Partly because of my busy schedule, partly because of the lack of good Vietnamese food in Berkeley, I haven’t had Vietnamese food for months. I miss it, of course. Luckily, the neighboring cuisines share so much similarities that my “comfort food” category has steadily expanded to enclose most of East Asia. If for some reason America and I don’t get along, I think I can happily merge into Taiwan and Japan (not sure about Korea – their food is too spicy…). So when I crave comfort food, if it’s Sunday or Monday and Musashi is closed, I go down University Avenue to the Taiwan Restaurant. It’s the purple building next to Anh Hong, and it’s another case of generic-names-hence-don’t-go-there type of restaurant. However, two Taiwanese told me that it was “good enough” – the owner of Asha Tea House across the street, and Kristen. As with any Asian eating establishment, you have to know what to get at the Taiwan Restaurant, otherwise you end up with oily overload. I haven’t strayed once out of the usuals. It’s comfort food, there’s no need to change it. In fact, I [...]
Continue reading Comfort food at the Taiwan Restaurant
Through words of mouth (from a kid that comes to my office hour, to be precise), I learned that the ramen burger is here in Berkeley. Hah, you don’t have to be in LA or NY or SF to eat this (relatively) new craze(*). Mashable has a guide to make it yourself, but why go through the trouble when you can buy it? Unlike all other hypes that turn out to be various degrees of meh (in no order, truffles, caviar, foie gras, Cheeseboard, M.Y. China, Fentons, et cetera), the ramen burger is delicious. I gorged it down, completely defeated. Farewell, my hype-bashing days. So Oishi in Berkeley dishes out 3 types of ramen burgers ($9 each): pulled pork (with wasabi mayo), grilled chicken (with ginger miso sauce), and the usual beef patty (with teriyaki sauce). (You can ask them to swap the sauce.) We had enough sense to avoid the chicken burger (who wouldn’t?!), and were split between pork and beef. Both types contain sauteed mushroom and come with “Japanese fries” (katsuobushi and Japanese mayo). Both sides finished with complete satisfaction. [...]
Continue reading One shot: Ramen burger – is it worth the hype?
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 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
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 [...]
Continue reading China Village on Solano
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 [...]
Continue reading Work at the Farmers’ Market
Early August, I had a great meal at Homestead, one of the newest additions in Oakland’s restoscape. The meal was a media invite – one benefit of working at the Daily Californian – and the owners were incredibly generous at letting us order everything we wanted at no charge, which turned out to be, as it always goes when Kristen and I dine together, everything on the menu. But that’s not the best part of a food writing job. The best part was the interview. The chefs are always busy of course, but they were willing to set aside an hour the next Monday morning to chat. Afterwards, I gained 48 minutes and 31 seconds of recording, part of which I transcribed into 6 full pages of typed notes, a load of information about opening and running a restaurant, and so much positive emotion. Earlier last week, I struggled to choose which pieces of information and which quotes should make it into my article to fit the word limit for print – there were just too many valuable details. Unlike news reporting, a feature must also follows a theme, and someone’s life is a lot more [...]
Continue reading Interview with the owners of Homestead
Mai has written quite favorably about Musashi in a past post but I have to write about a particular dish that has been about the best thing I’ve eaten in a restaurant lately. [...]
Continue reading Beyond Food Porn: Chirashi at Musashi
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