It’s been a banner year for Brandon Jew, who won two James Beard Awards — one for “Best Chef in California” and the second for “Best Restaurant Cookbook” for “Mister Jiu’s Chinatown” (Ten Speed Press, 2021) that he co-authored with San Francisco food writer Tienlon Ho.
Since opening in 2016, his fine-dining Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco’s Chinatown has racked up accolades galore. And his more casual Chinese-American eatery, Mamahuhu, which debuted on Clement Street in January 2020 just before the start of the pandemic, is doing so well that a second outpost is poised to open this year in Noe Valley.
On a recent trek to San Francisco, I made a beeline to try the takeout at Mamahuhu. As you crane your neck to find parking in the Richmond neighborhood, it’s easy to miss the restaurant, as its name is not easily visible in English above the door, but rather in neon-lit Chinese characters. Just look for the storefront’s vivid teal color, though, and you’ll know you’ve found the right place.
The restaurant’s name, which means “so-so” in English, salutes the Chinese-American staple dishes that Jew and so many of us grew up on, but is done here with better ingredients and greater balance.
The Bay Area’s first Eataly opened last month. And it’s a doozy.
Spanning three floors and 45,000 square feet of the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose, it is the eighth Eataly in the United States and the 41st in the world.
Having visited the ones in New York and Las Vegas, I had a sense of what this one would be like. But it definitely dwarfs those two in scope and size.
Even on a Tuesday at 4 p.m., the place was hopping with plenty of folks checking out the wares.
On the top floor, you’ll find La Pizza & La Pasta, and Terra, Eataly’s two restaurants. Having heard how impossible reservations are to come by, I bypassed them.
The third floor is also where you’ll find more than 1,000 gourmet specialty food products — everything from house-baked bread, handmade pastas and fresh-pulled mozzarella to shelves of olives oils, cheeses galore, tinned seafood, cured meats, and fresh produce.
Way, way back in the mid-1990s, I set myself a goal to eat my way through the “specialty wraps” section of World Wrapps in downtown Palo Alto.
Alas, I was probably within a couple of orders of accomplishing that when the fast-casual cafe shuttered.
In early 2020 just before the pandemic hit, two of the original founders revived the brand with a location in San Francisco. It not only managed to survive the tumult of the past two years, but has expanded to five other Bay Area cities. A couple weeks ago, its newest debuted at The Pruneyard in Campbell, where I was invited in as a guest to try the menu.
Of course, my original plan was to dine outside there. But when a crazy heatwave sent temperatures soaring to 102 degrees, I decided to take the food to-go to eat at home with the A/C on. Can you blame me?
When co-founders Matthew Blair and Keith Cox (the latter also co-founded Pacific Catch) originally founded World Wrapps, it pioneered enfolding innovative, globally-inspired fillings of fresh ingredients inside a rainbow of burrito-sized tortillas.
Thanks to the advent of the pandemic, I’ve learned to always keep a cooler in my car. With traveling these days pretty much limited to car trips, it pays to be prepared since you never know what wonders a spur-of-the-moment stop will yield.
Such was the case when my husband and I were in Sonoma a few weeks ago, and spied the sign for Salumeria Ovello.
This charming spot is owned by Chef Andrea Marino, who once had his own Michelin-starred restaurant in Barberesco, Italy. After moving to California and getting married, he opened this storefront about three years ago.
Yes, there is house-made salumi. But also, so much more, including panini stuffed with everything from Niman Ranch porchetta and arugula with house-made mayonnaise ($14) to slow-roasted beef tongue accented with salsa verde ($14).
The minute you walk through the doors, you’ll be offered a sample of Portuguese sweet bread, and asked if you’d like a cup of coffee on the house to go with it.
This is a family-owned operation that first started when the original owners had a bakery in what is now the Santa Clara Town Center. As they neared retirement, they sold it. Those subsequent owners ran it for a good stretch, before eventually closing it. When they did, Teresa Defreitas, the daughter of the original owners, decided seven months ago that the time was finally right to open up her own Portuguese bakery at this site.
If you love sweet, fluffy, squishy, buttery-tasting bread, you need to pick up a loaf immediately. You can get a round, a square, a mini or my choice, a cinnamon version ($9.50). The cinnamon here is subtle, owing to the fact that it’s a mere single ribbon of cinnamon-sugar in the loaf, not a big spiral like you expect. It’s also a little haphazard, as mine was located at the very top of the loaf. Even so, it was delightful, with a taste reminiscent of Hawaiian sweet bread, but with a subtle hint of cinnamon.