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Excellent szechuan in San Ramon

Weelll but does one really need Sichuan chops in San Ramon?

Have been slurping noodles at Noodle Theory and eating momos at Hamro Anagan courtesy of the board - in other words enjoying a lazy summer!

Jul 17, 2012
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Low key & affordable French bistro in SF Bay area similar to Cafe Presse in Seattle?

I love le Charm and think that they have the best bistro food in the Bay Area (and risotto to die for despite the dish being vegetarian). That being said, at least weekend dinners are busy and full and not a place to read a newspaper.

Jul 17, 2012
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Excellent szechuan in San Ramon

We went to Yiping to give it a try since we like Sichuan Fortune House a lot. It was rather disappointing in that while it had some of the sichuan specialties, the flavors were average at best - does not have nearly the level of complexity of real sichuan places, some dishes had an unpleasant Americanized sweet undertone, and the red oil in dishes like Hong You Chao Shou was very subpar. In addition, the servers all looked like high school kids and did not know the food - we ordered the chili fish soup - you know, China Village's specialty - and the server did not know to scoop out the chilis before serving - Allen the owner was there and truly horrified :-) and scooped out the chilis himself with the server girl standing there watching him.

I asked him how the business was going etc, and he said Sichuan Fortune House's chef is calssically trained in Sichuan cuisine and he also implied that the chef has an equity stake, so the restaurant is stable and does not need much oversight from him. The San Ramon place has much higher cost structure and the chef he hired for the time being is Cantones (? Can't remember exactly) and the flavors are good enough for the San Ramon clientele but not what he would choose to eat as a Chong Qing native).

Our conclusion was that for us, there is no reason to go to Yi
Ping over Sichuan Fortune House.

Jul 16, 2012
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

aji amarillo

Mi Tierra market in Berkeley has the paste as well as frozen whole peppers.

Jun 30, 2012
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

bye bye black cod?

Berkeley Bowl used to carry them at $13.99 (early 2011) but has been $19.99 most of this year.

Berkeley Bowl
2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

Nov 08, 2011
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Magic Curry Kart sauces at Whole Foods

I have not tried Mae Ploy, so would be interested in others' views. After years of putting up with it, I have decided that Mae Ploy is so-so - particularly their green curry paste which is very one-dimensional. I have since switched to Thai Kitchen for the time being, but I'm always interested in good sauces.

Thai Kitchen Restaurant
538 E Cotati Ave, Cotati, CA 94931

Oct 20, 2010
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Berkeley: Everest Cafe – A lovely Indian restaurant that is the pinnacle of Bay Area Nepalese cuisine

Many thanks for another great recommendation from Chowhound! We went last night for dinner, and thought that their flavors were great.

We had the following:
- Dal soup: we did not order this but they brought it out as comp. I thought this was very well-done given that I have never liked dal
- chicken soup: this was a clear soup with a few very small pieces of tandoori chicken. The soup was tangy and a little spicy and very interesting.
- naan: the bread was good, but my favorite naans tend to be a little dough-ier than their version
- chilli chicken: I think this is an Indian Chinese dish. The sauce was spicy and sweet and very much to my SO's liking; I thought the texture of the chicken was fantastic - one of the best anywhere - a must-have
- shrimp biryani: the basmati rice had a very nice complex flavor, almost smoky

Apparently the family that owns/runs the restaurant are from Nepal, and used to own a place in Colorado, and then Mount Everest Cafe in Berkeley before selling a few years ago. I found their flavors to be excellent, and hope that more people discover this gem!

Feb 07, 2010
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Thai Khao soy in the bay area?

Having had the real thing in Chiang Mai, we have also been on the lookout for Khao Soy. The cookbook True Thai by Victor Sodsook has an excellent version - it's also easy to make and it's our go-to dinner party dish!

Oct 13, 2009
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Anyone been to the new Bottega Ristorante in Yountville?

We made it to Bottega for dinner. In general, we liked the decor and and found the food to be very flavorful, although various dishes were oversalted, a rare complaint for a salt-lover like me!

We started with the daily special, which was bigeye tuna sashimi and separately salmon tartare served on a salt brick - literally - with a mini watercress salad. The tuna was fantastically fresh and the salmon was also excellent.

We had the ricotta gnocchi and the clams/sausage taglierini. The gnocchi had the most amazing texture - literally feather-light and melted away in your mouth. The taglierini's sauce was excellent (although salty) - the sausage bits were tough in texture, but added great depth to the dish. The side of garlic spinach was fresh and tasty, though again too salty (we couldn't finish).

We ended with the chocolate caramel torte, which was good, though a little tough. The espresso icecream on top was fantastic.

All in all, high-quality flavors, though the heavy hand with salt was somewhat disappointing. Chiarello himself was greeting diners in the dining room so I assume that the food is what it is meant to be.

Aug 10, 2009
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Chai Thai Noodles (Oakland) Thai House Express chef alert

We finally made it to Chai Thai a couple of weekends ago, and I thought that this was another gem that I would not have known without Chowhound!

We had the pork leg stew noodles (flat wide rice noodles), the crab noodles, and the barbecued pork neck appetizer. The crab noodles were the weakest of the three to me - a bit orange-y and not particularly interesting. The pork leg noodles were wonderful - the broth is very aromatic and the pickled veggie adds great complexity. But the best of the night was the pork neck dish - the pork pieces had a wonderful texture - not sure how else to describe it but to say that the pieces were tender yet with a good bite - excellent. Thanks everyone for the rec!

Aug 10, 2009
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Asuka Ramen, Bush Street, San Francisco

Thanks for the postings! We were going to ACT and decided to try out Asuka based on this thread. We had Tonkotsu, Tantanmien (spicy miso), and poke, and the verdict is thumbs up.

The tonkotsu broth was milky and good (though not fatty like Santa's), meaty in flavor and I found my lips getting sticky probably from the gelatin in really porky broth. The tantanmien was good as well - the broth had a sesame-oil flavor and not very miso-y, with fresh spinach leaves - the only complaint is it could be thicker - we found a corn starch ball that did not quite melt. The noodles had good bite, and the bamboo shoots were tasty. The portions are large for the normal size, and positively humongous for the super size. For someone who prides on finishing every last drop of broth for all ramen outings, we could not finish the normal size and had to leave about half of the broth of the super size, which is a first!

The poke was very good - cool cubes of tuna in a spicy sesame oil "dressing" with very thin daikon sticks and seawood salad on the bottom with little caviar like fish eggs on tops - good till the last bite!

Unfortunately prime time Saturday night and we were the only diners for the duration of our visit. My pet peeve has always been Asian places that are more downmarket than they could've been due to the complete lack of decor, and Asuka is no exception. The aforementioned food pictures have got to go, and painting the walls something other than the pale lime green would help, as would dimming the lights, and losing the KFOG background music.

In any event, while their food is good enough to stay, I am worried that having no diners on Saturday night does not bode well for longevity.

Jun 07, 2009
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Bagel suggestions in berkeley/oakland area

I second Posh - love the texture of their sesame bagel. Village Market in Upper Rockridge and Berkeley Bowl also carry them.

Jun 03, 2009
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Sea Salt

We just went to Sea Salt for the first time. Menu must have changed, as there is no entree above $15. We had two items from the bar menu, fried oysters and sweet Maine shrimp, as well as clams and fish and chips for entrees. I could not believe how many shrimp we got for $4, and they were excellent, though they did come in shells. The clams and fish are both fresh, though the clams are tiny (meat is half the size of a dime), and the fish batter is rather blah. They comped dessert on account of us having to wait, which was very nice. I should also mention that the bread is very good. In general, we found Sea Salt to be good value for what you get, and would go back again.

Jan 17, 2009
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Hiros is now Rikyu

We went back today and everything was as pristine as last time. This is absolutely one of the best places for traditional sushi. However, the dining room was largely empty at prime time on Saturday night - very distressing to see, particularly with much less memorable places such as Garibaldi right across the street and Uzen a couple blocks up always bustling. I hope that the word gets out soon on Rikyo. If you have not yet been, please give this place a try.

Jan 10, 2009
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Has anyone tried the new Chez Papa Resto in the Mint Plaza?

We went for Saturday dinner and it was a wonderful experience - albeit a pricey one. The service WAS excellent as other hounds mentioned. We had the Kampachi Crudo, the Monkfish Boullabaisse, the Dorade with Sungold Tomatoes, and split the profiteroles. Everything was well-executed (though no to-die-for moment). The best was the shellfish stock they used for the Boullabaisse - arguably the best I have had anywhere.

Sep 14, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

The best Paella in the Bay Area

In addition to B44, I have also been to Iberia in Menlo Park and Cascal in Mountain View. Iberia is very old school, poor service and really over-priced for what they do IMHO. I like Cascal a lot - contemporary and excellent food. They do black paella which I love, and they use broken up noodles in some of their paellas, but you can request to substitute rice instead.

Sep 04, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

New Restaurant in Berkeley Report - Anh Hong (long)

We went to Anh Hong for Saturday night dinner. The place was perhaps a third full. I liked the high ceiling and tiled floor, though the beer signs were tacky and should be removed.

The meal was so-so. Not wanting to have quite so much beef, we opted for a la carte dishes
- the asparagus crab soup (good consistency, though a bit like egg drop soup in terms of flavor; the asparagus was out of a can and nasty-tasting.
- the chicken wing apetizer - despite what the waitress said, it was roasted rather than fried, which is a plus. The sauce was a tad on the sweet side for my taste, but the dish was good overall
- shrimp with lemongrass sauce - the sauce was quite good, though the shrimp was overcooked and rubbery
- chicken and shrimp clay pot - the flavor was ok and the matsutake mushroom pieces were quite good, though overall it needed something to make it sparkle.

Given the dishes were average, and that the menu was quite limited and lacking in imagination, I don't think we will be going back any time soon.

Aug 03, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Hiros is now Rikyu

Thanks for the reviews, which piqued our interest and prompted us to try Rikyu. It was wonderful!

We focused on the raw items, and had tuna poke, ocean trout, salmon, sea eel and tai red snapper nigiri, and spider roll and rock and roll. Everything was sparkling and very fresh. The tuna poke had little jalapeno and cucumber pieces that gave it a very refreshing taste. The ocean trout, salmon and the rock and roll were probably the best we have had - creamy texture and pristine flavor. The spider roll was excellent - less-than-fresh softshell crabs can be sea-y some times but not here - crunchy and tasty. The only thing we were not very keen on was the tai nigiri with shiso leaves, but I think it had more to do with the type of fish and the fact that I am not wild about the shiso flavor.

Unfortunately, it does not appear as if business has picked up significantly since the May reviews. At prime time on Saturday, we were one of three tables occupied (though a couple of other groups came in during the course of the dinner). The chef specifically stopped by to say hi. Uzen the next block over had three times the number of diners, but Rikyu's sushi is the best we have had in East Bay, and top-notch in the Bay Area. I hope that more diners will find this place and give it a try!

Jul 27, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Where to Get Duck Breast in East Bay?

Thanks all - this is the reason I love the Chowhound community!

Yes, I was thinking fresh or frozen duck breast, as opposed to smoked or confit. Several markets mentioned here are very easy for me to go to - the Village Market, the Rockridge Market Hall and the Montclair farmers' market, so I will keep my eyes open. I will also make note of the rest in case I am in the area.

Thanks again!

Jul 24, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Wuxi-style XLB?

LOL. Wuxi is my home town and I grew up on XLB and won ton soups. How jealous of you! Have some wontons for me - the best and not to be found overseas!

Jul 23, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Where to Get Duck Breast in East Bay?

Hi all. I frequent 99 Ranch, Berkeley Bowl and Safeway for my grocery shopping, but have not seen duck breast in any store - 99 comes closest with duck legs and whole duck. Where can I go in East Bay to get duck breast on a regular basis?


Jul 23, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Great Szechuan (Richmond)

Thanks for the note. How does the cabbage compare to the China Village version?

Jul 22, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Pho in Concord area?

Having since tried all aforementioned pho places, I have decided that my personal favorite is Kevin's Noodle House. Classic cheap and cheerful pho house with good tendon (my favorite ingredient).

Jul 17, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Landmark Peruvian Cevichería to open at Pier 1-1/2

Yes, we did have Tiradito at Mochica, but in general I thought Limon's various ceviches were slightly better. But both pale in comparison to what you can get in Lima so I am still searching!

Jun 25, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Landmark Peruvian Cevichería to open at Pier 1-1/2

That is wonderful news - thanks for the post. I hope that they will have more choices of Tiradito, the creamy style of ceviche, which is excellent in Peru but tends to be under-covered in Peruvian restaurants here.

Jun 24, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Jackets req'd at Cyrus for Dinner?

No. We recently went for Saturday dinner and while there were many jackets present, overall the dining room did not feel stuffy, and my party had dress shirts (no ties) and did not feel out of place at all.

Jun 18, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

"Authentic" Kung Pao in SF?

Dragon 2000 in Walnut Creek has the best Kung Pao Shrimp. You have to specify that you want the Chinese version, not the American version, even if you are ordering in Chinese. The American version has random veggies, and the Chinese version has smoky dry chilis, fabulously crunchy stir-fried shrimp, and peanuts. We have not been able to go to Dragon without ordering this dish!

Jun 02, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

cyrus restaurant

Opentable does require a credit card in order to make a reservation, and is not specific on what the cancellation policy is BEFORE you have to put in the credit card number. However, after putting in the credit card number, on the confirmation page, it indicates that the restaurant has a 24-hr cancellation policy, with cancellations within 24 hours triggering a $50 per person charge.

Apr 16, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recent visits to Da Lian in Berkeley?

All this chatter piqued my interest so we went last night for dinner.

The restaurant was only a quarter full on a Saturday night, the host was shocked when I spoke Chinese to him, and the menu was very blah - I started to have a bad feeling about having chosen the restaurant. However, the three dishes we ordered turned out to exceed our (now diminished) expectations. The Zha Jiang Mian (bean paste noodles) was excelent - just the right amount of bean paste, pork slivers and cucumber slivers - both the topping and the noodles are better than the Korean version at Yet Nal Za Zang in Oakland. The smoked pork was billed as a house specialty, and it was good - smoked lean pork slices stir-fried with cabbage, leek and dry chili pods which added a nice little kick to it. However, China Village's stir-fried cabbage had a more interesting sauce, and their twice-cooked pork was smokier with more tender meat. We also ordered the Sizzling Chicken, which had high-quality meat that was very tender, though the flavor was rather familiar.

While these three dishes were not bad, we will likely not go back any time soon. The restaurant has somewhat of an identity crisis in my opinion. It is not a true regional Chinese restaurant - aside from the dishes we ordered and a couple other items (scallion bread, oyster claypot), the menu is stuffed with chow mien and broccoli beef type of items - I don't think we will be able to come up with three new regional specialties. It simply does not take enough culinary risk to warrant repeat visits from Chinese food aficionados, when compared with Great China just down the street, Shanghai in Oakland Chinatown, and great Sichuan places such as China Village, the place in the 99 Ranch mall and Sichuan Fortune House in Pleasant Hill. On the other hand, despite the updated decor (nice wall color, tiled floor and dimmed lighting), the menu is too worn and plain to attract generic American diners when Shen Hua is just a quick hop away. All in all, I am not really surprised by the largely empty dining room.

Apr 13, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area

Food at SFO (airport) before flying to Europe?

Yes, I almost always have Fung Lum, and the one time I tried Harbor Village it was disappointed. Though I have had some suspicion that all the airport places share the same cook :-), at least it seems the udon soups in the different Japanese places all taste the same.
At Fung Lum, I usually have either the big wonton soup (no noodles), or the big wonton soup with roast duck (it's not on the menu, but they will do it if I ask), or the congee which is only available at the International Terminal location.

Apr 08, 2008
Maple in San Francisco Bay Area