Archive for the 'Restaurants' Category


Finding Oakland’s Pho Ao Sen

Monday, August 4th, 2008

phtoansen5.jpg
(Photo by brandondesigns)

As summer reaches its August peak (yes, it’s foggy this morning in San Francisco) and as families get desperately creative with their staycations, I’ve been reminiscing about those old car trips of my youth: my mom hopelessly lost somewhere between Denver and St. Louis, my sister and I — oblivious in the backseat — singing “Popeye, the Sailor Man!” over and over and over and over, and our many stops at Church’s Chicken and Taco Bell, the two places we were guaranteed to find spicy food.

Remember those days, long before Chowhound and Yelp, Google and Mapquest, when forays into new culinary terrain were truly crapshoots? (Cue up the old-timey nostalgia music…) To find good food in an unfamiliar town, you had to depend on three important tricks: Identifying well-fed locals with a keen sense of direction. Quickly judging a restaurant by the number and types of vehicles parked out front (or be strong enough to enter, scope out the menu and dining room, and then opt to leave a restaurant with absolutely no shame at all). And, most crucial of all, befriending taxi drivers and policemen.

(more…)


Druze Cuisine and Korean Chicken in NYC

Monday, July 28th, 2008

druze1.jpg My visits to New York City are usually hectic, overscheduled, and downright tiring. Between friends and family, the pressures of “researching” restaurants and visiting everyone’s favorite museum, vacations to the Big Apple are hardly leisurely affairs. This time, though, I resolved to take it easy.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to find good food as long as you schedule meetings for mealtime. Even a late-night rendezvous will uncover good eats.

Two places that I was delighted to try this past weekend, with the guidance of friends, are Gazala Place in Hell’s Kitchen (or, as the real estate agents have been calling it since the new high-rises came in: Midtown West) and the infamous Bonchon Chicken in Koreatown.

(more…)


Taste of New Orleans

Monday, June 9th, 2008

One needs many lifetimes to enjoy all that the Crescent City has to offer. Alas, I only have ten days and one stomach.

That hasn’t stopped me from trying, though. Here are just a few of the highlights from the past week….

nola_oysters

(more…)


Calas: Creole Rice Fritters

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

calas_elizabeths

You know you’re in a food town when the postcard racks stock recipe cards to mail back to your friends. It’s been a long, hot, humid and delicious weekend in New Orleans.

(more…)


The Last Course: CCA Leaves Polk Street

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

thelastcourse1.jpgThe CCA’s Carême Room served its last grand buffet this past Friday. Anyone who has recently driven by that familiar corner of Polk and Turk, with its clumps of white-clad culinary students smoking on the sidewalk, would have suspected as much, what with that huge sign advertising “Building for Lease.”

With only 300 students enrolled — down from a peak of over 2,000 — it became untenable to sustain two separate facilities. The SF Weekly’s exposé last year about the institution’s “burnt chefs” is old news. For years already, chefs and kitchen managers (myself included) had banned CCA interns from our kitchens because of their abysmal lack of skills. Still, few of us expected to hear that the grand Polk Street location would be abandoned in favor of the Potrero Hill’s cold, unwelcoming space.

(more…)