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Boston/Cambridge Trip report

They had Lunch IPA briefly (tapped at lunch time, gone before closing), after which Mo was on tap for the next couple of days at least.

1 day ago
bouncepass in Greater Boston Area

Boston/Cambridge Trip report

Boston Trip Report (Food and Beer)

For reference, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Part one: Food


Oleana: One prominent person in the know said that Chef Sortun has an amazing hand with spices, and that was abundantly obvious at this meal. Almost none of the dishes was quite as expected (in a good way), and the creativity and execution was both top notch and yielded as many “wows” as any meal as I've had in a long time. This at a price point of $60 pp makes it an amazing value.

Row 34: Awesome meal of raw oysters and clams, the smoked fish plate and a lobster roll. All were outstanding. Each person tried one of every raw oyster and clam (a dozen total) and that was a terrific way to go. Impeccably fresh and nearly always perfectly shucked. The smoked fish plate is 21 pp but we shared one portion among three people and that was the perfect amount as a light appetizer. The smoked scallop was the highlight for all of us. The lobster roll was similarly delicious with house made potato chips that were exemplary. The draft beer list is pretty good though it has strong West Coast tendencies which I wasn't as excited about since I live there.

Island Creek: Shellfish tower was delicious, as were the fried oyster sliders and the lobster roe pasta with braised short ribs. Both Row 34 and Island Creek came to around $90 pp including a modest amount of alcohol, and I'd say they are well worth the splurge once in a while.

Very good to good:

Pho Basil (Mass Ave): For the price, really good food. Had one lunch and one dinner. The Vietnamese dishes were executed really well. Pho Diet was above average even by rather lofty San Jose standards. If I worked in the area this would likely be my go-to lunch spot.

Alden and Harlow: two meals, including one of the vaunted burger. The best thing I had was actually the aperatif of the housemade bitters. The burger is deservedly lauded. The roasted beef neck was good but not great. The texture was a bit dry and the accompaniments didn't seem to meld so well. The smoked chocolate bread pudding was intriguing, but as others have noted the salt ice cream is terrific and really makes this dish, but there's not quite enough of it. I'd also prefer if it was served on the side so it didn't turn into a melted puddle within a minute. But the chef has a clear point of view and if I lived there, I'd work my way through the menu.

Myers + Chang: A number of very nice dishes (hakka eggplant in particular, more-or-less “3-cup” style) but the execution and creativity wasn't quite on point overall. It's a fun place with a group and I like how the dishes aren't necessarily the most obvious choices from the various cuisines, but equivalent dishes cooked at a good, traditional Vietnamese/Taiwanese/Thai/whatever restaurant will be better executed at half the price. Coming from the SF Bay Area, I'm not sure I'd go back. If you're coming from someplace with fewer Asian food options, it could definitely be worth a stop.

Salty Pig: A fun neighborhood spot. The charcuterie was good but not great. The pizza looked tasty. They always had one beer from the excellent Maine Beer Co. on draft each time I visited.

Picco: An interesting style of pizza. The crust was a bit more bready than most modern high end pizzas. Cooked nicely and had a nice slight crispiness to it. Some have claimed it's the best pizza in Boston. Maybe it's a personal preference/stylistic issue but I hope for Boston's sake this isn't true. There are easily two dozen better places in the Bay Area, at least to my taste.

Toscanini's: The salted caramel was delicious, but the pistachio tasted mostly of almond (pistachio?) extract which was really disappointing.

Part two: Beer

Revelation of the trip was Maine Beer Company. Mo, Lunch IPA and Another One IPA are all outstanding beers. Peeper was really good while Zoe wasn't quite to my taste but well made. I did see bottles in a number of shops, but some were quite old (4 months) and I doubt they'd be any good. Drunk fresh, however, they're awesome.

Meadhall had the best tap selection. Lots of interesting stuff there. Doesn't hurt that they have around 100 handles.

Lord Hobo was also very good but I was less intrigued by their choices.

Overall, lots of good eats during my trip, in part thanks to the many posts here on CH.

Jul 20, 2014
bouncepass in Greater Boston Area

Homemade Frozen Dumpling close to Palo Alto?

A lao wai po (Chinese grandma) makes dumplings that are sold out of a freezer in the back at Southland Flavor Cafe in Cupertino Village. They're very modestly priced, about $15 for 50 pcs of good-sized pork and chive dumplings which are my favorite. They also have pork and napa cabbage, and one other type that escapes me. For a bit more (~$22 for 50?), she also sells XLB that have good filling and medium thick skin.

They're a bit more rustic and homey than, say, Hana or frozen dumplings you can get from Tong Dumpling (also handmade) in the same complex which I prefer for some reason. The skin-to-filling ratio is good for my taste and value is high.

Ask anyone working there about frozen dumplings and they're happy to help you. They used to be cash only but I have a dim memory that they might accept cards now.

Jul 17, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Downtown Riverside Restaurant Recs

Not much info on Riverside on this board. During my short visit, I heard positive things about Mario's and the relatively new ProAbition. I went to the Salted Pig twice in two nights, a gastropub that has a pretty great beer list and some tasty food. They had Pliny the Elder on tap the first night I was there, and also the even-harder-to-find Kern River Just Outstanding IPA in bottles on my second visit.

Dishes I tried:

Brussels sprouts: good. Were less charred than I would have liked. The sauce was supposedly kimchi but seemed more sweet and spicy.

Burger and fries: fries were awesome. McDonald's in cross-section but crispy, hot and delicious. They're house-cut and what I wish In-n-Out's fries would be like. Burger patty was excellent. Ordered medium rare it came just on the medium side of that, but reputable. The grind on the beef was a bit coarse which I found really pleasing, and the flavor of the meat was excellent. Would definitely get again.

Pork rinds: Pretty good. Some pieces were underdone (i.e. chewy rather than crispy) and the seeasoning seemed a bit one-dimensional. Needed something to spruce it up.

Brisket sandwich: OK. Brisket was chopped which isn't really my thing, and the sauce with the meat was a bit sweet.

Street tacos: pork belly, salsa, kumquats, arugula and a few other ingredients. Excellent.

All in all, great beer and while the food has a few misses, I wouldn't hesitate to go back for the burger or to try their many other attractive menu items. The oak-fired wood oven subtly perfumes the whole place, and that is just about my favorite smell in the world. It would be great to try some of their wood-oven grilled meat plates, but I'd probably do that with a dining partner or three.

Simply Simon is a bakery/cafe that has a very decent croissant.

May 24, 2014
bouncepass in Los Angeles Area

2014 regional Chinese roundup

One of the servers confirmed that nothing changed besides the name. My taste buds second that. Still delicious as always.

May 17, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

I'd describe the jerky that I've sampled in-store as medium wet. Not dry, but not super-moist either. It's pretty close to how my (Taiwanese) family makes it, but that's probably not much help to you!

May 12, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

2014 regional Chinese roundup

Thanks for the update, Melanie. The menu they've posted online looks identical to the old one. I wonder what has changed beyond the name. I'll try to inquire next time I'm there.

May 12, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Chronicle Top 100 2014

I'm most surprised by Wakuriya. I haven't been, but have heard rave reviews by everyone (trustworthy) who has, and reservations disappear for any given day in seemingly minutes.

May 10, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

2014 regional Chinese roundup

Great list. A couple of others that I like that are so far missing:

Mama Chen's Kitchen (Cupertino): Taiwanese

Michelle's Pancake House (Cupertino): northern Chinese. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/829455

A&J (Cupertino): northern Chinese. Yelp claims it's closed, but I thought it was open the last time I went by there maybe a month ago. Can anyone confirm or deny?

May 10, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Beijing Duck House (Cupertino)

Thanks for the report. That sounds awesome. Got to check this out soon!

May 09, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Menlo Park

Da Sichuan is 10 mins away from Fey in PA and, to my taste, a hundred times better. Doesn't lack for punch, but still maintains balance.

Apr 24, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

I like Vua Kho Bo, which contrary to the name seems more Taiwanese than Vietnamese (based on the Mandarin spoken by the people in the Cupertino store at least). I really like their dried fruit (they have a special dried mango that I really enjoy), and they have a large selection of meat and seafood jerky, snacks (I like the black sesame "candy") and tea. Locally it loooks like the only two branches are in Milpitas and in Cupertino Village (a couple of stores down from Joy Luck Palace).

The people are always super-helpful and happy to provide samples of pretty much everything you want, so you can try before you buy. Stuff isn't super-cheap but I think the quality justifies the cost.


Apr 15, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Santa Cruz Recs


Not listed on here is the Saturday Aptos market, which is run by a different organization:


Apr 08, 2014
bouncepass in California

Updated Santa Cruz restaurant reviews/opinions, please!

That's a pretty nasty blanket statement unless you've really tried a representative cross-section of places in town.

There are few places that I'd make a special trip for if I was living in Bay Area proper, but that doesn't mean the whole town deserves to be put-down. To me, Santa Cruz certainly lacks diversity of good restaurants. For example, there are few Asian restaurants that I'd go to bat for in the area.

But Soif is a world-class wine bar with excellent food. La Posta is not Cotogna, but I enjoy it more than Incanto, and as much as Barbacco. Bantam makes pizza that would proudly serve most SF neighborhoods. There are plenty of other good-to-very-good places within their genre, at least in my opinion.

Mar 11, 2014
bouncepass in California

Updated Santa Cruz restaurant reviews/opinions, please!

To my taste, Bantam has the best pizza in the Santa Cruz area. The style is modern Cal-Napolitano and leans chewy and slightly crispy. Slightly wet center. Good char, and nice balance of flavors. No reservations but the wait is generally at most 20-30 mins even on the busiest nights.

Other good pizza in town now:

Pizzeria Avanti - in the old Ristorante Avanti location. More of a NY style pizza. A nice contrast to Bantam.

La Posta - I generally get pasta when I'm here since it's the best in town, but their pizza is also very good.

Mar 10, 2014
bouncepass in California

West End Tap [Santa Cruz] [Split from burger.aptos thread]

Had a good dinner there recently. A large portion of roasted brussel sprouts was a good deal at $5. I might have preferred it cooked just a touch longer, but the glaze was not over-sweet or overdone as seems to be one popular style these days. Also had a deftly cooked pan-fried white fish (can't rember what kind now) served with some nice braised kale and heirloom beans.

Seems the kitchen is evolving nicely and the community is responding accordingly. A popular place for both happy hour and dinner from what I can see. Glad to see it doing healthy business.

Mar 10, 2014
bouncepass in California

Need best of, in or near Aptos.

Ethiopian, Sichuan and Vietnamese are easy: there is none (unless you consider San Jose "near Aptos").

I think best Indian in (and near) Aptos is Ambrosia. IMO it's pretty decent and easily the best in Santa Cruz County.

Consensus Thai is between Sawasdee and Star of Siam, both in Soquel and just a few blocks apart. They're better than average Americanized Thai (like 99.9% of Thai in this country... don't expect Jitlada or Lers Ros).

Mar 04, 2014
bouncepass in California

Ruth's annual birthday dinner dilemma -- 2014 edition

Stella Nonna?

Mar 02, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Beaver Creek Smokehouse (Martinez)

Based on the above recommendation, also tried the $21 combo. Same five meats, coleslaw and beans.

Overall, I thought most things were quite good, say, mostly singles and a couple of doubles, but no home runs. I'd return if others wanted to, but I'll prioritize trying Smokehouse 10 first before returning here. Wouldn't make a special trip from, say, Berkeley.

One criticism of all the meats is that the smoke flavor was dialed way down compared to my preference. I'd say it was quite subtle at best. I found this a bit odd as the smoke ring was very pronounced on the brisket and ribs (easiest place to see it), and the whole place does smell mildly of wood smoke (in a good way) and there's a large pile of wood stacked in the back.

Brisket (requested fatty) was decent albeit on the dry side.

Ribs were good. Nicely cooked (some tug to get clean off the bone) and moist, but I found the dry rub a bit lacking. Probably the best of the meats.

Pulled pork: also a good version. Came sauced which makes it a bit hard to evaluate the meat itself.

Chicken thigh: definitely dry in spots. They ran out right after our order so maybe this was the previous days' reheated?

Sausage: Seemed like a pork-dominated sausage whereas I'm more accustomed to a beef-dominated version (best I've had is Luling City Market). Grind was also very fine, which isn't necessarily my cup of tea either. Probably a mismatch between my biases and theirs.

Coleslaw was very lightly dressed with vinegar. Throwing on some of the Carolina bbq sauce made it quite tasty.

Beans were nicely cooked (creamy but still intact).

Thinking about it a bit more, perhaps their meats are coming out fairly close to how they want them, but their style and mine just aren't well-matched. Despite this, on execution alone it's better than 95% of Bay Area BBQ places that I've tried so maybe worth a shot.

Feb 22, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Tonight, Valentines day (worst night on earth!) near the Ritz. Dinner for 1![San Francisco]

Maybe the sushi bar at Akiko's? Very respectable omakase.

Feb 14, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

New Alexander's patisserie venture, downtown Mountain View

Very informative, even if it's semi-speculative. Thanks!

Jan 09, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

New Alexander's patisserie venture, downtown Mountain View

Do you really mean that Tartine Bakery is considering and/or planning an expansion to Mountain View? I don't think there's a single SF business that could expand to the Peninsula that would have me more excited!

Jan 09, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Oh Please, Pretty Please, Din Tai Fung—PLEASE Come to SF!

The first two are in Arcadia, not Alhambra. They're also adjacent to each other!

Jan 06, 2014
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area


Sticking only to Capitola proper, I like Mr. Kebab and Falafel in Capitola Village although they were closed for a while (their updated website http://www.kebabandfalafel.com/ seems to suggest they've reopened).

Caruso's is somewhat old-school Italian. Many people really like it but I'm lukewarm on the style. Execution is probably good for what it is.

Cava Wine Bar is adjacent to Caruso's and has a decent selection of by-the-glass offerings. Usually New World dominated, but with some Old World stuff as well. Food is limited to a few things like cheese and charcuterie but a reasonable place to hang out. I think there might be an arrangement to get food from Caruso's but that might be wrong or out of date.

Sante Adairius is only getting better. World-class beer.

Verve Coffee on 41st has world-class coffee.

A few doors up is the Chill Out Cafe which has a wide range of tasty breakfast burritos. That would be my suggestion for breakfast but I haven't done an extensive search.

Very slightly outside your boundary is the Silver Spur, which is probably the best breakfast in the entire greater Santa Cruz area. Lunch is pretty good too.

For me the best burger by far in the area is at Oswald, but that's downtown Santa Cruz. I say it's worth the short drive but YMMV.

Dec 25, 2013
bouncepass in California

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

Showed up last Friday @ 6:30 pm. Walked right in and got one of the last few remaining empty tables. Within 15 mins there were probably 3 or 4 parties waiting.

Chicken wings were very good. Nice complex flavor, perfectly cooked. Leaned a bit sweet for my taste but I'd definitely return and order them without hesitation.

Black bean noodles also very good. Texture could have been a bit more chewy / "Q" but the melding of the sauce and noodles was nice.

Spinach with garlic was fine. Service was very good. One downside of the location is that traffic on Bryant was horrible. One car forward per red light kind of thing. I'd park a couple of blocks away and walk to avoid the insanity.

Dec 16, 2013
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Ngoc Mai Report (SF)

Last week I tried both the duck curry "pho" and the mi quang at Ngoc Mai. The former hit the spot on a (relatively) cold day. My one complaint is that other than noodles it was mainly potatoes and duck. It would have been nice if there was a bit of other veg in there, say some daikon radish.

I liked the mi quang quite a bit as well. Maybe not quite as aromatic as Ha Nam Nimh's dry Hu Tieu Nam Vang but the combination of ingredients and sauce really worked for me.

I was disconcerted to find the place 2/3 empty both lunches that I visited. I hope that was at temporary blip, as I would definitely return. Bun bo hue did seem to be the order of at least half the people there.

Dec 16, 2013
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Cocktails in South Bay?

I think Single Barrel in San Jose is very good, on par with Bourbon&Branch and Rickhouse, for example. The bartenders listen to your preferences and are very knowledgeable. I also like the atmosphere -- it's a fairly large space albeit quite dark. Far preferable to the packed-like-sardines that Rickhouse, for instance, can be.

Nov 09, 2013
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Dishes you can only get on one day of the week

Stolen from Thomas Nash's recent report:


Wed: KFC at Namu Gaji

Nov 04, 2013
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

Taiwanese breakfast in San Jose/Cupertino area

Super helpful rundown! Thanks!

In case it's helpful, here's my unofficial "most common items in Taiwanese breakfast" foods, based on at least a hundred breakfasts (mostly at Yong He Dou Jiang) in Taipei:

Dou jiang: Soy milk ordered sweet or salty, and hot, lukewarm or cold. My favorite is lukewarm or hot with half-sugar.

Mi jiang: Peanut milk. A delicious alternative to dou jiang. (Do any of the above serve this?)

You tiao: "Chinese doughnut" but very faintly savory (rather than sweet).

Shao bing: A rectangular baked flaky bread. The best are freshly baked, crisp on top, and flaky in the middle. Can be ordered plain, or stuffed with you tiao, or stuffed with egg (the latter is my favorite order assuming the shao bing is good).

Fan tuan: Sticky rice roll. Like a extra-thick sushi roll (no nori), stuffed with various things like pork floss, you tiao, pickled vegetables, etc.

Dan bing: A crepe and egg cooked together then rolled up.

Man tou: Steamed buns.

Bao tze: Stuffed steamed buns.

And some more well-known items: xiao long bao, luo bo gao (pan-fried daikon radish cake), cong you bing (scallion pancake), jiou tsai he (chive pastry).

A typical place might have many tens (maybe up to a hundred) of items that can be ordered, but these represent the most common ones in my experience.

Oct 29, 2013
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area

36 hours in San Jose

I might be in the minority, but I find Koi Palace to be a step below the top-end SGV places (Sea Harbour, Elite, King Hwa, Mission 261 etc.) and thus I personally wouldn't make the drive. I find their execution lacks refinement. In the bigger picture, all these places are about in the same tier, below the best places in Vancouver and well-below what one can find in Taipei and Singapore (and, I assume in Hong Kong but I haven't been in a very long time).

A lot closer to you is plenty of interesting food, even if it doesn't hurdle the "can't find in LA" bar. Chettinad-style Indian:


I really like Walia (Ethiopian). I think the flavors are complex yet harmonious, more so than most Ethiopian places:


There's a ton of amazing Vietnamese in SJ.

Blue Line Pizza is a slightly different take which a lot of people, myself included, like quite a bit.


Ramen Halu has some interesting stuff that isn't found at a normal ramen-ya. Right now, pumpkin ramen.


Oct 19, 2013
bouncepass in San Francisco Bay Area