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Stanford-area substitutes for my Berkeley faves?

m
meels Nov 25, 2010 04:27 AM

Stanford may have won the big game, but it sure doesn't beat Berkeley for food. Help me out chowhounders - I've moved to Mountain View and can't eat as well (or as cheaply) as I'm used to. What are some Peninsula gems that will help me adjust?

I did find Milk Pail and Dittmer's Meats, but where would you go for a slice like Gioia's or tapas like Fonda (and please don't say Cascal!)? Any recommendations for either shopping or dining would be greatly appreciated!

-----
Cascal
400 Castro St., Mountain View, CA 94041

Fonda
1501 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94707

Gioia Pizzeria
1586 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA 94707

Dittmer's Gourmet Meats
400 San Antonio Rd Ste 4, Mountain View, CA 94040

Milk Pail Market
2585 California St, Mountain View, CA

  1. wolfe Nov 25, 2010 06:41 AM

    As I noted some time ago the words of famous gourmet and astronomer Robert Lauriston "The Leland Stanford Junior College area is something of a culinary black hole."

    1. bbulkow Nov 25, 2010 07:51 AM

      Come, come, there's some great eats down the peninsula.

      Gioia - Howie's, Califia, Speederia (kind of far north)
      (But nothing's quite close. That style of pizza hasn't hit yet)
      Fonda - Iberia, Joya, Mantra, Boguita del Medio
      (Joya is slicker and less fun but the food is OK, Ibera is the only real spanish tapas place in the entire bay area and a real gem (service can be uneven), Mantra has the same *feel* of Fonda with its excellent happy hour, solid bar, and fusionish food (just india-meets-california not spain-meets-mexico). BDM also has a good bar, and a solid casual vibe, but they've messed up my favorite dish (mestitas). That being said, Fonda has a particular vibe that I always miss - I love sliding into one of the bar seats in front of the grill at about 10:30 at night.

      There's some very long and involved threads on peninsula dining, but it's a subject near and dear to my heart.

      If you live north of campus, I recommend Crouching Tiger for your China Village fix, then Su Hong Palo Alto if you're to the south (NOT MENLO PARK). Redwood City has mexican that you'll pine for if you ever move away, my two favorites are Casita Chilanga #2 and Los Gemelos, of which there is absolutely no parallel north / west of Fruitvale. For fine-ish dining Tamerine and Evvia get top marks. For Italian, try Vero, La Strada, and Renzo. Indian, you want Amber (if anything, maybe Ajanta but Ajanta's unique) and Passage to India (better than anything at its price point in Berkeley). Sushi is much stronger than Berkeley, where I would go to Ko by default, but with Kaygetsu, Fuki, Naomi, Jin Sho, Tomi, it's just great. There's only one Korean, which is Tofu House on ECR, which doesn't stand up to the Temescal places, but good for a quick fix. Coupa Cafe is worth a serious stop - there's no argentinian in Telegraph ave, but it has a feel of Intermezzo. For Dim Sum, my current favorite is ABC in Foster City, about the same drive as going to the Oakland places from north berkeley. (ABC has been up and down a few times, so you'll see some very sour comments on CH, but I think they're cooking very well right now). Fu Lam Mum on a good day is solid but not exceptional. California Ave, you'll want to hit Cafe Brioche, Homma's Brown Rice, and especially Med Wraps (Brioche reminds me of Venus in a strange way, Homma's is unique (sushi on ugly plastic chairs), Med Wraps is my favorite Schwarma in the bay area, although Jerusalem Organic on Solano is very strong).

      Most importantly is the realization - when you have an extra $500 burning a hole in your pocket - that Manresa is only 20 minutes away. More often than not, they're cooking at TFL quality but you can get reservations on a friday night only a few days in advance. I've started eating more at Village Pub as well, which has no parallel in greater berkeley.

      Over time, I've gravitated to Cafe Barrone as one of the best eating experiences in the greater Stanford area. The wine and beer list is short but well chosen, they've expanded their dinner menu, it's casual, and the friday night jazz is exceptional. Sometimes the food misfires - I like their short rib, but last time they used lamb short ribs, which as a very interesting deconstructed concept and a terrible, terrible mistake in terms of actual food. BBC across the court yard has the best beer list, and very tolerable burgers. More recommendable in summer. Not as appealing if you live in Mountain View.

      If you look at the Michelin guide, the peninsula has 4 one-stars (Madrone, Baume, Chez TJ, Village Pub), and one two star (Manresa). Greater berkeley has one one-star (Commis).

      Given that you're talking about Milk Pail and Dittmer's, you probably live south, which means you need to explore MV. Xahn is like if Fonda went to LA. Fu Lam Mum has late night dim sum. Two great sushi places, the amazing Kappo Nami Nami, the ramen place. Regrettably there's nothing but a few great indian places to the south of MV, so you'll have to get used to driving north.

      The places I drive all the way north for are Plum, Encuentro, Oghane, Tara, Lush, Lanesplitter (san pablo, please) and, actually, Fonda (the vibe there is just unique).

      The fancy ice cream trend - (Mr & Ms Miscellaneous, HS, Tara, Lush...) has not hit the peninsula, which is a crime.

      -----
      Manresa Restaurant
      320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

      Kappo Nami Nami
      240 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

      La Strada
      335 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      Ajanta Restaurant
      1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

      Kaygetsu Restaurant
      325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

      Chez TJ
      938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

      Su Hong
      1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

      Coupa Cafe
      538 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      Jin Sho
      454 California Ave, Palo Alto, CA

      Vero
      530 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      Village Pub
      2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

      Crouching Tiger
      2644 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA 94063

      Fu Lam Mum
      155 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

      Tofu House
      2788 Castro Valley Blvd, Castro Valley, CA 94546

      7 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow
        wolfe Nov 25, 2010 08:21 AM

        Less than 25% of your choices were in the immediate Leland Stanford Junior College area. They are certainly not intergalactic distances away but not as close to campus proper as are meels" Berkeley favorites.

        1. re: wolfe
          bbulkow Nov 25, 2010 11:07 AM

          I'll beg to differ.

          If one takes as a centroid of campus the Campus Phallic Object (Hoover Tower vs the Carrilon), The Junior College is simply more spread out and not comparable. There are nearly no restaurants on campus in both cases (and I would put Cool Cafe above anything on the Berkeley campus).

          I offer a suitable alternative: take the closest large public transit station, I think you'd have to compare Berkeley Bart to Palo Alto Caltrain. They are both similarly far from campus and in an urban setting with restaurants. In that regard, meels was referring to Fonda, which is 2.4 miles from Berkeley Bart. Cafe Barrone (and thus Iberia) is 1.3 miles. Howie's is right off campus. If meels had mentioned Long Life Veggie and Top Dog, that's a different radius altogether - I would have stuck with University Ave and maybe California Ave.

          meels mentioned Milk Pail as within range, so I thought spreading out to driving radius was reasonable. Su Hong Palo Alto is right in that range, P2I and Amber are about the same. The mexican places I mentioned are further, granted, and on the "north side" (to use Berkeley terminology).

          -----
          Su Hong
          1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

          1. re: bbulkow
            wolfe Nov 25, 2010 11:27 AM

            Gather and Great China, Top Dog are across the street from campus. Several other frequently mentioned restaurants are within a block. Don't you have a turkey to prepare?

            -----
            Great China Restaurant
            2115 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA 94704

            1. re: wolfe
              bbulkow Nov 25, 2010 11:31 AM

              OP only mentioned Fonda and Giola.
              We're doing thanksgiving observed on Saturday.

        2. re: bbulkow
          vincentlo Nov 27, 2010 12:13 AM

          Madrone?! Must be Madera right?

          Also, for Korean, there's Han which is Americanized, in downtown Palo Alto, and for Cantonese dim sum, we now have Peking Duck/Jade Palace right behind the California Avenue Caltrain station. Not sure if they offer dim sum on weekdays though. I haven't tried their dim sum yet, but my coach thought it was quite good.

          -----
          Madera
          2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025

          1. re: vincentlo
            bbulkow Nov 27, 2010 05:57 AM

            Madera.

            I tried Han as part of restaurant roulette. I considered it not just Americanized but nearly lousy (Tofu House, on the other hand, might not be up to the best of south-temescal but pretty good).

            How does Peking Duck/Jade palace stack up next to Taipan?

            -----
            Madera
            2825 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025

            1. re: bbulkow
              vincentlo Nov 27, 2010 03:02 PM

              I went to Taipan (what a jaw-droppingly beautiful place but way overpriced) after Michael Bauer gave it three stars. Everything was so blah. The menu was exciting, like what you expect from Koi Palace or some of the Millbrae restaurants, but the chef simply wasn't competent enough for those specialties. To be fair, I haven't been back for years.

              I agree partially with you about Han. It certainly isn't anything special, though I reserve the word "lousy" for restaurants that are much worse. ;-)

              I always liked Peking Duck before they moved. They had a few dishes that were outstanding, and dishes were cleaner (and thus more expensive) than other Chinese restaurants around. (Of course no one can touch Taipan for their prices.) I'm organizing a big banquet at their new location next week, and I'll see if the kitchen staff are doing a better or worse job.

              -----
              Koi Palace Restaurant
              365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

        3. m
          ML8000 Nov 25, 2010 09:08 AM

          It's too bad the Monterey Market in the Stanfurd Mall closed...I think that's was as close as you could get. If you're in MV, the Asian markets and restros on Castro St, the downtown MV farmer's market and some taquerias are worth looking into.

          5 Replies
          1. re: ML8000
            Melanie Wong Nov 25, 2010 09:11 AM

            Sigona's that took over that space is worth a stop for locally grown produce.

            -----
            Sigona's Farmers Market
            399 Stanford Shopping Ctr, Palo Alto, CA

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              wolfe Nov 25, 2010 09:17 AM

              And the occasional cheap La Tur.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                j
                jsaimd Nov 25, 2010 08:16 PM

                Yes I have to say when the CSA finishes for the season I often prefer Sigona's to the PA Saturday farmers market. Limited organic availability though, but lots of local stuff and decent prices.

                1. re: jsaimd
                  Melanie Wong Nov 25, 2010 08:33 PM

                  Last winter I bought quite a wide variety of citrus from Sigona's.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    vincentlo Nov 27, 2010 12:10 AM

                    Make sure you subscribe to Sigona's electronic newsletter. You always get something nice (and different) for purchases of $30+. I got a nice bottle of truffle oil from them, and feel guilty every I use it (because of the artificial ingredient).

            2. m
              mdg Nov 26, 2010 01:44 PM

              The Stanford / Mountain View area outshines the Berkeley area in some cuisines (e.g. Indian) and is lesser in others (e.g. Italian, including pizza). Bbulkow has already mentioned Howie's which is the pizza choice in the area, right near Stanford - slices are available at lunch. Fortunately downtown Palo Alto now has two good Italian places, Vero and Cafe Renzo. Renzo has whole pizzas but I have not yet tried them as the rest of the menu keeps calling louder.

              Bbulkow has given you a great starting list. To that I would add:

              - The Mountain View farmer's market on Sunday mornings, which runs year-round.

              - The great Indian food at Sakoon in downton Mountain View.

              - The cheaper and also excellent Indian food at Hyderabad House in downtown Palo Alto, including achari chicken and lamb dishes that are incredibly awesome, better than London or anywhere else I've eaten.

              It would help to know more of what you like, rather than looking for Berkeley equivalents. That way you play to the culinary strengths of your new home. Take a look at the many threads on Mountain View and Palo Alto in Chowhound and let us know if you have more specific questions or requests for updates.

              Anybody who says that the area around Stanford is a culinary black hole knows very little about the food in this area in 2010. In 1995, when we first moved here, they might have had a point, but times change.

              Michael

              -----
              Hyderabad House
              448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

              Vero
              530 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301

              Sakoon
              357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

              Howie's Artisan Pizza
              855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

              Cafe Renzo
              473 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

              2 Replies
              1. re: mdg
                bbulkow Nov 27, 2010 06:00 AM

                Could someone please tell me the exact dishes to order at Hydrabad House, because I keep getting curries and chicken 65 which are kind of lousy. I would like to like them, but I consider the food at Darbar to be superior. FAR superior. I did Darbar last week my indian cofounder who was surprised at the high quality - Darbar's been cranking out some good buffet, and their Vindaloo is worth a stop.

                Re: pizza, Renzo's is pretty good, but not in Giola category. I would recommend La Strada over either for pizza (and some other dishes), partially because La Strada seems to have a wood oven. Vero has a nice touch with northern style pastas. Most importantly, Renzo has cannoli and is open late.

                1. re: bbulkow
                  m
                  mdg Nov 27, 2010 09:40 AM

                  Achari chicken and lamb are the standout dishes at Hyderabad House that are far better than anything else in the area.

                  I like most other dishes there, such as the biryani and eggplant dishes. But the rest of the menu has worthy competitors elsewhere in the area where reasonable people will disagree on favorites. Also try the Sula Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz by the glass - delicious Indian wine with the food.

                  Michael

                  -----
                  Hyderabad House
                  448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

              2. c
                ceekskat Nov 26, 2010 09:07 PM

                Some not so expensive Mountain View area specialties...

                Rose Int'l Market (Persian), Mtn. View
                Taste Buds & Madras Cafe (Indian), Sunnyvale
                Shalimar (Indo-pak), Sunnyvale
                Taqueria La Bamba, Mtn. View
                Dish Dash (Middle Eastern), Sunnyvale

                Maruichi Noodle House & Ryowa Ramen, Mtn. View.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/630306

                And in case you need a good wine/liquor place...Artisan Wine Depot, Mtn. View.

                7 Replies
                1. re: ceekskat
                  ankimo Nov 27, 2010 01:57 AM

                  if your radius is around Stanford, from Redwood City to Mountain View, then you're limited, but i like the following
                  Ike's (on Stanford campus too)
                  Philz Coffee
                  Evvia
                  Sumika
                  Dohatsuten
                  Kanpai
                  Los Gemelos
                  El Rincon Tarasco
                  Tacos El Grullo
                  Casita Chilanga
                  Rincon Sabroso
                  Back a Yard Grill
                  Chaat Paradise
                  Chef Xiu
                  So Gong Dong Tofu House
                  Shiok
                  Rice or Shana Thai
                  Formosa Bento House
                  Donato Enoteca
                  Sushi Tomi
                  the not cheap section: Kaygetsu, Village Pub, Baume

                  expanding to Sunnyvale, then you have
                  Shanghai Flavor Shop
                  Gochi
                  Dish Dash
                  Tastebud's
                  Rajjot Sweet and Snacks
                  Lovely Sweet and Snacks
                  Kitsho
                  Cupertino Village
                  Tres Potrillos

                  -----
                  Kanpai
                  330 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  Sumika
                  236 Central Plz, Los Altos, CA 94022

                  Shanghai Flavor Shop
                  888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                  Chaat Paradise
                  165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                  Kaygetsu Restaurant
                  325 Sharon Park Dr Ste A2, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                  Village Pub
                  2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                  Sushi Tomi
                  635 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                  Kitsho
                  19541 Richwood Dr, Cupertino, CA 95014

                  Formosa Bento House
                  2660 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA 94063

                  Shana Thai Restaurant
                  311 Moffett Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043

                  Donato Enoteca
                  1041 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City, CA 94063

                  Chef Xiu
                  855 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                  Dohatsuten
                  799 San Antonio Rd, Palo Alto, CA

                  Tacos El Grullo
                  2798 Spring St, Redwood City, CA 94063

                  Rincon Sabroso Restaurant
                  122 N Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA 94043

                  1. re: ankimo
                    bbulkow Nov 27, 2010 06:06 AM

                    Nice list.

                    Re: thai, I like Bangkok Cuisine in PA and Amerin in MV, owned by the same people. I'll take those over any thai in berkeley.

                    -----
                    Bangkok Cuisine
                    407 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                    1. re: bbulkow
                      m
                      mdg Nov 27, 2010 09:44 AM

                      I don't know about Thai in Berkeley, but I've found nothing down here that comes close to Lers Ros in San Francisco. If anybody finds something like that please share!

                      Michael

                      1. re: mdg
                        ankimo Nov 27, 2010 04:11 PM

                        I second that question too! Lers Ros is one of a kind for the Bay Area; only other places as good were in LA Thai town.

                        1. re: ankimo
                          bbulkow Nov 28, 2010 12:06 PM

                          Agreed, just talking about Berkeley v Stanford!

                      2. re: bbulkow
                        vincentlo Nov 30, 2010 01:38 AM

                        Bangkok Cuisine is indeed the best Thai restaurant in Palo Alto, not just in downtown. Don't go to Krung Siam on University Avenue; I experienced very poor service and unacceptable sanitary conditions during my last visit there. Their location is interesting: It was a Chinese restaurant, then a Japanese restaurant, and now a Thai restaurant, which must be doing well since it's been Thai for years now.

                        -----
                        Bangkok Cuisine
                        407 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                      3. re: ankimo
                        Melanie Wong Dec 16, 2010 10:18 AM

                        A real latecomer to the Ike's phenom, I finally had a taste of one, well, half a sandwich last week. Not certain of what I was eating, as I didn't order it myself. But it was still warm when it got to me and had extra banana peppers and jalapenos. Man that's a goopy sandwich! Pedestrian cold cuts, so I do understand why the detractors compare it to Quizno's with a wait. But I did take note of the bread . . . dense, chewy, very fresh, and it didn't fall apart with all that sauce on it. Not a craved thing for me, but if someone gave me a free one again, I'd eat it. I understand that the location on campus is a zoo at lunch time, but is now open until 7pm for dinner orders and not nearly as packed then.

                        -----
                        Ike's Place
                        475 Vía Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305

                    2. m
                      meels Nov 27, 2010 10:57 AM

                      wow -- off a few days for thanksgiving and here I've opened a whole Berkeley - Stanford rivalry! :)

                      Thanks everyone for your recommendations -- these should be enough to keep me busy for a while, at least. I do live around Mountain View though I'm at Stanford nearly every day and have had trouble finding lunch, in particular. I am totally fine with driving around & exploring the Peninsula as long as there are good eats at the end of the journey!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: meels
                        Melanie Wong Nov 27, 2010 11:09 AM

                        My favorite spot for lunch is Tootsie's at the Stanford Barn. Adore this place.
                        http://www.chow.com/restaurants/46644...

                        Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City is worth the drive from campus. It will be opening new branches in Los Altos/Cupertino and Portola Valley soon.

                        -----
                        Old Port Lobster Shack
                        851 Veterans Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063

                        Tootsie's at the Stanford Barn
                        700 Welch Rd Ste 118, Palo Alto, CA

                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                          vincentlo Nov 30, 2010 01:17 AM

                          Well if you're heading to Old Port Lobster Shack, don't forget their happy hour from 5 to 7 PM on Mondays through Thursdays. You don't get $$ off their "Chowdah" or lobster rolls, but the draft beers will be heavily discounted.

                          -----
                          Old Port Lobster Shack
                          851 Veterans Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063

                      2. m
                        meels Nov 27, 2010 11:25 AM

                        To be more specific on some questions (now that I've read through all the posts -- and thanks everyone, again!) -- I like all kinds of cuisines; I just had my go-to places in Berkeley all worked out (especially when on campus or when guests were in town) and now I find myself at a loss, and Yelp over-hype has led to disappointments (Tootsies, Cascal, I'm looking at you). My go to places in Berkeley/Oakland area (in addition to those mentioned) were things like Great China, dopo, Rivoli, Corso, sometimes Cesar, Venus and La Note, Yali's, and my favorite taquerias (Monte Cristo, at Univ & Sacramento). Really, Fonda and Gioia are what I miss most!

                        Thanks particularly to bbulkow and Michael for great recommendations! It's really helpful to hear comparisons to specific Berkeley locales. I didn't do a lot of thai and indian in Berkeley, but it sounds like going for a different set of cuisines might be in order...

                        -----
                        Cascal
                        400 Castro St., Mountain View, CA 94041

                        Great China Restaurant
                        2115 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                        Rivoli Restaurant
                        1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                        Yali's Cafe
                        1920 Oxford St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: meels
                          majordanby Nov 27, 2010 12:00 PM

                          Berkeley taquerias arent so great in my opinion. Monte Cristo, La Palmita, La Burrita, Cancun...decent but never consistently satisfying. If you're in Mt View, visit Burrito Row: Taqueria La Bamba, La Costena and Los Altos Taqueria.

                          I was a student at both schools...and since Berkeley students typically live off campus after their freshmen year, restaurants are a lot more student friendly budget wise (whereas Stanford students typically live on campus all 4 years). There is nothing comparable to Telegraph in Palo Alto...a street of restaurants that are cheap and fast...i.e. student friendly. and let's not compare Univ Ave (in PA) to Telegraph....it's far away from the critical mass of students and does not have the overall student friendly budget as telegraph.

                          -----
                          Los Altos Taqueria
                          2105 Old Middlefield Way Ste E, Mountain View, CA 94043

                          La Costena
                          2078 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View, CA 94043

                          1. re: majordanby
                            m
                            mdg Nov 27, 2010 04:00 PM

                            That's a good point about Mexican food in general. Besides the trio of great taquerias in Mountain View, there are two nice more upscale Mexican places nearby - Reposado in downtown Palo Alto, and Estrellita in Los Alots, just across El Camino from Mountain View. At Estrellita you want to stick to the specials and the chicken Oaxaca; the rest of the menu is uneven, but those dishes are reliably fine.

                            For lunch, I'll heartily second the Mediterranean Wraps recommendation, especially for the shawerma. I usually go to the California Ave. branch but there's a newer one on University Ave. too. For a more Israeli-style falafel, try Cafe 220 on University Ave.

                            Indian cuisine is what this area does best. The Palo Alto / Mountain View area has the fine dining places like Sakoon and Amber India, but down in Sunnyvale there are a lot of other less expensive places, including vegetarian specialists like Madura and Madras Cafe. Other worthy Indian choices in Mountain View include Chaat Paradise and Peacock.

                            A couple other nice places in the Town and Country Palo Alto that I didn't see mentioned are Mayfield Bakery (same group as Village Pub and Spruce, but a bit less expensive and much less formal) and Calafia.

                            I'm not sure why Hunan Garden doesn't get much love on Chowhound besides from me, but I find the cooking consistently excellent. It's much more a pan-Chinese menu with a few Hunan specialties.

                            The flip side of Indian cuisine here is Italian cuisine - that's the one with the highest likelihood of disappointment in this area. There is so much mediocrity. It's only in the past few years that places like Vero and Renzo have opened that actually taste Italian. I know of no recommendable Italian restaurant in this area further south than Palo Alto, though I know others will disagree.

                            Michael

                            -----
                            Estrellita Restaurant
                            971 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022

                            Madras Cafe
                            1177 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                            Chaat Paradise
                            165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                            Amber India Restaurant
                            2290 El Camino Real Suite 9, Mountain View, CA 94040

                            Hunan Garden
                            3345 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                            Village Pub
                            2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                            Cafe 220
                            220 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                            Amber India
                            377 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128

                            Reposado
                            236 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                            Calafia
                            855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA

                            Mayfield Bakery & Cafe
                            855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                            Sakoon
                            357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                            Mediterranean Wraps
                            433 N California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                            Madura Indian Cuisine
                            1635 Hollenbeck Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                            Peacock Indian Cuisine
                            867 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                            1. re: mdg
                              bbulkow Nov 28, 2010 12:19 PM

                              I'll give Hunan Gourmet a little love. I've only eaten there once, but the tastes were spot on and the chef quality high. My bone to pick is the menu is very unadventurous, with so much still being chinese american favorites (aka "Mandrin"). If they could only do what Su Hong PA did, tone down the american stuff, do a menu rewrite, they'd pull in a lot more business. They also have that nice take-home loading zone spot out front.

                              Like, is that "Salt Baked Chicken" on their menu the Hakka dish? If they had listed "regional specalties - Hakka Salt Baked Chicken" I'd be so there. Instead, I stopped reading after Lemon Chicken. And "Spicy Salt" - that that what everyone else calls Salt and Pepper?

                              -----
                              Su Hong
                              1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                              Hunan Gourmet
                              163 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA

                              1. re: bbulkow
                                vincentlo Nov 30, 2010 01:22 AM

                                Yeah "spicy salt" is closer to the direct translation of those two Chinese characters. In fact "salt and pepper" to someone who has never seen that term doesn't convey that the dish is deep-fried with a batter with spices and salt (thus "spicy salt").

                                1. re: bbulkow
                                  vincentlo Nov 30, 2010 01:46 AM

                                  Did you mean Hunan Garden in Palo Alto instead of Hunan Gourmet in Sunnyvale? Hunan Garden has a really nice decor and great service, and is the more upscale but arguably more Americanized version of its sister restaurant Hunan Home's, ultra-popular with local Chinese with authentic food and reasonable prices.

                                  I remember 10-15 years ago some of Chinese friends thought so highly of Hunan Gourmet in Sunnyvale that they would drive there to have group dinners on weekends. Not anymore. My last visit there only revealed mediocrity. What a pity.

                                  -----
                                  Hunan Homes Restaurant
                                  622 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                  Hunan Gourmet
                                  163 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA

                                  Hunan Garden
                                  3345 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                  1. re: vincentlo
                                    bbulkow Nov 30, 2010 09:51 AM

                                    Yes, I meant Hunan Garden. Didn't know they are sister to Hunan Home's. That does explain the few interesting items on the menu, it's not just an old-school place (like Jing Jing) floating on its reputation.

                                    re: "salt and pepper" vs "spicy salt", interesting that Hunan Garden would take a more literal translation. The problem I have as a non-speaker is if everyone translates a particular dish as "salt and pepper" and one place uses "spicy salt", I don't know what's up. Is HG's "spicy salt" everyone else's "salt and pepper"? Salt and pepper dishes are usually deep fried with batter and spices and salt.

                                    -----
                                    Hunan Homes Restaurant
                                    622 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                    Jing Jing
                                    443 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                    Hunan Garden
                                    3345 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                    1. re: bbulkow
                                      m
                                      mdg Nov 30, 2010 01:36 PM

                                      Spicy salt has been used as an English translation for this dish for decades, so it's using the more historically common name for this dish. I do believe they are similar preparations, though of course every good place will do things a bit differently.

                                      Regardless, it's a great dish and well worth getting there. The hot and sour soup is the best I've had in the area. Most of the specials are well worth trying. The rice cake dishes are an unusual and very tasty touch.

                                      I don't think there is any relationship between Hunan Garden and Hunan Home's. Certainly the cooking couldn't be more different; Hunan Garden is far superior to what is available at the Los Altos Hunan Home's.

                                      I don't see anything Americanized about most of the food that we order at Hunan Garden compared to what we had in China. The spice level may be reduced compared to what you would get in Hunan, but the same is true in Beijing. Of course there are some more California-style dishes like the (delicious) mango chicken, but that reflects our local culture here. It's welcoming service is also nicely Californian. Unlike far too many of our local Chinese places, you get the same quality and choice of food regardless of your ethnicity.

                                      Michael

                                      -----
                                      Hunan Home
                                      4880 El Camino Real, Los Altos, CA 94022

                                      Hunan Garden
                                      3345 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                      1. re: bbulkow
                                        bbulkow Jan 17, 2011 08:39 PM

                                        I will now admit I had previously been confused about the different Hunans. The Hunan Garden on ECR in Palo Alto a bit south of Page Mill is pretty danged good. The salt baked chicken was great. The guy next to me - chinese guy - got a whole crab cooked with scallions and was picking his way through it. I don't think you could say it was clearly better than Su Hong Palo Alto, because the kind of chinese was so different. But Hunan Gourmet - yum. Will be on regular rotation now.

                                        Decent atmosphere, although lots of white people, and a nice summertime patio.

                                        -----
                                        Su Hong
                                        1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                                        Hunan Gourmet
                                        163 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA

                                        Hunan Garden
                                        3345 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                      2. re: vincentlo
                                        ckshen Dec 16, 2010 11:41 AM

                                        Rumor had that, 10-15 years ago, the daughter of Hunan Gourmet's (now Chef Yu?) owner worked at the restaurant, and that she's so beautiful that she alone attracted many customers.

                                        That sounded a bit ridiculous/ mythic to me, but that's what i was told.

                                  2. re: majordanby
                                    bbulkow Nov 28, 2010 12:04 PM

                                    Good characterization. I'd add that the business community around Stanford is far richer and more vibrant than Berkeley. Silicon Valley, and all the venture capital firms, provide a huge restaurant base, so Univ Ave is "dual use" in that it's the richer students + the business community.

                                    Most people don't really understand how big the venture community is, and how focused in PA + MP. Take Accel Ventures, several billion $ under management, Accel IX being one of the highest performance funds in history, 428 Univ Ave. Sand Hill Rd has a lot of stars new and old (NEA claims the largest venture fund in the world, $11B in committed capital, 2855 Sand Hill). It's kind of like Switzerland, you just see a plaque, and if you don't know what's there, it might seem a little mysterious.

                                    And means higher prices. Much higher.

                                  3. re: meels
                                    ankimo Nov 27, 2010 04:07 PM

                                    if you're located in Mountain View/Palo Alto and willing to drive for good food, then in general:
                                    Vietnamese San Jose, Korean Santa Clara, Japanese San Jose/San Mateo, Chinese Cupertino/Millbrae/Milpitas, Indian Sunnyvale, Mexican Redwood City, etc.
                                    for example,
                                    Ippuku Berkeley = Sumika or Gaku San Jose
                                    Great China Berkeley = Cooking Papa Santa Clara
                                    Pyung Chang Tofu Oakland = So Gong Dong Palo Alto
                                    also just explore
                                    like Korean Secret Garden
                                    Murraci's Los Altos for a curry lunch
                                    Pho Y#1 or some banh mi at Thanh Huong
                                    fish at Thien Long, or hu thieu can try Nam Vang
                                    Orenchi tonkotsu ramen, Ramen Dojo for sutamina ramen, Himawari for tan tan men
                                    sample something different like Chinese/Japanese at Yu-Raku San Mateo
                                    try kadu at Kabul
                                    there are good places for specific dishes, just ask

                                    -----
                                    Himawari
                                    202 2nd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                    Great China Restaurant
                                    2115 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                    Thien Long Restaurant
                                    3005 Silver Creek Rd, San Jose, CA 95121

                                    Nam Vang
                                    2477 Alvin Ave, San Jose, CA 95121

                                    Korean Secret Garden Restaurant
                                    3430 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                                    Thanh Huong
                                    2050 N Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95132

                                    Ramen Dojo
                                    805 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                    Cooking Papa
                                    Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA

                                    Ippuku
                                    2130 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                    Yu-Raku
                                    104 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                    Gaku
                                    5152 Moorpark Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                                    1. re: meels
                                      bbulkow Nov 28, 2010 11:30 AM

                                      What??? Yelp is wrong??? Heavens!!!!

                                      For downtown MV, you'll have to start eating a lot more indian and asian. MV's just like that.

                                      Sushi Tomi, Sakoon, Kappo Nami Nami (which is *amazing* and gets little love. Has a unique set of dishes and cuisine), Fu Lam Mum, Chef Xiu, Amarin, Cafe Yulong, Chef Liu, Xahn. [Liu is one of my personal likes which everyone else doesn't. It's a down-home shandong style place].

                                      The italian places along there have never impressed me - I think there are 4 - but I haven't tried the new-ish one next to the Mongolian BBQ. The only french place is Chez TJ, which is more in the Rivoli mold.
                                      .
                                      One of my old favorite taquerias in MV is Tres Hermanos. I don't know if its still any good, but it's an easy-in-out and pretty darned good.

                                      Re: lunch from campus, you should figure out if you can get to California Ave easily enough. There's a good selection down there, and some tasty oddities like Homma's Brown Rice. Town and Country has some hits (frankie's) but most of the places take too long for my lunch taste. University Ave is kind of expensive for everyday lunch, but has numerous little gems. I've been liking the bentos at Kampai, even though for dinner I think there's better sushi about.

                                      Let me warn you it took me over a year to really settle down into my favorites in the greater Stanford area after berkeley. Maybe even two years. I remember one of my complaints was a casual place with fresh beer a la lanesplitter. The answer is Cafe Barrone, which is simply different but scratches the same itch. Still, there's very little in the casual-but-excellent. Places tend to be a little more formal, or a lot less formal. As if there was Vik's and Rivoli and little in between. Less Venus / B / Luka's / Fonda / Nizza / Plum, which is why I miss the east bay.

                                      Girlfriend made me institute "restaurant roulette", in which we dined at every restaruant around University Ave. Somehow, for example, we never got over to St Michael's after 3 years, then it finally came up in Roulette. It's still not a favorite of mine, but we had a great meal there (first day of their fall menu last year, lots of local mushrooms). Maybe it'd end up being a favorite of yours.

                                      The area doesn't give up its secrets easily. I blame the fact that there are a lot of glitzy places that get good reviews (Cascal, prime example) and seem to fool many diners. And, frankly, there are a lot more choices than berkeley. There is no place in the east bay as dense as Univ Ave - about 160 restaurants, most of which have their time and place. MV to south RC is fairly mind boggeling. Arguably, Berkeley is fewer restaurants of higher price-performance, which is easier to sort out.

                                      One last note, there's another place that scratches my Fonda itch, which is Martin's West in Redwood City. Kind of far from you, though. The bar at Tamerine has its moments, too. Tea Leaf Beef!

                                      -----
                                      Kappo Nami Nami
                                      240 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                      Chez TJ
                                      938 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                      Cafe Yulong
                                      743 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                      Chef Liu
                                      236 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                      Rivoli Restaurant
                                      1539 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                                      Sushi Tomi
                                      635 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                      Sakoon
                                      357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                                      Chef Xiu
                                      855 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                                      Fu Lam Mum
                                      155 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

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