Category Archives: Great Finds

Get Ready for the Phenomenon of Ramen Nagi

Chef-Owner Satoshi Ikuta realizes a dream by opening his first U.S. branch of his Ramen Nagi.

Chef-Owner Satoshi Ikuta realizes a dream by opening his first U.S. branch of his Ramen Nagi.

 

Ramen Nagi doesn’t open until June 25 in downtown Palo Alto, but you might as well get in line pronto for the first outpost in the United States of this Tokyo ramen chain that boasts 35 locations in Asia.

I can’t say I’ve eaten at every ramen joint in the Bay Area, but I’ve definitely enjoyed my fair share. And Ramen Nagi’s may be the best I’ve had.

Yes, it’s that incredible.

These noodles, made fresh on site every day, are a cut above.

These noodles, made fresh on site every day, are a cut above.

Basil and parmesan ramen -- yes, really.

Basil and parmesan ramen — yes, really.

At a sneak preview media dinner a week before the official opening, I had a chance to sample five different bowls of ramen, plus a variety of side dishes, most of which are not available at any other Ramen Nagi locale elsewhere.

Chef-Owner Satoshi Ikuta, who founded Ramen Nagi in 20014, even flew in from Tokyo for the occasion.

Read more

Why Harbor House Inn Needs To Be On Your Radar

Vermillion rockfish caught just off the waters at Harbor House Inn.

Vermillion rockfish caught just off the waters at Harbor House Inn.

 

ELK, CA — A good three hours drive north from San Francisco through winding roads of vineyards and redwoods, this place is definitely off the beaten path. But it is making quite the splash.

Built in 1916, Harbor House Inn reopened this spring with decidedly new life. New owners bought the 9-room inn in 2005, and have spent the past few years not only meticulously restoring but improving it — most notably, with the restaurant.

They doubled the size of the restaurant kitchen and managed to lure an incredible team to oversee it: Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer, former executive sous chef at Michelin three-starred Saison in San Francisco. Husband-and-wife, Sous Chef David Hopps, formerly of Saison, and Pastry Chef Elise Hopps, previously of Craftsman & Wolves in San Francisco. Chef de Partie Holden Tal from Michelin two-starred Commis in Oakland. And sommelier Corrina Straus, a veteran of both La Folie in San Francisco and Michelin three-starred Manresa in Los Gatos. Amanda Nemec, former program manager for media operations at Facebook and Kammerer’s partner, is the inn’s general manager.

The entrance to the inn and restaurant.

The entrance to the inn and restaurant.

The magnificent view from the back of the property.

The magnificent view from the back of the property.

Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer (right) in the kitchen that doubled in size.

Executive Chef Matthew Kammerer (right) in the kitchen that doubled in size.

A few weeks before it opened to the public, I was invited to be a guest to come check it all out. (Full disclosure: I was hired to write some of the inn’s marketing materials.)

The Mendocino Coast town of Ellk has all of 200 people, and this inn, situated on a bluff right over the ocean, really does make you feel a bit like you’re in the middle of nowhere. There’s little else directly around it, save for a herd of shaggy-haired Highland cattle across the road.

Read more

Crepe Cake Perfection at Anton SV Patisserie

Anton SV Patisserie's tiramisu crepe cake.

Anton SV Patisserie’s tiramisu crepe cake.

 

It is a different kind of Silicon Valley engineering feat.

Slathering delicate crepes with a luscious cream filling, then placing them perfectly level, perfectly straight, one on top of the other until the stack rises a majestic 20 layers or higher in complete precision.

Anthony Tam not only possesses the skills to do this, but the business acumen to have turned this into a delectable phenomenon.

The former supply chain manager at a Fremont tech firm started his Anton SV Patisserie just over two years ago out of a Milpitas commercial kitchen.

Anthony Tam traded tech for cakes.

Anthony Tam traded tech for cakes.

Now, his handmade $88 crepe cakes have become a sensation, gracing special events at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies. He now even offers delivery of whole cakes to select Bay Area cities. The crepe cakes also can be enjoyed for about $10 a slice at six cafes in the South Bay and San Francisco.

Read more

Psst — There’s A New Secret Burger at Bird Dog

Presenting the new burger at Bird Dog (conveniently cut in half for the two of us to share).

Presenting the new burger at Bird Dog (conveniently cut in half for the two of us to share).

 

It might very well be the best burger you’ve ever had.

But it’s not listed on the menu. At least not yet.

The only way you can try the sublime double-patty creation at Bird Dog in downtown Palo Alto is to know about it and ask for it.

So for those of you reading this, go for it. You won’t regret whispering this order to your server.

What makes this burger so special?

Read more

A Different Kind of Energy Snack

Sesame seeds, maple syrup and seaweed make up this energy snack.

Sesame seeds, maple syrup and seaweed make up this energy snack.

 

So many energy bars these days are glorified candy bars.

As much as I love chocolate and sweets, I do try to look for actual nutrition in the bars that I always stash in my purse or carry-on for when I need a boost of peppiness.

That’s why I was glad to have discovered Maple Chewnami Nibbles on the shelves of the adorable Elk Store in the teeny town of Elk, during a stopover on the coast.

Yes, these snack bars have a crazy name. And even crazier ingredients: kelp and sesame seeds — all held together with maple syrup and brown rice syrup. That’s all there is to them. They are gluten-free, too.

Read more

« Older Entries