Archive for July, 2010

Akasaka 赤坂

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I must have passed by Akasaka 赤坂 in Menlo Park a million times since moving to this neighborhood twenty years ago. Have read good and bad reviews about it but never had a chance to try. Today we didn’t have any food for lunch at home and I boldly made the executive decision to visit this place.

When we arrived at noon, the restaurant was more than half empty and only went downhill after that. We ordered the Bento lunch with tempura and bulgoki (BBQ beef) and Chirashi Sushi. Miso soup was watery – the ingredients never had a chance to integrate with the water. Tempura was oily and soggy; overcooked beef was tough. Sashmi in the Chirashi was not defrosted properly – a few pieces were bland and watery. Fortunately, the small bottle of Asahi Super Dry was very good in the cold glass.

By having lunch there today, my greatest accomplishment was being able to cross it off the list of potential eateries to visit.

Akasaka 赤坂
925 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Tel: (650)325-0444

抵食夾大件 – King Crab Restaurant in Milpitas 海霸王(密爾比達市)

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

I had lunch with Roger today at King Crab Restaurant 海霸王 in Milpitas. This restaurant with about 80 to 100 seats was not very crowded when we got there at 11:30am and was full at around 12:30pm.

All dim sum dishes cost $2 and there were some daily specials listed on a board at the entrance. For dim sum, we got some beef stripe and organs and shrimp balls. I could not say these dishes were the best I’d ever had but not bad.

We also ordered Geoduck Clam Congee 象拔蚌粥 ($6.95) and Lobster Noodle 龍蝦撈麵 ($9.95) to share. The congee was very good – 鮮甜 – with a base much better than that at Cooking Papa 好煮意 in Santa Clara. The Lobster Noodle with a whole lobster was above average and great for the price.

At the end, we shared a Spongy Cake 馬拉糕 and an order of Tofu Pudding 豆腐花. That completed a very fulfilling lunch.

If you happen to be in Milpitas and don’t know where to go, give this place a try.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

After seeing this post this morning, Ablert and Laurita rushed out to Milpitas to take advantage of the Good Deal. While the food quality in general was satisfactory, they did notice an error in my reporting. The Braised Beef Tripe & Organs dish tasted better than most in this area but it cost more than $2. It was true that Big, Medium and Small Dim sum dishes cost $2 each; many dishes, e.g. Beef Tripe & Organs, were not considered as Big, Medium or Small. There were Specials (廚點) which could cost a few times more than $2. When you are there, beware of these Specials! 29 July, 2010

King Crab Restaurant 海霸王
269 W Calaveras Blvd
Milpitas, CA 95035
Tel: (408) 263-2228

Dining in D.C. 食在華府

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

The Food Lover family took a one-week trip to Washington D.C. in June right after the juniors got out of school. Our flight was delayed; it was already 9pm by the time we checked in the Embassy Suites in the West End district. We asked concierge for restaurant recommendation and were given a list of restaurants nearby. That wasn’t very helpful because we had no idea how far those restaurants were just by looking at the street addresses.

We randomly took a right turn out of the hotel, walked a couple of blocks and saw lights a Chinese restaurant. It looked pretty crowded; that could not be too bad, right?

Took a quick look at the menu of Meiwah Restaurant and I knew right away that this Cantonese restaurant was run by some old-time Chinese immigrant (老華僑) – names of the dishes were exactly the same as those I saw in restaurants in Chinatowns of New York or Boston some 40 years ago. There was no point in trying anything fancy. I ordered a few meat dishes and fried rice. As expected, the food was not bad but all dishes tasted the same. I would not consider this as a great meal but also would not call this a mistake. The boys were happy because they had their fried rice and beef.

On the wall we saw many photographs of the owner taken with politicians – congressmen, senators, ambassadors, etc. Either this owner is well connected or politicians just love to have their pictures taken wherever they go.

Another interesting point of this place was its name. The English name “Mei Wah” is obviously “美華” – it’s either a lady’s name in Cantonese or “American Chinese”. Its Chinese names is “華強” – either a man’s name or “Strong China”. One possibility was that the restaurant was started by a lady called “Meiwah” (美華) who later partnered with some guys named “X Keung” (X強). Another possibility was that the restaurant was started by a couple – Mei Wah and Keung; later she kicked him out after taking all his money and renamed the restaurant to herself. Yet another possibility was that the owner really wanted China to be strong but did not want to offend the Americans; the compromise was “American Chinese”. What do you think?

I thought we would not eat there again but we ended up having dinner there one more time later in the week when we got back late and did not want to spend the time to walk to better places.

Meiwah Restaurant 華強酒家
1200 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036,
Phone/Takeout: (202)833-2888 / (202)833-2882

Hometown Noodle Restaurant in Redwood City 越南家鄉河粉(紅木市)

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I passed by a Vietnamese noodle restaurant on Middlefield Road every time I went to Costco but never had a chance to try it. Today, I had to shop at Costco again and decided to go there for lunch. Hometown Noodle Restaurant is a bright and clean little shop with 30 seats. At 1pm, the place was still 80% full.

I looked around and found other customers eating rice plates, noodle bowls, vegetable plates and meat dishes. This was a noodle restaurant, so I ordered noodle.

The large bowl of Combination Noodle Soup arrived within two minutes. It consisted of round steak, well-done brisket, tendon, and tripe; I added meat balls for extra $1. This bowl of Pho, i.e. noodle soup, was accompanied with a plate of bean sprouts, basil leaves, a wedge of lime, and slices of jalapeno. I poured everything into the bowl and started tasting.

The soup was fresh and delicious with a tiny trace of spiciness that made it very appetizing. The white noodle was thin and smooth, as good as I got in any other Vietnamese noodle shop. The meat could be more tender but what more could one ask for $6.95.

This is a good little shop for a quick lunch or snack. Will probably come back again for a bottle of Vietnamese beer and other dishes.

Hometown Noodle Restaurant
3151 Middlefield Rd
Redwood City, CA 94063
Tel: (650)367-0567

Mayflower Restaurant in Milpitas 五月花酒家(密爾比達市)

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

After playing only 15 holes at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland, Francis and I had to quit early in order to make it to Milpitas in time for dinner with other friends. As usual, Mayflower Restaurant 五月花酒家 was full; there was a wedding party that took up most of the space. Fortunately, Francis knew the manger well and had called a few days ahead to book a table.

Knowing the manager has another benefit; he is more likely to suggest good dishes that are not listed on the menu – three out of the six dishes we ordered were not on the menu.

We started with soup of the day. This large pot of soup that had been cooked for hours (老火湯) only cost us US$11. In Cantonese restaurants, you can easily spot non-Cantonese customers by the absence of soup. Those who have grown up in Cantonese families must remember the large bowl (大湯碗) of soup on the dining table at home. The soup does not necessarily have a lot of ingredients or takes a long time to cook. It may only be boiled water with a piece of ginger and some vegetable but there is always SOUP. When a man goes to see his mistress, the excuse is always to taste delicious soup (去阿二度飲湯). A Cantonese meal is just not complete without soup!

The Soy Sauce Chicken was not on the menu because they only prepared a couple of them each day. The one we had was tender and tasty – a little bit sweet and not too salty. It was good but not as good that that at R&G Lounge (嶺南小館) in San Francisco China Town.

The Giant Surf Clam (貴妃蚌) was fresh and delicious in this clear and slightly wine-based sauce. We had three clams to share among six people.

For the Sauteed Scallops and Shrimps with Leek dish (韭菜花炒帶子蝦球), the manager specifically asked the chef to use smaller portions of oil and salt for us older folks. The leek was very fresh and crispy. As in any other restaurant in the U.S., you cannot expect too much of frozen scallops and shrimps.

The fresh cod fish was steamed just right and was as good as you can get anywhere else in this area. It did look a little bit smaller than the 1.5lb listed on the receipt.

Chinese Spinach or “Yin Choi” (莧菜) which was not always available did not just taste good, it was also nutritious. Some doctors recommend it for patients having low red blood cell count. Ask for it next time when you visit a Cantonese restaurant – it is usually not listed on the menu. We were full when Francis suggested we tried the steamed oysters. These $2-a-piece oysters were fresh and “fat”; they tasted good with garlic paste.

At the end, the manger threw in a couple of yummy complimentary desserts. It was a very good dinner for $32 per person. I had dinner at Mayflower many times before and the food quality and service had never been as good. Knowing the manager makes a big difference. Before giving it an unconditional recommendation, I have to try it again without Francis next time.

Mayflower Restaurant 五月花酒家
428 Barber Ln
Milpitas, CA 95035
Tel: (408)922-2700

Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant 香港西貢漁港(桑尼維爾)

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

No, I did not have Vietnamese food today. This Saigon is not the old capital of South Vietnam before most of the readers of this blog were born; it is a district in Hong Kong that is famous for seafood restaurants. The Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant we visited is located in Sunnyvale, California.

There were only three of us, so it was not wise to order a lot of seafood that could not be easily taken home. I picked my favorite clams and two meat dishes.

The clams were fresh and tasty with rich flavor of black bean sauce (豉汁); this dish went well with plain rice and I had one big bowl.

Both the beef rib and pork dishes were heavily flavored and still sizzling when served. I did not have much of that because I was busy finished the clams. Mrs. and Jr. did like them though.

Good taste, reasonable price and large portion were what I could say about this restaurant. We would have come here more often if it was closer to home.

Saigon Seafood Harbor Restaurant 香港西貢漁港
1135 N Lawrence Expy
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
Tel: (408)734-2828

Kobe Style Beef – Shabuway

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Last Thursday we happened to be in Mountain View at dinner time; naturally we walked along Castro Street to find a place to eat.

When we passed this fully packed shabu shabu restaurant, I saw the word Kobe on the poster and decided to give it a try. Operation of Shabuway was efficient: the waitress took our orders while we waited and my beer was already on the table when we were seated.

We each ordered the $12.99 “Kobe Style Beef Shabu Shabu” set dinner which included a Beef Plate, a Veggie Plate and a bowl of rice. I also ordered a bowl of Ramen Noodles ($1.75). That was when I realized that they were serving “Kobe Style” beef, not Kobe beef. For $12.99, I would not expect real Kobe beef anyway.

Instead of choosing a particular broth, we had the Half and Half, i.e. Traditional Seaweed Broth and Spicy Miso Broth. We found out later that the spicy broth was actually too spicy for us and we ended up cooking most the food in the seaweed broth.

The vegetables were fresh and “young”. The thinly sliced beef had enough fat in it to give that Kobe texture and the sauce were not bad either. For $12.99, we couldn’t complain much about what we had. I would probably come back again when I wanted a quick, tasty and fulfilling meal at reasonable price.

The servers were helpful and friendly. On the back of the waiters’ T-shirts, there were printing of “大和魂”. For the waitresses, the words were “大和撫子”. I only remember that 大和撫子 was the name of an old TV drama. Those of you who have better understanding of Japanese culture, would you please tell me the significance of this name, if any?

Shabuway
180 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
Tel: (650)961-8880

Hidden Gem in Millbrae – South Sea Seafood Village 南海漁村海鮮茶寮(密爾布瑞)

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

After taking a one-month World Cup break, the Food Lover is back to business.

At 11am, Simon came with grilled pork chops and stir-fried chicken, Albert brought some dim sum and tons of fried rice/noodle from Joy Luck Place in Cupterino. We were ready for the World Cup Final when Francis arrived with a bottle of red wine. We then spent the next two hours eating, drinking and cheering. At the end of the match, the better team won.

Albert went home; the rest of us drove over to Poplar Creek in San Mateo to join Raymond for a late round of golf. At 8:30pm, we arrived the recently opened South Sea Seafood Village 南海漁村海鮮茶寮 in Millbrae. Where is South Sea? It’s where the old Fook Yuen was.

Surprisingly, there were only half a dozen parties in this place while customers were waiting in line at the nearby The Kitchen 廚房制造. I was expecting the worst!

Service was very good. The waitress waited patiently for us to make our decision and made some helpful suggestions. We ordered soup of the day with a few seafood and light dishes. The small fresh shrimps were cooked just right and were not too big to be tough. At $9.99 per pound, the price was great – there was a one-pound limit per table at this price though. The chicken was tender and tasty with ginger paste served separately.

Steamed Stuffed Tofu was above average and the steamed fish was not bad. Pea sprout in restaurants around the Bay area is usually old and tough but what we had here was actually pretty good.

The bill was $120, i.e. $30 per person, not bad for the food we had. Based on quality of food and level of service, I could not understand why this place was not more popular. It is definitely better than HK Flower Lounge on the next block. If you have not tried it yet, give it a chance.

South Sea Seafood Village 南海漁村海鮮茶寮
195 El Camino Real
Millbrae, CA 94030
Tel: (650)692-0688