Eight Los Angeles Food Photos


Tonkotsu Ramen @ Daikokuya, West Los Angeles. This bowl of ramen contends for the best bowl of ramen that I’ve ever tasted. I still have a strong allegiance to Ramen Dojo in San Mateo, but Daikokuya is equally sublime, if not a bit more simple. The perfectly-cooked egg reveals a keen attention to detail, and the broth is amazingly good. I ate ramen almost every day when I was in Los Angeles, but this bowl (my first of the trip) really resonated with me, and it continues to do so.

I’ve finally uploaded my photos from my trip to Los Angeles earlier this month. It’s a little strange to go back to a place where I once lived for about 10 years, now that it’s also been about 10 years since I’ve lived there. Though the city’s main infrastructure remains familiar, the details have become a [… read more …]

The Dim Sum @ Ton Kiang, San Francisco


A Few of Ton Kiang’s Greatest Hits: Shrimp-stuffed crab claws, pot stickers, foil-wrapped chicken, and steamed pork buns.

Living here in the Napa Valley, San Francisco’s Richmond District has been my gateway to the city over the years. For those who aren’t well-versed in San Francisco’s traffic culture, the Richmond District is definitely the “easiest” neighborhood in the city: There are no hills, there are very few one-way streets, parking is relatively plentiful, and the north-south avenues are all numbered. Add on the fact that it’s the first neighborhood that you encounter when taking the first exit from the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Richmond District feels almost like a San Francisco suburb, despite its geography. It’s a great way to visit the city without going (not just) knee deep into the mayhem.

Although you can find either cheaper (Good Luck) or better (Yank Sing) [… read more …]

The Torta Cubano @ Healdsburg Bar & Grill


The Cubano Sandwich @ Healdsburg Bar & Grill.

There are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to the torta cubana: One school adheres to a traditional standard of ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. The other school remains much more spirited and open-minded in its approach, with Mexican-style tortas that may include hot dogs, beef milanese, fried eggs, guacamole, and several other additional condiments. This latter style of sandwich is best embodied by the über-torta at That’s It Market in San Francisco. The That’s It sandwich remains a beast by anyone’s standard, and it has become infamous for its sheer, all-inclusive decadence.

In comparison, the traditional torta cubana, like the HBG version pictured above, seems almost subdued by nature, quaint in its conformity. At its essence, the traditional cubana lacks the comprehensive, hangover-curing potency of its Mexican cousins, but the [… read more …]

Revisiting San Francisco’s North Beach: Tony’s Napoletana & Giordano Brothers


The Classic Margherita @ Tony’s Pizza Napoletana, North Beach.

In my line of work, I probably eat about five pizzas per week on average. It’s one of the perks and pitfalls of working at an Italian restaurant: On most days, pizza provides a quick and easy “family meal” for the kitchen and restaurant staff. The downside to eating pizza for family meal is that I don’t think I’ve eaten any other restaurant’s pizza for over a year now, the lone exception being a deep dish pie at Gino’s East in Chicago (my late-night dinner at Gino’s East capped a one-day road trip where I ate breakfast at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans and lunch at Rendezvous Ribs in Memphis). Even then, I devoured that Geno’s pie way back in April, so it’s been a while.

Today, I finally decided to allow other pizzas into my [… read more …]

Revisiting the Lucky Pig @ Solbar, Calistoga


The Lucky Pig @ Solbar, Calistoga. Serves two.

When I launched this blog back in 2008, I didn’t have a camera, a fact that seems positively foolhardy to me now. A food blog without photos? What’s the point of that? Surely I had given myself far too much credit as a writer in those early days. After a year of blogging, however, I finally realized that photos were essential to this medium (duh), and I invested in a decent DSLR.

Five years later, I wouldn’t dream of posting a restaurant review without photos. To that end, I’ve been spending the last few weeks at the Accidental Wino cleaning house, deleting those half-formed posts that either don’t contribute much or that have become irrelevant over the years. But I’ve also come across several early posts that were pretty well written, but which lacked the artwork to make [… read more …]

Chicken Pomegranate @ Cafe La Mediterranee, San Francisco Fillmore


Chicken Pomegranate @ Cafe la Mediterranee, San Francisco Fillmore District.

I rarely ever order chicken at a restaurant unless, of course, it’s been deep fried. As a chef, I suppose that I’m far too aware of “food cost” to view poultry as anything other than the perennial high-margin protein. Whether or not this bias is justified, I tend to feel that ordering chicken is unadventurous and, in some cases, an outright sucker bet. I make an exception for fried chicken only because it’s one of my main culinary weaknesses (also, frying anything at home is a huge hassle, so I appreciate the convenience of ordering out).

Since you won’t see much (non-fried) chicken on these pages, you can take the following recommendation to heart: The Chicken Pomegranate at Cafe La Mediterranee, pictured above, is easily one of the best chicken dishes in the city. The skeptical reader might [… read more …]

Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen @ Izakaya Sozai, San Francisco Sunset District


Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen @ Izakaya Sozai, Sunset District, San Francisco. Adds-ons include deep-fried pork belly and garlic chips.

Of all the restaurants in the Bay Area, my biggest nemeses are those that are (a) located in San Francisco, (b) open for dinner only, and (c) busy. Each of these circumstances can make my life difficult: San Francisco, with its one-way streets and no left turns, can be a real hassle to navigate; dinner hours, with their inherent lack of sunlight, are typically terrible for food photography; and busy restaurants, with their limited seating options, are just challenging in general. Izakaya Sozai actually falls into all three of these categories, which is why I had postponed this entry until recently.

As with many great meals, snapping a decent shot of Izakaya Sozai’s Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen required both planning and patience. At the very least, I knew that I needed [… read more …]

The Combo Plate @ De Afghanan Kabob House, Berkeley


Kabob Trifecta: Chicken Kabob, Teka Beef, and Chaplee (spiced ground sirloin). Served with Pallow (brown basmati) and Challow (white basmati).

Although the busy corner of University and San Pablo is typically dominated by the smokey presence of Everett & Jones Barbecue, De Afghanan Kabob House offers the best food in the vicinity. I will admit, comparing Middle Eastern cuisine to American Southern cuisine is an apple-versus-orange proposition. But despite the inherent differences (and similarities) between barbecue and kabob, De Afghanan always earns my top honors for its exquisite simplicity. It’s almost strange that I would arrive at this conclusion. I have deep respect and appreciation for barbecue, and Afghani food is far less familiar to me. But barbecue is finicky, and if it’s not spot-on in its execution, it’s just not very good. Everett & Jones has good days and great days; De Afghanan is always [… read more …]

Sunday Brunch: The Redd Lobster Club @ Redd, Yountville

Baller brunch:

Baller Brunch: The Redd Lobster Club @ Redd, Yountville.

Here’s another meal that didn’t make the cut from my forthcoming ebook: I submit the Redd Lobster Club, available Sundays at Redd as a brunch-only item. This sandwich is a cool $27, which is what initially piqued my interest when I was researching brunch menus.

Redd’s Lobster Club is essentially a BLT with the addition of poached Maine lobster and lemon aioli. The sandwich itself features a fair amount of lobster, and the ingredients are sound, to be sure. However, I’m not wild about the use of crustless brioche, which seems almost too delicate for the task.

Whether on a burger or on a sandwich, I always feel like I have to race against brioche, trying to eat it before it becomes overly soggy. By the same token, I also have a general issue with shoestring fries, which despite [… read more …]

The New Torta Cubana @ Bistro Sabor, Downtown Napa


The Torta Cubana @ Bistro Sabor, Napa.

I was cleaning out some virtual folders when I discovered yet another photo that I had to cut from my forthcoming ebook. Too bad, it was a nice pic, if just a little off-topic for my purposes.

If you’ve been reading this blog since early 2011, you may remember an earlier post about this torta. But one thing has changed since then: The Latin fries, pictured above, have replaced sweet potato chips, and the although the chips were fine, these fries are stellar.

I’m a French fry junkie, and in most cases, I think that seasoning fries with anything other than salt is usually a mistake. I’m definitely not a fan of the famous garlic fries at AT&T Park; to be honest, I think all that raw chopped garlic is off-putting and kind of silly.

But Bistro Sabor really hits the mark [… read more …]