Category Archives: Restaurants

China Live Brings New Spirit to Chinatown

Scallion bread reinterpreted at China Live.

Scallion bread reinterpreted at China Live.

 

Growing up in San Francisco, I remember attending many a celebratory Chinese banquet dinner at the huge, three-story Gold Mountain restaurant in Chinatown.

This year, long-time restaurateur George Chen took over that old space, pouring more than $20 million and more than three years of work into transforming it into China Live, which some have likened to a Chinese version of Eataly.

I’m not sure it’s quite that yet, what with only the first floor occupied so far. But it’s wonderful to see a splashy new food emporium opening its doors in a neighborhood, where time has stood still for the most part.

Chen plans a fine-dining concept upstairs in the near future, which will be named Eight Tables by George Chen. And a Scotch-centric bar, Cold Drinks, is set to open any day now on the second floor.

A display of products in the retail store.

A display of products in the retail store.

For now on the main floor, there is a Oolong Cafe, a tea bar with savory and sweet bites; a cocktail and wine bar; and a store that sells everything from woks to China Live Sichuan seasoning to barrel-aged soy sauce to cute T-shirts.

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Le Marché At Santana Row

Cardamom snail and sticky bun from The Midwife & The Baker stand at the Santana Row farmers' market.

Cardamom snail and sticky bun from The Midwife & The Baker stand at the Santana Row farmers’ market.

 

If you haven’t yet checked out the new summer farmers’ market at Santana Row, you’re missing out.

Le Marche takes place every Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., through September. The main Row is closed off to cars, so you can stroll both sides of the street easily to check out the wares of more than 50 vendors.

A bevy of stands to check out.

A bevy of stands to check out.

Beautiful summer tomatoes for sale.

Beautiful summer tomatoes for sale.

There’s everything from organic produce to fresh seafood and meat to cheese to baked goods.

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Alfred’s Steakhouse — Where Old-World Meets New World

Flames tableside at the landmark Alfred's in San Francisco.

Flames tableside at the landmark Alfred’s in San Francisco.

 

Walking into Alfred’s Steakhouse in San Francisco is like stepping back into another era.

To a time when dining rooms weren’t cloaked in reclaimed wood and Edison lights, but in crimson walls, sparkling chandeliers and oxblood-hued, tufted leather booths; when cell phones didn’t exist (as there actually isn’t cell service available there now); and when people actually dressed for dinner (save for the table of tourists decked out in shorts that night, not realizing summer in isn’t all that in San Francisco).

The venerable restaurant, which opened in 1928, still exudes classic bygone mores, and that’s a testament to Chef Daniel Patterson, whose Alta Group took it over in 2015. He spiffed it up, but wisely kept the cherished old-school atmosphere.

It’s a place you walk into thinking: They don’t make ’em like this anymore. And thank goodness it’s still around.

Located on a side street in the Financial District on the edge of Chinatown and North Beach.

Located on a side street in the Financial District on the edge of Chinatown and North Beach.

The old-world dining room.

The old-world dining room.

At least that’s what I felt when I visited recently as a guest of the restaurant. Even though I’m a native San Franciscan, I’m embarrassed to admit this was my first time at the restaurant.

As we slid into the roomy booth in the old worldly elegant dining room, my husband, who normally orders a glass of wine or a beer at dinner, declared out of the blue, “I’m having a martini!”

Because these surroundings just inspire a thirst for that.

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How to Make Alexander’s Steakhouse’s Sensational Uni Fried Rice

An unforgettable fried rice that I can now make at home. Woot!

An unforgettable fried rice that I can now make at home. Woot!

 

Fried rice is typically a frugal dish, something you slap together at the last minute with meager ingredients on hand.

This is not that fried rice.

Not when it is enveloped in whipped uni butter, and crowned with fresh uni.

And certainly not when it is on the menu at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino for $25.

When Food Gal reader Kristy implored me recently to get the recipe for the uni fried rice after falling for it at Alexander’s, I could commiserate.

After all, I had enjoyed it at the restaurant only once — and I still dream about it. It’s that kind of dish — loaded with bold flavors that grabs you from the get-go with its uncanny mix of comfort and luxuriousness.

Fresh uni, plus a range of textures in every bite.

Fresh uni, plus a range of textures in every bite.

Executive Chef Jared Montarbo was kind enough to actually provide the recipe. As chefs are wont to do, there weren’t precise measurements for every single ingredient, so I tinkered a little. After making it at home recently, I can tell you confidently that his recipe does indeed make for a fried rice dish just about as delicious as the one he makes at the restaurant.

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Join the Food Gal and Manresa Bread’s Anna St. John For A Baking Demo

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Here’s your chance to learn how to make — and get a taste of — the best summer fruit tart. Ever.

That’s because none other than Pastry Chef Anna St. John of acclaimed Manresa Bread will join me for a baking demo, 2 p.m. July 22 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

St. John is responsible for all those tantalizing croissants, kouign-amanns, fruit danishes, and other pastries that tempt at Manresa Bread’s Los Gatos and Los Altos shops, as well as its stands at the Campbell and Palo Alto California Avenue farmers markets.

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