Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pho Hanoi - San Jose

This is the only place (correct me if I'm wrong) in San Jose area to serve Hanoi style pho which uses wide noodle and no bean sprout for the soup.

Their menu is pretty short compare to other pho restaurants. No seafood pho. I got a combo with everything but kitchen sink and hubby got the rare meat. We asked for bean sprout to go with our soup. I noticed the servers were all women that day. I wonder if it happened to be that day or it was purposely that way.

Our bean sprout came fresh not blanched though I saw a few tables got theirs blanched. On a cold day having the bean sprout half cooked speed up the process and help keep the broth warm at the same time. I like the fresh wide noodle they use here. The noodle was very tender but not mushy. If you don't like wide noodle you could always ask for regular thin noodle. Another thing which I found quite different from another pho restaurants. The rare meat here was actually tenderized before served. You can tell from the way it looked and also from the continuing hammering sound coming out of the kitchen. :)

Pho Hanoi
1759 East Capitol Expressway  San Jose, CA 95121  (408) 239-0888

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Santouka Ramen and Mitsuwa Market - San Jose

On one weekend we felt like having ramen and sushi altogether. So we went to Mitsuwa Market on Saratoga Ave to again try to get to that ramen store that was so busy the last time we were there. This time the line was not bad. It was maybe around four people in front of me. And the way it is set up, patrons won't be able to see the menu until they get to the display which means get ready to decide because you're next.

I liked the menu because you're given chance to select different sizes of bowl of ramen. Select the type of ramen broth you want - shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce), miso (bean paste), then the size, then if you need extra topping of pork. Beside toppings, one could also get sides like rice or eggs. This are all marked with different number. Just tell them the number. Pay for your order and you'll be given a number. Take a seat, grab your water yourself and wait for your number to be called.

We ordered a large soy sauce ramen with no extra. Hubby went inside Mitsuwa Market and purchased a tray of sushi platter.  There we had it, our dinner.

The sushi was good as always. But since it was night time already, they didn't have lots of choices left. The ramen broth was a bit too salty and too oily for our taste. But it will still be our choice to go if we feel like having ramen. I'd try another different broth next time. Mind you though, at lunch time on weekends the line could be overwhelming.

Mitsuwa Marketplace
675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129   (408) 255-6699
(Santouka Ramen is located next to the market - food court area)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pho Saigon - Milpitas

A friend of ours told us about this pho place that just opened recently. Coming to the plaza there, we thought we've been there before when it was under different management.

As we sat down, I noticed the inside of the restaurant looked like it had gone through renovation. Fresh paint, big LCD TV showing Dragon Ball, cherry color chairs and earth color tiles.

Both me and hubby ordered seafood noodle. Hubby only said seafood noodle and the man asked him what type of noodle he wanted. That's pretty cool. I just pointed to a seafood pho. And that's what I got, seafood noodle soup with thin rice noodle. Also we didn't see spring roll on the menu but asked for it anyway and they were able to make it.

The broth was good and rich. I thought I would be hit with MSG attack but it didn't happen so I gave it an extra point there. The spring roll was fresh and the dipping sauce was thick. Another extra point. Needless to say, we'll be back in the future.

Pho Saigon
1455 Landess Ave, Milpitas, CA 95035   (408) 263-8936

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Valerio's Tropical Bake Shop - Milpitas

This location near the Seafood City Milpitas is rather new. I think it was just opened last year. The place looked clean and well stocked. All the pan de ube were bagged and stacked up nicely. Most of them still have a bit condensation because they were sealed too early while they were warm. We picked up one of those. And a stack of dessert in the cooling area caught my attention. Nilupak. On the packaging the ingredients listed cassava, sugar, and margarine. I picked up one of those. Total about $4. I better walk away before I got lured into trying other very interesting snacks.

Pan de ube is basically bread filled with sweetened mashed taro. Bring it home, warm it up in the oven and you can have it for snack or breakfast in the morning.

Nilupak. This one I got was made of ground up cassava, mixed with margarine and sugar. The topping swirling thing looked like string cheese but it tasted like margarine. According to my find, nilupak can also be made of sweet potato or saba banana.

Valerio's Tropical Bake Shop
1535 Landess Avenue Milpitas, CA 95035-8208 (408) 946-8877

Friday, January 14, 2011

My Knitting Addiction

When I first started I didn't know that I would get myself into this addiction called knitting. I started just for fun. Something to do on my spare time. Now it consumes my life. I just want to knit every minute. I do it while having my breakfast. I do it while checking my emails. I do it next to my hubby while we lay in bed. I do it while waiting for the traffic light to turn green. I wanted to do it while checking my reports at work but my boss gave me the WTF look so I put it away.

No more going to malls on weekends, no more watching Korean dramas. Or I once knitted and watched Korean drama at the same time and it caused me a hole on my knit so I stopped doing it.

Hubby told me to stop knitting and that I need help and that I should dial 1-800-KNIT-HELP ...just joking. I don't think the number even existed.

Free Ribby Socks Knitting Pattern
My second pair of socks. I also made one same exact one for hubby. Super easy to follow.
yarn : Patons Classic Wool - forest
needle size : US 7

Simple Beanie
yarn : Caron Country - taupe and silver service
needle size : US 7

Bunny Balloon Animal
yarn : Lion Brand Vanna's Choice
needle size : US 5

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pho Wagon - Sunnyvale

What do you do if you find a strand of hair in your bowl of noodle ? First option is to pretend that you don't see it. Second, call the waiter and ask for replacement and risk them 'tampering' with your replacement order. Third, order another one separately.

That's what when through my head when hubby experienced it at Pho Wagon this weekend. I was surprised though because as we sat down I noticed the place was clean and looked kinda new. The floor was tiled with nice earth color. Wall was decorated with paintings. It had a feel of cafe instead of pho joint. Furniture was dark cherry finished with nice comfortable chairs. We were even talking about bringing our nephews here due to the cleanliness.

So we chose option number two. The same lady that took our order came and asked if we had any questions. I told her the situation and she apologized and took hubby's bowl away. His order was replaced within minutes. The lady that brough the order also apologized.

Then we talked about the possibility of them offering it as complimentary. I didn't think that would be possible though considering the place. I would be happy enough if they offered a discount for maybe our next visit.

Neither happened.

That day I ordered pho ga (chicken pho). Hubby ordered seafood pho. Hubby's seafood pho was better than expected even though the price was a bit steep ($9 - one size only). But considering the place and location, we understand why the price was set. My chicken pho was ordinary. The chicken meat was all white breast meat which was good but of course tend to be on the dry side. We also shared goi cuon (spring roll) which had very thin skin that the prawn almost sticked out. We loved the spring roll though even though the dipping sauce was a bit runny.

All in all a disappointing experience. It would be a while if we ever went back. The last time we visited that establishment was when it was under the name Pho Blossom ( a couple of years ago). Another disappointing point was the fact that they charged for tea. I don't mind paying for tea if only the tea had more flavor. If you're going to charge for tea, at least present us with real tea instead of watered down no-jasmine-flavor tea.
Pho Wagon
1627 Hollenbeck Avenue Sunnyvale, CA 94087-5402 (408) 720-1566

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Main Street Burger - Los Gatos

On New Year's Day me and hubby went to visit an old friend in Los Gatos. They took us to this burger place within downtown Los Gatos which surprisingly open on New Year's Day.

The place had a feel of oldies burger with white tiles and counters. I looked around to find a juke box but didn't find any. There were bar style seating where patrons sit facing the kitchen. We took one of the high table seating with six chairs. The place was busy but not packed.

They served burgers made with organic beef from Niman Ranch. Our friend ordered  'little deal' from their menu which gave them their side street original and milk. Me and hubby ordered spicy grilled chicken and chipotle chicken with a large order of mix fries - garlic and regular fries. We also shared an order of sweet potato fries.

I was expecting more taste of like sandwiches where you could taste different ingredients in it. But my chipotle chicken didn't give that flavor. It's mostly tasted of the sweet chipotle sauce. Same with hubby's spicy grilled chicken that supposedly had guacamole in it. I couldn't taste the guacamole.

The highlight of the meal was the garlic fries and sweet potato fries. Garlic fries was crispy but not dried with the right hint of garlic flavor. Sweet potato fries was crispy with a bit dusting of flour before they were fried. Very special indeed. I haven't had any sweet potato fries before but had deep fried sweet potatoes in batter when I was growing up back in Indonesia. It brought back sweet memory.

I don't mind going back to try out their beef burgers which sounded yummy. And of course another try of their sweet potato fries. Yum..yum..

Main Street Burgers
20 S. Santa Cruz Avenue Los Gatos, California
(Corner of Main Street)
(408) 354-1881