Wednesday, January 18, 2017

South Bay: Dong Que Restaurant

I'm not really one to make New Year's resolutions, but even I knew that I might have overdone it with the eating over the holidays.  To make sure I will be photo-ready by the time of my Iceland trip in late March, I told myself that I would be more careful of how much I ate starting January.

Yea...that didn't last very long.

Over MLK weekend, I went hiking with T and CV to break in the hiking boots we bought for Iceland.  Post-hike chow is a must, so we started talking about what we were going to have for lunch before even arriving at the trailhead parking lot.  CV told us that Dong Que has razor clams and we were immediately sold.  (We may or may not have chanted "razor clam, razor clam" at multiple points during our hike as motivation.)

After the hike, we made our way to Dong Que:

The parking lot was a strange shape, but we certainly weren't going to complain about not having to find street parking.

The interior was much larger than it looked from the outside:

The restaurant had a swanky lounge feel despite all the tables.  Probably because of the red and black color scheme.  And the faux leather chairs.  The walls were outfitted with multiple flat screen TVs playing the Falcons v. Seahawks game.  While other parties cheered for their football team, CV, T, and I focused on our food.

To go with our clams and banh beo, we were given fish sauce and salt with chilies (and limes):

Our seafood feast started with grilled bloody clams with onion ($12.95):

T rhapsodized about the earthiness of the clams, but I couldn't get over the savory oil/clam juice with green onion and peanuts.  So freakin' good.  No additional sauces necessary.

The escargot and water spinach salad ($14.95) was also fantastic:

I was rather apathetic about the chewy texture of the sliced escargot, but the tangy seasoning of the rest of the salad was to die for.

The grilled razor clams with onion ($14.95) were surprisingly my least favorite of the meal:

The texture was great, but they were a bit bland.  Sauce definitely needed.

The banh beo ($4.50) took a while to come:

The best banh beo I've ever had are from Quan Hy.  Don't get me wrong.  Dong Que's banh beo aren't bad...they're just different.  I can't really pinpoint what the difference is, but there is one.  It's been too long since I was last at Quan Hy.  This means a SoCal trip is in order.  For the sake of science of course! 

As if that weren't enough food, we added on the Thai style steamed clams with lemon leaves ($12.95)

That broth tho.  The lemongrass, the kaffir lime...perfection.  I ate a few clams and then just forgot all about them in favor of the broth.  The fun part is drinking the broth with a clam shell.  It satisfies the child in me that used to imagine surviving on a deserted island.

Apparently most of my imagination when I was a kid revolved around food.  That hasn't changed.

Anyway, everything at Dong Que was delicious.  I would go back for the steamed clam broth alone.  So many clams, so little time.

The plan after lunch was to get pearl tea, because, well, that's what you do, right?  Except T cut across a couple lanes of traffic and made an abrupt U-turn when she realized that Peter's Bakery was just down the street and she wanted to see whether it had the same cookies as Dick's Bakery, which was damaged in a fire back in May 2016.  Before I knew what was happening, I had a box with a slice of burnt almond cake in my hand.  CV had a donut.  And T had no cookies.  Poor thing.

On the way back to our car, we ducked into this little dessert shop so that CV could buy a mangonada.

Then it was off to pearl tea.

We don't mess around.

Dong Que
2852 Alum Rock Ave
San Jose, CA 95127
(408) 254-2927

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

South Bay: Slice Poké Bar

Happy New Year, everyone!  I thought I was all caught up at the end of 2016, but I should have known that was too good to be true.  I actually left out a place that I went to back in November.  I was reminded of it when my sister made it a point during her post-surgery drugged up phase to sign up for a Yelp elite event there right when the registration period opened.  (She doesn't remember signing up, but she's quite proud of herself for doing it.)

The Yelp event was hosted at Slice Poké Bar, the second poké joint to open up in my area after Poké House.

Compared to Poké House, which is tiny and has very limited seating, Slice is incredibly spacious:

Similar to Poké House, Slice has its own signature pre-designed bowls, but the fun comes in building your own.  You can decide if you want your poke in a bowl, on a salad, or on chips.  A regular with three scoops of protein is $10, while a large with four scoops is $12.  If you have an aversion to bowls, you can order a wrap ($10) instead.

If you decide on a bowl, you get to pick what you want for your base.  You can go with kale, mixed greens, brown rice (which apparently comes cooked with bacon), or white rice...or a mix of the above.  I usually get mixed greens and white rice.  I tried the brown rice once because of the bacon, but it wasn't all that.  There wasn't nearly enough bacon in it to justify the nutty texture of the brown rice.  Meh.  I'll stick to which rice.

After the base comes the protein:

There's salmon, hamachi, tuna, spicy tuna, tuna mix, scallops, tako, shrimp, and tofu.  Once you have your proteins selected, you get to choose a sauce.  There's traditional, spicy traditional, sweet soy, and citrus soy.  (You're not encouraged to mix them.)

Then comes the veggies:

One thing to note is that the seaweed salad doesn't cost extra like it does at Poké House. 

One final round of toppings (hot Cheetos is an option...what the heck?) and sauces (Slice sauce, sesame aioli, spicy mayo, and wasabi aioli) later and voila!  You have your final bowl:

My mother prefers Slice over Poké House because Slice offers more cooked protein options (she doesn't do sashimi).  My sister prefers Slice because there's more seating. 

Personally, I think they're about the same.  I think Poké House has better sauce options and might be more generous with its protein portions, but I've also heard that they don't give as much as they used to.  The woman who appears to be the owner of Slice has a bit of an attitude, but since interaction with staff is basically limited to pointing out what you want, it doesn't really bother me all that much.

In summary, if I'm looking for convenience, I would go with Poké House since it's walking distance from my house.  But if I'm looking for a place to hang out, I would go with Slice.

There.  That's my two cents.

Slice Poké Bar
1150 Murphy Ave, Ste C
San Jose, CA 95131 
(408) 326-2480

Thursday, December 29, 2016

San Francisco: B. Patisserie

My sister was discharged from the hospital a lot earlier than expected.  As my parents were still stuck in traffic on their way to the city, my sister and I relocated to B. Patisserie to wait:

There was quite a line, but it went quickly:

Waiting in line meant more time to browse...and to add on to your order:

Just when you think you're past the danger zone, there's more to drool over:

There weren't any tables available inside, so we had to sit outside.  It was cold, much like our ham and cheese croissant ($4.50):

I have a feeling it would have been much tastier had it been fresh out of the oven.  Or at least lukewarm.  Alas, it was kind of stale and uninteresting.  The ham and cheese croissant from Arsicault was infinitely better.

The chocolate banana almond croissant, on the other hand, was quite delightful ($4):

I typically tend to avoid almond or banana things, but I figured we should get one because it's supposedly one of B. Patisserie's most popular items.  Definitely the right thing to do.  One bite and I was in the gooey banana-y center.

We originally only ordered a plain kouign amann ($4.25), but it was so delicious that we went back inside and ordered two more, one plain and one chocolate ($4.75) for our parents:

The kouign amann at B. Patisserie is less crackly than the one from Arsicault, but I prefer it that way.  I like how it's not super sweet and how it's pleasantly flaky. 

Arsicault and B. Patisserie get compared a lot.  I've only visited a grand total of once each, but based on my amateur observations, while B Patisserie has much, much more options, Arsicault executes its limited menu extremely well.  For croissants, go to Arsicault, but for kouign amann, B. Patisserie is the way to go.  Both are not cheap.

I am happy to report that my sister is recovering very nicely.  The first couple days after the surgery were tough on her, but now she's back to hitting up buffets and cracking jokes.  All is right in the world.

At least all's right in the world that is my family.  The outside world is one big hot mess. 

Damn you, 2016.

B. Patisserie
2821 California St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 440-1700

Monday, December 26, 2016

San Francisco: Zazang Korean Noodle

The doctors told my sister that she most likely wouldn't have much of an appetite after her surgery.  Of course, she took that as a personal challenge to prove them wrong.  She had to concede and sit out lunch, but after a nap, her stomach was ready to tackle dinner.

My mother and I were the designated food retrievers.  We braved the pouring rain to reach Zazang Korean Noodle: 

The restaurant was pretty quiet, but then again, it was a rainy Thursday night:

We ordered our food to go and brought everything back to my sister's hospital room. My father warned her off the gan poong ki ($15.95) or fried boneless chicken:

But my sister insisted her stomach could handle both the fried chicken and the sweet chili sauce:

We were a bit disappointed to find that the gan poong ki was more batter than chicken.  The sauce, however, was quite good.

Besides the chicken, we also got two orders of jajangmyun or black bean noodles ($8.95).  The noodles were packed separately:

From the giant tub of black bean sauce:

I don't know how much sauce they give when you dine in, but we had enough leftover to take home for round two.  The sauce was a bit on the bland side, but the noodles had great texture.

It's not the best jajangmyun I've ever had, but portions are generous and the price is reasonable.  I would skip the gan poong ki though.  That wasn't worth the 15 bucks at all. 

After dinner, my parents went home, leaving my sister and I to party it up.

...Not really.  Between the 4:00am wake up call and the surgery, we both crashed around 9:00pm.

Zazang Korean Noodle
2340 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94115 
(415) 447-0655

Thursday, December 22, 2016

San Francisco: Cheese Steak Shop

My sister's surgery went very well, but a minor complication meant that she had to stay in the hospital overnight instead of getting in and out the same day as she'd hoped.  Once she was settled into her hospital room, my mother and I went out to forage for a late lunch, leaving my father behind to deal with my heavily drugged and thus hilariously weepy sister.

It was raining really hard, so we stuck close to the hospital.  Because of said rain, I couldn't snap a photo of the exterior of the Cheese Steak Shop until the next morning:

It was a bit grungy on the inside, but that's okay:

Sides are important, so we made sure to get a large order of spiral fries ($2.89):

And a small order of onion rings ($2.99):

The nurse advised my sister to take it easy on her stomach for a while, so the rest of us ate our cheese steak sandwiches with relish in front of her.  (We're evil like that.)

The lighting in the hospital room wasn't so great, so the photos of the sandwiches came out kind of meh.  We got three kinds, but they all looked exactly the same from the top:

We had the classic Philly cheese ($5.49), the mushroom and cheese ($5.69), and the spinach and cheese ($5.69).  All came with grilled onions, sweet peppers (which I chose over hot peppers), and melted white American cheese on Italian rolls.  We ordered three small sandwiches instead of trying to split a larger one because it was cheaper that way...and that's priority number one in my family.

The first bite was a bit dry, but I hit the cheese by the second and that was quite lovely. 

Nothing fancy at the Cheese Steak Shop, but that's the beauty of it.  Don't expect to make any small talk at the cash register, but do expect a filling sandwich with a reasonable price tag.  I wouldn't go out of my way to go back, but if I'm ever at Mount Zion again I know where to get a quick meal nearby.

Cheese Steak Shop
1716 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 346-3712

Monday, December 19, 2016

San Francisco: Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

My sister had surgery this month.  She had to report to the hospital at 6:00am, so I spent the night with her in the city the night before.  We met up at Teeth in the Mission for dinner:

Wednesday nights at Teeth means $0.25 wings with the purchase of two beverages.  Technically, it's two beverages per person, but we got away with ordering two for the two of us by having my sister place our order at the bar and me wait in the outdoor patio:

Neither of us could drink (my sister because of the surgery and me because I'm a wuss), so my sister got us ginger beers.  I have no clue what brand that ginger beer was, but damn was it gingery.  The aftertaste had a particularly spicy kick to it. 

I liked it.  Heh.

We probably also got away with not ordering another two drinks because of the totchos ($11) we added:

Nachos made with tater tots have certainly been done before, but Teeth does them extremely well.  The totchos at Teeth are just LOADED with good stuff.  There's melty, melty cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives, sour cream, and jalapenos...all smothering piping hot, super crunchy tater tots.  And the cheese isn't just any old melted cheese.  No siree.  It has the texture of a béchamel sauce, or as I like to call it, mashed potato cheese.  My favorite.

I was actually already full before I got to Teeth.  My office had its holiday party right at the end of the work day and even though I told myself I would leave space for wings, I exercised zero self control as per usual.  I told my sister that I could handle at most one of each type of wing.  There was buffalo, bbq, sweet chili habanero, and au natural:

The bbq was particularly saucy and tomato-y, while the sweet chili habanero was tangy, but not spicy at all.  Nothing surprising about the buffalo wings or the au natural ones. 

Were they the best wings I've ever had?  No.  But they're not bad.  And more importantly, they're 25 cents each.  25 FREAKIN CENTS.  You can't be too choosy when they're that cheap.

In short, Teeth is awesome.  Especially on Wednesdays.

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
2323 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 285-2380

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

San Francisco: Super Pan

The last naturalization workshop of the year happened to fall on a Saturday during my father's two-week trip to Taiwan.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.  He's missed the last three workshops I had to work at.  My mother, on the other hand, has not missed a single one.  Even my sister came out to help.  (I may or may not have signed her up to volunteer without her knowing.)

Anyway, after the workshop, we drove my sister back to her apartment, stopping for dinner at Super Pan along the way:

I only made it as far as the adjoining E Tea the last time I was there, but this time we made it into Super Pan territory:

I didn't forget about E-Tea though.  The great thing about adjoining joints is that you can cross order.  I was still recovering from my cold, so I got the hot taro milk ($3.95):

There were no pearls in it, but the thick straw was necessary for the large chunks of taro resting at the bottom of the cup.  We wanted my mother, a massive taro fan, to try the fresh taro king (which we ordered the last time I was there), but alas, it was not to be.  Apparently the blender was broken that night.  Boo.

We started with the combination appetizer platter:

It was $9.99 for three items, fried calamari, karaage chicken, and French fries.  It came with ketchup and some kind of tangy chili sauce. 

My sister and I both ordered the cheesy omelette rice with beef ($11.99), which came on a sizzling plate:

You get to choose one type of sauce to pour over your rice.  My sister asked for the white creamy sauce, whereas I selected the tomato sauce.  Both were utterly bland.  We kept going back for the salt and pepper shakers in hopes of adding some kind of flavor.

My mother got the chashu ramen ($9.99):

She wasn't a fan.

At the end of the meal, we all agreed that food at Super Pan is basically just alright.  The portions are generous (I couldn't finish all of my rice) and the prices are reasonable, certainly won't ever cross my mind to go back. 

Lesson learned.  I'll stick to the E Tea side from now on.

Super Pan
5344 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 668-5344
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