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Jun 13, 2013 06:02 AM

Visiting from Boston: Los Altos area questions

Hi, former San Mateo resident coming back for a few days. Staying in Sunnyvale / Los Altos area. Please help.

1. My father is also visiting, and loves Szechuan. Suggestions? Would prefer to drive as little as possible due to bad back.

2. Is Santa the ramen place in San Mateo still around?

3. Long shot: birthday breakfast options for Sunday before having to be at SFO around 10am? Something near te airport?

Thank you. Writing in a rush before my flight leaves, so pls excuse the hurried tone.

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  1. 1. Szechuan. I believe your best price/distance is Da Sichauan. Depends on where you are in Los Altos. It's a little down home, but Chef Zhao is VERY down home and really requires speaking chinese to eat well. If you do speak chinese and are OK with a very back alley beijing experience, Chef Zhao. There was a recent chowdown at Mandrin Gourmet with its new Szechuan menu, which has actual tablecloths and still isn't too far from Los Altos.

    2. If you like ramen, you should read up on Orenchi, which is where my japanese friends take japanese visitors. As to whether a particular place is open, yelp is your friend.

    3. brunch - if you have to be at the airport at 10am, you have to be out of brunch at 9:30/9:45, so you have to start eating at 8 to have a birthday style option, and 8am ain't brunch, it's breakfast. For example I might offer up St Michael's Alley, too far from the airport, but it opens at 10am, like a lot of brunch places.

    Crepevine, burlingame, near the airport isn't exactly birthday classy but it's kind of upscale fun. Hobee's opens early and there's one at the 101 offramp near the SQL airport. I don't know of any Hidden 8am Gem, and Yelp's not digging anything up.

    I would actually direct you to the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood Shores. It's hard to tell exactly what they have on offer at that hour, but they're a hotel, but it's a classy setting, the pastries and coffee are french-good, it's pretty close to the airport.

    7 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow

      Millbrae Pancake House, maybe not a gem, but a classic. They open at 6:30am. Very close to SFO.

      1. re: bbulkow

        Second Da Sichauan. Very family-owned atmosphere and service. Food is rustic, flavorful and satisfying.

        1. re: bbulkow

          I found it easier to eat well as a non-Chinese speaker at Chef Zhao than Da Sichuan since Chef Zhao has one bilingual menu while Da Sichuan, on my one visit, had separate Chinese and English versions that you had to correlate via pictures and numbers. Chef Zhao also was a nicer dining experience overall. It's also easier to get to from the Sunnyvale side of Los Altos than Da Sichuan is as it's right off of 85.

          I can't help on ramen and brunch. Note that Indian is really the strong point in this part of Silicon Valley, with lots of great choices like Taste Buds, Peacock, Madura, Madras Cafe, Shah, and many more!


          1. re: mdg

            Interesting. I am a non-Chinese speaker and have had no problems at Da Sichuan. Admittedly, I tend to stick to the U.S. Sichuan staples (e.g. Ma Po Tofu, Boiled Fish, Tan Tan noodles, the fried chicken etc.)

            1. re: mdg

              I completly misremembered which restaurant - I was thinking of Chef Xiu, much closer to Los Altos, where the menu is very americanized but there's a lot of chinese people eating some very nice looking food that doesn't correspond to the menu.

              Yes, Chef Zhao is great and very recommended. Clearly the first choice. Easy to order (along with Da Sichuan), easier to park, nicer atmosphere, and probably better food.

            2. re: bbulkow

              1. Thank you for the recoms. We went to Chef Zhao last night and my dad was happy. Chongqing chicken, fish with tofu (the milky, mild-looking one that's got lots of peppercorns lurking inside), string beans. We might try Da Sichuan tonight.

              2. Probably not gonna make it to a ramen place, sadly.

              3. No illusions about having enough time for brunch, which is why I asked about breakfast. Sofitel is an interesting idea. Used to work at Oracle, so I could drop by and say hi to Larry. (Not.)

              1. re: lossless

                Glad you made it to Chef Zhao, do try Da Sichuan. To my taste, DS has bolder flavors but honestly it's been over a year.

                Too bad about the ramen. Ramen is very much flavor-of-the-year and there's a lot of competition and good stuff.

            3. I would recommend some place other than Santa. My favorite in San Mateo is Himawari. The other two popular ramen places are Ramen Parlor and Ramen Dojo. Lines can be long at all three places (Himawari is usually smaller in my experience). I heard Izakaya Mai (next door to Himawari) has good ramen and champon.

              FYI, Orenchi is in Santa Clara but very well liked.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JonDough

                I like Himawari a lot too, but did something happen to Santa recently? I haven't been there in over a year but I've never had a bad bowl of ramen there.

                1. re: calumin

                  Not sure. I haven't been in a year but I always thought it was pretty average.

                2. re: JonDough

                  We did find Himawari but was closed for lunch. Not sure we'll have time to swing by San Mateo downtown anymore. Will look into Orenchi. Thanks.