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. Continue reading Stuffed chicken at Yum’s Bistro

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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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 […]

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This little piggy went to Kang Tong Pork

Vietnamese Mom posed a question and I can’t conjure up any adequate answer for her: why does Korean fried chicken only appear in holes in the wall? Not just a simple hole-in-the-wall thing in a busy strip mall, it has to either stand alone in an empty lot or sit at a shady street corner with iron folding doors and a few rowdy-looking guys smoking outside. Granted that those guys look Korean and the signs are in Korean, which confirms the authenticity of the place, and these are Korean drinking establishments after all. But does it have to be so shady? I want to walk down the street and eat fried chicken late at night sometimes… The fried chicken bits with green onions at Kang Tong Degi (강통 돼지, which should be pronounced |Kang Tong Twe Jee|) might be good enough to risk it though. Frankly there’s less chicken on that plate than fried batter and green onion, but since when did fried chicken become so refreshing? A squeeze of lemon makes all the difference. Continue reading This little piggy went to Kang Tong Pork

Mom’s cooking #4 – Beef porridge

– Guest post by Mom, loosely translated by me – There are mornings, even on weekends, when I wake up feeling like a stone (Mai: she means it figuratively, the supermodel BMI runs in our family 😉) and still have to get out of bed because of the mountain of work waiting. Not work at work, but work around the house. Laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, tidying the bedrooms, grocery, and especially cooking even when I have no appetite. When those mornings happen, I think of something easy to make and easy to eat. Naturally, porridge comes to mind. My daughter doesn’t like porridge, but when she’s not home I can prepare it for her dad and me for lunch and maybe dinner, too. I like porridge: mung bean porridge, fish porridge, chicken porridge, pork porridge… and beef porridge for today. Beef Porridge (serving 3) – 1 cup cooked rice – 2 lb pork bone – 1 lb ground beef – 8 oz champignon mushroom – 1/2 sweet onion, minced – 1 tbs minced garlic – salt and sugar to taste (e.g., 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar) – a pinch of ground black pepper – green […]

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Cheap eats at Koreana

Put me next to a pig foot and I turn into a total nut case. But boy, these chunkies, sweet, salty, chewy, just a little spicy… I cleaned the bones until they were white. A feeble attempt at including some starch to our lunch: ground beef and pork coins covered in batter and fried. Dessert: ho tteok (호떡) – chewy sweet pancake with some kind of syrup or melted brown sugar filling, and the best part? They’re not too sweet!

Indulge in the dark

Pretty is the right word. Hearsay, or “Heresy” as Aaron calls it for some reason, warms your senses with a large yellow glass chandelier dangling several meters above the bar. The old walls, now lined with artsy thin bricks, bring to mind the image of a mahogany cascade from the high ceiling; tiny specs of light from the chandelier reflect off them like a meteor shower. It feels like a church almost. The only thing that could be remotely heretic here, if you understand “heretic” in its broadest meaning of “being different”, is if you don’t drink and you’re dining with a group of alcohol-appreciating friends just five feet from an alcohol-sparkling bar. Which is exactly what I was doing. But I found plenty of things to occupy myself with, taking pictures of food being one of them, which would not have been possible without the flash light from Harshita’s iPhone (there was practically no light beside the chandelier). Eating was another possible activity. Our group of odd number managed to share the even number of pieces in the Chef Nick’s Appetizer Plate without too much a fight: the beer-batter-fried asparagus is the […]

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House of Prime Ribs is the solution…

… to my skinniness. If there’s a place I should frequent to quickly improve my willow look and strengthen my Texas tie, it’d be the House of Prime Ribs on Van Ness Avenue. I might have lived in the Bay for too long and hung out with too many vegetarian, environmentally conscious, ethical-eater friends that sometimes the thought crosses my mind; except I always feel extremely hungry on my vegan days so I don’t think I can give up cookies and ice cream. Thankfully, I also have a number of fleischliebend friends who keep me from straying by putting me face to face with a slab of tender, juicy red meat. All ethical thoughts begone, I helplessly grabbed the knife and fork. I actually got a gasp, a deep sigh and a disapproving look from my company when I asked that my prime rib be medium. The men asked for “as raw as possible” because they wanted to “taste the meat”. Men… I could taste my medium meat just fine. The second difference between their dinner and mine is the size. There are four sizes (and a kid size with milk and ice cream, which kinda sounds attractive to […]

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The charm of crunchy-skin grilled fish

Thiên Phú has been in my draft list for over 18 months. I wanted to write a post worthy of their dishes, but a proper post requires proper pictures, and either I was too hungry at the time or I just sucked at taking pictures at the time (I still suck now, but less than before) that every single picture was blurry like a blizzard. I was more concerned about food than food blogging so I didn’t snap many shots and didn’t check the clarity of the shots I took before digging in. I also didn’t know any photo editing. Basically, I was plain dumb. At many points I thought about abandoning the post altogether, but we had a good meal that time and I even fed the birds in the parking lot while waiting for my friends to come join us. The birds were full, we were full. The restaurant was, as usual, empty except for us (because their menu is catered to large groups and wedding parties), so we got extra attention from the staff. Such memories kept me from deleting the draft that had nothing but terrible pictures. Then my parents came to […]

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Mom’s cooking #2: Sizzling the Vietnamese steak (bò bíp-tết)

— Guest post by Mom, translated by me — My little family has three people, and two of them like beef. Ever since we settled in Texas, the land of cheap, good beef, my husband and daughter almost always order something cow related when we go out, even as they love these loving-eyed animals when they’re alive and grazing the fields too. Sometimes I join them in forking red meat, and of those few occasions the American steak does not quite sing to me, but rather they sink a little hard and a bit salty. I guess the blame lies with either the meat quality or the cooking method, and mostly the latter. So I buy some steak fillet and try out the way we used to make back in Saigon. I slice ’em thin, marinade and fry, and not trying to toot my own horn here, but my steak is better than them restos’ steaks. 😛 Even Mai’s dad agrees. Its first highlight is the tenderness: it’s so tender I can bite it off with my teeth, who needs the knife and elbow grease to butcher that poor fillet. Its second highlight is the mouthwatering […]

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