Old school dim sum charm. Zen Peninsula is a Cantonese Chinese restaurant in Millbrae. Millbrae is ground zero for some of the best Chinese food in the SF Bay area with spots like:
Santa Ramen has a new owner in 2020.
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.
Koi Palace has been the #1 Chinese Dim Sum restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area. 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.
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.
Top Chinese in SF. The Kitchen is part of a restaurant group that owns Chinese Cantonese restaurants in California including Asian Pearl Peninsula. We have dined at many of them and find the food pretty very good. In recent years, they have slipped. New upstarts like HL Peninsula and Dragon Beaux has carried the torch forward.
Chinese New Year is Friday, February 16!
Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers Post St, San Francisco
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.
Zachary’s Chicago Pizza is a popular pizza restaurant in the San Francisco East Bay that serves Chicago style pizza. They have been packing them in for over thirty years. They serve select individual slices (Sausage, Pepperoni, Vegetarian) and whole pizzas, both thin and stuffed (thick) crust. The thick crust has filling between the layers. They also have half-baked pies and gluten free pies for sale. Our last visit was in Fall 2018.
Classic French done right. Bouchon is a French bistro that is part of the Thomas Keller French Laundry empire. They have locations in Yountville and Las Vegas, we have been to both and finally had a chance to return to the Napa Valley location after 8 years.
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is a hot pot restaurant in downtown San Mateo, right across from Walgreen’s. Their soup base options have recently become more acceptable for mainstream Americans. This company has a couple locations in the USA and many more in Asia. Yum Asia (KFC, Taco Bell) actually owns this company.
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.
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.
Lavash is a family owned upscale Persian restaurant in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset Irving Street district, that opened in late 2007. Mayor known for their Iranian food including fire grilled kabobs. This restaurant has gotten high reviews on Yelp. They use high quality ingredients including Niman Ranch meats. Our last visit was in September 2017.
Lobster Shack Redwood City
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.
We finished up our latest culinary tour of China in the Summer of 2011 at South Sea Fishing Village for lunch. They have 2 locations here. Guangzhou is the origination point for Cantonese Chinese cuisine, making it a must visit for those serious about Chinese food. In late 2014 we returned for dinner.
Best xiao long bao in Shanghai?
Jia Jia Tang Bao (佳家汤包) is a small but popular Shanghai steamed dumpling or Xiaolongbao shop in Shanghai. Our first visit was in 2010, our last in late 2014. In 4 years, the facade outside has improved, but we swear the interior is exactly the same.
Village Pub is a fine dining establishment in the small town of Woodside. We have passed by many times, on our way back from hiking or biking, and felt it was time to try it. They have received One Michelin star starting from 2009. Dmitry Elperin is the chef and identifies his cuisine as “Contemporary American yet is rooted in the culinary traditions of France and the Mediterranean.” They use lots of seasonal, local, and organic ingredients. The chef has a sister restaurant, The Saratoga, and Spruce, in 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 ate here in 2012. Our last visit for dim sum was 1/30/2017.
Marlowe is a market driven neighborhood bistro near SF’s ATT park, they moved to the old Coco 500 location in 2014. Chef du Cuisine: Jennifer Puccio was formerly of restaurant Cortez. The focus here is on American comfort food. We decided to try this place because Michael Bauer raved about its burger. Our last visit was in February 2015. Marlowe’s sister restaurant is Park Tavern SF.
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..
Little Sichuan is a Sichuan Chinese Restaurant located in Downtown San Mateo next to legendary foodie hangout Draegar’s. It has been around for many years but changed hands in 2007. The former co-owner and chef used to run Classic Sichuan Restaurant in Millbrae. Do not confuse this place with others with similar names. Many folks stopped coming after the change in ownership including ourselves. It was time to check Little Sichuan out again in October 2010, after another year. This is a place to come for Sichuan dishes like noodles, not for generic Americanized Chinese food such as Beef Broccoli. classic Cantonese Chinese dishes that are better down the block at Champagne Seafood or HK Causeway Bay. Our last visit was in March 2014.
California Pizza Kitchen started back in 1985 in Beverly Hills by two attorneys. It is now International and publicly traded. Their BBQ Chicken pizza is their signature dish. We were passing by the San Mateo location and decided to refresh our memories. Fate has lead us to eat here, more than we would like to admit..
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.
ABC Seafood is a Chinese Cantonese restaurant with locations in Foster City and Milpitas. This review concentrates on dim sum at Foster City, which is served only during lunch. Our ABC Seafood dinner review is a separate review. We have dined at ABC multiple times with our last lunch in May 2013.
Osha Thai is a popular Thai restaurant in San Francisco that has grown to seven locations and was started in 1996 by sisters Wassana Korkhieola and Lalita Souksamlane. Osha means delicious in Thai. We visited the third Street location near Moscone Center. They focus on fresh, seasonal, local ingredients while serving both traditional Thai cuisine and modern interpretations. Our last visit was in April 2013 where we saw quality had fallen off. Be sure to try Kin Khao.
Shanghai East has moved to Millbrae from San Mateo and changed names to Shanghai Bistro. Their staff and chef are intact. Spicy Empire has taken its place in its old 25th Ave location, San Mateo. The owner took over China Bistro in San Mateo in early 2013 but closed it later that year.
Windy City Pizza has been serving pizza, BBQ, and Sandwiches since 1984. They specialize in Chicago style deep dish pizza and Texas smokehouse BBQ. Rib sticking classic American food that many people love. Our last meal was in 2014.
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 November 2013.
Big Bubbas Bad BBQ is a food concession that appears at some of the country’s largest State Fairs, Nascar Races, and Livestock Shows since 1996. You will find them in California, Colorado, and New Mexico. We have eaten their food several times over the years and found it to be pretty good. Our last visit in 2013 was during the Maker’s Faire in San Mateo.
Prather Ranch Meat Company is a boutique firm that raises grass fed and pastured cattle in North California’s Mt. Shasta area. Their focus is on high quality, sustainable, humanely raised meats in support of a whole-animal sales model. Founded in 2003, they made a name for themselves as one of the first merchants in the Ferry Building.
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.
Why did we dine here? – Cat Heads BBQ was a pop-up that has morphed into a permanent restaurant in the former Big Nate’s BBQ location. We are being BBQ fans, always on the lookout for new openings.
Ad Hoc at Home – This book is full of Thomas Keller’s insights from Ad hoc.
Be sure to check out the French Laundry Cookbook
Gioia is a top rated Pizza place in North Berkeley. It has been there since 2004. As they put it: “Gioia Pizzeria takes the best of pizza traditions from the old world and the new. Classic flavors and ingredients such as artisanally made sausage, fresh mozzarella cheese and arugula come together in inspired traditional ways, seasoned with the influence of Bay Area kitchens such as Zuni Café, Chez Panisse and Oliveto” Gioia is a small hole in the wall with minimal counter seating. The place specializes in thin crust pizza and is known for local, organic ingredients. It was rated as a top pizza place by Michael Bauer. Our last visit was in late 2011 and we noticed prices had gone up. Their San Francisco location opened in 2012, we dined here in May 2012. It is located right next door to burger heaven, Polkers.
Buck’s is a quirky restaurant nestled in the small town of Woodside. The interior is full of off the wall models, toys, posters, and more. Even the front of the seasonal menu has a lecture on different topics. Their website is pretty crazy. Our last visit was in 2014. They have a separate lunch special menu that changes from time to time. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We came for lunch.
Why did we dine here? – Bistro Jeanty was one of the last major restaurants in Yountville that we have not reviewed. Has any foodie knows, this town is an eaters paradise. As good a reason as any to give it a try! They lost their Michelin star a couple years back, so we did not have high expectations. Would this place make up for not going to Redd?
Morimoto Napa is a Japanese restaurant run by world famous television Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. This celebrity chef, who also worked at Nobu, is known for his whimsical twists on Japanese cuisine. The restaurant has gotten lukewarm reviews from the major San Francisco food critics, so we came expecting a lot of flash and little substance. He has outposts around the world including in India and Hawaii. We had lunch at Morimoto Napa.
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 several times.
Be sure to read:
Madera Restaurant is located in the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel, just across the way from venture capital central. This is a high-end hotel that opened up just a couple years ago. Chef Peter Rudolph used to work at Campton place in San Francisco. He uses a wood-burning grill and explores artfully-crafted, market-driven cuisine of bold flavors. Sustainably harvested and produced seafood and meats. Madera means wood in Spanish.
Hong Kong East Ocean Seafood Restaurant is located in Emeryville, right by the Bay. It has excellent views of San Francisco. The restaurant is popular for dim sum and for large banquets, especially on the weekends. Our last visit was in the middle of 2011.
Unlimited high quality dim sum lunch for $12? Wow!
Din Tai Fung is a popular Hong Kong dumpling restaurant with locations in Bellevue, Los Angeles, Taipei, Japan, China, Singapore, and several other countries. We had previously dined at Din Tai Fung in Shanghai’s touristy Xintiandi. The Los Angeles location is in Arcadia with Yelp reviews unfortunately indicating it is a step down from the ones abroad.
Hog Island Oyster Co. is located in San Francisco’s Ferry Building. They have an oyster bar that serves sustainable seafood, chowder, and salads. Fresh oysters brought fresh from their Tomales Bay farm each morning. They served baked oysters and cooked seafood for those that do not want raw items. You could drive up to their farm and get oysters even fresher. Our last visit was in May 2011.