Category Archives: Restaurants

Get Ready for Dine Downtown San Jose — Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

DineDowntownSJ

A slew of restaurants will be offering special three-course prix fixe dinners, June 10-19, as part of Dine Downtown San Jose.

The prix fixe offerings will be priced from $20 on up. Participating restaurants include Arcadia, Cafe Stritch, The Farmers Union, and Poor House Bistro.

For every prix fixe meal sold, Sysco will donate $1 to Martha’s Kitchen, too. The San Jose organization provides meals to those in need.

Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a $50 gift certificate to Mezcal Restaurant in downtown San Jose. Use it toward the $30 three-course prix fixe the restaurant is serving up for Dine Downtown San Jose, which includes options such as tortilla soup, grilled steak with chipotle sauce, and warm Oaxacan chocolate cake. Or use it another time.

Chef Octavio Gomez of Mezcal. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Chef Octavio Gomez of Mezcal. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Mezcal specializes in moles, as well as chapulines (fried grasshoppers). If you’ve never experienced the latter, this is the place to try them. Seasoned with garlic, salt and lime, they’re as crisp and addicting as potato chips. So, no need to be squeamish.

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Trestle Serves Up An Astounding Prix Fixe — For $35

Huckleberry cake at Trestle in San Francisco.

Huckleberry cake at Trestle in San Francisco.

 

I’ve had many wonderful meals at restaurants, but never have I left at the end of an evening overcome with the emotions that I had at Trestle in San Francisco.

As Co-Owner Tai Ricci bid me adieu, I just wanted to hug her for dear life and implore, “Please, please be profitable and be around for a very, very long time!’

If you’ve found your eyes bulging out of their sockets at the stratospheric prices of some of the Bay Area’s tasting menus lately, you’ll find your peepers popping out at Trestle for another reason:

You’ll wonder how they do it — serving an extraordinary three-course dinner nightly for all of $35 per person.

The cozy, contemporary dining room.

The cozy, contemporary dining room.

We’re not talking a slap-dash affair, either. This is food, where it’s immediately evident that great care is taken. Soup is poured tableside by your server. The skin on a fish fillet is seared till perfectly golden and crisp as a perfect potato chip. Desserts are not just plopped into a bowl, but artfully arranged with whimsy.

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San Jose To Welcome First Northern California Halal Guys On June 3

Gyro and chicken platters by the Halal Guys.

Gyro and chicken platters by the Halal Guys.

 

Three Northern California franchises of the wildly popular The Halal Guys are set to open.

But it’s lucky San Jose that will get the first one, beating to the opening date the ones planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin and downtown Berkeley.

That first Halal Guys will open 11 a.m. June 3 at The Plant, 81 Curtner Ave. #20. The first 100 guests in line will receive a free entree and the first 2,500 guests in line will receive a choice of a complimentary Halal Guys t-shirt or pair of sunglasses.

Get ready for gyro sandwiches, chicken and rice platters, and their famed white sauce and hot sauce.

The Halal Guys phenomenon began in 1990 when three guys from Egypt had the smarts to realize that Muslim cab drivers in New York were hungry for quick halal food. What started as a sidewalk food cart is now a booming franchise with locations not just in New York, but also Southern California, Houston and Chicago.

Thanks to delivery service Caviar, which was ferrying orders ($11.99 for platters) from the Halal Guys for a preview taste, I had a chance to sample some of the food a few days ago.

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Pedro Jimenez Ice Cream with Orange Zest

A sherry-laced ice cream to fall head over heels for.

A sherry-laced ice cream to fall head over heels for.

 

Pedro Jimenez, so glad to finally make your acquaintance. Just where have you been all my life?

It was only recently that I got to know this fabled white Spanish grape that’s typically dried in the sun to make a dark, syrupy dessert sherry wine.

A friend had gifted me a bottle of Bodega Dios Baco Pedro Jimenez and I was waiting for just the right moment to open it. When I did, I was greeted with a heavy-bodied inky wine fragrant with the scent of raisins and dates. The taste was figgy, almost sticky toffee-like, with a bit of aged balsamico on the finish.

It would be great alongside cheese, salumi and almonds. Or used in a sauce to finish duck or quail.

But what caught my eye was a recipe for “Pedro Jimenez Ice Cream with Orange Zest” in the new “The Basque Cookbook: A Love Letter in Recipes From the Kitchen of Txikito” (Ten Speed Press) by Chefs Alexandra Raij and Eder Montero with food writer Rebecca Flint Marx of San Francisco Magazine.

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My $300 Dinner At The New Sushi Hashiri in San Francisco

Chef Tokunori Mekaru of the new Sushi Hashiri in San Francisco.

Chef Tokunori Mekaru of the new Sushi Hashiri in San Francisco.

 

To say I felt like a one percenter last week is to put it mildly.

It’s not everyday that I dine on a $300 three-hour kaiseki meal at a sushi bar, even if I was invited in as a guest of Sushi Hashiri, the new Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, two days before it officially opened to the public.

I realize few people will have the means — or even the inclination — to spend that princely sum at a sushi bar. Instead, we nonchalantly throw a $9 package of nigiri rolls into our cart at the supermarket, no matter if the rice has gotten a little hard and the seaweed too flabby. So accustomed are we to the run-of-the-mill stuff that we almost forget how transcendent sushi can be in the right hands.

Then along comes an establishment like Sushi Hashiri to remind us of that fact. It is the sister location to the smaller Hashiri that opened in Tokyo in 2012.

Chilled snap pea broth with ebi and sturgeon caviar.

Chilled snap pea broth with ebi and sturgeon caviar.

Glistening silver shad nigiri.

Glistening silver shad nigiri.

The 42-seat restaurant, which includes a 10-seat sushi bar, is led by Executive Chef Takashi Saito, who helped open Ame in San Francisco; Chef Shinichi Aoki, late of Kaygetsu in Menlo Park; and Chef Tokunori Mekaru, who hails from Hashiri in Tokyo.

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