Thursday, January 31, 2013

South Bay: Falafel's Drive-In (Revisited)

I know I'm really behind on my posts.  And I know I said that I won't do any "revisited" posts until I'm all caught up.  But I lied.  I have to post about Falafel's Drive-In again.

Because TT, my sister, and I ordered something different and AMAZING.

First, the hummus:

The red sauce, whatever it's made of, is sweet and tomato-y and magical.  I couldn't get enough of it.

Then, the falafel salad:

The salad part's not important.  The falafel, on the other hand, were the best falafel I've ever had.  They're kind of hidden among the greens, but trust me, they're there.  Though kinda misshapen and not exactly pretty, the falafel at Falafel's Drive-In are nothing to scoff at.  They're flavorful and freshly fried and just honest to God yummy.

I actually crave them from time to time.

Falafel's Drive-In
2301 Stevens Creek Blvd
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 294-7886

Oakland: Rico's Diner

Sometimes you just get tired of eating sandwiches for lunch every day.  My coworkers and I took our lunch break one day at Rico's Diner, just one block from our office:

We weren't the only people tired of sandwiches:

You place your order and pay at the counter, then wait for your food to come to your table.

I took the simple route and got the cheeseburger, but splurged on tater tots:

Burgers are beautiful:

So are tater tots.  No.  Tater tots are more than beautiful.  Tater tots are downright sexy.

Don't expect gourmet burgers at Rico's, but do expect to be satisfied.  Though $5.99 is a bit much for a basic cheeseburger, there aren't many options around my office.  Rico's is a good place to go if you're seeking a break from boring old sandwiches.

Rico's Diner
400 15th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 444-8424

Sunday, January 27, 2013

South Bay: San Jose Flea Market

My dad had the brilliant idea to bike from our house to the flea market one day.  It sounded do-able, but my naivete became apparent when we got to the first traffic light and I realized that my thighs were BURNING.

By the time we got to the flea market, I wanted to lie down and never get up again.  I didn't even want to think about the ride home.  

The original goal was to look for a rug to replace the one in our living room. A quick perusal of the rug offerings at a couple of stalls told us that we weren't going to find what we wanted at the flea market.  We then switched our sights toward getting some food, which led us down this row of produce:

I spotted this aguas frescas stand from far, far away:

So many options!  My dad and I finally decided on one cup of horchata and one cup of cantaloupe juice for $3 each:

Definitely not cheap.  But we couldn't be too picky.  The horchata was kind of disappointing, but the cantaloupe juice was exactly what I wanted.

It took us a while to find a place to eat.  The Chuck Wagon looked like it had some foot traffic, so we negligently parked our bikes outside and went in:

When I saw menudo on the menu, I had to order it:

The innards in the menudo were cut up pretty small and it wasn't easy to figure out what was what:

The menudo came with onions, some kind of seasoning, and two tortillas:

And packets of lemon juice, which cracked me up:

Unfortunately, the soup was bland and could barely be saved by the lemon juice packets.  The quest for the perfect menudo continues!

The ride back home wasn't any better than the ride to the flea market.  My butt will never be the same.

If we ever go to the flea market again (before it gets transformed into the San Jose Bart station), we're driving. Or walking.  Anything but biking.  Even aguas frescas aren't worth the pain.

San Jose Flea Market
1590 Berryessa Rd
San Jose, CA 95133
(408) 453-1110

Oakland: TrueBurger

Now that I'm working in Oakland, I should really start to make my way around the restaurants in the area.  It's just that the commute from Oakland to San Jose is such a pain that I hardly ever want to stick around after work.

Luckily, I have SY to keep me from bolting to Bart at 5:00pm every once in a while.  And as one who has lived in Oakland for a while, she makes a great guide as well.

When our plans to meet to Karmen fell through, it was SY who suggested TrueBurger:

A last minute patient kept Karmen from being able to give us a heads up, so by the time we received her text, it was pretty late and we just wanted to eat something quick and easy.

Perhaps these people had the same idea:

After placing our order at the counter, we grabbed a table.

I ordered a simple Trueburger and some cheese fries:

I apologize for the crummy photos.  I'd forgotten my camera at home.  I know, I know.  I'm sorry.

Here's a cross section of the burger:

Every burger comes with lettuce, tomato, and garlic mayo.  What's more interesting is TrueBurger's toasted egg buns.  Not exactly what you'd expect on a burger.  The Trueburger was super juicy and delicious, but also kinda pricey.  $5.15 is not exactly cheap for a basic hamburger.

The cheese fries were my favorite though.  Probably because the cheddar cheese sauce tasted like...mashed potatoes?!  I would go back for the fries alone.

146 Grand Ave
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 208-5678

Monday, January 21, 2013

South Bay: Tanto

One of my, let me start over.  My current favorite Japanese restaurant is Tanto in Sunnyvale:

For a recent discovery, I've been back 3 times already in the last few months.  Since I'm so ridiculously behind in my posts (I'm still in October 2012, uuuuugh...shoot me), I'm going to lump all my Tanto visits into 1 post instead of doing 3 separate ones.

The first time we went to Tanto was to celebrate my ahyi's birthday.  We didn't have reservations, so we arrived right as they opened to avoid possibly having to wait:

I pulled a fast one on my ahyi when I slipped my credit card to the hostess on my way to the bathroom.  Confident in my victory, I was unafraid to order whatever we wanted to eat.  The menu was a little scary to wade through, but our server was kind enough to give us some recommendations.

As I've said before, my mom is a noodle maniac, so it's no surprise that she was interested in trying the yaki udon or stir fried udon:

Kinda meh, but that may be because I was too dazzled by some of the other dishes.

The sashimi salad was recommended by our server:

Love the salad dressing, whatever it was.  Also love how they don't skimp on the sashimi.

Tanto is well known for it yagi onigiri or roasted rice balls:

The rice balls are stuffed with spicy rod roe:

Those are some crack rice balls.  I can't get enough of them.  Every person needs their own.  NO SHARING.  Trust me.

The agedashi tofu was kind of lackluster:

Skip it for more exciting dishes such as the asari butter yaki or stir fried clams with butter:

I would love to bottle that soup and drink it every day.

The beinasu miso cheese yaki or eggplant cooked with cheese and miso was a complete miss:

The concept was appealing, but the actual dish was swimming in oil.  Not cool.

The ebi shinjo or deep fried shrimp balls was recommended by our server, but it wasn't my favorite:

The garlic steak on the other hand, was brilliant:

Just look at that red center.  Yum.

My mom wasn't satisfied with just 1 noodle dish, so we added the fried noodles:

It was good, but I wouldn't order it a second time.  I can get fried noodles at just about any Chinese restaurant, no need to take up precious stomach space with it at Tanto.

To end the meal, we got the yaki banana or baked banana with vanilla ice cream as dessert:

Though the meal was amazing (with a few minor misses), the best part was seeing the shock on my ahyi's face when she realized that I won.  MUAHAHA!!

Ahyi wanted revenge, so the 2 of us went back again.  This time, we sat in a small one-sided booth that reminded me of a confessional.  Not that I've ever been in one, but you know what I mean.

We got the yagi onigiri again (how could we resist?), but for everything else, we wanted to try something new.  Like the ika maruyaki or salt broiled squid:

And the gindara nitsuke or black cod simmered in soy sauce broth:

Wow.  Just wow.

The tako potato or deep fried potato balls filled with octopus were amazing too:

The gyu ishiyaki or beef in a hot stone bowl probably would've been better if we didn't leave it until last:

By the time we got to it, the beef was well done.  Sigh.

We finished off with the hiyashi shiratama zenzai or ice cream with red bean paste and rice cakes:

I wish there were more rice cakes.

Ahyi got the bill that time, but I conceded graciously.

The third time I went to Tanto was to celebrate my dad's birthday.  My sister was back for Thanksgiving, so I was able to introduce her to Tanto too.

We ordered a lot of repeats so that my dad and my sister could try all the good stuff, such as the yagi onigiri and the butter clams.

Since nobody else liked uni, the hotate butter uni nose was split between my sister and I:

The scallops were cooked in butter and topped with sea urchin and roe.  The juices from the uni and scallops made the bed of rice super fragrant and delicious.  I could have eaten one by myself.

The anago tamagotoji or eel simmered with egg was another new dish:

My dad enjoyed it so much that he tried to recreate it at home.

I wanted to capture the tai yakimeshi or fried rice cooked with red snapper in all its glory, but before I could snap a photo, the server started mashing everything up:

He did, however,  place the snapper head aside first:

The fried rice came with a teapot of snapper broth that you're supposed to pour over the rice:

Why is it so goooooood?

I'm in love.  Almost everything I've had at Tanto so far has been pretty damn fantastic.  But Tanto has a crazy extensive menu and I've barely made a dent in it.  I'm not sure it's even possible to try everything after a dozen visits.


Challenged accepted.


Wait...did I just challenge myself and accept my own challenge?

Yes, yes I did.

1063 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 244-7311

South Bay: Le Moose Cafe

Way back in October, my mom, Ahyi, and I needed a place to eat in Fremont and Le Moose Cafe came up on Yelp:

It was a pretty quiet night:

Le Moose Cafe is a strange mix of Thai restaurant and Western cafe.

My ahyi stuck to the Western side and ordered a Hawaiian crepe, which came with ham, pineapple, mozzarella, and pesto:

I decided to brave the fusion route and went with a spicy peanut chicken curry crepe:

Like my ahyi, I also picked the macaroni salad as my side.

My mom wanted pure Thai, so she got the drunken noodles:

Le Moose Cafe is a strange, strange place.  But I like strange.  Though I'm not usually a fusion kind of gal, I enjoyed my Thai crepe and I even liked the macaroni salad.

If I ever go back, I think I want to try one of the Thai pastas...maybe the mussaman fettuccine.

Le Moose Cafe
5014 Mowry Ave
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 745-7288

Saturday, January 19, 2013

San Francisco: Seniore's Pizza

Not in the mood to eat out, TT took AF and I to Seniore Pizza:

There's not a lot of room inside:

There are a few stools, but most people use them to perch on while waiting for their pizza.

So many of the pizzas sounded really good.  Interestingly enough, some pizzas are only offered by the slice.  The clam and garlic was such:

So garlic-y.  Yum.

We also split a medium pizza:

We got half pesto chicken and half seniore's special (double pepperoni, sausage, salami, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and fresh tomatoes).

And threw in some chicken wings for the heck of it:

Seniore's Pizza is a great place to drop by in your pajamas for a late night slice. I appreciate how Seniore's Pizza does good pizza without any fuss.  Quick service, good variety, decent prices.  I'm a fan.

Seniore's Pizza
2415 19th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 661-2222
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