Friday, February 24, 2012

Crepevine--Palo Alto, CA

A couple of weekends ago Tyler and I went to Crepevine on our way to a Cub Scout event. As soon as we entered the casual, airy envioronment of Crepevine, we realized it was a place where we could let down our guard and relax. After ordering at the counter we could sit wherever we wanted and chose a roomy booth, where we were served our dinner. (And, even when we left at quarter to six, there was still plenty of seating available.)

Knowing I had to choose a crepe, I had the Bombay, which was loaded with hot shrimp, but they were nevertheless a little underdone. The crepe itself was silky soft. The roasted house potatoes came included with the dish but were nothing extraordinary. The mixed greens wouldn't beat what comes out of a box from Costco, but I appreciated that the crepe came with a salad.

Tyler had the Polmero, which was fetuccini alfredo with parmesan. It was thick and rich, as one would expect and had no problem filling up Little Big Boy. The toast was buttery, crisp and soft underneath.
In sum? Crepevine is a terrific low key, casual escape that offers an extensive menu. That menu, by the way, is itself worth a visit. While we waited and even while we ate, Tyler and I spent much of our time admiring the art that was the menu on the blackboard. What a great job! Zoom in on the photo and take a look.

367 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 323-3900

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hachi Japanese Fusion Tapas, Sushi and Sake Lounge--Mountain View, CA

For Valentine's day I met Jenny at Hachi for lunch, the only meal of the day I can be alone with her. Despite the name of the restaurant, the tapas weren't available for lunch, which was a disappointment. I got the sushi lunch, which for $17 was a bit pricey. Yes, the fish was soft and fresh. However, nothing really stood out in this little dish and for the money I expected more. Jenny got the Two Item Bento Box. The pork cutlet was overdone, but I enjoyed the fried coating of the sample I took from her plate. The outer part of the saba was salty, but the rest of the mackerel was the best part of Jenny's lunch.

The mango shrimp tempura roll featured a delightful crunch along with the softness of the mango. It was a great combination. With the sauce, there was a pleasant creaminess to it, too. The seared salmon belly with "special marinade" was a special posted on the wall. At $7 we thought, "why not" and ordered a dish. I enjoyed the fat, the flavor of which dominated everything else. However, overall it was ho-hum.

I admit to being thick at times, but I really should have picked up that Hachi is more about dinner (when the tapas are available) than lunch. When I made the reservation, for 11:30, and I was asked, "am or pm?" I should have known. This is a sake lounge, after all. Moreover, there were only two other tables occupied throughout the lunch hour. And, it was a one man show. The same guy did the cooking, the hosting and the serving. Did I need any more proof they didn't really expect a crowd for lunch?

The bottom line? After tax, but before tip, lunch came to $50--a bit expensive for good food that wasn't great. The limited lunch selection was disappointing.
Hachi Japanese Fusion Tapas, Sushi and Sake Lounge
1711 W El Camino Real
Ste B
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 988-6938

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kong Tofu and BBQ--Cupertino, CA

Looking to warm up on a chilly Saturday night, we stopped by Kong Tofu and BBQ in Cupertino. I had the Rib Eye Hot Stone Bowl. The beef was tender and a bit sweet, which made the soup sweet, too. On a cold night the hot broth hit the spot and it was the highlight of the meal. The veggies in the soup, served raw, simmered in the soup after the bowl was delivered to the table.

The boys shared the BBQ rib eye beef. Tyler loved it. The plate came with a lot of onions. Just as with my Stone Bowl, the beef was sweet but was delicious wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dabbed with the accompanying sauce, the flavor of which was slightly spicy with a hint of bean curd.

Jenny had the beef tofu stew. It was good but not anything special. It wasn't better than the stew one would find, for example, at Tofu House. The banchan was plentiful and fun to dabble with. I especially liked the potato and the sweet potato noodles. To cap our dinner, we each got a little bottle of Maeil, a yogurt-flavored drink. Tyler liked it so much he convinced us to get a pack at a nearby Japanese grocery store.

Although there wasn't any single quality that stood out with Kong Tofu, we'll return because they prepared everything to expectations and it was, quite frankly, a fun experience. Also, the restaurant had ample seating and the parking hassle free, making the evening low stress.

Kong Tofu and BBQ accepts American Express.

Kong Tofu and BBQ
19626 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 863-0234

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Tandoori Cafe--Santa Clara, CA

My dad and I walked into New Tandoori on a whim. We drove by it, I got out of the car, looked at the menu and was intrigued. From the outside of this strip-mall restaurant one wouldn't really guess this humble little cafe would serve such seriously good food.

I got the goat biranyi, which was a mountain of a plate loaded with meat and cinnamon sticks. The goat was boney but tender. The spices would make any mouth alive with flavor. Dad got the goat curry, which featured meat even more tender than that found in my dish. Also, it wasn't as boney. If there was any complaint it's that we requested the curry to be spicy, but it plainly wasn't. The chicken boti appetizer didn't come out until after my entree, but it was worth the wait. It was hot, tender and juicy, and if there was any doubt about preparation, the telltale skewer holes put that to rest.

Business was sparse. Obviously the word hadn't gotten out. Even at 12:30 there were empty tables at this small restaurant. That's going to change.

New Tandoori Cafe
2135 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050
(408) 553-9900