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 […]

Continue reading one shot: True Burger

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. […]

Continue reading Judy and Loving Live Treats

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.) Continue reading one shot: Revival’s desserts

Interview with the owners of Homestead


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

One shot: Californian avocado vs. Peruvian avocado


On the left is a Hass avocado from Peru, on the right is a Hass avocado from California. Hass avocado is a cultivar of avocado, and it has a cute history. In 1925, Mr. Rudolph Hass, an amateur horticulturist, bought a small 1.5 acre avocado grove in La Habra Heights, Southern California. His plan was to graft old Fuerte avocado branches – at the time, Fuerte was the best avocado cultivar – with young saplings grown from some avocado seeds, which were sold at a local nursery. Those seeds were cross-pollinated many times by nature, and the grafting did not go well for one of the young trees [little stubborn sapling!], but per his grafter’s advice, Mr. Hass kept that sapling to see what would happen anyway. When the sapling was only over a foot tall (some time in 1926), it bore three fruits [d’awww!]. Normally, the Fuerte cultivar would take at least five years to produce fruits. Not only the odd stubborn young tree grew faster than the Fuerte, it also grew straight up and did not spread as wide, so it was more land-efficient (more trees per acre). Most importantly, its fruits tasted the […]

Continue reading One shot: Californian avocado vs. Peruvian avocado

Breakfast at Jodie’s


Friday. Nancy messaged Kristen and me that we should meet up early the next morning for breakfast at Jodie’s. We love breakfast. “How early, though?”, I asked. – I could pick you all up… Mai at 7:45, Kristen at 7:50 ish… – I have to say, this is insanely early, maybe I would just skip sleeping… – Well, it is a TINY place next to a salon, I believe. It only seats eight at a time. The shop opens at 8 AM… There is the possibility of going later – 10 ish – but we would have to wait for “turnover” and wouldn’t be sitting with each other… – … – They have a table outside… it might be cold… They said they can’t predict if there will be only a few people or a lot… so we could always go a little later, but then we might have to wait for the table, but at least when that happens, we could still all sit together… Shall we try for 8:30 then? A bit of a compromise 😉 – 7:45 or 8:30 are the same to me, so let’s do 7:45. 🙂 Now, I’m an astronomer […]

Continue reading Breakfast at Jodie’s

MasterChef U.S. Season 4 Mid-Season Commentary

Masterchef is a reality TV show that currently airs on Fox and is in its 4th season. I’ve watched the show for three seasons now (I missed out on the first season), and have been increasingly bothered by much of the show. While I understand the need to create drama to boost up ratings and that shows about cooking that are not on food-specific channels really aren’t actually about food per se, there are some issues, particularly in this newest season, that have been consistently bothering me about Masterchef. I figured that Mai would also feel the same way, so I asked her to watch this season with me and then see if my angry reactions were justified. We decided to share our many Facebook chat conversations with you guys (slightly edited and condensed). We’ll love to create an ongoing dialogue about this show so feel free to talk back in the comments! Any points that you disagree/agree with us? Who’s your favorite/least favorite contestant? Any judges you love/can’t stand? Join in the Flavor Boulevard conversation! Mai: Hmm, I’m watching episode 2 of MasterChef now. Doesn’t it feel like the judges choose people based on their inspirational backstory or […]

Continue reading MasterChef U.S. Season 4 Mid-Season Commentary

Revisit Gather


Let me first get this off my chest: I hate restaurants with low lighting (e.g., Burma Superstar and Bistro Liaison), red lights (e.g., Thanh Long and Mission Chinese), and yellow lights (Gather). Why can’t we have nice white neon lights? I don’t go there to film romantic dinner scenes or deal drugs under the table. I go there to eat food, I want to be able to see the true colors of what I’m eating, and I want to take good pictures of them. Is that really too much to ask? Okay. On to the next business. A lot of people ask me what my favorite restaurant in Berkeley is. I can’t answer that. It’s like asking me who’s my favorite friend. But if you ask me where I would take someone out to dinner, I have a few cards to deal depending on what that person likes. If they like grilled meat and interesting food, I recommend Ippuku. If they’re vegetarian, I take them to Gather. That said, unlike the consistently good Ippuku, Gather gives me ups and […]

Continue reading Revisit Gather

Cafe Rouge – two different ways to think about a bad experience


A few years ago, things were rough at school and I was a bittermelon*. I got upset easily, turned people away from me, was critical of everything and mostly found faults in mankind. Long story short, I became a misanthrope and immersed myself in two things: anime and foreign language. Ironically, the former taught me to think more positively, and the latter brought me new friends. Then I realized that when I suppress my negative thoughts, eventually they dissipate on their own and I would feel so much better without bothering anyone with my complaints. In America, we are encouraged to express our negative feelings. People like to see and hear about problems (that’s why the daily news are mostly bad news and the reality shows are full of anger). Some people say that it’s good to let it out. That’s true, but it’s only temporary. Complaining is like eating chips, it’s impossible to stop**. Anger multiplies when it’s let loose. The more cynical I feel about a situation, the more depressing scenarios I envision, and it only goes downhill from there. These days I try to appreciate everything more, and when some incident doesn’t seem […]

Continue reading Cafe Rouge – two different ways to think about a bad experience

My regular lunch stop these days

chicken bun, spicy sausage roll, and pineapple bread from UCafe

One of The Clog‘s editors said: “Let’s do a cafe crawl around campus.” I happened to have tried almost everything at UCafe and been going there forever these days, so I took up that part of the crawl. I sent a 466-word essay to the editor, right before I saw her email from 5 minutes earlier: “hey guys, cuz we’ll do 5 cafes total, let’s make it 100-150 words each”. Haha oops. Cutting time. Here’s the finished product. Here’s my original 466 words. With pictures. 😉 “Since its grand opening last fall, UCafe on the South side has proved to be a reliable supplier of the Spanish bun (ham, cheese and sausage in a roll), the perfect $1.95 filler for those 10 minutes between classes. Continue reading My regular lunch stop these days