34 E. Fourth Ave., San Mateo; (650) 434- 3403. Block34.com.
Half Moon Bay
As the name suggests, Monster Chef patrons are advised to come with a monster appetite to one of the newest dining additions in Half Moon Bay. For $45, diners select all they desire from an extensive Japanese-inspired menu by chef Toshi Watanabe. Drinks are not included in the price, and there are a few premium ingredients like sea urchin and oysters. Consider it a buffet with the table replaced by a sheet of paper. Selections are carefully presented and served on individual plates (this isn’t like a hotel breakfast buffet where everything is placed on one plate). Raw fish dishes play a big part, from ahi ceviche to various maki rolls and sashimi, complemented by cooked fish like the grilled saba. Pork sausage skewers, chicken curry and braised pork belly are among the meat plates. Fried agedashi tofu and the savory egg custard “chawan mushi” headline the vegetarian items, while many classic Japanese standards like tempura and donburi (rice bowls) can also be ordered. It’s certainly a new concept to see how Monster Chef is expanding the often seen all-you-can-eat sushi operation to include all of fine Japanese dining.
10151 Cabrillo Highway N., Half Moon Bay; (650) 713- 5140. No website.
Some Peninsula coffee fans who were disappointed to hear the news last month that Oakland-based coffee roaster Blue Bottle Coffee would not open its first Palo Alto café in Palo Alto’s upcoming Survey Monkey building can now wake up again. Blue Bottle announced it will be moving into Palo Alto’s historic old Varsity Theatre on University Avenue that the company SAP is currently renovating into a multi-use tech hub called “HanaHaus.” No opening date has been set yet, but the café will have a similar coffee menu to the other area outposts with pastries baked by the company’s kitchens in Oakland.