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Bay Area Farewell Tour

Fellow Chow friends... I am sorry to be leaving you... but the Nopales are moving to Oahu next month. Along those lines I have been running 60 minutes & lifting weights everyday to make up for the planned culinary debauchery... my intention is to pack my fat cells with Bay Area flavors that will not be easy to find in Oahu. My preliminary assessment is:

Easy to Find on the Islands

> "California Cuisine" which goes by "Hawaiian Fusion" there... I have found enough great examples & quality of ingredients to realize its going to be there, without any doubt.

> Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai... can be found in quality & in numbers. Hawaiian (goes without a doubt).

> Old School Cal-Mex... I have confirmed there are a couple of places that do your old school standards quite well.

I Am Not Sure If Its There

> Regional Chinese or Specialized Korean

> Straight Up American BBQ or Diner

> Regional Italian (there is a heavy Italian influence in Fusion places... but I am not sure if there are many pure Italian places)

Foods I Am Almost Certain Aren't Available

> Indian, Pakistani, Afghan

> Greek, Lebanese, Persian, Turkish,

> Ethiopian, Moroccan,

And of course... I will miss Mexican cuisine quite a bit.

So my mission over the next month is to soak up as much Near Eastern, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Mediterranean & Mexican cuisine that I can.

I will make several trips to S.F. & Oakland in the next month.... please advise me... where should I eat?

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  1. Turkish: Turkish Kitchen, Berkeley
    Afghan: Helmand Palace, SF
    Persian: Maykadeh, SF
    Ethiopian: Cafe Colucci, Berkeley
    Middle Eastern: Old Jerusalem, SF

    1. Trading churros for malasadas isn't all bad.

      3 Replies
      1. re: wolfe

        If those churros are stuffed with Cajeta... its a fairly even trade!

          1. re: wolfe

            Thanks for that link... I have been to Leonard's several times... they do a flavor of the month... July was Mango Cream... quite good. I will write the owners to see if they will do Portuguese style Dulce de Leche some time!

      2. In descending order of importance to hit, imo...

        Aziza (Moroccan)
        Helmand Palace (Afghani)
        Troya (Turkish)
        Kokkari (Greek)
        Taste of the Himalayas (the one in the Marina, Nepalese)

        BTW: It is as inauthentic as it gets -- and deliberately so -- but try Maui Tacos once in Hawaii. I absolutely cannot get enough of them when I'm there. The pineapple/chipotle sauce is SO awesome!

        5 Replies
        1. re: whiner

          I no... I just saw the menu... I am going to have to introduce those people to some Ensenada Style Fish Tacos & Sea Urchin Tostadas!

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            There appears to be an opportunity to open a decent Mexican restaurant or taqueria in Oahu. I've been to a few pretty okay sit down places but the taquerias were lacking, not even mentioning Baja fish tacos. Baja fish tacos in a high traffic area, like downtown or Waikiki could do very well. Best of luck..enjoy the plate lunch.

            1. re: ML8000

              I agree... I see Oahu being a great opportunity... I think there is so much ingredient cross pollination that I think Hawaiians would really dig regional Mexican like Yucatecan, Baja, Coastal Oaxacan & Guerrense etc.,.. but the job I am taking entails a 10 year commitment so don't expect anything from me in the near term. Although, once the baby is old enough to tend a cash register I might try to do the Farmer's Market food stand thing as a hobby.

          2. re: whiner

            Wow. Whiner captured my list perfectly. I'll have to check out whiner's other posts on Chowhound...

          3. I'm going through the same process right now - moving to Philly in one week and I've been eating those foods I will miss most before I leave. My priorities and preferences are a bit different than yours, but here's my list:

            Italian - Dopo, Pizzaiolo, Incanto
            Ethiopian - Cafe Colucci
            Indian - Mint Leaf (*sigh* why did I discover the best Indian in town so late?)
            Mexican (which we likely don't see eye to eye on) - Primavera Stand, Tacubaya (lengua tacos, churros and Mexican chocolate), Picante
            Charcuterie - Fatted Calf, Boccalone,
            Fresh Produce - Frog Hollow Cherries, Ram Das Apricots, Dry Farm Tomatoes
            Local Cheese - Andante, Cowgirl
            Local Beer - Trumer, Russian River, Rogue
            Local Meat - Prather Ranch Beef, Marin Sun Farms Goat and Lamb
            Dessert - Sketch Ice Cream, Recchiuti (fleur de sel caramels)
            Brunch - Eccolo

            Specific Dishes: Eel Banh Mi at Sea Salt, Fried Chicken at Ad Hoc, Tomato-Asiago Pizza at Cheeseboard, Fried Chicken and Waffles at 900 Grayson

            8 Replies
            1. re: Morton the Mousse

              Hey, Morton! I just got back from a few days in Philly, and good cheese (although of course, not Andante) and good locally made chocolate are a couple of things you probably won't miss. I think the problem will be finding places that use the kind of humane/sustainable/organic ingredients you insist on.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                What ... not even a hint of where the wedding dinner was?

                Anyway, no Ajanta in that list?

                WIth other I agree
                Turkish Kitchen

                You might stop by the two Persian Deli's on Solano ... Zand and Saffron Gourmet.

                There is Lebanese Mid-Eastern ... Wally's in Emeryville .. and you really should try their tamales.

                If you find yourself near the Old Oakland Farmers Market on a Friday before 2pm, you might try Art of Falafel (no reports yet) washed down with a nopales aqua fresca from the aqua fresca stand ... and there is bolinin at East-West Afgan foods.

                As much as I hate to say this, If you haven't tried the naan at Naan N' Curry, it is worthwhile ... just don't order another thing on the menu ... naan only.

                Indus Village in Berkeley has some nice food.

                1. re: rworange

                  Mint Leaf is better than Ajanta in every regard - better sauce, better meat, better paneer, better fry technique, better lassi. Without question, it's the best Indian food in Berkeley, and the best organic Indian food in the East Bay. The only thing Ajanta does better is the rice. I'm just bummed that I didn't try Mint Leaf until a couple of weeks before leaving. I've been meaning to write a report, but the moving van is coming this weekend, and I still have about 10,000 reports to post on the West Canada board from my honeymoon...

                  The wedding was held at a private estate. A chef from one of our favorite restaurants prepared the dinner. The meal lasted over four hours. You can probably guess where the dessert came from ;) Here's the menu:

                  I'm looking forward to the challenge of eating local/sustainable/humane food in Philly. It's so easy to preach the lifestyle in the Bay Area - this will really test our devotion.

                  1. re: wolfe

                    From what I've heard... there is lots of good, sustainable stuff being produced by the Amish in rural PA... aside from the popular bashing of San Francisco / California's top quality Fruits & Nuts that some East Coasters like to indulge in... someone must be consuming it... and if demand isn't high... then it might even be cheap compared to the absolutely ridiculous prices here.

                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                      Hey, I, for one, am going to miss you/your posts -- many thanks for helping convince me to try Ad Hoc's great fried chicken.

                      1. re: walker


                        What a contribution you've made to the SF Bay Area board.
                        I will so miss your posts.

                        So sorry to hear you're leaving the Bay Area,
                        but I know you're off to the next chapter of your life!

                        Many thanks for your great posts and always-solid thinking,

                  2. re: Morton the Mousse


                    Cowgirl Creamery has a store in D.C., not too far from Philly.

                    Here's some info:
                    919 F Street NW
                    Penn Quarter
                    Washington, D.C. 20004
                    (202) 393-6880
                    FAX (202) 393-6883
                    Open Monday through Saturday 10am to 7pm

                  3. Great suggestions everyone... I some consensus building around a few places like Helmand Palace and Colucci.... sounding good so far!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      For the best falafel in SF, and other items, try Sunrise Deli.

                      Sunrise Deli & Cafe
                      2115 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                    2. You'll be ok on Chinese and Korean on Oahu.

                      You nailed the places that aren't well represented in Hawaii. Indian and Middle-Eastern are weak spots. The Mexican is ok, but you'll be pining.

                      And of course, the upshot of Hawaii is plentiful and delicious tropical fruits. Mangoes, papayas (I eat papayas daily when I'm visiting my family back in Honolulu), Lychee, etc. The downside is that things like stone fruit and berries aren't so hot since they're shipped in and are expensive and not especially good. So I highly recommend getting your Ferry Building/Farmer's Market/Mainland Summer Produce fix on too while you're at it.

                      I'd load up on the bakeries while you're here too. The breads and style of pastries there aren't in the same vein (Tartine, Boulange, etc.).

                      And get ready to embrace Macaroni Salad ("Mac Salad") as a bona fide "vegetable" :-P

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: papa

                        >And get ready to embrace Macaroni Salad ("Mac Salad") as a bona fide "vegetable"<

                        And "mac nuts" (macadamia nuts), or maybe that's only on the Big Island.

                      2. Poor baby! Such deprivation in your future. But think on the bright side: You won't need a wetsuit to surf! '-)

                        Haven't been to San Francisco in years so I can't offer suggestions on where to eat. Well, I think the only restaurant where we used to eat fairly regularly that's still open is the Fleur de Lys, and I guess I'd be safe recommending it. I hear their "new" chef is pretty good. '-)

                        What I can do is offer you a blast from the past for you to resurrect yourself. There used to be a fabled restaurant called George Mardikian's "Omar Khayyam" downtown. Armenian food, flaming shish kabab, all that jazz. I can't remember what street it was on, but I know it was close to (or in?) China Town, because two years running on Chinese New Year, we got surropunded by the dragon while trying to cross the street to get to the restaurant on time for our reservation! Anyway, from San Francisco's fabled past, here's a recipe directly to you by way of George Mardikian to my mother to me to you. Easy to make, amazing to eat!

                        ...........................................George Mardikian's Armenian Cake..............

                        Preheat oven to 350F

                        Butter well a 9"x9" cake pan.

                        In a mxing bowl cut 2 cups sifted flour, 2 cups well packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter until it's the texture of corn meal. Loosely spoon half of mixture into bottom of buttered pan being very careful not to pack it down. As you spoon, try to make it fairly level.

                        In a large measuring cup, mix 1 cup sour cream, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Mix thoroughly and gently pour over back of a tablespoon to top the entire dry mixture in the pan. Do not pat or stir! Sprinkle remaining dry mixture over top. Bake approximately 40 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into squares and serve.......................George Mardikian, circa late '40s or early 50's

                        And if I were moving to Oahu from San Francisco, one of the things I would absolutely pig out on is Dungeness crab. I don't think the critters swim to Hawaii. Oh, and geoducks. I don't think they go to luaus either. Enjoy the cake! '-)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Caroline1

                          I think it was on the NE corner of O'Farrell and Powell. I ate there once years ago. It was in the same block as Macy. You can walk to Chinatown from there but it's the Union Square area, 1 block from the St. Francis Hotel.

                        2. Eat Nopal,

                          Without question, your posts have been some of the most intelligent and informative I've ever read on Chowhound, especially your posts on the history of Mexican cuisine. Many thanks for sharing all your knowledge and the vividness of your posts.

                          With much appreciation,

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Thanks Maria... I will continue enjoying your Wine Country & Wine posts so that I can keep up with developments! I am sure we will continue to cross posts in the future.

                          2. Hi Eat Nopal, and Morton too,

                            bon voyage to both of you! When I left the Bay Area the one thing I particularly missed was Burmese food. Perhaps Honolulu has Burmese places among all its other Asian strengths, I don't know. My other suggestion would be La Ciccia, for Sardinian -- not easy to find elsewhere in the country.

                            E.N., any source for nixtamal in Honolulu? :-)


                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Amata

                              Great suggestions.... I really need to have that tea leaf salad, and some regional Italian before I leave!

                              Regarding Nixtamal... I need to confirm.... I will be transporting several boxes of essentials including some Purple Nixtamal leftover from a Pozole my parents just made (they came to visit the baby).

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                Don't forget that Rancho Gordo does mail orders. So does Tierra Vegetables ... might be a way to get fresh Chilaca or other less common Mexican peppers.


                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    I wonder about fresh peppers to Hawaii. Buy local or grow your own.

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        Maestro Nopal, thanks for your many contributions as one of the greatest resources of this site, happy journeys and may you and yours be blessed with abundance and prosperity. If you have any interest in Indonesian food, Jayakarta on Univ. Ave, Berserkley serves up pretty fair versions of representative dishes. It might not be the most refined, sublime, complex or delicate of cuisines relative to great Mexican or Indian food but passes the flavorful and distinctive bar. Homestyle cooking ,friendly family-run place, very reasonable prices.

                                        otra vez, muchisimas gracias por todos. Leb' wohl!

                                        1. re: moto

                                          De nada, eres muy amable. Indonesian... you know I have never had it... after reading the recent story about its Volcano Spirits... my interest is high!

                            2. Did you catch this post about the Yucatan taco truck sort of in your neck of the woods?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: rworange

                                Nice... I am wondering if its our friend Arturo (who left Taco Max)... he bought some used catering equipment and like a ghost has been storming all over Sonoma County bringing "unusual" antojitos at his "whim" to the "starved" masses... tamales, pupusas.. and he did make some good Cochinita while he was still at Taco Max.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  BTW... the company I will work for does lunch time pot lucks every couple of weeks... I was planning on making Cochinita for the first when... ingredients should be fairly easy to source (especially since I will be taking some Achiote with me).

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    and you know that you need only to ask and I'll hit up tj if need be to get you by in Hawaii