Kaze: the place to go when you crave ramen in Berkeley

Tonkotsu ramen with a side of gyoza. ($10.99)

Kaze, Berkeley: tonkotsu ramen with a side of gyoza. ($10.99) This little shop opens sometime last winter, it looked unassuming then, but now it is packed every time I come, so I think it’s safe to assume that it’s packed almost everyday if not always. People on the East Bay think of The Ramen Shop when they think of ramen, simply because until now there has been no other shop that really specializes in ramen. There’s ramen at sushi places, izakaya places, and some random places that should have nothing to do with ramen. Hence, the consistently ridiculous 2-plus-hour wait at The Ramen Shop. Now, let’s do a check-and-compare list between Kaze and The Ramen Shop (TRS): […]

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Stuffed chicken at Yum’s Bistro


While turkey, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole (which I haven’t had in years and REALLY want some) make up the traditional Thanksgiving feast, I will keep up the tradition of posting something different for Thanksgiving (like duck and avocado pie). Not necessarily better, just something different, because no Thanksgiving dinner is the same, right? So here it is: the fried chicken stuffed with fried sweet rice at Yum’s Bistro in Fremont. Known on the menu as “crispy chicken with flavored sweet rice”. The sweet rice (sticky rice) with diced bits of Chinese sausage, chicken, shrimp and mushroom are made into fried rice the normal way, then stuffed into the chicken skin – a fully intact continuous chicken skin from head to leg – which is then fried or broiled. How they skin the chicken, I’m not too sure, this dish may only be feasible to make at home if you’re a chef… but it looks interesting, and it tastes GREAT. […]

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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


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


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


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


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


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


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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