Category Archives: Restaurants

Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 41

Half & Half Whole Chicken (Secret Spicy on top, Golden Original on the bottom) at BBQ Chicken.
Half & Half Whole Chicken (Secret Spicy on top, Golden Original on the bottom) at BBQ Chicken.

BBQ Chicken, Cupertino

I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole known as Korean dramas.

Yes, I’m not too big to admit that I’ve joined the legions who are now binging these multi-season dramas that almost always include a pivotal boy-meets-girl storyline, along with copious amounts of craveable Korean food.

After getting indoctrinated with Netflix’s popular “Crash Landing on You” (which I highly recommend), with its many scenes of principle characters chowing down time and again on golden pieces of chicken at BBQ Chicken, I was overjoyed to discover that this Korean fast-casual chain’s only Northern California outpost happens to be in Cupertino, in the 99 Ranch strip mall not far from Apple headquarters . So, of course, I had to try it.

Inexplicably, the name may be BBQ Chicken, but it’s fried chicken that makes up almost its entire menu. Go figure.

Kimchi fried rice.
Kimchi fried rice.

You can get just wings. Or drum sticks. Or only boneless pieces. You can get chicken with no sauce or with galbi sauce or done up with honey garlic or even powdered cheese. And you can get it spicy — all the way up to the “Wings of Fire,” which have four chili pepper symbols after it to emphasize its incendiary level.

Read more

Dining Outside at Chez TJ

Dry-aged squab with confit mushrooms at Chez TJ.
Dry-aged squab with confit mushrooms at Chez TJ.

Operating a restaurant during the worst of the pandemic has untold challenges. But imagine if it’s one that’s housed in a historic circa-1894 Victorian with small rooms and tight hallways, and a tiny kitchen geared toward turning out exquisite upscale tasting-menus, not takeout fare in cardboard boxes.

Michelin-starred Chez TJ in downtown Mountain View not only weathered all of that, but also made a big chef change mid-pandemic, remodeled its interior, and even added a splashy outdoor dining area complete with modern fire pit, and a snazzy louvered roof that can close in inclement weather.

It remains a lovely and special experience, as always, as I found when I dined outside last week.

Owner George Aviet has a gift for spotting talent. Among the celebrated chefs who have headed Chez TJ early in their careers are: Joshua Skenes, who went on to open San Francisco’s Saison and Angler; Christopher Kostow, who went on to earn three Michelin stars at The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena; Bruno Chemel, who later opened his award-winning Baume in Palo Alto; Scott Nishiyama, who worked at the French Laundry, and is expected to open Ethel’s Fancy in Palo Alto this year; and most recently, Jarad Gallagher, who left to open Smoke Point BBQ in San Juan Bautista.

You can see the new outdoor dining area to the right.
You can see the new outdoor dining area to the right.

Christopher Lemerand took over in summer 2020, bringing along an equally impressive background, having cooked on the team at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco when it received its second Michelin star, and at Coi in San Francisco when it received its third Michelin star.

Read more

Dining Outside At Bao Bei Inside State Street Market

A trio of baos from Bao Bei. (Front to back: pork belly, fried chicken, and smoked mushroom.)
A trio of baos from Bao Bei. (Front to back: pork belly, fried chicken, and smoked mushroom.)

When a friend and I met up recently to finally check out the massive food hall in downtown Los Altos known as State Street Market, we made a beeline for the one vendor we’d been most wanting to try: Bao Bei by the former husband-and-wife team behind the Michelin-starred, upscale Korean restaurant, Maum in Palo Alto, which shuttered during the pandemic.

Chefs Meichih and Michael Kim named this casual spot after a Mandarin term of endearment they lovingly call their young son. It specializes in a blend of Korean-Taiwanese street fare. With a dearth of progressive Asian restaurants in Los Altos, it’s a welcome find, too.

The 33,000-square-foot space has plenty of seating, both indoors and out. Inside, you’ll find half a dozen vendors to choose from. More are on the way, too.

The bear that greets you at the front of State Street Market.
The bear that greets you at the front of State Street Market.

Bao Bei is located inside on the left-hand side. You order at a touch-screen kiosk, choosing your items, paying with a credit card, and then entering your phone number to receive a text alert when it’s all ready.

Read more

Dining Outside At Kaiyo Rooftop

Bluefin tuna toast gets glam at Kaiyo Rooftop.
Bluefin tuna toast gets glam at Kaiyo Rooftop.

To find San Francisco’s newest hot spot, all you need do is look up.

That’s where you’ll find Kaiyo Rooftop, up on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Place Hotel in the SOMA neighborhood.

Opened barely a month ago, it’s already drawing crowds, as evidenced by what I saw last Wednesday night when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. Even at 5 p.m. on a school night, every seat was taken at the eye-catching bar done up in glazed emerald tiles, along with about half the tables.

Kaiyo Rooftop is the sister property to Kaiyo restaurant in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, both of which specialize in Nikkei cuisine, a blend of Japanese and Peruvian In fact, a similar Kaiyo restaurant is expected to open on the ground floor of the hotel by the end of the year to serve more substantial fare like its Union Street sibling. In contrast, Kaiyo Rooftop’s menu is designed to be more bar food. Even so, it’s ample food for a meal.

The elevator doors.
The elevator doors.

Just be sure to dress in layers, and don’t forget a scarf or hat, too. That’s because the winds can be fierce up top, and the chill will definitely set in once the sun goes down, despite heaters being all around.

Read more

Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 40

Feast your eyes on the "Italian'' at Troubadour.
Feast your eyes on the “Italian” at Troubadour.

Troubadour, Healdsburg

How incredible are the sandwiches at Troubadour in downtown Healdsburg? After I scarfed down an entire one in no time flat, I actually contemplated getting another. Yes, that’s how amazing they are.

The sando shop, which opened earlier this year, can’t be missed, not with its adorable sign that’s like a toad in the hole, except this is a slice of bread with a “T” stamped in its center.

A great sandwich has to start with fabulous, fresh-baked bread, and Troubadour has no shortage of that, thanks to the fact that it’s owned by the same folks behind Quail & Condor bakery on the edge of Healdsburg.

The sign that marks the spot.
The sign that marks the spot.

Both establishments are the brainchild of couple, Melissa Kane and Sean McGaughey, who both worked at Michelin three-starred SingleThread in Healdsburg. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the quality you’re in for, too.

Read more
« Older Entries Recent Entries »