September 26, 2009

San Mateo: Hotaru Japanese Restaurant



101 South

Hotaru Japanese Restaurant 33 E. 3rd Ave./El Camino Real, (650) 343-1152. L-D daily; $. No reservations. Featuring a traditional Japanese decor, with some wood booths and a small sushi bar as well as tables and chairs, this small “homestyle” Japanese restaurant dishes up some tasty fare. An extensive sushi menu is the main draw, but delicious tempura and tonkatsu—a lightly-breaded fried pork cutlet—are also options. Expect a short wait; it is always packed with people waiting.


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video ©2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

September 21, 2009

Oakland: Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill



80 North

Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill  1520 Lakeside Dr./17th St., (510) 208-LAKE. L-D daily, Sat-SunBr; $$-$$$. Reservations advised. Valet parking. Situated within the beautifully reformulated 100-year-old Lake Merritt boat house, this new restaurant offers a variety of venues. Seating is available outside on a dock with its own bar and menu, as well as inside at a long bar and also in a formal dining room upstairs that has a grand view. Menu highlights include a lovely, very green English pea soup with ham hock and crème fraiche, a delicate fried Petrale sole piccata served atop Yukon Gold potato puree and steamed watercress, and Liberty Farms duck with a roasted fig sauce. Other popular choices include barbecued baby back ribs, a half- pound burger, and assorted selections from the raw bar. Cocktails, mostly California wines, and the parent restaurant’s hand-crafted Beach Chalet beers (on tap) will quench most thirsts. Celebrating a special occasion? Consider surprising your dining companion with a romantic gondola ride leaving from the restaurant’s dock ((866) 737-8494; reservations advised). Allow time before or after to stroll around lovely Lake Merritt. In daylight, you’ll see a variety of birds (the lake is a bird sanctuary), and from dusk on, you’ll be enchanted by the encircling chain of lights.


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September 2, 2009

Concord: Chopan Kabob



Greater East Bay

Chopan Kabob 2699 Monument Blvd. #A/near Cowell Rd., (925) 689-5488. L-D daily; $. Located unpresumptiously in an out-of-the-way strip mall, this tiny Afghan restaurant offers a comfortable open dining room and kitchen along with a menu of delights. Order bolani (thin flatbread stuffed with either mashed potato or leeks) as an appetizer and some deliciously spiced house-specialty kabobs (perhaps the ground lamb seekh kabob, or the ground beef kabob (which is prepared like a hamburger patty). The meals come with a fresh tomato-onion salad, rice, and pita-style flat bread.
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