Saturday, January 16, 2010

Santa Ramen

Despite being sick, I ventured out to meet the birthday boy at this very well-regarded ramen house. It's in San Mateo and the line was pretty long. In addition, you can't be seated unless your whole party is present. So... having a notoriously late person in the group... eh.

The lady allowed us to tell her our orders first despite his not being there, (well technically we started telling her our order before she found out he wasn't there) and she tells us that they are now out of miso flavor. My favorite! I order the soy sauce flavor instead.

As we wait for late guy, we are told that they are now also out of soy sauce flavor, the waitress lady tells us she save our group the 4 we order though with a little smile. When the line dies down, and we are looking longingly at the food, she lets us get seated without late guy. That's nice of her.

I'm told that's how they do it in Japan.

The food come out after a while, and it looked and smelled amazing, with the butter floating on top. The noodles were firm, the broth was heavenly, so rich! There was meat, I also had mushrooms, the seaweed was flavored. And this isn't even the most popular dish. I was very very impressed with this place. The pork flavored broth was also very tastey. :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Digs in Berkeley, CA

So, for the New Years Eve, I did one of my favorite things, eat at an awesome restaurant. And that is exactly what this was. The location is a little hard to find, I knew where it was from eyeing it from afar for 2 years.

Finally, a friend had a coupon and took us all out. The menu is small only 5 entries and a couple appetizers and desserts. The menu was not the same as the one posted on their website. When I called for reservations, I found that the place only opened a couple days a week. No big deal, I left a message and a phone number and they set (and later reset my reservation with no problems).

We arrived at the restaurant, and were very impressed with the ambiance. It was dim and cozy. The place was definitely smaller than I had expected, but it was beautiful, it had brick on the wall and curtains and candles. I imagine this would be a great place for a date. The waiter helped us to our table which was already prepared for the five of us. He seemed extremely knowledgeable, friendly and most of all, seemed to really enjoy working there. He had good recommendations regarding the menu. As a group, we ordered every entree and quite a few of the appetizers. I got to sample everything! I can't recall what everything was called, but here goes:

On the menu:
1. Carrot soup: had coconut undertones with crispy fried leek on top, was creamy and smooth and very big proportions too! Good for all three of us who ended up sharing it.
2. Crab stuffed Pequillo peppers: WOW, too amazing for words, at 10 bucks, this dish was not a huge portion (2 peppers and salad) but it was so good, I think I could have eaten many more. The flavor was rich, and blended together so well!
3. duck leg confit: The duck leg was a very nice savory dish, piled on a bed of polenta which rested on some sauteed greens of some sort. The duck itself was great, but not terrible special, besides the fact that it literally fell off the bone and was juicy and tender. But when you ate it together with their creamy polenta and flavorful greens, you can tell that this chef really knows what she is doing.
4. risotto cake: stuffed with mozzarella cheese. This cake was creamy and was a good take on risotto. I liked the slightly crispy edges. Yum.
5. catfish: I did not get a good taste of this, but the person who ordered it seemed to like it a lot.
5. leg of lamb: Since I do not usually enjoy lamb, I did not order this, but I tasted and tasted it again off my friend's plate. This dish was de-lish! The lamb had been slowly braised for hours, it was so tender and juicy. It wasn't that it was not gamey, I knew I was tasting lamb, but somehow, this restaurant made the taste of lamb be something I wanted to stuff into my face, rather than spit out. I was so impressed. The lamb rested on a bed of dino kale, chorizo cooked with these Flagulan beans. The beans were small and creamy, wow. It was the best lamb dish I think I have ever had. I highly highly recommend this place .

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Rendez-Vous Cafe Bistro - Albany, CA

Though I heard mixed reports about this place, after going there twice now, I can definitely say I'm a fan, at least for lunch anyways. I've had one of the best bowls of clam chowder, a very good and different meatloaf sandwich of all things, and a very tender and juicy steak sandwich. drool.

Their lunch menu is very reasonably priced and perfect for a nicer sit-down lunch. It's composed of all the standard french bistro fare, croque monsieur, salade nicoise, steak frites and several more american options with a french spin. Besides what I've had, I've heard good things from my boss and co-worker about the croque monsieur and the pannini. Everything has been well executed and very tasty. I'm pretty sure I'm either going to get the Croque Monsieur or breakfast/brunch next time I go.

The main complaint that I've heard about this place is the sloppy service, though I've had great experiences myself. attentive yet casual.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rocky's Hamburgers and Cheesesteaks - Berkeley, CA

Cheesesteak = Awesome! So glad I finally decided to stop by cause I almost didn't, but lucky for me I found an excellent parking space right across from the storefront. It was an almost empty night on the first presidential debate but I can't understand why. The place offers a decent breakfast menu, several burgers, several cheesesteaks and a few other hot and cold sandwich options.

I ended up ordering the Philly Cheesesteak, side of fries and a peanut butter shake that I just couldn't resist. The wait wasn't too long, there were about 2 orders ahead of me, so everyone was just sitting around watching Jeopardy (came on after the debate) waiting for their food. When it finally did come out it smelled great, onions, peppers cheese and some good meat. It could've only gotten better if the bun was toasted, but the seeded bun was just fine as is. Thick and held up well despite being packed with cheesy goodness. It wasn't too gooey though, which is good. It probably was one of the least sloppy cheesesteaks I've had. The meat was juicy and not over cooked. The side of fries were just ok though, seemed like out of the bag but crispy. I'm not much of a fry guy though. But the shake...mmmm....that was awesome. Or at least perfect for me that night. It was like drinking a cold smooth peanut butter cup. I would go back just for that. It had bits of real peanut butter floating around that just finished real well with each sip.

I can't wait to go back to try the rest of the menu. Let me know if anyone would like to join me soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gioia Pizzeria : Berkeley, Ca

After seeing them on Michael Bauer's Top 5 pizzerias in the Bay Area I found the perfect opportunity to go and try a pie. My buddy John I's birthday was last weekend and being the pizza lover that he is, he wanted a BYOPizza party. Excellent choice. Anyways, this would be my first time going to Gioia, and after this first pizza...I am definitely going back.

They have a fairly simple menu online, which I inspected before I went, which is a good thing, since they only offer pick up and take out orders if you call it in. Even though all their choices sounded good, i was in the mood for mushrooms...and I always love a good cremini. Turns out, I made an excellent choice. I have to say, that despite being one of the simpler pizzas at the party, it was one of the tasties. decent crust, though I would've preferred it crispier (something to request next time) but the mushrooms and the garlic oil...mmmm so good. I really liked the thin crust and if I was at home eating it, I probably could've finished the whole pie myself.

In addition to the pie, I couldn't help myself and ordered an extra slice of their sausage pizza, the Salisicca, which came with Fatted Calf Fennel Sausage and fresh oregano. That fennel sausage was excellent. The service was friendly and efficient with lots of staff working behind the counter and at the oven, though don't expect to eat there. Seems to be mostly for pick up and people coming by for a slice at lunch or dinner to go. If anyone is interested, I'm looking to go back to try their Acciughe, a cheese pizza with salted anchovies, hot chiles and fresh oregano.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Noodle Theory

I really shouldn't be blogging at this time. I need to write a huge paper due tomorrow. But the meal I had last night is worth mentioning before I forget the details.

Last night, around 9pm. H and I were looking for a place to eat quickly before settling down with a movie. Noodle Theory opened up around the corner from my house not too long ago but it looked so... nice, with huge windows and track lighting. I had written it off as overpriced americanized noodles. Usually uses too much Asian spices and not enough of "the good stuff." Sort of like when people try to open up fancy Mexican restaurants. But H suggested it, so I went along with.

We were seated by a blond male with a faux hawk. I want noodle soup (I always want noodle soup) I had been craving won ton noodles from D&A earlier so this needed to meet certain standards of delicious to win me. There were only a couple choices for noodle soup, so I narrowed down between Grilled Salmon and Pork belly. The waitress suggested I get the Pork belly since it generally has more flavor. Okay, "I defer to your judgment" I told her. H ordered Chicken potstickers, as to not be too adventurous.

Faux Hawk came back with our food. Mine was served in this squarish bowl with a big pile of cold sprout salad of some sort. Underneath was several pieces of pork, which looked sort of like char-sui. H's potstickers looked golden and crisp and came with very spicy looking sauce, if sauce can look spicy that is...

Still a little peeved at the dressed up noodles, I took a bite of my salady stuff. Cold, I knocked down the stack of veggies and mixed it with my noodles. I took my chopsticks and picked up the a piece of pork. I bit off the end....

but I didn't really need to bite; it melted in my mouth like butter. I look up at H, who hasn't touched his potstickers yet. "H," I said, "you have to try this." He take the rest of the piece of meat in his mouth, he nods in approval. I do not offer any more of my precious pork. Each piece, wrapped in delicious mouth-watering belly fat, the slightest piece of actual muscle tissue within, a light sweet taste of sauce surround it. I tried to pace myself, eating small pieces with the also surprisingly delicious fresh ramen noodles, tender and firm, not like the kind you get in little bags. And the broth, a miso broth that was not too salty. At the end, I'm eating up the vegetables I was so concerned with before and hating myself for enjoying so immensely this posh little noodle shop.

By the time I'm finished with my bowl of noodles, I don't really care that I just ate half as much noodles for twice as much money as I would of if I had eaten pho. I don't care that the restaurant has sea foam walls or blue tiles. I didn't care that the lighting was dimmed for ambiance, I didn't care about anything. I just want another piece of delicious delicious pork belly.

*edit I forgot to mention the potstickers. Too much ginger for H, not terrible but not great.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cafe/Post Meridian - Albany, Ca

I had heard that they had taken over Kensington Bistro for both the day and evening so decided to swing by for lunch a few days ago. I gotta say, I was very impressed by the upgrade in the level of service as well as the food. Though my only prior experience was for brunch at Kensington Bistro, it definitely seemed to me that the service and professionalism was stepped up in Cal-French Bistro fashion.

White cloth table tops and some nice paintings by a local artist? seemed to add to the decor when I walked in. I was one of the first lunch time diners for the day and promptly seated by the window but the place steadily filled up as the hour passed.

I was offered regular or sparkling water as I was given the menu. The lunch menu which also had the brunch menu on the other side seemed relatively short, but with some interesting apps and entrees ranging from $8-25. They seemed to be proud of their house made chicken pate so I had to give it a try, but being the glutton I am, I ordered the small Charcuterie plate - chicken liver pâté with jambon de Paris & Fra’Mani salame served with dijon mustard, tiny pickles and pickled pearl onions and toasted levain. I liked this starter a lot. The pate was very good, not over peppered, pretty smooth too, but it must've just came out of the fridge cause it was very firm and initially hard to spread on the toast. The ham was decent but not extraordinary. The salame was your standard hard salame, slightly thicker than usual slices, which I ended up preferring, not too salty or spicy, just went well with the pate and pickled items. I am somewhat embarrassed if anyone was watching me as I stacked the toast, the pate, the salame and swipe of mustard and then an onion pearl and then stuffed it into my mouth. Mmmmm.

I ended up ordering the Croque monsieur (grilled sandwich of pain de mie, jambon de Paris & Gruyère) which came out crispy and just enough gruyere to cover it but not drown it. A good rendition.

And I finished up with a strawberry and rhubarb compote with whipped ginger creme fraiche. Well executed, but I thought the ginger flavor was over powering in this case and detracted from the fresh flavors of the fruit. I think it may have gone better with a cinnamon flavored creme.

All in all, it was a very good meal on a beautiful day. The service was spot on and everyone was very pleasant. It was a bit more than my usual lunch, but that was to be expected considering what and how much I ordered. I definitely want to come back and try out their brunch and dinner menus.