Friday, June 28, 2013

Arroz and Pollo Asado by Del Real Foods

Two weeks ago, Del Real Foods was kind enough to send me a sample pack of their products. We first tried their Pollo Asado and Arroz.

The Arroz, a rice dish, ever soft and fluffy, was a family favorite. The kids couldn't get enough of it. It also tricked them into eating the vegetables that came with it.

The chicken was nicely seasoned, though Jenny thought it was a bit salty. It was break-apart tender and went well with the rice in a tortilla.

I can't rate the Pollo Asado higher than Del Real Foods' Carnitas, but it were available at a store nearby, I'd grab one for those nights where we just don't have enough time to prepare dinner.

You can find where Del Real Foods products are available at

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dinah's (buffet)--Palo Alto, CA

Last month we went to Dinah's in Palo Alto for their Sunday brunch. Considering the hotel is on a busy street, El Camino Real, the restaurant's location is amazingly peaceful. The swaying palms and the pool by the restaurant convinced me for a while that I was on vacation. This atmosphere is what made Dinah's buffet distinctive. Well, that and the roast beef, of which I had five servings.

Other positives? Kids were charged a mere $12 (adults $35), which is a steal considering there were other buffets out there charging $25 and up for our eight-year old twins (what are those restaurants thinking)? Also, the woman in charge tried very hard to make sure everyone was happy, moving furniture around the patio area so that we could have shade.

I'd love to go back to Dinah's, but it won't be anytime soon. Since hitting middle age, my stomach hasn't had the elasticity it once did, forcing me to get lots of rest between buffets.

Dinah's Garden Hotel
4261 El Camino Real  Palo Alto, CA 94306
(800) 227-8220

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Big E--San Jose, CA

With the kids at a birthday party at The Jungle in San Jose, Jenny and I ran off to Big E for empanadas.

Spicy Thai Chicken

We split two: the Spicy Thai Chicken and the Sausage (with eggs and cheese). They both came out hot, especially the Thai Chicken--and when they say "spicy", they mean it! The heat made the pocket interesting, though, and I really enjoyed it.

The sausage and egg tasted just like how it looked. It was hearty, but not one to get if you're looking for adventure.

The pastry crust was buttery and flaky for both of the empanadas and, at $3.40 each, were a good value. They didn't fill us up, though, so we needed to finish lunch when we got home.
Big E
1683 Branham Ln
San Jose, CA 95118
(408) 978-9040

Friday, June 21, 2013

Village Kebab--Los Altos, CA

With the kids taken to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner by their grandparents, Jenny and I ate at Village Kebab earlier tonight.
Chicken shawarma

I had the chicken shawarma plate. While the quantity per dollar wasn't as great as at, say, Dish-N-Dash (it was $15 at Village Kebab), I enjoyed the entree a lot. The rice was sticky (don't know if this was intentional) and went well with the chicken. I also liked the accompanying chili oil, which packed a hot punch.

Jenny was less than thrilled with her lamb kebab wrap. She thought it lacked meat and the fries that came with it, though hot, were far more greasy than they were crisp. I have to agree with her on that.

We also got a falafel plate, which was filling. The outside was very crisp and the inside bread soft. It went well with the tahini sauce.

I felt bad that business there was slow tonight. The service was friendly. The restaurant had outside seating and there were three or four tables occupied on the sidewalk, but the inside of the restaurant was empty except for us.

Village Kebab
233 State St
Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 397-5620

Monday, June 17, 2013

Del Real Foods Giveaway Winner!

Thank you for participating in 4CHOW's first giveaway! I also want to thank Del Real Foods for making this contest possible.

The winner of the Party In A Box from Del Real Foods is:

If this is you, can you please contact me at loren (at) within the next week so we can give you your prize?

Thanks again!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Moonraker--Pacifica, CA

Belgian waffle at the Moonraker Father's Day buffet. This needs to be ordered.

We ate here for Father's Day today and were taken by the views from the restaurant. Each booth near the window was oriented in a semi-circle configuration such that everyone at the table could look out to the ocean.

Jenny and I both enjoyed the sugar beets and Belgian waffles (which had to be ordered), the latter of which came with fresh, airy whipped cream. The clam chowder was super-meaty--the best clam chowder I've had in years. The eggs florentine also turned out well.

As far as seafood, just about everything was as it should be, except the crab, which didn't taste quite right. Jenny agreed. To me it tasted very bitter and I couldn't go on. The shrimp were sweet, though, and were worth the trouble of peeling them.

If I'd had any more stomach room, I would have gone back for the roast beef. Fresh slabs just kept coming in throughout the buffet. It went superbly with their horse radish.

The dessert bar featured a chocolate fountain, though the kids surprisingly didn't finish what they took (I had to). The carrot cake was perhaps the best of the lot.

There were three seatings: 9:30, 11:30 and 1:30. I understand how this helps the restaurant for planning purposes, but the downside is everyone crashes the buffet line at once.

I enjoyed the buffet and had a great time with my family. That said, except for perhaps the clam chowder, nothing stood out. Though the kids couldn't keep their hands off the chocolate croissants, Moonraker didn't have the must-have dish that will reel us back.

105 Rockaway Beach Ave
Pacifica, CA 94044
(650) 557-7025

Saturday, June 15, 2013

GuoCui--Cupertino, CA

Stewed beef cubes, "dry", with noodles
We recently ate at GuoCui in Cupertino on a Saturday night with my dad. The food was good and the service very friendly--about as friendly as it gets, in fact. We asked the boys to have the boys split one entree, but they ended up giving the boys each their full complement of sides; they split only the main course.

Getting to know how and what to order wasn't a straightforward process, but you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. One chooses either a soup or a "dry" (which is actually a little soupy) entree and "profile", three of which are spicy and one non-spicy "original". I'd give the spiciness level about a six out of ten.

The sides that come with each main course
I got the seafood dish, which in retrospect didn't really suit my mood. Namely, the shrimp weren't peeled and it wasn't appealing for me to de-shell a hot wet shrimp.
The boys liked their dish (stewed beef cubes), though, especially the chewy noodles. We found out mid-way through dinner that the boys weren't really full and wanted more noodles. So, the staff gave them some more noodles on the house (!). Jenny went with the braised beef. She liked it but wasn't wowed. For a hot Asian soup, she prefers Wuji's Mala House in San Jose.

Braised beef
Just when we thought they couldn't have been more hospitable, they gave us a packet of Chinese cut-outs.
Seafood entree

We left a little regretfully, though, as the restaurant was pretty empty even in the middle of dinner hour on a Saturday night. So, if you're hungry in Cupertino and don't want to wait, drop by GuoCui!

10619 S De Anza Blvd
CupertinoCA 95014
(408) 888-9333

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Parcel 104--Santa Clara, CA

Hardwood Grilled Dayboat Fish: Hebi  $29
I was treated to a business lunch at Parcel 104 yesterday and tried their hebi fish (or shortbill swordfish) after our server emphasized its freshness. He proudly noted that the fish was swimming one or two days earlier near Hawaii, caught by a fisherman contracted to Parcel 104, vacuum packed and shipped. The fish at Parcel 104 generally comes from the West Coast or Hawaii, but only very rarely--if ever--the East Coast.

Bowl of tomato soup with tiny grilled cheese sandwich  $9

Hebi has a consistency similar to tuna, but a stronger flavor, and I appreciated that it was served underdone. Two items accompanying the fish were cranberry beans and an avocado sauce. The combo definitely worked.

I started lunch with tomato soup. As mundane as it sounds, it was actually delicious, especially with the tiny grilled cheese sandwich, and the fact that it was served piping hot.

Fruit salad  $5

For fun, I had the fruit salad, which included cherries. Although it didn't stand out compared to my other two courses, it was perhaps the best value at $5 (still a pricey add-on for lunch, though).

Grilled hebi: Nicely underdone!
With Parcel 104 located in an industrial area, I can't help but think it caters to the business crowd (like Birk's) and their expense accounts. But, it nevertheless serves good food that would stand on its own anywhere.

Parcel 104
2700 Mission College Blvd
Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 970-6104

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Del Real Foods Giveaway! (CLOSED)

I'm excited to announce the first 4CHOW giveaway. As you may know from an earlier post, I'm a fan of the carnitas from Del Real Foods. Well, they've made available a party pack for one winner. It works like this:

1) Leave a comment saying what appeals to you most about the party pack from Del Real Foods by Sunday night June 16, 2013 at 11:59 pm Pacific. Please be sure your name (e.g. John D) is connected in some way with the comment so I can find you. Maximum one entry per person, please.

2) The comments will be numbered in the order they are received. I will then obtain a number from the True Random Number Generator at to determine the winner.
3) The winner will be announced Monday June 17 on this blog and will have one week to contact me at the contact email address at the top of this blog.

You can find out more about Del Real Foods and where to find their products at

That's it! Have fun and good luck.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sushi 85--Mountain View, CA

Curry salmon platter: This fish is drowning!

If you're in Mountain View near Grant and El Camino and in need of a good value in during the dinner rush hour, I'd like to recommend Sushi 85.

Edamame: Complimentary after the server spilled water on Dylan. They were served hot (and very tasty!).

Don't get me wrong. The quality there is never mind-blowing. However, they make that up with volume. And, there's almost always a table available, even at 7:00 on a Friday night.

Chicken teriyaki--prepare to take home leftovers!
Dinner tonight got off to an interesting start, as the server spilled ice water on Dylan. He took it like a champ (even said it was "cool") and they gave us edamame on the house.

Jenny thought her "cherry blossom" a bit bland. I had the curry salmon platter. If you get it, prepare for that salmon to be swimming--in curry sauce that is. They give you so much, in fact, they even give you a ladle. The curry was very mild.

Tonkatsu ramen bowl

Tyler got the ramen bowl, which was enormous. I'm proud that he was able to eat almost the whole thing--and he got every noodle.

We knew Dylan's teriyaki chicken would offer too much meat for him to handle. Just as well. The leftovers will be lunch tomorrow. The amount of meat on that plate has to be seen in person to be believed.

Cherry Blossom featuring tuna and salmon

Sushi 85
1350 Grant Rd #6
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 965-8898