Sunday, April 6, 2008

Three Meals!

On Friday we went to Bui Contemporary Vietnamese Restaurant in Berkeley. We saw it before and decided to try it. We ordered the fried calamari with alioli sauce for appetizer. It was good. It had a light panko crust and the calamari itself was cooked so perfectly. It was soft; not chewy. So the meal started out alright. Then our entrees came. Hubby ordered a hotpot of Chilean Sea Bass in carmelized sauce. It was so overly sweet. There were no other ingredients in there. No onions or anything. Just a few chunks of fish. And I ordered roasted eggplant with minced chicken sauce. Yup, it sounds like that dish I made, right? Yeah, I decided to order it to compare. It had the basil in it for color and taste. It was pretty tasty. On the salty side. And the eggplant had a nice roasted flavor but there was only one small eggplant in there. The portion was ridiculous. The rice we got was $1.50 a bowl, and the bowl was so tiny. It was a little bigger than a teacup. Maybe I exaggerate, but there was definitely not enough to eat with that flavorful entree I got. The total bill came out close to $60. It was so not worth it there.

So when we decided to eat out on Saturday, we made sure to pick a cheap but yummy place to make up for Friday's dinner. Hubby looked at the 2007 Bargain Bite that the SF Chronicle puts out every year and found a Chinese place in Oakland Chinatown called Shan Dong. It was a grungy place with red Chinese lanterns. What was a little shock for me was that we were greeted by a smile and taken to our table. And what I noticed was that the language I heard spoken there be the guests was mainly English. There a lot of young cool people like us of different backgrounds eating there. So, immediately I felt comfortable there. We ordered the 5 dishes for $31.50. There are about 35 dishes you can choose from. The one thing I was disappointed with that deal was that there were no noodle dishes there. We read that they make the noodles themselves. The photos below are what we ordered. Everything was really good. The deal even came with a bowl of soup. It was hot and sour soup, not just a cabbage soup, but a real soup! We decided that since all the dishes were so yummy, we'll come back to order their noodle dishes next time. This place will definitely be one of regular places to eat. We loved the fact that this meal lasted us for two more meals. We had the leftovers for lunch and dinner. So for $31.50 plus tax and tip, we got three good meals from it. We tipped a little more because they actually poured tea for us when they came to our table. Oh! And this place actually takes cards and delivers for free to our area! This place made up for Bui and then some.

Salt and Pepper Pork Chop
Dry Braised Green Beans
Shan Dong Chicken
Fish Fillet with Cream Corn
Broccoli with Beef

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring Break Cooking

So, I didn't do everything I wanted to during my break. I did do most of the laundry, tidied the office, and did the cooking. So here's what I ended up making: Grilled Salted Salmon Collar. My mom's recipe for kama on the grill.
Sunomono from Let's Cook Japanese Food! I added the wakame. I love the color of the cucumbers. They're so vibrantly green! They're the Japanese cucumbers I found at the Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley.
Pork Tonkatsu and Tokyo Negi Katsu on Skewers from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking. Having them on skewers is for presentation only. The negi smelled so good when it was frying, and it tasted just as good.
The ingredients for my mom's potato salad. I used those colorful potatoes from the Farmers' Market. Recognize the color of the cucumbers? Those are the Japanese cucumbers again. I'm so pleased with myself that I finally used cucumbers before they went bad.
Mom's Japanese-Style Potato Salad.
Japanese-Style Squid Salad from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking. This dish was awful! The dressing was so salty! Even as I was making it, I thought, "Man. It's going to be really salty... Well, let's see..." The squid was good, but the dressing... Oh man. We ate the squid with the red butter lettuce we got from the Farmers' Market. We ate that with Nasu no Soboro Ankake (Eggplant with Gingery Chicken Sauce) from Let's Cook Japanese Food! This was an ugly dish but the flavor was good. It's a ground chicken sauce that goes on top of the eggplant. It's ugly because there's no other color to the chicken. It's just brown ground chicken. The next time I make this, I'm going to add green onion or Thai basil and water chestnut for texture. The flavor is light. I think I'll make a batch of this and freeze it in portions to have for my bentos for work.
The ingredients for Toriniku no Misoyaki (Chicken Grilled with Miso Glaze) from Let's Cook Japanese Food!
Toriniku no Misoyaki. Oops. Got a little burnt.
Cute little balls of chicken ready to be cooked for...
Toriniku Dango no Amasu An (Chicken Meatballs with Sweet Vinegar Glaze) from Let's Cook Japanese Food! This came out so good! I'll make this again. This recipe can be used to make tsukune. The ground chicken put on a stick and grilled like the izakaya places.


Update on the maple tree. Look! The little shriveled up leaves opened up. It looks so lush now. Here's the little maple tree. It's funny, the leaves at the top of the tree are red, but the leaves closer to the bottom are more green-red. It may be because of how much the leaves are getting the sun on the balcony.

Oh, and here's how the big maple tree of the apartment complex looks now in the springtime.

Fog City Diner

During Spring Break, we went to Fog City Diner in SF for my birthday dinner. We've been there once and I just loved their fried calamari. They're light and crispy and mixed in there are fried onions and jalapeno! Yum!! And it comes with a spicy and garlicky lime dipping sauce. Hubby ordered crabcakes for his appetizer. I didn't care for it. For our entrees we got Red Curry Mussel Stew and Chicken Schnitzel with broccolini and lemon caper sauce. The stew got too sweet as it cooled. And my schnitzel was edible but everything on my plate only tasted of butter. It's as if Paula Deen cooked it for me. So I wouldn't recommend it unless you're a butter lover like her. Oh... But that calamari... It makes me want to get a deep fryer. And I want to make that dipping sauce and put it on everything.

At home, Hubby presented me with a chocolate cupcake from Miette that he had secretly bought when we had gone to the Ferry Building earlier in the evening. It was very moist and perfectly sweet. I tasted the freshness of the vanilla frosting, but I didn't care for it and ended up scraping it off. We ate it with a petite bottle of Prosecco. It was our first time, and we enjoyed it very much.