2021 California Food Journalism and News [SF Bay Area, Los Angeles, the rest of California and Northern Nevada]

Eastlake/Little Saigon Mid-Autumn Festival
Clinton Park (655 International Blvd), Oakland
Sept. 18, 2021, noon–5 p.m.

Tian Jin Dumplings. 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily. 989 Franklin St., Ste. B, Oakland. Takeout only. Cash and Venmo only. 510-459-6265

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Join live on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at 5:30 pm. (The live chat might be restricted to SF Chronicle subscribers only, not sure about that or whether the YouTube video might be available to everyone thereafter.)

Join Chronicle reporter Janelle Bitker for a video chat with three people who have done this very task: Chronicle restaurant critic Soleil Ho, who recently debuted her Top Burrito list; Anna Maria Barry-Jester, the writer of the FiveThirtyEight’s famed 2014 burrito bracket; and Ozi Magaña, a Bay Area local who’s been ranking burritos on Instagram for years.

Luke Tsai at KQEDArts


For Wednesday’s pop-up, Garcia will be selling several of Asúkar’s greatest Halal-friendly hits, including her harissa chicken wings, falafel salad and Palestinian samboosas filled with Cuban-style beef picadillio. Those offerings join Prima’s Corner’s, which in addition to appetizers like the plantains and the cauliflower wings will also include a full dinner plate featuring a dish that Kruda calls “moros y no cristianos”—her take on the classic black-bean-and-rice dish moros y cristianos, but made with brown rice instead of white.

I listened to 53 minutes of host Alexis Madrigal and guests discuss on KQED FM Forum last Friday the decline of alt weekly newspapers in San Francisco with the announced closure of the SF Weekly. The Bay Area alt weeklies helped give rise to a generation of food writers such as John Birdsall, Jon Kauffman, Luke Tsai, Janelle Bitker, Peter Kane, Jesse Hirsch, Janet Hazen and others. Though food writing wasn’t specifically discussed in the broadcast, it is a worthwhile listen for insight into the pivot of print journalism to digital. There was a point a few years ago when I thought that the East Bay Express was the best weekly in California when it had Luke on food, Sarah Burke on art, Lee Hildebrand and Nastia Voynovskaya on music, Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston on Oakland politics, and Kelly Vance on movies,

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Good reason to consider being a vegetarian!!! I advocate it. I have switched to being almost completely vegetarian in 2021. Not eating meat is one of biggest and most effective things you can do in your own life to help with the Climate Crisis. I know we love the taste of meat, but with effort one can find very tasty vegetarian food.

Mama Lemees Middle Eastern food stall in the Emeryville Public Market is closing on Sept 30, 2021 due to the expiration of its lease and has not yet found a new location.

After doing a quick search, this news may be a Hungry Onion Worldwide Exclusive.

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Luke -

Now, that time has come: Wahpepah has taken over the Fruitvale BART–adjacent space formerly occupied by Reem’s, the groundbreaking Arab bakery. When the new Wahpepah’s Kitchen opens there later this fall—hopefully by the end of October, Wahpepah says—it will be an all-day Indigenous restaurant serving blue corn waffles, blueberry bison meatballs and a variety of colorful Native salads and stews. It will be the only place of its kind in Oakland.

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Chez Panisse will continue its takeout program and Sunday market, at least through the end of 2021.

But if we’re just talking about the “meat” in the nuggets themselves, their mystique may end up being their strength. The Impossible nugget works because, to be frank, no claim of authenticity can truly apply when we’re talking about a dish we don’t even eat for its inherent chicken-ness. If you’re eating a fast-food nugget, you’ve already surrendered a great deal of control over the ratio of actual muscle to fat and nerve tissue you’d prefer in your meal. Might as well bypass that can of worms entirely and eat something that tastes just about the same as the original, especially if you’re just going to dunk it in barbecue sauce anyway.

The piece on Zante Indian Pizza in San Francisco starts at the 9:04 mark -

from YouTube:

In the scenic town of Occidental, The Altamont General Store rolls out a red-hot Beef Hot Dog with Hawaiian flair. In Bernal Heights, Zante Pizza and Indian Cuisine blends Indian and Italian cuisine to create a mouthwatering fusion known as “The Best Indian Pizza.” And in Oakland, Taiwan Bento cooks up the ultimate Taiwanese comfort food with its nostalgia-inducing Fried Pork Chop Bento.

Plus, reporter/producer Cecilia Phillips visits the Mitote Food Park in the small town of Roseland in Santa Rosa, where she samples traditional tamales, chapulines (grasshoppers!) and other street foods that celebrate Mexican heritage and culture.

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Luke Tsai on KQED FM talking about garlic noodles -

Jermaine Ellis’s audio commentary during his walk through SF Chinatown is not that helpful but the 35-minute video gives a sense of the pace on the streets during a weekend morning: Grant Street, Stockton Street, Z & Y on Jackson Street, Waverly Place alley. The video was posted on Sunday, Sept. 26 and may have been filmed on a recent Saturday.


A preview of the San Francisco Chinatown - Rose Pak station on the Central Subway line which is 98% completed and expected to open next spring or summer -

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First Friday will have at least 15 food vendors

Jermaine Ellis walks Oakland Chinatown in a 25-minute video in 4k resolution. His audio commentary doesn’t add much but the video portrays a good view of the streets.

Captain Sardine Beach shows activity around the fountain at Oakland Chinatown’s Pacific Renaissance Plaza.

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Coming soon!!! Black Heritage Restaurant located in Temescal
375 40th St. Oakland Ca 94609



Just four restaurants on the top 50 list are run by female chefs. There’s only one restaurant from mainland China and no restaurants from the Middle East or India.

Don Blanc, open every day 5pm to 2am, 4390 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 510.350.8704. www.donblanc.com

You can choose to barbecue the small intestine, the large intestine or the abomasum. Or you can be as predictable as I was and order from the list of pork barbecue—the ribs and shoulder butt. Don Blanc opened this summer in the Koryo Plaza, smack-dab in the middle of a Temescal I no longer recognize.

The 2021 Oakland Dia de los Muertos will take place on Sunday, October 31st from 10 am to 5 pm on International Blvd between Fruitvale Avenue and 42nd Avenue.


Glad to see that Roux40 is coming in to fill the old Hog’s Apothecary-turned-Magpie space. Now I’m really sorry that my chorus isn’t rehearsing in the area anymore.

The Tonga Room, located in the Fairmont Hotel, has reopened after being closed for 16 months. It originally opened in 1945. Thursday - Sunday from 5 pm

950 Mason Street,
San Francisco, CA 94108


Anthony Bourdain has called Tonga Room “…the greatest place in the history of the world” ( Travel Channel’s The Layover ).

For a different take on the tiki bar, here is a link to Sarah Burke, formerly of the East Bay Express and SFMOMA online, and her column from 2017, Abolish the Tiki Bar:

Umami Mart
4027 Broadway (near 40th Street), Oakland

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2