Saturday, January 23, 2010

A month of eating notes

Nothing ultra special since the last blog in early December except for another greal meal at Nopa for my son's birthday. But here are the highlights. Starting south, in San Jose, went to 2 Chinese places for lunch. One, Hong Kong Kitchen, on Monterey Road in the Edenvale Shopping Center, is incredibly cheap. A group of 9 went and each ordered a different lunch. Most were $3.60 with pretty generous portions. Honey Walnut Prawns were $6.50. Timing was not too good so we never got all the dishes but all left filled for $4 a person including tip. Food was really pretty decent. It recently changed hands and apparently was really good before.
Not too far away from there is Fat Wok, Snell and Santa Teresa, where I had the Tuesday lunch special of Honey Walnut Prawns for $6.50. Most lunches are $5.50-$6.25. The special included a wonton of crab ragoon besides egg roll. I really don't understand the attraction of crab ragoon but the prawns were very good. Atmosphere was pleasant and worth trying again. A third Chinese lunch experience took me to Jade Palace on California Avenue in Palo Alto, in a jinxed location near the Caltrain station. Nothing ever lasts there but I thought this had possibilities. They have a large menu and many items are available for lunch for $6.95 served with soup, rice and an appetizer, in my case a decent eggroll. I had the spicy fish filet with tofu and was able to take half of it home. Nicely spicy, delicate and fresh; a nice surprise since I assumed it would be a loser. They say they have dim sum too but didn't try and worry it's not busy enough to be really decent. But I'd go back to try more dishes.

In Campbell, I had a decent slice of pizza from Sal's Pizzeria on E. Campbell. Tasty, slightly crispy crust, good amount of cheese and just enough spinach (not soggy). One slice is 1/4 of a 19" pizza so it's huge and less than $6. It could feed 2 people. It's right by the entrance to Los Gatos Creek trail, so I happily walked and ate.

Finally made it to a couple of San Francisco places I've been wondering about for years. Cinderella Bakery on Balboa is a Russian icon. It's just been remodeled. It used to include a restaurant which isn't there any more. Not sure if it's coming but the remodeled bakery is open. They make Russian breads and pastry both savory and sweet. We tried a couple of sweet ones and I was not swept away. A cherry cheese roll was kind of blah, not enough of either and the pastry tasted a little too shortening-filled. A poppy seed sweet roll was better but nothing to shame the memory I have of my grandmother's baking. Near there on Geary is Brother's Korean BBQ, which is often the top rated BBQ in Zagat. I went for lunch where they do not offer the BBQ your own, but the food was quite tasty. My friend and I shared pork bulgogi and kim chee with beef and tofu, both $9.99 and including the usual Korean small plates. Both were nicely spicy with very different sauces. Simple decor and fast service. I think Santa Clara has better Korean food but worth a stop if you're in the area.

We had a really fine rainy day lunch at Fish in Sauselito. They serve only sustainable fish and organic vegetables. The white clam chowder was superb, one of the best I've had, and a tuna melt was great. They poach albacore from San Diego and serve a generous portion on grilled bread with a huge amount of really good fries. Prices are fairly high but you know the quality is high too. No frills but on a nice day, you would not only get top quality food but be at an amazing location right on the water. Service was friendly and efficient.

And to end with an excellent meal in San Francisco. First Crush on Cyril Magnin and Ellis, around the corner from the Hotel Nikko, home of the Rrazz Room where we saw Andrea Marcovicci, always a treat. A small place with an excellent wine list, offering 3 taste samplers of many interesting selections. Appetizers included very nice asparagus with Serrano ham and a stuffed delicata squash with fall vegetables. My coq au vin had some really terrific baby purple potatoes and cippolini onions. A generous portion of loch duart salmon was covered in a light horseradish sauce and served with chantarelles over potato gratin. Another great dish was the short ribs. It was part of Dine-Around so 3 courses were $35. Normally the appetizers run $9 and entrees $19-29. A great looking burger for $14 passed by. Spice cake and chocolate brownie were 2 really good desserts.