And Palette has its own brand of chili oil which I believe you can purchase. We had our holiday party there in December and we got a jar of chili oil in our goodie bags–my wife is totally enamored with it.
Oh, one other note if you visit Ikaros/Oakland: skip the run-of-the-mill baklava, and have the very rare galaktoboureko for dessert. Order it before the end of dinner as it’s made to order.
It will look like a flat eggroll, drizzled with honey syrup and cassia. It’s a thin filo package, wrapped around a rice-thickened, soft egg custard. Great with a cup of black coffee!
They do make Greek coffee: the strong/sweet espresso that comes in the tiny cups. But even their regular coffee is smooth and strong, actually very close to espresso-strength.
Note: Asmara and Lemat both used to offer the traditional Ethiopian/Eritrean coffee service, but I don’t know what the status of those are since the pandemic. If still available you might have to call ahead to reserve; Lemat had a special seating area for it. Asmara is open L/D; but Lemat dinner only except L/D on Sat.
I second this for budget dim sum, Clement street has a lot of eats in condensed area.
Interesting. All the galaktoboureko I used to get in NYC looked like a sweet lasagna: layer of filo at the bottom, thick layer of custard filling, and another layer of filo on top.
For dim sum will echo what has been already mentioned - for sit-down dim sum the Koi Palace affilliated restaurants (Koi Palace itself, Dragon Beaux, and Palette Tea House) all have very good dim sum. Palette Tea House has the added benefit of having cocktails if you’re into that, and as also mentioned is in the tourist attraction Ghirardelli Square if you feel like doing some sightseeing. Of other recent dim sum lunches I’ve had - Harborview in the Embarcadero was pretty good too.
So many good choices! No one mentioned my fave ethiopian which is Cafe Colucci, in Oakland ( Oakland/Berkeley border)…I find it always delicious…https://cafecolucci.com
Thank you for this!
I love galaktoboureko. Thanks for the rec.
Thank you for the suggestions!
+1 to this, I prefer the nice variety of shrimp dumplings at Gourmet Dim Sum. Also the daikon puffs at Xiao long bao dim sum. There’s a new/reopened dim sum spot at ~21st and Geary called Cheung hing that also looks quite good, but I haven’t yet tried it.
Given that you have a car, Indian in the south bay might be worth your time – haven’t been but have heard fantastic things from others on this board.
Our “always order” at Gourmet Dim Sum is their scallop dumpling.
and we can’t forget Irving street for dimsum, specifically TC Pastry. They have some things that are quite good and not found in many other places. I like their shrimp cake, bbq pork turnover, and chicken pie. Their other dimsum is quite good also, definitely on-par with the clement street shops
TC pastry also has fantastic baked pork buns + bbq pork pastry triangles. The buns are smaller and richer than my favorites at Lung Fung bakery (19th and clement).
Colucci is more a CA/Ethiopian restaurant. They tend to do stir-fries rather than braises/stews, and they don’t use red palm oil, but use EVOO instead, which gives a different flavor. They also don’t use a lot of the niter kibbeh.
They do, however, offer an excellent shiro. It’s really good - very smooth and flavorful. Also, their non-alcoholic beverage list is superior to any of the other Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurants.
Here’s a couple thoughts.
In the city, Yank Sing has always been derided as overly expensive and not worth the price, but there’s never been much statement that it’s not very, very good. The Spear St location is in business. I happened to attend a brunch catered by them a few weeks ago and it was as good as ever.
Regarding the new school, you’ll want to check out Dumpling Time (division and king is OG). They have more than a few innovative things, and are a bit of a hole in the wall. The protip is there’s a “family feast” option where they give you all the best items on the menu and one or two things not on the printed menu, all for like $120 or something, feeds 10. A friend of mine did this (long story) and it was pretty danged awesome - good for a work dinner or lunch if you’re in town with a team, get it togo / delivered.
SF Chinatown is still not to be ignored. While many of the old guidebook standards didn’t survive the covid - because they were priced to cater to the tourist crowd - the places remaining are more in the authentic vein. Looking at a map, I forget which favorites I have - Dim Sum Bistro? House of Dim Sum? These places are generally not eat-in, or at least the places I like - there’s a person in a plexiglass box and you order and take away. Most of these places have star dishes, I remember getting a selection of 4 things a few weeks ago and one was superb and 3 were throw away (literally). One could do worse than an afternoon walking the take-out “bakeries” and dim sum places and eating on the curb.
Oakland Chinatown is often overlooked. A common recommendation there was Spices 3, but I’m not sure that branch survived Covid. Peony appears to have relocated and isnt bad but hard to recommend if you have a car and millbrea is in striking distance. The late night side I end up at Yung Kee, I think, but there’s that one block area with Yung Kee, Ying Kee, New Gold Medal. Like SF chinatown, you’ll have a pleasant sunday traipsing around and ordering what seems amusing. Oakland chinatown is far more compact, and almost always sunny, so a sunday there is very well spent - and easily fades into an afternoon at one of the many excellent beer gardens. Line 51, Ghost town, Drake’s dealership, Faction & Almanac (Alameda) although personally I prefer bars with good tap lineups, like (further afield) Cato’s which has a small band most sunday afternoons always good local players in the jazz / blues spectrum, or Mua, where one angles toward a cocktail or bloody mary, or get over to The Island and Lucky 13. [I want to like Original Pattern and Oakland United but their beer doesn’t really do it for me.] A trendy spot I hit a few months ago is 7 West which is a good all around bar for an oakland sunday - save room for the philipino-slow-cooked-pork tacos. I believe they’re still running the “order at your table with a QR code” which is the height of luxury (and the servers love it, no haunting around interrupting people).
One good new-school-er I ate at last week is Base Camp, in the mission. It’s Nepalese, which is having a moment, and it’s kinda fancy. I asked our server, and we were literally the oldest people there. We ended up there because we wanted a reservation instead of taking our chances because we had reservations for jazz, and the place was pretty tasty. I am not convinced the owners were actually nepalese, but maybe they were. It was very mission, a lot of kids (20somethings) on date night. Nepalese, as it presents locally, is a combination of indian and chinese (eg dumplings but with indian spices), there’s a danged good reason it’s having a moment. This place was longer on the indian-side than other places I’ve been to - in a good way.
Speaking of jazz and dim sum, I was very impressed by the dim sum at Mr Tipple’s. Dumplings and jazz are a favorite combo - there used to be a place in San Carlos called Savana Jazz (which was on mission in the mission but relocated but then got killed by Covid), and they didn’t have a kitchen to speak of, but had a great dumpling place next door (which got killed by the ADA lawsuit guy), and they didn’t mind you getting a sack of dumplings and sitting in the jazz room slurping down. I think I was the only one habitually doing it, but, that just means I’m me. Dumplings and Jazz. Mr Tipple’s has a dumpling menu, and the dumplings while not the best in SF were certainly above par, and the jazz was hot.
Finally, indian. I have not found an indian place within the City And County that I think is worth eating at, period. Sure, Shalimar, Pakwan, but that shit is greasy. Nice taste, open late, but if it’s before 10pm you’ll find me elsewhere. Oh, wait, Besharam. I was there literally the first week in soft opening, I wanted to eat at the restaurant that was there before and when I showed up they had changed. It still wasn’t my jam, a bit subtle and fussy, but if you take points for being the first week, it is well reviewed. If you can get in a car, my short list would be Mumbai Chowk (near the freeway in Newark so a run down the eastern side of the bay), Aapakadi Sunnyvale, but interestingly, Dublin has become a hotspot for indian. There was a recent Chron/SFGate article on the topic (and referenced all places I haven’t been), and there’s an instance of Aapakadi in Dublin that I suggested for my new indian inlaws (or cousins? I didn’t get married - the wedding was the next morning) and they loved it. It’s not well rated on either yelp or google because it’s a bit on the authentic side and counts as a hole in the wall. Their first version was in a converted taqueria with little hard bench seats - the service is very indian so be prepared to be a little pushy if they are busy. Get the appam, they are one of the few restaurants which makes appam, which is a lightly fermented but sweet griddle bread (think Injeera) with a pool of some tasty thing in the middle (eg, dal, a meat curry, you can choose). One eats, like injeera, by pulling off little bits from the edge and dipping into the center thing, and by the time you get to the bottom, you’re left with the soaked parts which are extra tasty. Oh, they have some kind of shake made of a fruit I had never heard of, which was out of this world - we ended up ordering two. Looking at the menu, I remember Sarbath, but the picture is entirely wrong (it was in the form of a ice shake not a boba tea). Aapakadi is the kind of place where you should try the thing with the name you’ve never heard. Make mine a nethili fry.
In Berkeley qua Berkeley, Vik’s has been recommended and is still great. The other old standby is Adjanta which is more of a tablecloth place. Their “shtick” has always been they have two dishes, one veg one non veg, which rotate every month, and go through various regions and dishes you probably aren’t familiar with. These are made with special care, and while they have a standard menu, you’re an idiot not to get the special no matter whether it sounds good because it’s great. I haven’t been to adjanta in mebby a decade (I went to the old Telegraph Ave location a couple times right before they moved from south side to north side, this would have been mid 90’s sometime?). I see on their website they still say “monthly rotating menu” but I don’t see a sign of it in their actual menu.
There, that’s “a few” thoughts for you.
There’s a benefit also that you can reserve a Yank Sing table on Opentable, and not have to line up for 2 hours if you aren’t a VIP at Koi.
Rooh has a branch in SF. if its as good as the one in PA, I’d eat there.
You can avoid one expensive trap that Yank Sing sets for you. When you sit down, someone will come by with “special” glazed Chilean Sea Bass. I think it sells for around $30. Wait for the carts to come by instead.