Friday, December 31, 2010

California Cafe - Los Gatos

A bunch of us from our office had dinner together the other night. Our destination California Cafe in Los Gatos. The menu online looked delicioso. Plan had been made since the week before. It was unfortunate that the weather that night was not on our side. It was wet and cold. I circled around the parking lot and couldn't find any spot. Argh..of course, when you most needed a spot closer to the restaurant on a stormy night and you couldn't find any.

Finally I made it in. We got a round table next to the kitchen. From where I sat I could see the big fire on their pizza oven. It's a very cozy feeling. I like the ambiance and I couldn't wait to try their food.

We agreed to share a few appetizers. Our first order was crab cake but was told that there was only one crab cake per order (of $8.75). Oops...not a good choice. So we stick with the jamaican spiced calamari and decided on the pizza instead.

It was quiet night at the restaurant so we got our orders pretty fast. The calamari was on a light batter and tossed together with alfalfa sprout, cashew nuts and some sweet spicy tangy dressing. Awesome. The pizza was also top notch. Thin crust, with mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, caramelized onion and arugula. Easily one of the best pizza I've ever had.

For entree I had green tea encrusted ahi tuna. Three pieces of tuna on a bed of greens (pea sprout?) with some sort of sauce. I also had a side of grilled broccolini that had wonderful smoky flavor but a bit too tough for my liking. The green tea they used was toasted tea leaves which was interesting. It gave a bit crunchiness to the outside of tuna and a bit hint of green tea when you bit on it. That was the second time I actually had tea leaves on any dishes ever since the tea leaf salad.

California Cafe is a nice place to have a quiet dinner with your loved one and friends. May not be family friendly especially with younger kids. In term of food, I liked most of the food I tried that night. But since it's on the pricey side I guess I won't be able to be back there soon enough.

California Cafe
50 University Ave Los Gatos, CA 95030   (408) 354-8300

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

La Bodeguita Del Medio

A couple of nightd ago we had a chance to try out this Cuban restaurant in Palo Alto, La Bodeguita del Medio. We drove passed but couldn't see the restaurant so we picked a parking lot and walked back. The night was cold and the air was crispy. The street was quiet almost had a deserted feel to it. A few restaurants we passed by was quiet. But to our surprise when we got to La Bodeguita, it was almost packed and very busy. There were 2 tables left and we chose one by the corner. The bar area was full too.

Most of the restaurants in the area were small but this one seemed like it had been widened by taking over the space next to them. We were brought the menus but I kinda know what I wanted already. Hubby ordered a ginger beer after he was told that the Cuban beer that he wanted was not available anymore. It turned ou that the ginger beer was actually from Australia !

Our appetizer was awesome. Camarones con mojo, I believe that's the name. Medium size prawns perched on top of toasted slice of bread with spicy tangy sauce. We can see slices of habanero pepper and garlic along with chopped pepper (?).

For entrees, I got masitas - spicy pork with rice and black beans. Hubby got ropa vieja - shredd flank steak with plaintain and yellow rice. I took a bit of his plaintain....sooo good. I envy his order. My masitas wasn't too spicy. It had more of sweetness on it than savory and left me with a bit heat in my mouth after the meal. Very nice.

It was our first experience with Cuban cuisine. I look forward to trying out more dishes from the area in the future.

La Bodeguita del Medio
463 South California Avenue  Palo Alto, CA 94306 (650) 326-7762

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mogo BBQ - around SF Bay Area

So I found out about this food truck by the name Mogo BBQ about a month ago. Finally a couple of nights ago had a chance to check it out.

We drove there and ordered spicy pork quesadilla and short ribs burrito to go. Within 10 minutes we got our order and went home to dissect it.

My first look at my quesadilla was like love at first sight. I love quesadilla and this one was just the one I was looking for. A bit browned on the tortilla and the smell was awesome. It had a drizzle of mixture of mayo (and cheese ?) on top of it. It was quite a healthy size for $7. I finished my first wedge and was eyeing my partner's burrito. My verdict : quesadilla was good but the spicy pork was a bit too much sodium for my liking. The quesadilla could use a little salad on the side.

The burrito looked compact but it sure got a lot of features. A good combination of rice, meat and veggies. It's, in my opinion, a balance meal. We could use one of those next time.

All in all was a good satisfying meal. We'll look forward to check out the other stuffs on their menu. Let's Mogo !

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Khanh's Restaurant - San Jose

We were in Santana Row on one weekend and wanted something different than just mall food. We found Khanh's Restaurant on Yelp and it was just around the corner from Santana Row (on Winchester Ave).

Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted and quickly seated. The place was a lot bigger than what it seemed outside. Menu was huge with varieties of noodle soup, appetizers, rice plates and even some selections for kids. We selected combination rice noodle soup for hubby, tofu rolls and saigon crepe (banh xeo) for me.

Tofu rolls came out fast. Nothing too special about it. It's like a regular spring roll minus the prawn and pork. The dipping sauce was a bit too watery for my taste.

We were done with our rolls within minutes. The waiters were quick in removing our plates. That's a plus. But from then on, it seemed like our orders took a while to come out. I suspected my crepe was slowing down hubby's noodle soup order.

Finally our orders came out. My crepe looked delicioso with huge plate of greens on the side. Hubby's noodle soup looked a bit plain with only a bit sprinkle of green onion on top. I know he likes his soup with tons of condiments. Not like regular pho that usually comes with basil and bean sprout, this one only came with bean sprout and iceberg lettuce. He claimed that his broth wasn't rich enough.

I actually enjoyed my crepe though it was quite a lot of work. See, you're supposed to wrap the crepe on lettuce with some mints, basil, coriander or whatever herbs they provided you. Then you dip the wrap in the dipping sauce. But it was worthwhile.

All in all we enjoyed our meal. The service was excellent. I had a chance to use the restroom and it was very clean. We may go back if we happen to be in the area.

Khanh's Restaurant
335 South Winchester Boulevard San Jose, CA 95128-2036   (408) 241-4940

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lulu is learning to knit

I had this desire to knit quite a while ago. Yeah..I know. Seriously, who knits these days ? I went to Michael's a couple of times to check out on starter kit. But it stopped right there. I wasn't too sure where to begin.

Then a couple of months ago, I had this little project - making a vest for my Halloween costume. All those visits to the fabric store, looking at those tiny, cuty, colorful crafts items just brought back my hidden desire. This time I decided to follow my call.

First stop the library. I searched on knitting and found a few books. Then based on a simple beginner's project I started my own first project. Now, knitting a simple scarf seemed a bit 'boring' for me. I'm ready to tackle more complicated projects eventhough I'm rather intimidated when I saw the pattern.

Btw, Youtube is a good source for beginners. The books I got had tons of pictures and projects but Youtube helped with stitches that's hard to understand on pictures.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Seoul Jung Revisited : Santa Clara

We've been here when it first started about a year ago. (Read Seoul Jung). Recently we felt like having Korean food but didn't feel like giving tips (cheap mode on). So off we went to this Korean food court just off Lawrence Expy and El Camino Real in Santa Clara. A year ago it wasn't that busy. But the words are out and we've been there a couple of times the past week and it had been challenging to find a table.

There were like around five stalls (not including the dessert store) selling mostly Korean food. Our favorite so far had been Seoul Jung. On the past occasions we got to try chung gook jang (fermented soy bean paste stew), seafood bibimbap, kimchee jjigae (kimchee stew) and jeyuk bok eum (spicy pork with kimchee).

All dishes were wonderful. They all came in a try with a dish on the side filled with banchan. Lovely. The fermented soy bean paste had quite a strong smell but tasted pretty good. The lady at the counter actually reminded me when I ordered it, but I went ahead anyway. ha..ha.. The seafood bibimbap was awesome. Mind you though, both spicy pork and kimchee stew were made with fatty part of pork, so it takes a day break out of your diet.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tii Cafe - San Jose

Originally we were going to Thien Long next door but due to the line there we decided to check out the other restaurants in the area. We walked pass Tii cafe and saw that they offer noodles beside tea/drinks and decided to walk in.

The girl behind the cashier was friendly and helped us through the ordering process. We couldn't decide which snacks to order due to the long menu list they had. Believe me, it could be overwhelming. She told us the popular one which was the combo and we could pick three to try. Awesome !

So me and hubby got to try kimchi ramen with egg and minced pork noodle (dry). Those were combos and we got to pick either black or green tea as the beverage. For only $6.99 each, it was a good deal. Then for the snack combos, we tried salt pepper chicken, fried tofu and octopus ball. Yumm.

We like the kimchi ramen and minced pork noodle. The kimchi ramen was spicy enough for our taste and fragrant of garlic from the kimchi. The minced pork noodle was served with a bit pickled cucumber. It kinda reminded me of jajangmyun (the chinese influenced korean black bean noodle).

All in all, it was a good and very filling lunch. We even had to take a box to wrap up our left over snack. Good deal.

Tii Cafe
3005 Silver Creek Rd Ste 136 San Jose, CA 95121
(408) 223-2388

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sushi One - Milpitas

We were there on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. There was a big grand opening sign outside. We looked at the menu and hubby was interested in their ramen. Yummy for cold rainy day. We almost didn't make it in because there was nobody inside. But I convinced hubby to try since I need stuff to write for my blog. :)

When we walked in, there was no greetings. The only person behind the counter had his back on us and didn't know that we were there. We waited a minute and decided to say hi instead. He turned around and quickly seated us. While we looked at the menu, a bowl of edamame was brought out. It turned out later on that was complimentary ! It was a very nice gesture.

I got a #9 bento combo - salmon teriyaki, tempura and california roll. Hubby got char siu ramen. My bento box was a really good value. Soo much food and I got to try so many different things. The teriyaki salmon though was a bit bland. Hubby didn't like his ramen. It didn't taste like ramen and the only thing ramen about it was the noodle they used. The broth and the condiments was more like a Chinese style noodle. Well, I guess it could pass as a fusion style ramen. The ramen came with a bowl of fried rice. I guess that's what lured us - or hubby in. He missed the ramen we had in Shinjuku where the ramen was served with a bowl of fried rice. But unfortunately, the experience wasn't even close to that.

All in all it was a good value. The food wasn't very authentic. It's more like fusion. When we got the bill, it seemed to me that there was discount given, maybe due to the grand opening. For sure we won't go back.

Sushi One
217 W Calaveras Blvd  Milpitas, CA 95035   (408) 719-8882

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Poklat's Lugawan Republic - Milpitas

We were there on Sunday afternoon to try out their lunch buffet. Its location on the strip mall could make parking a little bit of challenge. Especially that day, the business next door had a special opening celebration. We found a street parking on the residential street down the road.

Upon entering the restaurant, there were a few tables occupied and we could see the buffet tables along one of the wall. There were nobody to seat us so I went ahead to the lady behind the cashier and asked if we should seat ourselves. Beside the tables inside, there were also patio seatings on the side of the restaurant. We chose a table at the corner and hit the buffet table.

Most of the dishes on the table didn't look familiar to both me and hubby. I only knew the beef stew but the rest of the dishes tasted very homely to us. There were sardines in tomato sauce and fried chicken (the bomb !) that totally stood out. There were also rice porridge that was tasty. Even though hubby complaint that it was too gooey. All in all we felt that Filipino cuisine was very much influenced by Chinese cuisine. I would go back other time to try other dishes to get to know more of the cuisine.

Poklat's Lugawan Republic
1466 N Milpitas Blvd, Milpitas, CA 95035 (408) 905-2243

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Namu, Ferry Building Farmer's Market - San Francisco

I've been wanting to check out this stall since I saw it a couple of weeks ago. Finally the chance arrived. We lined up and placed our order and stepped aside to wait. There was nobody lining up when we got there. Compared to other stall, the line was nothing. There was a moment of doubt to the quality of the food. But as we were waiting, I saw the order was actually lined up inside waiting to be prepared. I guess they have more efficient way of managing orders.

We shared two Korean tacos and a gamja fries. The Korean tacos was actually a sheet of nori (seaweed) with like two tablespoon of rice topped with chopped meat, a bit of like diced tomato, green onion and finished off with sprinkle of sesame seeds. The taste ? yummy. The concept is so simple but packed with great flavor.

Gamja fries was another interesting idea. Fries with chopped meat drizzled with mayo and teriyaki sauce. Topped off with gochujang (korean style pepper paste) and a few green onion. Voila... I swear I'll never look at fries the same way again.

Ferry Building Marketplace

One Ferry Building
San Francisco, California 94111
(415) 983-8030

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Layang Layang - San Jose

Went there on Friday night. There were people sitting outside the two benches outside waiting. Our total wait was around 20 mins so it wasn’t bad. The place is small and tables are so close to each other. My nephew was elbowed a couple of times by one kid that sat behind him. And my back almost touched the table behind me. It didn’t feel that we have privacy at all.

We ordered char kwe tiau (fried wide rice noodle), roti canai, nyonya fish (fried tilapia with mango, onion and bell pepper), hainamese chicken,, fried kangkung, nasi lemak and rojak. All in all the food was tamed and felt like there’s something missing. Char kwe tiau was prepared with smaller noodle instead of wide and the noodle was dry noodle instead of fresh so the taste was different.

Roti canai was a big hit with two kids in our group that night. It was fun to eat. They tore off the roti and dipped it into the curry sauce that accompanying it. The curry sauce was more on the sweet side. It's still tasty.

Since we recently just checked out Banana Leaf (Vancouver), the nasi lemak here couldn't even come close to the one in Vancouver. The nasi lemak in Layang Layang only came with rendang, a few peanuts, sliced hard boiled eggs. A bit on the stingy side.

Layang Layang
1480 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129   (408) 777-8897

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banana Leaf - Vancouver

We went there for lunch during weekday. It was around 1 pm and the lunch rush was over. We were seated within a few minutes. But then I realized that there were a few other tables available. I don't know why they couldn't seat us sooner than that. But no complaint since we still had to wait for my sis-in-law that went to park the car. Parking though was a bit challenging since street parking wasn't available and building was about a block away.

We shared half hainamese chicken, chow kuey tiaw with seafood, nasi lemak, sole fillet grilled in banana leaf, sambal chili fried okra, eggplant and green bean. We also had another order of coconut rice on the side. All dishes were excellent except for the fish. If I went back in the future I wouldn't order hainamese chicken just because it's not worth it. The dish was like $8.99 and there were only a few pieces of  chicken. Same thing with fish, nothing quite special about it. The banana leaf was used only at the bottom of the fish so there wasn't much smell of banana leaf infused in the fish.

Banana Leaf
820 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C.

Reservations: 604-731-6333

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hakka Restaurant - San Francisco

I found out about the restaurant while looking for a Chinese restaurant to visit with my big family. Me and hubby been to San Francisco quite frequently but never checked out any Chinese restaurant because a lot of times we don't feel like having rice. Anyhow, we got there around 4:30 and there was one table occupied. We were seated and handed menu. My sister-in-law decided that we would go with the family set menu for 6 which offered 8 dishes with 1 appetizer for the cost of $88. For the complete menu look at the picture I took.

The soup we had was tofu seafood soup which I think was different from what it was printed on the menu. The soup looked like egg drop soup but had soft round tofu, squid, scallop, sliced gai lan, shrimp and straw mushroom. Very tasty and didn't taste like MSG soup. Another highlight was the Chinese pork bacon with preserved green. It's not the kind of food that you want to have every day but it was delicious. The pork just melt in your mouth and the saltiness went well with the rice. Other item that we would order again in the future is the salt baked chicken. Supposedly the chicken was covered with salt and then baked. By the time it's done baking, the salt will be as hard as clay and has to be broken open. Chicken is salty but not overly salty. Yummy. Lastly was the clam stir fry with black bean along with onion and pieces of bell pepper.

Hakka Restaurant
4401 Cabrillo St, San Francisco - (415) 876-6898

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Moonstar Buffet - Daly City

I've been wanting to check out this buffet ever since I saw the commercial on the Chinese channel 8. But considering the location, we haven't had the chance for it yet until yesterday. Supposedly this establishment had been operating for years which I think is a good sign considering most of buffet restaurants come and go and change ownership every so often.

When we walked pass by the line of food, I was seriously impressed and couldn't wait to jump on it. Me and hubby first checked out the sushi/sashimi counter. There were at least ten types of different sushi roll, four types of sashimi, different kind of nigiri sushi and two types of sushi cone. With so many different types, there must something that will suit our taste buds, right ? But we were disappointed when we finally sat down to try out the sushi and sashimi. They didn't taste as fresh as they could be. The rolls (which I didn't know the name because it wasn't displayed) were pretty good except it got so much sauce (mayo, sriracha, etc) that I didn't feel like I was eating sushi anymore. I couldn't wait to try the very cute martini with shrimp cocktail. Except it turned out not to be shrimp cocktail. The martini glass had a few pieces of sashimi with some sort of wasabi sauce. Not good.

We then went to the special counter to redeem our coupons that were given when we came in. The options available : baked lobster, lamb chop, abalone and shark fin soup. I was going to try the abalone but changed my mind after looking at the size and the way they were cooked. Me and hubby both got lobster instead and I swinged by to pick up some clam and oyster. The lobster was halved, smeared with mayo and baked. I'm not big on mayo with seafood so that lobster didn't impressed me. Not too mention that the lobster was overcooked so the meat was chewy. Oyster was cooked with black bean sauce and clam was stir fried with some ginger.

Highlight of the night was filipino longganisa (Filipino sausage), chicken satay on skewer, grilled mackerel and unagi on rice. Moonstar has huge selection of dessert. Hubby loves the cheese cake there though he preferred them without different kind of topping sauce. Beside cakes/cookies for dessert, there were also five different types of ice cream, chocolate fondue and guess what... cotton candy !! Drinks seemed to be included in the price. There choices of soda, hot tea, hot choco and cappucino mocha. Btw, there were also noodle/porridge counter where one can customize their noodle (different varieties of noodle) and toppings.

I would say for selection, Moonstar has the best selection and wide varieties of food. Sushi/sashimi is not their strength. If you love seafood (crawfish, prawn, snow crab, crab, oyster) you should checked out this place.

Moonstar Buffet
383 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015     (650) 992-2888

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Shabusen - Vancouver, Canada

Decided to check out this place on the promise of combination of Japanese sashimi/sushi and Korean bbq buffet. When we got there on Wednesday afternoon we were surprised to find out that the lunch price was only $11.95. When we were finally seated, we found out that Korean bbq option is only available on weekends which of course has a different price tag.

Each of us were provided laminated menu and then two pieces of small paper menu where we could mark our order. We went pretty humble on our first round and finished everything with no effort. But got  a bit out of hands on the second round and felt too stuffed afterwards. And we noticed that some of the stuffs that showed up on our platter were items that we didn't order.

All in all it was a good value for the money. If you like sashimi, pick between salmon or tuna and they were fresh. Big chunk of fish but fresh. It's too bad that the spicy sashimi was flavored with some orange color chili sauce that didn't feel right. The chicken karaage were also good - freshly prepared and delicious.

Some of the side dishes on the menu didn't have any English explanation on it so we were in the dark as too what we ordered. On our second round, we went and ordered each of the item on the menu and one of the item that came was a tiny bowl of cold vermicelli on tangy sauce. Hmm.... Agedashi tofu had a thick coat of batter which we didn't like as much since we were used to a more lighter version. The tea looked like green tea but I guess they missed the roasted brown rice so it didn't have the typical sushi place fragrant. So I would say the food were not very authentic but hey for that price, I couldn't complain.

I guess we won't be pretty soon since we were just there visiting. I read a few reviews complaining about lousy service they got. But seriously, it's a buffet place, what kind of service do you expect ? While we were there, we didn't feel like we were ignored or anything. Nor did we expect to be check on every so often.

755 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1X5, Canada
(604) 669-3883