Sunday, February 24, 2008


Hubby and I have been wanting to try Zen. A green tea liqueur. We first saw it at BevMo and having been checking to see if they have a small version of it instead to try it. When we go to bars, we've been asking if they have it so that we can try it. But when we met up with a friend when we were in SoCal, she had it for us. It was so funny. So we tried it. We tried it straight. Very sweet and tastes of matcha ice cream. We made the zentini that was on the bottle. It was very strong, as all martinis are. It was still sweet and yummy to drink, but I didn't really taste the tea flavor. I think I'm going to get the matcha powder and rim the glass with it so that it would be extra pretty and accentuate the tea flavor when you drink it. Beautiful green color. :) I think I'll put it in my cocktail recipes book since it was pretty good. Here's my cocktail recipe book. I scrapbooked it. Hee hee. I did this when I was not working. So, I just need to find the time to do it with this recipe.

Yummy Saturday

I made Mochiko Chicken Wings yesterday. I got the recipe from a mochi cookbook from Hawaii. The flavor is so similar to the Sesame Chicken my mom makes. Only, sorry to say, this mochi chicken recipe is better. So here's the blurry photo of it.
Then, during the evening, we went to the city to have dinner at Schnitzelhaus for a friend's 30th birthday dinner. It was such a loud fun place. It was decorated with tons of antlers. I never had German food. I really wanted a sausage but ended up getting a schnitzel instead. Never had a schnitzel so I thought I should try it at an authentic place. It was so good. It was breaded so well. And I loved the lemon sauce it came with. Sounds like other guests who had the schnitzel wished they had gotten one with some kind of sauce. So, I'm glad I did. I was so happy that I had leftovers just so that I can have it home again. And I did. Still good!! Hubby had a pork leg. It was big. He said that he wouldn't get it again. Oh, and the restaurant has super large boot glasses for beer. I think a live human can wear it!


We went to Vegas this week. We took the Zagat guide for Vegas my hubby got from work. It was so wrong in recommendations. So our first day of eating sucked. We went to Cravings for buffet food. I was so disappointed that almost all the cakes were sugarless. Sugarless cake?! Fortunately, I found a chocolate mousse cake that was so yummy. We went to Isla Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar and had a really good meal on the second day. We were served with chips and salsa. Ohhh!!! It came with salsa fresca, chipotle salsa, and tomatillo salsa. Yum!! We ordered Mexican Cucumber cocktails. It was strong but had the sweet, refreshing taste of cucumber. It was garnished with a dried chili pepper. So the last sip of the drink was spicy. We had a steak pyramid and a BBQed shortrib. The steak was good but just needed some salt. The shortrib was a bit too sweet for my taste. We ended the meal with flan. The most perfect flan ever!!

On our last day in Vegas, we went to Carnegie Deli. Hubby had the humongo pastrami and I had the chicken noodle soup and the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich ever. It was crispy on the outside and oozed with gooey, salty American cheese.

Leno and Izakaya

Oooh! I've tried several new places this month. We had Japanese food again with our friends in SF. This time, we had izakaya food. Oh, but on our way to meet up with our friends, we came across a crowd at Union Square. When we looked into the crowd, I saw a large chin and white hair. Yup. Jay Leno. There was a film camera and a mic involved. Maybe Jaywalking?? Anyways... The izakaya is called Sozai and it's run by a husband and wife team. The wife is Japanese and is the chef. The husband is the head waiter who helps pick out the sake to go with the dishes. All the sake are from True Sake in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. So, I guess he's the sake sommelier. The food was really good. They had a maguro tartar for only $3!! And they have edamame hummus that's so yummy. The "Sake Sommelier" said that one of the Whole Foods is carrying it now. At the end, we made sure to get the four desserts sampler. It came with lychee ice cream with matcha sauce, green tea tiramisu, green tea panna cotta, and a ginger chocolate cake. Mari, the chef, wasn't happy with the tiramisu, so she gave us full portions of everything else. I would probably go back there again. It was weird though because no one was there in the restaurant. But once we got seated several more guests trickled in. Must be a late night place.

Another Japanese place we checked out is a sushi place my sister found in Monterey Park on Garvey. It's called Sorafune. Another hubby and wife team. This time the wife is the waitress and the hubby is the chef. The place isn't even an year old but getting business. Very fresh there, and the wife is quite proud that the green tea is from Japan.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Missing Mom's Grilled Fish

To make up for the yucky food we had last weekend, we decided and hoped to have better luck this weekend. I have been craving for grilled salted fish like my mom makes, so last night we went to Norikonoko in Berkeley again. We went there last year but haven't gone since. It's a Japanese place that serves homestyle cooking. So it serves robata style food, oden, and noodle soup dishes. No sushi chef there. It's pricey but really good. When you get there, you have to open a sliding door. Cool, huh? And when you go in, it's a little place and you feel like you walked into a Japanese family's home. It's cluttered with knickknacks all over the place. And the kitchen is not in the back somewhere, it's right there. You can even sit at the bar facing the kitchen. So, it's like a sushi bar, but without the sushi. It's a Japanese husband and wife team that does everything. When we got in, one of first thing I hear in Japanese from the husband chef is, "Have them sit there, that couple is about to leave," to the server. Right away, I remember that the husband is very tough on his servers. He is one of those strict Japanese guys. He's like Gordon Ramsay in Hell's Kitchen. He's always yelling at them. I had forgotten that about him, and the warm cozy feeling of eating food that my mom makes was then met with a feeling of awkwardness. Just hearing him constantly chiding the young servers made me feel bad for them. I felt like being there put them in that bad situation. But I was still excited to eat. My husband ordered the the maguro yamakake for appetizer and miso ramen with char-siu pork. The maguro was so good. The maguro was good - dark red color, firm, and fresh. I got the grilled salted sanma (pike fish) with daikon oroshi. I don't like daikon oroshi, but decided not to say anything about it when I ordered it. I was scared of the chef yelling at me for not eating his daikon or something. So for $15, the fish came with a bowl of rice, pickled veggies, miso soup, salad, orange slice, and two sidedishes. They were boiled spinach with ponzu sauce and nikujaga. I liked everything, but the nikujaga. I never liked nikujaga. Don't like it that it's sweet. The fish was so yummy. It was lightly salted and thankfully, it came with the daikon oroshi on the side. And a wedge of lemon! That's how I grew up eating it - with some lemon juice. It was very yummy until I noticed that they don't clean out the fish. So all fish meat that touched the innard part tasted bitter. I wasn't happy about that. My husband got a mini BBQ to use on our balcony, so I hope I can make this on my own when he has it all set up.Maguro Yamakake
Miso Ramen with Char-siu Pork

Untastiest Weekend

Last weekend, we had very bad food experiences. We went to International Blvd. in East Oakland to try a Vietnamese place my husband found on It's called Cam Huong Cafe. We wanted the BBQ pork sandwich and it got good reviews there. Well, out of 26 reviewers, it got four out of five stars. When we arrived, we were met with a coughing homeless guy in front of the entrance. When we got inside, it looked hopeful when we saw a line in there. Thought that it was weird that a lot of the prepared food like the spring rolls, bento-like plates, and desserts were on a shelf without any refrigeration though... Well, we got in line and noticed that there were tables that were not cleared off yet. And that really put off my husband. So we decided to take it home. My husband got the grilled pork sandwich, and I got the BBQ pork sandwich. I also ordered the Thai ice tea which tasted standard. But my husband got a sugar cane juice. It was so yummy! It was sweet but it had a citrus taste to it that made it quite refreshing. Our sandwiches were... blech! My pork was the red char-siu pork. I was surprised that it didn't really have the bold flavor. The jalapeno slice gave it the spiciness. The bread was good - it had the crispiness. Oh, and the pickled veggies didn't have its pickle flavor that I love so much! My husband's tasted a lot better, but not good enough. He said that it tastes better than Lee's Sandwiches. I disagreed. I would much rather have Lee's. Ever since I had a fresh one at Pho 89 in Richmond, I compare all banh mi to it. The sandwiches my husband gets from SF are also very good. Anyways, we will not be going back there again even though the sandwiches were super-duper cheap.

We also tried Boran Thai Restaurant in Berkeley. We didn't know what to eat, so we drove around until something caught our eye. I saw a cozy looking place as we drove by this place, so we went. It looked very similar to another Thai place we've tried before, but after looking at the menu, I realized that it was a different place. Anyways, that's not the point. When we sat down, we were given a basket of those fried fat chips thingies (is that what it is?) with a side of sweet dipping sauce. The place is definitely homey. I liked that atmosphere. So, we ordered a calamari appetizer, a BBQ pork dish, and a dish that sounded like the fried tofu and eggplant dish we had at Thai Basil in Fullerton. While we waited, we got a soup of just chicken broth with chopped cabbage in it. It was so simple and very yummy. So I was very excited to get my food. When we did... Oh my... How can anyone mess up on Thai cuisine?! All the flavors of Thai cuisine are yummy and so boldly flavorful. You're using the best flavors!! And all the dishes we got came out super sweet. We didn't finish eating everything. Our server looked was this grandpa looking guy who was so smiley and sweet. This was the only time I was ever glad that when the server came to check on us, that my mouth was full. He asked if everything was okay, and I just gave a polite nod with, "Mm-hmm." Later when he asked if we were done, we asked for boxes. We didn't have the heart to tell him that we didn't want to take the leftover home. We then walked over to Andronico's and got salt and vinegar potato chips to balance the sweet taste in my mouth. We then left the leftovers by a trashcan in front of Walgreens where I know I've seen homeless people hang out before. As soon as we got home, we checked it out on, of course. I don't know why people like it. *sigh*