Let me first get this off my chest: I hate restaurants with low lighting (e.g., Burma Superstar and Bistro Liaison), red lights (e.g., Thanh Long and Mission Chinese), and yellow lights (Gather). Why can’t we have nice white neon lights? I don’t go there to film romantic dinner scenes or deal drugs under the table. I go there to eat food, I want to be able to see the true colors of what I’m eating, and I want to take good pictures of them. Is that really too much to ask?
Okay. On to the next business. A lot of people ask me what my favorite restaurant in Berkeley is. I can’t answer that. It’s like asking me who’s my favorite friend. But if you ask me where I would take someone out to dinner, I have a few cards to deal depending on what that person likes. If they like grilled meat and interesting food, I recommend Ippuku. If they’re vegetarian, I take them to Gather.
That said, unlike the consistently good Ippuku, Gather gives me ups and downs. My first experience with Gather in March 2010 was lovely (minus the terrible lighting). Subsequent visits were unmemorable, except for an oversized French toast that was way too sweet to finish even half. Just as I started to think meh another one bites the dust, Gather wows me with a few incredible dishes to prompt a write-up. That, and I think I should at least try to have some colored pictures of its food to complement my black-and-white review last time.
Continue reading Revisit Gather
This post is for the Vietnamese expats in particular and anyone who thinks of the avocado as a fruit (to be eaten as a fruit, not a vegetable). In America, people tend to think of avocado in guacamole terms or as a meat substitute in sandwiches. If you think avocado for dessert is weird, shall we talk about your pumpkin pie?
Ever since the day I saw the option of “avocado smoothie” at UCafe, I’ve had 3-5 avocado smoothies every week. Drinking each smoothie with boba was like looking through old photographs and reliving the beautiful days. The avocado is healthy, but that’s not why I like it. It’s the best option when I’m too tired to chew, want something mildly sweet and cold, and when the weather is too hot for meat and carbs. It replenishes my soul and keeps me alive through the summer humidity that accumulates in my tin-roof office building. I regret that I had not eaten more avocados in Vietnam, where the fruit is as big as my whole hand from wrist to middle finger tip and as luscious as molten chocolate cake.
I love the avocado smoothie at UCafe, but after a while it proves too expensive: a regular 12-oz cup, which costs nearly $4, contains only half an avocado. Berkeley Bowl sells palm-sized avocados (which they label as “extra-large”) for $1.69 each. So I bought a blender to make my own smoothie.
Continue reading One shot: Avocado smoothie
Hull and Surendranath examine the inscription on a spoon at Bombay Cuisine. What do grad students do? Some of us write, some of us teach, most of us don’t sleep, all of us eat. For Astronomy PhD student Chat Hull and his friend Yogesh Surendranath, a Chemistry postdoctoral fellow, eating at every single Indian restaurant in Berkeley and writing about it is high on the priority list. Berkeley has no shortage of Indian restaurants for the duo [...]
Continue reading Two scientists take on all Indian restaurants in Berkeley
Many of my food-loving friends don’t consider themselves foodie. Many of my food-loving friends do consider themselves foodies. Restauranteurs hate foodies. My cousin hates foodies. I asked him why. – They don’t cook and they sit around discussing how the food should be done. He hit the nail on the head right there. I don’t cook, and I sit around saying this needs more salt and that needs less sugar. Does that mean I’m a foodie? [...]
Continue reading Foodie
Why don’t I like spicy food? For the same reason I don’t like cupcakes, Chicago pizza or anything that has too much of something for me to taste anything else. For the same reason I shunned sushi for almost 10 years: the first time I had sushi I scooped a spoonful of the lovely green paste into my mouth. Those were 10 years that I could have enjoyed so many hamachi nigiri. It’s sad. But that [...]
Continue reading B-Dama – Taste fresher than fresh
Above is our table at 10 a.m. (after we have cleared the first few dishes). To your right is Hong Kong Lounge at 9:31 a.m., exactly 1 minute after the doors opened. Every seat was filled. When we arrived at Hong Kong Lounge at 9:10, 20 minutes before the restaurant opens, a line had already formed. While we were eating, the line formed again outside and kids were pressing their face against the frosted [...]
Continue reading Hong Kong Lounge – it’s never too early for dimsum and tea
None of the secondi struck our fancy, but we did order a substantial number of dishes. So substantial that instead of ordering by the names, I curled my index finger and thumb into a square bracket and pointed on the menu “we’ll take these four and these four, and the potato, and the asparagus please.” That was 10 out of 25 “dishes” on the menu, if olives and salads could count as dishes [...]
Continue reading Corso
In 2008, nobody knew what I talked about when I said “pate chaud“ (pronounced |pah-teh-sho|), unless that person was Vietnamese. Not even Wikipedia. But it’s French, how can wikipedia not know about a french pastry, I felt desperate. Now Wikipedia has a page for it, first created on Nov 3, 2011. So it came from an obsolete French word for hot (chaud) meat pie (pâté), but the pastry itself is far [...]
Continue reading One bite: patechaud at UCafe