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tvr172's Profile

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SFBA vs. LA Chinese --- any advantages?

The drastic increase in the number of immigrants from mainland China in the 1990's had leveled the playing field somewhat among LA, SF and NYC. While LA still has an edge just by the sheer number of choices, the Bay Area is catching up. 15 or 20 years ago, we typically thought the LA area and, to a lesser degree, Flushing, NY were where one needed to seek more regional and non-American Cantonese cooking.

Aug 15, 2015
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Dragon Gate - New Taiwanese Food Venue in Oakland

My wife and I made our first visit today for lunch. We had the following:

Small Squid stir-fried with basil. Good flavor and the squid was very tender and fortunately not overcooked. A bit on the salty side to my taste. It would be great over rice.

Idiot Noodles - after I picked off small chunks of fatty pork, We really enjoyed it (it's a personal thing against fatty meat). The noodles were not overcooked and has a good bite feel.

Chicken Heart skewer - they were cut and flattened on the skewers. I would have preferred to have them in their original shape to retain the moisture.

Deep Fried Baby Oysters - This is usually one of my favorite dishes. However the batter here was on the heavy side and it was difficult to tell if they were actually individual small oysters (as should be the case) or cut up bits of oysters (what's commonly found in the US). Did not come with the customary salt-pepper-MSG dipping powder.

Stink Tofu - reneging on my promise to give up trying stinking tofu in the US, I ordered it. To my surprise it has the right flavor, albeit relatively faint therefore did not stink up the entire place. My wife was able to sit at the same table as I ate it. It might not have hit the spot, but at least scratched the itch.

Overall, we enjoyed the meal. Happy to find a decent Taiwanese restaurant outside South Bay and SoCal.

Aug 09, 2015
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

ISO Sheng Jian Bao

They are actually not quite the same. Shui Jian Bao (水煎包) originated in Shandong province; Sheng Jian Bao (生煎包) came out of Shanghai. Although the difference between the two has become blurred as people have modified them to their tastes and the two terms have become almost interchangeable outside of their respective birthplaces, Sheng Jian Bao tends to be smaller and usually has sesame whereas Shui Jian Bao is larger and traditionally prepared by pan frying with steaming as part of the step as you mentioned. I think nowadays many places just call them Sheng Jian Bao if they do not use water even though the shape maybe closer to the original Shui Jian Bao.

Jul 30, 2015
tvr172 in Los Angeles Area

Din tai Fung comes to Bay Area

Yes, according to my relatives in Taipei, this is where many locals go for their XLB fix (where as DTF is where they take visitors from overseas). Prices are lower than DTF and not as upscale. Menu not as varied and more focused on dumplings. But the wait can be long as well.

May 25, 2015
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Breakfast with a View

Hey for that money, I would be going to the Swiss Alps....

May 12, 2015
tvr172 in Greater Seattle

Breakfast with a View

Thank you all for the suggestions. We thought of the route through the North Cascades via 20, but it seems to be a much longer route and concerned it will be too much of a rush. Need to get to Chelan by 3:30 for the seaplane to Stehekin.

May 11, 2015
tvr172 in Greater Seattle

Bawan Recommendations Taipei

If you are interested in its origin and different regional styles, here is some good read.

May 08, 2015
tvr172 in China & Southeast Asia

Breakfast with a View


We will be driving from SeaTac to Chelan on a Friday morning along I405 and then Rt. 2. Are there good breakfast joints not too far off the path that also offer a nice view of the lakes or mountains. I am thinking somewhere in Bellvue or Kirland. As a side question, would taking I90 then 97 be a better alternative than I405 during a weekday morning? Thanks for your help.

May 08, 2015
tvr172 in Greater Seattle

Bawan Recommendations Taipei

This dish (肉圓) is more of a central Taiwan dish commonly found in the cities of 台中 彰化 清水 豐原 etc. In Taipei your best bet may be 阿財彰化肉圓 at 中山區龍江路21巷13號. I am originally from Taichung so I have never had the need to try it in Taipei. Let us know how you like it.

May 05, 2015
tvr172 in China & Southeast Asia

Din tai Fung comes to Bay Area

I was at the Taipei101 location 2 weeks ago. First time in over 30 years. Growing up in Taiwan we typically thought of it as the expensive place where the Japanese tourists flocked to. Nowadays there seem to be more mainland Chinese tourists. The dishes that I liked most were the wontons in hot chili sauce and a wood ear appetizer. We had 11 different dishes and I would say almost every one was prepared well. That said, the prices were high relative to food of similar quality elsewhere; however, part of the attraction is the consistency and service. I also noticed there was wait staff fluent in various languages to receive foreign customers. Never been to the ones in the US so no basis for comparison.

Apr 23, 2015
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Vacaville eatery makes Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. for 2015

That should not be a surprise, should it? Why would a person of Asian decent from a certain region necessarily have more appreciation for foods from another part of Asia compared to a non-Asian. Especially someone who was born and/or raised here with Americanized palate. Do not rely on my judgement of Filipino food even though I am from the "same side" of the globe.

Mar 21, 2015
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Why are they standing in line ?

I enjoyed standing in line at Pacific Cafe. They gave out free glasses of wine to those waiting for a table (with no apparent limits!). On the rare warm and sunny evening in Outer Richmond, we were more than happy to let others go ahead of us. Not sure if they still do this. Food was good too, if I remember correctly.

Mar 03, 2015
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Hunter's Point Chow? [San Francisco]

Dago Mary's has been long gone. The building was demolished a while back. If you don't mind driving a bit there are some good places on 3rd street, including Frisco Fried, Serpentine, Just for You Cafe. Closer to Evans, there is La Laguna. The Post Office cafeteria is a good and inexpensive alternative if you just want something quick and easy parking.

Just noticed the original post was from 2004......

Jul 25, 2014
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Trip to Berkeley from DC

Just did the drive from SLC to Berkeley a few weeks ago. A few good meals along the way. Stopped for lunch at a Mexican eatery (Salt Flats Cafe) just before Wendover at the eastern edge of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Take Exit 4 toward Bonneville Speedway. It is shortly on the right behind a Sinclair gas station. Interesting memorabilia on the walls about the various drivers and their cars breaking records on the salt flats.

In Elko, we enjoyed a hearty family style Basque dinner in the Star Hotel (not an actual hotel). Near Truckee we stopped by PJ's Bar and Grill. It's part of a golf resort in a nice setting.

None of those would be considered gourmet eateries by Berkeley or Alexandria standards, but their characters reflect the localities.

Jul 22, 2014
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday dinner dilemma, Berkeley or Oakland

Marica on College Ave in Oakland has prixe-fixe 3-course meal before 6:30 that would fit your budget. Parking and reservation have been relatively easy.

Jun 28, 2014
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Regional Chinese roundup 1.0 (early 2014)

The relatively new Lulu's Kitchen (Sichuan) in Concord is quite good.

May 10, 2014
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

85 Degrees C (85C) Bakery Taiwanese chain coming to Bay Area (potentially Newark / Union City / Fremont)

During the past 2 weeks, I have been driving by a 85C location in Taichung, Taiwan and there were never more than half a dozen people in the store. Almost every block has a boutique bakery selling similar or fancier looking stuff with the goal to make the entire island diabetic.

Sep 05, 2013
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

China Village (Albany) is open!

It's called Arden lettuce. Or 窩仔菜 in Taiwan (pronounced wei-ah tsai so people started simplifying it to A Tsai to the point many in the younger generation only know it as A Tsai). or 萵苣菜 in China.

Looking for slightly upscale Indian restaurant in East Bay

Look into Swad in Lafayettel. I was there 3 years ago and remember it being good. But not sure if it is considered upscale.

Feb 15, 2013
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

How big are servings at Tacubaya, Berkeley?

Had lunch there Friday, it took 3 tacos to fill this medium-sized, middle-age and middle-class man.

Apr 16, 2012
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Anyone ever tried Stinky Tofu?

Actually it has always been fairly common in Taiwan, not obscure at all. It's not universally loved by everyone there; but there is enough demand for it. Its taste and "strength" can vary from vendor to vendor depending on the process. In the past few years, b/c of the health and safety concerns, people have been experimenting with alternative and more sanitary processes to create the taste or stink. I have tried ones made with herbal medicine that left a bitter after taste. But the good ones actually do taste and smell differently.

Mar 26, 2012
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

China Village [Albany]

A search for the origin of this dish would confirm ground meat as part of the recipe. This is such a popularized dish, many variations have developed.

Mar 11, 2012
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Taiwanese or Northern Chinese Breakfast for 70 people

Try Five Happiness on Geary. They serve that kind of breakfast items and has enough table space.

Feb 06, 2012
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Dim Sum and XLB recommendations

You are right. I have always found it comical when this is used as a gauge of a Chinese restaurant's quality or authenticity, somehow assuming every Chinese person present further assures the authenticity of a place. The truth is some of us just don't know any better. Some of us are just trying to find a cheap place to fill our belly; and many of us are just as susceptible to hype. I suspect many non-Chinese chowhounds on this board probably have a wider appreciation of Chinese regional cooking than your average Chinese person on the street. I have been to plenty of lousy Chinese restaurants (whether voluntarily or dragged along) full of Chinese. I apologize if my presence at some of those places might have misled those that rely on this head-counting method.

Sep 26, 2011
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Where Can I Find Pink Pearl Apples (or something close)?

The PP in our yard in Berkeley has been producing since June, but production went down lately, then this weekend I am seeing new blossoms. Our fall has not been warming up just yet.

Sep 12, 2011
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

SF-flavored Xmas gift for a foodie?

Wife flew out to Casper with 4 crabs in her checked-in luggage. We bought and cooked the crabs the night before. Froze them and put them in a padded lunch bag (without additional ice) in the morning before the flight. They were still chilled by the time she got in at Casper 8 hours later and they had them for dinner.

It would be even better if you can bring them over live. Just saw that there are vending machines in China selling live crabs. They go into quasi hibernation when kept at a few degrees above freezing. I might experiment bring live crabs back to the east coast in a couple of weeks.

Dec 07, 2010
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Two new Chinese restaurants in Cupertino Village (Shanghainese and .... NorthEastern?)

I will have to agree. I don't understand why people hype up the XLBs at SDK. They are not very good.

Nov 04, 2010
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

Please suggest a mid-high end dinner in SF city only

Spruce near Laurel Village

Jul 25, 2010
tvr172 in San Francisco Bay Area

What's Innovative About San Francisco?

for many of us Market runs northeast........

Jul 12, 2010
tvr172 in Features

Taichung, Taiwan

I think you will be surprised at the Chinese cooking in Taiwan. It has moved far beyond what you can find in the US. Most of the Chinese cooking found even in major cities in the US is still stuck in China's pre-revolutionary era. Heavily salted, greased, MSG'ed or sauced.

Here are some links you might find interesting (not limited to Taichung): Note that I am not tapped into the food scene there by any measure having been away for many years.

Jun 26, 2010
tvr172 in China & Southeast Asia