Sunday, September 25, 2011

Something from Eat Real Festival 2011 - Oakland

I missed the first two Eat Real Festival and wasn't keeping it up with it until hubby told me last night that today is going to be the last day for this year's. So we woke up early this morning and found our way there.

We parked on one of the event parking just next to Jack London Square. It cost $10 but I think it's worth every dime of it. I guess being one of the earlier visitors did pay off. It's only a few steps a way from the festival itself.

First we noted the empanadas and the long line next to it. They looked so yummy so I made a note to stop by. I wanted to check out the rest first before deciding on what to eat. There's only a limited amout of space in my tummy so I had to be choosy.

The Eat Real Festival is like a gathering of street food vendors in the area (San Francisco, South Bay, Oakland, etc). It also promotes eat fresh, local and sustainable food. It gives local food stores a chance to come out and meet the potential customers. And for food lovers like me to come to one place where all different food trucks come into one place. Awesome. You don't even have to track them down one by one anymore.

Sam's Chowder House
This truck featured New England clam chowder, mini po' boy shrimp and mini lobster roll. When I got in line I only meant to get their clam chowder. But then while waiting I saw people with the lobster roll and they looked so delish. I just had to give it a try.

For $5 each, I'd say the mini lobster roll was a damn good value. You got chunks of lobster meat. Way more than I could imagine. And it was yummy. The clam chowder was good but not hot enough (for me) and a bit smaller than what I wanted it to be. But they made up for it for the lobster roll. :)

Curry Up Now
This truck offered tikka masala burito and deconstructed samosa. Each with different varieties of topping. We got a chicken deconstructed samosa. It was the second best items we tried for the day (after the lobster roll). The dish had an open up samosa and then topped up with chutney and some chickpea curry with a sprinkle of tiny samosas on the side. Cute and yummy at the same time. It offered different taste altogether. Sweet, spicy, and tangy with a hint of lingering heat left in the mouth afterwards.

El Porteno
This is the empanadas stand that I saw when we just arrived. I made sure to spare room in my tummy for these empanadas. The line was pretty long but it moved every now and then. I didn't see the menu for this but I was thinking of getting a chicken and beef. Turned out that for this event, they only offered carne (beef), champinones (mushroom) and the banana with cream. So heck, we tried each and every one of those. The total bill for three empanadas came to $12. Later on I found out that it was $5 each for the chicken and beef. Pretty steep. They did packed them up with lots of filling though.

There were quite a few other stalls that looked interesting but we simply didn't have room to fit in our tummy. Chairman Bao's truck featured five spice pork belly, crispy garlic tofu, and braised pork shoulder. There was an African cuisine stall that featured slow cooked chicken with spinach and chicken cooked in coconut.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Make your own onigiri (Japanese rice ball)

A friend recently came back from Taiwan and brought us a pack of nori. Or what I originally thought was nori (thin seaweed used for soup or sushi). At the time I saw it I was wondering why she gave us nori. Must be some special nori. But then she pointed out that it's a DIY onigiri. Make your own Japanese style rice ball.

The package came with sheets of nori, a mold for the rice ball and plastic sheets to wrap up the onigiri. Onigiri was meant as an easy way to bring rice, either for lunch or picnic. In Japan, the rice used for making onigiri is sometimes lightly salted and some others have filling like pickled ume, salmon, kombu,etc.

Anyhow, after it's been seating a while in our pantry, we finally got to make our onigiri. When we first tried it out, we tried with the furikake (rice seasoning) as the filling. But it didn't turn out well because the rice ball tend to split up due to the filling. Later on I figured out another way which is to mix the rice well with the furikake before shaping it in the mold. This way all the rice will get more taste of the seasoning.

We used up our plastic sheets wrap on that one occasion. These days when we make our onigiri, we use the shrink wrap. It's not as pretty but works well.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Changi Terminal 3 Kopitiam - Changi Airport, Singapore

If you're flying out from Terminal 3 Changi in Singapore, come earlier and check out their food court. It's located on the basement 2. Your last chance for the local fares before you leave the country !

That's where we headed the day we flew out from Singapore. The basement 2 area was still not totally done yet. You can tell that certain area was still being renovated. Some stores were not opened yet. When it's all ready it's going to be another shopping area just like the inside terminal of Changi as well.

The food court there was run by Kopi Tiam food court chain. They offered quite a varieties of local fares like Char Kway Teow, Indian cuisine, Japanese cuisine, Malay cuisine, dessert etc. It's not your typical California food court that consist of McD, BK, A&W. Most of the stalls here are mom & pop business with their own family recipes. :)

I ordered yong tofu. I picked my choices of veggies, tofu, wonton, etc. Tell the lady behind the counter why type of soup and what type of noodles. Whoa..I didn't realize that since they charged 60c on noodle, they gave me a whole bunch. That bowl of yong tofu was probably the biggest bowl I've ever had during my Asia trip this time. But it took care of my tummy for the whole trip back to SF. I skipped most of my meals back. :) Btw, if you like it spicy, choose the Thai tom yum broth for your yong tofu. Slurp...yummy.

Hubby chose roti prata from the Indian cuisine stall, chicken rice and topped it all with char kway teow. My friend chose rice with 3 dishes from the cook dish stall. Well..well, if you think we had so much. Think again. That was our last day of our trip so we celebrated by getting 2 types of dessert - bobo cha cha  and another colorful dessert which I forgot the name. But they both filled the spot and also our tummies all the way back to San Jose.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yo Pho - Milpitas

This establishment is still pretty new. I guess it's only a couple months new. And we finally got to give it a try. When we walked in nobody greeted us. I was wondering whether we should just take a seat ourselves. But finally one waitress walked us to a table.

After we ordered I looked around the shop. It's nicely decorated with cheerful bright color - orange and hot pink wall. They had some booth seatings but only a handful. The place is not very spacious and due to it serving frozen yogurt also so part of the wall was reserved for dispensing frozen yogurt. Some tables seemed a bit out of place due to that. But I like the fact that this restaurant is trying to give it a cafe feel instead of plain 'ol pho place.

Okay. So we ordered seafood pho, egg roll (cha gio), pho with chopped beef and a dessert drink that was made of pandan and green bean. Considering that they seemed a bit disorganized when we walked in, the service was actually pretty fast. We got our order within like ten minutes. The egg roll was served later after we got our noodle soup. But that was understandable because it does take time to freshly prepared the egg roll. And our egg roll was hot which I totally appreciated. I hate places that served egg roll warmed by microwave.

My seafood pho had a few large pieces of squid, one huge prawn, one crab leg and one piece of fish cake (?).  The broth had a unique taste of ginger which I should say was the first time I ever tasted quite distinctly on a seafood pho broth. And it still comes with enough greens floating on my bowl despite their intention of trying to be cafe like. Improving the ambience without sacrificing the taste. Awesome.

Hubby's chopped beef pho was also good. Enough beef to flavor the broth. Though they couldn't provide him with wide noodle for his pho so he was rather disappointed. But the beef was tender and the broth was rich.

The dessert drink was a rather thin smoothy-mixture-like of pandan water and green bean. I loved it. The flavor of green bean and the fragrant of pandan leaves was an excellent combo. Hubby didn't quite like it as much due to the gritty taste of green beans. But it's a very unique drink. Give it a try.

It's a nice place to have pho but not the best value for your buck.

Yo Pho
242 Serra Way Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 935-8285

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kome Sushi Buffet - Daly City

After thinking about it for quite a few months we finally got to try this buffet in Daly City named Kome Sushi Buffet. A couple of years ago we went there when it was still under Todai management. Food varities were good then. It was one of the buffets that left us quite an impression that we still remembered till now. We were deeply saddened when we found out that it had closed down.

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon. Best time for buffet would be when it was busiest. Food should be most fresh then with the high turn over. But we were also worried that it would take a while to get in. I guessed we got there in time and beat everybody else. It's only the two of us so we didn't have a lot of problem getting a table especially since we 'promised' that we would finish our meal in one hour. Yup. I guess the seating area was reserved for a party that would start around 1 pm.

They do provide a huge varieties of food. We started with sushi. Tons of different types of roll and nigiri. We only managed to pick up one piece for each type and even then it seemed a bit overwhelming. Definitely a place for sushi lovers.

They offered a few types of soups. Hot and sour soup and chicken ginseng soup seemed to be very popular. Another ones would be seafood soup that looked like egg dropped soup. Then of course juk (rice porridge) which unfortunately I didn't get to try.

First round of hot dishes. Singapore style rice noodle stick, hor fun with beef, manila clam with black bean sauce and sticky pork ribs. Those were all yummy. Especially the ribs - a must try. The ribs were deep fried first then threw in this sweet sticky sauce that covered it all up.

And then I went and picked up a wonton soup with egg noodle. I already planned this out. I dropped of my bowl of noodle with hubby and then went and lined up for the char siu because the line was sooo long. But the char siu was worth the wait. It was freshly cut and not dried at all. All the other patrons were hitting the soy sauce chicken which I also tried but didn't think there was any special at all. The chicken wings were also freshly fried but were a bit too salty for our taste buds.

By the time all those went inside my tummy I was about to call it a day. But hubby reminded me to check out the dessert corner. I dropped by and picked up a few mousse and cake with mousse. They were seriously pretty but tasted almost the same except for the color and artificial flavor used.

We finished just a couple of minutes before the time we were supposed to leave. Wow..I didn't think that we would have stayed that long. All in all it's worth $14.95/person. A lot of varieties of food and some with good qualities too. I think their strength is the sushi and barbecue (charsiu, bbq pork, chicken, etc). They didn't offer as much seafood as other buffet eg. Tomi Sushi.

Kome Sushi Buffet
1901 Junipero Serra Blvd, #A , Daly City, CA 94104
(650) 992-8600

Monday, September 5, 2011

Makan Time in Singapore

We always enjoy a stop over in Singapore wherever we are in Asia. Singapore is a like a heaven of good food. This time around we met up with a friend at Fullerton One.

Char Kwe Tiau (fried wide rice noodle)
Fullerton One is a place overlooking the Marina Bay and of course the new Marina Bay Sands Hotel that was just opened this year. There were quite a few restaurants at Fullerton One. I'm not too sure the quality of the food there. I think it's more like a place to see and be seen. Awesome view by sunset and slight cool breeze to lighten the heavy humid Singapore weather.
Hokkian mee (Hokkian style noodle)
But when it comes to food in Singapore, I would rather go to food court or Kopitiam which usually gives you mom and pop businesses that some of them has been established since you know when. Most of them just specialize in just a few dishes that they're best at. So just go to the stall that offers the dish you want and order there.
Ohr luak (Singapore style oyster omelet)
So when our friend Rachel offered to buy us dinner at Fullerton One, I told her that we don't really have to go to a fancy place. But in the end we agreed to meet up there. All this time I've heard that there are some good food by Esplanade which is just a stone throw away (but you better be an Olympian to do that). So we walked to Esplanade which also has a bunch of restaurants. Since we couldn't decide yet so we walked around and to our surprise just at the other end of Esplanade we found like an outdoor style food court. There were only around eight stalls and a bunch of tables and chairs some under a huge canopy and the rest open air seatings. The name of the food court was Makan Sutra Gluttons Bay.

We checked out all the stalls before deciding on char kwe tiau (fried wide rice noodle), hokkian noodle, Singapore style satay and Singapore style oyster omelet (ohr luak). I would say those dishes are quite a must to try when you visit Singapore. The char kwe tiau that night was easily the best I've ever had. I'm not usually to crazy about char kwe tiau but that one was really...really good. Not too oily and all the sweet and saltiness were blended well. I wasn't surprised because the line to order was soo long. And it's a self serve style so you ordered and waited until the uncles were done with your order before they moved on to the next patron.
Satay & Gado-gado w/ satay
The Singapore style satay were delish as well. The peanut sauce was more on the sweet side and oilier than the Indonesian style one. The satay was served with chunk of rice cake. And we also got to try some gado-gado that was served with satay. Interesting.

If seafood doesn't cause allergic reaction to you then by any means you should try the oyster omelet. Singapore is the only place I've ever tried an oyster omelet before. It's really eggs with a bit flour mixture and oyster pan fried into a thin omelet.
Ice chendol (red beans, chendol - green 'worm-like' rice dessert)
Ice kachang (red beans -buried down by tons of shaved ice & syrup)
As if those dishes haven't caused our tummy to waive the white flag. Rachel and my hubby were all ready for a round of dessert. So we went to get a bowl of ice cendol and another bowl of ice kachang. The ice cendol is basically this green 'worm looking' rice dessert that's mixed with coconut sugar, coconut milk and shaved ice. While the ice kachang is red bean covered with shaved ice and different types of syrup. I honestly couldn't enjoy the dessert that much because my tummy has sent out an emergency signal to my brain threatening all my senses to shut down.