Friday, March 24, 2017

Oakland: High Peaks Kitchen

Back in February, I helped housesit again for my friend in Oakland.  Of course this meant taking advantage of my vastly shorter commute and hanging out with my Chitown girls after work.  After much deliberation, we decided on dinner at High Peaks Kitchen:

We arrived while it was still bright outside and empty inside:

The space had a banquet hall feel to it.

Chai was free, so we made sure to refill our cups repeatedly:

We started off with the fish pakora ($6.99):

I could see these as a potential substitute for fries.  Who needs potatoes when you can get tiny fried fish?

The regular naan was $2.99 each:

Which is a bit more expensive than I'm used to, but what can you do?

For our curries, we got the chicken vindaloo ($11.49):

And the chicken coconut ($11.99):

Being the wimp that I am, the curries were spicy to me and only me.  Thank goodness for naan. 

The portion sizes looked tiny at first, but it ended up being just enough for the three of us.  Meaning we could have eaten more, but it's probably good that we didn't.

Except we totally did by going to get dessert at Shooting Star CafĂ© in Chinatown directly afterwards.  Heh.

All in all, the food at High Peaks is good, just a bit more pricey for the serving size.  I wouldn't say no to going back again, but I most likely wouldn't be the one to suggest it either.

High Peaks Kitchen
5299 College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618 
(510) 450-0644

Sunday, March 19, 2017

South Bay: Hi Pot

When a good high school friend came to visit from DC, a bunch of us got together to catch up.  One of the group was an old elementary school friend who I hadn't seen in about a decade.  We were the best of friends as children, but I knew virtually nothing about who was now.  However, just from that short get together, I could tell that she was good people.  So I made it a point to reconnect with her.

We quickly realized that we both love food.  Since we both had President's Day off, we met up for lunch at Hi Pot:

Guess everyone else still had to work.  The place was nearly empty when we arrived:

Though by the time we finished, there was a line out the door.

The lunch special came with rice and an ice tea (you get a choice of black or green):

Hi Pot is known for its spice dry pot.  There are plenty of pre-set combinations on the menu or you can design your own.  Too lazy to do that, I just went with the pork combination spice pot ($11.95 for a small):

It came with pork stomach, pork intestine, pork belly, cauliflower, potato, celery, and bean curd skin.  Because I'm weaksauce, I got my pot not spicy.  I know, I know.  Judge away.  But the pot was delicious all the same.  A little oily, but nothing a little potato and rice won't soak up.  I was beyond tickled that the potato actually came in the form of French fries. 

Every time I've passed by Hi Pot since then, I've seen a giant crowd of people waiting at the door.  I get it though.  The prices are decent, the portions are generous, and the food is good.  What's not to love? 

Hi Pot
19066 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014 
(408) 366-2318

Thursday, March 16, 2017

San Francisco: Lam Hoa Thuan

My family has a new favorite place to get dinner when we take my sister back to the city.  It is now my goal for us to become regulars there.

My parents and my sister discovered Lam Hoa Thuan without me.  My father can't resist roast duck, so I can see what first drew his eye:

You know you're in a legit Asian place when there are menu items written on 8x11 paper posted on the wall and when most of the tables are filled by middle age/elderly Asians:

We've been to Lam Hoa Thuan a few times now and my sister, my mother, and I always get a glass of hot soy milk ($0.99) each:

I don't know how the servers carry the glasses over with their bare hands.  Those things are HOT.  I love how thick the soy milk is and how there's just enough sweetness to make it delicious.

My sister and I are obsessed with gravy egg and beef over rice ($7.75):

My mother likes to try different things each time we go.  Such as the combination over rice with gravy ($7.75):

My father, on the other hand, is a creature of habit.  He always gets the roast duck with rice ($8.00):

Most of the time, he also adds soy sauce chicken.  The first thing he does is pour all of the soy sauce over the rice like a giant kid.  I can't judge though.  I would do the same thing.

The first time I was there, I tried a combination plate with BBQ pork and roast pork ($8.25 + $3):

That was some beautiful roast pork.  That skin.  Oh, that gorgeous, crackly skin.  So yum.

The second time I went, I tried the tomato beef over rice ($7.75)

I would skip this.  A little too ketchup-y for me.

Lam Hoa Thuan is everything you can expect from a good hole-in-the-wall Chinese joint.  Bomb barbeque items, goopy rice, minimal service, dirt cheap, and cash only.  It actually offers both Chinese and Vietnamese food.  I have yet to venture over to the Vietnamese side of the menu, something I plan to fix the next time I go.  There's a bun bo hue with my name on it.

I'll certainly be back, Lam Hoa Thuan.  Soon.  We're going to be regulars if it's the last thing I do!

Lam Hoa Thuan
2337 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-1688

Monday, March 6, 2017

South Bay: Taqueria La Placita

In February, my co-workers and I went down to Hayward to do a free immigration consultation day at the Hayward Unified School District.  There were over 30 people signed up for consultations, so we knew it would be an action-packed day. 

The only thing that kept us going was the prospect of getting tacos for lunch.  When we knew we were going to Hayward, the first thing we did was look up restaurants in the area.  The one we ultimately decided on was Taqueria La Placita.

We had only an hour for lunch, so time was limited.  In the rush to eat and then to get back to the school, I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the exterior.  Sorry.

But one look at this interior of Taqueria La Placita and you know it's legit:

When you find construction workers eating at a Mexican restaurant, you can tell you're in for some great grub.

The place was tiny and completely packed.  We were lucky to snag not only a table, but one with a paper towel roll. 

I got myself a regular-sized horchata:

And the taco plate ($8.50), which came with three tacos, rice, and beans:

I could have gotten as many tacos as I could've stuffed in my mouth for $2.50 per taco, but I wanted to stay under $10 and be as full as possible.  Instead of a fourth taco, I figured rice and beans would do the trick.

For my meats, I went with my holy trinity: tripas (tripe), lengua (tongue), and cabeza (head meat).  I think two of the three cost extra, but I honestly don't remember which.  All three were delicious.  I could have eaten another one of each.  Maybe two.

Loved Taqueria La Plactia.  We go to Hayward once a year for consultations, so I can definitely see us going back.

Taqueria La Placita
27548 Tampa Ave
Hayward, CA 94544
(510) 784-0583

Friday, March 3, 2017

San Francisco: TJ Cups

After dinner at Cheung Hing, I insisted on finding some pearl tea to round out the meal even though we were both bloated from all the rice we had.  I figured we could digest a bit as we block down to TJ Cups:

The space was cute and modern:

We could have sat there and played board games, but it was getting late, so we took our drinks to go:

My sister ordered the Hong Kong style milk tea with pearls (darker one toward the front), while I got the TJ signature milk tea with pearls.  Both cost $4.25 for a large sized cup ($4 for a regular). 

Definitely not the cheapest pearl tea around, but they take their tea seriously at TJ Cups.  When I dropped my sister off at her apartment, we couldn't tell in the dark which cup was which.  But one sip of the HK milk tea and I knew it wasn't mine.  The signature milk tea had a strong tea flavor, but it definitely wasn't nearly as strong as the HK one.

Expensive, yes, but I wouldn't mind going back once in a while.  I just probably wouldn't go out of my way to Noriega to get it.  Seems like a chill place to hang out with friends though.

TJ Cups
2437 Noriega St
San Francisco, CA 94122 
(415) 681-2877
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