If you eat out in San Francisco, the first thing you notice is how easy it is to get a table at your favorite restaurant. In the pre-credit crunch days, you had to reserve weeks in advance. Today you walk in. It’s no surprise that SF restaurants have been doing all kinds of promotions to get people to eat out again:
SF recession specials: all you can eat pizza at Local and Open Table stimulus plan
South Food and Wine Bar recession special: $34 prix fixe, 3 course dinner
San Francisco lunch favorites: Recession special at Axis Cafe hits the spot
Of course, there are other ways to save money and still enjoy a great meal. There are a lot of ethnic restaurants in and around San Francisco that may not be high on decor, but in terms of the quality of the cooking, you can’t go wrong:
Mapplrâ€™s favorite dim sum places around SF
Miss Saigon: excellent, bargain Vietnamese lunch in downtown SF
Katana-ya: cheap good noodles in downtown SF
Best Pakistani restaurant in SF: Lahore Karahi
Kasa: Indian taqueria opens in Noe Valley
Japanese noodles and sushi in downtown SF (Union Square): Dojima-Ann
I just reviewed the best place to hang out in Amsterdam: Momo, a restaurant lounge and bar next to the entrance to Vondelpark and one block away from the PC Hooftstraat, the city’s luxury boutique shopping street. What I like about Momo: the sushi and sashimi. Read Mapplr’s review of Momo.
Ah, the joys of user-generated content (UGC), where everyone, including someone with an IQ equal to their shoe size gets his say. Very democractic, the Internet. Isn’t this what we were all waiting for? The problem is when everyone gets to have an equal say, who is to say whether the review is trustworthy or reliable? On the Internet, we’re all dogs.
So when I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the controversy around Yelp’s (a SF review decision to delete accounts of business people suspected of trading positive reviews with other businesses, I was neither surprised nor upset. Yelp has always deleted reviews it believes to be fake, but this time around, business owners are talking about filing a class action lawsuit against Yelp. What a mess, but a completely predictable one given the increasing significance of these review sites in helping people decide where to spend their money.
I have used Yelp, but only to locate places on the San Francisco map, for example, finding a yoga place in SOMA (south of Market). I have posted some reviews of restaurants I like (or actively dislike) but very few. I have not posted anything recently. I never rely on the reviews — why? Because I don’t know if the owner’s mother posted a favorable review or if it’s a particularly nasty one, if it is from a competitor. Most reviews are utterly worthless. They go on and on, often not about the restaurant but about the reviewer. And how do I know if the reviewer shares my taste in food or decor? What if he or she is reviewing a Filipino restaurant and has no idea what good Filipino food tastes like? I noticed on the review page of a friend’s restaurant, some people even complained about portion size. I have eaten at my friend’s place and I found the portion sizes to be more generous than I am capable of eating.
Yelp isn’t the only one with worthless reviews. Tripadvisor is also unreliable. A friend of mine booked a hotel in Sorrento based upon glowing reviews in Tripadvisor only to find, upon arrival, that the place was a total disaster.
Bottom line is you can’t trust these reviews because you don’t know the people — their biases, tastes, and motivations in posting them.
What tastes like burnt muddy water? Starbucks coffee, of course. I hate it, well at least the US version. Why Starbucks coffee and pastries taste better in Japan’s Starbucks cafes remains a mystery.
Now it seems that Starbucks is expanding in Europe. They are already ubiquitous in London but that’s not enough for the purveyors of overpriced burnt muddy water. To be fair, the pastries in London’s Starbucks cafes are much better than the abominable “sweet things” at any Starbucks in the US (I can’t even bear to call them pastries).
I don’t care if they have free Wi-Fi. For me the quality of the coffee and the atmosphere of the cafe are of utmost importance in choosing a cafe.
I’ve been posting a lot on Mapplr lately, favorites in various cities like Sydney, Florence and Montreal. I have also included a review of an excellent Pakistani-Indian restaurant, a real dive in the Tenderloin district of SF.
Mapplr favorite restaurants in Florence
Mapplr favorite restaurants in Sydney
Mapplr favorite restaurants in Montreal
Lahore Karahi: fabulous Pakistani-Indian food in San Francisco