avial's Profile

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Solo Dinner in San Francisco

I believe these all have bars, and in no real order, if I were visiting regularly from elsewhere, and maybe had per diem:

Kin Khao
Tosca - Italian-ish, some what like Coppa - pigtails make for an amazing dinner w/cocktails (as a former Bostonian who lived off of the ones at Drink circa 2009)
Coqueta (I think this is what JonDough meant)

Rich Table
Mr. Benjamin
Hawker Fare
Namu Gaji
Foreign Cinema
Bar Tartine
Monk's Kettle

I'm not as familiar with what tasting menu places allow solo diners but never hurts to try. At a minimum, I know that Atelier Crenn allowed this last fall.

Californios is an affordable tasting menu that has a bar and will definitely take solo diners - you definitely cannot get that type of cuisine in Boston, though you could in New York.

Jun 26, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Dungeness Crab Prices 2014/2015 Season

6.99/lb at 99 Ranch Berkeley last Sunday.

Jun 26, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Saison 3.0 [San Francisco]

As an aside, I often walk by Saison on the way home - and on today's way home, saw a chef carrying 4 small cans of Nestle brand condensed milk or dulce de leche.

Jun 24, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

NEW: Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, SF w/ PIC

I think the Instagrammer was "responsible" for making them as big of a deal as they are.

I've seen 30-40 person lines at ~8:40am on weekdays right before they start selling, they are supposed to be longer on the weekends.

TLT BBQ (San Mateo)

I went back last Monday night with a few friends and enjoyed just about everything except for the tendon which were surprisingly gamey/barn-yardy (in the words of Andrew Zimmern). Some pieces were tough, some were soft and tender.

The single seasoning/spicing did start to wear on me a bit though, and that's where side dishes like the cold salad helps to break it up a bit.

Jun 17, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

La Taqueria & Special Place for Cocktails? [San Francisco]

Full name of the rooftop is El Techo de Lolinda, a serving of the chicharrones is never horrible, the granulated sugar dusting is overdoing it a tad but worth sharing still with drinks.

Jun 09, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Soylent: the protein powder Silicon Valley's techies just can't get enough of

Get used to Soylent while you have the luxury of doing so before growing nations' demand and buying power outstrips that of the US.

2 other thoughts:
More for us that want to eat
Where's the PETA-branded version of this stuff?

Jun 09, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Cockscomb - SF

An average solo diner or a 'hound? I find Cockscomb pretty tough when I go alone.

Jun 09, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Cockscomb - SF

I live ~2 blocks away and pass it on the way home from work. Sadly, I have only walked into a seat at the kitchen bar once since they opened. More recently, have only been able to get a walk-in seat at the upstairs bar - this works out better since I've gotten to know the bartender that's behind that bar.

I stopped into Cockscomb last Thursday w/the SO and also had the n'duja toast, tripe and clams, octopus, and the zampini, and would echo most of what Robert noted. Solid meal and I think it's reliable for a nicer, more indulgent dinner. I did have a meal there in February that was very mediocre save for the mussels - most of the fail was around the pie which was a waterlogged mess.

To contrast though, I also ate at Chi Spacca this past weekend in LA and thought that the food there was better than Cockscomb. I think these two restaurants are comparable given the price point, decor (open kitchen w/bar), and neighborhood?. Chi Spacca has a tighter focus though on meat meat meat. Perhaps, given the LA setting, they're not afraid to be more masculine about their approach to food and may even need to be to survive - massive hunks of meat grilling front and center. A meat board with a jar of pig 'butter'. Anchovies on toast served with a curled slice of butter, and then an anchovy filet on top. A portion of cauliflower that dwarfed the portion that was served at Cockscomb on previous menus. But again, different economics, people, place.

I know that I will go back to Cockscomb at least once a month or maybe more as I like what Cosentino is doing with the food but I can't shake the feeling that he's holding back sometimes.

Jun 08, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Boiling Beijing (San Bruno)

Ah, didn't realize that the lighter colored bits from your post about la chao la (辣炒辣) were not chicken bits - http://www.chowstatic.com/uploads/3/7... and missed the part re: fresh chilies.

Jun 01, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Boiling Beijing (San Bruno)

anyone care to comment on how 'la si ni' or 辣死你 is different from a dish like chongqing la zi ji (重庆辣子鸡)? I've never had the former dish but given the description, it sounds very similar to the latter - lots of red chilis with pieces or chunks of chicken stir fried, sometimes crispier, sometimes not.

Jun 01, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Californios [San Francisco]

I went the 2nd week they were open and thought the meal had some highs and lows, some great flavor/texture combos. I remember leaving feeling satiated. I also remember getting tacos at some point in the same night but that may have been after getting drinks at ABV after Californios.

I am happy that I only paid $55pp though because for the number of courses and the quantity, I'm not sure I'd be happy at $75pp as it is now. Granted, I've been burned by a very meh experience at Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare where many of the courses were similar in style/execution to the dishes at Californios - piece of fish, dressing of some sort.

May 15, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowdown Report: Little Shanghai in San Mateo

Thanks for your comparison. I recently moved from Manhattan and currently live in SoMA after a month stint in Nob Hill. In that time, the only Shanghainese restaurant that I've had the chance to eat at repeatedly is Bund Shanghai on Jackson nr. Kearney. I find it to be solid for when I need my fix, which I'd say is increasing in frequency. Will comment in other thread but it seems that the runaway favorite there is also Bund Shanghai.

I can't shake it but Shanghainese food always feels more home-y to me than many other cuisines, Chinese or not, yet still incredibly delicious and fulfilling. I have not gotten around to trying high-end Shanghainese cuisine while in China (whether in Shanghai, Beijing, or HK) so I'm not sure what that might be like, nor have I tried Jai Yun here in SF.

To circle back on the experiences of some of those present for this chowdown though, I think the flavors of Shanghainese cuisine can be pretty boring when compared to other cuisines - Chinese or otherwise. But there is definitely still room for finesse in execution.

May 15, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowdown Report: Little Shanghai in San Mateo

Would you guys who attended contrast this a meal at another Shanghainese restaurant in the area, recent or not, for example, the meal at Bamboo Garden discussed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1009...

Also, two things that come to mind as I read these descriptions of dishes are:

1.black mushrooms may refer to wood ear mushrooms, especially based on photos such as this: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/little...

2.shanghai fried pork buns, based on photos like this:http://s3-media4.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphot... look like a failure in that the dough is way too leavened and thus too thick. These should be much thinner like a soup dumpling while still being crispy on the bottom and a bit thicker/doughy at the top.

I had tried to go about a month ago but they were closed for vacation apparently so I'd like to know if it's actually worth going or not, when compared to other area Shanghainese restaurants.

May 13, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Khao-man-gai in San Francisco?

The 'punch' is probably just how they choose to prepare it at Eim Khao Mun Kai. i.e. YMMV.

That's purely based on experience with the few trucks/carts in Portland,OR that specialize in this dish. I didn't find that their versions seemed to be Thai in anyways except for the spicy sauce that they provided, which seem to include fish sauce possibly.

May 03, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

TLT BBQ (San Mateo)

I dropped in for some takeout after dropping a friend off at SFO, all based on reading hyperbowler's xinjiang skewer thread earlier that day.

For $36 after tax, I got:

2xchicken skin
2xoyster mushroom
2xbeef tripe (honeycomb)
2xwatercress wrapped in tofu

Everything that I sampled right after I got the order was tasty, tender, juicy. 30m later when I got home, it was still decently tender.

Spicing is pretty light-handed, for me at least but it works with the variety of items.

The tofu sheets were pretty dry so I will avoid that next time. Definitely want to head back and try more of the menu.

Apr 16, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Chef Zhao Bistro [San Mateo]

Stopped in for lunch on Saturday after finding Little Shanghai closed for vacation (reopening 4/17 or 18).

Ordered (and apologies for inaccurate names here, totally forgot to take not)
wok fried crispy shrimp w/crispy rice(锅巴)
sichuan green beans
sliced pork w/garlic
cumin lamb

Of those, the crispy shrimp was our hands down favorite, about a dozen+ U15-20 or size smaller shrimp fried crispy enough to eat whole but lightly enough to be tender. The seasoning was a relatively light version of crispy chilis, scallions, garlic, and Sichuan peppercorns. The guo ba was alright, I prefer it in dishes with the soupy stuff, but then again, only ever had it or bothered to order it at banquets in China. It did serve well as a cracker on which the fried chili/scallion/garlic seasoning could be consumed.

The sichuan green beans had a nice wok blister to them but the interior was still bit under for me (I have an allergic reaction to these when 'undercooked' due to pollen allergy syndrome). Perfect for my spouse however.

Cumin lamb was well flavored and extremely tender but not...authentic? I expect the lamb to be thin and crispy at the edges and for there to be a lot of cilantro served on top or stir-fried in. The lamb here was clearly coated in starch and then stir-fried to preserve the tenderness, almost the texture you would expect from a shui zhu(水煮) preparation. Again, really tasty, we moped up, but they shouldn't call it cumin lamb, in my book.

Lastly, the garlic sliced pork with a heap of minced garlic and chili oil made for a nice appetizer but the accompanying fava beans were waterlogged as if they had only been partially thawed.

Two special menus on the walls advertising bullfrog in 5 different typical styles/preparations and some other stuff that I can't recall.

Will definitely go back if I'm in the hood or/if I have a larger group of folks to try out some dishes w/.

Apr 13, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

New Shanghai Dumpling King? Less than a block from my house? [San Francisco]

SJB are steamed and fried in the same pan. The oil in the pan provides for both the steaming and frying actions.

Mar 24, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Hawker Fare in the Mission [San Francisco]

I think Lers Ros, Zen Yai, Kin Kaho, Hawker Fare, Tycoon, Kyu3, all contribute to the rising profile of Thai cuisine here in SF across different Thai regions and price points.

That said, SF is not better off than LA by any means in terms of Thai cuisine because LA has a density of excellent Isan/Isaan restaurants that just doesn't exist in SF yet and even in the Bay Area - and I think that's the best of measure of maturity of Thai cuisine in a US city currently.

For example, while Zen Yai on Ellis offers boat noodles on the not so secret menu, and another menu in Thai, Pa Ord in LA offers these items openly, in English, with pictures.

That's a small example of the contrast between the maturity of the LA and SF Thai cuisine scenes, for example, in my opinion.

I'm hopeful for the future of Thai cuisine here though with the opening of places like Tycoon and Kyu3 that offer Thai regional cuisine that's not yet commonplace here.

Feb 28, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowhound search broken?

Search is broken again, either no results, or when narrowing the boards, gives all results in that board.

Feb 10, 2015
avial in Site Talk

Tycoon Thai -- New Thai/Lao option in the Tenderloin [San Francisco]

Went this past Thursday with a coworker and enjoyed what we ordered, nothing exotic but a tasty meal, and an significant improvement over King of Thai, which is the closest Thai to my office. We ordered everything medium spicy, which turned out to be more like mild spicy, slightly regrettable in the end.

Yum Ma Ma - served on a plate, this dish resembles a small portion of pork larb w/o the rice powder, add some gently boiled shrimp and calamari, then served on a bed of some thin and wavy egg noodles, add larb dressing et voila. Definitely comes across as a comfort food dish using known flavors using noodles to absorb extra sauce and add body to the dish. Probably better served in a bowl to make it easier to mix together.

Gang Om Gai - a soup, or stew more so, of chicken, mushroom, eggplant, dill, lemongrass, and long beans. Definitely something worth getting on a rainy or cold day, the layering of flavors is not mind-blowing but spot-on in terms of seasoning with the dill providing an interesting contrast to the lemongrass, vegetable and chicken flavors in the soup.

Pla Tod - a whole tilapia, skewered on one side to keep it straight, then fried and served with a small dish of lime chili dressing/sauce. I don't get this often but my coworker was jonesing for it. Not all the small bones were crispy enough to eat and the meat was a bit dry - endemic to preparing tilapia like this? That said, it was still tasty with application of the chili lime sauce, the fish itself was meaty and the fry job did create some chicharron. Not bad for $10 I suppose?

The water that they serve is pandanus flavored, like many Thai restaurants will offer, I enjoy that but could be a YMMV for others.

Definitely will be back to try some of the more interesting Lao dishes on the menu.

Feb 08, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Tacos El Ojo de Agua? [San Francisco]

I stopped by on Tuesday for lunch around noon on the 2nd half of a mini taco truck tour (first stop was La Fisheria).

Got the al pastor and the cabeza, $2/ea, served on 3" tortillas, with a lemon?! wedge a single whole pickled jalapeno, ~2" long.

Al pastor was worthless, some pork that they diced up roughly, marinated/coated in a sauce and then heated on the flat top at time of order.

The cabeza was excellent though, very tender and sitting in a small pool of gelatinous jus.

Both came served with a lighter colored red salsa, not delivering much spice but maybe just enough of a foil against the unctuous nature of the cabeza.

Confirmed that they are the same folks as the Oakland one, M-F 10-3, Sa 10-2.

Number printed on side of truck is 415.871.4900

Look forward to going back and trying out the other meats.

Jan 15, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Tacos El Ojo de Agua? [San Francisco]

My wife stopped by on the way to work and grabbed a steak burrito, which she found tasty.

Hours are 10-3 daily apparently. May have to do a mini taco tour between La Fisheria and El Ojo de Agua.

Jan 12, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Tacos El Ojo de Agua? [San Francisco]

Good to know that they're from the same ppl, the pictures of the menu for the one on 3rd and the one in Oaktown seem very different.

Jan 11, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Restaurant for a smallish post wedding dinner - 4 children included

Cockscomb will do 'private' dining for parties of 9+ with a minimum $/pp of ~$100 or so. They basically put together a whole bunch of two-tops in the upstairs dining room. So you will be surronded by other dinners at their own tables, but you're the center of attention. They have an elevator which might help with getting the kids in and out but the bathroom is downstairs.

I just had a city hall wedding and went there for my wedding 'reception' dinner - originally it was going to be 10-12 ppl but ended only being 8 so they sat us at 8-top table next to the wine case. Great view of the restaurant, especially the oven and grill area which also provides a nice source of warmth.

Jan 11, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Tacos El Ojo de Agua? [San Francisco]

I've read several threads here about the El Ojo de Agua in Oakland and have yet to find it in Oakland.

Imagine my surprise when I was walking down 3rd St yesterday around 1pm, headed to a sports bar for the game and saw a truck titled El Ojo de Agua parked in front of the Shell gas station b/t South Park and Varney.

I didn't have time to scope it out which turned out to be a poor decision as it was not there today around 3:30pm. Some quick research showed that this truck has been at this location since at least 2011 according to Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-el-ojo-...

Based on the photos for the Oakland truck on Yelp, I would say this truck is not from the same folks.

Has anyone ever eaten here? Any thoughts opinions?

Also, anyone recent reports on the location and schedule of the Oakland truck?

Jan 11, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Best butcher shop for 3-6lb slab pork belly in Chinatown or SOMA? [San Francisco]

Late response to this, ended up in Chinatown at Lee's Market, corner of Stockton and Vallejo. Had actually gone into Little City first but they didn't have bigger cuts like I wanted, only smaller cuts in the ~2lb range@~$8.50/lb. Additionally, when I asked the butcher about bigger cuts, he made an offhand remark about the poor quality of meat at the Chinese markets - I didn't appreciate that comment and walked out and straight across the street to Lee's.

At Lee's, the butcher there happened to be cutting up pork belly so I asked for ~6lbs with minimal skin but to leave the fat on. The butcher went about it quickly but the pieces was a bit uneven so the skinning was a bit uneven. However, at $2.50/lb, I didn't care.

Also to note, the slabs are not super thick, this is not 7-8 layers of meat and fat, this is like 3-4 layered belly and is only ~1.5-2" thick at best so if your recipe depends on that for portion sizes, cooking times, presentation, be prepared to adjust.

This all went down just shortly after 9:30am on a Friday morning in October.

Personally, I would get it again from Lee's though not before I tried another market in Chinatown to see if they have thicker cuts readily available.

Jan 07, 2015
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Chowhound search broken?

Searches will return the number of results for any given query but not the actual results. The blender animation appears very briefly. Almost like the displaying of the results is being short-circuited.

Jan 07, 2015
avial in Site Talk

Cockscomb - SF

Been seated in the upstairs dining room twice now, one long banquette that runs along the windows.

Rest of room is configured depending on if there are any group dinners taking place. Last Friday, there was a group of maybe 18-20 ppl sitting at one long stretch of 2-tops in the middle of the room such that they could still seat people at tables along the banquette, on both sides of it.

So 30-40 seats is probably the right range, depending on configuration.

Dec 18, 2014
avial in San Francisco Bay Area

Recommendations on osechi (ryori) jubako to take home/give as a gift?

after calling a few places, the prices and timeframes I got back were:

Katagiri - not in yet, after xmas, prices indeterminate
East - make a reservation now, $275/set, $10 extra for delivery
Sunrise Mart - available 12/30-12/31
Nippon - ~$400, make a reservation

I am probably going to go with East, though I may hold out to see what Katagiri offers, also, I didn't get a chance to write down the prices while I was on the phone with these places, the only price that I'm not 100% sure of is East, it's either $225 or $275

Dec 18, 2014
avial in Manhattan