Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bill’s Cafe - San Jose

4/5 stars

Stacks, you have competition!

FOOD: The menu was so big and enticing, I had trouble deciding what I wanted. And if you're not in the mood for anything, you can order the "Not in the Mood for Anything" which just happens to be soup and a side salad with breadsticks. Everything on the menu looks like tasty comfort food – from omelettes to wraps, sandwiches, burgers, and benedicts. I finally decided on the Parisienne French Toast which was a fantastic idea. A huge, freshly baked croissant smushed flat and then dipped in a cinnamon egg batter and then fried. Dusted with powder'd sugar, it didn't need any more butter or syrup. It was very melt-in-your-mouth yummy. Came with two eggs and sausage links for $9. I also tried the bf's chicken fried steak and hasbrowns and I would have to say that they were the best I ever had - on both accounts. The chicken fried steak wasn't greasy or fatty, and it was PACKED with flavor. They seasoned it... there is no other word than perfectly. The gravy and hashbrowns were both fresh and - no doubt - homemade.

ATMOSPHERE: The sun is out, Spring is in the air - it's time for lazy Sunday breakfasts outside. Bill's got a patio AND they're open till 3PM for breakfast! Our waters and coffee was constantly filled. The service was soo friendly and regulars were greeted warmly. I can't wait to be a regular! And last but not least, I must mention the tequila! A river of tequila flows through Bill's... don't be surprised if you're offered a shot! Breakfast and booze... genius!


Gombei Japanese Restaurant - San Jose

2/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: Line was out the door! That's always a good sign, right? I'm sorry I don't agree with the 4 star rating or with the 120+ other Yelpers, but I can see the appeal! Even though every single table was full when we arrived, turn around time was fast so we were seated within 10 minutes. Service was super friendly - 4 star service for sure! Place was clean, warm, n' cozy. Cash only! 

FOOD: Japanese comfort food. Sort of like home-cooking, but on the bland side. HUGE PORTIONS, though. You get a lot for a low price. I had the fried shrimp udon and didn't like it. Shrimp and onion rings were fried up nice and non-greasy, though. I just didn't like the overall taste of the food. Not the restaurant's fault.


Judy’s Homestyle Cafe - San Francisco

1/5 stars

FOOD: Meh, boring, expensive, and sparce (as in portion size is pathetic... they don't even fold your omelette in half so that it appears bigger on your plate). Potatoes were way too herb-y (too much seasoning) and well... to be honest, I felt like I could've made the food at home. Yes, the ingredients were fresh, the warm blueberry muffin was a plus, and the mimosa was made with fresh OJ and they weren't skimpy on the champagne, so that was nice. It was a fun celebratory post-LASIK op drink (my eyesight is now better than 20/20)!

ATMOSPHERE: We didn't go inside, since the weather was so darn nice. High 60s and it's only March - gosh the Bay Area is awesome. They had some tables outside. Service was pretty non-exsistent, but polite. Note to staff: your coffee was the HOTTEST liquid my bf has EVER been served in his entire life. He barely sipped it (a teaspoon size sip) and it scalded his tongue. Maybe you shouldn't make it so hot. It was still bubbling in the cup.


Pacific Vision Institute - San Francisco

5/5 stars

This was my 100th Yelp review. And I couldn't have picked a more heartfelt place to review. Because of PVI, I woke up this morning and, for the first time in 17 years, was able to see clearly without the help of contacts or glasses.The words on my small, plastic floss dispenser from Walgreens never looked so clear.

Thank you, PVI + incredible, talented staff, for giving me the gift of sight. I am awestruck. There are no words good enough to describe this. I was aprrox. an 8 in one eye, a 7.75 in the other, with 1.75 astigmatism in both. I am now BETTER than 20/20. I always knew that I wanted to do LASIK, but I'm glad I waited for the technology to improve and for a blade-less cut. I couldn't imagine watching a doctor approach me with a blade to slice open my cornea. No, thank you. Fast forward 5 years or so. Then I got the push from my friend Aaron who was stoked to get his wavefront intraLASIK done which in turn got me all exicted. Before I knew it, I was at PVI for a consultation. Even though I arrived 2 hours late to my appointment (it was my first time driving to the City and I somehow managed to get to Fort Mason...), it was by far, the most comfortable doctor experience I've ever had. Gene took all my measurements and was so patient and sweet. He explained everything. What's super cool is that PVI has the ONLY CAT scan for eyes in Northern California! Leah was my point of contact there and she was very personable and straight forward. With my vision ins., it was going to cost me $5600 - $300 referral. If you plan it right and work with Flex, $3000 of that can be non-taxed money. Sweet! Okay, now the above price tag may be higher than what you're used to, BUT PVI IS WORTH IT. Several reasons: 1. I don't believe in designer jeans or $7.00 bottled water, but when it came to my eyes, I was willing to pay for the best. Dr. Faktorovich looks better on paper than anybody else I've ever read about. She has written textbooks on this stuff. You know what that means? Future eye surgeons study her. 2. Your touch-ups are free... for life. Other places may offer free touch-ups for 6 months after or up to 2 years. We're talking, for life. No bargaining, no paying for appoinments, or anything hidden. One, direct fee. Dr. Lee did most of my pre-op work as well as surgery prep and post-op and let me tell you - he's a cool cat. Very patient (I asked like, a bajillion questions), very honest, very nice, and incredibly professional. Because I wore hard contacts for so long and was on antibiotics that dried up everything from my skin to my eyes, he and Dr. Faktorovich just weren't ready to perform surgery on me. I am SO HAPPY that I had doctors who were honest enough to say, "No." They said no to me two times before they said yes.

THE PROCEDURE: the pain was minimal, just mostly uncomfortable and weird. I spent most of the time stressing out that I was doing it wrong. Before I had time to fix whatever I was doing, it was over. The procedure itself (the cutting of the flap and the LASIK) lasted... maybe 10 minutes? It was mostly keeping your eyes closed and waiting.

First they give you some medicine to relax you (and boy did they work! I could barely hobble around on those beautiful pills!) and then they put a bunch of drops in your eyes - to numb them, ect. Then Dr. Lee uses a marker and makes marks on your eyes - I didn't feel a thing! Then you lie there for awhile, again, with your eyes closed. Then you're led to a fairly cold room. Dawn, who's very sweet, gave me a pillow to squeeze on. There, you lie and wait. What's kinda cool is that you can hear the surgery that's going on in the other room so you know what to expect. FYI - the machine makes noise. Then Dr. Faktorvich comes in and this is when the flap is cut. Sharp, metal things are inserted into your eyes to hold them open - one eye at a time. And then you're supposed to look at the light. Problem was... I thought I saw two lights. If you look at the wrong one, Dr. F will tell you. Then you're moved over to another machine that creates the air bubbles? Then you're sat on a comfy couch where you wait for the bubbles to do its thing. Finally, you're taken into another room where the most painful part was Dr. F removing the flap. The surgery itself was the most confusing part for me because behold, the light show! You're supposed to fixate on the green light, but there was so much going on - red splotches, yellow. I apparently also had some trouble keeping my head still. Dr. F (or somebody) helped hold it down for me. Then, before I knew it, it was over. I wanted to sing my thanks to Dr. F but A) I couldn't see and B) she had already left the room. Busy lady.

What I did hear was a wonderful "Congratulations" from Dawn and then Michelle led me into a room where Dr. Lee did a final check-up and I was given all my drops and my eyes were covered. I was so thankful and loopy. I fell asleep instantly and woke up, re-born.


Hon Sushi - Mountain View

2.75/5 stars

Went here wth my mom and dad on President's Day. Family lunch at a family establishment! 

ATMOSPHERE: Bright, clean, tiny, friendly, attentive... I almost felt like I was in Japan. I would say that Hon Sushi is a little gem run by decent, honest Japanese people who care. And all sushi and rolls are automatically 30% off.

FOOD: We had a feast! The fish is fresh, the rolls are big, bold, and colorful. I also had the pork ramen and even though the noodles weren't made fresh (which I didn't mind because this wasn't a ramen shop), the broth was unique and tasty. Very savory, slightly tangy, mildly spicy, and It wasn't fatty either... and no MSG! Free miso to start and free fresh-cut pineapple for dessert!

IN A MOUTHFUL: Can't wait to share this place with others!


Straits Restaurant - Santana Row - San Jose

2.5/5 stars

After window shopping at Santana Row and a lovely pedicure at Lavande Spa, my girl friend and I were ready for dinner and cocktails to finish up girl time. Straits was a great ending.

Yes, overpriced.
Yes, overhyped.
Yes, trendy in a cookie-cutter way.

BUT, they do three things (and only three things) well, IMO, and they are:

1. Cocktails
2. Roti
3. Garlic noodles

I love the extensive variety and tasty-ness of their cocktails. My strawberry cheesecake martini tasted just as described. It even had a yummy, sugary, graham cracker crust on the rim. I love the crisp, flaky, doughy, paper thin roti with its sweet n' savory curry for dippin'. And I must admit, have had dreams about their chewy, powerfully garlicky-in-a-good-way, shitake-mushroom-fantastic garlic noodles with chicken and sweet smellin' basil.

We also ordered their beef wrapped in grape leaves lettuce wraps today and they were surprisingly made well. The dish came with butter lettuce, cilantro, mint leaves, basil leaves, pickled carrots and jicama, and a sweet, chili dipping sauce. The beef was juicy and it was overall, a well flavored dish. The crab cakes, on the other hand, sucked. The crab was minced or something and the curry (I think) flavor didn't taste right. It just didn't work. They were also too dry. Don't order this. Save your money.

Atmosphere is a bit too loud, service is sorta superficial, but professional, and prices are way way way high, but for the above three things, I don't mind coming back every now and again.


Thai Cafe - Milpitas

3/5 stars

Not up to my favorite Krung Thai standards, but still....

Thai Cafe had a CUTE, CLEAN n' COLORFUL ATMOSPHERE, nice, attentive service, and reasonable prices! We ordered one appetizer and 4 dishes and it was only $40! Awesome says I! Place was cozy-like small, but not claustrophobic and bonus - open till 11PM on Friday and Saturdays.

And the Thai DISHES were SAVORY and YUMMY. We ordered the roti appetizer and yes, the roti was more pancake-like than paper thin... still good though. The curry that came with the roti was coconut-milky deliciousness. Mildly spicy, totally drool-worthy. I love that stuff. Another winner of the night was the roasted duck red curry with its sweet, curry-soaked pineapples (yum-o) and its tomatoes, basil, and red n' green peppers. Duck wasn't game-y and we didn't just get fatty pieces. Good job!

Pad thai was sweet and noodles weren't overcooked - great job! Chicken in the pad thai was nothing to write home about. I didn't have any of the green curry fried rice that we ordered because the boys ordered it Thai hot. They said it was decent, but that the spicy-ness overpowered the dish. The eggplant and pork dish we ordered tasted more Chinese than Thai to me, but it was still good! Eggplant was cooked right and the pork was lean and plentiful. We got it at medium and being quite the mild girl - it was too spicy for me.

To help you gauge the spicy-level at this restaurant: the mild was perfect for me (wasn't boring and bland, but you could still tell that there was a touch of heat) and with the medium, I could feel that my tongue was on fire, but it didn't hurt... just uncomfortable in the mouth.

OVERALL: above solid food, cute lil place, open late, decent prices, well-cooked dishes AND an adorable looking elephant mascot...


Oola Restaurant & Bar - San Francisco

4/5 stars

Oola Haiku

Warm, cozy, and chic
The best french fries in San Fran
With truffle oil

and parmesan cheese
Romantic upstairs seating
Flickering candles

Menu is simple
Bar food is actually good
Service is friendly


Citizen Cake - San Francisco (closed)

2/5 stars

Found the infamous Citizen Cake by chance. Stumbled upon it while we were looking for a quick bite before the glorious symphony.

ATMOSPHERE: I could use a lot of words to describe this place. Chic. Snobby. Cold-shoulder'd. Over-hyped. Expensive.

FOOD: Gotta admit, was not too excited about this place. I was really excited about Citizen Cupcake when I heard there was such a thing. Turns out, it was the worst cupcake I ever had. Dense. Dry. Too sweet. Yucky. So I was wary, but we were just there for a snack. I wandered over to the glossy glass case and saw the cookie called: "The" Chocolate Chip Cookie. Of course I had to buy it. Not only did I want to see what all the fuss was about, I wanted to see what a dollar fifty cookie tasted like. Yes, it was a $1.50 and no, it wasn't big. It was the size of a packaged Chips Ahoy cookie. The bf got a cappuccino and a sticky toffee pudding cupcake.

So the cookie was okay. I mean, yes, it was better than a Chips Ahoy cookie, but not the best chocolate chip cookie I've ever had (in case you're wondering, the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had were at Google). It wasn't hard or dry, but it wasn't chewy enough. There was also too much salt in it. The sticky toffee pudding cupcake was, yes, a pretty freakin' great idea. And thank goodness, it was yummy. Bf said the cappuccino was above average too. Whew. You did better than Cupcake, Cake. Now could please go and improve your lil' sister store?

So... sticky toffee pudding cupcake a high 3... cookie was a 2... prices way over... I'd say averages out to 2.5... rounding down to 2.


Sodini’s - Redwood City

2/5 stars

Sodini's Haiku

Yep, it's a dive bar
Cheap drinks, friendly bartenders
We were youngest there

26th birthday
75 cents a game
One old pool table

Good-natured people
Serious karaoke
They had a cowbell

a blow-up plastic
guitar and a crowd-pleasing
opera performance


Country Inn Cafe - Santa Clara (closed)

4/5 stars

I'm really going to miss this place. It had a lot going for it: it was within walking distance of Bray Avenue, it served breakfast all day, and had huge, fluffy omlettes.

ATMOSPHERE: Old-fashioned look, clean, and simple, with very friendly service.

FOOD: omg, no wonder Americans are overweight. Huge plates and all breakfasts come with a stack of buttermilk or swedish pancakes. I heart the soft, delicate swedish pancakes topped with powdered sugar and sweet, pink lingonberry butter - delicious. I had the linguica omlette and the sausage was really good! They also have good hashbrowns and tuna melts, thiiick milkshakes, crispy, seasoned french fries, and are generous when it comes to avocados. Gravy tastes homemade and chicken fried steaks are uber tasty. Reliable meals!


Old Port Lobster Shack - Redwood City

I'm 26 years young! What better way to celebrate than dinner with 20 of my closest friends and lobster - the best crustacean ever?


  • Doesn't take reservations, so I emailed Russell (the owner) and he responded right away! He was so friendly and wonderful... Russell, if you're reading this, THANK YOU!
  • Sort of in the middle of nowhere... the "shack" is part of a strip mall next to a Supercuts
  • Was able to reserve their entire "boat section"... we were sorta up on a platform, felt like we had the whole restaurant to ourselves!
  • Service was suuuper friendly, accomodating, and attentive! Shay and everyone else who helped us that night, if you're reading this, THANK YOU! They poured wine for us and even gave me a wine glass to bring home as a bday present. Only con was that they charge 25% gratuity for big parties! I mean, seriously? 25%?!?! It's unheard of!
  • Informal... and we could be as loud as we wanted. Decoration was cheesy charming with its boat/oceanic theme. There were long, picnic-type tables, toy lobsters, and fashionable, plastic bibs that were totally meant for fun pictures.
  • Everything (including appetizers) was in the $20 range... but c'mon... it's lobster...


  • Lobster cakes were teeny tiny, but delish. Mussels in white wine and calamari couldn't compare to Phil's in Moss Landing. To summarize, don't order appetizers. Stick with all main courses that include the word "lobster" in it and you'll be golden.
  • I shared the naked lobster roll and the lobster mac n' cheese with the bf. Both were heavenly! I highly, highly recommend ordering the lobster roll because not only is it a New England treat, it's the restaurant's speciality. I like the naked roll because I'm not a big fan of mayo. With the naked, you get a side of mayo and can add however much you want. I just like to drizzle butter over my lobster meat. The roll was fresh-baked, buttery, golden - perfectly made! The lobster tasted FRESH and they were generous with it. The chunks were huge and satisfying. Mmm... drooling as I type, how attractive. We ordered the mac n' cheese because, well... how could you not? They were generous with the lobster chunks there too. Sauce was creamy and non-artifical... this is homemade stuff!
  • I was surprised with a huge cube of blueberry bread pudding and it was very good! There was a candle and an eruption of "Happy Birthday" and it was beyond lovely. Especially since my friend and her date are professional opera singers... wow!

IN A MOUTHFUL: Will definitely return when I'm missing my second home – New England. I really wanted to give Old Port Lobster Shack 5 stars BUT really, 25% gratuity? All my friends were baffled and so was I. That aside, thank you Old Port Lobster Shack for a greeeat birthday! 

Russell (the owner) read my complaints on the 25% gratuity and he emailed me 2/8/2008. He said: "When we do full service for a table, depending on the time involved and how the bill is presented we might add 10-15% tops, never 25%. This is unheard of even in 5 star restaurants. Please except my apologies and I am going to mail you half that amount back, and some gift cards for your next lobster craving." NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL SERVICE! If this isn't 5 star service, I don't know what is. Thank you, Russell.

It's been almost a month, but I still haven't received the money or gift cards that Russell (the owner) promised me... I hope he doesn't go back on his word!!

I know a few of you have been wondering what happened... well, I'm pleased to say that it was a happy ending. Finally got the check and the gift cards. Thanks to everyone and to the OPLS.


Palo Alto Creamery - Palo Alto (closed)

3/5 stars (because of the ice cream)

Palo Alto Creamery Haiku

All American Diner
in the Stanford Mall
Kinda out of place

Greasy served with fries
Reliable comfort food
Really thick milkshakes

Wait staff was polite
but not a memorable place
Palo Alto price


Supperclub - San Francisco

1.5ish/5 stars

1 1/2 stars for food
3 stars for atmosphere
3 stars for drinks

ATMOSPHERE: Went here for a team building offsite, even though it was more like team lounging/you can really only talk to the people you're sitting next to sort of shindig. Team bonding wise, it was the least interactive one I've been to. The Supperclub is probably better for small groups or couples. It was definitely a unique experience though, but I'm glad I didn't spend the usually $70 or $80 (it was only $30 + drinks because it was Dine About Town). Part Cirque du Soleil, part AsiaSF, and part that "Sex and the City" episode where the girls all go to that new club with all the beds in it. The eating ice cream out of doggie bowls was a nice touch.

FOOD: meeeh. I have heard mixed reviews. I have mixed reviews myself. I wonder if the quality/quantity was affected because it was at a Dine About Town price. I had the salad with wontons, blue cheese crumbles, carrots, beets, and unidentifiable grapes or grape tomatoes - it was either or. Salad dressing was way too syrupy sweet. The sliced steak/prime rib was delish with its nice balsamic-like sauce, but I do not get the caramlized ginger on top of my scoop of ice cream. 

Cocktails were the best part of the meal. The Supperclub Martini with its white chocolate Godiva liquor and Kahlua was my kind of dessert drink. The Mango Remix was basically a mango mojito and the Blush was champagne + strawberries + flavored vodka something or the other bliss. Yum-o. 

IN A MOUTHFUL: I'm glad I tried it once, but I won't be coming back.


Sugar Butter Flour - Sunnyvale

2.999/5 stars

It was a short visit with my mom. I had an appointment, but wanted to stop by to see what all the fuss was about. Was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

ATMOSPHERE: Very clean, bright lil' shop. The girl who helped me was friendly. I think there were only 2 or 3 tables. One couple was doing a tasting for their wedding. They had a bunch of cake slices and a cupcake in front of them. It looked like fun!

On one wall, you'll find "Ace of Cakes"-like creations. A purse cake, a hamburger cake complete with fries... it was awesome!

My one concern was that everything looked so expensive! Desserts are about 5 bucks a pop and cakes are in the $20 to $30 range, just for a 6".

DESSERT: I don't know how I resisted the flourless raspberry jam thing, but I did! All I bought were two cupcakes to sample: the red velvet (one of my favorite flavors) and the decadent looking chocolate cupcake with adorable pink spots on top. They were $2.50 each.

Once in the car, I dove right into the red velvet and even though I detest nuts of any kind in my food, the red velvet frosting was so yummy that I hardly noticed the walnuts - they perhaps even enhanced the flavor. Frosting was creamy, not whipped, overly sweet, or buttery and the cake was not dense or bitter due to the copious amounts of food coloring. The red velvet cake was better than Citizen Cupcake's in SF. However, it was pretty dry. It was probably a two or three day old cupcake. I bet it would've been a 5-star cupcake if it was fresh!

The chocolate cupcake was waaay better. Tasted fresh, was chewy, moist, airy, not too sweet - perfectly delicious. Usually, I need equal amounts of frosting + cake, but this chocolate cake was delicious even with only a scattering of pink frosting dots on top. Now THIS cupcake lives up to the Sugar Butter Flour hype.

IN A MOUTHFUL: I think I need to go back. Just to try that flourless raspberry jam cake thing. And a cookie. Giving only 3 stars because even though the chocolate cupcake was awesome, the red velvet was totally dry.


Curry House - Cupertino

3/5 stars

Hot off the press!

We JUST returned from the Curry House! And it was everything Yelpers and Curry House fanatics (my Sensei, especially) said it would be. Ah, I heart trying new restaurants that don't disappoint! 

FOOD: I ordered the pork katsu curry (mild) with white rice and picked the House Salad to start. The salad was small, but nice. I liked the addition of the corn and green beans, but didn't understand why there was so much parsley on top of it? The dressing was probably ginger based, it was refreshing and mild. Tried some of my friend's corn potage. Tasted like creamed corn soup. I really like that stuff. I wonder if it's fresh or from the can?

The pork katsu curry was VERY satisfying - cozy on a plate. The katsu was the bestest I've ever had. Panko-fried, not oily or dry - what an accomplishment! Pork was lean and juicy - a tasty treat! Curry was simple and flavorful - was more like brown gravy to me than the Thai or Vietnamese curry I'm used to (Thai and Vietnamese curries are often made with potatoes and onions or even eggplant, you know... vegetables...). Overall, the dish was what it was supposed to be and it was great. Somebody in my party ordered the curry in the stone pot and it was HUGE. My advice would be to only order that if you've got a big appetite!

ATMOSPHERE: Opened till 9:30PM on Saturdays and it emptied pretty quickly. Only had to wait 15 minutes or so when we got there round 8:30PM. Staff was polite, place was VERY clean, water glasses were constantly filled - the Curry House is still a brand new establishment with beer and wine on the menu, but since they haven't obtained their license yet, it was in "coming soon" mode. The quality felt above par, but still... I think the prices are a bit steep. My meal was $10. Filled me up quite nicely, though.

IN A MOUTHFUL: I can't think of any other place in the Bay Area like the Curry House. I'm glad they joined the neighborhood!


The Melting Pot - San Jose (closed)

3.5/5 stars

Beware: long, casual, fancy dinner review

I've been to this Melting Pot 3x. Was not impressed the first time... second time was better (the Banana Fosters chocolate was to die for)... and third time was just about perfect! Still not La Fondue-level but satisfying enough.

ATMOSPHERE: Reservations were easy to make. Only had to call 2 to 4 days in advance (unlike La Fondue where you have to call at least two weeks in advance). I was also able to call day of to move our reservation up. Came here for a *special* occasion and told them so. The girl who picked up the phone (right away) said she would do her best. She did pretty good! I didn't even know they had booths that secluded. Only thumbs down was that it got fairly warm tucked up in the corner... a touch too cramped. Parking wasn't bad, but be careful of going on Sharks night and bring cash! Our waiter, Steven, was really nice and uninvasive, and the owner or manager came to check up on us twice. 

FOOD: Big Night Out (approx $100)!

- Traditional Swiss with white wine, lemon, (extra) garlic, German cherry liquor (Kirschwasser), and nutmeg was deeelicious. It tasted like wine... really hit the spot. Served with 3 kinds of bread, cauliflower, carrots, celery (yuck), and green apples (yay).

- I'm sorry, the House Salad was decent with its sweet dressing, boiled egg, and swiss cheese BUT I am such a big, big fan of La Fondue's salad that nothing compares.

- I got lobster for my anniversary! woot! We ordered the Fondue Fusion with LOBSTER TAIL (it wasn't big, but it wasn't pathetic either, fresh tasting, and so darn good dipped in the galirc butter... drool), tender FILET MIGNON the Balsamic SIRLOIN (a favorite of the night), the surprisingly very flavorful Garlic and Herb CHICKEN, the way too citrusy Citrus PORK the firm, fresh SHRIMP, and the (also) surprisingly tasty Wild Mushroom RAVIOLI, and Roasted Red Pepper RIGATONI. 

- Vegetables included mushroom caps, broccoli, zucchini, and potatoes (beware: they take the longest to cook, so just dump 'em in when you start and fish them out later). Sauces included terriyaki (my favorite), blue cheese, sweet n' sour (waaay too sweet), curry, green goddess (very yummy), cocktail-horseradish sauce (it was good! didn't just put it on the seafood...), and a chunky tomato sauce for the pasta.

DESSERT (or "the reason you go to Fondue"): Melting Pot's chocolate selection is... dare I say... better than La Fondue's. We got the Yin & Yang (perfect for "you love dark chocolate and I love white chocolate") AND was able to add chunky peanut butter to the mix! Score! Came with rice krispies, banana slices, really sweet strawberries, cheesecake, pound cake, marshmallows dusted in graham crackers and oreo cookies, and brownies. Only complaint, Melting Pot is kinda stingy when you ask for more dippin' stuff.

DRINKS: At least they're not stingy with their alcohol. Even though my Yin & Yang was pretty and delicious (Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur, Stoli Vanil Vodka, and ice cream topped with chocolate shavings) - it cost way too much for a drink, IMO ($12).

IN A MOUTHFUL: It couldn't have been a better night!


Palace BBQ Buffet - Sunnyvale

4/5 stars

I've been driving past this place on El Camino for as long as I can remember. There's almost always a crowd gathered outside the restaurant. One rainy Saturday, we decided on a (successful) impromptu dinner here. Me and three boys who eat lots of meat. Awesome.

ATMOSPHERE: I'm sure Saturday nights are usually packed, but we barely had to wait 15 minutes for a table of 4. Even found parking right in front. Thank you stormy weather! I think we picked the best time to go. Place looked well worn, but was clean. Service was pretty non-existent. Had to ask twice for a soda re-fill. I mean, they were nice, but kinda brusk. We were just minding our business, cooking our meat the way we wanted to, and all of a sudden, one of the waitresses came over and took charge of our tongs and started un-rolling our short ribs. I guess we weren't cooking it the right way. It was probably good intentioned, but it was also kinda sudden. Almost rude. One HUGE complaint, prices were pretty high with $30 a person.

ALL YOU CAN EAT MEAT: is pretty freakin' fabulous. I really like how they give you garlic to cook with. Wish it was minced or chopped up for us, though. Would be easier to apply to the meat. My favorite was the long ribs. Juicy, tender, sweet, and not too fatty. The short ribs were pretty great, too, but took a long time to cook. Meat was melt in your mouth, though. The seafood needed A LOT more seasoning - better seasoning all together. Chicken terriyaki was plain and egg rolls would be better if they were veggie-tarian, IMO. Enjoyed the cucumbers and the cold noodles, though - traditional Korean small dishes that went great with the grilled meat.

Buffet had a decent variety of meat: long ribs, short, beef, chicken, shrimp, squid, spicy pork, and intestinal parts. There was also a cheap, Chinese food-like area with the usual suspects: fried rice, sweet n' sour something or the other. A lame salad bar, but who goes here to eat salad? I did like the jello, punch, and canned fruit.

IN A MOUTHFUL: worth the hype. I wouldn't mind coming back. Too bad they can't accomodate large parties. 6 max. (if you're little)


Britannia Arms - San Jose

2.5/5 stars

Happy New Year!

So New Year's Eve, I decided against the drive to SF. Didn't feel like sitting in traffic or getting lost... hah! Yup, I have a really bad sense of direction.

Went here with a small group of friends and it was pretty darn perfect. I like it when I can actually hear and talk to my friends at a bar with live music. It was pretty laidback and bonus, fairly clean bathrooms. The bartenders were super duper nice. And came with accents - cute!

Started the night with a pint of Wyder's Pear Cider for six bucks. They had this New Year's special which was a pretty good deal if you ask me. $29.99 for a prime rib or salmon dinner, plus dessert, champagne, party favors (tiaras, plastic top hats, balloons, and noise makers), AND the best part of all, a table all night long. Didn't have to elbow myself to the bar for drinks the entire night! The owner even came by twice to fill our glasses with champagne - charming fellow! Our waitress was fantastic too! She never disappeared on us - it was easy to get drinks from her all night long. Drinks came pretty quick too, even though by 11PM, the place was packed! Great crowd, a mix of old and young. And the band was good - unpretentious, solid vocals, fun!

FOOD: was meh, but come on, who comes to a pub for good food? I'd stay away from the Salmon Wellington. The prime rib was almost okay - a really thick cut, with huge chunks of fat, and completely well done (when it was supposed to be medium). The french fries and dessert were pretty great, though. The fries were steak fries and we got the fried Mars Bar, fried cheesecake, and Sticky Toffee Puddin' for dessert. Loved the Sticky Toffee Puddin'! The Mars Bar was worth the try, but uber sweet. It's definitely one to share with the group. The fried cheesecake with strawberry sauce was melt in your mouth tasty, but like the Mars Bar, you can only have so much.

Ohh, car bombs here are delicious! Fresh Guinness, creamy Bailey's... almost tastes like chocolate milk!


Strings Italian Cafe - Sacramento (closed)

3/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: I felt cramped in there (and not in a cozy, warm and fuzzy feeling way) and I'm not a very big person. Service was very friendly and attentive - came to check on us several times. Prices were comparable to other Italian chains like Pasta Pomodoro and Macaroni Grill - reasonable and dependable.

FOOD: I was pleasantly surprised! Better than the Olive Garden IMO. The salad was awesome - I really, really liked the dressing - a sort of creamy, slightly tangy Italian. Only complaint is that the salad was mixed with raisins and sunflower seeds. My wonderful dining companions thoroughly enjoyed the wrinkled grapes and bird seed though, so that was cool. I easily picked them out. Bread wasn't boring - some sort of herbed, seasoned focaccia that came out hot. I ordered the Fettucine Marsala dish with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and shrimp (gorgonzola cheese crumbles on the side). They WERE NOT skimpy on the shrimp! I got like, twenty plump, not-over-cooked, decently sized/fresh tasting shrimp. The Marsala sauce was creamy, the pasta al dente! Good job Strings!


Nevada City Classic Cafe - Nevada City

1/5 stars

Nevada City Classic Cafe Haiku

Brunch took two hours
One and a half of waiting
to get our menus

and to order food
The service was very slow
Prime rib crepe was plain

My least favorite diner
that I have been to
It's unfortunate


The Counter Santana Row - San Jose

3.5/5 stars

Once Upon a Time...

A girl came back from Japan and was tired of cold, non-cooked seafood and vegetarian fare and just really wanted a burger. Alas, her favorite Clarke's was too far away and they had "Enchanted" to catch at the AMC in Cupertino (it was a very cute and funny movie, if curiousity's got your cat). Browsing ye' ol' wise Yelp, she was ecstatic to find a new burger place that boasted 312,120+ different burger combinations, milkshakes, and a full bar. Golly!

The fairy godmother must've been on her side, because they were able to find parking at Santana Row on a FRIDAY night during the HOLIDAYS within 3 minutes. And even though there was a line out the door, she and her +1 were seated right away. The clipboard presented to them had an array of goodies and all burgers were weighted AFTER they were cooked. The 2/3lb was a wall of meat!

As the story goes, the friendly waitress accidentally dropped huge glasses filled with ice and plenty of water all over their table so they were promptly upgraded to a more spacious window seat and given their french fries and onion strings for free (as a sign of good will and also because said fries and onion strings were quite late in their arrival).

The pumpkin pie milkshake was divine, one of the best milkshakes ever had. The burger was solid as well - the beef was crumbly and of quality and cooked to her liking (medium well), though it must be noted that medium rare came out more rare than medium. The cheese was American, the onions grilled and piled high, the sauces delightful to choose from. The roasted garlic aioli and the red relish shall be ordered again which is something she wouldn't say in regards to the fried dill pickles. Meh. 

Prices were a bit steep, but alas, they were in the kingdom of Santana Row so it was expected.

It was a Happily Ever After.


Black Angus Steakhouse - Milpitas

3/5 stars

I haven't been back to Black Angus in 5 years? I remember it being less than mediocre - gray and teeny portions. This particular Black Angus was pretty great, probably the best in the Bay Area. Changed my mind about Black Angus for sure!

SERVICE: we were with our favorite couple and so beer and lots of laughing were involved. our waiter was really patient, chill, and attentive. He recommended the mango mojito and it was delish! 

ATMOSPHERE: a lot nicer than other Black Angus restaurants I've been to and well-lit - for a steakhouse.

FOOD: the cowboy bread was warm, fresh, and nutty. I shared the Dinner for Two with my friend which is a terrific deal! We each got to pick a steak of choice, soup or salad, and shared an appetizer, and dessert. A TON of food. I had the prime rib and it was a good size and juicy! but a part of it was just solid fat. We also had the shrimp appetizer and the shrimp were huge and crisp! Strawberry cheesecake for dessert and I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't taste like it had been frozen.


Top Dog - San Jose (closed)

4/5 stars

FOOD: Hit the spot! It's awesome that when you want a hot dog, you can go to some place OTHER than Wienerschnitzel and Costco to satisfy your craving. These were top quality NY, German, and Polish dogs - and for only $2.75!! Warning: if you're hungry, order 2 because they're kinda on the small side.

Grilled perfectly, placed into a toasty sesame bun, and wrapped in paper. No frills! Actually, that's why I'm docking one star. Wished the condiment bar had more to offer and was... well... prettier. Glad there were 3 kinds of mustard to choose from, warm saurkraut, and chopped onion though - those are the winners. And my favorite hot dog was the Top Dog - it was soo juicy, had a lot of flavor, and, my favorite part, it bites back. A.K.A. casing's got some resistent when you bite into it. 

ATMSOPHERE: Dive! Dive! Dive! No seats inside, 'cept at the counter. Nice patio area though, if it wasn't raining.


Warren’s Lobster House - Kittery

3/5 stars

THE POINT: wasn't the place or the food (this time), but the people I was having dinner with: my grandparents whom I don't get to see very often

THE COOL PART: sitting at a table by the window with a view of the water and the place where my grandfather's submarine was docked for maintenance

THE OKAY PART: Warren's boasts the "best salad bar" and it was pretty impressive with lots of choices

FOOD: king crab legs, which were better in Alaska... doh! should've ordered the lobster... note to self: ALWAYS ORDER THE LOBSTER if given the opportunity!!

ATMOSPHERE: seaworthy, not bad... not fancy, liked the display of old menus at the front... lobster dinner for $2.50?!?! Those must've been the good ol' days...

IN A MOUTHFUL: mediocre food, prices, atmosphere... but having dinner with my grandparents? priceless!!


Ramen House Ryowa - Mountain View

ATMOSPHERE: Going to Japan in Nov and am seriously "so excited... I just can't hide it" so I'm spending my time waiting for real ramen by eating at the many ramen houses in the South Bay. D*mn, we're lucky we live in the Bay Area.

I wonder if Ryowa is close to what a real ramen house in Japan looks like. Small, cramped/cozy, with book shelves filled with manga. There wasn't much standing room. You get in, write your name on a lil' notepad, and try not to situate your butt too close to a couple happily slurping up their noodles because well, that's just plain rude. Service didn't talk very much, but they were friendly and speedy. Took our orders while we waited = steaming bowl of noodles served almost as you sit down = awesome.

FOOD: I ALMOST ordered the Butter Corn because I heard that's the winner here, but when I saw the words "stewed pork" I just had to get the Butabara Ramen. Because this was our first visit, the bf ordered the bowl that bared the restaurant's name - the Ryowa Ramen.

I almost loved the Butabara as much as the Tonkatsu at Maruichi - except it was a touch too salty. The broth was very tasty - almost tangy/spicy. The noodles were excellent, chewy, fresh, and whoa! Stewed pork overload! That is in no way a bad thing. The pork was very tender and definitely melts in your mouth. Unfortuantely, the Butabara only came with stewed pork and bok choy. I was very disappointed that there was no egg or bean sprouts. Maruichi puts more stuff in the bowl. BUT you do get a way cooler spoon to eat with at Ryowa. That giant spoon made me giggle. It was like eating with a baby ladle.

The Ryowa Ramen was a sesame based broth and it was indeed very sesame-y. The Ryowa came with sliced pork, bean sprouts, sea weed, and half an egg. No mushrooms = sad face. Butabara was the winner of the night.

IN A MOUTHFUL: I was very happy that we finally tried Ryowa and will definitely return. The ramen was solid and we may just try the fried rice or chicken next time - they looked great! And one last hurrah for the spoon!


SGD Tofu House - Santa Clara

2.5/5 stars

SGD Tofu House Haiku

I don't like tofu
But it looked so enticing
I had to order

It was comfort food
Served bubbling hot with steamed rice
Came with a raw egg

You also get five free
Korean small dishes
Pickled cucumber

was my favorite
it's so good, I got extra
Service was friendly

Wouldn't recommend
Ordering the non-spicy
Mild for next time


Los Dos Compadres #2 - San Jose

2.5/5 stars



Alas, it's true. I FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY have a place to go that's right by home when I'm craving a real Mexican burrito and A) don't feel like making the drive to Mountain View and B) don't want American, microwaved Mexican a la Taco Bell.

ATMOSPHERE: No wonder I never knew this place existed despite living in 'tino for more than 15 years! Los Dos Compadres is hidden behind the Bank of America in an Asian complex. The inside was run-down, but clean and the people were super friendly. Prices were decent - $5.75 for a Super Burrito which included meat, beans, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. It was around 3:30 when I stopped by, so the place was sorta quiet, but I was very happy to find that the 3 tables that were filled were occupied by Mexican people. Good sign!

BURRITO: Nothing exciting, but it was satisfyingly real. Flour tortilla wasn't dry - great! I was able to get refried beans instead of pintos, everything was spiced really well, there was a perfect amt of sour cream and guac in my burrito, and when I asked for a side of limes, I got what looked like the equivalent of 1 whole lime - super great! Unfortunately, my pollo asado was WAY TOO DRY. The quality of the meat wasn't high either and I didn't get a side of chips with my burrito to-go, but oh well. The next time, I ordered the pollo salsa en rojo and it was so much better than the asado. Juicy, tender chicken... mmm! I found a taqueria near Cupertino! Yay!


Morton’s The Steakhouse - San Jose

3.5/5 stars

A couple months ago, the bf and I watched an episode of "Iron Chef America" where the secret ingredient was none other than kobe steak! So of course, after that, we needed to get us some steak! 

ATMOSPHERE: We made reservations on and after our car was conveniently parked by valet we were promptly seated. Outside, the restaurant looks like a bank on Wall Street, but inside, it was all steakhouse - dim lights, white table cloths, sharp steak knives, wine bottles on display, and black & white photographs. What I liked most was that it wasn't at all pretentious and not all businessmen. There were couples and families and many Happy Birthdays being sung (listen for the "impressive" waiter/opera singer). As we sat down, about 4 different people made sure that we had water, the wine list, an onion loaf fresh from the oven, and that my jacket was hung neatly on a chair. Sometimes it's true - with money, comes service! Our waitress was enthusiastic, though a mite spacey. I don't have any complaints about the atmosphere, the service, or the looks of the place - though I'm not quite sure how I feel about being shown a cart of raw beef, a live lobster, a potato, an onion, and a head of broccoli before being handed my menu. It was really quite unnecessary.


- the ARNOLD PALMER was one of the best I've ever had. The lemonade really stood out. I don't know if it was sparkling or just, really expensive bottled lemonade, but it was really good! Not too tart and sweetened just right!

- the BACON WRAPPED SCALLOPS weren't special, but were perfectly prepared. I wouldn't recommend eating the scallops with the apricot chutney that came with the dish because the flavors don't really go well together. Instead, eat the bacon with the chutney!

- I also had a bite of my bf's BEEFSTEAK SALAD: sliced red tomatoes and chopped red onions on top of a leaf of green lettuce, drizzled with a vinaigrette. Though the plate was pretty and colorful, the tomatoes were bland. They should've used heirloom tomatoes or something better.

- my 24oz PORTERHOUSE was divine. Done medium, the NY portion was exceptionally juicy and just awesome. It was one of the juiciest steaks I've ever had. The other side, the filet mignon, was not as flavorful as the NY, but it was soo buttery – it literally fell apart when I nudged it with my knife.

- the right wine to order with your steak is a glass of the TWO HANDS GNARLY DUDES. Order it for the funky name, order it again because it pairs up really nice with red meat.

- the MASHED POTATOES were creamy and salted, probably made with buttermilk. What's cool is that the potatoes were served with sour cream, butter, and real bacon bits on the side so you could make baked potato mashed potatoes if you wanted! They tasted even better with sour cream mixed in!

- side of MUSHROOMS were decent – I think mushrooms always compliment beef. They had a sort of smokey flavor to them...

- MORTON'S LEGENDARY HOT CHOCOLATE CAKE was the best molten chocolate cake I've ever had. Must be because the middle was made with Godiva chocolate. It came fresh and hot out of the oven, with raspberries, vanilla ice cream, and powdered sugar. After a complete dinner like I had, sharing one dessert was enough.

All of the above was about $200. The price tag was appropriate, but I can't say if I'd come back. I could go either way. I will say this though: the House of Prime Rib blew me away, Morton's did not.


Chavez Supermarket & Taqueria - Sunnyvale

5/5 stars

I'd totally shop here!! Everything looks so fresh and reasonably priced. The place's clean, too! But first, on to the amazing taqueria in the back corner of the supermarket!

BURRITO: was soo satisfying. It weighed like a whole pound and how could the meat be anything but fresh with the market's butcher a couple feet away? If you're a meat lover, this burrito is for you. The really friendly man behind the counter made me oh-so-gleeful when he unwrapped a whole new pan of fresh carnitas and chopped up a ginormous pile right before my eyes. The carnitas were melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy, but a little on the salty side. Also, if you like fried, crunchy carnitas, these aren't the ones for you. Order the carne asada instead, I heard that it's a winner. My flour tortilla was steamed and not dry - a huuuge plus in my book. The super burrito comes with cool guacamole and sour cream, perfectly moist rice, a mixture of onions and cilantro, pico de gallo, mild green salsa, and jack cheese. I didn't know there was a refried beans choice, so my burrito was made with pintos. They weren't half bad though - not too dry, whole, wet beans. Ohh... and the horchata (Mexican drink made with almonds, rice, cinnamon, sugar and lime) here is the BEST I've ever had. Loaded with cinnamon... mmm!! For 7 bucks-ish, filled me up the whole day!

Chavez was the ONLY place opened New Year's day (I called 4 other Mexican restaurants). I tried the carne asada and chili verde burrito and they were both delicious. Carne asada was neither dry or fatty and the verde was soaked in a tantalizing, mild, tomatilla sauce. Rice was moist, refried beans were creamy, and service was sooo friendly and accomodating! This place rocks my burrito heart!


Falafel’s Drive In - San Jose

5/5 stars

WHOA! Best falafels I've ever had! They weren't fried black n' dry, but were moist inside and extremely well-spiced and flavorful! Each bite was a happy dance in the mouth. Pita was served up with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a falafel pita must - tahini sauce (no hot sauce on mine). Word of advice: get plenty of napkins because the pitas like to break.

I also listened to many a wise Yelpers and ordered the banana milkshake. Now, I love banana milkshakes and have had many in my days, but this was probably one of the best ever! Why I wonder! How did they make it soo deliciously different? It's just bananas, vanilla ice cream, and milk... isn't it?!?!

ATMOSPHERE: Hole in the wall alert! Seating is mostly outdoor (it looked super cramped inside) and service is fast, fast, fast! I don't know why folks are complainin' about the parking. We went on a Saturday afternoon and there was plenty of parking in the spacious lot next to the drive in. And $7, I say, is a pretty darn good price to pay for an amazing falafel pita AND crack-filled banana milkshake. Two sad faces about this place - only opened till 8PM and they don't take credit cards!


Alice’s Restaurant - Woodside

5/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: My kind of place! Where else can you sit outside on a huge wooden patio and have a satisfying burger after exploring the lovely Filoli and rub elbows with leather clad biker men under the gorgeous redwoods in sort of the middle of nowhere? Reason #4223 on why I love the Bay Area. 

FOOD: My 1/3 lb sirloin burger was perfectly cooked. Served up simple with cheddar, red onions, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and a shmear of mayo, yellow mustard, and ketchup. The beer battered onion rings were awesome and a major brownie point - non-greasy! They came with a side of ranch. The garlic fries didn't satisfy a garlic lover like me on the garlic scale, but they were still pretty decent. The bf ordered a microbrew and a burger with sausage AND bacon (seriously, all it was missing was a fried egg) and enjoyed both. Oh, and I asked for extra pickles and was delighted when the friendly waitress brought back a whole plate full. They sure aren't skimpy here!


Ramen Halu - San Jose

3/5 stars

DOES IT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE? No, not really. After reading about Ramen Halu in various places, I've been dying to try it. After trying it, I wouldn't say that I'm dying to go back.

HALU RAMEN I had to try the bowl that bears the restaurant's name. The regular sized bowl was fairly large and at a ramen-appropriate price of $7.50. The noodles were by far the best part!! They were fresh, thick, and chewy!! Mmm... al dente rules. The bowl also came with a pile of bamboo shoots that had a lot of flavor to them, ear mushrooms (my favorite! I heart these slippery little suckers), some boiled spinach, seaweed, green onions, and an extremely thin slice of chashu (pork). If you want more meat, you can order more chashu by the slices. It all adds up though and then your bowl of ramen ain't so reasonably priced. The broth, a so-called "special" blend of chicken, pork, and fish, is something that must've taken hours to make. I think it gets too salty near the end of the bowl and by then, you'll also find small chunks of white fat collecting at the surface. They look like miniscule icebergs floating in your ocean of ramen... the Tonkatsu broth at Maruichi in Mt. View is better IMHO. Better broth and most definitely less fatty.

ATMOSPHERE The restaurant is tiny, looks well-worn, but is clean. I really like the bright, colorfully painted ceiling. Service is kind of brisk, kind of cold, kind of nice - depends on who talks to you. And they don't serve regular soda (read: Coke), instead you can get flavored Asian sodas that come in really fun glass bottles with a marble inside of it. OoOoOo!!


Diegos - Grass Valley

5/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: Every now and then, you find yourself in a real gem of a restaurant where you experience character and flavors. It's a restaurant where the food and service speaks for itself - it didn't even need a sign outside until one was made and given to the restaurant as a gift. Diego's looks like a home, nothing matches, and there are half a dozen tables, some pushed up against the other to form one large, family table. The restaurant is dimmed, colorful, eccentric, warm, and inviting. The service is friendly and caring.

FOOD: Right as you sit down, water and these cute, little rolls fresh out of the oven are delivered to your table along with a mouthwatering garlic and parsley butter and a cilantro and onion salsa. I seriously could have just eaten the bread for dinner and been exceptionally happy. That and the white wine sangria. It was made with fresh balls of melon and was so refreshing! For dinner, I ordered the Ensalade Diego with steak and was flabbergasted - this was the biggest steak salad I have ever received. The steak was not just a "topping" on the salad, but the main course! Juicy, tender, and heavenly when dipped in their excellent cilantro-lime vinaigrette. My romaine lettuce was invisible under the mountains of grilled carrots, squash, and zucchini, green beans, onions, olives, avocado, and whole egg. It was probably one of the best salads I've ever had. I was bursting at the seams and could barely finish half of the salad. Of course, we still ordered dessert: a homemade crepe filled with real caramel and bananas with vanilla ice cream and powdered sugar. The word "gluttonous" comes to mind.


La Paloma - Santa Clara

3/5 stars

FOOD: Been here more than a couple times, finally writing a review. Have not been disappointed yet. Not a traditional taqueria, not a Chevy's - La Paloma is somewhere in between. Chips come out fresh and warm, salsa is medium hot. Their daily specials are always appealing - like chorizo and potatoes enchiladas. I almost got that yesterday. Instead, I decided on the "San Felipe Fish Tacos" with flour tortillas instead of corn and they were fantastic. The fish was fresh-tasting, flaky, the outside breaded and fried. It came with this sort of jalapeo tartar sauce (which wasn't spicy at all) - I squeezed some lemon onto it and added some black pepper and it was a great dipping sauce. The fish tacos came with the usual suspects - cabbage, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes, and mango salsa... mmm... nothing tops fish tacos like fresh mango! Also on the plate were beans (refried, they were okay) and rice (too too dry).

I've also had their shrimp dishes and their cheese enchilada, both were solid.

DRINKS: If you order the top shelf margarita, they're generous with the alcohol. My banana colada tasted like it was made with fresh bananas.

ATMOSPHERE: You can't miss it if you're driving down El Camino, the building is BRIGHT yellow. Inside, it feels kinda musty and old, and the booths are kinda dark, but the service is friendly and yesterday, the food came out at lightening speed!


Cold Stone Creamery

3.5/5 stars

ICE CREAM: doesn't taste homemade and isn't quality like Fenton's, but I still prefer it over Baskin Robbin's or Dreyers/Breyers from the store. I heart the fact that you get to create your own flavor. My favorite is the cake batter (tastes just like yellow cake batter), and the sweet cream (a sweeter version of vanilla).

They also have chocolate, white chocolate, cheesecake, banana, a couple sorbets, and a new flavor - toast?! They have a great variety of toppings: Heath, Snickers, Kit Kat, white chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, gummy bears, cookie dough, hot fudge, oreos, peanuts, almonds, and a plethora of fruit toppings - cherry, pineapple, apple, strawberry, etc. My Cold Stone of choice is cake batter with marshmallow cream, caramel, brownie, and banana. If I'm feeling especially decadent, I also get their whipped topping - it's super thick and rich. I've also gotten their ice cream cakes for several occasions. You get to customize it all you want (I like the red velvet cake)! Or you can pick up a pre-made one in the freezer - EZ PZ!

ATMOSPHERE: clean and cheerful! And accomodating. Always crowded! Isn't cheap, all the toppings add up, but their small, the "Like It," is plenty!


Bobbi’s Coffee Shop - Cupertino

4/5 stars

I was never, still am not, a morning person. High school starting at 7AM was ridiculous to me. BUT, without fail, I'd always be willing to get up earlier if it meant a stop at Bobbi's for breakfast before first period.

FOOD: My first biscuit and gravy experience was here. Fresh, buttermilk biscuits and the yummiest darn sausage gravy I've ever had in my life. I used to worship this gravy, but unfortunately, last Saturday, it didn't taste the same. I'm *hoping* that it was just a bad gravy day... if not, it's a huge shame - reason why Bobbi's a 4 instead of a perfect 5 in my book. I hate it when corners are cut and something that used to be homemade may now possibly come in powdered form.

Thankfully, the chicken fried steak is still ol' reliable. So bad for you. Fatty, juicy, slightly chewy steak, dipped in batter, and then fried and served on a bed of gravy with more gravy on the side for dipping. Hasbrowns are golden, eggs served up the way you want them, and their chili is homemade. Just satisfying diner-grub.

ATMOSPHERE: It's a mom n' pop place through and through. Same friendly, warm, efficient people that have been manning the counter since my high school days. It's so special that you can find a slow-paced, greasy spoon like this in the middle of technological-mongrel Silicon Valley. Just slide onto the old booths, read the Sunday comics, and order up a piece of American.


Rogue Ales Public House - San Francisco

4/5 stars

Rogue Pub Haiku

Wasn't too busy
Nice, laidback crowd - just our pace
Their raspberry beer

Is so delicious
TV Dinners on menu?
Pear cider's great, too

Rogue Pub satisfied
My beer-brewin'/lovin' friends
This is a chill place


Burrito Factory - San Jose

2/5 stars

FOOD: Went here with a couple of girlfriends. They're from San Diego and love their Mexican food. Too bad the amount of 24-hour taquerias is seriously lacking in this area. I wasn't sure if I was hungry enough to try this place, but after seeing what my friend ordered, I decided that I too wanted a Super Soft Taco. I picked the grilled chicken and was very happy with it. The chicken was well-spiced, moist, and juicy. This 3 dollar and something taco was also really big! It came with enough chicken for 3 tacos, 2 corn tortillas, and a pile of shredded lettuce/red cabbage, sour cream, real guac, a lime, and a slice of tomato. Salsa was spicy, chips weren't stale. I didn't have a burrito at the factory, but I'd be okay with coming back.

ATMOSPHERE: Eh, it looks like a fast food joint. Nothing special, was fairly clean. Gots some bright, colorful paintings to spruce up the walls and friendly service. I'd rather just grab n' go if I came back.


Firenze by Night Ristorante - San Francisco

1/5 stars

Firenze by Night Haiku

San Francisco has
a lot more restaurants per
square mile than most

Firenze by Night is
just another tourist-y
nothing special place

White chocolate "egg"
dessert and gnocchi were fine
but I've had better

Medicore food
Boring service, expensive
I won't come back here


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Harry’s Hofbrau - San Jose

4/5 stars

Harry's Hofbrau Haiku

Harry's is dark wood
Open faced turkey sandwich
Drowned in gravy good

Thanksgiving all year
Large portions make me sleepy
Stuffing is homemade

This is what is bad
Macaroni Salad tastes
Only like mayo

Open late Hofbrau
Offers large bar, comfort food
I love coming here


Sourdough Eatery - San Jose

5/5 stars

ohmygawd, I LOVE this place. Not only is this place, hands down, my most favorite sandwich shop ever, but it's also one of my favorite dad+me+lunch memory. Thanks dad, for taking me here when I was little (and for always asking me the same question and putting a big smile on my face: What night do you think the Indian stands guard here?)

FOOD: I'm really sad because I'm pretty sure that the sourdough bread recipe will die with its owners. It's the most incredible buttery and slightly sour, crisp yet still soft like a pillow bread. The meats and cheese are really high quality - my favorite is the German salami - wow, it's really, really, really good salami. All sandwiches are the same price ($7, cash only) and come with mayo, lettuce, swiss cheese (this is how good swiss cheese is probably supposed to taste like), and a pickle spear on the side. There are NO substitutions, no avocado, no customizations... and there are the signs to tell you what you can not have or do. Totally reminds me of the Soup Nazi from "Seinfeld" but man, for a sandwich as heavenly as this, I'm happy to oblige.

ATMOSPHERE: Part art gallery, part secret garden. The Eatery is run by a beautiful older woman (you have no doubt that she must've been a starlet in her day) and her husband. The woman is a painter and the whole interior of the restaurant is covered with her bright and colorful (and kinda cheesy) paintings of presidents and Hollywood stars. Outside, there are so many charming places to sit - it's my idea of the perfect patio filled with flowers, vines, the trickling of water from fountains, mismatched tables, chairs, and other knickknacks.

My only complaint about this place - it's closed more than its open! The Eatery's hours are 11AM to 2PM, Mon thru Fri ONLY!!


In-N-Out Burger - Santa Clara

5/5 stars

FOOD: When I was a kid, it was McDonald's... for their Happy Meals (when they were still served in those cardboard boxes that could also be turned into a castle for miniture plastic barbie), their chicken McNuggets and their french fries dipped in sweet n' sour sauce... I didn't know any better (heck, I even disliked onions)...

Then I went to college and got educated and my fast food of choice changed.

I love the simplicity of the menu: hamburger, cheeseburger, or Double Double, fresh-cut french fries, and chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla milkshakes. I adore the secret menu: animal-style, neapolitan shakes, grilled cheese, and 4x4s. But especially, I heart how fresh the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions are. We're lucky West Coast-ians!!

ATMOSPHERE: Sparkling clean, super friendly service, and a mere couple bucks cheap... kick ass. They're open LATE (1AM or later), too. Only complaint is that this In n' Out shares a parking lot with AMC Mercado 20... which means that parking is difficult.


University Chicken Sports Pub - Santa Clara (closed)

4/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: I went to SCU so University Chicken (formally the more cleverly titled "Cluck U") is a familiar hotspot. It oozes "college" with its pitchers of beer, hot wings, and sticky tabletops. It's not very big and doesn't look anything like a sports bar to me... gots a couple of big screens, a foosball table, and some video games - I never really hung out here, but usually just grabbed and go. 

FOOD: Good and greasy - just what it's supposed to be. The wings are the stars here. Fried and then drowned in their lipsmackin', orange n' tangy - how spicy can you take it - sauce. The mild is extremely mild and the hottest hot will make your tongue shrivel up and die. Comes topped with celery and ranch for dipping. 6 wings are only $3.99! CASH ONLY, though! I also like the nachos - the biggest, the Senior order - is made with grilled chicken, shredded cheese, black beans, sour cream, guac (tastes like its from Costco, but this isn't a Mexican place so I'm not complaining), and tons of tomatoes and jalapenos. Another win are the chicken sandwiches... fried (I don't recommend the grilled, too dry!) and topped with a garlic spread, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and marinara sauce if you want it. Onion rings are big n' greasy good, too.


Monster Desserts - San Bruno (closed)

1/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: Who knew Tanforan mall had such a shiny, varied food court? Service was super friendly here.

SHAVED ICE: I was so confuzzled. What? What was this? Ice cream? Shaved ice? A snow cone? Wait... it's a snowball topped with condensed milk, brownies, and white chocolate chips? Wha?! The portions are GINORMOUS and it's pretty expensive. I mean... $4.25 for um... ice? But the toppings are fresh and there's a lot to choose from: avocado, jackfruit, strawberries, mango, kiwi, chocolate, coconut jelly, bananas galore! My Monster ice was topped with condensed milk (which turned the ice into a sort of watered down ice cream), almond or coconut syrup (?), jackfruit (from the can, unfortunately not fresh), chocolate sauce, and white chocolate chips (the best part).

IN A MOUTHFUL: Definitely different. Not your average, artifical snow cone.

The Spinnaker - Sausalito

2/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: All glass windows means dining with a pretty blue view. Dining area was white table cloths and muted... we, on the other hand, were not. Went here with my team (of around 20) and we were jolly, loud(er), and had money to expense. Thankfully, the waiters were friendly and accommodating. Great job on servicing a big party, Spinnaker!


  • wine and fruity girly drinks: yay!
  • crab dumplings: enthusiastic yay!
  • crab cakes: nay, not as good as the dumplings sourdough on the table: yay!
  • the other bread in the basket was a nay, don't even know what it was...
  • mashed potatoes: must've been made with crack, yay! but made with too much salt, nay!
  • my pacific mahi saute with crab legs & brie: such a unique combination, never had it before, so that was cool. anything w brie makes me order it. yay!
  • fresh fish: sorta yay! I mean, after travelling to Alaska, I KNOW what fresh fish is supposed to taste like and no where has even come close to Alaska caught wild fish...
  • vegetables steamed till they're limp and gray: nay, several notches down for this... c'mon, you're supposed to be a fancy restaurant!
  • pastas: I didn't order/try any, but they looked yay! to me...
  • creme brule: kinda yay, but not really... I mean, it was good, but nothing special
  • triple chocolate mousse cake: the white chocolate part and oreo cookie crust was very yay!

IN A MOUTHFUL: I wouldn't spend the money to come here again, however, the service, the crab dumplings, the wine/drinks, the view and my dining companions made it OK.


El Amigo Burrito - Santa Clara

1/5 stars

FOOD: The chips were A) outta the bag and B) stale!! The "guacamole" was most definitely from Costco, you know... the guac you buy in bulk for Superbowl Sunday and squeeze outta little plastic bags into a bowl. YOU'RE A MEXICAN RESTAURANT!! If you can't get the chips and guac right, what can you do? It's like going to an Asian restaurant and having them screw up "steamed rice." Geez.

ATMOSPHERE: El Amigo was "I'm trying to be a fancy Mexican restaurant so I can jack up the prices" and well... just about everything at this place was below-average. From the waitresses who were dressed way too nice and frowned way too much to the run-down booths... it just wasn't an inviting atmosphere. My carnitas burrito (with actual avocado instead of that "I'm a Mexican restaurant that's too lazy to make my own guac") was pleasantly juicy and tasty - the only thing that saved El Amigo from being marked 1 star in my book.


Ariake Japanese Restaurant - San Jose

2/5 stars

FOOD: It's like fast-food sushi. Hence, I wouldn't come here for fresh sushi or sashimi or any of the above. Rolls have cute names and because of the prices, you could probably order twice as much as you normally would at another sushi restaurant, but the quality is seriously low. Stick with the cheap-o bento boxes and you'll be golden. I love how they also serve Korean ribs here and the gyozas are yummy. The service is friendly and enthusiastic. Happy vibe.

ATMOSPHERE: This Ariake is clean, but not sparkling and has random Pokemon pics floating around. I'd say a family-friendly joint or just a decent place for something fast, cheap, and Japanese.


House of Falafel - Cupertino

2.5/5 stars

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY: My awesome dad likes to support our neighborhood eateries so we decided to try House of Falafel. Everytime I drive by it's almost always packed.

WHAT THE HECK IS A FALAFEL, you say? It's this fried, green ball of garbanzo beans that tastes like... not chicken. It's got a "meaty" texture and I can see how this would be a nice alternative for veggie-tarians. It was served up hot and was quite nice all wrapped up in a grilled pita spread with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. The hummus must've been spread pretty thin bc I couldn't taste it. Too bad because I like hummus. Next time I will order it as a side or something.

My dad and I also shared a beef shish kabab wrap (cubes of freshly grilled steak, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and tahini sauce). Could've used more meat and since it wasn't the best cut, steak was chewy. The tahini sauce was interesting - very mild sesame. Overall, I liked my Mediterranean burrito. Kinda pricey though at $7!!

ATMOSPHERE: Umm... kinda run-down, sticky, and dirty. Service is okay, food takes awhile to cook. There was a nice girl who patiently translated what the word "shawerma" means (thinly shaved chicken or lamb) and they have outdoor seating, which is a plus.


I Love Yogurt - Cupertino (closed)

3/5 stars

GUILTLESS TREAT: You've had an enormous dinner, you're feeling a little overindulgent, but eating something heavy and rich like cake or Coldstone would be a not so good idea. Yogurt is a satisfying, healthy(ier) alternative!

Don't know how often the flavors change, but they offer 6 choices. The two that I tried were fantastic - cookies and cream and angel food cake. Yum-o. Yogurt was like whipped air, but still had a buttery, tastes like it was made with cookies and cream or angel food cake foundation. After watching the girl before me order a medium and watching the guy behind the counter swirl her a sort-of Mt. Everest, I decided on the small. For $3, it was still the size of a German Shephard. Next time, it's child size all the way. For 90 cents extra, you can top your not-too-fatty yogurt with more fatty things like Heath crumbs or white chocolate chips.

ATMOSPHERE: Clean, small, and new, it was quite the busy and looked like a high school watering hole. Service was fast and polite. You can get your yogurt to-go!


Azuma Japanese Cuisine - Cupertino

3/5 stars

I've lived in Cupertino for 15+ years and have never even looked at this place. Yup, my attention skills are that great.

FOOD: was well-seasoned, authentic, and fresh (a plus in all restaurants, a must with a sushi place). There were a lot of things we didn't recognize or understand on the menu, which always makes ordering interesting (and I mean that in a good way). I really, really enjoyed having dinner here and I don't even like sushi! Perhaps to be more specific, I don't like the raw stuff and... well... seaweed... (shame)... I haven't yet had the guts yet to ask for sushi to be made without it... I wonder what would happen if I fibbed and told them I was allergic? Would a Mr. Miyagi-look-alike come and throw me out with a scold?

Lo' and behold, I ordered the shrimp tempura sushi and ate the whole thing, seaweed and all! It REALLY REALLY helps if the seaweed is fresh and not dry n' smelly. The rice in the sushi was moist and flavored really well and the cucumbers were also fresh and added a nice taste/crunch. For about 5 bucks, I got 8 of these little rolls of delight. I also ordered the salad (the dressing was different, more sesame based, but still good) and the pork gyoza (which were definitely handmade and not frozen). The bf ordered the lotus and the cold soba noodles because he's adventurous like that. I've never seen lotus, but I think it's a flower? Or a root... whatever it actually is, it looks like it's some alien pod. The cold soba noodles was the largest plate of noodles I've ever seen in a Japanese restaurant. Seriously piled on.

+ another plate of hamachi rolls and a recommended bottle of ice-cold sake and total was around $40. Not bad for sushi!!

ATMOSPHERE: Busy and half of the patrons were Japanese (fantastic sign), but we didn't have to wait on a Friday night. My favorite part was that the waitresses wear kimonos and will explain the menu to you if you ask. Such nice, old, Japanese ladies.


Los Charros Restaurant - Mountain View

3/5 stars

IF YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT: Go to Dublin. Seriously. Ketchup like substance disguised as red chile sauce and even though I swear I saw an avocado in a supermarket there, the green, wet ooze on their so-called "Mexican" food was not guacamole.

Dublin will always hold a special place in my heart, but I think I crave Mexican food too much to ever call that place a semi-permanent residence. Maybe I'll move to London instead. The Euro NY seems to know a thing or two about food.

So I'm off the plane, in full zombie mode, hungry at odd hours, and wanted my first restaurant back to be Los Charros. Been wanting to try it for ages. Unfortunately, the restaurant isn't as fantastic as the Taqueria, but it was still above average.

ATMOSPHERE: Ginormous and really spacious! Bright, clean, colorful (customized Los Charros table-tops and chairs) and rumor has it they have a mariachi band on Fridays. Service is a lot slower than the Taqueria. Our chips and salsa weren't replenished once! But they have a full bar and that's kinda cool.

FOOD: I was craving fish tacos (thanks to Emeril) and Los Charros' really hit the spot. Fish was grilled, chopped, piled on (enough for like, 3 soft tacos), and fresh tasting. Sauce on the fish tacos was spicy though, so beware! I also ordered the cheese n' onions enchiladas in green sauce. The green sauce was really, really lime-y and I loved it! And I can't believe I'm "complaining" about this, but the enchiladas had TOO much cheese and they forgot the onions. The bf ordered the shrimp and garlic and it was half the size of what he'd get at the Taqueria and more expensive. Guacamole was, thank the Mexican food Gods, exactly what guacamole dreams are made of. Chunky and fresh!

IN A MOUTHFUL: I'm sticking with my beloved Taqueria. I may come back for the mariachi band and the bar, but that's about it.


Merlion - Cupertino

2/5 stars

Came here for a leisurely dinner + drinks before hitting up the new AMC 16 (new, reclining seats!) across the street. Pretty much a perfect night. Merlion is like Straits, but without the CROWD, the Santana Row bling, and minus a handful of cocktails here n' there.

Their GARLIC NOODLES ARE FTW! I mean, what is yummier than al dente chow mein noodles tossed in an abundance of garlic and shitake mushrooms? Chicken, tomatoes, and basil were also in there. Bowl of delight, sir, bowl of dee-lite. Quality is non-greasy Singaporean food. However, quantity and price were overrated, but that's what they're going for. Menu is just about identical to Straits, 'cept not as big. Enthusiastic yes to the roti appetizer (hot, crispy, chewy flatbread w delish, not too spicy, extra coconut-y curry), no to the eggplant (it was more of a zucchini dish garnished w a couple pieces of eggplant). Also, no to the coconut rice. It didn't taste like anything resembling a coconut, but BIG yes to the cocktails. Their bartender manager is not flimsy w the amount of alcohol poured into your cup. I very much liked the Shark Attack and recommend that if you like creamy blue cocktails.

ATMOSPHERE: It's a very new restuarant. They're technically not even officially open yet and it shows. It has a very toddler-learning-how-to-walk feel, but come here if you don't want to fight Friday night Santana row traffic and hour-long waits. Interior is clean and crisp (love the water glasses) and service is... well, my sister's a waitress there, so I'm biased, but yes, it(she)'s very good! Come here now and beat the crowd before word gets out.


Zibibbo - Palo Alto (closed)

1/5 stars

They have a decent Happy Hour, but I think they stole my jacket.

I left my jacket there accidentally and when we called back to retrieve it, they claim to not have it. Pretty awful.

NOT WORTHWHILE: My visit to this restaurant was not planned. I'm always up for trying new restaurants, but unfortunately, it wasn't a pleasant surprise. I am perfectly happy spending a lot of money on food if that food is inspiring. Zibibbo will not be receiving my money ever again.

We ordered a range of (way overpriced) dishes - from yukin gold potato gnocchi to wild mushroom pizza with fresh thyme and black truffle oil. We also shared the oven roasted Moroccan spiced prawns, Valencia style paella, sauteed spinach side, and the air dried roast duck with olives and kumquats (fun word alert!). All dishes were almost too salty and unexciting, the only decent (and I use that term loosely) items were the pizza and gnocchi. Also, these were supposed to be family-style dishes, but the portions were extremely small.

DESSERTS: was what saved this restaurant from being a 0 star in my book. The rhubarb crepes were heavenly. Just, perfectly made - texture, flavor, melt-in-your-mouthness. The coppa was also delicate and delicious with the fresh strawberries sauce. The dessert wine that was paired with the coppa was also the best I've ever had. A bottle shall be purchased soon.

ATMOSPHERE: very business-like, almost too dark and sterile. Wait staff was surprisngly cheerful and not pretentious like the surroundings.


Vaso Azzurro Ristorante - Mountain View

3.5/5 stars

THE SERVICE: was outstanding! What's another word for impeccable? I believe we were seated personally by the owner himself. He even pulled out my chair for me. Everybody was really warm and down-to-earth and welcoming. We had like, 4 different people making sure everything was perfect. Water glasses were replenished even before they were empty and when a man at the next table dropped his knife, the waiter had a new one already waiting for him on the table even before the other knife was picked up. I also felt like our waiter tried his very best to accomodate my request for a "pink" sauce and he was so nice about it! He didn't roll his eyes or give me a hard time. The chef himself walked around greeting regulars and chatting up new patrons. You just have to come here for the service itself!

THE FOOD: The focaccia was served with this flavoral mixture of olive oil, vinegar, chopped garlic, sundried tomatoes, and herbs. Even though the focaccia wasn't served warm (like I like it), the bread itself wasn't dry. I ordered the insalata cesare which was dressed perhaps a little too heavily, but had just the right amount of parmigano. For dinner, I ordered the penne con salsiccia and it was JUST what I wanted. My sauce was a creamy, "pink" sauce with delightful ground sausage, and topped with mild feta cheese.

THE CONS: I'd stay away from the seafood... it wasn't fresh in the risotto.

IN A MOUTHFUL: maybe it's not my favorite Ristorante Parma... but it's close! Is this Italian restaurant in the South Bay one I can finally call my own?!


New Krung Thai Restaurant - San Jose

4/5 stars

OH, TOO MUCH THAI FOOD IN THE TUMMY: There were 8 of us and we each got to pick a dish + 2 satay appetizers. The result was 8 bursting bellies and my guy friends having to "rally" to finish the food.

FOOD: I really enjoyed the pork satay - juicy, white meat, on a stick and the satay came with a cute little dish of pickled carrots, cucumbers, red onions, and jalapenos. But can someone explain to me why white toast is served with satay?

Krung Thai serves up my absolute favorite pad thai dish - jun pad poo which is made with fresh (none of that artifical junk) crab. It's kinda sweet and very yum! Their mussaman curry w beef is also very good - sort of has a mild, peanut butter taste. I wouldn't recommend ordering the fried rice or the drunken noodles - both were pretty boring. Also, their Thai-hot isn't actually very hot at all. If you've ever been to Dusita's on El Camino, their Thai-hot will make you cry. Krung Thai's hot is more of a medium, their medium is tolerable, and their mild is very much so.

ATMOSPHERE: I highly, highly recommend making a reservation, especially if you're going Fri or Sat night. There wasn't a table unoccupied and there were at least 20 people waiting in the lobby consistently all night. Parking is a pain, interior is nothing special, but clean, and waiters are decent in a rushed sort-of-way. But our water glasses were always re-filled and we never had to ask. IN A

MOUTHFUL: My favorite, reliable Thai food in the South Bay - but that's just because I know what to order. The jun pad poo is a real treat and the pad see ew is tasty (though more Chinese to me than Thai). Also, the mussaman, green, and red curries (MY FAVORITE CURRY: roasted duck red curry) are winners, as well as the fried bananas and sticky rice w mango. Yum!


New Yong Kang - Fremont

5/5 stars

3 DISHES FOR $16.50: Can't beat that! Especially great place for groups. Everyone walks out bursting full and only 10 bucks (or under) a head. A STEAL!

FOOD: Thanks to the diversity that is the Bay Area, there are probably a kabillion Chinese restaurants here, but New Yong Kang is my family's and friends' favorite. Why? Because it's reliable - delicious and cheap!

New Yong Kang is well-made, fast-made, greasy-made, Chinese food. They make the BEST CHOW MEIN IMHO. It's all about the noodles and the sauce. Yum-oh. The eggplant is very, very good too (though oily ,so beware!). It's tasty over white rice. I also like the fried calamari - it's so simple - light batter, quick fry, probably just seasoned with salt - that's it! I really don't think you can go wrong ordering any dish here (yesterday I had the chicken, taro, and potato clay pot for the first time and it was delicious).

ATMOSPHERE: Expect to wait - 20+ minutes or longer! They're ALWAYS busy (and almost all the customers are Chinese, a good sign), but it's worth it. I promise. Service is decent - they're fast, efficient, and even though the restaurant may not be the cleanest, it's not bad.

IN A MOUTHFUL: If this place was closer, I'd be a regular. I miss this place when it's Friday night and I want a fantastic Chinese restaurant to order take-out from...


Country Gourmet of Mountain View - Mountain View (closed)

3/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: Order at the counter, get your own coffee, fill your own soda pop, bathroom's outside (?), casual, kind of pricey, country-ish lookin', not as delicious or friendly as Stacks, but is a nice place for a quiet brunch after a visit to the awesome Mt. View Farmer's market, sort of place. 

FOOD: I've been here a handful of times and I've always ordered the same thing because it's sort of a treat of a breakfast and only Country Gourmet has it - Banana Foster french toast. Yes, it's more like dessert than breakfast and if you don't have a sweet tooth, don't even bother. The combo comes with half an order of their sinful Banana Foster french toast. It's made out of thick slabs of Dutch crunch bread, dipped in a cinnamon batter, slathered in this really delicious, alcoholic RUM BUTTER, drenched in yummy caramel syrup, and sprinkled with almonds. Yes, it's very rich and I can only really eat half of the half order. The combo also comes with 2 eggs (any which way you like) and some fruit.

YES: Order the raspberry lemonade. It's homemade, fresh-tasting, super sweet n' tart, and good!

NO: Stay away from the potatoes. They're dry, coated in paprika (and not in a good way), and pretty bad.


Tres Potrillos - Sunnyvale

2/5 stars

HERE'S THE STORY: I have my favorite restaurants, I go to them often, and I'm a happy camper. Because of such, I'll only review restaurants once. Because if I kept updating, my favorites (like Uncle Frank's) would probably be 30 reviews long... and counting (if you haven't noticed, I adore Frank's). Now, if a restaurant gets 2 stars or less in my book, what's the point in going back? There are way too many good things out there to eat and not enough stomach room. Tres Potrillos Taqueria may be the lone exception...

PROS: My first experience there was probably not what it was supposed to be. The bf and his co-workers absolutely rave about this place. Maybe I should have gotten the much talked about carnitas bowl? Instead I got the green enchiladas w. carnitas. The carnitas were fantastic, no doubt. Tasty, full of flavor, fat, and juice. There was plenty of meat shoved into my three (not two!) enchiladas and I enjoyed every bit. My plate was huge, filled to the brim with real guacamole (meaning there were tomatoes and onions and stuff in it and it wasn't just avocado puree), sour cream (an enchilada must), lettuce, pico de gallo, rice, and refried beans. My favorite part of the meal were the chips and salsa bar at the front. Tres Portillos has this awesome verde salsa - we don't know what it is exactly, just that we could eat cups of it. It's probably made w. green tomatoes, lime, maybe avocado? Or perhaps there's sour cream mixed in. Well, whatever it is, you gotta try it. I've never had anything like it. 

CONS: My enchiladas were dry. I hate that. It's a Mexican food pet peeve of mine. There was hardly any green sauce on my poor enchiladas. Also, everything was way, way too salty. Rice, refried beans... aw shucks.

BUT ALAS: I am determined to try this place again. Too many people like it. Correction - too many people like the carnitas bowl. Next time, I'm ordering that. I shall update then...


Fusion Korea - Cupertino (closed)

3/5 stars

HAPPY MAMA: and when mama's happy, everyone's happy! My family decided to go to sushi one Sunday evening and my sister (who bowls at Homestead Lanes often) recommended this place. Result was one happy family!

CHEAP: Seriously, 20% off sushi? Wah?! Cool. My mom ordered a combination of nigiri and my dad, sister, and I shared a Golden California roll (which is basically a California roll fried into yummy delicious-ness) and bulgogi with rice. Even with a large sake, dinner was ONLY $30!!!! Hello?! This was sushi! And it was GOOD! The fish was fresh and we had more than enough to eat. Not only did we get a pile of bulgogi (hot sauce on the side), but we got six cute, yummy small dishes to eat as an appetizer and yes - they were all free!! I loved loved loved the cold noodles, I could've just ordered that as my main course. There was also cold broccoli (with some sort of peanut(?) sauce on top), cole slaw, steamed peanuts or beans of some sort, spicy kim chi, and tofu. Ice water comes in this cute, colorful jug.

ATMOSPHERE: Restaurant's small and not pretty, but staff is super friendly and fast. My sister has made friends with some of the women who work there so she gets extra cold noodles. Score! The cold noodles are sooo good!


Los Altos Grill - Los Altos

3.5/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: Rich. But not in a huge, bug-eyed sunglasses, Fendi bag sort of way. It was more old money - business casual, dinner with family, half a dozen wine glasses littering the table. A gentleman passed time with a piano as people gathered and chattered over Sunday dinner. It was dark and made of wood, and their rotisserie chicken scented the air - nothing wrong with that. Service was polite, but somewhat unavailable. We had to use other waiters to go find our waiter. We got seated in this intimate booth by the kitchen and I loved watching the busy, efficient chefs make plate after plate - including our plates.

FOOD: Solid. The place was packed (35 minute wait) and my guess is - if the food wasn't good, the old money could have been spent elsewhere so, the food just had to be good. We ordered the deviled eggs as an appetizer and I liked them! I don't remember liking deviled eggs, but I did enjoy these (probably made with mustard, relish, and fresh-ground pepper). I ordered the Grill's caesar salad + rotisserie chicken. The bf ordered the "hacked" chicken salad made with arugula.

My caesar salad was really wonderful (anything with fresh shucked corn is great, IMO). The croutons were made out of their "famous" cornbread and were really something unique. The dressing was classic and authentic and I needed lemon to mute the anchovy taste. And the rotisserie chicken was really quite moist and perfect. The "hacked" salad had an asian twist... with dates. And the key lime pie we had for dessert was refreshing. The whip cream was real and the graham cracker crust was crumbly and well made.

IN A MOUTHFUL: Everything about the Los Altos Grill is polite - the food, the blue blood, the atmsophere, even the rotisserie chicken. I'm only giving this place a 3.5 because even though it's a great place for a date or with a group (no corkage fee!), nothing really stood out as spectacular.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Maru Ichi - Mountain View

3/5 stars

MAYBE IT WAS THE WEATHER: But eating here made me all warm and happy inside. Nothing beats a delicious, hot, inexpensive bowl of ramen on a gray day.

ATMOSPHERE: It's small and always crowded. The wait's not bad though because the service is quick and efficient. While waiting, you get to watch your yellow noodles (and everyone else's noodles) being made fresh through a glass window by the entrance. Al dente, fresh noodles equals ftw. Important note: CASH ONLY!

FOOD: The fresh noodles are, no doubt, the main star in the bowl. My favorite ramen is the Tonkatsu which is a broth made out of pork and chicken. Think old fashioned, American chicken soup, but ten times better. I've also had the Koru, but it was heavy on the sesame oil and the garlic taste was more on the bitter side (what happens when you burn garlic). Also, beware, the Koru comes out black and quite oily! All bowls comes with two slices of yummy pork, a pile of asian funghi, green onions, and an egg that's been stewing in delicious broth for hours... and seaweed (though if it's my bowl, me no want). Their combo is a good deal IMO. For $9, you get your choice of Ramen, 3 California rolls, and 3 fried dumplings. I don't eat the California rolls, but they look well-made and my friends like them. On the other hand, I adore the fried dumplings and will not share these. :)

IN A MOUTHFUL: Maruichi does what they're doing quite well. I'd like to go here once a month to eat the fresh noodles and feel warm and fuzzy inside.


Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant - Cupertino

3/5 stars

DIM SUM, OH HOW I LOVE THEE: They're like presents. Steamin' hot, tasty, and not too oily (to succeed in this as a Chinese restaurant is quite the feat) presents. At Dynasty, there is quite the selection and the price isn't too bad ($20-$30 for two, this time about $100 for five, depends on how much you order).

IF YOU'VE NEVER HAD DIM SUM: You're missing out! I love me some french toast, omlettes, and biscuits n' gravy, but dim sum really is a treat of a breakfast. Intricately made out of shrimp or pork (ooo, BBQ pork!), wrapped with sheets of pastry or delicate won tons, decorated with asian mushrooms or sticky rice. YUM! I wish I could tell you which ones to order, but I don't know what they're called! The only names I know are the basics - hah-khou and shu-mi. Lol.

ATMOSPHERE: Busy (try to go before noon or after 1PM, either way, you'll probably still need to wait some)! Mostly clean. Service is so-so, sometimes there, sometimes vacant. The ladies who push around the dim sum carts are often nicer and more helpful than the waiters/waitresses/hosts. From my experience with great dim sum - the more delicious the dim sum, the suckier the service.


Citizen Cupcake - San Francisco (closed)

1/5 stars

ATMOSPHERE: It's a lot smaller than I expected. View was nice and it was quiet, but service was aloof and there wasn't a smile for miles.

FOOD: Roasted mushroom panini with artichoke heart tapenade, arugula and fontina on sourdough was decent. Chocolate chip cupcake was not. Ah, the cupcake disappointment! Way way way too many chocolate chips made it overabundantly sweet. And the "cake" itself wasn't light and fluffy! It was DENSE! Wha?!?! The only good part was the frosting - creamy and decadent. But it still didn't save the cupcake itself.

IN A MOUTHFUL: Sad face.


Osteria - Palo Alto

3/5 stars

IT WAS ON "THE" LIST: My list, to be exact. I've been wanting to go here for ages because A) my favorite genre of food is Italian, B) I've only heard good things from friends and from Yelpers, and C) they make they're own pasta!

ATMOSPHERE: It's tiny! Service is cold, cold, cold! They weren't rude, per se, but brisk. Efficient. Like robots. We had dinner reservations at 8:45PM on a MONDAY! What I'm trying to say is, "Make reservations if you want to dine at Osteria." Because even on a late Monday night, they were packed. Good luck with making the reservations over the phone. The robots are cold over the phone, too.

FOOD: So that's what fresh pasta tastes like! But first off, I have to rave about my absolutely perfect caesar salad. It was $6.50, HUGE (enough for a meal all on its own), and was probably what a caesar salad was meant to be. I squirted lemon all over mine to mute the anchovy taste in the dressing and was in caesar salad bliss. Loved how my crisp romaine was cut (I don't get places that serve you the caesar salad in whole leaf form and expect you to use your knife when eating your salad) and wasn't drowning in dressing.

OK, on to the pasta. I didn't like mine, but I loved my bf's. I ordered the large fettucine made out of spinach with prosciutto and mushroom. Yay! Pasta comes out, literally, steaming hot. Nay! It's hard to eat really, really, really hot pasta. It burns the tongue it does! My large spinach fettucine noodles were way overcooked and mushy - I don't know, is it because the noodles were fresh? Is that how it's supposed to be? My bf's penne with sundried tomatoes, asparagus, and chicken was delicious. The penne was al dente (which makes me wonder if large, fresh, noodles are harder to cook) and the vodka-style sauce was my favorite. His sister had the eggplant and it was prepared well too. We shared the hazelnut creme brulee and it was a perfect finish.

IN A MOUTHFUL: Will definitely come back to try again. I especially like how it's not a chain. It's hard to find amazing Italian food in the South Bay, but I keep looking!


Tarpy's Roadhouse - Monterey

4/5 stars

ONCE UPON A TIME: I had to find a wonderful place for Easter Sunday dinner. I wanted a comfortable, not too fancy, yet not too too casual, non-touristy place with GOOD desserts. I thought my mission was quite the dinner impossible (teehee, self-proclaimed Food Network geek). There are soo many restaurants in Carmel and Monterey, but from my experience, they aren't that great. 

THANKS TO YELP: I found me Tarpy's Roadhouse and it really was quite perfect.

ATMOSPHERE: It was sort of in the middle of nowhere and was so pretty. My family loved the stone house and the lovely grounds. Our reservation was for a table outside, but it was getting cold, so we asked to be moved inside. They accommodated us right away. The service was top notch - friendly, easy-going, and so nice. First thing the waiter said to us was, "Let me know what I can do for you." The kitchen will even make you dishes that aren't even on the menu! Even though the tables were white linen, it was also covered with bulletin paper. Crayons were in a glass on the table and we got to work coloring. Rustic comes to mind, as well as charming. I especially liked the Cowgirl Barbie and Cowboy Ken doll that designated the appropriate restrooms. I'm definitely going to come back for a Valentine's Day or something.

THE FOOD: Above average! We ordered the fire-roasted artichoke and the grilled portabella mushroom over polenta. My mom loved the portabella mushroom dish. I had the much talked about meatloaf, and it's almost as perfect as my mom's. The marsala-mushroom gravy was great, but sadly, the meatloaf was served slightly cold. My parents both had the fish and they enjoyed it. Only complaint was that Tarpy's uses way too much butter. Two highlights were definitely their fresh-out-of-the-oven-sourdough-loaf. My dad ate almost two loaves all by himself. And the dessert really made my family's Easter Dinner. We ordered the sampler and one of the best waiters I've had in a very long time hooked us up and let us substitute/add on desserts that aren't included on the sampler. The creme brulee of the day was lemon and it was divine. The devil's food cake was a hit with my mom, who is, btw, very picky when it comes to her chocolate. My sister and I loved loved loved the strawberry sorbet. It was to die for! So fresh and perfect. The fried banana split, warm apple pie with maple ice cream, and the olallieberry pie were great, too. We weren't, however, too big of fans of the bread pudding.

IN A MOUTHFUL: Tarpy's is a great destination. I'd call it well-rounded, being both casual and first class in all areas (atmosphere, service, food) at the same time.