Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Restaurant Review: MOH Kitchen, Milpitas CA

I can tell I like something when I go back a second time the next night. That’s exactly what happened with MOH Kitchen. A couple of weeks ago my friend, Tane, introduced me to Burmese food. I fell in love with it. It’s a milder version of Thai with better textures and a bit heavier Indian influence. This makes sense because Burma is right between Thailand, India and China. What I like about Burmese food is the texture. They combine the soft with the crunchy, the smooth with the rough and it all comes out perfect.

Unfortunately, the place we ate at then was on the other side of the Bay. That’s a bit too far of a drive for anything other than a special occasion. So I pulled up my trusty Yelp app and looked for local Burmese food. I found MOH Kitchen and the reviews were all top notch so we decided to try it. They also serve Thai food as well as Burmese food. That’s a win/win as far as I’m concerned.

It’s a bit of a drive down there (about 10 miles) but well worth it. It’s actually close to where Jene works so he can drag his co-workers in for lunch. Koko (the owner) said they’d only been open for about a month. I am hoping to send lots of people his way because I want him to succeed. Koko runs the front and is the only server while his wife does all the cooking. It’s a small place, maybe seating for 25-30 but it’s fantastic food. And not only did Koko provide awesome service but he also told me about a fabulous Burmese cookbook. It’s called Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Guduid. I immediately bought the Kindle version so I could read it while we ate.

As usual, I mostly forgot to take pictures but I have a few.

 

Friday night’s meal:

Tea leaf salad: I don’t have a picture of this but it’s a fabulous salad so completely unlike anything a Westerner is used to. It’s based on fermented tea leaves. I’m sure that many people are a bit taken aback by the idea of fermented foods but it’s really quite good. The tea leaves have a little bit of a tangy flavor and a smooth texture. They are served with a bit of cabbage. Around the side of the cabbage topped with tea leaves is an assortment of condiments. There are fried yellow peas, toasted peanuts pieces, sesame seeds, shrimp powder, chili paste, lemon and some things I’m probably forgetting. The idea is that each person adds the flavors they want to the tea leaves and cabbage. Or you can just mix everything together at the table. This was nice because I liked everything except the chile paste so we left that for Jene to add to his portion. According to my new cookbook, in Burma there usually isn’t any cabbage or lettuce but I think that here it’s added so that Westerners have something that looks like “salad” to them.

Paratha: a thin, flat bread very similar to Thai roti. I found that MOH’s is much less greasy than the roti I’ve been served at Thai restaurants. Instead of being served with curry sauce, it’s served with curried potatoes that have been mashed into a thick paste. Mmmmm.

Thick round rice noodles with curried chicken and boiled egg: This dish is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Thick, round riced noodles with pieces of curry chicken and slices of boiled egg. There is also shredded cabbage and some other things that make a nice crunch to offset the softness of the noodles and eggs. Again, no picture but it tastes really good!!

Mango with Sticky Rice: This is a very traditional Thai dessert. What made this so outstanding was the presentation.

MOHMangoStickyRice

Saturday night’s meal:

Friday night Jene ordered the Thai yellow curry. It was so good I actually woke up Saturday morning and told him we had to go back again lol.

Samosas: Since we’d tried the Paratha the night before this time we had the Samosas. They’re filled with a lovely seasoned blend of potatoes and veggies. Unlike many Indian Samosas, there were no chickpeas in them. Win!

MOHSamosas

Thai Yellow Curry: Holy cow! I could go on about this curry forever. I really enjoy Thai yellow curry but this stuff is addictive. I wish I could get the recipe so I could make it at home. But then I wouldn’t be going back to the restaurant all the time lol. It was so good that I even got some to go for Tane. I dropped it off that the vet clinic where she was working on the way home. Then at 1130 last night I was eating the rest of the sauce mixed with brown rice as a midnight snack. In fact, I’m drooling right now, just trying to type about it.

 

MOHYellowCurry

 

Thai Green Curry: Jene likes his food pretty spicy so he gave the green curry a try. He said he felt heat in his mouth which means I couldn’t eat it. I wasn’t even brave enough to taste a tiny bit. I know I’m a sissy when it comes to heat!

MOHGreenCurry

We skipped dessert Saturday night because we were quite full. Next time I’ll get the Black Sticky Rice dessert which is a Burmese dish. I don’t think I can rave enough about this place. GO THERE!! The prices are quite reasonable too. I bought dinner for three and left a very good tip for just under $50. GO THERE! Eat really tasty food and tell Koko that Kris says hi. GO THERE!!

 

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Restaurant Review: Smoking Pig BBQ, Fremont CA

We just had a new BBQ place open up in Fremont so of course, Jene and I had to check it out. It was obvious that they were super busy tonight. We later found out that this is only their “soft” opening. I can only imagine how much crazier it will be when they have their official “Grand” opening.

Devin, one of the hostess staff, was super nice when she greeted us. She offered us the option of waiting in the waiting area or seeing if we could find space at the bar. Since I knew that Jene would probably want a beer we opted to wander over to the bar. There were a couple of seats open so we sat down. Things got a bit off track at this point because the bar tender didn’t even acknowledge, even after walking past us a few times. I wasn’t worried about it since they are just getting started but I decided to let Devin know so that they could make the staff aware.

After talking to Devin for a minute she introduced us to Corrine, one of the assistant managers. I let her know that I just wanted to give some constructive criticism. She was very receptive and easy to talk to. Not to long after that Jene and I were seated.

So down to the fun part, the food. Those of you who know me best know that I’m a BBQ snob. Growing up so close to Kansas City and then spending almost ten years living there, I’ve eaten a lot of BBQ. I also have the smoker on the balcony that Jene and I use regularly. This was some decent BBQ. I’m still sold on the fact that Oklahoma Joe’s in KC is the all time BEST bbq I’ve ever had but for this area, the Smoking Pig is good. I hate that this sounds like I’m damning them with faint praise but California is not a BBQ mecca. This was really good and I really enjoyed the meal. I guarantee that Jene and I will be back again and will bring friends/family.

In an effort to try as many things as possible, we ordered a LOT of food. We started with Chicken Lollipops and Wolf Turds (a jalapeno stuffed with sausage and cheese then wrapped in bacon). The Chicken Lollipops were AWESOME. I mean that to the fullest extent too. It’s a chicken leg wrapped in bacon. Of course, bacon can make just about anything taste better but the chicken meat was juicy and good already, the bacon just made it outstanding. Jene really liked Wolf Turds but I couldn’t eat them. I ventured a tiny bite but all I could taste was the heat of the jalapeno. Yes, yes… I know, I’m a sissy about spicy food lol.

SmokingPigChkLollipopWolf

There were two Chicken Lollipops but I was busy eating mine while Jene took this picture. πŸ˜‰

Jene had the Three meat meal with hot link, ribs and chicken. His side was the potato salad. His meal also came with a corn bread muffin.

SmokingPig3Meat

Jene enjoyed it and ate everything but a bit of his potato salad and that was only because he got full. πŸ™‚ Obviously I tried everything too. Here are my thoughts on it. The hot link was WAY too heavy on the sage. Keeping in mind that I don’t like sage, it was really over powering. Jene didn’t mind it but I found it overwhelmed any other flavors. It made me kind of glad I hadn’t ordered the sausage burger which I had thought of trying. Jene just says I have too many taste buds. The chicken was excellent. It was that gorgeous shade of pink a well smoked piece of poultry achieves. The rib was a rib. If there was a rub on it, it wasn’t anything that jumped out at me as “oh wow!” The potato salad was fantastic. It was creamy, the potatoes were fully cooked (I HATE it when places serve potato salad and that taters are still hard), and it was loaded with lovely, fresh herbs. I would go in just to eat more of the potato salad.

I hate the pulled pork sandwich with the BBQ Mac & Cheese. I also ordered the Brunswick Stew as a side.

SmokingPigMacandBrunswickStew

Unfortunately, my phone apparently did not take a picture of the sandwich even though I was sure it had. 😦 But the above picture shows the Stew on the left and the Mac & Cheese on the right. The pulled pork sandwich is the pork, coleslaw and the California Honey Sauce on a potato bun. I tried the coleslaw separate from the sandwich and like the potato salad, it was outstanding. The mac & cheese was also fabulous. It had a super cheesy sauce with bits of BBQ meat in it. The coleslaw was creamy and tangy with lots of flavor. The Brunswick stew was good but full of lima beans. That’s my fault because I meant to ask our server, Marisela, what was in it but forgot. Given how much I hate beans, it’s not surprising to know that I didn’t eat much of it. Luckily, Jene likes lima beans so he’ll be eating it tomorrow. Bug again, the meat was a bit disappointing.

Why did I think the meat was disappointing? The wood used left behind a bitter after taste that I found to be unpleasant. Additionally, the seasoning was flat. One of the best parts of a good BBQ is a solid, flavorful rub. I will be the first to admit that this is not easy to do. I’m still trying to find the perfect combination for my own dry rub recipe.

Chicken is one of the few meats that tastes good with just the flavor of the smoke which is why it was my favorite meat we had tonight. We would have had the brisket but they were out when we arrived. Which is one of the downsides of a restaurant just getting started. But back to my thoughts on what we did get to eat… Pork can be a very bland meat and without a good seasoning it’s just flat.

I should point out that the TEXTURE of the meats was excellent. It was well smoked without being dry or tough. I’m just finicky about flavors.

So the final verdict is this: I think that the Smoking Pig as some of the best sides I’ve ever had at a BBQ joint. I highly recommend that people eat here. The staff is great too. *waves at Devin, Corrine and Marisela*Β  I also think that I’m probably judging them too harshly on the flavor of the meat. But that comes back to me being a BBQ snob. Jene tells me I’m picky which he’s probably right. Go and try it, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it. But since this is my blog I get to write about how picky I am lol. πŸ˜€

 

 

 

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Restaurant Review: El Techo de Lolinda, San Francisco CA

Jene and I spent last night in San Francisco to help celebrate our friend Darren’s 40th birthday party. Our first stop was a place new to us called El Techo de Lolina. It’s Latin American food served on the roof of the building. It’s kind of cool because it’s this big open space with clear plastic tents and heaters above the seating so you can look out over the city. We got there just as the rest of our friends were leaving but we opted to stay and eat, then catch up later.

The menu isn’t huge. A few small plate options, some meat options and some sandwiches plus dessert. We’ll come back to the dessert part πŸ˜‰

After looking over the menu we decided to order the ceviche which we both adore, the empanadas, a skewer of steak and the chicharrones. I’ll start with the ceviche. It comes out in a large goblet style dish with a side of corn chips. The first thing you notice is that the shrimp are HUGE. And there’s a ton of them. There’s shreds of radish and onions and cubes of avocado in with the shrimp. The menu says “shrimp, lime, roasted tomato, red onion, cucumber, avocado, cilantro” but I think it’s one of those recipes that gets changed up depending on who’s making it. The waitress told me it also had pineapple juice in it with the lime juice. I was resigned to delicately picking my way around the cilantro and grimacing when I got a bit and suddenly everything tasted like soap. BUT!! I don’t know where they got their cilantro but it wasn’t soapy and I actually enjoyed it. The other thing that stunned me was to find out that there was habanero pepper in the ceviche. All I got was a pleasant, gentle sensation of heat in my mouth that complemented the dish rather than leaving me gulping water and blowing my nose. I wish I could have brought home a gallon or two of this stuff because it was that fabulous.

eltechoceviche

The pictures are from their website because I was way too busy stuffing my face to take my own. This picture actually does them a disservice because the actual dish we got had way more shrimp. I thought about drinking the left over marinade but decided that would be a bit much. πŸ˜‰

Next was the chicharrones. I love me some dead pig. Even better I love me some slow cooked, deep fried, dead pig. You order it by the half pound. Jene and I only got a half pound because we wanted to try several other things too. I wish we’d ordered a whole pig or two’s worth lol.

eltechochiccarones

The menu describes the dish “Not your basic side-walk cracklins! Here we have roasted and fried chunks of pork-shoulder with house made tortillas, lime, salsa, escabech.” The tan item on the side that looks sort of like a friend corn tortilla is actually a big piece of deep friend pork skin. I ate most of it by dipping it in the chimichurri sauce which I’ll rave about in a bit. The meat was nice and crispy on the outside but fell apart when I tried to stab it with my fork. I have GOT to figure out how they make this dish. Driving to SF every time I want some would get pricey pretty fast lol.

Empanadas… “ground beef, potatoes, egg, raisins, chimichurri” The ingredients listed are wrapped in a pastry shell and baked or fried depending on who makes them. Honestly, this dish was disappointing. The flavor was very bland and the potatoes overcooked. I couldn’t taste the egg or the raisins. On the other hand, it’s how I got introduced to the chimichurri. Chimichurri is a condiment common in Latino food but one I’ve always avoided because it’s main ingredient is the dreaded cilantro. Or at least so I thought! My knowledge up until now has consisted of watching people make it on Food Network and it was always super heavy on the cilantro. After eating the ceviche and realizing how mellow the cilantro was I decided to give the chimichurri a try. I was blown away by how good it is. And after doing some research online I found out that the recipe actually calls for parsley and/OR cilantro. So I can make this again for myself without needing magic cilantro, hooray! It pretty much looks like a pesto sauce but has more tang from the vinegar and lime juice. I spent the whole meal dipping my food in it.

Carne skewer: flap meat, onion, zucchini, panca glaze. It was cubes of beef on a stick with veggies and a bit of sauce. It was good but it didn’t make me giggle from it being so good. I think I would just skip this next time and order more chicharrones.

And finally we come to dessert. One of the benefits of living in a large metro area is the access to amazing chocolate dishes. When I was a kid I hated chocolate with a passion. When I moved to Kansas City and had a wider range of brands to choose from I came to realize that I didn’t hate chocolate, I just hated CHEAP chocolate. Try enjoying Hershey’s after eating a Lindor truffle if you want to know what I’m talking about. Anyway, enough of my chocolate snobbery… One of the desserts listed is “Maria’s Ganachecayanne-cinnamon chocolate, graham cracker crumbs, seasonal fruit.” I ordered that and Jene ordered the “Tres leches – sponge cake, milks, whipped cream.”

I giggle when I eat something really good. I can’t help it, my taste buds are dancing around in my mouth and I can’t hide the enjoyment. The moment I put the first bite in my mouth I started giggling. I couldn’t stop giggling. Jene is staring at me across the table and telling me to stop giggling but I couldn’t lol. I did finally get it under control but wow, this stuff was incredible. The bottom of the cake is a super dense, rich but not bitter chocolate cake. It’s topped with about 1/3 of an inch of smooth, creamy ganache. Then the berries and graham cracker crust crumbles. It’s service in a short fat 1/2 pint jar. Their website doesn’t have a picture but it’s a really pretty presentation. My seasonal fruit was strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. As I was getting to the bottom of the dish Jene told me that if I started licking it he was leaving. I hadn’t even thought of that so I promptly started licking the dish. I told the waiter that I had a serious problem.. with a look of concern and worry he asked me what the problem was. “My tongue isn’t long enough to lick the bottom of the dish.” Fortunately he thought I was funny πŸ˜‰

So I give this place major thumbs up and highly recommend it if you’re looking for something to try in the city. The prices aren’t bad either for city dining. Jene and I spent about $85 with the tip. We didn’t drink much, he had a beer and I had a soda but still that’s quite reasonable. I look forward to trying it during the summer when the plastic walls are rolled up and we can get an even better view of the city.

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Gorilla BBQ; Pacifica, CA

Gorilla BBQ is an interesting place to look at. It sits in an old railroad car off the Coast Highway in Pacifica, just south of San Francsico. Jene and I have been meaning to stop in there for a couple of years now and finally got around to it today.

This place has been on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and I was expecting some pretty amazing BBQ. Now, I will admit my standards for bbq are high. I grew up two hours west of Kansas City and spent almost ten years living there. I’ve had Memphis bbq and bbq in the Carolinas. So yeah, I’m a bbq snob. But really… if you’re on a big tv show, you oughta have something outstanding. Gorilla was a let down.

gorillabbq

I apologize for the poor quality of the picture but Gorilla only does carry out so we were sitting in the car lol. You get a lot of food. I got the three meat dinner and it takes two boxes. One for the meat and one for the sides. I got chicken (that’s a half chicken), brisket and pulled pork which came with coleslaw, rice n beans, mac n cheese, and a corn bread muffin, all for $20. Now that sounds like a lot but I’ll get 3-4 meals out of this easy.

So here’s the thing… lots of food, not much flavor. As near as I can tell, there’s NO dry rub on the meat. The chicken skin is seasoned but they didn’t put any of it under the skin. The brisket and pulled pork are unseasoned except for the smoke. The brisket was dry and tough which I would say means it was undersmoked at too high of a temperature. A good brisket should be juicy and melt in you mouth. I smoke my brisket at about 180F. I’m willing to be they used a much higher temperature. The texture of the pork was good but again, no flavor and the chicken was just middle of the road smoked chicken. I can turn out better bbq with the smoker on my deck.

The sauce… Welllll, um, yeah. I don’t have much nice to say about this sauce. The more I ate of it, the less I liked it. The primary flavor was black pepper. Talk about boring. I could tell they’d tried to add a little zip to it but they didn’t get enough vinegar in it. With all the flavors available to build a bbq sauce, they used black pepper… bleh.

The sides… I know a lot of places don’t focus much on their sides which is a shame. Gorilla is no exception. Bland is a good word to describe them. I will say that at least the coleslaw was cold and the cabbage nice and crisp. However, it had no flavor. It could have used at least a little salt and pepper. Now, I don’t eat beans so I can’t personally comment on that but Jene said they were bland. The mac n cheese had over cooked pasta which annoys me. Finally, the potato salad. Of all the things I ate today, this was surprisingly good. The sad part was that it came in a tiny little foam container that probably had about five bites in it. Jene got it as part of his lunch and I tried a bite. If there hadn’t been a line I’d have gone back in and gotten a quart. It was probably the best potato salad I’ve had outside my own. (yes, I’ll post that recipe sometime this summer)

So the bottom line is that it was ok, but I won’t go out of my way for it again. We were already in South San Francisco today so it wasn’t a huge side trip. I’ll definitely eat my left overs but I’ll be using some Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce on it. All I have to say to Guy Fieri is that maybe he needs better taste buds if he thinks this is good bbq.

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Dragon Inn: Overland Park, KS

As far as I’m concerned, Chinese food is the ultimate comfort food. I probably eat more Chinese food than anything else, even sushi. Dragon Inn is and probably always will be, my favorite spot to eat Chinese food. I’m friends with the manager Kate and I adore seeing her when I visit the restaurant. Even after being away for two years I got greeted with a big hug when I walked in the door.

It’s not anything above the ordinary as far as menu goes. There’s the standard dishes that everyone expects. However, the quality is ALWAYS excellent and I never leave hungry. The prices are also excellent. I stopped in for lunch the day I dropped Jene off at the airport to fly back to CA after our drive out to KS. I had the sweet and sour pork lunch plate. It comes with fried rice, egg drop soup and a choice of crab rangoon or egg roll. I had the crab rangoon.

Most people in CA have never heard of such a thing which is sad. Crab rangoon is a wonton style wrapper filled with a mix of cream cheese and crab meat. It’s crispy, creamy and delightful. I can’t get decent ones in CA even if I can find someplace that makes them. 😦

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This picture shows just how nice the food is. You can see that the pork is big chunks of meat with pineapple, green peppers, onions and carrots. My brother ordered some sweet and sour from a different restaurant and it had no veggies and tiny pieces of pork buried in the breading. Dragon Inn is MUCh better!Β  In addition to the plate of food, I also got a bowl of soup.

dragoninneggdropEgg drop soup isn’t anything unusual but Dragon Inn makes a very simple but very tasty version. It has broth and egg in it, that’s all. But the broth has a nice deep flavor and there’s no shortage of egg. When I lived in Overland Park, I’d come get this soup every time I got sick. I’d call in a carry out order and show up in my pajamas to pick it up. I miss having Dragon Inn nearby, not least because I miss seeing Kate more often than every couple of years.

Kate, if you read this.. I miss you! I wish I’d been able to stop by and see you one more time before I went home. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to. Take care and I’ll see you when I get back there again. πŸ™‚

Dragon Inn is in Overland Park, KS at 7500 West 80th Street. If you are there, go see them.

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Mr. Gyros, Overland Park KS

I love Greek/Mediterranean food and so far, Mr. Gyros is my favorite place to get it. They have rich flavors and good prices. Unfortunately, they’re now about 1900 miles from where I live. What that means is that every time I’m in the area I eat there as often as I can! They have all the usual Greek foods you expect; gyros (the usual beef and lamb mix and a chicken mix that rocks), dolmades, mousaka, pastichio, tzatziki, and spanikopita. They do a wonderful grilled chicken too. My favorite meal is the combination plate with has gyro meat, pita, spanikopita, dolmades, pastichio and a bit of greek salad.

For those of you not familiar with Greek food, I’ll explain what each bit is.

Gyros: A mixture of finely minced beef and lamb, seasoned with garlic, oregano and other spices that is patted onto a big spit that slowly turns in front of a heating element. The cooked meat on the outside is cut off into ribbons as people order the meat. It’s grilled for a few minutes on a flatop and then served. Mr. Gyros also does this with minced chicken meat and it’s awesome.

Dolmades: Grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of spiced meat and rice then steamed. About the size of a person’s finger and very similar in appearance to a cabbage roll only smaller and darker. The grape leaves have a very tangy flavor.

Pastichio: This is one of my favorite dishes. It’s penne pasta with seasoned ground beef on top and a thick custardy cream sauce on top of that. It’s delicious!

Spanikopita: Spinach and feta cheese with seasonings stuffed between layers of phyllo dough. It’s kind of like a spinach pie. I enjoy it withΒ  some fresh lemon juice squeezed on top.

Tzatziki: a yogurt and cucumber dip seasoned with garlic and dill. I like to dip my gyro meat straight into it.

mrgyroscombo

Starting at the top left and going clockwise: Pastichio, gyro meat laying on pita bread, greek salad, container of tzatziki, and spanikopita. The dolmade is hiding behind the pastichio by the lemon wedge.

It was all delicious! I actually ate here twice during my trip to KS. Mr. Gyros is about an hour and a half from my mom’s house too. Fortunately I had plenty of excuses to visit Kansas City and eat here πŸ˜‰

The final crown in the meal is the coconut baklava. No, it’s not traditional. I don’t like walnuts and therefore find traditional baklava unappealing. However, the coconut is really nice. I love the pairing of coconut and honey.

coconutbaklava

So if you get the chance to swing by 83rd and Metcalf in Overland Park, KS, take the time to stop and visit Mr. Gyros.

 

 

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Sushi Sho, El Cerrito CA

Sushi Sho was open in Berkeley off Solano for a number of years. However, he closed shop there almost three years ago and said he’d be back. After watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” a documentary about a sushi chef in Japan, I remembered to check and see if Sushi Sho was back open. They are!!! I did a happy dance around the living room. I also told Jene the only thing I wanted was to go there today for my birthday. He happily obliged.

This is, in my opinion, the BEST sushi restaurant in the San Francisco area. Chef/owner Aki-san is a purest and it shows. If you want big rolls with lots of stuff, don’t go here. If you want staff who will wait on you hand and foot, don’t go here. And finally if you’re starving to death or in a rush, don’t go here! Aki-san only seats diners at the bar and there are only about 9 seats. However, it is worth the wait and it is worth the price.

As you walk in the door, you right away notice that it is a small restaurant. It is an L shaped bar with about 14 seats but Aki-san usually only seats 9 people because he’s the only person preparing the sushi. He has a couple of tables for people to sit at while they wait but food is not served at the tables. I believe that this is much more like a traditional sushi restaurant in Japan.

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That being said, the ambiance is quiet and you can talk to the people seated around you. I wound up talking to all three other couples seated at the bar while we were there tonight. It is very much about the sushi and Aki-san will explain everything from how to hold the sushi and how to place it in your mouth to why wasabi is an important facet in eating sushi. This is pretty much nagiri and sashimi. The quality of the fish is out standing and the flavors are magnificent. Aki-san also makes something called Bateria. This is a pressed sushi made with either salmon or mackerel.

batiria1

In the picture, the one on the left is made with the mackerel and the one on the right is salmon. The fish is topped with a very thin sheet of vinegar soaked kelp. A description of how it is made can be found here.

Aki-san serves your sushi in the order that he feels best compliments the flavors, leaving the sweetest pieces for last, such as the sea eel and egg. Our meal tonight was Hamachi (yellow-fin tuna), Anago (sea eel), Sake (salmon), cold smoked Sake (omg this is amazing), Saba (mackerel), Uni (sea urchin roe), Saba Bateria, Salmon Bateria, a California roll, Tamago (egg) and blue fin Toro (tuna belly). Oh! How could I forget…. The fresh scallop! Aki-san serves the sweetest, bestest scallops EVER!

Anyway, it was lots of wonderful flavors and textures and I enjoyed every bite of it. As I sit here writing this I wish I had some more with me to nibble on lol. It’s a little pricey, we spent $120 not counting tip, but not really much higher than any other good sushi restaurant. It’s probably a good thing it’s almost an hour away because I would find reasons to eat there more often if it was closer lol. If you’re any where within an hour or two, it’s worth the drive!

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Andy’s Tofu House (Fremont, CA)

Jene and I have been eating out a lot this last week or two. We’ve both been tired and had a bunch of stuff to deal with. So last night, we visited a new place Andy’s Tofu House off Thornton here in Fremont. It’s a little hole in the whole but quite nice. The service was excellent, very friendly and they took great care of us. The weather was chilly and rainy last night so I wanted something warm and filling. Korean hot pot is perfect for this! πŸ™‚

We started out with an order of pot stickers which were very tasty an the order was generously sized. This picture is already missing a couple πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dish was the beef hot pot. It comes to the table in a cast iron bowl that is merrily sizzling away. There’s a layer of rice in the bottom with beef and veggies on top along with an egg. The egg is raw and then you stir it into the rest of the food to cook. It was exactly what I wanted last night. I was only able to eat half my meal and I finished it up for lunch today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jene got a combination of a spicy beef tofu bowl with bulgogi. I didn’t sample the tofu since he ordered it extra spicy but I did eat some of the bulgogi and it was really tasty. And being Korean food, it came with about 8 different little side dishes so there was no shortage of food.

So over all, I give this place two thumbs up. I will definitely be going back!

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Shalimar Restaraunt (Fremont, CA)

Last night Jene and I headed out for dinner. I’ve not been feeling well this week (sinus infection, bleh) and wanted to try something different. Now, Indian food isn’t really “different” in this area since there are so many restaurants but we hadn’t eaten at Shalimar before. I am extremely glad we did. I was a little taken aback at first. It’s a big open room with tables scattered about and a line several people deep. There’s no sign of a menu until the line moves up a bit and you see a stack of pages on the counter. While the ambiance was a bit iffy, the place smelled fantastic. The rich spices that make up the various curries leave the room redolent with the knowledge that you’re going to eat something that tastes amazing. Or will if it’s not so hot I can’t eat it lol. Indian food and I have something of a love/hate relationship… I love the flavors but when it’s made by and FOR the Indian palate it tends to be a lot heavy on the chili peppers for me.

The first thing I noticed about Shalimar was that they list Brain Masala right at the top of the menu. I have never had the chance to eat brains. Being the culinary adventure seeker that I am, I decided I absolutely had to try this dish. Additionally, Jene ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala. We always try this dish to see how it compares to what we make here at home. And of course, we ordered Naan, garlic and plain. The naan serves as a scooper and helps cut the heat of the spices a bit.

Braaaaaiiiinnnnzzzz!!!! Braiiiiiiinnnnnnzzzz! Holy moly, this was some good stuff. I don’t have any pictures because it was so good I totally forgot to take any. The dish looked kind of like bits of scrambled eggs with a rich brown curry sauce. Taking a mouth full, the texture of the brains is lush and unctuous. There’s a rich and creamy mouth feel that makes me think of what cream would feel like if it was solid. The flavor was quite mild. The dish was made with lamb brains and there was none of the gamey flavor lamb is known for and it was just plain amazing. I WILL go get this again lol.

The Chicken Tikka Masala was ok. It was a very different style than what we usually get. The sauce was thinner and lacked the vegetable flavors that infuse most tikka masala sauces. For example, the recipe I use has tomatoes, bell peppers and onions and is then pureed with heavy cream. This particular recipe lacked those layers of flavor and the creamy texture. But, one of the fun things about Indian cooking is that it’s a HUGE country which means that recipes of the same name can vary to a large degree from region to region.

This also makes me think I’m going to have to delve into 660 Curries again. I love that book and I’m finding that I’m becoming more proficient in creating the recipes. Plus it would give me more to write about πŸ˜‰

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My Cafe (Newark, CA)

I like diner type restaurants. They usually have a decent menu and good service. My Cafe, on the corner of Thornton and Cedar in Newark, Ca fits that profile. I’ve been pure laziness this week about cooking and Jene took me out tonight. We hadn’t been to My Cafe before but have driven past it several times. Tonight was the night to check it out πŸ™‚

The inside of the restaurant is nice. It’s obviously been recently remodeled. It was clean and the staff was very nice and attentive. Victor was our server and he did a great job.

Onion rings are not only one of my favorite foods, it’s a good way to judge a restaurant. Are the rings flavorful? Is the coating crisp and not soggy? Are the onions tender and sweet within the breading? The answer to this for My Cafe was yes. They weren’t the best rings I’ve ever had (Baldie’s holds that honor) but they weren’t bad. I like the rings cut a little thicker but the coating was nicely crispy and not at all soggy. The portion size was also quite generous.

Another test is Eggs Benedict. Hollandaise sauce isn’t hard to make but there’s a lot of places that can’t seem to make it right. Yes, it’s technically a little touchy, making sure that the egg yolks don’t curdle while they get whisked into the hot butter… But with the advent of the modern blender or food processor it’s not bad and more cooks should be able to handle it. The cook at My Cafe did a good job with the hollandaise sauce so I now have a place to get good benedict close to home, hooray! The other thing I’m picky about is how my eggs are poached. I like them poach medium-well so that the yolks are just a little bit runny. I will keep sending my plate back until they’re cooked correctly too. This cook got it right the first time. I also liked the fact that they used slices of traditional ham that had been fried instead of the usual boring Canadian bacon. I got the country potatoes on the side and this is my only complaint with the dish. I loved the fact that they were obviously cooked from fresh potatoes (not frozen) but they were under seasoned. They needed some onion, garlic, more salt & pepper, and maybe a bit of parsley. Still, I’d rather have fresh, under seasoned potatoes than something out of the freezer.

Jene’s dinner selection was the Gourmet Burger. A nice thick burger patty with bacon, mushrooms and cheese. He said the flavor was good and from what I saw it was nice and juicy. He had the steamed veggies as a side and like the potatoes, they were under seasoned.

Other than that, Jene was really happy with his meal. πŸ™‚

Finally, we ordered dessert. They do dessert crepes but we were too full to try those so we ordered pie to go. They do not make their pies in house so I don’t blame them that the pie really isn’t that great. I had the peach pie and there was barely any filling in it. The crust was kind of soggy. Jene’s coconut cream pie was ok but nothing spectacular. Next time we eat at My Cafe I’ll try the dessert crepe because that sounds super good. πŸ˜€

 

The overall opinion is that we’ll eat here again, probably fairly regularly. Jene’s Grandmother will probably enjoy it too. If you’re local, I recommend you try it out.

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