Oregon Wine Adventure dinner at Bay Wolf

Clockwise from top left: "Oregon finger food", smoked trout salad, fava bean cannelloni, Liberty Ranch duck. Image courtesy of Nancy Togami.

Clockwise from top left: “Oregon finger food”, smoked trout salad, fava bean cannelloni, Liberty Ranch duck. Image courtesy of Nancy Togami. Hi! I’m Nancy, one of Mai’s intrepid partners in food and tea adventures. I’m guest blogging about a wine dinner that I enjoyed not too long ago… Baywolf on Piedmont Avenue is well known in the Bay Area for its duck dinners (Nov 2012). An opportunity arose last month to indulge in the duck again, along with some mighty fine Oregon wine. Of course, this is where Mai and I part ways, as I usually enjoy a glass or two of fine wine with a special meal. We agree to disagree A treat for the evening included appearances from Dick Ponzi from his eponymous winery and Harry Peterson-Nedry of Chehalem Wines. [...]

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one shot: Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled-pork sandwich, beans and sweet tea. Image courtesy of bnibroc.

Pulled-pork sandwich, beans and sweet tea. Image courtesy of bnibroc. Big Pine has few options for dining out, but what it has leaves little to be desired. “Adam’s Favorite Pulled Pork” sandwich ($8.25) with cole slaw is the definition of juicy pulled pork on a burger bun, despite the scorching 105 F heat in the desert that sucks the life out of our dry throats. It’s become our favorite, too. (To maintain some hydration, we got a glass of sweet tea with special High Sierra crushed ice. Highly recommended.) [...]

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Seoul Gomtang in Oakland

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This restaurant… The plus: 1. their steamed dumplings, despite being stuffed with 95% tofu and 5% unidentifiable substance (probably also tofu, but Cheryl and Eric hoped it was pork, so let’s go with pork), were big and well seasoned; 2. their kimchi seems homemade and tastes fresh. The minus: well… where should we start… [...]

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Danh’s Garden – Vietnamese pub foods

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Pub foods for Vietnamese are pretty diverse (**). The menu at Danh’s Garden in San Jose is basically a book, plus some handwritten ones on the wall. I single-handedly narrowed down our choices by a page when I refused anything goat or lamb (I often wonder why my friends can be so kind and still go to eat with this oddball). We picked 5 dishes at first, thinking it should be enough for a party of 5 – Vietnamese pub foods are no tapas or izakaya, things are not served in dainty palm-sized saucers, they’re entree-portion. With them come a plethora of dipping sauces and salt-and-pepper mix for who knows what. Honestly I don’t think we even used all of those sauces. The food were plenty seasoned already. Mực dồn chạo tôm – squid stuffed with shrimp paste. Light on the seasoning. Rating: 8/10. (It’s tasty and I can’t think of any flaw, but will I crave it? Probably not.) [...]

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one shot: True Burger

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The True Deluxe: cheese, medium-cooked quarter-pound hamburger on toasted egg buns, lettuce, tomato, garlic mayo (no mustard, thank god), and a crispy portobello mushroom stuffed with smoked mozzarella. When I eyed it, Eric was like, “it’s BIG. Maybe you two can share one.” You two being me and Cheryl. Now that I think about it, Eric hadn’t seen me with burgers before. Luckily, Cheryl was also hungry and wanted her own burger. Hers was pretty small compared to the Deluxe, but she’s a skinny girl who thinks a regular In ‘n Out is sufficient. For Mai, there’s no burger too big. The most prominent plus side of True Burger is that it’s ready in less than 5 minutes. It satisfies our imagination of what a burger should be. It smells of fast food (but not of McDonalds, how does McDonalds maintain that distinctive McDonalds smell all these years?!) and of industrialized America. I don’t even know why I’m writing about True Burger when nothing about it really screams significance, even its name. It’s just that, somehow, sitting in a classic, simplistic orange-colored fastfood joint in the middle of a modernizing city, chomping on [...]

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Beautiful meals at Iyasare

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In less than a month since its opening, everybody I know on 4th Street has been to Iyasare, from the regular shoppers to the shop owners, and everybody praises it. The restaurant, operated by former Yoshi’s executive chef Shotaro Kamio, replaces the equally cute and also Japanese O Chame. The two restaurants have different concepts, of course, and experiencing both in the same space – reminiscing on O Chame’s menu and atmosphere while savoring Iyasare’s – was like tasting the fleeting grandeur of ukiyo-e aesthetics in the most delicious way possible. A beautiful arrangement: ikura (salmon roe), ankimo (monkfish liver), hotate (scallop, the white thing that is barely visible next to razor-thin slices of radish), mackerel (silvery grey, also almost invisible under the radish), and 4 beautiful sweet lobes of uni (sea urchin roe, on the maple leaf) ($22). The ankimo has a thick and dried rind, its flavors were a tad salty and smokey for my taste.(*) The uni was extra-creamy but a little too soft. The ikura was some lovely bubbles. You can order a side of sushi rice with the sashimi. Or just sushi [...]

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Judy and Loving Live Treats

lovinglivetreats-3flavors

The cookies are wrapped in packages of three – one can surprisingly satiate your hunger, and there are two more to share with friends. It’s all about sharing. [...]

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one shot: Revival’s desserts

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Technically four shots total, not one, but it’s not a meal, and it’s just a quick shout-out to what Kristen called “the best dessert she’s had” (“in a while”, I think?). We first went to Revival a year and a half ago. Just like that time, we re-confirm this time that Revival excels at food jellies/sorbet/basically anything fruit and sweet. The best dessert in Kristen’s opinion – Baked Alaska. (My heart died the day I knew Ippuku stopped serving black sesame ice cream, and I refuse to get attached to any other dessert.) The baked alaska is a layered ice cream and sponge cake (or whatever you can layer) in a meringue shell. In Revival’s case, from top down, it’s huckleberry sorbet, lemon-thyme ice cream and almond shortbread. If this is not Refreshing, nothing is. (Well, Ippuku’s black sesame ice cream was.) [...]

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Comfort food at the Taiwan Restaurant

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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, [...]

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One shot: Ramen burger – is it worth the hype?

sooishi-pulledporkburger

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. [...]

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