Saturday, January 31, 2009


While we had every intention of eating home for the majority of the weekend (we have a lot of leftovers), it didn't really happen. We woke up on Friday morning craving Chinese, so we planned to go downtown for some that night.

At the suggestion of one of Jonathan's coworkers, Chris, we went to Hangen, a Szechuan restaurant on the outskirts of downtown. It was pretty dead for 8pm on a Friday night, but there were still about six or seven tables occupied. The food there is served family-style, and the menu is very extensive. We went with "family dinner B," (which is denoted as the "spicy" meal) which started us off with fried shrimp (very bready) and vegetarian eggrolls. They were served with a sweet and sour sauce that had a very spicy mustard, almost like a horseradish. The eggrolls were fried to perfection, and were pretty good for having no meat inside. We were then served a pot of Hot & Sour soup, which was ladeled into our bowls. Neither of us had previously tried this type of soup, and found it interesting. The tofu was pretty general (we're not fans), and the egg was tasteless. It was strange to have a sour taste to soup, but we enjoyed it and each had seconds. As for the "hot" part, it wasn't hot in a spicy sense. We then had the Hangen Beef and the Kung Pao Chicken. We chose Chicken Chow Mein instead of white rice. This was a decision I was a little afraid of at first (seeing as the meal was being billed as "spicy"), but it ended up being fabulous. While the chicken was a bit hotter than the beef, neither were that spicy to us (although we are a little "tougher" when it comes to spicy than the average mouth). The beef was flavored with basil and green onions, and was so very tender that it was fabulous. I thought that the chicken was a little "dark sweet" like a molasses, but Jonathan enjoyed it just fine. I fell in love with their chicken chow mein, which was a great combination of noodles, egg, chicken, and vegetables. We had chow mein and chicken left over (we gobbled up the beef), so we have those in the fridge, awaiting our chomping tomorrow. The meal ended with fresh fortune cookies and orange slices. It was very reasonably priced, and the lunch specials seem simply amazing. I can guarantee we'll be back. Oh, and even better: they are one of the few places around that actually deliver!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

More Food: Jack in the Box

Now, Jonathan and I have been to a Jack in the Box before, but it's been a couple years. When we were in Seattle (the week we got engaged), we had Jack in the Box, and had a good experience. We have a few near us in Mountain View, so we gave it a try a week ago. I'm sure glad we did, because they really are good!

Jonathan got the Ultimate Cheeseburger, which has both American and Swiss cheese and a onion-mayo sauce. I had the Chipotle Chicken Ciabatta, that had a delicious sauce, bacon, and cheddar cheese (I got it sans lettuce, of course). We both really enjoyed our choices, and that of the other. I had the "seasoned" curly fries, but they weren't that good and I wouldn't waste money on them again. Jonathan got the Sampler Trio, which included two chicken eggrolls, a few mozzarella sticks, and a few jalapeno poppers. The eggrolls were okay, about what you'd expect from a fast food place. I didn't try the other items, but Jonathan said that the mozzarella sticks were dried out and not very gooey, as mozzarella should be. He'll have to tell you about the poppers at some point, because I don't remember what his reaction was. Oh, and I had rootbeer since they had Barq's and I was in the mood. The funny thing was, on the way home (we got it to-go), Jonathan went to have a sip of it and had the strangest look on his face, as he was expecting it to be Coke, haha. I can completely relate though, I absolutely hate it when I'm expecting one beverage and it's something else... the psychological affect on the taste is gross.

With the menu being so expansive (and some great looking breakfast options as well), I'm sure we'll be back.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sushi Tomi

For dinner, Jonathan and I went to a sushi place downtown (off Dana), called Sushi Tomi (make sure you click on English so you can read the site, LoL). The place was packed, even though it was Sunday night at 7:30. We waited about ten minutes for a table, but it was well worth the wait. We both had the combination special, I chose sashimi and gyoza, Jonathan had the sashimi and the spicy tuna roll. We were first served salads, with the most delicious dressing. We couldn't quite pinpoint the taste, although it was very creamy and had sesame seeds. I thought it tasted a little like bacon and parmesan, but clearly that wasn't it. After that was the miso soup, which was not as salty as some miso, so I enjoyed it quite well. We hardly had time to finish it before our entrees arrived. My gyoza (deep-fried pork potstickers) were delicious, although I liked them better with soy sauce than with the wine-vinegary sauce with which they are served. There were six pieces, which matched Jonathan's six pieces of spicy tuna roll. And boy, were they spicy! Neither of us had previously had anything similar. This tuna was sort of ground up and made very spicy. The sashimi was eight pieces, three each of tuna and salmon, and two of another fish which greatly resembled tuna, but was a little darker and a little tougher (and also a little fattier). It was all very good, and I was definitely stuffed by the time I had my orange section as a finisher. We both agreed that it was a good deal, and might be returning before long.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amarin Thai

For my birthday, Jonathan arranged for a few work friends to join us for lunch at Amarin Thai Cuisine in downtown Mountain View. I was excited, as it was our first Thai in California, and that's one of my favorites. We arrived about ten minutes early, and while I was hoping for one of their tables that's on the floor with cushions, it seems those are only available during dinner. We did get a large table though, and it was nice that Andrew & Kit and Vanessa & Emmanuel were able to join us. Jonathan had some chicken pa-nang curry (a reddish-brown kind), with basil and I had the grilled scallop with garlic, cilantro, onion, two kinds of peppers, and corn. It was in a tasty marinade sauce, and we both enjoyed the white rice that it came with. Everyone else at the table also got various kinds of curry, except Emmanuel, who had the mango chicken special. My scallops were delicious, but the vegetables were a little odd (too heavy on the corn). Jonathan enjoyed his curry, and is looking forward to trying other varieties while we were there. Overall, though, I don't think we'll be heading back to this Thai place, when you consider the many other possibilities there are here! Vanessa and Emmanuel had been there before and weren't impressed with their pad thai. And if you don't have good pad thai, you can't be a good Thai place, in my opinion.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mongolian Hot Pot

Jonathan's friend Andy had his girlfriend in town this week (she lives in NJ), so the four of us went to Union City to have Mongolian food at Little Sheep Hot Pot. While Jonathan and I have been wanting to try 'hot pot' since we went to New China Delight, and this was definitely a place we probably wouldn't have wanted to try alone. We didn't really know how to order, so it was a good thing we had Andy and Kristine.

For anyone who might not know, Mongolian Hot Pot is kinda like an Asian Melting Pot. There's a burner in the middle of the table, and the server puts a big bowl of soup there. You can get original, spicy, or a divided bowl with both (which we went with). You also check off a front-and-back sheet with tons of different meats and vegetables. We got a beef and lamb platter, tiger prawn shrimp, cabbage leaves, pork dumplings, king oyster mushrooms, cuttlefish meatballs, udon noodles (really thick) and an assortment of pork/beef/shrimp meatballs. The way it works is where the 'Melting Pot' part comes in... all of this stuff is raw. You use tongs to grab the items and toss them into the broths to cook them, either just in there or on little ladles (mostly for the smaller items and to fish everything out again).

The beef and lamb were both good (especially in the spicier soup). The tiger prawns were only okay... it was a little plain since there were not herbs or anything on the shrimp. Jonathan ate the bulk of the cuttlefish balls... I found them a bit rubbery. I really enjoyed the shrimp meatballs, and the others were a hit with the group as well (although I should note that they took much longer to cook than most of the other items). Make sure not to keep the mushrooms in there too long or they get rubbery. The pork dumplings were my favorite, although they did take a while to cool after pulling them out of the pot. I didn't care much for the cabbage leaves, but everyone else liked them quite well. While I am a fan of pretty much any type of pasta, the udon noodles were definitely delicious, and I am glad that we added them on at the last minute.

It's definitely something neat to try, and I think that it would be a hit with a lot of our friends... specifically the Melbourne crew comes to mind...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger is a chain, and is pretty big out here. I had been to one before, last time I was in the Bay Area (May/June 2006), but I didn't really remember it, and Jonathan had never been. We just beat the lunch rush (arriving at 11:45am), and we are sure glad we did! The menu is very simple (as you can see, there's not much "public" variation to the options), and we ordered a #1 and a #2. We both found the burgers to be great (I had the cheeseburger, JB had the double), the sauce/spread gets two thumbs up, and the buns were nicely toasted. They were heavy on the onion, but we both like onion so no problems there. I didn't really care for the fries (felt they had no flavor), but now I know. Oh, I bet you're wondering why I used the term "public" menu before... they have a secret menu, just for insiders. Because their motto is simplicity, you have to be "in the know" that you can get a few different things, such as an "animal burger" or "fries well-done." We wanted to try their original menu first, but next time we'll definitely study the secret menu and order from that.

Friday, January 23, 2009


TOGO'S is a sandwich place, very similar to Subway. They're a chain, so perhaps you've been to one before. We hadn't and were in the mood for subs, so we gave it a try. I felt like a soup-and-sandwich combo, but the soups of the day were not appealing, so I went with a regular Turkey Club on "dutch crunch" bread. Jonathan tried the Hot Pastrami on white. He enjoyed the pastrami, noting that we see it often so it must be popular in this area. Mine was pretty good, although the bacon could have been crisper. Dutch Crunch bread is a white bread with little "crunchy" pieces in the crust. However (maybe because it was late in the day), my crust wasn't crunchy, so it was very similar to plain white bread. Interestingly, neither sandwich had cheese on it. There were a lot of things on the menu, so I imagine we'll try it again sometime.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Hour at Faultline Brewing Company

Two weeks after we moved to California, the ELDPs (the program that Jonathan is in which allowed us to move out here) had a get-together at Faultline Brewing Company. Ten people came - 6 ELDPs and 4 significant others. It was nice to meet some new people, and try a new place. I had pear cider, which was delicious. It's kind of exactly what you'd expect, but a bit crisper in taste. Jonathan tried Indian Pale Ale, which tasted like any other beer to me. We had the pork-and-shrimp potstickers with chili-mint rice as an appetizer, and it was quite good. If you like a crisp potsticker, you might be a little disappointed, but the insides are very flavorful. As an entree, we both ordered the Smoked Chicken Penne, but I ordered it without mushrooms. I found it to be overly-smoky, and the garlic in the brie sauce was undetectable. Jonathan found it just right, and devoured the sauce. We combined leftovers and I had them for dinner the next night (while Jonathan had our leftovers from La Costena).

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mexican for Lunch: La Costena

After we visited La Bamba, we knew we'd have to try the burrito place next door for comparison. So, we tried out La Costena for lunch today. They hold the Guinness World Record for largest burrito. Unfortunately, I was not all that impressed. I got the marinated & grilled chicken, Mexican rice, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and tomatoes in my 'regular burrito.' Jonathan got the same, only with carnitas (fried pork) instead of chicken, and he added salsa verde. We brought them home to eat, which was a good idea. I didn't care for the heaviness of the tortilla, so I opened mine up and ate it with a fork. The chicken was nothing special, and the burrito as a whole could have used more cilantro. The rice was pretty good. Jonathan loved the carnitas (I had a bite, they were indeed tasty), but agreed that the tortilla was a bit thick.

My main gripe about the place would be the confusion on ordering. It is not clear which toppings are free and which cost extra, and the various prices of the toppings are not obvious on the menu. I also didn't even see the "Super Values" at all. While our burritos started out at $4.99 each, the total was $15.05 after tax. I don't really plan on going back, and continue to be a bit disappointed with the Mexican food out here as a whole so far. If someone has a place to recommend, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gelato: soft, rich, smooth, delicious

We haven't had any dessert since we've been in California, so last night Jonathan suggested we find some frozen custard. After an internet search, it seems the nearest frozen custard is about twenty minutes away, in San Jose. So, we headed into downtown to get some gelato at Gelato Classico. The last few times we've gone by the shop, the line has been pretty long, so we were surprised when we walked right in. I got the tiramisu in an italian cone (nothing special about it, tastes just like a normal sugar cone), and Jonathan got the peanut butter cup in a dish. The tiramisu was good, with pieces of cake and everything. Jonathan enjoyed his as well, but I can't speak to how it tasted since I don't eat peanut butter. They had a lot of flavors that I want to try in the future, so I'm sure we'll be back there before long.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

San Francisco: Sanraku

We got up, had breakfast, and took the Caltrain into San Francisco today.  

We stopped in Metreon (a center with several restaurants, a couple stores, an AMC 15 movie theater, and an arcade) for lunch. Jonathan saw that Sanraku had wonderful reviews (and I saw it mentioned in Frommer's as well), so we stopped there. We were seated quickly (not very busy for noon on a Saturday), and were served nice, cool water while we read the menu. Jonathan chose the Sushi Special, and I went with the Sashimi and Chicken Teriyaki Combo. We had piping hot miso soup brought out, and it was pretty good. We hardly had time to finish the coup when our entrees had arrived. My sashimi (raw fish without the rice) was 5 pieces of chef's choice, and I was glad to see three big pieces of tuna and two slabs of salmon. The tuna was very good, among the best I've had. The salmon was a bit much on its own (I should mention I struggled to pick up a piece with my chopsticks, it was so large!), but still good. The wasabi was good, but the ginger was a little off. My chicken teriyaki was in a delectable sauce, and the rice it came with was good and sticky. The salad was a bit much, mostly since it had a strange dressing (not ginger, not soy, something I had never before encountered with Japanese cuisine). Jonathan's special came with 6 pieces of nigiri and 6 pieces of California Roll. However, a California roll out here is not what it is in Florida. Here it has crab, avocado, and cucumber, rice on the outside, and sprinkled with roe. His nigiri ranged from tuna to salmon to tamago (like a sweet egg omelet with a custardy taste) to shrimp to whitefish to a roll of just roe and rice. The tamago was different, but overall he enjoyed the selection.

Friday, January 9, 2009


We'd been talking about getting pho on and off since we've been in California, and tonight was the night. We were able to stroll downtown and chose the second pho place we saw, Pho Hoa. It is part of a very large chain, and has had numerous awards for its healthy menu. I went with the chicken (like I always do) and Jonathan ordered the steak and meatball. We also had two summer rolls, a personal favorite. For those who may be unfamiliar with Vietnamese cuisine, I'll explain a little. Pho is a soup, and while the ingredients vary slightly from one restaurant to another, most serve it very similarly. The broth is either chicken-based or beef-based (from what we've experienced), and includes noodles and green onions, along with the meat of your choice. It is served in a very large bowl, accompanied by a selection of sauces and a platter of add-ins. Mint, cilantro, jalepeno, lime, and bean sprouts are usually on the platter, although at this particular restaurant the cilantro had been simmered in with the broth. I don't know much about explaining the sauces, but there's a thick brown and a hot red, and soy sauce. The soup is eaten with chopsticks and an Asian spoon (see photo). Summer rolls are wrapped in thin rice paper, and include shrimp and pork, vermicelli, and some salad ingredients. They're served with a thick peanut sauce, although I like them with soy sauce. Personally, I'd like to try a different pho place, as I prefer to add the cilantro myself (I like a lot), but I'd still recommend this place. If you're into "bubble tea" (sometimes called "pearl smoothies"), they have a nice selection. Since I can't stand tapioca, I'm not a fan, but I've had several friends who quite enjoy them.


Jonathan was working on a project at home today, so we were able to have lunch together.

We decided to have Mexican, and after both researching a bit, we landed on the same choice: Taqueria La Bamba. There are two in Mountain View, an original and a second one downtown. We chose to try out the original, and enjoyed it. Although parking was a bit rough (1:30pm on a Friday), service was very fast. I ordered a chicken burrito, Jonathan had the quesadilla suiza. The burrito included rice, shredded chicken, sour cream, cilantro, guacamole, and cheese (I opted for no beans). The tortilla itself was rather thick, but other than that it was pretty good. Jonathan's quesadilla was cheesy with plenty of steak, he said he'd definitely get it again. There were also a few other things on the menu we're dying to try (carnitas and pupusas).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

St. Stephens Green

We went downtown to watch the second half of the BCS Championship game. We decided to check out St. Stephens Green Pub, which was pretty decent. The build-your-own-burger is a little overpriced, but it was cooked just as I requested, and it was good. The fries were very good, in fact, the only thing really lacking in my meal was a pickle. Jonathan had the Chicken-Mushroom pot pie. He was a big fan of the gravy, and said the vegetables were steamed to perfection. I thought his mashed potatoes were a little buttery, but he enjoyed them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our First Californian Chinese Food

We headed downtown for Chinese.

We first attempted to go to a restaurant called Trend first, but chickened out. As we were walking up, we looked in the window. The specials menu was completely in Chinese characters, and there were pictures of the food on the wall (but not in that tacky way that some take-out places post. this was in a real way, as it was a real restaurant with tablecloths, china, and silver). All of the customers appeared to be Asian, and we were slightly afraid we wouldn't be able to order (we have heard that there are places out here where you have to know how to order to be able to eat).

Only a block or two from uWink, we stumbled upon a place called New China Delight. As you may know, this is a semi-common name for a Chinese restaurant (or at least it is in FL), but this particular one actually owns, not some random domain. The menu was a bit different from what we're used to, but was quite extensive. The portions were generous, and the prices were fair. The food is served family-style, which we weren't expecting when we placed our order. I asked for the 'minced chicken breast with spicy garlic sauce' and white rice. JB had the 'General Tso's Chicken' (which I don't see on their online menu) and white rice. We both loved his meal, it had a great flavor and a perfect crispness. Mine wasn't garlic-y enough for its name, and had a very hot aftertaste. We took home leftovers of both types of chicken, and plan to return to this restaurant to try their hot pots.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


We headed into downtown Mountain View (about four blocks away). We walked Castro Street, and passed at least thirty restaurants before reaching the end of the area. We decided on uWink, a "social entertainment restaurant." It sure was different, allowing us to order from the screens in front of us, without a waitress needing to come by. There were some great drink specials, and we tried to Appetizer Sampler (don't get the onion strings). I had the garlic chicken pasta (decent), and Jonathan tried the macaroni and cheese (plentiful!). What made the restaurant a good time were the giant projection screens showing the sports games and hit television shows, and the fact that there were more games on the machines than we could play in the (nearly) two hours we were there. Cool place, would recommend (and will probably take a few friends there when they come to visit...).

[update 4/16/11: uWink is gone. it looks like the entire chain went out of business]

Friday, January 2, 2009

Denver Airport: Jimmy's

We were flying from Orlando to San Jose, and the flight was just over four hours to Denver. Once in Denver, we stopped for a casual lunch. We'd both recommend the italiano panini at Jimmy's.