Archive for February, 2011

Feb 28

Good ol’ Comfort Food at Town Hall

Located in the historic Meco building, Town Hall features a warm and chic space featuring brick walls and stunning chandeliers! I’ve loved Town Hall since they opened and I think this was my 5th time dining here.  Everytime I’ve been here, I’ve enjoyed the service, the ambiance and most importantly, the comfort food.  So when we were invited to dinner here, we simply couldn’t resist!

We started off with appetizers to share, and instead of ordering what they featured as their starters, we requested to share the sides which they were happy to accommodate.  We got the jalapeño cornbread , smoked andouille jambalaya, roasted brussels sprouts and baked macaroni and cheese. I have to admit, I liked them all! The cornbread was small and tasty, the jambalaya had a perfect hint of spice, the brussels sprouts were perfectly cooked and the macaroni and cheese was creamy and cheesy.

Everyone ordered something different, from Seafood étouffée, Buttermilk fried chicken, House smoked St. Louis ribs to Natural beef short rib and grilled hangar steak.  I tried a little taste of everyone’s except the beef. I thought the seafood étouffée, which I learned is served similar as a stew, offered a smoky flavor, it was very good. The buttermilk fried chicken was definitely good, you can’t really go wrong with fried food but really, they seriously use some secret batter.  The house smoked St. Louis ribs were very flavorful and came right off the bone. I myself ordered the Beeler Farm’s pork tenderloin and belly,  served with Meyer lemon marmalade and lemon thyme jus. The pork tenderloin was wrapped with bacon and oh so tender and moist, and the pork belly melted like butter. I really enjoyed the lemon flavors and I really liked combining the chewy Meyer lemon marmalade with the pork belly!

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Feb 28

Little Sheep is the Best on Those Cooold Nights

Last week we wanted to get some ramen at Ramen Dojo. But of course, no surprise, the line was super long and we really didn’t want to be behind 20 people or so! Luckily, there are many other restaurants in the area…so we decided to go to Little Sheep instead! It was a Friday night, so yes, there was a wait, but we were lucky that it only took about 15 minutes or so. Once you walk in, you will smell fumes of hot pot and lamb. So if you go, don’t wear anything you really care about because the smell will definitely stick!

I love Little Sheep, the Half and Half Soup Base, one side Spicy and the other side Original, both offering Chinese herbs is oh so delicious! We almost always order the same ingredients,  the Supreme Lamb Shoulder Slice, Premium Beef Slice, Cuttlefish Paste, Watercress, Sliced Daikons, Tofu Combo Platter, Shiitake Mushrooms, Taro Vermicelli Knots and Udon Noodles.  And of course we have to add the yummy Leek Flower Dipping Sauce! There are so many things to choose from on their menu, but my favorite is definitely the Cuttlefish Paste, if you go, you must try it! Eat slow, relax and enjoy!

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Feb 27

A New Concept for Pretzels, Pretzel Crisps

The other day, a nice lady stopped by our office and dropped off some Pretzel Crisps! She was marketing their line of Pretzel Crisps to our company to sell to our clientele and we were more than happy to test them out!

I got to try 9 flavors from their Deli Style and Modern Classics.  Imagine regular pretzel chips flattened with flavors.  They are considered healthy chips, with less calories, baked and does not contain trans or saturated fats!  While I was enjoying them, I realized that some of the flavors were much stronger than others so I put them from the least amount of flavor to the most so that our palates weren’t getting ruined.  Out of the 9 flavors, I enjoyed the ‘Everything’ which reminded me of an Everything bagel; the ‘Garlic Parmesan’ offering a light taste of flavors; the ‘Buffalo Wing’ offering a very light spicy flavor and the ‘Tuscan Three Cheese’ offering a very light cheesy flavor. I thought these crispy Pretzels were good, but I can’t say I got completely addicted.  But, for those who do enjoy pretzels, I think you will enjoy this healthy new concept!

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Feb 21

Simplicity is Key, Brining Pork Chops

For dinner, I decided to brine some pork chops again! First step, get a big bowl that is big enough for the pork chops and liquid that will cover above the pork chops.  This time, I added ice and water in the bowl,  I then put the pork chops in the bowl and added more cold water to it, enough water to cover above the pork chops. I then added lots of sea salt, crushed peppercorns,  a dash of dried thyme, a dash of dried sage, a dash of dried rosemary, 2 bay leaves, slices of one lemon, slices of clementine orange and a few pieces of crushed garlic!  Lastly, cover the bowl and leave it in the refrigerator overnight!  On the next day, fry those pork chops up and you will smell and taste the aromas!

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Feb 15

Simply Amazing, Nosh This

Over the weekend, my sister gave me two pieces of chocolates. She let me know she got it from a place in the Mission District, and that it was a piece of bacon chocolate and a piece of sea salt caramel chocolate.  My reply “Bacon Chocolate?”  She told me it was good and I had to try it.

I took it home and finally tried it yesterday. Yes, believe it or not, I didn’t just eat it immediately! I admit, I like chocolate, but I don’t love chocolate, so yes…chocolate can be lying all over my house and I wouldn’t have to eat it! But, my sister being my sister, a food lover, I had a feeling that there must be something special about these. So I opened the bacon chocolate and OMG, WOW…I was blown away! I wanted to save a bite for my husband but I couldn’t stop eating it, and the next thing I knew, it was gone! Afterward, I tried the sea salt caramel, WHOA, this isn’t just sea salt, there’s something else in this!

While I was devouring them, I went to the site, Nosh This, luckily there was a sticker on the package so that I could find where these were from! Turns out the bacon chocolate had a special name to it, the  “Bacon Crack”…Chocolate-Dipped featuring Bacon and Butter Toffee with Almonds! Oh my! And the sea salt caramel was the Black Peppercorn, Fleur de Sel Salted Caramel! I knew there was a spice to the flavor!

And today, I found myself talking about this “Bacon Crack” with all my colleagues at work! I emailed Nosh This and got in contact with Kai, the creator of this amazing concept!  He is actually delivery some “Bacon Crack” to us tomorrow! For those who would like to try this, he is located at 20th and Valencia on Mondays and Fridays (weather dependent)! He can also deliver or ship to you!

THIS IS A MUST TRY!

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Feb 12

Izakaya at Kasumi

Last night I had catch up dinner with a few friends! We decided to try Kasumi since some of us have never tried it and heard that it was pretty good. And after reading some yelp reviews, we thought it was worth checking out.  It was a Friday night so I had made reservations, but when we got there, I realized that reservations were unnecessary, the place was pretty slow and quiet. The space featured comfortable earth tones  furnishings.  When you look at the ‘Specials Menu’, some of the dishes do not specify how many  people the dish serves, so I recommend asking, we actually went through the entire menu with the server who was very attentive and sweet. She actually gave us some great suggestions, everything she suggested were very good.

I have to admit, I feel like we were the guinea pigs trying out everything on their menu, we ate a lot!  We ordered the  following skewers (2 skewers per order): Enoki wrapped with Bacon, Quail Egg wrapped with Bacon (Uzura), Pork Cheek (Tontoro), Beef Tongue (Gyutan), American Style Kobe Beef, Meatball (Tsukune) and Chicken Skin (Kawa). For the  small plates to share, we ordered: the Deep Fried Octopus (Geso Age), Capelin Smelt (Shishamo Age), Hama-Chile (Yellowtail Sashimi), Beef Tataki (Seared American Kobe with Ponzu and Fried Shallots) and the Potato Croquette. For our individual plates, we ordered: the Seafood Chawan-Mushi, Spoon of Power (Uni, Uzura, Tobiko, Negi, Kaiware, Ponzu) and Tag-Team (Pan Seared Scallop with Uni Sauce and Ankimo with Ponzu).  Ummm, yes, we ordered a lot!

Dishes we really enjoyed (the dishes that made our eye pop out and say “wow, this is good!”): American Style Kobe Beef skewer was fatty, tender and juicy, Beef Tataki which is Seared American Kobe offered tender meat and great flavors!

Dishes that we thought were good but not great (the dishes that made us say “yeah, that was okay, that was good”): Enoki wrapped with Bacon featured crunchy Enokis, Quail Egg wrapped with Bacon was an interesting concept, Beef Tongue was tender, Deep Fried Octopus was fried and salted well, Hama-Chile was fresh but nothing too spectacular, Spoon of Power was not bad but I thought I tasted more Ponzu than anything and I didn’t personally order the Tag-Team but heard that the Ankimo served was not that smooth.

Dishes that we thought were not that great (the dishes that made us say “that was not impressive”): Chicken Skin was bad and all we tasted was the grill. We found ourselves dipping it into sauces just to force ourselves to eat it. But, the biggest disappointment of the night was the Seafood Chawan-Mushi! We read really good yelp reviews and saw the pictures on yelp for this one popular dish! This was one of the reasons some of us wanted to try Kasumi. When we got it, it looked like the picture, but when we tasted it, it was not salty enough, pretty much flavorless, all of us had to put soy sauce into the steamed egg.  It was not impressive at all!

Would I go back? Maybe only for the dishes I enjoyed but sadly there are not enough reasons for me to return unless I wanted to do all you can drink beer and sake at just $15.00!  Maybe I just expected too much.

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Feb 09

Homemade Korean Food by My Favorite Korean Mom

Last week, on Chinese New Year’s, my BFF was back in town for one day and we hung out with her mom in the morning for some Junior’s Cheesecake and coffee. While we were devouring the cheesecake, she let me know that she had some Korean Pancakes for me to take home! I was so giddy and started to talk about how I loved her Kimchi and yes…she decided to give me a tupperware of Homemade Kimchi too! It was truly my lucky day!

So for dinner last night, I decided to fry up the Korean Pancakes made with love in mung bean! I also made a Korean Soondubu Kimchi Jjigae, Spicy Soft Tofu & Kimchi Soup, which I have a simple recipe for. I already had a jar of Kimchi from the market so I used that for the soup, I didn’t want to waste the Homemade Kimchi for my soup of course!  Last but not least,  I made some rice to go with the Homemade Kimchi and spicy soup! My hubby and I were extremely happy with our simple Korean dinner, my favorite Korean mom put smiles on our faces! Food this good is never served at a restaurant, only mom’s know how to preserve the traditional and best recipes!

If you ever want to make Soondubu Kimchi Jjigae at home, here’s my simple recipe:

* Pot of Water, bring to a boil (I usually just make a small pot)

* Add one cube of Chicken Bouillon

* Add one container of Soft Tofu, chopped into cubes

* Add Kimchi, I usually add as much as I want

* Add about 1.5-2 Tablespoons of Hot Pepper Paste (can be purchased at any Korean market, I have a container from the Kukje Market which I just keep in the fridge), I usually taste as I add since it can be quite spicy

* If you like, you can add 0.5-1 teaspoon of Sesame Oil

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Feb 05

Fresh Seafood at Princeton Seafood Company in Half Moon Bay

Today was a beautiful sunny day in the Bay Area, it’s hard to believe how gorgeous the weather’s been since it is February. The Bay Area is so blessed with this warm weather while the Midwest and East Coast are suffering the cold winter and snowstorms.  So today we decided to take a drive to enjoy lunch in Half Moon Bay.   We yelped a few restaurants and there are many along the beach but most of them had mediocre food reviews.  Every review talked about the amazing beach views but mentioned how the food was not that great.  We’ve tried the popular Sam’s Chowder House in the past, but we didn’t love it.  I then came upon the review for Princeton Seafood Company, everyone talked about their Clam Chowder and how the food was good, so we made the decision to try it out. When we got there, it was busy but the wait was not too long,  they offer indoor and outdoor seating.  The only thing you won’t get here is the beach view since it is located along the Pillar Point Harbor.

The ambiance is quaint and traditional and the service was very friendly. We ordered a bowl of Clam Chowder, Shrimp and Crab Louis, half dozen of Oysters on the Half Shell and the Petite Salmon Fish & Chips!  When we got the half dozen of Oysters on the Half Shell, we noticed that they were the plump and big ones, sometimes these are not as good as the little oysters, but they were surprisingly fresh and sweet!  The Shrimp and Crab Louis was also very fresh, the crab meat was just perfect! And of course everyone who has reviewed their Clam Chowder were not kidding, their hearty chowder was full of clams and oh so good! When we got the Petite Salmon Fish & Chips, we thought they were going to be small pieces of salmon, but instead they were bigger than expected. Everything we ordered was a surprise, we enjoyed every dish and finished everything on our bowl and plates!  We will definitely return to this homey restaurant!

After lunch, we decided to take a stroll along the Pillar Point Harbor to walk off everything we devoured.  I loved seeing the harbor, the sparkling water and the boats. A few of the boats were also selling fresh crab!

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Feb 04

Chinese New Year’s and My Birthday

This year, my birthday landed on Chinese New Year’s! So, I took a day off from work for both reasons! After all the stress from my real job, I’m glad I took the day off, I really needed it. The New Year started with lots of good fortune! To most people, good fortune means wealth, but to me, good fortune means fate and luckiness in life.  My BFF who now lives in New York flew out for one day before going away for her short vacation. Due to many flight cancellations, she was lucky enough to get on the last flight coming home to San Francisco! I met her and her mom early in the morning, she overnight-ed a pumpkin flavor Junior’s Cheesecake from New York and we started our morning with this fluffy delicious cheesecake complemented by strong coffee.  While I was there, we started to talk about food and her mom bagged up her homemade Korean Pancakes and Homemade Kimchi for me to take home! She makes the BEST Korean food, and she prepares and cooks everything properly and perfectly!

After the relaxing morning, we went to meet my mom in Chinatown. We began the afternoon at the temple,  praying and asking for a good year. We then went to have dim sum at the Great Eastern Restaurant, where we  met up with my other BFF and my sister! As they arrived, I got some more delicious gifts, some Paulette Macarons and some strawberry desserts! WOW, I seriously felt so loved to have everyone I love with me on Chinese New Year’s and my birthday, but I felt even more loved cause they all gave me what I loved most…FOOD! I never ask for gifts, I just never need anything…and what they all gave me made me realize how much they all loved me, I felt so giddy just looking at the beautiful desserts! We had such a great time enjoying yummy dim sum with my wonderful mom! I feel so damn fortunate and so blessed to have such loving people in my life, they all truly warm my heart!

 

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