Prabhakar Ragde's Profile

Title Last Reply

Best bars in San Francisco to get sloshed at?

Thanks for this list. I live in the heart of the Castro, so all of these are within striking distance. I've been to a show at Cafe du Nord, so probably have had a drink at that downstairs bar (unless they have two basements). Will check out Aatxe at some point. And some of the others you've listed also.

Best bars in San Francisco to get sloshed at?

Thanks - this is closer to me than Toronado and looks great.

about 22 hours ago
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Any Shishito peppers sightings?

I saw them at TJ's Stonestown yesterday. But I had bought two bags on an earlier trip, and I was not happy with them. Too large, not tender enough, and with more hot ones (probability increases with size, I think). I'm going to wait for the farmers' markets.

Bibimbap: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2015

This is hwe dup bap and it is great. I have had it once in a hot bowl (dolsot) in NYC and that I would not recommend.

Most underrated restaurants in San Francisco

I haven't even heard of half of these! I live a few blocks from Dinosaurs and would rather hike to Saigon Sandwich or Cafe Bunn Mi. But it is okay for a no-energy lunch. I've only eaten at the old Lolo location; again, I liked the concept, but the execution was somewhat lacking. With the move onto Valencia, I imagine prices and popularity are up, and I would like to hear something about the food from a reliable source.

Most underrated restaurants in San Francisco

Can I ask what the Hakkasan items cost? There are no prices on their online menu. Thanks.

Most underrated restaurants in San Francisco

I've gone to Amphawa and Kyu3 recently on Gary's recommendation, and I'm definitely going back to both.

Trip Report: San Francisco with my Foodie Son...

Thanks for this lengthy writeup. As a Canadian living part time in SF, I have to say that I'm still getting used to the mercurial climate - though the absence of "way too cold" and "way too hot" is welcome. (And, at the risk of TMI, I've had a similar cheese experience...)

Recommendations For San Fran Restos? - bringing my "foodie" son....

The happy hour at Waterbar is in the bar, and you don't get the best view there. That said, it's a pretty comfortable and pleasant place to get dollar oysters.

Farmers market Sunday

There's a small one on Grove near Divisadero in SF. Probably not worth a long trip but if you're in the area for other reasons or want to combine it with something...

Heart of the City at Civic Center is better on Wednesdays, but it's still pretty good on Sundays.

Amphawa Thai Noodle (SF)

I had the sukhothai today, also with wide rice noodles, and while I ordered it "medium spicy", I was in a sweat by the end of the bowl. It was sweeter than I would have liked, but otherwise tasty. There was a large and relatively young party speaking Thai to the server. I'm going back for the khao soi and maybe the khao kha moo (and I will try the sukhothai at Kyu3 also). I wish these places had better beer.

[San Francisco] Central Kitchen or Tosca for dinner with in-laws?

My comments on Range were based on eating there when Rachel Sillcocks was in the kitchen. If you end up there, please report back on what you think of Phil West's work.

Kyu3 in the TL -- Thai Noodles, Japanese BBQ and Squid Ink Fried Rice [San Francisco]

We dropped in for an early dinner tonight - everything is 15% off from 5-8pm. We were the only customers in the place the whole time. It's a nice space, spiffed up from the Ha Nam Nimh days (though I could have cheerfully strangled the soundtrack of insipid '90's alt-pop). Only draft beer is Sapporo, but they have Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in bottles. (It is a measure of how far we've come that SNPA used to be my desert island beer and now it represents the lower end of what I'll order in a restaurant.)

I was mostly there to try the Squid Ink Fried Rice, which I got with crab meat ($3 supplement), but it was somewhat disappointing. It tasted fine, with good presentation, but I wanted more squid ink. I was spoiled by squid ink risotto in Venice, I suspect, where they don't stint on the stuff.

Much better were the Boat Noodles, which I don't have to tell Gary:


I think these are better than the famous ones at Zen Yai Thai - a more balanced bowl (broth is a touch too sweet at ZYT), with more interesting ingredients (pork shoulder, pork liver, crispy pork belly, pork meatballs, very thin slices of crisp-tender Chinese broccoli, bean sprouts, cilantro). Very generous on the protein, and a large serving.

I am not normally a fan of pan-Asian menus, but this place has promise, and there are plenty of things on the menu that I'd like to try, as well as chalkboard specials (though I really wish they'd give us the original names in both places, instead of just near-generic English translations).

[San Francisco] Central Kitchen or Tosca for dinner with in-laws?

Blue Plate definitely takes reservations.

[San Francisco] Central Kitchen or Tosca for dinner with in-laws?

If you do three courses plus cocktails and wine at Range you'll be pushing $120 p/p all in. I know you're looking for a place that's on the boring side but I don't know that Range is worth it. I had a better meal for less money at Blue Plate, and it's quite accessible. There are probably other neighbourhood-style places of similar quality.

Lanxang Kingdom - Laotian Pop-up at Tenderloin Turtle Tower [San Francisco]

Oh, my. I am a big fan of risotto al nero di seppia and arrĂ²s negre, but I did not know that squid ink fried rice existed. That goes on my list too.

Lanxang Kingdom - Laotian Pop-up at Tenderloin Turtle Tower [San Francisco]

I went today, half expecting to see Gary, but either he skipped a week or he went late. I had the khao poun. Mine was not nearly as photogenic as Gary's, and the broth was tepid when I started and room temperature when I finished. It had the richness I missed at Tycoon Thai on the weekend, and the banana blossom and cabbage were finely shredded, which worked much better. But the protein was boring shredded chicken breast. Both this and the Tycoon Thai dish paled in comparison to the khao soi I had at Kin Khao. I know that people have issues with Kin Khao, and that the two dishes are not exactly the same. But this just makes me want to try the dish at Amphawa Thai.

A nearby table gifted me the remnants of their mixed insect plate - grasshoppers, crickets, and silk worm larvae. I wouldn't have ordered these on my own, partly because I was on my own and can only eat so much by myself, and partly because they strike me as a bit gimmicky. I appreciated the chance to try them. The crickets were the best; the grasshoppers were mostly crunch, and the larvae mostly squish. They had distinctive flavours, but salt and added spice dominated. Decent craft beer would have improved them.

Service was quite amateur. I would like to go back and try the laab and the khoua mii, but I am also aware that Lers Ros, Zen Yai, and Ha Nam Nimh are a stone's throw away, as well as other places I haven't tried yet.

I am a great fan of sticky rice and mango, but I knew that two blocks away I could get bread pudding with a fabulous bourbon caramel sauce at Hooker's Sweet Treats, so I did that instead.

Recommendations For San Fran Restos? - bringing my "foodie" son....

South Indian in SF without a car is not better than South Indian in Toronto with a car (though Dosa is a nice upmarket option with no equivalent in the GTA). Toronto does not have banh mi as good as Saigon Sandwich, but otherwise I'm not sure the in-city increment for Vietnamese food is worth it (it is for Thai, Burmese, Laotian). Mexican, no question.

SF does really well in midrange restaurants (though it is losing ground in recent years, at least in terms of bargains), and I think a visitor should hit at least some of these.

Recommendations For San Fran Restos? - bringing my "foodie" son....

The best sandwich I have had in SF was at the RoliRoti truck at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market on Thursdays and Saturdays. Really excellent porchetta with arugula and caramelized onions on a good roll. Go early to avoid the line.

Recommendations For San Fran Restos? - bringing my "foodie" son....

I liked the Little Star deep dish pizza about as much as the "best of" deep dish pizzas I had in Chicago. But I'm not really a fan of the genre. If I think of it as a cheese pie, it's all right. My heart belongs to Roman-style pizza. In SF I've enjoyed Pizzeria Delfina and Ragazza. But I wouldn't put either of these on a visitor's list, unless they're visiting regularly.

Recommendations For San Fran Restos? - bringing my "foodie" son....

The burrito may be a signature dish, but I think taco trucks are much more exciting - you can try more variations before filling up. So I'll once again mention the El Gallo Giro truck at Treat and 23rd. That combines nicely with a stroll along 24th and along Mission, with plenty of other things to nibble. (Surely someone has written down some noshwalks?)

Recommendations For San Fran Restos? - bringing my "foodie" son....

I think Ruth is right; where a visitor is coming from makes a difference. Burmese/Lao hard to find in the Toronto area, for example.

Recommendations For San Fran Restos? - bringing my "foodie" son....

By coincidence, I was at Ichi tonight - well, almost, I was at Ni, which is what they call the bar area near the kitchen, for happy hour. I had a good sake (Hoyo Sawakaya) and chirashi (tuna, amberjack, ocean trout, cut into small pieces and pre-seasoned). I was impressed with both the fish and the rice, and on that basis would consider returning for nigiri.

You might add Nopalito to your list, and phone them about the peanut allergy.

Tycoon Thai -- New Thai/Lao option in the Tenderloin [San Francisco]

Returned today for lunch with my partner (hurrah for holidays). She had the Pad Thai, which was (from my one bite) at least decent, not too sweet, not at all ketchupy. I had the Kanom Jeen, which had a good flavour, though I would have preferred the noodles a bit firmer and the broth a bit richer. It was nice to have dark chicken meat but there were too many bits I had to spit out, and between those and the inedible slices of lemongrass, I had to create a sort of no-go zone on one side of my bowl. We split the Sai Ua (grilled pork sausage), which was quite good, though not as sour as the Lao sausage I've had elsewhere. They are still out of Sculpin; I think they've figured out that they take a loss if they sell it at $4, and are not going to restock it. I'll be back to try more of the menu.

El Gallo Giro on 23rd and Treat [San Francisco]

They are there on Saturdays. It's only Sundays that they're usually absent.

These are my favourite tacos so far in SF.

San Jose without a car

Brief followup reports.

Hu Tieu Ba Nam Sa Dec (dry) at Vung Tau for lunch was tasty, but nothing special. Returning for dinner, we had the Banh Khot, which I imagine were good examples of the form, but it's just not a dish that would appeal to me. Caramelized sea bass had good flavour and was properly cooked, but was a pretty small portion for $22. Chicken and rice in claypot had no crust, and the big piece of chicken breast on top had clearly been grilled earlier and stuck in at the last minute; it wasn't even the same temperature. The dish felt assembled rather than harmonious. Service was friendly, at least. Nearly all other diners were older white people.

Had the eponymous dish at Com Ga Nam An (Hainanese chicken rice) but I found myself wishing I'd ordered the grilled lemongrass chicken instead. I liked the presentation, and the chicken was of good quality, but it was all a bit muted, with the exception of the ginger-chili dip. I've done a better job on the rice myself. Friendly service. I was the only non-East-Asian in the place.

Took a bus (30 mins) to Ramen Halu and was very glad I did. Ordered a small Halu, less fatty, with ni-tamago. This was one seriously balanced bowl of ramen, and my best meal of the trip. About the only quibble I had was that the chashu could have been a bit more tender and tasty. I should have gone back to have the tan tan.

The $8 burger at Cafe Stritch had a really good flavour (half beef, half ground bacon) but the bun was complete mush and disintegrated after a couple of bites. I finished it off with a fork and knife. The "aged cheddar" behaved distressingly like Velveeta, fries were nothing special, and the beer selection was rather dismal. It might be a good place to listen to music.

Pho 69 is to be avoided. I should have known, given their tagline, which is too painful to repeat here. The chief virtue of their Bun Thit Nuong was that it was a generous serving. It's an odd space, and was deafening late in the lunch hour.

I enjoyed ISO Beers, visiting three times for post-prandial libations. It was always nearly empty (not surprising at about 1pm) and I liked its focus on beer, the variety of selections, and the cool, minimalist decor. About the only thing I'd change was the soundtrack, focussed around 1974. "Unlike me, you're too young to have experienced this music," I told the proprietor. "Yeah, but my dad isn't," he said.

Original Gravity Public House was more raucous on the evening we went to kill time while waiting for traffic on 280 to clear; it's a pretty narrow space. The sausages didn't look good enough to try, but the duck fat fries were surprisingly good. There was a Ballast Point tap takeover that evening, which let me try Sculpin on nitro - an interesting experiment, but not one I'd repeat.

Edit: I forgot, we also went to Back-a-Yard. Caribbean cuisine is something I've enjoyed many times in Toronto, but it is hard to find good examples in the Bay Area. Service here was really shambolic. Rice and peas were well done, as were the plantains, but oxtail had not been stewed enough to properly render the fat, and the jerk pork was not properly marinated - most of the flavour came from sauce poured on at the end. A disappointment.

Thanks again to all who advised me.

Tacorgasmico [SF]

Second-worst taco-themed restaurant name (the worst being Tacorrhea) but this is the Castro, after all. Narrow, brightly-coloured space. One orders at the back counter (kitchen is visible behind) and returns for pickup. Menu has the usual suspects but also some options from further south (sopes, tlayudas, panuchos). Four beers on tap, none particularly distinguished, and a few more in bottles. Complimentary chips were decent (thin and crisp), salsas were good. Service is a bit confused, and the kitchen a bit slow, but they're just getting started.

My cochinita pibil taco on a single handmade corn tortilla ($3.50) was generous, and had good flavour, but was a bit too salty. The gordita with chorizo, huevos, y papas ($4) was just sort of okay; comforting, but a bit dull. What made the meal was the horchata: nice thick texture, not too sweet, balanced spicing.

Not a revelation, but a good addition to the inexpensive options on the block (Tacos Club, Super Duper). I'll be back to try more of the menu, and to have more of that great horchata.

Also noticed, a block further northeast: the short-lived Mandu has rebranded as "Janchi, a Korean gastropub", and is in soft opening. This seems like a slow-motion train wreck, and I'll wait for other reports first.

Grocery Outlet May 2015

I'm sipping it right now. Very accessible, but the finish is nonexistent. It just drops off a cliff, as if it doesn't even make it to the back half of my mouth. I'd like a little more acidity and a little less residual sugar. Still, pretty good for $8, and I'm glad that you recommended it. It is brightening up my stay in San Jose.

Grocery Outlet May 2015

The Sriraja Panich was available at the San Jose GO. But I may have taken the last bottle of the Reserve Lot 11 Zin.

San Jose without a car

Re dreaming bigger: I will have at least one and maybe as many as three visits to Japan in the next eighteen months, so I'm sure we will be continuing this conversation in the appropriate forum as soon as my plans firm up.