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veggie dan dan noodles now standard at Z & Y? [San Francisco]

today's lunch at z & y was pretty good. i like their spicy pig ears, also ordered spicy dumplings, eggplant in garlic sauce (fish fragrant?) and the dan dan noodles. i haven't been to z & y in some time, but i definitely remember it being topped with the ground pork, as is more or less standard for this dish. but when i tossed the noodles with the sauce i noticed it was meatless. my friend said they put the pork in the sauce on the bottom but i scooped a spoonful and we examined and saw chopped peanuts, garlic, maybe ya cai, but no meat. we flagged a server down and asked about it, and she told us that was the way they make it, with no meat. i said that i have definitely had it with that meat in that very restaurant several times, and she said, "that's the old way we made it. now there's no meat." i found that to be incredibly disappointing, but then we just asked if we could have the noodles WITH the meat, and she said she could bring it on the side, which she promptly did, and we enjoyed our noodles prepared as they should be. well i think their noodles are a little bit too soft but otherwise really well flavored.

are their standard dan dan noodles really vegetarian now? was she improvising a lie on the spot? are they cutting corners and costs by getting rid of the already rather modest amount of meat that tops this dish? downhill alert?

i had the dan dan noodles from their sister restaurant chilli house a few weeks ago, and they definitely came with meat but were otherwise identical.

they're...supposed to come with meat! anyways how have they been serving up your noodles?

Have you ordered spicy hot food and then complained about it being too hot?

while in college in washington state i went down to portland with some friends. we went to a forgotten indian restaurant. i had previously been living in korea and was having a hard time adjusting to the general lack of not just heat, but of flavor offered in olympia's restaurants in the late 90s.

so i'm in portland and it's still the pacific northwest. i'm sick of being damp and cold all the time, i'm in an indian restaurant, and i want some heat. so i order and specify SPICY. our server (a cheerful young blonde, which i took as a sign that the food might be spiced for portland's lightest hued residents) asked me if i was sure, because the chef cooked SPICY food. i didn't believe her and insisted i wanted it SPICY.

well, she was right. that curry burned. my tongue felt like it had been branded. it was the spiciest thing i had ever eaten in my life. it was just too much. but...it was exactly what i had asked for. emphatically asked for. so i kept eating.

and then my pupils dilated and i got high. i felt great! until the next day.

now i live in san francisco, where i can readily find spicy food to my liking if that is what i'm in the mood for. but back then in the pacific northwest, whether thai, indian...i don't think there was any mexican in olympia then...everything you would expect to have some heat had none. smiles and promises, but no heat. except for that one place in portland that i'll never remember the name of, where one chef either cooked that way for real, or decided to teach me a lesson. but i've never made a point of stressing how spicy i want my food since. it's just too subjective and unpredictable. i just try to remember which places cook to my palate and stick with them.

May 19, 2015
augustiner in General Topics

Cantonese Barbecue @ Lin's Cafe | Excelsior District - San Francisco

walked by today wanting some roast meats but it has been replaced by aloha hawaiian bbq.

Is tipping now a insult to waitpeople w/new living wage pay hike?

that's a more than fair question. kitchen staff usually work longer, harder shifts more frequently and don't get tipped out. it has never been a fair system and i can't account for its reasoning. but as far as suggesting that a paradigm shift has occurred where servers across the bay area are spurning and spitting at their tips because they suddenly find them not only unnecessary but also insulting is simply ludicrous.

Mar 26, 2015
augustiner in Not About Food

Is tipping now a insult to waitpeople w/new living wage pay hike?

absolutely not. there are places that are integrating a gratuity into the total bill, but there is no way servers and bartenders can make a living wage without tips. again, absolutely not.

Mar 25, 2015
augustiner in Not About Food

Safe SF bar crawl for newly-minted 21-yr-old?

i have a lot of experience with 21st birthdays. they do not take in views. they get really drunk. they don't savor drinks, they pound them. often in shot glasses. they dance around. they annoy. nevertheless, it is a rite of passage, and the mission is actually pretty ideal just by the sheer number of bars over a wide swath of the city catering to different crowds. honestly, forget the restaurants. they'll eat, yes, but they won't really care where. probably late night, probably from a taqueria. there are two BART stations and though gang violence is real, you're in much more danger as a pedestrian crossing the street in many neighborhoods in this city than of catching a stray bullet in the mission.

Safe SF bar crawl for newly-minted 21-yr-old?

foot traffic-wise, the mission is probably the best bet. plenty of places to drink and eat within walking distance. as far as "safe" i think this is one of those situations where you steel yourself and assume everything went fine, but don't call until at least noon the next day. now, bear in mind that a 21 year old on his/her birthday is generally a nightmare for most bartenders, so please remind your daughter to a) not expect free drinks b) don't drink on an empty stomach c) keep her own eyes on her phone and various possessions d) remember that some people are born predators that actively look for incredibly drunk people to take advantage of and last but oh so not least: tip her bartender!

Banh Mi Cafes in the Tenderloin [San Francisco]

the ones i've had from sing sing (most recently about two weeks ago) look very much like the photos you posted in 2009. i like them well enough that i have not been exploring other options in the neighborhood. they keep well, too. that last one i ordered after a noodle breakfast at tuyet mai, and a few hours later it still made a fine lunch. but i had my first sing sing banh mi in 2014, so i can't account for flavor discrepancy over the years. they're $4 now, and there's a xiu mai and i believe a chicken option as well. in fact i think i know what's for lunch today.

New location in tenderloin for Ha Nam Ninh [San Francisco]

ate lunch here today and tried the hu tieu nam vang dry style as well. this past weekend i was in stockton and ended up eating noodle soup for breakfast at a cambodian restaurant with a cambodian friend. it was listed as phnom penh noodles in english, and came with rice noodles, slices of pork, exactly one shrimp, one slice of fish cake, and one piece of squid. we ate them with...what are those chinese crullers called? you tiao? it was a satisfying breakfast and it seemed familiar. realizing that SF's only cambodian restaurant doesn't serve this, i did some research and found that this dish is hu tieu nam vang in vietnamese restaurants, of which SF has plenty. we we headed here to see how it compares.

we tried it dry style, and my cambodian friend was a little thrown by the dipping sauce. my noodles were clumped together, and it took a bit of tugging and pulling after i dumped the broth over them to loosen them up. but then with a spoonful of the sauce, and a dab of a chili sauce (house made?) i found myself enjoying a very tasty bowl of noodles, with fresh ingredients. i'm glad i was timid with the dark sauce. i wouldn't have wanted my dish to taste too sweet. "different, but good," was my friend's verdict.

i want to go back and try it "wet", and we're planning on going to to hai ky mi gia next to see how they do it.

i saw a plate of rather impressive looking chicken wings brought to another table, and i'm curious about those, too. who's had them?

Dungeness Crab Prices 2014/2015 Season

$4.99 per lb today at sun fat in the mission. mine is about 2.5 lbs.

Udon Mugizo (Japantown, San Francisco)

had a karaoke night out and needed some starch to soak up some booze. i ordered the shrimp tempura udon, and my friend had the nabeyaki udon with kimchi, egg and chicken. there does seem to be some difference between the broths, but i wonder if was just added flavor from the extra ingredients cooked in the nabe. his arrived at a much hotter temperature than mine.

i'm beginning to think that udon just isn't my style. the noodles seemed to have a bit more texture than the other offerings in japantown. they weren't gummy, but they were still soft, fat noodles. the broth was decent, but as i said, my friend's was better. tempura was two shrimp, a kabocha slice, sweet potato, and broccoli with a slightly thick batter that was a tad greasy.

i liked it. but it made me want to go back to ippuku in berkeley for the only fresh soba i know of in the bay area (monday and tuesdays only) with excellent tempura. and yakitori, of course. if i'm in japantown i'll go back but i think i've realized that udon just isn't my favorite noodle.

What happened to spinach in recent years?

try korean markets. i believe atlanta has a few. months ago here in san francisco i searched in vain for spinach for a day. piles of it at a korean market the next day.

there were four kinds of kale and at least three colors of chard at a local whole foods, but only baby spinach, which i believe should be kept in a dark corridor out of sight.

Aug 28, 2014
augustiner in General Topics

Top pho in the Tenderloin (SF)?

i've enjoyed the southern styles at pho 2000, especially when ordered with the fresh, flat rice noodles, and they're open until 8:30 PM.

Ippuku Teuchi on Monday and Tuesday evenings with limited yakitori menu available - how limited? [Berkeley]

after reading that teuchi soba was back on the menu on monday and tuesday evenings, i headed there tonight with a few friends. i managed one soba lunch back when it was offered on friday and saturdays, and mourned its passing. i love soba noodles, and i don't think there is anywhere else locally that serves it handmade.

but there was more than soba. there is no online menu, at least not on their site, so i'm paraphrasing at best. we had

hiya yakko, cold tofu served in a soy-based sauce, maybe ponzu? showered with bonito. good, but i think i would have preferred a softer tofu.

nanban shishito, cold savory, sweet, and vinegary shishito peppers, with thin slices of onion and shiitake mushroom. i thought this had a nice balance between sweet, savory, tart, plus the mild bitterness of these chiles and the unpredictable hot one or two in the bunch.

yakitori:

deba/teba/wing, the partially deboned wings were fine. first bite was underseasoned but the rest was tasty and juicy.

"thigh oyster", was very straighforward, juicy, dark meat. the "oysters," i suppose being the gems usually plucked from a carcass by a deserving cook.

neck, i was expecting...well i wasn't sure. i was thinking of the spiny necks that come with whole chickens and turkeys, which i usually think of as a cook's treat. stringy, delicious meat stripped off the spine of the neck. but this wasn't like that. it was deboned, skewered, but seemed like whole small pieces of meat bathed in a delicious tare, and pressed around the skewer in an almost half moon shape. i'm not doing this piece justice, and i didn't take pictures out of respect of the restaurant's no smart phone request. but just go eat it.

breast rolled around shiso ume filling, was dry to me, and i don't see why the bright, tart saucing wouldn't pair better with dark meat.

kani korokke (dungeness crab croquettes), were delicious, if...small. two golf ball sized croquettes made of bechamel and dungeness crab meat rolled in panko and deep fried, served atop shredded cabbage in a tangy worcestershire like dressing, echoing the bulldog sauce that often accompanies tonkatsu and other breaded fried treats. this was really good. rich and subtle. but my friend's mom makes the best kani korokke ever and i'm biased. but order it.

shrimp and veggie tempura. they were separate orders. the shrimp came with two sizable fried shrimp and a shishito pepper. i think these were gulf shrimp judging from the richer flavor, slightly iodine. the veggie serving came with deftly fried fanned out eggplant, kabocha, a half moon slice of onion, shishito, a green bean, and a slice of japanese sweet potato. the batter was light and the frying was right on. no breaded, feathery wings coming off the food. this was fresh, tender ingredients (especially the eggplant) with a thin, greaseless, coat of batter.

one of my dining companions had zaru soba, but i opted for the kake soba, in hot broth. i kept changing my mind before ordering, because i didn't want the hot broth to detract from the texture of the house-made noodles. but the broth was delicious. savory, just sweet enough, and deeply rich. i don't remember the last time i picked up my bowl and drained the broth after finishing all of my noodles. i had a bite of the cold zaru soba, and i think the texture does shine better in a cold prep. but i like noodle soups.

the flavor of the noodles was comforting. light and of the earth.

the host came over to us at the end to explain why the soba is limited to monday and tuesday. apparently it has something to do with those being the nights off from doing the raw chicken preps, freeing up the kitchen. i guess the soba making was a bit a of a to do before, and interfered with dinner prep? that's what i understood, at least.

we had a delicious if unusual sake that was pink and just so, sweet wise, made from "ancient red rice" and described as not unlike rosé wine. not a bad description, this was quite nice. oh i made a note of the name: dewatsuru sakuraemaki.

i wish that there was any competitive game in the bay area for fresh soba noodles. i love ramen. but i love soba noodles, and i've only had a few experiences with the handmade thing.

and as far as yakitori, that neck meat and "thigh oyster" were MY favorites tonight. i'll be back.

Hakka Restaurant pre-ordered specialties [San Francisco]

thank you, both you and gordon wing for your helpful tips. the whole meal is a bit ambiguous still, so i didn't feel comfortable ordering any of the advance order specials. but i hope the meal still happens and if we are happy diners, a more planned out dinner with advance order specials will definitely be on the agenda for the near future.

my only experience with hakka cuisine was the pork belly with preserved mustard greens at ton kiang years ago. i hope this dinner happens and that i have praise to report back.

Hakka Restaurant pre-ordered specialties [San Francisco]

can anyone elaborate more on the stuffed duck? i'm trying to coerce some folks into coming here for my late birthday dinner saturday night, but so many of my friends can't guarantee yea or nay. if i reserve this afternoon, is that enough time in advance? their website is not...helpful. otherwise, i was thinking of the salt baked chicken, the pork belly over preserved mustard greens...anything i'm not remembering? i'm checking the threads but they're mostly 4 years old. thanks in advance!

yuyu za zang [Oakland]

last night four of us dined at chef yu or yuyu za zang in oakland. my friend and i are interested in sampling a variety of different versions of the noodle dish known variously as zha jiang mian, jja jang myon, za zang (which anglicized this way doesn't make sense to me because there is no Z sound in the korean language), and i think at san wang in japantown as noodles with plum sauce. which makes even less sense. in english, i think "noodles with black bean sauce" is more accurate when describing this chinese dish and it's much loved korean cousin.

so last night we tried this spot in oakland. we ordered the regular jja jang myon, the seafood gan jja jang ("dry" jja jang. i've never understood how it can be dry when it is still coated in sauce), fried mandu, cold jellyfish salad, and tang su yook, or sweet and sour beef.

the seafood gan jja jang myon came with a breathtaking amount of crudely chopped onion and a child's handful of overcooked squid. i thought the noodles were too soft, and the sauce tasted...limp. the regular jja jang myon was better, but still seemed to lack any of the fermented funkiness that jja jang or chun jang pack. it looked right, but it just tasted one dimensionally rich. again, overcooked noodles.

the jellyfish was tart and sweet, but i prefer this to come with some more mustardy heat. fried dumplings were satisfying in the way that freshly fried crispy food can be.

tang su yook was probably my favorite, but that may just be that i haven't had korean style sweet and sour in many years. chunks of beef that seemed lightly tossed in corn starch or rice flour came fresh from the fryer on a platter, with the sauce on the side with slices of napa cabbage, carrot, onion and pineapple. i wish i could find a place that served this with the combo of cucumber, onion, and wood ear mushrooms that i encountered years ago in korea. the sauce had a pleasant vingerar tang, and although it was sweet, it was nowhere near the sugary syrup that coats american chinese versions. plus...it wasn't orange.

so overall, a disappointing dinner, but maybe an inspiration to search for better versions of both chinese and korean noodles in _______ sauce.

oh. suggestions? thanks!

Kin Khao - Thai-style Thai in SF

i want to go back and try the veggie version for comparison. not for heat, just to see how the two stack up. i hope i didn't come across as smug, or judgemental about the spice level. i of course understand that everyone's palate is different.

Kin Khao - Thai-style Thai in SF

i was there today at about 12:30, and also ordered the khao soi. mine came out sooner than yours, fortunately, but i was prepared for service hiccups on the first day of lunch service.

i really enjoyed the khao soi, but for me the spice level before i doctored it up was fairly mild for my palate, but three little spoonfuls of chile oil did the trick. i ordered the chicken version and it was perfectly cooked. poached, i believe, with both white and dark meat if i recall correctly. the pickled mustard greens gave a nice sharp contrast to the heady, rich curry sauce, plus the fresh raw shallot slices. my lime wedge was less than juicy. the noodles were perfectly cooked for me, with just enough chew, and i love the textural contrast between the crunchy fried noodles garnishing the bowl.

pim was there checking on the tables and i was very pleased to tell her how much i enjoyed my meal. i look forward to going back with a group for dinner. or just again for lunch whenever i need a khao soi fix.

DO NOT DISCARD THE TURKEY CARCASS(ES)

i have a friend that used to pack up the carcass and force one of her friends to take it home because she didn't want to deal with it. yes she's weird, but when it was my turn, i was pleased! made delicious soup with it. i absolutely hate roasting turkeys but i'll gladly make stock.

Nov 27, 2013
augustiner in Home Cooking
1

Difference in Quality Between Different Branches of Turtle Tower? [San Francisco]

What do you appreciate when you come home from international trip?

i feel that my travels are too infrequent and too short. a couple years ago, a week in japan. this year, two weeks in germany and france. honestly, i didn't miss anything. if anything, i missed things from those countries when i came home, even though here in san francisco i think we have some pretty fantastic food. if i were gone for, say, months, i know there are things i would miss from home.

although, when i got back from scotland almost a decade ago, i bought a head of broccoli and ate it whole as i just needed something green to eat.

Sep 29, 2013
augustiner in General Topics

What's your favorite skin?

yuba. fresh, reconstituted, or fried.

and concord grape skins, or other similar varieties with more substantially flavorful skins.

Aug 31, 2013
augustiner in General Topics

First trip to SF, looking for the best chinese food

z&y can be iffy on reservations. went with a group in december with a reservation. went with the same group a couple months ago. my friend tried to make a reservation and was told they don't take them. i called the next day and had no trouble getting a reservation.

Foods You Like Primarily Because of the Texture

beef tendon

Rincon Peruano in San Francisco

i've been walking past this spot nearly every day for years and finally walked in a couple weeks ago, curious. i ordered an empanada and the pescado frito for take-out to split with a friend at a nearby bar. the fried fish came with four small breaded fillets of...white fresh-water fish, white rice, some iceberg salad, and some of that green hot sauce. the fish was perfectly fine, if not super flavorful. it was well fried, light and not greasy. the hot sauce perked everything up with a nice, bright heat.

empanada was meh. dry, almost sandy crust. filling of beef, onion, potato, boiled egg. not very interesting flavor, and a bit under seasoned. i gave most of my half to my friend. but i was still curious about this place and vowed to go back.

so today i grabbed a tamal, which came as you described yours back then, but mine had no salt pork and instead was studded with two or three peanuts, an interesting addition. it was smooth textured, and with the lightly pickled onions made a great snack. although i found the chicken to be a bit dry and stringy.

food seems good enough to warrant further exploration, especially as i do walk past it almost every single day.

teuchi soba lunch at ippuku [Berkeley]

i know the soba lunches are mentioned in the main ippuku thread, but since they have such limited availability, i thought i'd post about my lunch separately.

last saturday i joined two friends for lunch at ippuku to try the teuchi handmade soba, which is only available friday and saturday from 11AM until 2PM or until they run out (60 servings per day). i ordered the ten zaru soba, cold noodles on a bamboo tray with shrimp and vegetable tempura. one of my friends ordered the same and the other ordered the tororo soba, cold noodles with grated mountain yam and raw quail egg.

we also ordered a few appetizers: the hiya yakko soft cold tofu with minced pickled eggplant and bonito flakes, asparagus in a black sesame dressing, and a dashi maki, rolled omelet flavored with dashi.

this was only my third time trying freshly made soba. the first was in tokyo a few years ago, the second at NYC's soba koh a little more recently. i enjoyed both of those meals better than this one, but that is not to say that i didn't like these noodles. the noodles were toothsome and bouncy. the dipping sauce seemed nicely nuanced. the shrimp tempura had good flavor, unlike the anemic shrimp crusted in battle-armor fried batter common elsewhere. the veggie tempura consisted of kabocha squash, okra, a shishito pepper, eggplant, and a shiitake mushroom, accompanied by a light and fresh dipping sauce.

i tried a bite of my friend's tororo soba, and one bite is just enough for me. i could appreciate the contrast between the rather mucilaginous yam and raw egg with the firm bite of the noodles once, but i find that texture too challenging for a whole meal. just not my thing.

towards the end of the meal, they brought out a kettle of hot soba water, the water used to boil the noodles in. this starchy liquid is poured into the remainder of the dipping sauce and consumed like a soup or hot beverage. its very soothing.

the hiya yakko was a refreshing starter. good flavored tofu paired with the slight astringency of the minced eggplant and the smoky bonito flakes. very thin asparagus cut on the bias with black sesame sauce was nutty and tasty. the dashi maki was surprisingly pale in color, as if there was very little yolk. indeed it was less rich than other versions, and it was served hot with grated daikon. it was more savory than a lot of other versions, as well, much less sweet.

for various reasons unrelated to the quality of the food i ate, it's not likely that i'll make it back anytime soon for a repeat lunch, which is a shame because i thought it was a solid meal. i wish that the bay area shared the same passion for soba or even udon as it does for ramen. until then i look forward to the next time i can make it across the bay on a friday or saturday for more of ippuku's soba.

What TV/movie/book restaurant would you want to go to? What place would you avoid?

tampopo's

May 17, 2013
augustiner in Not About Food

Pho 2000 in San Francisco: Breakfast of Champions

i forgot about this post until a late morning search turned it up. after this past week's gorgeous weather was marred for me by my first ever real bout of seasonal allergies in my lifetime, which, being my first time around, turned me into a big cry baby from lack of experience, i decided that today's relatively cooler weather and my labored breathing called for a soothing bowl of pho.

i got the #1 dac biet as well, with the fresh noodles and remembered to order the rare meat on the side, which i always forget to do. won't forget to do so again, because there's such a difference in texture when you're in control! i found the noodles to be similar in texture to turtle tower's. i've read some people note that the broth is a bit sweet, but i didn't find that to be the case. i thought the spice was balanced, for southern-style pho. i've been avoiding this style for a long time because i don't like overly assertive star anise. i liked the textures of the cooked meats, and the sprouts were fresh and firm, unblemished and clean. basil sprigs were equally fresh and bright.

it just seemed like a quality bowl, and i'm glad i came across this post again so i remembered to ask for the fresh noodles, nice and silky compared to the stodgy clumped mess you often encounter elsewhere. i think i came here once before to try their bun bo hue, but it must not have registered as memorable. but when i want sprouts and herbs in my pho, it's good to know this is here, and i felt so much more like myself after eating this bowl.

On a related note, what is the drink Michael Caine is drinking at the cafe at the end of the dark knight rises ?

fernet branca

Feb 04, 2013
augustiner in Spirits