Saturday, May 26, 2018

Some Buzz About Buzzy Donahue On KPTZ Radio

Buzzy Donahue ca. 1965 and 2016. Her hair's grown a bit.

I hang out on a lively Facebook group called "San Francisco Remembered" where recently there were some musings about a North Beach institution from the Beat days onward, Clown Alley, noted for peerless charcoal grilled burgers and after hours celebrity crushes. (I once found myself waiting in line for a proletarian priced burger between Flip Wilson and Ahmad Jamal.) For nostalgia's sake, I decided to fish some snapshots taken at Clown Alley 50+ years ago from a shoebox for posting to the group. Among the ones I posted was of a woman in her late teens with a Clown Alley cheeseburger in her hand. There was no notation on the photo, but her identity was etched in my mind, because her girl companion had wasted no time in informing me that she was Buzzy Donahue, daughter of "Big Daddy" Tom Donahue. On the spot I decided I needed to immortalize her and the burger.

Tom Donahue?  If you are too young or unread to know the name or remember the booming voice, you can bet your sweet patootie that you owe him a debt if you listen to popular music today . He is considered nothing less than "The father of Progressive Radio" for it was he who freed pop music from the shackles of Top 40 radio and moved it to the green pastures of FM radio (which also owes him big time), instituting the "album cut format" with accompanying erudite banter. He was also a record producer (the Beau Brummels, Bobby Freeman and the Great Society) and a concert promoter (the Rolling Stones at the Cow Palace and the Beatles at Candlestick Park). If you can find it, read his 1967 Rolling Stone article "AM Radio Is Dead and Its Rotting Corpse Is Stinking Up the Airwaves." He died far too young.  You can read about "Big Daddy" on Wikipedia, or here or here.

I was a little hesitant about posting the picture of Buzzy Donahue. In it she is looking into the camera with a displeased mien, somewhere between teen sullenness and an ur-"Don't bother me, I'm eating" take. Would she be pissed at the posting of the image if she saw it? Au contraire! She saw it, and not only did she not lecture me, she reposted the image on her own Facebook page and "Friended" me. Thanks to her jumping into my news stream, I found out she now hosts a weekly broadcast "The Buzzy Donahue Show" on KPTZ Public Radio in Port Townsend WA, just in time for me to hook into it. I found it a lovely and (mostly) soothing mix of Hawaiian (no, not Aloha Oe), jazz, folk, soft rock, and, for good measure, Buffalo Springfield's anthem for our time (and yours!), For What it's Worth. (Hey, how about a Phil Ochs cut next time, Buzzy?)

Check out Buzzy's sweet voice and sweeter playlists, Fridays from 9:30 to 11:00 on KPTZ-FM.

Port freaking Townsend, Washington, you say?

I once saw a poster on a phone pole about an upcoming "Psychic Fair" in San Francisco, upon which someone had scrawled "You don't have to be there to attend." It's 2018, dude, and so it is with radio. You don't need to be there physically or culturally to listen. For me, it was as simple as "Hey Google, Play KPTZ radio." If  Siri or Alexa don't understand that, fire them and stream Buzzy live from KPTZ's website.

And throw her a posie. It's lonely in a small market FM radio station broadcast booth.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cashless Food Trucks: Class-based Discrimination?



Long ago I became a booster of the Señor Sisig Filipino-Mexican fusion food truck's pioneering mission of promoting an under-represented cuisine, even though,unlike its nearest competitor, it did little cooking on-board but made its mark by finding novel ways of serving reheated food prepared off-site. I never begrudged bros Kidera and Payuma their cult following or the "Best Food Tuck" kudos their "more palatable" (read"no offal") sisig concoctions earned them. After all, they were flying the Filipino food flag high, and were part of a movement to gain Pinoy cuisine the respect it sorely lacked.

I was chagrined, however, when I passed by the Señor Sisig truck parked at its usual Ellis and Powell St. spot recently and noticed a sandwich board sign in its queuing area reading, in large letters, "NO CASH PAYMENTS ACCEPTED." The same signs, with nary a "Sorry" evident, were plastered on the side of the truck: The only explanation offered on the sign was that it was done to allow them to "focus more on the guest experience."

Some further elucidation was provided on SS's Instagram account, primarily related to the burden of counting cash and keeping accounts of it. They also mentioned reducing the possibility of theft, but the pedestrian activity and law enforcement presence are both so high at that location that such an occurrence seems unlikely. All reasons cited related to improving convenience for the vendor, not the customer. It goes without saying, too, that there is a cost to implementing a POS system, which gets passed on to the customers.

Señor Sisig serves an area hard by the Powell St. cable car turntable which has a significant population of street people who have to cobble together small amounts of cash to get a bite to eat, as well as many tourists who are loathe to go through the hassle of having their foreign credit cards vetted to purchase a sisig taco. For these groups, the truck's cashless system is at best an inconvenience, and at worst premeditated discrimination against cash-dependent people. In effect, it creates a two-tier caste system, the tech "haves" and the "have nots," with the latter group completely denied access to its services.

The United States long ago abandoned the Gold Standard and, as of yet, has not adopted the Silicon Standard. The Señor Sisig truck has a franchise to serve food for profit on a public street. As part of its franchise, it should be prohibited from discriminating against people who prefer to pay with coin of the realm. 


Friday, August 4, 2017

52 San Francisco Bay Area Burmese Restaurants



In an earlier post, I documented 10 places to try Burmese food in San Francisco, thinking it quite remarkable. If fact, I was only showing the tip of a iceberg. When I decided to expand my list to encompass the entire Bay Area, I was astounded at what I found. At the time of my first compiling the list I found 27 restaurants in the SF Bay area with at least part of their menus devoted to recognizably Burmese fare, but the list keeps growing with new discoveries and new openings.

Dates and nature of updates to the list will be noted at the bottom

Aung Maylika
836 Southampton Rd.
Benicia CA 94510
(707) 361-5675

B Star Bar
127 Clement St.
San Francisco CA 94118
(415) 933-9900
bstarbar.com

Best of Burma
146 E 3rd Ave.
San Mateo CA 94401
(650) 259-9339
bestofburmacuisine.com

Best of Burma 2
528 7th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 623-9280
www.bestofburmacuisine.com/

Burma Bear1727 Haight St.
San Francisco CA 94117
(415) 463-5592
burmabear.com

Burma Bear
325 19th st,
Oakland, CA 94612
burmabear.com

Burma Bistro
2135 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050
(408) 372-5422
http://burmabistro.net/

Burma Cafe
63 Saint Francis Squar
Daly City CA 94015
(650) 992-6363
burma-cafe.com

Burma House
1810 Milmont Dr
Milpitas CA 95035
(408) 791-6737
burma-house.com

Burma Love
211 Valencia St.
San Francisco CA 94103
(415) 861-2100
burmalovesf.com

Burma Ruby 
326 University Ave
Palo Alto CA 94301
(650) 285-2770
burmaruby.com

Burma Superstar
309 Clement St.
San Francisco CA 94118
(415) 387-2147
burmasuperstar.com

Burma Superstar 
4721 Telegraph Ave
Oakland CA 94609
(510) 652-2900
burmasuperstar.com

Burma Superstar 
1345 Park St
Alameda CA 94501
(510) 522-6200
burmasuperstar.com

Burma Town
60 Corte Madera Ave
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 945-9096
burmatown.com/

Burmese Kitchen
3815 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco CA 94118
burmesekitchen.com

Donut Delight Oriental Pastries
34554 Alvarado-Niles Rd
Union City, CA 94587
(510) 429-1358

Experience Burma
600 Main St., Unit G
Pleasanton CA 94566
(925) 398-8219 

Golden Burma
15 Boardman Place
San Fancisco CA 94103
(415) 735-8282

Green Elephant Gourmet
3950 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto CA 94303
(650) 494-7391
greenelephantgourmet.com

Grocery Cafe
63 Jack London Square
Oakland CA 94608
(925) 566-4877

Happy Myanmar
2025 Gellert Blvd.
Daly City CA 94015
(650) 449-1378

Hornbill Burmese Cuisine
3550 San Pablo Dam Road
El Sobrante CA 94803
(510) 964-4293
hornbillburmesecuisine.com/

Innya Lake Retaurant
586 San Mateo Ave.
San Bruno CA 94066
innyalakerestaurant.com

Kyain Kyain - Main Main Kyay Oh
3649 Thornton Ave
Fremont CA 94536
(510) 574-1819

Kyusu 
1312 Saratoga Ave
San Jose CA 95129
(408) 682-0777
kyusurestaurant.com

Ledu Resaurant
749 Hickey Boulevard
Pacifica CA 94044
(650) 355-8218

Ma's Burmese Kitchen (Supper Club)
Various SF locations
Book via Feastly
(415) 851-4807
http://mbk.strikingly.com/

Mahar Yangon 

6318 Mission St
Daly City, CA 94014
(415) 347-7771mandalaysf.com

Mandalay
4344 California St.
San Francisco CA 94118
(415) 386-3896
mandalaysf.com

Mingalaba
1213 Burlingame Ave
Burlingame CA 94010
(650) 343-3228
mingalabarestaurant.com

MOH Kitchen 
1244 S Abel St
Milpitas CA 95035
(408) 262-3333

Myanmar Tea Garden 
41063 Fremont Blvd
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 687-1288
myanmarteagarden.com

Pacheco Bistro
1333 B Pine St
Martinez, CA 94553

Pagan
3199 Clement St.
San Francisco CA 94121
(415) 751-2598
pagansf.com

Paparikas
645 Clay St.
San Francisco CA 94111
(415) 398-2338
paparikas.com

Rangoon Ruby
1000 Sixth Ave.
Belmont CA 94010
rangoonruby.com

Rangoon Ruby
1219 Burlingame Ave.
Burlingame CA 94010
rangoonruby.com

Rangoon Ruby
445 Emerson Street
Palo Alto CA 94301
Tel: (650) 323-6543
rangoonruby.com

Rangoon Ruby
680 Laurel Street
San Carlos CA 94070
Tel: (650) 592-1852
rangoonruby.com

Rangoon Ruby
1608 Polk St.
San Francisco CA 94109

Royal Rangoon
2628 Telegraph Ave
Berkeley CA 94705
(510) 647-9744

Sapphire Asian Cuisine
475 Sacramento St.
San Francisco CA 94111
(415) 984-0428
sapphiretasteofburma.com

Starline Social Club 
645 W. Grand Ave
Oakland CA 94612
(510) 593-2109
starlinesocialclub.com

Sweet Mango
1040 Willow St
San Jose CA 95125
(408) 293-2268
sweetmangosweet.com

T-28 Bakery and Cafe 
1757 Taraval St
San Francisco CA 94116
(415) 682-8200

Teni East Kitchen
4015 Broadway
Oakland CA 94611
(510) 871-4435
tenieastkitchen.com/

Tharaphu Burmese Street Food
2037 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley CA 94707

TW Burmese Gourmet 
2217 San Ramon Valley Blvd Ste F
San Ramon CA 94583
(925) 838-3918

Wanna-E Food Truck
Various - see website
San Francisco
(650) 438-4581
http://www.wanna-e.com/

Yamo
3406 18th St.
San Francisco CA 94110
(415) 553-8911)

Yangon Restaurant
1136 Broadway
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 348-8848
http://www.yangon-restaurant.com/

[Edit 10/18/17 to add opening of Experience Burma and Mahar Yangon]
[Edit 8/4/17 to add opening of relocated Grocery Cafe and closure of Little Yangon]
[Edit 6/23/17 to add Aung Maylika and Happy Myanmar]
[Edit 12/27//16 to relect closure of  The Refined Palate, opening of Best of Burma2
[Edit 12/26/16 to reflect closure of Grocery Cafe and Tender Loving Food]
[Edit 9/13/16 to reflect name change - Bobo Drinks to Tharaphu Burmese Street Food]
[Edit 8/02/16 to add Teni East Kitchhen]
[Edit 7/19/16 to remove Lil Burma food truck, retired on Golden Burma's opening]
[Edit 7/5/16 to remove Shwe Myanmar in San Rafael, closed]
[Edit 6/5/16 to add previously overlooked Ledu]
[Edit 6/4/16 to add Golden Burma]
[Edit 5/12/16 to add Burma Bear's Oakland branch]
[Edit 5/12/16 to add Hornbill Burmese Cuisine
[Edit 3/31/16 to add Paparikas]
[Edit 3/29/16 to add BOBO Drinks Berkeley]
[Edit 3/16/16 to add previously ovelooked Belmont Branch of Rangoon Ruby]
[Edit 3/16/16 to add Tender Loving Food]
[Edit 1/31/16 to add Burma Bistro and Donut Delight, remove double counting of Royal Rangoon]
[Edit 1/31/16 to add Ma's Burmese Kitchen, Burma Bear and Royal Rangoon]
[Edit 12/09/15 to add Starline Social Club][Edit 6/23/15 to add Yangon Restaurant]
[Edit 3/13/15 to add Wanna-E food truck]
[Edit 1/23/15 to add two new pending locations for Rangoon Ruby. Current tally 36]
[Edit 1/20/15 to reflect Burmese Kitchen now open at new location]
[Edit 1/9/15 to add Burmatown]
[Edited 12/29/14 to reflect that 4th location of Burma Superstar opened under the name "Burma Love"]

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Terrible Coffee in San Francisco's Restaurants (Deja Vu All Over Again)


Half a century ago the San Francisco Chronicle, locked in a titanic struggle for morning newspaper circulation with the San Francisco Examiner, published an eye-catching, week-long front page series on the "terrible" coffee available in San Francisco's restaurants, with the heroic subheading "A Great City's People Forced to Drink Swill" throwing down the gauntlet in the first installment.

I was reminded of this series last week when my daughter, visiting from New York to help me celebrate my birthday (yes, I'm so old I can't even do that by myself) and I had a nearly perfect meal at Mourad end (quite literally) on a sour note. At the end of the meal we ordered a couple of coffees (or "small pour-overs" as they are called on the menu).  I don't know where Mourad Lahlou sources his coffee, but we were served the thinnest of thin, sourest of sour, Third Wave-est of Third Wave coffees. As the late Utah Phillips might say, it was "otter water -- comes out of an otter."

I'm not blaming Mourad for this. By now, there's almost a whole generation of moneyed milllennials who don't know what coffee is supposed to taste like (hint: it should taste like coffee).  To me, when you order coffee and get something that tastes like it was produced by my Melitta Fastbrew when I mistakenly shortchange it a scoop of grounds, it's a big FAIL (and if you want fruity overtones, folks, go stand in line at The Boba Guys).

Restaurants in San Francisco nowadays bend over backwards to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, glutenphobes, kale lovers and all manner of food faddists. They also typically offer a jillion choices of wines. What would be so difficult about offering an alternative coffee selection, like a North Beach or imported Italian roast for those of us who haven't forgotten what coffee has tasted like for the last 350 years?

Why should those of us from the Graffeo ghetto be forced to drink swill?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Villlage House: Northern Chinese For The Western Richmond District


Lamb dumpling and noodle soup
Playing Muni Roulette on Market Street today, I decided to jump on the 31 Balboa to check out Village House (鄉村风味), the Northern Chinese restaurant that recently replaced Jook Time in the far outer Richmond (3398 Balboa at 35th Ave).  I was probably drawn there by the possibility of a roujiamo (a Yelper had mentioned a "Chinese hamburger"), but since it was past 5:00 when I got there I decided to make that the appetizer to  an early dinner. The young woman server was eager to promote the house-made xiaolong bao, dumplings (jiaozi) and noodles, so I ordered a basket of XLB and a lamb dumpling and noodle soup as my mains.

Roujiamo
The roujiamo ("Chinese Hamberger" on the menu) was on the small side, but heck, it was a whole $2.95. The panbread bun was about the right thickness, browned but not greasy,  though a bit less dense than some. The meat filling was appropriately porky and salty in flavor, though the texture seemed wrong because  it was coarsely chopped (loin?) instead of stewed, so the sandwich was a bit dry as well.

I don't know if they knew what they were getting into, boasting about their house-made xiaolong bao in earshot of both Shanghai Dumpling King and Shanghai House, but they didn't embarrass themselves.  Their XLB is probably better than the last I had at SDK, but not as good as I remember Shanghai House's to be (though I haven't been to either of these places in a long time). The wrappers wee delicate, and the soup ample, though they need to push the needle away from the salty side of the dial a bit toward the sweet side. But then, those were Beijingese voices floating around the room, not Shanghainese.

Xiao long bao
The soup was hearty, with six lamb dumplings and a long ton of noodles.  The dumplings were meaty but not paticularly lamb-y (but I'd like try them again, outside of soup, to be fair). The noodles were springy and fresh, if not hand pulled. The broth seemed under-seasoned, particularly lacking salt, of all things. Since there was no salt shaker of the condiment tray, I used a bit of soy sauce along with chili paste to sex it up.

The menu at Village House is what I've come to recognize as typically eclectic Northern Chinese restaurant fare, with a slim stock of indigenous dishes augmented with a smattering of Shandong, Shanghainese, Xi'an, Sichuan and Xinjiang offerings.