Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wat Buddhanusorn - Fremont

Found this place accidentally on yelp a couple of days ago and couldn't wait to go and check it out. You never know, it's a temple after all, so they could just stop selling food one day like the one in LA. Better try it before it got closed down.

We weren't sure what time exactly it starts but people talking about going there for lunch. So we figured, go earlier and beat the crowd. We got there around 11 am and was surprised to find out that the main lot was full. It wasn't that big of a lot. Probably fit like ten cars. There is another lot next to the temple but was behind some houses. If we didn't follow the car in front of us we would think it was someone else's house.

There is a passage from that grass lot to the temple. We saw tables lined up with people behind that looked like were waiting for something or somebody. Each of them had their bowls and when we got closer some even brought their rice cooker. Not really ready to just attack the food stalls, we decided to just stand there and see what people are doing. Soon it was apparent who those people were waiting for. We saw a line of monks coming out of the temple. Each of them carried a brass metal bowl. They then went to those line of tables and people behind the tables scooped their rice and put it in the metal bowl. Then the monk will go to the next person and so on.

After that process was done. Everybody moved away and the tables were cleared. The monks then lined up to go to a gazebo that was set up outside the temple. Earlier we noticed some volunteers carried dishes there. There was a big cooler set before all the dishes. Those monks then poured some of their rice in the cooler before they proceeded with the dishes. Later on all the volunteers went and shared those food. We regretted not going over there and checking those food out. :) Food for sale can be purchased with tokens. So we exchanged $20 worth of tokens. There were BBQ pork with sticky rice, pad see ew, green curry, minced pork salad, two types of noodle soup. Then of course some dessert like mango sticky rice and some other dessert that we don't know the names. We got pad see ew and noodle soup. Washed it down with Thai ice tea. Then picked up a sticky rice dessert with custard. Before we left, hubby decided that we should have the papaya salad to go. He made sure that it was spicy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hold Tight

Author: Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben name's wasn't new to me. I've read Harlan Coben's other novel - The Woods that was a best selling novel. Hold Tight started with a lady- Marianne that was murdered. There was no mystery, readers were let known who the killer was. But the mystery was the reason behind the murder. On the next chapter Tia and Mike Baye were contemplating on spying on their son, Adam. Adam has turned into a very quiet child and even quit playing hockey a month after his friend, Spencer Hill committed suicide. The Baye's neighbor, The Loriman's son, Lucas is fighting for his life looking for a suitable organ donor. Reba Cordova, a regular house wife that leads a regular life was reported missing by her husband. Joe Lewiston, a good school teacher made a mistake and said something he shouldn't have to one of his student. The connection between all these characters?? Be patient Grasshopper and you'll be rewarded.

This novel just like The Woods is so unpredictable. On one side readers didn't have to solve the puzzle of the murderer. But, the author made you wonder where is this leading to. In the beginning, it seemed that each of those incidents and characters were just standing alone. But as you go into the novel, the author revealed each of them one by one and reader started to be wowed. And in the end, they all just fell into one big picture. It's one huge puzzle solved.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just another two months

Starting this week I'm telling myself to run more often. I'm the lazy-always-looking-for-excuses- type of runners...hmm I'm not even sure whether I could call myself a runner. But if I want to do my San Francisco marathon I think I should push my butt and start training.

Last weekend I saw this documentary on PBS about the Nova team. This team was formed of about twenty ordinary people. These people were not runners. They have never run in their lives. They were put on a ten-month period training. Ten months. And here I am only two months left and haven't even started my training yet. Okay, I run before I told myself so I am somewhat ahead of them, slightly. BUT two months before their marathon they were already running 18-20 miles. Hik..hik..and I'm still on my 4 miles. :(

Today I ran a slightly longer one - eight miles. And I planned on increasing the mileage in weeks ahead. Hopefully I would be able to complete my SF marathon.

To watch the PBS program that I mentioned above.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seoul Jung and OEC Sushi

These two are just a few vendors inside Lawrence Food Court located on El Camino by Lawrence Expressway. We found this place accidentally recently on a day we were looking to check out the pho place across from the plaza. We haven't been here for a while and was surprised to find out about a food court and decided to check it out.

There were maybe around 6 vendors inside this food court and you can tell that they pretty much specialized in Korean or Korean influenced cuisine. They all have menu on pretty lighted board just like in the fast food place. Some of them offered special. I chose one of the special from Seoul Jung because it looked delicious. I seriously had no clue what it was other than some sort of stew/soup.

My stew came with a purple bowl of rice. It was mixed rice with brown rice (?). There were a small amount of banchan came with the order. It's just kimchee, potato, bean sprout and something that looked like dark color jello and tasted like one. The stew itself had some sort of dried vegetable, enoki, clam and green onion. The stew had a familiar taste of anchovy (?). I wasn't too sure what it was, it could be bean paste stew. But whatever it was, I enjoyed it and so was hubby. Hubby's mom cooked soup with similar dried vegetable before. My order cost about $8 including free self serve water/tea.

Hubby ordered a combo udon and sushi roll from OEC sushi next to Seoul Jung. The sushi was arranged nicely on a small dish presenting all different color. The udon was probably just half the size of the regular size portion. The sushi was freshly made so that was a plus. It wasn't cheap though. The combo cost about $9 after tax. It came with free water/tea, self served.

I hope the food court will last a while. I still want to go back and check out other vendors. It's too bad that we don't have this kind of food court more at other places. I am tired of seeing McD or Panda Express.
Lawrence Food Court
3561 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pho Huynh Hiep (Kevin Noodle House) - San Francisco

I chose this restaurant after yelping it. Me and hubby went to one pho restaurant in that area quite a while ago. Hubby loving the noodle and kept on saying that we should go back. A month ago we happened to be in the area again taking some out of town tourists. But to our amazement, we couldn't find the restaurant! When I yelped it, this is the restaurant that serves horfun (wide noodle) with their pho. And yelp didn't say anything about any restaurant being closed.

This restaurant was actually bigger than that restaurant that we went to before almost twice the size. I ordered the seafood pho and I insisted hubby ordered the beef pho to see whether this was the restaurant. Another thing that made me wonder was this restaurant actually serves seafood pho while the restaurant that we were looking for didn't. Hmm..

But anyhow, I pushed all those aside and decided to give them a try. We also ordered the fresh spring roll. It came out within minutes. There were three rolls on the plate cut into two each roll that yielded six pieces. Hubby complained about them being smaller than the usual spring roll we had. But I actually like it that way. It's more bite size. Dipped it into the sweet thick brown sauce and they disappeared quickly in the mouth without having the filling scattered on your table or your plate.

Hubby's combo beef pho came in a huge bowl. Broth has deeper color almost brown and more oily than what we usually had. But then he ordered the combo with steak, tripe, tendon, flank - almost the whole kitchen sink. I noticed when I ordered the combo, the broth will usually be more oily. That's too bad because I do like those 'weird's stuff but not the oily broth. Another thing that we also noticed was the star anise flavor that was pretty thick with the soup. All in all, hubby liked his soup and had no complain even though he diverted all his tripe, etc to my bowl.

I couldn't say the same with my seafood pho. The soup was bland. I tried to put in more sriracha to give it a flavor. But it's just NOT there. Seafood consisted of two decent size prawns, a few decent size squid, one big piece of fish cake and three to four big pieces of imitation crab. I don't like too much imitation crab in my seafood pho. Don't they understand, it's IMITATION crab so it's not seafood. Imitation crab should be limited to just two small pieces or left out.

One good thing that I should pointed out. The bean sprout was actually blanched so it didn't bring down the temperature of the broth. You notice sometimes you put in the bean sprout and the bean sprout don't even get cooked because the broth wasn't hot enough to even cook the sprout. But yesterday with the temperatures sin the low 90s, the soup just didn't get cooler even after we were almost done. ha..ha..

Pho Huynh Hiep 2 (Kevin Noodle House)
1833 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lulu is planning on a trip to Japan

The trip itself is not going to be until next year. ha..ha.. But it's exciting to even think about it. That's what happened when your job is mundane and you need something to look forward to.

Right now I am just doing a rough planning as to which cities to visit. We only going to have one week, so I limit ourselves to three cities, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. I haven't really looked into the details of each cities, but we have been to Tokyo before (only for a day) so I think two days in Tokyo should be enough. But that's just my preliminary research.

Yesterday I looked into the railway system and tried to understand how the train system works. I also looked into the ryokans - Japanese traditional inns. They are quite expensive compare to regular hotels. Well, hotels in Japan are not exactly cheap but I guess staying in ryokans eventhough a bit pricey it's worth the experience.

A coworker of mine is going to Japan this summer so I was hoping that he would answer a lot of my questions when he comes back. ha..ha..He told me he was able to find some quite cheap hotel. So I expect to get some input from him when it comes to accomodation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Uncle's Cafe - San Francisco

We were in Chinatown showing some out of town guests tour of San Francisco. Seriously, what kind of SF tour would be complete without a look into the Chinatown. SF Chinatown is supposedly the largest Chinatown in US after New York. But then when it comes to food, we don't really know where to go. We've been to Chinatown a couple of times but the food has never really satisfied us. These days we don't really go to Chinatown for food anymore. The locals probably know that the 'new' Chinatown is on Irving and 19th Ave. There are more restaurants there that serve better food and not just for tourists.

Anyhow, we were looking around to find decent restaurant that serves Chinese food, yeah..after all we were in Chinatown. And I guess it was due to the slow economy we actually met a few restaurants that sent their workers out on the street to lure customers in. Unfortunately they were not able to bring us in. Finally we found this place on a deserted street as we were strolling around. When we went in, we noticed the place seemed to be quite clean. There were a few table occupied and those patrons don't look like tourists. Good sign if locals like to go there.

We ordered fried rice noodle with beef, Singapore style fried rice stick and roast duck. The food was surprisingly pretty good. The duck wasn't too fatty as most of the roast duck is. The Singapore style fried rice stick was actually tasty.

If I happen to be in the area, I would certainly go there again.
Uncle Cafe
65 Waverly Place, San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 982-1954

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pho Phi Long - San Jose

Haven't been to Grand Century Mall for a while, so this weekend we decided to give it a visit. We noticed that the empty lot next to it that supposedly will be Vietnam town (or something like that) has already had something going on. Hopefully soon we could go there to try some Vietnamese food.

We were not sure where to it today so we were looking at those photos outside Pho Phi Long which is just next to the food court. Suddenly a guy next to me pointed to the cha ca la vong (fried fish dish) photo and asked me to try that. Turned out that he actually worked for the restaurant. I told him that we tried that before. Seeing his effort to lure customers, we decided to give it a try. He ushered us in and pointed us to an empty table and showed us the menu. I have already decided which one I wanted to try based on those photos I saw outside the restaurant. Yup..for those non-Vietnamese like me, photos do help a lot. Hubby decided to go with the regular seafood pho. Last minute I decided to order a dish called crispy shrimp cake. I don't remember the exact name but it was #54 !

The restaurant was pretty packed at that time, but our order came out quite fast. It wasn't really a problem anyhow because I was mesmerized by the huge LCD on the wall that was showing a girl singing on stage with many background dancers.

My order came out first. It was pho ap chao ga which was basically fried rice noodle with chicken (or beef or seafood depends on order). It looked very nice with a few cilantro on top on celery/carrot/onion inside. One bite into it I like the smoky flavor that comes with typical fry noodle that we couldn't achieve at home. Not unless you have a big 1000 BTU burner. And if you do, make sure you fry your noodle outside the house. ha..ha.. The noodle was the thin type rice noodle so they need to use a lot of oil to prevent it from sticking. End result it was pretty greasy. Other than that I actually like the flavor. But if I do order it again, I would go with seafood because chicken just didn't do well with the noodle.
Hubby's seafood pho was the typical fare. Nothing stands out, but it was good nonetheless since it's our soul food. In fact, that was the first thing we looked for when we got back from our Vancouver trip recently. :) But I still think the Pho Nam seafood pho is still the best.Our supposedly appetizer - crispy shrimp cake came out last. Hubby was pretty sure that they forgot about it. But then it showed up so we gladly took it. One bite into it I know that I had it before. My mom made something like that before. The restaurant actually served it on a bed of greens (mints, some Vietnamese veggie, and lettuce). BUT for the price of $6.95, it is a bit steep.

Pho Phi Long
Grand Century Mall
1111 Story Rd #1007
San Jose, CA 95106
(408) 282-1666

Care for a cup of tea ?

It's tea time ! Do you want lemon with your tea or milk ? Either way, it's going to take a while to finish this cup of tea.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Congee Noodle King - Vancouver, Canada

Our last night in Vancouver, we visited this restaurant on Kingsway. When I read the take out menu I was a bit skeptical because it was sooo long. There were at least 500 items on the menu. Have you ever seen such an extensive menu ? And they all just a bit different, for instance, stir fry bok choy with chicken, next one with pork, next one with beef, next one with ostrich. See, even I could come up with 4 different dishes.

Anyhow, I was worry that the restaurant was going to be like the one we went to on Sunday night (Chong Qing). Since usually all those good Chinese restaurants are near China Town, plus when the restaurant was mentioned to my in-laws they sounded reluctant to go. They never heard of any good Chinese restaurant in that area. But when we arrived at the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprise that the place looked nice and bright and clean. I didn't have the chance to use the restroom but the place looked like it has been renovated.

Eggplant with spicy garlic. This dish turned out to be different from what I expected. Instead of mushy eggplant, the eggplant was actually battered up and deep fried then top with sauce. Good.
Thai style clam with vermicelli. I had a Thai vermicelli in the past with prawn and liked that. I thought this may be similar to that. It turned out to be different. For starter, the clam was a lot more than I expected. The vermicelli was a little only and down at the bottom all covered up by clams. Vermicelli was spicy but sweet at the same time. Clams were fresh. Nice. Fried rice noodle (kwe tiau) with beef. It's good and smoky. But it's more a chinese style and not Singaporean style which is usually a bit spicy. But it's still good nonetheless.
Fried rice with dry scallop. On first sniffed, I thought it was salted fish fried rice. It looked kinda pale, like they only used the white part of egg and not the egg yolk for the fried rice. On a closer look, I can see the shredded dry scallop on it. It's nice and not too oily. I guess they used pork fat. It had to be. I always try to do fried rice at home and it never turned out like the restaurant one.
Gai lan with oyster sauce. It's typical blanched gai lan and drizzled with oyster sauce. Green veggies and looked very appetizing. Not exactly special but we needed some fiber.
Fried silver fish with garlic. I looked forward to try this silver fish since my bro-in-law had been talking about it since morning. He and his wife went there before so they were quite familiar on what to order. The dish looks like a bunch of fries with fried garlic on top. But those 'fries' were actually battered silver fish. The silver fish itself is quite a small fish but the batter they used was light and airy. Very nice.
Fried pork ribs. The ribs were cut in smaller bite size pieces. Nicely deep fried
Wonton with spicy sauce. I expected their spicy sauce to be a combination of chilli oil, sesame oil and soy sauce. But I was nicely wrong. It turned out to be spicy peanut sauce. It tasted much like the Indonesian siomay that was sold by the street vendors.
I wish I could eat more but because a lot of the dishes were fried I tried to restrain myself from eating too much of it. I was still recovering from my cough and didn't want to go through all those cough medication again.
Congee Noodle King * 3313 Kingsway St, Vancouver * (604) 435-6670

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chong Qing Szechuan Restaurant- Vancouver, Canada

We were invited to dinner at this rest by hubby's side of family. When I heard of the area I wasn't too excited about it. We've been to another restaurant in the area and let me just say it's not the best area in town especially after dark. But knowing that we will be going with my bro-in-law and wife made me felt better. Walking along Commercial Rd and seeing stores with bars on their windows gave you the idea what kind of neighborhood it is. We saw a bunch of people just kind of loitering around the skytrain station after dinner.

Restaurant was surprisingly crowded on Sunday night. The reservation that my sis-in-law made was crossed out because we didn't arrive in time. Nobody was there yet, we were the first to arrive and we actually rushed there from hubby's small reunion. We tried to contact my sis-in-law but didn't get anybody so we wait outside. And voila they were just walking to the restaurant. I actually thought it was going to take a while to get us a table, but then we were seated almost immediately. That's very nice.

I looked through the menu but decided to let my sis-in-law order since she has been quite a regular with the restaurant. She said there's another branch of that restaurant that open in West Vancouver where they live. The first order that came out was wonton soup. It was okay, could go better with noodle on the side. Second order was minced pork on lettuce leaves. Nice and refreshing from the lettuce and also crunchy from the fried vermicelli. Fried noodle and fried rice were nothing special, typical Chinese restaurant. Sweet and sour fish was also not special. The house signature dish was ginger beef. It tasted more like fried beef jerky. I remember my mom used to buy beef jerky that tasted like that. My mom usually just pan fry them, while this one was deep fried so it was a bit crunchy. I guess when they said ginger beef, they meant the spice used to make the jerky, because I couldn't really tasted any ginger on the dish itself.

Another specialty of the house was spicy green beans. This turned out to be pretty good. Crunchy green beans with spicy garlicky sauce. Not very spicy that can kill you but just a hint of heat on your tongue.

All and all a two and half star experience. A few things could have been spicier, the ginger beef and the green beans. I guess it depends on what we order we could have experience a better Szechuan cuisine which supposedly spicy.

Szechuan Chong Qing Restaurant
2808 Commercial Dr (at 12th)
Vancouver, BC. Canada

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Boston PIzza - Burnaby, Canada

This is the one outside Metrotown. We stumbled upon this place during our recent visit. That night we didn't order much. The three of us shared two types of appetizer - calamari and appie platter. We were going to get the yam fries with chipotle dip but they ran out of it. Was it really ran out or they just didn't have it ? I found it almost impossible to actually ran out of it because it was Monday night and they weren't even busy at all.

Anyhow, we all had dinner already and was just looking for a place to sit, drink and chit chat. It was a nice place because it wasn't busy at that time. Our order came pretty quick. I had hope for the calamari because I haven't had it for quite a while but it turned out to be so so. It tasted typical of those sports bar, nothing special. The appie platter was suggested by our waiter as the replacement for the yam fries. It was a huge platter with wings, cheese toast, potatoes, fried pork ribs and cactus dip. I actually quoted the dip from the boston pizza menu. I didn't think it looked or tasted any different from ranch dressing. I only tasted the cheese toast, which I liked because it was cheesy enough. :) Chicken wings - nothing special.

My companions order beer and tea while I ordered hot chocolate. My hot chocolate was a disappointment. It was very sweet and tasted like hot chocolate that came from those instant hot choco package. I think I can do better than that at home. But it's forgiveable considering it's a sports bar and not starbucks.

It's a nice hang out place providing it wasn't very busy. It's also a good place for family night out I suppose. Food quality I say two and half star out of five.