TravelinJack's Profile

Title Last Reply

What's up with the Public Market in Emeryville?

I work near the Public Market, and have been many times. The Chicken Vermicelli (Bun) from the California Vietnamese Cuisine was one of the truly good things in the whole Market. The last time I ordered it (~Aug 2012), the woman running the place told each customer that she was leaving at the end of the month. The Market wanted her to pay to remodel, and then pay more rent because the spot would be worth more if it was remodeled. She said it wasn't worth it, and was going to open a restaurant in Martinez.

This post inspired me to do some sleuthing, and I wouldn't be surprised if this this is the new place: Mint: Vietnamese & Chinese Cuisine, (4041 Alhambra Ave Martinez, CA 94553.) Website: http://mintrestaurant925.wix.com/mint

It opened at the right time, and has a similar mix of Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. If someone goes, perhaps they could confirm with the owner.

It wasn't a destination restaurant for me, but I definitely miss it relative to the other offerings at the Public Market.

Now I usually go with Pamir Afghan, Wazwan Indian or Mediterraneo Pizza (though Hot Italian is pretty authentic Roman style pizza if you have the time.

)

And I confess to missing having access to turkey dinner any day of the week.

Summer Kitchen Bake Shop - Elmwood

We had the fried chicken today. A breast was piping hot, crunchy, dripping with juice and grease, not a hair overcooked. Perfect.

We also had one bakery item and found it less perfect--a chocolate cupcake, fairly tasty and tender, but dwarfed by a disproportionate pile of cream cheese frosting. Or is it churlish to complain about excess frosting?

The brown butter huckleberry tart looked amazing. We'll be back.

-----
Summer Kitchen Bake Shop
2944 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

Berkeley: Little Saigon - $4 pho

Ditto: we just noticed this place after several years of living in Berkeley. Signage or something must have changed. We went for lunch today, followed the recommendations of the earlier posts here and on Yelp, and had a tasty meal. Won ton soup had well-spiced, shrimp-chicken won tons, plus perfectly cooked white-meat chicken, onion slices and cilantro, and fried garlic. The only downside was the tired lettuce. Barbecue chicken on brown rice was also satisfying--savory, not too sweet and not too heavy on the lemongrass. It was actually kind of special and unique, different from any Vietnamese chicken that I've had before. Imperial rolls, as previous reviewers reported, were hot from the fryer and shatteringly crisp but without much heft inside. Next time we'd skip them and try something else. The rest of the menu looked great, especially the wok-shaken beef.

A Jiujitsu team had filled half the tables before we arrived and overwhelmed the kitchen. The waitress warned us we'd have to wait an extra 15 minutes or so for our food. We consented, and were happy with our lunch in the end. A good find! Very reasonably priced, and definitely crafted with care.

-----
Little Saigon
1717 University Ave Ste A, Berkeley, CA 94703

Oktoberfest bakery (lederhosen guy from farmers' market) storefront on University Ave, Berkeley?

The lederhosen guy was not at the downtown Berkeley farmers' market in the flesh last week, but workers at his stall said the bakery site on University was open 8-5 Tu-Fri and some mornings on weekends... Sounded like that could change, though.

Oktoberfest bakery (lederhosen guy from farmers' market) storefront on University Ave, Berkeley?

So we were walking up University between Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Milvia, and noticed what seemed to be new outlet for those delicious pretzl croissants and other German breads, previously only available (to me) on Saturday mornings at the Berkeley Farmers Market.

"Oktoberfest Bakery" seems to now have a genuine storefront on the south side of the street.
The lederhosen guy was in there, and they were arranging breads, but it wasn't actually open yet this Sunday morning.

Anybody been there yet? Could be deadly if those croissants are available every day. If you haven't had them, I definitely recommend a visit. The pretzels are good too, haven't ever had any of the real bread.

Zaki Kabab House - Albany

Dining partner and I just sampled it for dinner.

I ordered the special of the day, mensaf, "The Jordanian National Dish". It was unusual: a bed of saffron rice over pita that was soaked in (goat's?) milk, quite sweet and cinammon flavored. Definitely not a taste that I was used to for dinner, but it was mind expanding. On the side was a bowl of soup with lamb chunks. Overall, it was flavorful, but I was a bit envious of the people around me: a lamb burger with fries, or the "combo plate" which seemed to have 3 or 4 kinds of meat. Dining partner had the baba ghanouj plate--four half-ping-pong-ball-sized falafels, spicy and very deeply fried with creamy green interiors, studding a significant portion of yummy baba.

Mint tea refills were good too.

Service was funky but charming.

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

Well, I decided to try the Wingspot on this trip. Turns out it is actually called "Wing Stop", if you are ever trying to google it. Fortunately the directions (strip mall at Gosford and White Lane) were sufficient. I love how nothing has addresses in Bakersfield. Just locations like "in the mall at intersection of X and Y."

Anyway, the wings were pretty good. I'd go back. I had "Hickory Smoked BBQ" flavor. Nothing too original, but tasty. I did get celery and carrots, but had to ask for it, and pay extra. The fries were okay too, seasoned, but real pieces of potato.

The Miyoshi recommendation is intriguing, and I will file it away.

May 23, 2007
TravelinJack in California

"Buffalo" Wings in Bakersfield, preliminary review of new place: Wingspot

I want to thank the folks who recommended Valentien. I'm on a 3 day business trip to Bakersfield, and it was just the oasis I needed. I almost turned back when I saw that they had nightly piano music, but decided to forge ahead after rejecting the salad bar place next door. In fact, the unpretentious singing of songs like "Huckleberry Friend" and "Carolina in My Mind" was sort of enjoyable when eating alone.

The decor was at its heart casual. I'm pretty sure the chairs were from Ikea. The prices weren't quite as casual. I ended up spending $45 before tip, without wine. But this was for the following 3 courses and dessert:

First: Smoked Scottish Salmon with shaved fennel, red onions, capers and arugula. Basically a small salad, with a good lemony dressing on top of some melt-in-your-mouth lox. Went down very easy, wish I could have it on a bagel every morning. The fennel made it more interesting than the usual salmon/onion/capers affair. (Also a good dish to have when dining alone, given the effect on one's breath. Though the lemon in the dressing may have offset that some?)

Salad: Mesclun with roasted beets and goat cheese. The lettuce was a little tough, but it is February. Perfectly acceptable.

Entree: Lamb shank with creamy mashed potatoes. I decided to order this because seeing it on the menu brought to mind some very large fields of sheep that I had seen earlier in the day. I'm not sure what that says about me, except that I guess I'm not a vegetarian. Indeed, the lamb was quite good, only tasted lamby in the good way. And the mashed potatoes actually had some chunks of potato in them, which is how I like them. More like real food than if they had been super creamy. It was all covered in a good gravy that I soaked up in the good bread.

Dessert: Chocolate Maquis. "It's like a chocolate mousse, but thicker, so they slice it." Sounded good to me, with home made whipped cream and a few fresh berries and a spring of mint. And it was. Waiters started teasing me about how well I had cleaned every plate. What can I say, I was enjoying the food.

The casual atmosphere was reinforced when the owner/founder came in to eat, wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops. He and his companion ended up at the table next to mine. After ordering the soup, he busted out his tape measure and calculated the dimensions of the table. I guess they are still refining the place. Overally the service was really good, friendly, casual even though it could've been pretentious.

Definitely a win, especially compared to the place I ate the night before: Wool Growers. One of the noted Basque restaurants in Bakersfield. It was sort of entertaining: every meal comes with literally about 10 plates of food, including beans, spaghetti, french fries and green beans. Unfortunately I didn't think any of them were too that good. And I'm not sure how much they represented Basque cuisine. My entree, Brochette of Beef, wasn't bad. And it was fun, if a little embarrassing, to have all those plates on the table in front of me. They are brought out gradually, but because you can't finish them, they stay out there. And it sounded like if did manage to finish any of them, they would bring you a replacement. Especially the french fries.

One more night in Bako. Maybe I'll try Wingspot.

Feb 06, 2007
TravelinJack in California