Sunday, December 27, 2009

Burma Superstar - San Francisco

From what we read on, this place is da bomb. It was notorious that patrons had to wait for up to one hour just to get a seat in the restaurant. To make it worse, they don't take reservations.

We left early around 10 to catch the early brunch. Reached there around 11:45 and it was half full already. Some people seemed to be there since 11 ! it that good ?

Based on the reviews, we have determined what to order. Their specialty seemed to be Tea leaf salad and Samusa Soup. I like calamari so I chose Wok roasted calamari and threw in garlic noodle just to see whether it's similar to the one from Thanh Long. I thought heck..we'll be there most likely only this time, so might as well try a few things all at once.

Tea leaf salad was a combination of chopped tomato, lettuce, different kind of nuts (pine ?, soy bean ?, peanuts, and broad bean ?), tea leaf, lemon grass and squeeze of lemon juice. The nuts gave crunchiness and lemon made it so refreshing. They could have used younger lemon grass because the one they used was a bit tough so we ended up picking them out.

The calamari was totally different from what we expected. It didn't have the look or even taste of any roast or smoky flavor. It look more like blanched. Though the calamari was very tender but the whole dish was more like a salad than appetizer. I guess I expected more calamari instead of a bunch of lettuce/cucumber.

The samusa soup was actually vegetarian. But for a vegetarian soup it totally exceeded expectation. This soup was supposedly featured on Food Network and Bay Area Backroads. We did notice that this soup along with the tea leaf salad were ordered on quite a few tables beside ours. The soup didn't present itself that well but once we had a sip, it totally changed our opinion. The potato fritters in the soup and lentils did fill us up. We actually had two bowls of the soup because the order I think should be enough to serve four people.

Our last order was garlic noodle. Which was perfect considering by then we totally needed some carb and protein. The first few dishes were pretty light and were almost like teasers. The garlic noodle though wasn't as rich as the Thanh Long version was actually tasty and not as garlicky as I expected. So don't let the 'garlic' drives you away from trying this tasty noodle.

Oops almost forgot about our drink. We tried Burma cooler which was a blend of beer, ginger and lemon. It was light especially after mixed with ice. For the price I think it deserves more alcohol.

Total we spent about $48.50 before tips.

309 Clement St (between 4th Ave & 5th Ave) San Francisco, CA 94118

Monday, December 21, 2009

IRIS - korean drama

Started watching it about a month or two ago. Finally coming to the last episode today. It's about friendship between two men and a woman. This is not your regular korean drama, boys meet girls kind of thing. These two men (Kim Hyun Joon and Jin Sa Woo) were in the special forces before they got recruited to join NSS where a beautiful woman, Choi Seung Hee was one of the team leader. Both fell for the same woman. Who will get Seung Hee's heart ?

Beside love triangle, there was also a bunch of terrorist under an international group named IRIS. This group's purpose was to prevent any talk of reunification between North and South Korea. They used different ways to do that, from assassinations, explosions, nuclear bombs, etc.

With a budget of almost 20 million USD, IRIS could easily be the most expensive korean drama ever made. Some of the settings include Hungary, China, Japan and of course Korea. Starting a bit funny on the first episode but getting very intense after that. There's no dull moment at all. Once you start watching it, you just want to continue to the next one and next one.

Cast :

Lee Byung Hun as Kim Hyun Joon
Kim Tae Hee as Choi Seung Hee
Jung Joon Ho as Jin Sa Woo
Kim Seung Woo as Park Chul Young
Kim So Yun as Kim Sun Hwa

Wondering where to watch online ? Just google IRIS korean drama. :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pho Binh - Sunnyvale

I've known this pho establishment at least almost ten years. I'm sure it existed a lot longer than that. Hubby's coworker took him there and he introduced it to me. But over the years I think their recipe for the soup had changed. I remember the tai bo vin (pho with rare meat and meat balls) used to be a lot more spicier. But today I sensed that the soup actually had become saltier than usual. I also noticed that the owner seemed to change too.

We usually order the one with rare meat and meat balls. But today I tried the house special combination. It came with rare meat, meat balls, a bit tripe (not enough in fact) and a lot of fatty meat (which I don't really like). The egg rolls are still good. Pho Binh is actually the only place we ever order our egg rolls because they only fry the egg rolls when you order. They always come out extra hot so beware !

1274 Persian Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
(408) 734-3066

Friday, December 18, 2009

Read this message before you set up your voice mail.

If you were in the same line of work as mine that requires you to call clients. One day, you'd want to slam the phone down and yelled WTF. These are the top three reasons why.

3. You dialed the number and then on the other end somebody said 'hello'. And you said hello, this is so..and so.. from here and there. Guess what...the other end said have reached XXX and we're not home. That is one lousy answering message.

2. You dialed the number and then it sounded like it got through but instead of a voice. You heard a loud music..SO LOUD that you had to take the receiver further from your ear. Waited..and waited..finally five minutes later then it got to the part where you could leave a voice message.

And the top numero UNO.
You dialed and nobody picked up. It got to the voice mail and you got ready to leave a message. But then the message said : sorry, the voice mail is full. WTF. Don't you know that you need to check your messages ?? Don't you know how to delete your messages after you listen to them ? Or don't even bother to set up your voice mail if you're not going to even check it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Planning a trip to Saigon

This idea just came in last minute after we decided to go back to Indonesia. Hubby said maybe we should go to Vietnam. You's like you go to Disneyland, you might as well pay a bit more and check out Disney's California Adventure. It's just in the neighborhood.

But Vietnam is still a very foreign country to us. Luckily it has become a very popular destination among Indonesian tourists. By searching the Jalansutra mailing list at Google groups I found a lot of articles on recent trips to that country. Travel books like Frommer's or Lonely Planet are only useful up to a certain degree. Those places recommended there would most likely be very touristy by now. I took down a few names just for back up while looking for any new recommendation by other travellers online.

Surprisingly Wikitravel has good up to date information on Ho Chi Minh City. ( Another good resource was And for good places to chow I like to check out blogs. Better coverage and more pictures.

We'll only be there for 2 days and 2 nights so I limit the area to be around Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City. Hubby is not really into doing tourists thing like visiting Cu Chi Tunnel or visit Mekong Delta. To be honest I'm not really into crawling in a tiny space like the tunnel either. So I totally agreed with him on that. But hey..crossing those two spots out, I don't see anything else around that area. For now, I left that option open and see what we can find out when we reached there.

We already got our tickets through Tiger Airways. I roughly know which hotel we wanted to get through Agoda. All I need to do right now is to pack my suitcase.. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Immortals - Evermore

First time I saw this book in Costco and it got me curious. Part of the title said " The Immortals". So not having the continuation of the Twilight series I thought this book could fill in the gap. I'm the cheapo type. I don't buy my book if I could get it from the library. So I did the search and reserve it. While waiting for it, I looked for the reviews on Amazon. It wasn't that good. Most of them mentioned the similarity between The Immortals and The Twilight. That didn't stop me from actually reading it. Because The Twilight series didn't get all 5 stars across the board from the reviewers either. Everybody has their own opinions. Some of them we may not agree at all.

I got my book last Monday and started reading it. The main character is Ever Bloom who is around 17 years old. Her family died in a car accident along with their family dog, Buttercup. She felt guilty because she was convinced that she caused the accident. That the accident won't happen if she didn't whine to her dad to turn around and get her sweater. She then moved to a new school because she had to live with her aunt. One day came a new student, Damen Auguste. Damen can move so fast that it's almost a blur. Hmm..sounds familiar ? Yeah..I couldn't blame the other readers saying there's too much similarity between those two series.

I'm waiting to read the second book. I'm still open to see if for some reason or whatever that might happen in the second book could change my mind at all about this series.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Funny commercial

Funny shiny suds commercial. Watch those bubbles. They're hilarious.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Villa 08- Mountain View

When we called for the lunch price, we were told that it's $16.99. By the time we got there, there was a huge sign : Lunch $9.99, Dinner $14.99. When we entered, the lady there asked us in Mandarin how many people. And then when she knew that we understood Mandarin, she explained to us that if we pay cash, it's going to be $15.99 - $1 discount per person. We agreed on that and we were ushered to our seats. She also told us that they had lobster and turkey today. Awesome !

I passed the first station because they look like all salad. And I saw a bunch people were attacking just one particular dish. Intrigued, I went closer to take a look. Apparently they just took out a new batch of lobster. Looking yummy, I jumped in pushed a few people aside and took a few pieces as well. ha..ha..

The hot and sour soup was actually good. Spicy and tangy. Too bad got too much starch.

I like the dimsum station. They just stacked all the bamboo steamers there and let you pick whatever you want. You basically pick up the whole steamer and stack it on your plate to avoid dripping water. The selection was good too. Shumai, chicken feet, tripe, pork ribs, buns, sticky rice, rice in bamboo wrap, etc.

The dimsum tripe was soo good. I love tripe and its texture. But seriously no MSG ?? Come on, that's a bit stretchy there. Yet as soon as I walked in, I saw this big sign. Look below.
Everything was good. And me and hubby were ready to give them like 3 stars. Very bright stars. Until hubby came back with a plate of desserts and we went through each of them one by one. The yellow tiny cake was very sweet and the color was too bright too NOT be artificial. The round shiny bun actually had something that look like charsiu (barbecue pork). Huh ?? I thought that was bad until I tried the egg custard. Wow..first's kinda dry and crispy instead of flaky. But then I swallowed it and I tasted the rancid taste. It's old. Really old.

Ending note : this place is good but stay away from the dessert and you'll be fine.
Villa 08 * 895 Villa StMountain View, CA 94041 * (650) 964-2222

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Christmas shopping deals don't start on Black Friday anymore

Not having much to do on Thanksgiving Day, I went and check my emails to see what kind of deals available on my inbox. Having sign up on certain website and also shopped online in the past, I get emails every now and then (or almost one every other day). :)

These are just a few samples of deals I found today :

Just a few points to remember :
- When you shop online, set up an email account just for the purpose of shopping online. So you won't get bombarded with too many emails that you don't want filling up your main email account.
- Check your emails for any deals - don't just delete them.
- Compare deals for almost similar items. Some place may offer discount, some may offer both discount and free shipping. :)
Happy THanksGiVing and HaPpy SHopPing !

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pho Nguyen - Milpitas

Our comfort food for cold day is a bowl of hot noodle soup. Well, actually it's more than just cold day, on any day in fact. ha..ha.. But of course it's always best when it's cold outside. So last Saturday when it was freezing we all lined up at Pho Nguyen to get a table. That's the only time we ever had to wait. I guessed everybody love hot noodle soup on cold day.

I decided on Hu Tieu My Tho and hubby on seafood pho. I'm curious as to the difference between those two. And of course we always like a spring roll (goi cuon) on the side.

Spring roll at Pho Nguyen is actually the biggest we ever had at any pho stores. I think they charged like $4.50 but the spring roll portion is huge. Four full rolls with really decent size prawns. You can see the prawns behind the translucent rice paper wrap. The sauce was also good, thick and not runny with chopped peanuts on top.

It turned out that my hu tieu my tho is almost the same as seafood pho except for slices of pork and a few quail eggs. So hu tieu my tho has prawns, squid, slices of pork, minced pork. While seafood pho has prawns, squid, imitation crab and fish cake.
-Hu tieu my tho-

-Seafood pho with sriracha sauce on top-

- A 'dressed up' hu tieu my tho ready to be slurped-

Pho Nguyen * 275 W Calaveras BlvdMilpitas, CA 95035 * (408) 945-5909

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sonny's Cafe - San Jose

After a long walk on Sunday, we were craving for bowl of noodle soup. Vowing to always look for a new place to slurp noodle soup, I then went on yelp. The chosen business this time was Sonny's Cafe. We jumped in the car and off we went on our adventure.

The location of the business was in a mall on Cottle Road, sharing space with OSH, Baskin Robbins and other businesses. When we walked in, there was only a table occupied. We were seated immediately and I noticed two tables were not cleared yet. As soon as we placed our order, a family of five came in, followed by a family of three.
Our appetizer, goi cuon (spring roll) came out in like ten minutes. Two decent size roll cut into four pieces with peanut sauce on the side. One bite into it I noticed the roll was cold and the bean sprout looked like frozen. It was quite a cold day but I don't think that was the reason. I think the roll was premade earlier and kept in the refrigerator. The rice paper skin was extra thick and chewy to bite. Not good eats.

Not long then our bowl of noodles came. Mine was combination noodle soup with rice noodle, beef meat ball, bits of chicken meat, imitation crab and two prawns. Too bad the fried garlic they put in the soup was burnt. They should probably leave it out since it was burnt. Most customers would rather not have fried garlic then bitter burnt garlic. I ended removing those garlic anyway. The soup was a bit bland, no MSG.

Hubby's bowl was good 'ol pho with rare meat and meat ball (tai bo vien). Too bad the rare meat wasn't rare at all, it tasted a bit dry. Soup was okay with a stronger smell of star anise. After a while, hubby complaint about the soup being too peppery. It takes about half a bowl before the peppery soup started to built up.

The best part was the meat ball. They tasted like home made, just a bit chewy and not much taste of flour. Very homely taste.

The other table seemed to enjoy their sandwich just fine. From what we heard, the other two tables ordered egg roll for appetizer. I guess their egg rolls were more popular. We should have ordered that. If we ever go back there, we'd probably try the sandwiches instead.

Sonny's Cafe * 5643 Cottle Rd San Jose, CA 95123 * (408) 281-7899

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Curry Laksa

If you love curry and coconut milk, you're going to love this curry laksa. The real one requires lots of pounding ten thousand spices, but I'm going to show you the short cut to it. :)

First, go to your local Asian grocery store and look for the South East Asian food aisle. In the picture above, I showed two different types of curry laksa paste. Either one is good. The one on the right we got it from Maxim grocery store in Cupertino. The one of the left was bought in Vancouver, Canada. I'm sure there'll be different ones out there. So far the good ones had been from Malaysia where the origin of the curry laksa came from. But of course, each country has their own version. Indonesia actually has its own too, not as rich and don't require use of shrimp paste (aka belachan). While you're there, look for sambal terasi (chilli mixed with shrimp paste) like the one above. Or there is another version from Singapore - nonya sambal chilli. Both are equally good.

Okay, once you got your curry laksa paste then you can go get the other ingredients :
1/2 lb chicken thigh meat, cut in cubes of 3/4 inch.
1/2 lb medium size prawns, deveined
1/2 medium size onion, peeled, sliced.

Put a bit oil in a wok big enough to contain all the above ingredients. Put in onion, saute till fragrant. Put in the rest of the ingredients, stir around until they are cook through. Season lightly with fish sauce. Put aside.

1 English cucumber, peeled, half lengthwise, slice thinly
1 lb bean sprout, lightly put in hot water. Don't let it cook too long. It will loose crunchyness.
3 hard boil eggs. Peeled. Cut lenghtwise.
1 package of rice noodle. Put in hot water to let it soften but don't over cook or it will be soggy.
1 package of fried tofu or fried tofu skin.

Mix 1 tbs of sambal terasi or nonya sambal mixture with juice from 1 lime. Stir well until they become like chilli sauce.
Follow instruction on the package to prepare the curry laksa sauce. Put in the fried tofu to cook with the laksa sauce to absorb the flavor. Arrange the rice noodle, vegetables and meat on a serving bowl. Scoop the sauce onto the bowl. Season to taste with the belachan/chilli sauce mixture. Enjoy !

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tatami sushi and seafood restaurant - Cupertino

Having found out that there is a replacement of Todai in Cupertino.We decided that we needed to give it a try.

When we arrived it was 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. The place was in full swing. There were two parties going on. Looking at the sign posted, I found out that the price of lunch was $14.99. So we waited to be seated.
Having two parties going on, most of the space were taken at each opposite corner. So we were seated in the middle of the room. I almost asked to get another table but decided against it. It's a wise decision afterwards because from where we sat I could see when they refill the food at the hot food section. Wonderful. It gave us a chance to get the food at its fresh condition - which is just after cooked. ha..ha..
As usual, we started from the sushi side. Each of us took a plate filled with sushi roll. Hubby got more sushi on his plate. Looking at the roll I suspected their style is the same as Todai. They probably still employ the same chef. Rolls are big and filling. Rice a bit dry. But I haven't had sushi for a while so I down them and went to get some soup. They had selection of seafood and miso soup. On the way there I saw a new addition that I've never seen at Todai - Sukiyaki. A few patrons were attacking them. I decided I had to give it a try.

These were the dishes we tried.
Sushi/cold dish section :
- Eggplant salad
- Edamame
- Rolls : Philadelphia, California, Tuna/avocado, spicy tuna, etc
- Nigiri sushi : ebi, white fish, octopus, etc
- Spicy crab - blue crab legs with spicy korean sauce

Hot dish section :
- Tempura
- Pork katsu
- Udon noodle soup - customized
- Grilled octopus

New dishes that weren't there during Todai era :
- Customized udon made to order
- Grilled beef - Yummy
- Spicy calamari
- Dimsum - tiny shumai and hargow
- Sukiyaki- Chocolate and white chocolate fondue with banana and marshmallow

I liked the customized udon they offer. There is a selection of vegetables (napa cabbage, bokchoy, spinach), fish cakes, octopus to choose from. Put the stuffs you want in your bowl and give it to the cook behind line and he'll cook it with the udon for you. Get your hot bowl of udon and select your topping : green onion, seaweed or shredded ginger. Sprinkle some fried garlic or hot pepper powder and you are good to go. To make it perfect, get yourself some tempura and you get tempura udon. Yum..yum..

I guess we got lucky to go on the weekend when there were parties going on. Food were gone pretty fast and get refilled pretty quick. Though there were a few occasions when I had to pass by a few empty trays and just had to be happy to know what were supposed to be there. But from where we sat we were fortunate to know when those trays get refilled. :) For a buffet place, I guess busy time will be a good determination of freshly cooked food. I guess next time if we go back I wanted to go on a busy weekend too.

10123 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014 * (408) 996-3444

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Loy Krathong Festival - Fremont

This time we went to the Wat Buddhanusorn for the Loy Krathong Festival. This festival according to Wiki was most likely adopted from Hindu festival similar to Deepavali as thanksgiving to the deity of the Ganges with floating lanterns for giving life throughout the year. The temple has a little pond on its front yard. That's where they release the 'krathong'.In Thailand, the festival is usually done at night so the floating lanterns will be more pronounced.And after that of course, what kind of festival without food. So we went ahead and got some noodle soup. There was no name on the stall but I guess it's similar to tom yum noodle because they use minced pork and fried garlic. Seasoned it to taste and they're good to go.

I thought I saw Kao soy there, but when I went back to pick up one it wasn't. It's actually namya curry. What the heck, it's something different so I pick one up. This one seemed to be pretty plain. Just a few fish ball, julienned cabbage and sour pickle mustard. When we made it ourselves we also used hard boiled egg, basil and bean sprout.
When those two bowls were done. Hubby wanted another bowl of soup and he wanted yen ta foo. This one we knew the name because it was posted on the stall. :) Beside the pink color that was a bit unusual for us, it actually was very tasty. Of course, you have to season to taste. That's why fish sauce, vinegar, chilli paste and chilli powder were all provided on site.

And to complete the day, we took home papaya salad and some small cake with green onion that later on I found out was khanom krog. This khanom krog was made of flour and baked on little mold the diameter of 1.5 inches. Each was half round and they were served by putting on face to face to make it almost round. The middle flat portion contained coconut cream with a few green onion to taste. That's the interesting part. I totally didn't expect green onion on a little cake. The cake itself wasn't very sweet but the coconut cream gave a bit savory flavor. I loved it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Take Care of The Young Lady - korean drama

Recently I started watching this Korean Drama 아가씨를 부탁해 /Agassireul Pputakae. The English translation is either Take Care of The Young Lady or My Fair Lady or Lady Castle.
Seo Dong Chan - an ex gigolo turned to be a butler for the heiress of the Kang San group Kang Hye Na. First his mission was to seduce her and get enough money to pay off his debt to the loan shark. He was instead distracted and couldn't accomplish his mission. On the other hand, Hye Na was attracted to young human rights lawyer Lee Tae Yoon. In between those three, came Yeo Eui Joo which Seo Dong Chan always treated as sister. Does Eui Joo turn to like Dong Chan ? You'll have to watch it yourself to find out.

The first few episodes were slooow. I almost abandoned it but then it got interesting starting episode three. I kinda not like the casting for Seo Dong Chan. Certain angle he looks older. Well, he is a lot older compare to the rest of the casts. He is still cute though for his age. :)

The girl that play Kang Hye Na - Yoon Eun Hey - was the same girl that was in The First Shop of Coffee Prince. But here she plays the spoilt rich lady which a few times I felt like smacking her myself. For a rich girl that lives in a mansion, her choice of clothing was incredibly awful. Or maybe it was just the way they tried to portray her personality ?

Anyhow, it's still entertaining to watch. Light and funny.