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SF - John Campbell's Irish Bakery update

I generally prefer their savories. I was kind of shocked by how much I like their chicken curry--in pastie and shepherd's pie forms.

Mar 07, 2014
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Singapore- Interesting place for dinner walking distance to Holland Village?

Would definitely prefer Asian, so thanks for the tip! To be frank, I think Two Chefs is expensive for what it is, and I am not a huge fan of their specialty, that powdered dairy meat dish. Just want to do something different from the usual that is in the neighborhood, and unfortunately Holland Village seems really heavy on expat food which doesn't really interest us.
We haven't tried Westlake--I'll mention it to him and see how he feels about breaking his routine. Mustn't be rude as he is our host after all. He used to be more adventurous but he seems to have become a workaholic. Two Chefs primary appeal really does seem to be b/c it is literally around the corner from his apartment so he doesn't have to go somewhere that isn't work or home for food. He took me to Mellben once ages ago and I thought that was better than Two Chefs, but he disagreed.

Not to worry--we're going to be in Singapore for a week then in Saigon for a few days. Plenty of time for excessive eating. So far, I'm planning on Maxwell's (I have to go every time for a bowl of porridge and some of those tapioca sweets) and Old Airport Road, as well as places for fish head curry, bak kut the (the peppery kind), laksa, bak chor mee. Realistically, I need to come up with some nicer restaurants with aircon as well since my mom doesn't like the heat, hence Crystal Jade.

I saw a thread on the board about Candlenut, which seemed like a possibility but uncle nixed it for distance.

Dec 31, 2013
sfbing in China & Southeast Asia

Chowdown at SF's Grand Hot Pot Lounge

I agree with the other posters that the sauces lacked spice and in the case of the appetizers, complexity. However, I did quite like the bean jello itself, which was house made and had a very soft tender texture. (I was taught once how to make this and we ended up with something that was a lot harder and easier to handle).

The shaved strips of raw bitter melon with honey sauce was…beautiful and interesting, but I don't know if I would order it again.

The Chong qing chicken was pretty good, I thought. The noodles in the dan dan mian were too soft but the flavor was pretty good. Garlic noodles were unmemorable.

The cookie (honey walnut?) I had that was thoughtfully baked by a chowhound was excellent.

Dec 31, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Singapore- Interesting place for dinner walking distance to Holland Village?

I'm going with my mom and two aunties to visit my uncle in Singapore. We are going to have dinner with him the night we fly in. Next day he is flying out to Tokyo so we can crash at his place for the week. He doesn't want to go anywhere too far from the house because he has to work and pack for his trip.

The problem is that he wants to take us to his local cze char, Two Chefs, which is around the corner and we've all eaten there. None of us are big fans, but one auntie has been many many times and would very much like to find another option. Any suggestions? I was thinking Crystal Jade in Holland Village.

Dec 30, 2013
sfbing in China & Southeast Asia

Dim Sum Chowdown at Hong Kong Lounge II [San Francisco]

I thought, as a regular of HK Lounge I, that the reservation policy and the service were both huge improvements. Anyone who has been to HKLI knows what a zoo that place is on the weekends starting at 9am.

The fish balls, one of my favorites, were done quite well here. The calamari were fresh, although I could do without the sauce. The XLB were pretty average for a Cantonese place, in other words, not very good. Avoid.

However, I do think that this branch is a notch below in terms of cooking. The cooking lacks the crispness and urgency that the original has to have in order to deal with weekend rush.

HKL's hallmark BBQ pork buns were a little too bready and could have used more filling. The filling was as good (brown, not pink, with fresh cha siu), just skimpy.

And they were a touch timid with the seasoning. The waitress stopped me from adding soy sauce to the pot and portioned it out too early, which might explain why some people thought it bland. At HKL I, it comes out smoking hot and they let it go with the soy to further caramelize.

The salted fish pot wasn't funky enough for me, unfortunately and seemed more like mom's cooking with scraps of salted fish and minced pork. It seemed very different from what I remembered at HKLI, which had a lighter crisper savory mixed minicakes of meat and fish.

The lava buns were good, the malay sponge cake was a little gummy/soggy in comparison to the original.

In retrospect, our table ordered perhaps a little oddly without steamed dumplings for ex. Partially b/c we assembled late and were pressed for time. Also perhaps it may have been my fault. I vaguely recall Melanie assigning me the duty of guiding ordering. I am a believer in people ordering whatever intrigues them with little regard to the overall gestalt (my relatives find this tremendously irritating), and therefore failed to insure the proper balance of steamed dumpling, to fried, to offal, to ribsticking porridge etc, etc. Next time, perhaps I should send my father in my place. ALso, forgot to take photos.

Aug 14, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Need Fremont Restaurant Recommendation for Large Group

My favorite restaurants in Fremont are the Afghani ones. Try Salang Pass or De Afghanan Cuisine (the actual sit down restaurant, not the wonderful hole in the wall outpost).

Aug 13, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Peacock Indian Restaurant in Mountain View

I'm not sure. Everyone was eating the buffet. When we went in, they just said "You can go to the buffet now." It was actually pretty popular and decent for 9.99. But... buffet food.

There was chai, salted lassi, salad, rasam, sambar, onion pakora (which were delicious), veg biriyani, biryani sauce, okra fry, kadai paneer, dal, chicken biriyani, chicken masakkali (which was really dried out), and the ubiquitous butter chicken and chicken tandoori.

Jun 26, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Peacock Indian Restaurant in Mountain View

Buffet very ordinary. Sigh.

Jun 26, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

ISO Vietnamese noodle soup with duck and dried bamboo shoots: bun mang vit

A lot of people equate vietnamese noodle soup with pho, when there are a lot of other craveable noodle soup dishes such as bun rieu, bun bo hue, bun mam, mi quang, bun mang vit, etc. It is often very hard to obtain good versions of alternative noodle soups b/c when a restaurant devotes itself to making pho, any other noodle dishes end up tasting off or too much like pho. (They'll use pho stock as a base, or use pho noodles, or use garnishes meant for pho, etc.)

In the case of bun mang vit, which is sort of a funky ducky version of pho ga (except with a different protein, a different noodle, and different garnishes) a restaurant might cheat by using a generic chicken stock, some poorly hydrated bamboo shoots, pho noodles, and roast duck from the local chinese butcher.

Checked this place out and ...tm... is correct. Bun mang vit is the specialty! (Actually poached duck dishes are the specialty as they also seem to offer just the duck as well as duck salad.) This style of duck preparation is very different than the Chinese style roast duck that most Asian restaurants use for their duck dishes as it is leaner, blander, and chewier. For those who like duck in all forms, this makes for a nice change as one can really taste the gamey flavor of duck meat without the fat and five spice.

Since it is the specialty, the bowl was quite nice with a ducky (slightly gamier than chicken/pork) broth which was well paired with the funky bamboo shoots. (Those bamboo shoots are the reason I don't like making this dish at home. Smelly.) The broth was clear with a loosened clump of round rice noodles.

Came with a mound of freshly shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, rau ram. The ginger dipping sauce was good but needed more fish sauce and less sugar, IMO.

Recommended stop for those who are looking to try something different. They have a lot of other unusual soups such as bun mam, which might also be worth a try. ...although they might end up tasting too much like bun mang vit....

Jun 26, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Peacock Indian Restaurant in Mountain View

Thinking of dropping in for lunch today. Noticed on yelp that it has a lunch buffet. Does anyone know if I should go for the buffet or order off the menu?

Jun 26, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

ISO Vietnamese noodle soup with duck and dried bamboo shoots: bun mang vit

ah, ha! This sounds like it has a lot of potential!

Jun 14, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

ISO Vietnamese noodle soup with duck and dried bamboo shoots: bun mang vit

Thanks for the tip! Good banh khot too makes it definite lunch candidate for next week. (Stuck in Los Altos Hills on Wednesdays past two months. Am bored.)

I will say that sumika makes an awesome oyako donburi. Really, really good but there is only so much donburi a girl can have for lunch.

Jun 12, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Jinmi dumpling--kimchi dumplings near Paris Baguette [Santa Clara]

I guess that makes sense. I wouldn't want to be working that roaster in august, either.

I liked the dumplings enough to go back next week. I liked that the kimchi wasn't super old, and still had some bite left. Maybe I'll check out the kimbap at the cafe too.

I also found a small korean rice cake/dessert place in the same mall as kunjip. Unfortunately, no idea of the name--anybody know?

Jun 12, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Jinmi dumpling--kimchi dumplings near Paris Baguette [Santa Clara]

In the back of the Galleria Korean Supermarket, there is a little stand called Jinmi dumpling staffed by a several little old ladies making dumplings by hand--kimchi, pork and vegetable, and shrimp. $5.50 got me 10 lovely just cooked kimchi dumplings, which were stuffed with egg, pork, cellophane noodles, and crunchy bits of fresh kimchi. Great homemade flavor and texture and totally worth the price markup compared to the ginormous bags of frozen commercial dumplings filled with msg in the freezers right next to them.

3531 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051

There is also a man selling roasted sweet potatoes in a cart just outside, as well as a small cafe with kimbap, etc.

Jun 06, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

report wanted: chef zhao, Mountain View? (was Trend)

There are a few specials written in chinese on the whiteboard, other than that I don't think they are dumbing down the food for anyone. The food was both plenty hot and numbing, and I was a bit worried b/c I phoned in a togo order entirely in English.

The mapo tofu was excellent--gloriously incendiary with a generous portion of tofu. A lot of places (MCF, I'm looking at you) use entirely too much meat and skimp on the tofu, with a sweet sickly sauce and watery tofu. This sauce was savory with fermented chili bean paste as well as chili and sichuan peppercorns, nicely saturating the cubes of tofu, such that you had to sop it all up with copious amounts of rice.

I was shooting for the water boiled fish, but must have made some sort of mistake b/c that isn't what I got. Not complaining b/c the fish filet with tofu was delightful. The dish came in a light stock garnished with peppercorns and pickled green chilis, it was spicy with a delicacy that made it a good foil for the mapo tofu.

The chive pancake appetizer was not overly greasy and had a good chive flavor without going overboard. Best version I have had so far in the bay area.

My one quibble is that the menu seemed a bit short on interesting items and at first glance seem to have a lot of old standards, but possibly I missed a page or two in my rush to get in and out.

Jun 06, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Where to find ya cai (preserved mustard green leaves and stems)?

In my perambulations in the South Bay, I found some at the Chinese supermarket that is in the same mall as Ramen Tenma at 487 Saratoga. This exact package two weeks ago piled in boxes near the refrigerated section on the right side of the market (as you walk in the entrance).

Jun 06, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Best Pho in SF?

Love Ha Nam Ninh. Minimum of msg, correct garnishes, raw beef on the side upon request, tasty cooked beef bits, homemade hot sauce.

Seems to be getting more popular though, which worries me as they really struggle to expedite bowls. Which is partly why I love it so much--they do it right (precook noodles in hot water right before hand so they don't make the broth cold or cloudy and pour really hot stock over right before serving) one bowl at a time which takes forever.

Mar 01, 2013
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

ISO Torroni Baci from Innocenzo Borrilo formerly at AG Ferrari

Hey, AG Ferrari has restocked these for xmas. They also have several Perbellini panettone, so they appear to bringing some of their more obscure goodies back, at least for christmas.

Dec 02, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

11/3 Boun Ork Phansa Chowdown Report: Laotian Street Food at Wat Lao Saysettha in Santa Rosa

My favorite was the beef salad which was very good with a slight bitter edge. I could have used a little more heat and I think I need to remember that for next time. The chicken laab was a nice change as well.

The angel wings were a pleasant surprise as I usually find them very heavy in Thai restaurants. The filling was light and pleasantly herby with cellophane noodles and lime leaves, I think.

The kao soi was quite good with an interesting garnish of deep fried rice cake. I liked it rather better than the pho but not as much as the kao piak that Melanie made two festivals ago...

Nov 06, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowdown report: Wat Lao Saysettha - Lao home cooking rules! (Santa Rosa)

What they said re: jaew bong: chili, beef, onion, garlic, ginger.....and some other things

the other one was "fish and pork"

both to be eaten with sticky rice

Sep 10, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowdown report: Wat Lao Saysettha - Lao home cooking rules! (Santa Rosa)

Had a great time dragging three friends along with me. This report isn't going to be superdetailed since it was smack in the middle of a weekend of insane noshing with a friend visiting from out of town.

The sausage was sold raw--thanks to melanie for having them grill some so we could have it with sticky rice. The sausage was a bit loose with large pieces of lemon grass, lime leaf, fatty skin, and other herbs tucked inside. The ungrilled sausages are stored in the freezer for future enjoyment.

My favorite item was the kao piak, which was particularly good with a generous helping of chili paste and fried garlic. The tapioca/rice flour noodles made the soup pleasantly thick without being excessively gluey (Melanie promised to post a recipe/tutorial). The light stock (chicken or pork based, I think) came with cubes of blood (fresh and unfunky), shreds of chicken, and garnished with green onion. I had really been craving that exact noodle dish, so it really hit the spot. One tip: they make it fresh to order. When it comes to the table, drop whatever you're doing and dig in. It is much tastier hot than at room temp, as the texture of the noodles and the soup suffers as it cools.

Second favorite was the grilled chicken wings which according to melanie (who was an able volunteer) were marinated overnight in a spice paste that included lemongrass and some other things I'm forgetting.

The larb was good both cooked and raw though I preferred the cooked to the raw. The raw was fresh and clean with a slight bitter edge that I found pleasant. The cooked larb was bright with lime juice and just fine if raw makes you nervous. Better yet is to ask for half and half!

I highly recommend making a trip here some time. People are awfully friendly and willing to share details about a cuisine that isn't that common in the states. Kind of like taking an impromptu trip to se asia. With a decent bathroom to boot!

Sep 10, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Sichuan Home, Geary near 15th (SF), reports?

Yeah, I know. Whenever we try a different fish stew, the verdict is always, "this isn't as good as the chef's special spicy fish stew. wish you had ordered that instead."

avoid the weird eggrolls with yam and shrimp. They seem like his interpretation of cha gio. Not a fan. Noodles are not a strong suit either.

Very good stir fry technique though. A sichuan friend likes the stir fried pork belly with taro, which I found way too rich. The taro is interestingly cut into paper thin slices instead of chunks.

It is the sort of place to scope out the dishes the chinese tables are ordering and also to insist that you want it spicy, I think.

Sep 05, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Sweet Indulgence in Millbrae

Hmm. It has been years since I've had serradurra, or Macanese sawdust pudding. Don't suppose they also had a plain flavor?

Jul 18, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Taiwanese food in the city?

Try Taste of Formosa in the outer Richmond. The main dining room is upstairs and where they seem to direct most of their attention. Warning: They serve stinky tofu, so you might find it uncomfortable if you don't like the smell. Ground floor would then be better choice.

Jun 26, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Garden Restaurant Chowhound Lunch [Chinatown, SF]

It was a very nice way to start the weekend.

My favorite was the steamed black bass, which was just slightly undercooked at the bone, as it should be. The lobster and mustard greens in broth were also good, fresh and simply prepared. The combination of pumpkin and shrimp covered in salted egg yolk was fun, although the consensus was that Hakka Restaurant's technique was better. Still tasty though.

I thought the sparerib dish was a little too sweet and could have used a touch more acid. The texture of the meat and the cooking technique was good though, and I liked using spareribs as the cut and having to gnaw the meat off the bone. More typically this type of dish uses these huge flat slices of meat that are kind of overtenderized and hard to manuever with chopsticks.

Overall I thought the meal offered good value. The food isn't at the level of R&G, but it was also less than half the price. The restaurant is spacious and clean, and it was very easy to hear people talking from across the table. Service is a bit tetchy, but to be fair, we were perhaps more troublesome than the average group. Can't address how they do Chinese-American food, but I recommend it for people looking for competently executed Cantonese food in Chinatown at a very reasonable price. Also, bonus points for having translated the set menus into english, as opposed to having separate "Chinese-American" menus that bear no resemblance to the Chinese menus.

It was fun meeting everyone! Thanks to melanie for organizing, to Gordon for the photos, to the Chinatown pros for finding the rice noodle place of my fuzzy memories, to...tm.... for making the trip all the way from Berkeley. Also, I'm sorry that derek was thwarted in his quest for a durian souffle, better luck next time!

Jun 09, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

5 days in SF.

Anchor and Hope is kind of far from the park for a pre/post game pint. Usually, I head over to 21st amendment. Or tres agaves if you're in the mood for tequila and fries fried in lard. Or the public house which is as close as you can get.

In the dogpatch (which is probably farther than anchor and hope, really), there is serpentine, piccino, hard knox, and mr. and mrs. miscellaneous, who serve an Anchor Steam ice cream with peanuts.

Momo's is very popular but I always feel vaguely ripped off there.

May 01, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Top 10 Must-visit SF Eateries - The Budget Version

Marnee thai is making a very nice version of kanom krok right now as a special. Topped with chives, cubes of taro and cubes of pumpkin and oozing with coconut cream.

Apr 26, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Nam Kao Tod in Bay Area?

I've had it at champa, and vientiane. I think Vientiane is my favorite for the rice ball salad. I'm not really sure it should be that crunchy, although that is my preference. Most every place I've been to hasn't been that crunchy--and it is not like it is that hard to make it crunchy since it is basically deep frying, which makes me think that the Lao prefer it softer. I mention the sour sausage b/c it is a pretty important component of nem kao.

Unfortunately, I think Green Papaya and That Luang make other dishes better than Vientiane with less MSG and salt. But vientiane has a lot of unusual things. Chabaa is a little more expensive than I am used to for lao food, but it is the only place in the city. Focus on the cured and grilled meats if you go to chabaa.

I've also seen nem kao at the Berkeley Thai temple and at the SSF temple.

Apr 24, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

Nam Kao Tod in Bay Area?

Not crunchy enough for me, but Chabaa's house made sour sausage is pretty sour. Noticeably funkier than other places.

Apr 24, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area

bahn mi for party

If you don't want to make a long trek, irving cafe and deli makes decent sandwiches. I think if you eat them on the same day, they should be fine. You can also pick up vietnamese desserts and cha gio. For the vegetarians, freshly fried felafel can be had at sunrise deli nearby.

Apr 18, 2012
sfbing in San Francisco Bay Area