Category Archives: Restaurants

Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 36

The 3-piece Hat Yai Fried chicken at Roost & Roast.
The 3-piece Hat Yai Fried chicken at Roost & Roast.

Roost & Roast, Palo Alto

Southern fried chicken is a staple most everywhere. Korean fried chicken just had its big moment. Now, comes Thai fried chicken on the scene.

Roost & Roast opened in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village in June. Although there are a couple of outside tables, this tiny place with no inside seats is largely takeout.

Hat Yai Fried ($14) is probably the most popular dish with three pieces of Southern Thai-style fried chicken that come with a mound of rice strewn with deliciously crisp, fried onion and garlic slivers. Dusted in potato starch, the chicken, while at times cut into rather haphazard pieces, has a wonderfully crisp, airy exterior. There’s little to no seasoning on it, though, which is surprising. As a result, you may want to drizzle on the accompanying sweet chili sauce to boost the flavor. You better like sweet, though, because that’s the predominant taste of the sauce. However, you can also get a container of Sriracha to mix in to add more heat.

A generous portion of BBQ Chicken with rice.
A generous portion of BBQ Chicken with rice.

The BBQ Chicken ($14) was actually much more flavorful. The moist chicken tasted of rice wine, fish sauce and herbs. So much so that you really didn’t even need the accompanying sweet chili dipping sauce. It was a generous portion of chicken, too, piled over a foundation of white rice.

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Rodney Scott’s Smoked Prime Rib

Have you ever smoked a prime rib low and slow? This recipe will have you itching to try your hand at it.
Have you ever smoked a prime rib low and slow? This recipe will have you itching to try your hand at it.

Rodney Scott has felt the blistering heat at the heart of a raging fire.

Both in front of the barbecue pit and in life.

In his new cookbook-memoir, “Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, this legendary pitmaster lays bare both his rise to success and the subsequent yawning chasm in his relationship with his father.

It’s a book that offers lessons in cooking, of course, but also in fortitude and perseverance.

What’s more, despite the legion of barbecue and grilling books that have flooded the market over the years, it’s also astonishingly billed as the first cookbook written by a black pitmaster.

About time.

James Beard Award winning Scott, chef and co-owner of the legendary barbecue mecca, Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, S.C.; Birmingham, AL; and Atlanta, GA, wrote the book with Lolis Eric Elie, a writer and filmmaker, and one of the founders of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Scott has led a hard-scrabble life, in which his family eked out a living growing soybeans, corn and tobacco on their farm in Hemingway, SC (population 400). It was at the family-owned store that Scott’s father got the idea to sell barbecue. He took charge of the pig while his wife made the sauce.

As his parents’ only child, Scott grew up helping on the farm and at Scott’s Bar-B-Q from a young age. In fact, he cooked his first hog at age 11, stoking the coals every 15 minutes in the wee hours by himself.

When Scott grew older and branched out on his own in Charleston, winning widespread acclaim in the process, he butted heads with his dad. Unfortunately to this day, their relationship remains strained.

You can cherish this book simply for the inspiring story of a man who worked his way up from nothing to the very top of the barbecue pinnacle. Or you can also relish in cooking from it.

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It’s the Season For Slow-Roasted Romano Beans

Romano beans turn ever so soft and juicy in the heat of the oven.
Romano beans turn ever so soft and juicy in the heat of the oven.

They look like green beans on steroids that have been run over by a Mack truck.

Now’s the time to get your fill of Romano beans.

Don’t let these sturdy flat beans fool you, though, into thinking you can cook them just like you would green beans.

These meaty beans do best when cooked for a much longer time beyond al dente.

Earlier this summer, I tried the Zuni Cafe method for “Long-Cooked Romano Beans” in which they’re gently cooked on the stovetop. It’s a super-easy and wonderfully delicious recipe. But it does require 2 hours of cooking time. And I’ll be the first to admit that there are days when time gets away from me, and I find myself with all of 1 hour to get dinner on the table.

Thankfully, I came across this alternative method for cooking them that takes only 40 minutes in the oven. “Slow-Roasted Romano Beans” is from “The A.O.C. Cookbook” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013) by Suzanne Goin, the chef-owner of Los Angeles’ revered A.O.C. and the dearly departed Lucques restaurant.

An alum of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, Goin has a skilled hand with most any ingredient, and especially seasonal produce.

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Dining Outside At Amber India In Santana Row

Chilean sea bass tikka with pumpkin ravioli -- only at Amber India's Santana Row location.
Chilean sea bass tikka with pumpkin ravioli — only at Amber India’s Santana Row location.

Chef Bikram Das couldn’t be happier to finally have the chance to show off his creative flair at Amber India in San Jose’s Santana Row.

Yes, it’s only recently that he’s been able to fully do that. Because Das had the unfortunate timing of arriving as head chef in March 2020.

Initially, he had high hopes that the restaurant would be able to succeed with food to-go.

But his optimism was dashed, when he realized that many of the apartments at the upscale retail-restaurant-housing complex were corporate-owned, and thus, largely empty during the pandemic.

However, with both indoor and outdoor dining now offered, Das is thrilled to offer an array of classic dishes, as well as contemporary ones that take inspiration from Italian and other Asian fare he’s cooked at hotels in India.

I had a chance to sample some of his handiwork, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week.

Revolver cocktail with draft Blue Moon in the background.
Revolver cocktail with draft Blue Moon in the background.

There are plenty of outdoor tables right in front of the restaurant, which provides for a great people-watching vantage point, especially with a craft cocktail in hand. Santana’s Revolver ($14) is a take on a Manhattan, a potent blend of Bulleit Rye, Tia Maria, and Angostura orange bitters for a smoky, honeyed-vanilla punch.

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Meet Your New Favorite Condiment: Umami Crunch

An indispensable new condiment you'll want to put on most everything.
An indispensable new condiment you’ll want to put on most everything.

Chili crisp may be all the rage now as the “It’ condiment, but a worthy competitor has stepped up to challenge: Lazy Susan Umami Crunch.

This new Chinese condiment is from Lazy Susan, the takeout- and delivery-only Chinese restaurant that opened earlier this year in San Francisco by Salt Partners, the restaurant group behind the (Dominique) Crenn Dining Group, and Humphry Slocumbe.

While chili crisp is a mix of Sichuan peppercorns and chili flakes floating in a generous pool of oil that carries a kick of spiciness, Umami Crunch is not about heat at all but an explosion of savoriness. That’s what I found when I received a sample recently to try.

Umami Crunch is made with rice bran oil, but just barely enough to hold all the minced ingredients together. As a result, when you study a jar, you will immediately see the mix of diced pieces of garlic and fermented black beans visible that gets bloomed in the oil and seasoned with shiitake mushroom powder.

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