Sandwich Shop Goodies 18 – Vegan steamed taro cake (bánh khoai môn hấp)

It is not pretty, but from the label I knew right away that it would be good. Strips of nutty taro embedded in soft-chewy tapioca just got on my list of things to make, if I ever feel like cooking. That can mean only one thing: the online recipes seem that simple. If you google “bánh khoai môn hấp“, and presumably you read Vietnamese, the first links you find will contain something like dried shrimps (tôm khô) and pork, perhaps some mỡ hành (green onion in lard), too. That version is similar to Woo Tul Gow (or Woo Tau Ko). I haven’t tried that nor seen it in any cling-wrapped styrofoam plate at banh mi shops. If you don’t read Vietnamese, well… that’s why you have me :D: I translate. Here’s the Vietnamese recipe of the (vegan) steamed taro cake from Thư Viện Phật Học (The Library of Buddhist Studies), which most resembles what I’ve gotten from Alpha Bakery & Deli. Actually, this recipe sounds better. Like most Vietnamese recipes online, this one lacks precise measurement (which I agree with to some extent, but that’s […]

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Cheesecake overload: Masse’s versus Reuschelle’s

I wish I could be like Hikaru, eating 20 cakes in 3.5 hours. Then I could go to cake shops like Masse, ask for every beauty of the day and not worry about missing out on any flavor. Wouldn’t life be so sweet then? But maybe I don’t have to be like Hikaru. Minus the pastries and the cookies, Masse has only about 10 cakes on display, most of them are available in small size (because they don’t sell by the slices like Crixa Cakes); if I skip dinner and invite a friend, we could easily bring down all of them in one sitting, don’t you think? Danielle and I tried only two this time, though. Five bucks each, round and pretty and screaming “Got your spoon ready?” The mocha walnut chocolate cake was a fun little one: I thought about peeling off its white, woody patterned wrapper but it turned out the wrapper was white chocolate. 😀 The caramelized walnut base proved a mild and coarse complement to the thick, creamy layers of dark chocolate cake, chocolate Bavarian cream and espresso mousse. Its richness is […]

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The charm of crunchy-skin grilled fish

Thiên Phú has been in my draft list for over 18 months. I wanted to write a post worthy of their dishes, but a proper post requires proper pictures, and either I was too hungry at the time or I just sucked at taking pictures at the time (I still suck now, but less than before) that every single picture was blurry like a blizzard. I was more concerned about food than food blogging so I didn’t snap many shots and didn’t check the clarity of the shots I took before digging in. I also didn’t know any photo editing. Basically, I was plain dumb. At many points I thought about abandoning the post altogether, but we had a good meal that time and I even fed the birds in the parking lot while waiting for my friends to come join us. The birds were full, we were full. The restaurant was, as usual, empty except for us (because their menu is catered to large groups and wedding parties), so we got extra attention from the staff. Such memories kept me from deleting the draft that had nothing but terrible pictures. Then my parents came to […]

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Feast – It’s probably good for your heart

Three times. Aaron and I drove up and down Westheimer three times to look for this little bitty sign of a black-and-white pig and a one-syllable name: Feast. The restaurant with over 150 glittering reviews on Yelp and several listings of Best New Restaurants appears humbly a residential-looking house, which faces a brick box called the Crabell Building and is a stone’s throw away from Hollywood Food & Cigars if you’re coming from the east. Hollywood Food & Cigars, you say? Well that was part of Varun’s instruction for us, the last two man standing as the GPS is taking over the world. (Or one man and Mai, but that’s not the point). Varun had been here before on one of his food expeditions, and heaven knows why he did not veto my call when I suggested Feast for our rendezvous. I know why I suggested it: it has a daily changing menu that happened to have interesting wild games on the day I looked it up online. The day we came has more of a porky theme, presented in somewhat interesting combinations (click to see Feast Menu on […]

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Nutty sticky rice

What hits the spot in the morning better than a hot packed handful of sweet sticky rice with muối mè (sesame-sugar-salt mix)? A hot packed handful of sweet sticky rice with soft steamed whole peanuts and muối mè. Xôi đậu – my forbidden childhood love. $1.50 for a full tummy. Mom did not want me to eat too much xôi đậu in the past because peanuts are known for producing gas excess.

Breakfast at the Guenther House

San Antonio sleeps in on Sunday. It may be the seventh largest city in the States but it acts like either a college student or an old man who can’t sleep at night and frequently doses off in the day: Saturday night – cars, tourists and horse carriages packed Houston, Commerce and the streets about, Sunday morning – there may be 50 cars on the freeway and 3 people wandering downtown: us. The plus side for walking the pavements at 6 am is you can pose for pictures without being embarrassed about acting like a tourist. The downside is the restaurants aren’t opened, actually, they remain closed for the rest of the day. Just when we thought about settling for the hotel breakfast, the internet came to rescue: the Guenther House in Arsenal, an 1860 old-house-turned-museum with a late Victorian styled parlor, German-imported porcelain and a terrace looking out to the river, serves breakfast all day. The pancakes are fluffy. The white gravy is thick like melted cheese. The pineapples and oranges are sweet. Continue reading Breakfast at the Guenther House

La Frite – A Belgian gem of San Antonio

The morning we left for the drive to San Antonio, Ms Baker told me, “I worry about your mom… she can’t eat Mexican food so what’s she gonna eat there?”. I told her I actually spent the night before browsing through loads of places, and indeed many of them are Mexican, just to find a quaint little restaurant on South Alamo. La Frite is like an oasis for the elders and the lovebirds seeking a quiet breeze in this old, vibrant Spanish settlement and this continental summer heat. We’re neither elders nor lovebirds, but we’re used to standing out. 😛 La Frite‘s specialty (and Belgium’s popular version of fish and chips) is Moules Frites (mussels and fries), but we’re not into bivalves so we got the frites. Good crispy sticks, can be dipped in ketchup or some green sauce that tasted like avocado with lemon juice, the frites here remind me of Fuddruckers‘ fries. If you’re in a hurry, this place is not for you. It’s great for the lovebirds, who enjoy marveling at the wine between exchanging strategic smiles, for the elders, who loftily slip […]

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