Categories
Northern California Peruvian reviews

Mi Lindo Peru

Peruvian food has never really been on my radar, but when my friend told me that her brother in law owned Mi Lindo Peru, I was definitely interested in giving it a try. I really had no idea that Mi Lindo Peru was getting rave reviews on Yelp.

For starters, we ordered the Empanada de Carne, which was really good, but the Chicharron Al Ajo was great. Chicken wings are marinated in garlic and then fried and tossed with more garlic and served with a garlicky dipping sauce. Yeah, it’s a lot of garlic, but it’s not as strong as you might expect and it was an absolutely delicious appetizer. We also ordered some fried plantains that were beautiful and brown and caramelized all over.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157602217842319″]

For our entrees, I ordered the Bistek a la Pobre, a top sirloin steak that’s sauteed w/ onions and tomatoes and then topped with a fried plantain and a perfect fried egg on a bed of fragrant rice. My wife ordered the Pollo Oregano, a half chicken roasted in oregano and served with the same delicious rice. It was really good and we ended up using the leftovers in some fried rice we made the next day. Soo Jin ordered a bistek dish similar to mine sans plantain and fried egg, which she loved. This is comfort food at its finest. Their sangria is also excellent.

Mi Lindo Peru is a great place to eat and the prices are reasonable. It’s a small neighborhood restaurant with a laidback vibe and if I lived in San Francisco, I’d definitely go there more often. It’s only about a 5 minute walk from the 24th Street BART station, so if I ever need a fix, at least I won’t have to worry about parking.

INFORMATION
Mi Lindo Peru
3226 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110 map
415.642.4897
Mi Lindo Peru on Urbanspoon

Categories
Filipino Northern California reviews

Patio Filipino

A couple months ago, Steph and I were discussing the idea of whether or not Filipino food could work as a fine dining (or at least mid-range dining) experience, which spawned a lengthy Yelp Talk thread called Filipino Fine(r) Dining. So it was apropos that Steph got to say farewell to her SF Yelp family with dinner at San Bruno’s Patio Filipino.

Patio Filipino is definitely fine(r) Filipino dining with prices to match. They do spruce up the presentation of a lot of the dishes and use more expensive ingredients, like ribeye steak for the excellent Bistek Tagalog. Grace took care of ordering and got us a wide variety of extremely satisfying dishes with nary a lumpia or pancit to be found.

Speaking of the Bistek Tagalog, which is sliced ribeye marinated in soy sauce and lemon that is sauteed with onions and served topped with French fries. This was easily my favorite dish of the night. I could have just ordered that with some steamed rice and been completely content. There was plenty of sauce to spoon on top of the rice, and when we got close to finishing it off, I told Steph to throw some rice in the serving dish to soak up all the sauce and then pass it back around the table. I think it was better the second time around.



We had a lot of food, so to break it down, aside from the Bistek, we ordered:

BEVERAGES
– Calamansi Juice
– Mango/Calamansi Juice
– San Miguel Beer – Ito ang beer!

ENTREES
– Paella Valenciana – chorizo, mussels, scallops, shrimps, and chicken in aromatic saffron rice (EXCELLENT. Must order in advance because of the cooking time.)
– Gambas al Ajillo – Shrimp sauteed in olive oil, garlic, paprika (good starter but wasn’t spectacular)
– Balut a la Pobre – Duck egg/fetus simmered in special gravy (only for the adventurous, i.e. not me)
– Sinigang na Bangus Belly – A prime cut of Bangus (milkfish) belly that’s boiled in tamarind broth (very sour, but I liked it)
– Beef Bulalo – Beef shank and bone marrow boiled to tenderness with mixed vegetables (pretty good, but I’ve had better)
– Adobong Kangkong – Kangkong leaves blanched in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic (good, but for some odd reason there was some fried pork on this veggie dish)
– Ginataang Sitaw at Kalabasa – String beans and squash sauteed in coconut milk (it was good, but my wife said Graceypoo’s version is much better)
– Bangus Belly – Deep fried Bangus belly served with tomato, salted eggs and mango salad (REALLY GOOD)
– Crispy Binagoongan – Crispy pork served on grilled eggplant and topped with bagoong (i.e. shrimp paste…love the tang from the bagoong with the pork)
– Crispy Fried Chicken – prepared in a special seasoning (ordered in honor of Steph. Good but not great.)
– Crispy Pata – Deep-fried pork leg (AWESOME…as expected)
– Sizzling Sisig – Pork parts chopped with onion and jalapeno pepper with egg (pretty good)

DESSERT
– Buko con Seta – Patio’s version of Halo-halo served in fresh young coconut and topped with ube ice cream (interesting and good…beautiful presentation…purple)
– Leche Flan – Filipino custard (the smoothest, creamiest leche flan I’ve ever had. Flavor-wise, not as good as my mom’s…but the texture was amazing and made up for it)
– Turon a la Mode – Crispy banana turon served with ice cream (I’m not big on turon, but it was pretty)
– Mango Supremo – Mango roll cake with mango ice cream and topped with puree of mango (this is like mango three ways…pretty good.)

Overall, it was a delicious well-rounded meal, and there was plenty of food for all 11 of us. Actually there was more than enough food for about 20 people, but 11 hungry-ass Yelpers cleaned house.

But it was also bittersweet because we had to say goodbye to Steph, who left the Bay Area for the home of Prince and SPAM to continue her post-graduate studies as a Golden Gopher. She’d been in SF for about a year, and I don’t think she expected to get so close to so many people in such a short of amount of time, but that’s the power and beauty of Yelp. Good luck, Steph. We’ll miss you here in Cali, but the door’s always open for you to return.

INFORMATION
Patio Filipino
1770 El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA 94066 map
650.872.9888
Web site
Patio Filipino on Urbanspoon

Categories
French Northern California reviews

Chez Maman

Chez Maman sounds like really fancy place, doesn’t it? Well, in truth, it’s a small, neighborhood cafe that seats only 14 people, and it’s easy to see how this place could get packed during a rush. Most of the seats are at the bar, which gives diners an intimate look at how this place runs.

I ordered a burger, my wife got the Crepe Savoyarde and our friend ordered the Croque Madame. We also split an order of frites and a side of ratatouille. The cook was fast, efficient and truly a sight to see, working by himself to make all of our dishes with only seconds to spare before foods went from perfect to burnt. It went a little something like this:

– Slap burger down on the grill
– Drop frites in the fryer
– Assemble Croque Madame, place in panini press
– Move to crepe station and start the Crepe Savoyarde
– Flip the burger
– Flip the crepe
– Pull frites out of fryer
– Finish Crepe Savoyarde
– Start egg for Croque Madame
– Assemble and plate burger
– Remove Croque Madame from panini press, top with egg
– SERVE!



Amidst all the action, I can’t remember when the ratatouille made its appearance except when it showed up with the rest of our food. I’d never had ratatouille before, but after seeing the movie, I wanted to give it a try and was pleased to discover that it’s a very simple and hearty dish.

Frites were perfect. If you’ve had perfect frites then you know what I mean.

My burger was really good. I had it with swiss and bacon, and the combination was pretty amazing (but then again, in my book, it’s really hard to screw up a bacon cheeseburger.) I’m not normally big on round burgers on square bread, but the bread was pretty damn good. It did start falling apart at the end, but I didn’t really mind.

My wife’s Crepe Savoyarde was cooked perfectly and you can’t really go wrong with a tomato, bechamel, prosciutto and brie filling.

I’m really big on fried eggs in (or on) sandwiches, so when I saw our friend’s Croque Madame, I got really jealous. A sunny egg tops a ham-and-cheese sandwich on pain de mie that’s pressed like a panini to get those appetizing grill marks. It was beautiful. Apparently it’s so good that it’s the only thing Sooj has ordered here. I’m definitely getting this next time.

We finished off the meal with some great, perfectly cooked sweet crepes. Our friend ordered the Crepe Tatin (carmelized apples with creme chantilly) and ours was filled with Berries and Creme Fraiche.

Chez Maman may not look like much when you first walk in, but grab a seat at the bar so you can witness and taste the magic.

INFORMATION
Chez Maman
1453 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107 map
415.824.7166
Web site
Chez Maman on Urbanspoon

Categories
beef grilling Northern California recipes Southern California steak

Summer Grilling – Steaks

I love grilled meat, but I love it even more in the summertime. This past 4th of July, we had a mini family reunion, and as usual, I was asked to grill some meat. I wanted to keep it simple, so I grilled some New York Strips and did an easy BBQ chicken recipe that I’ve been using for years.


finished steak

Steaks are pretty easy to make, and I don’t see why people are so amazed when I grill them. I had five steaks to work with, so I decided to do two different preparations. Three steaks were rubbed with olive oil to coat and then seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper on both sides. On the other two steaks, I used Emeril’s Southwest Essence as a rub. I don’t normally use Emeril’s products, but we had the bottle buried in our pantry, so I thought I’d use it. It worked out really nicely.

Classic Grilled New York Steaks

INGREDIENTS
New York Steaks
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Olive Oil (approx 1 tbsp. per steak)


Classic Steak

DIRECTIONS

  1. One hour before grillling, remove steaks from the refrigerator so they can get up to room temperature.
  2. Rub each steak with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle each side of steak with kosher salt

Southwest New York Strips

INGREDIENTS
Emeril’s Southwest Essence (or use your favorite rub)
New York Steaks


Southwest Steak

DIRECTIONS

  1. The night before you grill, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel.
  2. Sprinkle rub mixture on steaks so that there’s an even coating on all sides.
  3. One hour before grilling, remove steaks from refrigerator so they can get up to room temperature.

COOKING TIMES

For medium rare, I generally cook the steaks for 4 minutes per side. Add or subtract a minute depending on your desired doneness. If you want to make cross-hatched grill marks on the meat, turn the steaks 90 degrees after 2 minutes.

To check for doneness more accurately, use a digital instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature of the meat (med. rare is somewhere between 130-135 degrees)

Categories
beef Northern California reviews

House of Prime Rib

I love it when an LA institution is so good that someone has to copy it and bring the concept to the Bay Area. This is true of Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, whose counterpart, Home of Chicken and Waffles, opened in Oakland a few years ago. (Those other Roscoe’s you may have seen in the Bay Area before this were fakes.)

What many people may not know is that this probably first happened when the entire Lawry’s the Prime Rib concept (menu, spinning salad, rolling silver carts, etc.), was copied and brought to the Bay Area when the beloved San Francisco institution known as the House of Prime Rib opened in 1949. Ultimately, the House of Prime Rib makes me sad for San Francisco. In a city that boasts some of the best restaurants in the world, is this really the pinnacle for prime rib?



I had the large, bone-in King Henry VIII cut and my wife had the standard HoPR cut, both medium rare (the only proper way to eat prime rib). I wish I could say good things about the meat, but it isn’t very good. It was just pale, gray and flavorless, and it didn’t melt in our mouths. It was just chewy…really chewy. I did cut off some of the meat that was still clinging to the bone, and these little slivers were the best pieces of meat of our meal.

The Yorkshire puddings were an utter disappointment. A proper Yorkshire pudding is very puffy and should look like it’s exploding out of the little serving skillets. HoPR’s were just flat…like a pancake. It still tasted good and was great for picking up all the extra jus. The spinning salad was nice but overdressed.

But it wasn’t all bad…

The sourdough bread they bring to the table is great and very San Francisco. The loaded baked potato was probably the best I’ve ever had, and the mashed potatoes were good but forgettable. Creamed spinach was very nice and rich, but my wife makes a better version of it (she doubles the bacon content and saves some for garnish).

The desserts are fantastic. The Chocolate Fantasy Cake is a decadent triple-layer cake of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and cheesecake served with a chocolate and raspberry sauce. The creme brulee had a subtle eggy flavor and its light and smooth consistency was perfect.

HoPR is beloved by both locals and tourists, but the truth is, the meat is not up to par with places like Lawry’s or Morton’s. To be honest, I’ve had better prime rib at Outback.

Did I stutter?

In fact, I can guarantee you that I’ve made prime rib for Christmas dinner that was better than what I had at House of Prime Rib. And I’m talking about the whole meal, with real, puffy Yorkshire puddings, mashed potatoes and gravy, and creamed spinach laden with bits of Niman Ranch bacon. Maybe if you’re good this Christmas, you can come over and revel in this feast.

INFORMATION
House of Prime Rib
1906 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109 map
415.885.4605
Web site

Categories
Japanese Northern California reviews

Delica rf-1

Delica rf-1 is an interesting experiment in Japanese deli food. It’s high-end (i.e. expensive), they use fresh ingredients and even utilize some of the vendors that reside in the Ferry Building (Cowgirl Creamery and Prather Meat Company). I was lucky enough to end up here with my wife and sister in law, so we were able to get a pretty good sampling of food between the three of us. $47 later, here’s how things broke down.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157602217696219″]

For all their talk about fresh, healthy and balanced meals, Delica’s strength is definitely in their fried foods. The Potato Croquette was really nice, but the Crab Cream Croquette is even better. Tonkatsu was smaller and bite sized since it’s made with pork tenderloin, a smaller, leaner cut of meat that benefits from being fried in panko. They’re all perfectly fried, not greasy and still crispy after sitting in the display case for awhile.

We also tried both curries — Mushroom and Ground Chicken Curry and Beef Curry served with hot steamed rice — and they were good, but they also weren’t anything special either, although the beef curry featured some perfectly cooked Prather Ranch Meat.

But the real star at Delica is the Roast Beef Sushi. A rare piece of Meyer Ranch meat on top of sushi rice and topped with baby arugula, shallots and julienned radish. It not only looked beautiful, it was absolutely delicious. And to think it was almost an afterthought because it was in a separate box from the rest of the food and we were all pretty full by the time we ate them.

We also ordered the Spinach and Sesame Salad (Goma-ae), which was very bland, but my sister in law said that that’s what it’s supposed to taste like. The Sweet & Spicy Chicken was good but nothing mind blowing, as was the Chicken Dumpling with sweet chili sauce.

I really wanted to try the Tofu Steak with Miso Sauce and Kakiage Tempura (mixture of shredded vegetables, white shrimp in a tempura batter), but we already had too much food, but I think the next time I go, I’m just going to get three orders of roast beef sushi and call it a day.

INFORMATION
Delica rf-1
1 Ferry Building, Shop 45
San Francisco, CA 94111 map
415.834.0344
Web site

Categories
chicken fried chicken Korean Northern California reviews

Oriental BBQ Chicken Town

Oriental BBQ Chicken Town serves up some amazing Korean fried chicken (KFC). KFC sets itself apart from other kinds of fried chicken by serving the chicken covered in a variety of sauces. The sweet/spicy sauce and the soy/garlic were in abundance within our party and were huge crowd pleasers. I think they also serve it up plain, and they also make a killer roasted chicken. But for the true experience, the sauces are really where it’s at. My favorite was the soy garlic because it had the best flavor and wasn’t completely drenched in sauce like the sweet/spicy chicken.


Sweet/Spicy (left) and Soy Garlic (right)
(picture courtesy of mia k.)

While the chicken is the star here, there’s actually a whole mess of other Korean dishes available. We ordered some duk bok kee (rice cake and fish cake in spicy sauce) that was really good. Towards the end of the meal, there was some bu dae chigae, a great noodle soup with SPAM and hot dogs in it that was also a winner.

A Korean meal wouldn’t be complete without soju and beer, and there was plenty to go around. The favorite of the night was the yogurt soju, which is basically soju mixed with Yakult, a sour yogurt-like beverage. Seriously, I think yogurt soju is now my favorite drink. We also tried a strawberry soju, but it tasted just like Robitussin. If you’re into Korean beers, there’s plenty of Hite and OB to go around.

INFORMATION
Oriental BBQ Chicken Town
6101 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609 map
510.595.5338
Oriental B.B.Q. Chicken Town on Urbanspoon

Categories
Chinese noodles Northern California reviews

QQ Noodle

People tend to give Fremont a hard time for not having great places to eat, but I don’t think they’re looking hard enough. Maybe it’s the lack of real fine dining or the plethora of national chain restaurants, but there’s a great selection of hole-in-the-wall ethnic food joints in town that more than make up for these “deficiencies.” In fact, ethnic diversity, both in people and food, was one of the reasons we decided to settle in Fremont.

QQ Noodle is one of Fremont’s gems. Noodles are hand-pulled on site by a chef from Beijing and there’s 19 different ways to order them. The dine-in menu is great, too, because it features huge, full-bleed pictures of all the dishes so you know exactly what you’re ordering.



I ordered the #1, the house special sour & spicy pork sauce noodles, and it was great. It’s basically noodles, pork, eggs, tomatoes and onions with a spicy sauce. I didn’t specify a level of spiciness, so I guess I just got the default, and it had a pretty good kick and lingered on my tongue for awhile. The noodles were really chewy and delicious. My wife ordered the #4, tomato & eggs sauce noodles. The noodles were thicker than in my order, and the sweet tomato sauce with eggs was a delicious, irresistible combination. The eggs were soft and light, kind of like what you’d get in egg flower soup. On subsequent visits, we’ve had the #2 San Hao soy bean paste sauce noodles and #10 beef stew noodle soup, and they were both delicious and hearty..

I still want to go up to SF or Oakland and try some of the hand-pulled noodle places up there, but with QQ Noodle in town. I can get my hand-pulled noodle fix just down the road.

INFORMATION
QQ Noodle
3625 Thornton Ave.
Fremont, CA 94536 map
510.713-0228

Categories
chicken fried chicken Korean Northern California reviews

99 Chicken

I’ve been wanting to eat some Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) for months after reading all about it on Yelp, so we went to 99 Chicken to pick up some food on our way to a party.

We ordered the plain and the Spicy Sauce fried chicken, and both were excellent. I was partial to the spicy chicken because it actually tastes sweet at first and then the spice kicks in makes your mouth happy…and I love it when the heat lingers in your mouth. The plain fried chicken was also great and it wasn’t greasy at all. The batter is much lighter than Southern fried chicken so it doesn’t weigh you down and make you feel totally gluttonous.

To “round out” our order we also got a beef fried rice dish and an omelette that was filled with what we ended up calling ketchup rice. The beef fried rice looked great when we opened the container, but it was inexplicably bland for something that had bulgogi in it. The only thing we could taste was the green peppers. The ketchup rice omelette was pretty good and reminded my friend of what her dad used to make her when she was a kid (she thought it was the only thing he knew how to make). And who doesn’t like ketchup on their eggs and rice?

Keep in mind that the KFC at 99 Chicken is cooked to order and takes about 20 minutes, so this is definitely not fast food. Also, KFC is supposed to be bar food, so they only offer the legs and wings, so an appreciation of the dark meat is a must!

INFORMATION
99 Chicken
2781 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051
408.244.5599

Categories
Chinese Northern California reviews

Koi Palace

I’ve been wanting to go to Koi Palace for a while now, and I finally got my chance at an unofficial Yelp Sunday brunch outing. After a bit of a wait, we waded through the mass of humanity huddled in the ridiculously small lobby and were escorted into the main room, which was beautiful and bright, and the way it’s designed you almost felt like you were eating outdoors in someone’s courtyard.

I have to say that food wise, Koi Palace is probably the best dim sum I’ve ever had. Bella and Tinna did a great job making sure we had plenty of food, as well as explaining what was in the dishes that I normally wouldn’t order. I tried a lot of new things and all of it was good, except for the duck tongue, which really wasn’t my style. I loved the tripe, but that’s really all about the dipping sauce and the weird texture. The roasted suckling pig was amazing…better than most lechon I’ve ever had. I also learned the proper way to eat Peking Duck, which I normally don’t order because I’m not a big duck fan. I never knew it was all about the skin! Even rather innocuous dishes like the steamed spare ribs were excellent.

One of the highlights were the desserts, which included mango custards served with evaporated milk. I’d never had this before, and it was explained to me that you pour the milk on the custard and then eat it. Well, there was very little milk left in the dish and I jokingly said I should just shoot the remaining milk after eating the custard. So I popped the mango custard into my mouth, shook my head to let it swish around a little and then finished it off with the evaporated milk chaser. We also had this mochi filled with sweet sesame paste and dusted with peanut powder. It’s best eaten warm, and it was amazing. It melted in my mouth and was highlighted by the sesame spooge that you get when you bite into it.


Sugar Egg Puffs

But the king of the desserts was the Chinese doughnuts, which were almost as good as the malasadas I love so much in Hawaii. They’re denser and a little more eggy, and they were the best way to finish off the meal. I even brought a couple home for my wife and she devoured them faster than I can blink.

Despite the incredible dim sum Koi Palace has to offer, it loses a star because the service leaves something to be desired. To say the place is a madhouse is an understatement. It’s borderline ridiculous, and I don’t think having reservations matters. And although our table was in the middle of the main room, it was still hard for us to get a constant supply of food on our table. It wasn’t until we placed our menu order that the food really started rolling in, but this might also have been a good thing since we were eating so much that we really need some breaks between courses.

So If you can brave the crowds and don’t mind waiting, Koi Palace is a place you definitely have to try. Or maybe go during the week if you can so you can avoid the madhouse.

INFORMATION
Koi Palace Restaurant
365 Gellert Blvd
Daly City, CA 94015
650.992.9000
Web site