Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Deli @ Bayside Market

Bayside Market is a corner store and deli, located just a few blocks from my house.  It is part of the RJ's Market Chain, which also includes RJ's Market in Levi Plaza and Rincon Market (a few blocks in the other direction from my house).

The locations are all a bit different, but are corner stores tailored to the SF neighborhoods in which they are embedded.  For example, they carry an impressive line up of higher end chocolates, the cream cheese selection is small but of course includes a non-dairy option, and their liquor selection is quite large given the overall store size.  They also all have delis with assorted pre-made salads, they make sandwiches to order, and have huge salad bars.

I needed some easy cold dishes for take-out, and I've kinda been craving deli salads, so I checked out the deli and the salad bar offerings.  Over a few visits, I've tried many of their salads.  All seemed to be fresh and made with quality ingredients, but some of the flavors didn't work for me.  But others were great.  It seemed very hit or miss.  I wish they were the sort of place that let you sample before buying, since they varied widely!
Thai inspired pasta salad. $8.49/lb.
I was told this was a Thai pasta salad. It seemed to have egg noodles, mushrooms, pea tendrils, roasted red peppers, and almond slivers in a peanut based sauce.  I guess the peanut sauce is what made it Thai?  The noodles were decently cooked, a bit mushy, but not bad. The mushrooms were wild mushrooms, not just button mushrooms, and they added a good heartiness.  Roasted red peppers added good flavor, far better than regular raw red pepper.  The almonds gave a good crunch.  I just love pea tendrils, so I was thrilled to see them instead of more classic spinach for the greens.  I was very surprised to see them using an expensive ingredient like that in the pasta salad, as it was wilted and lost in the dressing.  I wish it was allowed to shine more!

Speaking of the dressing.  I didn't really like it.  Sorta peanut flavored, but not really.  Creamy, but ... I dunno.  Something didn't come together for me with this.

I really appreciated the mix of ingredients in here, the use of wild mushrooms, roasted peppers, and pea tendrils, but sadly, I didn't like the salad.  My least favorite, and I didn't even finish it.  Priced fairly high per pound at $8.49, which I guess makes sense given the pea shoots?  I was a little surprised though, as it was higher priced than most of the salads, including the seafood options.
Shrimp salad. $7.59/lb.
This came out of the salad bar.  The shrimp were small size, but nicely cooked, not rubbery, not fishy.  The seasoning on them was really impressive, strong salt and pepper flavor.  The entire thing was fresh and light, with tomatoes, red onion, chives.

I liked this one, my second favorite, and I'd get it again if I was nearby and needed something simple.  $7.59/lb was a tiny bit high, but not bad for seafood.
Vegan Brocoli Salad. $8.49/lb.
This looked like the broccoli crunch salad from Whole Foods, which I always absolutely love.  In fact, the ingredients are almost identical: brocoli, red onion, cashews, and bacon, in a creamy dressing.  Except, in this case, the bacon is vegan.  And I think the dressing must be too.

The brocoli was nicely cooked, still crunchy.  Like the Whole Foods version, I liked the red onion and cashews with it.  But ... the vegan bacon?  So strange tasting.  I have nothing against fake meat proteins, but I didn't like this.  The dressing also wasn't as creamy as the Whole Foods one.  Basically, it just made me want the Whole Foods one!  Second to last favorite, I wouldn't get again.

Priced the same as the first salad, at $8.49/lb, which again seemed a bit high, but it did have the specialty vegan ingredients.
Calamari Salad. $16.99/lb.
This calamari salad, featured both bodies and rings, along with celery, and peppers.  Light and refreshing.

The calamari bodies were nicely cooked, not rubbery, but a bit fishy.  But the rings were very chewy.  I didn't like this, and I wouldn't get it again.

The price per pound on this was a whopping $16.99, making this small container $9.  Definitely not worth it.
San Francisco Potato Salad. $4.49.
Next, a classic potato salad.  I love potato salad. No egg.

Very creamy dressing, lots and lots of mayo.  The potatoes were in really nice size chunks and were well cooked, not too mushy, not too crisp.  But, I didn't really like something in the seasoning.  I'm not sure what it was, but this wasn't a winner for me, and I wouldn't get it again.

Priced at only $4.49/lb, which seemed totally reasonable.
Jane's Honey Mustard Pasta Salad. $6.49/lb.
I was told by the guy at the deli that this was his absolute favorite of their salads.

Penne pasta, sundried tomatoes, black olives, in a creamy dressing, again mayo based.  I didn't really taste a strong honey mustard flavor, but there was a slight sweetness, which I liked.  I again appreciated the sundried tomatoes.  But, like the potato salad, it was over dressed.  The tubes were full of dressing, so you'd often bite into one and a mouth full of mayo would squirt out.  I like mayo dressings, but blech.  Once I squeezed out some of the dressing, it was my third favorite of the salads, but I'm not sure I'd get it again.
Coleslaw. $4.49/lb.
I also really love coleslaw.  Classic coleslaw.  Really crisp cabbage, in assorted size chunks.  I was impressed by how fresh and crispy it was.  Creamy mayo based dressing.  Very, very dressed, but I liked it.  Not remarkable, but solid.  My favorite of the salads, and I'd get it again if I was in the mood for some slaw.
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