Monthly Archives: January 2013

Beef Rendang @ Padi, College Ave, Berkeley

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Bell pepper loving

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Bell pepper stuffed with brown rice, minced turkey, mushrooms, onions, garlic and love in marinara sauce

‘Egg Tarts’

Finally got round to baking egg tarts after dreaming about it for the past year with my roommate. We used this recipe from Allrecipes.com and may or may not have made alterations to the recipe that may have compromised the quality of our egg tarts. Having a whimsical oven that turns itself off randomly or refuses to bake at high temperatures did not help either.

The second batch was a semi-success.

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The first, evidently not. Burnt baked product with rock hard crusts looked like hybrids of egg tarts and creme brulee.

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Today I also found out that an egg tart is about 400 calories, which brings me back to the day when I consumed four egg tarts in less than half a day. Oh dear.

TGIF

What better way to start a Friday morning than by indulging in a gastronomically delightful brunch at one of San Francisco’s top brunch places? The hour long wait was painful but there was plenty to gain.

French Toast Sampler @ Mama’s on Washington Square, San Francisco
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This dish is so beautifully set up that I am almost tempted to deem it a work of art (not very credible coming from an engineering student who knows close to nought about art). Three different types of bread — banana-nut, cranberry-orange and what I believe is the swedish cinnamon — topped with fresh fruits. My favourite out of three has got to be the one with the cinnamony bread. When it comes to french toast, conventional cinnamon hits my sweet spot.

Vegetarian Benedicts

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Oh, how much I yearned for the dungeness crab benedict or omelette but was fazed by the price tags. I ended up with the Vegetarian Benedicts instead.

Monte Cristo

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Monte Cristo is hands down my favourite dish out of the three I had. Totally heads over heels for this grilled turkey, ham and cheese sandwich! Essentially a savoury french toast because the bread is dipped in egg before it is grilled and is reminiscent of the cheesy french toast sold near my hometown. The Monte Cristo is also served with light raspberry jam on the side that beats my Smucker’s by a mile.

Three dishes for two turned out to be plenty (did I just hear a “You don’t say?” somewhere out there?) so a walk around the neighbourhood seemed necessary.

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Grace Cathedral on the perimeter of Washington Square.

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Coit Tower, a salient structure in San Francisco’s skyline.

Found myself exploring Yerba Buena Gardens after a failed attempt at walk-in bowling and ended up sipping cafe latte at La Boulange for most part of the afternoon.

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Italian in the Kitchen

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Pasta with chicken, baby spinach, arugula, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, onions and oregano with lemony white wine sauce

I have always been a fan of pasta in light sauces. It is quite rare for me to order anything with alfredo or carbonara sauce, and I will usually go for a dish like linguine ai frutti di mare if it is an option. To my surprise and delight, making light wine wine sauce turned out to be not as difficult as I thought! Basically involves simmering water, oil, white wine, minced garlic and onions, and whatever ingredients I desire for fifteen minutes. My jar of marinara sauce may have to move over to my bottle of Sauvignon Blanc now.

On the topic of cooking with alcohol, I am tempted to give steamed mussels in beer a try to recreate the awesome mussels I had in Brussels years ago.

Sushi + Burrito = Sushirrito!

Sushirrito @ New Montgomery St, San Francisco

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Top: Mayan Dragon consisting of chicken katsu, peruvian potatoes,avocado and jalapenos among other things

Bottom: Geisha’s Kiss with stuffings such as  yellowfin tuna, tamago, lotus chips and avocado

Finally tried the much raved about Sushirrito in San Francisco! There is always a long line for these during lunch hours and I ended up waiting for at least fifteen minutes. Since Sushirrito only does takeouts, my friend and I ended up going to Starbucks across the street and had some peppermint hot chocolate (my favourite!) to go with our sushirritos. Strange combination, I know, but we were definitely not the only ones who did that.

Personally, I think this Japanese-Mexican fusion food is more Japanese than Mexican and is pretty similar to the Japanese hand roll but with more ingredients. I love Geisha’s Kiss, especially the fresh tuna and the crispy lotus chips! The portions are large and I had little room to spare for dessert after downing this with my small cup of hot chocolate. I had to abandon my plan of indulging myself with some sundae at the new Ghirardelli Ice Cream shop two blocks away.

NYE at Borobudur

2012 has been wonderful year for me and it was appropriate to end it with a nice Indonesian dinner that hit close to home with my beloved friends. For appetizers, we had Otak Otak Panggang (BBQ fish cake wrapped in banana leaves) and Tempeh Goreng (fried soy bean cake).

New Year’s Eve Dinner @ Borobudur Restaurant, San Francisco

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My friend ordered Beef Rendang, which is a rich beef stew made with coconut milk. I did not try it but it sure did look and smell good.

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I ordered the Nasi Uduk Lengkap, which consists of rice cooked with coconut milk, fried chicken, beef, crisps, strips of fried egg and tofu in not-so-spicy sauce. Out of all the sides that came with the rice, I liked the chicken the best.

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Other dishes that my friends ordered were Mie Tek Tek (spicy fried noodles) and Ayam Bakar Cabe which is supposed to be spicy BBQ chicken.

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Great way to conclude an amazing year and to welcome the start of 2013!

Davis Sushi Buffet

Whenever anyone mentions Davis in California, few of the many things that will pop into my head are the university, the fields and the SUSHI BUFFETS. This was my second time pigging out at a sushi buffet in Davis. My first was at Fuji Sushi and this time round, my friend took me to Davis Sushi Buffet.

Sushi Buffet @ Davis Sushi Buffet, Davis CA

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After all these years, I still derive so much joy from picking dishes from sushi boats and trains.

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King Roll made to order.

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Fried tofu, oysters and crabs. I liked how the tofu was so soft and delicate on the inside!

Really great selection of sushi and other dishes for only USD 15, which I might add is pretty cheap compared to other sushi buffets in or near Berkeley. They even had  sesame red bean balls and soft custard buns which I liked. The only thing that I felt was lacking was their dessert options — complimentary green tea ice cream would have made it perfect!

Mexican Snack Time

The Mayans were believed to be the first to cultivate cocoa for the purpose of making hot chocolate beverages. For this purpose, and also because chocolate drinks vary from one region to another, I wanted to give the Mayan hot chocolate at Ah Cacao in Cancun a shot. Ah Cacao at La Isla is a small but great cafe stocked with many bars of delicious dark chocolate, chocolate ice cream, chocolate shower gel, massage oil and shampoo, and whatever chocolate goodiness you can think of. One of the guys who worked there was also really sweet and awesome — he remembered us on our second visit and gave us samples of dark chocolate and actual cocoa to try too.

Mayan Hot Chocolate @ Ah Cacao, Plaza La Isla, Cancun

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The hot chocolate was pretty rich but no where near as thick as European hot chocolate. The drink had a certain type of spiciness to it — I could not tell if it was cinnamon or some sort of pepper or a combination of both. It was very nice to sip on this on a relatively cool day in Cancun and because of its richness, a small cup was a satisfactory amount to sip on.

The guy who worked there told us about the health benefits of eating cocoa beans and warned us about the bitterness before giving us some to try. Boy was he not kidding.

And as much as I love chocolate, I refrained from purchasing any chocolate toiletries because I think those would just encourage me to eat an obscene amount of chocolate.

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Donuts are not remotely Mexican but they deserve a mention in this blog post because the donuts at the beach behind Coco Bongo are so soft and delicious!

Donuts by the Beach

Another one of my favourite treats here is the fruity sorbets sold at a hut on Isla Mujeres, an island that is just a ferry ride away from Cancun. Had their guanabana (soursop) sorbet ice cream and loved it! A very refereshing treat on a hot and humid day.

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For the sake of being ‘adventurous’ and ‘cultured’, I purchased some local and possibly questionable snacks from the souvenir store. One of the snacks I got was the candy coconut roll. I bought a couple to bring back home but ended up snacking on one during my twelve hour layover in LAX.

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This snack has a strong coconut taste to it and is very sticky. To describe this more accurately, it was like coconut flavoured sticky rice but is not made from rice the last time I checked the ingredients on the label.

The souvenir stores also sold a lot of chocolates, cakes and candies filled with liqueur such as tequila, Baileys and Kahlua. I do wonder if these liqueur filled snacks are truly Mexican specialties or if they only marketed as local delicacies to tourists who presumably love their alcohol and often equate Cancun to drinks and parties. The stores also sold plenty of mini bottles of tequilas, which I learnt is Mexican water, much like how vodka is Russian water.

Speaking of tequila, I came across bottles of liquor. To get to the bottom of things, there were worms in them.

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I sipped a small sample of this drink which I later found out was not tequila but mezcal. Mezcal is actually stronger than tequila and its distillation process is distinct from the one for producing tequila. I was curious as to why there were worms in the bottles of mezcals and wondered if they actually played any role in enhancing the drink but after looking it up online, it does seem like the worms are only there as a marketing gimmick.

13

13 is usually not a number I am too fond of unless you are talking about quesadillas that cost only 13 pesos each, which is approximately USD 1.30!

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One of our best food finds in Cancun I have to say. Great quantity and quality for the price! They have quite a number of fillings to choose from such as chorizo and potatoes, zucchini flowers, chicken and beef. Their green hot sauce is also the best — the spiciness and tanginess has that oomph that just gets to you! I am still curious as to what type of cheese they used for the quesadillas cause they are very different from the ones I typically find in quesadillas in the States.

It is unfortunate that we only tried this place out on our second to last day here. Would have saved us a lot of bucks but I’m glad we managed to experience this little gem before we left!