Thursday, June 28, 2007

Review: Sakura Sushi

I was really craving some sushi today at a placed called Sushimaru in Sunnyvale's Town and Country center. Upon arrival, we find that it has moved to Milpitas. What?! Why??? *me making crying noises* Yeah, it looks like Town & Country is being demolished to make room for a Santana Row'esque shopping center. Laaame. Not only will Sushimaru no longer be close to work, Thai Basil, Bamboo Garden... a lot of my favorite lunch spots. *sigh* What gives?

Anyway, instead of going to Sushimaru like we'd planned, we walked over to Tsunami Grill and Rokko Fine Japanese Cuisine. I didn't feel like going to either because what I really wanted was sushi. So we walked to Murphy St. and found Sakura Sushi. An unassuming little quaint restaurant was calling to me. Was I happy? Well, here's what we ordered. Sex with a Shark (I'll explain in a bit), Saba Shio (broiled makeral), and tempura and saba bento.

When we opened the menu to see what to get, Justyn immediately pointed out a roll called Sex with a Shark. WTF? It doesn't have shark in it so how's the sex getting in there? I guess because it had some sorta fish (I don't remember what kind) and spicy red rooster (Srirachi) sauce, that made it "sex". OK.. How'd it taste? Gooooood. I loved it! The fish was fresh and the spicy sauce complimented it well. It killed the fresh flavor of the fish a little bit, but it worked. There was also a sweet gravy like stuff on it too which was a little on the overkill side but whatever. Justyn said he liked it, but wouldn't order it again.

We finished up the sushi and waited for our entrees. They arrived and I was happy. It smelled good, it looked good and... tasted good! The saba upon first bite was buttery almost melting in my mouth! Perfectly seasoned. I didn't touch much of my rice because I was half full from the sushi but I ate all of the seaweed salad that came along side of the fish. There was also something that resembled a jalapeno popper. In fact, the menu had stated that they serve them as appetizers. Instead of having gooey nacho cheese in the center it had imitation crab meat which was coated with tempura batter and fried. I thought it was OK, but certainly not something I could eat again and again.

I was expecting to be disappointed with this place, but it really was tasty and pleasing on the eye. It's no Sushimaru, but I'd gladly accept this place as a replacement. I'm not going to Milpitas to wait amongst huge hungry crowds of aZns for my Japanese food fix.

Sakura Sushi
173 S Murphy Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Review: Chef Lui Re-Do

Hehe that rhymes. Anyway, from the last time I posted about Chef Lui's, we've been there a total of 3 times. Each time we go to this restaurant, we order something different, but since we had been there before, I never bothered to take pictures or do another review. Until now.

Instead of getting a nice steamy bowl of noodles, Justyn and I got two main dishes (Seafood medley with crispy tofu in a nice gravy and chicken with walnuts - like walnut prawns). Along with some rice I ordered a scallion pancake. It was $1.95 so I expected it to be small and appetizer like. OK no.... this thing was huge! In total it yielded six slices of which I was only able to eat one. Justyn had two and we still had a lot left.

The seafood was alright. I expected more flavor from a dish that looked like this. But it was still tasty.

The chicken with walnuts was good, but I like it with prawns better.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cooking: Pork Chops w/ Carmelized Onion

On our last group trip to Napa, we ate at a restaurant called Bistro Jeanty. It's one of my favorite restaurants to visit. The food's phenomenal and the feel is quaint and cozy. Besides the tomato soup in puff pastry, one other dish was particularly memorable. It was the Cote de Porc (Pork chop, mashed potato, onion sauce).

Here it is:

Last night, Timmys and Audrey invited me over to her house to cook dinner and watch a new episode of Hell's Kitchen. I had been yearning to try and recreate the pork chops that we had at Bistro Jeanty so that's what we did. It seemed easy enough, season the pork chops and pan fry 8-10 minutes on both sides until it's almost done. Deglaze pan with wine (I used a Chenin Blanc that I got from Milat winery). I kinda messed up on this part. What I should've done was added butter, then the onions until they were caramelized and then deglaze. I was a bit worried because all the bits on the bottom of the pan were starting to turn black which is why I deglazed before adding butter and onions. It still worked out though, it just seemed that the onions took a long ass time to caramelize. Since I had to do the pork in two batches, we started the mashed potatoes by putting 5 Yukon Golds into a pot of cold water and brought it to a boil. Instead of using a fork to see if they were done, I used a semi sharp knife to test. That wasn't a good idea because the potatoes ended up being undercooked. *sigh* So far my recreation wasn't going as planned. The onions had carmelized into a nice dark brown so I took those off the heat and plated.

Here's what it looked like. The pork chop kinda hides the mashed potatoes, but you know the protein is the star in the dish. I wish I had a ring mold to make a bed for the mashed potatoes and porkchop. You know.. in layers. Onions on the bottom, nice round scoop of mashed potatoes and porkchop with a gangsta lean. Oh well, overall the flavor was there even though the potatoes were undercooked. Next time I know where to improve though! Cook n learn. That's what it's all about.

Recipe Links

Pork Chops with Caramelized Onion

Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Oh yeah and in regards to last night's Hell's Kitchen. Eh... it was an OK episode. More of Ramsey yelling at the incompetance of the cooks, but it's not like I could do any better. I just wish they would answer Ramsey's questions when he asks them how long instead of beating around the bush. You'll notice that he doesn't pester them as much when they give him a straight answer. I was glad to see Vinnie go. Let's see, out of all the chefs, I'd want either Rock or Jen (the red headed one).

Monday, June 25, 2007

Whew! What a Weekend!

Another wonderful weekend that blew by way too fast. Here's what we did:
Friday night, we went to see Shrek III after work and ate dinner at Seto Deli on Maude. Justyn ordered some veggie tempura and I had chicken yakisoba (it was really spicy and tasted like curry). After that we went home and just relaxed.
Saturday we went to infrandom's friend's house for a goodbye BBQ. He's leaving the bay area for Texas because of work, so we went over to chill and drink beers. That was pretty mellow.. Eventually, I drove to SF for Kevo's party. I'm not exactly sure why they had a party. Maybe it was to welcome their new roommate or something. They always have fun parties, but by the time Justyn and I got there, Hodaka and Jeremiah were already drunk. They were hilarious though. I ate a Korean shortrib made by the new roommate which was really tender and juicy. Normally the shortribs I eat are tough. She told me the secret was adding kiwi and soju to the marinade. That makes sense! I had a couple more drinks and partied it up with the guys until they decided they were going to a club. Justyn and I don't really like clubs so we took off.

Sunday morning Justyn woke up early to go on a newbie ride so that gave me an opportunity to sleep in even though he woke me up. I got up around 9:30am to get some breakfast and cure my massive hangover from mixing drinks the night before. Justyn came home around 1:00pm so I took a quick shower and met Donoho at Cinnabar Tasting Room for some wine. While we were driving to Cinnabar, Justyn suprised me by telling me that we were going to Evvia for dinner. YES!!!! Donoho, Justyn and I tasted some not so good wine at Cinnabar and then walked around Downtown Saratoga. It was a perfect day for walking around a nice area like that. We went to Blue Rock Shoot (I think that's what it's called) for some coffee. Well, they had coffee, I had a glass of wine. After that we spotted a wine store and did some more tastings there. After walking around, we went out separate ways. Justyn and I went home to relax before going to dinner.

Ohhh Evvia! I love this restaurant so much. I was so impressed with the lamb shank the first time we came here that I was tempted to order it again. This time, I settled on something called Katsiki Yiouvetsi which is Napa Valley goat braised with pearl onions, artichokes and feta cheese. Justyn ordered lamb chops which I'm pretty sure is what he ordered the last time we visited. I'm not even going to tell you if it was good. That's a definite given. Oh and dessert? We absolutely had to have the Galaktoboureko which is a traditional phyllo dough wrapped vanilla bean scented semolina custard with pistachio icecream. I didn't care for the icecream, but the custard wrapped with phyllo dough was heaven. I could've eaten the whole thing by myself. You guys know I hate dessert, but this is something I could eat everyday and not grow tired of it!

I took some pictures, but it was really dark in the restaurant, so they didn't come out as well as I would have liked.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thanks Wandering Chopsticks!

So a few posts down, I mentioned that I won a drawing that Wandering Chopsticks did on her blog. Awesome! I was so super stoked to actually win something, let alone from a newly found foodie friend! I received the package yesterday in a brown Amazon box. What could it be???

I wanted to wait until I got home to open it so I could take pictures of it. The box was fairly heavy for it's size and I shook it to see if I could guess. Nothing. Fine, so I smelled it. At first I thought it could be mangos since WC had a bunch that she didn't know what to do with, but when I smelled it, I got star anise. She shipped me a shitload of star anise? Oh noes! That's a lot of spice to cook with. As the day went on, I started thinking of all the uses that star anise has. After two recipes, I drew blanks.

Finally! I got home and relaxed a bit, ate dinner and watched some TV. It wasn't until Justyn said "Don't you want to open your present?". I stood up and said "Oh yeah!!". I put the box on the couch and got a pocket knife to open it. I also wanted to get my camera and exicitedly asked Justyn where the camera was. He said he didn't know. Dammit. I got back to the couch and the box was missing. WTF?! Justyn hid it. Bastard ass... I found it under the coffee table, where I tried to retrieve it, but Justyn kept on kicking it so I couldn't reach it. I pretended to hit his no-no area to get him to stop which he finally did.

*Drum roll please!*

Here's what was in the box:

Let's see if I can list it all correctly:

From Left to Right: Rice paper wrappers for spring rolls, Szechuan peppercorns, star anise and sticks of cinnamon, two packets of thick rice noodles, a cafe su da (sp?) strainer, a bowl of instant spicy noodle, lily somethings (I'm gonna cheat and ask my mom what to do with these), sheets of nori, Vietnamese coffees, I don't know what the red canister is (maybe ginseng?), and Chinese rice noodles.

How'd I do WC?


OK, after our disappointing meal at House of Kebob and a couple days later, Justyn's work was hosting a BBQ. Technically, I don't think I was supposed to be there, but his coworkers and boss know me so I suppose that made it OK. One of Justyn's coworker is an excellent chef. He and his wife along with some friends of theirs catered the BBQ. Cooking for an entire building is hard work! He had some chicken that was marinated in a mouth watering teriyaki sauce (better than mine!), ahi tuna served with a wasabi/mayo sauce, sweet potato salad (sooo good), grilled veggies (zucchini, portabello mushroom & eggplant), fruit salad and dinner rolls (they looked homemade). Everything was very good especially the potato salad. I always associated sweet potatoes with dessert, but this had a nice tart savory flavor to it. I need recipe!!! Hopefully Justyn will remember to get that for me.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of it, but here are a couple pictures of Justyn and I destroying servers Office Space style! This was a great stress reliever. I highly recommend it to any of you who are sick of corporate slavery. Back up in your ass with the ressurection!

Review: House of Kebob (Persian Restaurant)

Perisan food... this kind of cuisine is still fairly new to Justyn and I, but dammit it's good. We've been to a couple kebob places and in order to expand on our experience, we decided to try House of Kebob. Actually, this was a last minute decision. My friend Yeorgios that works in one of the buildings near mine wanted to get lunch. I picked him and Justyn up and we were off to Downtown Sunnyvale to eat at Dish Dash. Yeorgios had never been there so I figured it'd be a good place to try. As we walked towards Murphy St. from the parking lot, Justyn told Yeorgios that he wanted to try House of Kebob. Yeorgios said "why not?" So instead of making a left to the deliciousness that is Dish Dash, we went to House of Kebob.

This restaurant is fairly new. I asked the chef how long they've been in business and he stated that they'd only been there for 5 months. OK, I'll give them that. I'm going in with no expectations. It's meat and rice, how hard is it to screw up? Well first of all, I know they're new to the business and that English is their second language but I had to repeat our order 3 times before he understood. I gave the order in numbers according to their menu! Anyway, I paid for lunch and we sat down with the number were given.

I ordered one koobideh that came with rice and a grilled tomato. As I stepped away from the cash register after paying, I noticed that the cook put on a cold already grilled tomato onto the grill to heat it up. Ugh... first bad sign. The meat was already formed onto the skewer which they threw over the grill, again to heat it up... second bad sign. It looked like the meat had already been partially cooked. Justyn ordered two koobideh that also came with rice and "grilled" tomato. We also ordered a salad that said it had kalamata olives. Justyn's favorite olive. Yeorgios ordered soup and lamb kebob lunch.

OK, our food arrived fairly quickly. First good sign. We dove into our food and none of spoke. Why? Cuz it was terrible. At least I thought so. Justyn silently ate his koobidehs as did Yeorgios. I whispered to Justyn that my koobideh tasted like rotten meat. He tasted it and swapped with me. His koobideh tasted better, but I was still disappointed. The rice was bland so I had to sprinkle on tons of that red seasoning stuff (I dunno what it's called). The kebobs were small compared to what I've had at Rose Market... fourth disappointment. Yeorgios' soup tasted bland as hell and I could swear that it wasn't homemade, but instead from a can. Oh, and the salad? I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture, but those are not kalamata olives. They were pre-sliced black olives. WTF? The dressing? It was like bottled ranch dressing. Whatever happened to the nice tart vinagrette that I so enjoy? Not here apparently.

*sigh* I feel bad for slamming a restaurant that's only been open for 5 months, but come on... the food's gotta be on point. You don't pre-grill tomatoes and then use the grill to heat it up. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this place to anyone unless you feel like eating sub-par kebobs.

I can't even find their address on yahoo anyway.

Review: Senzala (Brazilian Restaurant)

OK, most of you may associate Brazilian with the churrascaria restaurants. You know, the places where hueg skewers of meat are served to you tableside? (Espetus in San Francisco comes to mind) This place is not like that. Senzala is a restaurant that's located in a tiny strip mall on Java Rd. It's dead center amongst a bunch of business parks. One of which is where I work. It's walking distance from Justyn's work so it was the most convenient restaurant we could think of that served up different food than what we normally eat. We've been to this place before when it was Java St. Cafe which wasn't very good. One other time, we'd been to Senzala and it was only OK. This time when we went, I was impressed. They increased their portion size (which isn't a good thing when you're trying to lose weight, but whatever, bring on the gluttony!) and the grilled meats were actually made to order. Again, Justyn ordered skewered meat and I had their stroganoff. I know what you're thinking. Isn't stroganoff a Russian dish? That's what I thought too, but then again, what's wrong with meat stewed in gravy served on top of white rice and french fries? Absolutely nothing.

We waited about 10 minutes for Justyn's entree to be cooked up and served and my tummy was growling. The french fries on my dish were kinda soggy and not freshly fried, but I like them mushy so that worked out. I had to add salt to the assorted veggies that came with my dish though. Justyn gave me a taste of his beef (lulz) and it was sort of dry. I told him what I thought and he said that his first bite was really tender and juicy so he gave me another taste. This time the meat was really tender and juicy just like he had said. His dish also came with a fried plantain and fried (we think) parsnips. If you remember my post Girls Night Cooking, you'll know how much I loved my first experience with them. So goooood. Again, I wanted to trade dishes, but mine was good enough. I could only cram half of the plate down since the portion was so big.

This is an OK lunchspot if you're in a hurry and work around this business area. Everything is served cafeteria style and there are lunch specials posted when you get in line. You may get a sense that you're being herded like cows, but it's a whole lot better than eating at your work's cafeteria unless you work at Google or Cisco.

250 E Java Dr.
Sunnyvale, CA 94089

Review: Totoro (Korean Tofu Restaurant)

We've eaten at Totoro before and it was good enough for a second visit. We went for lunch early last week and I ordered the same thing I had before which is the bibimbap. I seem to gravitate towards this dish a lot. What's not to like? Rice, veggies, beef and that lovely, sweet, bright red spicy chili sauce. Yum! Justyn ordered something similar to a kebob. Actually, when it arrived, that's exactly what it was. On the skewer was chicken, onion, bell peppers, shrimp and some other meat. The portions on the skewers were hueg! How was the flavor? The chicken was tender and drowned with gravy. Again.. what's not to like? I wish I had gotten his dish instead.

To be honest, I've had better Korean food, but this place isn't bad though. My only major gripe is that the tiny dishes that are normally served before the entree lacked variety. The only things we got were kimchee, beansprouts and cucumber. Yeah.. that was kinda weaksauce. Oh well!

841 Villa St.
Mountain View, CA 94041

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cooking: Father's Day

Sunday was Father's Day and my sister hosted a BBQ at her swanky condo. I was massively hungover, but needed to get my butt up and meet my sister to help her get stuff prepared. I marinated some chicken breast in a coconut lime mixture the night before, so I grabbed that and drove over. (I can't believe I have the ability and drive to cook when I'm not sober hehe, that was an adventure in itself)

My parents arrived about an hour later bringing lots of other food. My mom is a foodie like me, so she made guacamole, home fried chips, chicken in garlic marinade and korean beef (ribs, but these weren't bone-in).

My sister made pasta salad and grilled zucchini and bell peppers. While she was grilling her veggies, I grilled my chicken. I suck at grilling, but the chicken came out very well and flavorful according to my guinea pigs. At one point, my sister's boyfriend asked what was in it. Instead of painstakingly listing them, here's the link.. Since my sister and I took care of the grilling, my dad busted out his skills, or lack there of, on Grand Turismo.

After we were done grilling, we started cooking up my mom's chicken and beef. All the meat took almost a good two hours to do, but it was worth it. Justyn arrived around 2:00pm to find that we were done cooking. We put the spread on the table and snapped pictures before diving in.

I bought my dad a couple books from Barnes & Nobles. He got Enders Game which is Justyn's favorite book and also short stories from my one of my dad's favorite authors. Arthur C. Clark or something like that. (I'm not into Sci-Fi so I don't know and I'm too lazy to google it)

For dessert, my sister and I unmolded some panna cotta that we made on Saturday afternoon. She wanted something light so I suggested we add vanilla and lemon to it. I did some research and found this recipe: My sister was so impressed with this recipe that she said it would be her signature dessert from now on. We had carefully strained the berry sauce and panna cotta mixture so there would be absolutely no lumps. I don't like dessert, but this was a fun one to make.

My sister took out some wine that she and her boyfriend had bought from the Napa trip and two bottles later, she was drunk. It was funny to see someone else take my place as the resident drunkard (OK, she's not, but it was still great) She also made some mango (or mungo as she likes to call it) iced tea which was very refreshing for such a warm day.

Overall, it was a lovely Sunday afternoon spent with loved ones. I just wish the weekend didn't go by so quickly!