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Chowing Down at 2010 Eat Real Fest in Oakland

This year's Eat Real Fest at Jack London Square in Oakland kicked off a few minutes ago and continues through Sunday. Chowhounds will be there in force, so I wanted to start off this topic so that we can swap tips and reports. Please chime in with your top picks and pans.

An earlier advice thread for tackling the weekend, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/728691.

The link to the festival site map that "betterbeheaven" provided shows which vendors are participating each day and how to find them.
http://eatrealfest.com/medias/docs/10...

Chow's suggestions, http://www.chow.com/digest/57666/what...

Tonight's Lit Fest features chowpals David Boyk, Chez Pim, and others talking about street food experiences from 7 to 9pm.

The organizers' twitterfeed is posting updates, http://twitter.com/eatrealfest. E.g., 51st State and Le Truc will not be there today but will show up on Saturday and Sunday. And the twitterverse is using the hash tag #erf2010 to track tweets.

Ok, I'm off to Oakland, see you there!

-----
Jack London Square
70 Washington St # 207, Oakland, CA

51st State
, San Francisco, CA

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  1. I talked to the BBQ guys, Jim n Nick's, and they handed me a piece of hickory smoked crackling.
    http://twitpic.com/2irqtx

    Loved salted caramel ice cream, nitrogen frozen on the spot. As good as the buzz.

    Delicias Elenitas truck excited to be here from Santa Rosa.

    Venga Paella, very good rice texture. Preferred seafood version to meated.

    Enjoyed macadamia nut gelato from Noci.

    -----
    Venga Paella
    453 66th Street, C Oakland, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I emphatically second the Jim n Nick's BBQ guys. They are here from Denver, I think? Great pink smoke rings on the pork; even the corn was tasty. Hands down our fav from Friday.
      Also loved Chairman Bao's pork bellly buns (other flavors were good too).

      Can't wait for tomorrow to see all the trucks that aren't there today.

      1. re: chickenluv

        Jim n Nick's is based in Alabama, but i believe there are a couple branches in Colorado. The staff manning the rig and sales counter came from several different locations (Atlanta, Memphis). Pulled pork was a little dry, looked like they tried to include some of the coarser dry meat with the smoother, dark parts. The roasted corn was great. The butter used to swab it had a little bit of smoky bbq sauce in it, I think, as well. I liked both the original and the habanero sauces.
        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

        -----
        Jim 'n Nick's Bbq and Catering
        1810 Montgomery Hwy S, Birmingham, AL 35244

        Smitten Ice Cream
        Octavia Blvd Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      2. re: Melanie Wong

        Where did you get the salted caramel ice cream? I had a hot link and pimento cheese from Jimn Nicks, good link and my first experience with pimento cheese, very tasty. I also had a cochinita pibil taco from Chaac Mool (great tortillas, oh wow), a paneer tikka masala burrito from the Curry Up Truck (interesting, good quality paneer, but I'm not dying to go back for more), some sour cherry ice cream and a mint chip ice cream sandwich from Ici. I wanted Chairman Bao but the line was crazy, so after waiting in it for a while we left. I'm excited to try more places this weekend.

        -----
        Chairman Bao
        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

        Chaac Mool
        Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

        1. re: JasmineG

          I wasn't willing to wait in the Chairman Bao line even when it was shorter. The chef who started it left last week, so I'm wondering if quality has changed.
          http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2010...

          Salted caramel ice cream from Smitten was a whole new kind of ice cream experience. While I was miffed that some of the vendors who were supposed to be there on friday and had figured into my plans to start off early, Smitten was only there yesterday and made up for the loss of the others. Here's the liquid nitrogen equipment used to make the ice cream on the spot.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          -----
          Chairman Bao
          San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          I was there early, as in out of there by 6:30, and the lines weren't so bad. I think if I'm working Fridays this time next year, I feel a sick day coming on.

          I got in and out of Chairman Bao in 15 minutes before it exploded into Trendyville. The pork belly bao was definitely good, but then, how do you go wrong with pork belly? $3.50.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692... (sorry, shadowy pic

          )

          Next up, the Maui Taco from Taco Guys: cod, pickled onions, slaw, pico de gallo, sriracha mayo. I enjoyed Ensenada-style fish tacos during my time in LA and I enjoyed this more upscale version, too. The fish preparation seemed more lightly fried, and the portion was more manageable for a day of grazing. And I looove pickled onions! $3. (A readjustment for me in comparison to the Mexican tacos I usually eat!)
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692...

          Then I hit Hapa SF and got some lumpia. I'm only recently getting familiar with Filipino fare and I'd never had lumpia before, but I was intrigued by the posted review where someone called Hapa's the best they've had here. (Presumably "here" meaning the US or the Bay Area.) They hit the spot with either dipping sauce provided on the table. Mixing the sauces together worked, too. $3.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692...

          I was feeling pretty full at this point, and I'm not big on sweets, so I was all set to leave without any ice cream when I passed the goat cheese ice cream people and they selling ice cream sandwiches. Okay, I haven't had an ice cream sandwich in years. It was tiny, which was actually perfect at that moment. It was mellower than the ice cream sandwiches of my youth, but I don't know if that was due to the goat's milk or fresher, better ingredients and/or less sugar than the mass-market stuff. $1.50.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/11385692...

          In short, a successful first day. I need to fast before returning on Sunday so I have more belly room! I'd return to any of those trucks again if I saw them out and about, though I'm not big on sweets so I'm not sure when I'll need another ice cream sandwich this decade.

          -----
          Chairman Bao
          San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

        3. was there at 2ish. lines not too long.
          foodnotes:
          -delicias elenitas: al pastor chicken & beef taco (1.50) had spicy sauce, dry meat
          -ici : not impressed with flavors, sorbet was my favorite (3.85/2 scoops)
          -scream sorbet: phenom pistachio & melon flavors (5/2 scoops)
          -hapa : sisig taco, fresh tasting meat. only taco truck i saw grilling in the back. $4 though.
          -kung fu taco :nun chuk chicken taco(3): chicken had a little taste, mostly dry
          *sells simply mochi: peanut butter with chocolate (2/3) ok for mochi lovers.
          -whole foods : "hamachi ceviche(3)lots of fish, not so tasty but worth it.
          -let's be frank: pc correct dog (5): bland, should have gotten the spicy.

          1. I actually didn't care for the paellas. They were okay, but a little bland, I thought and the flavors hadn't really come together. Not something I would get again.

            Tacoguys -- Kurobuta pork chile verde taco -- it was a very good taco, but not much chile verde about it. The fish taco was also excellent.

            I liked the lumpia from the HapaSF truck, although I would have missed the sauces if Celery hadn't gone and brought some back.

            Ice cream/sorbet:
            Smitten -- salted caramel with almond brittle was worth the wait
            Noci -- macadamia nut gelato was smooth and delicious; the lime-ginger sorbet was refreshing but the ginger was barely discernible
            Nieves Cinco de Mayo -- I love the purity of their flavors, in this case the yerba buena and the curdled milk
            Scream sorbet -- we were trying to concentrate on the places we don't have access to regularly, but I couldn't resist the Scream nectarine sorbet, which tastes like they pureed a nectarine and froze it (only better); the pistachio is also outstanding

            Chaac-Mool -- conchinita pibil, like the Tacoguys chile verde taco, was deliciously moist and porky but was light on the anchiote and completely missing the vegetal flavors from being cooked in banana leaves that I think are distinctive about this dish. The thick handmade tortillas were delicious.

            The lines at the Chairman Bao truck were ridiculous!

            -----
            Nieves Cinco de Mayo
            3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

            Chairman Bao
            San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

            1. back from saturday visit. highlights:
              dim sum truck (Tru Gourmet) all very tasty, although preferred the baked bun to the steamed one.
              empanadas by Primo's Parilla - the beef one was pretty killer. moist. buttery crust. Yum. COuld use a little more cumin, but otherwise perfect. Tried the steak too (ribeye); good quality meat and nice cooking, too bad they forgot the salt :(.

              Went to Chop first given all of the hype from last year... not impressed (lacked seasoning, skin not crispy, just not interesting given all the smoky porky BBQ available elsewhere). Maybe I am missing something?

              Line for Gerard's Paella was ridic.

              Overheard someone talking about mac-n-cheese... anyone see that?

              3 Replies
              1. re: chickenluv

                I am so living vicariously through this thread. Smitten is on my list! mariacarmen told me she was working at the mac'n'cheese stand -- it is a friend of hers who is opening a new resto in November called Home Run. I'm really hoping it will be ready in time for our trip.

                1. re: chickenluv

                  Mac and cheese was from Homeroom, they were up by where the Barnes and Noble used to be.

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    Oops, silly brainf*rt, typing Home Run instead of Homeroom. And I don't even watch baseball! Did you try it, Jasmine?

                2. I went to day around 11:45 and some lines were just nuts, like the paella and the chowder truck (waited 10 mins but decided to bail on it...very slow moving). Other lines were fine. I had Jim n Nick's pull pork slider which was good...and a good value w/ the piece of corn, zero wait. Also had the 4505 burger...excellent, looked like 1/4 lb, med-rate and no line. Finally had their chicharrones...not to my liking, was too similar to shrimp chips to me.

                  1. I arrived at maybe 11:30 and it already getting crowded. By 2pm or so, it was definitely unpleasantly crowded, particularly in certain parts of JLS. Was this true last year? All the reviews and reports made last year seem like a very manageable event, but I have to say that the crowds today were not much better than the ones at the SF Street Food Fest.

                    I hit up Chairman Bao first, anticipating that the lines would get long. I waited maybe 15 minutes to get the pork belly bao. The meat was very fatty and tasty but my bun split in half before I even started eating, and I didn't love the pickled daikon. It would be great if they offered a Peking duck bao.

                    Then I got handed a coupon for a free taco at Kung Fu. They only had chicken or the vegetarian moo shu, so I went with chicken. It was okay. I wouldn't pay $3 for it.

                    I also tried some nuts from, erm, the nut place (forget the name of it), the pork on flatbread from Chop Bar (generous portion, lots of sauces to choose from), the pulled pork slider with corn from Jim N Nick's (agree that this was a good value for $5 and corn was excellent), and nectarine sorbet from Scream. I wanted to get a lobster roll from Sam's Chowdermobile but the line was absolutely insane by then. I might return early tomorrow to try. The paella line was also explosive...I think people must have been intrigued by the enormous pans they were cooking the seafood/chicken/rice in...it was indeed cool to look at but I have no idea how that would actually work on a real street...

                    Does anyone remember which vendors sold packaged items? My boyfriend is missing the festival due to recovering from surgery out of town, so I'd like to mail him some stuff. I got a bag of the Indian nuts and a whoopie pie from Gobba Gobba Hey. Any others?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: betterbeheaven

                      Last year was pleasant and manageable with a little bit of scary crowd stuff but they didn't have nearly as many vendors. Given the jump, bigger crowds and less walking room, it was bound to happen. I guess that's the price of success. I'd just go as early as you can and get out before it gets crazy. I left by 1 p.m. That was my thinking any way.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        the JLS farmers market will be held tomorrow, so i wonder if the crowds it will bring will be larger than the offset of people who may not attend Sunday given less vendors (and perhaps because it's Sunday). I guess i'll find out when i get over there.

                        1. re: ML8000

                          The worst of the crowds were in the two narrow sections; the rest of the areas were pretty spacious, especially the raised area where Barnes and Noble used to be and the far side over by the beer shed. There were no lines in both of those areas. The longest lines were at the Chowder mobile, Chairman Bao, and the paella guys.

                          -----
                          Chairman Bao
                          San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                          1. re: JasmineG

                            how was the line for chop bar? that was long last year when the pig came out.

                      2. Here are some of my photos from Friday's Eat Real Fest.
                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
                        (suggest selecting "slideshow" and then "show info" to display the captions)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Sheesh Melanie! What fabulous photos. I was already kicking myself for not getting there and now I have to see food porn?

                          Er, I mean, thanks and keep up the good work!

                          1. re: oakjoan

                            Eat Real Fest announced it's staying open till 7:30p today instead of shutting down at 5pm. You can still go. Can't say who still has food to sell.

                          2. re: Melanie Wong

                            Sorry if this is already noted in the photos. From which truck / vendor did you get the butterscotch creme brulee?

                            1. re: krakauer

                              SWEET made the creme brûlée, but it was a Friday only vendor.
                              http://twitpic.com/2itmw9

                              (P.S. Odd isn't it that iPhone autocorrects brûlée but not creme.)

                          3. We split our festivities into two days.

                            Friday we tried:

                            Venga Paella, seafood version: Good texture and I liked the flavor. One son said it tasted too much like spice mix. i liked the chorizo - I think

                            Smitten ice cream: I liked it, but it seemed a bit gimmicky. I will need to try more in their shop in the city which is to open soonish. The caramel was nice and milky rich. No too salted.

                            Chairman Bao: Husband really enjoyed the pork bun and called it the #2 taste.

                            Curry Up Now: Husband and son had the chicken tikka masala burrito. They called it the #1 taste of the whole event, and liked the nuances of the masala - I can't tell you what it was since I couldn't taste...

                            Simply Mochi sold at one of the trucks: Chocolate peanut butter. Nice, not too sweet mochi, soft. The filling was good, but did overpower the mochi flavor. Definitely want to try more of these.

                            Scream sorbet: I of course have had this before but wanted to highlight their almond pink peppercorn....yummm

                            And the highlight of the event, Sweet for their butterscotch creme brulee. FANTASTIC the texture was light, flavor spot on...I could have eaten three, but my kids inhaled before I could get much!

                            Ice creams: We tasted all of them. First, nothing hits the mark of Humphrey Slocombe or Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous of what I tried. Most dissappointed with Ici which seemed watery to me. It isn't a lack of sugar, but a lack of flavor for all the flavors I tried. Noci - enjoyed the macadamia nut, agreed the lime sorbet could use more ginger. Would try more of their stuff esp. since their cones are all gluten-free. Naia: The pistachio had a good flavor. Texture was more firm than I like my gelato. Sorbets were too sweet for me, but I would try more of their gelatos. Strauss: not too caramely, but fine. Taras: Like the bold flavors, the texture is a bit chewier than others, but we gobbled down the lavender and tried several others. No huge clunkers. Also there, Laloos and Pepitos I didn't get to try. I have had Laloos before and like their fig flavor. Nieves wasn't set up yet.

                            All the ice cream vendors were charging around 2-3 dollars for 2-4 TB of ice cream. Better deal to hit their shops.

                            Saturday:

                            Soleil's African chicken: Spicy chicken. We really enjoyed this. The rice was overcooked, but the chicken flavorful savory and just the right spice. of course the chicken was a bit overcooked, but the flavor made up for that. One of my favorite bites and my son's.

                            El Huarche Loco: I was disappointed with the nopales hurache, in that it tasted very masa harina like instead of fresh masa. But the nopales were tastey.

                            Chop Bar: My husband was disappointed after all the hype. In all fairness we got part of the loin which wasn't very flavorful and a bit dry. the condiments though were great, and i would try the restaurant based on that taste.

                            Gerard's Paella. The line was crazy so I am glad my husband waited while I took the kids to see the chickens. It was good. Nice texture. I prefer chorizo in there, but good.

                            Parilla Meats: Grilled chicken with chimichurri and mashed sweet potatoes. Son wanted the chicken instead of the rib eye. I would go with the rib eye. It was properly cooked, and he loved it. I just prefer stronger flavors and didn't get much of the sauce.

                            Homeroom: Husband tried this for me since they are going to start doing GF when they open. Anyway, he liked the spicey quite a bit, but said the trailer mac needed a bit more kick to it.

                            Brittany crepes: Fairly typical buckwheat crepe. Only $2 which was nice. I haven't had a great crepe since France, and this reflected most that you can get there.

                            Cranky Books: Banana salted caramel. We enjoyed it. Icey, but really great flavor in a popsicle.

                            Estrellitas: I have had them before but I really like their curtido. Actually a really good bite at this festival.

                            Soul Cocina: We had extra chilis in the cone which was good. Enjoyed it - husband wanted more tamarind, kids loved it.

                            Creme Brulee Cart: Mexican Chocolate. Son liked the flavor, but it paled in comparison to Sweet's version. It was more pudding like. In a vacuum probably good, but it had tough competition.

                            Rancho gordo/Boccolone bean nudja stew: Actually rather unidimensional and not the favorite.

                            we also tried samples from Blue Chair and liked their strawberry pink peppercorn quite a bit.

                            By that time we were getting tired of the crowds. We fed our family of 5 with about $50 today and a lot of fun.

                            -----
                            Creme Brulee Cart
                            San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                            Venga Paella
                            453 66th Street, C Oakland, CA

                            Gerard's Paella
                            121 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, CA 95465

                            Soleil Restaurant
                            625 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                            Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous
                            699 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                            Chairman Bao
                            San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: jsaimd

                              nice report: simply mochi was sold at the kung fu taco truck.
                              re: chop bar menu nothing like roast pork. more like pricey high end new american cuisine.

                              1. re: shanghaikid

                                But they've been doing pig roasts as a once-a-month event on Sundays. They've been tweaking the format--sometimes it's all-you-can-eat, sometimes it's just a set plate--but I've never been disappointed.

                                1. re: sydthekyd

                                  Maybe GF=Gluten Free.
                                  BTW how much were the chicken livers at Mi Tierra?

                                2. re: jsaimd

                                  A few pics here

                                  http://www.breakingbreadblog.com/2010...

                                  Will try to process more to post directly here...

                                3. Beyond what others that posted already had tried, I had a scoop of the corn ice cream from Pepito's, which wasn't all that - the corn flavor was rather lacking, and the consistency of the ice cream was somewhat oddly elastic to me. Especially for $4, I was underwhelmed.

                                  Had a short rib taco from the MoGo truck, which I presume was intended as a kalbi taco, in this post-Kogi truck world we now live in - was good, though I didn't detect all that much in the way of usual kalbi-marinade flavor in the beef.

                                  Hard to pass up fried chicken, and the 5-spice drumstick from the IZ IT truck was tasty and hot out of the fryer ($2).

                                  The intimidatingly-long line for Sam's Chowdermobile earlier in the day had eased up significantly later on, and I grabbed one of the $5 lobster "mini-rolls," essentially half of a lobster roll. Not bad, though the meat seemed a teeny bit dried-out in mine - for $5, I still thought it was a fair deal.

                                  I didn't try their ramen at last year's fest, but I got a bowl of the pork ramen from Where's Buta this time around, and just....ick. The pork belly was fine (really, it'd take a lot to screw up pork belly enough for me NOT to like it, though....), but the noodles were clumped together and distinctly undercooked. I couldn't finish most of them.

                                  I'll have to return tomorrow to check out some of the other spots mentioned here that I missed.

                                  1. I had the privilege of helping a friend at her booth so I went a little early and tried the following:

                                    1. Spencer on the Go!'s escargot lollipop and lobster capuccino - these were the first two bites of food i put in my mouth today and the lollipop was sublime. a light flaky crust surrounding the delicate but chewy snail, with it's delicious parsely butter sauce. It was perfectly hot and delicious. Rich without being cloying. The lobster bisque was another taste bomb - sooo creamy and rich and full of lobster flavor. I could have gone home right then happy.

                                    2. El Buen Comer's Chicken Mole Tamale. Meh. Wished I hadn't wasted the money/calories/stomach real estate. not terrible, just meh.

                                    3. Primo's Rib Eye with sweet potato mash. The rib eye was good, tender, pink inside, flavorful, but not exceptional - just a good well prepared steak. the mash was superflous - just sweet and one note,and by that time, i was literally already full. so i shamefacedly threw it away (i felt terrible!)

                                    As i was working in my friend's booth at some point in the afternoon, one of the husbands went and fetched several sliders, but i don't know from where. but they were near the wine table. There was a fantastic pulled pork one, and some other meat i didn't identify that was really smokey and yummy, but i only got like a bite of each. and then some type of chicken and rice that hubby said was an indian place - really good. and of course i sampled the food at our booth, but i'm not supposed to comment on that on CH because i know them. suffice to say, even after working with it and dishing it out all day, I still like it. Friend's hubby also brought back some escargot lollipops, but they must have run out of the sauce by then, and the pops were a tad soggier by then , so not the same as my first experience of them.

                                    On my way out, the line for Chairman Bao was amazingly only about 20 people long. I got one each of their buns (the only three types they had left by 5:30: garlic/tofu with bok choy; red sesame chicken with some other type of grens; and 5 spice duck with mango salad. I actually liked the tofu one the best, as it was the lightest with the most distinct flavor. The duck and chicken had sort of muddled flavors for me; however, that could be due to me being pretty full by that point, so my tastebuds were pretty sated.

                                    I didn't try any sweets, except a bit of someone's chocolate creme brulee, which was nice dark and rich.

                                    Heard they ran out of beer at around 3....

                                    Wish I could go again tomorrow. I got there at 11:30-ish and the only line at that point that was out of control was Chairman Bao's. But at 5:30, the paella line was absolutely ridiculous. The booth where i was working had a steady 20-30 person line all day except for a lull between about 4:30 and 5:30.

                                    Fun event!

                                    -----
                                    Chairman Bao
                                    San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                      I'm working the festival all three days for People's Grocery - we're sharing the connection between food celebration, community and food access.

                                      I'm incredibly grateful to have a booth next to the Tru Gourmet Dim Sum booth. Flavorful, perfect har gow, well-executed siu mai, piping hot and crisp pot stickers, and sweet red bean paste sesame balls. Worth the wait if there is one. (mid point on the main walk)

                                      The Scotch Egg from Chiefo's was a favorite. A flavor bomb with spice. (as you enter the side section past Webster just inside).

                                      La Loo's goat milk (not goat cheese) ice cream is rich. The strawberry has a swirl of balsamic that is just heaven.

                                      Panzanella from Summer Kitchen (Food Skills but at the West Edge and in from the walkway) may be the best I have ever had. Garlic soaked crusty bread with heirlooms and basil. Cool and comforting.

                                      I could go on . . .I'm there all day today so feel free to stop by and say hello. People's Grocery has also posted videos about food and justice and food and community at the ERF here:

                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIesMn...
                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25iZlU...

                                      -----
                                      Tru Gourmet
                                      San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                                      People's Grocery
                                      909 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. re: dcfb

                                        Yeah, I had that dim sum yesterday, and it was great. I also tried one of the escargot puffs from Spencer on the Go today and it was fantastic. FYI to all, it's open today until 7:30!

                                    2. Does anyone know the name of the bakery that was selling browning and bread pudding indoors? They were fantastic.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: chuckl

                                        it was probably feel good bakery (a young guy was the seller). they're located in alameda. They set up in the JLS farmers market every Sunday....as well as the temescal one also in oakland.

                                        i know of another bakery that sets up regularly at the farmers market that sells bread pudding, although i thought i didnt see them there today. if the person selling was an African American woman, than the bakery was Dot's Pantry.

                                      2. I went last year and I thought this year's was even better. We went yesterday, got in around noon and stayed until around 6pm. There were just so many vendors that it was so hard to decide what to get!

                                        My top 3 were the following:
                                        1) Chicken tikka masala burrito from Curry Up Now - the flavors were great, and loved out it came with the rice and chickpeas. It's chicken tikka masala you can take with you and eat with your hands...what a brilliant idea!
                                        2) Sisig tacos from Señor sisig - I also had a sisig tako from HapaSF, but I preferred the one here. The spicy version has a good amount of kick, and it tastes exactly how sisig should taste like...in a taco!
                                        3) Pork belly buns at Chairman Bao - there was a super-long line here when we first came in, but it cleared up later in the afternoon. Wasn't too crazy about the pickled veggies, but how can I not love pork belly. Very yummy.

                                        Honorable mentions: spicy pork tacos from Mogos, fried chicken (forgot from where), escargot lollipops from Spencer on the Go, pierogis, roasted corn

                                        Not worth the hype: Gerard's paella (this had a really long line around lunchtime, though the line disappeared in the late afternoon so I finally got to try it...thought it was kinda meh and the yellow color looked a little fake), adobo from AdoboHobo (I can make a much better one and thought $4 was kind of a ripoff), sisig taco from HapaSF (where's the onion and chili?), pizza

                                        -----
                                        Chairman Bao
                                        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: arlenemae

                                          fried chicken from izit (kwong shing offspring)
                                          btw, adobo hobo had the same $4 piegon wing on rice last year, the balls!
                                          footnotes:
                                          -namu had interesting korean tacos on seaweed (2/6)
                                          -chaa0o-mool-fascinating cochinia? pib taco (3) schredded pork with amazing sauces.
                                          -tru gourmet-pricey but worth it.
                                          -spencer: nice lobster cappucino

                                          1. re: shanghaikid

                                            I found Namu's taco OK, but extremely hard to eat -- the seaweed quickly got too soggy for you to really pick up and eat it like some kind of hand roll. Finally had to go back and ask them for a spoon, which kind of defeated the "taco" purpose of it. The meat was like a really watered-down bulgolgi. Ended up wishing I'd saved the stomach space to try Jim n' Nick's instead, which I didn't see until later, when I was already too full.

                                            I had mostly good bites this morning, but nothing outstanding. Highlights were probably the pork belly bao from Chairman Bao (though, as others mentioned, I'll eat anything with pork belly, and I still much prefer the Momofuku version) and the mac and cheese from Homeroom. I actually preferred the "trailer" version to the spicy one, though there was only one tiny piece of hot dog in our bowl--loved the crunchy potato chip bits on top.

                                            -----
                                            Namu
                                            439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                            Chairman Bao
                                            San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                                            1. re: abstractpoet

                                              i ate namu's taco pretty quickly so it wasn't a problem, the droppings i licked up.
                                              more foodnotes:
                                              -also liked homeroom's trailer version, the spicy was just some hot sauce sprinkled on top.
                                              -jim's & nick's pulled pork & roasted corn incredible!
                                              -chop bar & roli roti pork's a little disappointing (too dry) but no regrets.
                                              -4505 meat's zilladog - a winner, especially the nongreasy chicarones side.
                                              -spencer: nice lobster capuccino 5 on sunday instead of 8 on saturday.
                                              -tru gourmet dim sum: easily pricier than yank sing but tastier too. steam bao's cha su lacking.

                                              1. re: shanghaikid

                                                On Saturday Honeroom's spicey ma was made with springhill pepper cheese, not just hot sauce.

                                                1. re: jsaimd

                                                  ate homeroom's mac & cheese on sunday, the spicy version was bland and i saw the hot sauce sprinkled on top of it.

                                                  1. re: shanghaikid

                                                    they must have run out of marash pepper, which on Sat. was incorporated into the mac & cheese and then sprinkled on top.

                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                      thanx for the info. this makes more sense.

                                                2. re: shanghaikid

                                                  our favs were jim's & nick's pulled pork & roasted corn and the zilladog from 4505 meats too!

                                                  1. re: lucymom

                                                    I hope that budding mobile entrepreneurs take note of how much we liked the hickory-smoked pulled pork. Maybe we'll see a REAL bbq truck some day around here.

                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      chances are a real ramen/noodle vendor will show up before anyone approaches the expertise of jim & nicks shows up.

                                                      1. re: shanghaikid

                                                        Heheh! Apparently the various locations of Jim n Nick's are independently owned. They've spread as far west at Colorado . . . hope one will cross the Rockies some day.

                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                          yes, but aren't they trained and franchised/licensed by jim & nick's? guess one will show in california one day.

                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                            Where did you get the information that the various locations of Jim n Nick's are independently owned? I'm not saying they're not, but their website ( http://jimnnicks.com ) doesn't say anything about franchises or franchising, and does speak of "careers" and "who we hire".

                                                            1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                                              in "our story" tab: "Jim n nick's way"
                                                              ........(recipe)..".developed by Jim and his son Nick and passed on to local owners across the country". .......

                                                              from "local owners", i infer independent owners and/or franchisees. "passed" isn't defined but i doubt it waS given away. my intrepretaion. you and others are welcome to yours or anyone can just call them and see how it works.

                                                              1. re: shanghaikid

                                                                Thanks. I missed that "local owners across the country" part. It would be interesting to see if the various locations are consistent in quality of food. If so, they've successfully replicated excellent (from the reports here) real barbecue which I've never seen done before.

                                            2. Top Tastes:

                                              #1) Chop Bar - though I kind of cheated by asking for a plate of face meat and skin. The face meat melted in my mouth, the skin was perfectly crisped, the peach salsa was a good counterpoint. I tossed the flatbread (not worth the stomach space). Will definitely hit up their next roasted pig event.

                                              #2) El Porteno Empanadas - carne - really surprised by how much I liked this place. FIlling was tender, delicious, great balance of sweet and savory flavors. But the flaky, delicate pastry was what really set this apart. Will definitely pick some up from their Ferry Building stand for heating up at home soon.

                                              #3) Pops - blueberry/lemon/yogurt and the strawberry/coconut - popsicles were the perfect dessert after a long hot day of eating a lot of heavy food. Both were refreshing, really clean flavors, not too sweet.

                                              Bao's pork belly buns were pretty good since I'm too far from NY to eat David Chang's far superior version. Probably not worth the hr wait in hindsight, but I still enjoyed them. Also enjoyed Tru Gourmet's chicken potstickers and sesame balls. Overall a very well organized event with too much good stuff to try it all in one day - can't wait to come back next year.

                                              -----
                                              Tru Gourmet
                                              San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                El Porteno comes to the San Mateo farmer's market on Saturdays and one of our must-buys. Our favorite is the prosciutto one - but it's essential to take it home from the market and warm it in the toaster oven so that the cheese melts again and the pastry gets flaky. Yum.

                                                1. re: artemis

                                                  El Porteno also is regularly at Off the Grid.

                                                  -----
                                                  Off the Grid
                                                  Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                              2. My highlight was waiting for an order of Cactus fries when the person next to me got so upset that 2 people who ordered after him got their fries before him. After shouting at the girl, demanding to know where his fries where he stormed off muttering “that is it, horrible I am changing my tweet”. I smiled to myself and shook my head.

                                                1. I really enjoyed the escargot puff from Spensers, the pork taco from Senor Sisig (great flavor for the pork), and while I was determined not to try anything that I have relatively easy access to, I was seduced by the Zilla Dog from 4505 meats, which was way better than the first time I had it. The falafel from Liba was great -- very crunchy and full of herbs, and the pickled veggies were perfect (though I didn't love the pita bread), and those cactus fries from 51st state were delicious. That dim sum from Tru Gourmet was really good, I'd love to find these people again. Expensive (4 pieces for $5), but all four dumplings that I got were really well done.

                                                  One thing that I appreciated about the festival is that the organizers paid attention to where there were problem spots on Saturday, and fixed them on Sunday. So they moved some vendors around to decrease the bottlenecks in the two corridors, and added some beer and wine to the non alcoholic drinks shed so that people didn't have to walk so far to get beer or wine. Those things made the lines and crowds much more manageable, and made it easier to see vendors -- there were a few places that I didn't even realize were there on Saturday because of where they were positioned. I do wish that there were a few more places to sit (on the side away from the lawn) and that the Lit Fest was more publicized and in a better place.

                                                  -----
                                                  Tru Gourmet
                                                  San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                                                  1. Just to note - a number of the food trucks that were at the festival are trying to get onto the Great Food Truck Race, and voting opened today on the Food Network website:

                                                    http://foodtrucks.teamdigital.com/?vt...

                                                    The trucks from San Francisco that are applying are:

                                                    Spencer on the Go
                                                    Pizza Hacker
                                                    Curry Up Now
                                                    Sabor Curbside Grill
                                                    Creme Brulee Cart
                                                    Senor Sisig
                                                    Treatbot
                                                    Chairman Bao
                                                    KaraVan
                                                    El Tonayense

                                                    I don't know why Spencer on the Go is on the list, unless they lost this season and want to try again. I don't know how KaraVan would work since they need a bakery to do their cupcakes. Chairman Bao looks like they'd be a worthy competitor.

                                                    -----
                                                    El Tonayense
                                                    2598 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA

                                                    Creme Brulee Cart
                                                    San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                                                    Sabor
                                                    72 N Almaden Ave, San Jose, CA 95110

                                                    Chairman Bao
                                                    San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: escog

                                                      There are also other Northern California vans on the list -- that page is badly set up (other than just misspelling "San Francisco") if you go to the Northern California drop down, there are a number of other options.

                                                    2. I was impressed with the event this year. I tried over fifteen items and had very few complete misses.

                                                      One item which hasn't been mentioned, is the Spicy Cuban Sandwich from Ebbet's Good to Go. A little on the oily/juicy side, but the flavors were right on. It was one of my favorites of the day.

                                                      The other two items that stood out were the Pork Belly Bun from Chairman Bao, and Senor Sisig's pork taco. Chairman bao's bun was tender and moist, the meat worked well with the pickle. It was less sweet than David Chang's version, both are good.

                                                      As far as the organization, they did a good job of adjusting to the exponential growth of the crowds from last year. I do, however, wish that they had allowed the food vendors to make their own fresh drinks. The only non alcoholic drinks available were water, or bottled (albeit organic) mass produced drinks. I much prefer the creative and fresh fruit drinks that I had at SF Street Food Festival. While I understand that the organizers need to raise some money, it seems they could've done so with just the alcohol or had the vendors accept drink tickets.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: wanderlust21

                                                        Compared to David Chang's gua bao, The Chairman Trucks' wins points for not being overwhelmed by hoisin sauce, but it is no match for the textures and flavors of Eddie Huang's Chairman Bao (whose name the truck copied) from Baohaus NYC.

                                                        -----
                                                        Chairman Bao
                                                        San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

                                                      2. i feared the event would be overwhelmed given the exponential increase in vendors. at the same time, JLS is a pretty large space and they utilized it very well, especially with the farmers market on Sunday. The organizers did a smart thing and NOT duplicate the farmers market with higher priced vendors in the market building. hopefully, the festival brought more pub to the market...every sunday, 9-2 rain or shine.

                                                        some items not mentioned above that i had:

                                                        -Los Angeles de Puebla's Loroco and Cheese Pupusa. Loroco is small green unopened flower buds used as an herb for flavouring in Central America. They were here last year, but served only pork, chicken and cheese (i had cheese and chicken). Very good and one of the better tasting pupusas ive had in the bay area.

                                                        -Gather's Beef Brisket Burger. I actually like their burger compared to 4505's (i should have gotten the zilladog instead!). Less greasy and more juicy. Plus, i didnt like that "secret" sauce 4505 had on theirs.

                                                        Best items: Chairman Bao's pork bun, pupusas, Jim and Nick's pulled pork, Sam's Lobster Roll
                                                        Should have passed: 4505 burger, Hapa's sisig taco (should have went with senor sisig instead)

                                                        1. My favorite item was the jerked fish tacos from Get Jerked. The mango chutney on them was outstanding.
                                                          Also excellent were the heirloom tomato arugula salad from Radio Africa and the vanilla cupcake from Fat Bottom Bakery.
                                                          Considering the size of the crowd the lines were moving pretty fast...

                                                          1. I liked the salted caramel ice cream at Smitten too. They have plans to open a shop in Hayes Valley, hopefully in October.

                                                            The pork belly from Chairman Bao was delicious. They could have better quality buns, though. I imagine they don't make their own. The line looked daunting but actually moved pretty quickly, I spent less time waiting than I thought I would.

                                                            Loved the sisig taco from Hapa SF. Crunchy porky goodness. Though I was not impressed with the lumpia. The filling was not as savory as other ones I've had.

                                                            Seafood paella from Venga was delicious.

                                                            I liked the brisket sandwich with coleslaw on the side from St. Vincent de Paul. The coleslaw was very vinegary, which I like and made a good contrast with the big beefy flavor of the sandwich.

                                                            Went pretty early on Friday, arrived at 3 for a late lunch. Worried that it might be too early and food would not be ready to go but many places were up and running, and there were a lot of people, definitely making it worthwhile for the stands to open on time.

                                                            Bummed though that I forgot to get creme brulee - saw the stand going in and decided to get it later, but then forgot all about it.

                                                            -----
                                                            Chairman Bao
                                                            San Francisco, San Francisco, CA