Friday, April 10, 2015

South Bay: Stuft Pizza

My sister and I had our own little date night a while back.  She works in Milpitas and I get off the bus in Milpitas, so we decided to meet at Stuft Pizza...in Milpitas:


















It was our first time, but we quickly deduced that Stuft is a sports lover paradise:


















Flat screens all over the place.  And pizza!  What goes better with sports than pizza?  (Besides chicken wings, which is also on Stuft's menu.)

When you walk in, you come face to face with a giant menu posted behind the cashier counter.  My sister and I were a bit overwhelmed and as usual, incredibly indecisive, so we stepped to the side until we could figure our shit out.

We discussed whether to get a small or a medium pizza for a long time and ultimately went with the medium because we're pigs like that.  Because we couldn't decide on just one, we split our pizza into half Popeye's special and half garlic lemon chicken:


















We overestimated our own abilities.  We were both full after two slices.  Probably should have gotten a small.

The garlic lemon chicken came with garlic lemon sauce, garlic, chicken, lemon pepper, zucchini, red onion, and cold tomatoes:























The Popeye's special came with sausage, fresh spinach, red onions, and mushrooms:


















We liked both pizzas (crust to topping ratio was pretty ideal), through for different reasons.  The garlic lemon chicken was light and refreshing, with its red onions and cold tomatoes.  We couldn't taste any lemon, but that was okay.  The Popeye's special was just meaty and everything that a pizza should be.

I decided we should splurge that night, so we ordered a fountain soda to split.

Yea, I know.  But when you grow up with Chinese parents who only let you get water at restaurants, paying for a drink is a big deal.

Anyway, the soda machine had quite a lot of options.  There was a mango iced tea, so I got a little to try.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to do a taste test first.  That stuff was FOUL, like really gross cough medicine.  So foul that I made my sister drink some too and cackled the entire time she dealt with the aftertaste.

There are a lot of pizzas to choose from at Stuft, so it's definitely worth multiple trips.  And if you go, don't forget to try the mango iced tea.

They should make it a rite of passage there.


Stuft Pizza
1426 Dempsey Rd
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 262-4343
http://www.stuftpizzamilpitas.com/

Saturday, April 4, 2015

South Bay: Chi

My parents seem to have some kind of radar for new Taiwanese restaurants in our area.  They somehow heard about Chi through the grapevine and away we went with Ahyi in tow:


















This particular location has gone through its share of restaurants.  None of them ever seemed to last long.  (My favorite was the hot pot place that actually gave us straight up water as the soup base.)

The place was pretty crowded the night we went, which we took as a good sign.  Either that or everyone was just as curious as we were.

We started with a large clam ginger soup ($8.95):


















It was the first dish to arrive and it arrived flat out cold.  We were stunned.  And confused.  We honestly discussed whether the soup might have been meant to be served cold.  When we checked with a waitress, she told us that definitely was not the case and whisked the bowl away.  It came back a bit later...lukewarm.

A quintessential Taiwanese dish is anything three cup style.  Chi offered a couple different three cup options.  We gravitated toward the three cup intestine in a clay pot ($9.95):


















This photo is a bit misleading.  The pot looks big, but in reality, it was tiny as hell.  And shallow.  Tiny pot aside, the intestine itself wasn't bad, though a bit salty.  I enjoyed picking out the whole pieces of garlic.

For Ahyi, who loves veggies, we got the stir fried A choy ($7.95):


















Yelp reviews indicated that moon shape shrimp cake ($9.95) was really good:


















Which is was.  Fluffy and savory.

The fried stinky tofu ($4.95) also was also pretty good:


















Our biggest complaint was the portion size.  Each plate was so small that we felt gypped.  We couldn't understand how they could in good conscience charge what they do for the amount of food they give.  Especially since there are plenty of cheaper and better tasting Chinese restaurants around.

As we left, we joked about hitting up the McDonald's across the parking lot.  We laughed because we all knew we were half-serious.

I give Chi six months before it goes the way of its predecessors.  I'm starting to think that location must really be cursed.


Chi
42 Dixon Rd
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 956-9051

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Monterey: Phil's Fish Market

I'd heard about Phil's Fish Market and its cioppino many, many times.  But there was never any excuse to head down to the Monterey area.  Until last month, when we took advantage of a long weekend to do a little family trip, first to Pinnacles National Park and then to Phil's:


















We'd been warned about the long lines, so we weren't surprised when we arrived.  We were, however, extremely surprised to be able to snag a spot in Phil's tiny parking lot.

We were definitely all cackling as we got out of our car.

The line continues inside, past the bar, and past where you can buy cioppino to go by the bucket:


















Plenty of time to look through the menu and decide what you want.

After you place your order at the counter, find a table (either inside or outside), then wait for your food to be brought to you.  While you're waiting, grab some free bread and butter:


















Entrees come with a salad:


















And garlic bread:























As an appetizer, we decided to try one of Phil's many artichoke dishes.  We asked the lady who took our order what her favorite was.  She said boiled.

Well.

That awkward moment when you ask for someone's recommendation and they say the one thing that doesn't appeal to you at all and then you have you pretend to consider it before picking something else.

We ultimately went with fire roasted, which came with an aioli sauce ($8.95):


















As I've mentioned multiple times before, my mother is a bit of a noodle/pasta fanatic.  In deference to her, we ordered linguine and clams ($19.95):


















I think my sister basically drank the white wine sauce like soup.  Lots and lots of clam inside.

And of course, we couldn't leave without getting the cioppino.  Here it is for two ($48.95):


















Definitely not cheap, but it came heaping with all sorts of seafood from mussels to fish to scallops to crab.  Enough to go around the entire table and still have some leftover to take home.

We figured we should go all out since who knew when we would be back again, so we also ordered the three item fryer ($17.95).  We chose shrimp, squid, and halibut (which was an additional $2):


















The squid was not quite what we expected, but we rolled with it, though the breading kind of overpowered the squid itself.  The shrimp were huge, which we appreciated.  And the halibut was nice and juicy.  Gotta love the fries too.

All in all, Phil's a great place to stop when you're in the Monterey area.  I probably won't make the trip down just to eat at Phil's, but it's nice to have a go-to seafood joint when you're there.  The seafood is solid and the portions are big, but the price tag is a bit hefty (as expected of a seafood restaurant), so prepare yourself for that.

Now I can check Phil's Fish Market off of my list.  Woot woot!


Phil's Fish Market
7600 Sandholdt Rd
Moss Landing, CA 95039
(831) 633-2152
http://philsfishmarket.com/

Sunday, March 29, 2015

San Francisco: Cool Tea Bar

Back in February, I dragged my family to yet another of my work events in San Francisco.  After a day of helping people with their naturalization applications, we took advantage of being in Chinatown by first getting egg tarts at Golden Gate Bakery (which was actually open for once) and then pearl tea at Cool Tea Bar:


















Cool Tea Bar is more than just drinks.  You can sit inside the restaurant and actually order food.  Or if you're doing a hit and run like we did, just order at the window and peace out once your drinks are done.

My sister got the jasmine milk tea while I went the roasted milk tea route ($3.50 each, plus $0.50 per topping).  We both wanted pearls, but were told that they'd run out.  We decided to be adventurous and try their cool balls:























So.  Weird.  Imagine popping a tiny liquid-filled plastic ball and then having to deal with the leftover casing.  Which has the texture of milk skin.

Ugh.

The milk tea itself was very good, but I just couldn't get over those damn cool balls.

Both my parents wanted something hot, so we got them the hot taro milk tea ($5.50):























Quite steep for a simple drink, yes, but man, that was the most legit taro milk tea I've ever had.  So legit that the girl who took our order felt obliged to warn us that the tea is made with real taro and thus to expect it to be on the chunky side.  And indeed it was super thick and super delicious.  I'm not a huge taro person, but even I can admit that shit was amazing.

If you're looking for fake fragrant watery stuff, go elsewhere.  But if you know what's up, then head on over to Cool Tea Bar.  Immediately.


Cool Tea Bar
728 Pacific Ave #118
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 781-8312
http://coolteabar.com/

Friday, March 27, 2015

Oakland: À Côté

I finally made it into 2015!  I mean, my blog finally did.

You know what I mean.

Back in January, I met up with SY and VT for Restaurant Week at À Côté after work one night:


















Finding parking in the area was horrendous.  It took SY and I longer to find a spot than it did to drive there.  Argh.

When we arrived, VT was already there waiting for us.  She'd scored a cozy little booth in the back of the restaurant.  The place was swanky aka it was dark with lots of mood lighting:


















À Côté's Restaurant Week menu allowed you to choose between two appetizers, two mains, and two desserts for $30.  SY, VT, and I all have similar tastes because we chose all the same dishes except I went for a different dessert.

I apologize for the poor quality of my photos.  I gathered as many faux candles as I could, but it didn't really help and the last thing I wanted to do was bother other patrons with my obnoxious flash.

For the appetizer, we all elected the parsnip leek soup with chive oil over the romaine and radicchio salad:


















The parsnip made the soup slightly sweet and the creaminess was lovely.  Too bad the bowl was basically a plate.  Way too shallow.

For our main, we turned up our noses at the kabocha squash gnocchi and instead went with the seared scallops with beet risotto, golden beets, and tangerine buerre blanc:























While everything tasted great individually, I honestly just wanted a bit of salt to sprinkle on top.  All the components on the plate were slightly sweet from the beet risotto to the golden beets to even the scallops.  Sweet parsnip soup, sweet scallops...then dessert...what happened to savory meals?

For dessert, both SY and VT chose the coupe À Côté, which was a pecan praline and caramel brownie with bittersweet chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, and caramel cream.  I, on the other hand, went with the ganache glazed caramel pots de creme made with salted caramel and paired with a pecan lace cookie:























Go decadent or go home, right?:


















The chocolate ganache was uber rich, as was the salted caramel creme.  Each spoonful felt like a sin, but in the best way possible.  The caramel was slightly bitter, which helped the cut down the overall sweetness.  It was my favorite of the night.

I know you're not supposed to judge a restaurant by its Restaurant Week menu.  But I can't help it.  I'm judgmental like that.

À Côté?  It was aight.  The food was good, but nothing to write home about.  Or write in a blog about.  I left feeling like I could still eat more.

Like 20 piece chicken mcnuggets and a large fry.


À Côté
5478 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618
(510) 655-6469
http://acoterestaurant.com/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Seattle: Pie

So the plan after brunch at Serious Pie & Biscuit was to do a bit of sightseeing, maybe get a flight of beer, have dinner with our hosts, and then bye bye Seattle early Sunday morning.

We were leaving Gas Works Park on our way to the Fremont Troll when my father suddenly suggested that we skip dinner and just leave for home that afternoon.  There was a bit of balking from the rest of us.  We had already made plans with our hosts.  (My father replied that they would actually be glad to get us out of their hair and enjoy their Christmas holiday as a family.)  This would mean driving through the night.  (My father said he didn't mind doing it.)

Ultimately, he won us over.  Driving home Saturday meant that we would have all of Sunday to recover from our trip.

After a phone call to our hosts letting them know of the change in plans and a very brief stop at the Fremont Troll (where we didn't care nearly enough to wait for a turn to take a picture posing on the sculpture), we made another pit stop just a few blocks down at Pie:


















We figured it would be shady as hell to stop back at our hosts' house to pick up our luggage and sneak out while they were out without leaving behind a token of our appreciation.

Pie, very aptly named, offers, well, pie.  The first thing you see upon entering the tiny shop is the display case filled with all sorts of goodies:


















There are savory pies and sweet pies.  The menu changes daily.  All come in mini pie form.

We got our hosts a box of four sweet pies:


















Clockwise from the upper left: caramel apple, banana cream, berry awesome, and cranberry key lime.

The fruit pies cost $4.75 each, while the cream pies were $4.95.  Pie also offers mini-mini fruit pies for $1.50.  The mini-mini pies are so small that they're basically a bite each.

We ordered a separate box with just the berry awesome pie and the cranberry key lime pie to tide us over on our road trip back to California.  The berry awesome was tangy and very berrylicious.  My favorite, however, was the cranberry key lime pie.  I'm a sucker for key lime pie.  The addition of cranberry didn't throw me off at all.

Pie was cute, but the pies themselves were just alright.  I wouldn't go out of my way to get them.  (Whereas I would definitely go out of my way to get to the Pie Hole in LA.)

We left the box of pies in our hosts' fridge along with a thank you note.  Then, we packed up our stuff and off we went.

The weather was pretty heinous on our way through Oregon.  The rain was coming down so heavily that it was difficult to see the road.  We left Seattle around 3:30pm and got home around 4:00am.  So ended our family Christmas Seattle trip.  It ended just as abruptly as the idea to go came to my father.

Speaking of my father, props to him for driving like a beast!

...And for buying the selfie stick that provided us with so much entertainment throughout our trip.


Pie
3515 Fremont Ave N, Ste B
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 436-8590
http://www.sweetandsavorypie.com/

Friday, March 20, 2015

Seattle: Serious Pie & Biscuit

My family was very obliging and let me pick all the places to eat at in Seattle.  For breakfast our second morning there, we went to Serious Pie & Biscuit, another Tom Douglas restaurant:


















We lucked out and found a parking spot just down the block.

Serious Pie & Biscuit is known for two things: pizza and biscuit.  Both are offered in the restaurant, just at different times.  Biscuits are available in the AM and early afternoon hours, while pizza starts at 11:00pm and goes til closing.  We were there early for the biscuits.

My first impression of Serious Pie & Biscuit was that I could easily imagine it in Chicago.  It just had that laid back, communal, hipster feel.

We lucked out in that we got to sit in the upper level:


















The reason being this view:


















I love having a view of the kitchen.  It feels like getting a sneak peek behind the scenes and I'm all about that behind the scene stuff.

We ordered four biscuits.  We got the daily special, which included some kind of fish hash:


















I honestly don't remember anymore.  I just remember that after all four of us had a turn at the dish, my sister exclaimed that she never got any fish.  Heh.  I just rhymed.

We also got the ham, egg, cheddar, and apple mustard biscuit sandwich ($10) because my mother is a ham fanatic:


















Slightly sweet, the mustard was the best part of the sandwich.

The fried chicken with tabasco black pepper gravy ($10) is apparently Serious Pie & Biscuit's most popular biscuit sandwich:


















We could have chosen to add bacon and a fried egg for an additional $3, but we didn't really feel like it.

Besides biscuit sandwiches, Serious Pie & Biscuit also offers wood-fired skillet baked eggs.  We got the local cascade mushrooms with roasted garlic and pesto ($10):


















Hands down, the best thing we had that morning.  The biscuits were a bit on the dry side, so having the baked eggs to dip them in was a blessing.

Second favorite?  You can probably guess it.  The fried chicken with gravy.  Same reasoning apply.

Friendly staff, relaxing atmosphere, affordable prices, awesome view of the kitchen...we quite enjoyed our time at Serious Pie & Biscuit.  The food was good, though not exactly mind-blowing.

My father's one complaint was the poor ventilation inside.  I wasn't bothered by it, but my father has always been ultra sensitive to air flow.  The rest of us just kind of roll our eyes and let him lecture on...and on about the importance of ventilation.


Serious Pie & Biscuit
401 Westlake Ave North
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 436-0050
http://www.seriouspieseattle.com/westlake
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