Friday, June 27, 2014

Deep fried watermelon

Today at the Alameda County Fair the twins and I shared a deep fried watermelon. Even though I'd skipped lunch, it was past 3:00 pm and I shared with two nine-year-olds, the concoction still filled me up. The watermelon was sweet and juicy, but the main attraction for the boys was the deep fried coating with its sweet red sauce.

The rind was deep fried as well, though I don't think it was meant to be eaten (believe me, I tried). However, the boys managed to eat all of the fried batter around it.

I liked the dessert for its novelty. If I try a deep-fried dessert at a fair again, it would be something else. For example, I found the deep fried Nutella intriguing!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pampas--Palo Alto, CA

With my wife knowing I love meat and buffets, she picked the perfect spot to celebrate Father's Day. I celebrated my 40th birthday at Pampas and it was also one of the first five restaurants I ever reviewed. Yet, it had been nearly six years since I’d eaten there.

Pampas did not disappoint! This restaurant features Brazilian barbecue (except at certain times, such as lunch on weekdays), where you place a button green side facing upwards to indicate you want skewers of meat delivered to your table. Finally, there will come a point where you just can’t take any more, so you flip the button to the red, which means you’re crying “Uncle!” and the bill will arrive at your table. 

Though the skewered meats are what set this restaurant apart from other, their salad bar is almost as important. The vegetables, so delicious, crisp and fresh are beautifully displayed. The granola, slightly sweet, is made in-house. What really grabbed me, though, was the coconut couscous, which served cold with raisins, was almost like a dessert pudding. In fact, I made it my dessert along with the yogurt and berries, which were constantly refreshed.

The list of meats can be seen in the menu below, but what stood out was the filet mignon and the tenderloin. The pork and the chicken were tender, but the beef—so juicy and flavorful—was irresistible. Making a great steak taste even better was the sauce delivered to the table featuring Tamron and chipotle. Sure, it was a little spicy, but it made a terrific combination with the beef and lamb.

The service was exceptional. Virtually everyone stopping by our table, the waiter included, wore a smile and was patient with the kids. 

529 Alma St.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 327-1323

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cream--Palo Alto, CA

Having finished a piano lesson in Palo Alto, we recently went to nearby downtown PA for dessert at Cream. What makes Cream stand out are their ice cream sandwiches made with freshly baked cookies. The older brother had the mint chocolate chip ice cream with an M&M cookie (above), while the younger one had the mint chocolate chip with chocolate chip cookie.

Jenny and I shared the turtle cookie with banana fudge walnut (below). The banana stood out. Across all desserts, what stood out most was the cookies were hot and fresh out of the oven. Yet, the ice cream didn't melt so fast that you had to hurry.

With the line out the door and along the street in the mid-afternoon, Cream could have charged a lot, but they didn't. For $3, you'll get two cookies and a scoop of ice cream. For the same price you'd get just the ice cream (well, slightly more than a scoop) at Baskin Robbins.

That said, the kids liked Baskin Robbins more, as they thought eating the sandwich was too much of a challenge. Their desserts did get a bit messy. Jenny and I, meanwhile, thought the sandwiches sweet. We definitely needed tea or water, but that's what partly what ice cream is about.

440 University Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cooking Papa--Mountain View, CA

Sauteed Beef Fillet with Assorted Mushrooms

A few summers ago I was asked where I'd like to have my birthday dinner. I could have chosen any spot in the Bay Area and I picked Cooking Papa in Santa Clara. The variety, the lightning fast delivery to your table, the piping hot food and of course those egg puffs were an irresistible combination.

Fook-Kin Fried Rice

It was with excitement, then, that we tried Sunday the newly opened Cooking Papa in Mountain View neear El Monte and El Camino, only a few minutes from home. We ordered some staples, such as the Fook-Kin Fried Rice (above), Sauteed Beef Fillet with Assorted Mushrooms (top) and the Papa Roasted Chicken.

Chow Fun with Scrambled Eggs and Shrimp

For the kids, we got the Chow Fun with Scrambled Eggs and Shrimp. And, with my dad and the kids at the table, Cooking Papa's patented Hong Kong Style Egg Puffs were a must. Warm, soft, fluffy, airy and eggy, they didn't disappoint!

Papa Roasted Chicken (half)
The food was good and is worthy of the Cooking Papa we'd gone to so often in Santa Clara. That said, the Santa Clara location delivered food that was just a little bit better. The dishes were slightly hotter (in temperature), the roasted chicken skin was a tad more crisp and the puffs were fresher out of the oven. I associate these issues with the steep learning curve involved with opening a new (and very, very busy) restaurant. The service was reasonably attentive--when my dad dropped his chopsticks on the floor, another pair came to our table without us even asking. However, they didn't refill the water.

Hong Kong Style Egg Puffs

Cooking Papa
1962 W El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 988-6809