Down the Aisles 9: Green Tea Soymilk

Brunch: WestSoy vanilla soymilk Dinner: Pearl green tea soymilk When my green tea soymilk got scanned at the cashier, there were two reactions from the cashier girls: “Wow, this sounds awesome! I’ve never heard of it before!” and “I don’t know… it sounds a little weird to me”. Call me a Berkeley-induced hippie if you want (although I’d like to say I’m as far from being a hippie as Japan is from Berkeley), but I side with the first reaction, cuz I like green tea ice cream and I like soymilk. Now I’m addicted to this thing. Sweet and smooth with a light-hearted, herbal accent. I finally understand why the Brits add milk to tea. In this case, it’s adding tea to milk. The mix rivals my most favorite drink number: mung bean milk. Continue reading Down the Aisles 9: Green Tea Soymilk

Down the Aisle 8: Abba crab paté

Found in a furniture store. Refrigerated. In a tube, a tad bigger than a Colgate container. Cuz I haven’t seen any edible paste in a tube at Safeway or Walmart, I say The Swedes rule in design, again. But does the paste sing, too? The band ABBA had four member, but the paté has at least four times as many ingredients, as the label says, and I quote: “canola oil, crab meat, cod roe, saithe roe, salt, sugar, tomato purée, dill, aromas (this isn’t exactly an ingredient, but whatev), vinegar, potato flakes, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, spices, yeast extract”. I’ll cut the chase and tell you now that the only thing I could taste… … was the salt. In hindsight saltine crackers probably contributed in blinding my tongue, but I don’t regret. It’s pleasantly salty, like French fries and chips. It’s the other background stuff that make the scene. The smoothness melts the instant the tongue reaches it, a fishy moment whips through the air, and you sink to the bottom of the ocean watching two crabs clapping claws. If you […]

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Down the Aisles 7: Lady apples and pudding cups

These plum-sized apples belong to one of the oldest cultivars first known to the Romans, but I only saw them for the first time at Lucky last weekend. Some have a rosy cheek on one side, some are burgundy all around the upper half, like a little rotund Red Riding Hood with greenish yellow gown. The cheerfully color-contrasted skin feels waxy smooth as I run them under the faucet. Memories of Thai apples (poodza) rush through my fingers, but Thai apples are whole green and oblong with a pointy bottom, the Ladies here are shaped like mochi dumplings slightly squished by two fingers at both ends. I pick one up close to my mouth, before the lips can get to its skin, the nose already catches a fresh swift of the dimple where its stem sprouts. It’s crisp, like a pile of crunchy leaf. Its sweetness and tartness are lady-like. Continue reading Down the Aisles 7: Lady apples and pudding cups

Down the Aisles 6: Asian markets’ hits and misses

I’ve been lying low on the blogging front for the past couple of weeks, because the school front is under serious bombarding. Having classes is one thing; having to teach, applying for stuff, looking to join a research group on top of classes is a whole different level of war. Not that I lose my appetite, but when twenty deadlines are approaching like a flock of Luftwaffe‘s Bf 109, quick filling meals trump elaborate dishes. Loco moco is a winner, but even I know that I can rely solely on gravy, egg, and hamburger patty for so long before a heart attack. Hence the deli section in supermarkets gain appeals. But if you’re gonna buy cheap store-made food, you gotta do it in style. Apple pies, rotisserie chicken, turkey sandwiches, or those mushy bean-and-pasta salads are so 2009 (I used to buy a rotisserie chicken every week last year :-P). This year we hit up the delis in Koreana Plaza and 99 Ranch Market. Entree 1 – kimchi big dumpling ($3.99 for 4) from Koreana. Each is as big as my fist, the dough is springy […]

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Down the Aisles 5: It’s It

Two oatmeal cookies sandwiching a scoop of vanilla ice cream, everything encapsulated by a dark chocolate shell. Chocolate shell with ice cream isn’t really my thing, because stuff breaks and spills, like you’re eating a hamburger and look down and see a salad on the burger’s wrapper, except now the melting ice cream replaces the lettuce and mayo. Oatmeal cookie is another not-my-thing, as it’s just too crumbly. But somehow this combination works. The chocolate keeps the oatmeal cookies from turning into oatmeal, and the oatmeal cookies are soft and chewy enough that they don’t push ice cream out in the back (as much) when you take a bite. No wonder It‘s survived since 1928. It predates the Golden Gate Bridge by 9 years. Continue reading Down the Aisles 5: It’s It

Down the Aisles 4: Like price, like bite

Pretty packaging. Attractive name. Big thick bar. Teenie tiny holes that are supposed to be bubbles. The texture is rather normal. You have to really focus to feel the difference. It also tastes like store chocolate Easter eggs. Unimpressed. Bubble chocolate – $2.50 a bar at Whole Foods.

Down the Aisles 3: Ink stamper or potato?

If you walk into my house you’re not gonna see many purple things. Truth is, I think purple is a picky color, even more so than pink. The wrong purple is tacky, the right purple rarely happens. But somehow all purple foods taste good (except eggplant). Purple cabbage, purple lettuce, beet, taro (mmm, taro ice cream), blueberry, purple spinach. Then I ran into purple potatoes at Lucky. I bet you can carve your initials and use it as a stamper. At first I thought they are some cross between normal potato and beet, with the beet’s juicy crunch apparent whatever way you slice. Turns out it’s a mutation that causes production of the antioxidant anthocyanin, giving it the ink-stain color. So it’s all potato. Mudpie the chef sliced them. Stir fry with salt, pepper, garlic powder, tarragon until golden. Continue reading Down the Aisles 3: Ink stamper or potato?

Down the Aisles 2: April’s Fool… or not?

Uh oh, it looks like ink. The color is just screaming fake, real taro is faintly purple. My palm stains with indigo dye as I scoop the ice cream out of its cheap plastic tub. Sigh, I take a spoon. Divine. Coconut milk sweeps across the mouth. Nutty and grainy taro filters out all troubled thoughts. I thought taro yogurt with brownie bites at Yogurt Land was unbeatable, but this tops it. I read the ingredient list on the label. No coconut milk.

Down the Aisles 1: The fun of bánh men (yeast cookie)


Despite the name, banh men are quite girly cookies. Just look at how colorful they are: pink for strawberry, yellow for durian, white for plain coconut, green for pandan leaf. The literal translation “yeast cookie” is also a misnomer because there is no yeast, just tapioca flour, sugar, coconut milk and water. Somewhere between your teeth and your tongue they would transform from crunchy to melting, all of a sudden that crisp cookie disappears, a sweet lingering gently passes by. And that’s it, you wouldn’t even know that you’ve just had a cookie. My mother’s girl friends at work love these. The cute bites come in all shapes: worm, button (like the ones made by tt at PlayingWithMyFood, and spiky caterpillar (banh men gai, the ones I got). Ch3rry Blossoms made flowers of them. Extremely light and mild, they are a convenient snack, my fingers just have a go at the bowl next to my laptop without me even noticing. The label on the box says: “Serving size: 150g, Serving per container: 1”. There are about 150 cookies in there, so I can be proud that at least I didn’t follow the label. A container […]

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Down the Aisles 0 – Happy Thanksgiving

Appetizer: green waffle The batter is flavored with pandan leaf (lá dứa) extract and coconut milk. Mudpie first discovered them at Century Bakery in Little Saigon, San Jose, and that’s where we’ve been getting them since, in increasing amount. The most recent deal is buy 10 get 1 free, warm and prepackaged in a nice paper box. Then I had green waffle for breakfast for 3 days straight. Each waffle is about $1-1.50, rather costly if you think about how a banh mi costs only 2.50. But it’s delicious, fluffy and sweet. Main course: Mo’s Bacon bar You can have bacon with breakfast pancakes, and in BLT (bacon-lettuce-tomato) sandwich for lunch, so might as well stuff it into your chocolate for a late night snack, right? The lady who discovered the magic of bacon-chocolate combo had 6 years of culinary study, and she got it right: chocolate goes with everything, and so does salt. The bar isn’t a slab of bacon coated with chocolate (which is kinda what I hoped for). There are only tiny bits of bacon, even more scarce than in a simple salad. An […]

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