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  • Post #121 - March 20th, 2017, 9:05 am
    Post #121 - March 20th, 2017, 9:05 am Post #121 - March 20th, 2017, 9:05 am
    Great stuff, keep it coming. I don't think Chinese is a strength of the Bay Area, but *if* Oakland's Hot Pot House still exists, it may be worth a try for Sichuan -- we quite enjoyed it, but that was 4 years ago. Same goes for the various outposts of Spices (all different, and quality of even the same dish varies by location). I think Koi Palace (3 locations now) is the only game in town for dim sum, but prices are creeping up and you need a car. Little Shanghai in San Mateo specializes in the eponymous cuisine and is also worth a drive (probably the best xiao long bao for miles around).
  • Post #122 - March 20th, 2017, 10:58 am
    Post #122 - March 20th, 2017, 10:58 am Post #122 - March 20th, 2017, 10:58 am
    I very much want to try Royal Feast in Millbrae (https://www.chowhound.com/post/royal-fe ... 232?page=4) but am waiting till I can assemble a proper expedition with enough people. Koi Palace is something else I want to try, in fact the Daly City/South SF area has a bunch of interesting stuff, from Indian to various sorts of Chinese to Jamaican to Korean.

    Actually, living in the Bay Area without a car is pretty easy (one of the reasons I moved here), so while I absolutely could get to Koi Palace or many other places via BART and bike, so far there have been so many interesting food destinations set squarely in my routes to errands and work that I haven't gotten very far off path. A nice problem to have!

    Oh, and one more rec that is very much up this forum's alley. A friend was in town and really wanted Arab/Mediterranean food. I had no idea where to go, so I carefully inspected Yelp and ended up choosing Wally's Cafe in Emeryville (a short Uber ride from Berkeley). It's a no-frills Lebanese joint located in the back room of a divey sports bar called the Bank Club (entrance, which is not well marked, is on the right side down a walkway). The prices look expensive for this kind of food, but with the complimentary soup (great) and pita (not great, the only low point), and the ginormous portions, it's not a bad deal at all, and the shwarma, hummus, and baba ghanouj were all delectable, top-5 ever for me. You sit at a circular counter with the servers on the inside. Looks like it's been there forever, and a lot of the customers were obviously regulars. Friendly and (due to the layout) omnipresent service, I think I had to wait about five seconds to get my iced tea refilled.
  • Post #123 - March 21st, 2017, 6:31 pm
    Post #123 - March 21st, 2017, 6:31 pm Post #123 - March 21st, 2017, 6:31 pm
    So, in the ever-present Burrito Wars which consume the Bay Area, the two major contenders are La Taqueria and El Farolito. Now, I write this with the caveat that both have several locations, and in fact, many natives (which which I am most definitely not) have opined that locations of both others than the two which I have eaten (both relatively adjacent to the 24th St Mission BART station) are not even the best examples of their respective mini-chains.

    That said, having eaten at La Taqueria today for the first time (I've eaten at Farolito at least 20 times), how the hell is this even a contest? Let me be clear, there are two upsides to La Taqueria: The green salsa (in bottles on the table) is great, and spicy as hell. And the physical space is nicer (it's open to the street, and on a nice day like today is quite pleasant. El Farolito is literally a filthy hallway with chairs on the sides once you squeeze past the counter. It, too, is technically open to the outside, but it's only about 6 feet wide). And my lengua burrito was by no means bad, if small.

    Farolito, however, wins on price (bigger burrito, due to the inclusion of rice, which is what makes some people prefer La Taq. I get that a lot of mediocre burrito rice serves no purpose, but Farolito's rice is delicious and, I believe, pre-soaked in meat juice. It's absolutely a positive presence in the burrito). It wins on the smoky flavor of its' lengua. It wins on having a salsa bar with 3 salsas (2 of them great) and escabeche (La Taq has no salsa bar, chips and weak-ass pico are $1.50 versus $0.65 for chips with all you can eat salsa at Farolito). It wins on having Mexican sodas (La Taq just has a fountain machine). And while the vibe at Farolito is fast and kinda gruff, it's basically friendly. La Taq service felt kinda rude and disorganized.

    El Farolito is one of the most efficient and delicious fast food operations I've ever encountered. If you're in SF, eat there. I'm still gonna try La Cumbre and Cancun, though.
  • Post #124 - March 22nd, 2017, 9:59 am
    Post #124 - March 22nd, 2017, 9:59 am Post #124 - March 22nd, 2017, 9:59 am
    El Cancún is the winner for me. Undoubtedly the best burrito I've ever had. I know I should try another spot but if I'm ever in the Bay Area, I'm not chancing it when I know a spot that will continually blow my mind.
  • Post #125 - April 18th, 2017, 11:13 pm
    Post #125 - April 18th, 2017, 11:13 pm Post #125 - April 18th, 2017, 11:13 pm
    Two restaurants I visited made a very good impression.

    I'm a big fan of XLB (who isn't?) and did my research before dragging some friends all the way to the Sunset from Berkeley. Luckily, we were not at all disappointed. Dumpling Kitchen's pork and crab XLB were among the best I've ever had. The pork only ones were good as well, but the pork and crab were the clear winner, and next time I'll just get two orders of those. We also ordered fish in black bean sauce, which was excellent and came in a good-sized portion, some steamed greens with vinegar, and a green onion pancake (thinner and less oily than usual, which is to say less enjoyable. But that was the only weak spot of the meal). Spartan but not ugly dining room, clearly authentic environment. Right in front of a Muni train stop, so the location shouldn't intimidate those staying in downtown SF or the East Bay (distance-wise, I mean. The neighborhood is very safe).

    About a week later, after a visit to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, I took the rare visit to the Valley as an opportunity to try some regional Indian food. We settled on UlavacharU in Sunnyvale for Andhra food, and despite some slightly disorganized service (we got there just as they opened for dinner, which was possibly responsible), we had a great meal: Chicken dum biryani was one of the most flavorful renditions I've ever had, with plenty of juicy chicken legs and an array of add-ons, baingan bharta was creamier and more blended than I'm used to, but had popping spices, and goat vindaloo was an excellent version as well, with primo goat meat and lots of marrow to suck out of the bones. I was slightly disappointed with the spice level in the latter dish (I asked for it 'very spicy' and got what I would regard as 'spicy', but my companions were probably lucky in that regard). Naan was good although the portion was a bit small. My dining companions got an order of butter chicken which they raved about as well. The waiters were friendly and brought us several different kinds of achar to try upon request. I will definitely be back whenever I'm in the Valley again, to try and amp up the levels on that vindaloo (I am on a fairly maniacal quest to try as many vindaloos as possible), and hopefully to try their lunch buffet which gets a serious number of rave reviews on Yelp. CH and Yelp seem to indicate that as well as being the center of gravity for regional Indian, the Valley is the choice destination for Taiwanese food as well these days, so I may be somewhat liberal in inventing reasons to head south, sooner rather than later.

    On a side note: Does anyone have recommendations for hip-ish, mid-priced (say, under $60 per person w/o drinks) restaurants in Downtown Oakland or fairly close to a BART stop in SF with decent food? History or a cool interior is a plus. Looking for date/celebration spots but don't have enough experience or local connections to cut through the thick cloud of hype on these kinds of spots.

    Dumpling Kitchen
    1935 Taraval St
    San Francisco, CA 94116

    UlavacharU
    685 E El Camino Real
    Sunnyvale, CA 94087
  • Post #126 - April 18th, 2017, 11:48 pm
    Post #126 - April 18th, 2017, 11:48 pm Post #126 - April 18th, 2017, 11:48 pm
    I'm a big fan of Hopscotch (Uptown, but a few short blocks from the 19th St. BART). I think it checks all your boxes, including cool interior (old diner). Get a couple of the Yonsei oysters to start.
  • Post #127 - April 18th, 2017, 11:53 pm
    Post #127 - April 18th, 2017, 11:53 pm Post #127 - April 18th, 2017, 11:53 pm
    Ah yes, a friend of mine mentioned going there the other night (but I assumed it was just a bar, she didn't mention food). Thanks for the tip. I find myself in that area fairly frequently to meet up with people at Telegraph or Starline.
  • Post #128 - June 13th, 2017, 2:03 pm
    Post #128 - June 13th, 2017, 2:03 pm Post #128 - June 13th, 2017, 2:03 pm
    Not to sound like a broken record, but I just had takeout khao soi and Lao style som tum last night from Larb in El Cerrito. Khao soi was easily one of the top 3 I've ever had, som tum was great as always. This place is cheap, too.
  • Post #129 - July 8th, 2017, 11:55 am
    Post #129 - July 8th, 2017, 11:55 am Post #129 - July 8th, 2017, 11:55 am
    Made a return visit to Dumpling Kitchen this week. The XLB were stellar as before, and we also enjoyed the #7 Beijing dumplings and the Wontons in Chili Oil.
  • Post #130 - July 10th, 2017, 11:18 am
    Post #130 - July 10th, 2017, 11:18 am Post #130 - July 10th, 2017, 11:18 am
    Wisco wrote:Not to sound like a broken record, but I just had takeout khao soi and Lao style som tum last night from Larb in El Cerrito. Khao soi was easily one of the top 3 I've ever had, som tum was great as always. This place is cheap, too.

    No apologies needed -- keep singing their praises! I want them to do well.

    Unrelated, but I finally got to try Tartine Manufactory. The soft serve was remarkable, but overall I think I prefer the original.
  • Post #131 - July 16th, 2017, 5:21 pm
    Post #131 - July 16th, 2017, 5:21 pm Post #131 - July 16th, 2017, 5:21 pm
    Data point number two in flea market lamb tacos: The Taqueria El Chaparro stall at the Richmond flea market served me the best barbacoa tacos I've ever had. Tortillas hecho a mano, delicious dense lamb meat, great tableside salsas and dry spices to add. Tacos are ginormous and 3 + a big Mexican Coke came to $11. They have pozole, menudo, and other stuff I'm curious to try next time. Location is out of the way, industrial wasteland kind of deal. Every Saturday.

    716 W Gertrude Ave
    Richmond, CA 94801
  • Post #132 - Yesterday, 10:57 pm
    Post #132 - Yesterday, 10:57 pm Post #132 - Yesterday, 10:57 pm
    When I'm in the mood for Mexican food, I usually just round up any other reason I have to venture into the City, but this week I decided to try out a couple places on my list in the East Bay. First off was a big dinner with a friend who had just gotten off a cross-country flight (translation: we were both very hungry) at Obelisco Restaurant, just outside the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland. This place uses higher-quality ingredients--organic veggies and tortillas, Niman Ranch beef, etc, but is very much an authentic Mexican place a step or two above taqueria level. No fusion or really fancy stuff. Friendly, attentive service. Lengua tacos, pastor burrito, and guacamole were solid A material. Rice in burrito felt like an afterthought compared to Farolito's delicious version, and chips and salsa were average. The standout, however, was the very fresh and generously portioned $6 ceviche tostada. Also, they have Negra Modelo on tap!

    The last couple days have been hectic for me, so I have resorted to sating my hunger with burritos from La Mission, a quick bike ride from my house in West Berkeley. Tortilla quality and rice are sub-Farolito (notice a trend), but the salsas are great, the meat is tender and flavorful (so far I've tried the pastor and carnitas in several different combinations), and they're open until midnight, which is pretty rare in the East Bay. A very worthy option. Next on my list to try are their mole burritos and the pozole.

    Obelisco Restaurant
    3411 E 12th St
    Oakland, CA 94601

    La Mission
    1255 University Ave
    Berkeley, CA 94702

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