Restaurants

Post image for Jason Kwan is Menlo Park’s unofficial “Mr. Restaurant”

You can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at restaurants Jason Kwan owns in Menlo Park, and you can actually walk from one place to another. That’s what Jason does daily as he looks in at each of his businesses.

Three of his restaurants bear his namesake, at least partially — J & J Hawaiian BBQ, Jason’s Cafe, and Chef Kwan’s. He bought the latter in 2015 from the family that owned Su Hong To Go, along with the long-shuttered Su Hong sit down restaurant on El Camino.

The immediate name change of the To Go restaurant was a requirement of the deal, as there is another Su Hong owned by a different family member in Palo Alto. The sit down restaurant was finally reborn in late January and renamed Yum Cha Palace.

“While Chef Kwan’s serves Sichuan style food, which is spicy, we’re serving Hong Kong style/Cantonese food here, which is lighter,” Jason explained, sitting in his newest restaurant. “We also serve dim sum at lunch, with just a few dim sum options at dinner.”

Jason immigrated from Vietnam in 1982 and attended James Lick High School. He had no formal education after that and described his restaurant knowledge as self-taught. “I’ve worked every job in a restaurant,” he said. “Dishwasher, bus boy, waiter. I watched others and learned how to cook and manage.”

Yum cha means “drink tea” in Cantonese Chinese. “Tea and dim sum go together,” Jason said. “They balance. If you eat dim sum, you must drink tea.”

He said the reason it took so long to open the sit-down restaurant was all the different permits required as well as the remodeling, with some of the materials ordered from overseas suppliers.

“It’s exciting to finally be open,” he said. “I like socializing with the customers, learning from them.”

Given that he owns four restaurants offering four different kinds of food, we were curious what he liked. “Like my children, I like American food,” he said. “Pancakes, omelettes, bacon and ham — they all feel new to me.

“When I came here 35 years ago, it seemed like everyone was eating like crazy. Now people want to eat healthier — seafood and vegetables. So that’s what we’re focusing on here.”

Photo by Linda Hubbard (c) 2017

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Charlie Parker returns to his hometown as new chef at Flea Street Cafe

Thumbnail image for Charlie Parker returns to his hometown as new chef at Flea Street Cafe

Growing up in Menlo Park, Charlie Parker would walk with his parents and siblings to Flea Street Cafe. “I remember some of [owner] Jesse’s signature dishes from the time I was 12,” he said. “Like ‘which came first the chicken or the egg’ and the sardines. There was always a good salad and a warm dining room.” After […]

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British Bankers Club is once again abuzz in Menlo Park

Thumbnail image for British Bankers Club is once again abuzz in Menlo Park

We admit to being a bit nostalgic about the British Bankers Club in Menlo Park. When we moved back to our hometown of Menlo Park in 1990, the BBC was “the” place to hang out, although we weren’t quite in the right demographic. But we had lunch there with girlhood friends and delighted that a […]

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Spotted: Activity at Borrone MarketBar and British Bankers Club

Thumbnail image for Spotted: Activity at Borrone MarketBar and British Bankers Club

Lots going on today at what’s been a quiet corner of the Menlo Center. Marina Borrone, who owns MarketBar, was having a pop-up featuring all the MarketBar favorites, many of which were displayed in pretty jars in the front counter. She promises more activity there in the months to come. Nextdoor, the British Bankers Club has […]

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Flea St. Cafe is a Menlo Park fixture for 36 years

Thumbnail image for Flea St. Cafe is a Menlo Park fixture for 36 years

We stopped in at Flea St. Cafe last week, just a couple days after the restaurant celebrated its 36th anniversary. That’s one long run for a restaurant that, as founder/co-owner Jesse Cool writes, took root in “an unlikely neighborhood just outside of the city of Menlo Park, in the county of San Mateo, on an […]

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Sights and sounds on an August Sunday in downtown Menlo Park

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Was it our imagination, or did downtown Menlo Park appear to be jumpy more than it was for many a summer month? By mid-morning, the line at always popular Cafe Borrone stretched almost to El Camino — something we don’t see very often. While there we spotted new signage for the British Banker’s Club nextdoor […]

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Spotted: Pokémon Go bonbons at Madera

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Madera, the restaurant at Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, has added a new trendy dessert — Pokémon Go-themed bonbons. The flavors, pictured top to bottom, are: Gotta Catch ‘Em All (Pokémon collage: vanilla bean ganache); Articuno (blue bird: dark chocolate infused with icy mint): Pokéball #1: (strawberries, crème and a touch of pop rocks); Moltres (red bird: a blend of chili […]

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Get a taste of summer at Borrone MarketBar pop up this weekend

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As they did around the holidays, the folks behind Borrone MarketBar are having a summer pop-up, perfect for those planning picnics, big or small celebrations, or just missing Chef Josh’s prepared favorites. There will be a variety of foccacia bread, pastas and sauces, chicken, fish, sides and ready-to-grill sausage and smoked ribs. The pop-up hours are […]

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French wine is half off at Left Bank Menlo Park

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From now through August 18th, Left Bank Brasserie in Menlo Park is offering the restaurant’s full selection of French wines by the bottle at half price. Comments General Manager Jennifer Hancox: “I think that this is a great way for us to celebrate our 18th anniversary. With every bottle of French wine half priced, it’s fun and […]

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Google and McDonald’s team up for a free meal at McDonald’s this weekend

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From Friday through Sunday, you can get a complimentary meal (worth $9.00) at the McDonald’s in Menlo Park (1100 El Camino) by paying with Hands Free by Google, part of a wider Google promotion covering the fast food franchise’s locations in the South Bay. You’ll need to say “I’ll pay with Google” when you are at the […]

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New wine from the Fogarty family tasted at winemaker dinner at LB Steak

Thumbnail image for New wine from the Fogarty family tasted at winemaker dinner at LB Steak

Hard to be local and not know and appreciate the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines produced by Thomas Fogarty Winery at its location along Skyline Blvd. in Woodside. But last night at a winemaker dinner at LB Steak in Menlo Park, we were introduced to the family’s newest wine, a 2011 Lexington Cabernet Sauvignon (Gist Ranch […]

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