Monday, December 29, 2014

Frozen Kuhsterd--SOMA Streat Food Park, San Francisco, CA

Yesterday afternoon we ate Frozen Kuhsterd's truck at the SOMA Streat Food Park and picked up two expensive sundaes. Dylan got a cupcake sundae, where he got to pick the cupcake, the flavor of ice cream and the topping. Shown above is guittard chocolate with a chocolate banana cupcake and chocolate topping (sense a theme here?).

Tyler got the s'mores sundae, which came with a choice of ice cream (chocolate again!). Both were rich and the kids finished every crumb of cracker, cake and marshmallow as well as every drop of ice cream and sauce. As the prices below indicate, though, the desserts didn't come cheaply--$13 for the pair.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Bourbon Pub--Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

This afternoon for a corporate event we went to Levi's Stadium and had lunch at Bourbon Pub, a Michael Mina restaurant.

Though the menu said we'd start with a Garden Kale Salad with dried cherries, we got something else: Arugula with pomegranate seeds with shaved bleu cheese. No matter, the salad was still good.

The 49ers Burger was so rare the cow was practically still alive. That turned off some, but I enjoyed it, as I like my beef bleeding. The strip of bacon added a much needed crunch to the sandwich. The accompanying fries had an amazing property: They stayed crisp for the duration of the lunch. I'm glad the server took them away, because I was well on my way to downing the whole basket myself.

We finished with cookies and brownies, which were soft and rich. It was a great way to end the lunch, though it was too heavy for us to finish up.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fuji Huoshao Dumpling--San Jose, CA

We just ate at Fuji Huoshao Dumpling tonight. Though it was our first time there, my older son said it's now his favorite restaurant. He doesn't say that very often.
Shredded potato

Huoshao Dumpling did indeed do everything well and if you're looking for great dumplings (soupy, skin with just the right chewy consistency yet not too thick, filling with just the right texture, etc.) without much fuss, this is your spot.

The Huoshao Dumplings, a signature dish ordered by every table in the room, arrived hot and fresh with a flakey crust and a thin slab of ground beef made up the filling.

What made both of  my kids like this restaurant the most, though, was the Shiitake Mushroom Noodle Soup. They especially enjoyed the noodles--they were good, but the broth was better.

The parents' favorite was the squash with egg. Not only was it appealing to the eyes, but it offered a delicate crunch. Besides, how often do you see this combination in a dumpling?

This location used to be the home of another dumpling restaurant, Xie Dumpling, but the management changed about five months ago.

Credit cards are accepted.

Fuji Huoshao Dumpling
6184 Bollinger Rd.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lemon Roasted Cod from Hello Fresh

Delivered to our door: Produce that came with the lemon roasted cod from Hello Fresh
Last month I purchased a short-term subscription from Hello Fresh. With a coupon and $90, we got three meals advertised to serve two people each (or six meals total). So, as an average, the lemon roasted cod was about $30.

The food for all three meals were delivered in one big box stuffed with ice packs. The food arrived on time and I even got a call from Hello Fresh to tell me my box arrived at my home and to answer any questions I had.

The biggest surprise for me and Jenny was the amount of time it took to prepare the food--especially when preparing the ratatouille. Though Jenny's fairly well experienced at cutting vegetables, I'm definitely a novice. Still, it took both of us working for nearly an hour to get everything prepared even though the meal was advertised to take about 30 minutes for one person.

After cutting the veggies, they go on a sheet and into the oven

Also, the cod was average, but helped a lot with some butter. That said, I have to say the ratatouille was the best I've ever had. While we cooked the food from Hello Fresh, the whole house filled with a delicious aroma--so much so that I was downright giddy.

Lemon roasted cod with ratatouille

Although I'm definitely happy with the purchase from Hello Fresh, a subscription isn't for everyone. This service is definitely targeted towards those who don't have the time to go to the market and come up with a suitable recipe. This still doesn't get around time needed for food prep, though, and for us that was the difficult hurdle to overcome. I do give credit to Hello Fresh for their customer service. I appreciated the phone call and that they make it very easy for the subscriber to cancel.

Hello Fresh

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stinky tofu from Mama Liu (food truck)

Last night we were introduced to both the Night Market at DeAnza College and stinky tofu. For all the talk about the fermented tofu and how delicious it can be, I have to say this one dish was not only a failure with us, but it pretty much ruined our Moveable Feast food truck experience.

I can't blame Mama Liu, who only served up what I ordered. The tofu cubes had the familiar hard shell and soft interior of fried tofu. Dominating the experience, though, was the odor. As such, I can't really tell you much about the flavor. Making matters far worse is the stink hangs around. It's in the aftertaste, it stays in your mouth seemingly forever and pervades through the house when you take it home (though I couldn't finish it at the market I took it home--I can never bring myself to throw food away).

At least I did better than Jenny, who couldn't bring herself to swallow the tofu. Afterwards we discussed what the stink was most similar to. We agreed it was a combination of smelly feet and rancid meat, but slightly closer to the latter.

As for the rest of the stinky tofu? I will finish this weekend what I started last night. But, for the first time in memory, I'm dreading an eating experience. Stinky tofu is that distinctive.

Mama Liu

Friday, October 31, 2014

Red Hot Wok--Cupertino, CA

Looking for some down-home Taiwanese food, we hit Red Hot Wok last weekend and it didn't disappoint.

The kids loved the "rice bowl with meat sauce", which was a steal at $5.95. We ordered two bowls. The pickled vegetables, common in Taiwanese dishes, was a great touch and I was surprised to see the nine-year old boys wolf everything down.

They didn't, however, take to the sha cha beef fried noodle, which they thought had a heavy curry flavor. Yes, it was a tad spicy, but I liked it and appreciated that the dish came with a lot of beef.

Much is said on the internet about the "three cup chicken". And, the flavor is great and the sauce goes well with rice. But, it's also very bony, and it takes a little work to get through.

My favorite? The shrimp cake, which came so loaded it was almost too rich. If you're into shrimp, I can't think of a dish that would be more for you.

The mango snow ice was popular with the boys largely because it was, well, dessert. I thought the shaved ice looked a little too much like shredded cheddar cheese for me to fully enjoy it. Dining is a visual experience, too.

Red Hot Wok
10074 East Estates Dr.
Cupertino, CA 94014
(408) 996-2999

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ambience--Los Altos, CA

Organic baby beets with foam, goat cheese and edible poppy pedals
The delightfulness of a several-course prix fixe menu, with an amuse bouche or two thrown in, is one gets surprised from one small plate to the next. Sure, the portions might be small, but even with a large portion, however great it may be, the novelty wears off after a bite or two. If this type of oh-my-goodness-what's-coming-next excitement is your cup of tea, Ambience might be for you. Such suspense won't come cheaply, however.

Add caption

Though at $145 per head (just for the prix fixe menu, not including drinks) dinner last night was about as expensive as it gets in downtown Los Altos, Jenny and I had a wonderful time and would strongly consider another visit.

Sea bass with dill sauce. The real feature of this dish is the yam on the left.
Jenny liked the lobster the most, and for good reason. The broth had infused lobster and I tried to spoon up every drop, even at the risk of bad table manners. The lobster was fresh and buttery. My sampling was slightly undercooked. The basmati rice underneath had a consistency of pudding.

Butter-poached lobster on basmati rice

Kobe beef tartare; the alternative on yhe menu is the squab, which was prepared like a rare steak--the bird was excellent!

From left to right: Purple potato, white radish, trumpet mushroom, venison
My favorite dishes were the read meats. The venison was butterknife tender, though the gamey flavor was strong. We paid $20 extra for the deer meat, but I liked the buffalo, which came standard, even more. The exterior of buffalo was sweet and in the mouth had a delightful texture.

Amuse bouche: Chicken pate with pear
Where Ambience didn't fare as well was the scallop, which was wonderful to look at, but underdone. Jenny and I couldn't figure out if this was intended, since it was so significantly undercooked it couldn't have been by accident--or so it seemed. What was clear to both of us, however, was the sea bass was an overdone fiasco. It was the most overcooked, roughest sea bass I've had in memory, in fact.

Chocolate mousse cake--it was as dense as fudge

The sea bass dish wasn't a total loss, however, for it came with a yam side that our server said was prepared implementing molecular gastronomy. In other words, the yam came in an egg-shaped bubble that was difficult to pierce and, when popped, liquid yam came spilling out. It was an intriguing little gem. The feat was replicated with a pearl in the grapefruit or peach consomme, sort of like the exploding bobas one gets as a topping for frozen yogurt.
Creme brulee. The sugar filament adorning the glass is edible. 
Ambience is perfect for couples to celebrate. It's quiet and you'll have little trouble finding a table. We got there at 5:30 and left at 8:00, so budget some time and relax. We counted only three other parties of two and the staff dispersed us so we felt like we had a room to ourselves.

Amuse bouche dessert. From left to right: Meyer lemon tart, macaron, raspberry tart, white chocolate and pecan pie
The service was friendly and met expectations.

132 State St.
Los Altos, CA 94022

Monday, October 13, 2014

Aidells chicken meatballs

Just when I was about to write a review for Aidells chicken teriyaki meatballs, I was dismayed to find out that our local Costco in Mountain View was no longer selling Aidells products. I hope this hiatus is only temporary. The boys and I love them! One of my favorite quickie snacks is made by taking four meatballs, throwing them in the microwave for 30 seconds and cutting them in halves to make a sandwich (for which I recommend torta bread).

Of course, they're meatballs. So, you can eat them any way you want!

Make sure you abide by the "Use or freeze by" date--Aidells means it. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Siggi's skyr

As any follower of this blog knows, we got back from Iceland last month. I continue to miss the long days, beautiful terrain and the clean air. But, as when it comes to food? It has got to be the skyr, a dairy product which has a consistency close to Greek yogurt but with a flavor that packs a punch. We first had skyr on our way to Iceland on the airplane and it was love at first taste. When we bid farewell to Reykjavic on our flight to Boston, I figured I was saying good-bye to skyr as well.

Sigi's vanilla skyr

Searching in vain for the creamy smooth consistency after returning to the states, I typed "" out of desperation. And, there it was: Siggi's to the rescue!

Though it had been a couple of weeks since I'd had the genuine article in Iceland, I have to say that Siggi's matches what I remember very well. The smooth, creamy texture and the rich flavor were all there. One hallmark of skyr in Iceland is the rich fruity flavor without fruit chunks. I don't know how it's done, but Siggi's pulled it off also with their blueberry, coconut and strawberry flavors. (If you're looking for chunks in your skyr, you can try their Peach flavor and Orange and Ginger.)

I recommend you give Siggi's skyr a shot, especially if you're a fan of Greek yogurt. Check out the Siggi's website for a full list of flavors and locations near you. Here in the Bay Area, I've had good luck with Whole Foods and Andronico's. Expect to pay about $2 for a 150 g (about 5 oz.) cup.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cheese Tamale by Del Real Foods

The cheese tamale by Del Real Foods, I noticed, receives high praise on the internet, as it should. The cornmeal shell is pillowy soft, giving the dish a creamy texture. And, the flavors from the cheese and the heat from the peppers are well balanced. Don't let the smallish size of the tamale fool you, either: Just one can fill you up for lunch.

Unlike some of Del Real's other offerings such as, say, their chicken dishes (e.g. Chipotle Chicken Tinga or Pollo Asado), I can't make the argument that the cheese tamales are particularly good for you. Just one tamale will give you half of your recommended allowance of saturated fat. However, if you accept the tamale for the treat that it is, you'll love it.

Not that one should tempt fate, but I can add that from prior experience the Del Real tamales stay edible well past the "Sell By" date. :)

I received the tamales in a complimentary Party in a Box from Del Real Foods.

Del Real Foods

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ribs with black vinegar

Last night I tried out a recipe I found on for ribs with black vinegar. I love how it turned out! My family tells me they enjoyed the ribs, too. I did take some shorcuts, though, because I was in a hurry. Instead of blanching for the four minutes recommended, I did so for eight minutes. I followed the frying time of five minutes, but I let it simmer for about half an hour instead of an hour. (So, yes, the ribs were cooked three times in three different ways.)

I can't wait to try it out again! The recipe is below:


  • 2 pounds pork spareribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • About 12 cups peanut or vegetable oil for frying, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons very thin matchsticks of peeled ginger
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese Shaoxing wine or medium-dry Sherry
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup Chinese black vinegar
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce


Blanch ribs in a 4-quart pot of boiling water 4 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Whisk 1/2 teaspoon salt into cornstarch in a large bowl. Add ribs and toss.
Heat 3 inches oil to 400°F in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot, then fry ribs (in batches if necessary) 5 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, shallot, and ginger, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring, until dissolved, about 1 minute. Add wine and boil 1 minute.
Add ribs with broth, vinegar, and soy sauce and simmer, covered, stirring and turning ribs occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour.
Transfer ribs to a platter. Boil sauce, whisking, until thickened and emulsified, about 2 minutes; pour over ribs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chipotle Chicken Tinga by Del Real Foods

We had the Chipotle Chicken Tinga by Del Real Foods for lunch Sunday. It was a part of the Summer Party in a Box provided gratis by Del Real Foods. All four of us enjoyed it and wished we could have had more. The dish is made with white meat, yet Del Real managed to make it tender.

Also, the sauce was perfect for our family. It was flavorful and spicy enough to be interesting--delicious even--but not too hot for the nine-year-old boys.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, Del Real's carnitas continues to have a hold over us for its flavor, value and ease of preparation. By those measures, however, I'd say their Chipotle Chicken Tinga is equally satisfying.

Del Real Foods