Archive for the junkfoodie Hall of Fame Category

Best Chinese Roast Duck & Roast Pig in SF

Posted in Around the Bay Area, Chinese, junkfoodie Hall of Fame with tags , , on April 3, 2015 by junkfoodie

Well, junkfoodie is back after a long absence due to laziness. I’ve done a lot of eating, but no blogging. Here is one of my favorites for under $10 in the City. Not only is it cheap and tasty, it may be the best in it’s class in the Bay area.

My go-to place for Chinese BBQ in the City is Cheung Hing (2339 Noriega St. @ 30th Ave.across the street from Safeway.). It is a mostly takeout place, but they do have 4-5 tables inside the bare, clean (if slightly greasy) interior. Service is pleasant, but typical for a non-English speaking Chinese place.

I usually order some variation of the two-item BBQ plate ($7.25). This time, I got the roast duck and roast pig. The duck is crispy skinned, not too greasy and has a nice sweet/salty flavor. The duck is ladled with a scoop of salty duck jus, which adds to it’s succulence.

Cheung Hing

The roast pig here is the thing…crispy, crackling skin, which you expect, but also a nice. moist meaty hunk ‘o porkiness attached. There isn’t a huge layer of fat, but what makes this version so good is the subtle smokiness in the meat which only enhances it’s sweetness.

Served over a bed of fluffy rice and a pile of boiled cabbage, it’s a great under $10 meal, and one of the best examples outside of Hong Kong.


Best seafood bite…maybe ever?

Posted in Around the Bay Area, junkfoodie Hall of Fame with tags on April 3, 2015 by junkfoodie

I know it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy (and lazy). Many folks have implored me to get back to posting, and a meal I had recently has compelled me to get back on the horse. I had dinner at Michael Mina (252 California Street SF 94111), and it was one of the most memorable meals i’ve had in a long time, particularly due to the main course, which was possibly the best seafood dish I’ve ever tasted…ever! more about that later. Granted, the meal was a bit more than the Junkfoodie’s usual $10 and under, but worth a post nonetheless.
The meal started with a seemingly innocuous slice of bread with a small ramekin with a mysterious substance in it. As it turns out, it was the most addicting blend of ricotta cheese, honey, and black pepper. I would have been happy with this course alone!

Michael Mina's bread with honey ricotta and black pepper

Michael Mina’s bread with honey ricotta and black pepper

The next bite was an amuse-bouche of a perfectly crispy-yet-gooey mini grilled cheese sandwich with a shot of heirloom tomato soup. Just like being a kid again (if your mom had a Michelin star)!Perfect.

Mini grilled cheese sandwich with heirloom tomato soup shot amuse bouche

Mini grilled cheese sandwich with heirloom tomato soup shot amuse bouche

My “first” course was the Ahi Tuna Tartare with ancho chile, habanero-sesame oil, pine nut and mint served with toast points. Pretty, nice tableside service, but for me this was the low point of the meal, relatively speaking. Not bad mind you, just not spectacular.

Ahi tartare

Ahi tartare

My second course was the Shabu-Shabu with toasted sesame sauce, ponzu and Prime beef rib cap. A very nice tableside service once again with the captain carefully placing the beef into the bowl and quickly pouring the broth over it. Melt in your mouth tender, full of beefy flavor! Didn’t need the sauces at all to be delicious. I tasted everything floating in the broth, including what seemed to be zucchini shavings, mustard flower, and shiso leaf.

Shabu shabu

Shabu shabu

Finally, the best dish of the night (year?) for me. The black cod with uni sushi rice, mustard flower, king trumpet mushrooms and dashi broth….absolutely unforgettable. The fish was absolutely flawless. the outside was perfectly crispy, and seemed to literally dissolve on your tongue. the flesh was meaty, silky, moist and full of fish flavor (in a good way) without being overpowered by the other components of the dish. the vegetables, the broth and especially the meaty, succulent nuggets of king trumpet mushrooms were savored untl there was’t even a speck of food on my plate. This was easily the best bite I’ve had so far this year!

Black cod with uni rice.....

Black cod with uni rice…..

Falafel Drive In – San Jose, CA

Posted in Around the Bay Area, junkfoodie Hall of Fame with tags , , , , on September 23, 2013 by junkfoodie


I first heard of Falafel’s Drive In (2301 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128) years ago after seeing it featured on the Food Network’s Diner’s, Drive-In’s and Dives. I stopped by and had a gyro’s sandwich $7.25 large), and was severely underwhelmed. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. A few months later, I happened to be in the area and I thought I’d give it another shot.

If you are going to a place  called Falafel’s Drive In, you kinda have to try the falafel, don’t you? I tried the falafel ($5.50 large), and NOW I get it. I’m by no mean’s a vegetarian, but I get this every time I come here now, along with a side of their hummus. I know you all know what a falafel is, but if you don’t, it is a deep fried ball of ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with onions, spices, etc. In the wrong hands, these can be dry and tasteless, but these are perfect. They are fried perfectly so they form a nice crunchy crust while keeping the inside moist and succulent. The falafel sandwich is served in a pita with lettuce,, tomato, onion, yogurt sauce and their fantastic home-made hot sauce. Even if you don’t like things spicy, you must get their hot sauce. I always ask for extra hot sauce, and they fill a paper boat of it for me. The hot sauce is sweet and tangy, with just a bit of heat.Perfect for the falafel. The sandwich itself is very balanced; crunchy, nutty, almost meaty falafel, crunchy vegetables, creamy yogurt sauce and the aforementioned hot sauce.


The hummus is nice and creamy, and is served with slices of pickled radish and cucumber and dollop of the hot sauce and topped off with a drizzle of olive oil. A bag of pita bread comes with it as well ($6.75 large).


Part of the appeal of the place is that it has been around since 1966, and retains not only the old-school neon sign, but the local, small town drive in feel, even though the city has grown up all around it. The rest of the menu includes, burgers, hot dogs, fries, onion rings and wonderful shakes. The fresh banana shake is my favorite ($3.25).

There are other middle eastern favorites on the menu as well, including the gyros (meh), kifta, foul, koubby and more. Haven’t tried any of those except the gyros, and I probably never will because the falafels are that good. Is it the best falafel in the world? Who knows, but certainly the best I’ve ever had. Definitely know what Guy Fieri meant now.


World’s best hot chocolate?

Posted in Around the world, junkfoodie Hall of Fame with tags , on July 15, 2013 by junkfoodie

Admittedly, I haven’t tried all the hot chocolate in the world, but for my money, the award goes to Angelina in Paris (226 Rue Rivoli). It looks like a dark, very traditional, stereotypically Parisian tea salon, which it is, but the hot chocolate is perfect.

Founded in 1903 by Austrian confectioner Antoine Rumpelmeyer and named in honor of his daughter-in-law, Angelina is conveniently located on the Rue Rivoli directly across the street from the Tuileries gardens and the  Tuileries Metro stop. The beautiful Belle Epoque tea room serves breakfast, brunch, lunch as well as wonderful pastries and tea time snacks. The location is perfect after a visit to the Louvre or Tuileries, and is my favorite places anywhere for their house specialty, “Le chocolat chaud a l’ancienne dit l’Africain”, or old-fashioned hot chocolate “l’Africain”. At €7.90, it is not terribly expensive, and for my money is the most memorable way to spend $10 in Paris. I am not a big chocolate fan, but this hot chocolate is among the best in the world. It is thick, silky smooth and velvety rich. It is more chocolatey than milk chocolate, but not quite as deep as bittersweet chocolate- the perfect balance. Even if you are not a chocoholic, make sure to order one per person, do not split an order or share a cup, or you will regret it. Each serving comes in a cute little pot and is serves with a healthy portion of whipped heavy cream and a pitcher of water. Add one of Angelina’s fantastic pastries, and you have the perfect afternoon pick-me-up after a long day of sightseeing. Try their signature Mont blanc (€8.40) which is meringue, chantilly whipped cream and chestnut “vermicelli”, or my favorite, the Paris-New York (€8.40), which is almond choux pastry, crunchy almond and pecan praline and pecan praline light cream. At peak hours, or on weekends, the wait can be long, but it is worth the wait. Kill time watching the parade of Paris society ladies, clueless tourists, and curious foodie pilgrims in line with you. You can pick up decent hot chocolate mix to take home at the gift shop up front. Make sure to stop by the Hotel Meurice a few doors down to use their elegant restrooms before trekking back to your hotel.

Paris-New York from Angelina

Paris-New York from Angelina

Angelina's signature hot chocolate " a l'Africain"

Angelina’s signature hot chocolate ” a l’Africain”



Posted in junkfoodie Hall of Fame, Road trip, SoCal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2013 by junkfoodie

Now, I love New York delis as much as the next foodie, but for my money, the best pastrami sandwich lives in L.A….or at least it did until I ate it! The thankfully old-school Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant 704 S.Alvarado Street, Los Angeles builds the best Pastrami sandwich I’ve ever eaten. I’ve had pastrami sandwiches all over including at old school NYC delis like Katz’s, Carnegie and Lindy’s. I’ve had pastrami at LA fast food joints like Johnnie’s in Culver City, It’s Tops in Pasadena and various branches of the Hat. I’ve even had pastrami on a hot dog at Pink’s and stuffed into a tortilla with chili ,cheese and hot dogs at Oki Dog, but for my money, nothing touches Langer’s pastrami sandwiches. I’ve had it plain, on rye with a little deli mustard, and it was excellent. This last time, I had the #19, which is a pastrami and swiss cheese, Russian dressing and cole slaw on rye. Perfect! Get the pastrami hand cut! And not too lean. The extra fat is essential to the enjoyment of this sandwich. The unctuous, salty fat surrounded by the crusty edges of the pastrami topped by the gooey melted swiss and topped by the creamy cole slaw on their perfect corn rye is just right. The portion isn’t as huge as say, Carnegie in NYC, but it is better pastrami IMHO. What is the difference between pastrami and corned beef, you ask.? Pastrami is simply smoked corned beef. Why thanks junkfoodie! Anyway, the pickles in New York are better than Langer’s, if that makes you New Yorkers feel better. Junkfoodie says Langer’s pastrami sandwich is “Best In Class”, and in my top 5 sandwiches of all time. Junkfoodie says check it out! photo-4

Pioneer fried chicken! Get it while you can…

Posted in junkfoodie Hall of Fame, Road trip, SoCal on June 20, 2013 by junkfoodie

Anyone remember Pioneer Chicken? Growing up in the Bay Area, I remember eating at Pioneer locations in Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco. The chain was started in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles in 1961. By the time the original owner sold the business, he had franchised over 270 locations. There are currently only 3 locations left in the US, all in the LA area. Sadly, the original location in Echo Park clphoto-3osed in 2009. I used to like this location best., but now I prefer the location in East LA at 904 South Soto Street. There is a location in Bell Gardens and one on Olympic, but I haven’t heard good things about them from my Socal Junkfoodie friends. The East LA location sells “BBQ” riblets., fried fish, sandwiches and other stuff, but I’ve never tried them. I stick to the fried chicken and always leave happy. There are always specials painted on the windows outside to catch the attention of the passers by. This time we got the 10 piece leg & thighs for $10.99, an order of fries, mashed potatoes, potato salad and and Orange Bang and we were all set.

It’s all about the chicken here. The chicken is dipped in batter before frying in a pressure cooker (I’m guessing) which causes the skin to puff up into a crispy,salty, slightly greasy layer over succulent and juicy meat….perfect. Just the right amount of crunch, moist enough to cause the combination of juice and grease to run down your chin on your first bite.

This is old school fried chicken at it’s best. IMHO, much more flavor than KFC, juicier than Popeye’s and crispier than Church’s. Junkfoodie says get some before the last locations are gone!


Original Pantry- LA

Posted in junkfoodie Hall of Fame, SoCal on May 14, 2011 by junkfoodie

Steak and eggs at 3:00AM? No problem. Craving grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy first thing in the morning? Check. This authentically old school diner is open 24 hours, and whil not neccessarily in the under $10 range, the fact that you know you can always get a bite there any day any time qualifies this dDwontown LA landmaek as a junkfoodie Hall-of-Famer.

Country Fried Steak , housemade mashed potatoes, corn($14.50)

Grilled pork chops, hash browns and corn ($13.95)

The portions are huge, and the food is well made, albeit not neccessarily exciting. Portuguese sausage. eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee for $8.95 is something you can’t go wrong with. Anything off the grill or any of the breakfast items are safe bets. Some of the daily specials are worth trying, but are more hit and miss.

What you come here for is the convenience and dependability of a place that’s been open since 1924.You also come for the old school vibe. Some of the waiters look like they’ve been here since the place opened. A few things have changed since I started coming here. They used to plop down a platter of carrot sticks, celery sticks and pickles on a bed of ice cubes. That is gone, but they still feature their “Pantry Set Up”, which is a plate of runny cole slaw and sourdough bread and butter.

Cutting edge cuisine? No. Trendy upscale decor? No. Authentic character? Solid American diner food with huge portions? Yes and Yes. A junkfoodie Hall-of-Famer.