Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Aldo's Harbor Restaurant - Santa Cruz

This restaurant is situated at the Santa Cruz Harbor. Parking is on the street or when it's full, just proceed to the parking lot below. On a nice day there will be quite an amount of boaters and kayakers so parking could also be tricky. Parking meters take nickels, dimes and quarters.

The view on a nice day is spectacular. While waiting to be seated we could just stand there watching the sail boats, kayaks, etc going in and out of the harbor. The other day we could actually see a few sea otters playing in the otter. On the other side of the restaurant is a path leading towards the beach. That day the weather was so nice and there was a picnic going on at the beach. Far away we could see the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

We arrived around 11:15 and the restaurant was pretty busy already. We got a table for 12 and decided to walk around to check out the harbor. When we went back our table was ready. We had our two little nephews with us so the waitress brought us kids menu and crayons for the younger one.

The kids' mom ordered chicken nugget with fries for both of them. Me and hubby decided on fried calamari with fries and spicy fish taco with chipotle sauce. My sis-in-law got coconut shrimp and my other nephew got mushroom's and swiss burger. I guess it didn't take that long to get our orders because we were busy chatting.

My calamari was quite a big size but looked undercooked. Not golden color enough. I haven't been able to find a place that serves good fried calamari yet. Maybe I should stop the quest since it seemed almost impossible. Calamari was bland, most likely previously frozen. Hubby's spicy fish tacos was slightly better. The sauce wasn't spicy and not enough kick. Almost bland.

The coconut shrimp came with some sort of sweet sour dipping sauce that was pretty good. The shrimp itself wasn't much to write about. Bland and flavorless. I used the dipping sauce for the calamari and the tacos instead. I can't say anything about the burger since I didn't have a chance to sample. It looked pretty good though.

We wouldn't be back for a very long time. The food did very little to entice us. The only good thing was the view. On a very nice day, it's nice to sit outdoor and enjoy lunch with companies. That's about it.

Aldo's Harbor Restaurant
616 Atlantic Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062  (831) 426-3736

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tandoori Bistro - San Jose

Been wanting to try out this place for quite a while especially after we found out that they served lunch buffet for $9.95. There was no decent Indian restaurant in this part of San Jose where we lived so having one closer to home was exciting. Knowing that if we crave Indian food we no longer have to drive all the way to Sunnyvale or Cupertino (Sitar Express).

We went there around 2 pm on Sunday. Surprisingly the place was packed. It took us about 5 minutes to get seated. Nobody acknowledged us for that 5 minutes until one of the waiters came and told us that we could get a table as soon as she had it cleaned. She then invited us to go straight to the buffet line and told us that our water would be brought to our table.

The selection on buffet line was adequate. For my first plate I had some fried potato fritters with spice, yellow lentils curry, lamb curry, potato curry and chicken tandoori. There was a huge platter with lentils in the middle surrounded by some burnt buns. I had no clue what that one was. I made an attempt to pick up one bun but decided against since they looked so messy.

Went back to our table and started enjoying the food. My first try was lentil. Not bad. Not much taste. Tried the potato curry thingy and thought ...hmm...tangy yogurt flavor. But not salty. Maybe it supposed to taste like that. It didn't hit me until hubby said that the dishes were a bit bland. Then I tried the rest of the lamb curry, chicken tandoori and got my confirmation. All the dishes were bland. The lamb curry could have been good. We could taste the spice but it's missing the main ingredients : salt. Lack of it.

The naan was served fresh at our table. But the water could use a wedge of lemon and ice. On a day like today which wasn't really hot, the water felt warm. I didn't feel like drinking it so decided to try on a mango yogurt drink which seemed to be very popular. It turned out to be very good. Tasted like a diluted version of mango flavored yogurt but not very sweet. I guess that's the highlight of our lunch.

I guess we would still travel to either Cupertino area or Sunnyvale for our next craving of Indian food. How sad.

Tandoori Bistro
5353 Almaden Expy, San Jose, California 95118   (408) 267-4367

Saturday, June 19, 2010


My experience with Filipino cuisine has only gone as far as Jolly Bee. So this weekend, I went further out and check out a local Filipino fast food place. This one is different from Jolly Bee. It's not quite a restaurant but more like a cafeteria style kind of place. There were ready made dishes behind counter and there's option for 2 dishes combo for only $6. That's the one I chose.

We arrived there just almost lunch time and there was a line of two people in front of us. I had no clues whatsover of each of those dishes. So going with the insting, I ordered the same thing the guy in front of me did. It was beef stew and something else that looked like pieces of pork salad with green onion. Hubby thought rice with dishes was too heavy for him so he skipped. I picked up a calamansi drink from the refrigerated area. Total order $8.50.

There were not too many tables around. We picked one near the corner and started disecting our food. By the way, the lady behind the counter offered me soup which I gladly took even though I had no clue what kind of soup it was. My principle when it came to new cuisine is don't ask don't tell. Eat it first and find out about it later.

For the amount of money, it came with a lot of meat. I could eat just the beef stew alone with the rice. But the chopped meat (which later I found out called Kilawin kambing) was a good additional. Hubby ended up sharing with me because I couldn't have finished it alone. The soup was simple cabbage soup with beef stock. Very homely.

The beef stew I was sure was called beef mechado. It's simply beef stew with chunk of beef and carrot. The beef was so tender, it pretty much just fell apart upon touching. But there was nothing quite special about it.

The kilawin kambing though was the highlight of the afternoon. It was smoky (definitely barbecue meat). Chopped in small pieces, mixed with slices of red onion, lemon juice (maybe ?), ginger and topped with green onion. Also I found later that kambing in Tagalog means goat. So it wasn't even pork at all. :)

Another hightlight was the calamansi drink in the pouch. Very smart packaging. Drink it on the spot or cap it back to go. It was sweet and tangy at the same time. Made of 10% calamansi juice.

Most of the orders seemed to be platter to go. We also saw an order of one full barbecued pig. I know where to get my barbecued pig nex time. That's what I called barbecue !

10 S Abbott Ave, Mi;pitas, CA 95035    (408) 678-2149

Sunday, June 13, 2010

House of Pho - Sunnyvale

Eventhough reviews on Yelp weren't exactly flattering for this establishment, we decided to check it out ourselves.

The location was very good actually, on El Camino in the heart of Korea Town. Almost next to Korean Palace BBQ. Parking lot only had a few cars when we got there. It's past lunch time so we didn't expect too many people. When we walked in we were surprised by the decor and furniture they use. There were all maple color and seemed very clean. Either they have it recleaned after the previous restaurant (supposedly Midori) or they changed everything.

I decided on mi kho dac biet (yellow noodle with special sauce), hubby ordered hu tie hai san (seafood rice noodle soup) and we're sharing spring roll. While waiting for our orders that seemed to take longer than usual pho joint we took time looking around us. After we came in, a few more parties arrived and the place was pretty busy now.

My order came and first thing I thought was how small it looked. Well, it was dry noodle so there's no soup to cover it up. My noodle came with a plate of bean sprout but no soup. My soup came later after hubby's noodle soup came. Hubby's noodle soup was decent but lack of greens. We both like greens on our soup. There were a few cilantro came with the bean sprout but we could use some celery also. All in all, my bowl had quite an amount of condiments, four big slices of chicken breast meat, half a fish ball, two medium size prawn, a piece of squid. But there's no special sauce. Maybe I was mistaken, but I was sure the menu said special noodle with sauce.

The spring roll was pretty good. Not the best because the sauce was so thin we barely able to pick it up with our roll.

All in all, it was a mediocre experience. If we happened to be in the area of Santa Clara, we still wouldn't just go back because there was Pho Nam down the road and Pho Thanh Long (at San Tomas) that were better.

House of Pho
1066 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087  (408) 260-8410

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bun Bo Hue Thien An - San Jose

We didn't plan on coming here. Were in the neighborhood but the place we wanted to go had a long wait list. So we decided to walk here to see what's available. We are not exactly bun bo hue fanatico so upon finding that they do serve pho we decided to give it try.

The place was just open recently. We could tell from the banner on the street and also from the flowers that welcomed us. Another thing also the place didn't feel like it was running smoothly. They were nobody there to greet us when we walked in. After like two minutes we decided to just help ourselves to a table. Then the woman (owner ?) acknowledged us and came with menu. On the wall, we could see specials of the day posted also. The woman was very friendly and helpful. She explained to us what's their specialty and what's good on the menu. She told us that the black pepper hot wings were favorites there so we decided to give it a try. Then hubby went with pho do bien chua cay (rice noodle with seafood in hot and sour broth). I was going to go with pho but then though's bun bo hue, might as well order one. So I went with bun bo hue thien an.

Our order came about ten minutes later. My broth was not oily and tasted pretty good. I only had a few encounters with bun bo hue in the past and it hadn't been too memorable. One thing I remember one of the bun bo hue I had was served with the shrimp paste which was a bit too strong for my pallet. But I liked the taste of the broth and decided I would not touch the shrimp paste in the future. But this place didn't serve me with the shrimp paste. The meat was a lot too and the chunk of blood didn't give me a weird taste so that's all a plus to me.

Hubby's hot and sour pho was a bit disappointing. It wasn't either hot or sour but more sweet. Though he liked the corn and mushroom that came with it. Plenty of seafood too.

The highlight of our lunch was the chicken wings. They were piping hot when we took a bite on. Outside was shiny which on first thought was oil but turned out to be glazed. Skin was very crispy and we enjoyed every bite. They kinda remind me of the 99 Chicken but lacking heat. :)

On the way out, the owner again thanked us and also asked us how we found out their business. Over all the customer service was probably the best we ever encountered in any Asian restaurants.

Bun Bo Hue Thien An
3305 Silver Creek Rd, San Jose, CA 95121     (408) 223-9288

Saturday, June 5, 2010

San Jose Greek Festival 2010 - San Jose

When : June 4-6 2010
Where : 1260 Davis St, San Jose, CA 95126

For the last couple of years we always received those free tickets to the festival. We never made it there. This year we didn't have any other plan, so we dropped by to check it out.

Admission is $5. But you can download your ticket and print it out at home. Just go to You can also find out the festival hours there. When you get there, at the entrance a program booklet will be handed to you. There is a stage for performances and the hours for those performances were listed in the program booklet.

Just after the entrance, there's a booth to purchase tokens. Most of the booths take token as replacement for cash. We exchanged $20 for a bag of 20 tokens. Then we went to get our food. We stopped by to purchase kalamari (6 tokens) and gyro sandwich (6 token). The kalamari was very tender. Almost didn't taste like kalamari. I presumed it was pre-cooked before fried in batter. The gyro sandwich was pretty good. I never had one before so I couldn't really compare. It was pretty much pita bread sliced of meat, chopped tomatoes and cucumber (mayo?) sauce.

Then we walked around and checked out some pastries and coffee booths. We didn't feel like having anything sweet so we spent the rest of the tokens on a box of take away spanakopita (2 token) and moussaka (6 token). Spanakopita is pastries with feta cheese and spinach filling. While moussaka is the Greek lasagna but instead of pasta, they used eggplant.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Asian Deli - Fresno

Found this place accidentally after we were done with our lunch at B & K Asian Kitchen. It's exactly next door to B & K Asian Kitchen. So the following day we were back again in the neighborhood.

When we walked in, there was a family of 8 occupying a long table. We went straight the counter because it seemed like a cafeteria style lay out. The lady there took our order and then started asking us something in Thai. First I tried to listen to it. For some reason I thought she spoke English with strong Thai accent. But then I realized she was actually speaking Thai. I told her that we're not Thai and she then spoke to us in English.

Our order came like ten minutes later. Before that, the lady brought us two glasses of ice water with straws. My bowl of noodle soup looked very greasy and oily. Hubby's pad see ew looked more interesting and fragrant. I swirl around the noodle just so I could take a better picture of it. The noodle was almost squarish instead of round or flat. The noodle was quite hard because of the shape. It certainly won't get mushy easily. But because of its consistency, it didn't get the much of the broth flavor. The khao piak (Laotian chicken noodle soup) was a bit gingery but in general it was too oily for my taste. Beside pieces of chicken meat, there was also chunk of chicken blood. That was why the lady asked me whether I wanted everything in my soup. Hubby's pad see ew was good and smoky. He liked his fried noodle with pickled chilli which they also had available on the table. Other than that, by the time he was done with his noodle, we could also see a pool of oil left on the plate. Man, the amount of oil they used made BP oil spill on the Louisiana shore seemed less significant.

Asian Deli - Fresno
(next to B & K Asian Kitchen)

Holiday Inn Swan Court - Selma

Even though from outside the place looked kinda old but inside was well taken care. The bathroom was very clean. Bath tub free of mold. Shower curtain was so white and new.

We got two queen bed. Each of the bed was fully stocked with four pillows. Each was marked as 'firm' or 'soft'. Blanket was newly upgraded comforter and not those old furry style blanket.

All in all we love our room. It was meant as just a one night stay but we were more than happy with our room.

The location of the hotel was very strategic too. Exactly next to highway 99 and around the area we could see Walmart, Office Depot, McDonald, Walgreens, Carls Jr, etc. There was also a restaurant next to the hotel and a couple of gas stations.