Friday, May 22, 2015

San Francisco: Hong Kong Lounge


Hong Kong Lounge  5322 Geary Blvd./17th Ave., Inner Richmond, (415) 668-8836.  This newish, highly-rated, and very popular dim sum parlour is also well-priced—it cost us only $15 per person including tip.  It’s easy to find—just look for the crowd out front on the sidewalk.  Diners are accommodate in three clean and comfortable dining rooms--one large one in the front with a small alcove off of it, and another largish one in the back.  Unfortunately, there are no rolling carts here, but that means you can start filling out the menu order form while you are waiting.  Then, when you are seated, you give it to your waiter and dishes start arriving piping hot from the kitchen.  Though the tea pot brought to our group of four was of adequate size for only one and of poor design—it burned my fingers as I tried to remove the top to stir the leaves—dim sum items are generously sized.  Order two dishes per person.  My favorites here were baked pork buns and pork taro dumplings, though I liked everything.  Pork ribs in coffee sauce were unusual enough and became weird with the addition of whipped cream.  One among us was crazy about chicken feet in general and said of these that “they are the best I’ve ever had.”  Note that only one credit card is accepted per group.  On a Sunday it took us ½-hour to park four long blocks away followed by a 1½ -hour wait (don’t forget your SPF; I actually got a sunburn while waiting on the shadeless sidewalk).  I recommend stopping to get your wait ticket before you park.  Overall, I think it was worth the hassle.  I'll go again, but only on a week day.  
Hong Kong Lounge on Urbanspoon

interior of Hong Kong Lounge in San Francisco

baked port buns at Hong Kong Lounge in San Francisco
baked pork buns

coffee pork ribs at Hong Kong Lounge in San Francisco
coffee pork ribs with whipped cream

chicken feet at Hong Kong Lounge in San Francisco
chicken feet

shrimp chives dumplings at Hong Kong Lounge in San Francisco
shrimp chives dumplings

eggplant stuffed with fish at Hong Kong Lounge in San Francisco
eggplant stuffed with fish

the bill at Hong Kong Lounge in San Francisco

Dim sum photo gallery.
 
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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Volcano, Black Chasm Cavern

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Black Chasm Cavern  15701 Pioneer-Volcano Rd., (866) 762-2837, (209) 736-2708.  M-F 10-4, Sat-Sun 10-5; in summer daily 9-5.  $15.95, 3-12 $8.50; gemstone mining & gold panning $5+.  Stalactites, flow-stone, and dragons, oh my!  This easy 45-minute cave tour visits the Colossal Room, which measures 100 feet across and 150 feet deep and provides glimpses of a deep, turquoise lake far below, and the Landmark Room, which features a spectacular display of twisting, looping helictite crystals.  The caves are a constant cool 57 degrees.  Gemstone mining and picnic tables are available outside.

 
"dragon" feature at Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, California
flow-stone at Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano, California


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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Friday, May 15, 2015

80 North: Berkeley, Gaumenkitzel


Gaumenkitzel  2121 San Pablo Ave./Addison St., (510) 647-5016.  L-D Tu-Sun, Sat-SunBr; $-$$.  Reservations taken but not needed.  This colorful north German bakery restaurant operates in one large open room with a high ceiling and light-colored wood tables.  It is airy, inviting, and filled with mellow background music.  The name translates as "palate thrill," and that seems to be the goal of the menu.  According to the menu the owners are “Germans from Hamburg,” so I was expecting some tradition.  Flour for the fresh-baked bread is milled in house, and a pastry chef makes everything on site as well.  Local, seasonal, organic ingredients are used, and pride is taken in having no microwave, deep-fryer, or freezer.  I lunched on a very good crispy, thin pork schnitzel sandwich with mustard aioli.  Items I’d like to try in the future include a housemade pretzel with small sausages and potato salad, some spaetzle, goulash, and the fresh soup.  As would be expected, the selection of German beer is extensive--the menu claims it is the largest selection of German beer in the East Bay--and I understand they even have apple cider from Frankfurt.  I was a bit disappointed by the Black Forest cake that was described as traditional.  The cake itself was light-colored and not very chocolatey, while I was expecting a dark devils food-style cake as I’ve had in Germany.  There are only a few desserts, so check in advance in the case by the register to see what is available.  I noticed there, too late, a promising Meyer-lemon meringue that I will order next time.  A small grocery selection of German candies, chocolates, condiments, and beverages are available to purchase.  Guten appetit!
Gaumenkitzel on Urbanspoon


interior of Gaumenkitzel in Berkeley, California


pork schnitzel sandwich at Gaumenkitzel in Berkeley, California


Black Forest cake at Gaumenkitzel in Berkeley, California

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek: Sutter Creek Inn

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Sutter Creek Inn  75 Main St., (209) 267-5606.  17 rooms; $-$$.  Unsuitable for children.  Some TVs & wood-burning fireplaces.  Afternoon snack; full breakfast.  No pets.  Opened as an inn in 1966, this 1859 Greek Revival structure was one of the first B&Bs west of the Mississippi and has staked its claim as the first in California.  Rooms are available in the house as well as in six vintage out buildings.  As guests arrive each day, homemade lemonade and cookies are served in the garden, and a full sit-down breakfast is served family-style at long tables in the dining room and kitchen.  Each room has its own charm--one has a closet filled with books, another a clawfoot tub.  For those who have been longing to spend the night swinging in a bed suspended from the ceiling by chains, this inn fulfills that and other yearnings.  Some visitors have even seen a friendly ghost, although it has been more than 25 years since the last sighting.  Croquet and hammocks beckon from the garden. 


exterior of Sutter Creek Inn in Sutter Creek, California


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top image ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers; bottom image courtesy of inn


Monday, May 11, 2015

San Francisco: Super Duper Burgers


Super Duper Burgers  721 Market St./3rd St., downtown, (415) 538-3437www.superdupersf.com. B-L-D daily; $.  The usual long line here moves fast.  Music and staff are pleasant, and among the seating choices are a small balcony and outside patio areas.  Popular menu items include the mini burger combo (single burger, garlic fries, and a fountain drink); organic Straus soft-serve ice cream cones and tall, thin shakes; and complimentary jalapeno peppers and pickles.  A super burger with two patties and an organic veggie burger are also available.  Vegetarian-fed beef is ground fresh daily, and packaging is compostable.
Super Duper Burgers on Urbanspoon

exterior of Super Duper Burgers in downtown San Francisco

indoor menu at Super Duper Burgers in downtown San Francisco

Super Duper Burgers burger in downtown San Francisco

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers