Friday, March 27, 2009

Pho Ngon

Jonathan had a little bit of a sore throat the week before the Florida trip, and in our book that means a trip for pho. Pho is a Vietnamese soup of sorts. And Pho Ngon has had a "grand opening" sign over the store since we've been here, so we stopped in for some.

It wasn't the best pho ever, and it might have been $1 more than the standard bowl, but it was good. Jonathan got the flank steak and I got the shrimp. He noted that the flank steak was very good, but a little fatty. I tried it and thought it was gummy. The shrimp were incredibly fresh, which I really appreciate. Jonathan thought it was flavorless. The accompanying platter featured mint, jalapenos, bean sprouts, and lime. The cilantro was in the soup (along with onions), and they put a perfect amount in. I needed to ask for extra lime (one wedge per person isn't enough, I use two or three). The broth as a whole was a tiny bit sour, and I used some soy sauce in it.

There was a television on with some sort of Asian Idol show or something... several girls singing and it looked like there was a judge, etc. There were a bunch of plants on the counters and stuff, but you could still see quite a bit of the preparation/kitchen area. The service was quick, but we were there at 8pm on a Wednesday, so I can't imagine that's a prime time.

The reviews on yelp are pretty bad, and recommend other places. I'll probably do the same. I liked the downtown place better, and there are tons of others that we have yet to try.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Florida: Chili's

One night while we were in FL, we gathered a group for dinner and a movie. Joe, Andy, Bryan, Tori, BK, DJ, and Swu all met up at Chili's in Palm Bay about 7:15. We had a ridiculously difficult time getting a table, and in the end they only gave us back-to-back booths. At one point Tori and I drove down the road to see how busy Applebee's was, but as soon as they were putting together some high-tops for us, the guys called and told us they just got seated, so back over we went. In a surprise move, Tori and I ordered the same entree (which doesn't usually happen unless we're at McAlister's and splitting our fave dishes), the new mini-chicken sandwiches. They were pretty good, even with the ancho-chile ranch sauce they came with.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Indian River Fair Food

BK, Tori, and I went to the Indian River County Firefighters' Fair. None of us had been to this particular fair before, and it was really... bad. The food was way more than it used to be (comparing this to the St. Lucie County Fair, South Florida Fair, and North Florida Fair), which was annoying. Tori and I shared a funnel cake with powdered sugar, and a Sprite (but we're pretty sure it was really 7-Up). Overpriced and not that great is the moral of the story.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Hong Kong Bistro

Another weekend lunch in downtown Mountain View. I think we've avoided this place until now because it's a little too fushiony. By this, I mean that they have an easel outside on the sidewalk that lists special like "garlic string beans" and "creamed corn." But we gave it a try, and it turned out to be great.

I ordered the shrimp chow fun, and Jonathan got the mango shrimp special. The special came with a potato-ish soup (maybe porridge?) and hot milk tea. He had a choice of potato, rice, or spaghetti (?), which I thought was strange. He went with rice, and the dish was served in mango peels, which is always a nice presentation. The shrimp were delicious, lightly fried in a syrupy-sweet sauce. There were TONS of mango chunks in the meal, so it was a little too sweet to finish in one setting. My shrimp chow fun (fun is a rice noodle instead of mein, a wheat noodle, from what I can tell anyway) was a huge portion for just $7.50. The shrimp were cooked just right, and the noodles had a good flavor to them. There was a hint of mushroom in the dish, and some onions, but otherwise no vegetables.

We both took home leftovers, and I had mine for dinner that night... it was so delicious!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pan Tao Seafood Restaurant

We wanted to try dim sum at a new place, and we also wanted to try ordering ourselves (aka not having a Chinese-speaking friend with us). So we found a place in Sunnyvale (it was maybe ten minutes away), called Pan Tao. It was noon on a Sunday, and we waited about ten minutes for a table (this was after scouring for a parking spot in their teeny tiny lot). Water and jasmine tea were served right away, and it was only a couple minutes before the first cart came by. The carts were frequent, and we chose five dishes overall. Since it was a seafood place, they were all seafood dishes, LoL. The Shrimp & Spinach Dumpling was good, but the spinach was a little overwhelming, but much better with some soy sauce (which, by the way, they do not offer a low-sodium option). We had Shrimp ground up on Green Pepper, which was pretty good. I wouldn't get that one again, mostly because I prefer a noodle/dumpling component to my dim sum. Jonathan didn't care much for that one either, as I ended up eating three out of the four pieces. Their Shrimp in Rice Noodle, on the other hand, was all Jonathan. I didn't care for the sauce on it at all, it was way too sweet for shrimp and noodle. I should note, though, that you got six pieces instead of four, AND it was cheaper than at Fu Lam Mum. We also had this weird item... it was a sticky ball covered in rice with a solid shrimp center. It was delicious and very filling. We should have gotten two helpings of that one, LoL. Finally, there was the Shrimp and Scallop Dumpling (pictured left), which was more of a ball than a dumpling. It was good... and different... but a bit odd.

Overall, we were semi-comfortable pointing to dishes and using keywords to ask for things. Five dishes was plenty, and our total was about $22. Not too shabby. Jonathan really loves dim sum as a cuisine, and I've got to admit that I'm coming around. I've always enjoyed it, but since we've been out here it's been growing on me even more.
Update: we went again (today) before I had a chance to actually publish this entry. We got 5 dishes, four of which were repeats. We got the sticky-rice-balls again, as they're a favorite. We also got a plate of noodles (like a wheat vermicelli with onions and bean sprouts) that was pretty bland. I special-ordered the shrimp and banana roll... which was interesting. The outside was very flour-y, and it was shrimp and cilantro with a hint of banana puree. We also got a crunchy shrimp ball... it was the same insides as the sticky-rice-ball, but instead of rice, it was covered in crunchy flat noodles. Not all that appetizing. We also had some sort of shrimp-egg mess. It was in a pastry, and served in a very thick sauce. I didn't care for it, and neither did Jonathan. It totalled $25 this time, and there was no wait (although parking was still a problem). I felt a little more rushed and we needed our waters refilled more frequently than they were. Goal for next time: learn how to order in Chinese. seriously.

[we ended up going many more times, never ordering in Chinese. But, as of 4/16/11, it's gone. There's a new dim sum restaurant there, called New Port Restaurant, which is overpriced and only average]

Friday, March 13, 2009

Yakko Japanese Restaurant

On a recent Thursday, happy hour was canceled so Andy, JB, and myself went downtown to have dinner together.

We got to Yakko (a sushi place) about 7pm, and were immediately seated at a booth - the type that's designed to look like Japanese seating, so you sat on a cushion on wood, with your feet (shoes removed) hanging down into a space. The menu was large, and some of the sushi rolls had amusing names ("screaming orgasm" was tuna over daikon, "new girlfriend" was like a rainbow roll, etc.).

We ordered a simple tekka roll for the table (plain tuna), and it was about as expected, pretty plain. We all ordered combination dinners, which included miso soup, salad, and ice cream. I chose the tuna sashimi and chicken sukiyaki. Andy picked tuna sashimi and beef teriyaki. Jonathan ordered a different type of combo, and his came with shrimp and vegetable tempura, a california roll, tuna sashimi (smaller portion than Andy or I had), and beef teriyaki.

The salad was pretty blase, mostly lettuce, and the dressing wasn't very gingery. The miso was also average, but it was strange in that all of the tofu sank and sat at the bottom of the bowl. The tuna sashimi was great - very fresh and just excellent all around. This was my first sukiyaki experience, and I don't care for the food. It's a soup with a lot of vegetables in it, and tofu and chicken. The broth is a bit sweet, and the chicken was like the kind a mother or grandmother would put in soup (aka real and not perfectly square). There's also rice noodles in it, but they weren't enough to act as a saving grace. The vegetable tempura Jonathan had was interesting - it included carrots, broccoli, peas, and some triangular vegetable. The beef teriyaki wasn't worth noting. On the ice cream front, the guys had green tea (which tasted just like the real thing) and I had chocolate (yum).

The bill ran $70 with tax and tip for the three of us. A bit much, considering the quality. But, service was good, and the atmosphere was nice, so it was worth trying. I doubt I'll return, particularly because I prefer a Japanese menu to have a larger sashimi/nigiri selection.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pyramid Alehouse

On the way home, we stopped in Berkeley for dinner, at Pyramid Alehouse. We had met up with Kathy's friends, and I was really impressed with how quickly the restaurant was able to accommodate and serve eleven people on a Saturday night (especially when it's only a few miles from UC-Berkeley). It was a neat place, and like most breweries, there was a tour that you can take in the daytime (complete with free samples, apparently). I tried a "beertail" called "one bad apple" which was a pear cider with a splash of black cherry soda. It was okay... I don't think I would get it again. Jonathan tried the Oregon Honey Beer, which tasted like every other beer, except it had a sweet aftertaste. The rest of the table had a variety of things, including the three major brews that the place makes.

What was even more amusing was the number of "duplicate" orders at the table. Two people got cilantro chicken. Two people got honey salmon. Two people shared a pizza and both had salads. Two people got meatloaf. Jonathan and I were going to both get burgers, but he found a Reuben and changed his order. Crazy. Jonathan thought the Reuben was a bit salty. My burger was pretty good, although it was a medium instead of the medium-well I requested. And the mashed potatoes were about the most plain I had ever had. We also had a "pizza twist" appetizer, which was fabulous. Hefeweizen crust stuffed with garlic, parmesan, and mozzarella, with a little ranch flavoring. Served with ranch and marinara sauces. Oddly, nobody else wanted to try them, so we even got to take some home!

Reports of the other meals... the cilantro chicken was very moist and delicious. The pizza was really bad, they couldn't give it away. The meatloafs were very good. The salads were huge.

Monday, March 9, 2009


We were up at Sierra-at-Tahoe for the day, and after our fourth run, we broke for lunch. There were like seven places to eat at this resort, but we chose the Sierra Pub, since there were two chairs open together, LoL. I had a chicken-bbq-pesto panini, and Jonathan had a smoked beef sandwich. Both were great, as were the homemade chips that came with them.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Red Rock Coffee

We're not really coffee people, and when given the opportunity, I usually take a hot chocolate or a spiced cider on a cold morning instead. I did spend a year working next to a pizza cafe and got many a free cookie and coffee-drink from there. That's when I learned about the differences between lattes and americanos and macchiotos, etc. Although I do love an after-dinner espresso before a night of fun on cruises.

So to try out a coffee shop is not really common. It happened when I was helping out a stranger, really. I volunteered to help someone with a graduate school project, and we did it on the second floor of a local coffee shop, Red Rock Coffee. I was thinking of getting a mocha espresso, but ended up with a blended mocha (think cold and creamy). It was delicious, although I'm not really into spending $4.25 for a little caffeine-y goodness.

The place itself is on a corner in downtown Mountain View, and is rather pretty on the outside. Not because of paint or anything like that, but just because it is built in large stones instead of the same look every other storefront has in downtown. The menu is quite small, serving coffee/tea drinks and bottled waters.