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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



August 8-15, 2006


go to next week's blogs



Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My body is a temple, not an amusement park.

It doesn’t take a nutritionist to figure out that my recent dietary intake has been off the (dangerously) pointy end of the food pyramid. For this reason, it seemed like it was time for something pure and that means sushi.

Ozumo gets fully booked at lunchtime so I was glad we made a rezzie. Chubby and I waltzed by the impromptu diners at the bar and headed for the sunny dining room in the back. The focal point of this room is the large, square sushi bar:

...manned with a crew of knife wielding fish cutters.

We started with miso soup ($3.00):

... which had chunks of tofu and would have been standard issue if it wasn’t for the plentiful wakame seaweed.

The server told us the specials (sans prices) and we requested the dynamite roll ($16.00):

... which did not live up to it’s name unless you count the explosive price for this lackluster, tempura battered maki with a dense, homogenous, mildly spicy, tuna filling. The shower of scallions and tobiko made it look nice, but as my friend TW says, “just because it’s pretty, doesn’t mean it’s good to eat.”

My Mifune Bento ($13.50) came with some pleasant taro and hijiki salads. The maki were standard issue California roll and spicy tuna. The nigiri:

... included tuna, yellowfin, salmon, cooked shrimp, omelet and eel. The salmon was the best of the bunch with a buttery texture and subtle flavor, the rest were what you would expect.

Chubby got the Kurosawa Bento ($19.50):

... which had a taro, seaweed and spinach salad as well as nigiri sushi and sashimi. This was the better of the two bentos (since the maki in the Mifune were meh…maybe they should rename it “meh-fune”?)

We got a pot of green tea ($6.00):

... which was served in a heavy iron pot (difficult to maneuver with furry paws) once we got it into our cups (from this anvil serving unit) it was fragrant and delicious.

It’s obvious that they put a lot of care into the design so it’s a shame that the chairs look so uninviting. They are a pale yellow advertisement for Scotchguard. The various food, beverage and hair product stains are seriously unappetizing (and you really don’t want to sit on them either.) If I were a re-upholsterer, I would have tried to drum up some business “on the spot.”

I was reminded of Postrio when I entered the (clean and well stocked) restroom and heard language tapes. I’m all for multi-tasking in the banjo.

As San Francisco lunch experiences go, this was okay. It’s a good place for office lunches because they can easily accommodate big parties (in the dining room or in their private area that is walled off with sake bottles.)

I don’t think we’ll be heading back anytime soon, but if they re-do their chairs, I may consider it.

161 Steuart St.
San Francisco, CA

Yesterday’s deep fried lunch prompted some email. Katie B. writes:


I was excited to try Eric's in SF and have to say, I was wildly disappointed-had the walnut prawns and they weren't served in such a peculiar fashion, but they still sucked.

Katie B.

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Katie,

I hear that the SF version is served in a lacy potato basket and without the cherry on top. Given the choice, I would pick the maraschino version cause it makes me feel like I’ve had the full on “go big or go home” experience.

It’s interesting that the two restaurants have different recipe playbooks, but I guess that’s true of many of our local chains even if they use the same ingredients.



Sarah also writes about the shrimp sundae:


Dear G,

I sit at my computer every morning, bleary-eyed but excited to see what you ate the day before! It is a vicarious experience for me. I promise myself that as soon as I get out of grad school hell, I’m going to eat out just as much as the Bunrabs! About the walnut shrimp, I think that is just the way that dish goes. You have to order it once to figure out if it floats your boat. I'm pro-mayo but the whole thing feels a bit too much.

Thanks for the hard work!


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sarah,

I too can be “pro-mayo”, but yesterday I gave my mayo-nays.

I couldn’t agree more about trying different things to figure out what floats your boat.  I’m actually glad I gave that dish a try (even though it was difficult for me to look at later in the day while my internal monologue kept repeating, “I can’t believe I ate that.”)

Good luck on grad school!







Monday, August 14, 2006

I was excited to hear that Eric’s Restaurant was opening an outpost in San Rafael.

I had heard raves about the food at their San Francisco mother ship and wondered if this new restaurant (which took over the location Tsing Tao) would live up to the hype.

I had heard of a couple dishes that were required eating, one of them was the walnut prawns ($9.50):

These caught me by surprise. I envisioned a stir fry, but it was a tostada fused with a sundae. The battered, deep fried shrimp were  slightly oily and dampened with an aesthetically disturbing, mayonnaisey sauce (in case I needed some more oil with my deep fried food.) The crunchy elements were the deep fried pastry basket and the candied walnuts. This entrée/dessert combo was crowned by a maraschino cherry.

Although I applaud their creativity, this dish was seriously not my thing. If there was a dry ice element with cascading vapor involved, as well as a half a dozen Mai Tais, then I may have been on board, but without these dietary aids, it just wasn’t in context.

To be fair, there were plenty of dishes that sounded as though they contained absolutely no reference to an ice cream dessert. There were people in the restaurant enjoying less Fear Factor-esque food (than my dish) and they seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I can’t help but marvel at this particular cuisine…I wonder if the maraschino cherry was introduced to Hunan and Mandarin cooking by Marco Polo…

Tsing Tao Eric’s Hunan and Mandarin Restaurant
907 B Street
San Rafael, CA


From today’s bunrab email, Aaron writes about another local chain:


That's so sad about the San Rafael Crepevine. Sounds like the kitchen staff is about as flat as the flavor of those pancakes. The whole thing is very funny to me, as the Berkeley situation is just the opposite....Pretty decent food with rude and ineffective service...oh well!


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Aaron,

I think that consistency is difficult to achieve in one restaurant. When you start multiplying, it’s almost impossible to re-create the same chow unless everything comes from a central kitchen or out of a can and robots are involved…actually, a robot restaurant could do pretty well around here…





Sunday, August 13, 2006

I love quickbreads. Biscuits, muffins and scones activate my brain’s carbo pleasure zone. So imagine my disappointment when the widely praised pumpkin pancakes ($6.95):

... from Crepevine were doughy, flavor deficient flopjacks.

After my looked-better-than-they-tasted crepe experience, I was hesitant to return, but then I heard that crepes are the last thing you should order at this counter service eatery, so it was time to order a recommended dish. Did I catch them on an off day? The flavor needed pump-kining up. Cinnamon dominated the uni-dimensional taste of these rub-on-tan tinted man hole covers. They were thick and the middles verged on underdone with a raw-floury flavor. Syrup and butter usually act as tastebud spackle at the breakfast table, but nothing could support this squashed tower.

The people who worked there were friendly and efficient so at least something at Crepevine doesn’t fall flat.

908 4th Street
San Rafael, CA




Saturday, August 12, 2006

There are those motivated and energetic enough to make it to the Saturday Ferry Building Farmer’s Market early and there are those who refuse to set the alarm and must pay the penalty of jumping into the veggie mosh pit later in the day.

I was going to get something breakfasty at the Rose Pistola:

... booth, but the Monterey calamari ($8.00):

... sounded way too good to pass up. 

My friend O won’t eat squid because he says it’s like “chewing on condoms.” O. if you’re reading, try these, they will be the Trojan horse that violates the walls of your misconception.

Saying that my meal was superior to masticating on a prophylactic is just the beginning of my praise for this seafood treat. The squid were cooked perfectly just to the first hint of doneness so that their tender yet springy flesh showed off their freshness after a brief acquaintance with the grill.  The bed of broccoli di ciccio was a touch overcooked (but was still good.) The white beans had a starchy mouth-feel that was exaggerated by their huge size, but the salsa verde and olive oil helped to pull all of the flavors together. For eight bucks, it’s an excellent deal.

Chubby got a breakfast sandwich ($8.00):

... which held a slightly overcooked omelet. The firmer than ideal egg texture was soothed by applewood smoked bacon, basil and mozzarella. Home fries came on the side. These potatoes were nicely seasoned but didn’t have the almost burnt, crispy edges that push spuds to their full potential.

To be fair,  these are mild, picky complaints. My squid and Chubby’s sandwich are a wonderful way to have an al fresco fueling up before braving the crowds.

Before we got to our marketing, it was time to have our cups of Blue Bottle coffee ($2.00 each):

... that we ordered before eating (it takes a long time because they brew it to order and there was a non-stop line of addicts.

It is a good idea to go to Out The Door (the Slanted Door to go restaurant) for a quicker cup of the same Joe, but we needed to hover around the Rose Pistola stand for our names to be called, so we were unable utilize that time saving measure today.

The Downtown Bakery and Creamery:

... has a much faster moving queue since everything they sell is ready-made. I got a nectarine and blueberry galette ($4.00):

... which had a crisp crust that was peasant bloused around slices of ripe stone fruit and small blubes. Just the right dessert when perusing the fruity offerings for sale at the booths down the way.

Chubby got a fig Newton ($1.25):

... which was a XXL variation of the garden variety version. The filling was a rich, fruity, paste encased in a firm cake, not bad, but not craveable.

He also got a fruit pocket ($1.50):

... which is a fancy, puff pastry pop tart. It had a flakey, sugar-dusted light crust which was out of balance with the small amount of raspberry pear filling. The flavors were all there, but it needed more fruity texture and acidity to make it balanced.

But again, picky, picky. Downtown Bakery and Creamery makes a mean almond tart (that same one that was made famous at Chez Panisse) as well as many of their other doughy sweets.

Then it was off to get some charcuterie (at Fatted Calf) and grab some juicy peaches before hitting the road (after a quick pit stop.)

I felt sorry for the long line:

... of those with XX chromosomes as I whizzed past to use the XY room (or “I past to whiz” if that order concerns you.)

San Francisco Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA


From today’s Bunrab email Anne writes:


I just read your review of the E & O Trading Company. Living in Mill Valley, I've been there twice (not sure why I tried it a second time!). I agree with your thoughts - the food is mediocre and not very interesting. I also think it's overpriced. When the bathroom is the best part of a restaurant, it's not a good sign...I really love reading your reviews, especially since many are for places in Marin. Your pictures are great as well. Keep up the good eating and writing!


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Anne,

Maybe E&O stands for and Eh & Overpriced. We’re glad you are enjoying the Marin coverage and more is in the works. Thanks for your support.





Friday, August 11, 2006

Caffe Macaroni attracts a mix of tourists, locals, business people and large office birthday parties.

Lunch was a mini-reunion of former co-workers. The Chief speaks fluent Italian and they know him well at this restaurant. My pal, Professor T. is visiting from Florence, so there was a concert of passionate and melodious Italian chatter over our meal.

My gnocchi ($9.25):

...may not have been the ethereal, cloudlike, ideal, but in this festive, convivial environment, it didn’t make any difference (I did clean my plate.) Since the Chief is a regular, our table got special attention and a great time was had by all.

The company is always the most essential ingredient to a good meal.

Caffe Macaroni
59 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA

From today’s bunrab email bag, Elle writes:


I love reading your musings everyday but I wonder...do you ever gain weight? If I ate like that I would be a two ton Tessie.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Elle,

Yes, weight gain is one of the side effects of eating in the San Francisco Bay Area, but through vigilance and a strict regimen of daily scale monitoring, I try to remain under two tons at all times.



Chubby also got an email from a fellow blogger. Catherine writes:

I was just LOL at the In-and-Out Biblical references you found - that's pretty darn interesting. So I'm meeting a friend for dim sum this weekend - he picked Yank Sing, which I haven't tried. When I lived in the city we went to Ton Kiang. Does Chubby have an opinion?


Chubby replies:

Dear Catherine,

Those are two of the best Dim Sum places in the city. I like Ton Kiang for their hustle bustle (as well as the chow.)  Yank Sing is a little more posh and probably good for catching up with your friend. in terms of volume (audio, not food.)

Your pal,





Thursday, August 10, 2006

What makes the fried chicken sandwich ($7.25):

... from Bakesale Betty work is the crunch from the crusty, deep fried, boneless chicken.  This well seasoned breast is padded with a jalapeño and red onion slaw in a soft torpedo roll. It’s a craveable sandwich that you should eat on site (so all of the crispy bits are preserved.)

Another famous BB item is the banana bread ($1.50):

... which will make you hollaback for more. They weren’t shy with the spices in this moist, sugar dusted, potassium loaf.

The ginger pear scone ($1.95):

... is a populated with bits of candied ginger and dried pear. As usual, Bakesale Betty hits the spot.

Bakesale Betty
5098 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA




Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Mo bad luck

If you visit her site, you can see Amy has been busy doing some burger research. She knew about our quest for the best burger and had recommended Mo’s as a superior specimen.

I ordered a cheeseburger ($6.35):

... medium rare and it was delivered bloody rare (which is within my meat eating range of doneness) so I dug in. It could have used another cycle on the rotating grill to give it a better sear. As prepared, it was of the tartare persuasion. 

I noticed that the patties were given an aggressive pounding (by the cook) before they were placed on the grill over volcanic rocks. I prefer a gentler hand with the meat so that the patty is less compacted.

They use aged Angus beef and punch them into discs that match the bun size (so you have no meatless bites.) Their toasted bun is strong enough to stand up to juices, but soft enough to complement and not dominate the sandwich. A slice of red onion, generic tomato and leaf of lettuce accessorized this overly mayonnaised tower.

I ordered my fries extra crispy per Amy’s recco and they were crunchy and plentiful (but given the name of this eatery, they really should have “curly” fries.)

Chubby got the California burger ($7.35):

... which comes with jack cheese and avocado. The anger management/punching bag activity on the patty didn’t help this to rocket to the top of our burger list. It was good, but not great. He got his with a side of chili ($1.95) which wasn’t bad. It had a good chilli flavor and nicely textured beans. He asked if crackers were available and the pleasant waitress said they didn’t have crackers so she brought croutons instead.

We could have caught them on an off day, but even so,  it’s difficult to inspire consumer confidence when a restaurant is named for a stooge, and not just any stooge, but the leader of the stooges.  At least nobody double poked us in the eyes or slapped us around during our visit.




Mo’s Gourmet Hamburgers
1322 Grant Ave.
San Francisco, CA





Tuesday, August 8, 2006

I didn’t get a chance to stop for lunch until 3:30 when options narrow drastically. E&O serves straight through, switching to the dinner menu at 4:30. The only tricky bit is that it’s such a strange hour for a mid-day meal that it’s hard to get (and keep) the attention of those feeding you.

The waiter realized that I had been waiting a long time to place my order so he comped me a cup of jasmine tea to sip while my meal was being prepared.

The lamb and asparagus salad ($12.95):

... sounded more interesting than it tasted. The preparation was served cold which muted the flavor of the grilled lamb. The chilly pencils of asparagus were slightly wilty and the flavor had gotten tired of waiting around, so it left. The woody stalks should have been trimmed a little further and the curry vinaigrette dressed salad contained no evidence of the pea shoots that were listed on the menu.

I decided that my naan order had gone unheard when it did not arrive with my salad, but as I was reaching the half way point on my lunch, the waiter told me that the cook had burnt my naan and was making a new one. I decided to stop eating until it arrived so I didn’t have to eat my bread for dessert.

The spicy sweet potato naan ($4.95):

... fulfilled it’s spicy description with a hot (but not too hot) kick, sadly,  there was no depth of flavor. The cucumber raita had a cooling effect, but this dish was in need of layers of spices rather than simply relying on the caliente factor.

The Asian inspired décor and moody lighting attracts cocktail seekers.

I’ve been turned away by the daunting weekend crowds at the popular bar in the past.

Bunrab reader and supporter, Steven, tipped us off to the cool bathrooms at E&O.

The unisex washing up area, bifurcates into the men’s and women’s rooms. Very stylish.

I might have caught them on their collective cigarette break or shift change, but my lunch was lackluster. This might be a better place for a cocktail and a skewer of chicken than a place to focus on a meal. I might try it again, but it’s not at the top of my list.

E&O Trading Company
2231 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA




back to last week - August 1-7, 2006



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