Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chen's Mapo Tofu at Downtown Gallery, Singapore

Set #2

Of all of the other options at Downtown Gallery, this was the only other store that seemed interesting (6A Shenton Way #02-29, 6221-3206). But I had to wonder, who the heck was this guy Chen?? Only after having looked it up did I realize that it was Chen Kentaro. Really?? So this is a casual, cheaper version of Shisen Hanten? Fantastic! I've loved his stuff even before the Michelin stars, and now this was a much cheaper way of eating his food. The mapo tofu still packed a good numbing punch, and made for easy shoveling down one's throat when sitting on that bed of rice underneath. The noodles in my set were also cooked pleasantly firmly. I don't think one can get his awesome shui zhu yu here though.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Japan's Sama Curry & Cafe in Singapore

Oink Oink Tomato

Yesterday afternoon, I randomly passed through this new Downtown Gallery building to see what was around. This one (6A Shenton Way #03-26, 6224-0590) seemed the most promising, as it was a chain from Japan serving Hokkaido soup curry! Memories of that wonderful one from Okushiba Shoten came to mind, and promised myself that I'd come here for lunch today.

The service was horribly slow though. The restaurant wasn't even half-full and I waited at least 45 minutes for my food to be delivered, and they were completely unapologetic about it too. The good thing though was that this stuff was pretty tasty, especially with those deep fried veggies and that spicy broth (level 13 of 30 worked nicely for me, just under the threshold with which they start charging more to increase the heat).

I hope that they speed up their kitchen soon. In the meantime, I'll have to come here during off-hours, perhaps going for the vegetarian version next time, as the cuts of pork in my "Oink Oink" version today were kinda boring. I'll also have to make sure that I give the shrimp soup base a try too; the tomato version that I got today was fine, but one of the things that I liked so much about Okushiba Shoten was the shellfish-based broth.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

#2 From Luu Noodle in Mountain View, California

Small #2

It's not like I haven't had this thing a gazillion times before. In some ways, I'm just putting it up here because of how wonderful it looks. And the fact that yes, Luu really does a better job of this than TK Noodle thanks to the basil and cucumber. It's too bad then that Luu only seems to have locations in Mountain View, Milpitas, and Gilroy from what I can see.

Alice's Restaurant in Woodside, California

San Francisco Dungeness Crab Benedict

It takes a while to drive up the windy road in order to get up to the small community of Sky Londa in Woodside, but it is pretty cool. This place (17288 Skyline Boulevard, 650-851-0303) was an old general store that used to serve the logging industry until it was turned into a restaurant, and it's got that small town charm, especially with all of the bikers up here and those big majestic trees. The kitchen focuses on local ingredients, so I got this Dungeness crab Benedict special, which went down with ease. They've got lots of local brews on tap too, making this a fun place for a lazy weekend breakfast.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rokko Izakaya and Sushi in Sunnyvale, California

Fried Smelt

This place was requested for dinner tonight (190 South Frances Street, 408-773-8225). The menu seemed reasonable enough, but when we arrived, it hit me: "Oh no, American-sized portions!" And pretty much the rest of the items that we got tonight were a letdown, with portions generally too large for their own good. Granted, it was more authentic than your typical "Japanese" shops around here, but only slightly. Dan Izakaya on Saratoga Avenue is much better.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tacos El Tucanazo in San Jose Again

Lengua Tacos

I stopped at Tucanazo tonight, and this time I didn't forget about the crispy tacos. The only problem was, they said that there was a 30 minute wait for them, even though it was clear that they'd been on the grill for a while. Anyway, I feel back on some lengua tacos again, wolfing this down with ease. I wonder how I was able to get the crispy ones that first time then.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kabab & Curry's in Santa Clara, California

Lamb Briyani

The trusted advisor who once referred me to the wonders of Bismillah has been harassing me non-stop for not going to Kebabs & Currys whenever I'm in the South Bay (1498 Isabella Street, 408-247-0745), saying that their briyani was even better than Bismillah's. It's not like I hadn't tried. The problem was that they only serve lamb briyani on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and I could never get the timing right. Well, it worked out tonight, so I set the destination in Google Maps and away I went.

Yeah, it was pretty good, particularly those super long grains of rice. The lamb was tender, and a nice aroma of cinnamon and anise pervaded the bowl. Perhaps the best part was all of the cinnamon bark in there, meaning that many grains of rice got stuck inside, along with all of the spices and flavors, making it particularly tasty after you scooped it out of there. I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to say it beats Bismillah, but it was pretty darned good.

Epilogue: I just realized that this place is a Michelin Bib Gourmand

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Boudin Bakery from San Francisco, California

Soup and salad

The Boudin sourdough folks from San Francisco seemed to have expanded into a bunch of locations up and down California, and one outlet was near us today before I had to rush off to an afternoon of meetings. Yeah, that bread bowl thing is rather gimmicky and touristy, but the chowder has a generous amount of clams in there, and I like their sourdough with its crunchy crust. I'm not sure if anything else is good here though.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Thai Hang at Vancouver International Airport

Phở

We needed some food before getting on the plane today, and there was a food court in the US/International section of the airport. The name of this stall - if one didn't know better - suggested that it was Thai food. It was only upon closer inspection did I realize that it was Vietnamese, presumably an outlet of Pho Thai Hang in southern Vancouver. The bowl (and broth in particular) wasn't anything that special, but hey, there was phở at an airport! It's your move next, San Jose Airport.

The Flying Pig in Vancouver, British Columbia

West Coast Salmon Sampler and Brussel Sprouts

I noticed these guys the other night, so we popped down to their Yaletown location (1168 Hamilton Street, 604-568-1344) for an easy lunch today. Despite the name, there wasn't actually that much pork on the menu, but rather just local Canadian ingredients. So we got their West Coast Salmon Sampler, which had a nice mix of smoked salmon, candied salmon, and salmon cakes, as well as a side of Brussels sprouts, which were delightfully crispy with capers, parmesan, and a squeeze of lemon. I particularly enjoyed the latter.

Still, I wanted to try some pork while I was there, so I got a Caesar salad because it featured "pork belly croutons." Yep, basically, there were a few thick cubes of roasted fatty pork belly in there. Perhaps even more exciting for me was their signature bacon bourbon Caesar cocktail, which is basically a Canadian version of a Bloody Mary featuring clam juice and - get this - bacon fat-strained bourbon. That gave it a delightfully smoky spin that simply made me very happy. Thumbs up.

Ataúlfo and Haden Mangoes from North America

From left: Haden mangoes from Canada's Monarch and Ataúlfo mangoes from Mexico

We randomly stopped at a supermarket here in Vancouver yesterday where I came across these mango varieties that I hadn't seen before. The small yellow ones in front were called Ataúlfo, and I believe they were from Mexico. They weren't as good as alphonsos nor the Burmese ones I'm used to getting, but at least they were more flavorful than the bigger Haden (or is it Tommy Atkins?) mangoes behind it. The latter were from the US, I believe, and were meaty but only slightly rich and otherwise unremarkable. Incidentally, this was all from a Korean-American chain called H Mart, so they had lots of Korean goods like that onion juice below. I didn't buy it, but I can't help but wonder about both the taste and intent behind it.

Chunho Onion Juice

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Phnom Penh Restaurant in Vancouver's Chinatown

Marinated Thịt Bò

Once again, it might seem kinda weird that I live in Southeast Asia, and yet end up eating at a Cambodian-Vietnamese place way over here in Vancouver. Well, these guys not only consistently ended up on a bunch of must-eat lists that I found online, but apparently both Anthony Bourdain and Julia Child were happy with this place too, especially for some kind of chicken wings. We were within walking distance this afternoon and figured that we'd give it a shot (244 East Georgia Street, 604-682-5777).

We waited about 30 minutes before being seated. Perhaps the most memorable item for me was that "butter beef" carpaccio above, which came with topped with fried garlic, cilantro, and a dark sweet and sour sauce. If it were me, I would've dialed back the sugar a bit in the sauce, but I still happily gobbled it up.

And how about those famous chicken wings? They were moist, piping hot, battered lightly, almost akin to Rang Mang Shokudo's wonderful karaage but on the bone. There was a bit more garlic in there than I'd like, but there was also five-spice powder in the batter and a muối tiêu chanh dip, if I tasted it all correctly. They had a fried squid that was done relatively similarly. I wouldn't go out of my way for this place nor wait 30 minutes for it again, but I can see why people like it.