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Osaka Trip December 2023 Reviews

We visited Osaka, Japan in December 2023 and made a list of interesting finds.  Our goals are to eat local and seek out authentic experiences.  Sushi, udon, soba, yakitori, oden, whatever! Yelp and Trip Advisor were not helpful in spotting places to eat at, only Google reviews were useful. We did not seek our Michelin rated spots.

Osaka Trip December 2023 Reviews

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Great Eastern Dim Sum Restaurant, San Francisco

Great Eastern Dim Sum Restaurant, San Francisco

When we get asked, “where do we get the dim sum in Chinatown?” The answer usually is.. Great Eastern Restaurant San Francisco has been serving Cantonese Chinese food in this location for many years. They serve dim sum during lunch and traditional items during dinner. We visited for dim sum lunch lunch, early on a weekend day. Great Eastern Dinner was reviewed on a separate visit. President Obama famously ate here in 2012. Our last visit for dim sum was in the fall of 2023.

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Cheung Hing Seafood & Dimsum (Formerly China Village), Belmont

Cheung Hing replaces China Village Seafood Restaurant in Belmont, California located just off the Highway 101’s Ralston Exit. The former had been around since 1996, serving dim sum during both lunch and dinner, as well as standard Cantonese Chinese cuisine, but changed hands in 2022. It appears that they may have a similar menu and chef from before. The interior and exterior are still the same too, so is the phone number.

Cheung Hing has several locations in San Mateo, Millbrae, and San Francisco. Those concentrate on Chinese barbecue dishes and don’t serve dim sum.

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Pho Hanoi, San Jose, Cupertino, Palo Alto

Pho Hanoi, San Jose

Why did we dine here? – Pho Ha Noi is a Vietnamese restaurant located in an outdoor mall Vietnam Town Plaza in San Jose. The area is full of high quality Asian restaurants and shops. Their pho is some of the best in the SF Bay Area. This restaurant also has a location in Cupertino and added Palo Alto in 2023.

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Blue Sky Cafe, Belmont

Blue Sky Cafe, Belmont

Blue Sky Cafe is a casual Hong Kong style Chinese eatery in the middle of an industrial park in Belmont. Weird location but solid food and a popular destination. If you appreciate this type of food, run here as there is nothing like it on the Peninsula. Everyone knows now, because the place is really busy on the weekend. Takeout on a Saturday night had a 2 hour delay.

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Din Tai Fung, Santa Clara

Din Tai Fung, Santa Clara

Why did we dine here? – Din Tai Fung is a popular Xiao Long Bao (It means small bamboo steamer bun in Chinese) – Shanghai Steamed Soup dumpling restaurant with locations in Bellevue, Seattle, Southern California, Taiwan, Japan, China, Indonesia, Macau, Singapore, and several other countries. Few Chinese dishes generate so much obsession. Think of it like a quest to find the best burger or pizza. We have been to this location several times.

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Lai Hong Lounge Review, San Francisco

Lai Hong Lounge Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Lai Hong Lounge Restaurant is a Cantonese Chinese restaurant on the outskirts of Chinatown. They have been around since Lichee Garden closed, 2012. They are VERY popular for lunch (Noon had a Wait for a Monday lunch), but it was much more quiet at dinner. We were in the neighborhood so we decided to try it out, being big Chinese food fans. Last visit was in Winter  2024.

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Horn BBQ, Oakland

Horn BBQ, Oakland

Horn BBQ Is a legendary barbecue restaurant in Oakland, California. It has 4 stars on yelp and long lines whenever it’s open. Horn barbecue has been attracting long lines ever since it opened. The line is due to the slow first station that carves all the meat. (How about 2 stations?) We finally got around to trying the spot in 2021 and returned in 2023. On a Thursday at 11:30 we had to wait about 20 minutes. The line is slow because there’s only one person carving up the meat.

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B Star, San Francisco

B Star Bar Restaurant Review, San Francisco

B Star Bar serves Pan Asian style comfort foods with flavors from Thailand, China, Burma, India and Japan. It is the sister restaurant of popular Burma Superstar Burmese restaurant (And has several of their dishes) and is located a couple blocks from it. Our last visit was in Spring 2023. No more parklet.

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Hong Kong Lounge, San Francisco

Great choice for reasonably priced, solid dim sum in San Francisco.Hong Kong Lounge Restaurant Review, San Francisco

Hong Kong Lounge is a popular Chinese Restaurant located in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond district that opened in late 2008. They serve dim sum at lunch time and are quite busy. We ate here last in 2010, so it was great to catch up with the changes in 2023.

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Yan Peninsula Dim Sum Review

Yan Peninsula Dim Sum Review

January 2023 Yan Peninsula replaces Old school dim sum Zen Peninsula is a Cantonese Chinese restaurant in Millbrae. This name almost sounds like a half baked effort to change the name. Long time stalwart Hong Kong Flower Lounge recently closed, making this a great time to sweep up business. Zen had previously been one of the goto places for banquets, weddings and the like. Millbrae is ground zero for some of the most popular Chinese food in the SF Bay area with spots like:

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Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

The must go to food market in Madrid!

Everyone goes to popular Mercado de San Miguel. Our last visit was about 5 years ago and it has definitely improved since. Each stall specializes in one category, so there is no overlap or competition with other stalls. Paella, Jamon, Olives, Fruits, Tapas, Pastries, Wine, Empanadas and more are all represented. Prices are higher than outside eateries, but do come hungry when you visit.

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Little Shanghai, San Mateo

Little Shanghai Restaurant, San Mateo

Best Shanghainese Chinese restaurant in San Francisco? Little Shanghai Restaurant is a family run Shanghainese Chinese Restaurant in San Mateo near the San Mateo Fairgrounds. They have the usual Americanized Chinese dishes along with a fair amount of Traditional Shanghai dishes not served in most restaurants. Our last visit was in Spring 2023 for takeout.

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Wildseed, San Francisco – Palo Alto

Wildseed, San Francisco

Trendy Plant Based Food in the City! Why did we dine here? – Wildseed’s motto is Work out, Veg Out. A trendy new 100% plant based vegan (No eggs!) restaurant in the Union street shopping district from the Back of the House Group (a Mano, Lolinda, Delarosa, Beretta, Super Duper, etc). They also have a location in Palo Alto’s Town and Country Center. We have dined at both locations.

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Best Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings or Xiao Long Bao in San Francisco

Last Update: December 2023

We love Xiao Long Bao (XLB) aka Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings and have eaten all over the world seeking the best. Are you a Xiao Long Bao addict too? Read on.

One tip: If you are looking for good XLB, do not order them from a Cantonese Chinese restaurant. You are almost always guaranteed disappointing results even at the Best Chinese Restaurant in San Francisco: Koi Palace.  Order these little balls of wonder from a Shanghainese Chinese restaurant.

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Koi Palace Dim Sum Daly City Review

Koi Palace Dim Sum Daly City Review

Koi Palace has been on the best Chinese Dim Sum restaurant lists in the San Francisco Bay Area for years. The Peninsula is ground zero for some of the best Chinese food in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Around 2018, new upcomers with opulent interiors and modern menu have challenged them.

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Pyeong Chang Tofu House, Oakland

Pyeong Chang Tofu House, Oakland

Pyeong Chang is a Korean restaurant located in the Temescal district of Oakland, where a cluster Korean restaurants are situated. Burma Superstar is a couple doors down, while Bakesale Betty and Pizzaiolo are a block or two away. We were looking for some higher-quality Korean food than is present in San Francisco. They also have a location in Berkeley on University. Our last visit was in Spring 2023 at their Berkeley location.

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Vesta, Redwood City

Vesta, Redwood City

Why did we dine here? – Top Italian on the Peninsula! Vesta is a California Italian restaurant in downtown Redwood City. They tried to support local and organic suppliers. It has an extremely high 4.5 stars on Yelp and was mentioned in San Francisco magazine as having great pizza. These two facts were enough to pique our interest. We finally got a chance to try them at the end of 2013, been back several times with latest visit in summer 2023.

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A Mano, San Francisco

A Mano, San Francisco

Why Here? A Mano or by hand in Italian, is a California Italian restaurant from Adriano Paganini’s group that runs many local restaurants including Super Duper, Delarosa, and Belga. A nice neighborhood joint in the trendy Hayes Valley area. We are big fans of pasta and pizza, so we had to give it a try.

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Kauai Restaurant Reviews

Kauai Restaurant Reviews from our visit to the Garden isle in May 2022

Lots of local food trucks and Hawaiian favorites. We did not dine in once! None of these requires reservations.

Checkout reviews of the other Hawaiian Islands

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Lily, San Francisco

Lily, San Francisco

Why did we dine here? – Lily is a Modern Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco is inner Richmond District. Sort of a neighborhood joint kicked up a notch. The Chef Rob Lam used to run restaurant Butterfly on the waterfront. There are a ton of VERY good restaurant options nearby including Burma superstar, Chapeau!, Wako, and Mamahuhu. Traditional Vietnamese restaurants are a block away. We have been here twice for lunch during the Pandemic.

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Sultana, Menlo Park

Sultana, Menlo Park

Why did we dine here? – Sultana is a long established Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Menlo Park. This is a nicer place with a outdoor patio in the back, perfect during the Pandemic. This spot is definitely a step above all the casual Mediterranean restaurants you find around. (We like Hummus Mediterranean in San Mateo) A friend recommended it, so we decided to give it a go.

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I-Shanghai Delight, San Ramon

I-Shanghai Delight, San Ramon

Why did we dine here? – We love dumplings and this one WOW’d us! I-Shanghai Delight is a Shanghainese Chinese restaurant in San Ramon. They also have locations in Fremont and Sacramento. We were dining here with friends who highly recommended this Chinese restaurant. Note: Only 3.5 stars on Yelp probably due to bad service.

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Best Pho in San Francisco

Last Update: November 2019

We are big fans of Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup. Slowly but surely, we have eaten at many of the San Francisco Bay Area’s best Pho restaurants. Here’s our constantly evolving list of the top 10 in search of the Best Pho San Francisco and beyond. Please leave comments with suggestions for other places we should try.

  • Hit List: More San Jose Pho Places – Do you have favorites we should try?

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BAIA, San Francisco

BAIA, San Francisco

BAIA is a vegan restaurant in the old Jardinière space of San Francisco’s Hayes Valley Neighborhood. Any SF Foodie remembers this classic location. This restaurant opened in the middle of the Pandemic, talk about great timing!
We ate during the Pandemic, when outdoor dining was allowed. We returned in early 2023 and found the place was a hard to book reservation and slightly less fantastic.

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Square Pie Guys, San Francisco

Greasy, Cheesy and satisfying! Square Pie Guys serves great Detroit Style Pizza. “A crispy, crackly caramelized cheese crust that comes from baking in rectangular blue steel pans originally used to ferry auto parts around Detroit automotive factories.” We’ve seen a lot written about them, so we finally gave it a try. Definitely have been back too. Great stuff. No dine in or outdoor dining, all take out.

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Star Noodle, Lahaina, Maui

Star Noodle Lahaina Maui ExteriorWhy did we dine here? – Star Noodle is a popular Asian restaurant on Maui focusing on a variety of noodle dishes that originate from Japan through other Asian countries.  We have been here on all our recent Maui visits.

They moved to downtown Lahaina in November 2020, and are known as Star Noodle v2.  Star Noodle also does takeout but you need to call it in early. Parking lot is part of the new location!

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Dough Zone, San Mateo

The Pandemic has brought Soup Dumpling or Xiao Long Bao quality to new heights!

Dough Zone, San Mateo

Why did we dine here? – Dough Zone dumpling house is a regional small chain of restaurants that started in the Seattle area (2014) and has now expanded into Northern California, at Cupertino and San Mateo. They specialize in dumplings and have a menu that is very similar to that of popular Din Tai Fung.

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Hong Kong Flower Lounge, Millbrae Dim Sum Review

They closed 12/31/2022. RIP.

Hong Kong Flower Lounge – Mayflower Dim Sum Restaurant Review

Hong Kong Flower Lounge is synonymous with Chinese food on the SF Peninsula. They are part of the Mayflower restaurant group that has 2 Chinese Cantonese restaurants locations in the San Francisco Bay area; Millbrae  and Milpitas. Several others have closed. We have eaten at their location in Millbrae many times.

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Godfather’s Burger Lounge Review, Belmont

Godfather’s Burger Lounge Review, Belmont

Godfather’s Burger Lounge opened in Belmont, December 2009 right on busy El Camino Real just south of the Ralston Ave. They focus on ½lb. fresh, all-natural “Certified Angus Beef” humanely raised burgers. No added hormones or antibiotics in their meat. Our last visit was in during the pandemic in July 2021, after indoor dining reopened. They still do take out and have some seats outside.

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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, San Francisco

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is a popular San Francisco North Beach restaurant from Tony Gemignani, 9 time Champion Pizza Tosser, certified pizziaolo. It first opened in 2009. He also runs a the International School of Pizza next door. He is well qualified to make a great authentic pizza! Also part of his empire, the “to go” oriented Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House next door, Slice house at Oracle Park, and Italian Restaurant Capo.

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