Platanos -- the decor is much warmer than when it was Mereb; could also be becasue it was packed. Standouts were a starter of shrimp in beer batter and coconut with chili aioli and a seafood stew in a surprisingly light coconut milk broth with one huge king crab claw jutting out of it. Too bad they were out of the ceviche. We tried the pupusas; never having had pupusas before I probably shouldn't judge -- but it seemed unexciting to me; not bad but not the epitome of comfort food I was hoping for. A chile rellenos stuffed with brie and shitakes was interesting but not dazzling. Some great seafood salads, sprightly dressing and nice greens. The seafood was still warm which contrasted nicely. Great espresso creme brulee; coconut milk flan was refreshing but not particularly coconut-y nor flan-like.
Sam Lok -- wish I could make it to Yu Rong all the time but Sam Lok has some decent dishes. The pickled vegetables are always awesome; they don't look special but they're full of flavor and doused with szechuan peppercorn oil. The fish two ways was perfect. A fresh catfish is filleted and a the carcass makes a delicious soup full of pickled mustard green and pickled little chilis; it's an innocuous looking whitish broth but packs a slow wallop of heat. The rest of the meat is sliced and deep fried, then stir fried with a ton of dried red chilis, green onions and more szechuan peppercorns.
Udupi Palace In Berkeley -- I'm so happy it's here! I had the thali which came with a special of plantain curry; what can I say except, "go get it". Especially nice was the little coconut dessert soup that came with it. Also tried the vegetable curry which was coconut-y and rich. Chana masala was one of the best renditions I've had -- spicy and flavorful. The pineapple utthapam was a surprise hit, the texture of the coconut milk pancake was perfect and the pineapple was not so sweet as to obscure the light tanginess of the bread. I really liked the samosas -- the filling was not overwhelmingly potatoe-y and the skin had an elastic chewiness instead of just being crispy (sort of like the roti at Borobudor). Finally tried the cream of wheat dosa -- I may almost like it better than the regular rice dosa; the texture is thinner, lacier and crisper without sacrificing the softness.