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San Francisco South Bay

South Bay

Gooyi Gooyi Restaurant, Santa Clara

Gooyi Gooyi Restaurant Review, Santa Clara

Why did we dine here? – Gooyi Gooyi is an authentic Korean restaurant in Santa Clara’s Koreatown. We’ve found some of the best Korean joints down here plus our neighbor recommends this restaurant, so we had to give it a try.  We got take out from them in 2020 during the Covid 19 Pandemic.

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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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Spruce Review, San Francisco

Spruce San Francisco Exterior Decor

Elegant old school favorite. Why did we dine here? – Spruce is a popular American restaurant in San Francisco’s upper crust Laurel Heights neighborhood. This restaurant has one Michelin star and has been packed ever since it opened. This is our fourth visit, with our last meal here several years ago. The chef Mark Sullivan also oversees Village Pub in Woodside. We recently had one of the best duck dishes there, in a long time. Our last Visit was in 2018.

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Shanghai Flavor Shop, Sunnyvale

Shanghai Flavor Shop Sunnyvale Exterior

Shanghai Flavor Shop is an inexpensive restaurant in a second rate strip mall. This diamond in the rough is located in sleepy Sunnyvale, and specializes in Shanghainese Chinese cuisine. To the right of this restaurant is the popular Indian Buffet: Sankranti

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Din Tai Fung, Santa Clara

Din Tai Fung Santa Clara exterior decor

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. Last visit was in 2019.

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Chef Zhao Kitchen, Palo Alto

Chef Zhao Kitchen Palo Alto exterior decor

Soup Dumplings! Why did we dine here? – Chef Zhao Kitchen is a Shanghai Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto, near 101 and Embarcadero. This is a sister restaurant to Cupertino’s Shanghai Garden.
Confusing things, Chef Zhao Bistros in Mountain View and San Mateo are unrelated both cuisine-wise and with owners. This restaurant has been getting some good local buzz, so it was time to check it out.

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Plumed Horse, Saratoga – One Michelin Star

Where do well heeled Silicon Valley people eat?

Plumed Horse Saratoga Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Plumed Horse is a long standing (1952) restaurant located in Saratoga, not far from the Montalvo winery. This location used to be a stable, hence the name. Peter Armellino (Jardiniere, Aqua SF, Village Pub) is the chef.

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Ilbunjee #1, Sunnyvale

Ilbunjee 1 Sunnyvale exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Ilbunjee #1 is a Korean BBQ restaurant in the Santa Clara Koreatown district. We find the best Korean in the San Francisco area right here. LA still eclipses our offerings though.

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Lark Creek Blue Restaurant Review, San Jose

Lark Creek Blue Santana Row exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Lark Creek Blue takes the place of the seafood oriented Yankee Pier at Santana Row in San Jose. Run by the same restaurant group, they still maintain the seafood emphasis (Monterey Bay Seafood watch) but with a more contemporary look. Lots of wood, communal tables, jazzy music. They are located across the street from Left Bank.

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Vung Tau Restaurant Review, San Jose

Vung Tau San Jose exterior decor

Why did we dine here? – Vung Tau is a Vietnamese restaurant in San Jose (near San Jose State) owned by the same family as Tamarine Restaurant in Palo Alto. Having heard good things about this place, we decided to give it a try the next time we were in the vicinity. On our last visit was in early 2014 for dinner. We had previously dined here for lunch. Vung Tau also has a location in Milpitas.

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Peggy Sue’s Restaurant Review, San Jose

Peggy Sues San Jose 3

Peggy Sue’s is a burger place that has been there since 1958 that also serves classic American breakfast. They have two locations in downtown San Jose, right near the major destination including the Children’s museum, The Tech Museum, and San Jose State. Free all-day weekend parking with validation. They push their USDA lean 100% Angus Beef. Our last visit was in April 2013.

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Orenchi Restaurant Review, Santa Clara

Orenchi Santa Clara Exterior Decor

Why did we dine here? – Orenchi is a very popular Japanese Noodle House that has been on our hit list for a while. They are a sister restuarant to Sumika in Los Gatos. The broth that they use is cooked for a minimum of 18 hours. It is made with organic chicken, Canadian black pork, and filtered water. There is a line much of the time. We had to wait approximately 45 minutes for a Saturday night dinner. They close up when they run out of broth, which happened about 8:30pm on this particular evening.

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Shanghai Restaurant Review, Cupertino

Shanghai Restaurant Cupertino exterior decor

Shanghai Restaurant is a Shanghainese Chinese Restaurant in the Cupertino village shopping center, replacing the popular HC Dumpling restaurant. They have the usual Chinese dishes along with a fair amount of Traditional Shanghai dishes not served in most restaurants. Our last visit was December 2012.

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Manresa Restaurant Review, Los Gatos

Manresa Los Gatos Exterior Decor

Manresa is a legendary 2 Michelin Star restaurant from David Kinch. We were last here about five years ago, so it was time for a re-visit. They recently remodeled and the entire restaurant looks far more modern and classy than in the past.
They focus on local and sustainable ingredients, including many items from Love Apple Farms in the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. Manresa is famous for their multi-course tasting menu where only ingredients are listed on the menu.
A meal can take up to 4 hours, but we asked for a shorter time span of about 2 hours.

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Scratch Restaurant Review, Mountain View

Scratch Mountain View interior decor

Scratch is a new restaurant from Rob Fischer who runs Palo Alto Creamery, Reposado, and Gravity. This restaurant opened at the end of 2010. Fine Dining meets American Comfort Cuisine is their motto. We happen to be in the area and decided to give this place a try. The restaurant is modern, with clean lines, lots of wood, and large windows to the Street. Our last visit was at the end of 2011.

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Baume Restaurant Review, Palo Alto

Baume Palo Alto_Exterior decor

Baumé is a French Cuisine Moderne restaurant that uses a lot of molecular gastronomy techniques. The restaurant is named after the pioneering French chemist Antoine Baume. They recently received one Michelin star for 2011. Bruno Chemel was well respected at his last restaurant and also earned a Michelin star there.

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The Original Falafel’s Drive-In Restaurant Review, San Jose

The Original Falafels Drive In San Jose exterior decor

The Original Falafel’s Drive-In opened in 1966 and has been serving up falafel’s duty ever present lines since. The restaurant is located in San Jose not far from the Santana Row shopping center.
Decor, Vibe – Small dining room inside with picnic tables outside. Old school drive-in decor, with ordering from window. Mostly younger folks were ordering when we visited.

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In-N-Out Burger Restaurant Review, Mountain View

In N Out Burger exterior decor

In-N-Out Burger opened way back in 1948 in Baldwin Park, California focusing as a drive through hamburger stand. Their motto is “Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment.” They have locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

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Sumika Restaurant Review, Los Altos

Sumika Los Altos Exterior Decor

Sumika is a small low key Japanese restaurant in downtown Los Altos, hidden away on a sidestreet. You really need to seek out this two year old restaurant. The focus on home style comfort foods with rice bowls during lunch and Kushiyaki or Charcoal Yakitori grill for dinner. They use organic chicken and other ingredients.

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Passionfish Restaurant Review, Pacific Grove

Passionfish Pacific Grove 17

Passionfish offers a “unique California dining experience with serious food and wine in a fun and casual atmosphere. The ever-changing menu features the freshest, sustainable seafood, slow-cooked meats, organic greens and delectable desserts, all complemented by an award winning wine list priced well below what you’ve come to expect.” They have been around for over ten years.
With the world class Monterey Bay Aquarium nearby and all its educational campaigns, this restaurant adheres to the sustainable seafood movement to serve ‘correct’ food. Passionfish is owned and operated by Chef Ted Walter and his wife Cindy Walter, who are vocal advocates for sustainabilty.

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