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Best current option for Shanghainese anywhere in the Bay Area?

Had an excellent takeout meal from Little Shanghai about a week ago and looking forward to exploring more of their menu. We ordered fairly randomly and there wasn't a dud in the bunch. Of particular interest was the tofu with ma lan vegetables, which had a lovely slightly bitter, slightly floral flavor, subtly sauced with sesame. That dish was everyone's favorite. The sheng jian bao had great flavor and a moist filling, though the skins had gotten a bit flabby upon cooling down (our fault for doing takeout). Lions head meatballs were tender, flavorful, and succulent. One note, the reason we chose to do takeout is because the restaurant was absolutely packed, so it may be a challenge taking a group of 23 here.

dou ban jiang in ebay or sf?

Found this today at New May Wah on Clement along with the also oft-discussed pickled Szechuan vegetable ya cai. They also started carrying green Szechuan peppercorns (previously only red was available).

Al's Place, San Francisco

Thanks for the info. We ended up going to Bodega Bistro (meh) because we didn't want to risk a wait. Best dish of the night was bahn xeo. Everything else was forgettable or downright stingy.

Al's Place, San Francisco

Was thinking about trying this place this week, but couldn't find a reservation on Open Table. Did you walk in? And how was the wait if so?

Does Berkeley Bowl have Finger Limes?

If you strike out at Berkeley Bowl, I have also seen them at Bi Rite and on the Good Eggs website.

Goat Cuisine in the Bay Area

Sorry, just to be clear, 4505 meats is a butcher, so they sell the goat raw. You cook the medallions like a thin steak. I believe they also sell bone-in cuts.

Goat Cuisine in the Bay Area

My husband and I have had incredible goat, tender, flavorful, moist...at Flour + Water, but it is only a periodic item. 4505 Meats also sells goat tenderloin from time to time and it made me rethink goat entirely (usually I enjoy it in a slow-cooked context, but this we quick seared more like a rare lamb medallion). It was excellent, not gamy in the least.

Fermented Tea Leaves on Good Eggs

Tried it out tonight and we were pleased with the results. The dressing had a nice, complex, smoky flavor and the crispy bits were fresh and crunchy. It was particularly nice to be able to control the amount of acid. Though the package says lemon is optional, I would say you need at least an entire juicy lemon per 4-person salad.


Fermented Tea Leaves on Good Eggs

I've seen discussions of this before and just want to point out that Burma Superstar is now selling Burmese tea leaf salad kits on Good Eggs. It's $25 for dressing & the crunchy bits and they say it's enough to make 4-6 salads. Just ordered one.

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot now open in the TL. [San Francisco]

Tried it yesterday for the first time and was greatly disappointed. For starters, the service was laughably bad. We were stuck in a private room as a large group, so maybe that was the reason. We ordered items from the checklist menu that never arrived. All the food came out, but we never received our sauces, until I finally ran out and tracked down a waiter 15 minutes later. Napa cabbage came as huge whole leaves and when we asked if they could be cut to a more manageable size, we were told they don't do that.

In terms of the food...even the spicy broth was quite bland, and the satay sauce had almost no flavor (unless oily counts as a flavor). I'm not sure if it was the sauce or the broth, but I felt like I consumed a lot of oil during the meal. Veggies were pretty nice and fresh, and there was a nice selection of meats. We liked the spring lamb, and the fish balls stuffed with roe.

The broth also had, disappointingly, almost no ma la. Definitely not planning on returning. I have heard nothing but good things about San Mateo, so I'm guessing this franchise just doesn't have their act together. Restaurant was half-empty at Saturday lunchtime if that says anything. On the plus side, no lines!

Any place one can buy Kouign Amann in SF?

Spotted kouign amann in the frozen pastry section of Trader Joes. I'm sure it's not very good (though their chocolate croissants get surprisingly good reviews), but I did think it was funny evidence that kouign amann has reached some sort of cultural saturation tipping point.

Where to find ya cai (preserved mustard green leaves and stems)?

Just an update that I was indeed mistaken and thinking of zha cai.


ISO schmaltz

Just spotted schmaltz on the Good Eggs website today. Roti Roti is the seller.

Quest for amazing ingredients in SF

I like Hodo Soy's products, particularly their yuba and the braised tofu (if you have the time, their factory tour is really fun).

Tons of sources for great farm-fresh eggs. I believe this is the most complete thread on that topic:

Also love Gioia burrata, which is made in the the greater L.A. area, but is available at places like Cowgirl Creamery, Bristol Farms in the mall, and occasionally Bi Rite.

Oh, also a fan of Sinto Kimchi. You can find it at Whole Foods and Rainbow. Speaking of which, I also like Bubbies sauerkraut from the bulk bin at Rainbow, which somehow seems tastier than the jarred version, but maybe it's my imagination?

4505 Meats is well worth a visit. They have an outpost near 16th and Mission (easily combined with a trip to Kun Wo) that's open 7 days a week.

SF Source: Berbere?

Spice Ace on Steiner has it:

Restaurants with movies playing

Curious about the experience of watching a movie at Foreign Cinema. Can you actually go and watch the whole film, or is it more of a background atmosphere kind of situation?

House of Xian Dumpling (in old Chef Jia space) [Chinatown, San Francisco]

Nice find! Got takeout from here last night and I was pleasantly surprised. Not a lot of dishes that struck me as particularly Xian-ese, but a lot of clean, well-executed renditions of some small dishes and dumplings. Standouts were the beef tendon, which had a pleasant chewy bite and addictive ma la sauce, the lotus root salad, which had a nice crunch and acidity, and the spicy dumplings, which actually disappeared before I had a chance to snag one.

One comment is that, other than the soup noodles, the portions were bizarrely tiny. I actually don't mind this, as I feel the dishes were executed thoughtfully and with a surprisingly delicate touch for such typically hearty fare. But I ordered 10 dishes (many of them small plates) and it was just enough for four normal adult eaters.

Dumplings were well-made...juicy and with nicely-textured wrappers, but about half the size of dumplings that I usually get at Beijing Restaurant or the San Mateo places. Soup noodles were generously portioned, and the broth was beefy and nicely spiced (and also not too oily, a plus). The noodles didn't stand up well to takeout (even though they packed them separately)...they seemed overcooked, so I would need to eat in to give an accurate assessment of those.

All in all, I would happily get takeout from here again. Especially the lotus root, which I have not seen anywhere else.

Barberries - where to find?

Spice Ace in SF has them in small jars. I also order organic ones from Nuts.com

About to visit - a few specific questions on tours, icecream, tacos [San Francisco]

I personally like the carnitas tacos at Taqueria Cancun, in large part b/c of the green salsa. Tacolicious is less authentic and more upscale, but has lots of delicious meaty options and is very kid friendly.

Soma Streat Food (yes that't the unfortunate spelling) is a gathering of food trucks. No idea what their holiday hours are.

I don't have a sweet tooth, so I haven't personally tried b patisserie, but some of my friends swear by it.

Frisee lettuce

saw some of the most beautiful frisee i've ever seen at local mission market a couple of weeks ago. not sure if they still have it, but it looked quite fresh and tender (for frisee)

Best bites of 2013

For the first time this year:

Beet & goat cheese salad with popped quinoa at Rich Table
Lamb chops from Lavash
Miso/mushroom soup at Maruya
Octopus at Coqueta
Sheep butter from Rainbow Grocery
Sierra Beauty apples from the farmers market

And traveling entries: the tasting menu at Alinea. Uni at Soto in NYC.

Are there any restaurants in the Bay Area with kid play areas?

interested to hear the answer to this. a brief web search turns up rigolo cafe:

and chenery park on tuesday nights:

have also always meant to check out wine and whiners:

Maruya on 16th, best sushi in SF?

This place is practically across the street from us, so we knew we would be giving it a try. Excellent selection of fresh fish--easily Sebo or Sushi Ran quality. I ordered the sushi combination, my dining companions had Hide's omakase. All of my sushi was pristine, though the rice was maybe a tad undercooked. Lovely, restrained use of fresh wasabi, ginger, and other garnishes.

Dinner ended with an awesomely savory bowl of red miso soup and mushrooms. Uni was some of the freshest and sweetest I've had. Very happy about this addition to the neighborhood.

So Restaurant is back -- Chicken Wings, Potstickers! -- on Bryant St. now -- anyone been there? [San Francisco]

This is actually my current go-to for chao ma mian in the city. It's not a perfect bowl, but it's the best I've found in SF. The noodles have a great texture, plenty of veggies and goodies (I usually skip the mussels, which are dry and chewy). Broth is maybe a bit on the thin side and without the delicious smokiness you sometimes find, but a great convenient option.

Calbee seaweed & salt potato chips?

fairly sure i've seen these at the 16th and mission walgreens, which has a largish japanese snack section for some reason.

Any mainstream grocery stores selling ethnic asian herbs?

lots of asian herbs at duc loi, which is two blocks fom the 16th mission bart station

Chowdown @ Brother Seafood 10-22-13 [San Francisco-Irving & 19th]

Yeah, I guess we went really light on the steamed dishes and somehow lucked into ordering a large proportion on the dishes people seemed to like, including the yuba with pea sprouts and fried jalapeno. To me, what's much more compelling than the prices is that there is a much shorter wait time than other, more popular spots, and if you know what their strengths are, similar or better quality. Glad it was a semi-successful find! :)

Need a meeting place in the Mission [San Francisco]

20 spot has one communal table and then mostly a bunch of two tops. The last time I was there, they crammed four of us onto one of these two tops. So unless someone gets there early enough to stake a claim on the big table, or your bday celebration involves four petite people, 20 spot is going to be super squeezy.

Dim Sum Go-To Guide 2013

I went back to Brothers for dim sum last weekend and am willing to upgrade them to very good. The cheung fun was deft and light, and another standout dish was the steamed pea sprouts with yuba, which had a lovely clean taste which let the sweetness of the pea sprouts shine and was a welcome break from all the fried foods. A very nice version of salted fish fried rice too...well balanced with nicely separated grains of rice...not too oily. Everything came out piping hot. My new go-to spot for dim sum I'm thinking...

Asian markets closest to the Mission? [San Francisco]

I've had some pretty mixed experiences with Duc Loi. I don't know if they keep their fresh food/produce stored inappropriately or what, but I once saw green mold growing on the fresh rice noodles (I've never seen that in a single other Asian market, no matter how rinky dink or sketchy). I also once grabbed a sweet potato from the organic bin that was so rotten it pretty much disintegrated in my hand...pretty disgusting. The organic shallots are also often past their prime. I stop in there for emergencies, but most of that produce just doesn't look that fresh and appealing to me.

On the other hand, their avocados are consistently some of the better ones I've found in the area. More or less perfectly ripe. Maybe their laissez faire attitude towards food storage works when it comes to avocados.

Edited to add that I also don't care for their bahn mi: overstuffed and too sweet. Lacking all of the subtle balance of a well-made bahn mi.