The last of June – Gregoire

Few Berkeley residents, minus the homeless people (I think), haven’t at least heard of Grégoire. Everyone I’ve talked to has eaten here, even my freshman students. Technically I also have, but only for desserts. Somehow the menu on the days that I looked never struck lightnings on me. I might have been looking on the wrong days. Then I stopped treking this part of town for over 6 months, minus a trip to Imperial Tea Court that turned out somewhat disappointing, which shot me back to Fourth Street. When the whole tea business got serious, I kinda started eating to subsist more than to eat. I stopped actively hunting for special things. I don’t think of restaurants anymore. Chinese fried rice has been a staple for the last 7 days, with intermissions of frozen pizza and ramen. That reminds me, Berkeley Bowl no longer carries Sapporo Ichiban, and I’m mad. Of course, if delicious-sounding food just rolls up to me, I’d take it. Like today, we’re close to Grégoire, and Grégoire (finally) has something that caught my eye. My lunch gleaming on the grill. […]

Continue reading The last of June – Gregoire

Indulge in the dark

Pretty is the right word. Hearsay, or “Heresy” as Aaron calls it for some reason, warms your senses with a large yellow glass chandelier dangling several meters above the bar. The old walls, now lined with artsy thin bricks, bring to mind the image of a mahogany cascade from the high ceiling; tiny specs of light from the chandelier reflect off them like a meteor shower. It feels like a church almost. The only thing that could be remotely heretic here, if you understand “heretic” in its broadest meaning of “being different”, is if you don’t drink and you’re dining with a group of alcohol-appreciating friends just five feet from an alcohol-sparkling bar. Which is exactly what I was doing. But I found plenty of things to occupy myself with, taking pictures of food being one of them, which would not have been possible without the flash light from Harshita’s iPhone (there was practically no light beside the chandelier). Eating was another possible activity. Our group of odd number managed to share the even number of pieces in the Chef Nick’s Appetizer Plate without too much a fight: the beer-batter-fried asparagus is the […]

Continue reading Indulge in the dark

Time for tea in Berkeley: Imperial or Teance?

After four months at Teance on 4th Street and one morning at Imperial Tea Court on Shattuck, the stupid demanding tea snob novice in me revealed herself. I’m far from being the perfect judge on what constitutes a good tea house, but I know the basics. With that, I wouldn’t recommend Imperial to anyone who seriously wants to learn about tea. Click on the image if you want to know my reasons.

Food and film: Bread of Happiness and Kimchi Family

Movies are food for the eye (and ears, and brain, or whatever else you like). I watched Bread of Happiness on the plane ride from Houston back to SFO, and it made me happy that whole day. It also strengthened my resolve to study Japanese. The breads shown in this movie don’t seem particularly complicated, their presentation doesn’t sparkle, but they perfectly suit the gentle atmosphere that flows through the plot: looking at the steam rising as you break a fresh loaf in half, you can smell a sincere love. Something that I learned from the main guy, a baker, in Bread of Happiness: do you know the literal meaning of “compagnon”? Also designed to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, the Korean drama Kimchi Family hits the spot on days when I feel down (and also when I’m eating my cup noodles). It’s another string of small stories of how food made with heart can touch people’s lives in positive ways. If you don’t watch it for the plot, watch it for the kimchi! So many kinds of kimchi that I haven’t thought of being possible before. You can watch […]

Continue reading Food and film: Bread of Happiness and Kimchi Family

Revival in Berkeley with fruit jellies

Thank you, Kristen Sun, my dear friend who has shared many great meals with me in Berkeley and definitely many more in the future, for sharing a post here with us today 🙂 Halfway through our meal, Mai and I turned to each other and we agreed, “I’m not that full yet” and “I can still eat more.” This was after a small plate of charcuterie (which wasn’t that small) and two small plates, which again, were not that small. It solved, however, the main question that had been bugging us since we arrived at the restaurant: which entrees should we get? And if we get more than one entree, could we still do dessert? Turns out indecision works very well at this restaurant; sampling the diverse offerings of the menu is definitely the way to go! Eating with Mai is always a treat – for the mind and for the stomach! Thank you Mai for the great honor of being a guest blogger for Flavor Bouvelard! Simply put, Revival Bar & Kitchen, located right in the middle of Downtown Berkeley, is gorgeous. The tall ceiling, the rustic decor, the feeling of open space, and best […]

Continue reading Revival in Berkeley with fruit jellies

Sweet El Meson in the Rice Village

Sometimes things just refuse to go the way you plan. I’ve been looking forward to the fried chicken at this place called Number 1 Chicken Rice & Seafood for half a year. It’s in Houston, so I have two time windows each year, each a couple of weeks long, to plan my voyage. Last winter we hit the place less than an hour after they closed (which was like 8 pm, I think), this June we were even more determined. According to Aaron’s sources, they open on Sunday between 6 and 7 pm. Strange, but okay. We camped out at the museum for over an hour because the museum is relatively near Number 1 Chicken, and we didn’t want to take any chances. At 6 we drove into its parking lot. The OPEN sign wasn’t lit up. Aaron checked the schedule posted on the door: they’re closed on Sunday. Fine. I’m not meant to eat Number 1 Chicken’s fried chicken. Surely there must be other fried chickens somewhere along Alameda. Following Varun’s advanced GPS system that didn’t allow us to type in anything unless the car is stopped (for safety reason, even though the one who […]

Continue reading Sweet El Meson in the Rice Village

Chat with Mr. James Luu and a peek inside Banh Cuon Tay Ho 18

Ever wonder why Banh Cuon Tay Ho has the best steamed roll of all places? Thin like a veil, never too chewy or oily, the flour never tastes sour, and the mixed fish sauce never has the bitter hint of lime. Their secrets are mysteries to me. By chance, the Lưu family who operates Tay Ho 18 in Houston stumbled on my blog post of 4 years ago and invited me to the opening week after the relocation early April, which would feature a new item: crawfish banh cuon. I couldn’t come then due to a minor distraction called school, but a month later the place is stilled packed to the rim like an Apple store the day of a new iPhone release. I managed to snatch Mr. James Lưu aside for a brief chat during lunch rush, wonder if his staff liked me or hated me for it. Leaving Vietnam in ’79, getting attacked by pirates, rescued ashore but later tricked and stranded by the natives in the Malaysian jungle, rescued by an American helicpopter after a month in the jungle, immigrated to the US as an orphan (Mr. Lưu was then 16 years old, […]

Continue reading Chat with Mr. James Luu and a peek inside Banh Cuon Tay Ho 18