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Al's place in the Mission review [San Francisco]

The tasting menu was $60 PP. You have the option of vegetarian or pescetarian. We choose the latter. A good deal considering the quality of the food.

Mar 24, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Going to Yank Sing for the first time [San Francisco]

I agree with you Melanie. To me Yank Sing is like the emperor with no clothes.

Mar 23, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Al's place in the Mission review [San Francisco]

This weekend we tried Al's place in the Mission. This is a new restaurant started by Aaron London who was the chef at Ubuntu in Napa after Jeremy Fox left. We really loved Ubuntu and were sad when it closed. Al's place is vegetable heavy but not vegetarian (Ubuntu was vegetarian). We felt that the vegetarian options at Al's place were the highlights of the meal and reminded us of Ubuntu. All in we really enjoyed it and felt like it was another good dinning option in the mission. We tried the family tasting menu.

Here is what we ate:

french fries, smoked apple sauce. Pretty good, but not excellent French fries.

garden fritters, fennel mayo.
Excellent. They seemed part falafel part fritter. Flavorful and moist inside, crunchy outside.

An excellent mixed salad with bitter greens.

mixed brassicas, sudachi, pickled radish, wild mushrooms. This tasted like something from Ubuntu. Really delicious brassicas with umami packed maitake mushrooms. Excellent.

tonarelli, green garlic, bergamot, botarga. Our least favorite dish. The texture of the pasta seemed off, very al dente but at the same time lacking toothsome texture and chew. The bottarga came off as fishy and the green garlic seemed harsh. All in all off balanced.

Cured trout with crunchy potatoes, a quince broth and some kind of foam. The potatoes and trout were excellent but the quince broth and foam seemed unnecessary and didn't add anything to the dish.

Grits with mushrooms and peas. Ubuntu used to make similar dishes. This was excellent. The umami packed mushrooms perfectly complimented the creamy grits. Vegetarian food doesn't get much better than this.

There also brought out an additional complimentary savory course when we told them we wanted another savory dish. This was a delicious bean stew with big crunchy breadcrumbs.

The dessert was an round chocolate cakes with peanuts and peanut butter ice cream. I am extremely picky and often unsatisfied with desserts. But this one was spectacular. Deeply chocolaty and not cloyingly sweet. The crunchy peanuts and ice cream were perfect accompaniments and enhanced the dish.

All in all we really enjoyed the meal and will definitely come back. Compared to Bar Tartine which is also in the mission and which we also love, the food was less experimental and more vegetable focused.

Please tell me your favorite dim sum and favorite sushi in San Francisco?

I know many here love Yank Sing but for the life of me I don't know why. My experiences there have not been good.

Please tell me your favorite dim sum and favorite sushi in San Francisco?

Dim Sum- my favorite and the one I find most authentic is Koi Palace
Sushi- my favorite is in the east Bay: Sushi Sho in El Cerrito

Frozen organic Thai coconut water in Bay Area?

Mystery solved. Thank you FDA for taking away yummy French cheese and my favorite delicious coconut water and leaving us with antibiotic fed meat.
http://www.bevnet.com/news/2014/raw-c...

Mar 21, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Din tai Fung comes to Bay Area

Interesting review! The pictures brought back memories. The thing that sticks in my mind from Taipei the most were the Shumai which the reviewer liked but not as much as the XLB:

#78 - Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shiaomai (10 pcs) [NT$330]

This version is more like a hybrid of XLB and Shumai.

I hope the branch they open in the Bay Area will be as good as the better locations. Sounds like a future Chowdown in the Fall.

Mar 15, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Din tai Fung comes to Bay Area

I was in Taipe a couple of years ago. Thought the DTF and street food were fantastic.

Mar 14, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Din tai Fung comes to Bay Area

Let's hope its good. In my experience the locations can vary greatly. Every DTF in Taipei we visited was uniformly amazing. But the DTF in Singapore we visited was mediocre. A HUGE HUGE difference from the Taipei branches.

Chaya uni tasting menu [San Francisco]

Anyone tried it yet? I love Uni and am debating trying it.

Mar 13, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for Best Yogurt in the Bay Area

Oh, I should mention it's full fat. I don't do low or non-fat anything. Fat fills you up so you don't eat as much.

Mar 12, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Looking for Best Yogurt in the Bay Area

The Strauss Greek yogurt is fabulous. I highly recommend it. I am having some for lunch right now. Plain with some cut up dates on top. It is creamy and rich with just the right amount of tang and a remarkable depth of flavor. Good stuff.

Mar 12, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Anyone been to Pink Zebra (San Francisco)?

We went for the omakase dinner on Saturday night. The food was excellent, but it's expensive for what it is.

The atmosphere was casual with interesting music. Where else can you eat delicious sushi while listening to Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies (all I wanted was a Pepsi)?

When you make reservations you can opt for the omakase menu which is around $85 or $90 per person. But when you arrive they tell you that the omakase is not enough to fill you up so they suggest you order 2 or three appetizers to share (apps are in the $8 to $15 range). This raised our eyebrows. For two of us with two rounds of Sake the bill came out to over $300. While enjoyable I don't see us returning for the omakase menu because of the price but we would return to try some of the other interesting sounding menu items.

Here is what was included in the omakase menu:

House made tofu. Excellent. I have tried homemade tofu at various Japanese restaurants but this seemed more dense and rich. It turns out they add milk and cream, so it's not authentic but it tasted very good.

A selection of Sushi. First round included big-eye tuna, marinated big-eye tuna(excellent), ocean trout, a couple of tasty preparations of Salmon roe including one marinated version that was bursting with umami flavors. The second round of sushi was all mackerel related fish and these were uniformly excellent. The last round included Uni, though you had to pay a supplement to get the Hokkaido Uni. The Mendocino Uni, which can vary in quality was just spectacular and even outshone the Hokkaido which I usually like better.

Here is what we ordered from the appetizer menu

Beef tongue-just perfect, very tender and meaty tasting

Beet salad-was very good, beets very tender but seemed pricy for the serving

Chicken yakitori- ground meat skewers. Excellent.

Overall the experience was good and we were glad we went. Biggest negative was the price.

Mar 09, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Wise Sons or Millers East Coast Delicatessen for pastrami sandwich ? [San Francisco]

I've only had the pastrami on rye sandwiches from Wise at the farmers market at the Ferry building. I have had them a few times, and while variable they were always good-juicy, meaty with good spicing. Not Katz, but very satisfying. I didn't find them San Francisco-ized. I don't understand the SF twist you mention. It's a rather basic sandwich and there was nothing about it that was that unusual to me. The Wise pastrami sandwiches were better than any other Pastrami I have had on the west coast, though I have not tried many of the other places people recommend (I don't actively seek deli on the west coast because it's usually so disappointing).

Mar 04, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Wise Sons or Millers East Coast Delicatessen for pastrami sandwich ? [San Francisco]

Regarding the thickness of the Wise pastrami, I would note that being cut thick is not necessarily bad. In NY some of the best pastrami, like at Katz deli, is similarly thickly cut. The Wise product is moist and meaty compared to the dry bland thinly cut pastrami at Sauls and other Bay Area places which are less authentic to my raised in NY palate.

Mar 04, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Nothing but Forgettable Fancy Tasting Menus at Bay Area French Influenced High End Restaurants - RANT

I agree that the Keller influence hasn't been good for Bay Area cuisine. While I enjoyed my one meal at FL, I haven't enjoyed any of the spin offs, including Benu which people here rave about. To me the overall influence of Keller is to make food that is incredibly rich but boring.

My last meal at Gary Danko put me to sleep. I much prefer restaurants like Bar Tartine where the food is vibrant and Chez Panisse, where French inspired food tastes real and not obliterated by butter and cream.

Feb 28, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Is Philz Coffee That Good?

My answer to the original question is no.

Feb 28, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

SFBA Dish of the Month (March 2015) - Nominations/Voting

CHINESE HOT AND SOUR SOUP

Feb 28, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Wise Sons or Millers East Coast Delicatessen for pastrami sandwich ? [San Francisco]

Wise sons is the only pastrami I have tried that is similar to good authentic NY pastrami. It's very flavorful and moist. There is some batch to batch variation I have noticed but you can't beat it.

Feb 27, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Anyone been to Pink Zebra (San Francisco)?

It seems pretty new. I have reservations for the weekend after and will report back.

Feb 25, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Authentic Yucatecan cuisine in Cozumel?

Any more suggestions?

Feb 21, 2015
Ridge in Mexico

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle - San Pablo

Just visited the location at the pacific east mall. Was hoping to see the owner but she wasn't there. One of the specials was grilled wild snapper topped with onions, peppers, some kind of white bean we could not identify. We tried it for lunch. The fish was very very fresh tasting. Toppings enhanced the flavor. If you are wondering how we enjoyed it you can look at the before and after pictures.

Feb 15, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Ran Kanom Thai Noodle - San Pablo

Very sad. There was not enough business in that location to sustain the restaurant. The owner is looking at other possible ventures. I would go on Wednesday but this is a crazy week (been a crazy year so far actually!) for me. Will be visiting the location in pacific east mall today.

Feb 15, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

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

Personally I don't put much faith in Yelp ratings, especially of Asian restaurants. They tend to penalize more authentic cuisine and elevate more dumbed down "Americanized" Asian food. This is certainly the case if you look at Yelp ratings in Davis where I work.

That being said, based on my one take out meal, I was impressed with Buddha Thai and I am extremely picky about Thai food. I will get more takeout in the future and report back. To be continued...

Feb 13, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Cheesemaking 101

Where was the course given? How much $?

Feb 11, 2015
Ridge in Cheese

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

It's near I-80 on my commute every weekday. I decided to get some takeout last Friday on my way home. The place was packed when I arrived at 5:30. I was very impressed with the quality of the dishes I ordered. I got this shrimp salad (rich in lemongrass and coconut), drunken noodles (very good) and green duck curry (curry was slightly sweeter than I tend to like but had good depth of flavor. Overall very good). I specified that we like spicy and the food was well spiced. Service was efficient and courteous. I am looking forward to trying other things on the menu.

Feb 11, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Crab cakes SFBA Dish of the Month Feb 2015

Last night we had dinner before a concert at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael. I am always impressed with the food here and last night was no exception. Excellent fresh well prepared food. They had two crab starters on the menu: crab cakes and crab toast. We got the crab cakes to taste for DOTM and the crab toasts to compare. Both were excellent. The crab toasts were a simple preparation- a generous serving of fresh crab (I think Dungeness but am not certain) on toast with avocado and aioli. The crab cakes had minimal filler ingredients and were very moist. I am often turned off by the texture of crab cakes which can be mushy and unpleasant. But the texture of these was perfect. The outside coating was crispy and not greasy. The cakes had a pronounced crab flavor and fresh lemony character. The crab cakes were toped with fresh slaw. Sometimes this can smother and overwhelm crab cakes but in this dish the slaw seemed perfectly balanced, contrasted and enhanced the flavor of the crab cakes. All in all these were the best crab cakes I remember eating in a long time.

Raw Milk in the East Bay.

You can get Claravale raw milk at the Natural Market in El Cerrito. Some places also have Organic Pastures raw milk but I don't like it as much. It's not as clean tasting, has been subject to recalls and at times has given me intestinal distress (though mild and of of course I can't prove it was the cause)

Anyway the Claravale milk is absolutely delicious. I believe El Cerrito market has both the raw cow and raw goat.

I have also been experimenting with making cheese-making this funky strong Greek cheese you can't find in the US. Mixed results so far. I made some batches last year and have been
wanting to start a new batch as soon as life allows me the time.

Feb 08, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Authentic Yucatecan cuisine in Cozumel?

Going to Cozumel in a couple of weeks for the first time in more than 10 years. I remember eating really vibrant Yucatan cuisine when I visited the Yucatan mainland back in the early 2000s. Is there a place on Cozumel that makes really good authentic Yucatan dishes? Or Yucatan inspired dishes?

Feb 07, 2015
Ridge in Mexico

Waitress at Elmwood Cafe Berkeley makes racist assumption

And not generalizing to anyone on this thread in particular. But I do see a knee jerk response by my fellow Caucasians to deny racism. Friends, family have said things to the effect "well maybe George Zimmerman was just defending himself. Not racist at all" me: "sigh". How much evidence of racism to we need before we acknowledge the possibility?

In this particular case, I think racism played a role in how the waitress perceived and made a snap judgment about Bell. I could be wrong. But to deny that this is a possibility? A river in Egypt.