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Best bites of 2013

What dishes should we slip in before the year's end or add to our 2014 to-eat list?

Now is your chance to contextualize the excellence of the dishes you ate in 2013. Going with the convention, and to maximize signal for the SF Bay Area board, list up to ten new (to you) local tastes. Drinks allowed. To help us all plan our next excursion, feel free to list separately at most ten destination worthy dishes you ate while traveling.

Some previous "annual" Top 10 lists:
2012: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/885283
2011: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824922
2010: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751261
2009: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/677458
2008: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/584380
2007: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/468298
2005-2006: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/325439
2004-2005: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/36284
2003: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/27506

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  1. Thanks for getting this started hyperbowler!

    Like last year, I am only including things on my list that I tried for the first time this year. Here are my favorite bites from 2013, in no particular order. I apologize for including more than 10.

    Garganelli, Date Braised Oxtail, Buckwheat, Flowering Raab at Rich Table, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892691

    Guilin Rice Noodles at Classic Guilin Rice Noodles, Oakland: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/917829

    Steamed Cold Noodles at Xi’an Gourmet, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/914726

    Hu Tieu Nam Vang at Ha Nam Ninh, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/918498

    Cheeseburger at Super Duper, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9151...

    Nacatamales at Casa Latina, Berkeley: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809774

    Mohinga (catfish stew) at Little Yangon, Daly City: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/664413

    Toffee Assam Milk Tea (and Jasmine Milk Tea) at Super Cue, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9130...

    Hashbrown Sandwich at Art’s Café, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/922014

    Rice Ball Salad at Champa Garden, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9035...

    Kouignn Amann at B Patisserie, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8774...

    Dry fried string beans with pork and olive at LY Garden, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8861...

    Brussels Sprouts at B-Star, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/898783

    Bo Bia at Song Ngu, Milpitas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9060...

    Dan Dan Mian at Happy Golden Bowl, El Cerrito: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8844...

    Kimchi pancake and oxtail stew at To Hyang, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8866...

    Molcajete at La Casa del Sazon, Salinas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5469...

    Dry-fried chicken (San Tung style) at Tenglong, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/888814

    Zha ziang mian and various pancakes at House of Pancake, San Francisco: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8900...

    Honey cake from 20th Century Café, San Francisco: Haven’t posted about this, but man, this was good!

    Passion Fruit cake from Tartine Bakery, San Francisco: Haven’t posted about this, but I really enjoyed a slice I had at a friend’s birthday party.

    Hamachi on “Nori Toast” at State Bird Provisions, San Francisco: Haven’t posted about this, but this was one of my favorites from my meal there. It was one of the passed specials.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP

      And if I had to narrow it down to only 10, they would be:

      Zha Ziang Mian at House of Pancake, SF
      Brussels Sprouts at B-Star
      Kouignn Amann at B Patisserie
      Toffee Assam Tea at Super Cue
      Hu Tieu Nam Vang at Ha Nam Ninh
      Honey Cake at 20th Century Cafe
      Mohinga at Little Yangon
      Garganelli at Rich Table
      Guilin Noodles at Classic Guilin Rice Noodles
      Rice Ball Salad at Champa Garden

      1. re: Dave MP

        Ooh, thanks for linking reports!

        Yeah, ten is a challenge--- deciding between the pancakes and ZZM at House of Panacakes will definitely require a list of runner ups for me too :-)

    2. For the first time this year:

      Beet & goat cheese salad with popped quinoa at Rich Table
      Lamb chops from Lavash
      Miso/mushroom soup at Maruya
      Octopus at Coqueta
      Sheep butter from Rainbow Grocery
      Sierra Beauty apples from the farmers market

      And traveling entries: the tasting menu at Alinea. Uni at Soto in NYC.

      1. Rather than point to specific bites, I will just say:

        This was the year of the goat.

        I discovered goat meat at 4505 butcher on Mission Street this year. I've cooked several different cuts different ways, and it's become my new favorite. Lighter than beef, less strong tasting than lamb, less fatty than pork.... it's just great.

        I've made goat neck ragu, goat chops, moroccan lentil soup with goat shoulder bits. It's been a revelation.

        4 Replies
        1. re: pauliface

          Goat is usually gamier than lamb. If what you're getting is mild, it's probably Boer goat.

            1. re: pauliface

              The goat I've had in the past year was milder than the lamb, also.

          1. re: pauliface

            I've been eating goat for about 25 years and have never found it anything other than mild. I've also never understood "gamey" being applied to goats or lamb as neither of them generally are "game" at all. I suppose if you're out hunting wild goats, then sure.

          2. Several dishes new to me stood out as special in 2013, but these ten top the list:

            20th Century Café (SF): Russian Honey cake http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9144...
            Bar Tartine (SF): Chicken paprikas with spaetzle and black trumpets
            China Village (Albany): Spicy Charred Stir-Fried Cabbage
            Cotogna (SF) : Bigoli with crab http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8882...
            Fusebox (Oakland) : Agedashi tofu
            Happy Golden Bowl (El Cerrito): Spicy Hot Boiled Lamb http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8889...
            House of pancakes (SF) : Onion pancake with egg http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8900...
            El Molino Central (Sonoma): Beans with house rendered lard
            Stag’s Lunchette (Oakland): breakfast sandwich
            Sushi Sho (El Cerrito) : chawanmushi http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8999...

            Some runners up: All Season Restaurant pork puffy bun; Cotogna pinenut tart; Frances Chickpea Fritters, Spring Garlic, Fromage Blanc, Meyer Lemon; Hi-Lo BBQ burger with pork belly and chicharron; Piccino hen of the woods mushroom ravioli in whey sauce with oregano; R&G Lounge salt and pepper crab; Roxie Food Center breakfast sandwich; Zanze pumpkin cheesecake

            US travels, all places courtesy of 'hound tips:
            Cheeky's (Palm Springs) : jalapeño bacon
            Pizzeria Mozza (LA) : squash blossom pizza
            Tabare (Brooklyn) : chorizo clam chowder

            3 Replies
            1. re: hyperbowler

              Based on our annual two trips to the Bay Area in 2013, way more than ten (but I starred the top ten at least!):

              drinks and sweet treats:
              hibiscus ginger drink at Heyday
              *sweet cream ice cream at Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous
              house lychee tea at Creations Dessert House
              Body Heat at Laszlo's
              "gimlet" well drink at Social Kitchen
              plain salted caramels at Hooker's Sweet Treats
              buckeye at Trouble
              *monkey bread dessert at Outerlands
              *Make Westing's garden gimlet, Oakland
              hot butterscotch drink at 20th Century Café

              lemon ricotta pancakes at Plow
              *spicy octopus stew at La Ciccia (that broth!)
              Naked Lunch burger
              *fried chicken at Miss Ollie's, Oakland
              Marla's cheese turnover at now shuttered Wrecking Ball
              spring salad at Gioia
              *jia san hinga soup and housemade hot sauce at Mandalay
              *pretzel at Monk's Kettle
              *uni flan at Skool
              cheese and pepper muffin at The Mill
              *onion rings at Kronnerburger (hope these are at the new place)
              Aunt Malai's sausage sandwich at Pal's Takeaway
              chilaquiles at Southie, Rockridge
              *burger at Hopscotch, Oakland

              1. re: grayelf

                Is the pretzel you ate at Monk's Kettle pretzel shaped or more of a knot? The small size of a knot I spotted there dissuaded me from getting it, but perhaps I should reconsider!

                1. re: hyperbowler

                  Not big and indeed kinda knotty but really excellent (only had it once of course so it might have been a fluke). Here's a pic for ya!

            2. My most memorable dishes of the year were the roasted wild prawns at La Ciccia and the smoked potatoes at Bar Tartine.



              1. A lot of mine aren't new to the board, but were new to me in 2013:

                1. uni pasta at SPQR
                2. scallop entree at SPQR
                3. Spoonful of Happiness at Koo
                4. raw beef salad at Yummy Yummy
                5. cinammon roll at Devil's Teeth Bakery
                6. devilled eggs at Fog City
                7. Khoresht Bademjan at Maykadeh
                8. BBQ oysters at The Marshall Store in Point Reyes
                9. limeade at Sol Food in San Rafael

                1. Tea Leaf Salad at Burmese Kitchen
                  Porcini doughnuts at Rich Table
                  Dittto on the Honey Cake at 20th Century Cafe
                  Another great cake at Tout Sweet Patisserie - called Tout Sweet Cake
                  Lobster Roll at Sams Chowdermobile
                  Liberty Valley Duck at Prospect
                  Margharita Pizza at Pizzaiolo
                  Mochimisu -Koja Kitchen
                  Eggs Benedict at Cafe de la Presse
                  Agnolotti dal plin at Cotogna
                  Gulf Shrimp at TBD

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Sharon S.

                    What is honey cake and what makes it so good?

                  2. Many of my best bites were old favorites at the reopened China Village. Too many to name!

                    Fried chicken and waffles at Next Door in Berkeley.

                    SuperDuper burgers and fries, which I just discovered this year.

                    Posole at La Mission in Berkeley

                    1. Pozole @ Cosecha (Oakland)
                      Salad w/ pomegranate and persimmon @ Cosecha
                      Fried Chicken @ Miss Ollie's (Oakland)
                      Vegetarian Ramen @ The Ramen Shop (Oakland)
                      House-made pickles @ The Ramen Shop
                      Multi-layered honey cake @ 20th Century Cafe (San Francisco)
                      Hot butterscotch @ 20th Century Cafe
                      Spicy stir-fried cabbage @ China Village (Albany)
                      Fresh persimmon from Dry Creek Peach and Produce (Healdsburg)
                      Combo Bahn Mi @ Saigon Sandwich (San Francisco)

                      1. Squid with iberco and black truffle consommé @ Atelier Crenn
                        Walk in the forrest @ Atelier Crenn
                        Grape & Hazelnut @ Atelier Crenn

                        New potatoes @ Chez Panisse Café -- this was a fish dish, maybe sturgeon. Doesn't matter, as it was the poached potatoes that were unforgettable.

                        Pancetta wrapped rabbit @ Oliveto

                        Krondill poached lobster, skagen, white fish caviar, horseradish, avocado, chili @ Pläj

                        Ravioli with huitlocoche @ Loló -- later my wife had it again and thought it was too bitter and heavy, but it didn't feel so when we had it together.

                        Nettles and clam pizza @ Cotogna -- clam juice and nettle puree formed the sauce.

                        Banana and chocolate croissant @ B Patisserie


                        Toasted Grains @ Red Medicine, LA

                        Galbi @ Park's BBQ, LA

                        Marlin taco @ Mariscos German, San Diego

                        Scallop crudo with citrus @ George's Modern, San Diego

                        Octopus with fingerling potatoes and green beans @ the Purple Pig, Chicago

                        Steak and foie gras in mole negreo @ Topolobampo, Chicago

                        1. -Blood Sausage w/ Spaetzle at Bar Tartine
                          -Honey Cake at 20th Century Cafe
                          -Dungeness Crab Kimchi Yuba w/ Smoked Egg at State Bird Provisions
                          -Sweet Corn Triangoli at Cotogna
                          -Beef Cheek Gravy Poutine at Kronnerburger
                          -Salted Egg Yolk Battered Shrimp and Corn at Z&Y
                          -Brandade w/ Green Strawberries and Bay Shrimp Chips at Rich Table

                          1. Potato chips w/salmon roe and creme fraiche @ State Bird Provisions

                            Chicken soup @ Rich Table