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Afuri Ramen & Dumplings Opens Its First California Outpost

The famed yuzu shio ramen at Afuri in Cupertino.
The famed yuzu shio ramen at Afuri in Cupertino.

Can you stand yet another ramen joint opening in the Bay Area?

You surely can when it’s one that not only specializes in a chicken-based broth rather than pork, but also offers a unique hazelnut vegan broth.

Tokyo-based Afuri opened its first California outpost on Tuesday. The 54-seat fast-casual restaurant in Cupertino, a stone’s throw from Whole Foods, is its second U.S. locale, following the 70-seat one that opened in Portland last year, which now serves upwards of 500 bowls of ramen daily. Named for a mountain in Japan, Afuri also has a franchise location in Lisbon, with Richmond, B.C. also in the works. It expects to open another South Bay location next year, possibly in Mountain View.

I had a chance to preview some of the menu items the day before the Cupertino one opened to the public.

Order at the touch-screen kiosk.
Order at the touch-screen kiosk.

Step up to the electronic touch-screen kiosk to place your order for ramen, gyoza, rice bowls, beverages, and more. You can add extra toppings easily with the touch of a finger — or even eliminate any that you don’t want. Slide your credit card to pay; or hit a button to notify a server that you want to pay by cash instead. Then, grab a carved wooden number holder nearby and place it at your table for your server to find you to deliver the food.

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50th Anniversary of Taste & Tribute, Gott’s A Day of Giving, And More

19th Annual Taste & Tribute

Chefs Jarad Gallagher and Peter Armellino plating at last year's Taste & Tribute. (Photo courtesy of the Tibetan Aid Project)
Chefs Jarad Gallagher and Peter Armellino plating at last year’s Taste & Tribute. (Photo courtesy of the Tibetan Aid Project)

The Tibetan Aid Project celebrates a milestone 50th anniversary, as well as its 19th annual Taste & Tribute gala, 5 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Four Seasons in San Francisco.

For half a century, the organization has worked to rebuild and preserve Tibet’s cultural heritage.

The unique gala features pairs of celebrated Bay Area chefs cooking a four-course dinner table-side for guests.

Chef Laurent Manrique of Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco has been instrumental in organizing the chef brigade over the years. He’s back again this time, joined by Chef Gerald Hirogoyen of San Francisco’s Piperade.

Chef Laurent Manrique receiving a Tibetan blessing.
Chef Laurent Manrique receiving a Tibetan blessing.

Some of the other chef duos who will be cooking together include Reylon Augustin of Madera in Menlo Park and Dustin Valette of Valette in Healdsburg; Peter Armellino of The Plumed Horse in Saratoga and Anthony Strong of Prairie in San Francisco; and Jason Pringle of Selby’s in Redwood City and Eric Upper of Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco.

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Tay Ho Oakland For The Win

Incredible turmeric fried catfish at Tay Ho Oakland.
Incredible turmeric fried catfish at Tay Ho Oakland.

I love the over-the-top luxuriousness of a fancy, hours-long, upscale tasting menu as much as the next person.

But truth be told, it’s not really the food I crave on a regular basis.

While there’s a place and time for such sumptuousness, what I truly adore is food that’s punchy, distinctive, and suffused with down-home heart and soul.

No tweezers required.

That’s what Tay Ho Oakland is all about.

I was fortunate enough to come across this family-owned Vietnamese restaurant while writing my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1). Indeed, it was the last restaurant to be included in the book, the 41st one to be spotlighted with stories and recipes. And I couldn’t be more thrilled that it was.

Yours truly with Owner Denise Huynh, whose restaurant is featured in my new cookbook, "East Bay Cooks.''
Yours truly with Owner Denise Huynh, whose restaurant is featured in my new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks.”

If you already have a copy of my cookbook, you know what Owner Denise Huynh poured her life savings into what was then a struggling restaurant nine years ago that she took over from her aunt. For the first few years, sheer will-power propelled her onward, as she worked to attract diners to what was then a still very gritty, crime-laden part of the city.

Now the neighborhood, with gleaming new condos and apartments going up, has grown with her. And Tay Ho Oakland has become known for its authentic cuisine served in a relaxed, inviting and cheerful spot.

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Tear Into Lemon, Broccoli and Garlic Deep-Pan Pizza

A thick, focaccia-like crust forms the foundation for this veggie pan pizza.
A thick, focaccia-like crust forms the foundation for this veggie pan pizza.

Pan pizza is definitely having a raging moment in the Bay Area.

A decidedly thick one.

With more Detroit-style pizza being offered at places around the Bay, you don’t need to get on a plane to the Midwest to dig into a slab.

You can even try your hand at making your own at home, thanks to the new cookbook, “Perfect Pan Pizza: Square Pies to Make at Home, from Roman, Sicilian, and Detroit, to Grandma Pies and Focaccia” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by bread-making authority Peter Reinhart.

This is the ultimate tome with everything you need to know about making thick-crust-style pizza, with detailed directions and photos about making, folding, dimpling, and baking the dough. Reinhart also provides a variety of dough recipes so you can choose according to your preference: “White Flour Dough,” “Whole Grain Country-Style Dough,” and “Naturally Leavened Dough.”

He breaks down the differences between Roman, Sicilian, Detroit, Grandma-style and focaccia-style pan pizzas, and provides recipes for all those styles with inventive toppings, including “Beef Brisket with Burnt Ends,” “Banh Mi,” and “Avocado Scampi.”

The “Lemon, Broccoli, and Garlic” caught my attention because I figured when consuming that many carbs, I ought to at least try to squeeze some veggies in at the same time.

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Food Gal Contest: Win A Free Pair of Tickets to “Flavors of San Francisco: An Evening With the Masters”

Join yours truly at the “Flavors of San Francisco: An Evening With the Masters,” 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 13 at the H.L. Peninsula Restaurant in South San Francisco.

This gala dinner event benefits the research, education and advocacy efforts of the American Liver Foundation.

The evening includes a multi-course gourmet dinner, a cooking demo by celebrity Chef Martin Yan of San Francisco’s M.Y. China, and an auction.

There also will be a panel discussion about healthy eating, featuring myself, Yan, Chef Jesse Cool of Menlo Park’s Flea Street Cafe, and veteran broadcast journalist Alan Wang, founder of Newsworthy Media.

Tickets are $300. Food Gal readers receive a discounted price of $200 per ticket with the code: Foodie1.

I’ll be signing copies of my new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), at the event, with 10 percent of sales proceeds being donated to the American Liver Foundation.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a free pair of tickets to the “Flavors of San Francisco” event (a total value of $600). Entries for the contest, open only to those who can attend the event on Nov. 13 in South San Francisco, will be accepted through midnight PST Nov. 2. Winner will be announced Nov. 4 on this blog.

How to win?

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