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On Election Day I headed out to Nebraska to visit my SO Maggie and her family, and spent a pleasant week there — much of it celebrating the results of the election, which were largely encouraging nationally and in Pleasanton (except for the passage of Proposition 8). But now that the election’s over, I’ve had a chance to return to my projects, including updating a few items here. (There will be a corresponding update over at Berch on Food shortly as well.)

In rough order of significance, we start first with the renaissance of Tri-Valley Seafood. What a wild ride! After noting its appearance last October, I made it out there for several good dim sum brunches. Then it abruptly changed owners and cuisines (although it kept the name) and became a pho-centered Vietnamese restaurant. I stopped in at noon on a Sunday in the spring, saw the menu, kept going — I had a jones for dim sum — and ended up at Willow Tree in Dublin.  Later I stopped in for a bowl of pho, which was fine but not spectacular, and I meant to return to try the rest of the menu but never did. Now, as of October 18, it has reopened as a Cantonese and dim sum restaurant; it’s not clear if it is the original owners or new ones in charge, but some chatter on Yelp seems to imply that the Vietnamese interlude was always meant to be temporary. (No, I don’t get it, either.)  Reviews of the reborn Tri-Valley Seafood are enthusiastic and I’m going to check it out ASAP.

Another new place I haven’t tried yet is Amarone, which replaced Silver Palate on Main Street. Goodness knows, Pleasanton has no lack of Italian restaurants, but a good one is always welcome.  So expect a report.   Still no word on the opening of Cafe Main in the former Coffee Beans space at Main and Angela but the former Momiji on the same block has reopened as Main Sushi.

Some good news: two recent visits have convinced me that the popularity of Singapore Old Town Cafe in Dublin is definitely justified. On my first trip last September, I was a little underwhelmed, but as several people have pointed out, it’s less than ideal to judge a place on one visit, and even less ideal to judge it on the basis of take-out food.  So I went back and ordered a couple of the same dishes and some new ones.  Of the repeats, my Chinese doughnut stuffed with shrimp paste was definitely much superior — fried just right, moist, and with a tasty filling; however, the sambal belacan prawns were still just so-so, and underseasoned despite my request to use a healthy ration of sambal.  Of the new dishes, though, the Old Town pork ribs were exceptional — marinated and then fried to a crispy finish, with a sweet-savory glaze. Also delicious was the char kway teoh — fried noodles with prawns, Chinese sausage, eggs, and bean sprouts with a dark brown sauce.  On my return I had the char kway teoh noodles again, along with an excellent beef rendang (medium beef red curry).  Each time the restaurant was nearly full and seemed to be the most popular in the Ulferts Center.

One final item: as a reader noted, the Filipino grocery and prepared food shop Pacific Gourmet and Market, which I visited in January, closed a few months ago.  The food was tasty and the staff was enthusiastic and friendly, but I fear that sort of place needs a critical mass of an ethnic community to support it on a regular basis, and that just doesn’t exist in Pleasanton. (Plus, the new-ish 99 Ranch Market in Dublin probably had more Filipino groceries, though not the prepared foods. I wish the owners well in whatever their new endeavor might be.


Beef kare-kare (beef curry stew with peanut sauce, eggplant, and string beans)Back in October, I complained about Pleasanton’s lack of high-quality food retailers. In the last couple of months there have been some positive developments on this front — first, a new Draeger’s (not in Pleasanton, but a short drive away in Blackhawk — more on this later), and then the appearance of an intriguing sign in the Bernal Plaza shopping center near Bernal Ave. and I-680: Pacific Gourmet & Market.

It took me a while to make it over there, but I managed it a few days before their grand opening last weekend. Pacific Gourmet is a family-owned Filipino market which also serves prepared food. There’s a good selection of canned and packaged food, including what I’m told are “essentials” from the islands, and also fresh and frozen meat and seafood.

Lechón (roast suckling pig) and lumpia (spring rolls)The kitchen turns out an impressive set of hot food for take-out or eating at one of the pleasant tables. There’s a rotating menu of main dishes including chicken or pork adobo, chicken or pork afritada, kare-kare and several other beef dishes, fried pompano and tilapia and fish sinigang, and at least half a dozen others. Appetizers and small dishes include lumpia Shanghai, palabok, BBQ pork skewers, and egg rolls. And for real pork lovers, there are chicharones (cracklings) and lechón kawali (suckling pig). Breakfast is served on weekends only, and offers garlic rice and eggs with a choice of longanisa or tocino sausages, or tapa (meat strips). (Longsilog, tosilog, and tapsilog for you aficionados.)

I bought enough for several meals — lumpia, lechón, pork adobo, and kare-kare, with a bag of chicharones for snacking. Everything was delicious. (It’s probably even better eaten right there on the spot.) Worth checking out, even if you’re not familiar with Filipino food — the owners are very friendly and will gladly explain what’s what and suggest good combinations.

Pacific Gourmet & Market, 6654 Koll Center Parkway, Suite 330 (facing Bernal Ave.), Pleasanton. Tel. 925 417 1120. M-F 11-7, Sat 9-7, Sun 9-6.