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Nineteen's Profile

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2 in San Leandro: Bluebird Pizzeria & Puerto Bello

Just ate at two new places in San Leandro and thought they were worthy of recommendation. A bit of background: I grew up in San Leandro and graduated from San Leandro High School in 1980, but it was never a mecca for food when I was a kid. San Leandro had a strong Portuguese influence but it seemed to only manifest in linguisa factories.

Anyway, I've had pizza a few times at Bluebird Pizzeria and really enjoyed it. I've tried the white pizza (ricotta, mozzarella, spinach) as well as the pepperoni. I've never had authentic East Coast/New York pizza, but I liked this rendition.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bluebi...

Today I had lunch at Puerto Bello in what I swear was an old Straw Hat Pizza place when I was a kid. My expectations weren't high, but my parents and I were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. The menu isn't anything fancy, but all the ingredients were tasty and fresh. I had the Combo Dos (chicken tamale and crispy taco), while my mom had the Taco Sampler. The space seemed huge, but I sure hope the restaurant succeeds.

http://www.puertobellorestaurant.com/...

DEVILED EGGS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (December 2014)

Absolutely agree about this variation of deviled eggs with lime, honey, jalapeno and cilantro. I love all types of deviled eggs, but this is my favorite.

Dec 03, 2014
Nineteen in Home Cooking

Q's Halal Kitchen (Alameda) - great falafel and manti on the island

Stopped by Q Halal for the first time last weekend and had a surprisingly good meal. Almost ordered the manti but in the end chose the gyro plate. I really liked the lamb and the 2 sauces (yogurt and chutney) along with the basmati rice. My husband ordered the non-traditional gyro philly. He was apprehensive but really ended up liking the combination of gyro with Swiss cheese.

http://www.qhalal.com

Restaurant recommendation near Smith Center?

Thanks for all the restaurant recommendations! I'll run them by my friends and will be sure to post a report when I get back to the Bay Area.

Jun 10, 2014
Nineteen in Las Vegas

Restaurant recommendation near Smith Center?

Hi there! I'm off to Las Vegas in 2 weeks to see "The Book of Mormon" at the Smith Center with 5 friends.

Any restaurant recommendations nearby so we can have a nice dinner beforehand?

Good price point would be $25-$30 for entrees. Any cuisine is fine. Thanks for any ideas!

Jun 06, 2014
Nineteen in Las Vegas

Looking for brunch between Fremont and Palo Alto

Hi there! My family wants to take me out for birthday brunch this coming weekend. I figure the most convenient spot between Alameda, San Leandro and Los Altos would be somewhere between Fremont and Palo Alto.

So I'm looking for some good recommendations for brunch/lunch for a group of nine (6 adults and 3 well-behaved kids). Normally I'd go for dim sum (which is ideal for a large group), but I've eaten a bunch in the last month. I love breakfast-y food like waffles and eggs, but my nieces are gluten- and dairy-free.

Hoping for some suggestions -- thanks!

Angeline's in Berkeley

Just went to Angeline's last night for dinner. Thought my party of 4 would beat the rush by getting to the restaurant at 5:30 pm. Our plan was foiled by a plumbing issue which the restaurant had to clean up, thereby postponing the doors opening by 15+ minutes.

Not sure exactly how reservations are handled at Angeline's, but the plumbing problem probably contributed to some confusion. When I checked back 15 minutes later, the host said that although we had put our names down on the waiting list, other people were ahead of us (?). Another host estimated a 25-minute wait time, which was fine with us. (We fared better than the party ahead of us in line who were apparently confused by the restaurant's reservation policy because they thought they had a reservation when in fact they didn't.)

Anyway, our wait time was considerably less (10 minutes). As we walked in, I noticed lots of tables still not filled.

My friends and I ordered the grilled boudin (mostly because I love the boudin blanc from Taylor's Sausage). This sausage dish was fine with a very hot mustard sauce, but since I can get my boudin fix easily, not a taste revelation.

My husband ordered the fried chicken. He was happy that it was more like fried chicken tenders (whereas I would have been unhappy since I prefer dark meat with the skin on and bone in). I ordered the crawfish etouffee, which was tasty. I love saucy dishes over rice. The green beans with Parmesan dusting were a nice touch.

For dessert, we ordered the beignets. I haven't had them often, but these seemed like a fine rendition.

The service was friendly and they let us linger while we talked after the check came. I did notice on the way out that although people were waiting to get seated, tables were still empty.

Definitely a good value for the price!

Hutch Bar & Kitchen - Oakland

I should report on my belated Valentine's Day dinner. Had reservations for a Saturday dinner at 8:30 pm. Ordered the grilled scallion hushpuppies, which both my husband and I liked. He had the fried chicken (good although maybe he prefers Pican's), while I had the shrimp & grits. Tasty although more rustic than a recent preparation I had at Boudro's in San Antonio.

I liked the fun vibe of the restaurant, although it looked like finding room for a party of 4 or 6 might be tough.

Fog City, SF reopens Mon 9/23/13 for dinner

Just went last Saturday (after the SF Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt was over). Very helpful with the reservations since I had booked a table for 6 using Open Table -- but then a few more people wanted to join. When I called Fog City, the hostess was apologetic but said she didn't have a bigger table available. But then called back a few minutes later and said that somehow Open Table had booked the largest table without her realizing it. In the end, we had 9 people comfortably sitting around a booth table.

I had been to the earlier incarnation (Fog City Diner) years ago, but thought the revamped space seemed nice. Although the front door wasn't on the Embarcadero side where I assumed it would be.

To start, we ordered 2 plates of the deviled eggs and 1 order of the fries. I thought the deviled eggs were good but nothing original, and the fries were interesting although perhaps too different for the traditionalists. I liked the pears with the Brussels sprouts, but the sprouts were too charred for my taste.

For mains, we ordered kamachi crudo, grilled spice lamb skewers, the whole chicken, and 2 orders of the rib-eye (medium rare and medium). For sides, we ordered the butter lettuce salad, grilled kale salad and broccoli di cicco,

I didn't sample everything, but my favorite were the lamb skewers. The ribeye seemed fine, and most of us thought the lemon flavor was overpowering in the crudo (the only dish that didn't arrive in a timely fashion).

For dessert, my husband and I shared the chile apple pie which had a nice streusel topping but not enough bite from the promised chiles.

Although one of our friends felt there wasn't enough food, I thought it was fine. Plus the staff let us stay past closing until midnight without complaining, which definitely deserves praise.

In all, a solid meal in a convivial setting although no dish really stood out for me.

How to reheat pork shoulder?

All good points! Interestingly enough, the recipe was recommended on Chowhound, which is why I thought I'd give it a try.

I assumed the pork would be sliced, but 6 hours of braising does seem like a long time. OTOH why would you need a glaze if the pork is pulled? Hmmm...

I'm going to give the recipe a try anyway and rewarm in the oven. Hoping it turns out!

Feb 13, 2014
Nineteen in Home Cooking

How to reheat pork shoulder?

I wanted to prepare this recipe for pork shoulder with maple glaze ahead of time. The recipe says it can be prepared in advance and then refrigerated in its liquid -- but doesn't say how it can be reheated. Any ideas?

http://nymag.com/restaurants/articles...

Feb 12, 2014
Nineteen in Home Cooking

Jook - SF Dish of the Month December 2013

I've had some good jook from a place here in Alameda called Khang Huong on Lincoln Avenue. I got sick with a cold last month, craved jook and went here for a nourishing bowl of jook with sliced pork and preserved egg (my favorite combo). The jook reheated well after I thinned it the next day with a bit of chicken broth.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/khanh-huong-a...

Does good food exist at a sports arena?

As a longtime A's and Raiders fan, I think the food at Coliseum has gone downhill. I used to get a fish sandwich from the bakery run by the Black Muslims, but that's gone now of course. I usually just opt for one of the Saag's sausages.

I had a pretty good tri-tip sandwich at Raley Field when I went to see a River Cats game.

Hopscotch (Oakland)

Just went to Hopscotch Sunday for a late dinner. The warm mushroom salad was the best dish of the meal for me. Very tasty! I enjoyed my braised lamb soba while my husband thought his hamburger was fine (and he even ate the beef tongue!). The pistachio tart with peaches and vanilla ice cream was an interesting combo, but the texture of the tart didn't work for me. A nice meal all around!

Looking for childhood apple pies and orange pies from Chinatown [San Francisco]

My dad grew up in Chinatown and also remembers Sun Wah Que. He said the sugar donuts came out at 3 p.m. and were more like egg puffs with sugar on top. He didn't think the orange pies were that good, but believed the pie crusts were made with lard. My dad liked the custard pies the best, especially when they were fresh out of the oven.

Forge Pizza now open (Oakland)

Went to the Forge last night on a whim (early Valentine's Day dinner!). Got there about 8:45 pm, no waiting for a table. Nice space, could see it being good to watch some sports. Spent some time wondering what business previously occupied the space.

Started with the argula salad. The slices of blood orange were especially tasty, but I also really liked the dressing.

Timing was off, though, when my husband's pepperoni pizza arrived soon after. My entree didn't come for quite a while longer (although that gave me more time to eat the salad).

My husband enjoyed his pepperoni although he was disappointed to find out it didn't automatically come with mozzarella.

My halibut was fine, but outdone by the bed of green lentils and roasted vegetables it was on.

I managed to save enough room to try out the apple ginger crisp. Barely sweet with an excellent crunchy topping. Might have been even better with ice cream :-)

When the check came, found out the dessert had been comped because of the food timing -- nice touch. Wish I could have tried the mussels and chicken wings... maybe next time.

Five in Berkeley

Haven't seen much discussion on this restaurant in downtown Berkeley, so I thought I'd chip in here. After a movie at the nearby Landmark Theatre, headed to the Hotel Shattuck to check out the restaurant. I really liked the look of the place with its spiffy tile floor and dramatic space.

One of my friends ordered the prix fixe menu (beet salad, roasted game hen, and cinnamon apple strudel. I ordered the scallops and prawns with the pork belly as an appetizer. The table of four also shared biscuits with pimiento cheese and cornbread with honey butter.

Everyone liked their food, but the top dish was definitely the pork belly. My seafood was high quality and fresh, but interestingly I liked the black rice the best of everything in my entree. Oddly enough the "head-on prawns" didn't have their heads on. Maybe it meant they were cooked on and then later beheaded?

The biscuits were great -- light and fluffy. Although I think I would have preferred the honey butter with them instead of the pimiento cheese. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to try out the cornbread; I was hoping to compare it to Pican's, my favorite so far.

My husband and I split the buttered pound cake with berries and creme fraiche. My only regrets were that I never saw any lemon curd and that my husband finished it off while I wasn't looking, a rarity with him for desserts.

All in all, a great meal!

http://www.five-berkeley.com/

Comal - Berkeley

Decided to see if Comal had an opening after watching a movie at the nearby California Theatre ("Porco Rosso"). The hostess said no tables available at the moment (8:45 pm) but thought plenty of tables would open up soon. By the time we arrived 10 minutes later, we were seated immediately in the heated patio.

Since it was just me and my husband, we couldn't sample everything -- but we did try the Papas Fritas (great chipotle aioli), the Guajillo Adobo Pork Spareribs, and the Flan. The spareribs were exceptionally tasty (I liked the rub) as was the grilled corn. The flan was possibly the best I've ever had, ethereal texture (rather than rubbery). Great meal!

Out-of-towner's quick view of Reno near the convention center

I was in Reno last week for the World Science Fiction Convention and just wanted to share my thoughts re some of the places we went to.

Since we were in Reno for the convention, we didn't really seek out any food destinations and stayed close to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

My husband and I had two meals in the Peppermill, where we were staying. My breakfast at the Cafe Milano was disappointing as my Eggs Benedict featured something more like soft-boiled eggs than poached. Our late dinner at Biscotti's was better as my husband enjoyed his prime rib dip. My beef stroganoff was decent.

For our anniversary dinner, we went to La Vecchia. Decent Italian food, although I thought my Ravioli Fiorentina was a little one-dimensional.

We had pizza at Magic Carpet Golf (Giorgio's?) before our two rounds of mini-golf. Not bad for a mini-golf place.

Went to El Tumi and was the only table by 8:30 pm. My grilled shrimp and yucca were fine, but I should have ordered more adventurously. I've had some good Peruvian food in the Bay Area, and was hoping to find more of the same.

Our best meal of the week was right across the street at Naan & Kabab. I'm not sure exactly what cuisine the restaurant is highlighting, but my kabab koobedeh was delicious. Not spicy but well-seasoned. My husband enjoyed his chicken kabab but was sad that he wasn't eating my dish.

Aug 24, 2011
Nineteen in Southwest

Ippuku - Izakaya in Berkeley

Just went to Ippuku for the first time with a bunch of friends, 8 of us in total.

After actually finding the front door (no, not the apartment complex), I was favorably impressed with the look of the space. We were seated at two connected tables (which for two 4-tops would be divided by a screen).

After making some provisions for my husband who doesn't eat seafood, we ordered:

* 5 chicken skewers (thigh, breast, hearts, gizzards, wings)

* Chicken gyoza (small but good)

* Chicken tartare (I liked this)

* Mochi wrapped in bacon (a little chewy)

* Charred rice (my mother would be appalled that we paid good money for this)

* Pork belly (too chewy)

* Salad

* Chicken with green onions skewer

* Shitaake mushroom

* Fried tofu (I still fondly remember Saigon Seafood's fried tofu with shrimp on top)

Maybe ordered a few other dishes too. To my surprise, my favorite dishes were the grilled chicken hearts and gizzards. Everything was at least decent, and the bill came to only $30 per person (although with no real alcohol, just tea).

-----
Saigon Seafood
740 Story Rd 1, San Jose, CA

Ippuku
2130 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

Help the Bride to be..:)

I got married 10 years ago at Preservation Park in Oakland (near downtown). I loved the architecture there. I didn't have my reception there so can't comment on the food, but it's a really gorgeous setting.

http://preservationpark.com/events/

Golden Gate Bakery, SF on vacation - please post when they are back!

One of my friends has been keeping in touch with the restaurant because he knows how much I love their custard tarts. According to him, he chatted with someone who works there. She said the owner/master baker hasn't been coming in because he feels like he's getting old, doesn't want to work so much, and there's no one to take over. So she's just been going in to check on things, etc. My guess is that time the bakery is open will continue to be very erratic.

Also, the likelihood of them being on Twitter seems nil. My friend got the info he did because he was able to speak Cantonese with the clerk (unlike me).

Pican - what to order?

I also enjoyed the fried chicken. My only issue was that I couldn't have two pieces of dark meat. Boo to white meat!

But actually I really liked the macaroni and cheese even more!

New Bakesale Betty location in Downtown Oakland

Does this mean the Telegraph Avenue location has been closed?

Bay Area Reception

I had my Chinese wedding banquet at Legendary Palace in Oakland Chinatown six years ago. Not a ton of parking (obviously), but they do have access to a small lot nearby.

Also my guest list was about 200 (same size as yours), and we got most of the upstairs room -- everything except a small closed off space.

My cousin had his wedding banquet in East Ocean in Alameda a few years ago. Parking in Alameda is comparatively a breeze. The food was pretty good (except for a hideous fruit salad thing with mayonnaise).

Acquacotta in Alameda

I keep forgetting to post about my experiences at Aquacotta. Suffice to say, that it's been a great addition to Alameda. My husband had one of the best chicken dishes he's ever eaten (pan-roasted chicken breast). I've had a very tasty ragu and a beautiful piece of salmon. Anyway, highly recommended!

http://www.acquacotta.net/

Share Your Favorite Brussels Sprouts Recipe

I've made this recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle a few times. The only one who doesn't like it is my husband ;-)

But really what could go wrong with a bit of maple syrup?

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

Oct 31, 2008
Nineteen in Home Cooking

Need rec for Napa this Sunday evening

Thanks for the suggestion re Pilar! Unfortunately, they're not open on Sunday :-/

Need rec for Napa this Sunday evening

I'm seeing "HMS Pinafore" this Sunday at the Napa Valley Opera House at 2 pm.

Does anyone have any recommendations for a restaurant nearby? The theater is at 1030 Main Street (near 1st Street) in Napa.

Since the show starts at 2:00 pm, we're willing to drive a short distance, although we'd prefer to walk.

One of my friends is vegetarian, and we're willing to eat any cuisine. Since my friend is from out of state, it'd be nice to go to a restaurant that evokes the Wine Country.

We'd prefer something mid-priced (e.g., under $50/person).

Thanks for any suggestions!

Dinner in Alameda Tonight (Santa Clara at Webster)

Although Pappo is perfectly nice, that's more on the Park Street side of Alameda. Not sure if the New Zealander has many vegetarian options, but I like their meat pies. New Zealander is in the Croll's building at the corner of Central and Webster. A new Vietnamese place opened up on Webster called Cafe Le. Haven't tried it yet so no reports on whether it's good.