Flavor Japan – Noodles Part 2


Ramen is all hip now and if I were that into ramen, I probably would try a ramen shop everyday until I exhaust all options in Tokyo (it will take only a few lifetimes). But honestly, there’s SO MUCH MORE about noodles in Japan that I’m glad I didn’t spend all my time with ramen. I don’t regret one bit that I had only ONE bowl of ramen in Tokyo the entire stay. When I think about the spaghetti with boiled anchovy (you can also have it raw) or somen and rice with clam(*), I’m filled with joy. (I really am!) Ziggy’s Pasta is an unassuming shop a stone’s throw away from Koutoku-in in Kamakura – the temple with the great copper statue of Buddha, where 60% of the tourists stick their hands out for a statue-carrying pose. When we visited in Kamakura, my life goal was too eat shoujin ryouri (精進料理) – traditional Buddhist vegetarian meal, but that goal was quickly quenched because everybody and their grandma were lining up outside every restaurant during lunch time, and no shoujin ryouri restaurant was opened […]

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None of the secondi struck our fancy, but we did order a substantial number of dishes. So substantial that instead of ordering by the names, I curled my index finger and thumb into a square bracket and pointed on the menu “we’ll take these four and these four, and the potato, and the asparagus please.” That was 10 out of 25 “dishes” on the menu, if olives and salads could count as dishes at all. Three years ago, I had a bite of pork belly sandwich from Corso. I remember nothing of it, except that it was memorably good. I vowed to come back, but my cravings are always either rice noodle or pancakes (although every time I get pancakes, their texture is gravely disappointing), so for these three years, the vow stayed as a vow and didn’t happen. I kept hearing from multiple sources near and far about how good Corso was, though, so my confidence for this Italian restaurant increased. When I picked Corso for dinner last Friday, I didn’t expect the restaurant to wow us, but I felt confident that the meal would be […]

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Little Cafe Du Bois in Kingwood

Little Mom likes Houston because it’s big, I’ve grown to like Berkeley because it’s so tiny I can get around without a car. Little Mom likes our big garden where she can grow 20 trees and who knows how many rose bushes, I’m content with my little dried-plum-container-turned-flower-pot in which I grow my onion. Point is, Little Mom likes big things, and I, well, sometimes like and most of the time don’t mind small things. But as often as she likes big restaurants, Little Mom likes little Cafe Du Bois in Kingwood. It makes me feel better than if I had liked Cafe Du Bois myself. The joy when you pick out a place and your company likes it, the more important the company to you the bigger the joy, and to top that with a company of people with sensitive, rarely pleased tastebuds, it feels like winning the lottery. And here my mom suggested that we should go to Cafe Du Bois again. She likes it for the roasted red snapper on rice with a light cream and tomato basil sauce, for being a mere 10 minutes from our […]

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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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Rustic Italian in the old tavern

The 7-year-old Antica Osteria is much too young to be one of “the nurseries of our legislators”, but it sure feels like one: warm brick walls, dark wood work, an old house nested in the green, sleepy residential area northwest of Rice University, and a patronage mainly composed of old white men. The smell of books might have been replaced by the smell of pasta and cheese (this place was previously a bookstore), but Chef Velio Deplano and his partner Ray Memari have kept Antica Osteria in that hidden, rustic, peaceful feeling of a bookstore. The gentle orange light made me excited like a drifting sailor seeing a lighthouse. Normal bread and butter, not bread, vinegar and oil, accompanied our post-ordering conversation, followed by some airy garlic bread. A tiny voice in some little corner in my mind whispered that the garlic bread was waiting for the salad to travel down the pipe, but who could resist such beautiful orange color. We made sure that the garlic bread’s presence on the table was as fleeting as its texture. 😉 The insalata campagnola was great by itself anyway. […]

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