Monday, November 28, 2016

San Francisco: Arsicault Bakery

I am not ashamed to say this.  I declined lunch with my coworkers one Saturday because I had plans to go on a Poké adventure with my sister and CL in the city.  You read that right.  I turned down food because I wanted to catch Pokémon.


We did manage to work food into our Poké day though.  To fuel our hunt, we started with breakfast at Arsicault

The line wasn't too bad when we got there (probably due to the rain), but it quickly grew by the time we left.

The interior was tiny.  You basically inch your way to the front of the line, point out which pastries you want, and then choose whether to inch your way back out or try to find a table half a flight up:

Luckily, we scored a table.  Flaky pastries are a mess to eat on the go.

We got the chocolate almond croissant ($5.25):

With gooey chocolate and almond filling:

My personal favorite was the ham and cheese croissant ($5.25):

That was some really, really smoky ham:

The kouign amann ($4) was crackly and sweet:

Arsicault is by no means cheap.  I mean, c'mon.  Over 5 bucks for a croissant?  I may have moved up in the world since I left school, but not that far.  Not that far at all.  So while I can see Arsicault as a treat yo self once in a while kind of place, I definitely would not be able to afford to become a regular.

That's the dream, though.  That's the dream.

P.S.  If you're curious about how our Poké adventure went, it went swimmingly.  We swore we wouldn't go home until all three of us caught enough Magikarp to evolve a Gyarados and we didn't.  I made my sister and CL walk an extra quarter lap around Stow Lake just so I could catch the last two Magikarp I needed.  Booyah.

Arsicault Bakery
397 Arguello Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 750-9460

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

South Bay: Eden Silk Road

From stalking their friends on Facebook, my parents discovered Eden Silk Road in Fremont.  When they found out that I was going to work out of my organization's Fremont office one day, they excitedly asked if we could meet for lunch.

Uh, yea?

So after a morning of consultations, my coworker HA and I headed over to Eden Silk Road where my parents and my sister were already waiting:

The first thing we noticed when we walked in was how big the interior was:

Not pictured in the photo are the massive booths made with giant couches.  When the host asked us where we would like to sit, we made a beeline for the couches.  After scooching in, we realized we may have made a mistake.  The couches were so soft that we sank in just slightly too low to be entirely comfortable given the table height.  Also, we couldn't lean back or we would not be able to reach the table.

Don't get drawn in by the plushy couches!  Unless you have impeccable posture, in which case go right on ahead. 

When my parents saw their friend's Facebook post of Eden Silk Road, what caught their attention was a photo of the milk tea.  My father said that he could tell from the photo how strong the tea was.  So of course we had to order some.  Even though the special Uyghur milk tea was $4.95 a cup:

$4.95.  A cup.  Granted, it was delicious and there was an unexpected medley of nuts and raisins in it, but still.  $4.95!  All the pistachios and walnuts and cashews didn't seem to add any flavor, so I can only assume that they're more for decorative purposes.  And for jacking up the price.

The hot and sour soup was complimentary:

But we were there for the Uyghur cuisine, so we quickly downed the soup and moved it aside.

We ordered the goshnan ($11.95), which was a fried bread with ground meat inside:


The polo ($13.95) was a lamb and rice dish that was super fragrant:

The lamb slipped right off the bone.  So tender.

The da pan ji, literally "big plate of chicken", ($14.95) was just alright:

Whereas the lamb shish kebabs ($13.95) were so, so, so soft and well seasoned:

My favorite though, was the lamb on crispy naan ($14.95):

It was basically cumin lamb stir fried with fried pieces of naan.  Fried.  Naan.  Sounds oily, yes, but it was everything I never knew I needed in my life.  The naan wasn't crouton-like.  Instead, it was crispy, yet soft at the same time.  I didn't even need the lamb in the dish.  And I love lamb.

If you've never had Uyghur cuisine, definitely check out Eden Silk Road.  The food is fantastic, but it's a bit on the pricey side.  But here's a tip.  If you go on a weekday between 11:00am and 2:30pm, you get 20% off your bill.  Score! 

Eden Silk Road, I'll be back.  I might even be tempted to take a comp day just so I can go on a weekday for lunch.  Heh.

Eden Silk Road
39144 Paseo Padre Pkwy
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 505-9255

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Yosemite: Pop's Family Restaurant

For sustenance during our Yosemite weekend, we packed cup noodles, soy sauce eggs, sesame sauce chicken and cucumber salad, Chicago mix popcorn, banh mi, PBJ and Nutella sandwich material, and fruit. 

Needless to say, we didn't starve.

We spent Saturday going to lesser known sites in Yosemite such as Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Olmsted Point, and Tenaya Lake.  On our way out Sunday morning, we stopped by the town of Oakhurst for gas, both for the car and for ourselves.  After some Yelping, we decided on Pop's Family Restaurant:

The parking lot was tiny, but we managed to squeeze into a spot.  We were seated right away:

And our food came quite quickly.

My sister and I split two entrees.  We got the mushroom omelet ($10.95) and chose to top it with a slice of melted pepper jack cheese:

Given the choice between toast and biscuit, we went with biscuit.

Even though we also ordered the country breakfast ($10.95), which came with an open faced biscuit smothered in gravy and served with either bacon or sausage patties (we went for the patties), two eggs, and hash browns:

You can never have too many biscuits.

T and CV also split two entrees.  They got the value pancake platter ($8.95), which came with two pancakes, two eggs, and the choice between bacon, ham, or sausage:

They also ordered the Pop's ultimate omelet ($13.95), which included ham, bacon, bell peppers, onion, tomato, and cheese:

All in all, a very solid breakfast joint.  Nothing was spectacular, but everything was good.  Portion sizes were generous, prices were reasonable, and the service was both prompt and friendly.

The best part of the weekend, however, was when we stopped by Meet Fresh on the way home.  There was a wait, but as always, it was worth it.  SO WORTH IT.

I love Meet Fresh.

Pop's Restaurant
40278 Rd 425 A
Oakhurst, CA 93644    
(559) 692-7677

Saturday, November 12, 2016

South Bay: Mr. Falafel

Last month, out of nowhere, T asked if my sister and I would like to spend a weekend with her and CV in Yosemite.  A client of hers had apparently offered her his vacation home in Bass Lake to use...for free.  We were immediately onboard, but we also a bit skeptical.   

None of my clients would ever offer me something like that.  Then again, none of my clients have vacation homes to begin on.  (I usually get food, which is just fine with me.)

To add to our skepticism, the address he gave us didn't show on Google Maps.  We set out that Friday afternoon unsure of whether this place even existed.

We were kept in suspense for a long while.  After driving for more than an hour, we had only made it as far as Morgan Hill thanks to traffic.  The original plan was to try to get to the house before dark.  When T pointed out that we were close to a good falafel restaurant, we tossed that plan right out the window and made a detour.

Mr. Falafel looked like it had been converted from a Wienerschnitzel:   

It was tiny inside, with the kitchen taking up most of the space:

We bought everything to-go and had ourselves a feast in our rental car.

My sister and I got half a dozen falafel (the place was called Mr. Falafel after all) for $3:

They were perfectly fried, with a crunchy outer shell,  The falafel themselves were seasoned well, though they tasted even better dipped in tahini sauce. 

When we saw that we could get shawarma over fries ($10.95), we knew we had to get it:

It's like the Mediterranean version of carne asada fries and it's magical.  Instead of pico de gallo, you get tabbouleh and instead of sour cream, you get tahini sauce.  It strangely tasted almost...healthy.  Heh.

T and CV ordered the shawarma salad ($10.95), which came with hummus and feta cheese:

And the shawarma over rice ($10.95), which came with tabbouleh:

It also came with a side of toasted pita:

Everything was delicious.  Every.  Single.  Thing. 

My favorite falafel has always been Falafel's Drive In, but Mr. Falafel might actually give them a run for their money.  Too bad it's in Morgan Hill.  I hardly ever go south from where I live.  I know it's not logical, but for some reason, it just feels so far.

We eventually did make it to Bass Lake (though it was definitely very much dark when we got there) and to our immense relief, the house did exist.  Not only that, but it was quite nice to boot.


Mr. Falafel
17455 Monterey St
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
(408) 778-7777

Monday, November 7, 2016

South Bay: Salang Pass Restaurant

It is now tradition for a couple colleagues and I to grab dinner after we complete a Fremont naturalization workshop, which happens twice a year.  It really is a family affair, as we all like to drag our family members into volunteering at our event.  This September, it was just my mother and me representing our clan since my sister was in school and my father was having himself a temper tantrum at home. 

We used to always go for Indian, but we have now branched out to Afghan.  This last workshop, we decided to stray from our usual Afghan restaurant, De Afghanan Kabob House, and try out Salang Pass instead:

(I only had my cell phone with me, so please forgive the poor photo quality.)

Finding the Salang parking lot was an adventure in itself, but when we ultimately did find it, we appreciated that it was much larger than the one at De Afghanan.

Besides boring old tables, Salang offered more unique seating with its cushions and low tables:

When the host asked which we would prefer, we all simultaneously pointed at the low tables.  But when we actually sat down, we realized we might have made a mistake. 

Lounging is nice when you're snacking, but when you're trying to eat with a knife and fork, it's a bit more work.  Also, it's quite difficult to find a position to fold your legs into under the table that is comfortable enough to remain in for an entire meal.  Especially if you have long legs.  Which I don't. 

It was pretty funny watching all of us struggle into our seats.  But then we felt extremely dumb when later on, we observed another group simply move the tables to get into their spots.  Now why didn't we think of that?

As per usual, we let our resident Afghans, HA and her husband, take over the ordering. 

Our meal started with a complimentary salad:

And baskets of Afghan bread:

Bolani ($8.95) is a must whenever we go to Afghan restaurants:

The description on Salang's menu called it an Afghan calzone.  That made me laugh.  I think of it as a flatbread filled with lovely leeks and potatoes.  It's perfection with thick, cold yogurt.

My boss is a big fan of eggplant, so HA made sure to get the borta ($6.50), which is a baked eggplant dish:

The first borta that was brought out was very undercooked, so we sent it back and got a new one.  The second one was fine, but still nowhere as delicious as the one HA makes.

Actually, I've never had borta anywhere that's as good as how HA makes it.

Somehow, HA and her husband ordered us a giant platter with a combination of different meats:

There were chicken kabobs, beef teka kabobs, chapli kabobs (grilled ground sirloin patties), and chopan kabobs (lamb chops).  Instead of regular basmati rice in the center, we got a mound of quabili pallow, which is a seasoned rice with candied carrots, raisins, and lamb shank. 

I have no clue how much that platter cost.

After trying a little bit of everything, my mother turned to me and said exactly what was on my mind.  The food was good...but not as good as De Afghanan.

Don't get me wrong.  This doesn't mean I wouldn't be willing to go back to Salang again.  Salang has a couple things going for it that De Afghanan doesn't have:

1) Bigger parking lot
2) Less wait
3) Better ventilation (even my father wouldn't be able to complain about any smoke in the air)

Those things are important too.

The next Fremont workshop will be in April.  If only we could skip the workshop and get straight to dinner.  Sigh.

Salang Pass Restaurant
37462 Fremont Blvd
Fremont, CA 94536
(510) 795-9200

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Oakland: Curbside

After Cholita Linda, my Oakland birthday celebration continued across the street at Curbside:

This ice cream shop was as hipster as it could be with its chalkboard menu and compostable utensils.  Though the ice cream flavors themselves weren't super innovative:

But besides simple scoops of ice cream ($4.25 for a single and $5.50 for a double), you can also order soft serve or ice cream sandwiches.

Or you can do what VN and I did and get pie a la mode ($6.50):

What?  It's my birthday.  Don't judge.

The pie of the day was strawberry rhubarb and we selected salted caramel for our single scoop.

Not the cheapest place around, but it's cute and the ice cream is solid.  (Well, not literally.  You know what I mean.) 

Oh, yea.  The pie's pretty good too.

482 49th St
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 250-9804

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Oakland: Cholita Linda

For my birthday this year, my Oakland/Chitown girls took me to Cholita Linda:

The interior was bright and colorful and had an airy feel thanks to the high ceilings:

We placed our order at the counter before grabbing a free table with our buzzer.

We ordered a couple tacos each.  The options were baja fish, carnitas, carne asada, pollo al pastor, and tofu.  Ugh.  Tofu.  All tacos were $3.50 each.

We got the crispy fried fish taco:

The carne asada:

And the carnitas:

All the tacos came topped with cabbage slaw, baja crema, and some kind of salsa (either red or green).

To share, we also got some plantains ($3 for five pieces):

And an order of chips and guacamole ($4.50):

We nibbled on the guacamole so sparingly at first that we ended up with leftover guac after all the chips were gone.  Luckily, we were given a refill of chips for no additional cost.  Woot!

To round out the meal, we got the maizena de coco ($3.50), which is essentially a coconut pudding drizzled with mango-passion fruit sauce:

You can also choose to top it with cinnamon, but hello?  Mango-passion fruit sauce!  I usually prefer savory over sweet, but the pudding turned out to be my favorite thing at Cholita Linda.  Super thick and creamy, the flavors reminded me a lot of the Thai sticky rice with mango dessert.  I could have finished one all by myself.

As for the tacos, they were alright.  But after experiencing the magic of Oakland's taco trucks, Cholita Linda's tacos just seemed rather frou-frou.  I prefer my tacos grittier...and cheaper.

Still, nothing like tacos and some of my favorite girls to help me kick off the last year of my 20's!

Cholita Linda
4923 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 594-7610
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