Thursday, August 26, 2010

A & J Restaurant - Cupertino

This business is located at the Cupertino Village shopping mall. On the same side as Joy Luck. The first time we went there was more than two years ago. The fact that the business is still around showed that they are doing something right.

As usual, we went ahead and put a name on the wait list. But beware. Instead of calling names like other businesses, they actually called the number and the number of guests. Watch out for your number on the list and listened as they're called in Mandarin.

The beef noodle soup here got tons of raves. Me and hubby never tried it. We liked the minced meat noodle and the spicy wonton. Again, ordering could be a challenge as the menu has English translation but the ordering form doesn't. So what we did was matching the Chinese characters to know which one to order. Yup..that's what happened when you're illiterate.

If you don't have problem with all those and don't mind sharing a table with some strangers then you'll fit right in. time, since it was only me and hubby and the only table available was a round table for five. We were asked if we mind sharing table. We didn't. It feels like eating in cafetaria when I was in college. :)

For our minced meat noodle, there was option of wide or regular noodle. I said regular even though when the option was presented, it sounded like thin noodle. It wasn't thin as I expexted and even bigger than what we usually have. But they went well with the minced meat once they're well mixed.

The spicy wonton were mostly flour and not much filling if any at all. And even though it sounded spicy, it wasn't. Good companion with the minced meat noodle.
A & J Restaurant
10893 North Wolfe Road Cupertino, CA 95014-0605 - (408) 873-8298

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Spice Hut - San Jose

Recently I just found out there's such thing as Indian Chinese food. Apparently some Hakka people travelled around India and brought their heritage there and created some chinese food that is influenced by Indian spices. Interested about that I started to find out where I could try that around Bay Area. My research brought me to Spice Hut.

There are three locations of Spice Hut - San Jose, Newark and Sunnyvale. But upon looking at their online menu, it seemed there was a slight difference between each one of the location. We decided on the San Jose locations since it is the closest one with the Indian Chinese food on their menu.

We got there around 1:30 and there were quite a lot of patrons. The set up is like a cafetaria style. Get in line, choose your order pay for it and they'll give you an electronic device that will buzz when the order is ready.

We chose an order of #4 paratha with vegetarian curry, chicken manchurian dry with rice and chicken tikka nanini. Total $25. As we were waiting for our order I just realized that all the orders either eat in or take out are all placed on styrofoam containers. They must have not any dish washer at that location.

Look at our order on the pictures and I felt like this place didn't offer good value for the price. The chicken manchurian was $7.25 and it didn't come with rice. I think if you're having lunch there, the chicken tikka nanini was probably a better deal.

Okay let's talk about the food itself. I started digging in on the nanini because I didn't want it to go soggy. It reminded me a lot of quesadilla. Outer layer of tortilla style bread made of flour with filling of curried meat, bell pepper, onion and cheese. Served on bed of shredded lettuce and carrot with cilantro like dipping sauce and ketchup. I could totally have this for my lunch, especially the price was $5.25 (before tax). Delicioso.

Manchurian chicken is actually chunk of chicken pieces breaded and deep fried then stir fry with tons of minced garlic, chilli flakes, onion, green onion, celery and ginger. It looked like regular sweet sour chicken but after a few bites, the heat started to build up.

The roti paratha was actually thicker than I thought. The vegetarian curry was thick, fragrant and rich. I'm not sure if paratha is usually eaten as a meal or more like snack. In Singapore where we had it before the paratha was thinner and airy and the curry was thinner and more like a dipping sauce.
We will be back but just to do take out which I think is going to be a better deal.
Spice Hut
1086 North 1st Street, San Jose, CA 95112-4922  (408) 977-0715

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home style noodle soup for entertaining

A few nights ago, we were invited to a birthday party. The dinner consisted of noodle soup of two different kind, pho with rice noodle and rice noodle with green curry. Condiments include corn, chopped basil and green onion, stir fry squash, bean sprout. To spice it up, one could use chilli soy sauce and chilli paste.

Noodle soup broth was heated up on a small portable gas stove. Broth was rich with cinnamon, hint of ginger and beef stock. We started with rice noodle, condiments and then laddled up broth on our bowl. After a few spoonful of chilli paste, this is how it looked like.

The green curry was pretty mild. Sweet with a bit hint of beef flavor. Suitable for kids. Same thing with pho, stack up your rice noodle, top of with choice of condiments, laddle up the curry and spice it up to your liking. Yum...

It was a simple yet satisfying dinner for us. Not overly filling but then it's not a problem because the birthday cake was already waiting for us.

A few weeks ago, I was gifted with frozen oxtail. Not knowing what to do, I went to Epicurious and tried to find a recipe for it. An accidental recipe found turned out to be very good. That recipe I believe will be suitable if you want to try entertaining with noodle soup at home. An oxtail recipe with star anise from Epicurious could be the base for the pho broth. Just make adjustment to the amount of oxtail and soup amount and you're ready to start enjoying pho noodle soup at the comfort of your home.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beef Noodle #1 - San Jose

This establishment had been on that location way before the surrounding area changed so much. The biggest change was the Target just next to it. Years before, we went there once but couldn't get a parking spot due to Target construction so decided to abandon the plan.

Looking at their menu, they serve pho - mostly beef and chicken. Beside that also com tam and sandwiches. I saw a row of waffle maker on one of the table when we came in and the distinct fragrant that came out of it. So we ordered one while waiting for our order. For $1, it's worth every bite of it. Though if I could choose I'd rather not have the green color on it. It didn't add to flavor.

My special beef noodle soup (#1) was everything but the kitchen sink. If you like rare meat, tendon, tripe, this is the one you should try. But if you're like hubby who only take rare meat and meat balls, then you should try #4. The rest of menu is combination of different cut of the meat.

The soup was flavorful, fragrant and rich. If there was any MSG used, I seriously didn't feel it. I didn't feel like I needed to drink tons of water afterwards. We'll be back if we feel like having beef pho in the future.

1611 E Capitol Expressway suite 206,  San Jose, CA 95121
(408) 270-0600

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SJ Omogari - San Jose

Ever since I found out about our favorite Korean restaurant has been closed down (New Kang Nam) I vowed to find another replacement. There's none in our area in south San Jose. The closest one showed up in downtown San Jose. Or more exact in Japan Town of San Jose. Only one way to know whether this restaurant will be up to par to our liking - check it out ourselves !!

We were there Saturday way past lunch time. There were two tables occupied when we walked in. We were seated at a smaller table for two but we requested a bigger table. I just don't like seating in the middle of the room. So we settled down on a table by the wall. We know what we wanted so it didn't take long to decide.

The side dishes (ban chan) were brought out. There were five little dishes - kimchee (a must), bean sprout ( should have been soy bean sprout), potato, pickled radish and pickled cucumber. The ban chan were pretty disappointing. Not very original and tiny in amount.

Hubby's seafood stone pot rice mix (seafood dolsot bibimbap) was good. He enjoyed it very much. My spicy pork on sizzling plate was also good. Nicely grilled and had a smoky flavor typical grilled meat. It's too bad some of the pork was pretty fatty so I reluctantly put them aside.

All in all it was a nice experience. In our opinion the flavor was pretty good but in term of value for money, it still below our beloved New Kangnam. Well...the search continues.

SJ Omogari
154 Jackson Street  San Jose, CA 95112   (408) 288-8134