Since moving to LA 3 months ago, I've been reminiscing about my favorite haunts in the Bay Area. This past weekend, I was able to re-live some of my favorite food memories. Too little time, and not enough stomach space...
Dinner at Daimo in Richmond: I've raved about this Cantonese restaurant several times on this board so it's no surprise that I returned to my favorite East Bay Chinese restaurant my first night back. The salt and pepper crab is unbelievable and has no equal (at least that I've found). The crab is actually coated in a thin layer of batter, intensifying the saltiness and spiciness so that sucking on a claw will earn you sweet, succulent crab meat and tongue-numbing spices. I ate about 2/3 of the crab by myself. Too bad SF Dungeness crab season hasn't started yet. Assorted BBQ plate of roast duck, steamed chicken (gue fei ji), and BBQ pork was respectable but not as good as the hole-in-the-wall places in Chinatown. Wonton soup is another standout here. The wontons have a "crisp" texture from the whole shrimp inside. It was the first time I tried their large pea sprouts with dried scallop sauce. The distinctive taste of the pea leaves stood up well to the smoky dried scallop sauce, making me wish that I'd ordered this dish more before moving away. The pre-tip total came to $57 and fed 4 people with leftovers.
Brunch at Absinthe in SF: Thanks for the suggestions for a restaurant to take my friend for a birthday brunch. Absinthe was perfect for my needs. It was quiet enough to hear each other talk and the atmosphere sedate enough to allow us to linger for a while. Foodwise, I found it good but not extraordinary. A blueberry scone was too dense and slightly cool. A highlight was the housemade sausage, which had great crumbly texture and nice seasoning. Brunch for 3, came to $53 pre-tip.
Dinner at Ruen Pair in Albany: I am eternally grateful to Chowhound for discovering this wonderful Thai restaurant. I've reviewed this a few times on the board and there was a Chowhound dinner here too. Wonderful spicy beef salad and panang curry. It was the first time I'd ordered a soup here (tom yum), and I don't know if it was a fluke but it wasn't as good as other dishes here. Service is a bit slow and confused but the staff is very nice. Don't know what the total came to since I wasn't paying. :)
Dim sum at Fook Yuen in Millbrae: This is my favorite for dim sum, and since I've been following the results of the Dim Sum Civil War, I was eager to try Fook Yuen with a more discerning palate. I'd have to say that I was slightly disappointed once I paid more attention to the food. The egg tarts were a definite miss. Instead of a flaky pastry shell, the crust was dense and butter cookie-like. The custard was too runny. Also, an adventurous first-time order of deep-fried minced fish balls tasted too strongly of cilantro. The fried taro dumplings were delicious. The taro was creamy and smooth and surrounded a generous filling of well-seasoned minced meat. Everything else was quite good. I think the best part of Fook Yuen is the service. The waiters and waitresses are always willing to take special orders. When I expressed disappointment that the server had just sold her last doufu hua, she immediately offered to retrieve one from the kitchen for me. If you can, try to get a table upstairs. It's roomier and quieter, even though server traffic is a tiny bit decreased (not a problem if you don't mind ordering specifics that you want). Pre-tip total for 9 came to $112.
Afternoon snack at Mondo Gelato in Berkeley: This gelato shop opened after I left so some friends who'd already tried it offered to take me. I tasted several flavors from my friends' cups and liked the Ferrero Rocher the best. The Nutella was a bit rich but tasted just like the spread. The pumpkin flavor was too pumpkin-y and not sweet enough for my taste. Tiramisu was OK and a coconut one just wasn't my thing.
Dinner at Everett and Jones in Jack London Square: I'd been missing Oakland's BBQ since I haven't found any close to my part of LA. I'd have to say that the dinner didn't live up to my anticipations. 7 of us shared a slab of ribs, a link dinner, and a chicken dinner. I focused mainly on the ribs and found them tough and dry. The crusty exterior was too hard to chew through and the meat was stringy. I'm no BBQ expert but I think the slab may have been cooked at too high of a heat and too quickly. The medium sauce had no spice to it at all. The cornbread was cold. Service was a bit problematic as we had to flag down the waiter to remind him of someone's lemonade order, then again to say that we were missing a piece of cornbread and a side. The hot sauce that we ordered on the side never materialized. I don't know if it was a fluke that night or if I'd built up my expectations too high. Again, I wasn't paying so I don't know the total damage.
I'll be back in a month, which means I have 30 days to start thinking about what I want to eat that weekend.