Tuesday, September 30, 2014

South Bay: Thousand Tasty

My parents dragged the family to Thousand Tasty after they saw a photo one of their friends posted on FB:

For weekend lunch, it was pretty quiet inside:

The "Chinese burger" was essentially a mo (a kind of dense bread) with your choice of meat.  We went with the cumin beef burger ($3.99):

We were curious about what a "multi-layer cake" was.  Turned out it was essentially a green onion pancake folded over:

We got the gomi chicken cheese multi-layer cake ($8.99) at the suggestion of our server:

Like a Chinese quesadilla.  With peas.  I hate peas.  The chicken was good though.  Probably the best thing we had that day, but not sure if it was worth 9 bucks.

We also ordered the combination shredded pancake ($8.95):

Instead of noodles, shredded pancake is exactly what it sounds like.  Just...neater.  Think sliced green onion pancakes.  Without the green onion.

My mom is a noodle fanatic.  She really wanted to try the seafood noodle soup ($8.95):

She expected it to be spicy, but it wasn't at all.  She was definitely not happy.

Whenever we find lamb soup with mo bread on a menu, we have to order it.  It's like an obsession.  The one at Thousand Tasty is translated as "pieces bread in lamb soup" ($9.95):

Instead of the large chunks of mo bread that we're used to finding, the mo in this soup came diced into tiny cubes.  The problem with that was the bread got soggy real fast.

Overall, we weren't that impressed with Thousand Tasty.  Not with their food.  Not with their prices.  And certainly not with their young servers with their popped collars and I'm-too-cool-for-this attitude.

This just shows that you can't always trust FB photos.

Thousand Tasty
50 Dixon Rd
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 262-3338

Monday, September 22, 2014

South Bay: Jazen Tea

After a less than satisfying meal at Big T's, we walked across the street the Jazen Tea to console ourselves:

Jazen Tea is attached to a pho restaurant.  They each have their own separate entrances, but they share the same space inside.

The Jazen Tea section is essentially a long counter with a couple small tables inside and outside:

While we were there (and we were chatting outside for quite a while), the line seemed never-ending.

My sister got the regular milk tea with honey boba ($3.55) while I decided to try one of Jazen Tea's snow sips, the lychee cooler ($4.65):

I originally wanted to try their lychee explosion (lychee and peach flavored tea with lychee fruit bits) because that sounded amazing.  I quickly changed my mind when I was told that it was made with green tea.  Blech.  Not a fan of green tea.

There was also an apple jack milk tea that sounded very interesting.  We were told that it tasted like the milk after having a bowl of Apple Jacks cereal.  While intriguing, I was ultimately tempted away by lychee.

As for what we did end up ordering, I remember not liking the milk tea at all, but I don't remember why.  The lychee cooler was essentially a lychee slushie with pineapple fruit bits at the top.  I added pearls because we got one free add-on for checking in on Yelp.  It was a dumb move.  The pearls ended up all hard because of the iciness of the slushie.

Because we were still hungry, CV ordered some fried chicken to split among the four of us:

While the chicken was so-so (as was the sweet and sour sauce), the chili powder that was got on the self-service counter was fantastic.

As it's kind of out of the way for us, the chances of me going back to Jazen Tea is pretty much slim to none.  If I did find myself back though, I would stay away from the milk teas and try another of its interesting fruit options.

Ugh...when did pearl tea get so expensive?

Jazen Tea
1834 Tully Rd
San Jose, CA 95122
(408) 238-1411

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

South Bay: Big T's Oyster Bar

My sister and I met up with T and CV at Big T's Oyster Bar for dinner a while back:

It seemed like a pretty hip place.  Big screens blasting sports coverage on the walls and servers that seemed very, very young in comparison with us old hags.  Plenty of natural light, which was a plus:

We tried to ask our server for recommendations on oysters.  But when he described one type of oyster as tasting "fluffy," we knew we were on our own.  We ended up ordering half a dozen kumamotos ($11.50) and half a dozen shigoku ($11.50)

The lobster salad ($15) was heavy on the cumin, but light on the lobster:

We actually preferred the greens underneath to the lobster salad.

The razor clams were $34.99 per lb.  This was $17.50 worth:

Not bad.  Would have been more enjoyable if it hadn't been for the shards of shell that kept slipping into our mouths.

What I was most interested in was the geoduck.  When you order geoduck at Big T's, you get it prepared two ways.  Sashimi:

And fried:

I liked the sashimi more than the fried.  There's a crunch to it, as if the geoduck tensed itself as it was being sliced.  Morbid, eh?  I hope that didn't scare anyone away from trying it.

What should scare people away is the hefty price tag.  Those two tiny servings?  $36.79.


Honestly, we weren't impressed by Big T's.  If anything, we were turned off by its prices relative to its portion sizes.  If it wasn't for T's $50 Groupon, our itty bitty meal would have cost us $100.37.

A hundred bucks that could have been better spent on better tasting food.  A lot more better tasting food.

Sorry, Big T's.  You can keep your fluffy oysters.  I'll be getting my seafood fix elsewhere.

Big T's Oyster House
1694 Tully Rd, Ste B
San Jose, CA 95122
(408) 238-2888

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

South Bay: Tea Island

In the past, Barcode was our go-to for pearl tea, so we never bothered to pay attention to the new pearl tea shops that popped up.  After Barcode closed, the time for complacency was over.  Since then, my sister and I have been on a quest to try all the pearl tea shops within reasonable (and not so reasonable) driving distance from our house.

Our search led us to Tea Island.  Located inside Marina Supermarket, Tea Island is tucked in the corner of the grocery store by the stacks of bags of rice:

On our first trip, we got the basics.  Milk tea with grass jelly and lychee black tea:

Not bad, not bad.

Like most other pearl tea places these days, Tea Island lets you decide how sweet you want your drink and how much ice you want in it.  What sets Tea Island apart are the additional options of how milky you want your drink and even more importantly, how strong you want your tea.

Tea strength is key.  I love how you can ask for extra strong tea.

My sister and I have since returned to Tea Island a couple more times.  We've each figured out our ideal tea composition.  While my sister likes her tea with half sugar, I prefer mine at full sweetness.  We don't really touch the milkiness, but we're adamant about getting our pearl tea with no ice and of course, extra strong tea.

So good.

Most drinks will set you back $2.99.  If you decide to add tapioca pearls or jelly, be prepared to add to the total cost.  Different toppings cost different amounts, so if that matters to you, keep an eye out.

And bring cash, because that's all they accept.

I really like Tea Island.  It's doesn't try to be fancy or gimmicky.  It's good pearl tea, plain and simple.  Not just that, you can get extra strong tea!  Which, again, is key.

Tea Island
46196 Warm Springs Blvd
Fremont, CA 94539
(510) 623-1523

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oakland: Thanh Ky Restaurant

A while back, T had to spend a few days working in Santa Rosa.  Since the hotel cost was covered by her company, she took my sister along with her.  On their way up, they swung by Oakland to have dinner with me.  T took us to Thanh Ky, which she hadn't been to in a long time, but where she remembered there to be very good noodles:

We squeezed through the doors about an hour and some before their 7:00 pm closing time.  There were a couple other parties inside, but it was mostly empty:

They were out of kidney, which was devastating for us.  But soldiering on, T ordered three bowls of noodles.  We got the house special noodle ($6.30), the house special wonton noodle soup ($7.25), and the house special ho fun ($6.30):

Everything was delicious, from the noodles to the soup base to the beef balls floating at the top.  But the best thing was this:

Actual chunks of fried pork skin/fat.  I mean, just look at them!  Aren't they beautiful and lovely and everything that's perfect in this world?

Thanh Ky is known as Vien Huong's rival for best teow chew noodles in Oakland.  So which is better?  While both are delicious, the fried pork at Thanh Ky makes it stand out more to me.

So would I go back to Thanh Ky?  That's a solid yes.  Despite it being kind of out of the way.  Despite the service being not exactly friendly (but I never really expect it to be at Asian places).  Despite them refusing to take VN's order when she joined us 30 minutes before closing time.

The fried pork fat is that amazing.

Thanh Ky
659 E 12th St
Oakland, CA 94606
(510) 763-8801

Thursday, September 4, 2014

South Bay: Kubota

A family friend's daughter recently (well, not so recently now...I'm that behind) moved back to the Bay from Taiwan and she wanted to catch up over dinner.  She was in the mood for Japanese, so we let her pick the place since we didn't know Japantown all that well.

She decided on Kubota:

It had it's own private lot, which is rare for downtown San Jose, but it was full so we ended up having to find street parking anyway.  Luckily, it was the weekend of the Obon Festival, so the street right next to the restaurant was turned into a parking lot of sorts.

The decor inside was clean and colorful:

Despite the full parking lot, we didn't have to wait long to be seated.

My sister and I decided to split two rolls and an entree.  The entree came with a choice of soup or salad.  If you choose salad, you also get a choice of tofu or seaweed salad.  We went with seaweed:

Not quite what we were expecting, but not bad.  The seaweed had a good chew to it.

For our two rolls, we got the 49er roll ($7.50) and the New York roll ($7.50):

The 49er roll consisted of salmon and avocado while the New York roll was made of unagi and avocado.  Can you tell that we love avocado?  Both were decent, but nothing to write home about.

The chicken teriyaki ($14.50), on the other hand, was definitely worth a letter home:

Describing how bad it was.  In Chinese, there's a saying that when meat is overcooked, it's been cooked until it's dead.  Which was how this chicken tasted.  Dead.  It was so tough and dry that we could barely choke it down.

Thank goodness for rice and teriyaki sauce:

My mother got the chicken sukiyaki ($19.50):

Same problem with the chicken.  We all kind of picked around the chicken and just ate the veggies.

Final verdict?  Never going back to Kubota.  The food is pricey, but the cost doesn't reflect the quality of the dishes themselves, just the fancy plating.  No bento boxes here.

593 N 5th St
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 279-8440

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Oakland: Tian Jin Dumplings

I'd been eyeing Tian Jin Dumplings for a long, long time.  Essentially just a window with a very limited menu, I was skeptical at first.  Then my friend told me that it was actually good and I made up my mind to give it a try.

Much easier said than done.  It seemed like every time I wanted to go, it was closed.  (Later, I found out that Tian Jin Dumplings is closed on Tuesdays.  I guess I just happened to always try to go on a Tuesday.)  Or, if I was in Oakland Chinatown with my coworker for lunch, it would be because she was having a craving for noodles and so we would end up at Shan Dong Restaurant instead.

Finally, there came a day when the stars aligned.  I didn't pack lunch.  My coworker wasn't in the office.  I had cash.  And it was NOT a Tuesday.

Hello, Tian Jin Dumplings:

I was tempted by the dumplings, but I wanted to try things I'd never had before.  The pan fried cake was only $0.50 each:

I should have know that for that price, there would be nothing in it.  Instead, it was very densely layered biscuit:

I would definitely recommend eating one of these with some kind of liquid handy.

The savory Tianjin crepe ($3.95) was what I was really curious about:

Think green onion and egg crepe wrapped around a Chinese donut (you tiao), parsley, preserved veggies, chili sauce, and some kind of sweet sauce.  Quite subtle in flavor and very, very filling.  It just felt like it was missing a little something to make it truly satisfying.

Oh yea.  Meat.

While everything was good, I think I'll stick with the dumplings the next time the stars align.

Tian Jin Dumplings
989 Franklin St, Ste B
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 459-6265
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