We regularly visit friends out in Pleasanton. There’s some good places opening up out in CCCty.
Not a fan of Koi Palace, mostly because I loathe their ordering system and the crowds make me itchy. Only a couple of dishes stood out for us (the Chong fun, pan-fried rice noodle rolls in spicy XO sauce, and the Dan Tat) while some were simply awful, like the Chan bei gau, spicy spinach dough steamed scallop dumplings, the spicy crispy chicken wings, and the Portuguese custard passionfruit tarts. Note the char siu bau filling is made with some five spice, so you may like this or not.
We tend to gravitate towards Lee Garden, which has dropped a level from where they were, but still does a tolerable job on weekends - DO NOT go on weekdays; they serve a much-abbreviated menu with little variety. Their char siu sou, baked char siu in pastry, is very good, as is the lo mai gai, glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves. But the Dan Tat and the fried chicken wings, both of which were once outstanding even compared to Yank Sing, are now cheapened and we avoid them.
Oasis Grille/Pleasanton and Coco Cabana/Dublin are siblings with slightly different emphasis. Oasis does excellent grilled lamb chops and the pumpkin borani is killer. Their mantu is also excellent. Nice little patio, cute smaller side dining rooms make this a lively but not ear-splitting experience. CCabana, OTOH, is hellishly noisy when full (to the point where it’s unpleasant to be indoors) and more geared to small plates and drinks. We haven’t been back in a while (just too busy lately) but were very fond of their beef sliders and tomato coconut soup. The Cabana Wings are also very tasty. Skip the guacamole, the coconut shrimp, the albondigas–good but ordinary, altho the flatbread is a tasty side starch to order. If you like fresh-fried doughnuts, the pan dulce was very good and big enough to share.
Lokanta/Pleasanton is one of our favorite Turkish restaurants. We were referred there by our Turkish friends (who also sent us to Tarla Grill/Napa, which is a TERRIFIC place). Lokanta makes a lovely beet salad and the very best yoghurt dessert (yoghurt cheese drizzled with honey) of any Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant in the Bay Area.
Pasta’s Trattoria/Pleasanton is an oddity. Forno Vecchio is more authentically Italian. Pasta’s is actually a steakhouse; there’s more steak and seafood on the menu than there is pizza or even pasta. Their prix fixe is one of the better bargains in the EBay. Decent lobster tail and good rib-eye available on the prix fixe, which is remarkable in itself. Skip the mixed grill which was horrible, and the soups are bland. But the salads, even the side salads on an entree, were uniformly excellent: fresh lettuces, lightly and properly dressed. Have sorbet for dessert, nothing else is done well.
De La Torre’s is the old-fashioned Italian place. Some things they do quite well while others are still caught in the 1960’s. But if you love chicken liver spaghetti and wonder why you can’t find it anywhere any longer, this is where you can find it - and the serving is massive. It defeated even my spouse, and that’s not easy. They do a decent job on simple fish dishes and usually (not always, but usually) produce a cake-like cobbler that is delightful.
Casa Orinda is where you go for sweetbreads and perfectly fried chicken. The prime rib special (certain days only, I think) is also good, equal to Townhouse/Oakland’s unadvertised beauty. They are very old fashioned and have no intention of changing. The sweetbreads come one way, and one way only. You can split it but that’s as far as creativity goes. You can get the fried chicken all white or all dark, for a $4 upcharge; otherwise it’s mixed pieces that are big. You need to be 18 yrs old to finish the whole plate or you’ll take chicken home for lunch tomorrow. Desserts vary in sweetness but are usually good if not great. A plus for using Hagen Daz as their standard a la mode.
We have not found anything in WCreek that we liked, but of course there are some interesting new places about to open we have our eye on. Until then, we eat in Concord (fast cheap corporate lunches) or Lafayette (we live in Oakland). We enjoyed Rustic Tavern/Lafayette, a simple “locals bistro” place with a tasty simple burger and some very good fish dishes. Metro Lafayette has that great outdoor patio, but their food has never lived up to the decor. Artisan Bistro used to be our favorite but they have really slipped lately, not sure where chef Marquez’s head is these days.
We also did not care for the Peasant & Pear/Danville, but we went for lunch. The sandwiches were massively bread and more bread, but if one is a carb-loader I guess it would be okay, the fillings were tasty (what one could taste of them). The salads were sloppy and overdressed. The one real winner was a prickly pear crème brulee. The other desserts were pedestrian but the creme brulee was really exceptional, and a lovely unexpected pink color!