2008 Michelin Stars, San Francisco Bay Area

I've been to the French Laundry a couple times and it really is that good but it's really intense and goes a little overboard. It's more like a clinic than it is a dining experience. Bouchon (bistro food) is so much cooler and cheaper. The only other restaurants I've been to are Boulevard, Chez Panisse, and Gary Danko.

I'd love to check out more but it's pricey to be eating out.

Three Stars
The French Laundry, Yountville

Two Stars
Aqua, San Francisco
Chez TJ (new), Mountain View
Cyrus, Healdsburg
Manresa, Los Gatos
Meadowood, St. Helena
Michael Mina, San Francisco

One Star
Acquerello, San Francisco
Ame (new), San Francisco
Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford
Bistro Jeanty, Yountville
Bouchon, Yountville
Boulevard, San Francisco
Chez Panisse, Berkeley

Coi (new), San Francisco
Cortez (new), San Francisco
Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
Farmhouse Inn Restaurant, Forestville
Fifth Floor, San Francisco
Fleur de Lys, San Francisco
Gary Danko, San Francisco
L Bistro, Sebastopol
La Folie, San Francisco
La Toque, San Francisco
Madrona Manor (new), Healdsburg
Martini House (new), St. Helena
Masa's, San Francisco
One Market (new), San Francisco
Quince, San Francisco
Range, San Francisco
Redd (new), Yountville
Rubicon, San Francisco
Sushi-Ran, Sausalito
Terra, St. Helena

Oakland, East Bay restaurants

Been going out lately to some nice restaurants in the East Bay.  Here's what I thought anyways…

Recently went to Rivoli finally on Solano Ave in Albany.  Very tasty, a little pricey.  Italian/California Cuisine type restaurant.  It's a small restaurant.  Awesome service.  The street is very cool.  Nice to walk up and down.


  • Oliveto's (upstairs) – one of the best restaurants in Oakland, Italian/California cuisine, pricey, great food, nice atmosphere.  It's a special occasion place.
  • Hiro's Sushi – been going here a lot.  family style, laid back Japanese food, very homey; guaranteed no line, so perfect if you get stuck at Kirala and you're hungry.  Up the block, Uzen is pretty good too.
  • Somerset – hard to characterize the food here, I guess upscale American.  The food is good, good for brunch, the decor is classy but lots of wood.  A friend of a friend owns it.
  • Soi4 – trendy Thai, nice place for a hot date

Wood Tavern, haven't been yet but supposed to be good.  Pearl is supposed to be good.  We also go to Cactus Taqueria, Citron or Acote on special occasions.  We also go to Zachary's pizza when the mood hits.  Haven't been yet to Pizzaiolo in Temescal.  And I do like LaneSplitter's Pizza also in Temescal.


  • Pyung Chang tofu house.  Not as good as My Tofu House on Geary but pretty good.
  • La Calaca Loca – quick Mexican food.  good chicken soup and fish tacos.
  • Tanjia is this Moroccan place.  Very cool with Belly Dancing, food is ok.
  • Bakesale Betty's of course – oatmeal cookies, chicken sandwiches are too dangerous

Haven't been to Genova lately for sandwiches.  Need to go back to Dona Tomas (fancy Mexican) to give it another chance.

Piedmont Ave

  • Bay Wolf – kind of every day fancy, California cuisine.  Food is good.  Strangely went here twice this year.
  • Jojo – my all time favorite restaurant, country French, menu doesn't change much, best steak frites – my favorite dish
  • Went to Fenton's for an ice cream sundae.  The first few bites were good but their ice cream kinda sucks.  Tango Gelato down the block has no line and is 10x better.

Haven't been to Lotus Thai this year… :-)  Cesar (spanish tapas) is so overrated, always packed.  Dopo (Italian) overrated and packed too.

On the hit list to try next is:

  • Art's Crab Shack, Ohgane
  • And non-Oakland: Bistro Luneta (in San Mateo), Foreign Cinema (SF), Ozumo (SF) and that should do it

Bakesale Betty

I'm surprised I haven't written anything about Bakesale Betty yet so here's the scoop/review (and here's hoping she web searches for "Bakesale Betty" and my post comes up and I get like a free sandwich or something…). Here's the Yelp review too since I stole their fried chicken photo…

Bakesale Betty is just a couple blocks away from me, so it's very dangerous. It's over in Temescal and it took over a location that used to be Merritt Bakery and before that a cell phone/pager store. Temescal is a "transitional" neighborhood and it's transitioning to be quite the new/hot/Bay Area bohemian spot due to Bakesale Betty, Pizziaolo, Tagine, Dona Tomas, Genova, Lane Splitters, Dollar Cleaners!, and several happening Korea places, etc.

Bakesale Betty has this now super famous chicken sandwich. It's a fried chicken sandwich, with jalapeno coleslaw on Acme bread and it costs $7.25 or $7.50 I can't remember. Everyone in Oakland knows about it and people are coming in from San Francisco checking it out.

Bakesale Betty also has great oatmeal cookies, scones, and everything is good.

You may get lagniappe (an extra cookie or a lemon bar or something) if you're served by the right person (or maybe Bakesale Betty and her girls think I'm cute…that could be it).

When we first saw Bakesale Betty, we totally thought she was going to go out of business really quickly because all she sold were lemon bars and these sticky date puddings. They were good but who banks their business on lemon bars and sticky date puddings. Now Bakesale Betty really helped make Temescal cool– you should see how their business is set up and the lines outside their door.

Bakesale Betty has a jingle. All companies should have a jingle. I want a jingle.

Bakesale Betty incubated her company through the farmer's market circuit. Quite smart! And Farmer's Markets really are becoming a place where new businesses do incubate.

Bakesale Betty has befriended the Fire Department 4 or 5 houses down the street. The Firemen come into Bakesale Betty's often so everyone knows not to f*ck with Bakesale Betty. One of their best moves.

restaurant food

I'm kinda sick of restaurant food. I've been going out a bit lately and here's what I don't like:

  • there are *no*, *none*, *zero* healthy, cheap, everyday type restaurants — a place where you could eat everyday and feel good about it, e.g. a healthy $5 – $7 meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • food portions are huge, I'm now just getting maybe two appetizers and sharing dessert versus getting an entree, it's no wonder as Americans we are so overweight;
  • the prices in general are whack, way overpriced! Across the board.
  • the food is more or less the same (across genres), not very creative menus, nothing is wowing me lately (and I've been going to good places);
  • Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese places cater to an American palate so the food is not necessarily "authentic". Sure different ingredients here but I hate it when it's dumbed down.

It's not that I can do better, I can't. But at home at least I can control portion size, the quality of the ingredients, cooking some things correctly (salmon or any fish overcooked at a restaurant sucks!), and price to an extent.

To me the only good thing about going out to a restaurant these days is that I don't have to worry about washing dishes and putting them away. And that's about it.

good pots – Bourgeat

There's nothing like good pots. We're doing a slow kitchen upgrade, kitchen 1.5 if you will. Kitchen 1.0 consisted of cheap Emerilware non-stick pots and pans built by All Clad. They've done well the past 5 – 6 years and it was a good starter set. All Clad's marketing is pretty good but I can't really say the same for their low-end pots and pans — their low end pots are just ok, a bit overpriced, and slightly overrated.

So over to Matfer Bourgeat products. We got a 7 1/2 quart "sauce" pot (we use it as a stock pot) and I like it a lot. We got it from Culinary Cookware but I think there are probably cheaper places to buy these pots.

I christened the pot with this killer mussels with saffron and mustard recipe. The next day cooked some pasta in it and none of the pasta stuck to the bottom, sign of a good pot.

Tokyo Fish Market

I've been looking for a good fish shop in the Bay Area and usually get fish from Hudson Fish company which is a small family owned business. It's a Black owned business too which I like. The issue I have with Hudson Fish is that they're only around at the Berkeley's Farmer's markets on Tuesday and Thursday and their selection isn't huge. They're based out of Half Moon Bay.

I've found a fish market I like finally, Tokyo Fish Market. They have Hawaiian and Japanese foods too like shisho leaves, Yakult, Calpis soda, Portuguese sausage, and sashimi grade fish including ankimo (fish liver) and sea urchin. The fish I usually like buying is Loch Duarte salmon and they have it fairly cheap here.

Tokyo Fish Market is on San Pablo Avenue in Albany, near REI and off the Gilman Street exit. The trip for me seems worth it if I can't find what I want from Hudson Fish.

Yelp has a good set of reviews on it.

SFGate article on Tokyo Fish market

I found Tokyo Fish Market via my long runs. I've been running a 12 1/2 mile loop of late during the week and I run down San Pablo Avenue which goes through Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, and Albany. It's amazing what you see in 12 1/2 miles including the Berkeley Hills, the UC Berkeley Campus, the hood, folks smoking pot/dealing drugs, children playing, people running and walking their dogs, missing bus stops and finding fresh fish.

Note to Gen: I tried the Strawberry Calpico drink. Pretty darn good. The peach and mango I'll try next.

Another note: The best time to buy fish is Friday and Monday. That's when everybody gets their fish, Friday deliveries for the weekend, and Monday deliveries for the week.



I've been going down memory lane, food-wise anyway, and stumbled on another food I ate when I was a kid. I don't remember how often I drank Yakult, it seemed like it was often.

I picked up a 5 pack of Yakult and sure does taste the same as I remember. I think the last time I drank Yakult was 20 years ago?

Yakult is supposed to be some probiotic and there's like beneficial bacteria in it. Kombucha is the same thing in terms of another beneficial bacteria.

Anyway, there isn't any proof around the health benefits of Yakult, it's just supposed to replenish all the good bacteria you may have in your digestive system. People have been drinking it for a while and nobody has died. Haven't heard people hitting 60 home runs in a year by drinking it though either.

Would love to know more, especially if you drink/drank Yakult as a kid in the Philippines? Why, other than it tastes pretty good? Is Yakult's marketing team just that good?

taho and sago

Taho is basically soft soy bean curd and you can find it at most grocery stores but getting it fresh is better. Sometimes I get mine from Hodo Soy Beanery at the Berkeley Farmer's market or at this Chinese grocery store in downtown Oakland. The first time I went to go pick it up at Hodo Soy, the vendor gave me this look like "you know what that is, you're Filipino." I gave him a glance that said "yup". Mind you, we're in Berkeley.

Sago is tapioca made out of cassava or yuca root? I think. It's pretty much flavorless and lots of those tapioca drink places or bubble tea places have them. There are bubble tea places in San Francisco and there's one near UC Berkeley, they're popping up.

The brown stuff I guess is just sugar, I never thought to ask what it was. It's some cane sugar syrup thing. All of it together and the fact that it's cheap makes it addictive. The taho supposedly originated from China and the tapioca was brought by the Spanish as cassava originates from South America.

Anyhow, I used to often eat taho and sago as a kid and I kinda remember the whole experience. We used to get it from a vendor who walked the streets yelling, "taho, sago". When I eat it now, there's a lot familiar about it and it's one of those foods that makes/keeps me Filipino.

It was cool to be able to find a good looking photo of it on Flickr. It's not necessarily the most photogenic food out there. If you want some taho and sago you can go to the Philippines or to Goldilock's Bakery, there's actually one in Mountain View on Rengstorff.

Ice cream in the Bay Area

I'm probably not the best authority but ColdStone Creamery and Ben & Jerry's doesn't cut it.

Go here:

There's a Lappert's in Sausalito. That'd be the only chain I'd recommend.

definitive Bay Area restaurants

My top restaurants per category in the Bay Area:
If you think I'm wrong on some of these tell me and help me fill in the blanks if you can.

California – Gary Danko, Lalimes, Chez Panisse (is there a good everyday type place?)
French – French Laundry: tasting menu
Bistro style – Cafe Claude, Jojo's: steak frites

Northern Chinese – Shan Dong: Shan Dong chicken, hand made noodles, dumplings
Vietnamese – Le Cheval, Slanted Door
Korean – Oghane, My Tofu House

Thai – Lotus Thai
Indian – still need to find
Italian – Trattoria La Siciliana

Taqueria – Cactus Taqueria: burritos, fish tostada; Taqueria Ramiro and Sons: super carnitas burrito
Mexican – still need to find maybe Guaymas, maybe Dona Tomas

Pizza – Zachary's

Burgers – Christophe's
Steak place – still need to find


Bakery – Crixa cakes
Coffee place – Blue Bottle