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Top spots for Vietnamese food in Oakland

You should try Pho 84 in that case! I actually like the wide fresh ones, so this makes me more excited to try Ma Me House.

Top spots for Vietnamese food in Oakland

Cool, thanks for this recommendation. What is distinctive about food from Binh Thuan? And how does it play out at this restaurant? I imagine seafood plays a role, and it does look like many of the noodle soups on the menu involve crab and/or other seafood.

Where to eat Saturday night near Castro Theater? [San Francisco]

Right in the Castro, I like Eiji, where they have made-to-order tofu. Old post about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/359111

Top spots for Vietnamese food in Oakland

Their website says they are only open until 7 PM each day. Is that true? That'd unfortunately mean they might not be the best option for dinner for me usually.

Top spots for Vietnamese food in Oakland

I've been spending a lot more time in the East Bay lately, and am looking to try the best Vietnamese food that Oakland has to offer. So far, I haven't tried that much, so I'm hoping for suggestions on what to try next.

A while back, I had a nice meal at Tay Ho in Chinatown: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/399234

I also ate more recently at Monster Pho, which I wrote about here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9830...

Last night, I ate at Pho 84, which is in Uptown. The restaurant was fancier and pricier than I expected it to be. We tried three items: Beef pho, Chicken salad (goi ga) and Vermicelli with grilled chicken. Chicken salad came out first, and it was really nice (and quite big), with cabbage, tender chicken, cilantro, basil, and thin slivers of celery. It came somewhat dressed, though we added more sauce to it. It also came with four big pieces of rice cracker. Pho was also really good. The broth was some of the best I've had in the Bay Area..no noticeable MSG, but lots of rich beef flavor. Came with thin beef, brisket, tendon and meatball, and I tried all but the tendon, and all were great. Noodles themselves were nothing special, but overall I would be back for this bowl of pho, even at the price of $9. Finally, the vermicelli was the only disappointment. The grilled chicken was very good, and the presentation was nice, but the noodles were too wet and there was too much veggie (both raw bean sprouts and lettuce) and not enough herbs or garnish. Pretty lackluster, and I like the vermicelli better at most other places in the Bay Area.

So, where should I try next? Anywhere in Oakland is fair game, and maybe even neighboring towns/cities, too.

Dave MP

All-You-Can Eat Korean BBQ at Jong Ga House in Oakland

This description sounds right! Thanks drewskiSF!

All-You-Can Eat Korean BBQ at Jong Ga House in Oakland

The marinated pieces of beef were thicker pieces, but were off the bone. They took a little longer to cook and were a little bit chewy, but in a good way. I'm not sure if they were short ribs, but they definitely weren't the typical thin-cut bulgogi that I have eaten elsewhere. Sorry I can't describe it better, but I hope this helps!

All-You-Can Eat Korean BBQ at Jong Ga House in Oakland

I really liked that panchan too! I thought it was sweet potato, but your description makes more sense.

Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar, Healdsburg

I don't think I've been since 2008 (see my post here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/518194 ) but I'm glad to hear it's still good!

Andytown Coffee Roasters, SF Outer Sunset - Snowy Plover & Scones w/ PICS!

Do they still sell sausage rolls there?

Also: Nice pics, hhc!!

All-You-Can Eat Korean BBQ at Jong Ga House in Oakland

There have been several mentions of Jong Ga house in Oakland on Chowhound, but none very recently that I've seen. I hadn't heard of it until last week, when I attended a friend's birthday dinner there. We were a big party (11 people) and all ordered the all-you-can-eat BBQ, which is priced at $23 per person. It's required that all members of the party pay for the all-you-can eat if that is what you are selecting.

I thought it was great, and right up there with the best Korean BBQ I've had in the Bay Area. The all-you-can eat deal includes a starter of cold soup. Next up was the meat, which we cooked at the table. We were allowed to choose three types at a time, but then when we requested more, could switch the types. We sampled the brisket (thin slices), marinated beef (a bit chewier, but really tasty), pork belly, squid (also excellent), and chicken. I unfortunately didn't get a full sense of whether there were other options we missed.

Panchan were plentiful...I think there were actually 18 different items! Most I've ever seen at a Bay Area restaurant. Also included was rice, tofu soup, soybean soup, and a cold dessert. With the meat, there were large lettuce pieces for wrapping.

The service was friendly and attentive, and we didn't feel rushed.

I apologize for not remembering as many details as I wanted (should have posted sooner), but I'll definitely be coming back here next time I want Korean BBQ in Oakland. I have not been to Ohgane before so I'd be curious to see how it compares.

Dave MP

Oatmeal near Moscone Center? [San Francisco]

Agree that Sentinel's oatmeal is great!

Peking Duck or Tea Smoked Duck in SF or Daly City? For this Friday...

Well, the verdict was that we decided to get hot pot instead! Sounds like really many of the best bets for duck were out of our neighborhood range, although I am excited to try Chinatown options in the future.

We went to The Pot's in the Sunset, and I was actually quite impressed. I was able to make a reservation, and the table was set and ready when we arrived. We tried four different broths: Satay, Sake, Spicy Miso and Pork. All of them were really good, especially the first three. I was worried satay would be too overpowering, but it wasn't too strong and was still very soup-like. We cooked some chicken and eggplant in this broth and it was awesome. Meanwhile, the sake broth was really nice for cooking the fish. Came out really delicate. Later, we cooked meat in here too, including the wine-marinated beef. Spicy miso was the overall winner though, and if I had to choose only one broth, this is what I would get. It wasn't overly spicy.

It's all-you-can-eat for $27, which is a decent value considering everything you get. You can order as much as you'd like, and there are some great options. There are a lot of dumplings and "balls" you can get for the soups, all made in-house (according to the menu), and these were excellent. Shrimp balls especially. The dumplings were a bit trickier since by the time the inside was totally warmed, the outside wrapper was falling apart. So I would stick to the balls next time....there are shrimp balls, shumai, meat balls, fish balls and I don't even remember what else. We also had chicken, lamb, beef, wine-marinated beef, and various veggies and tofu and mushrooms.

A lot of fun, and a lot of food. I would definitely return.

Basmati rice in rice cooker

Just wanted to mention that I followed these directions on Wednesday night, and my basmati rice came out great! It was my first time ever using a rice cooker where I came out with non-sticky rice! Awesome! I realize this was posted in 2006, but it's still helping me nearly 8 years later!
Dave MP

Sep 26, 2014
Dave MP in Home Cooking

Peking Duck or Tea Smoked Duck in SF or Daly City? For this Friday...

I'm looking for a restaurant (full sit-down, ideally that takes reservations) that serves good Peking duck or Tea Smoked Duck. I was hoping Five Happiness would work, but it looks like they are currently closed for renovations and won't be open until October. I am hoping to find a place for this Friday.

Any other options similar to Five Happiness? Ideally, somewhere in the Richmond or Sunset in SF, or in Daly City area. Probably can't do Chinatown, and definitely can't do East Bay or further south than SFO.

I'd love any recommendations for places I might be forgetting. Would be totally okay if eating there requires pre-ordering the duck.

Dave MP

vietnamese [Oakland]

Huh, interesting. So maybe the sauce I had wasn't peanut? It thought it tasted peanutty, but I guess I could have been confusing some combo of hoisin/sesame/coconut flavors with peanut?

Help me invent a recipe for "Vietnamese Coffee Inspired" Chocolate Cake

My partner's birthday is next week, and I'm baking a cake for him. He's requested a cake that is "Vietnamese Coffee" inspired, and that has a base of chocolate cake.

I'm pretty sure I want to use this Smitten Kitchen recipe for the cake itself: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2007/0... I'm planning to make two round layers, so what I need to figure out is what frostings and/or fillings I can use to make this cake feel inspired by Vietnamese coffee.

I saw some recipes online for condensed milk frosting, which could be good to try. I also need something with a strong coffee flavor, whether a filling or a frosting. I'm also not opposed to using chocolate frosting somewhere in the cake too, but I am really not sure what's best.

If anyone has any ideas to add to my brainstorm, or any recipes for frostings or fillings that are condensed milk or coffee flavored, I'd appreciate the help!

Dave MP

Sep 20, 2014
Dave MP in Home Cooking

vietnamese [Oakland]

I tried Monster Pho for the first time the other night. Got regular sized beef pho w/ meatballs and rare steak. It was pretty good. Broth was highlight, not too salty, rich flavors. Noodle portion was kind of skimpy, and meat came out already pretty well-cooked (not at all rare).

Also had veggie fresh spring rolls, which were great. Lots of crunchy lettuce and pickled veggies inside, plus tofu and noodles. Their dipping sauce is really nice too....it's peanut sauce, but has coconut in it as well. This might have been my favorite aspect of the meal.

Neighboring table got banh xeo that looked really good and crispy, so that might be worth a try next time. Prices are reasonable, though not super cheap.

Dave MP

Pupusas : SFBA Dish of the Month September 2014

Last night I ate at Los Panchos, which is basically on the corner of Valencia and Mission Street in San Francisco. I think I ate there one other time in the past two years, but I definitely ate food from there in June of 2012, since I posted about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/859472

I ordered plain cheese pupusas, which were excellent. Bubbling, hot cheese on the inside, with a really nice circle of crispy cheese (the part where the cheese gets directly grilled when it oozes out) on each one. Is there a word for that bit of toasted cheese? There should be.

The curtido has a lot of some herb in it (oregano? epazote?) and is slightly pink. I really liked it. Hot salsa was served with chips at the start of the meal, and I had to ask to get some mild tomato sauce for the pupusas.

I ordered two pupusas with rice and beans, which were good but nothing special. Guacamole was also in the 'good but nothing special' boat. One dining companion ordered pupusas with a small cup of chicken soup. I didn't really think the soup was that great, especially compared to other chicken soups in the Mission (one that comes to mind is at Chava's on Mission near 24th St).

Friendly service, not super fast because the pupusas were made to order, but it was worth the wait. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures.

Mochi at Yuen Hop (Oakland Chinatown)

I went to Yuen Hop this morning (Friday) at about 9 a.m. There was a pretty decent selection of mochi, and I bought the ones with both sesame and peanuts. I like them a lot! Really soft texture on the mochi, filling not super sweet.

This morning they had several other types:
- Just peanut
- Just black sesame
- Peanut and black sesame w/ coconut
- Mung bean
- Taro

Next time maybe I'll just buy the whole lot.

Mochi at Yuen Hop (Oakland Chinatown)

To confirm....do you mean Cam Huong bakery in Chinatown? There appears to be another Cam Huong over on the other side of Lake Merritt.

China North Dumpling on Noriega [San Francisco]

I was reminded by sunnyside's post that I ate here again a few weeks back. We had some repeats of previous meal (the cold "cauliflower" and pan-fried dumplings are still stand-outs), but also tried some other things. Vegetarian ma-po tofu was a good version...tofu was soft and sauce wasn't overly goopy. Good amount of ma-la flavor, but not very spicy in terms of chili heat. Pork belly with bok choi was decent, but not amazing. To me, it was a bit rustic in its overall taste and preparation, though I guess this isn't a bad thing. Zha ziang mian was good and lighter than the version at House of Pancake...but not quite as good, in my opinion.

To those ordering dumplings, I recommend getting them pan-fried. They seem to be doing a good job of cooking these so the frying is worth it.

Amphawa Thai Noodle (SF)

I think this place is stepping up their game...or maybe they have been for a while, and I just haven't eaten here in a long time. The menu is full of interesting items that are not common at Thai restaurants here. Today we tried the Sukhothai Noodle Soup, which is described on the menu as "hot and spicy noodle soup with roasted pork, ground pork, fish balls, green beans, cabbage and peanuts." We ordered it with wide rice noodles, and though it's probably not my favorite flavored soup in the world, I thought it was good and different than anything I've had before. The broth is somewhat sour in flavor, but I'm not sure from what. It's a very different taste from the sour notes in Tom Yom soup. The serving was also huge...plenty to share. See photo.

We also had a papaya salad, which we ordered medium. It came out quite spicy and nicely seasoned with good dried-shrimp flavor. This was real-deal papaya salad. They also have the salted crab version on the menu.

Finally, we had some pad see u, and it was very fresh tasting, but otherwise boring. This came out first out of the three dishes, if that means anything.

I'm curious to hear who else has been eating here in the past year. There are lots of dishes still to try.

Dave MP

Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City Food Tour--worth it?

Another note: taxis were really inexpensive in Saigon, so if there's a place that isn't quite walking distance, just hop in a cab to get there. I didn't find Saigon to be the best walking city, which is too bad, because it DID seem to be a great eating city. So don't be afraid to take transit between food stops...that's my advice.

Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City Food Tour--worth it?

I realized that I never really wrote on Chowhound about the food experiences I had in Saigon this past spring, though I did write about Hanoi here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/976370

We were only in Saigon for about 24 hours, so we did not do any type of food tour. If you are comfortable eating street food on your own, and getting past the potential language barriers, I don't necessarily think you need a food tour to find great stuff.

One resource I used while there was this food blog and the street food map: http://www.eatingsaigon.com/saigon-st... I only went to two places from here, but both were GREAT, so I imagine using this resource to plan your own food tour could be worthwhile, especially if there are particular dishes you're wanting to try. The two places I went to were both quite near (walking distance) the backpacker neighborhood. One was a pho place called Phở Thanh Cảnh, and the other was a Banh Mi place called HUYNH HOA, at 26 Le Thi Rieng Street. The banh mi place was definitely worth checking out....takeout only, very cheap, very fresh, super busy in the early evening when I went. Best banh mi I've ever had, easily. Smaller than they are in the USA, which means it's appropriate as a pre-dinner snack :


For street food exploring, I found that breakfast was the best time to be out and about. It was harder to find great street food in the afternoon/evening, although I'm sure there are exceptions. But in the earlier morning hours, there were amazing options, many right on the street and viewable.

Hope this helps!
Dave MP

Red Boat Fish Sauce 50N or Salt

I am pretty sure I saw their 40N fish sauce at Andronico's in the Inner Sunset. In the Asian condiment section. But I didn't pay close enough attention to see if it was 40 or 50.

I'd suggest just emailing or calling them to ask, if you haven't already.

Several Days in Istanbul and the Princes' Islands - Report

I spent several days in Istanbul in July, and we managed to have some great meals. We were lucky to be staying with Turkish friends who led us to some great spots, though I see that most of the places I tried have been talked about online (whether on TripAdvisor or Chowhound or elsewhere). Overall, I thought the food in Istanbul was fantastic, and we barely broke the surface. Note: One of our hosts is a pescatarian, so meat dishes weren't usually the emphasis of our meals.

Dinner Day 1: Duble Meze Bar, which is at the top of Palazzo Donizetti. This was the fanciest place we ate at the whole time we were in Istanbul, though the food wasn't super expensive (wine definitely was though!). We sat outdoors on the top-level roof deck, about 18 stories up, so the view was fantastic, and there was a nice breeze. We ordered various meze to share, and two things stood out. First, the stuffed mussels, which had a slightly sweet filling flavored with cinnamon. Second, topik, which is an Armenian dish that I hadn't ever tried before. It's sort of a soft paste of chickpea surrounding a sweet/savory stuffing. It has a soft texture, and I thought the version here was good. Otherwise, I don't recall what we ate, but it was a nice introduction to Istanbul.

Breakfast Day 2: Göreme Muhallebicisi on Kurtulus Cd. This is a small, local spot where we tried some typical Turkish breakfast (kaymak and honey on bread, olives, cucumbers, and eggs scrambled with tomato). Also a nice Turkish coffee and plenty of Turkish tea. Unfortunately, we didn't get to return there later in the trip to try any of the homemade desserts (they are known for dairy desserts, in particular) or their homemade ice cream. It's not far from the Osmanbey metro stop, and this is a completely tourist-free neighborhood.

Lunch Day 2: We spent the morning at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia without our hosts, and then ate at Sultanahmet Koftecisi. We were careful to choose the original restaurant (there are imitators on the same block), and we had a small but good meal. Two of us shared one order of the kofte and one order of the white beans (which come with salad). For dessert, we had the semolina halva, which was excellent. This ended up being enough for the two of us, though most other diners *each* had an order of kofte, as well as an order of beans. The place has been around for decades, and it was quick and inexpensive. Recommended, and don't skip the halva!

Dinner Day 2: For our second night, we stayed over on Kinaliada, the closest of the Princes' Islands, about a 45 min ferry ride from central Istanbul. We had dinner at a fish and meze restaurant on the island which my friends consider to be the best option, called Salih. It's not right on the water, but up the street a bit uphill from the little plaza with a tree in the middle of it. Here, the mezze were displayed on a tray that the waiter brought over to the table. We chose several dishes, including some nice cheese and melon, eggplant in yogurt, fried cheese balls, and fava beans. We also had some excellent grilled sardines, which were very fresh. Tables were all outside, many on the street.

Breakfast Day 3: This was at home, and included fresh bread from the bakery on Kinaliada.

Lunch Day 3: Back in the city, we had lunch at Helvetia, which is in Beyoglu. This place has a display of several dishes, mostly vegetarian, and you get to choose 4 or 5 dishes which they put on your plate. Price per person was about $5 USD and the food was excellent. The highlight was a carrot dish which contained some cinnamon and other spices, as well as some sort of grain/pasta (I can't remember the name of this, though). But I think the dishes likely change every day, and you can just choose whatever looks most appealing. This place is centrally located and I would have been happy to eat here for lunch every single day.

Snack Day 3: We spent part of the afternoon up along the Bosphorus and had a drink at a cafe in Ortakoy, right on the water. Afterwards, we stopped for a stuffed mussel from one of the little stands in this small neighborhood. There are also a ton of stands selling waffles, which we didn't try. Ortakoy is worth a visit though, even if just for a lemonade or beer by the water, and a stuffed-mussel snack!

Dinner Day 3: Çiya Sofrasi, in Kadikoy. This was our first trip over to the Asian side, and even though it was a weeknight, this neighborhood was super packed with young people eating and drinking. We walked through the market area, which was still busy even in the early evening, and then ate at Ciya Sofrasi, which was quite busy. We ordered kebabs here, and while I thought they were good, I didn't think they were outstanding. We also chose various mezze from the counter, and ended the meal with a traditional Ramadan dessert called gulac, which is made with phyllo pastry, milk and pistachios. I was worried it would be flavored with rose water (since apparently it sometimes is, and I don't like rose flavor), but this version didn't have any rose flavor. Really interesting, and worth a try. At this restaurant we also tried two of the homemade sherbets (juices). One was mulberry I think, and now I can't remember the other flavor. They tasted very slightly fermented to me, almost like kombucha. Overall, the neighborhood of Kadikoy seemed like it must have had a thousand restaurants, so I definitely recommend checking out that neighborhood, especially in the warm summer months when everyone is outside.

After this, we were off to Kas for a few days, which I wrote about here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985347

Eventually, we came back to Istanbul, and we went straight back to the Princes' Islands.

Dinner Day 4: Kalpazankaya Restaurant on the island of Burgazadasi. This place is on the far west side of the island, so you have to either walk there (about 30 mins) or take a horse-drawn carriage. If you walk, be careful of the carriages rushing by. Since we were there on a weekend, we had a reservation, which is advisable to get a good table, overlooking the sea and the sunset. Food was nice here..mezze, really nice fried cheese balls and great stuffed grape leaves. We also had some small fried fish (barbunia) but they actually weren't that amazing. If you can get a reservation here, I think it's worth a trip from the city and would make for a nice evening. The last ferry back to Istanbul is generally pretty late, like around 12:00 AM.

Breakfast Day 5: At home

Lunch Day 5: We had some lentil soup and some lahmacun at a local place on Kinaliada. I unfortunately don't remember the name, but it was about two blocks in from the water, and they specialize mainly in pide and lahmacun. Not destination-worthy, but this was the only real lahmacun we ate on the trip, and it was tasty and crispy. Not as good as what I ate in Glendale, California at Taron Bakery, though.

And I think that's pretty much it. However, I will also report on ice cream:

Ice Cream #1: The best ice cream I tried in all of Turkey was at Omer Usta, which is on Kinaliaida. They have lots of fruit flavors (all non-dairy) and various flavors with dairy, too. Banana was amazing, but I also really liked peach, mulberry, strawberry, melon and chocolate. I went here multiple times. I actually think it's worth a ferry ride from Istanbul just for this ice cream place. Don't accidentally go to the other ice cream place nearby, which seemed way less-good.

Ice Cream #2: If you happen to end up on Burgazadasi, hit up Sinem Dondurmacisi, which also had nice fruit flavors. It's near the ferry.

Ice Cream #3: In Kadikoy, an ice cream place called Ali Usta had great fruit and non-fruit flavors. Sort of like gelato (so, no mastic in this ice cream). Worth the walk from the ferry.

See pictures below (sorry they are not in order)

Aug 14, 2014
Dave MP in Europe

June 2014 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

Just found this post via search, since I was wondering if anyone had been to Phnom Penh House recently. Sounds like it might be worth a try.

Anyone been to the branch on MacArthur recently?

Did I hallucinate this eggplant recipe?

This weekend, I got inspired to try the Iman Biyaldi recipe that mcsheridan posted. I followed it almost exactly in terms of ingredients and proportions, except I put some tomato juice at the bottom of the baking pan instead of just water.

In terms of prep, I decided to use the stuffing technique I described in my other post here. I peeled the sides of the eggplants in stripes, then pan fried them to soften them a bit, then slit them down the middle and did my best to stuff them with the stuffing. I used four eggplants, all of which were small Italian variety. I actually think this didn't work quite as well for stuffing as the Chinese eggplants did, but it was still fine. I also used some really good tomatoes from the market...nice and ripe and sweet. I think this mattered a lot.

Final results were delicious. It takes some patience to cook the onions without getting them too brown, but it paid off.

Aug 12, 2014
Dave MP in Home Cooking

China North Dumpling on Noriega [San Francisco]

Your scallion pancake picture does look pretty bready. The version I had last week wasn't like that.

S&P fish looks good!