Monday, December 10, 2018

Pho Passion in San Jose, California

No Meat Pho

If that bowl above looks a bit odd, it's because it's missing meat. That was in part because I had gotten here just before they closed at 10 PM and there was no meat available. But it was also because I actually already had dinner, and was just craving some salty thin soup to line my belly after a good number of drinks. This place (301 East Santa Clara Street, 408-320-4425) was within stumbling distance.

Too bad then that the broth tasted like it came from an instant cube, even if the noodles were fine. I also grabbed some nước béo hành trần but it was hardly the tasty thing that I got the other day. And I didn't like the vinegar onions either, as I could hardly taste the vinegar nor the onion; it was just crunchy vegetable matter. Oh well. At least they were friendly, and the place was rather clean and modern.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Nobu Palo Alto at the Epiphany Hotel

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno

Fine dining was suggested for lunch today, and it turns out that Nobu has since opened a hotel and restaurant in Palo Alto (180 Hamilton Avenue, 650-666-3322). Naturally, we got his signature items, particularly the yellowtail with jalapeno above. It was refreshing, especially with that yuzu ponzu, but probably easily imitated by others these days.

Arctic Char with Crispy Baby Spinach

The biggest surprise today was the artic char above, which was fatty and tender, if a bit salty from the sauce underneath. Actually, what made it exciting was the crispy fried spinach leaves surrounding it, especially since they spiked it with red peppercorns and salt.

Black Cod with Miso

And yes, of course we had to get his black cod, which used a surprising amount of miso. Fortunately, the firm meat was still moist, and ultimately it achieved a strong caramelizing effect. But I'd rather that they cranked it back a notch; Roy Yamaguchi's misoyaki butterfish last week was better.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Trying Nước Béo Hành Trần From Pho Bel-Air, San Jose

Phở with nước béo hành trần

I needed a bite after getting into San Jose Airport tonight, and fortunately these guys are open until midnight (they've finally changed their signage to Pho Bel-Air, by the way). So I hopped onto the free VTA #10 bus and came here. A hot bowl of soup was exactly what I needed.

The menu had a $1 add-on option for "scallions in fatty broth." It was that small bowl right next to the basil plate above, and it turned out that the "broth" was really just fat (and probably marrow?) that gets skimmed away from the real broth. And it was spiked with the thick white bases of (largely uncooked) scallion.

It seems that the Vietnamese name for this little sinful bowl is nước béo hành trần. It was both awesome and a bit over-the-top, especially given that I nearly put the entire bowl in. Next time I'll know just to add in a scoop or two. And I should probably try those white onions with vinegar too.

A Loco Moco Before Leaving Hawaii

Loco Moco

I needed a bite before heading to the airport, so I went back to the Cheeseburger in Paradise folks to grab a loco moco. I thought I recalled their patty being more tender last time, but it didn't matter, as the gravy had some nice earthy onions and beef flavor in there, helping this to slide down my throat.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

The Poké at Wailea from Roy Yamaguchi's Humble Market Kitchin

The Poké at Wailea

We were back at Humble Market Kitchin tonight, and his poké is soooo much better than that supermarket stuff. It was the salt and seaweed in particular that did it for me. That, and his misoyaki butterfish too. Presumably he used some kind of local Hawaiian butterfish; I'm not sure if it was related to gindara or not, but it was still deliciously rich and satisfying.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Cheeseburger Grille and Tap Room in Wailea, Maui

Cheeseburger With An Attitude

Cheeseburger in Paradise is a shop up in Lahaina that I've heard about for ages, but have never been to. Fortunately, they opened an outlet down here in Kihei (3750 Wailea Alanui Drive, 808-874-8990), albeit under a slightly different name due to a (unsurprising) clash with Jimmy Buffett. It sounded amazing, with its "five napkin" burger featuring local beef from the big island of Hawaii. I was really looking forward to coming here, but it turned out that my expectations were too high.

When it was pitched as a five napkin burger, I was expecting a drippy mess. Sure, it had a bit of grease and mayonnaise to make it fun, but it really only took one napkin. That said, I still inhaled this thing in minutes, as everything shoved inside of that soft brioche came together well, all washed down by a nice selection of local beer on tap, no less. The beef was tender too, even if it wasn't anything mindblowing. The only thing I didn't like were those crunchy seasoned fries.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Maui's Surfing Monkey Hawaiian Shave Ice

Tigers Blood Shave Ice

After getting that poké, I noticed a shave ice shack in front of me. And it's pretty warm today, so it was a fitting thing to top off with. You could choose three flavors, but I went for a single Tigers Blood, as it's technically already a combination of coconut, watermelon, and strawberry anyway. It went into my belly in seconds, especially given how finely they shaved the ice. I should remember to try their coconut milk ice cream next time.

Poké from Island Gourmet Markets in Hawaii

Fresh limu ahi poké and fresh spicy ahi poké

I didn't have lunch yet, and I desperately needed some food. So I walked over to the nearby outlet of this local grocery chain and grabbed a quarter pound of fresh limu ahi poké and fresh spicy ahi poké. I really liked the fragrance of the limu algae on the left, but it was hard to taste it after eating some of the spicy stuff on the right. Either way, this was exactly the snack that I needed, all washed down by some local Island Cola at that.

The Breakfast Burger From Smashburger at SJC

Breakfast Burger

I'm not sure if this is available at all Smashburger outlets, but I needed food at San Jose Airport this morning, and there wasn't much to choose from. I was worried that this bacon and egg-topped burger would be too heavy. But to my surprise, this grease bomb was delicious and went down in the blink of an eye.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

New Tung Kee Noodle House in San Jose, California

Small #2

This Tung Kee network couldn't be more confusing. We came to their downtown San Jose location (264 East Santa Clara Street, 408-289-8688) on the understanding that it was a Luu New Tung Kee, and hence would garnish my favorite #2 with basil. But when it came out, there was no basil to be seen. Granted, I was happy with all of the cilantro, but the little things just didn't seem right, especially given how crudely they cut the cucumbers.

I was puzzled, as there was signage inside of the restaurant that said it was Luu New Tung Kee. But I assume that it was an old sign, as they ultimately seemed to go by just New Tung Kee instead. I guess somehow they split off from the Luu folks? I'll have to go to Luu's Milpitas location one day to verify if they put basil in their bow; otherwise, I'm just going to have to make the trek to Mountain View.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

The Urban Corner at Mexico City Airport

Rub Huarache

Yes, something about this "rib hurache" seemed weird. It was basically a thin (and not particularly good quality) slice of bone-in steak sitting on top of a huarache. One had to cut the steak separately; it was like putting a steak on a salad. There wasn't any salsa available either. I still ate it all nonetheless; after all, there was nowhere else to sit in the crowded international departures area, and it made sense to get a huarache while I was still in CDMX, right?

Marisquería el K-Guamo in Colonia Centro, Mexico City

Pulpo Tostada

When I walked into this Eater 38 shop (10 Ayuntamiento, +52-55-5915-5495) and asked for a pulpo tostada, they brought me that cracker in the foreground. I was totally puzzled; do they use saltine crackers here instead of a fried corn tortilla? If so, then I woudn't have ordered it.

A few minutes later, they brought me the tostada behind it, bringing me a big sigh of relief. Now, they didn't fry their tortillas to order like the stall yesterday. And surprisingly, hey didn't have any fresh salsa. But one of the bottles on the table was a potent habanero, which made me happy.

I could be a tostada snob and say that I can get better ones in Baja. But honestly, this was pretty good despite the shortcomings above, especially given how finely they diced their onions. I liked it enough that I ordered a second one.

Epilogue: OMG, I just realized that La Guerrerense (the Baja shop that I linked to above) has opened a shop in Condesa! I literally walked RIGHT BY it yesterday on that tacos tour and completely missed it. AAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!