All posts by Nicole

Brazil! Universal Yums Box January 2015

Here comes my second Universal Yums Box featuring snacks from Brazil!

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Isa Restaurant – San Francisco, California

Isa Restaurant
3324 Steiner St.
San Francisco CA 94123
www.isarestaurant.com

I am one lucky gal. My boyfriend actually forwarded me San Francisco Restaurant Week and insisted I chose a place for our anniversary date. I chose Isa Restaurant based on its popularity and wide range of choices on its 4-course prix fixe menu ($40 each). The restaurant is located in the northern part of San Francisco, a little more than an hour from where I live. Parking was available in garages nearby. There was street parking, but I did not want to risk it due to the heavy traffic in the area. We arrived earlier than our 6:30pm reservation so we walked around the neighborhood to window shop at some boutique stores and check out other restaurants in the area. I want to try Saiwalks (Vietnamese Street Food) restaurant that’s right next door to Isa. We arrived a couple minutes early for our reservation but they had no problem seating us right away. It is a very packed and crowded restaurant with a small dining area in the front, kind of like a bar area, and then a larger tented area in the back that reminded me of a cabin.

Continue reading Isa Restaurant – San Francisco, California

Germany! Universal Yums Box December 2014

I have a problem – I’m addicted to subscription boxes. There, I admitted it. I began shopping for Christmas presents and stumbled across the idea of gifting boxes, which I did for some friends. I then decided I would indulge in a few boxes myself. One of the two is Universal Yums, which I was able to subscribe to at a discounted price of $10/month (Regular is $13/month) for the small Yum box, which comes with at least 6 snacks. The larger option is the Yum Yum Box, which is $25/month and comes with 13 or more snacks. The idea is that every month, you get a box filled with snacks from a different country.

Continue reading Germany! Universal Yums Box December 2014

D Bar – San Diego, California

D Bar Restaurant
3930 5th Avenue
San Diego, California 92103
http://www.dbarsandiego.com/home

My weekend getaway trip to Southern California was graced with the fact that I would be coming down during both DineLA and San Diego Restaurant Week. It was a great surprise and I was not going to let the opportunity slip away. Recommendations from friends lead me to D Bar for dinner on a Sunday evening in beautiful San Diego. The $40 Pre Fixe Dinner Menu was enticing, but even more so was the Cocktail Flight for an additional $20. I was on vacation, why not?

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Pepper Candied Bacon

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Inspired by this recipe.

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Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas – Cupertino, CA

Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas
19980 E Homestead Rd
Cupertino, CA 95014
http://www.gochifusiontapas.com/

I’ve come here before, it’s not a cheap place, but the quality of food is well worth the price.  You can check out their menu and make reservations beforehand, because they do get quite crowded on weeknights and weekends.  We made a reservation to come at 6pm on a Sunday and they called us a day before to confirm the time.  We were promptly seated upon arrival and was very well taken care of throughout the night.  The waiters and waitresses are all extremely friendly and cheerful, and will help you when you have no idea what you’re looking at on the menu.  Most of their food is fusion Japanese, and I definitely recommend checking out the special items menu, since those change from season to season.

Continue reading Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas – Cupertino, CA

Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • White mushrooms (I bought a carton of large ones and a carton of small ones)
  • Shredded parmesan cheese (3/4 cup)
  • Cream cheese (6 oz.)
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Panko breadcrumbs

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Pho Across America – A New Blog!

Hi all,

My colleague is on a mission to eat phở in all 50 states, and is documenting and reviewing each visit!  Her ranking reviews take into consideration taste, service, portion size, garnish selection, cleanliness of restaurant, among other things.  All these factors into how excellent the phở experience is.

Her “What is Phở?” page gives a comprehensive overview of the dish that the Vietnamese culture is most popular for.

You can also check out some other articles relating to phở, like “Urban Legends: MSG,” to find out if MSG will really kill you or not.

http://www.phoacrossamerica.com/ 

Join her at her blog to check it out, maybe she’ll visit a phở shop near you.  Definitely will entice any phở-lover’s interest.

pho98 pho

~Nicole

Grill on the Alley – San Jose, CA

The Grill on the Alley
Fairmont Hotel
172 S Market St
San Jose, CA 95113
http://thegrill.com/

The Grill on the Alley in San Jose has special Valentine’s Day dinner meals, so we made a reservation here.  It comes with 3 courses for each person from a fixed menu and is priced starting at $155.  Ambiance is romantic due to the dim lighting and small tables.  Service is excellent.  Below is what we chose for our meal…

Tuna Tartare – VERY fishy, I did not enjoy this.  I had to squeeze some lemon on it to remove the fishy smell.

Oysters – Fresh and delicious, they give you marinara sauce and almost like Italian dressing to put on your oyster.  Wish it came with hot sauce.  So yummy.

Filet mignon with lobster sauce and asparagus – To die for! The steak is among the best I’ve ever had,very moist and juicy, cooked medium rare just the way I like it.  The sauce was creamy and had big chunks of lobster in it.

Salmon with crab meat and asparagus – Equally as amazing.  Salmon was cooked to perfect, but the best part was the crab meat with caramelized onions, it was so tender and fresh crab.  Nothing fishy here.

Strawberry panna cotta – I’ve never had strawberry panna cotta, it’s kind of like Yoplait whipped yogurt, but much more flavorful, with real strawberry chunks in it.  The red vinegar glaze compliments it very well.  Pistachio crumbs sprinkled on top, dessert was my favorite :)

Key Lime Pie – This is the best key lime pie hands down.  The graham crust is so crunchy and compliments the tartness of the pie.  The raspberry sauce helps to cut the tartness of the pie as well.

Highly recommended for Valentine’s day dinner, the menu selections are excellent.  Boyfriend wanted to go somewhere more expensive, but I am so impressed with this place, I am more than satisfied with the food they provided here.  Make reservations early, they fill out quickly.

~Nicole

Lucy’s Tamale Factory – San Jose, CA

Lucy’s Tamale Factory
3739 Madeline Dr.
San Jose, CA 95127
http://www.lucystamalefactory.com

This tamale factory is famous in San Jose, so I thought I’d give it a try.  It isn’t the best tamales I’ve ever had, but they are good.  $2 each is a little pricey, considering they don’t taste too good the next day.  It’s in a ghetto area, I didn’t want to drive my new car there so I took my old one haha.  The shop is in a hidden plaza, so you need to know your way around San Jose to get to this place.

Jalapeno & Cheese: SPICY (for me at least), freshly eaten, the cheese is melted and it is heavenly.  Wait until the next day, you’re going to find yourself eating a tamale with a cheesestick inside…

 

Chicken con chile – The best! Chicken is super juicy and the green chile sauce is yummy, corn maza is textured but not hard, just the way I love it.

 

Beef – This special one was $3, but it was worth it.  The beef is tender, juicy, and extremely delicious.  Not spicy.

 

Sweet tamale – This unique dessert tamale is like a corn bread, Mexican style.  So soft and warm, the taste of corn is the best, and there are chunks of pineapple in it.

 

We also tried pork and regular chicken, not impressed.  The pork was juicy, but it didn’t have too much flavor.  The chicken was a little dry and also was bland.

I will definitely be coming back for the chicken con green chile and the sweet tamales, those are my favorite!

~Nicole

Olarn Thai Cuisine – Cupertino, CA

Olarn Thai Cuisine
19672 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
http://www.olarnthai.com/

I was craving tom kha soup so boyfriend took me to this place in Cupertino.  We ordered tom kha soup for 2, roti panang, pad see ew with beef and pineapple fried rice.  The tom kha soup was really good, although I wished they had an option to add seafood.  Roti panang was good too!  The pad see ew was sweet like I how I like it.  I was unimpressed by the pineapple fried rice, it just tasted like regular fried rice with pineapple chunks in it, and it didn’t have raisins.  Thai iced tea was pretty good, it came separated, like it should, and I mixed it myself.

I’d like to come back to try some other dishes, but if anything, I’ll just default to going to Krung Thai in San Jose.


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Happy new year, everyone!

~Nicole

Gooyi Gooyi Korean BBQ – Santa Clara, CA

Gooyi Gooyi
2331 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051
http://gooyi.orengeo.com

This is not an all you can eat Korean bbq place, nor it is cheap.  But what it does have is quality meat, that is not found in any AYCE bbq restaurant.  I was craving brisket so much that I had to get some.  This place has a $39.99 deal that comes with a plate of beef brisket and pork belly, steamed egg, and soybean soup.  It also comes with the standard sides, salad, rice paper, and rice.  The special thing about this place is that instead of a gas grill, it uses coal, so the meat is supposed to taste a little different, but I couldn’t really tell since I was so hungry.

The sides that is came with were pretty good, the kimchi wasn’t fermented enough and the mashed potatoes tasted old, but the other side dishes were delicious, especially the seaweed salad and pickled radishes.  Salad had a good amount of dressing and was freshly made, so it was very refreshing to eat with the meat, especially the fatty pork belly.  Steamed egg and soybean soup were standard, nothing too special about them.

The brisket had amazing marbling, and melted in your mouth when it was cooked.  It was just so much fresher than what they serve at ayce bbq.  Pork belly was very fatty, but that’s how I like it!  It took a while to cook it to be crispy like I wanted it, but it was worth it.

The service here is great, they are very friendly and never rude to us, making sure we were taken care of.  One thing I did not like though, was the fact that they insisted on cooking the meat for us.  I like cooking my own meat and deciding when it’s done, but they didn’t really let me do that here, because they assumed I had no idea what I was doing.  Little do they know what kind of a kbbq master I am!  Just kidding.  But really, they turned off the grill before the pork belly was crispy enough for my taste, so I was a little irritated about that.

I wouldn’t come here on a regular basis just because there is just no where near the amount of food I could get for the same price in lovely Ktown, but once in a while when you’re craving ayce so much that it hurts, this would be a good place to splurge at.

~Nicole

Orenchi Ramen – Santa Clara, CA

Orenchi Ramen
3540 Homestead Rd
Santa Clara, CA 95051
http://www.orenchi-ramen.com/

There is not much to say about this famous ramen place.  It’s one of the best ones I’ve ever had!  The broth of the Orenchi Ramen was SO delicious and flavorful, it really just speaks for itself.  Noodles were just the right texture, chewy but not tough, and not at all soggy.  They give you a jar of crushed garlic at your table, so you can add as much as you want…I added a lot, and it really enhanced the flavor of the soup for me.  We also ordered Karaage, which was very crispy and juicy inside, and their special french fries, which had a special sauce on it and bonito flakes.  Everything was delicious…please just enjoy the photos and try it for yourself.  I hear sometimes the wait is over an hour, but luckily we went on a Sunday evening and it wasn’t too bad, my friend got there first and put our names down, total wait time was approximately 30 minutes.

~Nicole

Bill’s Cafe – San Jose, CA

Bill’s Cafe
302 N Bascom Ave
San Jose, CA 95128
http://www.billscafe.com/

Smoke Salmon Benedict, with smoked salmon, caramelized red onions, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce with capers on a toasted bagel.  Side of crispy hashed browns… So yummy.  We had to wait 25 minutes for a table on Saturday at 11am, but it was worth it.  The fish was so good…and you wouldn’t think salmon and creamy eggs to well together, but it sure did!  Yummy brunch!

To try: bottomless mimosas here ;)

~Nicole

Peanut Butter and Nutella Filled Crescent Rolls

Ingredients:
-Pillsbury crescent roll dough (each container makes 8 croissants)
-Nutella
-Peanut butter

Line tin tray with foil and roll up croissants with your choice of filling. I made some plain, some with peanut butter only, some with nutella only, and some with both peanut butter and nutella.  Bake at 375 degrees (my oven is convection) for 10 minutes.  So easy and yummy!  I used one can of the reduced fat croissant rolls, and they were still amazing because of the filling.  Yum!

 

 

~Nicole