daveena's Profile

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Moving to the Bay Area!

You might want to consider Alameda too - it's definitely sleepier than Oakland/Berkeley, but that has its advantages as well (you can leave your car parked on the street every day and not get it broken into), and rent's cheaper. Excellent bus service connecting Alameda to Oakland downtown. Park Street side has a lot of good, inexpensive and moderate range restaurants - nothing truly destination worthy (although the crowds outside Burma Superstar and Monkey Pub may disagree with me, and I do have friends who come from SF to go to American Oak), but a lot of good everyday restaurants if you tend to eat out a lot and like a wide variety of options. Ruth Lafler has a list compiled somewhere, but my usual walking-distance rotation includes Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Chinese hand pulled noodles, Mexican, Italian, upscale American, Korean, and German. I wish we had better Indian options, and there's no Ethiopian that I know of on the island.

Webster side doesn't have the same concentration of restaurants, but it's not bad (off the top of my head, there's Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Filipino, Peruvian, American diner, a few really nice cafes)and it's so convenient to downtown Oakland it might not matter. You'd have a super easy commute by bus.

Moving to the Bay Area!

There's decent bus service - there's one that takes you to 19th Street BART, and the Transbay gets you to SOMA in 25 minutes. Unfortunately, the Transbay doesn't run very often outside of peak commute times but it's a nice option when the timing's right.

Moving to the Bay Area!

I loved living in the Grand Lake neighborhood, and there are way more interesting restaurants there now than there were 3 years ago.I loved having easy access to the lake, to the Saturday farmer's market, to Safeway and to Trader Joe. Yeah, I know you can drive to supermarkets, but I really loved being able to walk to them. I ran almost all my errands on foot (drugstore, dry cleaning, etc)- heaven for an ex-New Yorker who had just spent 3 years tied to the car in the South Bay. There's a good used book store and a few coffee shops.

Parking keeps getting worse and worse though, so make sure you can get a garaged spot unless the place is further out from the main area.

Trader Joe's YAY/MEH/NAY - February 2015 [old]

YAY on the Super Burrito. I tried it because I thought it was a good lunch option would help keep my energy levels up in the afternoon and it turned out to be delicious - spicier than expected, and satisfying. It's going into the weekly lunch rotation.

Feb 19, 2015
daveena in Chains
1

Quito eats? Foodie tours? Cuy?

My husband was insistent on trying cuy when we were in Quito, so we ended up at Leña Quiteña on Calle de la Ronda. It screams tourist trap, with a blown up article touting the availability of all the Ecuadarian specialties in the "La Ultima Cena Criolla" (humitas, chicha and cuy). We went in anyway.

The food was good, way better than I expected. Maybe a little pricey, but everything was executed really well, and the terrace was a pleasant place to rest (and recharge your phone). I had an empanada de morocho and my husband had roasted cuy ($10 for a quarter cuy with side salad) - it was deeply bronzed and crispy, much more appetizing looking than ones I saw in Peru. Tasted like chicharrones.

I wanted to go to Warmi but couldn't find any internet presence - has it closed?

Treats from Ecuador?

Found this old thread when I was researching Quito and went here based on your recommendation - we bought almost all of our gifts for people here. They have attractively wrapped 3-packs of 50 gm bars (med dark with aji chili, mild dark with lemongrass oil, med dark with ginger and salt - conveniently the three flavors I found most interesting!) for $7.50, a great deal when each bar is $3. Enjoyed a hot chocolate here, and a "brownie" (closer to a molten cake with cocoa nibs) with raspberry ice cream. Very attractive store/cafe and a nice place to rest after a long day of walking.

Feb 14, 2015
daveena in General Topics

Mexico City layover report (Feb 2015)

Travel logistics:

We had a 7 hour layover - originally intended to take the subway in and didn't realize that the subway station is in Terminal 1, not Terminal 2 where the international flights are. You can take the monorail to Terminal 1, and the subway from there, but the Metrobus is so fast and convenient I'd only do that if I was literally counting pennies (Metrobus fare is 30 pesos, subway is 5). The card itself is 10 pesos and can be used for multiple people, and machines are available inside the airport as well as by the stop.

There's room for luggage on the bus, and a security guard on every bus and some stops as well. The bus never filled completely.

I was concerned that we'd get stuck in rush hour traffic coming back, so I timed the trips - at 2 PM, it took us 35 minutes to the Republica de Venezuela stop. at 5:30 PM it took 40 minutes to get back to Terminal 2, but 10 minutes of that was sitting at Terminal 1. It was incredibly fast and efficient - we passed countless taxis going each way (Metrobus has a dedicated lane and even its own turnabouts). The buses run every 15 minutes.

While it took forever to get luggage (it gets examined by drug-sniffing dogs in batches - I think we waited over an hour for our bags to come out), the longest and most painful part of the layover is up front for immigration and getting luggage - getting through customs was quick, rechecking luggage back in doesn't take too long (we were told to go to the line for airline staff to recheck in for Aeromexico, don't know if that's the case for all airlines.) Coming back in through immigration and security was fast, with no lines at 6:15 PM on a Thursday night.

Food:

There are decent looking tacos and tortas right by the Republica de Venezuela stop, so if you had a shorter layover and just wanted something to eat, you could eat there and hop back on the bus going to the airport.

We wandered around a bit and found the area around the National Palace Museo del Templo Mayor to have good street food offerings (we'd originally headed the wrong way from the Zocalo and ended up in an area that was way too upscale to have street food. We did buy some chocolates and chili mango slices from a department store though). We eventually ended up in an unmarked alley (next to Merceria Hermi at Venustiano Carranza 121) with multiple food vendors where we had good taquitos and gordita, and an excellent cheese quesadilla. We forgot all the recommendations not to eat shredded lettuce, scallions, etc but neither of us had problems later.

We then were drawn to the rotating spit topped with a pineapple outside Taqueria Del Centro on Correo Mayor (16-G) - my husband always complains that you can never find a proper al pastor where we live (rather than getting properly singed by flame and shaved, we usually end up with thicker slices finished on a griddle). There's seating inside. Tacos are 10 pesos each and very, very good - the meat is sliced paper thin, with a super thin slice of pineapple. Tortillas were very thin as well - I don't know if this is a regional difference or not. I tend to prefer thicker corn tortillas, but since the meat was shaved so finely the thin tortillas worked. We returned later for a torta, also excellent (I find tortas at home to be too much - too much bread, meat too thick, etc - proportions were more to my taste here).

We spent too much time eating and never made it to Templo Mayor, so we consoled ourselves with another taco from a stand nearby (campechano, also good, also with thin tortillas).

Feb 14, 2015
daveena in Mexico
1

2015 Koi Palace dim sum updates [Daly City]

I go to dim sum so rarely now that KP always new items every time I go - my MO is to order almost exclusively off the check-off menu. My husband wanted something from a cart, which made me realize... there are almost no carts. The tables are too packed to allow carts to go through much of the space, so servers carry a few servings on a tray and call out their specialties on the way back to the kitchen when they're bringing back the empty tray. I only understand a few words of Cantonese so I'm sure I missed out on some things. That said, I don't think I saw anything go by that wasn't listed on the check off menu.

I had a few dishes new to me yesterday - favorites were:
#201 Shanghai Crab Roe Steamed Pork Dumplings - exceptionally sweet and juicy. XLB were top notch yesterday, no broken wrappers, lots of soup.
#208 Sichuan Spicy Seafood dumplings - green rice flour wrapper, stuffed with shrimp and scallop (I think) fantastic tangy spicy sauce.
#203 Whole Maine Lobster Steamed Dumplings and Fried Claws. These were pricy - 8 dumplings (a chunk of lobster tail in a rice flour wrapper topped with roe, not sure from what animal) plus the fried claws were $36, but the dumplings were large and delicious. This took almost an hour to come after ordering.

Old favorites:
#224 Steamed shrimp dumplings topped with XO sauce
#204 Lamb buns in Clay Pot
#502 Sugar egg puff - these were greaseless and light - there's an artificial vanilla flavor to them I'm not crazy about, but the texture's so perfect I always have to get these
#202 Whole Dungeness Crab Steamed Dumplings and Fried Legs - these were overkill given that we'd also ordered the lobster with dumplings and the crab roe XLB, and I'd totally forgotten that my last two times ordering this were disappointing, with stale and soggy batter. My last time at KP I'd decided to just order the crab XLB in the future. Anyway, I'm happy to report the frying was perfect and the crab was sweet and fresh.

Would love to hear if anyone else has tried something new here they'd recommend - I'm sort of intrigued by the whole abalone minced chicken tart, but imagine the chewiness of abalone would make it difficult to eat the tart (looks like dan tat pastry).

Crowds were heavier at 10:30 than I'd remembered, but much lighter at 12 when we left - I think there were fewer than 15 parties waiting.

New Malaysian in Oakland Chinatown

I poked my head in here soon after it opened and walked on because it smelled more like Chinese stir-fry than belacan. Finally ordered take out after the positive early reports here, but made sure I asked for them to cook everything with as much chili and belacan as they would for a Malaysian.

I was pretty impressed - aside from the excellent roti and char kway teow, I really enjoyed the okra belacan (crisp and tender, with just the right amount of shrimp paste) and the beef rendang (deeply flavorful, crazy tender, with a generous portion of meltingly soft tendon). I think the roti dipping sauce is the sauce from the rendang.

Po' Boy @ The Chef and Her Farmer (Oakland)

This is currently my favorite sandwich. It looks almost exactly like a Bakesale Betty fried chicken sandwich (Acme torpedo roll, fried protein, pile of slaw on top) but tastes so, so much better. The oysters are big, maybe 5 or 6 to a sandwich, perfectly fried and greaseless. I think they're from Tomales Bay. Slaw is tangy and spicy and topped with a few thin slices of pickle, and there's a bit of spicy aioli. $16, so not cheap, but a good value.

Alameda: Monkey King Pub & Grub - Fusion Mien/Laotian?

Went here for the first time last night despite walking by it all the time on our way to Lucky 13, Scolari, and Homeroom Thai. Always been amazed by the masses of people patiently waiting to get in.

Menu is heavy on carbs (noodles, rice dishes) and fried proteins, and most of the patrons seem to be eating piles of fried food out of steamer baskets, but if you skip over the sweet and sour fried stuff on the menu, there are actually a couple of interesting items.

We had the Mien-style khao soi (they spell it differently on the menu, can't remember how now) and it was very good. Wide rice noodles, good broth, seasoned ground pork, bean sprouts and cilantro on top. They did not skimp on the heat or the fermented bean paste. This will be the my new sick-day food (although I will definitely get it to go, no way I can handle the lines or the deafening noise when I'm sick)

Other things on the menu I'd like to try - fried shrimp with salted egg yolk, fried rice with salted fish and chicken.

Cocktails are all really sweet, I'll probably go with beer in the future.

2014 Top Ten Tastes

My list this year leans heavily towards Asian comfort food -

Egg braised tofu (Ark Restaurant, Alameda) - rounds of silken tofu in an egg batter, lightly fried, in a brothy-sauce with mushrooms, it might be the healthiest thing I crave regularly.

Noodles with crispy pork and salty beef (Guilin Noodles, Oakland)- I've tried a couple of different noodles from this place, but always go back to this one.

Tianjin crepe (Tianjin Dumplings, Oakland)- ultra-addictive combination of savory/sweet/heat/crunch. I'm trying to eat healthier right now, but for a while, I was eating one of these every week.

Dried radish pancake (Dragon's Gate, Oakland)- this fluffy, pickled radish spiked omelet woke up some latent gustatory memory of mine - have to give thanks to Luke Tsai of the East Bay Express for reporting on this dish (and for his stellar work all year).

Kimchi pancake (88 Sports Bar, Alameda) - I think 88 Sports Bar is the only place I've been that serves the kimchee pancake still sizzling in on a hot stone - they're able to get a more substantial crust and deeper browning than anyone else.

Yonsei oyster (Hopscotch, Oakland)- while I've enjoyed some very good meals this year, nothing I've had at any high end restaurant has stayed with me with way Hopscotch's oyster with sea urchin, salmon roe and citrus soy has.

Burger (Fleming's Walnut Creek) - yeah, I'm putting a chain restaurant burger in there. It's a damn good burger (chopped rib eye, substantial toasted brioche bun), and when they run all-night happy hour specials it's $6. While we're at it, I'm going to put their Prime Rib special on the my list - usually $40 on Sundays, they had it for $30 every day for the month of August. Excellent prime rib (I prefer it to HOPR), and comes with a substantial salad, side, and dessert, all good. HOPR is superior for bread (the sourdough and the popover) but for everything else Fleming's wins. (note: we've eaten at the Walnut Creek branch many times and it's been consistently good - met family for dinner at the Palo Alto branch once and found overall execution inferior).

Pizza "La Provencale" (Nizza La Bella, Albany) - we ask for it without anchovies, olives or capers, but with red sauce and blue cheese, in order to approximate the pizza style we enjoyed in Southern France last year. Hats off to the Nizza folks for being so accommodating.

Jasper Hill Winnimere - I purchased half a wheel to bring a party, but couldn't wait to have just a little taste... needless to say, it never made it to the party.

Away: apple cider, cider donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Vermont. Pizza with fonduta, morels, potato at Stoneburner in Seattle. Cherry galette from Bakery Nouveau in Seattle.

2014 Top Ten Tastes

Time to reflect back on 2014 - what were your top 10 new (to you) local tastes of the year? (As always, drinks qualify, and memorable tastes encountered on travels can be listed at the end)

Last year's list, with links all the way back to 2003 as compiled by hyperbowler:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9283...

Looking for an Oakland Italian restaurant for a kid's bday

Centouno? I can't find a working website with an up to date menu but the menu on Yelp shows all three.

I haven't been but remember seeing some good reviews on Chowhound.

Classic Guilin Rice Noodles - Oakland Chinatown

Mine had fairly generous chunks of liver and what I thought was kidney (I ordered the beef and pork mix).

Rich Table -- An Embarrassment of Riches [SF]

I didn't realize until the pastas arrived that 3 of 4 were cream-based, which made them a little difficult to distinguish from each other. I think they could have benefited from heated serving and share plates - I took a bit of each pasta, and by the time I ate them they had all cooled.

Both the sardine chips and the beignets were better than I remembered. Trotter was terrific - not a cute little trotter cake like you usually get, but slabs of skin-on trotter, dotted with tiny dice of pickled Asian pear.

We also enjoyed the pretzel sundae with persimmon and tarragon, which everyone enjoyed.

Peony in Oakland chinatown... for dinner banquet?

I had a very good dinner here a few months ago - had some dishes I've never seen before. I didn't post because the host was well known to the staff and I didn't know if our experience was representative, but he did say the menu was one of the pre-set banquet menus and not a custom one.

I took some rough notes and remember liking everything, but especially the bitter melon with tofu.
- chicken and mushroom in broth
- Peking duck
- lamb chops
- geoduck with scallops, garlic and cellophane noodles piled on top
- winter melon with rounds of silken tofu in the middle (like some sort of big veggie bone marrow), pea shoots
- soy sauce chicken
- curry fried rice

Restaurants with great local cheese plates near Stowe/Waterbury??

Thanks to everyone for your recs - I ended up having too much cheese for 2 days and wasn't able to order additional cheese boards at restaurants, but will hang on to this thread for my next visit.

Trip report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/993483

Blech, I hate this Q&A format. Doesn't make it easy to thank people for taking the time to answer.

Oct 26, 2014
daveena in Northern New England

Vermont Trip Report (Stowe/Waterbury/Morrisville) - Oct 2014

We had a short trip (2+ days) and wanted to taste as much local beer/cheese/spirits as possible. We'd also hoped to visit a meadery, but neither Groenfell nor Artesano were open on the days we were there.

Tastings:
Cabot Annex (Waterbury) - we stopped in here our first night planning to pick up some cheddar for snacking - I was surprised by the deep selection of local cheese. Before this trip, I was only familiar with Vermont Butter and Creamery, and Jasper Hill, both of which are very expensive in California, so I went a little overboard in my selections on the first day. Later, I realized that I'd failed to pick up any chalkier goat cheeses (my husband doesn't love creamy cheeses) - I'd passed on VB&C's Coupole and Bijou since I've had them before, and I'd wanted to try ones I hadn't had before. By this point, we already had more cheese than we'd be able to finish in two days - in retrospect, I should have planned for meals at restaurants with good local cheese plates, and sampled more cheeses that way. I did post the question to this board and got some great recommendations (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9927...). Next time!
Note: the only cheeses being sampled here were Cabot cheddars - I didn't ask for tastes of any of the cheeses I purchased.

Prohibition Pig (Waterbury) was one of the recs we received for restaurants with local cheese plates. While I ended passing on the cheese (had 2 of the 3 already), it was a great place to try out lots of local beers. I was glad to have the chance to try Alchemist's Heady Topper, but... I swear, I'm not the kind of person who goes to a place and then says stuff back home is better. I'm really not. But I was not impressed. It was nice and drinkable, but I have a strong preference for the Pliny the Elder on tap at my neighborhood bar. The food was very good - actually, their burger is outstanding. The meat was unbelievably delicious. All the veggie sides I tried were terrific (blackened green beans, collard greens, brussel sprouts). Great pickle platter (watch out for the pickled chilis that look like carrots or green beans though). Their Crisphead (wedge) salad was a little light on the Bayley Hazen blue (that stuff's expensive though, I was surprised they'd even feature it), mac and cheese was good, brisket was good, fries were good although less duck-y tasting than I'd expect for duck fat fries. Excellent, friendly service. We loved this place and ate here twice in two days.

Rock Art Brewery (Morrisville) has a fun 8 beer tasting for a little over $8 - they probably have the most diverse selection of styles I've ever seen from a single brewery. There were a lot of locals coming in to fill growlers of the recently released Galaxy IPA. My favorite was their 2013 Pumpkin Imperial Spruce Stout, which they've renamed Imperial Spruce Stout for 2014 due to the confusion caused by the presence of "Pumpkin" in the old name. There are no sweet pumpkin spices at all - I wouldn't ever have identified pumpkin if someone hadn't told me. It was super mellow and had interesting depth and roundness.

Caledonia Spirits (Hardwick) - highly, highly recommended. A friend of mine had recommended their gin, so I looked them up and was pleased to find that they were located near where we were staying. Small distillery with tasting room, best smelling distillery I've ever been in due to all the honey and beeswax - all of their spirits are made with honey. The (free) tasting includes their vodka, gin, and barrel aged gin, as well as an elderberry cordial.

Grand View Winery (Waterbury) - fun, inexpensive ($2) tasting, and convenient since it's right next to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, which pretty much everyone goes to. Unfortunately, they're closing this year, so they've completely sold out of cider. We sampled their fruit wines and brought home a bottle of cranberry wine for Thanksgiving.

Tours - we enjoyed both the Ben and Jerry tour, and the Cabot tour. I expected the focus on social responsibility from the Ben and Jerry tour, and was pleasantly surprised that Cabot has a similar focus as well.

Other:
Cold Hollow Cider Mill (Waterbury) - my first time having cider donuts, and I loved them. They're even good cold, but the hot ones are remarkably light, tender and greaseless. We went here every day for fresh donuts. We also bought a lot of gifts for people here, it's a pretty good one-stop shopping spot for all sorts of local products. One of the local tourist maps has a coupon - 6 free donuts with a $25 purchase. If you're going to buy gifts anyway, it's a great deal.

Michael's on the Hill (Waterbury) - we happened to be here during Restaurant Week - they had a fun restaurant week beer and bacon menu with both wine and beer pairings, so we both ordered the set menu and had both pairings. I didn't take great notes on the meal but remember portions were surprisingly large, and the wine pours were generous. Only real disappointment was that the beer pairing for the main dish - pork belly and pork loin - was Stella Artois. When there are so many interesting local brews, to pour Stella! The Rock Art Black Current Saison we tasted the next day would have been great with this. Service was a little off for a restaurant with a la carte prices rivaling those of NYC 4 stars - our server didn't seem very knowledgeable about the beers and wines he was pouring and seemed irritated when we asked questions.

Cape Cod Trip Report Oct 2014 (feat. lobster roll roundup)

We were in Dennisport for a wedding the weekend after Columbus Day, and learned quickly that most of the highly regarded lobster roll places were closed. After striking out at Moby Dick, PJs and Sesuit Harbor Cafe (at least by Sesuit Harbor I learned to check the website first), we opted to just eat lobster rolls everywhere we could find them.

Mac's Shack (Wellfleet) - the most expensive roll at $22, it seemed to be all tail meat, which I loved but was deemed "too chewy" by my husband. It had a touch more mayo than I'd prefer (full disclosure: I have a strong preference for hot buttered lobster rolls). Bread was chewier and more substantial than the standard hot dog roll, which I enjoyed. Raw oysters were great as expected, clam chowder somewhat broken (clots of protein precipitated out of broth) but good flavor. Lobster bisque was overly thickened with starch.

Stewart's (Eastham) - I think this one was around $18, generous amount of lobster, mostly crab and knuckle. Less mayo than Mac's Shack, texture was softer than I'd like and would make me suspect frozen lobster except I don't know if it makes economic sense to get frozen lobster in Cape Cod. Top split bun. My husband preferred this one to Mac's. Lobster bisque was thick like pudding and basically inedible. I learned my lesson re: lobster bisque in seafood shacks on this trip. Stewart's also has the honor of having what may be the worst specialty cocktail list I have ever seen. Butterscotch schnapps is heavily featured. One cocktail had both a coffee liquor and butterscotch schnapps. Another had pumpkin puree and whipped cream. We couldn't resist ordering the "English Breakfast" - gin shaken with marmalade, garnished with toast. To our disappointment, the toast came on the side, not impaled on the side of the glass. The marmalade was surprisingly insoluble and sat in a layer at the bottom of the glass. Even more surprising, the martini that was floated on top of that wretched layer of marmalade was quite good. We looked over at the bartender, a crusty old guy who was capably making martinis for a row of regulars sitting in front of him, and wondered what he thought of the specialty cocktail menu.

Kreme 'n Kone (Dennisport) - the fried clams were perfect, fresh and greaseless, and I thought the lobster roll was the best I had on this trip. At $14, it was smaller than the others but had a very high lobster to bread ratio. I actually ate half of the lobster with a fork before I could pick up the roll. Minimal mayo (they ask at time of ordering if you'd like addiitional mayo on the roll, which I declined) Meat was a claws and knuckle, firmer than Stewart's, and very flavorful.

Tedeschi (Dennisport) - we had to see what a $10 convenience store lobster roll was like. Verdict: good for a convenience store sandwich. Fairly generous amount of lobster, obviously not freshly cooked but tasted ok. Unfortunately, the roll had margarine on it, which killed the flavor for me. I'd rather have a dry stale piece of bread than one with margarine.

Bonus lobster roll: Our friend's wedding featured mini lobster rolls during cocktail hour. Bread to lobster ratio was too high, but it just seems ungrateful to complain about any sort of wedding lobster. The caterer was actually stellar - I would definitely recommend them. Am trying to find out who they were so I can post my rec.

Other:
Sundae School - we were lucky to get here on the last day of the season. We picked up pints of heavily discounted ice cream (ginger and coffee heath bar) from their end of season sale. Both were outstanding - super creamy, not too sweet, big chunks of mix ins.

Hole in One (Eastham) - we got here at the end of the business day, around 1:30, so there weren't any fresh out of the fryer. That said, I've eaten a lot of cold donuts in my life, and these were deeply disappointing. We tried a honey glaze and an apple cinnamon - both were dense, oily, and seemed staler than they should be for same day donuts.

Oct 26, 2014
daveena in Southern New England
1

Restaurants with great local cheese plates near Stowe/Waterbury??

I have a little over two days to get a crash course in Vermont cheese - stopped by the Cabot Annex in Waterbury and picked up Cremont from Vermont Butter and Cheese, La Petite Tomme from Lazy Lady, and Moses Sleeper plus Bayley Hazen from Jasper Hill. Am reading up on more cheeses and realizing there's so much more I want to try I should try to find restaurants with deep cheese selections.

So far, I've found Hen of the Wood in Waterbury. Anyplace else?

Oct 20, 2014
daveena in Northern New England

Impressing out-of-towners in the East Bay

Pizzaiolo,Camino,Hopscotch, Champa Garden, Taqueria Sinaloa

Ark Chinese Restaurant in Alameda

That braised egg tofu is fantastic. I just had it for the first time recently. Ge da soup was as good as I remembered, as was the zha jiang mian and spicy beef noodle soup. Every time I go I wonder why I don't go more often.

Dragon Gate - New Taiwanese Food Venue in Oakland

I had a really enjoyable meal here a few weeks ago - I'm pretty nominally Taiwanese and never thought I had particular cravings for Taiwanese food, but Dragon Gate satisfied cravings I didn't know I had. In particular, I keep thinking about the braised cubes of daikon in the beef noodle soup, (meltingly tender and saturated with spicy broth), and the dried radish pancake (a light, fluffy omelet studded with bits of pickled radish.)

We also really enjoyed the Taiwanese grilled sausages and oyster pancake (one of the better versions I've had, with crisped edges, fat fresh oysters, and a not too sweet, not too gloppy, slightly tomatoey-vinegary sauce). The three cup chicken flavor was great but our chicken pieces were very bony. Skewers were fine - we had chicken heart, gizzard, intestine, beef cheek and okra with bacon - I don't think I'd get them again.

Service was very brisk - next time I think we'll ask to have the dishes paced out a little more, since we got everything almost at once.

Musing in Fremont

Haven't been to all the good beer places in the Bay Area yet, can't say for sure :)

I just really appreciate how unpretentious the staff and patrons are at The Bistro. It's so far from anywhere most people would want to be that you get a no-bro, low-hipster quotient that can be very pleasant. I think I posted a few years back on my inaugural Pliny the Younger experience (my first time going to The Bistro) and just really loved that most of the patrons there were there to hear their friends during open mike night. No crazy lines or waits.

Musing in Fremont

Killer write up, thank you!

Chaat Bhavan is where we go when husband's craving chaat and I want a dinner thali. I've always found it satisfying but not stellar, will head back in with your recs next time.

I haven't had a dosa in the Bay Area that bests Saravana Bhavan's, would love to hear if you've found a good one.

For your beer needs - there may be something closer to Fremont, but if you haven't found one yet, The Bistro in Hayward is the most unpretentious, least douchebaggy good beer place I've been to in the Bay Area. Hayward also has an excellent, small wine shop called Doc's.

Favorite Ice Cream 2014

I think I've burned out on fancy artisanal ice creams. All I ever want these days is a hot fudge sundae from Tucker's (Alameda) with macapuno and toasted almond ice creams.

Fresh lo mein noodles in Oakland/Berkeley - where to buy?

Yuen Hop in Oakland Chinatown has an overwhelming selection of fresh noodles - more egg, less egg, no egg, various thicknessess - it makes it hard to remember which ones I love when I try to recreate dishes that worked, but I'm guessing if you go for one of the skinny "less egg" noodles would work.

Seattle/Gig Harbor Trip Report - July 2014

Had a brief trip for a wedding in Gig Harbor and added on a few days to see friends in Seattle - I didn't get much of a chance to research beforehand, but luckily the Seattle board had some great, active visitor threads going (hi greyelf!).

For a visitor from the Bay Area, I think it's worth it to seek out berries, rabbit, and morels, all of which are more plentiful, cheaper, and better in Washington. Breads, pastries and cheeses were great too, and fun to compare with hometown favorites.

Favorite dishes/foodstuffs are marked with asterisks (*)

Gig Harbor - since we were here for a wedding, our priority was convenience, not chowhounding, but we still did pretty well.
Susanne's bakery - *marionberry pie was excellent. Juicy flavorful berries, not too sweet, good buttery crust
Anthony's - I actually didn't realize this was a chain until I saw one at the airport. Best dishes were clam chowder, cedar planked Copper River salmon, and berry desserts. Best strategy was to choose the simplest sounding dishes, anything that seemed too ambitious fell flat (tuna tartare with avocado had weirdly sweet/sesame dressing, etc, one of the fish dishes had an odd berry compote that marred the otherwise well-cooked fish)
Devoted Kiss Cafe - serviceable for a high-calorie brunch the day of the wedding.
Gig harbor farmer's market - more crafty stuff than produce, but we did enjoy the Townsend Creamery stand and bought a small round of *Seastack (excellent, earthy, kind of melty kind of chalky veg ash coated cow cheese).

Seattle -
Local 360 - on my last trip to Seattle 2+ years ago, Local 360 was our runaway favorite. I went back for brunch - unfortunately, the chicken fried steak was tougher and thicker than I'd remembered, and I didn't love the vinegary gravy (my notes from last visit described it as more mushroomy). Biscuit was excellent. Cheesy grits were very good, and rabbit pot pie, while tasty, bordered on chowder in texture, with a lot of gravy and tiny bits of rabbit. Service was friendly and efficient (Yelp reviews seem to suggest the contrary).

*Stoneburner* - asterisking the whole damn thing. I loved this place. I wouldn't have known about it except for a few wildly positive one-liners on Chowhound - I'm really surprised it doesn't show up on more Best Of lists (I'd also glanced through a few other sites, including Eater 38). There's a (recently closed) restaurant in SF called Incanto that I loved - the chef described the cuisine as Italian, if California were a province of Italy, and I thought Stoneburner had the kind of food you'd see if Washington were a province of Italy.
* Black bucatini- garlic, bottarga, chili - I was crazy for this dish. Great texture, nice heat, great flavor.
* Ricotta cavatelli, chanterelle, parsley and fennel top pesto. Again, perfect pasta texture, great flavor
* Pizza with fonduta, potato, morels - ultra thin crisp crust, not usually my preferred type (I like a bit of flexibility and chew), but for this pizza - paper thin slices of potato, a generous scattering of morels, and melted cheese poured tabletop - it was perfect. Morels are crazy expensive in the Bay Area, and it blew my mind that you would find them at a mid-range restaurant.
Grilled turnips, fava bean and cilantro pasata, charred leek vinaigrette
Roast cauliflower, pistachio, calabrian chili oil, golden raisin agrodolce - both veg dishes were well executed and complemented our carby selections well
Honey semifreddo - refreshingly light, topped with shards of burnt sugar "honeycomb"

With tax and tip, it was $34 pp. To be fair, we weren't drinking much, but it was still an unbelievable deal.

Bakery Nouveau
*Cherry galette - one of the best tarts I've ever had. Perfect juicy glazed cherries, great crust.
Double baked chocolate and almond croissants - giant craggy burnished croissants filled with marzipan and/or chocolate, similar in style to Tartine's in SF, which I enjoy
Kringle - I brought a selection of pastries to a friend who's ethnically Danish, and she loved the kringle in particular

Dahlia Bakery
*Coconut Cream Pie bites - these were great. I don't even particularly care for coconut cream pie. Again, fantastic flaky pastry - I don't think I had a single bad crust the whole time I was here.
Strawberry eclair - Dahlia's goodies tend to run towards homey American with a streak of hippie - the presence of a vegan carrot almond oat cake would usually send me screaming the other way - but the eclair looked so good I had to try it. I was very impressed with the light, tender choux pastry.
Donuts fried to order - these little beignets were good (and came with little cups of vanilla cream and excellent cherry preserves) but I think dessert beignets have been so trendy in the Bay Area for the past few years I probably would not have ordered these if I had known they were beignets.

In Melrose Market:
Sitka and Spruce - I was only able to get here for lunch, and had a fairly simple dish of potato, morels and egg. It was good, but there were definitely dishes on the dinner menu that looked a lot more interesting to me.

Rain Shadow Meats
* rabbit and pork belly terrine - loved this

The Calf & Kid - I tried a number of local cheeses and loved the raw goat *Wonderland. Also enjoyed Willapa Hills Big Boy Blue, Iris Red (raw sheep), and Boont Corners Reserve (a California goat and sheep), but it was the Mountain Lodge Farm's Wonderland that stood out. I had to choose between the Macrina baguette sold at Calf and Kid, and the Columbus Bakery one sold at Sitka and Spruce, and went with the Macrina because the Columbus was too big for three of us to share. The Macrina loaf was a slightly sour, rustic type that I favor, and rounded out the little picnic I'd collected at Melrose Market.

Ny'ers 1st time itinerary. Feedback welcomed

Best dosa I've ever had were in NYC. There's a stretch of Lexington in the high 20's (Curry Hill) that's all kosher vegetarian Indian restaurants, mostly South Indian. Koreatown is a strip of W 32nd street. In general I prefer my Bay Area Korean, but I lived in Santa Clara and Oakland, not SF. Still, haven't found a sul long tong better than Gam Mee Oak's.

Robert Sietsema was my Jonathan Gold, and his Cheap Eats book was my bible when I lived in NYC. Chowhound also started there, so I'm very surprised these places don't show up in discussions more often. It may be that they've been there for so long that they've fallen off the radar.