Monday, November 23, 2015

Oakland: Parlour

For SY's birthday, VT and I took her to Parlour for dinner after work.  I got there before the girls.  It was a bit awkward waiting outside with the entire restaurant wide open like this:

Once you're seated inside, however, the openess of the place was nice:

We started with the wood over levain bread ($5):

The people of Yelp made a big deal about the bread and the "house-cultured" butter.  It was definitely good, don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure what all the fuss was about.  I won't be having any cravings for Parlour's bread any time soon...or ever, really.

The king salmon belly with black truffle, seaweed, and lemon ($15), on the other hand, was amazing:

Love the brightness of the lemon and the freshness of the salmon.  I wanted to hog the whole thing to myself.

The squid ink spaghettini ($18) was interesting:

The crunchy bread crumb bits added a nice texture contrast.  I was uber excited about the sea urchin butter (not so much the cherry tomatoes), but couldn't really taste it.

I can't stand goat cheese, but for SY's birthday, I endured the frog hollow peaches pizza ($18):

It came topped with prosciutto, goat cheese (blech), basil, and peaches.  Gotta say, the sweet/savory thing going on was good.  Still hated the goat cheese though.

Can't have birthday dinner without dessert.  The chocolate creameux bar ($8) was divine:

The chocolate was super creamy and rich and went beautifully with the sea salt and orange curd.

The atmostphere at Parlour is chill and relaxed (and very hipster).  The food is great.  But is it worth the cost?  I'm not so sure about that.  Then again, that might just be my cheap Chinese side talking.

Had an awesome time catching up with my Chicago girls though.  And that makes everything worth it.

357 19th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 451-1357

Sunday, November 22, 2015

South Bay: Poki Bowl

After a moderate hike at Almaden Quicksilver County Park one weekend, my sister introduced me to Poki Bowl:

Poki Bowl is designed exactly like Pokinometry in SoCal.  Similar to a Chipotle, but with poke, you move down the counter, watching staff add whatever you want in your bowl assembly line style:

Step 1 - Choose what bowl size you want.  A regular is $9.50 and a large is $10.95.

Step 1.5 - Choose what you want as your base.  Your options include sushi rice, brown rice, and green salad.

Step 2 - Choose what poke you want.  A regular lets you have three scoops, while a large lets you have four.  You can choose from spicy tuna, salmon, octopus, shrimp, tuna, and yellow tail:

Step 3 - Pick what kind of sauce you want.  There's not spicy, mild, and spicy.

Step 4 - Pick your toppings.  If you go for some of everything, you'll get avocado, crab meat, green onions, masago eggs, seaweed mix, sesame seeds, wasabi, and ginger.

I decided on a large bowl of half sushi rice and half salad:

There's only a couple tables outside, so if you can't table a spot, you may have to take your poke to go or eat in your car.

What's great about Poki Bowl is that it's fresh and light, yet filling at the same time.  Perfect for a post-hike meal.  Makes you feel like you didn't sweat for nothing.

After trying Pokinometry in SoCal, we'd been bemoaning the lack of poke places in the Bay Area.  Looks like that's no longer true.  With Poki Bowl in South San Jose and Poki House scheduled to open sometime soon in North San Jose (right by my house as a matter of fact), I have all the poke I need.


Poki Bowl
4750 Almaden Expy
San Jose, CA 95118
(530) 430-7654

Saturday, November 21, 2015

South Bay: Dan Izakaya Restaurant

Dan Izakaya has always been on my radar, but I never had a reason to head to that part of San Jose until on Saturday in August.  Lots of other people seemed to also be in the area because there were quite a few people waiting to get into the small restaurant for lunch:

The wait was actually good, because it gave my Ahyi time to arrive.

When our name was called, we were led to the back of the restaurant where we seated at a tatami table.  Score!

All of the lunch entrees came with salad and miso soup:

My ahyi ordered the sashimi salad lunch set ($13.75):

She graciously let me have the rice ball that came with it:

You get to choose the filling and I went with spicy cod roe.  The disappointment was real when the rice ball came.  I was expecting a yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) and not a regular one, which is nowhere as exciting.  I need to learn to ask more questions before ordering.  Sigh.

I was, however, very satisfied with my uni ikura don ($17.50):

You just can't go wrong with fresh uni and salmon roe over rice with a soft boiled egg.  So creamy.  So smooth.  So simple, yet so FREAKIN DELICIOUS.

My mother got the oyako don ($9.95):

"Oyako" is Japanese for "parent and child", which is why the oyako don is made with chicken and egg.

My father always gets chiashi ($17) when it's an option:

From our table, we could look into the kitchen where we saw multiple staff members wearing aprons that had "Tanto" printed on them.  This made us wonder whether Dan is related to Tanto, which is my favorite Japanese restaurant.  A little bit of Internet research revealed that Dan used to be called Tanto San Jose and that there seems to be no affiliation between the two.

Dan was good, but it wasn't able to topple Tanto from my favorite Japanese restaurant spot.  Sorry, Dan.  But I'm open to giving Dan another chance, this time at dinnertime.  I have the impression that Dan has more to offer.

Next time around, I'll definitely make sure to get the yaki onigiri.

Dan Izakaya Restaurant
1306 Saratoga Ave
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 249-6020

Sunday, November 15, 2015

San Francisco: King of Noodles

When we officially moved my sister into her place in San Francisco, we didn't have to look far for a place to have dinner.  King of Noodles was located oh-so-conveniently just down the street:

The restaurant was small and filled with just enough Chinese people for us to feel comfortable walking in:

There was five of us in all, since CK was in the Bay for an extended two month business trip at the time and we basically adopted her into the family.  Even so, there was no excuse for the amount of food my parents ordered.


It started innocently enough with some black "fungers" (gotta love Chinese menus) and cucumber:

And some cold wide noodle:

Basically the Chinese equivalent of salad.  Very refreshing without being salads tend to be.

Then, things started to go a bit sideways.  We ordered the lamb noodle soup ($8.95):

Whenever she sees da lu mien on a menu (or posted on a wall as it was in this case), she's compelled to order it:

I still don't understand what it is exactly (besides being some kind of noodle soup), but I've never found it to be particularly memorable.  My mom has been chasing some elusive childhood memory with this dish and has been disappointed time and time again.  The da lu mien at King of Noodles wasn't exactly what my mom remembered, but she says it's one of the best ones she's had in the States.

We also ordered pork and chive dumplings (12 for $6.45):

And soup dumplings (6 for $4.95):

Gotta have veggies, right? Hence the string beans ($7.95):

As if that wasn't enough, we later added the shredded pancake with pork ($7.95):

But it gets worse.  We also ordered radish cakes (2 for $3.25):

Flaky crust with shredded radish inside:

Green onion pancake ($4.95):

And (this one's on me) fried bean paste cake ($4.95):

Red bean paste, to be exact:

Can anyone say carb overload?

But King of Noodles does it so well.  The noodles are made in-house as are all the other dough offerings.  The noodles, the dumpling skins, the pancakes, all had the perfect texture.  CK was especially a fan of the radish cake.  Even though she was stuffed, she couldn't stop from eating one all by herself.

We loved King of Noodles so much that we went back again when we went to visit my sister later on.  Apparently we'd left an impression on the staff because they saw us and exclaimed, "Oh!  The people who came and ordered a lot!"

Well.  We tried to control ourselves the second time around.

I strongly recommend King of Noodles.  The food is good and affordable.  (Get the black fungus and cucumbers.  It's my favorite.)  The staff is friendly.  (We cracked jokes with them the entire time.)  It's the perfect neighborhood joint...and the real reason why we visit my sister in the city.

King of Noodles
1639 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 566-8318

Saturday, November 14, 2015

SF Peninsula: New England Lobster Market & Eatery

From Pacifica, we headed directly to New England Lobster Market & Eatery:

We used the time driving there and looking for parking to digest all the barbecue we ingested just half an hour earlier.

Built kind of like a warehouse, you place your order at the counter then wait for your order at one of the picnic tables:

While you're waiting, you can watch a live feed of...lobsters in their cages?  None escaped while we were there, so we didn't get to see anything exciting.  Too bad.

I'm not usually one to get drinks at restaurants (I blame that on my cheap Chinese upbringing), but I make an exception once in a while when I see something on a menu that sounds really interesting.  Like blueberry lemonade ($3):

Of course it came in a mason jar.  Why am I not surprised?  What did surprise me was the fact that I didn't really like it.  It tasted a little salted plum-y to me.  Meh.

My friends and I aren't as young as we used to be.  Having two lunches back to back gets harder and harder the older we are.  In deference to our diminished capcity for gluttony, the four of us split just a soup and a lobster roll.

The lobster corn chowder ($10 for a bowl) came with a thick slice of grilled bread:

At New England Lobster Market & Eatery, you can get your lobster roll dressed (with mayo) or naked.  Or if you're feeling fancy, you can go for the "seasonal" ($22.50), which comes topped with avocado and bacon:

All lobster rolls come with coleslaw and chips.

The bread is thick and soft and buttery, which is lovely.  But that doesn't quite excuse the sad amount of lobster in the roll:

Between the lobster roll and the chowder, we unanimously agreed that the chowder was better.  The roll was good, but nothing to get excited about.  Especially if it costs over 20 bucks for a sandwich.  The chowder on the other hand, was thick and corn-y and delicious.  I would definitely go back just for that.

New England Lobster Market & Eatery
824 Cowan Rd
Burlingame, CA 94080
(650) 443-1559

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SF Peninsula: Gorilla Barbeque

Before my sister officially started school, we tried to squeeze in as much fun as we could.  That included going to Pacifica for an early morning hike with the girls one Sunday morning.  I hauled my lazy butt up some freakin' steep inclines, reached what may or may not have been the peak, and then skidded my way back down all for the promise of Taco Bell on the beach.

But once we got to what my sister called the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world, we discovered...that we just weren't in the mood for Taco Bell.

A bit of Yelping led us to this rail-car-turned-BBQ-heaven:

Gorilla Barbeque is literally a rail car.  There's just enough space inside for a kitchen and a counter:

Food only comes one way: to go.  If you want to eat on the premises, cross your fingers and hope that one of the picnic tables open up.

We got lucky.  I can't imagine having to eat all the food we ordered in my sister's tiny Prius.  Thank goodness we didn't have to find out.  It would have been a hot mess.

We decided to go with the three meat combo ($22.99):

We got to choose three types of meat.  We went with pulled pork, beef brisket, and ribs.  No regrets with our choices.  None at all.  The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender.  The fatty pieces of the brisket were mouthwateringly delicious.  The pulled pork was cooked just right.

And everything tasted infinitely better dunked in Gorilla Barbeque's barbecue sauce:

Smokey, just a little bit of a kick.  We basically drank that stuff.

The combo also came with beans and rice, cornbread, and the choice of two sides:

For our sides, we got mac 'n' cheese and grilled portabella mushrooms glazed with balsamic vinegar.  The sides were good, but I kept going back to the meat.  No surprise there.

All that food was more than enough for the four of us.  We actually struggled a bit to put everything away.

Not that that stopped us from driving straight to Burlingame afterward for round two.  (To be continued in the next post.  Dun dun duuuuun.)

Gorilla Barbeque
2145 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacifica, CA 94044
(650) 359-7427

Sunday, November 8, 2015

San Francisco: Wonderful Dessert & Cafe

My sister started medical school at UCSF in August.  We took advantage of how close she lives to the Chinese part of the Outer Sunset and explored a bit after helping her move (and assemble) some of her furniture into her new digs.

While my parents were more interested in the Chinese grocery stores in the area, I was on the hunt for pearl tea.  My pearl tea senses led me to Wonderful Dessert & Cafe:

Talk about old school.  No cute mascot or trendy decor or fancy drink options here.  Nope.  Just a lot of nostalgia-inducing candy and a counter:

We stuck to the basics because that's what you do when you try out a new pearl tea place.  I got regular milk tea with pearls while my sister got green milk tea with pearls (both $2.75):

Sometimes you just get tired of "gourmet" pearl tea and want it straight without any of the frills.  In times like that, Wonderful Dessert & Cafe is the place to go.  Like a blast from the past, Wonderful Dessert & Cafe serves solid milk tea in plastic cups with hard plastic lids.  You can even get tea eggs!

Of course, Wonderful Dessert & Cafe offers more than just milk tea.  I can't wait to "visit" my sister and swing by for one of their tapioca fruit smoothies.

And maybe a tea egg.

Wonderful Dessert & Cafe
2035 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 731-6889
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