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Burger Wednesdays at Pal's Takeaway [San Francisco]

Pal's Takeaway is a lunchtime pop-up at La Movida (3066 24th Street, near Folsom). A recent addition to their rotation are burgers served every other Wednesday. I dropped in today to try one. I passed up the special burger (pickled shiitake, French feta, house mayo, arugula) to have the regular "house" burger (slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, pimento cheddar spread, house mayo, arugula) on a Marla Bakery brioche bun with a small side of lightly-dressed red cabbage slaw and red pickled onions. Both burgers were $11; with a pint of Heretic Evil Cousin IPA, my bill came to a few cents short of $18.

It was before noon, so the place was empty, and I got a chance to chat with Jeff Mason, the burger engineer. He uses a mix of chuck, brisket, short rib, and aged suet (to add flavour and counter some of the leanness of the grass-fed Marin Sun Farms meat); the burger (cooked between rare and medium-rare) is juicy but not run-down-your-arm so. It held together while I ate it out of hand, and there was a teaspoon or two of liquid on the plate that I leaned over. I could have done with a touch less cheddar spread and mayo, which made it a bit gooey at times, but there was no denying that this was one tasty burger.

Is it worth $11? It's definitely better than Starbelly's at that price, but Starbelly's comes with (forgettable) fries, and the atmosphere at La Movida is definitely more downscale (order and pickup at counter, rather artless presentation, thrift-shop furniture). I would recommend trying Pal's if you're into burgers. I hope to go back soon to have the Lao sausage sandwich. (Mason says he doesn't make that sausage; he's tried, but can't do it as good as the "Lao ladies" who supply him.)

Apr 09, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Michael Black (of Sebo) now at Local Mission Market, SF

Yes, it was $14, and I remarked at the time that it was hard to pay that when just around the corner I can get two amazing tacos for $3 at the El Gallo Giro truck. In general, the prices at Local Mission seem a little high to me, even though the place is generally appealing. Still, the bento box was quite good; fish and garnishes were fresh and varied. Food of that quality at a sit-down restaurant would cost me about the same or more when everything is figured in, especially if I'd ever managed to make it to Sebo.

Mar 10, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Michael Black (of Sebo) now at Local Mission Market, SF

I seem to have gotten lucky compared to you in early January.

https://twitter.com/plragde/statuses/...

Mar 07, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

February 2014 Trip Report (A LONG accounting)

Thanks for the detailed report! I had a similar recent experience at La Ciccia (though my pasta wasn't overcooked): liked but didn't love. Second visit, first being years ago.

Mar 06, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

dou ban jiang in ebay or sf?

I have had the one on the right, though not purchased in the Bay Area, as well as the darker, more complex paste that chefj refers to above. The one on the right is more liquid, spicier, brighter, less complex. I also have bought a darker, more complex paste in a porcelain jar; I don't remember the wrapping. I prefer the more complex paste and mostly use that, though I will occasionally toss in a bit of the LKK version to amp up the heat.

Mar 03, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

cheap eats in SF

Not sure I'd call Pal's cheap. I keep balking at paying that much for a sandwich.

Feb 27, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

East Bay source for dried mushrooms in quantity?

Surfas has good prices online, but I don't know how fast you can get your order, if that's an issue.

Feb 27, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Lers Ros Mission [San Francisco]

There's a choice of about ten dishes, including some that appear to be vegetarian/vegan. I chose the Pad Kra Pow (good) and the Kai Pad Khing (meh).

Feb 21, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Lers Ros Mission [San Francisco]

Thought I'd start a thread on the new location. I've been to the Larkin St. location many times, but never to Hayes Valley (I have peered in the windows). There is no sign yet on the restaurant at 3189 16th St; I walked right past it and then looked it up on my phone a block later. This location is maybe half the size of Larkin and more stylish, and the music is more intrusive.

I walked in for a weekday lunch, around noon; there was only one other party in the restaurant the whole time. Rather than order my favourites (which are everyone's: duck larb, crispy pork belly, nuer tod, kha moo), I decided to try the two-dish lunch special for $9.75, which I had never had. This was a mistake. The food was decent but not exceptional. Next time I will try one of the standards to see how it compares to Larkin, or one of the new dishes created for this location.

Feb 20, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Two recent ramen experiences [San Francisco]

We visited Iza Ramen, a weekend popup at Blowfish Sushi on Bryant, in late December. It's a pleasant place to spend time when it's not packed to the gills and noisy. Chicken karaage was well done, not greasy, served hot. Tsukemen was a bit unusual; instead of a small bowl of really intense dipping sauce, it was a medium-sized bowl of somewhat concentrated broth, slightly vinegared. The broth was really good; noodles and toppings were solid. Overall probably the best ramen I have had in SF, though I do not have extensive experience. (I don't have a car to make South Bay pilgrimages, alas.)

I had a weekday lunch at Ramen Yamadaya in the pedestrian mall in Japantown. I ordered the Yamadaya kotteri, which comes with extra toppings. The broth was not too rich (I remember a kotteri in Kyoto that just about stopped my heart) and quite flavourful; chashu was good, as was the egg (they make a point of not overseasoning the toppings). There was a hunk of kakuni in the bowl which I thought was not up to par, the lean meat being too stringy and the fat not meltingly soft. And the noodles were disappointing: thin Hakata style, which I don't care for as much, but even given that, they were too soft and flavourless. Overall still good, but no match for Iza, and not as good as I remember Kirimachi being.

Feb 20, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Where should we eat on Valencia near 22nd (the Marsh)? [San Francisco]

Loló, though I don't know about "un-spicy". I didn't find the food spicy at all, but my tolerance is on the high side.

Feb 18, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

patisseries in Bay Area (SF and East Bay) that sell caneles

Le Dix-Sept at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market on Saturday has credible ones. I've heard that Boulette's Larder has them at the Ferry Plaza on Saturdays, but I've never personally confirmed this.

Feb 17, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Anything new in the Castro, SF?

Kitchen Story is good. I was not all that impressed with Mama Ji's. Pesce has moved to the neighbourhood but I have not been yet. I like the burgers at Starbelly (there are other options I have not yet tried) and at Super Duper. Dinosaurs is decent but not up to Saigon Sandwich standards. People seem to like Ike's on 16th (again, I have not been).

Jan 21, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Chao Mien Pop-up at Naked Lunch in SF’s North Beach: Mien, Lao & Thai

We dropped in tonight, and ordered a roti with short rib, chicken and cilantro dumplings, sticky rice balls with Mama Chao's hot sauce, and the pork belly pad thai. My favourite was the dumplings, tiny (about an inch in diameter) and intense, with glutinous rice wrappers. The roti was not quite what I expected, much more salad-y and light. The rice balls, about the same size as the dumplings, needed more oomph. The pad Thai could have used more tamarind and less sugar, though, as did Melanie, I appreciated its pallor. With a glass of AVBC IPA, this came to $35 with tax and tip. Interesting space, not noisy, and we picked up some chocolate fedora cake at Stella Pastry to have at home.

Jan 19, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Guddu de Karahi Opening Oct 15 [SF]

Oh, man, that tea. I served myself a paper cup full, had a sip, then took it to the bathroom and poured it down the sink.

Jan 18, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

What should i order at mission chinese food? [San Francisco]

I sometimes put mushrooms in my own mapodoufu; they're especially useful when cooking for a vegetarian (as I was for a while). Robert Delfs in his classic cookbook "The Good Food of Szechwan" lists them as an option.

Jan 15, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Guddu de Karahi Opening Oct 15 [SF]

Look forward to your comments on GdK. I tried it in late December, for a solo lunch. The food was good, but I enjoy, for example, Vik's more (I know, I know...) and in my opinion it did not live up to the hype. I ordered "mild" as a test (my SO, thankfully absent that day, has a lower spice tolerance) and it was between "medium" and "hot" in my range, which I think is pretty high. Service was hopeless. Given that it's tiny and out of the way, I doubt it'll be in my regular rotation, but I might go back if I'm in the area.

Jan 15, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

What does "brasserie" mean in the Bay Area?

I went to a dinner at the California Culinary Academy in 1984, and the student server, discussing various recent developments at the school, said to us, "We've just recently opened a little brassière upstairs!". I kept a straight face and nodded in appreciation, but it was not easy.

Jan 04, 2014
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area
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About to visit - a few specific questions on tours, icecream, tacos [San Francisco]

The caramelized hazelnut financier is quite good and a bargain at $3.

Dec 27, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

are CHILES EN NOGADA available anywhere yet?

Had the chile en nogada at La Torta Gorda on 24th at lunch today. Was about the same as a year ago: a single large roasted poblano, stuffing mostly meat but noticeable fresh fruit and raisins, and tasty. They were generous with the walnut sauce but it was cold, which cooled down the warm stuffed chile; I would have preferred it to be at least room temperature. It came with a griddled bread (same bread as they use in their tortas, unsplit).

Dec 22, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Quince (the fruit) in SF?

Answering my own question: found some at Casa Lucas, 24th near Alabama.

Dec 15, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Beer and burger in The Mission district [San Francisco]

Past the point where the OP would benefit, but a couple of comments: I did have a Pliny the Elder (Russian River) at Monk's Kettle, and watched the kitchen and the food coming out of it while I sipped my pint, and decided after a bit of observation not to order any food. On the other hand, I have eaten at their sister restaurant Abbot's Cellar (a short distance away), where the food is quite good, the beer list is impressive, and the wine list is pretty good also.

Dec 15, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Quince (the fruit) in SF?

Is it still available, and if so, where? Thanks!

Dec 14, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Crabmeat...Best price & where to buy in SF?

Any updates on this for 2013? Yes, I am lazy.

Dec 05, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Hamburgers - SF Dish of the Month September 2013

Having now had both Super Duper and Starbelly burgers, I can offer another data point. If I were to get a half-pound burger, I think I'd go for Starbelly: the nicer atmosphere, better bun and garnishes, better control over doneness, and better choice of beverages justifies the increment in price. (Not sure I can tell the difference in the meat.) But I often don't want that much, or don't want to linger, or want a more casual experience, and the SD quarter-pound option is good.

Nov 03, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Larkin St Turtle Tower Reopens (SF)

The herbs are definitely available in SF; you can buy them at the Civic Center and Alemany markets and at various grocers. In my experience (not at TT but in NA in general) they are usually served whole to be torn up by the diner. Sometimes a place may not have a wide selection or won't serve the ones lesser known here to people who don't look like they will appreciate them.

Oct 13, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Eater's list of 20 underrated restos [San Francisco]

I was disappointed by Loló, but I'm going back to Contigo for sure (admittedly more pricey).

Sep 27, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

best dark roast coffee beans in Berkeley / Oakland area

I also roast my own at home (in part due to a near-total lack of good choices where I live) but I don't have roasting equipment (or, for that matter, an espresso machine) when in SF. I, too, miss classic Peet's Major Dickason's, but I am trying to get used to Third Wave coffee.

Sep 10, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

Fun dinner for a father and 7-yr-old daughter? [San Francisco]

When my daughters were that age they loved sharing small plates with us. Lots of choices and they didn't have to plow through a whole dish by themselves.

Sep 10, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area

best dark roast coffee beans in Berkeley / Oakland area

I'm finishing up a bag of Verve's 1950 right now and I don't like it as much as Blue Bottle's Bella Donovan (made in an Aeropress).

Sep 04, 2013
Prabhakar Ragde in San Francisco Bay Area