Category Archives: Restaurants

Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Hack For Homemade Chow Fun Noodles With A Microwave

A soul-satisfying plate of chow fun — with fresh, chewy noodles made in the microwave.

Maui’s Chef Sheldon Simeon is many things:

The owner of the lovable, guava-sized Tin Roof Hawaiian eatery. A devoted husband and dad. A “Top Chef” finalist and two-time “Fan Favorite.” And what I like to call, the MacGyver of chefs.

There was the time when I dined at one of his previous restaurants, when he talked about how he and a line cook came up with a way to cook perfect pork belly — in Hot Pockets sleeves, of all things.

Then, there was the time when a table of chefs fell silent and began madly typing notes into their phone, when Simeon let slip that he makes his own chow fun noodles and generously began sharing the recipe just like that.

So when I spied that chow fun recipe in his debut cookbook, “Cook Real Hawai’i” (Clarkson Potter), I knew I had to make it. The book was written with Garret Snyder, a former Los Angeles Times food writer.

Through 100 recipes, Simeon gives you a taste of today’s Hawaii, mixing tradition with fun spins that amplify the unique cross-cultural blend of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Filipino and native Hawaiian flavors that makes this cuisine so mouthwatering. Along the way, you get to know him, too, from how his grandpa left the Philippines at age 18 to work on a sugar plantation in Hawaii to how Simeon slyly fed the tired and hungry camera crew of “Top Chef” with his Spam musubi.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 27

Veal and oyster mushroom paella from PintxoPote, which I finished cooking at home in less than 20 minutes.
Veal and oyster mushroom paella from PintxoPote, which I finished cooking at home in less than 20 minutes.

PintxoPote, Los Gatos

Los Gatos’ PintxoPote is a sliver of a restaurant that has managed to survive this incredibly challenging year, despite not having the ability to provide either outdoor or indoor seating.

Instead, the Spanish-Basque restaurant has persevered, largely through the support of a loyal clientele that orders takeout, along with the fact that Chef-Owner Hector Figueroa and his wife Angie Lipsett have operated the restaurant all on their own without any staff, and without taking any salaries.

If you haven’t yet discovered this charming Spanish restaurant, it’s high time that you did.

Right now, the restaurant is open only on Fridays and Saturdays. The takeout menu for the week usually posts on Thursdays.

A saute of fava beans, asparagus and peas that comes with the paella.
A saute of fava beans, asparagus and peas that comes with the paella.

Figueroa, whose grandparents hailed from Spain, is a former tech engineer. When you pick up your order at the doorway, you can spot him in the kitchen, as Lipsett hands you your food.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 26

Three types of poke on a big bed of rice, chirashi-style, from Pacific Catch.
Three types of poke on a big bed of rice, chirashi-style, from Pacific Catch.

Pacific Catch; Santa Clara, Campbell, Corte Madera, Cupertino, Dublin, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Mateo, San Francisco, Walnut Creek

Pacific Catch makes it an even dozen now, having opened its newest location earlier this week, this one at Santa Clara Square Marketplace.

This restaurant group, which was founded in 2003 in San Francisco, takes its seafood seriously, adhering to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide for sustainability. It also partners with the Surfrider Foundation to protect the world’s oceans by reducing plastic use. And it recycles its fryer oil and composts food scraps.

I was invited as a guest by the restaurant last week for a sneak taste, albeit pandemic-style, with a chance to sample takeout dishes.

Pacific Catch offers seafood in every preparation imaginable — from ceviches and sushi to tacos and burgers. Your takeout bag comes complete with compostable utensils, chopsticks, packets of Kikkoman soy sauce, and even wet-ones, which is an especially thoughtful touch.

Lightly battered calamari with fried chili rings and fried thin slices of lemon.
Lightly battered calamari with fried chili rings and fried thin slices of lemon.

Fried calamari is always chancey to-go, no matter how short the drive home. The light tempura-like batter on the Cabo calamari ($13) didn’t hold up with full-on crunch by the time I got it to my dining-room table. But the tentacles and rings were very tender. I loved how there were thin slices of fried lemon in the mix, too, and fried rings of red Fresno chilies. The calamari were seasoned well, and a container of smoky-spicy chipotle aioli was irresistible for dunking into again and again.

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Middle Eastern Lentil Soup To Warm the Soul

A delightfully earthy and fragrant lentil soup garnished with feta and cilantro.
A delightfully earthy and fragrant lentil soup garnished with feta and cilantro.

How satisfying is this vegetarian “Middle Eastern Lentil Soup”?

So much that I didn’t even catch my husband, aka Meat Boy, sneaking slices of salami afterward, as he is wont to do.

That tells you just how delicious this hearty bean and spinach soup — imbued with cumin, coriander, fennel and cayenne — really is.

The recipe is adapted by the Wall St. Journal from “The White Dog Cafe Cookbook” (Running Press, 1998). The cookbook was written by the owners of this Philadelphia restaurant, Judy Wicks and chef Kevin von Klause.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 25

Part of the makings of the pork souvlaki family meal from Taverna in Palo Alto.
Part of the makings of the pork souvlaki family meal from Taverna in Palo Alto.

Taverna, Palo Alto

If you’re sometimes at a loss as to what exactly to order for takeout, Taverna in downtown Palo Alto makes it easy with its new Family Meal Menu.

Founders Thanasis Pashalidis and Hakan Bala opened this convivial Greek restaurant after working at nearby Evvia in Palo Alto. Besides a la carte options, the restaurant makes it so convenient to enjoy its Hellenic cuisine with its all-in-one meals that serve 2 or more generously.

Choose from souvlaki, roasted chicken, lamb chops or whole fish “family meal,” priced accordingly. Each comes with tzatziki, homemade pita, chicories salad, grandma’s potatoes, and baklava.

We went with the Berkshire pork souvlaki ($55), six skewers of charred chunks of pork that were wonderfully tender, juicy and smoky tasting. Feel free to dollop the pork with a little of the sheep’s milk yogurt-cucumber tzatziki that’s so thick and creamy, and redolent of fresh dill.

Eggplant dip with oregano-scented pita bread.
Eggplant dip with oregano-scented pita bread.

The pita is flat and denser than others, without the characteristic pocket to open up. But what it does sport that others don’t (certainly not store-bought ones) is the great peppery taste of oregano.

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