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San Diego Hound temp. relocating to Santa Rosa

Hey there -
I am going to be living in Santa Rosa indefinitely starting this Cinco de Mayo weekend. I was hoping for some reccomendations/advice on SR and the surrounding areas.

My favorite cuisines are Regional Mexican and Japanese/Korean but I am up for anything as long as its delicious.

Are there any Mexican / Japanese / Korean supermarkets in the area?

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  1. Hana is considered one of the best Sushi restaurants in the area
    http://www.hanajapanese.com/

    Give Bear Korean a try in Cotati
    http://koreandining.com/

    1. If you make it up by Saturday, the fiesta in Roseland turned a corner last year and was a great event.
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45710...
      http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/apps/pb...
      Lola's market is on the corner of Sebastopol Road and Dutton Ave. in the same general vicinity. There's a newer location on Petaluma Hill road in SR . . . check for posts about it from our amigo, Eat Nopal.

      1. For Mexican, I love El Capitan on Mendocino Avenue, though I actually just ate their food tonight and am now experiencing a very dry throat as a result. I'm pretty sure they use curry powder for their grilled chicken, so I don't know about its authenticity, but I think it tastes great.

        On 4th Street, also in Santa Rosa, is Nha Bee Cafe. Although I probably prefer Bear Korean, if you want your Korean fix, Nha Bee is great. Their use of top quality ingredients comes through in a delicious green onion pancake as well as a complimentary tofu appetizer that came with dinner. I believe that I have a discriminating palate when it comes to tofu, as I was born in Japan and have since eaten many, many pieces of tofu, and I totally stand by that tofu as the best I've had in the US. Creamy, silky, perfect.

        2 Replies
        1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

          I actually ate dinner at Nha bee the other night for my korean fix. I had a lot of hope for the place but left kind of dissapointed. I had the kalbi which was much too greasy- yuck but thankfully not cloyingly sweet. The korean purple rice was wonderful and the best part of the meal. They were a bit stingy on the panchan all of which were midocre and please dry off the romaine lettuce 'ssam' before serving it.

          I am going to give them a second chance though for their kimbap and your reccomendaton of the pa-jun.

          1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

            If they make their own tofu, that's a definite plus. But generally, I was not impressed by the food.
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45023...

            Bear Korean is good, but a bit eccentric. I've been buying panchan from the Korean grocer around the corner from Bear and been very happy with their quality and selection. Tastier than I've been able to find in Santa Clara's Koreatown stores.

          2. Hey Kare.... welcome to Santa Rosa,

            With regards to Mexican Cuisine... since you are coming from Southern California... I have to describe the local scene as quite gray with a few silver linings.

            Basically, its a good 10 years behind L.A. / San Diego... Burritos are still the focus of many diners here... it seems that Tacos are only catching on... but you know its bad when there are threads about the Best Al Pastor Taco in Oakland etc., and most people post about how they love the Al Pastor burrito at so & so. Tellingly I have yet to eat at a Mexican place that doesn't offer burritos.

            Further... real Taquerias are a rarity around these parts. I've read of establishments that will bust out the street side grills certain nights of the week... but there doesn't seem to be any consistency or critical mass... so of course don't expect to get the variety of fillings you are used to. No Cactus tacos, no Guisado tacos, no Spinach tacos, no Mushroom tacos etc., etc.,

            With regards to Regional Mexican.... again a big strike out. I read that you hit the Yucatecan place in San Rafael... its pretty good, but it lacks competition to be great... they can be rather complacent. There is also a Oaxacan baker in Petaluma the peddles decent mole pastes, Oaxacan imports, makes okay baked goods & interesting tortas with an Asian accent. But no real Oaxacan restaurants. Further, the vast majority of Mexican eateries are owned by Michoacanians yet there is almost null regional cuisine of Michoacan... no million ways to eat avocados, no Caldo Miche, no Corundas etc., etc., Sure there are a lot of places in Santa Rosa that specialize in Uruapan Style Carnitas... while Uruapan (Michoacan) is widely considered Mexico's Carnitas capital... its not the type of regional specialty that I think we get excited about.

            Enough with the bleakness.. you have a good picture so that you can adjust your expectations... there are some silver linings.

            > Lola's Market (two location) could fit right in East L.A. or Santa Ana... and on some produce even carries things not common in Southern California like Huazontle, Xoconostles, Chiltepin Peppers & a variety of other ingredients. So you can cook very well up here... which with all the mediocre restaurants... you will probably have more time & motivation for cooking!

            > La Texanita on Sebastopol Rd has some very good eats including Pozole & Michoacan style Barbacoa among other things. Its weak on vegetable dishes etc., but again for the area it seems to be as good as it gets.

            > Mateo Granados is a native of Oxhutzcab in the Yucatan, and was Executive Chef of the highly regarded Dry Creek restaurant. He went off on his own and now does a variety of things including catering, Yucatan Tamal stands at the local Farmers Markets and he also hosts multi course themed dinners by invitation at Golf Clubs etc., you can go the following website for more info: http://www.mateogranados.com/

            > Carmen's Burger Bar has good fish tacos... not as good as you would get in Ensenada or around San Diego but a decent alternative to Rubio's (which we are lucky to have at the downtown mall). Carmen is also from Michoacan... she carries Fish Tacos but not a single dish from her region... bizarre.

            > There is another place on Lewis Rd (near Mendocino)... I am blanking out on the name... but it carries Molcajetes with very pungent Michoacan saucing that are very decent but the place can be quite inconsistent.

            > In Sonoma I've had good luck with a bakery on Highway 12 called Panaderia La Mixteca... while they pump out stuff throughout the day, I have found that 6:30 to 7:30 is the most likely time to grab stuff of the pastry tray cart before it goes on display.

            Unfortunately the situation for Japanese & Korean is even more bleak up here... particularly for someone like you that has a more sophisticated & developed appreciation of it. Sushi places are quite common here... I've found decent ones in Windsor (I can't remember the name) and here in Santa Rosa we frequent Osaka. Neither compares to the places on Sawtelle in West L.A. (the Japanese outpost near UCLA) but it usually satisfies my craving for So Cal basics like Spicy Tuna, Eel-Avocado rolls, Tempura etc., in addition their Oysters are excellent when they actually have them. I haven't been to wild with their Nigiri or Sashimi but it is certainly okay.

            But Sushi is as far as it goes... there doesn't seem to be other types of Japanese restaurants... no Curry Houses, Japanese Bistros, Udon Eateries, Sukiyaki etc.,etc.,

            I haven't eaten at any Korean restaurants yet.

            With regards to markets... I can't recall any Japanese or Korean markets and most of the local "gourmet" supermarkets rarely have Sashimi grade fish to sell. Your best bets for Asian ingredients are:

            > G&G Market (Chinese owned with beautiful, inexpensive vegetables & several long aisles of imported Asian products including Japanese & Korean

            )

            > There is are several Thai markets along Petaluma Hill Rd near the Fairgrounds area (where the 101 & 12 meet).

            > There is an Asian specialty shop near Howarth Park (Mission & Sonoma Avenues).

            Other good eats not covering those cuisines....

            > Annapurna is a tasty Nepalese restaurant in downtown
            > Graffiti in Petaluma for reasonably priced California cuisine
            > Mombo's Pizza on Mendocino near the J.C. for a decent imitation of NY Pizza

            I am sure there are others, I am not thinking of.... a few warnings.... John Ash & Pamposh don't live up to the billing.

            Among interesting seeming places I haven't tried..... Cafe Santa Trata is an Eritrean place near the Roseland area. I really enjoyed Ethiopian / Eritrean cuisine in L.A. and found that it subs in fairly well for my Mexican Guisado cravings. Cyrus is a very highly regarded wine country restaurant.... menu looks very interesting... Cal-French with lots of interesting sounding Asian accents.

            Other than that... its been very busy with the busy so I haven't had a chance to dig around like I would like... I am sure you can do a much better job than I have.

            Good luck.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Re: al pastor tacos, as noted in the megathread, some of the best are at Lolita's in Petaluma.

              Have you tried the fish tacos from Drakes Bay Oysters' stand at the Saturday morning farmers market in Santa Rosa yet? They looked great, especially the made to order tortillas, but the proof is in the taste and I haven't tried them yet.
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31382...

              Here's the thread on Asian markets,
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/34900...

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Haven't been to Lolitas or Drakes yet.... wanna know something funny... Santa Rosans get pretty defensive when you start praising Petaluma's culinary offering. But honestly, I am pretty impressed with food I've had and the generally downtown / river renovation project.

              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                Thank you for the welcome and I am very grateful for the advice thus far guys.

                I went to the opening of the farmers maket last evening which was pretty nice. I had a papusa from the Hot Tamales stand which has a restaurant down Santa Rosa Ave. It was delicious - but this was my first papusa so take it with a grain of salt [no frame of reference]. The curtido was fantastic and the dark spicy salsa meant for the tamales had a great aggresive profile to it. I was also intrigued by the nice people from the Portuguese bakery in Roehnert Park. They advised a good Caldo Verde could be had at La Salette in Sonoma.

                I have ate at Annapurna twice so far - once for dinner on a friday night with just a slight hunger. I ordered momos - which they were out of (lamb) so they gave me the veggie sumai version. This was just ok - points for the juicy filling though . Masala chai was strangely served cold and the dal soup with a little bit of lemon was the saving grace of the meal.

                I gave them a second chance - having read EN's report - the buffet lunch was a treat. I was surprised by the heat level of the ramja kidney beans for a buffet - I really liked this. The yellow dal needed some oomph but the aloo gohbi was stellar - probably one of the best versions I have had. My favorite dish was the chicken curry - I would love a recipe for this - this went well with the nan. I also found myself reaching for seconds on the drier kheer - wonderful. Tandoori and bahji were "meh.."

                I walk home along Sebastabol Rd through Roseland - this area I really like. In the morning there is 2 sometimes 3 rival tamale carts operating around the the dollar tree area. Many moms treat their kids to tamales dulces on the picnic benches before school. I want to try the Uchepos from the Fondita (DE?) stand available only at night it seems.

                I stopped in Restaurante Michoacano - only Mich. specialty is enchiladas - I was hoping for corundas.

                I am tempted to dine at Mariscos F. Magiy on Friday with the live Mariachi band.

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  I liked the Caldo Verde at Grubstake in SF a little more than that at La Salette which was good too. The rice pudding at La Salette is my favorite. I keep wanting to get up there in the morning for the malasadas (donuts) that they started making.

                  They currenlty had this amazing cheese I tried at Cheeseboard... SERRA de ESTRELA which La Salette drizzles with almond honey and I believe (need to look at my notes) that Melanie thought the Krohn 20 year Tawny port would be an excellent pairing. La Salette has a nice Port selection. Anything from their wood-fired oven has been great. Oh my, I noticed they have vintage port ice cream on the menu ... I gotta try to get up there
                  http://www.lasalette-restaurant.com/m...

                  In Sonoma, check out Sonoma Market ... amazing market (reminds me.. you gotta go to Berkeley Bowl ... the single place I most missed when living in SOCAL). Also stop by the Cheesemakers Daughter and Vella cheese. I like the fig pantry for upscale, frou-frou but worth it deli. You can find some of Rancho Gordo's heirloom Mexican beans there.
                  http://www.ranchogordo.com/

                  Not sure if he still sells at the Marin Market, but he is at Ferry Plaza on Saturday as is Tierra Vegetbles which has some great pepper later in the summer.
                  http://www.tierravegetables.com/
                  http://www.cuesa.org/markets/farmers/

                  In the summer there's a nice farmers market on Tuesday evenings on the square. It is more about ambiance to me ... packing a picnic and sitting on the green ... than the vendors, though they are nice too.

                  1. re: rworange

                    And a plug for our local bean grower, Tierra Vegetables, you can visit its farm and stand in Santa Rosa.
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44111...
                    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/33659...

              3. Hey kare_raisu, didn't notice it was you that posted this originally. No wonder I haven't seen you on the California board as much.

                I hope you do get over to Lola's. I like it almost as much as El Tigre.

                However, I'm going outside of what you requested ... going with some of the things NOCAL does better ... farmers markets. Here's a good link for farmers markets and days
                http://www.cafarmersmarkets.com/search/

                Since you made it as far down as El Rey Pakal, you must go to the Marin Farmers market on Sunday ... then you can always catch El Rey Pakal on a Sunday when they offer specials. In San Rafael is also Sol Foods and Mambo Cafe which offer Cuban/Puerto Rican food.

                Melanie has some good posts about the Santa Rosa and Petaluma farmers markets. There's a Yucatan tamale vendor at the Petaluma market.

                If you are here after late August, you HAVE to check out the Crane Melon Barn.

                Also Melanie keeps mentioning Cafe St. Rose that is high on my list to check out next time I'm in that area. Not Mexican though.

                There's good ice cream in the area too. Fairfax Scoop the best.

                Petaluma is a great food town to check out.

                Hmmm ... there's either a big Brazilian festival or Portuguese festa in the Santa Rosa Area coming up soon . Haven't been yet, but I remember wanting to go last year ... I think it was the Brazilian Festa Junio.

                And hope you get down to Berkeley and check out some of the joints in that area like Cheeseboard, Acme and Phoenix Pastifico (great olive bread) and interesting pastas.

                11 Replies
                1. re: rworange

                  Cafe St. Rose is pretty good... a little expensive for what it is.. but I was there when they still had a lot of cobwebs. Nonetheless its a cool urban place that almost reminds me of something in Greenpoint or Meat Packing District (NYC).

                  1. re: rworange

                    : ) When I got off the plane in Oakland - we first headed to the ferry plaza for the farmers market. This was almost like a religious experience for me - unbelievable. This farmers market can not be justified with typed letters- you MUST experience it. I saw and talked to the bean guy from Rancho gordo - and was impressed by the hodo(?) tofu company especially after having been given a private tour in Honolulu of the Aloha tofu factory. This company even offered a 'kuromame' or black soybean tofu - something rare even in japan, Even better were the mariachis because it was cinco de mayo.

                    Horchata from Pancho Villa was really good too.

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      We in SD are going to miss your local chow reports greatly. :(

                      1. re: septocaine_queen

                        Thank you septocaine queen! You made me smile -please hold down the fort - there is still so much to be discovered.

                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          I tried the Eritrian restaurant, Santa Trata off Stony Point the other day for lunch. I had never had East African cuisine before so take this review for what its worth.

                          First of all it is pretty expensive - at least in my case - I ordered the Vegetarian speciality plate which came with 4 veg-stews/ purees above injera and an additional side of the sponge like bread. This was around 11 dollars and while the delicious sourdough remeniscent spongy injera was great and plentiful - they could have given a little bit more veggies. You can get away with a 6 dollar lunch with just one selection and injera and/or rice.

                          The waitress - who oddly enough was from the Ukraine -was really friendly and helpful.

                          There were two purees - a garbanzo and a dal. The dal was better - slightly spicy. Unfortunately, the spinach tasted like my memories of the canned Wal-mart procured version, and the curried crinnkle cut veggies while tasty enough - didnt do much.

                          I could have ordered wrong - maybe they do the goat and meat stews better. Maybe I will try them again.

                          1. re: kare_raisu

                            On a side note - I took home an Uchepo (Michoachano sweet corn tamal) from the Taco truck based in the La Fondita parking lot {Delicias Elenitas?}. It was a pretty solid rendition - but $2? Is this price normal for a meatless version? In San Diego $1 or even a $1.5 buys you a nice tamal. I almost thought the girl was pulling a fast one on the guero.

                            Btw so many michoachanos - where the heck are the corundas?

                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              Served hot and freshly steamed with salsa and crema from a licensed truck, $2 each is standard. You can buy them from underground vendors for less sometimes. Food is generally more expensive here than SoCal.

                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                Welcome to Santa Rosa.... things are generally a lot more expensive without an improvement in quality... here.

                                But look at the bright side.... the cricket chirping is very loud at night, you can actually see stars, I have a crow that visits my home office... and a blue jay that plunders our bird feeder... and when I stand out in the backyard I can actually see densely wooded, rolling green hills. And we get all of this with a lot of benefits of city living + a megalopolis within an easy drive.

                                It comes at a premium.

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  Ah ... but you have those extrodinary beaches in the San Diego area ... pretty rural down that way though without an easy access to a metro area ... traffic is a bear to LA. Ya really can't call SD a metro area. It is SOCAL's San Jose, so to speak.

                                  That being said, the Mexican up here is pathetic in comparison. There's not as much good German food.

                                  OTOH, when living in that area I missed good farmers markets ... some are fine but farmers markets in SD to the Bay Area are what SD Mexican is to Bay Area Mexican.

                                  There are all the lovely wineries and cheese makers up this way.

                                  Stay away from the $6 tamale at Fonda in Albany though ... no really, stay away ... with the bottom line items like that and tortillas, they should hang their heads in shame ... or take it off the menu. That being said, for almost everything else it is one of my favorite places in the Bay Area. Yeah, not Santa Rosa, but anything drivable in a few hours is fair game, IMO.

                            2. re: septocaine_queen

                              Kare raisu, I agree with SQ. I have learned so much from your posts regarding the San Diego area. Our youngest daughter spent her first year at UCSD this past year so I have been enjoying your posts. A warm welcome to Northern California. While I don't know the Santa Rosa area, I will look forward to reading about it and hopefully meeting you sometime. I do occasionally make it to the bay area for good chow!

                              1. re: dimsumgirl

                                this makes me so happy to hear dimsumgirl...because it makes me feel like my contributions here are worthwhile. thank you for the compliments and i too hope that we can organize some sort of chowdown.

                                Great food is great food but sharing and experiencing it with people is an even greater joy. (my favorite memories are of thanksgiving day and christmas - one example)