Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Roundup

Memorable dishes and meals of 2009.

Clams and Tripe starter - Incanto

4505 Chicharrones

Peking duck flatbread;  Asian Pear Salad with watercress, chinese celery, chili oil, roasted peanut;  and Seared Beef Tongue with blackened grits, spicy mustard greens, pickled anchovy - Mission Street Food

Panuchos de Pavo and Black Beans - Poc Chuc

Lamb's Tongue - Flour + Water

Indian-inspired fried chicken sandwich, garam masala honey, cabbage, cilantro, jalapeno - Kitchenette

Rainbow Salad and Roti - Pagan

Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese  on crusty bread - Outerlands

Tea Smoked Duck - Five Happiness

Lamb Chops with Thai Pesto - Namu

Pork Knuckle, Vegetarian Goose - Shanghai House

Cheese Grits and Poached Eggs - Brown Sugar Kitchen

Mac n' Cheese - Pican

Duck with cherries and a slaw with hazelnuts - Wood Tavern

Mostaccioli rossi with shaved tuna "bloodline" and zuchini crema; Wild nettle tagliolini with geoduck clams and Nocellino olive oil; and Cannelloni neri of Monterey Bay squid, tomatoes and breadcrumbs - Oliveto

Guinea Hen with/ leg confit, caramelized sunchokes and chanterelle mushrooms - Commis

Karage - Santa Ramen

Ubuntu - Salad of oca; Roasted Beets and Quinoa

Grace's Sunday Suppers - Stuffed Perilla, Pork Belly and Ribs

Sushi Yasuda - Omakase

Ko - lunch and dinner, shaved foie gras with pine nut brittle and reisling gelee, biscuit

Matchbox Bloody Mary - Prune

Flushing Food Crawl - dumplings, liang pi, lamb

King Crab Flan and King Crab with calafate berry - Afrigonia (Puerto Natales)

Saturday, December 19, 2009


A recent visit to La Ciccia:

Spaghittusu cun Allu Ollu e Bottarga - I can't get enough of the creamy bottarga flavor of this spaghetti.  Our table unanimously agreed that it was our favorite.

Spaghetti with Sea Urchin and Shrimp - a tomato based sauce, rich and creamy texture from the sea urchin that I would order again.
Octopus stew in a spicy tomato sauce - with little octopuses in a spicy tomato stew with a deep tomato flavor.   

Pizza Bianca - decent thin crusted pizza, much better than the pizza's I've had here in the past. The crust was crisped on the bottom, though not blistered.  The richness of the cheeses and salumi were balanced by a layer of shredded fresh radicchio. 

Fregula with Fresh Ricotta and Cured Tuna Heart - the ricotta worked nicely to round out the salty tuna heart, but the faro pasta did not feel like the right pairing for this flavor.  I prefer the spaghetti with tuna heart, garlic and red pepper.

Previous Notes:
La Ciccia September
La Ciccia June

Sunday, December 13, 2009


There has been a fair amount written about Mission Street Food and it's Thursday (and Saturday) dinners. After several visits that were hit or miss, one thing became clear to me, the best nights have been those when Anthony Myint is cooking. Great flavor, textures and interesting often unconventional combinations of ingredients. The menus aren't bound by convention, as if the chef is treating the place as a laboratory to experiment. With much of the proceeds going to charity it could only be the labor of love for someone passionate about food. Something I wholeheartedly support.

I won't go into a play by play of everything I've liked but here are a few standouts from menus I saved:

Asian Pear Salad with watercress, chinese celery, chili oil, roasted peanut

Crispy Tofu with slow egg, sauteed greens, garlic-sesame glaze

Salt & Pepper Cod with guacamole, sweet corn, bacon, mustard greens

Aged Angus NY Strip Steak with goat cheese, seared cherry tomato and shishito peppers, and black bean demiglace

Peking Duck Flatbread: duck confit, duck cracklins, cucumber, cilantro, scallion and spicy hoisin

country-fried chicken livers with brussels spouts, buttermilk dressing

seared beef tongue with blackened grits, spicy mustard greens, pickled anchovy

trotter flatbread: ham hock rillette, cornichon, sauce gribiche, on a homemade flatbread

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Ubuntu is at the top of my list of restaurants in Napa.  It's clear that the chef took the vegetarian menu as an inspiration for creativity rather than feeling constrained by it.  The menu is seasonal, so it's a good excuse for me to go up there come Spring.  We ordered everything listed on the menu that night.

First, a few snacks:

marcona almonds - LAVENDER sugar, sea salt - o.k.  the lavendar sugar is interesting and does add another flavor to the almonds. If you eat a lot of marconas at home, this wouldn't be a special treat, but it's a nice way to start the meal.

castelvetrano olives marinated in CARROT TOP pesto - the carrot top pesto was so subtle I didn't notice it at first, but I load up on these whenever they have them at the store, so this is not a must-order.

chickpea fries - fall HERBS and ROMESCO - good fritters, like the herbs, again another substantial starter to lead off with.

On to the garden.  When each of us singled out a favorite dish of the night, we all chose different dishes. In other words, the quality of the main dishes was uniformly high.  A few of them in order of my preference:

forono and albino BEETS baked in vegetable embers - rancho gordo red quinoa, alpine STRAWBERRY, baby MACHE
- just a fantastic combination and some of the most flavorful quinoa I've had.

Pumpkin filled donut with burrata - I don't have the list of ingredients but the seasoned burrata went perfectly with the slight sweetness of the pumpkin donut.

Salad of OCA  - again not sure of the ingredients but the composition was delicious and beautiful on the plate.

carta da musica - a selection of items from their garden, different arugulas and other greens from their garden with pecorino and hazelnut dirt (?)

rustic rancho gordo yellow eye bean stew with ROSEMARY, torn bread, CHILI, and black KALE - the most rustic dish of the night,though the portion was small, a balanced hearty soup.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crab Dinner

Taking advantage of the bountiful crab season, we had a crab dinner and watched the TC Finale.  We had a E's beautiful salad with pumpkin seeds, persimmons and pomagranate, and polished off five crabs, but not without some difficulty earlier that day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Crab Season

Back in SF just in time for crab season -- fresh, wild and meaty dungeness crab.  I got so excited, I ate an entire two pounder for lunch.  Nevermind the crab juice and shell pieces flying all over the kitchen!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

South America

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pig Dinner

A lovely pig extravaganza hosted by HM and B on their patio with the added bonus of beautiful classical violin music played by their neighbor. 


Bacon Old-Fashioned with Candied Bacon & Orange

Green Apple, Candied Bacon & Arugula

Mixed Greens with Orange Candied Bacon, Avocado & Walnuts

Pumpkin Soup w/ Bacon & Chicharrones

Grilled Pork Confit & Braised Heirloom Rice
with Wiehenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Mustard Greens & Bacon

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Bacon with Kimchee Puree

Dessert Duo:  Three Little Pigs & the Wolf-le
Spicy, plain & sweet pulled pork ice creams with Aventinus Weizen Eisbock
Wolfle with Aventinus Doppelbock 

Wiehenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel
Aventinus Weizen Eisbock
Aventinus Doppelbock

Saturday, October 24, 2009


A Fall dinner at Commis in Oakland.  The food is sophisticated and creative, imparting a strong sense of the chef's personality.   The meal aimed to entertain the palate.  The many offerings ranged from something fun like red shiso soda - so brightly colored and fizzy that it looked like old fashioned soda from a soda fountain, to a poached egg and pork belly with black garlic - common ingredients paired with the unique flavor of an unexpected element.  Then an expertly prepared guinea hen with leg confit, high on flavor and style.  And for dessert, a whimsical take on celery and peanut butter. 

Overall, a nice departure from straightforward execution of crowd pleasing standards.  Hooray for expressive cooking!  I look forward to returning to see what's offered when the season changes. 

Here's everything we tried (the menu is from A's memory):

Red Shiso Soda - brightly colored sweet sparkling soda packing a good punch of sweet and sour, a nice way to wake up the palate. 
Hen Egg Yolk over onion soup date puree and sesame

Beet salad

Poached Egg, pork belly, black garlic - I love this use of black garlic. The pungent garlicky and slightly sweet flavor played nicely against the hearty yolk and fatty pork belly.

Monterey Bay squid w/turnips

Kabocha squash soup w/some kind of cream, vegetables, and herb (kaffir lime?)

Cod over celery puree, mustard, vegetables

Sirloin tip cap, fennel salsa verde, wilted spinach, pearl barley, some kind of celery/rhubarb - The description didn't sound as exciting as the actual dish.  Fork tender beef with a combination of salsa verde and spinach that came together as a multi-dimensional mix of flavors.

Guinea Hen breast w/ leg confit, caramelized sunchokes and chanterelle mushrooms - this was my favorite of the night.  I anticipated the meat to be dry or tough.  It came in one piece with both breast and leg confit in one roll, so simple looking but skillfully prepared -- tender, juicy and perfect with the earthy flavor of mushroom and sunchoke.

Roquefort with plum compote and pistachio

White Cheddar Cheesecake with green apple and toffee threads

Celery Cake with celery ice cream over grape jelly and crushed peanuts - an interesting play on celery with peanut butter. 

Absinthe gelee

Monday, October 19, 2009


It seems like there's a standard menu floating around the city: frisee salad with a poached egg, some sort of pork belly, hamburger, and pizza.  It could be the economy, an idea that city diners want to eat the same thing wherever they go, or simply lack of guts to cook from one's own perspective.  That's why it was so refreshing to go to a place like Namu

The menu is a mix of small and large plates that make for a Korean style family meal.  The first thing on the table is panchan, three types that were all light and gentle rather than pungent, a good way to start the meal with something well balanced that doesn't punch the lights out of your taste buds.  Our first course was with Hog Island Oysters, served with yuzu ponzu, wasabi and a chojang korean chili sauce.  The oysters were fine their own, both the sauces overpowered their sweet taste.  After trying oysters with various sauces, dashi broth and similar acoutrements, my personal bias is for quality raw oysters with minimal adornment.   Next came the uni shiso tempura, cucumber & kaiware salad with lemon soy vinaigrette.  I'm not sure about this tempura, it had a mild uni flavor though the salad was a good compliment to the flavors.  My dining companions enjoyed it.  

Chinese long beans, boccalone guanciale, trumpet mushrooms, korean chili threads and tofu seasme puree.  These were lovely and the guanciale was like fried pork belly, perfect little salty accents standing in for the traditional chinese preparation that uses salty ground pork.  

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Looking for soup and menudo, so we ended up at El Delfin.  The menudo was full of tripe in a thick and deeply flavored red broth.  The tendon and tripe were prepared so that each piece was thin and tender.  My only issue with the dish was that the stew broth was too thick and strong, almost a stew. 

The chicken soup was more of a soup with good chicken flavor and chock full of vegetables.  One of the better chicken soups I've had in the Mission.  Perhaps it was because they were busy, but I recall that they used to serve freshly fried tortilla chips.  No such chips on this occasion.  In any case I'll trade the fresh tortilla chips for the comfort that they'll be in business for a while.  I was glad to see that they were busy, I used to worry about them a little when I so often found the place empty.

Everytime I dine at El Delfin I get either the prawns with chile de arbol or with chile chipotle.  Yes, I know, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.  I just can't help myself, I'm a chile head.  This time I went for the chile de arbol which was exactly as I remembered it, buttery, garlicky and addictively spicy.

Previous Post on El Delfin

Friday, October 16, 2009

ONE MARKET Duck Menu**

One Market has been doing a series of whole animal menus every week.  We decided to give their duck menu a try.  Every dish of the five course menu was made from Muscovy Duck.  It had been a while since I last ate at One Market and it was nice to find that the place hasn't lost a beat. Yes, the decor and vibe is a little corporate, but that's what you would expect from a place located at the foot of a major office building.

On to the food.  It started with the liver mousse terrine, a huge portion of creamy liver with a beautifully light texture served with pickled figs and a plate of their own brioche.  Just what I wanted smooth strong livery goodness against the sweet tart figs.

 Next came the salad with a piece of duck proscuitto which was nicely seasoned and balanced, and a tender piece of gizzard that worked well with wild mushrooms.  A good way to refresh the palate after being hit by the richness of the mousse terrine.  

The duck confit came as a small pile of leg meat surrounded by a red wine risotto.  The confit showed of the deep duck flavor and risotto was a nice slightly acidic accompaniment.  The fourth course was probably my favorite of the meal.  Slices of duck breast with a huckleberry side and a spice gravy.  The sweet potato pureee with vanilla had a surprisingly strong vanilla flavor, but everything worked well together.  A slightly acidic sauce, the sweet huckleberries, the salty savory roasted duck and the base note of vanilla.  

Dessert was a deeply satisfying pot de creme that perfectly contrasted with the vanilla bean cream layered on top,  and a goofy little duck chocolate standing on top.  

The pot de creme with the side of salted caramel ice cream was a nice combination of creamy, salty and sweet.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I'm not one that craves burgers.  Yet I have not been able to resist the temptation of making a weekly visit to Mission Street Food's Mission Burger.  The stand is run by two chefs that that used to man the stoves at Bar Tartine.  And they prepare everything with care -- the burger is a well seasoned blend of brisket, short rib and chuck formed into a column of meat.  It's then cut into burger patties so that the grain of the meat is lined up and cut against the grain creating a burger tender to the bite.  The burger then gets a good char on the flat top with beef fat giving it that old school greasy spoon diner flavor.  The beefy goodness is accompanied by a toasted Acme bun, caper aioli, jack cheese, well carmelized onions and a garnish of grilled hot peppers.  Their caper aioli has a zing to it, but the burger could use a bit more of an acid element.  Instead of ketchup, I opt for a cup of their tangy mint lemonade which cuts right through the rich burger.  Good combination. 

After a few visits, I began to sample the specials.  Their perfectly fried halibut, with a light crispy batter hit the spot on a hot day.  Another time they were topping the burger with a Soul Food Farms fried egg and Benton's Bacon.  I'm a sucker for runny egg yolks.  As much as I enjoyed the rich yolk and bacon, it was a bit over the top.  

The guys recently added chili cheese fries to the menu.  A meaty chili with a spicy kick over their crispy fries.  If I didn't crave their burger so much, I'd just order these fries for lunch. 

Because I'd been happy with everything they'd ever fed me, I decided to really put myself in their hands by trying the vegan burger.  Yes, I have eaten at Millenium and Cafe Gratitude, but other than that, I have never purposely ordered or knowingly eaten anything vegan.  These guys start with their own patty of mushrooms, edamame and some other good tasting stuff, fried, then topped with crunchy fennel slaw and a chili paste that looked like sambal olek. 

The vegan patty didn't hold together as well as the beef burger.  A nearby diner admired my eating gusto and commented that I was making a mess like one of those sloppy burger commercials.  Aside from the soft texture of the patty, I wouldn't change a thing about the vegan burger -- it was delicious and, to my surprise, almost as hearty as the beef burger.  I would definitely order this again. 

Corner of 18h & Mission inside Duc Loi Market.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Outerlands is everything I love in a neighborhood restaurant.  The main menu is straightforward -- fresh wholesome food that nourishes and comforts soups, sandwiches and stews.   

The heirloom tomato soup was well balanced with a strong tomato flavor and spicy tap at the end.  A side of grilled cheese was made with thickly cut pieces of crusty bread, crunchy and perfect for dipping into the soup.  We also loved the spicy and soothing ginger cider. 

The food is comforting and matches the beautiful interior of reclaimed wood.  Enjoying a meal at Outerlands feels like taking relaxing trip to a cabin in Big Sur sipping cider and eating hot soup in front of a fireplace.  It is that warm atmosphere and friendly service that makes me wish I lived around the corner.  

Outerlands photos
Judah at 45th Ave 

Monday, September 28, 2009


Every time I get close to the end of Church Street I start to crave tuna heart.  A specialty food from Sardinia that is the heart of tuna cured into a purple red colored meaty piece with a strong umami flavor.   Two restaurants in that neighborhood serve it shaved onto pasta.  

It was a perfect night to hit Incanto, the restaurant was busy enough to have some atmosphere but not so busy as to overwhelm the kitchen.  I had a good view of the kitchen where the two chefs worked quickly, efficiently and at controlled pace.

I started with a dish of clams and tripe in a buttery broth tasting of the sea with a little base note of heat from a bit of chili, topped with some leaves of lemon verbena.  The tripe had a perfect texture -- tender with just enough meaty bite.

The spaghetti was just as I remembered it, a balance of briny smoky tuna heart with the smell of garlic and the silky richness of egg yolk.

Incanto might have a sort of 90's staid old world traditional Italian decor, but it's friendly service keeps it from being stuffy. 

December 2007 Report

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Red Cooked Pork with Tofu Knots - definitely get this. It's red cooked porkbelly pieces with some tofu knots for a more substantial texture. Perfectly seasoned, savory offset with a bit of sweetness.

XLB with Crab - these were just o.k. not much soup in the dumplings and had a canned crab flavor, but the skins were decently thin.

Salt and Pepper Cod - surprisingly good. Light almost tempura batter that is typical of salt and pepper preparations, good jalepeno heat and well seasoned. Definitely would get this one again.

Next time: the Lion's Head Meatballs and braised bacon/pork belly.

Chinatown 640 Jackson

Friday, September 18, 2009


Shanghai House, a small place across from the Balboa Theatre, another reason to catch a flick at the Balboa. We ordered the Pork Knuckle the day before our dinner.

Pork Knuckle
- a huge portion of meaty knuckle.
I was expecting the type of knuckle you get at Roli Roti. RRoti's has a small amount of meat and is a little chewy but has that delicious connective tissue. The one here was much more meaty almost like eating a huge portion of carnitas. It was crispy and salty on the outside with the gelatinous goodness of the tendon barely holding the tender meat together. Must order ahead.

Lion's Head Meatballs - this was recommended by a friend that works very close to the restaurant. Tender and flavorful blend of meats in a clay pot. I loved the vegetables that had soaked up the pork and beef juices in the silky braising liquid.

Vegetarian Goose - Crisped tofu skin matching the flavorful mushrooms and brought together with a a sweet-ish sauce.

Smoked Duck - so smokey that it was almost too smokey, but good. For some reason this one does not have to be ordered ahead.

Smoked Fish (cold) - sweet and smokey though a little chewy to my taste.

Mapo Tofu - not too much flavor, just spicy.

Hand Cut noodles
- nice hand cut shape, but a bit too chewy and the topping lacked seasoning. I liked this dish much better at Five Happiness.

XLB - I've become so used to the NY style xlb that are full of soup. These were decent xlb, not very juicy but a fairly thin skin. I wish I could find good xlb place in SF.

If I lived in the neighborhood, this would be a regular stop.
Definitely get the Lion's Head Meatballs and the Veg Goose. Next time I'll try the Shanghai Style Noodles, spicy beef tendon (cold), and a red braised dish.


Poc Chuc panuchos, fried to a crisp and stuffed with their delicious black beans. Topped off with shredded turkey and some ultra spicy and vinegary salsa and you've got the crunchy, spicy, vinegar and herbs against the earthly beans and turkey. It looks like the place is busier than it used to be, but the food is as good as ever.

Previous Posts on Poc Chuc:

October 2007
September 2007 as Popol Vuh

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Douglas Fir

HM's Douglas Fir syrup made from fresh branches she received from the wilds of Montana. She calls it A Walk in the Woods. A glass of the soda was deliciously crisp and refreshing -- like taking a breath of cool fresh air in a forest of Douglas Fir.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Starbelly, on a sunny afternoon during this heat wave of a week. First thing I notice are jars of pickles lining a wall -- good sign. I ordered the porchetta only to discover that they had run out. Went with the BLT. A very large sandwich. I thought, at these prices, no wonder they ran out of porchetta. Good bread, fresh red and yellow tomatoes, aioli, nice balance of flavors. The housemade bacon was fine. The jasmine green tea, lemonade and sage refresher was great. I would order either of these again.

Luckily on my next visit they had porchetta and it was by far the best thing I've had at the restaurant. Very thinly sliced moist pork, perhaps dipped in jus, served on a baguette nicely grilled with a giardiniara-salsa verde that had nice bits of nuts mixed in with the herbs. Great combination of pork, herb greens and giardiniara, though I would've loved a little more pork. The greens accompanying the sandwich had too much vinaigrette causing them to be limp. The clam po' boy was very light on the clam and heavy on the cornmeal crust, but had a good flavor.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wild Fennel Pollen

The weather has been so beautiful this week, perfect for a hike and perhaps some foraging. I contacted HM, my foraging expert. She was game, and said that late August is the best time to harvest wild fennel pollen.

We headed straight for a trail far away from any streets. As we walked along the trail, we found a few plants here and there and had fun balancing precariously on some rocky slopes to get the flowers. I was happy when we came across a group of five plants. HM kept saying that she was sure there was a big patch 'just a little further, just a little further'

The path became shaded by some large trees and I started thinking that we should head back to the sunnier part of the trail, just then, we turned a corner and there it was -- El Dorado. A patch of at least sixty plants! HM threw up her hands and said "see I told you!" We laughed as we thought about the last hour we had spent balancing on hills and cliffs just to get to one or two plants.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oliveto Tomato Dinner 2009 ***

Tomato Bloody Mary - good fresh tomato flavor, not a heavily seasoned style of bloody mary; Lightness on the spices showed off the tomato.

Insalate di carne cruda
of Watson Farm lamb loin with green tomatoes and grappa*

Crudo of salted Atlantic cod and local albacore with Black Cherry tomatoes, Lipstick pimentos, and almonds.

Half dozen Miyagi oysters with Marvel Steak tomatoes and rose vinegar mignonette*

Cornetti of Oliveto wild boar prosciutto and arugula with Pineapple tomatoes and Parmesan cheese*

Panelle with San Marzano tomatoes, basil, hot peppers, and aged Provolone cheese*

Fried green tomatoes with tomato mayonnaise*

Sicilian-style ravioli of tomato conserva with Oliveto ricotta, pinenuts and marjoram** - the conserva was excellent, an ultra concentrated tomato flavor created by reducing a huge quantity of roma tomatoes into a jam, balanced well with the ricotta and pine nuts, a favorite.

Cannelloni neri of Monterey Bay squid, tomatoes and breadcrumbs** - cannelloni with deep squid ink flavor, this was another favorite. (pictured above)

Tomato Polenta torta with garlic crostini, Rossa Bianca eggplant, and smoked mozzarella* - loved the textures and comforting flavors in this one.

Tomato Penne with Manila clams, smoked king salmon, and Flamme tomato coulis. - good pasta, these guys are masters at pasta making.

Pancetta wrapped Jones Farm rabbit braised in tomatoes confit with Flageolet beans - this was a rather small portion and did not stand out.

Spicy red tomato and red miso glazed black cod with Crostata Romanesco squash - this dish was a miss because the glaze was overly sweet and lacked other flavors to balance.

Green tomato and Gravenstein apple pie with honeyed Crescenza cheese ice cream - pie was good but the cheese ice cream was a bit overpowering.

Torta di Verdure with Sweet 100 tomato compote** - this torta was made with beets and that played well against the complex savory sweet compote.

Warm Marvel Stripe tomato jelly doughnuts with brandied creme anglaise - good doughnuts, though not much tomato jelly or tomato flavor.

The pasta dishes were outstanding. Service was excellent -- this is definitely worth a trip for tomato lovers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Korea Night in Glen Ellen

Another great cooking group dinner, but this time at D's "Barnhouse" in Glen Ellen. The grounds were beautiful and the dishes come together nicely. The best Korean tacos I've had, bar none, and some delicious creative "Seoul Food."


Korean pickled cucumber, apple and ginger

Tteok 'n Cheese

Sesame Garlic Collard Greens

Mashed Korean Sweet Potatoes

BBQ'd Brentwood White Corn with Gochu Aioli

Korean BBQ'd: Bulgogi, Kalbi, Pork Belly

K Taco Fixings/Panchan:
-Ssam Jang
-Radish Kimchi

-Cabbage Slaw with sesame dressing
-Tortillas, Lime, Cilantro, Green Onion

Iced Boricha

Fresh Watermelon Soju

Ice Cream with Blackberries picked by H and J

Dessert Wine

The meats were marinated according to D's Grandmother's instructions (the 'secret' is Asian pear juice) and E's fixings were perfect the ssam jang, radish kimchee and the refreshing sesame cabbage slaw with the brightness of the lime - perfect. I could've had seconds and thirds of the tteuk n' cheese and those spicy greens. Orange zest was awesome in the mashed Korean potatoes (these are a purple potato that vary in size.) The watermelon cocktail with ginger was an ideal light refreshing drink for the day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I went to Kabuto about ten years ago when it was on the North side of Geary and I remember it being very traditional, in fact, I don't even think they had spicy tuna rolls. It was a place to get nigiri, but I could be wrong. Apparently, that chef is gone and their current forte is sushi. This time we went for A's b-day and I'll definitely return. Loved the strong liver taste of the monkfish liver sushi. The 1849 Oysters has everything but the kitchen sink, an Miyagi with uni, ikura, masago, quail egg yolk and gold leaf. Get again: Monkfish liver, Foie Gras, 1849 Oysters.

We had uni as nigiri and as a special sushi, in both versions the uni was very mild, so I'd pass on their uni. Next time try the cooked dishes, I spied the Japanese family next to me chowing down on some izakaya type offerings.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I was resistant to have dinner at Flour + Water because I've been often disappointed by the pizza in SF and I usually avoid places where there's a wait. We arrived just after six and there was no wait. So far so good. Dug into three of the antipasti: tuna conserva, lamb's tongue and headcheese. The tuna conserva was well balanced. Crunchy thinly sliced celery and lightly cooked tuna which was good though not as complex as the similar dish at SPQR. The lamb's tongue was the standout of the night. Tender well seasoned tongue with rich egg yolk over it and a bit of crunch from the greens -- nice. We had a similar lamb's tongue dish at Babbo and loved it. This one was as good, it makes me wonder why there's not more lamb's tongue on menus around the city. The headcheese was fine, yay for thinly sliced fried pig's ear, but ultimately a muddle of meaty flavors that was forgettable.

Margherita pizza. A very nice neopolitan style thin crust with the ends showing off a stiff exterior and tender interior and a slight sogginess in the center. The moisture in the center was not from the dough, but from the excellent fresh tomato sauce that was on the wet side. The tenderness of the crust reminded me of the crust at Luzzo's, though missing a blistered crisp exterior. I prefer the crisper style, but wouldn't hesitate order this one again.

Next course was two pastas one fat ribbon herb pasta, the other was a tagliarini with lobster mushrooms. Both of the pasta noodles themselves were well made. The preparations were simple, one with a pork cheek sugo which had a slight sweetness counterbalancing the herbed pasta and the brocolli. The tagliarini was a bit less al dente than I like but that's typical of fresh pasta. The consensus at our table was that the dishes were somewhat oversalted. A minor distraction because the preparations were flavorful enough that we could still taste herb in the pasta, deep earthiness of mushrooms, and a hint of citrus.

Ended with the chocolate budino which was fine, if fairly straightforward. I'd order it again, but it's actually just two notes, rich chocolate with a hit of salt.

My friend commented that the server was rather brusque, the diner sitting next to us leaned over and agreed. Perhaps she was just a little overwhelmed by the wait that was forming, so I understand. Despite the lukewarm service, the food and prices were friendly enough to make it a good neighborhood spot. Next time try more of the antipasti.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Korean Tacos - sweet thinly sliced bulgogi in a corn tortilla with the usual taco fixings.

May 2009

Fried Fish Roll with avocado, slaw, fried peppers, lemon mayonnaise. Great combo, nice bright slaw with a spicy kick from the peppers.

More Kitchenette

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Who knew that so many restaurants in Oakland are closed on Sunday? Lucky for us, Pican is the exception. We sampled Southern Foie Gras - fried chicken livers with a nice bright slaw to counterbalance the crunchy fried goodness. Even Brett who normally doesn't prefer chicken livers, enjoyed them. Our second starter was Heirloom Tomato and Nectarine Panzanella another well dressed and balanced dish. Shrimp and Grits starter was also tasty, a few large shrimp and some very good grits. We moved on the Fried Chicken accompanied by a Mac n' Cheese. The fried chicken was well seasoned and delicious, with a thick crunchy crust. I think I prefer the slightly less thick crust at BSK, but I have plenty of room in my stomach for all styles of fried chicken! They brought us some of their house chili vinegar which was an innocent looking pale yellow vinegar with a hidden super punch of spicy chili. It was so good that we could not stop dipping pieces of chicken into it. The Mac n' Cheese was particularly good with the slight tang of the gouda cheese and a perfect sauce that was smooth and creamy without being overwhelmingly thick and cheesy. The Laquered Duck was excellent as were the light fluffy mashed potatoes. The decor and the atmosphere of Pican is upscale but not stuffy. The service was friendly and the courses well timed. We had a good view of the kitchen and it was very clear that it is a well run efficient operation. Dish after dish of picture perfect food coming out very quickly.

Photo by Rebecca

It was nice to see so many people enjoying Sunday dinner in downtown Oakland. The menu is fairly large and I'll definitely return to try some more, definitely the ribs and a few more of the starters.


I might take breaks from making ice cream, but I never take a break from eating it. To update my specific ice cream rankings, I'll need to add Tara's and Lush Gelato.

At the top of my list is Lush Gelato. I was hesitant when I was told that it was Argentine style gelato, I found many of the gelatos in Buenos Aires flavorful but too sweet for my palette. The dulce de leche at Lush was perfect for me. Excellent texture with very strong flavor. I sampled a few of the other flavors and found them just as appealing.

Tara's had interesting flavors, all of them deeply infused into the ice cream. It's an altogether different style than Ici, less sweet with more interesting 'savory' types of flavors. The only minor detraction is the texture of the ice cream which could be more dense. With that said, if I could blink my eyes and land on the doorstep of any shop in the bay area here is my current preference:

Lush Gelato - dulce de leche, basil
Humphry Slocombe - kumquat poppyseed, sesame or Vietnamese coffee
Bi-Rite Creamery - Salted Caramel with almonds, Cookies n' Cream, Lemon
Ici - the cone! lemon, any of their nut flavors
Mitchell's - lucuma, ube, coconut

Previous: Ice Cream Rankings April 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Fried chicken sandwich, crispy, spicy, vinegary slaw, wish it had different bread. Nice outdoor seating using ironing boards as tables.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Sunday supper with J, A, and Jay. Wood Tavern has excellent food, generous portions and friendly service -- the makings of a great neighborhood restaurant, if I lived in that hood. Cutting board of pates and charcuterie was delicious, a nice variety of salty, pungent, sweet and savory flavors. Both the Burrata with heirloom tomatoes and the Pork Belly starters were good but very standard. The strength of this place was in the meat entrees. My favorite dish of the evening was Duck with cherries and a slaw with hazelnuts. The sweet tart cherry sauce complimented the duck and the finely shaved slaw was light and crunchy offsetting the richness of the duck.

The second entree of
Rib Eye Steak was surprisingly good. I rarely order steak at restaurants because I'm happy with the steak I prepare at home. This rib eye was cooked to a perfect medium rare, nicely charred on the exterior, extremely tender and dressed with a red wine reduction. The sauce was good, but the tenderness of the steak was surprising. I have prime cut rib eye at home, but this was one very well marbled piece of meat. Again, portions large enough for two. The only miss was the halibut. The fish was a little dry, though the dish was somewhat saved by the creamy corn accompaniment. I would not hesitate to return to this place for some of its high quality meat dishes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Sweet, refreshing, delicious -- straight from Thailand. Never thought I'd get these at a market here in SF, the world is definitely getting smaller.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Black Garlic

HM was kind enough to share some of her black garlic with me. It is similar in texture to roasted garlic -- soft and ready to eat. Eaten plain I found it savory sweet with a more tempered garlic bite, a distinct umami flavor and a pungent roast garlic scent. HM gave the perfect description: roasted garlic with a balsamic flavor and a slight tamarind note.

To get an idea of how to use it, I tried it five different ways on bread: butter, brie, goat cheese, tomato, tomato and basil. I liked all the applications except for the butter, my favorite was with the goat cheese to spread out and carry the flavor and balance the sweetness with a salt and acid.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hetch Hetchy Soda

Last week, I had a lot of leftover candied fruit and syrup that I made for my fruit ice creams. Because my belly would explode if I turned all this sweet fruitiness into ice cream, I left it sitting in the fridge. After a couple of days, I started mixing it with fizzy mineral water and lemonade. R and HM advised me to get this contraption to turn tap into soda. (HM makes her own delicious rhubarb soda.) Thanks to them, I'm now drinking my own cherry limonata. Cheers!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Locavore Summer Dinner

Another knockout cooking club feast, each dish using local summer ingredients.
Photos by Brett Levin


Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Belfiore Cheeses, Berkeley. Squash Blossoms, Miramonte Farm, San Juan Bautista.

Chilled Corn Soup with Chili Oil and Mint
Mint, home grown. Straus Creamery, Marshall.

Greens topped with Nectarines and Homemade Ricotta
Self Picked Nectarines, Brentwood. Straus Creamery, Marshall. Olive Oil, Bariani, Sacramento.

Heirloom Tomato Tart
Belfiore Mozzarella, Berkeley.

Mung Beans and Rice with Spicy Tomatoes
Tomatoes and Cilantro, Her Farm, Fresno.

Blueberry Boy Bait Cake with Sour Cream Ice Cream
Blueberries, Serres Ranch, Mendocino. Claravale Farm, Panoche, Central Valley.

Flight of Ice Creams

Peach Tea with Ginger with a Rosemary Pine Nut Shortbread
Toasted Almond with Candied Cherries and Dark Chocolate Sauce
Kumquat Cardamom

Straus Creamery, Marshall. Eggs, Petaluma. Peaches, Capay. Rosemary, home grown. Cherries, Brentwood. Chocolate, Burlingame. Kumquats, De Santis Farm, Fresno.

Navarro Edelzwicker, Philo, Mendocino County. Anchor Steam Summer Beer, San Francisco. Hetch Hetchy Tap H2O, Yosemite.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

AD HOC **'

A warm weekend of sunny skies in Sonoma and Napa. Made it to Ad Hoc for a fun and relaxing dinner. We started with a Summer Vegetable Salad harvested that day with a mix of perfectly cooked summer vegetables and fresh bibb lettuce simply dressed. The cauliflower, zucchini and squash were cooked lightly retaining their crunch but showing off their flavor, the salty punctuation of the nicoise olives played off perfectly against the vegetables and the slight tartness off the peeled cherry tomatoes. This was my favorite dish of the evening. We liked this so much we asked for seconds. Next came the Herb Crusted Colorado Lamb Sirloin cooked to a medium rare, juicy with a light hint of herb from the crust. Particularly interesting were the scarlet runner beans which were deep purple colored gigante type beans that had soaked up the flavor of the lamb. The beans made the lamb infinitely heartier. I also had an opportunity to sample the alternate dish of perfectly cooked salmon. Served on the side were some bright green, if a bit soft, english peas with fried pork confit topped with a few shavings of ricotta salata. The fried pork confit were little chunks of pork belly lightly breaded and fried so that it had a crispy exterior contrasting against a soft interior of various layers of fat and tender meat holding it together - a nice play of textures. Next came the cheese course, which I didn't get the name of. It was a mild cheese served with a sweet onion marmalade and marcona almonds - not notable. We ended with a nectarine ice cream with salted caramel sauce and bits of netarine garnishing the top. There was little nectarine flavor and the caramel sauce could've been more salty. I did, however, appreciate the presentation in an old fashioned ice cream dish and enjoyed the candied pecans at the bottom of the dish.

The first two courses were good enough to bring me back to the restaurant.
The only weakness was the dessert course. The atmosphere is relaxed and the friendly staff was knowledgeable. They clearly aim to accomodate their guests with information about the menu, wine recommendations and second helpings.

Summer Vegetable Salad
romano beans, haricots verts
cherry tomatoes, cauliflower florets
zucchini and yellow squash
nicoise olives, shallot vinaigrette
Herb Crusted Colorado Lamb Sirloin
demi-mustard greens, english peas
rancho gordo scarlet runner beans
fried pork confit, ricotta salata
sweet onion marmalade
marcona almonds
Nectarine Ice Cream
salted caramel sauce, candied pecans
and banana bread croutons

Saturday, June 13, 2009


B and HM brought me here for Saturday brunch. I liked the fried chicken and waffles so much, I returned a week later to have another go at the menu. Enjoyed the following, in order of preference: waffles with maple syrup, fried chicken, both biscuits, cheese grits, gumbo, beignets. Can't beat the atmosphere, warm and friendly service and the perfect diner style counter. This is a place to love, I would make a special trip to eat here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

OLIVETO Oceanic Dinner ****

Annual Oceanic Dinner at Oliveto, a seafood menu offered for three days. All the fish is wild caught or trapped. We focused on the antipasto and pasta with a whole black bass as the finale. As usual the service was excellent.

First Course:
Chilled ocotopus "soppressata" with Catelvetrano olives, celery heart, and Monte Iblei olive oil; and Green sea urchin flan with old aceto balsamico. Greek trap caught octopus, Southern California diver caught sea urchin. The octopus was thinly sliced and perhaps pressed into strips and dotted with chopped olives -- good texture soft with a slight bite to it. The standout was the sea urchin flan, as one that has both enjoyed and disliked uni, I thought this was wonderful, the flan's creaminess balanced the sea urchin flavor and spread it out so that it had a smooth sea urchin flavor rather than a concentrated punch. I would definitely order this again.

Second Course:
Crudo Study I: local halibut with paddle fish caviar, spicy razor clams, yellowtail jack with peach mostarda, salted and marinated king salmon, smoked bluefish with rouille, marinated anchovies with Espelette peppers, tai snapper with summer truffles, American mackerel with salted Bing cherry preserve. I was excited to see the spicy razor clams on the half shell, briny bright flavor with a spicy kick, my other favorite was the mackerel with cherry preserve, the sweet preserve punctuated the mackerel's flavor. I also thought the smoked bluefish was distinctive, strong smoke flavor good for a bite, but probably too powerful to have more than that.

Crudo Study II: tombo with oenogarum, striped bass with candied lemon, blood clam with bay olio santa, salted and marinated king salmon, marinated anchovies with Espelette peppers, squid in its ink with golden caviar, myagi oyster with rose vinegar. This was a well composed plate, spanning a variety of flavor combinations: spiced anchovies, salty salmon, slightly bitter squid ink and lemony bass. Standouts on this study were striped bass with candied lemon, the blood clam which had a highly concentrated clam flavor and the squid which was about the creamy texture of its ink against the crunchy thin ribbons of squid. Also enjoyed the oenogarum sauce on the tombo tuna.

Third Course: Mostaccioli rossi with shaved tuna "bloodline" and zuchini crema, Wild nettle tagliolini with geoduck clams and Nocellino olive oil. The bloodline is the darker part of the tuna, they took it out and cured it. It tasted much like cured tuna heart and was excellent with the perfect mostaccioli. I have yet to have a pasta at Oliveto that I didn't like. The wild nettle taliolini was dark green from the nettle. I couldn't taste the nettle because the pasta and the sauce had a delicious deep clam flavor. The pasta took on so much geoduck flavor the clam itself added a textural contrast.

Fourth Course:
Spit-roasted black bass stuffed with dried Italian sausage. This was a whole fish with a savory stuffing. The dish was hearty, rustic and a good way to fill any of the remaining space in our bellies. I would definitely eat this again, though overall it was less interesting than the other dishes.

Nothing on the dessert menu jumped out at us, and to be honest, I am still thinking about the incredible desserts we had at Babbo. We ended the night with a walk down to Tara's for ice cream, full, happy and making plans for our next visit to Oliveto.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


June 2009
Bar Crudo moved to a new location on Divisadero in a long somewhat narrow space with high ceilings. The decor is modern and less cozy that the original spot. The food is the same, though the pacing of the meal was very slow. The lobster salad had a generous portion of lobster meat, but the tomatoes were a bit bland and tart (it's too early in the season). I liked several of the items on the crudo platter, but the seafood chowder was the standout. Next time: try some of their hot items, skip San Sebastian.

August 2007
Bar Crudo is a great San Francisco seafood restaurant with crudo served with fresh and interesting accompaniments as well as beautifully executed hot seafood dishes. In order from great to good:
Lobster Salad
San Sebastian
Seafood Chowder - excellent though on the salty side
Arctic Char* - served too cold
Crudo for Two/2 of each crudo
Small seafood platter

The table beside us had a delicious looking whole fish.

Bush and Stockton

Monday, June 1, 2009

NYC Trip - Part I

Two and half weeks in NYC.

Part I: Diner, Russ & Daughters, Prune, Mimi's Hummus, DiFara, Fette Sau, Ippudo, Tanoreen, Luzzo's Pizza, Kee's Chocolates, Yoghurt II, Arturo's, Minca, Artichoke, Num Pang, Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles, Xian Famous Foods, Best North Dumplings, Flower Shop Tofu Stand, Yi Pin, Ocean Jewel, Luigi's Pizza.

Part II : Aburiya Kinnosuke, Jacques Torres, Little Owl, Clinton Street Baking, Kefi, Tai Yuen Bakery, Caracas, Numero 28, Sushi Yasuda, OMS/B, Dousoeur de Paris, Amy's Bread, Ruby et Violette, Azuri, Kyotofu, Company, Peter Luger, Momofuku Ko lunch and dinner, Perilla, Extra Virgin, Bespoke Chocolates, Dessert Truck, Babbo, Artisanal, Szechuan Gourmet, Cho Dang Gol, Stone Home, Assi Market Food Court.


Diner * Brunch at Diner was my first foray into Williamsburg. I loved the old school booths, bar stools and counter until I realized that the decor was the only thing special about Diner.

I had a housemade sausage sandwich and a squid salad. The octopus salad was over dressed with an extremely acid vinaigrette. The sausage sandwich was fine, nothing special. The fries were the best thing served. When I go to a neighborhood place, I expect decent food, friendly service and fair value which enables neighbors to come often. , but the unneighborly prices weren't justified by the food.

Russ & Daughters *** - smoked sable was great, but needed to be put on a bagel or in a sandwich too salty by itself. Returned for the Mensch, a sandwich of sturgeon, cream cheese and fish roe on a bagel. The filling combination was excellent but a little muted by the bagel. It was perfect after I removed the top half of the bagel.

Prune *** - brunch, got in for the first seating though I have to say that there wasn't much of a wait when we left. The egg on cocotte was a beautifully cooked soft egg over pieces of chicken served next to a salad of butter lettuce and buttered brioche very nice.

Loved my
matchbox bloody mary which came complete with a shot of beer on the side and a skewer of radish and brussel sprouts.

Kee's Chocolates
*** - Dark chocolate with almond ganache, green tea, jasmine with ganach, sesame ball truffle.

Yoghurt II *** - next to Grandaisy. Traditional Greek Yogurt served with choice of fruit topping and nuts. I got the apricot fig and walnuts. The yogurt is full fat and tart so it works well with the very sweet apricot fig compote.

* - ok pizza, friendly service. Thin crusted NY style, the cheese was a bit too thick and chewy for my tastes. The crust was crisp with a more bread consistency than the light crust at Luzzo's.

Artichoke *** - standing in a short line I observed the thick bready looking slices being handed out and I started to wonder if I was wasting precious stomach space on this one. Thank goodness, the spinach and artichoke slice was a lot better than it looked. The crust was crispy on the bottom with another bready layer on top then a very good garlic cream spinach and artichoke topping. The topping was very good, would be good as as a spread on some french bread, which is really why this slice works. The square plain, is excellent crispy crunchy fried and blackened on the bottom with a very bright though slightly sweet tomato sauce with pieces of basil. More charred than the DiFara square and very nice. Next time I'd just get the square.

Minca 0 - a disappointment. The pork broth was overwhelmed by garlic and needed some salt. I ordered it with thick noodles hoping to avoid the limp pallid taste of the thin hakata style noodles. These noodles were not good. Very bland and though they were cooked right, just didn't have any flavor and really didn't seem like proper ramen.

Num Pang *** - I walked by this place on the way to my flat. There was a small line so I grabbed the menu. Returned later for a peppercorn catfish sandwich which is exactly like a banh mi with the usual cilantro, cucumber, and shredded carrot. The Cambodian touch was the fish which had a soy pepper glaze. The fish and the spicy chili mayo really made this sandwich. I was already happy when I turned to my side of grilled corn. It's common in California at bbq's so why was this one so good. The corn was smokey from the grill and the chili mayo played against the sweetness of the corn. The finishing touch of coconut flakes and chili powder added a salty note and a nice contrast in texture. The menu has some other interesting looking sandwiches and their specials board showed a five spice pork belly sandwich which I'd order next time, but the real draw for me, would be the corn!

Ippudo ** - Akamura (modern) which had a rich garlic salty sesame broth and juicy thick cut chashu with a nice layer of fat. The noodles were a bit thin for my tastes but they had enough strength to stand up to the deep rich broth. With the salt level of the broth, I think I prefer a thicker noodle. Go back and get the spicy soup with thick noodle in the lunch set with the rice.

Tanoreen *** - A spot in Bay Ridge recommended by Grace for homestyle Middle Eastern cooking. The mezze was great: hummus, eggplant napoleon, haswa (ground lamb, egyptian rice, pine nuts, almonds toasted and tanoreen spices), grape leaves with meat with a perfect ratio of meat to rice and without the highly acidic vinaigrette, roasted brussel sprouts. This is a place to return to for the entrees, the spices are nicely balanced and beautiful freshness.

*** - A sit down pizza place that was very close to where we were walking so we stopped in. What a surprise, a typical looking pie turned out to have a wonderfully chewy, light, spongy, crispy crust. So good that the toppings of arugula, prosciutto and shaved parmesan interfered with my enjoyment of it. I would love to go back and just get a plain Margherita, Neapolitan or one with truffle. The coal oven seems to make a difference.

Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles * Food stall in the Golden Mall in Flushing. The noodles are not as good as they look. They are fresh but too soft and floury.

Luigi's Pizza ** A tiny little slice place near the Washington-Clinton subway stop in Brooklyn. It looks like the pizza shops on every other corner in NY. No where to sit, you just grab and go. The square slice was crispy and had a very bright tomato sauce, which cut through the thick dough and balanced the little charred bitter parts of the crust.

Flower Shop Tofu Stand *** Grabbed some sweet dou hua from the stand in the flower shop. Good tofu with a very gentle bitterness counterbalanced with honey syrup. My Aunt insisted that I get it topped with peanuts and that was a great call, nice to have a slightly savory element to it (like salt added to a dessert).

Fette Sau ** This bbq place in Williamsburg has a fun atmosphere in a warehouse space and is set up for communal dining at picnic tables in and outside. They have pulled pork shoulder, beef brisket, boneless beef ribs, St. Louis style pork ribs, and the best of all berkshire pork belly. There are also some sausages, but they didn't look that exciting. The standout is the pork belly which is basically eating pig fat with a tasty coating of dry rub and a nice smokiness from the grill. It's definitely not something that everyone would be able to stomach. I thought it was delicious. The pulled pork was o.k., beef brisket looked so much more moist than it really was, the boneless beef rib was dry but had good beef flavor, and finally the St. Louis style pork ribs were not to my taste at all. Far too smokey, just one note I could only eat two bites (the second one was to confirm my opinion after the first bite). Basically everything is just O.k. but the pork belly is great, if you go for that sort of thing. I ended up smearing some of the pork belly fat onto my brisket to moisten it up. Others enjoyed the collard greens and the bbq beans. I just didn't have room in my porky belly to fit any of that in. I would return for beers and pork belly, but would pass on the rest of it.

Mimi's Hummus *** - a nice neighborhood cafe type of spot in Ditmas Park. The hummus with beef and pine nuts was awesome. Creamy and topped with "shuy" the family's special recipe for a blend of herbs and chili that added another dimension to the beef pine nuts and the whipped hummus.

DiFara **** - 3 p.m. on a weekday, no line at all and I can see why this place is an institution, Dom the owner pizza maker practices it like an art. Takes his time making each pie individually and with a lot of care. Not rushing, not throwing the ingredients on, but making sure the dough is stretched correctly and the cheese is right, then a free hand with the olive oil, makes the thin slice so good, I had to have a second slice. Returned a week later and had two slices of the square. Both the regular and the square are great, but the square stands out in comparison to other pizza shops. Weekday afternoons are the way to go.

Ocean Jewel ** - dim sum in Flushing. Good variety, favorite item was the black sesame balls sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. Overall, standard dim sum that can be found at numerous spots in the Bay Area.

Green Grape Provisions * - tried to get a snack at a few places but the kitchens were closed. The Spanish Harlem sandwich with jamon serrano and manchego. The jamon was little too salty and lacked depth, but the manchengo was good. This place is not that exciting particularly in comparison to Bi-Rite.

Grace's Sunday Supper ****- Highlight of my trip. Boiled pork belly, bi bim bap, stuffed perilla (pictured), pan chan. Second Sunday: ribs, kfc (korean fried chicken) -- so good even a vegetarian had to have some. More details to come.

Flushing Food Tour ****- Started at
Best North Dumplings **, a little food stall inside a store. Tried the pork and fennel dumplings which were a nice change of pace from the typical dumpling. Grace liked the chewy skin, but I thought it was too thick.

Then headed off to the
Xian Famous Foods *** One of the stalls in Golden Mall a collection of basement food stalls. We had a lamb burger and liang pi. The lamb burger was far too salty though the smokey cumin flavor was nice. Liang Pi was the best thing we had that day. Hand cut noodles with a nice chewy rubberiness and a chili seasoning that you don't see, it must be chili oil that is uncolored, the heat sneaks up on you and works wonderfully. The mung beans add a crunch and the pieces of tofu help bring out the cumin flavor. Grace noted the cooks didn't look Chinese, well they are likely Western Chinese and Muslim.

On a return visit, I sampled the food stall with the blue sign next to Xian Famous Foods. Their shaved potato with chili was delicious and a nice crunchy counterpoint to the chewy liang pi.

We headed to the Flushing Mall to refresh ourselves with some shaved ice with pineapple, peanut, lychee jelly, red bean -- the shaved ice was too roughly shaved. Chunks of ice rather than the smooth and fine product I had in Taiwan, but refreshing nonetheless.

Headed back to Golden Mall and found it difficult to cope without being able to read Chinese - I thought of how much I fought Mandarin classes when I was a kid. We wanted to walk more, so I headed to
Yi Pin *. Had two types of dumplings and the green onion pancake. The dumplings with chinese chive were find and the others with Zhee tsai were more interesting, but I liked the skins they were slightly thinner than Best North, though not thin by most standards.
**** - Highly Recommended
*** - Recommended
** - Would Return
* - OK
0 - Would Not Return