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ABC Restaurant Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe wanted

There was a comparative online discussion here a few months ago re silicon-valley Chinese-chicken-salad recipe details (silicon valley being the hotbed of this specialty within the Bay Area), very relevant to this query: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/990499 Various restaurants do mostly minor variations on a basic recipe, summarized below.

I haven't specifically experienced ABC in Scott's Valley (and FWIW, the famous Tao Tao Cafe is located in Sunnyvale, not Mountain View, despite an earlier link's attribution; I've had its version of this salad over the years -- never struck me as outstanding for the region -- always seemingly made in bulk, mechanistically -- of course there could be random experience variations). Chef Chu's (a larger and more successful restaurant than either of its main silicon-valley rivals Ming's and Tao Tao) has published its popular version of Chinese chicken salad in Chu's own COOKBOOKS since 1983.

To reprise it here, Chu's recipe is based on an a savory dressing: equal volumes hot powdered mustard, water, and sesame oil [the usual toasted type]. With a little salt pan-roasted with five-spice powder, slivered scallion, and lots of cilantro, plus the solid ingredients. Note that the basic dressing is intense, so a little goes a long way (no plain bulk vegetable oil, just flavorful sesame oil) -- unlike some derived recipes I've seen. NO vinegar or sugar (later variations added by some, often mediocre, restaurants). Chu's recipe is allegedly available online in another thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/633772 (READ DOWN the thread to the corrected-links posting) -- but what I summarized here is directly from his printed cookbooks, so can serve as an authenticity check against any more detailed recipes alleging to come from Chu.

A related recipe thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637412

Pasta cooked 'al dente', am I the only one who doesn't like it that way?

It seems clear (attested by several comments in this thread from Italian experiences) that "al-dente pasta" is just yet-another case of a worthy and successful food concept on its native soil, which had a certain context and understanding there, then became transplanted (and even fashionable) in the US but in name only, divested of necessary context, therefore in altered form, with a different understanding in the US than it had to Italians. Much like fettuccine al' Alfredo (or for that matter, concepts like "beignet" or "macaron" or "ramen"). Maybe we can close this thread now.

Aug 22, 2015
eatzalot in General Topics

High tea is not afternoon tea

I've enjoyed a few visits to NYC's Russian Tea Room in past decades. But not all (or even much) of the US is or resembles New York City. And in traveling around the US, I've seen diverse hospitality institutions offering formal tea service (sometimes quite elaborate and sometimes, but very inconsistently, dubbed "high" tea) -- at big hotels over the decades, at the restaurant of one of Chicago's famous mega-department stores in 1965, at little family-run restaurants in converted old houses (with an apparent vision of trying to establish or resurrect "tea" as a regular form of meal) -- all independent efforts, sometimes with self-conscious novelty, often trying to tap into a potential market (such as afternoon pedestrian traffic in a shopping neighborhood).

But never with any evidence of nationwide coherence or wide US understanding of "tea" as a meal, as it's so thoroughly institutionalized in places like Russia, Britain, or south China -- and even memorialized in classic food writings like Mokholovets, cited upthread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9193... . So I've seen no particular evidence for anything like a consistent "American version of high tea," but rather a smattering of independent efforts to offer something, each from the perspective of whoever took the initiative, whether that inspiration came from Britain or another region. I'd be surprised if more than a tiny minority of US population (most of whom hang out here on Chowhound :-) even recognize the phrase "high tea" or understood "tea" as more than a generic beverage (barring some personal connection with those older teaified cultures).

For that matter, Britain is even a relative newcomer to tea. The herb itself (C. sinensis) isn't exactly native there, and IIRC, British taste for tea dates to its great imperial and trading enterprises starting circa 1600s. I wouldn't be surprised if Britain copied the tea-meal tradition from Russia or China where it was already ancient.

Aug 22, 2015
eatzalot in Food Media & News

Charley Noodle & Grill: Hawaiian-style ramen in Los Altos

Interesting! Thanks for the report

Now I'm wondering if Spam™ is among the garnish options. Not because I like it (I don't, despite a fondness for shelf-stable meat sources for cooking, and despite many attempts to use it -- in my cooking experiments, it turned out to be just about the most flavorless of all the canned meats commonly available) but as an example of adaptation of such soups. (Spam has surfaced as an ingredient in noodle soups where it was available -- in Hawaii, and in the S. Korean "army-base soup" http://www.sanjose.com/2010/07/07/07_... )

Charley Noodle & Grill: Hawaiian-style ramen in Los Altos

This inexpensive restaurant is a few months old (on site of the former Los Altos branch of Muracci's Japanese Curry & Grill). According to Sheila Himmel's local professional review linked below, proprietor Charley Cheng has a venerated restaurant history in Los Altos, and is a native of Hawaii. The style of ramen is described as a Hawaiian variation (thinner "saimin" noodles, in particular, resembling lo mein) which is new to me. The basic ramen bowl is $4 which accords with what I remember hearing of Charley's local reputation. Haven't tried the place yet, but will soon. Anyone been there?

http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/20...

Decent restaurant near SFO?

What about the sometimes-famous dim sum houses in Millbrae, at the big intersection of Millbrae Ave. and El Camino Real -- a quiet business district off 101, a short drive from the airport -- ?

A friend who didn't even live in the region, but visited on business, swore by that option: you could get good dimsum either there or to take with you. But the restaurant population at that intersection has evolved in the few years since I was last there; someone more current should comment. (It also is a location in between the airport and Half-Moon Bay, though far closer to the airport.) And the places I remember (two or more competitors) were popular enough to be very busy at peak times, something to keep in mind, though it's a consideration at any restaurant.

Community Survey: Dan Dan Noodles (Simplified: 担担面 Traditional: 擔擔麵 Pinyin: dàndànmiàn)

In 1965 US immigration law changed; within a few years the Bay Area started seeing new kinds of Chinese restaurants in increasing numbers, thanks to Chinese entrepreneurs and cooks from agriculturally rich provinces (Sichuan, Hunan, Canton), and Hong Kong. It was the main arrival of "real" Chinese food here, upstaging the old egg-rolls-and-chop-suey menus with bold dishes using ginger, garlic, scallions, hot peppers, and just-cooked fresh vegetables.

'When you say "we'd already experienced real (authentic) Sichuanese cooking in US restaurants in the Bay Area and elsewhere, and loved it" can you name the restaurants?'

Yes for some, no for others, and it's hardly relevant -- because I remember the dishes, and details of them that (later) I learned bespoke authenticity, and probably Sichuan-trained chefs.

'You later say you don't have evidence or experience with Dan Dan Noodles until recently.'

Yes, a completely unrelated point: I ignored the dish until recently. It's among signature Sichuanese dishes, so famous that other Chinese restaurants apply the name to vaguely related noodle dishes. I'd encountered those here since the 1980s, and occasionally ordered them (disappointing). Then a few years ago I COOKed an authentic recipe like those in US cookbooks since the 70s; it was like the good restaurant examples in this thread. That contrast is why this thread exists -- seeking the increasingly available Real Thing among the many phony versions.

I don't suggest at all that authentic dan dan mian were _common_ or _popular_ in the US in past decades -- they're still not very -- but I believe that like the other famous Sichuan specialties this dish was available, if you sought it in the Bay Area. (I had to chuckle at this bit of assumption: 'There's a reason you didn't taste [dan dan mian] in Berkeley in the 70s' -- Yes: it's because I didn't order them! A now-defunct restaurant with Sichuanese cook then on a side street near UCB did serve me authentic versions of similarly famous Sichuan specialties, so I have no evidence it didn't also make real DDM, which, after all, is a simple dish.)

The relevance of authentic US 1970s cookbooks (based on recipes from China) to restaurants is twofold. It shows that quality recipes for Sichuan specialties WERE readily available in the US at the time, for anyone interested in the dishes themselves (or in comparing what they found in restaurants). And, some books go into the dishes' _Chinese_ history (such as cold noodles with sesame sauces, more details far upthread), which you'd never discern just from the changing and fickle offerings of US Chinese restaurants over the decades.

Baumé (Palo Alto)'s exotic wine policy?

MoceMada you are making me nostalgic. I first encountered SF's "real" Chef Keller (Hubert, from Alsace) in '85 when he was what Unterman dubbed a three-star chef working in a one-star restaurant (Sutter 500). A few years later at Fleur de Lys, he could show his stuff more freely and exuberantly; then for years I ran into him in diverse places (offering cooking classes down the peninsula, competing at -- and winning -- formal-dress SF chef competitions). One thing he brought to the scene that the other, latter-day "Keller" didn't was experience and enthusiasm for old-country cooking traditions he grew up with (in one of Europe's more famous food regions). That was especially obvious in his cooking classes I took, which focused on exquisite Alsatian folk cooking.

Likewise, memories of Trader Vic's on Cosmo Place in the 70s (in what you aptly called an "orthogonal" manner -- we must be geeks, I don't think that term has yet been popularized and if it ever is, it'll surely be garbled, as happened with "parameter" and "nonlinear").

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: Pasta and Other Starches [CoTM Sept 2006 and Nov 2013]

Thanks for posting this, pistachio peas!

For readers who have Marcella's original two books rather than the reissue, this recipe is on page 101 of volume 1 ("The Classic Italian Cook Book").

Baumé (Palo Alto)'s exotic wine policy?

Another thing, MoceMada: Does your definition of a great restaurant require current buzz, Michelin stars, etc.?

It's a philosophical point I raise sometimes. I've always been focused on the food experience, not critical or public acclaim, and have researched and explored restaurants accordingly. It's not necessary to wait for professionals to get around to doing it.

Consequently (just in Santa Clara County), I often enjoyed the inspired cooking of David Kinch before Manresa, Chris Kostow before Meadowood, Josh Skenes before Saison. These people all did brillant work, years before they became publicly known Brand Names (it was on the basis of that work that they were able to open prominent restaurants). Obviously, finding great chefs on the way up isn't as simple as looking them up; and they won't do for "occasions" with guests focused on prestige rather than food. But great restaurant cooking is never limited to the restaurants that already have prizes and laurels and waiting lists. And Draconian corkage policies.

Baumé (Palo Alto)'s exotic wine policy?

"the 20 somethings (who are a much more plentiful demographic in SF and less plentiful in Menlo Park/Palo Alto)"

As an aside, that's not the impression I get in Baumé's neighborhood, i.e. walking along Cal Ave. in the daytime.

". . . Mountain View to San Jose probably has less of a 20 something demographic"

In the last 2-4 years since Google, LinkedIn, Apple, FB and others entered their current hiring phase with 10s of thousands (literally) of new jobs, it's exactly that demographic group that has increased so dramatically in employment in middle and lower peninsula as to prompt a cruel housing crunch and even national news (see link); these new hires live throughout the region, including SF (riding the famous shuttles to work) where they also materially contribute to the SF demographics goldangl mentioned.

But I suspect MoceMada has something in that 20-somethings, even affluent ones, aren't the main market for unique high-end restaurants. Flash-mob visits to Asian restaurants (organized by smartphone app) seem more their current style.

Palo Alto in particular has a long history of residents wringing hands over lack of restaurants beyond say Chef Chu's and Buca di Beppo, given that it ought to be a good market for them. Whatever today's complaints, dining options in Palo Alto's two downtowns have increased and diversified spectacularly in the last 25 years.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/tec...

Community Survey: Dan Dan Noodles (Simplified: 担担面 Traditional: 擔擔麵 Pinyin: dàndànmiàn)

You're mistaking some of my points above.

I cited 1970s Sichuanese cookbooks not because I recently looked up something in them, but because I've cooked from them continuously since the 1970s, when they were new. So did other Americans I knew at the time; and we used those books, in turn, because we'd already experienced real (authentic) Sichuanese cooking at some Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area and elsewhere, and loved it. Many thousands of Americans bought those books and have cooked from them ever since, using recipes authentic by today's reckoning, therefore experiencing real Sichuanese cooking at HOME, as well as in those restaurants that specialized in it. Even if there's a segment of the US public that only became aware of real Sichuanese food in the 1990s, or because it's fashionable now on Chowhound, or whatever.

I was making cold sesame nooodle dishes in 1976, from one of Lo's cookbooks, which cited specific Chinese sources. Who really supposes they were "created in NY's Chinatown" as you claimed above?

I experienced _authentic_ Sichuanese specialties (incl. MPTF and "double-cooked pork") in a Berkeley restaurant in 1975 and periodically ever since. Regrettably, I didn't pay attention to dan dan noodles till recent years. In those recent years, I've seen them made authentically by Bay-Area Sichuan-born chefs, and inauthentically by other Chinese chefs, the same split as with other famous Sichuanese dishes ever since the 1970s, all turning on whether or not the _chef_ had Sichuanese expertise. I have no evidence dan dan noodles weren't also being made both inauthentically and authentically in 1975 (authentically, say, at the same Berkeley Sichuanese restaurant where I got other Sichuanese dishes authentic by modern measure). Given, also, that any US home cooks who wanted to do so were making authentic DDM at home then, from directions in books like Delfs's.

Unusually for a Chinese dish, dan dan noodles (dan dan mian, DDM) have a specific history, well documented, localized not just to Sichuan but Chengdu itself, and quite distinct from the parallel sesame-paste (and related) noodle dishes being made elsewhere in China. (People who used good Sichuan cookbooks in the US have known DDM's history for 40 years.) These dishes all came over from China in parallel, it's documented -- they didn't just somehow evolve into each other in the US. I think you are mostly writing about broad trends in US Chinese restaurants, sugartoof -- an interesting topic but only tangentially related to my words in this thread.

Community Survey: Dan Dan Noodles (Simplified: 担担面 Traditional: 擔擔麵 Pinyin: dàndànmiàn)

"Cold Sesame Noodles, created in NY's Chinatown (supposedly), are a menu standard, even though no two versions are really alike, and they just kind of wing it."

But cold (or hot) noodles with sesame-paste-based sauces (containing savory and sweet condiments per availability and cook's preference, often sesame oil as well as paste) are pervasive in mainland-Chinese cooking traditions. Kenneth Lo reproduced recipes from various regions in his 1970s cookbooks, and later included one in The Top One Hundred Chinese Dishes "because it is so perennially appealing to such a wide number of people. I used to thoroughly enjoy tucking into a bowl of these nutty, aromatic noodles bought from a wayside stall on my way back from school [in China] in the 1920s."

I think of the savory sesame-sauce noodle genre as sort of a Chinese counterpart of Genoese pasta-al-pesto (especially when the Chinese sauce has a little green, as from scallion bits) -- they're both (basically) vegetarian and nut (i.e. seed) based. Dan-dan mian may be a Chengdu street-vendor spin on the larger Chinese genre, with creative garnishes. In Chengdu, no two mobile street vendors used the same recipe (says tradition). Sesame paste, when it appears in Sichuanese DDM recipes, incl. some I summarized above like Fuchsia Dunlop's, is a minority ingredient, adding a nuttiness but never dominating the sauce. Contrasting examples in a moment.

Authentic Sichuanese dan-dan mian recipes have been in popular US Sichuanese cookbooks since the middle 1970s -- they aren't anything new. The big distinction I witness among US restaurant DDM authenticities isn't about the 1970s vs later, but crucially, whether the cook has Sichuan experience or not. The most recent INauthentic Bay-Area DDM versions I experienced came from a Taiwan-born and a Shanghai-born restaurant chef. They made bulky gloppy sauces, either mostly nut paste or some thickened gravy, with vaguely savory additions (and no hua jiao). Typical of the offshoot "dan dan noodle" versions in many US restaurants -- just as ma po tofu appears in grotesque interpretations when the cook didn't grow up eating the real thing. (Yet in the same town where I got those two glop versions, fine authentic DDM is available from a couple of other restaurants, the difference being they have Sichuanese chefs.)

Community Survey: Dan Dan Noodles (Simplified: 担担面 Traditional: 擔擔麵 Pinyin: dàndànmiàn)

Thanks tre, kind of you to say so.

I wish more readers, and especially writers, paid attention to the pioneering, influential writers on cooking topics. Lately I saw an old Chowhound thread requesting classic general Chinese cookbooks in English; almost everyone recommended Fuchsia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty," which had recently appeared in the US. Not because it's a general Chinese cookbook (it isn't), let alone a classic (it was just out) -- but because everyone happened to know about it, being recent, and heavily marketed. It's a worthy book, certainly, but a mismatch to the request.

Lo is quirky in places. He had a big blind spot around Sichuanese dishes (as if he lacked experience of them when he was in China), tending to gaffes like substituting black pepper for hua jiao, without any explanation of how radically it changes the dish. But his strengths are very strong.

I've been getting a lot from his enthusiastic, unusual, timelessly useful "Chinese Cooking on Next to Nothing" (1976), while his 1992 illustrated "Top 100 Chinese Dishes" (UK title "Classic Chinese Cuisine") remains a superb introduction to Chinese cooking for anyone who wants to go directly to some Good Stuff.

I find Lo to've been almost as seminal in popularizing/demystifying Chinese cooking as Fu Pei-Mei, and probably more widely read internationally. For Sichuan dishes such as the topic of this thread, the US classics (mentioned often enough online) are surely Delfs and Chiang/Schreckers. I'm just now getting to know Dunlop's "Every Grain of Rice" (US edition 2013), a general Chinese cookbook (unlike Land of Plenty); it does recycle some Sichuanese dishes from LoP unacknowledged (including the DDM on the jacket photo). Dunlop, in this new book, credits at least one important predecessor (Yan-Kit So); maybe someday she'll do the same for pioneering English-lang. writers on Sichuanese cooking too. (In contrast, when Linda Burum published her ahead-of-its-time "Asian Pasta" 30 years ago, she included a bibliography of relevant antecedent books, such as Barbara Tropp's.)

How long do unopened bottles of hard liquor/liquers stay drinkable for? And opened?

Zin (Jason), you're quite right concerning biological pathogens, but for the record I'll point out that those aren't the whole story.

Over time, wine experiences chemical changes too, regardless of any biological organisms question. The full picture of the chemical evolution is extremely complex and case-specific, because wines naturally contain hundreds of distinct chemical species and those interact with each other, as well as with sources of heat or even light (e.g. sunlight) in their environment.

Most chemical changes are interesting for their flavor effects, but some are known to create toxins. There was a run of publicity in the late 80s regarding _potentially_ health- problematic urethane products appearing in some aged wines and as I recall, the issue was red wines stored improperly (i.e., allowed to get warm over long periods). I don't think it constitutes any sort of practical health hazard for people who don't habitually consume such heat-corrupted wines (presumably, the flavors degenerated much earlier anyway), and I almost hesitate to mention the subject, lest some people add it to the repertoire of fashionable sincere food hypochondrias and misconceptions (joining MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. etc.), the vague anxieties over which probably, in themselves, cause more somatic health impact than do the actual materials that are the nominal focus of the anxieties.

Jul 16, 2015
eatzalot in Spirits

Two new indian in Mountain View and Sunnyvale

Had a great meal at Zareen's (which actually is a Pakistani restaurant; Zareen herself is from there) after seeing detailed local journalistic review late 2014, which brought up some of the specialty strengths of the place: http://www.mv-voice.com/news/2014/12/... and I mentioned the place in passing on this board a few months ago. Zareen's is located in a niche of Mountain View (Shoreline N. of 101) surrounded by Google property.

As bbulkow noted, it has very little seating -- does a lot of call-in, take-out business -- so it is important to know in advance that if you arrive anywhere near popular times, and even at some less-popular times, you may not be able to sit down to eat at Zareen's. But we loved the lively interesting food -- lots of meat dishes featured -- and the proprietress's pro-active offering of samples of others, while we awaited our order. That crew does an impressive job given the physical space limitations of the whole thing.

New Bay Area French bakery chain: La PanotiQ

Yes: the basic pastry made in France, frozen, then baked and finished in the local shops here, seems to be the central concept of this business.

Today I asked in Mountain View which of the (dozens of) items in the display cases use the French-made pastry. Almost all, I was told; current exceptions on display were a couple of types of flan, made locally. Many items, even though built on starting pastry originally from France, have ingredients added such as fresh fruit.

I've had good results with PanotiQ's fruit pastries specifically, e.g. raspberry tartlet and the small tarte Tatin ($5.50), which is mostly apples. Fruit pastries are a specialty I've seen few or none of at Alexander's Patisserie (whose pastry adjuncts almost always seem to be somethng like chocolate ganache or dessert cream, as if fruit ingredients were unacceptably healthy). Alexander's gives me the impression of aiming explicitly for intense and high-end desserts, whereas PanotiQ offers more like the everyday items many Europeans order with coffee or a meal in the course of a day.

Had a SUPERLATIVE PanotiQ croissant today, still warm -- much better than the first one I tried a few months ago. Well browned, flaky-crisp, and without the gratuitous sugar that Alexander's has used in its croissants. I'd put today's sample better than those I've tried at Alexander's, somewhere between there and Voyageur du Temps (Los Altos). I guess this PanotiQ location took a while to master the croissant baking, but today's sample would certainly pass muster in Paris. The fact that it was so different from one I tried earlier underlines what's wrong with describing how such products "are" at a young business like this: we can just report what we've experienced, and it may change.

New Bay Area French bakery chain: La PanotiQ

carmelmike, here is more background about the chain.

The whole business concept from the start was to contract with French pastry makers who would supply uncooked, frozen pastries to be shipped here and baked as needed. To do this economically required shipping sufficient quantities at once, which favored opening several retail locations in rapid order. The intent was to closely imitate the products of French pâtissiers and boulangers, which the Ukrainian-American family (Guterman) behind La Panotiq -- owners of the parent firm La Tartine Group -- became devotees of, when they were in France.

That's from La Tartine CEO Maria Guterman, whom I've variously interviewed and chatted with. In the several months since a location opened near me, I found it had a mixture of the French-based pastries and others locally made (the latter including, by Bay-Area standards anyway, quite undistinguished short baguettes for sandwiches). What mostly stands out to me after 20+ buying visits has been the diversity of pastries, and the very pragmatic prices (you can find some worthwhile things for a few dollars, money goes much further than at the contemporaneous but over-the-top Alexander's Patisserie for instance, whose offerings partly overlap La Panotiq's).

ETA: I got the gist of this originally a year ago from Panotiq's operations manager, whom I spoke to when trying to clear up a persistent mystery and rumors about a new business pending in downtown MV's restaurant row (alleged by existing business owners nearby to be various conflicting things, including a new Peet's outlet). Later, Maria filled in more detail. This was what I meant by "research" earlier in this thread, and I thought I'd mentioned the frozen-French-pastry concept here, but apparently not. The "butter" connection was explained to me from the start as a desire to employ some of France's famous AOC regional butters which could could then be cited by name; I've seen one of them on the chalkboard menu in MV.

The History Of San Francisco’s Chinatown In 10 Dishes (from Food Republic)

Good stuff! Plenty of research. (Even if the author didn't mention the old opium dens, and _did_ have to drop an early quote with the fad cliché misusage of "epicenter" -- always a little annoying to people unlucky enough to know what the word means.)

But lots of newish restaurants here (2008, 2011) -- the author cited R&G's 1985 opening as if ancient (predating even Anthony Bourdain, no less :-).

Soup, whatever became of the bustling, cart-service dim-sum restaurants of the 1960s and 70s, like Canton Tea House? Are they all gone?

A review: Xanh in Mountain View

Some things not mentioned here yet: Xanh (pronounced like "sun") more fully labels itself elsewhere as "Vietnamese food with modern presentation," giving some idea what to expect.

It originally opened across the street, with both a more conventional restaurant look, and elegant, unusual made-to-order lunches, responsible for the largest number of positive meal experiences I recall at Xanh -- though Xanh dropped that lunch format and moved to a buffet service upon relocating across Castro to the current, custom, high-concept digs. (Buffet lunches are OK, but the old Xanh lunches were much more than OK, thus spoiling Xanh's original lunch customers -- no one I know who recalls them cares much for the lunch buffet in comparison).

Yes, the flashy techno lounge look seems weird to some of us customers. But I recommend exploring the small-plates menu more fully during the happy-hour deal. In particular the "Vietnamese tacos," Jalapeño "popcorn" chicken with crisp fried basil leaves, and "Kobe" and "Buddha" fresh-wrap rolls have gone very well with drinks, in the classic tradition of zakuski. (Never got excited about those "garlic noodles" -- there are many more interesting noodle dishes in others of the 100+ restaurants within easy walk.)

Also Tom -- you seem to eat around this part of the Bay Area -- if you like Phở, do you know about the ("new") Pho To Chau, right around the corner? Small, independent Phở house, new owners 2014 -- good slow-cooked broth, good values, I've mentioned it here before http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1013... . Focuses just on noodle dishes. Kind of polar opposite Vietnames cuisine compared to Xanh's.

Are there any excellent (and authentic) Italian restaurant in the bay area?

"did you really recommend someone go to buca di beppo"

No, bbulkow -- please read more carefully -- I assess that place much the same as you did.

My point was that no one sane judges a whole region's assorted offerings variously (and ambiguously) labeled "Italian" based on one disappointing meal at one Italian-American place in Burlingame that called itself New-American anyway!

In this thread's context, the more authentic ITALIAN-Italian restaurants are the relevant ones; they certainly exist in the "peninsula and south bay" (I cited three). Avowedly Italian-American restaurants like Buca di Beppo (let alone Ecco, which doesn't even claim to be Italian-American) are off-topic in answering the question of where to find authentic Italian restaurants if you happen to be in the peninsula or s. bay.

Yes, there are probably more of the authentic Italian restaurants in SF, but so what?? Unique restaurants exist all around the Bay Area; the OP asked about the whole Bay Area; if people find themselves in one particular part of it, they'll be most interested in the options there.

Are there any excellent (and authentic) Italian restaurant in the bay area?

"even if they have wood ovens they don't always them hot enough. If A16's Margherita didn't meet your standards, maybe no one will."

tamizahmed, that varies with the restaurant. Down the peninsula at Napoletana Pizzeria (which I've posted about on other threads) the owner/cook is a perfectionist, always checking the brick-oven wall temperatures with an IR spot meter, and refusing to bake pizzas unless it's fully hot. I happen to like Naples style pizzas (I recall Robert posting that it wasn't his preferred style), and after a few dozen visits to Napoletana I had to ration myself to avoid eating there constantly.

SJMercuryNews:'Sunset Magazine to move to Oakland's Jack London Square'

Robert Lauriston (as originally posted): "What was the competition in those days? I think the 40s through the 60s were a culinary dark age hereabouts."

That might be an interesting side topic. Both Bergeron's autobiography cited above and Muscatine portray the size and diversity of SF's restaurant industry of that era.

But the competition of the day (to say nothing of comparing other eras!) isn't the significance of Caen's quip at all. Rather, that a chief pundit of the "City" defers to Oakland for restaurants! In other remarks in the same Bergeron book, Caen told how in 1936 (when he first tried the restaurant, taking a car ferry since there was no bridge yet), he perceived Oakland as a coast of the vague US mainland, from which SF was proudly aloof. "For all we knew, [Oaklanders] painted their bodies blue, lived in caves and subsisted on roots and herbs." In '37, Gertrude Stein had published her famous "no there there" remark about a vanished childhood home (often taken out of context as a put-down of the whole of Oakland). Caen deferring to Oakland for anything was eyebrow-raising.

Comparable things have happened at other times. Recall that around 1980 the "San Francisco" restaurant everyone was talking about was in Berkeley, and again around 2000 the leading restaurant was in Yountville.

SJMercuryNews:'Sunset Magazine to move to Oakland's Jack London Square'

Herb Caen (always giving the location as "sixty-fifth and San Pablo") recorded that he first visited in 1936, returning thereafter "once or twice a week." When Caen first went, it was serving food as well as drinks (he cited "barbecued steaks," Chinese food, and ham and eggs with bananas and pineapple -- a specialty Bergeron's father, Victor senior, had long cooked at home), and yes the name changed in 1937. Nobody seems to've been very attached to the original short-lived name (anyway, the restaurant is rather better known as Trader Vic's :-) so I didn't mention it before. The Bay Bridge made Vic's more accessible to SF and as I mentioned earlier, in 1941 Caen wrote in his SF newspaper column "the best restaurant in San Francisco is in Oakland;" he also maintained that most SF restaurateurs agreed, and ate there themselves.

ISBN 0385031750

SJMercuryNews:'Sunset Magazine to move to Oakland's Jack London Square'

". . . a recognition of the emergence of Oakland as a destination for food lovers and entertainment seekers."

Re-emergence is more like it (though I don't expect much sense of history from US journalists today).

Seven years after V. J. Bergeron Jr. opened what became the original Trader Vic's in Oakland in 1934, no less than Herb Caen quipped that San Francisco's best restaurant "is in Oakland." (Many of Vic's early regular customers -- in that first location in Oakland and not far from JLS -- were SF restaurateurs on their nights off.)

Are there any excellent (and authentic) Italian restaurant in the bay area?

tamizahmed, do you know about Naples-based AVPN (L'Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana)? It exists partly to address cravings like yours. Pizzas per se originated in Naples*. The US variant (which evolved mainly in the Northeast), which is larger and eaten in slices and has different typical toppings, is an ofshoot of the Naples type. AVPN certifies pizzerias worldwide that use true-Naples technique; several operate in the Bay Area http://americas.pizzanapoletana.org/m... . As discussed in a recent thread (on Doppio Zero), AVPN compliance doesn't guarantee quality, but many of these places are very good incl. A16 in SF. Of course for the most Neapolitan experience, you want to order them unsliced and consume with knife and fork.

*There are earlier ancient antecedents outside Naples, some known to pop media today and some not, but pizzas as understood in recent centuries came from Naples, including the popularization of them in the US. Food historian Mariani has pointed out that they were rapidly becoming mainstream in the US right after WW2 even while still a local specialty of Naples unknown in most of the rest of Italy.

Are there any excellent (and authentic) Italian restaurant in the bay area?

So some of that is about disappointment with Yelp comments (I'm with you there!!). I hope you'll try some of the more "Italian" restaurants I named at the start. I thought it strange to (originally) criticize the region's Italian-Italian (or even Anatolian-Italian) offerings wholesale, based on disappointing Italian-American food at Ecco.

Many who post on Yelp (everywhere I've looked in the US) have no awareness of the distinctions between Italian-American and Italian cooking (any more than the distinctions between Americanized Chinese and Chinese cuisines, or how to usefully describe a restaurant to other people).

Are there any excellent (and authentic) Italian restaurant in the bay area?

"especially in the Penninsula/South Bay the quality of Italian is rather poor."

How many experiences did you have at Doppio Zero and Napoletana Pizzeria; what did you try? Those (with separate threads on this board) -- a general Naples restaurant and a Naples-type pizzeria, respectively -- represent the more "Italian" restaurants of the peninsula-to-south-bay of my experience; both are frequented by Italian expats (at Napoletana it's the core customer base). At a place in downtown Willow Glen I had a captivating fresh-pasta dish with creative ragù some time ago, would need to check name.

In this part of the Bay Area, so-called Italian restaurants are strongly heterogeneous: it's crucial to distinguish among three groups:

Authentic trattorie and pizzerie (including those I mentioned above) closely modeled on places in Italy;

Numerous "Italian" restaurants created by cooks from other countries incl. Turkey (Cucina Venti, Vaso Azzuro, La Fontaine in MV; Pompeii in L'Altos; Il Porcino in Fremont; etc.) -- Venti is a franchise out of Siena, required under its Tuscan franchise rules to use Italian ingredients for much of the menu;

Italian-American places (Buca di Beppo, Pezella's Villa Napoli, Frankie Johnny & Luigi, Mario's Italiano, several around downtown SJ).

I've found some very satisfying real-Italian food at the authentic places, and at some with non-Italian but immigrant owners; you can't judge, at all, the range of "Italian" food by the smattering of Italian-American restaurants (a genre outside this thread's scope anyway).

Doppio Zero in Mountain View

That's fair enough as far as it goes, ssfire, but it's just part of the picture.

AVPN requires its affiliates to use certain authentic components and procedures http://americas.pizzanapoletana.org/g... and the restaurant is then subject to surprise compliance inspections. A few years back, one Bay-Area Affiliato (in SF?) lost its certification as a result of such an inspection (substitute ingredients was the issue, if I recall).

All that does not guarantee the final product quality, or pretend to. If you want real perspective on the range of VPN pizza qualities, ask Kostas at Napoletana Pizzeria about his tour of all the Affiliati IN NAPLES, a year or two ago. Some of them he found superb; some very disappointing (even venerable names, coasting on reputation, supported by uncritical tourists likely to eat there only once); others somewhere between. I don't know why we should expect anything different in the Bay Area!

The Beet - So Long Brussel Sprouts and Kale, The Beet Is The New Veg.

Beets are pretty ancient, they come and go in popularity. I think they're best -- most vividly and complexly flavored -- when fresh, and the peel slips off easily enough once cooked.

(Actually, I'm more curious why so many people choose to drop the S from BRUSSELS Sprouts. Do they do the same with the same word in the context of its native country, Belgium? Also in French they're known as Brussels cabbages, which seems more descriptive than "sprouts.")