Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yogurt Bar**


Better than Pinkberry - less icy, creamier, and more generous servings. Octavia at Union, closed on Mondays.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

TOFU VILLAGE**

Heading over to have dinner at Kevin's Noodle House on Irving near 19th, I saw that the old Taiwanese snack place has now changed from a jook house to a Korean tofu place. I had to try it. Tofu House has the usual assortment of soon tofu chige and a pretty good menu of combos which enables you to have tofu chige and some bbq. I opted for spicy pork bbq and tofu and ordered it 'very very spicy' -- First off, it came very very spicy, thank you tofu house for not shying away from giving me some heat. The tofu was a very small pot, appropriate for the combo, but chock full of shrimp and clams and tofu. Though it did not include a raw egg. Accompanying the tofu was a plate of spicy pork, which was at least 6 ounces -- a lot of sweet slightly spicy and very tender pork on a bed of onions. The panchan was decent and they included jap chae as a panchan, so I got two servings of that. For $15 it's a pretty good deal considering it's enough food for two people, or one gluttonous person such as myself. Next time: the kalbi and tofu combo.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

PLAYA AZUL*** & THE LIME TREE*'

Met up with A for a lunch of Caldo de Siete Mares and a Tostada de Ceviche de Pulpo at Playa Azul, and then we went over the top with a double at Mitchell's. The soup was very hearty and tomato based full of vegetables and seafood. We were smart enough to split the soup as I think it would be just too much for any one person. The ceviche is a very good deal and I would definitely go for the pulpo again. Next time try the Filete Relleno (fish stuffed with crab and shrimp), taco salad cancun and the tostada de ceviche de camarones. Also the blood orange sorbet at Mitchell's was excellent.

After that hearty lunch, I really wasn't in the mood for a big dinner, but I had to catch up on all of J's news. We settled on The Lime Tree as I read that they had a good cheap Roti Pratha. It is indeed a good deal for only $2.50, but a bit too buttery for my tastes. So moist it was like a flattened croissant. Delicious, but the dipping sauce had too much curry powder and wasn't that flavorful. We also enjoyed the Martabak which is the same roti wrapped around some ground beef and onions. This would be a good lunch, solid and more tasty than eating a hamburger. The beef rendang and roasted chicken with sweet chili sauce were subpar. The rendang had no depth of flavor, no spiciness whatsoever. It could just have easily been an Irish beef stew as a Indonesian curry. The roasted chicken was nothing special, not bad tasting, but I think I could do better at home. Still, all this food with soft drinks for only $20 with very warm and friendly service. Nice neighborhood lunch stop. Next time stick with the Murtabak.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ginger Cake

Park Chow is the city's version of a diner, long menu with a lot of pedestrian items and the food is just o.k. The prices don't seem high, yet the bill always manages to get up there. If it weren't for the Ginger Cake with Pumpkin Ice Cream, I wouldn't eat here. Tonight's cake was great. J and I both enjoyed the salad, but it was nothing special and service was lacking. Next time: just get the cake or find out where they are getting it.

Very nice lunch today at Banana Island with E. For some reason they still won't make the food spicy even when I said 'please extra extra spicy'. Next time just get the Roti.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ice Cream Rankings

Tried Creme Fraiche and Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle at Bi-Rite today. Creme Fraiche is clean with a slight yogurt tang, good as a palate cleanser, malted vanilla is decent - the peanut brittle is great the malted vanilla is a little too sweet. Ended up with a Strawberry Balsamic and Lemon combo. This is a lot better than pairing the salted caramel with the strawberry.

New Rankings:
Lacuma and Ube (tie) - Mitchell's
Salted Caramel - Bi-Rite
Macapuno - Mitchell's
Coppa Mista - Gelato Classico
Strawberry Balsamic - Bi-Rite
Pistachio - Baskin Robbins
Butter Pecan - Baskin Robbins
Lemon - Bi-Rite
Cheesecake w/mixed berries - Cold Stone

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

HANH'S HIBACHI ON IRVING**'

I satisfied my pork craving this afternoon with the Pile O'Pork at Hanh's Hibachi on Irving. I still don't understand why every other HH in the city is terrible and doesn't serve the same good spicy sauce on their daeji bulgogi. This is supposed to be a chain -- weird. Anyhow, the pile o'pork had a pile of sliced pork, a big pork chop and a pork rib (which was somewhat dry). I got it "spicy" which (oddly) costs and extra dollar. Hmm, I guess they know that spice hounds will pay. The sauce was spicy but not overwhelmingly so, the meat was nicely charred. Overall, it was a huge if not somewhat extravagant lunch, leaving me with a craving for ice cream which I ignored in honor of the upcoming SF Marathon. Next time, ask to get the salad dressing on the side.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

NEW KRUNG THAI**'

Dinner tonight with MS, RS and BW at New Krung Thai in San Jose. Decent Thai food. Particularly liked the Tom Kha Ta-lay (coconut seafood soup) and the Penang Curry with pork. Also had the crab fried rice, eggplant, and shrimp with chili, all of which were nice but ordinary. Portions are large and a good value for the area. The restaurant has efficient pleasant service and a nice family atmosphere.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sketch Ice Cream*

The only thing I like about Sketch's Ice Cream in Berkeley is that it is made with good Strauss Yogurt. Other than that, I was not impressed by the flavors or the incredibly high price of $4.50 for a half a cup of ice cream. I tried the burnt caramel, the hazelnut and the blueberry -- the blueberry was the only passable flavor. If forced to return, I'd go with the fruit flavors.

Louisiana*'

After five days in Louisiana and Mississippi, I can honestly say that I understand Paula Deen. In fact, her food is probably considered "health food" judging by what I saw of southern cuisine. First, the old timey Waffle House, a diner with counters and uniforms right out of the old tv show "Alice" -- it's the southern version of Denny's, but as ubiquitous in the South as Starbucks is in the North.

Very inexpensive and traditional Southern style breakfast with waffles, eggs of all sorts, grits, chili, hashbrowns, steak, biscuits and gravy. Anything you think of as very southern. For example the "real" hashbrowns can be smothered (in onions), covered (in American cheese), chunked (with ham), capped (in mushrooms), topped (with chili) or "all the way" which is undoubtedly the way most people order them.

My favorite thing at the WH was the waffle with pecans which was recommended to me by my hosts as the thing most craved by their southern belle turned yankee daughter. This was the first place I tried Southern style grits and I have to say they are a lot better than any grits I have had above the Mason Dixon line. They were creamy and I don't dare guess how much butter or cream went into their creamy goodness.



I finally tried red velvet cake, which was o.k. It's cake, I'm not sure what flavor it's supposed to be because I'm so taken aback by it's color, but in any case it's fine and the look is unique. Beignets at Cafe Du Monde were good enough to have them twice in one day. That's right! Once in the mid morning and again at night. Very similar to the fried yo-tiyaw in Taiwan, but covered in a blanket of powdered sugar. Rarely does anything with powdered sugar taste badly. These were freshly fried and that day I ate a total of six of them -- marathon be damned.



The other treat was the incredibly flavorful steak at Besh Steak. This was a complete surprise because we ate there only due to the fact that Galatoire's was closed for 4th of July week (I guess everyone needs a vacation once in a while). The Rib Eye au poivre was excellent, I soaked up every drop of the peppery sauce with my steak. The steak itself was probably too good a quality and well seared to be covered in a strong sauce, but hey it tasted fantastic. The Cowboy steak was a 33 oz. bone in Rib Eye. Super juicy and split onto two plates so that there was nice caramelization and medium rare goodness through out. The juiciness and beefy flavor of the cowboy was among the best I've ever had, but I like the spiciness of the au poivre, so it's a toss up. I'd definitely go back to this place.