Archive for August, 2011

Old Teachers – ABC Seafood Restaurant 富林魚翅海鮮酒家(福斯特市)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Albert and I had dinner with Mr. Chan and Mr. Mok – both were our teachers nearly half a century ago. Chan Sir lives in Fremont and Mok Sir was visiting his daughter here. It was a very pleasant evening with old friends. While the two seniors were casually reminiscing the good old days, Albert and I were dumbfounded to hear what had happened in the teachers’ room back then.

You probably are wondering why there is no picture of the food we had. We picked this restaurant mainly because it was only a couple blocks from Mr. Mok’s daughter. The food there was not worth mentioning.

ABC Seafood Restaurant 富林魚翅海鮮酒家
973 E Hillsdale Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404
Tel: +1-650-328-2288
www.abcseafood.net

Original Portuguese Tart – Casa Pastéis de Belém

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

After “eliminating” the roast suckling pig in Negrais, we took another hour-long ride to the westernmost extent of continental Europe – Cabo da Roca. Almost all of that lovely piggy had been digested by the time we got back to the city. Time for dessert again!

According to the tour guide, not tasting the original Pastel de Belém (i.e. Portuguese Egg Tart) at Casa Pastéis de Belém was like going to Rome without seeing the Pope. So what’s new? I didn’t get to see the Pope when I was in Rome in June. Anyway, we went to this pastry shop that had been selling those famous egg tarts since 1837. Yes, that’s before most readers of this blog were born.

This place was even more popular than Lord Stow’s Bakery and Margret’s Café e Nata in Macau. The large dining room was filled with people hungry for pastry. Of course, there was a long line waiting in front too. The benefit of this popularity was that you could only get freshly baked tarts. Trying to get tarts that were more than 15 minutes out the oven would be impossible.

Instead of waiting for hours to be seated, we bought the tarts and ate them in the park across the street. They were super warm with crispy crust. Sugar on the egg was perfectly burned too. However, it was a little too sweet for my taste. I rather have the improved – less sweet – version in Macau.

Casa Pastéis de Belém
Rue de belem 84, Lisbon 1300-085, Portugal
Tel: +351 21 363 74 23

View of Atlantic Ocean from Cabo da Roca

Roast Suckling Pig by Negrais Style – Restaurante O Caneira

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

If you can only have one meal in Lisbon, don’t think twice before hitching a ride to Negrais about an hour north of downtown Lisbon. Over there, you will see quite a few restaurants with piggy signs on the door – obviously this place is famous for its own style of roast suckling pigs.

We did some sightseeing around Lisbon in the morning before arriving Restaurante O Caneira – one of the more famous roast pig restaurants, according to group members who had been to Lisbon many times. It was a little early for lunch by Portuguese standard, our party of 20 took up a good part of the dining room. We came here for the pig and we got the pig.

Its skin was crispy and not as thick as that of Cantonese style roast pigs. Meat was tender and moist with fresh pork flavor (豬有豬味).

The roast pork was served with potato chips and mashed potato.

I was pretty full after having a second serving of roast pig and did not have much of the seafood rice. Dessert was some kind of pudding with a layer of icy sugar. It was too sweet for me; the container was cute though.

Restaurante O Caneira
Avenida Gereral Barnabé António Ferreira 171, Negrais
Tel: 219 670 905
www.caneira.com

Portuguese Seafood – Restaurante 5 Oceanos

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Our ship arrived the port of Leixões early in the morning and, as usual, we did not leave the pier until 10 o’clock. In the next three hours, we would visit Forte de São Francisco Xavier, a bird market, Dom Luís Bridge, Liberdade Square, Porto Train Station, and Sé Catedral.

It was lunch time again; the tour guide took us to a local seafood restaurant only a few blocks from the port so that we could get back to the ship quickly after lunch.

As soon as the tour bus entered this section of Rua Heróis de França, we could smell burning charcoal. There were at least half a dozen restaurants on this block and each one of them had a grill in front at the sidewalk. They were all grilling sardine. I was sure sardine had to be a popular local cuisine and we would definitely have that.

There was a large tray of fresh seafood at the entrance and a row of large fish tanks on the side. Later I found that the restrooms were on the other side of the fish tanks where one could see the dining room clearly through the tanks.

Again our Portuguese speaking group members, namely Santos and Sousa, did all the food selection for us. The restaurant manger showed us a large live seabass which should be big enough for our gang of 18.

All appetizers were seafood: barnacles, shrimps, octopus, clams, and sardines as expected. Needless to say, they were all good. When you have good ingredients, it is not difficult to prepare good dishes. My favorite were the octopus and the sardine.

The octopus was fresh, spongy and chewy; the sardine had this slightly charred crispy skin and fresh, moist meat.

Our main couse – the grilled seabass – arrived on fire in a rectangular tray. It was covered with sea salt and partially wrapped in tin foil. The salt on the surface brought out flavor of the seabass.

The seafood restaurant also had great desserts. Take a look and you can imagine the yummy taste.

Restaurante 5 Oceanos
Rua Heróis de França, 689 r/c frente, 4450-159 Matosinhos
Tel: +351 22 937 29 41
www.5oceanos.pt

This is view of dining room from the restroom through the fish tank. You can see them and hopefully they don't see you.

Porto

Bamboo of the Sea – Restaurante Mar de Esteiro

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Our ship was docked at Muelle Transatlantico in central A Coruña at 8am but we took our time to enjoy the breakfast before boarding our tour bus at ten. After touring the historical old district of Santiego de Compostela for a couple of hours, our Portuguese speaking group members asked the Spanish tour guide to take us to the best seafood restaurant in town. She did.

After sitting down on the second floor of this spacious two-story building, I made a major mistake when sipping a glass of nice white wine – I ate three pieces of the fresh crunchy bread on the table. Was the bread bad? Of course not, it just took up precious space in my stomach that should have been reserved for what was to follow.

I’d had octopus and shrimp before but none was as good as this dish here. The plate was emptied in no time by this group that only had cruise food on the precious day. Clams were fresh and fat. Simply yummy.

Bamboo clams (蟶子) were the star of this first meal in Spain. Our group members had bamboo clams all over Asia and had never had them so crispy and fresh (爽脆). My plate was filled with shells of this bamboo of the sea.

The Spanish rice with lobster and grilled lamb looked and smelled very tasty; my only problem was that I was too full to have any. So were my other group members. We took two large pans of the Spanish rice and most of the lamb back to the ship and had them reheated for dinner. They were still good.

What can I say? If you live in Southern China, you probably love seafood and believe that you have tasted the best. Spain will open your eyes!

Restaurante Mar de Esteiro
Lugar de Ponte Sionlla, n° 2, 15884 Enfesta-Santiago
Teléf.: 981 888 057 Móv.: 622 795 550

The Rajoy Palace, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Catedral de Santiago

Popular Little Seafood Restaurant in Saint-Malo – Le Chalut

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

We left Mont Saint-Michel at noon and got back to Saint-Malo a little after 1pm. Just in time for our 1pm lunch reservation, right? Wrong, all the parking lots were full and we waited half an hour for a space. While we were waiting, Bernard called the restaurant to hold our table and was told that they were closing for lunch and the chef would not take any order after 1:30pm. We certainly did not meet that deadline but the lady at Le Chalut was so kind to lead us to our little corner table right away. She regretted to tell us we could not select everything on the menu because many of the items were already sold out. We were happy to be served in the first place and took anything they could offer – I could not understand the French menu anyway. Of course, whatever she said was related to me later as Bernard was talking to her in French.

Since we were having mostly seafood, Bernard ordered a bottle of white wine.

The appetizer was simply exquisite and tasty. It was interesting that the chef used Chinese style porcelain spoon to match the small porcelain bowl for this course. The salmon roe and scallop on top of salmon paste didn’t just look good; it tasted good too. Mussel soup was thick and delicious. The chef didn’t just give you a piece of bread stick to go with the soup. It was olive bread.

I had oysters and Bernard had Foie Gras. The oysters were not big but tasted fresh when served with sea water. Bernard insisted that I tried a piece of his Foie Gras; the combination with toasted bread and apple sauce was perfect.

Presentation of the John Dory was simple but elegant. The fish was cooked just right.

Quantity of the dessert was appropriate after the full-course lunch. I especially enjoyed the Thornapple Juice (山楂汁) which was refreshing.

According to Bernard, this was a popular restaurant in Saint-Malo and he came here regularly. In Fact, he made the reservation a few days earlier. This was one of the best lunch I ever had. Food quality and service were both top-notch. Of course, any meal would be good with old friends. If you are visiting Saint-Malo, you should definitely try Le Chalut, i.e. if you can speak French.

Le Chalut
8, Rue de la Corne de Cerf, 35400 Saint-Malo, France
Tel: +33 2 99 56 71 58

Parking Lots were full at Saint-Malo

Street Performers in Saint-Malo

Bernard in a famous bar in Saint-Malo

Giant Omelettes – La Mère Poulard

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

When our ship’s tender reached the Saint-Malo pier, I was happy to see Bernard already waiting for me. This was the first time we met in over fifteen years.

Within minutes, we were on our way to Mont-Saint-Michel which was about an hour away. According to Bernard, it was better to get there before all the tourists had arrived. Well, there were already tens of thousands of tourist there before we arrived at around 9:30am.

I was stunted by the beautiful scenery and didn’t mind too much of the crowd. After walking around the castle for an hour, we came across the La Mère Poulard Restaurant which had been around since 1879 and was famous for its giant omelettes.

The way these giant omelettes were prepared was nothing like what I had seen before. Too bad we couldn’t try these omelettes because the restaurant was fully packed with a long line waiting. We had to rush back to Saint-Malo for lunch anyway.

Here’s a video of how omelettes are made there.

La Mère Poulard
Grande Rue BP 18, 50170 Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France
Tel: +33 2 33 89 68 68

Bernard at Mont-Saint-Michel

Crowded Street on Mont-Saint-Michel

 

Memorable Sole – Restaurant Pallieter, Damme, Belgium

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Our ship arrived Zeebrugge in early morning. After a brief stroll in Lissewege and Brugge, our tour guide took us to a small restaurant in Damme, a picturesque village on the Damme Canal with a windmill.

The simple menu consisted of three hand-written pages with half a dozen items each. That was good. We ordered a few dishes to share. Even though I knew beer was not good for me, I had a glass of local dark beer anyway and didn’t regret.

The salad was as good as it could be – very fresh and crispy. Mussels cooked in a wine sauce was delicious too. The real winner was Baked Sole which looked ordinary but tasted great. The chef didn’t try to fool around too much with this fresh fish – maybe a little bit of salt to bring out its flavor. The perfectly burned thin crust sealed moisture in the tender fresh meat. We would have ordered a couple more of this sole had we known that it was that good.

I usually forget the scenery very quickly. The taste of this flat fish will leave Damme in my memory bank for a long long time.

Restaurant Pallieter
Kerkstraat 12, Damme 8340, Belgium
Tel: +32 50 354675

Church of Our Lady, Lissewege

Bruggemuseum, Brugge

Town Center, Brugge

Town Center, Brugge

More on Pizza Hut Pasta

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Since I liked the Tuscani Meaty Marinara last time, I tried Tuscani Creamy Chicken Alfredo when the boys wanted to have pizza from Pizza Hut again. I didn’t like it. The flavor was too creamy for my liking; chicken was tough and dry.

Authentic Northern Style Hand-Pulled Noodle – QQ Noodle 三好拉麵(密爾比達市)

Monday, August 1st, 2011

QQ Noodle 三好拉麵 is located right next to Mayflower Restaurant in Milpitas Square. The store used to be 竹皇 (a Cantonese noodle and rice shop) a few years ago.

I happened to be in Milpitas and felt like having a simple bowl of noodle for lunch. The menu there was simple. You could have a few choices of dry noodle, fried noodle, or noodle soup. I wanted to have San Hao Soy Bean Paste Sauce Noodles (三好炸醬麵) but gave up that idea when I saw a couple of red peppers on the picture. Instead, I ordered Dry Soy Bean Paste Sauce Noodles (乾拌醬麵) which looked pretty much like the 炸醬麵 except the red peppers.

The Soy Bean Paste Sauce arrived in a separate dish while the noodle was entirely covered by shredded cucumber in a big bowl. It took me a couple minutes to mix everything thoroughly and that was part of the fun. I was expecting to have an ordinary bowl of noodle just to fill the stomach but almost had tear in my eyes as soon as I took the first bite. The noodle was firm, chewy and even a little bouncy (有咬頭兼彈牙). The last time I had such good noodle was over ten years ago in the northern city of Shenyang. Thick noodles (粗麵) in the south (e.g. Shanghai and Hong Kong) are usually softer. I got the feeling that this noodle was hand-pulled on the spot. Taste of the sauce confirmed that the chef had to come from northern China. It did not have the sweet and oily flavors of typical 江南 (e.g. Shanghainese) cuisine.

While the sauce was not bad, main attraction was the noodle. I would enjoy this noodle even with soy sauce (豉油) alone. I heard the waiter telling customers at the next table that noodle was hand-pulled (手拉) in the kitchen right before it was served. You may or may not believe that. I do. 至於你信不信,我反正信了。

QQ Noodle 三好拉麵
416 Barber Lane, Milpitas, CA 95035
Tel: +1-408-894-9171
www.qqnoodle.com