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A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

Benu's Corey Lee has opened Monsieur Benjamin a French bistro place. It may be just what you are looking for and you have a prayer of getting a reservation.

I was a real fan of the a la carte menu at Benu on weekdays, as I am tired of long tasting menus, the details of which I can't remember the next day. (Benu's was my favorite tasting menu, better for me than Coi or Manresa, but I don't do them anymore.)

Monsieur Benjamin did well for us last week. The quail stuffed with sausage was excellent and the lobster meat sauced pasta was also fine. A desert Gateau Marjolaine brought back 30+ yr old memories of a Biscuit Marjolaine in Ammerschwihr (Alsace) where I startled/pleased the waiter by ordering seconds and thirds. Monsieur Benjamin seemed to be as close to something you might find in Paris these days as any place in the Bay Area.

First courses (oeufs a la mayonnaise and a liver mousse with potato gauffrettes) did not amaze. We will go back to try some other items that looked good on nearby tables including a pork rib and leg of lamb. The wine list also seemed very reasonable to me (more like a true French restaurant that wants to earn its money from the food rather than price gouging on wines.)

Chowdown Report: SF Excelsior Food Crawl Part I (Aug 2014)

Darn the spelling corrector... nut mon = nuk mon , of course.

Chowdown Report: SF Excelsior Food Crawl Part I (Aug 2014)

At Kadok’s of San Francisco: Shanghai Lumpia was nice and not greasy; the Tokwa't Baboy (fried pork belly and fried tofu) was really quite good, particularly with the banana ketchup from the Philippines (although a bit too aged in the bottle...).

Los Planes De Renderos has very nice, relatively light and thin, pupusas. We had two versions, with different cheeses, one with a regional spice like cilantro (someone else has to remember the name). This is a clearly the go-to El Salvadorean place in this area. Popular and crowded. With lots of interesting items. I most loved, best of the day , the stuffed plantain croquettes (pictured above). The Salvadorean slaw that comes with the pupusas was fresh and typical, apparently, with an abundance of Mexican oregano (which I find overwhelms the slaw).

The mini BBQ pork buns at Hong Kong Bakery would rank high in a competition.

All in all this is a fun neighborhood to explore and we enjoyed the excellent guidance from a local who was with us.

Some other places on the long list had previously been tried and reported on, but not dined at this time -- they are worth including on a visit to the Excelsior: Maneelap Srimongkoun Restaurant (Laotian), Dark Horse Inn, Sungari Dumpling (Chinese dumplings and Dongbei cuisine), Doctor's Lounge, and Beijing.

Be sure to read soupçon's posting in the other thread.

Chowdown Report: SF Excelsior Food Crawl Part I (Aug 2014)

I thought Ty Sandwich's banh mi had some very good aspects: good crisped bread, excellent teriyaki-style chicken thigh meat, excellent roast pork. But the dressing was not very intense, I did not detect any nut mon fish sauce and maybe no mayo. The veggies were wet so the whole thing came out a bit too juicy without have any real flavor other than the meats.

Chowdown Report: SF Excelsior Food Crawl Part I (Aug 2014)

Here is the information the crawlers had with them, listing the known restaurants in the area. Note that we went to some not on this list.

Here's a SF Chronicle article re the Excelsior:


Search for Excelsior on Chowhound:


Here is a map of the area showing known restaurants (Blue indicates places not known to have been sampled by any of us):


Here is the list with what we know, websites, opening times:

Pan Lido (mexican bakery, grab to eat stuff later) morning t0 6PM

Tortas Boos Voni (Mexico City tortas, chilaquiles) 9AM-9PM

Batter Up (locally recommended, they have stuff like deep fried snickers, corn dogs, etc.) noon-6PM https://www.grubhub.com/sf/batter-up/

Hood grub (current restaurant at Broken Record; Sunday 11am – 11pm) http://www.hoodgrubsf.com http://sf.eater.com/archives/2014/01/...

Maneelap Srimongkoun Restaurant (Laotian) Sun lunch 1-3 dinner 5-10 http://www.maneelapsrimongkoun.com http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9312...

Doctor's Lounge 8AM-2AM (Brunch to 2PM) http://doctorsloungesf.com
{Centrally located near Safeway and a good place to meet after the crawl.


Los Planes de Renderos (pupusas) probably CLOSED Sunday

Hilda's (Filipino bakery) 9AM-5PM

Kadok's (Filipino, recommended lechon or Tikwat baboy) 11AM-530PM https://www.grubhub.com/sf/kadoks--fi...

Sungari Dumpling (Chinese dumplings and Dongbei cuisine) 11AM-930PM http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/982662

Dark Horse Inn 1 - 9 PM) http://www.darkhorsesf.com/visit.html

Phillies, Sunday 11am to 8pm http://www.philliessf.com/
Kuta Bistro, Sunday 5pm to 11pm http://kutabistrosf.com/

Pho Nice, 11am to 9:30pm, Hanoi style pho bac! https://www.facebook.com/phonicesf

Pupuseria Metapan, 10am to 3am, not only corn but rice flour pupusas! more comida salvadoreña https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pupuse...

Taqueria Reina's 11AM-1030PM

El Porteño/Chifa Peruano 11:30a-10p http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4281...
Ann's Doughnut & Sandwich Shop https://www.flickr.com/photos/anomalo...

Rincon Latino Sunday 9am to 10pm http://rinconlatinosf.com/about.html new owners in 2012 expanded menu http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3106...

Calabria Brothers Deli http://calabriabrosdeli.com CLOSED Sunday

Naples Pizzarella 11AM-11PM http://naplespizzarellasf.com

Beijing Restaurant 11AM-930PM http://www.beijingsanfrancisco.com

New Royal Bakery 9AM-830PM

Food crawl in Excelsior District this Sunday - all are invited

I will post a complete list on the other (post-crawl) thread.

Food crawl in Excelsior District this Sunday - all are invited

A few weeks ago Melanie organized a small Chow dinner at Dark House Inn based on her (and others’) sense that some, particularly many of the new, places in the Mission and elsewhere in SF are getting too pricey and (IMO) formulaic. The Excelsior area is often described as the way the Mission used to be.  See


At that dinner, the idea came up to do a daytime food crawl of the area. So, we have planned a crawl, which will take place this Sunday August 24th. We will meet between 11:45 AM and 12 noon at the Safeway (parking lot near store entrance), 4950 Mission, which is about half way between Persia and Geneva, two concentrations of the area’s interesting places to eat.

Depending on how many people come, the plan is to divide up into groups of 4 - 6 going to about 3 known places each (from the list below). It is also hoped that the group(s) may serendipitously try other places they come across. I would guess that this will involve about a mile or 2 of walking.

So we know who is coming it is useful if you RSVP to


If you send email to that address I can send you a longer message with a list of the candidate restaurants, a link to a map, etc.

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Saw okonomiyaki at SF Street Food Fest at Namu Street Food. Had only $11.60 so could only afford chicken version as beef was $12. Dry chicken. Pancake with kimchee similar but inferior to Namu Gaji. No surprise as same people. So I am still looking for a Japanese style version.

Hakka Restaurant or other choice for chinese banquet meal? [San Francisco]

I've done a 1 table family banquet at Hakka ordering some of the advanced order items, e.g. Stuffed chicken or duck. It was very successful.

Also was there two weeks ago with a party of 3 and it was as excellent as usual. Maybe the best Chinese in the City these days.

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Looks like oknomiyaki will be available in significant quantities this weekend atthe SF Street Food Festival:

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Saw a very similar oknomiyaki selection at Majikku Ramen, next to 99 Ranch, Skyline Plaza, Daly City, but didn't have a chance to try.

Santa Barbara Uni @ Tenroku Sushi in San Francisco Japantown

Yes. Tried it a few days ago. Excellent deal and good fresh uni. Maybe as many as 8 unis in the small wooden tray.

After a movie (the Chef, meh..) we looked in at Tenruko space where the well thought of Maki used to be. The uni deal pulled us in rather than heading down to the boat sushi place. Dishes here are on a conveyor belt. All in all the sushi was ok, though generally limited variety. Chefs were willing to make things fresh. Prices quite low for sushi. Better than boat place, but that's not saying much.

Probably I am not fussy enough about sushi. Like oysters and wine and dim sum, I find sometimes lower prices allows for more enjoyment in a more relaxed atmosphere than super pricey, super high quality followed by a monstrous bill. Anathema.

San Francisco Chowdown Report: Dark Horse Inn and Six Foot 20 in the Excelsior District

Now that I managed to upload pictures with much difficulty, some comments..

Dark Horse chefs like to smoke things (so do I) and they do it with considerable creativity. The delish deviled eggs were smoky. The chicken in the chicken and Brie sandwich was also smoked, a breast that was tasty an not dried out. Quite impressive for a sandwich that is usually quite boring. I also always avoid Reubens, but I ended gobbling up half of my SO's pastrami reuben. The bartender said it was his favorite and it was really good. Not sure if pastrami is normally acceptable in a Reuben, but who cares.

The other appetizers: fried pickle and jalapeño slices was well done, and the spring rolls were totally unusual, interesting, fresh and very tasty. Sopaipillas came with a perfect caramel sauce and could be addictive. The Sunday special, seared tuna and wasabi rice, was not up to the rest of the regular menu items.

Another addictive item is the Umami Poblano Fries at the Sunday pop up Six Foot 20 at the heritage Doctor's Lounge.

San Francisco Chowdown Report: Dark Horse Inn and Six Foot 20 in the Excelsior District

Pop up at Doctor's

San Francisco Chowdown Report: Dark Horse Inn and Six Foot 20 in the Excelsior District

Trouble posting multiple images so will try one at a time.

San Francisco Chowdown Report: Dark Horse Inn and Six Foot 20 in the Excelsior District

Let me add a few pix to Melanie's: The two appetizers at Dark Horse and the tacos and the addictive Umami Poblano Fries (a bit hard to photograph in the dark lighting).

Smokestack BBQ [San Francisco]

Next time will give the chopped pork a shot. There was starting to be a line and I didn't want to bother the server to get a taste -- and it wouldn't have been fair after having filled up on the brisket.

What I was trying to say in my post was that the brisket we had was so incredibly good that I couldn't imagine anything else being worth cutting down on a brisket order.

Last night, I did hear from someone else who had tried the brisket shortly after the place opened that theirs was very dry, and some comments on this thread seem to indicate that has happened. All the pieces I saw, cut from different briskets, looked just perfect to me. So, I wonder what might have gone on. All I can say is when the brisket is good at Smokestack it is incredible.

Okonomiyaki: SFBA Dish of the Month August 2014

Namu Gaji (Corner of Dolores and 18th St) introduced me to Okonomiyaki and it is the only one I have had (so far). So, I can't say how authentic it is, but it is so good that it has kept us coming back to Namu Gaji many times. From what I learned in an earlier thread, this appears to be a dish that straddles the straits between SW Japan (Nagasaki) and Korea.

The dish is not easy to describe. Namu Gaji's version comes in a very hot cast iron pan and is kind of a pancake with some oysters, kim chee, sprouts and I am not sure what else in it. On top are bonito flakes that persist in wiggling around sensuously, driven by the heat, for most of the time you are consuming the Oknomiyaki. At the end you get to scrape up the caramelized bits. Whole thing is delicious.

One Namu Gaji Okonomiyaki is just fine for 2. We usually get there early enough (before 630) to order the "happy hour" Korean Beef tacos. With the pickles that is a fine meal polished off next door, if the lines are not too long, with a salted caramel and honey lavender cone at BiRite.

Namu Gaji has lots of other very interesting items, including their Wednesday night KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), an interesting cured salmon and beans salad, a mushroom thingie, ... I was less impressed with the hamburger which is not up to Mission Bowling, for example.

Eating in Season: Squash Blossoms

I don't often get to try these fried flowers in restaurants as they are a home cooking thing we do (now using a zucchini plant that even grows in a pot the City). With a light spicy batter, and some flowers with small baby squashes still attached, (and a couple of margaritas) this is a summer delight. I have stuffed them with things like boursin, but it it is best and lightest unstuffed (IMO).

Another squash flower opportunity is the wonderful Crema de Flores de Calabaza, a soup, which if I recall correctly one can get at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill or Toplobompo in Chicago for which he has a recipe in his book, Mexican Kitchen. Has anyone seen this in a restaurant in the Bay Area. It is classic Mexican and delicious and light?

As I noted in another thread, something quite similar and excellent is served these days at Smokestack in Dogpatch, called Creamed Squash, but without flowers.

Smokestack BBQ [San Francisco]

Brisket needs to be moist (euphemism for fatty), otherwise it is dry. We had the best brisket I have ever had outside of Texas. Smoky and delicious. Needs none of the sauces, and so tasty that sauce is inappropriate. Reminded of Louie Mueller's in Taylor, TX and that's the highest praise I could give. The crust was amazing! I guess this is Kobe beef brisket done right.

The porchetta was OK, but not nearly as good as Roli Roti. I asked for some of the skin and told it was too tough. At Roli Roti, they chop up the skin, which isn't too tough, and it adds flavor and crunch.

The side of "creamed squash" was delicious. I think the squash was grilled and then cooked in a creamy stock. This is really a soup! Reminded me a bit of the recipe in Rick Bayless, Mexican Kitchen for Crema de Flores de Calabaza, but this had no flowers.

Got a taste of the spicy Thai-ish sausage which was OK. Didn't taste the chopped pork, which looked like it has a chance of being OK -- there is a decent NC style vinegar sauce on the tables.

We will be back and will double up on the brisket!

SFBA Dish of the Month (Aug 2014) - Nominations/Voting

Namu Gaji does an Oknomiyaki we think is excellent.

SF Dish of the Month (July 2014) - Nominations/Voting

Ok, it works. Guess I was just too twitchy and hit the number again...

SF Dish of the Month (July 2014) - Nominations/Voting

I tried that... Next time I will try again.

SF Dish of the Month (July 2014) - Nominations/Voting

How does one rescind a vote (a recommend clicked in error)? That has happened to me. Easy to do when you are really trying to click on the number of votes to see who has voted...

Sam's Chowdermobile in Golden Gate Park

I got them on a bad day also a year ago and haven't been back. I suspect they cook up a big batch in the morning. Lobster has to be cooked fresh or it gets tough.

SF Dish of the Month (July 2014) - Nominations/Voting

...and a second Brazilian option


There are several in the area (SF, Palo Alto), and a comparison would be useful, as I have had quite variable results at these places. Sometimes they approach the marvelous and pervasive churrascarias in Rio.

SF Dish of the Month (July 2014) - Nominations/Voting

OK, hyperb... you want Southern Hemisphere. And in view of the World Cup, let's consider Brazilian. Two excellent candidates:

First: FEIJOADA COMPLETA -- the Brasilian national dish, a marvelous black bean dish cooked with a variety of (often including variety) meats and sausage, with sides of greens and farofa. Usually eaten at lunch time on Sunday afternoon after coming in from the beach.

I know of one excellent place to get this in SF: Mozzarella di Bufala in West Portal (a Brazilian run pizza place with a quite good selection of Brazilian dishes). Some local area churrascaria places also offer this, inappropriately, on their buffets.

World Cup 2014 Viewing and Eats

If food is not at issue, Univision is streaming all games (until the last few) free and live -- the iPad has a free app Deportes. Commentary is in Spanish, which is more interesting than the American English commentary, particularly when there is a GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL. And you can supply your own food.

Univision feed also available on web.

Falafel: SFBA Dish of the Month June 2014

Update: the Thursday Liba Falafel location has moved to 650 Townsend, not far away from De Haro, but parking is no longer easy...

The warehouse, whose lot they were using, is being torn down...

Kin Khao - Thai-style Thai in SF

Robert, you prompted a visit to the bible, David Thompson's "Thai Food." To my surprise he describes how to cook a chicken Mussaman curry, apparently Persian in origin hundreds of years ago, as well as a very different, southern Thai, presumably Muslim influenced, beef version. The later is what I mistakenly thought was unique. Never seen anything like his chicken Mussaman recipe in the US. Duck is also a possibility apparently.

What is important here is that each is an entirely different recipe, carefully catering to ingredients and balance. No way would one "sauce" be thrown over variable "protein" options in real Thai kitchens.