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Mexican Seafood?

Pei Jan 14, 2009 09:02 PM

Does anyone know of a Mexican seafood place in the Bay Area? I'm having cravings for popular places in Los Angeles like El Puerto Escondido near LAX or Taqueria Baja Ensenada in East LA. Both specialize in Mexican seafood such as seafood cocktails, raw oysters with different ceviche-like toppings, grilled shrimp/octopus/fish, seafood stews, and fish tacos.

I know Nick's in SF does fish tacos. Where can I go for the rest?

Photos of what I mean:
http://www.chezpei.com/2008/11/el-puerto-escondido.html
http://www.chezpei.com/2007/04/east-la-is-greater-los-angeles-areas.html
http://www.chezpei.com/2007/05/el-rin...

  1. t
    trespinero Aug 27, 2010 09:22 AM

    Another vote for playa azul. Try the seafood nachos, sounds wrong in so many ways but is sooo good. Each chip is like a mini tostada with crab, refried beans and avocado. But after I figured out how to make a proper ship cocktail, Mexi style of course, usually do it at home.

    1. h
      hankstramm Jan 19, 2009 09:25 AM

      Didn't have a chance to read through all the posts, but if you want an authentic place (not what a lot of gringo-yelpers might like, but authentic), try Playa Azul on Mission near Cortland. It is one of the only authentic Mexican seafood places in the whole City. When I say this, it isn't adapted for gringo tastes--hence the majority of Latin American diners there. They also are one of the few places that carry a good mezcal.

      1. Pei Jan 17, 2009 06:02 AM

        Reporting Back!

        We ended up at Playa Azule because it was convenient, and had what was a fine if not memorable meal. I'd say there were enough decent dishes that I wouldn't mind going back at another's suggestion though I'm not compelled to return on my own.

        Seafood cocktail: nice mix of scallops, oysters, octopus, shrimp, and crab meat. The seafood was all fresh and nicely cooked. The cocktail tasted too much like tomato juice (versus fresh tomatoes), could have used more lime and salt, and the avocados weren't ripe. But that's me being very picky. It's on the higher side of average compared to what I've had in LA.

        Octopus tostada: nicely done. Again, could have used some lime and salt, but was easily able to add that myself.

        Dozen raw oysters: they didn't specify the variety, but they seemed like Gulf oysters. There were three not so fresh ones out of the dozen, but at $17 a dozen I guess that's what you get. The others were nice.

        Grilled whole snapper: definitely the looker of the evening. A whole deep fried fish smothered in choice of sauce with choice of two sides. The fish was ever so slightly overcooked, but just barely.

        Seafood nachos: ick. A cool concept gone bad. I think the killer was the overuse of fake Parmesan. I couldn't taste anything except the powdery white stuff.

        Blended margaritas: we asked for a tequila upgrade to Herradura silver and everyone was very happy with our pitcher of margaritas. My husband read somewhere that Playa Azul actually has an extensive tequila collection. However, they don't have a printed list so you'd just have to ask for your favorite and see if they have it.

        My general feeling was that although there was no perfect dish, none of the dishes fell completely flat either. And at about $20-25 a head before alcohol for a seafood dinner, it's hard to complain about what was a decent meal in a lively atmosphere. If nothing else, we definitely felt like we were back in East LA for an evening.

        -----
        Playas Azul Restaurant
        3318 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        3 Replies
        1. re: Pei
          Ruth Lafler Jan 17, 2009 01:49 PM

          Thanks for reporting back! Are you sure it was fake Parmesan and not anejo?

          1. re: Ruth Lafler
            Pei Jan 19, 2009 08:35 AM

            I'm not sure what it was, but it kind of tasted the way fake Parmesan does and there was way too much of it.

            Second report back: El Delfin.

            We stumbled across this place completely by accident, and I remembered someone had mentioned it in this thread. We had already eaten, so we got a medium campechana to go ($8).

            The base for El Delfin's seafood cocktail is delicious! Deeply flavorful, it has an ever so slightly smokey back note that is remniscent almost of a medicinal menthol. That description doesn't sound appealing, but the flavor is just barely there and actually quite interesting. I'm not sure if it was just paprika, but I liked it. The most apparent flavors were of lime, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and ocean--delicious.

            The actual seafood in it was decent. Small shrimp, tiny pieces of ceviche fish, and a few oysters. They'd run out of octopus yesterday, which was a shame. This could have really been wonderful if they'd just charge more and put large chunks of a bigger variety of seafood in it. But I guess if the demand's not there they won't do that.

            On balance, I like Delfin's version more. Even though the pieces of seafood were smaller and they didn't use jumbo shrimp, there was plenty to share and the delicious base made it all worth it. With a shot of vodka and a celery stick, the leftover juice would have made one hell of a bloody mary!

            1. re: Pei
              Ruth Lafler Jan 19, 2009 01:38 PM

              Another possibility: Mar y Tierra is open (again?) in the Fruitvale transit village. They have an extensive seafood menu (much more "mar" than "tierra").

              There's also a Playa Azul in Oakland -- don't know if it's related -- at 2811 International.

              -----
              Taqueria Restaurant Mar Y Tierra 2
              3411 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

        2. mmerino Jan 16, 2009 04:34 PM

          Mariscos Manzanillo on International, near 54th, has nice Mariscos. Its off the beaten path, tiny and cheap. I had a gigantic pescado frito with a mojo de ajo type garlic sauce that was amazing for like 8 bucks. It was the length of my forearm and I ain't no petite flower. They also had a "large" fish, close my eyes, too scared, for I think $12! There were lots of people ordering cokteles. I think I remember that they had some oysters on the menu. They also do a Pollo Asado deal for, I think, like 11 bucks for a whole chicken with beans, tortillas, etc. It looked delicious and I watched four guys mounge down two orders in quick succession. Its cash only, friendly with not much English spoken. IRRC the textures and freshness of the seafood impressed me. I still love La Costa though.Its closer to where I live too but Manzanillo seemed to have a broader menu. I think they had over five types of cokteles.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mmerino
            mmerino Jan 16, 2009 04:40 PM

            Oh and it has a funny shrimp outside-which attracted me...shiny, shiny.

            -----
            Mariscos Manzanillo
            5401 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

          2. m
            ML8000 Jan 16, 2009 04:25 PM

            Another place that has a decent shrimp cocktail is Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos in Pescadero, across from Duarte's.

            -----
            Taqueria y Mercado Los Amigos
            1999 Pescadero Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA

            1. rworange Jan 16, 2009 08:12 AM

              Odd you should mention it as the sign advertising seafood for Mis Antojitos on the corner of Harrison and 22nd caught my eye yesterday (2598 Harrison St).

              Checking yelp, the fish tacos seem pretty popular as does the cerviche and shrimp coktel. There was a rave about the menudo as well. Someone spotted a whole fried fish. Someone said the carne asada comes with nopales on top. Chilaquiles with shredded chicken and egg get a thumbs up. Sundays only. Tortillas are hand made.

              Complaint is prices are high, but really, if you buy decent Mexican seafood, it ain't cheap. This was the location of a failed Spanish restaurant. I always thought that might be because the El Tonayese Taco truck is parked right outside. Truck is still there.

              Anyway, maybe you can satisfy my curiosity if this joint is really any good.

              If you are ever in Richmond, Portumex on 23rd is know for their seafood coktels. They can be ordered warm as well as cold. I've yet to try them, but I like Portumex well enough. Up the street is El Tapatio which reminds me the most of San Diego Mexican. They sell oysters on the half shell 24/7 from the attached taco truck. Haven't had the courage to try oysters from a taco truck but the chivo birria is greatness. Actually 23rd St is a good Mexican food street. A little further up the street is La Selva with the best al pastor I've every tried anywhere. It is only served weekend nights. Beautifully served on tacos al vapor with a special cart spewing out clouds of steam. And just to round things out there's Pepitos.Here you have to watch for the specials. They make a good chile verde. There's a nice garden in back.

              La Selva
              http://www.chow.com/san_francisco_bay_area_digest/5988

              El Tapatio
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/306676

              Portumex
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/399216

              Pepito's
              http://www.chow.com/general_topics_di...

              2 Replies
              1. re: rworange
                rworange Jan 16, 2009 09:35 AM

                Ah, just found the website for Mis Antojitos. Prices seem reasonable to me.
                http://www.misantojitosrestaurant.com/

                Hmmm ... reading the 'about' section, it is the owner of the El Tonayese taco trucks. He also owns the Tacos San Bueno truck and the another truck used just to cater ... for the next time that question gets asked.

                Also found this report on Chowhound for when the opened.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/309790

                One thumbs up one meh. Since the meh was from someone who said some of the dishes weren't their thing with an off-day with a server ... could be good. Anyone tried this joint since?

                The owner is the same one that ran the Spanish restaurant and decided Mexican might be a better fit at that location.

                -----
                Mis Antojitos
                2598 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                1. re: rworange
                  susancinsf Jan 16, 2009 03:38 PM

                  I've been back for breakfast, and enjoyed it as I did the first time. But I confess, not a good Chowhound, because I haven't made it for dinner....i have lots of excuses (including the fact that I don't eat a lot of seafood unless I know the source, and the fact that Mexican is never hubby's favorite, and the fact that I am pretty much in love with Poc Chuc and it isn't far away)....but basically these are all poor excuses, and I should really get back there to convince the chef to make albondigas de camarones. Shame on me.

                  but now that I am remembering the shrimp cocktails I've seen, yes, this mught be a good place for Pei to try. I agree with you that the prices are not out of line. One shouldn't expect seafood to be dirt cheap.

              2. Mari Jan 16, 2009 07:37 AM

                How about Zazil at the Westfield Mall in SF? It might be a bit upscale, but maybe it's worth a try during Dine About Town.

                1. t
                  tmso Jan 16, 2009 01:55 AM

                  Have you been to La Costa in Oakland? 37th and E 14th, near the Fruitvale BART. They have cocktails, oysters, pulpa, etc, outdoor seating, and a Spanish-only menu.

                  I haven't been in a few years, but it's not the kind of place that seems like it would change much, and I see from Google Earth that it's still there.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tmso
                    Ruth Lafler Jan 16, 2009 01:10 PM

                    La Costa is still there -- I had a shrimp ceviche tostada there a couple of months ago and it seemed like it hadn't changed. The sell oysters, but I don't like oysters so I don't know how they serve them. They do put oysters in their cocktals, along with the other stuff. The crab is krab, so be leary of any item that has it.

                    Here's a report on what we had on our very first Fruitvale taco crawl, back when they were operating out of a taco truck. My impression is that they didn't change the mariscos offerings much, if at all, when they moved to their permanent location, although they added more traditional meat-based taqueria items.

                    "First stop: MARISCOS LA COSTA. Here we ordered a small campechanas ($8) and a small agua chile ($7). We were advised by someone who we quickly recognized as a regular to have the agua chile with shrimp only. Other items on the menu include a number of cocktails with seafood combos like shrimp and octopus, shrimp and oysters, shrimp and crab and tostadas with the same combinations atop.
                    We were given a bag full of crispy corn tortillas that were not greasy at all. They had a great deal of heft, good thickness to support the seafood toppings that would decorate them, and good corn flavor. The campechanas was a mixture of seafood (one huge oyster which all of us save Melanie was scared to eat, shrimp, and octopus) in a tomato based liquid. THis was also chock full of diced avocado, onion, and cilantro. The agua chile with shrimp only was in a spicy tomato base liquid with red onions and cucumber. These came with sides of crackers, limes, and packets of hot sauce.
                    As we were standing in the rain trying to load up our tortilla chips with seafood, the proprietor gave us 3 tostadas. One was loaded with octopus and imitation crab while the other 2 were loaded with shrimp ceviche.
                    People enjoyed the agua chile more than the shrimp ceviche because of its spiciness and the texture of the shrimp was less cooked and softer than that of the shrimp ceviche."

                    Many of the other restaurants in Fruitvale serve cocktals and other seafood dishes. Off the top of my head I know for sure that Otaez does (in addition to cocktals serves several fish and shrimp dishes and something that looks a Mexican version of cioppino) and Guadalajara does.

                    -----
                    Guadalajara Restaurant
                    1001 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94601

                    Mariscos La Costa
                    3625 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

                    Otaez
                    3872 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

                  2. Melanie Wong Jan 15, 2009 08:44 PM

                    You want to go to Dia de Pesca in San Jose.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      casalbore spirit Jan 15, 2009 10:44 PM

                      I've tried Dia de Pesca a few times.Love the concept but the food has always been bland and disappointing.The seafood(crab,prawns,scallops etc.)used in the enchiladas,burritos and tacos has been frozen,then steamed or nuked,watery and underseasoned.Really wanted to like them but although reasonably priced they didn't appear to represent any tasty Mexican coastal or street food to me.

                      1. re: casalbore spirit
                        Shane Greenwood Jan 16, 2009 09:38 AM

                        I haven't had the enchiladas, but I've always been please with their "Sí food" tacos.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong
                        Shane Greenwood Jan 16, 2009 09:38 AM

                        Link

                        -----
                        Dia de Pesca
                        55 N Bascom Avenue, San Jose, CA

                      3. m
                        ML8000 Jan 15, 2009 05:36 PM

                        You might check out El Sinaloense in San Mateo. More traditional prep, not Baja tacos. There's a few other places in Redwood City and the San Carlos area. Sit down places but mom and pop.

                        Regarding Baja fish tacos in NorCal...I'm afraid decent ones don't exist like in LA and SoCal and I've been looking for awhile.

                        When I head down to see my family I go to a place near my sister in Silver Lake, El Siete Mares, and a few other places..and back in the day the original Wahoo (won't bother now).

                        The difference between NorCal and SoCal, in NC they tend to give you one hunk of fish battered and fried and place it in the taco, whereas in SoCal they fry up bits with lots of fried surface area and use a very light batter. Big, big difference in my view.

                        Re: Nick's, again one big chunk of battered fish...way expensive ($5 bucks/per) and one fishy tasting taco was enough to pledge never to return. For Baja fish tacos, I just wait until I go south.

                        p.s. I had a conversation with a friend from San Diego and she said Rubio's. That's how bad it is up here. Oh well, that's life.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: ML8000
                          Agrippa Jan 16, 2009 07:54 AM

                          I am telling you, I don't get it, how hard it is to make a Baja style fish taco around here.... ?
                          My favorite place in Socal is 'El Oasis' in Pico Rivera , and they use Pollock for their fish tacos for crying out loud, nothing fancy.

                          How hard is it to deep fry some battered pollock then throw it in a corn tortilla with some cabbage...?

                          I recently did a review of a Mariscos place in Turlock 'Guallavitos' that had an excellent shrimp cocktail, but a horrible fish taco.... it was more like a greasy fish quesadilla with a bunch of melted cheese... ugh...

                          1. re: Agrippa
                            m
                            ML8000 Jan 16, 2009 10:29 AM

                            Apparently more difficult then anyone can imagine. My guess is there's a tradition /demand in SoCal and former natives of Baja are the chefs/owners of those places or the method of cooking has been passed around. Whereas in NorCal it's Baja fish tacos are something like Cantonese cooking Hunan cuisine, or Salvadorians cooking Mexican cuisine.

                            Any way, I've tried just about every place mentioned in the Bay Area for Baja fish tacos (many from here) and haven't found "it" yet. Now I'm going to be quiet before I sound like a NY'er looking for a bagel.

                            p.s. I heard Dia de Pesca is good but that's really out of my way and I'd only stop if I was near by. Driving that far to be disappointed would be a bummer.

                            1. re: ML8000
                              Shane Greenwood Jan 16, 2009 12:53 PM

                              Well, if you didn't like it you could go around the corner the Falafel Drive In for a Banana Shake and that would cheer you up for sure.

                              1. re: Shane Greenwood
                                m
                                ML8000 Jan 16, 2009 04:23 PM

                                That would be a nice trip. I'll have to plan that if I'm headed to Monterey or further southward. It would be a perfect lunch option.

                                1. re: ML8000
                                  Shane Greenwood Jan 16, 2009 08:42 PM

                                  It's actually in San Jose, much closer than Monterey.

                                  1. re: Shane Greenwood
                                    m
                                    ML8000 Jan 16, 2009 08:59 PM

                                    Gotcha, thanks...I'm just saying the only time I go through SJ now is if I'm heading that way.

                          2. re: ML8000
                            p
                            P. Punko Jan 18, 2009 05:24 PM

                            Tacos El Grullense and Grullense Grill on Woodside have nice fried fish tacos, although they have a sweetish, creamy chipotle sauce (I like it better than just the white baja sauce)- they are called "Franks Fish Tacos"

                            -----
                            El Grullense Grill
                            768 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

                            Taqueria El Grullense
                            1280 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA

                          3. r
                            realspear Jan 15, 2009 04:45 PM

                            I think Nick's fried fish tacos are pretty good. A lot of people think Nick's is too gringo, but it's more like a place in Mexico than a lot of other places, and the tacos aren't bad. The non-fried fish taco isn't something I would order again.

                            Unfortunately, I haven't found any other good ones in the city, there is a place in Belmont on Harbor Blvd right at 101 that makes great seafood tacos and has excellent shrimp/prawn dishes, but I haven't been in a few years, so someone may have a more recent report.

                            Also, fish tacos are really easy to make at home, so that's what I usually do.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: realspear
                              wolfe Jan 15, 2009 05:28 PM

                              We can throw in Daveola's fish taco list but that wasn't what Agrippa was looking for. There is a post in the link above that Tijuana had a large seafood platter.
                              http://daveola.com/Fish-Tacos/
                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3695...
                              P.S. I think he meant Estrellita's on 12th.

                            2. m
                              mrchowmeins Jan 15, 2009 03:39 PM

                              Fish tacos are dope. They should make crab burritos.. i love crab

                              1. wolfe Jan 15, 2009 01:55 PM

                                Old report on Tijuana Restaurant ,Oakland.
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3695...

                                -----
                                Tijuana Restaurant
                                1308 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: wolfe
                                  Ruth Lafler Jun 11, 2010 10:14 AM

                                  Some friends and I dropped into Tijuana last night. I think my expectations were too high, based on reports both here and from other people about how great it was. I thought it was fine, but no better than a lot of other places in Fruitvale. One reason people might like it is that the portions are huge. One of my friends had the biggest combo plate I've ever seen: a burrito and chile relleno platter than in addition to rice and beans also had a pile of salad that was more than the perfunctory few bits of lettuce and a couple of slices of radish, with some very fresh looking cucumber and diced avocado. I can't remember whether it was $7.95 or $8.95, but it was dirt cheap for the amount of food. I tasted the rice and it was okay, flavorful but a little on the wet side, as if they had added some tomato sauce (or tomato-based sauce). The beans were soupy and bland.

                                  My other friend and I ordered and shared the ceviche pescado tostada, three a la carte chiles relleno, and two adobado tacos. The chiles relleno were above average -- I liked the sauce, which was thin and smooth rather than a ranchero style some places use, and that I really don't like on chiles relleno. The chiles themselves were a little tough. I think they were poblanos, and the stem ends were disproportionately big and tough.

                                  The ceviche was somewhat disappointing, especially for a place that specializes in seafood. It had a slightly muddy flavor, as if it had some catfish in the mix. It also could have used some more cilantro and some hot peppers. It was better with some hot sauce.

                                  The tacos were disappointing as well. They were twice as expensive as taco truck tacos but they were huge, easily more than twice as big and too big to pick up and eat, served on a single house-made corn tortilla. But they don't offer a lot of choices of meat, and I thought the pork adobado I chose was uninteresting.

                                  Chips were only okay, but the table salsa was better than average. Horchata was good, although verging on too much cinnamon for my taste. The ingredients did seem fresh, and everything came garnished with a nice little fan of avocado chunks. The waitress was friendly, but seemed more interested in watching Mexican soaps on the TV. We sat at a table near the door, and it wasn't until I went to pay the bill that I realized there was a whole other, much nicer, dining area.

                                  More food than two hungry guys and I could eat, plus a couple of beers and a horchata came to $35 after tax but before tip.

                                  Because we didn't really sample much of the seafood they specialize in, and because the ingredients appeared to be fresh and carefully prepared, I would not write it off as a place to try for Mexican seafood, but for meat-based dishes, I'd head for El Huarache Azteca, Otaez or Taco Grill.

                                  -----
                                  Tijuana Restaurant
                                  1308 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                    Stephanie Wong Jun 11, 2010 01:54 PM

                                    Ruth:

                                    I agree with you about the food at Tijuana. A couple years ago, the big thing was to go watch World Cup matches & order tubs of beer. . . very partisan diners/drinkers. More like a sports bar atmosphere with smaller TVs.

                                    Last weekend, went to Mariscos La Costa -- still good although a little more expensive than previously. Had the camarones/pulpo tostada (forget the price) and a shrimp cocktail. The taco de lengua was bland. Hadn't gone there in over a year because of the outside-only seating and it closes by dark (depending upon number of customers).

                                    -----
                                    Mariscos La Costa
                                    3625 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

                                2. Agrippa Jan 15, 2009 01:30 PM

                                  I hear there are some places out in Oakland (fruitvale area) that serve the style you are looking for, but I can't remember the names, SF Magazine did an article about one in the 'Mexican food' issue 6 months ago.

                                  In SF it is pretty hopeless for the food you are looking for, most of the "Mariscos" I've tried in the city have been pretty inconistent either by preparation or freshness.

                                  Although its been a while, I used to go to Zocalo in the outer mission for a decent 'mojo de ajo'. They also do a killer 'gambas a la plancha' of giant fresh water shrimp with the heads still on grilled in butter.

                                  Someone needs to open a good Mariscos place in the city..., like you would find in LA or SD. How hard is it to do a Baja style fish taco..., or a fresh tasting shrimp cocktail full of plump shrimp... ?

                                  BTW, I like your site , are you a an LA hound???
                                  Those were some cool reviews you did, made me jelous...

                                  I spent some time in Downey/Pico Rivera area, and my all time favorite Mariscos joint was 'El Oasis' on Whittier BLVD and Rosemead, everything they did was fresh and consistent.
                                  Their fish tacos are the bomb and the cocktail is to die for.
                                  Everytime I am in the area, I always try to swing by and get a giant cocktail and a couple of fish tacos.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Agrippa
                                    Pei Jan 15, 2009 02:18 PM

                                    Thanks! I grew up in LA and have been living back and forth my entire adult life. Currently I'm in SF, which is why I am craving mariscos. Thanks for the info. Yelp had Delfin and Playa Azul. Is there any point going to these, or should I just keep searching and waiting?

                                    1. re: Pei
                                      Agrippa Jan 15, 2009 03:25 PM

                                      Haven't tried Delfin, but tried Playa Azul years ago, the place sucked IMO, especially compared to the places in LA.

                                      Its ironic, LA has better Mexican food than a lot of places in Mexico...

                                      1. re: Agrippa
                                        susancinsf Jan 15, 2009 06:07 PM

                                        El Delfin is very good, or at least was the last time I went. Here is a report on a Chowdown we had there several years ago:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/350711

                                        However, I am not sure it is what OP is looking for: not all of the mariscos at El Delfin are uniformly great, and some of the better dishes are actually meat, not seafood.

                                        I completely agree about Playa Azul. Mariachis do hang out there on weekends, but that is about the best thing I can say about it.

                                        -----
                                        El Delfin
                                        3066 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                        1. re: susancinsf
                                          p
                                          pushslice Jan 23, 2009 11:36 PM

                                          Probably no relation , but i had a very good experience at Playa Azul on International Bvd. in Oakland. Had the fried huachinango, which was done perfectly and it was so moist inside and (seemingly) fresh. also tried the Camarones al mojo de ajo, and ceviche; both hits as well.

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