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Aatxe review [San Francisco]

While I do love this place, its no replacement for Des Alpes.
15 years later and I'm still in mourning.

Aatxe review [San Francisco]

I live nearby (two blocks away) and this has become my new local favorite. I've actually been 3 times since they opened, and they have only been open 2 weeks.

Overall i think the food is creative, delicious, and inspired. It's informal and therefore a place I can stop by for a drink and a snack, or for a full meal.

All the criticism above is fair. Many portions are small. It's expensive. The Gambas Al Ajillo is way below the quality of the rest of the menu; it's puzzling, this should be delicious and it's not.

But there are things here I love:
-- 50 kinds of gin! I love gin and have been waiting for The Gin Era to begin. This seems to be the harbinger. I've been trying some wonderful new types. Always on the rocks or shaken, with NO VERMOUTH. :-) I'm liking "St. Georges Terroir" especially.
-- Rye toast with chocolate & Chorize -- yes this was amazing. It's been a different variation each of the 3 times, and it's always the winner among the 4. You can order it alone as well
-- Charred Spring Onion -- a revelation. I had this twice, and both times it was different. The first time was better, it was all onion. The second time it was half onion, half lettuce, and the onion is better. Still, amazing.
-- Salt Cod, Peas, pickled young almond salad -- probably my favorite. Absolutely great
-- albondigas -- one time it was rabbit, another lamb. Delicious both ways.
-- pork belly and charred siena -- also has squid. Fantastic fantastic dish
-- manzanilla clams verde -- this was cold, in a jar, served with bread, and was delicious

Anyhow, go and try it. Order anything that sounds good, and if it's not the gambas al ajillo, it will probably be great.

Anything high end (old, or new and upgraded) that's worth it?

I have pretty much bowed out of high-end SF dining after too many disappointments. I'll spend the money if it's worth it, but between Kusakabe, Coi, Benu, Saison (in the old space), Meadowood, Sons & Daughters, and Quince, I am tired of having to go neurotic in an attempt to acquire reservations, spend a fortune and then feel ripped off.

The only places on my high end list right now are La Folie, Atelier Crenn and Wakuriya. (Maruya was great but then the chefs left. Oops!)

This is all compounded by the fact that I've had the good fortune to go to Seattle several times in the last 6 months, where I've had meal after meal of delightful, creative, easy-to-reserve, well-priced food. (Crush, Spur Gastropub, Shiro's, Sushi Kappo Tamura, and more middle-end Talluluah's, Chavez, the list goes on) Seriously, I'm like ready to move there.

So at home, I've been sticking with worthy, reliable, non-high-end places.

Therefore, I have not ventured out of late. My birthday is in June. Can anybody convince me NOT to go back to La Folie or Atelier Crenn? Anything new? Anything much improved? No fair saying Coi is great if you liked it before. If the place is old, they have to have changed your mind in recent months!

Maruya on 16th, best sushi in SF?

How was it? I've been wondering how it is with the new chefs myself...

Meat CSAs

I was in a meat CSA program with 4505 meats for a while, delivery was done through my old company, but I believe you can do it directly through them. Their product is impeccable. The box was a bit pricey and at this point I just go to the store for what I want, but I would recommend it if a surprise box is what you want...

Jardiniere not just downhill but rock bottom [San Francisco]

I went there a year or two ago. Shadow of its former self. I did not have the service issues cited here, but I'll still never go again.

Which is a shame. When they first opened they were my favorite for a year or so... my #1 spot in all the city...

Hot zabaglione?

I saw the headline and immediately thought Jackson Fillmore. I have not been there in quite sometime. But to me, theirs may be the best hot zabaglione I've had anywhere. The gold standard.

Maruya -- any reports after the departure of Hide-san and Masa-san? [San Francisco]

This was my favorite in SF. A little scared to gamble the bucks and go back after the big shakeup.

Anybody been? What did you think?

Sushi Ginza Onodera, Honolulu

Thanks, killersmile!

Oct 31, 2014
pauliface in Hawaii

Sushi Ginza Onodera, Honolulu

Wow! Sounds great! So...
I looked you up because of your excellent comments on an SF thread I started.

And as it turns out, I'm going to be in Honolulu over Christmas.
We've actually reserved all our nights there, but it sounds like we should definitely try to go here.

Tell me, if you are familiar with them, which of the following places would you replace with Sushi Ginza Onadera?

12/22 - mon - 8PM -- Izakaya Naru -- 808-951-0510
12/23 - tue -- 7:30PM -- Mitch's Sushi -- 808-837-7774
12/24 - wed - 7PM - Sushi Izakaya Gaku -- 808-589-1329
12/25 - Thu - 8PM - Nanzan Griogrio - (808) 524-0141
12/26 - Fri -- 8PM -- roy's Waikiki 808-923-7697

My current suspected ranking from best to worst is:

Sushi Izakaya Gaku (eaten there before, love it)
Nanzan Girogiro
Izakaya Naru
Mitch's Sushi
Roy's Waikiki

What would you say?

Oct 31, 2014
pauliface in Hawaii

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Okay, markambrose73. If you are recommending Shunji in LA and also saying Hide's omakase was the best in SF, then I think we would get along.
Those were the two best Japanese dining experiences I had in California last year.

Soo I am going to take your opinion very seriously.

Where would YOU suggest we go here in SF?

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Question about Akiko's:

Is it Japanese owned, and are the chefs Japanese?

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Thanks all so much for the suggestions. At this point it's a tossup between Sushi Sho and Akiko's. Akiko's will probably win, because my husband is working in SF until 7. But I would really like to try both!


Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

I *love* Yume. Their large scallop was especially memorable. It's been several years, so I have not been there when the son was there.

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Okay. If we are talking about "treating" fish whether it be aging or applying sauces, I am not against this in principal. However, I went to Sushi Tanuki Shingo in Tokyo last year and Tanuki-San makes Kusakube seem like a charlatan. Tanuiki-san also does very few fish as a 'plain cut.' But for about 20% more ($225 each out the door instead of Kusakube's $190), we had what seemed like an endless flow of amazing fish, twice as much sake, and a rollicking good time with the chef. Here's what I wrote on the Japan board after going there:

"Sushi Tanuki Shingo: it's like going to the aquarium, except you get to eat everything! Seriously though, Tanuki-San is a delightful man, a complete maniac in the best way. He has deep knowledge and puts incredible thought into how he prepares each bite of each fish. He has a glowing, joyous presence. Unbelievably delicious, great variety, I give this place my highest rating."

I know it's not fair to compare SF to Tokyo, but if you're gonna go all pretencious and expensive, and have the waitress say things like "we pour the sake overflowing in kaiseki style" (which is not really true, especially when pouring into small glasses from a bottle purchased whole) and "here is a finger towel so you can eat your sushi in tokyo style", then you are asking for it.

Sorry to hear about Koo. I've only been there when Kiyoshi-san was there. Mind you, I should be clear: the fish at Kusakube was technically better than Koo. But he prices accordingly and it's all still quite delicious, and he's a personable guy.

When all is said and done, we've discussed it and I think we'll give Akiko a try. And save Sushi Sho for next time.

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

OP here. I love Kiss. I have been there several times. But yes, od_sf has it right.

That said, the tiny sashimi and sushi courses at kiss are perfect little jewels and I love them.

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Okay. I think we may actually make a trip out of the city to try Sushi Sho. I have been hearing abou them for so long!

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Heh. Well, given today's news, I guess Michelin disagrees with me on Kusakabe.

But then they disagree with me on Meadowood & Benu as well....

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

I used to go to Sushi Ran long ago from time to time. I always thought it was very good but never quite understood why people thought it was at such a superhigh level.

In the east bay, hmm, I would like to try Sushi Sho.
I have been to Yume, which I thought was excellent.

But generally speaking, I do prefer to stay within SF when going out to dinner. I commute and so I like to do my playing on home turf.

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

Earth. I left Venus as a child.

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

How funny. I just told my friend I was going to take them to Koo instead. I have now had 2 great experiences with Kiyoshi-san.

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

It's not like I'm unaccustomed to slow Japanese pacing or Japanese portions. I totted up the total food:
Over the course of 2 hours, I received:
7 pieces of nigiri, 4 sashimi bites (i.e., 2 pieces cut in handy halves), 1 cup superb soup, 1 sub-golfball size croquette, 1 plate with 5 assorted bites.

I repeat, most flavors were delicious. But for me any restaurant is about balance and value and pacing etc. This just doesn't match my expectation based on places I have enjoyed in the past.

P.S. I'm no fan of Benu either. :-)

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

You are not helping by reminding me of all that is in LA. Grrr.


Kabuto -- was once a favorite, have not been in a while, mostly because I prefer to make a reservation and they don't take 'em (and they are not so brilliant that I want to wait). Never tried Sushi Sam's or Akane, but really I'd like to stay in the confines of SF at least for this next outing.

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

The soup was truffles and mushrooms was a highlight.
I think maybe you are right; no truffle oil on the sushi. Will edit that out.

I will research Saru. Thanks for that!

Longtime resident at a loss for a favorite sushi place... Kusakabe a disappointment...

I just tried Kusakabe last night and was sorely disappointed. Everything was delicious, but:
-- very little food for $100. If it were all put down at once I could have eaten it in 5 minutes. This by itself would not be sufficient to eliminate, but..
-- the pacing is SO slow. One piece at a time. Meted out among the diners. The food comes slower than you can process it, so you literally get hungrier the longer you stay. With everybody at the sushi bar in this configuration, it kind of felt like communion distribution at the Church of Mr. Bumble. I actually went for pizza after.
-- "kaiseki" style meal with no dessert (was presented with a menu to purchase, however)? or ending tea?
-- most bites were sauced. The flavors were great. But I believe the fish of very high quality and if so I like some tastes to be more pure. Admittedly a style issue, but this could never be a favorite sushi bar for me because of this
-- you need to eat the full omakase menu first, then they bring you the a la carte menu, which has *only* individual pieces of fish at about $8-$14 a piece. So it's not like you can get something cooked to fill you up at the end. Rather, you can extend the snail's pace drip of tiny bites.
-- they asked at the beginning if we had any favorites so they could tailor our experience. I believe we mentioned uni, mackerel, bonito, ika, and tako. I saw some of these floating around, but none were presented, so why ask? The exception was that one course (the Hassan, which if you know what that is, this course should not have been called that), had a tiny bite of tako, but that was given to all I believe. When they described it, they said it was 'live octopus'. Now, when I've seen a restaurant with live octopus, they've got the whole thing and tend to be generous with it, because, well, the octopus is only live for a day and they've got a whole octopus. But if you multiplied our bite by all the diners that evening, I don't think it could have possibly approached one tentacle's worth of meat. So either they are throwing out most of the octopus, eating it afterwards, serving it to someone else, or incorrectly classifying what they are serving.

I had intended to return in a month with friends, but I do not want to return. And so, where to go? I feel like I've whittled down my list and have nothing exciting...

Ino: Okay, so for a long time it was Ino. Still like it, but owing to the owner's personality, it's not a great place for a joyful evening with friends.

I loved Maruya, but Hide-san is gone and the time I sat in front of Masa was not the same.

Kiji in the mission is good, but my second visit not as good as my first. Truffle oil gets used a bit here as well.

Not a fan of Ozumo, never have been.

Koo is nice. I may take my friends to Koo.
Or I may leave the sushi realm and expand to other Japanese which opens up the options.

Any suggestions?
Purist delicious sushi? Can be expensive but I have to feel like I'm not getting ripped off.

Recipes from the Grotta Azura (Manhattan)

Lobster Fra Diavolo

1 large lobster (2 lbs)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil, chopped
1 Tbl parsley, chopped
1 can tomatoes (24 oz)
salt & pepper to taste

Place lobster on back and split. Remove the small sac behind the head. Separate claws from body and crack. Separate tail from the body. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. When the oil is hot, add the lobster meat side down. Simmer for 10 minutes. Turn lobster, add garlic and cook until garlic is golden brown. Add tomatoes, parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and cook slowly for 15 minutes. Serve very hot.
Variation: Add crushed red pepper to your taste if you prefer it hot.


Spedini a la Romana

2 slices of white bread
3 slices mozzarella, cut to size of bread
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten

Remove crust from bread. Cut bread in hals and place mozzarella on one slice of bread. Then continue doing this until all bread and mozzarella is used. You will have 4 layers of bread and 3 layers of mozzarella. Secure with skewers. Dip in flour, then egg. Do this 3 or 4 times ending with flour. Deep fry in hot oil 400 degrees until golden brown.

Oct 10, 2014
pauliface in Home Cooking

Appeals court deals blow to Drakes Bay Oyster Co.

Too bad he didn't find an oyster bed with rent control.

How often do you get a bad meal in the SF area?

What defines a bad meal? Are we talking absolute food or relative value?

I walked out of Sons & Daughters 1.5 years ago feeling ripped off and angry. But if it had cost $25 I would not have felt that way.

If we're talking inedible, like I would not eat there even if the food were free, I would nominate Hide Sushi around the corner from me.

Maruya on 16th, best sushi in SF?

This means I may not return. I went twice, sat in front of each chef once, and the Hide experience was far better.

Golden gifts for a 50th anniversary

As I understand it, it's a toss-up on whether alcohol is okay during chemo. If so, in moderation, then:
Some types of sake have gold flakes in it. True Sake has at least one that was surprisingly tasty considering that I thought it would be just a gimmick.

Or you could go to Gold Mirror for Italian food....

And See's Candy has both some gold-foil-wrapped candies and also I believe golden boxes in which you can put an assortment.

Also, I have some tea from Japan with gold flakes in it, but I don't know if you can find such a thing in SF

Or, you can order some edible gold leaf (looks like amazon sells it) and apply that to some chocolates yourself...