Yin Du Wonton Noodle

Posted on

The number five. I always order the number five.

Yin Du Wonton Noodle opened up in Chinatown less than two years ago and early on, I became a regular. A short walk from work, I go there whenever I’m craving a warm, comforting bowl of Chinese soup (which is often).

Wonton noodle soup

Yin Du’s cash-only menu is somewhat limited, and despite trying a few of their other dishes, I always come back to the number five: dumpling noodle soup. The chewy egg noodles and shrimp and wood ear mushroom-filled sui gao are perfect with a drop of fiery chili sauce. I often order their steamed beef brisket and noodle soup too, which is equally satisfying. The beef brisket sauce is delicious enough to stand on its own. The wonton noodle soup is pretty good too.

Yin Du Wonton Noodle is a casual operation and closes early at seven in the evening and is often packed for lunch. Plan accordingly and the next time you’re craving noodle soup, go for the number five.

Cafe Clem

Posted on

I used to hate scrambled eggs. They’re gummy, flavorless, and bland. Or so I thought.

The first time I sampled Cafe Clem’s scrambled eggs, I immediately saw the light. They’re fluffy! They’re creamy! And they’re steamed-scrambled, and while that sounds like an arduous process, the results make for my favorite local brunch in downtown Berkeley.

Cafe Clem

Cafe Clem is a daytime casual French joint with a small menu and a cute outdoor patio to boot. My favorite dish there has become their les oeufs Lucas: steamed-scrambled eggs with creme fraiche, goat cheese, basil, roasted tomatoes, and levain toast. I can’t think of much else I’d rather do on a lazy weekend morning than enjoy that underneath the sun.

Thanks, Cafe Clem. Scrambled eggs are no longer the food nightmare of my youth, but rather, a weekend treat.

The Parish Cafe

Posted on

Fancy an authentic po’ boy but can’t make it to Louisiana? How about Healdsburg instead? Seriously, some of the best New Orleans cuisine I’ve had this side of the Mississippi is in none other but Sonoma County. Go figure.

Blackened catfish po' boy

The Parish Cafe is only a couple of years old but it’s already garnered a following. Wanting to stay on the healthier side, I ordered a blackened catfish po’ boy and it did not disappoint. Fresh-tasting and full of spicy flavor, I could have easily been eating this in NOLA. The Parish Cafe’s lunch menu is primarily po’ boys but next time, I’m also going for the specials, like the gumbo and muffaletta.


Any airs I had about being healthy went out the window when our group ordered a plate of beignets to share. Now, this might be blasphemy, but these beignets were actually better than any I’ve tasted in New Orleans. It took every ounce of self-control to not order another plate of these.

The Parish Cafe is open only for breakfast and lunch, so go early. And while the menu isn’t all Creole or Cajun, their Louisianian transplant chef has made sure it’s all New Orleans and all delicious.

Build Pizzeria

Posted on

Berkeley is a college town and with college comes pizza. And trust me, Berkeley has no shortage of pizza restaurants. Build Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley is among the newest and it’s easily become my favorite. Why? Let me count the ways.

Sausage and roasted garlic pizza

As the name suggests, you can build your own pizza at Build and they’ll bake it for you in their wood-fired Italian oven. During my first visit, I ordered the sausage and roast garlic pizza and man oh man is that some good pizza. Thin-but-not-too-thin crust, a perfect amount of sauce, and super fresh ingredients make for the best pie east of the Bay.

I stop by Build pretty regularly and these days, they’re busy. But the pizza is still top notch and the service is perfect. In fact, Build Pizzeria has the best service out of any restaurant I’ve visited in Berkeley. They’re so friendly that the last time I was there, a staff person overhead me talking about how much I love their truffled cheese topping. “Do you want some on your pizza?” he asked me. “It’s on the house. Here, I’ll add some extra greens too. And some truffle oil while I’m at it.” Ladies and gentleman, that kind of service is above and beyond the call of duty.

Build Pizzeria, I salute you.

Morimoto Napa

Posted on

Masaharu Morimoto has ten restaurants across the world, with another two on the way this year. Still, I was beside myself to try out his California outpost at Morimoto Napa. I used to love watching him on the original Iron Chef series, in awe of Chef Morimoto’s creativity and deftness in the kitchen.

Wagyu beef carpaccio

After securing reservations, Nishan and I visited Morimoto Napa on a warm Saturday evening and started our meal with the Wagyu beef carpaccio. Drizzled with yuzu soy, ginger, and sweet garlic, this carpaccio was seared, so it wasn’t a true carpaccio, but it was delicious and tender nevertheless.

Bone marrow

The bone marrow with five spices was next. Earthy and rich, we could have used some toast or other vessel to sop up our marrow.

Marinated dumplings

We also shared a plate of marinated dumplings. Garnished with peanut salad, pig ears, and chili oil, these dumplings were our favorite dish of the evening. So juicy, so flavorful. The salad was perfect for livening up our palates.

Sea urchin carbonara

Now, I’ve never been a big fan of pasta carbonara, but I love sea urchin, so I couldn’t resist trying the sea urchin carbonara. The uni was indeed delicious: creamy and faintly tasting like the sea. But the smoked bacon and shallot flavors didn’t win me over, and so I continue to give the Kanye shrug to carbonaras in general.

Mango "caviar"

Dessert was the prettiest course: mango “caviar” with vanilla buttermilk panna cotta. I wish I could have taken the caviar tin home. Basically what I’m saying here is that I love caviar.

The service at Morimoto Napa was attentive without being pretentious, the ambiance was upscale and modern, and the location was ideal: right on the Napa waterfront. If I go back, it’ll be to try the omakase. After all, Chef Morimoto was trained in traditional kaiseki (and sushi) cuisine and one can dream of running into him at his wine country outpost, right?