Nom Burger

Happy New Year :D!

Since I’ve moved to the Bay Area, I realized that I’ve never actually posted anything about any restaurants nearby.  Well, we’re about to change that!  Sunnyvale has been doing a lot of revamp for their downtown area, and a lot of local restaurants have recently (recently, is within the lifetime of 2016) opened.

 

Upon entering Nom Burger, I wasn’t sure what kind of expectations to have.  The decor was really nice, and everything was really modern.  Prior to coming here, I read about how the buns are all handmade – but y’know, you don’t believe until you see it.  Right where we were seated, there was someone working on glazing the buns with egg.

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He noticed we were taking photos of him, hehe.  Glowing buns being glazed *yummeh*

I would classify this restaurant as one that served gourmet burgers.  Prices were all within the range of $15, which is kinda expensive in my opinion given that you have to pay additional for sides…that is, until the burger came.

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Every month they have a special burger.  This month they have the Hella Dank Burger ($15).  This is a banh mi inspired burger
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California Love ($14)

Do you see how huge these burgers are?  They really were a mouthful to eat.  And as much as they were delicious, I would definitely not recommend on your first date.  You will be a mess!  Our waiter knew this ahead of time and presented us with a ton of extra napkins xD.
Of the two burgers, N and I both ended up agreeing that the California Love was the better of the two.  Its freshness of local ingredients, balance of sweet and salty, and of course, avocado, definitely won my love.  That doesn’t put the Hella Dank out of competition, though.  If you’re up for a challenge and want to try different, I would definitely go with this burger.  The compilation of the pickled radish and pate brought out its own type of umami.

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Nom Fries ($5)

We ordered one side for the two of us, and wait a minute, did you guys hear what I said – SIDE?  This is huge!  We order Nom Fries, which is essentially garlic fries.  So apparently, this photo is taken when the food arrived, which a waiter dropped by telling us that we have been lied to, and splat on some sort of sour cream, which went really well with the fries (such great service, right?!).  The fries are chopped finely, and really good…*drool*.  The aioli sauce on it was a tad spicy, but totally tolerable.

I honestly feel like this place is not here to jip you.  The food is good, service is wonderful (shoutout to our waiter, he really enhanced the experience), and atmosphere is great.  It’s nice to know that more of these kind of restaurants are opening up around the Bay Area.  I would definitely come here again.

-ksdn.

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Delarosa

I’ve finally got some time around to stick around home, back in NorCal.  Over the weekend, we decided to take advantage of this weekend and head over to the beautiful city of SF.

The original intent was to go visit the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, but it was too gloomy and cold that we decided to keep the activities more indoor.  For those of you who don’t know, the event runs this week as well, until tomorrow 4/17 5pm in Japantown!  Make your way if you have time and are in the area, it is a beautiful and lively festival!

Back to business…food!  Like I mentioned, it was cold and gloomy, and was getting late, so we were hopping around the main Market/Westfield area trying to find some food.  Which is where we stumbled across a “secret” inside street (not exposed to any street roads) Yerba Buena Lane.  This street hosts a couple of restaurants, Delarosa being one of them.

The nice thing about it was that there was no wait to be seated during the peak hours of a weekend.  The restaurant is a casual, lively restaurant with a nice ambiance.   I would recommend this restaurant for an occasion with friends.  Another note about this restaurant is that although it is an Italian restaurant, all if not most of the items are portioned smaller, similar to tapas.

Upon looking at the different food rating apps, it seems that everyone was raving about the honey bruschetta.  So, we did!  And boy, was it a good decision!  This is the true definition where sweet meets savory.  With a load of olive oil smothered on the sourdough bread (which was the only thing which I was meh about), there was a slab of mozzarella (YUMM) drizzled with some hazelnuts and pepper.  This was where complimentary things really came together!

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Burrata bruschetta, hazelnut & honey ($8)

We ordered a couple of pastas after, my choice was the crab linguine.  However, I think I end up preferring the pappardelle and chicken parmesan dish better.  The linguine dish is light in flavour and mildly bland for me, since it was mostly spices and no sauce.  But, I did enjoy each bite of meaty crab!  All the pastas were well made, cooked to al dente.  The red sauce in the other two dishes were really tasty and bold in flavour.

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Dungeness crab meat linguini ($16)
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Papparadelle napolenta ($11)
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Maccheroncini pomodoro with chicken parmigiana al forno ($14)

The last thing we got was a simple magherita pizza.  Ingredients are quality and simple.  To be frank, I think this is the aspect of food enjoyment that I still need to learn to enjoy.  Although a classic, I couldn’t really find justice for the plate I was paying for.  However, the pizza was made with care, basil evenly placed, olive oil carefully outlining the tomato sauce.  The dough was also very thin, but I found the crust a bit big.  Nonetheless, it’s very photogenic :).

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Margherita pizza ($12)

I think this restaurant has a lot of vibrance and is a great selection for people to try different foods, but I would say proportion for price is a little unbalanced.  However, I’ve always got to keep in mind that I am eating in a restaurant in San Francisco, where standard of living is generally higher than other places.  All in all, it was a good experience and I enjoyed my meal fed by Delarosa.

-ksdn

 

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐

As a sucker for dumplings, I was super stoked to make my trip to Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung is a very renowned restaurant most well known for their soup dumplings, aka. xiao long bao, originally located in Taiwan.  Today, we can find several branches of this restaurant all over the world.  If you’re local to the Bay Area and haven’t heard already, they’re opening a branch in Santa Clara inside Westfield Valley Fair very soon.  And as for me, as I’m on another work excursion, I’ve found myself in OC in close proximity to a Din Tai Fung.  How can I turn down such an opportunity?

This particular branch is located in Costa Mesa, inside the South Coast Plaza shopping mall.  As for today’s review, it’ll be a bit different than usual because I ordered takeout as opposed to eating in.  I decided to dodge the lines, as I’ve heard every branch has approximately an hour wait .  I’m also not too keen on eating alone in restaurants (not that there is problem with that though…props to you if you do it!!).  One quick tip if you decide to follow my route and do takeout, they do take orders over the phone.  They don’t take reservations, though.  So what I did was call in with my order and then drop by 20 minutes later to pick it up.

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Din Tai Fung Entrance.  Look at that line!

What I found amusing inside the restaurant was the area where you see the chefs make the soup dumplings.  The process of creating the dumplings is very precise, from dumpling dough wrapper to the filling!  Everything was measured on a scale to ensure consistent weight before proceeding.

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A peek into the dumplings in the making – precision of measurement of the dumpling wrappers.

Now, onto the food!  I ordered a number of things.  Let me start with the most anticipated item.  The truffle and pork xiao long bao’s.  I was most curious about this item, seeing that it was the most expensive ($22.5) item for the least amount (5 pc) of food.  I guess, I am not too familiar with fancy ingredients, and truffle is definitely up there on the list.  The dumpling remained soupy, enclosed by the thin and sturdy dumpling wrapper.  The truffle was infused into the pork meat, with an occasional crunch from a large piece of truffle.  The flavour was light yet the aroma was strong.  I wouldn’t recommend dipping this in vinegar in order to taste the truffle flavour.  The verdict for this is that it was interesting to try.  However, if you’re here to be full and stay in budget, I would refrain from ordering this.  I probably would NOT order this again if I were to come back.

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The contents of the soup dumpling – truffle and pork thoroughly mixed.

Since this is known for their soup dumplings, of course one plate is not enough.  I also ordered a serving of crab and pork xiao long bao’s.  This one was a lot reasonable in price, 10pc for $11.5.  The divvy of ingredients for each dumpling was 1/3 crab and 2/3 pork.  The flavour was light with a hint of seafood flavour.  Unlike the truffle dumpling, I recommend dipping this in vinegar.  To me, it was so light it was almost borderline bland. Another critical point is that wrapper is so thin on the sides, I found the center which holds the wrapper together was hard and extremely doughy, which I didn’t really like (although this may have been because I did takeout and didn’t eat this immediately which resulted it to be cold).

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A closeup on the crab and pork dumpling.  Light with a touch of seafood in flavour.

On the side, I ordered some spinach to keep some green in my life.  Kids, don’t forget to eat your greens!  Haha.  This was a typical Chinese dish, spinach and garlic.  I originally tried to order the spinach with bean curd & wine, but this location was no longer making that dish :(.

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Nothing too special about this, but can’t leave out the spinach :).

And to top off this enormous order for one, I present the most delicious item!  Wontons in spicy sauce!  A Taiwanese friend told me this was actually his favourite dish from the whole restaurant and I completely agree.  I was originally debating if I should order it since I can’t handle spicy food, but after telling waitress to put in a note to try to lighten up on the spicy oil, I sure am glad I ordered it.  The wontons had that fresh-shrimp-bounchy-crunchy texture, if you know what I’m talking about.  The sauce was a pow in the face, flavourful, sweet and spicy sauce.  I chowed this down so quick I didn’t even realize I finished it!

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Wonton in spicy sauce – absolutely delicious!

 

All in all, it was a fun experience, and the soup dumplings were not a letdown seeing that the wrappers were thin and there was lots of soup inside.  If any improvements, I just wish there was a bit more flavour in the soup.  The wontons in spicy sauce are also a MUST GET.

I’m be looking forward to the opening in the Santa Clara branch!  Maybe there will be a comparison in food between the difference locations :).

Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

-ksdn.

Shiso Tree Cafe

Hey all!  Sorry for the hiatus :(, but I’m finally back with another review!  Actually, I’ve been meaning to make lots of reviews – I’ve been taking many many photos of food, but I just haven’t had the time to write the blog and post pictures.  Since I’m more available again, hopefully I’ll be able to share some pictures of succulent (or not) food and my overall opinion.

This post will be dedicated to my visit to Shiso Tree Cafe with C.  The unique thing about this restaurant that it it’s a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, specifically famous for their Italian pastas mixed with a spice of Japanese culture.  C and I were really looking forward to going here because it just seemed so one-of-a-kind type of thing.  Also, being a Torontonian, I always find it quite amusing because the vast majority of Japanese restaurants are actually not owned by Japanese people.  However, this restaurant is actually owned and served by Japanese people – it’s authentic!

Here are some pictures of how it looks:

This restaurant is tucked inside…you won’t be able to see it on the street. Walk into Jtown, and keep going inwards 🙂

Interior~

The interior. It’s really nice and cozy, but a little small in my opinion. It’ll probably be difficult to find a spot during busy hours.

For you curious monkeys out there, did you know what shiso is? It’s actually a Japanese herb related to mint and basil, with an aroma of cinnamon, anise, basil, and citrus. How cool is THAT?

When we saw the menu, we just wanted to try everything because everything just sounded so interesting! Here’s a glimpse of the pasta menu:

This is the pasta menu (you’ll have to tilt your head to read this, sorry!) Soo much to choose from *-*

Less talking, and more pictures!  Here’s what we ended up ordering!

For starters:

Okonomiyaki fries. I love the flavour of okonomiyaki, so this would be my bias. But the flavour did get a bit salty after a while.

Free complimentary salad. I’m not a big salad fan, so this wasn’t too spectacular.

Shiso clam vongolé – white wine, olive oil, garlic, bacon, tomato, fresh Manila clams & shiso

In my honest opinion, this was sort of a disappointment for me. I found it quite bland and lacking in flavour. I didn’t taste the wine at all and it just felt like I was eating a load of oil ><. Haha, I think I'm making it sound worse than it actually tasted. Nonetheless, the toast was goooood :D.

Sukiyaki – thinly sliced beef rib eye cooked in house made Japanese soya sauce (shoyu)

This, was no question, the best dish that I had that night. It was so flavourful, and again, to my bias, I love the original sukiyaki :D. The beef was juicy and cooked well. Oh yes, the toast dipped in the sauce is a perfect combination!

I asked C for her opinions about the dishes, and she felt the same :D. Sorry, I don’t have the prices for the things we ordered..I forgot them :P! I approximate that the pastas were around ~15-20 and the okonomiyaki fries was ~10. Finally, for dessert, C and I shared a (matcha, if I recall correctly) green tea toast. I wouldn’t say this dish was too special, but the toast was good and it was a nice close to our meal.

Toast with (matcha?) green tea syrup.

In conclusion, I think I would come back to this place – the dishes are fun, unique and interesting. In my opinion, I would return to satisfy my curiosity of the other dishes than my taste buds, though.

Here’s my rating:
– atmosphere: 8.5/10
– value: 7.5/10
– food: 8.5/10

Stay posted! I’m planning to make more posts soon~

Shiso Tree Cafe on Urbanspoon

-ksdn

Jane Bond

Here’s another edition of my food journeys in Uptown Waterloo!  This time T and I decided to fill our stomachs at Jane Bond, a vegetarian restaurant!

To be honest, I was kind of iffy about the whole idea of going to a vegetarian restaurant because I am such a carnivore and I absolutely love meat, but I heard quite a few good things about this restaurant so I decided to sacrifice my daily intake of meat and give this a try. How I would describe the restaurant is one that is more indie and underground.

Jane Bond entrance. It's not very hard to notice nor a long walk from King street.

As we stepped inside it was a dimmer setup with indie music playing in the background.  I would say the atmosphere is very casual and I would definitely recommend this place for friends to meet up for a drink and finger foods. Our waitress was friendly and nice, which added to the nice atmosphere.

Dim lights, small round tables with indie music playing in the background.
The bar side of the restaurant. Menu lists a variety of alcoholic drinks.

As for the menu, I have to say I was quite disappointed. Although I had already prepared myself for a meatless meal, I was quite brought down by the limited variety of items they had on their menu. The majority of the menu was filled with drinks.

In the end, T ordered a quesadilla while I ordered coconut curry. Here are photos of our orders:

Quesidilla: chipotle black bean, avacado and monetary jack, served with salsa and sour cream ($9 + tax)

This was a very delicious dish and I would definitely come back and order this. Everything was made fresh, including the roti and salsa. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t too salty, and the peas were a good substitute for the meat. The quesidilla was a tad spicy and the salsa had parsley in it (T was not a fan of it…). Generally though, it tasted pretty good!

Coconut curry: cauliflower, chick peas, potato and peas over rice ($10 + tax)

As for my dish, it was okay. Rich in spices, but a little too spicy for my liking. As you can tell from the appearance, it wasn’t too appealing. The potatoes were super filling, and sometimes they put so much curry that sometimes I wasn’t sure whether or not I was eating cauliflower or potatoes, haha. Also, the rice seemed to have been not completely cooked (which sometimes I enjoyed because it added a slight crunchy texture), but eventually I decided that it was rice cooked from before and reheated. Generally, I think it is definitely a filling meal, and if you like a tad of spicy and sourness, this is the dish for you. I don’t think I’d come back here and order this though..

A final review of Jane Bond…
– atmosphere: 9/10
– value: 8/10
– food: 6/10

I guess it was decent, but I’m not sure if it wins the heart of a carnivore.

Until next time~

-ksdn
The Jane Bond on Urbanspoon

Matsuda Japanese Cuisine

To celebrate my sister’s upcoming birthday, my family decided to go out for a luxurious dinner.  We ended up going to Matsuda Japanese Cuisine for dinner, an all you can eat (AYCE) restaurant in Toronto.  One thing that I recommend, especially if you’re planning to go on a weekend, is to make reservations!  The wait time can be so brutal there!  Regardless, their wide menu selection gives reason as to why there are so many people there.

I didn’t forget to bring my camera with me, so I actually have a lot of photos to share :).

The store banner/logo from outside

Interior of Matsuda. Lights are dimmed. Spacious and cozy :).

Check out http://www.matsudasushi.com/alldin.html for the full dinner menu!  Some of the items on the menu that left a good impression:

One of the more unique items on the menu. It's super delicious, and yes it's raw! It also tends to be harder to find on menus of other AYCE restaurants
Mango Roll: tempura bits, kani, cucumber roll w/ avocado on top and mango sauce. What I liked about it was that it tasted so fresh and all the ingredients complimented each other very well.
Steamed egg: Another rare item that is served at AYCE restaurants. I love how they steam the egg perfectly, and the complimented ingredients - shrimp and enoki mushrooms
Sashimi Platter: This is just a few from the selection of sashimi they have on the menu. The star of the platter, I would say is the sweet shrimp, which is so difficult to find! One thing to bear in mind is that they only serve sweet shrimp on Fri-Sun.
Grilled Beef Skewer: Although it doesn't look very special, I have to say that it tasted so delicious when I bit into it. Flavour was strong and meat was very tender.
Takoyaki: Who doesn't love takoyaki? And...ALL YOU CAN EAT? *gasp*
Salmon Roses: One of my all-time favourite sushis.
Grilled Mushrooms: My mom loved this the most. Who has ever seen mushroom caps so big before?
L-R: Ginger milk, taro mousse, tiramisu mousse, mango yoghurt. So much selection (these are only a few on the menu) and all tastes fairly decent! If I had to pick one though, it'd go to the famous mango yoghurt.

By the end of the meal, we were all filled to the max, and were complaining about how full we were xD.  The meal was definitely very satisfying and delicious.  Orders were generally took a reasonable time before it came and were processed pretty accurately.

My rating for Matsuda:

– atmosphere: 7/10
– value: 8/10

I don’t think it’s fair to rate food for this trip because it is an all you can eat place after all.  Instead I put my “food” criteria in value because the menu variety reflected on the value of what you were paying for.  And because we went on a weekend for dinner it costed $23.95 + tax.  It may seem a bit pricy, but there was a great variety in selection, and quality was fair for an all you can eat.

Matsuda Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Until next time!  And Happy birthday sis!!!

-ksdn.

Cora’s Breakfast & Lunch

Hey all! 🙂
If you’re hungry in the morning and feeling for a fresh but filling breakfast, Cora’s is the place to go!  Specializing in breakfast and lunch menu, Cora’s provides a selection of crepes, pancakes, sandwiches and much more!  They also have a featured fresh smoothie made with a mix of the freshest fruits they have.  M ordered one with pineapples, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  It had lots of berry seeds and tasted very fresh with a hint of sourness (which I actually liked!).

Spinach and Cheese Omlette ($9.25 + tax)
For my meal, I decided to order the spinach & cheddar omlette.  In my opinion, I preferred the potato wedges more than the omlette itself. The wedges were lightly roasted and salted. The omlette on the other hand was a little too cooked for my liking. They overdosed on cheese and the spinach was not very noticeable in flavour.  The flavour ends up getting a little bland in the taste palette, and I ended up resorting to ketchup for help.  But in terms of filling level, I was EXTREMELY full!

The atmosphere of the restaurant is very home-y and friendly.  It’s definitely a casual place to have fun with family and friends!  Even though there will probably a wait time when you go, the wait time is relatively short and servers are friendly and respond quickly.

My overall ratings for Cora’s …– atmosphere: 8/10
– value: 7.5/10
– food: 6.5/10

Feel free to visit Cora’s at http://www.chezcora.com!

Cora's (Waterloo) on Urbanspoon

Until next time!

-ksdn