Peninsula Dining Update: Ike's and The Plant Cafe Move South, Filipino Chain Dining
Kenta Ramen is the latest entry into the intense pool of San Mateo area ramen shops. The new spot specializes in a spicy taro ramen with pork and tofu, but also offers 16 versions of ramen, udon, and soba. The mammoth menu covers many corners of Japanese cuisine. You can start with crispy chicken kara-age, move onto deep-fried California rolls, and then choose from an entire section devoted to okonomiyaki. 1495 Beach Park Blvd., Foster City, 650-212-2883.
Mike Koozmin In addition to 16 types of ramen, fried chicken wings are a specialty at Kenta Ramen.
Sandwich virtuoso Ike Shehadeh recently opened the newest Ike's Lair in Foster City, part of his growing Ike's Place mini-empire. The same extensive roster of massive, stuffed-to-capacity sandwiches fill the menu, including the "Larry Ellison" (Salami, Bacon, Avocado, Cheddar) and many named after Ike's beloved Giants, such as the "Madison Bumgarner" (Steak, Yellow BBQ sauce, American and pepper jack cheeses, habanero). There also are plenty of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free selections. And unlike at the nearby Redwood City Ike's Lair, commuters and workers can enjoy croissant-based sandwiches for breakfast here, although only on weekdays -- the restaurant is closed on Saturday and Sunday. 1065 E Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, 650-525-1602.
Now the Peninsula has its first outpost of The Plant Café Organic, the health-minded, sustainable, and organic-focused group of cafés in San Francisco and Marin. The new 70-seat restaurant in Burlingame is a little bit different: it's a full sit-down operation, complete with a full bar offering cocktails, sustainable wines, and both beer and kombucha on tap, depending on how virtuous you feel today. Pizzas, salads, and burgers (both meat and veggie) play pivotal lunch roles. Dinner switches to small plates and appetizers leading to main courses. Entrée prices rise to the low $20s for items like crispy Muscovy duck breast with apples, mustard greens, and potato gnocchi. An adjacent café offers a more casual selection of smoothies, pastries, and Blue Bottle Coffee all day for diners on the go. 1395 Burlingame Ave., Burlingame, 650-342-0242.
Considered the most popular chain in its home country the Philippines (the Filipino version of In-N-Out Burger?), Cabalen chose San Bruno as its first destination in the U.S. It's a festive all-you-can-eat buffet experience known for authentic Capampangan dishes and different specialties from Pampanga. The wide array of options for your plate range from classics (the oxtail stew kare-kare) to the obscure (a snail dish known as kuhol). 495 San Mateo Ave., San Bruno, 650-225-9221.