my family on a Sunday night for my husband’s birthday, thanks to a gift certificate from his work colleagues. I’ll address issues brought up on previous reviews:

Booking: I had previously tried to book through OpenTable and kept getting 9:30 PM as the earliest availability for a party of 5 a month out. I decided to call the restaurant directly and if things got tough, mention that I had a gift certificate I needed to use. I called two weeks ahead of time asking for a 7:00 PM table on a Sunday, and was told I could have that day and time. Snap!

Seating: We arrived a few minutes before 7:00 and there were about 8-10 people hanging out outside the restaurant. Waited a few minutes for the hostess to process a couple of other parties, and then were seated immediately. The restaurant was completely full, with maybe a few counter/bar seats available.

Noise: It is a noisy place, although not unbearably so. We were seated downstairs, between the booths and the tables against the wall. I agree with Melanie that it seems to be quieter closer to the wall as opposed to the middle of the room.

Food: Delicious. We ordered 3 small plates and 5 large plates. Burger, pork chop, chicken all cooked properly, not juicy but not dry. I liked the smokiness of the pork chop and its accompanying peaches. The albacore melded a bunch of bright, sparkling flavors. My favorite taste of the night was actually the aioli that accompanied the burger and fries. Wish I could make aioli that good at home.

Bread appears to be available on request; we looked around and saw no bread on tables but I convinced my son to ask the server for some. We received 5 good-sized chunks of moist sourdough, with room temperature butter. For dessert we had bomboloni and cornmeal shortcake, both yummy. The shortcake came with a lit candle as we had mentioned the birthday to our server. I also had a Negroni Frizzante, and remembered anew how much I like Campari.

Service: Friendly, responsive, understated, professional. A big service issue for my family members is refilling of water glasses, and Nopa is excellent in this regard. I looked at my watch as we were finishing dessert, and it read 8:42. I was amazed that even with all the food we had ordered, we were still set to rise from our table within a 2-hour time frame.

All in all, a pleasantly enjoyable experience from start to finish, including finding parking one block away. So often popular restaurants leave me wondering just what the attraction is, but I had no problem figuring that out at Nopa.

Bibimbap: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2015

I had the dolsot bibimbap at Shin Toe Bul Yi (Parkside, San Francisco), the first week of July. Perfectly decent rendition. When mixed together, the rice was a bit bland overall, but then I did not put any gochujang in, as I was coddling a slightly sore throat. A nice crunchy crust developed on the bottom, but not the sides; I should have mashed the rice to the sides instead of mounding it in the middle. The panchan was good, although a bit less plentiful than I remember in the past.
Other dishes we had: I usually don’t care for spicy pork, but the pieces in direct contact with the iron plate developed an addictive caramelized surface. Soft tofu soup was comforting and filling. Fried chicken was juicy and greaseless, and we got a delicious grilled mackerel gratis. Was tempted to order pajeon as well, as most of the other tables did.
We don’t come here often, but when we do, we always leave stuffed and happy. Particularly good restaurant for a cold foggy night like this one.

Chowdown at San Wang, 3/29/2014 [Japantown, San Francisco]

I got chicken chow mein to go and it was very good. Same chewy noodles, good wok hei flavor.

Chowdown at San Wang, 3/29/2014 [Japantown, San Francisco]

My favorites were the shrimp in hot pepper sauce, the dry fried chicken, and the san wang soup noodles. The shrimp and chicken were nicely crunchy and had good flavors. The soup noodles had a very red broth that was surprisingly not that spicy and hit the spot on a cold day. Noodles were pleasantly chewy and I got a very fresh tiny clam and small squid tentacles in my bowl.

Downers for me included the water dumpling, which was unpleasantly soggy and its filling was almost entirely chives. I did not like the sauce on the mussels; it seemed gloppy and without much flavor. Same for the za jiang mian sauce.

As always, the company at these chowdowns makes it worth the trip no matter the quality of the food. Shout out to Dustin_E, who attended his first chowdown and hopefully will return for more.

Chowdown at San Wang, 3/29/2014 [Japantown, San Francisco]

Six hounds braved today's downpour to sample specialties at San Wang in Japantown. We had the following dishes:

Water dumpling
Fresh mussel
Beef with jalapeño pepper
Shrimp with hot pepper sauce
Dry-fried chicken
Sautéed pea sprouts
Noodles with plum sauce (aka za jiang mian)
San wang soup noodles

I will post my impressions of the meal below.

NEW: Alta CA- Daniel Patterson's new restaurant in Mid-Market, SF - any reports?

Had lunch here yesterday and it's a very pleasant space with the afternoon sun slanting in. The bar dominates the room and tables are spread out around the perimeter of the space.

I had the smoked pork trotter which was my kind of meal - rich, unctuous egg and meat with crispy, vegetal brussels sprouts and frisee. Wary of the mustard, I asked for it to be served on the side, but it was not overly strong or acidic and it melded well with the dish.

I also had a housemade ginger beer, which I very much liked, except that it was one of those drinks that seemed to be more ice cubes than liquid. It was served in a tall glass but I wonder if I got much more than 1/2 cup of liquid total. The cocktails looked intriguing, but could not indulge and be productive in the afternoon as well.

On the way back to the car I stopped in at Littlejohn's candies on the same block and bought English toffee and a candied orange slice, both of which were yummy. You can watch them make their candies in the back.

All in all, a nice holiday break.

Dec 17, 2013
sumimao in San Francisco Bay Area

Affordable chinese pre-set menu for large group in SF

I also recommend Five Happiness for banquets, especially if you like Peking Duck. Have had a couple of 9-10 person dinners here this year and our guests have thoroughly enjoyed them. As mentioned by soupcon, they have a bunch of set menus with different price ranges, and are always willing to substitute dishes (I used to eat sea cucumber until I found out what they subsist on). Long time family owned business.

Dim Sum Chowdown at Hong Kong Lounge II [San Francisco]

Very enjoyable meal. Always fun to come out and sample dishes with fellow Chowhounders. I’ve come to HKLII on weekdays several times and it’s the total opposite of the usual weekend crazy, loud, crowded dim sum experience. (Weekends may be a different story as I have seen long lines outside this restaurant).

At table 2, we did not order much of the usual suspects but like sfbing I prefer to let people order whatever catches their fancy, and in this way we tried many items that are not found on a typical dim sum menu. For instance, I probably would never have ordered the fish ball but found it quite to my liking, tasty and not bland as I often find fish balls to be.

Salt and pepper calamari was spicy and flavorful. The coffee pork ribs were a bit sweet, but perhaps because I put too much of the sauce on my bite. I quite liked the teriyaki beef rice noodle rolls; the teriyaki sauce caramelizes in the pot adding a nice layer of flavor to the dish. Did not sample the shrimp noodle roll.

The filling for the shanghai dumpling was a bit bland. The baked pork bun was a decent rendition; I detected no gristle or fat in my filling. The eggplant did not have much flavor.

I liked the pork sparerib rice, portions were mixed for us and I got a good flavorful gravy/rice ratio. The salted fish/pork rice was less successful; I think sauce was not added and while the pork patty tasted good, it did not balance out the mound of completely white rice it came with. Kudos to HKLII for the excellent crisp pot crust.

I got a side piece of the sponge cake and the outside was mushy from having absorbed a fair amount of steam/vapor. The lava bun was not something I would order again; it was properly executed but I’m not in general a fan of sweet buns.

All in all, not necessarily the best dim sum out there but some dishes were quite good. Adding in the relatively tranquil atmosphere and attentive service, I’d definitely return here for dim sum.

R&G Lounge on the decline? [San Francisco]

I went last Saturday with a group of 7. We had 2 orders of the salt and pepper crab, geoduck sashimi, beef brisket, yau choy, prawns with honey walnuts, salt fish chicken fried rice, and peking duck. All were delicious. I was in the tiny ground floor space and everyone around us seemed to be getting the crab. Lots of people also ordered the steamed eggs and clams which Melanie and KK mentioned.

I have not had a bad dish at R and G Lounge but perhaps because each time I've gone, I've had the benefit of others ordering for me.

New Chinese.. "House of Pancake" 937 Taraval bet 19th and 20th [San Francisco]

Yesterday we tried the beef hand pull noodle, beef pancake, green onion pancake, pork dumplings, zha jiang mian, and chicken fried rice. I thought all were quite good. Noodles had the properly chewy texture.

Service a bit lacking as there was only one waiter. He was quite pleasant and there was no problem with ordering and getting dishes, but tables were not cleared for several minutes after diners left.

Shandong Deluxe, San Francisco

No bean sprouts in any of the dishes we had. IIRC, there were slivers of carrot, napa cabbage, and pieces of scallion as well as strips of chicken in the "chow mein" (still not sure what the menu name is).

Shandong Deluxe, San Francisco

Had lunch at Shandong Deluxe yesterday. They are closed for lunch on Monday and Tuesday.

A table of four split the following (these may not be the exact dish names on the menu):

Cucumber salad: smashed cucumbers with lots of vinegar and garlic. I love this stuff.
Bean curd noodle salad: not as flavorful as I would have liked, but not bad.
Chicken soup noodles: Irregular, long, handmade looking noodles with the perfect texture, in a delicate clear broth with wisps of chicken breast, a few pieces of bok choy, and slices of shiitake. Perfect for a cold day.
Chicken "chow mein": We ordered a noodle dish by pointing to another table. This also featured the irregular hand pulled noodles, but we were not expecting it to be spicy. Great wok flavor.
Pan fried buns: Crisply browned top and bottom, small puffy buns with tasty meat filling.

A very satisfying lunch. The prices are exceedingly reasonable and the deliciously chewy noodles are a definite highlight. The place was full during lunch and everyone looked happy. Will be returning often.

South Sea Seafood Village Opens in Millbrae

Yes, it's always quite a blingy experience to dine at SSSV.

I tried the Millbrae location for dim sum last month, the first time we tried this venue, and it was good. Don't remember everything we had but I know for sure we had the beef rice noodle roll, because my youngest always orders a plate of that just for himself. We also always get the XO rice noodle rolls. I also remember trying the fish rice noodle roll (is there a theme here?). These were all good and I can be quite picky about rice noodle rolls, particularly if the noodles are too thick.

A couple of the managers came by to say hi and said the SF location is closed and undergoing renovations, apparently to update the kitchen facilities.

Taiwanese or Northern Chinese Breakfast for 70 people

I walked by Taipei yesterday and it appears to be open and serving "mandarin dim sum." Have never eaten there so no idea about the quality but perhaps you would like to check it out to see if food and space will work.

salad dressing recipe that requires no refrigeration?

Looking for a recipe for a tasty salad dressing that does not need to be kept in the refrigerator.

Feb 23, 2012
sumimao in Home Cooking

Trip Report - Long - Eating in Paris with a toddler

Great post! My kids are no longer toddlers but we successfully took them to many restaurants at that age using many of the techniques you covered. Much of it is about concreting in kids' heads what expectations are; once they understand what is expected and what is not tolerated, things are fairly easy (except of course as you point out, in situations like "Level 5 Crab" - lol).

Once we took them to a fancyish place in Monterey and by the end of the evening it seemed like practically the entire restaurant had complimented us on the behavior of our children (which made me think that going there was maybe not such a good idea in the first place, but fortunately it worked out).

3 weeks is great - more chances to go different places and if one day it doesn't work, you can try again another day - more difficult with limited time in a vacation spot.

I love Paris and hope to visit some of the places you mentioned - almost certainly without a toddler in tow. Sigh. It passes more quickly than you might think.

Jan 06, 2012
sumimao in France

Memories of deep fried McDonald's Apple Pies

I think I had an Arthur Treacher's lemon pie once as a kid and never forgot it. Both it and the fried McD apple pie were tops.

Oct 21, 2011
sumimao in Chains

LA hound seeking street food recs (no tacos!)

Please post a report. I'm coming to NYC 1st week of August (from SF) and would like to hear how the recommendations worked out for you.

Jul 14, 2011
sumimao in Manhattan

Chowdown Happy Hour Tonight (5/3) at Zare at Fly Trap

Very nice atmosphere and a congenial group of Chowhounds. I arrived at 5 to see pane holding down the fort. Few people around at that time, but when I left at 6 the place was comfortably full and abuzz.

Since I left early, I did not get to sample all of the food, but everything I had was enjoyable. The arancini were great; crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. I also enjoyed the walnut paste on the flat bread. Other bites were good but not as memorable as the first two. I missed out on the eggplant and the brussels sprouts.

I liked how the experienced waitress sized me up as a lightweight in one glance as I ordered the absinthe drink psb had; she said doubtfully, "It's pretty strong." Even though I then immediately decided to change my order she offered to bring a sip of it over so I could say that I'd had absinthe. She brought a small taste of the drink and it definitely packed a punch.

I had the same drink as Windy; I've never met a Pimm's No 1 drink I did not like and this one didn't disappoint. "Refreshing but not especially alcoholic" could be my bar-hopping credo.

Good place for a drink and a bite and evidently lots of other people agree.

Chowdown: Craft Cocktail Happy Hour tonight (3/28) at 15 Romolo in San Francisco

Very enjoyable chowdown - nice to hang out with Melanie and "pane." Unfortunately, I had to leave before they started serving food, so did not get to try the bar snacks.

Well off the beaten path, the bar is dark and relatively quiet at the early hour of 5:30.
Perusing the cocktail menu, there were a lot of tasty-looking choices. I settled on the Wilson's Smash. I can't remember what all the ingredients are, but it may be on the menu at 15 Romolo's website.

At first, the drink was nice and refreshing, but got more sour (for my taste) as it went down. (Note: when I order lemonade in a restaurant, 99% of the time I'll want to either add sugar or water down my drink, so I'm not an average gauge of how sour a drink should be).

The barkeep, after several solo minutes manfully filling orders and chatting with customers, came back to inquire how I liked it. I said it was good but a bit sour for my taste, adding that it was a personal thing and not related to how he made the drink. He then filled a shot glass with ginger syrup (one of the components of the drink) and gave it to me with instructions that I should sweeten to taste. I gradually poured almost the entire contents into the rest of the drink which brought the sourness down to where it was not drowning out the rest of the drink's components.

Overall, the atmosphere, service, and drinks make this a watering hole I'd be happy to stop into anytime I'm in the neighborhood.

15 Romolo
15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133

Peking Duck/Thanksgiving

Had dinner at Five Happiness a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday night and they took a reservation a couple days prior for 10 people. They asked me if I wanted a duck which was good because I did want one and I would have forgotten to preorder. So not taking reservations may be just a Thanksgiving day thing.

We ordered one of the set menus which included a duck, substituting salt and pepper fish for the sea cucumber dish, which I thought would not be to the liking of all. The entire group was very happy with the food, including five kids ranging in age from 9-16. I prefer my duck served with pancakes and Five Happiness had nice wheaty housemade-looking ones. Other places mentioned in this thread will likely serve the duck with steamed buns (SSSV does for sure).

Five Happiness
4142 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

Wanted: Extremely Spicy Thai or Indian Food

I agree with Melanie. This is the place to go for super spicy. I ordered the green papaya salad once and specified, "mild spicy." I was in tears eating it. Now I know to order, "not spicy." (I like spicy food but now don't eat it often enough to maintain a high tolerance level, which I used to have.)

Patisserie Delanghe closing after 25 years on Fillmore - last day Th 9/30/10

Their raspberry crunch was to die for. Can only hope the new owner will be willing and able to replicate it.

Chowing Down at 2010 Eat Real Fest in Oakland

I liked the salted caramel ice cream at Smitten too. They have plans to open a shop in Hayes Valley, hopefully in October.

The pork belly from Chairman Bao was delicious. They could have better quality buns, though. I imagine they don't make their own. The line looked daunting but actually moved pretty quickly, I spent less time waiting than I thought I would.

Loved the sisig taco from Hapa SF. Crunchy porky goodness. Though I was not impressed with the lumpia. The filling was not as savory as other ones I've had.

Seafood paella from Venga was delicious.

I liked the brisket sandwich with coleslaw on the side from St. Vincent de Paul. The coleslaw was very vinegary, which I like and made a good contrast with the big beefy flavor of the sandwich.

Went pretty early on Friday, arrived at 3 for a late lunch. Worried that it might be too early and food would not be ready to go but many places were up and running, and there were a lot of people, definitely making it worthwhile for the stands to open on time.

Bummed though that I forgot to get creme brulee - saw the stand going in and decided to get it later, but then forgot all about it.

Chairman Bao
San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

Outstanding execution found at Bruno's

I may have been there the same night and time as you, if it was January 30 around 6 PM. I brought my family to Bruno's, knowing it had a menu my kids would like, and when I walked in I thought, "hmm...maybe this is not the best place to take a family" as you get a pretty strong bar/club vibe from the decor and setting. However, we had a very nice meal. We had the ribs, greens, oyster poboy, mac and cheese and the pulled pork sandwich, with two fried apple pies for dessert. Everything was very tasty. The crispy oysters, perfectly-textured biscuit and unctuous mac and cheese were my favorites. All of the staff were super friendly and nice. I would definitely go back, though if I were bringing my kids I'd be sure to go on the early side.

Fancy Food Show

They sell the yogurt from Siggi's at the Whole Foods on 4th Street. I bought it on Sunday but have not tried it yet.

Recommendations for San Francisco trip, Jan. 28-Feb. 1 - inexpensive

Many SF restaurants, including ones near your hotel, are participating in the Dine About Town discount promotion, which is going on the second half of January, when you will be in town. Check out the website:

chow recommendations for tourist

Thank you Ontario board for the suggestions. We visited the St. Lawrence Market on Saturday morning and was it a scene! I was able to get lots of takeout to stash in the hotel refrigerator. We tried Carousel’s peameal bacon sandwich and given the depth of the crowd around the stall surprisingly it was not a hit. The family was put off mostly by the look of the sandwich – they had just sort of mashed the meat in between the halves of the roll instead of neatly layering it, and it looked very messy and unappetizing. Tasted fine though. Even served cold, the kids loved the potato pancakes from a purveyor that also sold Ukrainian sausage, should have gotten more of those.

Since I was with my kids all the time, we did a lot of quick takeout. The kids loved Eaton’s Centre’s Jimmy the Greek’s platters and we got them several times. I liked them also, particularly the dressing on their salad. Greek food is not as ubiquitous in SF as in Toronto so we don’t have it much.

Richtree Market was also a good place to pick up family-friendly meals, and I enjoyed their rosti though of course rosti is better freshly made at home. I tried to sample Coconut Grove’s roti but alas stopped by on Sat. night when they were closing – and they were closed the rest of my trip due to Victoria Day.

My kids are not very big on sightseeing so I decided not to drag them to the Distillery district, though it looked like an interesting place to visit.

I did get to eat at two places RW Apple recommended in his travel book: Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar and Lai Wah Heen. JK Wine Bar’s Sunday brunch went down very well after a morning at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The entire family, including the picky 7 year old, gobbled up foods they are not accustomed to: poutine, crispy pork belly with mashed potatoes, garlic sausage ragout with polenta, and grilled asparagus with poached egg. I tried 3 oz of a suggested Gruner Veltliner and liked it a lot.

Lai Wah Heen’s dim sum was also a big hit. I always like trying nonstandard dim sum. I don’t remember the individual items very well, but remember feeling that some of the creative items worked better than others. Nothing fell below the level of good, however, and we all cleaned our plates.

While scouting out dining options, a couple of times I checked out the offerings at local supermarkets, and was thrilled to find Lay’s Spicy Indian Masala, Smokey Bacon, and Spicy Curry potato chips, as well as Bugles, one of my favorite snacks. These are available in the states but require diligence to search out. The kids loved the Bugles as well as the Masala chips – I had to remind them that they supposedly did not like spicy foods! I enjoyed the unusual chip flavors and these snacks were the only food item I took home with me.

chow recommendations for tourist

Visiting from SF this weekend, looking for guidance to great chow, in these specific areas:

local specialties not available elsewhere
quick casual meals or takeout suitable for a family
anything that would be great to buy and enjoy back in the States

I'm staying in the Hilton and plan on walking or using public transit to get around.

Yucatecan Crawl in three parts

I joined in only at Mi Lindo Yucatecan. As always I enjoyed seeing old hands and meeting new folks. Due to my cell phone ringing off the hook (which it never does) I was outside talking when the food was brought and therefore have only the vaguest idea of what anything I was eating was called. So can't chime in on specifics, but I will say everything I ate was delicious. I had a mango agua fresca which was refreshing and not too sweet. I would definitely come back here for a meal.