Da Nang Krungthep Thai Cuisine (Albany)

I was introduced this place with my Thai friend, so I had pretty high expectations. She said that the stewed pork leg here tastes just like home – which got me really excited because I love pork leg. Anyway, Da Nang Krungthep (I’ll just call it Da Nang for short) is located at the intersection of San Pablo Ave. and Solano Ave., pretty close to Ranch 99. I really like that you can park in the small lot right next to the restaurant, as finding street parking is no trivial task.

Also, a side note: even though the restaurant serves both Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, my friend says that the Thai is the authentic stuff, because the restaurant owners and chef are Thai. Their Vietnamese food could be good, but we did not bother to try it.

When S. came to visit, I took him here because there are few good Thai restaurants in San Diego. I ordered the Kha Moo (pork leg) over rice, of course. S. got the red curry.

Red Curry with pork

The curry was pretty good, although I don’t remember it being particularly special. I also forgot to take note of the exact price, but it was around $9.

Kha Moo (pork leg) over rice

Now this was good. First of all, the leg was de-boned, which is really nice. There was plenty of fat and skin, and the flavoring was spot-on. It actually tasted a lot like the red-braise (紅燒) flavoring in Chinese cuisine – one of my favorites. S. also really liked this dish and kept stealing from me… (To be fair, I also had quite a bit of the curry… hehe.)

To sum it up, this has become my personal favorite Thai restaurant so far. I’ve tried a couple of other dishes here from another time, and everything from the papaya salad appetizer to pad see ew has been pretty delicious. Check it out sometime and let me know what you think!

100% Sweet Cafe

This little cafe opened across from Ranch 99 Market in Richmond at the beginning of the year, replacing the old Macau Cafe (which I haven’t tried, but have heard that it was not too successful). The inside is decorated with colorful photos of various menu items; there are three LCD TV’s on the walls playing old Cantonese karaoke music videos… very typical Asian cafe, I’d say.

Although they are more well-known for their Asian dessert items such as shaved ice, pudding, etc., we were there for food. Most menu items were typical of an Asian fusion cafe: pastas and casseroles (Asian-Italian style, of course), curry (Japanese style), the standard fried rice stuff, and… sizzling platters! Sid and I thought that the pricing was pretty decent: around $9 for a sizzling plate of meat and veggies, rice on the side, and milk tea or coffee. He ordered the black pepper beef, and I ordered the unagi (eel).

Sizzling black pepper beef with fried egg

It was actually surprisingly good (maybe my expectations for Asian-fusion cafes are just pretty low..) especially for the price. There was a decent amount of meat, and although the plate seriously lacked sauce when it came out, Sid asked for them to bring some more of the black pepper sauce – problem fixed. My unagi plate had pretty much the same story, haha. Again, just ask for sauce.

The meal was very filling (at least for me; Sid probably thought it was just enough), and I know that I’d come back for a quick bite if I am running errands in the plaza. I do want to try some of the desserts sometime, also.

One warning: this location is relatively new, so many of the menu items are “unavailable” – much to any diner’s disappointment, of course. Just be prepared!

Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant

To celebrate the end of our first semester at UCB, the ‘Three Musketeers’ (myself, JL, and AC) went out to Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant in Richmond, next to 99 Ranch. JL claims that it’s one of the best Cantonese restaurants around here – and she’s Cantonese, so we take her words for it.

Since it was a Thursday night, the place wasn’t crowded at all, but she says that Sunday lunch was packed – and after tasting some of the food, I believed it. We ordered my favorite Cantonese dish, crispy pork. We also decided on a clay pot (since the table next to ours ordered one, and it sizzled and smelled heavenly), Braised Cod Fish with Roasted Pork and Tofu. Our vegetable dish was Surf Clam with Green Beans and Preserved Vegetables.

The dishes were pretty good – the pork skin was really crispy, just the way I like it. You get sugar and hoisin sauce for dipping.

The clay pot was not as good as I’d expected – the tofu, mushrooms, pork slices were all pretty great, but I thought the fried cod pieces were a little too soggy and soft for my liking. So I guess I liked everything about it except the cod.

The string bean/ clam dish was actually not bad – I usually don’t like clams that much, but the flavors were nice. The green beans were nice and soft (sorry, I like my green beans soft, not crunchy), and there wasn’t the ‘ocean’ smell from the clams – big plus for me :P

Unfortunately we only had three people, which severely limited our ordering options. So many interesting things on the menu – goose intestine, for example. Apparently, the chefs use the traditional Cantonese ingredients but add new twists and combinations. Well, the dishes we tasted were pretty successful, regardless of how traditional or innovative they were.

The restaurant is a bit pricey – turned out to be $17 for each of us including tax and tip. I feel like that for that price, we could have probably gotten a better meal. It is only a three-star restaurant on Yelp – I suppose others have been to better and cheaper Cantonese places around the Bay Area but I haven’t lived here long enough yet.. I will definitely keep exploring.