I’m frequently asked my opinion on where to eat in the Bay Area. When friends travel to places that I’ve traveled, they tend to ask me for recommendations on where to eat as well. I’m happy to give advice. I recently returned from New Orleans and I have a new favorite spot that I’m excited to share. They don’t serve gumbo, jambalaya, or fried chicken.

Saba is a new Israeli restaurant from Chef Alon Shaya. I ate at his restaurant Shaya on my previous trip to New Orleans in 2016 and loved it. Since then, Chef Shaya has disassociated himself from the restaurant and opened Saba this past May. Saba is located on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans.  

I was in New Orleans for the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). While IFBC had evening food events, I decided to wait until the conference ended to have my last dinner in New Orleans at Saba. I didn’t have a reservation, so I arrived early in hopes of grabbing a seat at the bar. When eating alone, I find the bar is a great place to be situated.  

I shared the bar with a local named Frenchie. He lives in the neighborhood and I could tell right away that he was a regular as he seemed to know all the staff. After I placed my food order, my bartender Kyle introduced me to a Croatian white wine to complement my food. I found it light and crisp with some floral notes. 

I decided to forego the small plates and get an order of hummus and pita bread. There were five selections of hummus to choose from – tahini, blue crab, charred poblano, Brussels sprouts, and lamb. Kyle convinced me to get the blue crab hummus which comes with wood roasted corn, lemon butter, and mint and I was so glad he did. I spread the warm wood fired pita bread into what I thought was the perfect alchemy of flavors. It was love at first bite.  

I also got the grilled octopus which was prepared with shawarma spices and tomatoes. The octopus had a very nice char which enhanced the flavor.  

Frenchie was kind enough to offer me some of the grape leaves with lamb, rice, and zhoug labneh. I thought Saba’s version of dolma was excellent and one of the best I’ve ever had.  Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a pic.

I saved room for coffee and dessert. I was intrigued by the halvah latte so I went ahead and ordered it. I found the combination of halvah and coffee are harmonious together and the halvah acts as the perfect natural sweetener. This creative beverage has me wanting to make my own halvah syrup.  My dessert was called glakotbourko. The semolina and feta custard is baked in phyllo dough and topped with rose flavored melon. It was delicious.  
So when someone asks me where they should eat while they are in New Orleans, I will tell them that without a doubt they must go to Saba.

I arrived in New Orleans on Thursday to attend the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). The last time I attended this conference was three years ago when it was held in Seattle. This is my fourth trip to New Orleans and I had a few new spots to try, but the one restaurant that I was putting on repeat was Cochon. Cochon is a Cajun restaurant with a focus on fresh and local ingredients.


During a break in the IFBC, I took a leisurely lunch and headed over to Cochon. Technically, I was on vacation, so I started with a glass of rosé at the bar.  This was a 2016 Izadi Rioja Rosé from Spain. It had floral and fruit notes that I found refreshing for the humidity in New Orleans. 

I totally forgot about the homemade buns that Cochon serves, but as soon as they were placed in front of me, the sight evoked a pleasant memory. As I pulled apart the fresh soft buns, steam was released. I spread some butter on the bun, which melted quickly and they disappeared almost as quickly. Eating these really made me appreciate fresh homemade bread and how much better it is than store bought.


I ordered the chicken and andouille gumbo. As I consumed each spoonful, I was reminded that I was indeed in New Orleans. I welcomed the intense smokey flavor which I found comforting.
When I was looking at the side dishes, the twice baked stuffed potato was calling my name. The potato was reassembled with a mixture of spices, green onions, and cheese. The cracked black pepper gave it a good kick.  
I normally don’t have dessert at lunch, but again I was on vacation. I ordered the raspberry mint sorbet which was served with a cute Cochon mascot shaped cookie. I never have thought of raspberry and mint as a flavor match, but it worked and served well as a palette cleanser to end my meal. 
I was happy I made another visit to Cochon and can continue to recommend it as a place to dine when visiting New Orleans.

“Fourth Street” is a commercial district in Berkeley bustling with shops and restaurants. I have always considered it to be a cool and hidden shopping area in the East Bay. One of the restaurants located on Fourth Street is Iyasare serving modern Japanese comfort food. Although its been around for over five years, I recently dined there for the first time.

A friend and I had early reservations on a Friday at Iyasare. It was the first time for both of us so we spent some time thoroughly reviewing the menu. We ordered the bacon mochi, one of restaurant recommendations. The mochi is grilled and wrapped with smoked bacon and seasoned with housemade teriyaki sauce and served on crispy nori seaweed. It was four to an order so it was perfect for sharing. The texture of mochi softens as it’s grilled and offers a chewy texture that I find fun to eat. In addition, the sweetness of the mochi and the saltiness of the bacon is a winning flavor combination.
For my main, I ordered the housemade squid ink pasta with a sea urchin or uni cream sauce. The plate was colorful and beautiful with the squid ink pasta drenched in uni cream with chanterelle mushrooms and topped with squid and uni. My friend who doesn’t like uni tried a bite and really enjoyed it. It was rich and delicious and gave me the feeling of a guilty pleasure.
My friend ordered the wagyu bavette steak cooked with a Japanese spice rub and chanterelle mushrooms. I had a bite of the steak and the Japanese flavoring was truly present and the texture was “like butter.” This dish was another home run.
For dessert, we shared the choco-peanut which is chocolate ice cream, shortbread cookies, peanut butter caramel, and brown butter milk powder. If you like chocolate and peanut butter like we do, you would enjoy this dessert that I can’t believe is influenced by the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Dining at Iyasare was a treat and although there was something very comforting about the food, it had a modern twist. I do plan to return to Iyasare for lunch where I can try their take on Japanese comfort food that I’m more accustomed to like ramen and karaage.