Bistro Liaison – new connections


Isn’t there always some restaurant that you pass by a thousand times, think about trying it every of those thousand times, and just never do? For me, that restaurant is Bistro Liaison. Its rustic red awning shines brightly at the corner of Shattuck and Hearst, draws my attention enough to remember that from there I’ve sampled a cup of quenelle souffle – salmon and scallop mousse in a shrimp sauce (think clam chowder but fishier and cheesier, and surprisingly good!) – almost three years ago during a North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto event. But the timing was just never right for an all-out dinner, until a few weeks ago. We walked in without reservation, half worried that there wouldn’t be a table for us, and half worried that there would be a table for us, which might imply that the restaurant wasn’t good enough to fill up on a Friday night. But we were a party of two, perfect to squeeze in a table at the end of the room. When the hostess at the front desk offered to take my friend’s coat, we began feeling the warmth of old-fashioned restaurant service. And it […]

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Andy Warhol, kokeshi dolls, and oden


In Europe the royalty and the aristocracy used to eat a lot better than the peasants – they weren’t eating the same things at all. It was either partridge or porridge, and each class stuck to its own food. But when Queen Elizabeth came here and President Eisenhower bought her a hot dog I’m sure he felt confident that she couldn’t have had delivered to Buckingham Palace a better hot dog than that one he bought for her for maybe twenty cents at the ballpark. Because there is no better hot dog than a ballpark hot dog. Not for a dollar, not for ten dollars, not for a hundred thousand dollars could she get a better hot dog. She could get one for twenty cents and so could anybody else. – Andy Warhol Why is that ballpark hot dog the best hot dog? Because the ballpark hot dog seller sells nothing but hot dogs. You can’t beat someone who does it day in and day out, a thousand times and another thousand times more often than you. Continue reading Andy Warhol, kokeshi dolls, and oden

Tet of a Buddhist Vietnamese expat


Mother said “you shall not eat meat on the first day of Tet“. And I said “yes, Mom.” It has been our family tradition that the first day of the lunar year is a vegan day. It’s not unique to our family of course, most Vietnamese Buddhists eat vegan on certain days of the lunar calendar, the number of days depend on the amount of devotion to practice the precept of not killing. To refrain from all of the festive food is also a step to train the mind against the worldly temptations. Normally, that would be difficult if I were at home, given the excess of pork sausage loaves, braised pork and eggs, banh chung banh tet, roast chicken, fried spring rolls, dumplings, et cetera. But I’m here by myself, it’s like expatriation on top of expatriation. To refrain from meat has never been so easy. 😉 My quick and simple vegan lunch: steamed rice with muối mè (a mix of sesame, salt and sugar, similar to furikake but Vietnamese 😉 ), steamed bok choy, shisozuke umeboshi (salted plum with pickled shiso leaf) […]

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New lunar year, new me


Yesterday was Flavor Boulevard’s 3rd birthday. Today is my nth birthday. Back in 2010, a good friend of mine used to give me a ride to San Jose at least once every other month, sometimes more, when I got cravings for Vietnamese food, and especially when the Lunar New Year approached. When Flavor Boulevard was about one year old, things got complicated. Long story short, I hadn’t been back to San Jose for two years. – Why? You couldn’t rent a car? – Well… you know the stereotype that Asian girls can’t drive? It’s true for this one. It’s embarrassing. People, even those who don’t like driving, feel much more relaxed when they drive me than when I drive them. I’m also used to driving in Houston, where signs are helpful and people are friendly. Driving in California scares me. I’ve been here for 4 years, driven here twice, and both times reaffirmed my scare. So Vietnamese food cravings are satiated with the places in Oakland, where I can reach by bus. I don’t remember what I did for the 2012 Tet (Vietnamese lunar new year), and there seems to be no record of it on Flavor […]

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