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best Kaiseki in Bay Area?

Your 2013 is looking like my 2012... we went to Wakuriya in the summer (July) and then to Japan in the fall!

May 13, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

1st Napa trip need help

Good to know... some of what I heard did come from people who worked there or knew people who worked there, so there could have been a bias or special treatment.

May 13, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

MUST-BUYS at the ferry building farmer's market? [San Francisco]

Acme's Cinnamon Currant Bread w/ walnuts is very very sticky and one of my favorite baked goods on this planet. They often (but not always) have the mini ones at the ferry building. They have giant ones at the Berkley bakery.

May 12, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

1st Napa trip need help

You won't go through Sonoma if you are driving from SF to Napa.

May 12, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

1st Napa trip need help

My standouts over the last the last few years are Ad Hoc, Redd, Solbar, and Etoile.
Oenetri is great and I've heard good things about Redd Wood but haven't made it yet.

Mustards over hyped for sure.

May 12, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

best Kaiseki in Bay Area?

Hmmm, if it was during the day, I'd say go to Fioli gardens, but they close at 3:30pm.
San Mateo is a great town to live ( cute town with great food, japanese markets, farmer's markets, etc..), but if I am looking for a special/romantic cultural thing to do, I go to the city!

The ocean isn't really nearby unless you want to stop in Pacifica... and there are lots of nice hikes in the mountains near San Mateo, but your wife may be wearing heels and not want to do too much walking around.

Also, you will be at dinner until ~9:30; there will be nothing open then.
Not much help... Sorry.

May 12, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

best Kaiseki in Bay Area?

It cost us ~ $300 with one sake tasting and a plum wine.

At Kappou Gomi I loved almost everything we had... I was my first time there. It was peak asparagus season, so asparagus was in everything in some fashion.

My favorite dish of the night was an uni crab salad like dish that was amazing... Unfortunately I can't remember the name of anything. I also loved the vinegared seaweed salad with a quail egg (it was the slimiest thing I've ever eaten so probably not for everyone).
The natto with Hamachi, an ankimo dish, and tempura pike eel were also great. The macha and homemade mochi we ordered for dessert were great too. The only thing that I was a bit disappointed in was the very very expensive japanese bonito that they seared (to my dislike)... it was ok, but not worth the price.

May 12, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Michael Bauer's top 100 2013

I looked up Lighthouse Cafe (I was excited to think that there is another restaurant like Plaj in the area), and it looks like it is diner food with a Danish twist...(actually the one in San Rafael is called Lighthouse Diner not Cafe). Maybe it is a fantastic diner, but unless Lighthouse has a secret fine dining menu, I don't see how you could compare the two (although i will bookmark Lighthouse and give it a try since I love good diner food).

The trio of house cured herring and the poached lobster dishes we had at Plaj were exquisite. There is room for improvement as the venison dish was just ok... The bread, Danish beer, and house made aquavit we had were fantastic. I can't wait to go back (and stick to the seafood dishes).

May 12, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

best Kaiseki in Bay Area?

Wakuriya... no contest.

Although not really a Kaiseki, I really loved Kappou Gomi when I went there a few weeks ago. Beautiful presentation... the food was very reminiscent of a lot of the meals I had in Japan on vacation last fall.

May 12, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Red Hot Chilli Pepper, Desi Chinese, San Carlos

I tried this place for the first time a few weeks ago. All my Indian coworkers love this place, so when one of them had his last day, he chose this restaurant for his farewell lunch.

I ordered the gobi manchurian, and I loved it... I am not an expert on this dish, but I do order it regularly in Indian restaurants, and this was the best version I've had yet. Crispy and very flavorful.... I do wish it was a little more spicy (I love spice).

I also got try some of the other dishes that my coworkers ordered. All were good, but the only other one that stood out was the vegetable coins/cakes in manchurian sauce. Nothing I ever would have thought to order from the description, but wow was it flavorful.

Is it the best Desi Chinese around? According to my coworkers yes. If anyone knows of some place better, I'd love to try it. The only other Desi Chinese I've been to is Temptations in Mountain View... and it was quite awful (goopy cloyingly sweet sauces).

Apr 21, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Stand-outs at Aziza? [SF]

Ah Passionfish... now there is a place where the food was not good when I went... dry, flavorless fish.

Jan 27, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Stand-outs at Aziza? [SF]

I went last weekend and I still love it...
My cocktail was the concord grape (concord grape, elderflower, peat smoke, laphroaig, scotch)... definitely one of the best and most interesting cocktails I've ever had. Smelt like smoke; tasted like grapes and scotch.

We also had the basteeya and flat bread which were great.
For entrees, at the advise of our waiter, we got the sea bass (which is no longer on the menu) instead of the sturgeon and also the lamb loin. Both were great. The sea bass was moist with perfectly crispy skin and the lamb was cooked perfectly (rarish).
Dessert was a little weird... we had some strange off menu sunchoke dessert. I didn't dislike it, but it wasn't something I'd get again.... it wasn't sweet enough for dessert. However the great mignardises that were brought with the check made up for it (esp. the chocolate truffle).

I agree that the portions are small (which is what I come to expect from a michelin stared restaurant), but I thought the quality was there.
I will admit that I did like Aziza a bit more before they got their star... the portions were bigger and the food was more hardy and just as tasty.

Jan 26, 2013
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Eating at the bar in Napa/Yountville

Since the weather is so nice, my SO and I decided we should do a day trip to Napa tomorrow...
And since this is very last minute most of the better restaurants are booked for the times we want. I was wondering what good restaurants can we walk in and eat at the bar (around 6:30ish tomorrow)? It is hard to tell on the internet what restaurants have good sized bars with full menus/good bar menus...
Restaurants I am specifically interested in are:
Ad Hoc (my favorite)
Onetri
Morimoto
Jeanty

Or I could get a standard reservation at Bouchon, Brix or Reddwood.

Btw, we ate at the bar at Redd one of the last times we were up there and it was great; it made me wonder what other restaurants have that option...

Thanks,
Robin

Nov 23, 2012
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Dungeness Crab Prices 2012

They are up to $4.99/lb at Maria now.
Got four big lively ones yesterday morning for thanksgiving. Very good (although a few missing legs on each).

Nov 23, 2012
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Dungeness Crab Prices 2012

Any sightings yet? I'm ready for some crab!

Nov 17, 2012
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Best calzones in the SF Bay Area?

Yes... The 2 of us easily get 2 meals each out of one (we normally get the clam appetizer too)...
Since you can easily pay $30 pp at most SF restaurants, it is definitely worth it.

Sep 18, 2012
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Best calzones in the SF Bay Area?

+1

Sep 18, 2012
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

SF Dish of the Month (Sep 2012) - Cucumber Pickles

I'm surprised that no one's mentioned Jerk'N Pickle in San Mateo yet... I like everything I've tried from their FM stand. If you go to the College of San Mateo Market on Saturdays, you can try all 7 kinds of their cucumber pickles... I especially love the tarragon chips and my DH loves the barrel fermented...
Although off topic a bit, I really love their picked green beans too (the picked beets are great as well).
Btw, Pickles are the perfect diet food... I stock up anytime I need to loose weight, so my fridge is currently filled with pickles!

Sep 18, 2012
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco's Best Ice Cream

@bmorecupcake: I would be shocked if any of these places did NOT use a real ice cream base...
Most of these shps use organic local milk and pride themselves in using high quality (as local as possible) ingredients .... that is the culture out here
I haven't tried all of these places yet, but Humphry S. is my current favorite... love their candy cap mushroom ice cream.

Jul 19, 2012
lrealml in Features

Root Beer -- housemade or good bottle selection??

I haven't posted forever! been too busy working... but I have to chime in and say that I also love Sparky's. It is very strong and I can't drink a lot of it at once, but it is amazing. Bevmo carries it now I believe.

Also, as much as I want to love Devil's Canyon's root beer (they are very local), it is just too sweet and not complex enough... I enjoy there beer however.

May 03, 2012
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Autumn Dinner Party Menu Ideas??

That is similar to what I do... I bake the potatoes, sweet potatoes and/or squash, and then put them through a ricer. Since sweet potatoes and squash are more moist, I let the puree dry out in a warm oven or in the fridge. If I am in a hurry or have a very wet squash, I will use cheese cloth to squeeze out the moisture.

My dinner party gnocchi turned out great. I used a mix of sweet potato and squash and added spices (cinnamon and nutmeg mainly) and served it in brown butter with a five spiced duck breast with a fresh plum sauce and some roasted shitaki mushrooms.

This week I made a blue cheese gnocchi with russets and decided to try adding an egg.... I made two batches the first batch was too wet and fell apart when I reheated the gnocchi in the sauce. So in the second batch I added more flour, and they came out denser than I like. They were still tasty, but next time I will skip the egg like I normally do.

Oct 20, 2011
lrealml in Home Cooking

Week in Palo Alto/San Francisco. Where to go?

Sorry to disagree with you mdg, but I don't think Scratch is very good (I had almost inedible fish and chips there recently) and none of my friends were thrilled with their meal. Sakoon is a good choice for Cal/Indian fusion (although not for lunch) ; however, they are not traditional and my Indian friends do not like it (for authentic Indian, go south to Sunnyvale). I haven't been to Reposado, but haven't heard good things. Evvia is good, but really pricey.
Unfortunately, most places in Palo Alto are expensive with average food. If you want great food, get out of Palo Alto:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778725
and IMO most places in Mountain View suffer from a similar problem

eh27713, Palo Alto is in an area called the Peninsula. Search the board for whatever cuisines you are looking for in either SF or the Peninsula (and if you are willing to drive south 15-20 minutes, include the South Bay/San Jose in your search). There is a lot of great food around if you are willing to drive out of PA. Redwood City has amazing tacos. My favorite taco place to take guests is http://www.elgrullensegrill.com/ (I love the lengua, cabeza, chorizo, and Frank's Fish tacos). IMO other than tacos the Peninsula also has great Japanese, Chinese, Mediterranean, and Mexican (mainly tacos). Include the South Bay and you can add Vietnamese and Indian. There are also some more obscure cuisines like Afghan, Peruvian, Filipino, and Ethiopian. Then there is California/Cal-fusion food... IMO SF is much better for CA/Cal-fusion food than the Peninsula/South Bay.

Lastly, if you like frozen yogurt, there is only one can't miss food place in Palo Alto: Fraiche Yogurt.

Sep 19, 2011
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Bay Area bagels?

Not yet. I read that thread a while ago, and it didn't make me super anxious to try them, especially after seeing their flavors. I am a very adventurous eater, but when it comes to bagels, I am boring: I want pumpernickel and/or rye with some kind of cured/pickled fish product (or occasionally liverwurst).
They do not have a pumpernickel/rye bagel, so it won't be a fair comparison from my perspective. However, my SO is a sesame or everything bagel guy, so we will try to pick some up sometime and give them a shot.

Sep 18, 2011
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

which chain grocery stores in the east bay are better?

I spelled it right in my first post on this thread... it was late, so I was just copied the misspelling without realizing it thus proving that misspelling is contagious :)

Sep 18, 2011
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Bay Area bagels?

Since this thread got refreshed I will add my 2 cents.
My SO is from New York, and I have spent a lot of time in the New York area having lots of bagels. I've had Ess-a, H&H, and many other random good to not so great NY bagels. Our favorite bagel in NY is a small place called Strathmore way out on Long Island near my in-laws... they are better than Ess-a by a small margin.

That being said, the only Bay Area bagel we've had that even comes remotely close is Izzy's in PA. While they are not as good as Ess-a or Strathmore; they are way better than a lot of bagels that I've had in the NY area. I would rather eat a defrosted Izzy's bagel than a fresh House of Bagel bagel. Also, they have a lot of my favorite NY toppings like herring in cream.

As good as Izzy's is, we still bring back a duffel bag full of Strathmore bagels to freeze every time we go to New York, and no one from New York is allowed to visit with out bringing bagels (My in-laws are visiting soon, so more bagels!).

Sep 18, 2011
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

which chain grocery stores in the east bay are better?

Actually I think Monterrey Market has a lot of cheap organics... For example all their organic herbs are $1, and I remember getting organic parsley for 39 cents once. I remember Berkeley Bowls organics being way more expensive in comparison. Also, I think I view Monterrey market as having good prices b/c every time I go there, there is some gourmet item for mind blowingly cheap. This time it was padron peppers for $3/lb. Last year it was Matsutake mushrooms for $10/lb.

Thanks for your research, but I also agree with jason carey below: you have to consider quality. There is no point in comparing soggy bagged lettuce to crisp just picked FM lettuce.
Monterrey Market's quality is pretty good... almost as good as some FMs. Berkley Bowl is hit or miss. WF's produce looks good, but I haven't shelled out the $ to try it.
IMO TJs, Raleys/Nob Hill and Safeway are only acceptable for avocado, onions, potatoes, and lemons/limes. Also at similar if not slightly better quality is Ranch 99 (no organics though), and they are super cheap. I've only been to Lucky's twice and remember thinking that their produce made Safeway look like a Farmer's Market, but maybe that is not always the case at all their locations.

Regardless, I feel lucky reading these prices that here on the Peninsula I can match if not beat the cheapest of them at my local FMs/independent grocery stores.

Sep 18, 2011
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Summer 2011 farmers market watch

Thanks! I forgot to ask Tomatero where they are... I asked most of the other San Carlos vendors I frequent and It seems that most of them are at either the Sat. San Mateo or the Sunday Belmont...

I also want to mention that Lujan has had the most amazing peaches/nectarines and pluots all summer... Not even in the same league as everyone else's

Sep 18, 2011
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Summer 2011 farmers market watch

+1
I bought 10 lbs of "overripe" heirlooms from them yesterday for $1lb. They are some of the best tomatoes I've had... ate a whole plate of them last night for dinner.

Last night was the last night for the San Carlos market... So now my grocery shopping routine will shift into my autumn/winter/spring routine even though the summer produce is still going strong.

Does anyone know if Tomatero is at any of the other markets on the peninsula?

Sep 16, 2011
lrealml in San Francisco Bay Area

Autumn Dinner Party Menu Ideas??

yes... in my experience, it helps the gnocchi hold together better (I've had trouble with gnocchi falling apart in the sauce); it also is very convenient for dinner parties/leftovers since gnocchi does not reheat without loosing its texture.
Here is a Batali recipe where he uses an ice bath:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ma...

Actually he does use egg.... I don't remember why I don't use egg in my gnocchi. I think I just experimented with recipes until I found a combination of things that worked for me.
It is definitely a finicky dish... When I was learning how to make them, I wound up with everything from little rocks to mashed potatoes :)

Sep 15, 2011
lrealml in Home Cooking

Autumn Dinner Party Menu Ideas??

Sounds great... I am having a dinner party Saturday and am thinking of making sweet potato or butternut squash gnocchi as well ...

Have you made gnocchi before? because it can be very tricky to get the hang of with texture and timing...
The recipe I use (I think it is Batali's... it doesn't use egg), calls for me to shock the gnocchi in an ice bath after boiling... This makes them great for dinner parties because I can store them in the fridge after the ice bath and then cook them in butter etc... right before serving with out loosing texture. I love the hazelnut and pancetta idea.

Sep 14, 2011
lrealml in Home Cooking