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Farewell, Foie Gras: I'm Not Sorry to See You Go

I don't really appreciate bananas.

They're often picked by low-paid, exploited workers.

We should ban bananas. Bananas are over. Get over it. Who cares?

SPECIOUS, moronic arguments. Just because, you, Mr. Birdsall, never really appreciated foie gras doesn't mean that those who do really appreciate it are irrelevant. Sheesh.

May 10, 2012
mavjop in Features

Yakitori in Seattle: Does Kushibar Fill the Void?

Thank you, Tom, for saving me from trying Kushibar.

Another thread on chowhound made it sound quite promising, but given your obvious familiarity with Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori in Gardena (one of our very favourite restaurants -- we periodically drive down from home in the SF Bay Area to LA for a weekend of Japanese food: Shin-Sen-Gumi Yakitori, Ramen and Sukiyaki; Gaja Moc Okonomiyaki) and appreciation thereof, I immediately know the basis of your review is sound. While I am sad that there is no good option up here in Seattle where I am at the moment, I would rather know in advance.

I was unable to find yakitori superior to Shin-Sen-Gumi in Japan (though we did not find many places to try in the short time we were there). I yearn for yakitori as good as Shin-Sen-Gumi (or even half as good!) in the SF Bay Area. When I had the honour of meeting the president of Shin-Sen-Gumi, I asked him to *please* open restaurants up where we live, but I suspect he wants to keep it local and not stretch things too thin.

I wish I could find some really good hatsu and kawa, maybe some enoki bacon, grilled potato with bernaise sauce, etc. Oh, and kani koroke. Mmm. It's a good thing I was in LA only a couple of weeks ago or I'd really be jonesing.

Sep 19, 2009
mavjop in Greater Seattle

Miso Japanese restaurant, Fremont, CA

We decided to try "Miso", a new Japanese restaurant (primarily sushi) in Fremont this evening.

The restaurant has stylish, subdued and pretty decor. It is a pity that is all it has going for it.

Service was sadly lacking.

Our server was polite, but that is where any positives about the service ended.

The staff were very inattentive. We had to spend some time trying to flag someone down even though there were several staff visible and almost no customers. It took over *20 minutes* and asking *4 times* to get water. Thereafter, nobody looked to see if maybe the water needed refilling. Our server was clearly not Japanese, and the other staff were speaking Cantonese when not speaking English (and did not understand trivial Japanese).

The food was pitiful.

Agedashi Tofu is generally hard to get wrong, but while it looked tasty and the crispy tempura batter seemed promising, the batter had an objectionable floury taste and texture. The dish was otherwise somewhat devoid of flavour. I'm not entirely sure how you manage that with Agedashi Tofu. It was unpleasant enough that I left 3/4 of it and even after eating and drinking other things I could feel the floury texture in my mouth.

Sukiyaki looked good upon arrival -- a large portion of what appeared to be fresh vegetables, slices of beef and a raw egg floating in it (which I broke up and mixed in using the spoon). Unfortunately, they apparently failed to realise that sukiyaki is meant to start with a flavourful broth. As near as I could tell, they simply used water. So, it was flavourless. The beef was alright but definitely not good enough to take being cooked in nothing but eggy water. It was hugely disappointing.

The sushi my wife had was bland and forgettable, with the exception of the spicy tuna roll, which was significantly too spicy and otherwise uninteresting.

The free edamame weren't terrible, but were cold.

The one thing we had that was half-way decent was the seabass misoyaki. It was quite tasty. Not *great*, but I would venture as far as reasonably good. It was a pity that they added crispy fried ... something (noodles? incredibly thin shredded potato?) on top. It tasted only of "fried too far" and took away from the subtle texture and flavour of the seabass. Once scraped off the top, though, the fish was quite enjoyable. At $7.50, however, it was an extremely anemic portion (about 2" square).

We turned down the free ice cream because we just wanted to leave.

The prices were somewhat high, but would be appropriate for a really good sushi restaurant. This is most assuredly NOT a good sushi restaurant.

When our bill arrived, they had forgotten to remove an item which they had come and told us they were out of earlier in the meal. Upon being informed of this, they did remove it from the bill, but it took them quite a while to do so.

I left hungry and distinctly unsatisfied.

Two vehement thumbs down.

Loca Luna
550-C Amsterdam Ave, Atlanta, GA 30306

Jul 30, 2009
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

Die, die must try Sunnyvale - Milpitas area

Can you clarify "not the fake one" re Little Sheep? I've only been to one -- I didn't realise there was a real and a fake one -- and I've always found it to be really good. It's right at the junction of Decoto and Alvarado-Niles. Is that the real one? :)

P.S. Try the Mongolian beef pancake. Yum!

Oct 23, 2008
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

RSS feed for one's profile/activity

Ok, thanks for responding. :) I am glad it's on the radar, as I think it would be a really good improvement for the site, and by allowing people to add it to plaxo pulse, friendfeed, Facebook posted items, or what have you, that could give publicity to the site also.

Jul 15, 2008
mavjop in Site Talk

RSS feed for one's profile/activity

If it is there and I've somehow missed it in my searching, please excuse me, but I think it would be awfully nice if I could add an RSS feed of my account to RSS readers or sites like Plaxo Pulse, and I don't see any way to get such a feed.

Basically, a feed including comments or posts I post on chowhound or what have you.

Perhaps one could even have multiple RSS feeds for a given user -- one for "My Recent Posts", one for "All Activity", one for "Reading List"?


Jul 09, 2008
mavjop in Site Talk

Ristorante L'Acquolina - Los Altos

Oh, by the way, our waiter told us that as of yesterday, March 1st, 2008, they had been open 1 month, 12 days.

Mar 02, 2008
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

Ristorante L'Acquolina - Los Altos

We went to L'Acqoulina this evening. Just got back. It was really quite good!

The bread was a rustic, crunchy-crusted country bread of some sort (I'm sorry, I can't quite put a name to the type) which went wonderfully with the lightly salty butter served along with it.

We had two appetizers between two of us, and each of us tried both.

The first appetizer we had was a roast artichoke served with oil and herbs on one side and with a tangy aoli on the other. The artichoke had more "meat" to it than usual, and came with the outer leaves all cut off and the stalk skinned such that none of it was too tough to eat, including a very good chunk of stalk. It was perfectly cooked, had a wonderful flavour and the texture was perfect.

The second was a butternut squash soup with some spicy oil drizzled on top, a flash-fried battered prawn in the center and some sour cream on top. It was a pity that the butternut squash seemed very subdued because the dish was otherwise very good. It just didn't quite zing. It has potential, though.

For main courses, I had a pretty inventive dish of carrot-gnocchi with rabbit ragout. The ragout seemed to be about 1/2 shredded rabbit meat and the rest a base of pureed vegetables (if I had to guess, I would say winter vegetables; perhaps a mixture of root and squash with maybe a bit of red pepper, but I could be way off base with that), topped with grated parmaggiano reggiano and chopped chives (the chives really added to the dish), and garnished with good, fresh parsley.

My wife had a thin, breaded veal cutlet (very tasty) with red onions, basil leaves and tomato, with two rather tasty small roast potatoes and a salad of small bias-sliced slivers of young asparagus. The asparagus was served quite al dente, and was very good. I was in the mood for less al dente, so it wasn't quite what I was looking for, but it was good. The dish overall was excellent.

To finish up, we had an affogato. It was made with a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato, a generous shot of excellent espresso, and a good-sized dollop of delectable sweetened whipped cream (Schlagsahne a German would be proud of). It was one of the best affogatos I have had the pleasure of enjoying. Outstanding!

The total for the whole thing including one coke (no wine, no further drinks other than iced water -- which was unfortunately rather chlorinated) came to a pretty reasonable $73. We had a $20 OpenTable dining cheque, so that made it an even more affordable meal, but even without it was good value. Plus, our reservation should be earning us 1000 OpenTable points. :)

I think this place is worth a try for anybody considering it.

Oh, by the way, the decor was very pleasant. It is a comfortably uncrowded space decorated in nice subtle warm earth tones. There was just the right amount of art-work and decoration so that it wasn't empty-feeling but wasn't cluttered. There is a wrought-iron theme, with small wrought iron sculptures in gaps, wrought iron sconces for the lights, and iron chandeliers, as well as a few other things like that. Other than that, there's a few pieces of art tastefully placed around the restaurant, which fit in very nicely with the rest of the decor, blending nicely (due to containing a lot of earth tones even though they are bold in places) while still being aesthetically pleasing in and of themselves.

Mar 01, 2008
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

French macarons in Redwood City - Pamplemousse Patisseries et Cafe

The macarons are absolutely wonderful. The cassis is fantastic. All of them are tasty. If you enjoy eating rose-flavoured things, you will love the Rose one. The plain vanilla is great. The butter rum tastes like a butterscotch boiled sweet, and the mint chocolate tastes like a York peppermint pattie. I think I've tried about 17 or 18 flavours by now, and while some weren't as great as others, all of them were quite tasty. :)

(Oh, and BTW, they have over 20 flavours now, perhaps as many as 30).

Jan 26, 2008
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

Ad Hoc, Yountville - Transcendent!

NOTE: For a version of this review illustrated with my photos, please see

Yesterday, my wife and I drove to Yountville, CA (from San Jose, CA), for dinner at Thomas Keller's new (well, not very new, but new-ish, and new to us) restaurant, "Ad Hoc".

"Ad Hoc" has a different prix fixe set menu every night. That is, each night there is a set four-course menu. You don't get any choices. It's $45 per person. Very simple. You have to trust that it will be good, whatever it is.

The meal began with absolutely wonderful bread from Bouchon Bakery, another Keller establishment just down the road. There were two kinds of bread. A multi-grain wholemeal (not whole grain) bread, and a white crusty bread. Both were fantastic. I do love good bread.

While I was tearing into the delectable bread, our salad course was brought out.

The salad was an amazing haricots verts and potato salad. Blanched, al dente green beans, sliced boiled fingerling potatoes, toasted walnuts and thinly sliced radishes in a sherry vinaigrette. Now... salads are not normally my thing, and I prefer my beans hot or at least warm, and generally without much crunch to them, but this was just ... amazing. It was delicious. The ingredients were clearly extremely fresh and of outstanding quality. Along-side the salad was a plate with some Serrano ham. It was excellent (as Serrano ham should be), and what was best about it was that it went beautifully with the beans, walnuts and the rest of the salad.

After the salad came the main course: Osso Buco with a broccoli rabe and tomato sauce, with pappardelle pasta on the side. The Osso Buco was the best frickin' Osso Buco I have ever tried. Braised for 36 hours, the meat was rich and full of flavour -- firm, not dry, not stringy.

It was rich and wonderful, but even better was the marrow! The bone marrow (which I scooped from inside the bones using knife, to separate it from the bone, and fork) was the most truly delectable bone marrow I have ever had.

It was divine. It was a thing of wonder. Cooked perfectly, it came right out of the bone, but didn't fall apart. I was able to slice it like butter. Like the best foie gras, it was subtle yet rich.

After the main course came the cheese course. The cheese was "Old Kentucky Tomme" goat cheese from Capriole Farms, which was really outstanding -- creamy and firm. It was served with the best candied pecans I've ever had and sliced compressed persimmons. The pairings were very good. The cheese combined wonderfully with the candied pecans and the persimmons, bringing out the flavours more strongly than when eaten alone, especially the persimmons.

The final course, the dessert course, was lemon pound cake with mascarpone cream and dried fruit compote. The cake was almost dry, but moist enough to be tasty. I am not a fan of dried fruit or fruit compote of any sort, so I didn't eat that part, but I salvaged the cream from on top of it to eat along with my lemon pound cake. The cake was drizzled with a solidified strongly lemony icing which I think may have been the bit which involved mascarpone. If so, it was not a lot of it. It was sugary and tart (the lemon), and I think there was just enough mascarpone to keep it from become hard/brittle, instead just solidifying to a paste-like consistency like the contents of a peppermint patty. It was tasty but not transcendent.

To finish up the meal, ordered and delivered before the dessert but I did not drink it until afterwards, I had a cappuccino. It was a good cappuccino, served with brown sugar "rocks" to sweeten it, and it tided me over well for the hour and a half drive home afterwards.

The bill (check) was brought out topped with an "Ad Hoc" beer mat. An amusing way to present it. A nice little touch a bit like the "French Laundry" clothes pegs one gets when eating at his more famous Yountville establishment.

All in all, it was a fantastic meal, and well worth the 2.5hr drive out (in traffic) and 1.5hr drive back home.

Oct 27, 2007
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

ISO good ice wine at trader joes

I don't recall what vintage. I would guess that anything from Peller Okanagan is likely to be rather tasty, especially if it says "Dark Horse" on the label! :-)

We attended the Okanagan Ice Wine Festival in January 2005, so it was whatever vintage had recently(?) been released at that time. Presumably a 2004 or 2003.

I'd risk buying anything of theirs to try it, though. :)

Sep 18, 2007
mavjop in Wine

ISO good ice wine at trader joes

I think luthien may be remembering the Beringer Nightingale which was a lab-created _late harvest_ (i.e. artificially innoculated with botrytis), not a fake ice wine. Nightingale is quite surprisingly good (who'd have thought Beringer would make anything worth drinking?), but not an ice wine or fake ice wine.

Sep 18, 2007
mavjop in Wine

Sumiya Yakitori in San Jose

They serve more than just grilled chicken items. Obviously, tori being chicken, yakitori in the strictest sense would mean only the various chicken items on the menu, however like Shin-Sen-Gumi ( they have non-chicken robata-grilled items.

Unfortunately, unlike Shin-Sen-Gumi, which I cannot recommend strongly enough, Sumiya ... kind of sucked.

Sep 18, 2007
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

Sumiya Yakitori in San Jose

I wen to Sumiya maybe 3 or so months ago. I am afraid I was extremely underwhelmed.

We ordered a lot of the yakitori items on the menu, and they just weren't that great. Some items were actively bad, like the part-rotten garlic (yuck!).

Shin-Sen-Gumi in the LA area was our introduction to yakitori, and we really miss it when we can't get down to LA for a while (we live in San Jose), so we were *really* hoping Sumiya would fill the need for a local place, but ... it was so mediocre that I wouldn't bother going back.

Two thumbs down to this one.

Sep 18, 2007
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

Southbay haunts? Favorites?

Alas, Do-Henkotsu closed down. :(

Sep 18, 2007
mavjop in San Francisco Bay Area

I *really* wish I could "Favorite" *places*...


It is possible to mark a thread as a favorite and thus be able to find it quickly and easily, but for a site all about food and restaurants, it seems like a glaring omission that one cannot mark *places* as favorites!

Please, please, please make this possible! Having to (1) remember the name of the restaurant you're looking for /and/ (2) search to find it [which doesn't work if you don't give precisely the same spelling as whoever last edited the "place"] is very klunky.


Aug 10, 2007
mavjop in Site Talk

ISO good ice wine at trader joes

I had a colleague get me what was probably the very same 3-pack. :) They're really good, but Peller's _Okanagan_ ice wines, and in particular a wine called "Dark Horse" (a blend of several varietals; riesling, welschriesling and ehrenfehlser, I think?) was absolutely stunning. It may be the best ice wine I've ever tried.

Aug 08, 2007
mavjop in Wine

Eating in Rappongi minato-ku area

We went to Gonpachi on a recommendation from a couple we met in Kyoto, and in part because of the positive things said about it here. I'm afraid it was one of the few meals in Japan that we could happily have skipped. We had mostly their yakitori, and it was really mediocre, EXTREMELY overpriced, with slow service, and the whole place was a horrifying tourist trap.

We balked at the prices and the mediocrity (glad we had only ordered a small amount of food). If we had had a full meal, enough to fill us, we would have spent several times as much, but we left feeling like we'd had appetizers and 4,000 yen poorer. We were so unsatisfied that we stopped at a little curry shop on the way back to the subway and ate a filling meal for 2 for about 1,500 yen.

I would strongly recommend against Gonpachi, and given my limited experience of Roppongi, I would recommend against going there. A colleague who used to live in Japan had recommended avoiding Roppongi, but given the strong restaurant recommendation we received, we decided to go anyway. I should have believed my colleague when she said it was frat boy land.

I would recommend staying in Shinjuku (we stayed in Shinjuku), or perhaps Shibuya.

May 09, 2007
mavjop in Japan

Fukuoka (Hakata) eating plan

Yuu-shin was simply sublime. Amazing gyoza, fantastic atmosphere. Genuine, friendly staff interested in having conversations. Awesome umeshu. Loved it! It made the 6 hrs (3 each way) on the Shinkansen of travel worth it. ;)

We went down to Hakata from Kyoto for ... ur, about 3hrs! Yes, we're crazy, apparently. That is, by the way, 3hrs travel, 3hrs there, 3hrs travel back.

Our entire time in Hakata/Fukuoka consisted of Ichi Ran for ramen (it was really quite good, and quite an experience, but didn't justify 6hrs of travel) and then Yuu-shin for gyoza (which, as mentioned above, did justify 6hrs of travel! =) It would have been nice to spend more time down there, but with only 2 weeks in Japan, we prioritized Tokyo (which we totally didn't allocate enough time for, at around 6 days) and Kyoto ... with day-trips to Hakata and Osaka from Kyoto, and 1 overnight trip to Hakone from Tokyo.

Thank you very much for this post about your eating plan for Hakata! It was an _invaluable_ resource for us for our day trip.

Apr 27, 2007
mavjop in Japan

Eating in Rappongi minato-ku area

If you like yakitori, I strongly suggest "Tenka dori". :) Alas, I cannot find information on the restaurant on the web anywhere, with a Google search for the romaji name (perhaps I would have better luck with kanji/kana, but alas I can't easily figure that out). It was within a block or so of the intersection of Sakaimachi and Takoyakushi. I _think_ just North of that intersection, but I could be wrong.

Their wings were the best ever. We don't normally order wings at yakitori restaurants, but they came with a set we ordered (and then added a bunch of a la carte stuff to), and they were so amazing we ordered more. Their yakitori was all shio, not teriyaki, which was fine. The tsukune (chicken meatball) were awesome, and they had umeshiso tsukune and wasabi tsukune too. Oh, and cheese(!) tsukune. The skin (kawa) was excellent. The thigh with green onion (welsh onion, they called it; seemed like large green onion, but I wonder if the name Welsh Onion was from the fact that it was almost like leek) was really good too. Oh, and, the umeshu was great too. =)

Apr 26, 2007
mavjop in Japan