Inspired by Jonathan Kauffman’s column in the East Bay Express, last June I put together my list of the top 10 things I’d tasted for the first time in the past year (July 2004-June 2005). Since a year has passed it’s time to put together a new list. I’d love to see other people’s lists as well. My criteria was:
Had to try this food item for the first time in the past year. It had to be new to me. If it was at a restaurant I’d been to before but I’d never tried this particular item, it passed the test.
Bay Area restaurants only. Yeah, I loved that pizza at that obscure place in Boulder, too, but it’s not going to help anyone on the Bay Area boards.
My Top 10
1) Split Pea Spread. Firefly. (San Francisco)
While my birthday dinner at Firefly was good, but not amazing (GBNA), the freebie split pea spread was amazing. My boyfriend and I pretty much had to tell our server to keep it coming, because we were eatin’ the stuff clear through dessert. I didn’t even know I liked split peas. Their spreads change daily, so hopefully you’ll be able to try this one or an equally good lentil-y spread.
4288 24th St.
San Francisco, CA
2) Chicken Malai Methi Wrap. Amber Café. (Mountain View)
I wasn’t wowed by Amber India, but everything I had in my first visit to Amber Café was stellar. Chief among these was the $6.99 chicken malai methi wrap. I’ve never had anything quite like it before. Sauce + chicken + wrap = perfection.
600 W. El Camino Real (near Castro)
Mountain View, CA 94040
Amber Cafe in Mountain View: This Chaat Made the Honor Roll
3) Burger. Bonne Sante (Burlingame)
Full disclosure: I’m just not a burger fan. However, this burger turned my world upside down. It’s cooked perfectly and served with a sun-dried tomato relish that seems to bring out the flavor even more. Not only that but this 8-10 oz. burger only costs $5.45 and can EASILY feed two people, and for an extra 50 cents you can get a big portion of beautiful fries. Miracles do happen.
Burlingame, CA 94010
Open daily for lunch; usually closed in the evenings
Best Burgers at Bonne Sante on Broadway in Burlingame: Bountiful Bovine at a Bargain
4) Glazed Doughnut. Rolling Pin Donuts (San Bruno)
What’s so special about a glazed doughnut? Well, you obviously haven’t been to Rolling Pin between 10 and 11:15 at night when they’re hot out of the oven. They just melt in your mouth and don’t taste like pure sugar like Krispy Kreme’s. Doughnuts will never be the same.
Rolling Pin Donuts
429 W. San Bruno Ave. (at Hensley)
San Bruno, CA 94066
Hot Glazed Doughnut Action at Rolling Pin Donuts in San Bruno http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
5) Aloo Bonda. Annapoorna (San Mateo)
Although the dosas here are excellent, my favorite thing to order here is the $3.99 aloo bonda. It’s a mixture of potatoes, onions, cashews, and spices fried in a greaseless chickpea batter. Served with the house coconut chutney, it’s sensational. I recently tried Dasaprakash’s version and it came nowhere close to the awesomeness that is Annapoorna’s Aloo Bonda.
2299 S El Camino Real
San Mateo 94403
I Claim This Aloo Bonda for Spain...er, India! – An Awesome Indian Snack at Annapoorna in San Mateo
6) Blacked Ahi Tuna. Gordon Biersch (San Francisco)
Yeah, yeah it’s a chain, but the rare ahi tuna appetizer was damn good with a nice fresh clear taste. It’s served with a drizzle of Cajun remoulade. The portion size isn’t huge for $10.50, but then again it is ahi tuna.
2 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
other Bay Area locations
7) Specialty Roll Sampler. Unicorn (Berkeley)
I could have sworn this dish was called Horn of Plenty, but that’s something entirely different on their online menu. $9 gets you a platter of six types of spring rolls (Mango Rolls, Unicorn Rolls, Crispy Imperial Rolls, Chao Zhou Rolls, Prawn Spring Rolls, and Crispy Mango Prawns Rolls), each served with its own dipping sauce. It’s fun to try each roll with its distinctive sauce, and the flavors really do meld together well with the assigned sauces. I think our favorite was the Prawn Spring Roll (a coup since the boyfriend had never even tried shellfish until a few months before).
Unicorn Pan Asian Cuisine
2533 Telegraph Avenue (at Blake)
Berkeley, CA 94704
Review of Unicorn - a Vietnamese Restaurant in Berkeley (long)
8) Ginger Salad. Straits Café (Burlingame)
We were accidentally brought this $9 dish once and the server told us to keep it, and boy what a happy mistake! This salad is a lovely mixture of tastes and textures with a perfectly light dressing. Although there is an ahi tuna option for more moolah, it doesn’t really add much to the ginger salad experience. The Banana Blossom Salad is also excellent, with a perfect balance of textures (chicken, apple, um, crispy things...).
1100 Burlingame Ave (at California)
Burlingame, CA 94010
9) Crispy Steak Taco. Nick’s Crispy Tacos (San Francisco)
I know it’s been around awhile, but I only was able to try their legendary taco this year. A soft taco encases a crispy taco and the whole thing holds good quality steak and a heap of guac and salsa. I’ve been looking for a good taco for a long time. This exceeded good by so, so much. As soon as I tried it I told my friend John that it would make my top 10 list for the year.
Nick’s Crispy Tacos
San Francisco, CA 94109-2516
10) Chicken Breast Kebab. Shalizaar (San Mateo)
This one is a little tricky to order. The fine print on the menu says you can specify any meat you’d like with the zeresht polo. We always pay an extra $4.50 for our chicken breast kebab, which is super moist and tender. The boyfriend declared it the best chicken he’s ever had.
120 W. 25th Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94403
Secrets of Ordering off the Menu at Shalizaar – A Guide to Getting the Best Persian Food on the Peninsula (and Perhaps the Bay Area)
-Pad Kee Mao, Yellow Curry Chicken, Spring Rolls. Thai Satay (San Mateo)
-Goat Cheese Cheesecake, Oaxaca Cheese Empanada. Tamal – now closed (San Francisco)
-Cheese and Bean Pupusa. La Michoacana (San Mateo)
-Thai Noodles. Park Chow (San Francisco)
-Naan. Mezbaan (Santa Clara)
Thai Satay in San Mateo Great Curries and Egg Rolls But Don’t Get Busted by the F.B.I.!
SOMA’s Tamal: The Missing E Stands for Empty Restaurant but Amazing Food http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
La Michoacana in San Mateo - Cheap Greaseless Tasty Pupusa Lunch... Who Could Ask for More?
Naan-Sequitur at Mezbaan Indian Lunch Buffet in Santa Clara (Sorry About the Pun...Jabi Food)
My July 2004 – June 2005 List:
My Top Ten Bay Area Bites of the Year - add your own! http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...