Thursday, January 27, 2011

DishDash--Sunnyvale, CA

To encourage attendance at our quarterly business update meetings, my management often brings in lunch from DishDash. It's an effective enticement. Food from DishDash, which features Middle Eastern cuisine, is delicious, filling and consistent. This restaurant is also a favorite for retirement lunches.

I started with the lamb kebab ("shish kebab") and it was scrumptious. The meat was very tender, a tad greasy and moderately spiced for a mild heat. It was called a "kebab" but there weren't any skewer holes. Moreover, the grill marks offer a clue as to how the dish was prepared. Nevertheless, the meat was irresistible and it was the highlight of my lunch.

The same could not be said, though, of the chicken. Although the chicken cubes did possess the hallmark skewer holes, they were nevertheless chewy and dry. As for the lamb wrap (shawarma), be sure to have your napkins handy. The abundant yogurt-based sauce dominated the wrap, subduing the flavor of the thinly sliced lamb,which possessed a seasoning similar to that of the kebab. The hummus was smooth yet thick and went well with the soft pita bread. The Greek salad was crisp, but quite tangy.

For chicken kebabs, Falafel and Kebab in Mountain View is the best I've tried. However, dishes like today's lamb kebab makes DishDash a favorite at work and will always be enough to attract a crowd no matter the meeting that must be endured beforehand. Credit must be given to the name of the restaurant, too. The very name brings to mind images of plates of food--all delicious--zooming from the kitchen to the table. The name also refers to a particular article of Middle Eastern clothing, sharing a provenance with the delectable cuisine found here.

190 S Murphy Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
(408) 774-1889

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Honeyberry--Santa Clara, CA

Two or three doors down from Sui Tofu was Honeyberrry, which, in the middle of this decidedly Asian mall, stood out with its Mexican cuisine. Though we'd had a delicious and filling Korean dinner Saturday night last weekend, we still had room for dessert. And, heeding the sign at Honeyberry, we decided on their honey bread, which was advertised as baked every 15 minutes. We must have dropped by at the end of a cycle, as we waited at least that long before being served. And, thanks to the ever-ravenous younger twin, the entire dessert vanished in three minutes.
What little I could eat was good. The thick slices of bread used in the dessert reminded me of Texas toast. With the toast rich with butter and honey the shredded parsley was out of place visually--it added virtually no flavor amid the sea of sweet ingredients. The ice cream, which almost entirely fell victim to the aforementioned aggressive six-year old, complemented the warm, slightly crunchy toast. We chose hazelnut chocolate, though two other flavors were available including rocky road.

Having had a positive experience with the honey bread, Jenny and I couldn't help but wonder about the tacos and burritos at Honeyberry. And, with work less than ten minutes away, I'll have to drop by for lunch. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sui Tofu--Santa Clara, CA

On a whim, the four of us drove down to Santa Clara for dinner Saturday after playing tennis. Things got off to a slow start. It took nearly 15 minutes for someone to take order plus more than 15 minutes for dinner to come. It was worth the wait. Our dinner at Sui Tofu was the best at a Korean restaurant in recent memory. I knew things were headed in the right direction when I saw that the enticing banchan kept coming and coming.

Jenny’s sindibu was delicious. The broth was rich with flavor and hence provided what was missing at Tofu house. The tofu, which was homemade, was firm, easily more so than that found at Totoro or Tofu House. Jenny ordered mild and she got it--the soup wasn’t noticeably spicy at all.

I got the dol sot bi bim bop featuring a stoneware bowl, which I highly recommend because of the bowl's thermal capacity. (For a buck less, one can order the bi bim bopo in a metal bowl.) As such, my dinner remained hot to the end, when I scraped away the burnt rice. I doused my meal with the red sauce that came along with the bi bim bop, but it was still a medium level of spiciness at best. Otherwise, the bowl exceeded my expectations. It was a great mix of crunchy and soft and the quantity filled me up.

For the kids we got BBQ chicken, which they loved. The only complaint was there was a significantly greater quantity of vegetables than chicken, which ran out quickly.

Unfortunately, we didn't get any melon gum when we paid our bill (whereas other tables did), which, after tax, came out to $30 and some loose change. However, having had such a great dinner, Sui Tofu was more than forgiven.

2777 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 261-2777

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Falafel and Kebab--Mountain View, CA

The restaurant where Jenny and I eat lunch more than any other is Kabab and Falafel. It's only a block or two away from where Jenny works and they almost never have a bad day. We eat there so often, in fact, that when we visited Thursday the proprietor didn't even ask what we wanted and rang us up for two chicken kabab plates. He remembered us despite the thick crowds that stop by every weekday.

Our skewered chicken was succulent, juicy, well flavored and tender. We thought our lunch for this particular trip was even better than usual. We asked about the preparation on our way out. They couldn't give away their secret, of course, but they did say they used cumin and lemon in their marinade. The quantity of chicken alone wasn't enough to fill me up--it never is. However, as always, we got a pile of warm pita bread perfect for wiping up our generous servings of hummus and oil, assuring we'd walk away full.

Falafel and Kebab is flexible, by the way. Jenny asked for and received more rice with her plate while forgoing the cabbage. Lunch for the two of us was just a tad over $20 after tax.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Doughnut muffins

Sunday, Jenny tried a tantalizing muffin recipe she found on one of her favorite food blogs, Noble Pig. The recipe, as taken straight from the website, is as follows:

Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins
Adapted from Taste at Home

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

The process:
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon; whisk to combine.
In another bowl, combine sugar, oil, egg, and milk.
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups half-full; place one teaspoon jam on top. Cover jam with enough batter to fill muffin cups three-fourths full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes
Place melted butter in a small bowl; combine sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Immediately after removing muffins from the oven, dip tops in butter, then in cinnamon-sugar.

Jenny used strawberry jam. Olive oil took the place of vegetable oil.

The muffins turned out well! For that soft, doughnut-like texture, I highly recommend that the muffins be served warm. Still, though, they are muffins after all, and the tops will be firm at any temperature. The jam inside is the main attraction. Though the recipe calls for dropping the jam with the tin half filled, this will place the jam well in the upper half when the muffin is finished expanding. If you're after a filling closer to center, you might try laying the jam down with the cup one-third full.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ruffled Feathers Eatery--San Jose, CA

Yesterday afternoon the 2011 Silicon Valley International Auto Show brought us to downtown San Jose. A ten minute walk from the San Jose Convention Center, home of the show, is Ruffled Feathers, a restaurant featuring wraps, pasta, pizza and rotisserie chicken. Given the name of the restaurant, I thought it appropriate to get a bird. I went with the 1/2 rotisserie chicken since, at $8.99, it was only three dollars more than a quarter. Their rotisserie chicken could be served in four different ways: Gilroy Garlic, Rosemary Herb, Smoked BBQ and Traditional. I chose the Smoked BBQ because I thought it would be the flavor most different from that of the rotisserie chicken I often get at Costco. So, it was ironic that the Costco chicken was about all I could think of as I ate at Ruffled Feathers.

Why? Because I was paying nine dollars for half a chicken with some barbecue sauce on it (with none on the side), whereas I could get an entire bird for five dollars at Costco. And, use the extra four dollars to get all the barbecue sauce I can handle. Yes, the chicken was moist and tender (though Jenny thought it undersalted) and yes the skin was crisp, but nine dollars? All that came along for the ride were two chips and a dab of hummus.

Jenny's wrap met her expectations, but it was unremarkable. The wrap was essentially a salad inside a tortilla--and tasted as such. Such a concept may appeal to some, just not me. So, given the mediocre performance for the adults, Jenny and I were all the more impressed by the Pesto, Pasta and Peas we got for one of the boys. Rich with olive oil and basil, the smooth pasta was delicious and some shaved almonds were even thrown in for some crunch. The younger twin had to fend off both me and Jenny as we raided his pasta with our forks. Not even a morsel was left behind.

Motivated by the array of desserts available, we ordered a chocolate fondue to wrap up lunch. Amazingly, the dessert took nearly a third of a man-hour to prepare. The cashier spent about ten minutes procuring and cutting the fruit, while our server spent almost as long preparing the chocolate dip. Taking account the effort they undertook as well as the fun the twins had in finding different ways to polish off the chocolate, the dessert was a steal at $5.45 with tax.

Though we won't make a special trip to the Ruffled Feathers Eatery, its convenience will bring us back if we're in downtown San Jose. The restaurant is only a block away from the garage on 2nd and San Carlos, where one can park free on the weekends.

Ruffled Feathers Eatery
200 S 1st St
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 280-7220

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Driving between my company's buildings during yesterday's lunch hour, I traced the arc known as Freedom Circle in Santa Clara. There I noticed a parked gourmet food truck featuring Japanese curry. Having had a cutlet with Japanese curry a couple of weeks before, I was anxious to compare. And, even better for me, there wasn't a line. According to the woman behind the register, the most popular item was their katsu curry. So, katsu curry with pork it was.

The sauce, which I ordered “Spicy”, was a notch tamer than the “Hot” at Tofu House earlier in the week but it still had fire. The cutlet was tender and I enjoyed every bite. Delightfully crisp and crunchy was the golden brown cutlet coating. Crunchy also, though thankfully not crisp, was the pickled ginger, which was slightly sweet and complemented the rest of the dish well.

As for the all-important sauce, I was told it was slow cooked, and it was indeed quite smooth. However, it was lacking in vegetables. I detected chopped onions and maybe an occasional shred of bamboo shoot. However, JapaCurry would have done well to have added, say, some chunks of potato or carrots also. Such an addition would not only make it equally authentic, but it would help distinguish the sauce from instant curry-in-a-cube. More importantly, once you get used to melt-in-your-mouth carrots in your curry, it's hard to go back to anything else.

The quantity was slight, especially for $8. I still needed more to eat for lunch after finishing everything on the plate.


Monday, January 3, 2011

SGD Tofu House--Santa Clara, CA

Our boiling-soup festival continued today, this time at Tofu house, which I reviewed in 2010 without photos. Today, Jenny went with our standby, the #1: Original Tofu Soup, selecting beef (one could have ordered pork or chicken instead) with a medium level of heat. Silly me thought the Combination Tofu Soup, Number 2 on the menu, featured a mix of different kinds of tofu. I was disabused of that notion when I ordered it, finding out the variety was in the meats (shrimp, beef and clam) not in the bean curd. (In my defense, the brown tofu I had at Wu Ji's Mala House in San Jose the week before was different, at least in appearance, from the white curd given to Jenny.)

Just before our soups arrived, a pot of rice came to our table. After our server filled a small metal bowl with rice for each of us, he poured water into the pot, allowing us to scrape the rice from the pot toward the end of lunch. The sauces for the banchan, including the kimcheee, went well with the watery rice. The flavor had a subtle resemblance to barbecue sauce--both spicy and sweet. Not only did I end up finishing the banchan, I ended up dumping any remaining sauce into the rice to enjoy more of that terrific flavoring. As for the main event, Jenny thought her broth weak and I saw that her bowl was lacking in beef. The same could be said for mine as well, though there were several clams (both with and without shells) and two unpeeled, head-on shrimp. I ordered mine "Hot" (the restaurant's hottest) and fully agree it was less spicy than a "two" at Wu Ji's.

I concur with Jenny's observation that Tofu House skimped on the meat today. However, the main purpose of my trip was to warm up with a boiling hot spicy soup and Tofu House served that function well, as it always does. That said, I won't get anything involving shrimp at Tofu House in the future. Peeling those little guys is a messy affair that will turn your fingers red at best and splatter your clothes at worst. I should say it was a pleasure to meet again that avuncular proprietor, who was so delighted to see us he gave Jenny a pack of melon gum as we left.

SGD Tofu House
3450 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 261-3030

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hot pot

Last night I enjoyed a festive, delicious dinner with Jenny's family perfect for welcoming a new year. In contrast to the individual hot pots we had at Wu Ji's (entry below), Chinese hot pot is better known for its communal aspect, bringing friends and family together over a single stew. Jenny's mom and dad indulged us by procuring a wide array of meats, including shrimp, squid, scallops, salmon, lamb, beef and pork. In the mid-Peninsula where we live, I'd recommend 99Ranch as a one-stop shop. For convenience, get the packs that come with the meat pre-sliced.

At the dinner table, complementing all of these meats well, whether the animal swam or walked, was a condiment based on Chinese barbecue sauce. It was slightly salty, but not tangy. Try, for example, the barbecue sauce by Bullhead that comes in a silver can. It's important to watch the meats closely, as the red meats especially can get tough quickly. Once the meat changes color, it's time to pull it out. My vigilant sister-in-law spoiled us by keeping a close eye on doneness, pulling out a constant stream of food while I was munching away, blissfully unaware that food risked getting overdone in the cooker.

The best part is the soup left over at the end of the dinner. Delicious flavors extracted from the beef, pork, lamb, seafood and vegetables after an hour or so of stewing combine provide an unbeatable experience for the palate. As I grew up, my parents would save some vegetables for the very end, as we did last night, to provide a soft crunch to go with the meaty broth. For full enjoyment, remember your skimmer! You'll want to remove the brownish foam that accumulates at the surface throughout the dinner.