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Kyusu Burmese Cuisine, San Jose - anyone been?

I had dinner here today. This place is right around the corner from my son's daycare, can't believe I missed it! This one end of this bizarrely shaped strip mall (or trapezoid mall) is definitely the nexus of interesting ethnic food in my neighborhood, since it also contains the excellent Zeni Ethiopian and Dan Izakaya, about which I think I've heard good things.

I went on a culinary trip to Burma last year and what really impressed all of us on the tour was the variety of great vegetable salads. I think that more often than not the vegetables were cooked, and then tossed in this great little combo of shallot oil, fried garlic, and some kind of ground nuts... I forget. This restaurant does the little salads, and they're priced reasonably enough (most are about $6) that you don't have to feel like you're ordering another main course.

I was also really excited to see lots of Shan dishes, which I remembered from my trip and from Naomi Duguid's cookbook.

So I got pea shoot salad, green bean salad, Shan tofu (actually quite different from East Asian tofu) and Shan rice noodles. The pea shoot salad was probably my favorite, fresh pea shoots in a savory dressing. The green bean salad was also nice -- I'd say it only suffered from the rather lackluster American green beans. Shan tofu - I was expecting it to be warm but it was cold, and thus a bit firmer than I had expected. Still, nice flavors - there was some pickled mustard greens in there, I think. Shan rice noodles were kind of eh for me, but now that I think back, I think I had the same reaction to them in Burma.

A mixed bag, but one with great potential! I definitely want to go back and try more, especially the other salads and the Shan stuff.

Jul 17, 2014
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Liquid Bread Gastropub - Campbell - deserves a try

I had dinner here last night and was really impressed. I guess I don't expect anything amazing in the suburbs (and I live down the street from downtown Campbell), so it wasn't till I was walking away, and mentally reviewing my meal, that I realized that just about every course was unusual and delicious.

My friend and I split everything. We had pork belly, which was textbook. To me, the magical thing about pork belly is when it's cooked right, I actually want to eat the fat. I'm the kind of person who meticulously trims the fat off every pork chop and every steak, so that is no small statement. Here, the pork was tender, the fat meltingly so, and the whole perfectly crisped. The ginger (and apple?) sauce was a great match, and there were also small bits of apple and, I believe jicama (if not Asian pear, I don't recall).

We also had the same mussel-chorizo-octopus that bbulkow mentioned below. I was actually disappointed at first, because our mussels were not very good. My friend said she couldn't find any chorizo. But gradually it dawned on me that the broth was delicious. The udon noodles weren't mentioned on the menu, but I kept taking more of them because they had soaked in all this amazing broth. The, too, the bits of octopus were wonderfully crisped and tasty. So it was a mixed bag, but one with flavors I really enjoyed.

The one really meh dish was the kale salad - I think it was grilled or something. I think it would have been better raw. But it was fine.

For dessert, we had the cardamom chocolate brownie. I am a cardamom freak and I find that most things that say they have cardamom have a really mild taste of it. The cardamom flavor here was intense, and it went really well with the chocolate and the coffee. You could tell that the cardamom was freshly ground from the pod, not pre-ground - it was intensely aromatic and mixed with the gritty coffee grounds that topped the whipped cream. The brownie was warm and just a little gooey in the center.

I'm really excited to try this place again. Unlike bbulkow, I do really like Naschmarkt - it's good to have a nice, modern-feeling restaurant, and I don't consider it stuffy - but I'm really happy to find such creativity right here in my neighborhood.

Wading through South Bay's great Indian restaurants

My fave for South Indian is Komala Vilas, which I don't see mentioned here. I think their vadai (savory doughnuts) are particularly strong; the idli are a bit wet.

I've also been a fan of Taste Buds since it was much tinier. I loved the lunchtime buffet, which had a lot of unusual vegetable dishes, even beyond the gongura. The flavors were really distinct and vivid, and not just in a spicy way (though I love spicy). I've only eaten at the new incarnation once, but I still thought it was great, even saag paneer, which is a northern dish and I had the impression their roots are more southern.

Not a big fan of Madras Cafe, unlike some others. I went there right after visiting Chennai and found the sauces kind of blah. My friend who lives in Chennai went there when she was in town and said her masala dosa had some undercooked potato in it! Their coffee was really underwhelming too.

There are so many interesting-looking places on El Camino Real, though, I hope peopel report more!

Oh and btw re: Peacock, the restaurant may be closed but they have a food truck - I saw it outside my office today!

Dec 18, 2013
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Roast Dungeness crab with garlic noodles: PPQ, Lotus or other? [San Francisco]

Update: We went to PPQ and it was excellent. I was apprehensive as we waited, since we went at an off time (2pm) and the restaurant was pretty empty. The crabs in the tank did not look that lively, although my friend hypothesized that they might be keeping the water extra cold. But as we waited, a guy came in wheeling a delivery: boxes and boxes of crabs! As they added the new ones in the tank, the crabs stepped lively. And when we got our order (we did the set menu, with cabbage salad, spring rolls, roast crab and garlic noodles), the crab was delicious, sweet and perfectly cooked. I've heard the pepper crab is good also - too bad it's not on the set menu!

Dec 18, 2013
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Roast Dungeness crab with garlic noodles: PPQ, Lotus or other? [San Francisco]

My impression (without having visited) was that there were better and cheaper options than Crustacean and Thanh Long, of which PPQ was one of the foremost when I went. Glad to hear there's been at least one good recent experience.

Dec 05, 2013
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Roast Dungeness crab with garlic noodles: PPQ, Lotus or other? [San Francisco]

It's been a while since I've had this delectable specialty, and I don't see any recent reports. PPQ was where I went years ago - not sure if it's still good? I saw reports that Lotus was even better, but those aren't recent either. Recs?

Dec 05, 2013
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

A brief note about Jang Su Jang - naeng myun and more [Santa Clara]

My ex, who's Korean American, works for Samsung and says their recruiters love this upscale BBQ joint. On a recent scorching Saturday I had a craving for mul naeng myun, cold noodles in broth, and it turned out my favorite place had closed, so I headed here. (BBQ and naeng myun traditionally go together.)

Jang Su Jang is a sleek place with grill and non-grill tables. The menu is broad, with naeng myun, stews, BBQ and currently, a special on samgyetang, stewed Cornish hen with ginseng and sweet sticky rice.

The BBQ smelled delicious and I would have loved a combo, but they don't offer one on weekends and it would have been another $20 for BBQ so I passed. But I was quite pleasantly surprised by the naeng myun. The beef broth was very flavorful (you add a squirt of vinegar and mustard to perk it up) and, more significantly, the slices of pressed boiled beef were actually good. This is typically the same beef used to make the broth and almost inevitably is tasteless and rubbery. Here, they didn't completely cook the flavor out and it also retained a bit of texture. Very nice.

Jang Su Jang
3561 El Camino Real #10, Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 246-1212
http://www.jangsujang.com/

Jun 13, 2013
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Sichuan Chowdown at Mandarin Gourmet Palo Alto

I really enjoyed all the appetizers but it seems my palate is not as discerning as others' - the saucing all seemed really similar to me. Maybe because it all got mixed up on my plate!

Dan dan noodles were really good, and I actually liked the cabbage just as contrast, although it wasn't as wok-charred as I remember from China Village.

Baby cuttlefish were really disappointing, they were really chewy.

Loved the cumin lamb though - those little bits of lamb were just scrumptious.

Thanks for organizing, Melanie! I like the idea of moving on to Korean chowdowns. :-)

May 16, 2013
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Housemade flour tortillas at Alicia's in Cambrian Park, San Jose

Usually I don't care for flour tortillas -- bland, pasty things -- but Rick Bayless' description of the glories of a simple quesadilla with fresh flour tortillas and Chihuahuan cheese in Saveur a few months ago got my mouth watering. So when I saw the sign at Alicia's restaurant (in the Cambrian Plaza shopping center) indicating that they made their flour tortillas in-house, I was intrigued. Last week, I finally stopped by for dinner with a friend and our kids.

It's a good-sized restaurant with two rooms and a full bar - in summer, they have outdoor tables in the courtyard, complete with Dos Equis sunbrellas. Yes, it screams "gringo paradise."

But the house salsa that came with the chips was very flavorful, and the tortillas -- which somehow came ahead of the dish they were accompanying -- were outstanding. There were scorch marks from the griddle, and they had wonderful chew -- it was a marvel just to tear off a piece from the whole. Oddly, the corn tortillas are the supermarket variety.

I think it'll take some poking around to find the other specialties here. We had camarones al mojo de ajo, which came buried in a heap of sliced onions and bell peppers. It was just ok, but my son likes shrimp so he devoured it. With Rick Bayless in mind, I ordered a quesadilla. It was very good, but I definitely appreciated the flour tortillas more on their own. I also had albondigas. The beef meatballs were fine-grained and tender (although I didn't see any rice inside), but the soup was greasy.

Basically, the food was like an average Mexican American place, nothing like the artisanal fare just down the street at Tu Mero Mole (where you can get handmade corn tortillas!). But I'll be back, eventually, for those flour tortillas. With something.

Alicia's: http://www.aliciasrestaurant.com/
Tu Mero Mole: https://plus.google.com/1080136244142...

Dec 01, 2012
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Candy Darling

I just had brunch at Canteen on Saturday with a friend from out of town and afterward we stopped by Candy Darling to pick up a sweet treat for her husband. The place looks new, although I see a post recommending it for peanut brittle from December (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751670). It looked like they hadn't fully moved in, though - cardboard boxes stacked here and there. The space is mostly dominated by the workspace behind the counter; the glass display itself has a modest array of truffles, peanut butter cups, English toffee and some luscious looking caramels - sea salt and vanilla. On the side are hard candies in bulk.

One or two older ladies there seemed to be running the show along with a couple more staff. My friend got some of the peanut butter cups for her husband, and treated me to some English toffee. The lady threw in a truffle for my son. I really wanted the caramel but didn't want to say so to my friend, so I stopped by on my way back to my car after we parted ways. They were closed! It was just before noon.

The English toffee was delicious, tender-brittle in that way it's supposed to be. I didn't try the truffle till the next day (saving half for my son, who doesn't need that much choco anyway). The ganache inside was creamy enough, but lacked that touch of bitterness that I look forward to in a dark chocolate truffle, and it clearly wasn't milk chocolate.

I definitely want to try some of those caramels, though.

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Candy Darling
798 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA

Feb 27, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Good immersion blender for around $100?

OK, I *just* used my blender to puree some soup and realized I got something completely wrong! It's not the on/off button that's hard to use - it's the button that detaches the top that has the motor from the bottom, with the blade. My previous immersion blender was one piece, so I wasn't used to this. It's just a bit awkward, but not that big a deal.

Feb 25, 2011
Cicely in Cookware

Good immersion blender for around $100?

I picked this up at Costco as well. To be clear, it's $40 for one unit, which includes attachments like mini prep bowl ( warning - blades VERY sharp) and whisk. I like the prep bowl attachment; the immersion blender works very well but is loud (I think either Cooks' Illustrated or Consumer Reports where I read a review, mentioned this - it was ranked #2 but #1 was significantly more expensive) and the button is slightly awkward. I had a Krups or a Braun for years, and it had a big button that was very easy to press. This one is small and kind of difficult. Still, it was a great deal. Haven't used the whisk attachment yet but there doesn't seem to be much mystery to that.

Feb 23, 2011
Cicely in Cookware

Recent Visit to Taste Buds in Sunnyvale

On Grape opposite the car wash? No confusion - I tried to make it there for a late lunch last week, but just missed their lunch hours. Maybe they took brains off the menu.

Feb 16, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Recent Visit to Taste Buds in Sunnyvale

Did you order off the menu or dine from the buffet? I've had the buffet several times and agree - the flavors are brighter and more interesting, with some unusual vegetable dishes, than most steam-table joints (and the bar in Sunnyvale is pretty high). But once I ordered takeout and was disappointed. At the time (a year or so ago) I assumed that what we ordered wasn't their specialty, but I think we might have gotten just what you did (I can never resist saag paneer, and I think my husband got chicken tikka masala as well).

I have wanted to go and eat in for dinner to try the masala brains.

Feb 10, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Beer stores on the Peninsula

I was just researching where to get Pliny the Elder near me (San Jose/Campbell) and according to their brewery's website Whole Foods in Campbell has it, which I felt was a promising sign. Hopefully their selection hasn't been affected as well.

Feb 10, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Ephesus (Mediterranean cuisine), Mtn View

Adana kebab is supposed to be a bit spicy. Was it?

Feb 10, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Get ‘Em Before They’re Gone: Sfogliatelle at Cosentino’s in San Jose

Yep, I went today and was able to score one. However, I wasn't as enthusiastic about this as others. I found the pastry (and I got the large size; there was no other at midday) flaky, yet kind of tough, and the filling unappealingly dense. Re-reading Melanie's post, I'd agree with the description of "gummy, pudding-cake texture" ... but with a completely different reaction! However, I didn't follow her tip of re-heating in the oven.

Strangely, although I was under the impression that these were made in-house, the young woman at the bakery counter told me they were shipped out from "back East"!

Feb 01, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Cosentinos Market, San Jose- Closing!

I heard the same at the story today. As a local resident, I'm relieved, but bargain hunters should note that this means the liquidation sale is over.

Feb 01, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Get ‘Em Before They’re Gone: Sfogliatelle at Cosentino’s in San Jose

Sadly, I never got to try these - stopped by Friday afternoon, they were all out; made it back Monday mid-morning and didn't see them; when I didn't see them this morning at opening, I inquired and was told that they had run out of some of the ingredients, and since the store is closing, didn't bother to restock, so they won't be making them any more.

Jan 18, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Cosentinos Market, San Jose- Closing!

No!! I totally count on them for meats.

Jan 12, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Moles on the Peninsula?

This is one of those posts that is bound for disappointment, as Moles la Tia is exceptional even in Southern California - excellent traditional moles, plus creative modern ones. Don't expect to find anything like it here; I haven't even tried. I've been impressed by the fresh flavors at Tu Mero mole, in my neighborhood, but despite the name it's not a mole specialist and I haven't gotten around to trying their mole (poblano, I think) yet, although everything else has been good. I should really get over to Juquilita.

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Juquilita Restaurant
577 W Alma Ave, San Jose, CA 95125

Tu Mero Mole
2041 Woodard Rd, San Jose, CA 95124

Jan 06, 2011
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Great Clean place for Mole, Cabrito and Yucatan food in West San Jose

Update: The "cochinita yucateca" is not the cooked-in-a-banana-leaf cochinita pibil. It's chunks of pork smothered in a distinctly tangy chile sauce - also delicious.

Dec 23, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Napoletana Pizzeria, Mountain View

Oh, Cafe Mazeh! :-( I used to live in the neighborhood and it was such a nice mom and pop restaurant. Sad - but I do agree that MV is badly in need of good - or even decent! - pizza.

Dec 22, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Bonchon chicken in Sunnyvale (Korean fried chicken)

so weird, our wings were huge like Frankenchickens.

Dec 16, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Bonchon chicken in Sunnyvale (Korean fried chicken)

I've had 99 Chicken too but did not like it. I wish I could recall more clearly what turned me off. I think the spicy wings were a bit too vinegary (I found the same thing with Bonchon's hot wings in LA, so I avoided them here).

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99 Chicken
2781 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

Bon Chon
572 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Dec 16, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Bonchon chicken in Sunnyvale (Korean fried chicken)

I just refreshed my memory by glancing at the menu - they also have fries, sweet potato fries, zucchini fries and potstickers as apps; a variety of salads including Caesar, balsamic, and chicken/sesame ginger tofu salad; chicken/pork katsu (cutlets); and beer and soju (which you can also get mixed with peach yogurt??) as well as soda. For dessert, there's green tea or vanilla ice cream, or fudge brownies.

Dec 15, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Bonchon chicken in Sunnyvale (Korean fried chicken)

I'm really surprised that no one else has mentioned this place, what with the craze over Korean fried chicken (or is that so 2009?). I discovered an outpost of Bonchon, one of the two Korean fried-chicken chains that have expanded to the U.S., when I caught sight of the sign while driving down El Camino Real a week ago. My boss in Sunnyvale says it's been there for a while, but I'm not sure how long that means and I forgot to ask our server.

Tried it a week or so ago with my husband. We've eaten at Bonchon in LA, although our usual favorite is Kyochon. Bonchon's fried chicken wings were about the same as LA Bonchon's, as far as I can remember, with that signature Korean-fried crispness. They say their basic flavor (the pieces are brushed with sauce) is soy garlic, but to my mind it tastes like neither - there's just a touch of sweetness, like from honey. The taste is definitely distinct from American-style fried chicken, but subtle. The only thing that threw me was that the wings were bizarrely large and kind of smooth rather than knobbly the way chicken wings usually are. I thought they might be battered, unlike most KFC, but that wasn't the case either.

The menu also has some rice-bowl combos and Korean tacos. We got an order of bulgogi rice for our kid. It's fine for someone who doesn't want to eat fried chicken.

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Bon Chon
572 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Dec 15, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

Crispy, Buttery Almond Croissants in Saratoga!

Wrong place is autolinked.

http://www.chow.com/restaurants/92029...

Dec 09, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

GOOD Cuban or Jamaican Restaurants in SF/East Bay? Do they exist?

Hmm, I lived in LA for many years and I wouldn't call Cuban food a particular strength down there - most people gravitate to Versailles, a rather mediocre place that is NOT related to the Versailles in Miami. However, I did really like El Cochinito, in Silver Lake, for their lechon, and it's definitely worth it to stock up on Cuban bread/crackers at Porto's Bakery, which is located close to the Burbank airport.

Dec 02, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area

snout-to-tail + michelin ranked burgers: on the peninsula

OK, I tried the Tootsie's burger and was seriously underwhelmed. Olives and oregano, duly noted, but the patty was relatively thin and on the dry side. Edible, but not compelling - I left about 30% of it behind. On the plus side, fries were delicious - thin and crispy, with a sprinkling of coarse salt.

Dec 01, 2010
Cicely in San Francisco Bay Area