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Singapore - wet market with hawker centre attached or adjacent?

Thanks for the confirming info. I'm visiting wet markets as a Eurocentric cook interested in all manner of raw provender. Maybe someone will explain to me what a mangosteen is...

Maxwell is definitely on my shortlist ... it's just a question of how much we can do in two days while squeezing in mandatory tourist stuff as well, while falling asleep in public frequently. Old Airport was my first choice when I started this research, and maybe we'll get our cab driver to stop there en route to the airport by promising to buy him lunch. (Realistic, d'ya think?)

Singapore - wet market with hawker centre attached or adjacent?

We're beginning our Asia trip shortly with two days in Singapore, the first of which at least will be marked by jet lag, I imagine. I'm trying to be realistic about our capacity to visit multiple hawker centres and markets (my two interests) during that short span, so hope to identify the best combined facilities. Right now I'm considering the Tekka Centre and Tiong Bahru -- have I misjudged them? Is there a better choice? I suppose we won't be exposed to many classic Singaporean dishes with those two, so that's a consideration as well.

Delicious Nam Prik __? at Mithapheap Market, Oakland

I went by today to get some pantry ingredients, and picked up a container of this stuff while I was there. After filling my basket with fish sauce, coconut milk, and all the rest, I asked the owner for nam prik and was directed at first to the bottled stuff on the shelves ... your standard Asian- market chili concoction, which I was not interested in. When I asked if they had something fresh and homemade, the owner made a show of looking extremely puzzled and asked (in essence) where I'd heard of such a thing. I told him "online," and only then did he show me the real deal, kept in a cooler near the front. Don't know why we went through that particular charade, but I suppose I wasn't super-clear about what I wanted ... or else reeked of farangitude. In any case, this stuff is indeed the bomb: I ate about a third of it when I got home, using the sliced cabbage and other veggies that accompanied the container of freshly made beef larb I spied at the register and also bought. The larb needed a splash of lime juice to brighten it up, but then I was off to the races. Both the larb & the nam prik were far superior (to my taste, at least) to the counterpart versions I bought a couple of weeks ago at Roong Jing Jing, the Thai market on San Pablo in El Cerrito that sells prepared foodstuffs on Saturdays. (Their nam prik absolutely reeked of shrimp paste, for one thing.) I'll be making the trip to Int'l and 14th again soon, I'm sure, since this first batch of nam prik isn't going to last the weekend...

Tacoma spot with decent food, TV viewable from dining area

I'm heading up to Tacoma from the Bay Area tomorrow, to visit my below-drinking-age daughter in Tacoma. I'd like to keep an eye on the World Series game starting at 5 p.m. while the two of us grab an early dinner somewhere ... but she can't sit at the bar, and I want to be able to at least see the TV from our table. Cuisine is secondary, so long as it's decent. Any recs? A brewpub with a really big TV?

Oct 24, 2012
jonking in Greater Seattle

Tips for Le Marche?

Thanks! You've surpassed my boldest hopes for quality local info. My "locals" are Americans who've recently purchased a small apartment in Pergola, where they live part-time, so they're still in the early stages of discovering the area ... I'll be forwarding this info to them.

Apr 10, 2012
jonking in Italy

Tips for Le Marche?

I'll be spending a week in upland Le Marche, in the tiny town of Pergola. Will probably visit Urbino and other hilly places, but don't think I'll be spending much time on the coast (Ancona northward), since my friends live in Pergola. Am looking for info on vineyards, dining, markets and shops -- the usual Chowstuff. We'll have a car, so transport is under control. Leaving April 17, returning in early May.


Apr 09, 2012
jonking in Italy

Bowl'D - new Korean in Albany

Paid a second dinner visit last weekend, and particularly enjoyed the kimchi pancake starter.

Has anyone mentioned/purchased/tried the restaurant's various retail kimchis, available (at least) at Berkeley Bowl Shattuck? The cabbage version is meh IMO, and pricey at $7 a jar ... but both the radish and cucumber versions are delicious, and only $4. I go through several jars weekly. Once the cucumber kimchi was bland, a surprise since it usually packs a punch. I mentioned it to the owner at our dinner last week, and she told me it depends on how long it's been since the jar was filled. Interesting, but not easy to apply in practice, since the labels don't carry a date. Still, it was just once in a dozen or so experiences...

The Local Butcher - Excellent new butcher in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto

Have been in to browse three times, but only purchased something this past weekend .... four dry-aged rib steaks @$22/lb. Gotta say they were nothing special ... at least, based on my non-exhaustive but frequent-enough excursions into retail aged beef over the past couple of years. I'll stick with the meat counter at Cafe Rouge for now, I believe.
I do plan to go back for other cuts, though ... everything looks great. I'm especially impressed by the wide selection of meat broths, stocks, and glaces in the standing cooler/freezer thingy by the door. I make my own lamb stock when I can, but might pop for theirs in a pinch just 'cos they took the trouble to make it!

Cafe Rouge
1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

A week in St. Andrews

Left St. Andrews this morning after a two-day visit. Most of the spots near the golf course(s) appear to serve essentially the same menu, none too impressive at that. One probable exception: The chef at the Old Course Hotel recently was named the second-best young chef in Scotland, FWIW. Bring money.

According to several locals we quizzed. the Anstruther Fish Bar is past its glory days.... the original owners (who brought it to national prominence) sold it a couple of years back and opened The Tail End fish restaurant and takeaway on Market Street in St. Andrews not long ago. We had fish suppers there our first night ... fresh and tasty, though not especially cheap. (I lived in St. Andrews 40 years ago so think anything over five and sixpence (old-style) is too dear ... never mind the 10 quid a fish supper goes for now.) That said, it's the best in town by all accounts, and we liked it well enough. In addition, said our Anstruther-resident server, the other chip shops in that town are just as good as the famous FIsh Bar, without the lines.

St. Andrews has become quite touristy, which disappointed me ... there's a freakin' Subway on the main shopping street, for pete's sake, and a sizable supermarket not far away. Still a lovely town, though.. have fun!

Anstruther Fish Bar
Shore St, Fife, Fife KY10 3, GB

Jul 02, 2011
jonking in U.K./Ireland

The Observer's 50 best cookbooks EVER.

IMO you're a little hard on Olney. In my own post to the Observer blog I listed Simple French Food as an influence on me when young ... it was very helpful to find lucid descriptions of Provencal dishes (the primary focus of the book) in English at a time when there wasn't much to be had beyond Elizabeth David and (another one of my choices) Escudier & Fuller. He was also an early advocate of what we now call seasonal cooking, rare in the Anglophone world at the time.

Aug 20, 2010
jonking in Food Media & News

Enough light to read by at night? (Berkeley environs)

On occasion of an evening I'll go out for dinner solo, and when I do I like to bring something to read. It's not always easy to find someplace with decent food and bright-enough lighting ... if not overall (throughout the room), then at my seat or stool. It can be awkward to scout out the room, looking for that one table beneath a light fixture ... assuming it exists & I can snag it. Any other read-while-you-eaters have reliable recommendations along these lines? Cooking style not a worry, though price could be...

Bouchons in Lyon

A fascinating French website features scads of info about Lyonnais dining, including charmingly amateurish videos of many spots. There are no English options, but even with no command of French you can get a feeling for dozens of places (esp. through the videos), and gauge the sentiments of the site's users (who rate various places on a 20-point scale). I was taken aback to discover that my favorite bouchon, Cafe des Federacions, is currently considered a sub-par, touristic faux-bouchon ... that's not what I would have called it when I had a fabulous meal there in 2000, but who knows what's changed in the interim? At any rate, there are dozens of other places to dream about!

For videos only:

May 24, 2010
jonking in France

Does anyone know where to purchase sweetbreads?

Very occasionally, I find them in the freezer section at the Andronico's on Shattuck in Berkeley. Sometimes they've got a bit of freezer burn on them, other times they're fine. Definitely a call-ahead thing...

Arrive Boston Saturday 9 p.m. ... want to stop for takeout en route to lodgings

I apologize, everyone, for my whacked-out specification of a nonexistent intersection. We're actually heading for Hereford between Beacon and Marlborough (it says Public Alley 414 on this here map). I can imagine the headscratching I caused ... very sorry.

I love love love the idea of just checking in and then heading out for a bite -- it's certainly the ideal way to go. We're not that nuts about takeout, believe me. But we've been worried that that somewhat remote-looking stretch of the Back Bay might not offer many options at 10 p.m. or later ... which is why we cooked up the taxi-takeout notion, since we're without auto. I haven't visited Boston in many years, but retain an impression of Commonwealth and environs as mostly residential out that way, but it sounds as though there are in fact a variety of options, including at least one Greek place ... which would appeal to us as Californians, since we don't exactly have that here.

If we can walk to someplace open after 10 p.m. on Saturday, we'll be golden. I doubt we can make it to Deluca (sp?) by closing time, but it sounds like a great option for another meal. Thanks for your recs, offered in the face of conflicting info...

Jun 09, 2009
jonking in Greater Boston Area

Arrive Boston Saturday 9 p.m. ... want to stop for takeout en route to lodgings

We're coming in to Logan @ 8:30 p.m., picking up our kit, and taxiing to digs at Hereford & Charles in the Back Bay. Would like to stop en route and pick up something yummy for the three of us that will survive the rest of the drive, schlepping luggage, looking for the housekey, etc.

It wouldn't hurt if there were a place nearby the food stop selling decent wine by the bottle at that hour, either. Or does that run afoul of some colorful local ordinance?

In sum: What's not a long way off track between Points A and B, can meet our discriminating culinary requirements (hot, tasty, won't agglutinate if covered for 15 minutes...), and is right next door to a cleverly stocked wine shop?

Jun 08, 2009
jonking in Greater Boston Area

Berkeley - Best Burrito/Tacos?

After several years of patronage (I work nearby), I've figured out how to make a Hi-Tech Burrito edible. I order a small pork burrito, regular tortilla, Spanish rice, and hot sauce (they ask you about each of these), then add several of the "free" extras: tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro. Sometimes I substitute steak for pork, but that's the only permitted variance. I usually end up eating the whole thing (it's pretty small, the small...), which I didn't useta before I stumbled on this combo. Not a recommendation as such, but if you're backed against the wall and it's Hi-Tech or nothing, it works...

Help me "wow" my staff on our Berkeley food adventure

I think Moe's is admirably strong in used cookbooks, actually, which was an implicit focus of the poster's question. (I assume that by "half price" s/he didn't literally mean remaindered recent titles, but good used books from all eras.) It has good coverage in western Europe and most of Asia, as well as health/vegetarian, wine, and miscellaneous gastronomia. And you'll pay a fraction of what Black Oak charges for just about any collectible title. I'd recommend it as the first stop on any local book-collecting tour in this subject area. (Black Oak has the best selection of high-end collectible books on food and cooking, including a rare-book selection as well as their open-shelf titles, but their prices are nearly outrageous ... you'll do a lot better trolling eBay.)
Another option would be the Friends of the Berkeley Public LIbrary store in that gloomy mall just off Telegraph, between Durant and Channing, I think. The stock of used food books isn't huge, but it turns over nicely ... though that's of limited comfort to one-time visitors. Still, it's just a couple of blocks north of Moe's...
Pegasus on Solano has lots of food books too, though not a lot of what I'd call "collectible" stuff (I'm a collector). Still, you could fill a lot of holes in your topical accumulations there, for not a ton of money.
Finally, if your bookworms are content to browse but not buy, there's a surprisingly broad selection of older food books in the Koshland Biosciences Library on the Berkeley campus ... which now houses the collection that was originally assembled by the Agriculture Department a long time ago, and housed in Giannini Hall for ages. Very much worth checking out for period recipe-hounds....

Visiting our son @ Cal

I'm still pretty fond of Adagia, at the corner of College and Bancroft, opposite one of the Berkeley campus's south entrances. The original chef, Brian Beach, has left, but whoever is back there is keeping the quality high, if that judgment is reliable based on a couple of recent visits. Portion sizes have grown, if anything. Hopping at lunch during the school year ... if you collect mugshots of senior UC administrators, you'll be happy here. Dinner crowds can be lively or torpid, depending (I gather) on what's going on that evening on the campus. A big Greek Theatre or Zellerbach show can sell out Adagia pretty easily, since it's the only grownup eating spot within an easy walk of those venues.


I stayed overnight in Kamloops last week .... by the time I unpacked and hit the main street it was 9 p.m., and most places were shutting down. I had no desire to get back in the car, so finally settled on (gulp) Boston Pizza, a chain I'd never visited. I had a perfectly acceptable BBQ chicken pizza, a fresh-tasting side spinach salad, and a very tasty draft beer. Amazing what you'll settle for at the end of a long day's drive!

Best Berkeley / Oakland wine shops

Yeah, found it on Tuesday by spotting the big bottle sign. Enjoyable visit, friendly proprietor ... I picked up a mixed case for not a lot of money. Happy to add it to my rounds...

Best Berkeley / Oakland wine shops

I drove around the Telegraph/51st area for half an hour the other day, looking for the wine warehouse a friend had told me was nearby. Never found it -- so thanks for the pointer to Wine Mine. I'll head back on down...

Scanning others' responses, I'll add: (1) Vino! on Solano closed some months ago; (2) Cost Plus in Oakland has significantly cut back on the floor space it gives to wine ... I was there the other day, and left with only a couple of bottles instead of the mixed case I usually buy. Lots of cutbacks in the sub-$11 range, which is where they've excelled. Hope the same isn't true in the Marin store... (3) It's masterful understatement to say that the staff at Premier Cru is less helpful than at K&L ... although they don't seem as deliberately rude and offputting as they did in the day, at their original Piedmont Ave. store. (4) Vintage Berkeley is a great addition to the North Berkeley nabe ... lots of interesting choices in the $15-$20 range, esp. among the imports. Not a precise replacement for North Berkeley Wines, which moved out from its cozy shop around the corner several years ago -- no Texier horizontals or single-vineyard Macons -- but a never-fail stop for an intriguing bottle or three.

One-week road trip - Calgary to Vancouver via Banff, Kamloops, Squamish ... where to chow?

I'm a Bay Arean heading for B.C. on business, then taking a week to see the Rockies and make my way back to Vancouver & fly home. I'm not focusing on chow this trip, but wouldn't disdain it if stumbled upon.

I'm staying in downtown Vancouver, and will likely have Friday evening free. Where's the best street/nabe for menu browsing? Where would I be likely to snag a solo seat or table as a walk-in, and feel good about it later?

I've got a morning flight to Calgary on Saturday, arriving before noon, with a rental car to get me to Banff for the first of two nights. Should I detour across Calgary to brunch at Big Fish, or press quickly on to the mountains, hoping for something satisfying en route?

Banff I don't hold out much hope for ... I'm not real willing to pop for high-season surf 'n' turf when I'm on my own. But then, I'll be new in town, and happy to chow in any available demographic: suggestions?

Heading out, I'll drive the Icefields Parkway as far as feasible, then double back to try to make dinner in Field at the Truffle Pigs Cafe, per recommendations here. I'm advised to get there by 6:30 to snag a table ... which should be OK, since I'm not exactly sure where I'm sleeping that night, and I should probably more or less eat and run.

Wherever I awake, it's on to Kamloops overnight. What's edible en route? For that matter, what's edible when I get there? (There's a farmer's market the next a.m. right outside my downtown hotel, so I'm psyched about that.)

The next day, it's on to Squamish via Cache Creek. Lillooet, Pemberton, and Whistler. I repeat my query from the preceding graf re chowability...

Last day: my flight out of Vancouver isn't until near dinnertime, so I'm trying to decide between an Asian lunch in Richmond (closer to the airport, I reckon) or something in West Vancouver. I have several Richmond recs in hand, but know nothing of West V., since I only just looked at a map (duh) and saw its propinquity to Squamish, all else being equal. Is there a notable leisurely lunch in that bailiwick? I'll be grateful for any counsel. (And if you could guesstimate how long it will take me to drive to the airport, dump the car, and make it to the gate from wherever you think I should eat, I'll be still more grateful...)


Kauai recommendations

Hoping this thread still lives .... We're off to Kauai for a week in mid-June, half of which we'll spend on the north shore. Not many recommendations for this area in the responses so far, which may be a fair statement on its own. Is there a there there? Or are we condemed to resort food for the whole stay?

Jun 04, 2007
jonking in Hawaii

UC Berkeley staff lunch picks

I ought to have downplayed my personal enthusiasm for the Stuffed Inn, since I work on the other side of campus and almost never get over there. Plus it's more of a nostalgia thing, really: its sandwiches & salads are perfectly functional but nothing to write home about ... although I do maintain a great fondness for one of their sandwiches, called the Big Ned, that I would never dream of ordering otherwise, anywhere: it's basically avocado, a sandwich slice of cheese, and lettuce on (for me) an onion roll, with a light slathering of sour cream. Baby food, really ... but I ate it regularly as a starving undergrad all those years ago, and am always tickled to still see it on the menu. Though the price has skyrocketed from those days, up to at least $4!

UC Berkeley staff lunch picks

The UCB faculty/staff newspaper, The Berkeleyan, which I edit, polled its readers for their favorite local lunch spots, on or off the campus. We also asked them for their favorite $5 lunch ideas. The results were not terribly revealing from a purely chowish perspective, but the question(s) certainly roused our readership to participate, which we like.

We were as struck by the local institutions that *weren't* mentioned as by any that were: apparently no one eats at Kip's or LaVal's anymore (or, at least, no one who's willing to cop to it!). I was personally happy to see the Stuffed Inn on Euclid get several mentions: though no one's idea of a cutting-edge eatery, it's a big part of my own Berkeley memories circa 1973, and it really hasn't changed much at all in the interim.

Here's a link to the online version (including a slide show):

Crossroads Dining Hall - UCBerkeley

The new dining facility is in one of the residence halls; it's an upgrade, not a completely new installation.

Here's a news report from the student paper at Cal:

SF East Bay retailers carrying 2005 Duboeuf beaujolais crus (not Villages or nouveau)?

I'm finding it difficult to locate any of the 2005 Duboeuf crus (Morgon, Julienas, Brouilly, etc. etc.) at retail in the Berkeley area. I contacted the U.S. distributor, and they pointed me to a market in San Diego. Thanks, but...

Any pointers in the Berkeley/Oakland area?

Dec 12, 2006
jonking in Wine

Berkeley Cheap-ish Eats Near Campus - One Local's Ratings

Regarding places to avoid, note that Shattuck Ave. stalwarts La Note, Venus, and Little Plearn Thai Kitchen were all cited this spring by the city health dept. for major violations (keeping food at an improper holding temperature).

Foodwise, I am regularly saddened by the mediocre pho at Pho Hoa on Shattuck ... though I keep going back, every eight weeks or so, because it's a block from my office. The beef stew with carrots isn't bad, though.

And I agree that Eat-a-Pita is really bad, although the salads *look* okay until you try them. You can actually get a pretty decent Middle Eastern veg plate (large or small) at the Sunrise Deli on Bancroft, just west of Telegraph, though the eat-in environment is nothing to write home about.

Berkeley Cheap-ish Eats Near Campus - One Local's Ratings

Two places at the eastern end of University Ave. are reliable pleasures for me. India Palace has a pretty good lunch buffet ... five or six veg, with a wet lamb dish, a chicken mit sauce, and inoffensive tandoori chicken. There's usually some veg overlap, but the preparations vary enough to minimize boredom. The pakora are almost always hot and tasty, which on a buffet one wishes to be so. Good quality hot naan is always waiting for you, 'gratis,' when you return to your table the first time. The tables are comfortable and reasonably spaced, with napery and silver; service, if you need it, isn't bad. Not for everyday, but I reward myself once a month or so.

More often, though, I stop at Lucky House Thai, in the middle of the block, opposite the Brazilian tri-tip stand. It's an unassuming place about which I know essentially nothing, despite having been dozens of time. That's because I order only one thing: #20 on the lunch menu, Hot & Sour Noodle Soup, $4.99. I get it with ground pork and wide (not the standard skinny) noodles, as the server now well knows. When it comes, I always ask for the lazy susan of chiles and such, but never have to use it much... the soup comes steaming out of the kitchen with the flavors in proportion just the way I like them, tilting strongly toward tamarind, and just nearly spicy enough. Highly recommended.

I've yet to try Mount Everest, the Indian/Nepalese place at the corner of University and (northbound) Shattuck that was formerly, and briefly, a pizza/pasta joint, and before that the downmarket but not worthless Curry in a Hurry, and before that a Burger King. And the reason I've yet to try it is because I still remember the Burger King plastic booths having the most uncomfortable seating in Berkeley, which was maintained during both the curry and pizza regimes, and may still be there. I guess I should look through the window before writing it off altogether...