Saturday, December 29, 2012

South Bay: St. John's Bar and Grill

TT also wanted to take me out for my birthday back in September.  I don't think St. John's Bar and Grill was exactly what she had in mind, but that's what I wanted:

Sometimes all you want is just a nice, juicy burger.

St. John's certainly looked promising.  The place was completely filled and it was completely by luck that we managed to score a table:

No servers to take your order or bring you to a table here.  Instead, you find your own table and go up to the counter to place your order and pick up your food.  No nonsense.  Just the way I like it.

Fortuitously, we managed to go on the perfect day.  All burgers are half off on Saturdays.  Woot!

Here's our guaco bacon burger for $4.48:

It came with chips, guacamole, and 2 slices of bacon.  The burger patty was a bit overcooked for my tastes:

Since we decided to share a burger, we felt that justified going a bit crazy with the fries.

We ordered the garlic fries ($4.75):

And the bacon and cheese fries ($5.50):

The fries could have been so good...but they just weren't.  Maybe we ordered too much and ate too slowly, but the fries quickly cooled and so did our desire to eat them.  Solidified cheese just really isn't my thing.

Not the best burger in town and probably not worth $8, but at half off on Wednesday nights and all day Saturdays, I could be tempted to go back.  I'll probably stick to regular fries next time though.

St. John's Bar and Grill
510 Lawrence Expy Ste 110
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
(408) 738-8515

Sunday, December 23, 2012

South Bay: Los Cubanos

To celebrate my birthday, VT treated me to dinner at Los Cubanos in downtown San Jose:

I have to admit...while I've lived in San Jose for most of my life, I know next to nothing about downtown San Jo.  The only time I go is when I visit my grandparents or when I have a craving for La Vics.  If you want to know what else is downtown, I'm the last person you should ask.  I simply have no clue.  It was nice to check out a new restaurant and learn something about my own city.

The evening started out pretty warm, so we let the hostess seat us outside.  We later regretted that decision. But by then it was too late.  The food was already on the table.

First was the fried pork appetizer:

It came with 2 sauces, one garlic-y and one tomato-y:

The fried pork chunks were a bit dry for me.  I like my meat tender and yummy.

We each got a bowl of soup to go with out entrees:

I loved the soup.  It was warm and comforting and just delicious.

Our entrees also came with rice and plantains:

The best dish of the night was rabo encendido or oxtail in a red wine and tomato sauce:

The carne con papas or beef and potato stew was good, but not as amazing as the oxtail:

Though it was cold outside, the warm food and even warmer company made it bearable.

Thank you, VT, for a fabulous birthday dinner!  Sorry it took so long to post about it.  This one is dedicated to you.

Los Cubanos
22 N Almaden Ave
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 279-0134

Thursday, December 20, 2012

San Francisco: Creme Brulee Cart

CK's last day in San Francisco started with breakfast at San Tung Restaurant and then a trek out to the tiled steps on 16th Avenue.

After that came Castro.  CK got the best welcome to Castro a tourist could ask for: naked men.  Multiple naked men.  One walked right between us as we were talking.  CK wanted to take a picture with one of them, but I wanted to be nowhere near those dangly bits.

Instead, TT and I went to check out the Creme Brulee Cart, which just happened to be parked in the area:

So many flavors to choose from:

We went with the cafe mocha in the end:

Very creamy and rich, but worth 4 bucks?  I don't know about that.

The rest of the day kinda went like this...waited in line and then pigged out at Tartine, waited in a ridiculously long line and then pigged out at Bi-Rite, and finally waited in line and pigged out at Mission Pie.  It was a dessert kind of day.  (Though we did get a slice of savory pie at Mission Pie.)  For the sake of catching up on my posts, I won't blog about those places since I've already covered them in the past.  Everything was delicious.  You'll just have to take my word for it.

So we went a little crazy with the sweets, but what's important is that CK had a fabulous time in SF.  Or at least I think she did.  Since she didn't say anything to the contrary, I'm going to go ahead and assume that she had fun.  I certainly did.

It's great that TT now lives in SF.  There's nothing better than having someone to crash with and to act as a food tour guide in the city one weekend per month.  San Francisco fun fat weekends have now become a regular thing and I love it.

(Though my wallet and expanding waistline may say otherwise.)

Creme Brulee Cart

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

San Francisco: My Canh

At midnight on a Saturday, most people are either in bed or ripping up the dance floor.  CK, TT, and I?  We're debating whether to get some crab noodle soup.

Not than any of us were putting up much of a resistance.  Which is how we found ourselves parked in front of My Canh:

According to TT, My Canh is a favorite post-bar/club hang out, which was evident from the packed tables:

My Canh is known for its banh canh cua or crab noodle soup:

We wimped out and only ordered one bowl for the 3 of us.  I'm surprised our server didn't kick us out.

The thick, goopy, yellow soup was definitely not what I was expecting, but I can totally see how this stuff can be popular with the late night crowd.

The noodles were pearly white and super Q:

There's actually crab in the soup!  Not a lot, mind you.  But it's there for those who like to crunch through crab shell.

Whether at 1:00 in the afternoon or at 1:00 in the morning, My Canh is a great place for the sober and the drunk alike.  Just make sure you bring cash.

My Canh
626 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 397-8888

Monday, December 17, 2012

Berkeley: Ici

We spent most of the afternoon just sitting on Memorial Glade and people watching.  More like dog watching, actually.  When we finally deigned to move ourselves, we meandered down to Ici for some ice cream.  (TT seriously wants to try every ice cream place in the Bay.)

There was already a long line outside:

Ici had an efficient system in place.  The flavors of the day were posted outside and menus were also passed down the line:

Staff members came out to take taste requests and to bring spoonfuls of ice cream to people outside.  That way, when you finally make it inside, you know exactly what you want:

Hopefully.  There are so many amazing flavors that it's really difficult to choose.

Between the 4 of us, we managed to get 2 scoops of the earl grey and 1 of each the cinnamon walnut, the crunchy peanut butter, and the strawberry lemon sherbet:

Don't ask what my favorite was.  They were all fantastic.  We kept passing the cones around until every last bite was gone. 

I love Berkeley.

2948 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 665-6054

Berkeley: Cheese Board

We could've ended the day with Tomales Bay, but that would've been dumb.  Instead, we took a detour to Berkeley, where we braved the line at Cheese Board to give CK a taste of "Californian pizza" (whatever that is):

Live music, the smell of baking pizza, the happy energy of pizza fans...basically, everything that's awesome about Berkeley in one room:

 Cheese Board has a different pizza every day of the week, excepts Sundays and Mondays when it's closed.  You can choose to order one slice for $2.50 or a whole pie for $20:

I don't remember what the pizza of the day was, but I do remember it being gooooood.  I couldn't even be bothered by the fact that Cheese Board is vegetarian.  Or that the ingredients were organic and local.

The Cheese Board signature is the little extra sliver of pizza they toss in for free.  You get the same tiny sliver regardless of whether you order the slice or the whole pie.  It just tickles all my Chinese senses to think that I'm getting something additional for free.  I love it.

We couldn't find a table so we copied other people and had a pizza picnic on the median, where there was an obvious sign posted prohibiting people from sitting there.  That's another thing that's awesome about Berkeley...people don't give a sh*t.

Cheese Board
1512 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 549-3183

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Marin County: Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Bright and early in the morning, TT, CK, AF, and I piled into CL's car and made our windy way to Tomales Bay Oyster Company:

Thank goodness we arrived when we did because soon after we claimed a picnic table, the others quickly filled up:

There is no table reservation fee (unless you need more than one table), but when they say first come first served, they mean it.  So get there early!

AF and I were responsible for bringing back the shellfish.  We trudged down to the shack by the water and stared up at the whiteboard:

You give your order at the counter and someone counts out the shellfish for you:

You can also rent a shucker for a $10 deposit.  Don't worry.  You get your money back when you return it.

We started with a bag of 50 large oysters and 2 lbs of manila clams:

We almost died carrying that bag of oysters back to our table.

We quickly realized that the large oysters were too...large for us.  CL and AF took the bag back and exchanged it for its price equivalent in small and medium oysters:

None of us had any idea how to shuck an oyster.  It took us quite a few practice runs to get a handle on it.  CK was so enthusiastic that she managed to shank herself with the shucker.  CK finally gave up on using the shucker for the clams and resorted to smashing the clams against the table.  Hey, as long as it gets the job done.  After that, all of us adopted CK's sea otter method.

None of us had any idea how to grill either, but we somehow made it work:

Some shellfish we saved for the grill, the rest we ate raw.

We brought our own corn, bread, fruit, spinach dip, soda, and brownies.  We also remembered to bring a bag of coal, a lighter, aluminum foil, tongs, and lots and lots of paper towels.  I'm pretty proud of us for being so prepared.

Of course, our table seemed positively primitive next to some of our neighbors.  I spotted burgers, beer in ice chests, and even a rice cooker.

Oh, Asians.

A lot of work, but definitely worth it.  We had so much fun laughing at our incompetence with the shucker, toasting each other with fresh oysters, and bashing clams like sea otters.  Best girl day ever.

Remember, when in doubt...SEA OTTER IT!

Tomales Bay Oyster Company
15479 Highway 1
Marshall, CA 94940
(415) 663-1242

San Francisco: Purple Kow

After Shanghai Dumpling King, we waddled over a few blocks to Purple Kow.  There was a line already out the door:

Looks like Purple Kow is the place for Asian teenagers to hang out in the Outer Richmond.  I felt really, really old waiting around inside:

The guy behind the cashier was super friendly...almost too friendly.  I have a peculiar fear of chipper people, so ignore me.  He's nice.

We ordered a mango green tea with pearls:

Which was DISGUSTING.  For the sake of full disclosure, I must confess that I have a no-at-all-secret dislike of green tea.  However, even TT, CK, and AF agreed that this mango green tea was just weird.  It was kind of pulpy and kind of bitter and just all around nasty.

The regular milk tea with pearls was much better:

The milk tea at Purple Kow is much more tea-y than say Quickly or TapEx.  So for those of you who like that (CK being a prime example), Purple Kow is for you.  As for myself, I enjoy my milky sweetened tea, so I enjoyed the Purple Kow's fat cup more than the drink itself.

A few weeks later, TT and I went back to Purple Kow with VT, AF, and Carmen.  This time I got a lychee black tea and TT got a Thai tea:

Much better.  The lychee black tea was a bit sweet, but the little lychee bits floating inside were a great touch.  The Thai tea was just solid Thai tea.  No complaints there.

Not the cheapest pearl tea joint in town, but it's definitely worth a long as you avoid the mango green tea.

Purple Kow
3620 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 387-9009

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

San Francisco: Shanghai Dumpling King

After one failed attempt at a San Francisco weekend, we tried again once CK was fully recovered.  We started early in the morning at Mama's On Washington with my parents.  Then came the usual touristy things (Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge, etc).  At the end of the day, my parents dropped us off at TT's house in the Outer Richmond.

We decided not to venture too far for dinner.  A quick call to AF and dinner at Shanghai Dumpling King was on:

We really only wanted soup dumplings, but our server talked us into ordering stir fried Shanghai noodles too:

Don't make the same mistake we did.  The noodles were bland and utterly uninteresting.  Avoid at all cost.

The spicy wontons, on the other hand, were fantastic:

They weren't spicy though.  Instead, they were slightly peanut-y, which threw me for a loop.  But I enjoyed them.

You can't go to Shanghai Dumpling King without getting xiao long bao or steamed dumplings:

Definitely good stuff.

The other hit of the night were the pan fried buns:

I'm just a sucker for things that are pan fried.

On top of all that, we also ordered a green onion pancake:

Which looked like no green onion pancake I'd ever seen.

AF and TT got to witness firsthand how frightening eating out with CK is.  She just keeps ordering and ordering.  We were already struggling to finish the food on our table when a server came by with a tray of freshly fried sugar egg puffs.  Before the rest of us could even open our mouths, CK had already requested a plate:

I really didn't like the sugar egg puffs.  Which is weird because I love all things fried.  But these egg puffs just tasted like...oil.  And that's gross.

Completely stuffed, we waddled our way out of the restaurant.  Shanghai Dumpling King makes the Outer Richmond worth a visit.

Shanghai Dumpling King
3319 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 387-2088

Monday, December 10, 2012

South Bay: Little Shen Yang

After returning to the States from our bar trip, CK was bedridden for almost a week.  She finally figured out that she was going through withdrawals from her motion sickness patch, which she basically had on during the entire duration of our trip.

When CK was finally able to stomach something besides soup, we took her to Little Shen Yang for some Chinese.  

I let my parents handle the ordering, as I usually do when we hit up a Chinese restaurant.

We tried to avoid too intensely flavorful dishes for the sake of CK's still weak stomach.  Instead, we went the lighter route with fish filet and wood ear mushrooms:

Lamb with pickled cabbage soup:

My mom wanted the string beans for herself:

Though CK had some too.

Instead of white rice, we ordered a chicken rice with black beans, which came steamed in lotus leaves:

The fun part is unwrapping the rice like a Christmas present:

As if that wasn't enough, my mom wanted cold noodles:

Way too much food for the 4 of us, especially with one still kinda hovering on the brink of death.  That's what happens when my friends come to visit.  My parents suddenly want to order everything.

Which means that every time a friend comes to visit, I get fat.


Little Shen Yang
El Mercado Shopping Center
1749 Decoto Rd
Union City, CA 94587
(510) 489-7288
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