San Francisco Bay Area rss

Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the SF Chowhound community.

The Sweetest Thing

Rajjot Sweet & Snacks in Sunnyvale makes its own jalebi, a super-sweet Indian confection. They’re so fresh that they’re still crunchy, and the rosewater-perfumed soaking syrup is still liquid. Melanie Wong likes them very much. They also have a full chaat and snacks menu.

This place is Bengali, says howler, so try for Bengali specialties, like ras malai.

Rajjot Sweet & Snacks [South Bay]
1234 S Wolfe Rd., El Camino, Sunnyvale

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Jalebi from Rajjot Sweet & Snacks in Sunnyvale

Fresh Anchovies, or Let Them Eat Bait

The San Francisco Fish Company has fresh anchovies lately, reports MuppetGrrl. They’re delicious and only $3.99 a pound. Anchovies are plentiful this year in the waters outside the Gate, says TomG; he recommends them grilled with salt and pepper. Ask any fish supplier. For you more adventuresome souls, just go out there and buy them live from a bait supplier at the Berkeley Pier. Alan408 says they’re fine for human consumption, but might be expensive compared to dead ones. (Tip: don’t eat the ones that are already on somebody’s hook. It’ll be bad for all concerned.)

San Francisco Fish Company [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Bldg. # 31, San Francisco

Berkeley Marina Fishing Pier [East Bay]
160 University Ave., Berkeley

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Chowcooks: Fresh anchovies at the Ferry Building!

Grits, Crab, and Sweet Corn Porridge

Absonot loves porridge made from grits, crab, and sweet corn at The Front Porch, a brand-new restaurant. It’s an exceptional dish, prepared with habanero and green onion; it manages to be hearty, intriguing, and refreshing all at the same time. potatoe seconds the recommendation for crab porridge: “My toes were tapping.” Hounds also like Front Porch’s moist, buttery yellow cake, with a nicely balanced, sweet chocolate frosting. bernalbump says it’s just like your idealized grandmother’s cake.

The Front Porch [Mission]
65A 29th St., San Francisco

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The Front Porch Opens —(long)

Holy She Crab! Whole Fresh Crab Soup Dumplings

I know you hear constantly about Koi Palace, but news of their whole crab shanghai dumplings had me crawling under my writing desk and crying with need. They take an entire dungeness crab, pick out all the meat, and stuff it all into xiao long bau, a.k.a. soup dumplings, except there’s no soup inside–only the sweet, steamed juices of the crab. You also get the legs and claws, served deep fried. These pure crabmeat dumplings, with their thin, chewy skin and succulent meat, are even better than Koi’s whole lobster dumplings, says Porthos. Twenty-eight bucks gets you 10 or 11 dumplings, plus the rest of the crab.

Koi Palace Restaurant [Peninsula]
365 Gellert Blvd., Daly City

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Whole Crab Dumplings at Koi Palace

La Fonda Has Its Act Together

Initial reports on La Fonda Taqueria said the place was disappointingly poor–all the food was either too salty or too bland. But give it another shot, says China–they deserve it. The sope with chicken tinga ($3) has a handmade, fried-to-order masa shell. This shell is crispy on the outside, but tender and just slightly sweet on the inside, and nearly greaseless. It’s filled with well-seasoned pinto beans and spicy, smoky chicken tinga with a touch of cinnamon, and topped with lettuce, avocados, and crema. They also have freshly fried tortilla chips, a nice salsa bar, and an excellent limon agua fresca with tiny slices of lime floating in it. China will still skip the oversized burritos–“I just get sort of overwhelmed trying to eat something the size of my upper arm.”

La Fonda Taqueria [Sunset]
712 Irving St., San Francisco

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La Fonda Update

Fleur de Sel Gelato

Bacco has an incredible dessert: toasted olive oil cake with fleur de sel gelato and caramel baked pears. The fleur de sel gelato is amazing–smooth and distinctly salty. That gelato is, by itself, worth a special trip, says Robert Lauriston.

Ristorante Bacco [Noe Valley]
737 Diamond St., at 24th St., San Francisco

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Fleur de sel gelato at Bacar

The Great Chorizo Caper

The great, noble rworange is still eating her way through every chorizo she can find from Richmond to Pinole. She’s finding hidden artisans–folks without PR, without hype, putting their souls into excellent chorizo. Each market typically makes at least two types of chorizo–dry and fresh–in-house. The best time to hit most of these places is the weekend, when there are all sorts of extra goodies available.

Her very favorite chorizo so far is at Carneceria en Valle, inside Valley Produce. Their chorizo maker is truly an artisan, turning out lots of different and unique sausages, including jalapeno, Central American, all-beef, mild, and hot chorizo. The chorizo is medium grind, with very little fat. There’s fresh chorizo only.

In second place, a tie between La Guarecita and Carnecieria Mi Tierra. La Guarecita makes beautiful fresh chorizo–an elegant, delicate brick-red, fine-grind chorizo in a micro-casing, with just enough spice to give it flavor and color. Carnecieria Mi Tierra has gorgeous chorizo. Their fresh chorizo is fat, juicy, and mouth-tinglingly spicy. It’s medium grind, and it oozes half an inch of red oil while frying. Their dry chorizo is medium grind, and packed with porky pleasure. It’s deep red with a respectable level of heat, a touch of cinnamon, and some pepper seeds. It’s not as oily as their fresh chorizo, but it’s just oily enough to fry an egg. Carneceria Mi Terria also has top-notch meat, lovingly cut to your specification.

El Porvenir is in third place. Their fresh chorizo is majorly hot–habanero hot. It’s a very fine grind with a strong vinegar taste. It’s not too oily, with a nice dark brick-red color. Their dry chorizo is fine grind, with a texture like dry sawdust. There’s no complex spicing, just heat and a strong vinegar flavor.

Carneceria en Valle [East Bay]
in Valley Produce Market
1588 San Pablo Ave., Pinole
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La Guarecita [East Bay]
1848 23rd St., San Pablo

Carniceria Mi Tierra [East Bay]
516 23rd St., Richmond

El Porvenir Produce Market [East Bay]
1537 Rumrill Blvd., San Pablo

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Chorizo Crawl Recap – What’s your favorite chorizo?
Chorizo crawl–Mi Tierra Supermercado (Richmond)
Chorizo crawl–La Guarecita (San Pablo) & homage to a chile verde burrito
Chorizo Crawl–Valley Produce (Pinole) – jalepeno, Central American, all-beef, mild & hot chorizo
Chorizo Crawl–El Porvenir Produce Market, Carniceria & Panedria

Cannelloni Di Orsi

Ristorante Orsi, formerly located in Novato, is reborn after a two year hiatus in Santa Rosa, reports Melanie Wong. She enjoys the cannelloni di Orsi, the signature dish of the restaurant ($13.50). The proprietor’s father is credited with introducing cannelloni to San Francisco nearly 50 years ago. The tender crepe, fresh tomato sauce, and light besciamella are true to the glory of the old Orsi. The filling is coarser than the old Orsi’s, but that could be a batch difference. It’s still heavy on the nutmeg, though.

Also delicious is braised rabbit with olives and shiitake mushrooms over grilled polenta. Tender, meaty pieces of rabbit are simmered in a soulful yet light wine sauce; despite the mediocre olives and mushrooms, the stew’s gestalt is rustically beautiful.

The atmosphere is warm and intimate; customers visit with other patrons at neighboring tables. Prices are low; most entrees are in the $14 to $16 range.

Ristorante Orsi [Sonoma County]
formerly Caf

These Pastries, They Are Like Little French Jewels

Alain Pisan makes perfect, jewel-like French pastries. His catering outfit, Le Petit Delice, turns out truly exquisite little bites, says Melanie Wong. His passion fruit tartlet is a buttery, almond-flavored cookie-like crisp topped with a pyramid of sublime passion fruit mousse. His le pistache is even more decadent, with pistachio-flavored cream over chocolate ganache over almond genoise. The chocolate’s bittersweet and earthy.

Pisan has been looking for a retail space, but doesn’t have one yet. So you must call him 48 hours in advance–the goodies are delivered for free. $15.75 a dozen, with 10% off for orders over 15 dozen.

Alain Pisan, Certified Executive Pastry Chef [Sonoma County]
Le Petit Delice
1055 West College Ave. #331, Santa Rosa
Phone/Fax: 707-591-8960

Board Links: Le Petit Delice

Steamed Pork Patties

There are excellent steamed pork patties at West Lake Restaurant, reports vliang. Many varieties of pork patties are available. Favorite: mei tsai–steamed pork patty with water chestnuts, topped with pickled vegetables. Their steamed pork patty with salted egg is great, too; it’s even better than Capital’s version.

There’s a group lunch menu special–three dishes for $16.95–and the mei tsai pork patties are on it. There’s also a neat $2 menu, with things like salt and pepper shrimp (big, head-on shrimp with nicely crispy outsides and juicy insides, and a good amount of heat).

There’s a ton of offerings on their menu at every price point.

West Lake Restaurant [East Bay]
320 Jackson St., Hayward

Board Links: Steamed Pork Patty @ West Lake Restaurant, Hayward