bouncepass's Profile

Title Last Reply

Query - Quick SF visit for the end of January, 2015

I still say Tartine Bakery is worth a visit, though choose your items carefully. I really like their morning bun and coconut cream or banana cream tarts. Lots of other recommendations on this board. And at 4:30 pm, you can get fresh bread, which is really their pièce de résistance.

I am not a fan of Craftsman and Wolves. Three trips, maybe 10 items tried in total, none have made me want to go back. I've given up on them.

Further south in the Mission, Knead Patisserie has some killer items, like their pomme d'amour and butter pecan croissant. I also like their lemon ricotta pop tart. Some items sell out fast on weekends so go earlier.

+1 on b patisserie. Their kouign amann (plain, chocolate or otherwise filled) are all amazing. I believe they come out at different times during the day, though, so early arrival isn't necessary.

Special occasion dinner in the South Bay

Wakuriya is also special occasion worthy, though outside of the South Bay search radius.

lunch in Santa Cruz?

To me, US Meals is slightly nicer fast food. Cheap and decent but not much more than that.

Nice-ish lunch: Assembly or Laili (downtown) or Ristorante Avanti (west side).

Mexican: depends on what dish you want. If you're looking for a taqueria, my preference is Taqueria La Cabana (also west side). Lots of people really like Los Pericos, which I think is pretty good as well. Morenos has lots of fans as well. I like it OK but prefer the above two better.

The Picnic Basket (closed until Jan 17) has good sandwiches (this might be GH's mystery spot). Zoccoli's (downtown) is decent.

I would recommend either Linda's Seabreeze Cafe or the Silver Spur, both local institutions. They have good old-school sandwiches and burgers - not fancy, but to me quite satisfying. Their turkey (roasted in-house) sandwich is excellent. And if one doesn't want a sandwich, you can get breakfast all day.

Jan 13, 2015
bouncepass in California

Growler fills 'this side' of SF?

Although some places (like Russian River Brewing) opt not to refill growlers unless it is one of their own. I suggest checking with the brewery ahead of time just to make sure.

Growler fills 'this side' of SF?

While I think Sante is one of a handful of the world class breweries in Northern California, growler fills aren't their strong suit. Most of the time, you are limited to one of their beers (typically their 831 IPA, which I do quite enjoy), though on occasion you do have a choice of two beers.

Not quite within the boundaries of the OP, but I think the best growler fills near to the requested region are from Cellarmaker.

Where should we eat dinner? [Cupertino / Saratoga area]

FD's suggestions are good. I'd add Chinjin Eastern House as close to 85. If you take the slight detour of 280 S to 17 S, you could try Michelle's Pancake House, the place formerly known as A&J (nothing other than name has changed) or Tong Dumpling in Cupertino Village, Shanghai Garden (I really like their fish fillets in wine sauce)...

Best Khao Soi in SF?

Agreed. Some dishes at Kin Khao were excellent, but that wasn't one of them IMO.

Week in San Francisco – Montrealer and first time visitor needs help with itinerary

+1 on Mikkeller, City Beer and Toronado for beer. Would add Cellarmaker for excellent west coast style hop-forward beers (one block from City Beer too), and Monk's Kettle and Abbott's Cellar in the Mission for other interesting beer lists. Zeitgeist is pretty good too, but I like these others better.

Surprised that no one has yet mentioned Lers Ros for superior Thai and one of the Burmese places... traditional CH faves. Note that Burmese Kitchen is closing before your trip.

I'd consider Garaje for Mexican-inspired delicious high calories bombs. In a good way.

I think that Tartine Bakery, B Patisserie and Knead Patisserie are all outstanding for affordable deliciousness.

Pho Ga : SFBA Dish of the Month November 2014

My favorite pho ga for a long time was the now-shuttered Pho Ha Noi. The replacement has been Pho Kim Long with fresh noodles (not on the laminated menu but likely hand-written in Vietnamese on one of the walls). Not quite as minimalist as Ha Noi but broth has good flavor and the chicken is nicely done.

A friend with a Vietnamese background suggested I also try Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe. I see why my friend likes it... but to me it tilts towards Chinese enough (noodles and the focus on ginger/scallion dipping sauce) that it's almost a different species. Tasty but not what I think of (or experienced when visiting Hanoi) as pho ga. A warning that their hours can be a bit erratic as well.

great mole in san francisco?

I've tried a number of idshes at Tu Mero Mole in San Jose. There appears to be a recently-opened second branch in Sunnyvale. They do have Mole Poblano on the menu though I don't recall if I ever tried it specifically. I find their moles have nice depth, balance and complexity. Not as good as the best ones I've had (most memorably at the central mercado on Isla Mujeres of all places) but certainly well above the bar.

ZONGZI aka CHINESE TAMALES SFBA Dish of the Month May 2014

The clearest difference is that northern zongzi are not tasty, while southern ones are delicious! :)

According to my Taiwanese relatives, the main difference is in the texture of the rice. The former has more individual grains, while the latter is a more glutinous texture. From the photo, it looks more northern with the grains breaking off in individual grains, which is less likely in southern ones.

My cousin surmised that zongzi is one of those foods where your mother's version is really the one you like the best. So I'm not actually kidding that I will only eat southern ones, but I assume there are others who are equally adamant about their side of the fence.

ZONGZI aka CHINESE TAMALES SFBA Dish of the Month May 2014

Nice find! Do you know if it's southern or northern Taiwanese style?

Non fried/battered calamari dishes in Monterey or Santa Cruz

Soif sometimes has a great squid salad dish. It seems like it's blanched quickly before being chilled. I've always enjoyed that dish immensely.

With Chef Santos (former Soif chef) having recently moved to Discretion Brewery, there's a squid dish on their menu as well, but I didn't try it. Not sure if it's fried or not, though my guess is not.

Real trick would be to find someplace that serves a really good calamar a la plancha.

Aug 07, 2014
bouncepass in California

Visiting for a week from L.A.

Thanks for the heads up on these new places. Both will be on the list for my next visit for sure!

Visiting for a week from L.A.

Agreed. I meant to say that more generally for pizza, not necessarily Neapolitan, I like PD and Tony's. Edited to fix the poor writing.

Visiting for a week from L.A.

I visit LA at least once a year after having lived there for some time (though that was more than a decade ago now). Here are places that I don't believe have good LA area analogs: Wakuriya (Japanese kaiseki); Bar Tartine; Sawa Sushi (some people love it, others less so); La Ciccia (Sardinian); Mission Bowling; Kin Khao (Thai); Garaje (over the top Mexican-inspired calorie bombs... in a good way).

I really enjoy Nopa. The menu doesn't necessarily look all that different from any number of other spots, but I think their execution is impeccable. I'd say it's worth going.

For an Italian date place, I'd vote for La Ciccia or Cotogna.

Two patisseries in SF that are worth going out of your way for: Knead and B Patisserie. The kouign amann at the latter is crazy good.

+1 on Blue Line Pizza. There are branches in Mountain View and Burlingame which should be relatively convenient for you.

+1 on Burmese. I like Burmese Kitchen a bit better than Burma Superstar but I'm not an expert by any means.

I personally wouldn't trek to Oakland for Pizzaiolo. It's good, but I prefer their pastas and other dishes. Una Pizza Napoletana is the gold standard for Neapolitan pizza IMO. Other pizza places (not necessarily Neapolitan) that I also really like are Pizzeria Delfina and Tony's Pizza. PD has a relatively new branch in Palo Alto. Tony's has at least a half-dozen ovens at different temps for various pizza styles.

I really like Da Sichuan but I don't think it's necessarily worth taking up a slot assuming you're in reasonable striking distance of the San Gabriel Valley.

I prefer LA's dim sum scene over the Bay Area by a reasonable margin so I wouldn't waste my time. I've been to King Hua, Lunasia, Sea Harbour and Elite in the past couple of years and I prefer each to Koi Palace. But others disagree.

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.

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.

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.

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

Regional Chinese roundup 1.0 (early 2014)

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

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!

Regional Chinese roundup 1.0 (early 2014)

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.

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.

Regional Chinese roundup 1.0 (early 2014)

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?

Beijing Duck House (Cupertino)

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

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.

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.


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