One shot: soba lunch at Ippuku


The luxury of cold noodles on colder days. Everything was perfect, from the taste of wasabi in the noodle dipping sauce to the tail end of those shrimps. So perfect that I couldn’t properly focus my camera phone. Too bad Chef Koichi Ishii only makes the soba on Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 1 pm. Pictured: Ten zaru soba (soba with tempura shrimps and vegetables) – $18. More details on what’s in the picture are here.

Shanghai Dumpling King revisit

sdk dumplings and green beans

Shanghai Dumpling King is hands down the best value dimsum restaurant in the Bay Area – affordable price, great dumplings (especially the xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings)), friendly staff (the man remembers me from over a year ago!). Click on the image below to see what we got this time around. Not pictured is the Hung Zhou crab and pork dumplings, but we’ve covered them last time. (They are basically xiao long bao with crab meat, and this time they were even juicier than the xiao long bao. Mmmmmmm) On a side note, I recently discovered Ponga, which is still in beta phase but has lots of potential to become a great tool to visually tell a story – every detail in the picture can be tagged, described, linked to more info, and further attached with an image or a video. This post is my first experiment to blog using Ponga. What do you think? Do you like it? Hate it? Find it cumbersome? Let me know your feedback in the comments! Continue reading Shanghai Dumpling King revisit

Save one meal each month for moon bears


This is Wilfred. He lives in Chengdu, China. He’s an early-middle-age moon bear (not because he’s from the Moon but because like everyone in his species, he has a moon-shape patch of yellow fur on his chest). He likes watermelon and loves to climb. On paper, he’s my sponsored bear. Wilfred is blind in both eyes, most likely a result of the poor treatment for bile-farmed bears. But at least he’s alive and now cared for in an animal shelter, something that thousands of his species can only dream of while being barred in iron cages, fed only gruel and extracted bile twice a day. Bile farming — In Asia, there’s a belief that bear bile, a digestive juice produced from the liver and stored in the gall bladder, has medicinal effects. This belief originates from China, spreads to the neighboring countries, and results in the shameful practice of bile farming. Wild bears are hunted and kept captive in “bile farms”, where their abdomens are pierced to extract the bile from the gall bladders twice a day. Only rarely is there anesthesia, their abdomens are either stabbed repeatedly until the gall bladder is found, or the […]

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China Village on Solano


In summer 2011, I ate at China Village once per a friend’s recommendation and was not super impressed (like I ever). Then it burned down in early 2012 (so did Intermezzo and a few other restaurants on Telegraph which I also visited in summer 2011…) and I hardly missed it. A few days ago, Cheryl and Eric called me up, “We’re going to that restaurant on Solano I told you about, wanna come?” I thought Cheryl told me about some dimsum place in Albany… “Sure!” Turns out it was China Village. (Now I wonder if she ever mentioned a dimsum place at all…) Although China Village does have dimsum, it’s not a place to order dimsum. It is known for Szechuan food – spicy, oily, rich and usually a combination of all three. The menu has a gazillion items, and your experience definitely depends on what you order. Not everything is a wow (as clearly indicated by my first visit, and by names such as “classic sweet and sour pork with pineapple”[*]). Ask the waiter for recommendation. Usually, I ask the waiters just for kicks, because 9 times out of 10 their recommendations turn out disappointing […]

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One shot: Ramen Underground ramen


This ramen shop in the Financial district looks cute. Black walls with Japanese writings, a clock with numbers spelled out in hiragana, and a t-shirt that (I assume) sells for 3000 yen (~30 USD). The owners seem to try keeping it as hole-in-the-wall as possible (to make it appear authentic?). Of course, despite what the name might suggest, it’s not actually underground, nor do you need any special thing to get in. All basic ramens are $8 with $1 toppings. The basic ramen contains your choice of broth, pork (chashu), scallion and mushroom. My miso ramen with extra kakuni (braised pork belly). The mushroom is raw (not only is that just wrong – think about cold mushroom in a luke warm broth! bleh!, enoki would have made a MUCH better ramen companion than portobello T_T). There’s ONE puny slice of chashu. The broth is fine but it’s missing something… (more pork, probably!!!) At least the noodle is chewy. Continue reading One shot: Ramen Underground ramen

Photo Essay: Conference Eating in Seoul

Our private room!

When I wasn’t presenting at my conference in Seoul, we were eating, eating, eating! I learned that it is pretty typical to have a table covered entirely with food and drinks until there’s literally no space left so dishes started piling upon each other! It’s definitely the best way to eat in my opinion! Rather than writing a detailed post about each of the dishes I ate, I’ll showcase the food itself by displaying the photographs I took with little captions. Everyone was wondering why I was so intent on taking pictures of food, but when I’m in a new place and trying new foods, it’s just too hard to resist. This will probably be my last post on eating in Seoul, so I’ll end it with lots of pictures! Day 1 – Dinner at the Seoul National University Hoam House Our private room! Continue reading Photo Essay: Conference Eating in Seoul

Work at the Farmers’ Market


September was an extremely busy month. In addition to the usual school work, teaching, a part-time job and my editor job at the Daily Cal, I took on editing a special issue on Food (how could I resist?) and I worked for Sinto Gourmet for two weekends (again, it’s food work, I just couldn’t resist). The first weekend, Hyunjoo Albrecht, Sinto’s owner, asked me to be at the Stonestown Farmers’ Market at 7:30 am on a Sunday. I told myself that waking up early is good for me, and that after the Farmers’ Market finished I would have the rest of the day to study. That was all good in theory, until I couldn’t sleep the night before and ended up working all night, then begrudgingly got dressed to leave at sunrise. (My friend Nancy was so unbelievably kind to drive me all the way from Berkeley to Stonestown, otherwise, I would have had to take the bus at 5:30 am and made a few transfers) After leaving me with the kimchi, Hyunjoo rushed to another Farmers’ Market to set up her stall. Other vendors slowly arrived and filled up […]

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