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Favorite Ice Cream 2013

Just returned to Sketch for the first time in 3+ years. Still the best, by far, if you like your ice cream less sweet and more focused on highlighting the flavor. Love it.

Ethnic in Madrid

Thanks for this thread as we were also hankering for something different in Madrid. We went to two places listed in the thread and both were very good.

Tulipan is the name on the outside of the building, but I think it actually refers to the bar you first enter before you go into the restaurant. They call the restaurant a Korean name, Gayagum. The restaurant is surprisingly upscale with white tablecloths and a relatively refined atmosphere for its location in a nondescript residential area. At lunch they serve a set menu at 20 euros per person, which comes with a bunch of very good panchan (great kimchi), kalbi ssam, and a korean stew (choice of a few - we had tofu stew and beef stew). Everything was good and authentic to Korean flavors - I couldn't identify any Spanish influence or ingredients if there were any. It was pretty busy with most tables reserved. Everyone in the dining room was Korean, including my girlfriend, except me. If you are really craving Korean food while in Madrid, this is a great choice.

We also went to Cucina del Dieserto and had a delicious, cheap meal. I actually liked the tajine more than the couscous, but both were great and well flavored. Definitely ask for some harissa to go with your couscous, bold and spicy! We sat on the floor (one dining room has floor seating, the other with tables), which I'm not the most proficient at, but it was a very enjoyable meal. I would definitely return here as it's difficult to get this kind of meal back home in California.

Jul 19, 2012
tomotsu in Spain/Portugal

Sending something back in Paris

Interesting post - I am very hesitant to send anything back but on my recent 1 month trip to France I sent two dishes back to the kitchen. In both cases the protein was under cooked, and in both cases they reheated the same protein (tending toward the overdone, of course) and gave it back to me in a few minutes.

At the first restaurant, a michelin and chowhound recommended restaurant in provence, the rhythm was off from the beginning since we tried to squeeze in right at 2pm for a quick lunch and ordered just a single dish each a la carte. My braised pork shoulder had probably already been thrown back in the fridge (or freezer) so when they went to fire it for service the interior was still cold to the touch with completely solid, cold fat. I sent it back, they took my piece, re-warmed it in a pan and gave it back to me with little attention toward presentation and no apologies.

Today I had a less egregious but similar situation in a Michelin 2-star restaurant for their lunch menu. My rouget was underdone, again slightly cool to the touch in the center with a raw, unappetizing texture. Perhaps this was personal preference but I don't believe it was the intention of the dish. I sent it back and my girlfriend had finished her main by the time the same fish was redelivered (though nicely replated), of course now somewhat overcooked. It was tasty but certainly put a damper on the meal. Again, no apologies and of course nothing comped.

In retrospect, I'm not sure it's worth throwing off the rhythm of the meal unless you clearly can't eat the dish in front of you (like my pork). In retrospect, I probably would have just eaten the more cooked parts of the fish at the restaurant today.

Jun 29, 2012
tomotsu in France

new good restaurants in Paris?

Kei and Le Galopin were two of my favorite restaurants during my week in Paris. Both very worth looking into with Kei being more of a high end, polished and perfectly executed experience and Galopin being casual with great, inventive food.

I didn't go to Agape Substance again on this trip, but I did last year and it was a standout favorite as well. Probably even more so than Kei or Le Galopin if you want an intellectual experience - their food is very clever and subtle but still delicious.

Jun 12, 2012
tomotsu in France

Dining in and around Beaune

My best meal in Beaune was at Le Comptoir des Tontons about 1 block outside the historical center of Beaune on Rue du Fauborg Madeleine. It's a small, casual restaurant run by a husband / wife team. They are proud of their ingredients and source top notch stuff from the nearby area. I think mostly a nearby organic farm. The food is incredibly refined for the atmosphere. Not tweezer of micro-greens refined, but very elegant and surprising flavor combinations such as braised beef with an emulsion of agastache - a plant that I'd never heard of before but had a slight curry-like taste. In a trip with many great braised beef dishes (Regalade, Les Papilles, to name a few), this was by far the best.

As I mentioned the wine list is also incredible. No it's not going to have 2 pages of Y'quem or as many back vintages as Ma Cuisine does. But if you are interested in natural wine it's the best list I've come across in France thus far and the best prices. Overnoy at mid 20 euros, a page of Pacalet at near cellar door prices - basically you name it they have it at prices less than it can be found in the US anywhere.

I also ate at Ma Cuisine and Caves Madeleine in Beaune. Ma Cuisine was great. I had the pigeon and my girlfriend the sweetbreads, both highly recommended. The foie gras was also impressive and possibly the best we had in France, beating out Chez Dumonet's. It's definitely a place you should go to experience, especially if you want to go for some of the incredible aged burgundies on the list. We didn't but still had great wine by the glass (97 Corton, 94 Cote Rotie).

Cave Madeleine had a good value 15 euro lunch menu for entree + plat, and a nice selection of wine you pull off the wall. But it was a little forgettable and I wouldn't run back, especially since it's a few doors down from Tontons.

So I agree there are too many good places for 3 days, but if you have a chance I'd really recommend squeezing in Tontons for lunch or dinner. I think they have the same menu which is 25 euros for plat and dessert, 32 euros for entree + plat, 36 for all 3.

Jun 10, 2012
tomotsu in France

How to Deal with Chez Josephine Dumonet Properly

Yes, that's correct. Fishmonger at Richard Lenoir. Coming from San Francisco where unfortunately it can be difficult and expensive to find high quality fish, it's a dream to buy such great product so reasonably.

Jun 02, 2012
tomotsu in France

How to Deal with Chez Josephine Dumonet Properly

We booked an apartment with kitchen. This is highly recommended. We have been eating out 1 meal per day, usually lunch, and otherwise cooking the great products from the markets. Saves money and our stomachs. And it's just plain fun to buy monkfish from Lorenzo to cook at home - fish like that makes it easy to feel like a great chef.

I highly recommend it for food focused visitors if you are staying more than a couple days. Even still, we had to cancel this lunch - but it's been our only cancellation thus far out of 10 days, not bad!

Jun 01, 2012
tomotsu in France

How to Deal with Chez Josephine Dumonet Properly

Actually had a demi of '81 Climens that I don't think was on the list. Very good, maybe not the most complex, but full of life and perfect balance with the foie at this stage in its life. I was very close to getting the '58 Coutet for 200 euros though.

Jun 01, 2012
tomotsu in France

How to Deal with Chez Josephine Dumonet Properly

We just had dinner there last night and are still recovering - we had to cancel our lunch today because we just weren't up for it. Wish I saw your post first!

The foie / barsac (30 yr old in my case) would be hard to skip - that was my favorite part of the meal!

We also had the "obligatory" duck confit / souffle, but wish I had gone with the boeuf bourgignon which looked and smelled incredible. The duck confit was good but not incredible - maybe I was expecting too much. The souffle was giant and generous, but in quality not as good as the Regalade souffle from a few days earlier.

On the other hand, contrary to some reports, we loved the overall experience and service. My girlfriend's tartare was prepared tableside and was delicious and fun. We drank too much, spent too much, ate too much and had a great time. We'd go back, but maybe with more control like DCM.

Jun 01, 2012
tomotsu in France

Peru Restaurant Recap (Lima, Arequipa, Cusco)

Thanks everyone for the helpful recommendations on this board. We ate at a lot of markets and had great food, but here are the restaurants we visited in Peru.


Overall the food in Lima was fantastic. The people there clearly care about food and most of the chefs we saw were dedicated to their craft. However, there does seem to be a slight push toward the trendy rather than the tasty which we ran into a couple times. But everyday food there, in the market and local restaurants, was delicious.

Chez Wong (Calle Enrique Leon Garcia 114, lunch only): Solo, Chinese-Peruvian chef starts with beautiful whole flounder and filets it in front of you into the freshest ceviche you've ever had. Unlike some other preparations, this was ceviche in its simplest form: great fish, shallots, lemon juice, salt, pepper. Marinated for less than 2 minutes before reaching our table and served with chopped hot pepper. The restaurant is hidden, hard to find and hard to book, but is worth it just for this dish which is always served. The second course has an option (hot or cold) and we ended up with a simply perfect seafood stir-fry more asian than Peruvian. It was good but in itself not worth the trip, especially at the prices of around 60 soles per dish (both dishes are large enough to split, which most patrons did).

Chinen (Av. Republica de Panamá cdra. 45): We never would have found this, but we tagged along with the family we were staying with in Lima for lunch on the first day to this local hole-in-the-wall. Surprised to see it featured in this Gaston Acurio video, the food was a great introduction to Chifa Peruvian. Don't miss the lomo saltado with the provided hot sauce.

Central Restaurant: This is a top rated, posh restaurant in Miraflores. We wandered in because the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed for an unknown reason and were able to be seated at the bar where you can order from the full menu. We ordered 3 dishes a la carte, the best of which was the charred purple corn octopus appetizer. The arapaima and seabass entrees were good, but at these prices in Lima they were a bit disappointing. The chocolate dessert however was world class - a subtle and interesting combination of . Honestly this visit reminded me why I try to stick more to regional specialities when I travel as compared to ambitious modern / world cuisine. It reminded me somewhat of Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar in Buenos Aires, though much less molecular. It was a meal I felt like could be found in many places around the world with nothing distinctively Peruvian, though there were obvious efforts made to focus on Peruvian ingredients. I would skip this next time for food, but the drinks in the bar were some of the best we had in the country.

Pescados Capitales: One of the most highly recommended restaurants for ceviche in Lima, this too came as a disappointment. Perhaps coming 2 days after Chez Wong was not fair, but we greatly preferred the austere preparations from Chef Wong to the overly sauced, and overly sweet, ceviches here. The fish may have been top notch, but it was hard to tell with what we ordered. This was the biggest disappointment in Lima.


Zig Zag: OK, I'm embarrassed a bit but we stumbled into this tourist trap based on its consistent top marks on Trip Advisor and lack of other info about Arequipa on reliable sites. Perhaps to be expected, it was expensive, the food was forgettable, and the experience was over-the-top. What's the point of serving the meat on a hot volcanic stone? Well it's obviously not a culinary choice and I had to juggle to keep my alpaca at a reasonable doneness. Just look at the photo - it's fun, but if you care about food more than experience skip it.

ChiCha from Gaston Acurio: We didn't have a full meal here, just the peking cuy. Great space, especially the enclosed courtyard. The cuy was delicious if expensive. I'd go back for more.


Cicciolina: We ate here twice, once for breakfast and once for dinner right after our 5 day hike. Both times were great, despite the fact they lacked the local identify I criticized Central for earlier. Oh well-I'm not consistent, I just know these were well enjoyed meals with good wine. I won't fawn over it but if you want yummy, Italian-inspired, gut-filling food, go here. Book ahead as it gets busy.

Greens: Our stomachs just couldn't stand up to the onslaught of street food and we needed something to settle them before our 5 day hike. We came across this restaurant right next to the main square which promised organic, vegetable driven fare with most of its ingredients sourced from its own farm. Sounds risky, but my SF / Berkeley brainwashing made it sound strangely appealing. We had a solid meal here at a somewhat high price. But if you want something simple, light and fresh, I would recommend it.

I'm no longer recommending Le Cinq for lunch (review)

Don't want to derail, but thanks Deluca! Going to try to stop by Villaret before we leave Paris this weekend. We are actually going to the Jura for a few days next week will be visiting Overnoy. Can't wait!

May 28, 2012
tomotsu in France

I'm no longer recommending Le Cinq for lunch (review)

It was my first Raveneau and a great way to be introduced. The sommelier was very excited about it as well. Overall good wine list at decent prices given the environment, glassware and service. Some other good values I noticed going through the (very heavy) wine list were a few whites from the Jura around 60 euros (incl. Puffeney), Cotat Sancerre 60-80 euros, and a few Rougeard at 90 euros. I'm sure there are others too at a slightly higher price bracket but I could only hold that list for so long - wish they would post it online.

May 27, 2012
tomotsu in France

French menus

+1 more, I downloaded her iphone app which along with maps and recs includes an extensive food glossary I've been using often.

May 26, 2012
tomotsu in France

I'm no longer recommending Le Cinq for lunch (review)

I was booked for lunch at Le Cinq today and almost changed plans after seeing this thread, but I am very glad I didn't. This was my second visit to Le Cinq, the first being last October. Both times the experience was incredible and a great value with the lunch menu.

I will note that the service captain that was fantastic on our first visit was not present at lunch today, and the service may have suffered slightly. They served our "pre-dessert" after our desserts (maybe intentionally?) and a server dropped my dessert on the floor (it was in a martini glass - an embarrassing accident, but no real impact to my meal as they quickly brought another). But it was still world class where it counts - you will feel like a king in the dining room, but the service is never stuffy and they make you feel incredibly comfortable. Not surprised to see them sub from the main menu as they are very accommodating. We subbed a dessert for the cheese plate.

I was also very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the menu on offer today (better than our last visit). We had a completely different menu than plafield. The best was a raw salmon belly entree that had some of the best fish I've had anywhere (including Sushi Yasuda in NYC and good addresses in Tokyo). My plat was a young pigeon roast with equal parts foie gras within a thin, flaky crust that was perfectly pink and, for me, the perfect food for this dining room.

I can detail the other dishes if you like, but overall the food was delicious and overwhelming, in the best way.

Frankly, it's not the most interesting / innovative food I've had in Paris (Kei might get those honors for this trip). But it is still very, very good. It's not the kind of food you intellectualize - it's food to enjoy. I think it's a great Paris experience and would still definitely recommend you go.

Finally, the wine list also has good values - we had a fantastic bottle of 2006 Raveneau Butteaux Chablis for 85 euros.

May 26, 2012
tomotsu in France

Mission Chinese Food

I lived in the Mission a few blocks from SF location and ate there every other week or so (mostly delivery). My favorite dishes were the Kung Pao Pastrami and the Thrice Cooked Bacon. The SF location had some inconsistency, especially with the level of spiciness that could go too far, but very unique and bold flavors.

As Miss Needle says, leave your expectations at the door. This isn't trying to be authentic Szechuan or even really Chinese food. If anything it's an updated take on Americanized-Chinese. But don't think about it too much - just enjoy it. Hope you like spicy food.

May 21, 2012
tomotsu in Manhattan

Mission Bowling Club Burger [split thread]

I had this during happy hour the other day ($10 3-6pm everyday). I can't recall exactly how it was at Duc Loi so hard to compare, but this was certainly quite good. Very nicely cooked, great meat, the texture--with the directed granulation--was awesome.

WIth all the great burgers in the city I'm not sure this really stands above, but it certainly is a great bite if you are bowling or in the area and want a burger. For my taste, the 4505 Meats burger is still better, but obviously not available daily.

I'm a huge fan of Myint's restaurants and would love to try the other things on the menu here.

please help me complete my weekend chow plans in Vancouver

Are you going to be attending the AFP Conference? I'm coming from SF and have been scouring chowhound for options as well. To compare notes, here's what I'm thinking:

Either Guu or Kintaro Ramen or Santouka Ramen Friday night. Then Saturday night probably sushi - Miku or Miko. Sunday I was also going to look for good Chinese options. Finally, I was hoping to fit in Vij's or Vij's Rangoli in somehwere, maybe Monday night.

Let me know if you'd be interested in meeting up at some point for lunch or dinner - would be great to meet another hound during the trip. You can e-mail me directly at tomotsu @ gmail.

Mar 27, 2012
tomotsu in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

So, Wise Sons Deli is open ... who's been? Beauty's Bagels? [San Francisco]

I went on Sunday morning. They definitely have quite a following for not being officially open yet - at least 20 minutes before we ordered and sat down and another 20+ for the food to arrive. Since I'd had their pastrami before I wanted to try the corned beef and had it on a reuben. Unfortunately the corned beef was nothing special - a bit tough and surprisingly bland for my taste. The rye bread, which they make, was fantastic.

We ordered cured trout on a bialy, but they ran out of trout and gave us sable. It was unfortunately not very good - too fishy and a bit dry. The bialy, however, was great - again it seems like their breads are their strong suit right now.

We also had the Matzoh ball soup which was tasty, though I have no real comparison points for the dish.

Not planning to rush back until the lines die down, but worth a stop for the bread at least and probably the pastrami. Agreed with Martin above - very nice staff and cool space.

Fire at Great China?

That's awful. Easily one of the best wine lists in the bay area and clearly lovingly put together.

Recommendation for date night? Ideally in the Mission.

Commonwealth would be my first thought as well for something to impress. Very creative and delicious food. Atmosphere is hip, though I wouldn't call it cozy or especially romantic. $200 will also go a long way there.

By the way, depending on your friend, a fun, cheaper and very different date would be Mission Chinese followed by dessert at Commonwealth which is affiliated and next door. Doesn't fit your criteria but keep it in mind for next time. I know there is some contention about Mission Chinese on this board, but if your friend hasn't gone there and is into food it's become something of a destination and worth a try.

A few other options would be Foreign Cinema which is more romantic and has solid food and Range which has a cool vibe and great drinks. Chez Spencer doesn't get brought up a lot, and I can't speak for the food since I've only had brunch and dessert there, but it certainly has a romantic atmosphere and one of the few places in the Mission with a multi-course set menu.

best indian delivery in san francisco

Udupi Palace may not be exactly what you are looking for (it's vegetarian), but has great food and does delivery within the Mission. I used to do delivery from Alhamra which is alright, but since learning that Udupi does delivery it's at least a once a week affair for me.

Restaurant suggestions for SF weekend 1/27 - 1/29

I love the raviolo filled with egg yolk at Cotogna. Make sure you get some bread to sop up all of the brown butter / egg yolk deliciousness. In any case don't miss the pasta there (pizza can be skipped IMO, compared to other options around town).

Nopa I feel it's hard to go wrong. Of course, it's really hard to go wrong if you get the pork chop. Don't miss the excellent wine list. If you like sherry--or especially, if you think you DONT like sherry--they almost always have some Equipo Navazos by the glass. One of the most amazing sherry / wine / liquid I have ever tasted. Try it.


Glad you enjoyed your meal there. I also had a recent dinner with their new Winter menu that I mentioned in another thread. Did they still have the duck aged on the bone tonight? That was a stand out dish from our meal last week, but it's not on their website.

They aged the duck carcass for an extra week before slicing off and roasting the breasts for the dish. It was served with an assortment of beet textures (roast, powder, tartare, etc.). This was one of my favorite dishes of the whole year. Just a beautiful duck with deep, complex flavors. My whole family hasn't stopped talking about it all week.

The other favorite dish was a new blood sausage and chestnut dish served in some sort of foam. The blood sausage was very delicate and surprisingly light, pairing nicely with the richer chestnut. Even my mom (not a fan of blood sausage) loved it - so maybe a good introduction.

I wasn't a huge fan of the cocktails, but perhaps I ordered wrong. They ended up just a tad too sweet for my tastes.

Restaurant suggestions for SF weekend 1/27 - 1/29

I just went back to AQ again and have to disagree - it's easily one of my favorite new restaurants this year. Two new dishes on their winter menu stood out: duck breast "aged on the bone" and blood sausage with chestnuts. They also kept the 2 standout dishes for me, the barley/crab and the charred avocado.

While Frances is great, I wouldn't really compare the style to Frances. Where Frances is homey and comfortable, AQ is slightly edgy and clever. Depends on what you are looking for. Anyway, I think AQ is a great choice for a "SF style" meal in the city.

Parallel 37 is also very good, and quite different. The food is top notch, with French-influenced technique I'm not sure many other places can pull off. It's almost like the redesigned the restaurant without changing the food, which is a good thing in my book. That's an exaggeration of course, but Ron Siegel's style is still apparent and the attention to detail in each dish is a cut above.

Still -- maybe I'm a sucker for novelty -- but I really like what AQ is doing.


Went back again tonight and had another very good dinner exploring more of the menu. While the barley and crab and avocado dishes remain my 2 favorites, I also really enjoyed the monkfish.

Was also told that they just received their liquor license so they should be serving drinks soon. They also continue to add to their wine list, including a number of wines below $40 (as low as $19). I think it's one of the best wine lists around with lots to get a wine geek excited. Tonight they were pouring Lopez de Heredia rose by the glass.

Gourmet & more - Great new speciality store - Hayes Valley SF.

I randomly stopped in here after walking by a few days ago and was very impressed. The owners are also importers / distributors of french goods to restaurants in the area so the selection and prices are great. Because of this, they can carry a much more expansive inventory of cheese than you would expect in a small shop.

The cheese room was a bit cold to conduct tasting inside, but the staff was friendly and happy to cut-to-order any size cuts. They bring in a lot of Xavier David cheeses and French goat cheeses I haven't seen elsewhere. All 3 of the cheeses I bought (XD roquefort, comte, and a fresh goat pyramid) were perfectly ripe and clearly well-stored and taken care of. Since they are a French importer, a majority of the selection is French (with some Spanish and Italian).

They also cut and sell fresh baked bread by the lb from a nearby bakery.

As you can tell I'm very excited about this new shop a few blocks from home -- I'll be back often.


I agree with everyone above - I had a great meal here tonight.

The favorite was the barley and crab dish that was unique and delicious. The toasted avocado was also fantastic, but nothing was less than great. The wine list, as mentioned, is well selected and well priced. I'll be back soon.

Mid to High range restaurants/dishes that is good for takeout?

Locanda does take out orders. I have only had their tripe to go and it traveled and re-heated fine. I'm not sure if there pastas or mains would travel as well, but if you call them they can probably give better take out suggestions.

Our favorite "nicer" takeout order is the whole chicken from Limon Rotisserie. Delicious, travels well, and great deal with 2 sides.

Limon Rotisserie
1001 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Best sommelier in the Bay Area 2011

I've been trying to find out who's behind Great China's fantastic wine list, thanks! The servers never seem to understand when I tried asking them. Definitely one of the most impressive in the area and not what you would expect walking in. I ate there dozens of times as a student, but only just recently noticed their list.

The other standout list for me is Chris Deegan's at Nopa. Lots of great sherry and always something interesting highlighted by the glass.

560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Great China Restaurant
2115 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA 94704

Benu / Crenn / Coi / Saison [San Francisco]

I loved your Paris reports (planning a trip there in October) and looking forward to your thoughts on the above.

Sounds like you have your plan, but for what it's worth my meal at benu was good but low on the wow-factor. It did not compare to my meal at French Laundry from Corey Lee. Saison is a very good choice as a representative of modern California / San Francisco cuisine and I think what we excel at here. If you had another meal I'd suggest checking out Commonwealth, also in the Mission, for another place playing with some innovative flavors and techniques. Maybe next time.

Cyrus is my favorite restaurant in the bay area so enjoy.

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110