Sapp Coffee Shop’s Famous Thai Boat Noodles

Maybe it’s because I live with a vegan and usually eat vegan or vegetarian meals at home, but sometimes, I get The Hunger(tm) and it’s not just a craving that anything can satisfy — it’s hunger for a mouth-watering, tantalizing, meat dish.

The Hunger drove me to Sapp Coffee Shop for lunch on a Friday afternoon when I just happened to be working from home. The Thai restaurant, famous for appearing in Anthony Bourdain’s show, is well known for their Thai Boat Noodles. My stomach growled in anticipation as soon as I walked in and scoped out the room: bright yellow lights, rickety chairs, an all Thai specials menu board, a set of condiments on each table — all signs pointing to a tasty authentic meal.

I sat down knowing right away what I wanted: Thai Boat Noodles with all sorts of random meat (#3 in the menu). Wanting to gauge the taste of the soup first, I ordered it to be medium spicy instead of full on spicy.

Sapp Coffee Shop: Thai Boat Noodles

My bowl of Thai Boat Noodles came out after a few minutes. I took a tentative slurp of the dark, murky soup and was blown away. If pho broth is the soft caress of a feather, this broth is a kick in the face with steel toed boots. The broth was complex with hints of sweetness, spice, rich beef flavor, and a refreshing tang that had me slurping one spoonful after the other.

The broth was phenomenal, but I wish I could say the same of the noodles. The rice noodles came clumped together, as if they had been sitting around pre-cooked for a while. I had to exert some effort to untangle each bite of noodle from the main clump.

The meats in my bowl fared better than the noodles. The beef balls were crisp and flavorful, but could have been hotter. The fried skins still had a nice crunch to them and were even more delicious after soaking up some of the rich broth. The pieces of beef were a bit on the tough side, but were fragrant with soy sauce and star anise.

The Thai Boat Noodles at Sapp Coffee Shop were exactly what I was craving and satiated The Hunger beautifully, but a few hours later, I was craving the broth again. Even as I type this up now, I’m wondering if I should pop over and have another bowl. $5.50 is a hell of a deal for a bowl of tasty, rich broth with a clump of rice noodles thrown in.

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Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA‎
(323) 665-1035‎

Chez Panisse Cafe

Despite going to school nearby for four years, I finally tried Chez Panisse for the first time last week. The BF and I stopped by during lunch and was greeted by an enticing spring menu.

The prix fixe menu for the day looked like a great value: a salad, an entree, and dessert for less than $30. I was curious about the entree, but the garden green salad it came with sounded uninteresting to me, so I just ended up ordering a la carte.

Chez Panisse Cafe

The BF ordered a citrus and avocado salad which came with slices of orange, grapefruit, avocado, and arugula. The salad was simple, but delicious. There’s something magical about the way citrus and slightly bitter salad greens go together so nicely

Chez Panisse Cafe

I had the celery root salad with duck prosciutto, beets, and half an egg. The celery root was crispy, well seasoned, and slightly tangy. The prosciutto was flavorful without being too salty and had a satisfying mouthfeel. It sounds trivial, but the egg was perfectly hard-boiled. A bit of beet, a bite of egg, a slice of prosciutto, topped off the celery root — it was an orgasm in my mouth.

As my entree, I ordered the baked egg with farro, artichoke, and braised celery. I was surprised that an omnivore fine dining restaurant would have a completely vegetarian entree. The dish came piping hot straight from the oven and was full of brothy goodness. The presentation may not have been the best, but the taste was top notch.

Chez Panisse Cafe

The farro was tender but not mushy, the artichokes flavorful, eggs perfectly baked, and even though I always make fun of braised celery for being boring, the braised celery in the dish was anything but. The entire dish was just so flavorful and comforting that it didn’t need anything else.

Chez Panisse Cafe

The BF had mentioned to our server that he wanted a vegan dish and they came up with an alteration of something that was already on the menu. It was couscous with chickpeas, greens, and some fava beans, something he specifically requested. His entree, like mine, was simple, but the fresh ingredients made it leap out. Fresh fava beans are such a pain to prepare that I’m always happy when they’re on a menu and I can save myself the extra shelling.

Chez Panisse Cafe

For dessert, I ordered a white chocolate and coconut tart with strawberries on top. The pastry filling was incredibly rich and sweet — maybe a little too sweet for my tastes, but the tart strawberries helped cut down on the richness. The tart was the perfect size too. If it were any bigger, I’d be overwhelmed with so much sweetness.

Chez Panisse Cafe

The BF ordered the fruit bowl which came with tangerines and figs. It seemed weird for a restaurant to offer a bowl of fruit for dessert, but wow, these were some of the best tangerines and figs I’d ever had the pleasure of eating. I guess that’s what you get for a $9 fruit bowl. We joked that for the price they charged for it, they could have at least peeled the tangerines for us.

I don’t know what I was expecting when I entered Chez Panisse, but when I first glanced at the menu, it looked pretty standard. After lunch, especially after the entree, I was blown away by how the chefs teased such bold and mouthwatering flavors out of simple ingredients. I can’t wait to go back during a different season and see what they come up with.

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, California 94709
Café Reservations: (510) 548-5049
Restaurant Reservations: (510) 548-5525

Ethiopian Craving

These past few weeks, I’ve been having mad Ethiopian cravings. I already went to Rahel a couple of weeks ago, but that didn’t quell my need for spiced stews. I did some googling and was excited to read that there’s an Ethiopian restaurant pretty near my work!

I went to Industry Cafe & Jazz for lunch today for some delicious Ethiopian food. It was pretty quiet in the restaurant — only three tables full. I couldn’t decide what I wanted so I asked the owner, who was taking my order, to just give me a plate of whatever he thought I should try.

Industry Cafe & Jazz

Out came a plate of injera, two stews and a pretty boring salad. I was sad that he thought I wanted a generic mixed-greens salad with mediocre dressing. I would have preferred collard greens. The rest of the plate was fantastic. Injera was soft, sour, and spongey. The chicken stew as flavorful and just the right amount of spicy. The red lentil stew was tender and hearty.

I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Might have to go again tomorrow.