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 [...]
Continue reading one shot: True Burger
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 [...]
Continue reading Beautiful meals at Iyasare
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.) [...]
Continue reading one shot: Revival’s desserts
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, [...]
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
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