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OliverB's Profile

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Crab season is upon us

I was in Nagasaki recently and one of the local Chinese specialties featured on every menu in Chinatown was a kind of egg scramble stuffed crab dish; almost like a crab foo young with soft runny egg that's best served over steamed rice.

I found some photos here:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3TEKfpgaKss...

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PxI1cj3d_ss...

Does anyone know what this is called and whether it can be found in the Bay Area? Most of the Chinese food in Nagasaki is a strange and not entirely satisfying mix of Japanese-Chinese-Western cuisine. This was really good though!

I'd love to find a local version with dungeness.

Also, any reports on PPQ yet? Who does the best Cua Rang Muoi (salt & pepper crab) in the Bay Area?

Local Xmas/Holiday Snack Food Gifts

Thanks for all of the helpful replies!

I considered the panettone but wasn't sure if it'd be appreciated by everyone. I didn't want to do artisanal salts or Frog Hollow jams/preserves because I wanted something particularly festive (seasonal and holiday flavors) that can be eaten and shared with everyone during our visit. I haven't been to Recchiutu in a while and perhaps need to give it a second chance but I must admit that I'm a bit of a chocolate snob. I grew up in Montreal with French style patisseries and chocolatiers and I haven't had any chocolate in the Bay Area (or anywhere in California for that matter) that match; at least not so far. Perhaps I'll give Recchiuti another chance though. In the past I've done large and elaborate gift baskets for my in-laws at the Ferry Building but this year I was really just looking for something simple and straightforward; not too pricey. We're through with holiday shopping and I just wanted to grab a little nosh to share on Xmas; no wine or any other pairings as they don't need it. In the end and despite all the great suggestions, I went with Garrett's holiday mix again, haha. The convenience of having it shipped directly won me over.

I sincerely appreciate all of your help though!

Verbena on Polk, SF

I went for dinner with 4 other people in October and found it to be just so-so. Service was stellar and despite a mix-up with our reservation time and size of party, we were seated promptly and checked on several times by the maitre'd to ensure everything was satisfactory. The cocktail menu (house drinks) is small but all of the drinks were well made and the originals were really creative and well balanced. The meal itself was nothing to write home about. I think the best part was the sprouted bread starter with chevre, beets, and sauerkraut, though the portion size was small for 4 people and we ended up ordering it two or three times. I don't remember all that was ordered as it was a few months ago and nothing was all that memorable, but my main was a very flavorful Asian-inspired lemongrass soup. Had I been expecting that, I'm sure I would have felt more satisfied with a low key place in the TL/Little Saigon or Richmond but it was still very good. My wife had some sort of prawn dish which came up short. I don't recall anyone else's orders but nobody was really impressed by the menu or kitchen. The cocktails and bread were the highlights. That said, our meal was just fine. It was nothing special though. I'm not inspired to return anytime soon.

Local Xmas/Holiday Snack Food Gifts

Flying down to visit the in-laws next week and I usually just order a seasonal tin of gingerbread caramel crisp popcorn from Garrett to send down but I wonder if anyone has any better or more interesting suggestions for this year? Is there anything noteworthy from any of the vendors at the Ferry Bldg? Any seasonal holiday treats (sweet or savory) that can be found locally which might be a more unique gift offering? This is not an official Xmas gift btw, just a little something to bring down in place of the usual bottle of wine or gift basket. Note that I leave Friday for Palm Springs and won't actually be seeing them until the 24th so whatever suggestions are made should carry at least a two-week lifespan and not something that needs to be eaten in 3-4 days. Thanks!

Crab season is upon us

Has anyone been to PPQ yet this year and if so, could you please post feedback?

Lyons in Palm Springs...

Anyone?

Still not answering phones although the number is still in service. They've apparently been dropped from OpenTable.

Another one bites the dust? :(

Dec 11, 2014
OliverB in California

LA's Oldest Still-Thriving Restaurants

Owners and staff might evolve and upgrades in the back of house are bound to happen, but once you mess with the structure of the building or move locations, extensively remodel and modify the interior space, you lose the unique character and historic charm of what was, and it can therefore no longer be considered "L.A.'s oldest" anything. The appeal of any restaurant is greater (other) than the sum of it's parts; at least for my interests.

Dec 10, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

Are reservations needed for Saturday Brunch/Lunch in the courtyard at the Chateau Marmont?

Follow-up question:

Is it worth grabbing a burger at The Great White Hut before the matinee or should I just swing by to check it out and have a proper lunch at Marmont? I could order a Chateau Burger instead. I don't have high expectations but the sandwiches all sound good; better than the mains to me.

Dec 09, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

Are reservations needed for Saturday Brunch/Lunch in the courtyard at the Chateau Marmont?

Same question as title; are res. necessary for 11 am-ish on the terrace for party of two? We're going mostly for ambiance/cocktails. I'll probably just order a couple of apps (any recommendations??) and drinks because we have a 2pm matinee at the Alex in Glendale and I wanted to grab a cheeseburger at The Great White Hut beforehand. So reservations: yay or nay? Can we just show up? If I need to call in advance should I do it now or the morning of is fine? And lastly, anything worth noting on the menu? I want to avoid meat because of the burger + Musso and Frank for dinner at 7:30pm (not to mention lots of old steak and martini places in Palm Springs beforehand!) - We're doing Italian at La Dolce Vita the night before so no pasta either. Chilled crab & avocado, chopped salad maybe, summer vegetable gratin, truffle fries? How's the branzino and char to share with the missus? Any safe bets here?

Thanks!

Dec 09, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

LA's Oldest Still-Thriving Restaurants

So I was correct then that the current building on Fairfax is obviously not the original dating to 1938... or anywhere close to that date. It looks more like mid-1970s to me, probably when the chain was bought over. I wonder which location is the oldest still standing "original" Du-Par's; if any exist. Are there any that pre-date the '70s buy out?

Dec 09, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

LA's Oldest Still-Thriving Restaurants

Is the farmer's market an original Du-Par's though? Perhaps it opened as one in the '70s (I could be mistaken but I don't think it's much older than that) but that building certainly doesn't date to the '40s; does it?? Anyone know for certain? I'm almost 100% sure that the Fairfax location is not THAT old.

Dec 09, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

LA's Oldest Still-Thriving Restaurants

so if a restaurant that's been around since 1924 burns to the ground and then reopens as a modern looking cheesecake factory with some heritage page on their menu and a few b&w photos on the wall it should still be listed superficially in this thread alongside institutions like m&f simply because the name of the establishment dates back? this is how i feel about a place like la scala btw. even if you feel differently, we should at least make the effort to acknowledge and distinguish in this thread.

Dec 09, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

LA's Oldest Still-Thriving Restaurants

Du-Par's in Pasadena is not an original location though, it used to be a Hamburger Hamlet. I wonder if any of the Du-Par's are still housed in their original buildings? I guess Vegas counts but what about the rest of the CA branches; have all the original Du-Par's vanished? FTR, I don't think you can count a branch/franchise location as having been est. 1938 because of it's heritage alone. I realize that many of the above listed institutions wouldn't qualify either but we should at least try to distinguish in this thread. Similarly, places that have been remodeled beyond recognition (ie. Lawrys) don't count in my books either.

Dec 07, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

Any Clifton's Cafeteria Reopening News?

Thanks winer, that's a disappointment.

We're down South every few months but I haven't been to Grand Central Market yet. It looks great and we may check it out - thanks!

Dec 05, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

Palm Springs Splurge Meal

^ We're planning to do Citron for brunch as the menu's pretty straightforward and coupled with the drinks and setting, seems a pretty safe bet. I wouldn't consider dinner though.

Dec 05, 2014
OliverB in California

Best Restaurants and Bars in Palm Desert -- By Category! Add Your Favorites!

Thanks! We usually stay at l'Horizon (understated and mostly untouched William F. Cody property) in P.S. but it's been bought over and sadly undergoing development like the rest of the mid century hotels in the area. We booked the Lautner as a last minute Plan B but we're really looking forward to it! I think we'll probably stop at Jensen's on Palm Canyon Drive after we land (or before/after dinner) to stock up on premium liquor and some groceries. I called last month and they stock Plymouth Navy Reserve so that settles it! :-)

I've been reading a lot about the violent crime in Desert Hot Springs recently and I'm a bit concerned about the neighborhood, but we plan to spend most of our days in Palm Springs including almost all meals. The hotel itself (Lautner) looks incredible though and we can't wait!

Dec 05, 2014
OliverB in California

Any Clifton's Cafeteria Reopening News?

Is there any hope for a Christmas miracle this year?

I'll be in LA over the holidays and a visit to Clifton's is my number one Xmas wish for this trip... should I not get my hopes up too high? I thought I read an online article (a few months back) stating that Clifton's was slated for reopening in mid-November. I wonder if permits or bureacracy have anything to do with it? I can't imagine that they're still doing renovations.

Dec 05, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

Any Clifton's Cafeteria Reopening News?

Why do you say that? Is it still undergoing renovations???

Dec 04, 2014
OliverB in Los Angeles Area

Best Restaurants and Bars in Palm Desert -- By Category! Add Your Favorites!

How does Keedy's compare to Sherman's?

We're staying in the Lautner hotel in Desert Springs for 5 nights over Xmas and I wasn't farmiliar with Keedy's before reading your post. If we only have time for one lunch counter/deli brunch, which should we pick?

Dec 03, 2014
OliverB in California

Lyons in Palm Springs...

Anyone have a more concrete timeline on when the restaurant plans to reopen under new managaement? Will the interior decor be left untouched? What of the menu? Any inside info would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Dec 03, 2014
OliverB in California

Ohiyou from Kyoto! (Quick question)

Thanks, I think we got our fix yesterday with the Italian dinner. I'm really craving a great bowl of udon now!

Nov 18, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Ohiyou from Kyoto! (Quick question)

Thanks, we spent a couple of nights at the Hyatt but only had their Western breakfast which was not very good. I got my beef fix in Takayama though! :) I also had surprisingly great Hida beef at Shoraian for lunch the other day. More of all that in my eventual trip reports though!

Nov 18, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Ohiyou from Kyoto! (Quick question)

That looks amazing but unfortunately it looks to be closed today (Wednesday) and we're leaving for Nara tomorrow early morning. I'd love a good bowl of udon though; it doesn't need to be curry either! Do you have a second favorite that's open today?

Btw, Amore was a bit of a disappointment. The place itself is really charming; its a small waterfront trattoria with great interior design and an authentic European feel with tiled floors, vintage black & white photos of Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, and other old Italian film stars on the walls, etc. the food wasn't so hot, but it was serviceable enough for our needs. I ordered some sort of Sorrento style linguine according to the menu which was basically a spaghetti in a somewhat bland rosee sauce with a single basil leaf garnishing. My wife ordered a buffalo mozzarella margherita which was undercooked with a watery tomato sauce. Our charcuterie platter was equally boring, though we had an enjoyable pate and very good and reasonably priced Italian wine. It was a decent change of pace but certainly not destination worthy. Their calamari looked terrific and every other table seemed to have ordered it; I should've taken that as a cue. Perhaps better to stop in for a glass of wine, salad, espresso, and tiramisu (very good!) rather than a full meal if needing a break from Japanese. There was a group of women beside us who ordered a vegetable based pasta dish that looked far better so I imagine that the menu offerings with more familiar (to Japanese cuisine) ingredients and preparations might fare better.

Nov 18, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Ohiyou from Kyoto! (Quick question)

I made reservations at Amore Kiyamachi (店名 アモーレ 木屋町) on Izamiyacho by the canal for dinner tonight. Looks great and rates highly on Tablelog... I'll report back! I'm typing this from a great cafe with a midmod feel in an old restored Michiya in Nakagyo-ku called biblioteci. The interior design is fantastic; walls of book shelves, communal tables with plush fifties modern seating, an open kitchen and bar with Italian espresso machine, a wall of records with stereo and player, dim lighting, a rear courtyard framed by floor to ceiling window which runs across the back wall. It's very warm and comfy. I'm drinking a decent espresso and flipping through an Eames coffee table art book. It's 2 blocks from our ryokan. I love this place and recommend it highly if you're looking to relax and kill an hour or two; its a nice refuge from the crowded streets of (mostly) Japanese tourists. There's a bakery next door which looks really good too and is attached by an interior door connecting to the cafe. I haven't tried it but I'm tempted. The food here looks pretty good as well; we almost skipped the Italian plan and ordered a hamburger steak but Amore won out in the end.

On an entirely separate note, I'd there a really good and recommended curry udon shop in Kyoto? I'd like to do that for lunch or dinner tomorrow night. We haven't had proper. Japanese curry yet outside of a few depachika stalls. There's sone historic shop that keeps popping up in your guides (I forget the name but I think it's called something-kou) which doesn't rate very highly on either tablelog or tripadvisor. Seems to be a typical tourist trap resting on its laurels. I'd love to find the real deal but my tablelog skills aren't very proficient. I'd greatly appreciate a recommendation. We're staying at Hiiragiya the next two nights but we'll be in Arashiyama tomorrow afternoon. I'm willing to go elsewhere within reason if theres a place that destination worthy. Arrigato!

Ps - it's not udon but I see that Ryokaku comes highly rated for curry in Kyoto. Is this a good bet?

Nov 18, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Ohiyou from Kyoto! (Quick question)

Unfortunately I don't have time for any trip reports or updates just yet; were sitting at Shoraian in Arashiyama with an idyllic view of the lake and maple glazed hills in the background, awaiting our tofu Kaiseki. I'm embarrassed to say that it's finally happened, we need a break from Japanese food!! After 3 weeks of travel so far, we're craving something different. I've noticed that there seems to be many Itslian restaurants scattered about the city... That sounds really nice right about now! We have two more dinners in Kyoto and would really like yo focus on int'l cuisine; Italian, Mediterranean, Spanish - anything but Japanese! We originally had reservations at Kamigamo Akiyama and Kitcho Honten but we can probably go another 10 years before we ever taste a Kaiseki ryori meal again!! :) I'm looking forward to delving into that more with detailed trip reports but for now... Please, please, please tell me where I can find good int'l cuisine in Kyoto!! Preferably not super high end; more casual (bistro, trattoria) setting and fare. Thanks for any recommendations and I'm looking forward to posting feedback and reviews shortly!!

Nov 17, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Questions re. Cocktail Bars, Sake Pubs, Jazz Lounges, etc.

You're right, I actually noted that in my list. The interior looks as though it could be original though. It feels very authentic and you'd be hard pressed to guess that it was a 50s reconstruction. It's definitely worth visiting for a "milk egg" though, just to see the place.

Off to lunch now... we're going to a place that specializes in oysters from Noto. Can't wait!

Nov 13, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Questions re. Cocktail Bars, Sake Pubs, Jazz Lounges, etc.

Thanks and apologies for the late reply and not getting back to everyone who's reached out... We're in Kaga right now (small seaside Onsen town about an hour from Kanazawa) and we spent the past week in the mountains; driving between Gunma (one of the most scenic regions we've visited - we stayed in a picturesque riverside Onsen in a deep valley) and Nagano (the Japanese Alps are every bit as impressive as the "real" ones, if not more so!), Matsumoto, and Gifu (at a ryokan about 30 minutes outside of Takayama) where we spent several days in the forest. It's been about a week since we've enjoyed any good cocktails (since we left Tokyo!) and we're looking forward to arriving in Kyoto tomorrow. Don't have much time for a proper update right now as breakfast is being served any minute, but I up strongly urge everyone to check out Lion kissaten in Tokyo if you have the time. It's quite surreal! It's situated in an old gothic style building in Shibuya, hidden away in one of the many narrow side street alleys, and the interior feels like you've been transported to 1940s bombed out Berlin! It's like a ruinous post-war underground European art cafe run by an eccentric music lover and frequented by pay diverse mix of classical western music enthusiasts, Japanese college students deep in study, etc. there are two floors and the upstairs is most impressive. The atmosphere feels very church-like with cushioned pew seating and absolute silence throughout the building, except for the music emanating from the enormous and absolutely beautiful vintage hi-if speakers. They serve something called a milk egg which is sort of like a hot egg cream, and it's really delicious! It's quite rich and frothy. Imagine a hot chocolate made with milk, cream and eggs in place of the chocolate... I guess that's not really a hot chocolate at all, but it feels similarly indulgent! I don't think there's any booze served. The proprietor is very friendly and will whisper to you in fairly strong English. He constantly shuffles through his vast record collection at the front of the room (again a very church-like interior layout with fabulous acoustics; I wouldn't be surprised if that was the original purpose of the building in the pre-1920s), tinkers with the amps, drops the needle on a record, and quietly introduces it in Japanese through a very low microphone, almost as if you were listening to a classical music radio station. It's a very peaceful and serene atmosphere, the hot milk egg drinks are perfect for a cold rainy day (as it's been for the past week) and it's just a very unusual setting to happen upon in the middle of Tokyo. I highly recommend checking it out! More on food & cocktails when I have more downtime in the next week, hopefully.

Nov 13, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Questions re. Cocktail Bars, Sake Pubs, Jazz Lounges, etc.

Based on feedback from Hidetsugu at High Five, we've struck Aoyama from the list. He flipped through my iPad and had some funny comments and helpful input about a few of the choices but that one seemed like a big misfire. It's all fruity vodka based drinks and the ambiance doesn't fit with anything else on the list... Not our speed.

Nov 04, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Questions re. Cocktail Bars, Sake Pubs, Jazz Lounges, etc.

Hi HGNYC,

Shoot me an email at the address I posted in response below and I'll try to get back to you. I haven't much time right now to post details or feedback while traveling (will do do on return) but I'll try to at least forward our itineraries. Enjoy your trip!

Nov 04, 2014
OliverB in Japan

Questions re. Cocktail Bars, Sake Pubs, Jazz Lounges, etc.

Hi from Tokyo!
Send me an email at oliverbesner@sympatico.ca and I'll try my best to get back to you if I'm able to attach the pdf via iPad. Favorite bar so far (by a long shot!) has been High Five. We'd planned to stop in for a nightcap and ended up spending hours. We've been to most of the Ginza bars already: Star, Tender, Y&M, etc. We had a really fun time at Lupin earlier this evening; mostly due to the friendly & enthusiastic staff and ambiance. Haven't had a bad drink yet but nothing exceptionally memorable either besides High Five. It's mostly been about the setting and occasionally, the bartenders/staff. We've mostly been ordering classics and they've generally been well made, if not quite up to the standard of what we get in San Francisco. We've been to a few bars in Minato like Radio (so far our least favorite in terms of drinks, but the interior space is very nice) and a couple of others that I can't remember off the top of my head. Next area of focus is Shibuya and Shinjuku/Golden Gai for the remainder of the week! Don't miss High Five though... Tell him the honeymooners from San Francisco sent you! :)

Ps - I'll post more detailed reviews of every place we've visited when we're back Stateside!

Nov 04, 2014
OliverB in Japan