Kenji Hasegawa, a master Japanese craftsman, has just completed a new restaurant in San Francisco. Click here to go to his website .
The "original" Original Joe's restaurant was located in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco and was a favorite old time restaurant of me when I first moved to San Francisco. After a fire a few years ago, the owners finally re-opened in North Beach on a corner facing Washington Square. Some of the artifacts of the old restaurant were saved and now grace the exterior and interior of the new restaurant. It seems the "same" only better!
This desolate corner buffeted by an elevated freeway, littered with trash and and the hopeless smell of the homeless is soon to be transformed into an urban "oasis". Taking advantage of the surge in popularity of food trucks and outdoor eating, it will provide a central space in the SOMA area for outdoor tasting. They plan to be open 7 days a week. Check out their website.
Neon signs are fading from American streets. As parts of a neon go dark, owners are increasing letting them go until only the painted backdrop is left. Americans also want "authentic" cuisine and shun the pretend exotic Chinese dishes grandma and grandpa enjoyed. Are these the last days for this neon sign?
Chicago Chinatown is a short subway right from downtown Chicago on the Red Line. Just north of the traditional Chinese gateway leading to the older section of Chinatown is a mall with shops and resturants. We had dinner at Ken Kee Restaurant at 2129-A South China Place. Ken Kee Restaurant serves Hong Kong style food so it was a surprise to see a Szechuan dish prominently featured on the menu. The photo looked enticing so we tried it. Szechuan Fish in Spicy Broth is strongly flavored with Szechuan pepper corns, Szechuan red pepper sauce, and chilis. Wonderful spicy taste, but be warned if you are not used to this dish, it may be an issue for gastro-intestinal tract. I don't see this dish on their on-line menu, but we saw it on the restaurant menu.
If you want to try it but aren't going to Chicago, I found a recipe on-line here.
Vietnamese Restaurants abound in San Francisco and almost all feature their own version of Pho commonly made with a flavorful beef stock. Turtle Tower Restaurant prepares a northern Hanoi style Pho made with chicken stock. Its clear carefully prepared stock is one of the best around. Here is chicken noodle soup -- Vietnamese style -- with large flat rice noodles, shreds of chicken and a handful of green onions - comfort food on a cold rainly night.
The expansion of Brenda's Restaurant at Polk and Eddy in San Francisco has doubled the dining room size. The new section features an assortment of old mirrors hung on the concrete wall -- a nice contrast. If you go, try the shrimp and grits.
Bette's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley bustling 4th Street retail area doesn't really have an ocean view, but it have a fantastic apple souffle that Chris almost always orders. We visited last weekend and the apple souffle is as good as ever.
La Mission Mexican Grill
Winding up some last minute shopping at Berkeley's 4th Street, we saw that traffice on the freeway was completely backed up. Not wanting to sit in traffic we decided to have a simple meal in Berkeley before heading over the bridge. Yelping nearby restraurants brought up La Mission Mexican Grill on University Avenue at Chestnut Street.
The reviews were tempting so we decided to try it. La Mission is housed in what looks like a former Taco Bell - not very inviting and although I have passed this place many times, I never considered stopping. Order at the counter and the food is brought to you. What a great surprise -- really good food, the best Posozle and Mole, we've had in a long time. Yelpers got this one right.
Deviled Eggs with Crab
Chez Panisse has been a Bay Area fixture of fine dining for 40 years. Reservations can be difficult to get and you have no choice in the set menu that changes every day offering the best of what is now the mantra, " seasonal and local". An easier alternative to get a taste of the Chez Panisse experience is the upstairs Chez Panisse Cafe. Here reservations are easier to get and you have choices from the menu. More crowded and noisy than the formal dining room downstairs, it offers the same attention to detail in the preparation of the food.
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