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Hanabi is not a hater. Well usually Hanabi is, but not when it comes to vegetarian and vegan foods. Hanabi is very judge-y though. It’s not that meat or dairy free foods are bad, it’s just that there needs to be a greater level of creativity and attention to detail when preparing these foods. Let’s face it, even an over-cooked or simply a low-quality cut of meat can be made to taste passable in one way or another. You can add cheese, even horrible processed cardboard cheese and save hopeless dish. But, you can’t really save poorly executed vegan or vegetarian dishes. The ingredients are just that fragile and requires a deft hand to put it all together. With that said, Hanabi usually hates fake meat and fake cheese. That’s a big part of what in Hanabi’s opinion drags down meat and dairy free cuisine. But, Hanabi wanted to try a new vegan burger place on Haight St. called VeganBurg. He actually liked it, and it inspired him to do a vegan-burger battle. He put VeganBurg up against an old time favorite from Sacramento, the Sunflower Drive-In. Listen to see who comes out on top. Hanabi also checked out 633 Bistro in Seattle and is clearly still on a Lent kick, so he opted for a ginger beer from Smalltown Brewery.
Sometimes Hanabi leaves the confines of the city for Southern climes. Don’t be shocked, outside the city there exists some of the finest restaurants in the country. One of those gems is in Los Gatos, an affluent hamlet in the South Bay home to Manresa which just earned its third Michelin star. I had one of the most memorable meals at Manresa and chef David Kinch did not disappoint. Two years ago Manresa had a kitchen fire that shut it down for about 6 months. But, it’s firing away on all cylinders. While I’m in the South Bay, Palo Alto to be specific, and because I spent all my money at Manresa I need a place that is delicious but not going to break the bank. That’s where Oren’s Hummus comes in. Fresh Israeli hummus and house made pita? Yes please!
Hanabi finally scored a reservation to The Progress! The Progress is the sister restaurant to the much ballyhooed, and totally exceeds all such ballyhoo, State Bird Provisions. They are in fact neighboring restaurants. While State Bird serves their playful dishes dim sum style, The Progress’ menu changes daily and goes for a family style approach. It’s such a creative way to serve such creative food. For $58 a person, you get four different starters and you can choose four different larger items. It’s about as simple as it gets, but it’s also an exciting change from the standard service of individual plating for a tasting menu. Some of the hits of the evening would have to be the grilled octopus. Octopus is basically my favorite seafood. If it’s on the menu, I’m getting it! We also got down with some spot on mackerel crudo which was a perfect start to the meal. Since it can’t always be meat all the time, we opted for a celery root ravioli which came with a nice little apple puree. Delicious! We also have to brief you on a restaurant called The Lost Pelican. Where we has things like fried green tomatoes and a muffaletta. To finish it all up we riff on an article about pre-cut food. Work on those knife skills people!
We’re always trying to drop the best Japanese beats from Hokkaido to Okinawa. We’ve yet again succeeded. With bands like Stereopony, People in the Box, Tfvsjs what else do you need? Sit back and get ready to be amazed.
There’s a spot in town where you’ll recently find Hanabi whiling the hours and drinking fancy cocktails, and eating octopus bits, it’s called ABV. They do octopus right, served with potatoes covered in smoked paprika and a squid ink romesco sauce. Top it off with a libation made with mescal and pickle juice and you have Hanabi’s attention. Hanabi also drops a little shout out to a pepper that is not only inexpensive, but delicious and getting easier to find. The shishito peeper or it’s Euro-cousin the pardon are amazing little peppers that are full of flavor and easy to prepare.
Hanabi is all about that Hai Nan chicken right now, and it’s Thai variation called Khao Man Gai. Who would think that boiled chicken and rice could be so delicious? It’s kind of becoming a thing right now out here on the West Coast. The tender slices of perfectly juicy chicken paired with rice cooked with chicken fat and a flavorful sauce with garlic, ginger, oil and some very thick, dark soy sauce with a simple garnish of cucumber and cilantro make the best anytime meal. In fact it’s considered breakfast in parts of Asia. Hanabi also returned to his hometown of Sacramento for some proper Mexican food including epic Birria, Molcajete and of course Micheladas. Also, get ready for a Wasabi soda by the Hanabi one himself.
Hanabi gives you the rundown on some New Years eats. The do's and the don'ts. If you wanna supercharge your luck this year, look no further. Not much more to say, so listen.