k

kairo's Profile

Title Last Reply

Spain on a budget.

I'll be in Spain for 2 weeks, starting 2 weeks from now.
I've been going through tripadvisor, but as you probably know, it's not the most reliable source for restaurant recommendations.

Most of the discussions I've seen on here seem to focus on a higher level of cuisine than my wife and I will be able to afford on a daily basis while traveling.

Here are the locations I'm looking for help in:

1: Madrid / Alcala de henares. This part we might be ok for as we have family friends in Alcala... but I'm sure they won't be able to show us around the whole time. We will be wanting to do short day trips from here, for example to Segovia or Toledo.

2: Barcelona... especially daunting, and I half expect to just take our airbnb hosts recommendation for at least first nights dinner. We are only staying 2 nights as we are spending more time in the countryside.

3: Basque Country /Pyranees generally but more specifically we are travelling from Barcelona to Alquezar (near Huesca). Staying there then heading a short distance through Sabananigo to a monestary outside of Yesa (near the lake on the A21.
We are then going to head to a small town probably near the coast between San Sebastian and Bilbao. We are staying there for 3 nights. (not sure which town yet. This is where we really need some advice.
I know there are tons of great high-end places and possibly affordable pintxo places but if there any Cidrerias or other inexpensive fixed-menu type restaurants I'm all ears.

4: From up north we are heading straight down to Granada and for several days will be there + a day trip to Malaga on the coast.

As you may gather we are going to have a car with us.

Thanks for any tips you all may have!

I used to post more in the San Francisco and HK boards, but it's been a while.

Aug 18, 2014
kairo in Spain/Portugal

Shandong Deluxe, San Francisco

Definitely understand why you'd say that, but I'm pretty diligent with my Chinese restaurant info (or was especially then... had to cut back on noodle/dumpling because of a gluten intolerance diagnosis.)
It was probably just some strange coincidence that the Dong Bei / Shandong House guy was hanging out at Shandong Deluxe but since he was at a back table where the staff were prepping dumplings, it seemed like he was involved business-wise.

Jun 15, 2014
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Best brand of Cooking Michiu (rice wine)

I had no idea that was what the "not for sale for drinking" meant. That is really good to know.
I'll give Linchen a try.

Jan 23, 2014
kairo in General Topics

Best brand of Cooking Michiu (rice wine)

I realize that is a rule for western wines... maybe it is also true for Chinese Rice Wine... if so, do you have a recommendation for a drinking quality Chinese Rice Wine?

Jan 23, 2014
kairo in General Topics

Lap cheong and preserved duck.

Thank you everyone for the tips!

Dec 23, 2013
kairo in General Topics

Lap cheong and preserved duck.

I tried looking around for an answer to this, but didn't find one specific enough.

I purchased some Chinese Sausage and some other preserved meats (duck thigh and some kind of pork)

In the market none of this stuff is refrigerated so when I brought it home, I just put it in the cupboard.

How long do you think I can keep it in a dark cupboard? It's been out for 3 days. I just realized that the lady at the market told me to cook the sausage first, implying that it isn't fully cooked... so it sounds like i should have put it in the fridge.

Don't want to poison any guests.

Dec 23, 2013
kairo in General Topics

Best brand of Cooking Michiu (rice wine)

Looking for some tips on what brand of cooking michiu to use. I have the Lily brand right now, but, the fact it says its not for sale for drinking kind of scares me. Also, the only other review I found of it says it tastes like industrial alchohol. The ~$2 for a big bottle price point is a little off putting as well. I wouldn't want to cook with really crappy white wine, so why would I want to use crummy michiu. I live in SF, so I think I have access to fairly good selection.

Thanks!

Aug 17, 2013
kairo in General Topics

Seeking an unusual wine...

Trying to do a little research on Orit Tej and I found your post here from a number of years ago.
Did you end up finding it?
I found some in a grocery store in Oakland California.
Forget the stores name but it was at Perkins and Grand.

Jun 16, 2013
kairo in Wine

Oliveto's Whole Hog Dinners [Oakland]

This won't help for you since we went on the same night, but here's my two cents:

Affetati Misti: aka the antipasti plate. I went several years ago, and that plate was definitely better. Tasty "salamis" and 2 prosciutto type cuts, one of which was 99% salt and the other less so. I love fancy salami type meats so I was perfectly happy with this, but the overly salty prosciutto and lack of any little dabs of spreads as they've had before made this not worth the price tag.

Charcoal Grilled Pork Liver: This came with slow cooked onions that somehow tasted like sauerkraut, but that wasn't a bad thing. The liver was pretty great, it did not taste like pieces metal, and was not pasty or granuley like cheap liver can be. The rarer pieces were extremely smooth and melted in my mouth, the end piece i got had a great texture and seemed smokier. This was a sizeable portion of liver for such a rich meat. I would recommend this if you have more than 2 folks, or if someone loves liver. It was a bit too much for 2 people. Good bang for the buck here.

Warm Terrina of Trotter and Tongue. This was also great. Loved all the different textures of meat, loved the soffrito. Definitely a hit.

Crispy Pork Belly: I was getting full by this point, and this is a reallllly rich dish. One decent sized cube of pork belly. minimally seasoned, but of such high quality that it was quite easy to eat even for someone who isn't normally ok with such large amounts of fat on his meat. I love japanese/chinese pork belly where they cook the fat down so much that what's left melts in your mouth... but this was not that preparation. All the fat was their, but it tasted great. The celeriac and apple had a vinegar dressing on it that really helped cut the fat, but I wish there had been more.

Spit-roated pork leg. Once again the main entree was a pretty big miss for me. 3 slices of ham-like pork. With a meager portion of kale, and some tasty molasses-braised beans. The meat had some sinewy bits that occasionally made it hard to chew. Minimally seasoned, and it did have a nice smokey flavor, but it just wasn't special enough to warrant the bigger "main" price tag. I saw the Porchetta at a table next to me and I wish I had done that. I also wish i had done the boudin noir instead.
The waitress had said the leg was a big hit that night, and it did sell out right after we ordered (sorry whoever was that next person). Maybe our last slices didn't live up to earlier portions.

The "three little pigs" cocktail sounded far more interesting than it tasted. It was fine, but probably would have been better served by just ordering a straight drink.

Please excuse the stream of conscious style.

Feb 21, 2013
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Pho in SF?

Pho Clement II has been gone some time now. Now called "Good Noodle Restaurant". I believe after their legal problems they changed the name, but I think I've heard the staff is the same. If that is true, than I second them cause they were pretty great.

Feb 20, 2013
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

El Paisa [SF] - La Lengua Chronicles Part 30

I'm a fan of the bistek mexicano, a chicken stew dish (which includes green banana, not sweet plantains), and the fish soup with or without coconut milk.
The fish soup with coconut milk is really hard to eat, but really delicious. All the little bones are completely hidden in the milky broth which tasted like a bisque. Fried stuff definitely seems to not be their strong suit. OH and i forget the name but there are more than 1 skewered meats option. those are pretty great too.
I love the green banana, which is used like potato. Sometimes a dish will have that, and sweet plantains. Good tamarindo too.

Feb 08, 2013
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Ayutla Mexican Restaurant in the Mission, SF - any reports?

It sounds like this is the renamed Casa Sanchez. I wonder if it's different staff/cooks. They always seemed a bit hit or miss to me.

Jan 13, 2013
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Tea Leaf Salad - SF Dish of the Month (Nov 2012)

Went to Donut Delight this past Saturday. Got the Mohinga and some fried Red Bean "Cakes". The Mohinga was pretty outstanding. They didn't have the fried chickpeas you usually get and Melanie had a picture of (from them). Instead they added fried zuchini as a topping. They also added a little fish cake as well. I was expecting small portions for the $5 for everything menu... but the stoup was equal in size to most other places I've been.
Ties with Little Yangon as my favorite Mohinga.

The Red Bean Cakes were pretty insane. For $5 I received 7 large dense fried discs. I think they had a lot of lemon grass in them. They were nicely spiced, but served with a big side of hot sauce that i had to skip due to my inability to eat spicy food.
I really thought they had made a mistake when I received 7... but sure enough 5 dollars. no tax. 7 of them.
on flickr is a pic of the soup and an slightly blurry one of the red bean cake and a scary close-up.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/10201385...

The place was real busy, both with dimsum customers, donut customers and Burmese folk. I was alone so the proprietor and a customer started chatting me up about Burmese food which made the experience all the more fun.

A little far from SF to go back too often, but I'll have to at least go back with my wife and or friends to try more things.

Oh and bonus points for having one of the best Wife Cookies (melon cookie) I've ever had. I've tried maybe a good 2 dozen versions of Wife Cookies. These were extra thick, but had a lot of actual melon pieces inside and were light in density. I hate dense wife cookies. My other favorites being Shen Kee's which are thin and light. These were A LOT less oily. I also got a "honey cookie" but i started getting worried that the brown filling was made using condensed milk which I don't want to be eating for lactose reasons. It was tasty and seemed to have a dash of salt along with the sweetness.

Nov 19, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Shandong Deluxe, San Francisco

That is really odd that she denies the connection. All 3 times I've gone (I eat out too much) the owner of those other two restaurants has been seated at the back table talking with the staff and drinking tea. Maybe he's no longer involved with Dong Bei and San Dong. He was at one time really friendly with me so I should just ask him about it.

Got the Beef Pancake again. Not quite as "crispy" as last time... a bit chewier, but still pretty good and too my tastes, fairly unique. Lamb and squash dumpling was fine and fish dumpling a bit too mild. Favorite still is pork and chive.

Nov 03, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Shun Tak (aka Shunde) Cuisine at San Francisco’s Jade Garden and $4.95 Lunch Plates

Had to try the whole stuffed fish so we went tonight. Like it says... it's a whole fish, and all the inside removed and stuffed back in the form of a type of fish cake. I believe there were mushrooms, pickled veggies, oddly corn, and who knows what else. The flavor was only remotely comparable to steamed dace balls at dim sum. The fish was covered in a "gravy" that wasn't all together flavorful. Unnecessary strips of pork strewn on top. The skin, as a result of being cooked with gravy was moist in a fairly unappealing way. It was definitely not horrible. I like fish cakes/balls of all kinds. They are all kind of good to me. However I was really hoping for a dry fried rendition with crispy skin like I had at a home in HK.
I've attached a pic of the fish and a close up of the cake inside.

Also got the house special steamed pork dish Melanie mentions. Loved this... though a bit salty for some people I am sure.

They had a soft blue crab special on the chinese dry erase board. That was tempting. The waitress was super nice and was able and willing to translate the specials for me. Saw a group with one of the largest soup tureens I've ever seen.

I'll be back for sure since it's in my neighborhood.

Nov 03, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Shun Tak (aka Shunde) Cuisine at San Francisco’s Jade Garden and $4.95 Lunch Plates

Has anyone had the opportunity to try the "stuffed dace fish". I am very curious about this one.

While living in Hong Kong a few years ago I got to eat a friends grandmothers house a few times and this was one of her specialties. I had no idea how much work went into it until my friend explained the 3rd time. The version she made had no sauce like in that video and was almost deep fried in texture. Like a rough fishcake with skin on the outside.

Since I live a couple blocks away I should probably just give it a try. I noticed a lot of yelp pictures had really good looking red braised pork belly. I didn't see that on the menu Melanie has on her flickr.
(The "nipple" picture on yelp is both hilarious and a bit disturbing since it clearly isn't a nipple... then what is it? )

Nov 02, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Shandong Deluxe, San Francisco

That seems like a typo on their part. I was there just on Friday night.
Most likely they are closed Monday and Tuesday at some point.

Oct 30, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Fermented Fish Soup BUN MAM @ Bun Mam Ha Tien in San Jose

After discovering Bun Mam at Bun Mam Soc Trang in Oakland, I have been on a warpath for this funky soup. I tried it at two places in SF. Ngoc Mai and Mong Thu Cafe both in the Tenderloin.
I love Ngoc Mai but their Bun Mam was the weakest so far. Too sweet. Mong Thu was pretty funky, and the broth had a lot of pieces floating in it. I'll give it another try. The strangest version at a strange little place.

Then I went to San Jose. Holy crap was the Bun Mam good at Bun Mam Ha Tien. This area of San Jose has upwards 50 Vietnamese restaurants. But now I can't imagine trying any of them. This was by far the greatest soup I've ever had. Less sweet than all other renditions, except their bbq pork which was like pig candy. I really don't know what else to say. Great shrimp, great squid, great fish, greatest bbq pork, greatest broth, fine noodles. Good fresh veggies (banana blossom included).

Oakland is a lot closer, so I'll still go to Soc Trang... also the woman who runs the place is one of the nicest restaurant folk I've ever met. And they have my fresh pennywort I love.... but It's now worth the hour drive to San Jose for 1 bowl of soup.

Despite the lack of yelp reviews (one being me) Ha Tien obviously has a following as they had a steady stream of customers at an off time on the Sunday I went.

Bun Mam Ha Tien: 3005 Silver Creek Rd, San Jose.

Bun Mam Soc Trang article:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829677

Oct 29, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Fermented Fish Soup @ Bun Mam Soc Trang in Oakland

I am replying to myself to scold myself for not recognizing that those "strange fish pieces" were sliced pork belly. Woooops!

Oct 29, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Shandong Deluxe, San Francisco

Went back with a larger group. We shared the Xinjiang Da Pan Ji. This is a large plate of diced tender bone in chicken (the chicken seemed freshly cooked and was not dried out), potatoes, a little bell pepper, whole dried chili peppers and large chunks of ginger and garlic. Tons of flavor in the sauce. It's sweet. It's spicy. It's a bit numbing. A good amount of peppercorns that though shared similarity to szechuan peppercorns seemed a little less numbing and oddly reminiscent of juniper berries. Oh and it's on a bed of thick wide wheat noodles. I loved it. It may be 19.99, but it was very large and was a perfect portion to split between 4 people.

Also tried the "Beef Pancake". I really enjoyed this. It was not thin. Half inch thick maybe. Seemed to be made from layers of dough and ground beef. The irregularity of the thickness of the dough was a plus in my book. The best part was that it was fried to a crisp on the outside yet quite juicy on the inside. Yet another large portion. My friend commented that it tasted oddly European. I've had various kinds of Chinese beef pies over the years, and these were quite distinct.

Had the pork and green chives dumplings and they were a hit as well. I'm not as picky about dumpling skins as some folks on here, so I can't ever claim to vouch for them, but the fillings were some of the more flavorful I've had.

Had to get the lamb skewers again. I can't handle spicy food at all, and these are definitely on a threshold of pleasure/pain for me but I can't imagine not getting them. As long as they keep making them the same way, they will always remind me of spending New Years eve in Lijiang in Yunnan China.

Oh. and it wasn't as cold, so the food stayed warmer (also probably ate faster as I was with a small group.)

Definitely same owners as San Dong House and Dong Bei Mama.
In my opinion, it is way better than San Dong House (who were great for a short while). Kind of a merging of the two places. (Saw the owner of those places eating with staff here)
I hope they keep up the quality and the giant portions.

Sorry about the lack of pictures. I get too excited and always forget.

Oct 29, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Shandong Deluxe, San Francisco

Thanks to your recommendation I tried this place tonight. Got the Lagman noodles. Quite a surprise as they gave off a strong "italian food" vibe. Choice of lamb or beef. Picked lamb. The pieces of lamb, though not as pervasive as I would have hoped, were really tasty. Onions, mushrooms, bellpepper rounded things out. Sauce is tomato based. Noodles were very firm.
Vegetarian dumpling were good. Greens blended with tofu(?). Not overly garlicky as some vegetarian dumplings can be.
Lamb skewers were the hit of the night. Great pepper/cumin spice mixture. 4 large skewers for $6.50. Only a little fat, and what was there was delicious. Definitely like these more than at San Dong House.
Catch was, it was freezing inside the restaurant and our food got cold almost immediately.

Lagman noodles:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/10201385...
Lamb Skewers
http://www.flickr.com/photos/10201385...

Oct 24, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Mayflower - Geary - Closed

Walked down the street to have some Dim Sum and found that the Mayflower is closed. Sign says this does not effect any other locations. Anyone know why they would close their Geary location? It always had a good amount of business. I hope the new place does good dim sum. It was nice being able to walk there. It's turning into a Chinese seafood restaurant... which arguably Mayflower already was.

Oct 08, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

NEW: Pig & Pie, SF Mission - sausages, banh mi, spiced pecan pie, shaker lemon pie, local beer on tap

I've now been to Pig and Pie about 5 times. So far all the sausages have been hits. They are a bit mild for some peoples tastes, but I really could taste the freshness. The Boudin Blanc came with a little preserved lemon that really went well with the sausage. Haven't had any specials yet.
Pies: The lemon is a bit too crazy. I thought the inclusion of the chunks of peel was kind of fun, but some pieces of pie were too sweet some realllly sour. Very gooey.
The pecan pie is super intense. Very rich... took me 2 sittings to eat. I think the undercooked aspect is purposeful... but maybe Melanies was extra-undercooked. Its thick dense gooey pie. I definitely like Chili Pies spiced pecan pie better. This was overly rich and overly sweet, but somehow I kept going back for more.
I've had 2 different berry pies. 1 definitely had too many seeds. They like using whole fruit (lemon peel in the lemon pie). The first was a berry pie with a ginger cream on top. That was great. The next had a little chocolate sauce; that was great too. I really like the crusts. They are extra flaky thanks to the lard.

The first 2 times they had smoked salt french fries. I loved the salt flavor, but only the top layer of fries retained crispness. Still thought they tasted good but I like my fries crispy, so I probably won't do fries again unless I remember to ask for crispy and they say they can oblige.

The last 2 times there, there were 2 guys playing 2 minute timed chess games.

Sep 11, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

La Lengua Chronicles - My Project for 2012 [San Francisco]

El Paisa. Not sure if you've tried this one yet.
Definitely my favorite place on your stretch of Mission.
Someone mentioned getting the Carnitas... oddly enough that is the item most often mentioned as not being good so i've never tried it there.
The Bistek Mexican is great. The Pincho (skewer of sausage and beef) is huge and great. The soups are great. Lots of use of green banana as a potato substitute.
The fish soups are crazy. Whole fish head and tail. You can get them with our without coconut milk. If you get it with, then it makes eating very difficult as the bones disappear into the milky broth. However the coconut gives it a bisque like taste and texture. I like the stewed chicken dish as well. My wife loves their breakfast dishes. Huge portions of food and big glasses for the drinks. Great tamarindo.
The place can get busy during a big soccer game.

Aug 23, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Lexington Grill in the Tenderloin?

I went there a couple months ago because I was craving Chicken Fried Steak. 2 observations: The couple who ran the place new 90% of the clientele by name and order (mostly old men). The chicken fried steak was home made. They took a piece of meat, pounded it and breaded it... as opposed to a frozen pre-made deal. This made for a tougher less "ground" consistency. No need to go back. If I was an older bachelor living in an SRO in the neighborhood I would eat there.

Aug 21, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Amphawa Thai Noodle (SF)

No milk of any kind. I assumed it would not, as that might be a bit gross... but using the words Thai Iced Tea definitely added some confusion and I felt I had to ask first. Definitely the best Arnold Palmer I've ever had. It should really be called a Thai Arnold Palmer.

Jul 26, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Home style northern Indian food in San Jose/South bay

I was just about to suggest DeeDee's when I saw this. I love that place too. It's the only Indian restaurant that doesn't hurt my stomach. No idea why. Definitely jealous of your proximity.

Jul 25, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Amphawa Thai Noodle (SF)

ate here for the first time yesterday. Didn't get adventurous as I was craving Pad Thai. Very thin noodles made for an oddly moist and clumpy/mushy texture. Tofu was a bit off, being slight sour. The flavor was better than some places where pad thai tastes like ketchup. Pineapple fried rice was a fairly bland version with very little curry powder. Thai Ice Tea Lemonade was pretty great though... Going to give the place another try though. Always up for trying pork belly and shoulder dishes. I'd rather have an oyster pancake than a mussel pancake though.

Jul 25, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Oasis Market - Oakland

I thought I would give a little report of my first meal here since it has been a while since anyone has posted about this place.
My wife had a combo shawarma. I only had a bite, but it was quite tasty and the meat was more tender than I am used to. No gristle.
I had the combo vegetarian plate. It had the four falafels, two dolmas, baba ganoush, hummus and tabbouleh; but it also had a red pepper eggplant walnut spread. (I've heard about this from Russian friends but don't know what its called and it wasn't listed on the menu). This was spicy and tasty... unfortunately i'm slightly allergic to walnuts so I only tasted a little and stopped upon the walnut realization.
The Hummus was great. The baba ganoush was ridiculously light and fluffy. I actually prefer chunky kinds (Yemenis Restaurant used to have a chunk kind I loved) but this was pretty great. I couldn't get over how fluffy it was.
The first falafel was great. But the next 3 were a bit denser than I like... also a bit spicier. Falafel is a personal preference kind of food. Some people love Haigs' on clement and i think those are disgusting. I like them light and airy inside and definitely crispy on the outside. These were tasty though.
The dolmas were good. The insides were soft and more blended then some versions. I kind of like it when you can see rice still, but they tasted real good and the leaves weren't tough (a big pet peeve).
The wheat bread the served it with was nice and plain and made for a good dipping bread.

We got a little bit of 2 salads. One was just carrots with parsley and olive oil and some pepper flakes. The carrots were cooked but still firm enough. Yum!
The other was red and green bell pepper + tomato + cucumber + feta. This had some spice mix on it as well as olive oil. This was amazing. Really great tasting peppers. good tomatoes. firm flavorful feta.
I had a bottled drink made in Berkeley that was ginger, pineapple and hibiscus. That was great too, but I noticed it was expired by 3 days after i finished drinking it. oh well.

Also ordered a bunch of desserts. Cashew Baklava, Pistachio Baklava. Baloria with Pistachio (this is the shredded dough pastry 1 'fried' 1 plain). Borma (that round shreded dough thing with the pistachios inside, next most common dessert next to baklava), Hareeseh (a semolina cake).
I'm a sucker for desserts like this. From Greece to India, i'll eat anything that has honey or rose water syrup involved (except i shouldn't have walnuts or cows milk cheese which kind of limits things sometimes... (darn you Gulab Jamun!!!).
The baklavas are great, cashew was especially exciting as that is a more unusual variety. The Baloria was the least sweet dessert. It was a shredded wheat looking thing and had a fine layer of nuts and less syrup. The Borma was nice and crunchy with its thicker chopped nuts. The Hareeseh is the cake. and this is suuuuuper sweet. The syrup has soaked through every pore of cakeness making it squish out with every bite. For those with a sweet tooth this is really great.

Also picked up some cardamom coffee and some mulberry jello. We'll see about those later.

Thanks for baring with me and my rambling.

ps: saw lots of lamb 'parts' in the back. Also small butcher shop across the street had lamb sections on hooks like an old-timey grocery store. They also seemed to be grinding the meat fresh for customers at that place.

Jul 23, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area

Hi everyone, family is visiting SF, any rec for an old school chinese family?

If you are curious about Burmese my vote is for Little Yangon in Daly City.
This is the by far the most popular spot for local Burmese.
In SF proper Burmese Kitchen does some stuff really well, and Burma Superstar is a cleaned up mildly Chinese influenced version that is insanely popular with general folk.

Jul 18, 2012
kairo in San Francisco Bay Area