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Jan 31, 2008 02:40 PM

Your "One Dish"

The restaurants experience is seen through different eyes, taste, and smell. That experience for one, is love, and for another, not feeling the love. We all have that favorite dish that our mouths start watering when we just think about it. Let it be know that I love dives, always have and always will. If I had to choose between fine dining or dives for the rest of my life, I choose dives. For me my "One Dish" is the "Mixed Plate" of carnitas at the Jalisco Café in Oakland. (served Friday Saturday Sunday only) Now I have been eating that dish for 30 plus years, and have never strayed from it once. That pork and tripe mix rings my bell, along with those fresh corn tortillas, the green table sauce with lots of onion, and the bowl of jalapenos and carrots. The glossy beans and wonderful rice is a thing of authenticity, no canola oil here. Top it off with a couple of Tecates in the can with lime and salt and I have arrived.

Now please don’t rain on my parade and tell me about better carnitas somewhere else, but please tell me about your “One Dish” and I promise I won’t rain on your parade.

My mouth is watering,


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  1. Pork leg stew at Thai House Express.

    I would say rice ball salad at Champa Garden, but the last time I was there it was off.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I like the sound of rice ball salad, Robert. Could you give a detailed description, please?

        1. re: wolfe

          I was hoping that I could replicate this, but I don't have a clue as to preserved pork.

          1. re: pikawicca

            It is a sausage. Melanie Wong has commented on it and in fact tracked down an Issan sausage. Don't know if it still available but perhaps she can help.
            Additional assistance
            The rice salad is nam kao. I liked Champa's version, but liked Vientian Cafe's even better, as the sour sausage is only half-cooked and the pungency and tartness shows off much better. Melanie 2006

            I haven't tried it, but the Laotian market in Santa Rosa has frozen Issan/Lao style sausage.
            Melanie Wong Dec 27, 2003 04:08AM


      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Rice ball salad at Champa Garden is one of mine also (and it wasn't off the last time I had it).

        The other is the crepe at Lotus Garden. Have to have it whenever I go there, and if it has been a few weeks I have to go there just to have it.I am not sure whether or not it is the best Vietnamese crepe in San Francisco (I've had a very good one at Yummy Yummy also, but Yummy Yummy is across town and Lotus Garden is down the street), but it is the one I crave...

        (had it last night, along with roasted crab from the tank. yum.)

        Albondigas would be on my list if I could ever find a really good version with house made tortillas in this town. Sigh. Might be time to start the search again....

        Champa Garden
        2102 8th Ave, Oakland, CA 94606

        Lotus Garden
        3216 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. re: susancinsf

          Albondigas at Casa Vickie's on17th and Julian (maybe 13th and Julian?) in San Jose. They make the tortillas there and it's passable good. Not mama's, but passable good and all.

          1. re: karma_bites

            Thanks for the mention, will remember this next time I am down that way.

            What else do you like there?

            Casa Vicky Catering & Cafe
            792 E Julian St, San Jose, CA 95112

        1. re: mc2

          What a coincidence, I had this last night! While it's up there, my vote goes to the shiitake dumplings at Eos.

        2. Not sure if it’s my favorite dish ever, but the bbq eel "bahn mi" sandwich at Sea Salt in Berkeley is really mouth watering and very satisfying for me.

          1. I refer to this as the "drive by must stop item", as in if you're driving by and you're hungry, you stop almost automatically or compulsively.

            Sorry, life's too short to only have one. I'll stop at these places even I'm not hungry just because I'm there.

            Carnitas at La Bamba in Mountain View
            Burger or Chicken Fried Steak at Tennessee Grill
            Donut at Bob's Donuts
            Top Dog walking in Berkeley

            2 Replies
            1. re: ML8000

              Tell me what makes the burger and CF steak at Tennessee Grill so special. I'm new to that 'hood, and had breakfast there for the first time last weekend and thought it was terrible. The grits had no salt in them, were verging on cold, and the hash browns were mushy. Oh, and there were runny whites in my over easy eggs.

              I am open to being persuaded that I missed their strong points, though.

              1. re: Pistou

                Like all cheap mom and pop places, it's a matter of what you order. The hashies are terrible and so are a few other things. If you want a clue on what's good, sit at the counter at the cook station and watch what they make and watch what others are ordering. That's all I can say, no convincing. Re: burger, fresh ground, charbroiled, cooked to spec, $4.15 w/ fries.

            2. Baguette French toast covered with fresh seasonal berries at Mama's on Washington Square.