Sunday, April 19, 2015

South Bay: Kenzo Sushi

When my sister found out that she'd been accepted to UCSF Medical School, my parents and I took her out to celebrate.  I think we were more excited about her acceptance than she was.  (We're really pushing for her to stay in-state.)

We offered to take her out to a Brazilian steakhouse, but she wanted all you can eat sushi and asked to go to Kenzo instead:


















No reservations possible, but our 45 minute wait wasn't bad at all.  It certainly gave my mother enough time to cross the street and shop a bit at Michaels before our name was called.

The restaurant was crammed full of people:


















As we sat down, we noticed two young guys at a table next to us.  They looked utterly miserable with their heads in their hands as they stared at two completely untouched sushi rolls.  We had ourselves a good chuckle at their expense at the time.  Little did we know that we wouldn't be laughing for much longer.

Kenzo is set up so that you can write down your orders on a laminated two-sided menu:























You're allowed five rounds of ordering.  From what I read on Yelp reviews, most people call it quits after the second or third round.

We didn't even make it past the first.

Things started innocently enough.  The baby octopus kara-age came in four pieces, a bite for each of us:


















We totally had no idea what this was, much less remembered that we'd ordered it:























It took some sleuthing through the menu to figure out that it was monkey brain.  Sounds grotesque, but it was quite delicious.  Can't go wrong with deep fried avocado with spicy tuna and crab.

The sashimi salad was nice and refreshing:


















The daily special was uni that day.  There's a limit of one per customer, so of course we maximized the opportunity and ordered four:























Things were going great even after the first of our rolls arrived.  We skipped the fried roll section and went straight for the baked.  We got the bay island roll (shrimp tempura, crab, and avocado topped with baked scallop) and the lobster roll (crab and avocado topped with baked lobster, green onion, tobiko, and bonito flakes):























Then came our fatal mistake.  Kenzo doesn't ofer straight sashimi.  Instead, if you want your raw fish fix, you need to order nigiri.  Which was fine with us...except for one major miscalculation.  My sister went through the nigiri section and wrote "4" on over half of the nigiri options.  Four orders for four people.  Makes sense, right?

Wrong.

It wasn't until the waitress walked away with our menu that we realized we'd made a serious tactical error.  Each nigiri order came with two pieces.  Add to that the fact that my mother doesn't like raw fish and that meant eight pieces per nigiri type for three people.  When this monstrous platter came to our table, we felt the first stirrings of misgiving:


















Then came the rest of our rolls.  We got a philly roll (I love cream cheese in sushi), a white tuna love roll (white tuna and avocado topped with more white tuna and green onion), a spiderman III roll (soft shell crab and avocado topped with unagi, avocado, and macadamia nuts), and a mango crunch roll (spicy crab and mango topped with salmon, avocado, and tempura bits):


















Oh, dear.

And our nigiri nightmare wasn't even over yet:


















The two hand rolls were for my mother.

As if that wasn't enough:


















Unlike other AYCE sushi restaurants, Kenzo doesn't try to stuff you with rice.  Which is quite nice of them.  All the same, by the end of the meal, we were all playing hide-the-rice-to-avoid-being-charged-for-leftovers.  I couldn't even lift a piece of the white tuna lover roll without feeling nauseous.  

The best part was when my father turned to me and whimpered, "I just want to go home..."

You can opt to order off the menu instead of doing the all you can eat route, but why?  For $24.95 per person, Kenzo is a fantastic deal.

Even though we walked out all swearing that we didn't even want to look at sushi again for two years, my sister and I were already strategizing how we would do Kenzo differently the next time just a couple days later.


Kenzo Sushi
5465 Snell Ave
San Jose, CA 95123
(408) 226-2114
http://kenzosushi.net/

Friday, April 10, 2015

South Bay: Stuft Pizza

My sister and I had our own little date night a while back.  She works in Milpitas and I get off the bus in Milpitas, so we decided to meet at Stuft Pizza...in Milpitas:


















It was our first time, but we quickly deduced that Stuft is a sports lover paradise:


















Flat screens all over the place.  And pizza!  What goes better with sports than pizza?  (Besides chicken wings, which is also on Stuft's menu.)

When you walk in, you come face to face with a giant menu posted behind the cashier counter.  My sister and I were a bit overwhelmed and as usual, incredibly indecisive, so we stepped to the side until we could figure our shit out.

We discussed whether to get a small or a medium pizza for a long time and ultimately went with the medium because we're pigs like that.  Because we couldn't decide on just one, we split our pizza into half Popeye's special and half garlic lemon chicken:


















We overestimated our own abilities.  We were both full after two slices.  Probably should have gotten a small.

The garlic lemon chicken came with garlic lemon sauce, garlic, chicken, lemon pepper, zucchini, red onion, and cold tomatoes:























The Popeye's special came with sausage, fresh spinach, red onions, and mushrooms:


















We liked both pizzas (crust to topping ratio was pretty ideal), through for different reasons.  The garlic lemon chicken was light and refreshing, with its red onions and cold tomatoes.  We couldn't taste any lemon, but that was okay.  The Popeye's special was just meaty and everything that a pizza should be.

I decided we should splurge that night, so we ordered a fountain soda to split.

Yea, I know.  But when you grow up with Chinese parents who only let you get water at restaurants, paying for a drink is a big deal.

Anyway, the soda machine had quite a lot of options.  There was a mango iced tea, so I got a little to try.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to do a taste test first.  That stuff was FOUL, like really gross cough medicine.  So foul that I made my sister drink some too and cackled the entire time she dealt with the aftertaste.

There are a lot of pizzas to choose from at Stuft, so it's definitely worth multiple trips.  And if you go, don't forget to try the mango iced tea.

They should make it a rite of passage there.


Stuft Pizza
1426 Dempsey Rd
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 262-4343
http://www.stuftpizzamilpitas.com/

Saturday, April 4, 2015

South Bay: Chi

My parents seem to have some kind of radar for new Taiwanese restaurants in our area.  They somehow heard about Chi through the grapevine and away we went with Ahyi in tow:


















This particular location has gone through its share of restaurants.  None of them ever seemed to last long.  (My favorite was the hot pot place that actually gave us straight up water as the soup base.)

The place was pretty crowded the night we went, which we took as a good sign.  Either that or everyone was just as curious as we were.

We started with a large clam ginger soup ($8.95):


















It was the first dish to arrive and it arrived flat out cold.  We were stunned.  And confused.  We honestly discussed whether the soup might have been meant to be served cold.  When we checked with a waitress, she told us that definitely was not the case and whisked the bowl away.  It came back a bit later...lukewarm.

A quintessential Taiwanese dish is anything three cup style.  Chi offered a couple different three cup options.  We gravitated toward the three cup intestine in a clay pot ($9.95):


















This photo is a bit misleading.  The pot looks big, but in reality, it was tiny as hell.  And shallow.  Tiny pot aside, the intestine itself wasn't bad, though a bit salty.  I enjoyed picking out the whole pieces of garlic.

For Ahyi, who loves veggies, we got the stir fried A choy ($7.95):


















Yelp reviews indicated that moon shape shrimp cake ($9.95) was really good:


















Which is was.  Fluffy and savory.

The fried stinky tofu ($4.95) also was also pretty good:


















Our biggest complaint was the portion size.  Each plate was so small that we felt gypped.  We couldn't understand how they could in good conscience charge what they do for the amount of food they give.  Especially since there are plenty of cheaper and better tasting Chinese restaurants around.

As we left, we joked about hitting up the McDonald's across the parking lot.  We laughed because we all knew we were half-serious.

I give Chi six months before it goes the way of its predecessors.  I'm starting to think that location must really be cursed.


Chi
42 Dixon Rd
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 956-9051
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