Archive for October, 2011

Authentic Sushi Joint – Yuzu Sushi & Grill

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

After Kaygetsu closed its doors early this month, the FoodLvoer had been looking for a replacement for high quality sushi. Rosita wanted to treat Josephine to a Japanese dinner and asked me to find a good restaurant. I turned to Yelp for help and found Yuzu Sushi & Grill, a small joint in San Mateo known for its authentic Japanese seafood.

If you want to have the feeling of small restaurants in Japanese, this is it. There are fewer than 30 seats including the half dozen stools around the sushi bar.

We wanted to try both raw and cooked items there and ordered the seafood dinner. While we were waiting for the food, we saw “Magaru Bone Marrow” on the wall menu and couldn’t resist. This was an interesting appetizer but the jelly-like stuff was a little bland. Deep-fried Flounder Fillet was crispy and 香口 outside and tender inside. Wished I had a beer.

The sushi and sashimi was still a little bit below those prepared by Toshi-san of Kaygetsu but close. Yuzu is likely to be my preferred sushi joint from now on. My only regret was that I had to drive and couldn’t have a sake to bring out the flavor of fish. Sake would also tame the fishy taste of uni. Will bring a driver next time. The head of Kanpachi was delicious and had more meat than you would imagine.

Grilled Kanpachi tasted good too. Just don’t eat too much. It felt a little bit oily when I tried to finish the whole piece.

I will definitely go back again. If you want to try, make sure you call to reserve a table. I had a 6:30pm reservation and there was a party at our table before we arrived. Another party was waiting for our table when we left at 7:45pm.

Yuzu Sushi & Grill
54 W. 37th Ave., San Mateo, CA 94403
Tel: +1-650-358-0298

Neighborhood Noodle and Rice Shop – Cooking Papa 好煮意 (福斯特市)

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

When the original Cooking Papa opened in Santa Clara about year and half ago, I was there a few times but not impressed by their food quality. Now that they have a second shop in Foster City which is much closer to home, we decided to give this restaurant a second chance.

There was still a line waiting in front of Cooking Papa (好煮意) in Foster City when we arrived at 1:30pm. I liked their queuing system which indicated clearly on a large monitor where you were in the queue depending on your party size. To test food quality of this “Congee, Noodle, Rice” shop (粥粉麵飯), we ordered Sampan Porridge (荔灣艇仔粥), Chow Fun with Beef & Soy Sauce (乾炒牛河) and Fried Rice with Minced Beef (生炒牛肉飯). On top of that, we had a BBQ combination of Char Siu and Marinated Chicken (叉燒拼貴妃雞) to get a taste of their BBQ dishes.

We were glad that the fried rice noodle (炒河) was above average by U.S. standard. It was hot when serve (夠鑊氣); noodle was not too oily and the beef was cooked right. An acceptable Chow Fun with Beef & Soy Sauce (乾炒牛河) was good sign that the chef handling the wok knew what he was doing.

Unless you desperately crave for a bowl of congee, forget about porridge at this place. The congee base was watery and bland.

Beef Fried Rice was also good with all the traditional ingredients. Again, the wokman was doing a good job.

BBQ Pork and Marinated Chicken were average; they were good to go with rice but not good enough for a special trip. At the end, we ordered the Hong Kong Style Egg Puff (鬆化沙翁) after seeing that on almost every table. That was the right choice for dessert. It was puffy and not too sweet with egg flavor. A must-have for future visits.

All in all, I was glad that we tried this place. Now we have a decent choice nearby for quick family meals. Just stay away from the porridge (粥) and rice noodle rolls (腸粉). We didn’t have rice noodle rolls this time but those served on tables around us looked terrible.

Cooking Papa 好煮意
949A Edgewater Blvd., Foster City, CA 94404
Tel: +1-650-577-1830

一麵入魂 – Orenchi 俺家 (Santa Clara)

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

We arrived Orenchi at 11:40am and found a crowd already waiting in front. Looked like we had to wait for the second round. After about 45 minutes, we were the third party in line. At that time, I noticed a familiar face appearing near the entrance; that was Albert trying to figure out whether he should put his name on the list. To save him some time and more importantly to make him pay for my lunch, I changed the number next to my name from 2 to 4. We were seated after another 10 minutes.

I saw that some of the tables were not occupied even with a long line waiting outside. The only explanation was that they only let in a certain number of customers that they could comfortably served. The service was pretty good.

The lettuce salad with tomato, mushroom and baby corn was refreshing.

These two deep fried dishes were not bad but not outstanding. I liked the calamari legs.

Deep fried tofu was smooth and soft in the middle. Then came the noodle – that’s what we came here for. Again, the Tonkotsu soup was unbelievably tasty and the soft boiled egg (糖心蛋) was great. No wonder why they had a sign of 一麵入魂 (noodle entering one’s soul?).

Orenchi Ramen
3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051
Tel: +1-408-246-2955

Noodle and Rice Shop in Millbrae – Champagne Restaurant 上品小館(密爾布瑞市)

Friday, October 21st, 2011

After picking up somebody at SFO, we conveniently dropped by Champagne Restaurant 上品小館 to have lunch before going home. We had no problem finding a table at 1pm. The obviously inexperienced waiting staff were slow to serve us even though the place was only two-thirds full. When we asked a waiter to take our order, he had to rush back to the station to find his paper and pencil. Thank God our policemen do not leave their guns at home.

Char-siu was bright red and unnaturally sweet – the chef was overly generous with artificial color and sugar. The rice noodle of my Roasted Goose Rice Noodle Soup (燒鵝湯瀨粉) was soft but OK. The goose meat was tough. For this toughness of the goose, my Facebook friends gave these two reasons: 1) “Roast goose in US is always tough. as long as you can chew it without a knife and fork is considered passable in US standard.”; and 2) “Goose may not be left in the hot broth for too long or it will become chewy and lose the gamey taste.”

The Chinese Broccoli was fresh; it’s as good as you would get around here. Can’t go wrong by ordering it every time. The five wantons in the Shrimp Wanton Noodle Soup (鮮蝦雲吞麵) were big but “hard” (實). They were obviously pre-made. There was shrimp and lean pork inside; no fat pork, bamboo shoot nor 木耳. The egg noodle (蛋麵) was OK.

If I ever go back again, I may try the roast goose on rice as suggested by one of my Facebook friends just to see whether the soup had indeed ruined the meat.

Champagne Restaurant 上品小館
121 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030
Tel: +1-650-692-2688

Twins Royal Cuisine 潮粵軒(密爾比達市)

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

We didn’t have any dinner planned for this Saturday and were delighted to get a call from Francis in the afternoon asking whether we wanted to try a new Cantonese restaurant in Milpitas. We arrived Twins Royal Cuisine (潮粵軒) in Milpitas at 6:30pm to join Francis, Albert and their wives. The receptionist let us to a nice corner table as soon as I mentioned Francis’ name.

Service was good and food quality in general was above average for Cantonese restaurant in this area. The chicken was crispy and the fish fresh. Japanese Tofu was outstanding but the Chaozhou Cold Crab was a little disappointing – it was freshly prepared and not cold enough.

The dining hall was still full when we were done. All in all, this is not a bad place for a family dinners or casual meals with friends. Hope they can maintain the standard in a few months.

Twins Royal Cuisine 潮粵軒
61 Serra Way, Suite 120, Milpitas, CA 95035
Tel: +1-408-263-9388/9289

Noodle, Noodle, Noodle

Friday, October 14th, 2011

After enjoying nothing but good food on the Western European cruise, the FoodLover is ready for something simple, like, a bowl of noodle. Here are some of the noodle shops I’ve visited lately.

Ringer Hut – San Jose

This bowl of Nagasaki Champon (長崎拉麵) – the signature dish (招牌菜) of Ringer Hut – was a well balanced meal with vegetables, shrimp, fish and meat. The soup was very delicious and I couldn’t sense MSG if there was any.

The Yakimeshi (Japanese fried rice) that came with the Champon wasn’t impressive. Yakisoba (stir fried noodle) and Gyoza (fried dumplings) were also so so.

Stick to the Nagasaki Champon when you are there and you will not be disappointed. If I can only have one bowl of noodle for lunch, this is it.

Ringer Hut
1072 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129
Tel: +1-408-554-0877

Orenchi 俺家 – Santa Clara

Ken suggested that I tried the ramen at Orenchi. He was right that this milky Tonkotsu (豚骨) soup base of the Orenchi Ramen was indeed the best on earth (人間極品). According to a note on the menu, this soup had been cooked for 18 hours with Organic Chicken, Canadian Black Pork and filtered water. I believe that.

The golden yolk of this soft boiled egg was among the best I’d ever had. I usually would not drink much of the soup in noodle soups but finished the whole bowl this time. Service was good too. I will be back.

Orenchi Ramen
3540 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051
Tel: +1-408-246-2955

Misoya 味噌屋 – Santa Clara

Toppings of ramen at Misoya  were good, especially the cha-shu which was half fat and half lean (日式半肥瘦叉燒) – the fat melted in my mouth. Your doctor probably would advise you not to eat this though. The soup was good with ramen but slightly too salty to drink.

The cha-shu alone was worth a trip to Misoya.

3541 Homestead Rd., Santa Clara, CA 95051

QQ Noodle 三好拉麵 – Milpitas

The strength of QQ Noodle is its hand-pulled noodle and the best way to enjoy this firm and chewy noodle is to order it dry. My favorite there is Dry Soy Bean Paste Sauce Noodles (乾拌醬麵) with the Soy Bean Paste Sauce served in a separate dish. If you pour the whole dish of sauce into the bowl and mix with the noodle, it will likely be too salty for us Cantonese – Northern Chinese cuisine tend to be more salty. Start with half a dish and add more if necessary. Order the San Hao Soy Bean Paste Sauce Noodles (三好炸醬麵) if you like it spicy.

I had noodle soup and fried  noodle there before but didn’t like them as much as dry noodle. Stick to dry noodle and don’t expect much service at this place.

QQ Noodle
416 Barber Lane, Milpitas, CA 95035
Tel: +1-408-894-9171

House of Noodles 南北小館 – Milpitas

House of Noodles 南北小館 in Ulferts Center, Milpitas is supposed to be a Taiwanese restaurant but the owners are Shanghainese. This bowl of Simmered Noodle Soup 大滷麵 reminded me of what we used to have at 厚德福 near 麗聲戲院. Portion was very generous; more than enough for lunch. The noodle was authentic Shanghainese and was homemade, according to the friendly lady there.

House of Noodles
690 Barber Lane, Milpitas, CA 95035
Tel: +1-408-321-8838

Higuma – Redwood City

The ramen at Higuma was average – not outstanding but not bad either. The Mini Poki-don (sashimi rice) that came with this ramen was great though.

Higuma Japanese Restaurant
540 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063
Tel: +1-650-369-3240

Santa Ramen – San Mateo

This bowl of Pork Flavor Ramen arrived within minutes and looked good. I thought “Pork Flavor” was something like Tonkotsu. How wrong I was. The soup was nothing more than MSG water with artificial pork flavor. The cha-shu was tasteless and tough. Kikurage mushroom (雲耳) was hard to chew. Even the boiled egg was cold as if it was taken out of the refrigerator.

Avoid Santa Ramen.

Santa Ramen
1944 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403
Tel: +1-650-344-5918

Ramen Halu – San Jose

Tried Ramen Halu based on review on Yelp. Liked texture of the noodle but everything else was very ordinary. Not bad, just there are better choices in the area.

Ramen Halu
375 Saratoga Ave, Ste M, San Jose, CA 95129
Tel: +1-408-246-3933

Maruichi 丸一 – Milpitas

The soup of Miso Ramen at Maruichi did not have much taste of miso. Roast pork was tasteless as well. The portion was so small I had to buy a cocktail bun at the nearby Kee Wah to fill my stomach. You don’t miss anything by overlooking Maruichi in Milpitas Square.

530 Barber Lane, Milpitas, CA 95035