Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kabul Restaurant--Sunnyvale, CA

Earlier this week my colleagues and I had lunch at a favorite restaurant of ours: Kabul. The occasion was an awards lunch and I can't think of a better place to celebrate. Known for their kebabs and wide array of other Afghan entrees, appetizers and desserts, Kabul serves dishes as delectable as they are consistent.

We started off with a few appetizers. Mantu is a soft tube-dumpling filled with ground lamb. The appetizer was as much about the vegetable sauce, though, as it submerged the dumplings, making them seem like a sideshow. In all, the dish was flavorful and hearty. But, don't get it for the lamb.

The bulanee katchalu, a turnover with ground lamb, mashed potatoes and spices had a crispy fried crust. Unfortunately, that's all I can really comment on, as the piece I grabbed had no filling in it, indicating an uneven filling distribution. Those fortunate enough to have taste the appetizer in its fullest, though, told me it was delicious.

The last appetizer I was treated to was pakawra-e-badenjan, batter-dipped slices of eggplant topped with yogurt and meat sauce. It was crisp and tasty. The topping dominated the flavor and the texture was set by the fried batter. So, the slice of eggplant was merely a substrate for the batter and sauce.

For my entree, I went with the seafood combo kebab. Some at the table were dissuaded from eating the salmon since it's a cold water fish not available in Afghanistan. True, perhaps, but their salmon is usually a can't-miss. At this specific lunch, though, the fish was a little overdone. The shrimp was the right level of doneness, but the seasoning was a tad salty. Next time I'll go with just the salmon, which is almost always moist, tender and flaky with an elegantly crisp surface.

I'd be remiss to not cover the salad or the bread, which my kids love. Known in my family as "Kabul bread", the focaccia bread served here is always fresh, fluffy, soft and warm. For my boys, it's a reason alone to visit. Although the salad is basic--lettuce, tomatoes, maybe a cucumber--it's always cold and crisp. Eat up quickly, though, when you carry this out. As fresh as the bread and salad are, both can go stale in a day or so.

At my workplace, Kabul is a common choice for those enjoying their last lunch with colleagues before retiring. If my retirement party were held today, I'd choose Kabul, too.

In speaking of work, I've had a lot of it lately. And, over the next few months there will be even more to come. So, I'll be unable to update this blog on a regular basis until at least the end of this summer. Check in about once every month or so, though, and you'll probably see something new here at

Kabul Restaurant
833 W. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, California 94086
(408) 245-4350

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pizzeria Venti

Last week I picked up Jenny at work and ate at a nearby Italian restaurant, Pizzeria Venti. We started with their pizza bread, which was as soft as a pillow. I couldn't get enough of it, even though it was a little underbaked.

For lunch I chose the lasagne, which was smaller than what you'd fine at, say, Frankie, Johnny and Luigi Too. It also lacked meat. So, for eleven dollars the cost was a bit steep. The sauce was sharp but went well with the bread (as did everything else).

Jenny was underwhelmed by the seared ahi tuna salad, which was what brought us to Pizzeria Venti. The thin slices of tuna didn't measure up to the thicker slices she was served at the Los Altos Grill or Birk's. Independent of price, she'd give Birk's a 10, Los Altos Grill an 8 and Pizzeria Venti a 6. It should be noted today's salad was $11 but Birk's was $20.

Overall, it was a mediocre performance. However, the restaurant was crowded, so get there early if you want to get parking in this strip mall's parking lot.

Pizzeria Venti
1390 Pear Avenue
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 254-1120

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Baby Bok Choy

Two houses and several years ago, Jenny bought some baby bok choy seeds. The seeds had long since expired as of last September, when Jenny resurrected them. We got some new soil in our backyard and she wanted to give it a try. First, though, Jenny put some seeds in a plastic cup. On a daily basis, she and the boys faithfully sprayed the cup as it sat in our little greenhouse by the kitchen sink.

After about a week, much to the amusement of all of us, seedlings began to appear. And, at about six weeks, it was time to kick them out of the nest, so we moved them outside.
And, at about four months they were ready to eat! After first grabbing the baby bok choy, be aware there's dirt, slugs and other nasties lurking between the stalks. It took us a while to comb through and get rid of everything.

We're blessed to know a woman who can drop by twice a week to prepare dinner for us. We handed the baby bok choy to her, said "Surprise us". She kept things sweet and simple by tossing it into the frying pan with just a bit of garlic. It turned out well!

Compared to the baby bok choy one could pick up at, say, 99 Ranch, the homegrown stuff was obviously larger, greener, a touch more crisp and a tad sweeter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fu Lam Mum--Mountain View, CA

My dad treated us to Fu Lam Mum for dim sum last weekend. Soon after it started serving dim sum a few years ago, Jenny and I went for lunch on a weekday but were disappointed. However, it's difficult, if not impossible, to survive for so long in downtown Mountain View without serving quality stuff. So, we decided, why not?

We're glad we stopped by. Arriving at 11:45, the five of us weren't able to get a table on the first floor, so we were seated upstairs. We started with the standards, like siu mai and har gao. They were hot, fresh and met expectations. One of the boys downed six of the har gaos seemingly without effort. Good, too, were the pork ribs and cheong fun. Though tender, the char siu (sweet pork) lacked a sufficient amount of honey glaze and hence wasn't as flavorful as that found at Joy Luck Bistro. The Peking Duck was delectable and made even moreso with the plum sauce.

Making the lunch memorable were the dishes one wouldn't find at a middling dim sum restaurant. The sesame sweet roll, was an excellent combination of crispy (outside) and gooey (inside). The sausage added flavor in its own right. Also adding a wow factor was the big bowl of tripe. Neither my dad nor I had ever seen such large, complete pieces. Moreover, the tripe was prepared to just the right crunchiness.

For dessert we had the Thousand Layer Cake, which was soft and sweet but also had a flavor dominated by flour. The top had the texture and taste of marshmallows.

Overall, Fu Lam Mum performed well. I regret, though, we weren't able to sit on the ground floor, where the variety--and, with the high ceilings, the airy ambiance--was even better. Food often made its way to the second floor by way of the stairs and elevator limitations restricted the number of carts making it up. Getting to the restaurant by 11:30 on a weekend day will likely get you a ground-floor table. Getting there after 12:20 will probably mean a wait.

153 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 967-1689