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Jun 8, 2011 01:36 AM

Singapore family seeking help. Please advise and critique my list

A family with 2 kids (age 10 & 13) coming to SF and Bay area for 1 week. My trip is divided into 2 parts where we will first stay at the Hyatt Regency Freemont with a rental car to roam around the Bay area including Freemont, Palo Alto, Monterey Bay, Carmel and Suasilito; and the second part at Omni Hotel to tour San Francisco without any rental car. Looking more at kids-friendly comfort food places rather than any expensive or fine dining restaurants on this trip.

I have got plenty of recommendations in SF area but only 2 restaurants outside SF, namely Scoma at Suasalito and The Tap Room at Pebble Beach. Since Freemont will be the first stop, I expect we will experience jet lag, so looking for recommendation on decent early breakfast and late night supper places near the hotel. And also looking for a good Cantonese restaurant near Freemont area as well.

In SF area, I have been recommended as follow. Will appreciate if you can comment or add other recommendations: (prefer restaurants within walking distance or max 15 minutes taxi ride from the hotel)

-Seafood: Swan Oyster Depot;

-Italian: Flour & Water and Caffe Sports (Since I can only pick one, which is better);

-Steak house: Bourbon steak;

-Organic: Outerlands;

- Pizza: Una Pizza Napoletana;

- Southern BBQ: Gorilla BBQ;

-Vietnamese: Crustacean;

-Cantonese: R&G;

-Ice cream: Ghirardelli and Humphry Slocombe;

- Southern BBQ: Gorilla BBQ;

- Breakfast: Boulettes Larder.

- Burger: Prather Ranch Meat.

- Mexican: please recommend your favorite.

- Any MUST EAT place for foodies.

Thanks in advanced.

Boulettes Larder
Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

Caffe Sport
574 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Prather Ranch
1 Ferry Bldg # 32, San Francisco, CA

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  1. Pebble Beach, Carmel and Monterey are covered on the California Board. In your roaming days I see too much driving and not enough time. Save Sausalito for your San Francisco segment with a ferry ride which allows a visit to the Ferry Plaza and hopefully a Saturday Farmers Market.

    1. The only Cantonese worthwhile (and just so happens to be in Fremont) is at Yum's Bistro.
      R&G Lounge is great for SF, but Yum's executes at a higher level and is cheaper.

      Here are some threads to get you started on Yum's

      To get the chef's best game, go during a weeknight and perhaps consider pre-ordering a few dishes, and see what's on the white board specials that night. The crispy skin 糯米雞 (requires advanced order) may come close to Luk Yu's version in HK, at least it is done to a high standard. This is the only restaurant that I would recommend that comes close to the flavors of Hong Kong (given your high Cantonese standards), given the chef's extensive experience. Definitely try a lobster or crab dish (e.g. soy sauce king).

      Also they moved their website, and unfortunately took down their specials/pre-order menu but to give you an idea:

      The only other place in SF that I would recommend is Hakka Restaurant in Outer Richmond, really good rustic Hakka Cantonese, assuming it is not out of the way for you as it is on the other side of town. Might be good if you are considering a stop at say, Academy of Science for the kids.

      For ice cream, consider Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous. If you happen to be in Oakland, Scream Sorbet.

      For dim sum in Fremont, maybe Asian Pearl that also does some regional Cantonese/Shunde style dishes.

      Scream Sorbet
      5030 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

      Yum's Bistro
      4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94555

      1. Not to burst your bubble, but fremont is a working community with a lot of factories. Food there is mostly down-home mom and pop asian, likely inferior to whatever you have in Singapore. To eat well, you'll generally have to journey north to Berkeley/Oakland (about 30 minutes with clear roads, an hour in traffic, but the BART train system is more reliable), or San Francisco (more like an hour when the traffic is OK). South from Fremont is (eventually) san jose, but the traffic southbound is very bad on weekdays, and the food in san jose is generally marginal. As noted, the best San Jose styles are Vietnamese, Mexican, and South Indian (mostly on the east side of San Jose, further from Fremont).

        There is one well-recommended afghani kabab house in fremont. I ate there once, it was quite good but it didn't blow me away.

        One note on seafood - I would choose Hog Island in the Ferry Building instead of Swann's for our famous oysters. Swanns is very crowded and has long lines, which isn't good for kids. Hog Island is in a better setting, with more things to see and either better stroller access or better running around areas.

        I think you would enjoy the Fruitvale mexican district, which has the area's best and most authentic tacos and mexican food. It's very kid friendly and similar in spirit to singapore - a lot of vendors in a short area, active, lively. Order tacos from different vendors. You just order tacos and say the meat you want - there will be about 10 kinds - my favorite is Al Pastor, which is a slow-cooked pork preparation. Carnitas is another kind of pork that is very good. Tacos are so small that you can try many of the meats at different vendors. Search 'taco crawl' on this board for some threads - more than a year ago, though.

        The palo alto area has a much better food scene than fremont (and san jose), and depending on where you're staying, can be an easier drive across the dumbarton bridge. There is a long discussion about what has more restaurants, Palo Alto or Mountain View, but the two towns share a border and are very close. It's a friendly rivalry. Between all the tech companies (google, yahoo, facebook, etc) and stanford and the venture capitalists, many high income people eat out frequently, so there's a large variety of restaurants (although not as much as san francisco).

        Regarding a quick meal after the flight, you can hit your cantonese quotient by looking up Millbrea and trying one of the chinese restaurants (although millbrea is stronger at shanghai and HK). Although our asian is pretty good here, frankly I have no idea why you'd waste valuable meals at an asian restaurant. Our california-italian scene is so good, you should double down in that area - like pizzeria delfina, which is near good ice cream in a fun walking district.

        another note: if you do want that prather ranch burger, do hit Serpentine and Mr and Ms Miscellanous ice cream literally across the street. It's very easy to park around there, Serpentine is a very classic Sf neighborhood style place (well, not classic like Tadich which has been open forever, but classic like it's the kind of place locals eat) and MMM's ice cream is currently at the top of all SF places (general board feeling, my opinion as well). Check times though MMM closes early.

        Your plan is very aggressive for travel. That works for some people - good luck!

        1 Reply
        1. re: bbulkow

          His kids are 10 & 13 so stroller access shouldn't be a problem. They should be able to handle all the goodies at the Ferry Building.

        2. Fremont: I love the Afghan food in Fremont--try Salang Pass (nice sit down restaurant) or De Afghanan Kabob (more of a takeout joint but the bolani is awesome). I second KK's rec of Yum's. Other than that, Fremont isn't the most exciting place for food.

          For Vietnamese, since you're in Fremont already, I would head down to San Jose rather than eating in SF. Vung Tau is often recommended on this board and has an extensive menu. The food court in the Grand Century Mall offers a lot of different items in one place for cheap. Check out what people are eating to see what is popular. I usually get the banh xeo (crepe with lots of herbs to wrap it with), or banh khot (crispy savory coconut milk pancakes with shrimp), and a drink as a snack. Then I leave the mall to have bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup) at Bun Bo Hue An Nam.

          If you must have Vietnamese in SF, consider Bodega Bistro or Pagolac (7 courses of beef) for sit down meals over Crustacean. If looking for pho, I like Turtle Tower for chicken pho northern style and Ha Nam Ninh for beef pho southern style. If you wanted to go to Crustacean for the crab, go to R&G instead for the salt and pepper crab prep.

          MUST EAT for foodies: Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday

          Italian: Flour and Water is ok. Cotogna is very hot and hard to get reservation. There are also Incanto, Perbacco, La Ciccia. Perbacco and its more casual restaurant Barbacco are probably most convenient.

          Prather Ranch is a butcher shop that does a little takeout, but if you want to go to a restaurant that uses their meat to make burgers, check out Slow Club or Serpentine. Zuni also makes a good burger and there are several threads discussing burgers in general on this board.

          Outerlands is way out there. I like it, but I don't think it would be worth the trip. In any case, there are tons of restaurants in SF doing the organic thing.

          Breakfast: Canteen, Brenda's, Dotties.

          Ice cream: Humphrey Slocombe (near Taqueria Vallarta, El Gallo Giro taco truck, Taqueria San Francisco, Tortas los Picudos), Bi-Rite (Tartine Bakery, Pizzeria Delfina are right across the st) , Mr and Mrs Miscellaneous (near Piccino's and Serpentine)

          Mexican: Poc Chuc and the places mentioned near Humprey Slocombe

          Hi Fourseasons, your postings were a big help while I was planning my parents vacation in Singapore and HK. Hopes this helps you in return. One more note: taxis are hard to come by here in comparison to Singapore. Plan on public transportation in SF and have a cab phone number handy. (And if you call for a cab on a busy night, expect a longish wait)

          Zuni Cafe
          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

          La Ciccia
          291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          Bodega Bistro
          607 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Taqueria Vallarta
          3033 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Turtle Tower Restaurant
          631 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          Slow Club
          2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Salang Pass
          37462 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94536

          De Afghanan Kabob House
          37405 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94536

          Taqueria San Francisco
          2794 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          Vung Tau Restaurant
          535 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

          Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
          One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

          Poc Chuc
          2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          Prather Ranch
          1 Ferry Bldg # 32, San Francisco, CA

          Piccino Restaurant & Coffee Bar
          1001 Minnesota St, San Francisco, CA 94107

          Ha Nam Ninh
          337 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

          Pizzeria Delfina
          2406 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

          230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

          490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

          1 Reply
          1. re: sfbing

            I'll mention that there's a branch of Vung Tau in Newark, a town that is surrounded by Fremont. Some say that the original branch in San Jose is a little better, but it's there for the day when convenience wins out.

            A couple other places in Newark for the days when you don't feel like traveling far:

            Little Sichuan
            Huong Lan 5 for banh mi (do not order noodles here)
            Fantasia Tea Cafe - best boba drinks in the East Bay

            Union City is also adjacent to Fremont and has a branch of Little Sheep . . . don't know if there's one in Singapore or if you've tried it elsewhere in your travels.

            I'll echo KK's rec for Yum's Bistro. Very light touch, not expensive, different dishes than you'll see on other Cantonese menus around here.

            If your kids would be comforted by South Indian snacks or Bombay-style chaat, Fremont is the place.

            Little Sheep
            34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

            Vung Tau Restaurant
            6092 Mowry Ave, Newark, CA 94560

            Fantasia Tea Cafe
            39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark, CA

            Huong Lan 5
            39055 Cedar Blvd, Newark, CA 94560

            Little Sichuan
            35233 Newark Blvd Ste F, Newark, CA 94560

            Yum's Bistro
            4906 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94555

          2. There's good Indian, Afghan, and Filipino food in Fremont, and some great Chinese food nearby in Milpitas.


            Flour + Water is better than Caffe Sport. I like F+W's pizza better than Una Pizza Napoletana's, but that's a matter of personal preference rather than quality.

            Prather Ranch has burgers only at the Tuesday mid-day market.

            Ghirardelli is crap.