Category Archives: Restaurants

Testing Out

Green beans with pork in a tamarind sauce (back) and fried fish with a jumble of salted beans, ground chicken and shallots from Chez Sovan via way of

Green beans with pork in a tamarind sauce (back) and fried fish with a jumble of salted beans, ground chicken and shallots from Chez Sovan via way of


These days, why bother driving to a store or restaurant, when you can get someone else to bring whatever you need right to your doorstep instead?

That’s the idea behind so many apps and Web sites now, including the new, now operating in more than 38 cities around the country.

It allows you to order provisions from markets, wine and spirits stores, and restaurants, as well as services from laundry and dry-cleaning shops.

I was asked to test it out with a $50 gift card. Because only restaurants are offered right now in my area of the South Bay, I decided to spend it all on a food delivery order from one of my favorite family-owned restaurants, Chez Sovan in Campbell. It’s one of the few Cambodian restaurants in the Bay Area, and its food is crave-a-licious.

The site is easy enough to navigate. Once you pick your restaurant, click on it to get a menu. Then, just click on each dish you want.

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Liholiho Yacht Club Offers Up A Delectable Voyage

Beef tongue poppy-seed buns at Liholiho Yacht Club.

Beef tongue poppy-seed buns at Liholiho Yacht Club.


At Liholiho Yacht Club, Chef Ravi Kapur wants you to know first and foremost that he’s not cooking Hawaiian food.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t daydream about the islands when you sit down to dine at his San Francisco restaurant.

“The people who visit Hawaii say this isn’t like Hawaiian food at all,” Kapur told me in an interview earlier this year. “But the people from Hawaii say this reminds them of what they ate in Hawaii. It’s all about the flavors.”

Indeed, it is. It’s all about a pantry heavy on Asian ingredients that allow him to think of making duck liver mousse with Shaoxing wine, rather than the usual Calvados. It’s about a mire poix that’s not based on carrots and celery, but on scallions and ginger.

Kapur’s cooking is a blend of his Indian and Chinese ancestries, his time growing up in Hawaii, and his fondness for the Bay Area’s impeccable ingredients.

The restaurant’s name is taken from the street where Kapur’s uncle lived on Maui, where he’d host blow-out barbecues to help support his catamaran racing habit.

“The idea refers to the past, but also to the idea of the ocean and migratory nature of what Hawaii is,” Kapur says. “It’s my journey and voyage to this restaurant.”

Chef Ravi Kapur in the kitchen on a busy Saturday night.

Chef Ravi Kapur in the kitchen on a busy Saturday night.

The view from the end of the bar.

The view from the end of the bar.

And it seems, everyone wants to come along for the ride, as evidenced by the crowds every night at the casual, brick-lined dining room.

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Monsieur Benjamin Est Tres Bien

Quail at Monsieur Benjamin.

Quail at Monsieur Benjamin.


In the Bay Area, it’s Asian flavors that seem to be on everyone’s plate and palate these days.

So much so that French cuisine — though not its classic techniques — seem to have fallen out of favor.

But leave it to Monsieur Benjamin, which opened last summer in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, to remind us why French food — just like a sharp little Chanel suit — truly never goes out of style.

Korean-born Corey Lee may imbue his Michelin three-starred Benu with breathless Asian flair, but with his second, more casual restaurant, Monsieur Benjamin, he stays the course of timeless French dishes yet gives them a touch of modernity.

His right-hand man is Chef Jason Berthold, late of RN74 in San Francisco, who worked with Lee when both were at the French Laundry.

Chef Jason Berthold deep in concentration in the kitchen.

Chef Jason Berthold deep in concentration in the kitchen.

The bistro doesn’t try to recreate the look of one in Paris. Instead, it very much fits in with its San Francisco surroundings, incorporating a lot of stainless steel, clean lines and striking black walls.

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Great Cheap Eats in Los Angeles

Finally -- the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!

Finally — the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!


On a recent trip down to Los Angeles, I had a chance to try some new favorite eats. All satisfying. All affordable, too. The best kind, don’t you, think?

Donut Nirvana

I’d heard about it, seen pics online and salivated over it on the Food Network. But try as I might, I never seemed to be in Los Angeles at the right time of year to snag a fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man in Glendora.

Until this trip.

Let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait and lived up to all the hype.

Imagine a fresh brioche donut split in half, then stuffed to the gills with fresh, juicy whole strawberries that have been macerated in just a smidge of syrup.

What I love is that it’s not overly sweet at all, thanks to the fact that the donut, itself, is not glazed. As a result, the flavor of the berries shine through.

It’s sort of like strawberry shortcake. Only better.

Of course, after making the drive, you've got to get more than one donut. You've got to get a box-load.

Of course, after making the drive, you’ve got to get more than one donut. You’ve got to get a box-load.

A beloved institution for more than 40 years, The Donut Man is sort of in the middle of nowhere. It’s essentially a humble kiosk with a walk-up window in a parking lot shared by a martial arts school, of all things.

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, do make the drive.

Now, if I can only make it back one later in the summer when the fresh peach donut is available. Yes, same as the strawberry one, but with fresh slices of yellow peaches instead. That’s definitely worth making a return trip.

Grand Central Market is Plenty Grand

Think the Ferry Building in San Francisco — but a version that keeps it a little more real.

That’s Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, a market arcade that originally opened in 1917, but was infused with new life two years ago.

Sure, there are upscale food vendors now such as Belcampo Meat Co., and Bombo, esteemed Chef Mark Peel’s seafood-centric cafe.

Inside Grand Central Market.

Inside Grand Central Market.

But there are also old-school, ethnic outposts such as China Cafe, which dishes up chop suey and egg fo yeung; Valeria’s, which offers a well-stocked Latin pantry of items, including fresh mole pastes to take home to cook with; and La Casa Verde, a large produce market with very down-to-earth prices.

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Chef Sachin Chopra Returns to His Repertoire with All Spice San Francisco

A stunning octopus dish at the new All Spice San Francisco.

A stunning octopus dish at the new All Spice San Francisco.


Having enjoyed quite a few wonderful meals at the Michelin-starred All Spice, tucked inside a charming Victorian house in San Mateo, I was intrigued to see what Chef-Owner Sachin Chopra and his wife, Shoshana Wolff, had in store when they took over the legendary Masa’s spot in San Francisco last year.

When I learned it would be called Game, and specialize in wild game, I admit I was surprised. Not because Chopra doesn’t have the talent to pull off such a radically different turn, but because I feared it would be a hard sell among Bay Area diners who worship at the altar of local and sustainable, rather than exotica flown in from all parts of the world.

Game was intended to be playful and energetic with its surreal paintings of animals in costumes. But having visited as a guest of the restaurant when it first opened, the vibe was actually quite formal feeling with a white-jacketed host and a hushed environment. When you have a menu featuring turtle, venison, boar and a load of other meat, the place almost cries out for a bodacious dose of bold and brash — kind of along the lines of what Chef Chris Cosentino created at Cockscomb in San Francisco.

Chopra and Wolff rolled the dice with Game, but didn’t end up with a winner. However, they were smart enough to re-evaluate after a few short months. The result is the transformation of Game into All Spice San Francisco.

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