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.
4505 Burgers and BBQ is run by chef and artisan butcher Ryan Farr. Ryan formerly was executive chef at Fifth Floor. He teaches butcher classes and serves up food at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. We saw them at the Eat Real festival in Oakland and on other occasions the Ferry building. They create homemade relishes, multi-national ’Zilla sauce, and even bacon-dressed chocolate desserts. They have since setup on Divisadero in SF’s Nopa neighborhood.
Where does a San Francisco Foodie eat in the Singapore? Follow our journey and learn from our experiences.
Here is a compilation of more casual restaurants, snack places we visited during our 2019 Asia trip. Our goal was to find good eats at reasonable prices, primarily restaurants where locals go. We have no interest sampling cuisine that is done better at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is challenging on an expensive ‘island’, full of pricey tourist traps.
Izakaya Mai is a Japanese Izakaya or Japanese drinking establishment that also serves food. They are more small plate oriented restaurants. This restaurant has an extensive drink menu. They’ve been here for years. Several similar restaurants have opened over the years, but this still packs them in.. (Izakaya Ginji, Kokko)
Santa Ramen is a very popular Japanese noodle Ramen restaurant in San Mateo. Mr. Kazunori Kobayashi sold this location in 2020 but continues to be the proprietor of nearby Ramen Dojo and Parlor. Located in a small shopping mall with a Diddams Ninja Japanese supermarket, Party Supply and JoAnn’s Fabric, the restaurant has achieved a legendary cult following and has long lines at both dinner and lunch times. We have eaten here many times with our last visit in 2020.
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.
Joy, aka 5 Joy Restaurant is a small restaurant in the Beach Park plaza strip mall bordering the San Francisco Bay in Foster City, just south of the Highway 92 San Mateo Bridge. A hidden gem in the middle of no where.
Little Star Pizza is a popular pizza place with 2 locations in San Francisco and 1 in Albany. We visited the Divisadero location and ordered deep dish pizza. It took about 30 minutes to get our pizza. They have gone on to open several locations in the Bay Area.
Blue Line Pizza is their name for sister locations from Burlingame southwards. We have tried their Burlingame location in the Summer of 2020. The menu is very similar.
China Village Seafood Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant in Belmont, California just off the Highway 101 Ralston Exit. They have been around since 1996, serving dim sum during both lunch and dinner, as well as standard Cantonese Chinese cuisine.
Foodnut has a thing for high end buffets.. The Forest Buffet at Harrahs Lake Tahoe has been in existence for decades and is practically a Lake Tahoe institution. We remember coming here as kids and have returned to see how this buffet compares to the best around, especially after a long day of biking. Our last visit was in the summer of 2018.
Foodnut travels, eats, and tells. We’re based in San Francisco but have flown all over the place. We love Mexican food and find some of the best in Cancun.
We recently finished up our latest culinary tour of Cancun in 2018. Other reviews farther down are from previous trips. Cancun is a world class destination full of great food. Most of the Mexican food was superior to that in the San Francisco Bay Area. The service is on another level here.
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. Last visit was in March 2018.
Hanoi Vietnam is known for its dynamic street food scene. The language and culture are definitely big barriers to going it on your own. A street food tour was definitely a must.
We took our hotel’s Street Food tour to sample the local restaurants in the Hanoi Old Quarter. This was a fun and useful tour. We dined at several places that we would have been scared to approach ourselves. The guide explained the different types of local food and asked us about specific items we wanted. It lasted about 3 hours, cost $30/per person and included all food and drinks. Cheaper than other tours we saw.
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
Rave Burger is a burger joint that opened October 2008 in downtown San Mateo. We were walking by and decided to give it a try to see how it rated. The provide sit down service in addition to to go food. They serve hamburgers, vegan burgers, hot dogs, and salads and a lots more now. We have been to Rave Burger several times over the years with our last visit in 2019.
We like dining at McDonalds at different countries around the world. What interesting items will we find. Our last trip was to Spain. We checked out the local McDonalds in Barcelona and found some interesting items.
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 Fall 2017.
Why did we dine here? – Cooking Papa is a popular Hong Kong style casual Chinese restaurant with locations in Foster City and Santa Clara. We have dined at the Foster City location several times. There is a line much of the time, a testing to the popularity of this restaurant. People typically wait at least 30 minutes during peak times. Our last visit was in the winter of 2018.
Shanghai Dumpling Shop is a popular Shanghainese Chinese restaurant in Millbrae’s Broadway shopping district. While they have all the ‘standard’ Chinese restaurant dishes, they are specifically known for dishes from Shanghai, including dumplings even though the staff can be heard belting out Cantonese Chinese. Our last visit was in the Spring 2017.
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.
Il Fornaio (The Baker in Italian) is an Italian restaurant serving “creatively prepared, premium-quality Italian cuisine based on authentic regional Italian recipes.” They have 21 locations, many in California. They have been around since 1972, initially starting as a baking school. Now they are owned by a Private Equity group, no doubt trying to squeeze out profits.
Marnee Thai has been serving up Thai food since 1986 in San Francisco. They have 2 locations in San Francisco’s Sunset District. We were in the neighborhood and having not eaten here in a long time, decided to give them a try. Our last visit was in October 2017.
Gnocchi and Salmon to die for. Stella Alpina Osteria is a small Italian restaurant located a block from the main Burlingame Avenue shopping area. Located below ground level, most people would never know it was here. The restaurant opened in May 2005, and was featured on PBS’ Check Please TV show. This was our 3rd time dining here.
San Tung and San Tung #2 are a popular Chinese restaurant in the inner Sunset of San Francisco. They serve northern Chinese food that has some Korean influence, as the San Tung region of China is near Korea, hence the free Kim Chee. We have eaten here many, many times, back to when it was located west of here. Our latest visit occurred at the end of Summer 2017 to San Tung #2, when we noticed prices up a bit.
Why did we dine here? – So is a sister restaurant to San Tung and San Tung #2, run by James Chu. It sued to be located at Irving at 24th avenue. We were stuck in traffic, so it way more fun stopping to eat here! We have dined here in the past and love the fact that we can get the legendary wingz across from the SOMA Trader Joe’s complex, without schlepping out to the Sunset district.
Palo Alto Creamery has been serving up classic burger joint food since 1988 when Robert Fischer took over the business. They used to have 2 locations in Palo Alto, with the downtown location open since 1923 in previously known as the Peninsula Creamery. Stanford Shopping Center location closed in 2013.
Steak on the Peninsula. Town Restaurant is a steakhouse serving American comfort food in downtown San Carlos. It opened in 2006 and has gotten positive press, so we figured we would see how it stacks up. Over the years, this restaurant has been consistently busy. Town is definitely a hit with the locals, many of which can just walk over for a meal. Our last visit was in December 2015. It is so busy, we had to make a reservation over a week in advance.
Why did we dine here? – Champa Garden is a Thai restaurant not far from City College in San Francisco’s Ingleside district. The original location opened in Oakland in 2006 and is well loved. Our friends like this casual restaurant, so it was time to give it a try. Last to go visit was in early 2017.
Shabuway is a Japanese hot pot restaurant in San Mateo that opened in 2004. They also have a location in Mountain View, San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Jose, and Union City. You cook vegetables and thinly sliced beef at your table in a your own boiling pot of watery broth. Shabuway does not take reservations and insists all folks are present when names are called. Our last visit was in 2016, where we get a sense that the business changed hands.
Hakka Restaurant SF is a family run Chinese restaurant in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond District that opened in early 2010. It has garnered some foodie attention on chowhound. While they serve a wide variety of Chinese dishes including Americanized standbys, they are known for their regional Chinese specialties. We returned for to go in late 2015.
Himawari is a Japanese Ramen Noodle house located in downtown San Mateo. Every block down here has a Japanese restaurant. Their chief rival, a couple miles away, is the legendary Santa Ramen along with its sister Ramen restaurants. They have a broader menu than Santa Ramen, with Rice Bowls, lots of appetizers, and many ramen options. We came on hot day and noted no air conditioning, just ceiling fans cranked up. Last visit September 2017.
The Chairman (Formerly Chairman Bao) is a San Francisco food truck that serves Chinese steamed and baked buns with a variety of fillings. These are offshots of Taiwanese Gua bao or bun sandwich. When we were in Taiwan, it was difficult to find this old school dish. Our only Gua bao was ironically at the ritz Shin Yeh, Taipei 101.
Why did we dine here? – Kingdom of Dumpling is a small Chinese restaurant specializing in dumplings. Being large dumpling fans, we decided to finally give this place a try. There are few restaurants with this variety of dumplings on the menu. The place has been featured on Check Please, so it has become busier over the years. Lots of to go orders. Our last visit was in July 2016.
Howie’s Artisan Pizza was opened by Howard Bulka in late 2009 into Town & Country Village shopping Center of Palo Alto. He had worked at various restaurants including Marche. Inspired by the New Haven school of East Coast pizza-making and the renaissance of artisanal products including organic, natural, and local ingredients. Our last visit was in the beginning of 2015 when we noticed that pizza prices went up again.
Espetus Churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse serving Rodizio style food. They focus on meats straight from the fire brought to your table, continuously through the meal! You can stop the meat parade by flipping the table card to red. They have a salad and hot plate bar with lots of different options including asparagus, bean salad, eggplant, rice, beans, cod, and much more. Do not eat too much of this stuff otherwise you wonder have room for all the meat. Vegetarians should stay away.
Espetus Churrascaria has locations in San Francisco and San Mateo. We tried the brand new San Mateo location for dinner. It is all you can eat, with lunch going for $25.95 with 7 meat options, $37.95 on weekends. Dinner is $54.95 with 14 meat options. Kids are 50% off. Our last visit was in the Summer of 2014.
Why did we dine here? – The Plant Organic Cafe is a small local chain of restaurants focusing on organic and vegetarian oriented cuisine. The menu features many vegetarian items along with seafood and even cocktails. They have locations in Mill Valley, San Francisco at Pier 3, Downtown, and the Marina. We dined at their Burlingame location. Next door is a cafe where you can get Blue Bottle Coffee, their trademark smoothies, as well as baked goods. We really enjoyed their selection of vegan cookies, cupcakes, desserts. There are few places with this variety.
Jeffrey’s Hamburgers is a popular burger joint in downtown San Mateo open since 1997. They also have a location in Menlo Park. They serve American fast food including burgers, hot dogs, fish and chips, salads, fries, and shakes. Seems like every town has a place like this, San Francisco has its Mel’s Drive in..
Fenton’s Creamery has been around since 1922 in Oakland. They produce their own ice cream and toppings batch by batch on site. They serve breakfast, sandwiches, burgers, salads, but the main draw is of course, ice cream. Their creations are simply huge. Even the kid’s ice creams are huge. Our last visit was to the Nut Tree Vacaville location in the spring of 2015.
Lai Hong Lounge Restaurant is a Cantonese Chinese restaurant on the outskirts of Chinatown. They have been around since the Lichee Garden closing, 2012. They are pretty popular for 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. This restaurant appears to be related to Hong Kong Lounge.
Why did we dine here? – Chabaa Thai is a Thai Restaurant in San Francisco’s Sunset District. We happened to be in the area, shopping at the great produce store next door. Looking on Yelp, nearby Marnee Thai and Chabaa are both rated four star for Thai. This restaurant does a lot of to-go business. Be sure to try Kin Khao.
Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe is a diner in Emeryville, near the Home Depot shopping center, serving American food till 1am. Big breakfasts, salads, burgers, and sandwiches. Breakfast is served all day. It is owned by Billie Joe from rock band Green Day.
Why did we dine here? – Turtle Tower is a popular Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco with several locations. Hà Nội Style Vietnamese Cuisine is their focus. We dined at the original, located in the heart of the gritty Tenderloin District of San Francisco. It moved down the block and reopened in June 2013 and added banh mi sandwiches. Our last visit was in February 2014.