Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Have You Heard the One about the Ox in the Dim Sum Shop?

Looking for the best dim sum tidbits in the San Francisco Bay area?

SF Chronicle comes to the resuce with a Lunar New Year themed round up of local dim sum ("little bites of heaven") restaurants in the region.

Here's the link.

Includes rules for proper chopstick (or is it chopstix) use and photos of some of the different kinds of dim sum available in local joints.

Have a happy lunar new year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Catch a Ride on the Culture Bus

File this under I had no idea and now it's (almost gone)

San Francisco has a special bus line -- the 74x that connects downtown and Golden Gate Park cultural attractions and museums.

The bus is being cut back from every 20 minutes to once an hour.

Check 511 for info and routing or read the San Francisco Chronicle story here. Check out the sfculture bus site or call 311 (as on your phone) within San Francisco for info.

This is huge news, it can take lots of transfers to get between these sites and lots of time. Plus you avoid parking and traffic jams. The bright yellow buses do cost $7 (good all day), but that's lots less than a cab and by showing your ticket at the DeYoung Museum or the Academy of Sciences you do receive discounts. If you have a SF Muni passport (which you really should if you are visiting -- it will save you a fortune on cable car rides), the culture bus is just $3.
About the image -- from

UPDATE 8/09 -- The culture bus could be a gonner due to budget cuts. Check 511.0rg for info before planning on using it.
UPDATE: 9/9 -- the bus is gone. Sigh. A victim of budget cuts.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Only in the Bay Area? Sundays at the Thai Temple

There is a remarkable experience available every Sunday in a residential neighborhood in Berkeley where the local Thai temple serves an amazing brunch. Members of the congregation cook and serve and people throughout the bay come for the steam table Thai food, the colors, sights and smells of alfresco dining, perhaps a peek at Buddha and the temple, and a feeling of connection with each other and with a country half a world away.

I first went to the Wat Mongkolratanaram temple brunch a few years ago, had a wonderful time and took some nice photos and filed it under "I need to blog about this," but got busy with other things and kinda forgot about it.

Now the Sunday morning tradition is endangered since it seems that the temple's residential neighbors are a little tired of some 1,352 visitors for brunch every Sunday and the temple's operating permit from the city only allowed three such brunches a year. The temple has filed to revamp its permit and has tried to ameliorate some of its neighbors' concerns as to parking, hours, trash, etc., so I hope some compromise can be reached at the February 12 Berkeley Zoning Adjustment Board Meeting since not only is the brunch a remarkable event to participate in, it raises a lot of money for the temple and its cultural center.

When I went, the food was good, not great. There were vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. I remember the mango sticky rice dessert with a lot of fondness. We had waited for a nice day, since all seating is outside. We went into the temple and enjoyed talking to the monk who was there from Thailand.

The site I found for the temple was all in Thai.
Info on the Thai cultural center (in English)
Save the Thai Temple has updates on the permit and links to the planning board and other sites.
This article in Harboiled, the UC Berkeley Asian American news magazine, has a lot of background
There is a Facebook page dedicated to saving the Sunday brunch and helping the Thai temple.
For more info on the food and the brunch experience, check out the temple's Yelp listing here. There are something like 271 reviews of the experience listed.

Note: Brunch hours are now 10 to 1. The temple is located at 1911 Russell St., Berkeley, CA 94703. Phone is (510) 849-3419

While I cook Thai food quite often (and eat it out even more often), I really haven't blogged much about it. You can read some of my Thai curry recipes here and here. But do what I do when I am looking for a Thai recipe, check out Chez Pim's Thai recipe category.
If you need to use public transit to go the the temple, check out to route yourself there and back.

Update: As of 4/1/09 - the temple has won prelim. approval. Brunches -- and the legal process -- continue

Friday, January 2, 2009

Some East Bay Restaurants for You to Try

Looking for some place to eat in the Oakland - Berkeley area?
I just posted a write up of my experiences at Flora, Herbivore, Vik's Chaat House and Lalimes over at Blog Appetit.

You can read all about it here.