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Chennai Grill - Dublin

My wife and I had an impromptu dinner last night at Chennai Grill in Dublin, CA. It's a South Indian restaurant where customers get their own plates and cutlery, order at the counter and then one is served. Their website is

Mixed vegetable pakoras shredded onions, cabbage, carrots, bell pepper and curry leaves)served with a coconut and mustard seed chutney. These are more heavily coated in besan flour which makes them crunchy rather than crisp. Nice spicing and textures.

Madurai Malli Dosa: crispy dosa filled with mashed spiced potato, nice spicing, served with the coconut chutney, a tomato chutney -nice but too sweet for my tastes, and that vegetable soup (rasam). That soup is fabulous, its spicy and complex and nicely thick.

Goat Pepper Masala: small amount of stewed goat with bones in that south indian masala. Lots of pepper, ginger, garlic, red chile (chile de arbol?), cumin, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and so on. Big flavors, meat tender and flavorful.

Garlic Naan: nice charring and no burnt garlic flavor.

This is a worthy place. Its not as precise and distinct in its flavoring as Anjappar Chettinad in Sunnyvale, but the flavors are there. It's much closer at hand to those who don't live in the South Bay. Not expensive, we paid about $30 including a soft drink. The server was a very nice young man who was responsive to our requests for more chutney and more ice. The server said we had missed their twice annual biryani party and said that one could find out about the timing on Facebook. Next time!

Chowdown at Uyghur Taamliri [San Francisco]

We tried to go there tonight but were refused entrance because I had brought my 11-year old daughter as she is fiend for noodles. Its 21 years old and up only.

Any spottings of blenheim apricots in East Bay or San Francisco yet?

Picked up a couple of picked boxes of Blenheims from Peter A. Wofe Ranch in Brentwood. Big boxes $25/box.

They are at:
700 Creek Rd, Brentwood, CA 94513, United States
(925) 634-1308

Suncrest peachers are just becoming ripe for u-pick, $0.99 pound. They had white peaches which my daughter likes. They were a little more expensive.

Farmers market Sunday

Irvington, Fremont Farmer's Market is a good one on Sundays. There's a good hole-in-the-wall dosa restaurant in the shopping mall next to where the farmer's market is. Lots of vendors. Better prices than Hayward's on Saturday.

Eden Uighur Restaurant opening on O'Farrell [San Francisco]

When? Is this 395 Golden Gate?

Mumbai Outlet - Indian Groceries and more [Hayward]

The owner of Curry Corner recommended Mumbai Market as a source of Indian food and spices, so after today's cooking class we went there.

Mumbai Bazaar Outlet is in Hayward, over by the, ahem, Executive Airport.

I found my holy grail, black stone flower, here labeled Dagad Pool; two kinds, the dried lichen and the ground lichen. The counter person said the ground stuff isn't as tasty.

Big selection of spices and all sorts of goodies -a profusion of dal, canned food, jarred sauces and condiments, frozen food, cosmetics, incense, Puja supplies, cooking utensils and so on.

The person at the counter says they sometimes get taro leaves (they have an Indian Fijian bent) so I may get to satisfy my desire for lau lau sooner than later.

Its clean and well organized.

Mumbai Bazaar:
2021 West Winton Avenue, Hayward 94545

Cooking Class at Curry Corner, Hayward

Five of us gathered today for a four hour cooking class taught by the Curry Corner owner, Saras Rao. During the four hour class we made chicken curry, mixed vegetable curry, cauliflower and scrambled eggs curry, fried fish, roti, apple instant pickles, and rice. We all took away left overs.

In spite of the fact that a number of the dishes were curries, they all were distinct in taste because of the different spices used and how the spices were prepared. For example, only the cauliflower curry had black mustard seeds which was a taste and texture contrast with the cauliflower, onions and scrambled eggs. This dish was one of our favorites and goes very well with the roti- kind of a burrito in form. The fried fish had a spice mixture that contained some whole cumin, such that each bite of the fish had a different taste depending on the particular mix of spices on that bite.

It was a very worthwhile class. She has another one on 3/17 where she's making dal. The classes are $65 per person. Curry Corner is located at 26657 Mission Blvd, between Harder and Tennyson in Hayward. She has take out food, generally a couple of meat and a couple of vegetable dishes along with flavorful rice. She's open Tuesday through Saturday, Noon to 6 PM. Her phone number is (510) 581-4003.

Highly recommended.

black stone flower, chettinad cooking

The fact that I could find it on Ebay from a US seller suggests that the statement about how it is banned as an import is perhaps incorrect. I think that his statement had more to do with being unfamiliar with the ingredient and wanting deflect a possible sense of embarassment as to why they don't carry it.

I am now curious about sourcing the lichens mentioned in the article about Nordic cooking.

black stone flower, chettinad cooking

Ended up ordering it on EBay. Neither Santos Spices in San Leandro nor Milan in Berkeley could help. The person in charge in Berkeley said that it was banned as an import into the US.

black stone flower, chettinad cooking

I will head up to Berkeley and see if they have it at Milan and if then ebay!

thanks for the suggestions.


black stone flower, chettinad cooking

I am looking for a lichen, Parmotrema perlatum, used in Chettinad cooking called: black stone flower, kalpassi, shaileyam in Sanskrit / Gokshura, Dagar da Phool in Hindi, kallupachi in Telugu "Kallu hoovu" in Kannada and patthar ke phool in Hindi. "shebat al ajooz" or "ishna" in the Middle East. Struck out at House of Spices and Saudagar in Hayward, Bharat in Fremont, called Madras Market in Sunnyvale to no avail, might be my inability with anything but English and Spanish, tried calling Anjappar Chettinad but a less helpful person would be hard to find. Tried an on-line site in India but their web interface wouldn't ship it here. The reviews of buying through Amazon give one pause. Any suggestions, folks? Thanks in advance...

Puerto Vallarta Restaurants

The best meal my wife and I had on our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta on our way to Cabo Corrientes was at Fredy's Ocho Tostados which is located behind the sports stadium at Rio Guayaquil 413 corner with Ecuador, Col. Lazaro Cardenas. Their phone number is 2227691. Facebook:

Its an open air, self aware, informal upscale place. They have two prep areas, one for the raw seafood and the other for the cooked seafood. The menus are in English and Spanish. They put the daily specials up on wall mounted chalk boards.

We had a terrific late lunch. After a couple of excellent seafood tostadas - I tried tuna and conch, I had a par cooked section of octopus that was finished on the grill served with a butter caper sauce. This was excellent. Its really hard to grill octopus and not have it come out hard and impossible to chew. They have excellent technique.

This is a very good seafood restaurant. They know how to prepare what's on their menu. Everything is fresh and high quality.

Jan 10, 2015
Ericruo in Mexico

Cabo San Lucas dining after Odile

My wife and I had a truly excellent lunch at Mariscos and Molcajetes Los Mochis in CSL. They are located near the giant Soriana store which is at the corner of Avenida de las Brisas and Camino Jardines del Sol at Calle Caribe # 144 mza 2 lote 304 col. Arcos del sol. They have a Facebook page at

This place has absolutely fresh seafood from both Baja California Sur and from the other side of the Sea of Cortez which they keep in on ice in marine ice chests.

This is not a touristy trendy kitchy restaurant. Its plain and clean inside, air conditioned which is very nice when the weather in BCS is set on 'bake'. This place is serious about its molcajetes - a mix of seafood, whatever's fresh, typically shrimp, fish, octopus, chocolate clams mixed up in a lava rock molcajete with garlic, onion, chiles, tomato, and shrimp stock.

They have cooked food too. We had a molcajete each, they customized mine to account for my crustacean allergies and then my wife had Pargo (Northern Red Snapper) Zarandeado, normally grill cooked with a marinade that includes tomato, red dried chiles, Worchestershire sauce, garlic, cloves, The most expensive dish is a $170 Mexican Pesos. Her fish dish was only $150 pesos. Three fish or shrimp tacos are only $50 pesos. Mexican beers like Tecate Light (ish!), Indio (better), Dos Xs, or Sol are only $20 pesos. The step up (?) to the red Tecate or Coors Light is $25 pesos.

I highly recommend this place. Their phone number is +52 624 118 1965

Jan 10, 2015
Ericruo in Mexico

Happy Golden Bowl in El Cerrito - Good Sichuan Eats

My wife and I had dinner there last night. We had Chong Qing Chicken, Cumin Lamb, Sesame Bread, and braised Bok Choy and mushrooms.

The Cumin Lamb was very tender, not gritty from the cumin which a less careful prep can be, but because its wok cooked and not grilled, it doesn't get the charred bits. There's almost no heat to this dish. Could be that they altered the prep because we're not Chinese. Nice but would have been better had it been more Uigur style or had fresh green chiles in the stir fry. Still, excellently done in a technical sense.

The Bok Choy came out next and it was still bright green, tender and not overcooked. The mushroom caps were juicy and flavorful. The dish was good, too salty on its own but maybe this was so to serve as a contrast to the sesame bread.

The Sesame Bread is a guilty pleasure. As has been noted previously, there are layers in the bread and its blandness but nice soft interior contrasted to the outside surface and its toasted sesame seeds is nice. What it is good for is the contrast of texture and blandness against the more intense flavors of the other dishes.

The Chong Qing Chicken came out last and that's basically chicken wings cut into little pieces deep fried and served with a garlic, ginger, green onion, sichuan pepper, dried red chiles and rock salt mix. The fry technique is perfect and the spicy salty condiment is really nice. The piney scent of the sichuan pepper is present in every bite. We mopped up the spice mixture with the bread. The crunch of the rock salt is fabulous.

This was a large amount of food, excellently prepared, and it was about $50 with tip.

I do think that they have toned the impact of the chiles to meet their normal customer base. We told the head waiter that we liked chiles and that my wife is Mexican but I don't think it availed us much. Several years ago, the first time I had water boiled beef at China Village, it was a painful pleasure. Now its good but not a whack you over the head take-no-prisoners sort of dish, and maybe that's happened at Ancient Szechuan too. The chiles are more show than go - cooking them whole adds some flavor but little heat and to my mind diminishes the dish. Probably to most, the reduced use of chiles is a good thing.

In any event this is a worthwhile place to go.

ISO pork/beef/chicken bones

Man Sung - the chicken breast and back frames are $0.80 per pound and the wing tips are still $0.50 per pound. These are not free range chickens. They make good stock, nonetheless.

Cafe St Jorge [San Francisco]

Some of us live in Hayward, the 'Heart of the Bay', our city's silly slogan. We are also a 'nuclear free zone' but in any case fortunate enough to go to Silva's. In any case the bakery is great, its Azorean. They make tasty things including Portuguese Pao Doce, a very finely grained cornbread, many pastries including the Pasteis de Nata. Its worth going to. They're almost at the frontier with San Leandro.

Malassadas or Filhos kinda near Hillsborough

Some Hawaii residence and expatriates started a discussion on Facebook about malassadas or filhos, the Azorean or Madieran very eggy, very tender hole-less fried dough rolled in sugar that has been a touchstone of our gustatory fantasies. One such person lives in Hillborough, NJ and it would be really a good thing if there were exemplars of malassadas that she could find closer to where she lives than in the land of the alohas (and high rise towers). Anybody?

Oct 13, 2014
Ericruo in New Jersey

Hatch Chiles are here ...... 99 cents a pound.

Not at the Hayward Safeway at 22280 Foothill this evening; they had no idea what they were. Maybe at the Safeway in Castro Valley since it is a more upscale market

Two for Chihuahua, Chihuahua


I think you are probably right, but the waiters were telling me chihuacle. I think your blog is terrific and I frequently tell my fiancé, who lives in D.F. about what you've written.

Jul 24, 2014
Ericruo in Mexico

Two for Chihuahua, Chihuahua

We had a really great and inexpensive breakfast at Enrizo's at Calles Mirador and Berlin in the Mirador section of the city. There are two others one at Technologico and Altamirano and the other at near the Plaza San Angel. They're open from 8 am to 3 pm. Their website is

We had their house coffee, café de la olla (it has Mexican cinnamon, canela in it), and had four burritos between the two of us - two with asado de puerco - red chile sauced pork stew; one each of chile pasado, which I have been told is made from a dried chile chihuacle - this was made with tomatoes, and pork cut into a small dice; and another with chicharron de pella (chicharron with a little meat on it) made with tomatillos. They were served in a thick, and I think hand-made, pan-toasted wheat tortilla. They're not the SF Bay Area type of burritos that have beans, rice, the filling, sour cream, shredded lettuce and a little pico de gallo salsa. These are a purer expression of the guisados that filled them. Their cooking has integrity and honest cooking. The burritos were only $16 pesos each and a wonderful breakfast in a nice place with clean bathrooms was something like $114 pesos before tip.

They have a much larger breakfast menu and the menu changes over for lunch at 1 pm. The lunch menu, like the breakfast menu, has daily specials. We intend to go back during our trip.

A fancier place with a superb view of the Cathedral of Chihuahua from El Meson del Catedral's second-floor location, literally next to the Cathedral. Their website is They have both inside and outside dining areas. Its a kind of steel and bare wood sort of decor but its not overpriced. They have a full bar and wine list; I did not look at the wine list.

I had my long sought 'holy grail' dish of tacos de tuetano (beef marrow). They're cooked in a hot cast iron dish that they bring to you along with corn or wheat tortillas, we picked corn, and the usual sides, cilantro, lime quarters, and two sauces, a pico de gallo and one made with a mix of red chiles including mirasol (I wonder if this is like the Hunan facing heaven chile??), chile california, and chile chihuacle, if I am remembering this right. This dish is the Fergus Henderson goes to México. Very nice and probably a dish to make cardiologists everywhere shudder. That was $94 pesos.

I had a duck enchilada in mole poblano. It was well executed and pretty but the mole was just sweet and had no bite. My fiancé had a rib eye steak expertly grilled. It was about a half inch thick and came with a grilled chile, big grilled green onion, and grilled nopal.

I also had a Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol Añejo (the Chihuahua distillate of their agave, known in English as the 'Desert Spoon'. It was very nice. I am awaiting two bottles from the mountains and I'll post once I taste them. I understand that while Sotol is the drink of the State of Chihuahua, its really not that well known in the City of Chihuahua and is just now getting some market and mind-share. There's a dish we did not try that uses scallops and Sotol at the Meson de Catedral but I am a sucker for duck so that will have to wait.

The whole dinner for two including a drink each came to about $50 US before tip.

Jul 23, 2014
Ericruo in Mexico

Walker Apples, Graton

I have never seen a press up there but they may have one or know of people who do. You might give them a call.

O'Liberty Duck by Sonoma County Poultry

One of the minor joys of my life is meeting the delivery person on the streets of San Francisco a few times a year. My favorite episode was meeting the delivery truck on the last block of Grant before Broadway. He stops there to deliver feet or heads or something to Man Sung. The big white delivery van swooped in to park. I pulled in behind him. I got out hurriedly, walked over to the driver and told him my name, handed over cash and he got out a big white plastic bag and handed it over. People are sure that its the narcotraficantes in action, but its just me getting my Liberty ducks, usually for seared duck breasts with cherries enriching a duck glacé made from the rest of the critters. Recently we met on Columbus avenue and entertained some Canadian tourists.

nukadoko, nukazuke, nukamiso

I too am interested. We used to make tsukemono in tupperware containers when I was growing up, rather more pedestrianly than you! The left-over rice that didn't make it to becoming musubi for lunch, went into the container in the other refrigerator along with the salted hakusai (nappa cabbage), some ginger, and it was deemed to be ready when the lid blew off. Still, it was pretty good, although these days, I'd add chile and garlic.

Tamales Oaxqueños in Oakland

In the discussion about how various people found Los Unicos de Cuernavaca closed, Moto opined that Tamales Oaxaqueñas was better. I have been a fan of Los Unicos, I once bought 12 dozen and fit the tamaleras into a Honda Civic for a party. I have to say Moto is correct, Tamales Oaxaqueñas is a very worth tamale maker.

I went by today and got the sortida, several of each, a baker's dozen for $40, usually $4 each. They have both banana leaf and corn husk tamales. Today there was mole rojo, pork, chicken, vegetarian. Although the seasoning is obviously different the banana leaf tamales reminded me of lau lau. Good mix of masa to filling, I wished they were more picante, but that's antithetical to most of their clients' tastes. Very small space with a few chairs and tables to sit at. Okay neighborhood before dark.

Yamada Woks...?

Maybe ask Tokyo Fish in Berkeley or Soko Hardware?

Tashi Delek: Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian & Bhutanese in El Cerrito

Like American Cheese with????

GREEN BEAN DATSI - (Bhutanese dish) Homemade American cheese & chilly 8

SHAMU DATSI - (Bhutanese dish) Shiitake mushroom, American cheese, chilly 8

I hope and trust its farmer's cheese and not Kraft!

Chowdown at SF's Grand Hot Pot Lounge

We were too few to try to sample the breadth of the menu to get an idea of their cooking vision and execution and get the Hot Pots. Sorry.

Chowdown at SF's Grand Hot Pot Lounge

A few random comments about the meal.
I thought that the spicing was not as strong as either Ancient Sichuan or China Village and I like the more assertive seasoning in general. There are some ex-wives who assert that I have burned out taste buds, of course the next one says that I'm kind of delicate in my ability to handle chiles.

I liked the tofu skin salad, the tofu tasted clean and the celery had a nice crunch. I liked the restraint in seasoning this dish.

The bitter melon was interesting. I am generally not a fan of bitter tastes but it was a pretty preparation, shaved strips of bitter melon with a honeyed dipping sauce and the contrast of bitter and sweet was nice.

I very much liked the texture of the bean jello, but as one of our number said, the red chile sauce was too sweet.

The Chong Qing chicken had nicely fried bone-in chicken nuggets with the chiles. Good flavor.

I did not care for the cat fish. It was muddy tasting and the broth didn't get to shine as a result. The China Village version is strong chicken stock with lots of ginger and some flatfish filets perfectly cooked. In both versions, the chile floating on top is all show-biz because the chiles are not ground up. They add a flavor but not much heat. My Mexican fiancée thinks this is a kind of parlor trick and it would really be good if they would just mince the chiles.

The dry fried tree mushrooms were very good, the restrained seasoning let the mushrooms shine through.

The hot and sour potatoes were interesting because of the sourness and I liked them.

Snow pea leaves in broth, good dish, they didn't overcook the vegetable.

The noodles were all a little mushy for my tastes. Flavors were simple on the garlic noodles; they had stips of jalapeños and red bell peppers intermixed. It was that hybrid variety of jalapeño that's got some tiny amount of heat and mostly tastes grassy. I didn't get much of the dan dan mien sauce, so I don't know how this stands relative to QQ Noodles or Xian Gourmet versions.

Guilin Rice Noodles had a very slippery texture, nice flavor but not a revelation.

I took photos of the food with my iPhone but the ones I can upload are the pre-enhanced ones and they all look dark and uninteresting. I will see if I can fix them and post later.

Chowdown at SF's Grand Hot Pot Lounge

Ten chowhounds gathered today at the Grand Hot Pot Lounge, 3565 Geary, SF to sample their Sichuan fare.

We had the following appetizers:

1. Pancake with Beef, a kind of beef filled baked pastry;
2. Couple's Delight, thinly sliced beef and a squash or melon with chile and Sichuan pepper;
3. Bean Jello in Red Chili sauce, home made bean jello;
4. Shaved Strips of Bitter Melon with a honey sauce;
6. Tofu Skin salad, rehydrated dried tofu skins with small batards of celery;
7. Spicy Numbing Pig's Ear, thinly cut pig's ear in a red chili sauce;

1. Chong Qing Chicken w/ Explosive Peppers;
2. Live Cat Fish boiled - like the 1,000 chili fish but with skin on cat fish chunks;
3. Dried Fried Tree Mushrooms, a mix of enoki and another, more dense mushroom whose name I forget, cooked with a little chile and Sichuan Pepper;
4. Hot & Sour Shredded Potato, a sour version of the shredded, nearly crisp potato of this cuisine;
5. Garlic Noodles (this was a dish stemming from the waitress mishearing 'dan dan noodles' as 'garlic noodles', not bad but not;
6. Dan Dan Noodles;
7. Minced pork sautéed with pickled long beans
8. Snow Pea leaves in broth;
9. Guiling Rice Noodles

Mapo Doufu - SF Dish of the Month November 2013

yes, in English and presumably in Chinese. There were lots of things up on the wall that were not on the menu.