The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse, Palo Alto, CA
Fuki Sushi, Palo Alto, CA
Sadly, I could no longer endorse this restaurant. Fuki, once my go-to place for a slightly pricey but never disappointing sushi meal, had really went downhill. My most recent dinner here left me terribly dissatisfied and puzzled.
The fish used in even some of their pricier nigiri was of very average quality. It was quite apparent they didn’t get the freshest supply that day. I could excuse the restaurant for having a off day once in a while due to supply issue but I found no excuse for the ill prepared sushi rice. The rice on every single pieces I had that night was dry.
I am afraid it could be a really long while before I would consider returning to this restaurant.
Food: 2/5. Average quality fish over dry rice.
Service: 3/5. Decent enough.
Ambiance: 4/5. Clean restaurant with elegant Japanese decor.
Price to Value: 3/5. Really overpriced for this quality.
Coupa Cafe, Palo Alto, CA
Spice Kit, Palo Alto, CA
Roasted Pork Banh Mi
Spice Kit, Palo Alto, CA
At first glance, Spice Kit seems like just another fusion eatery aiming to market Asian cheap eats to larger demographic. Such restaurants have been blooming all over the peninsula. With the very mediocre experience with Asian Box still fresh in memory, I was highly skeptical of this new comer. Spice Kit, though still slightly gimmicky, offers surprisingly memorable good food.
The pork bun reminds me of those from Momofuku in NYC. While the quality of the pork belly is really no comparison to the legendary ones at David Chang’s restaurants, the pork bun here is tasty enough to deserve its own merit. Not to mention they are fairly inexpensive too.
The menu follows a very simple formula -
1) You pick a “style”. Choices are Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguette Sandwich), Ssam (Korean Rice wrap), Salad or a Rice Bowl.
2) You pick your choice of meat from Five Spice Chicken, Roasted Pork, Beef Short Ribs and Tofu.
3) Order any side items to go with your entree. (Getting the pork buns is really a no brainer)
The banh mi was average. If you ever had those from any authentic Vietnamese bakery in South San Jose, you most likely won’t be too impressed. Ssam was interesting but I found bean sprout gave it too much of a coarse texture.
What Spice Kit did well was the meat. Both the five spice chicken and beef short ribs were excellent. The quality of the meat was good. Flavors were just right and the texture was simply tender and juicy.
If you are in the neighborhood looking for a quick bite, Spice Kit won’t disappoint.
Price to Value: 3/5
Asian Box, Palo Alto, CA
Interesting concept but expensive for what it is.
Want a quick meal in Palo Alto area and is sick of deli sandwiches? Asian rice box seems like a wonderful idea. Ordering is simple enough by following their 3 steps instruction.
Step 1: Choose from Brown Rice/White Rice/Salad/Noodles
Step 2: Choose from Chicken/Pork/Beef/Tofu/Shrimp
Step 3: Pick your toppers and sauce
Easy huh? After that you just wait patiently for your order. It shouldn’t take long. There is one long communal table at the restaurant which could seat about 8-10 but most patrons ordered their box to-go.
The pork that came with my box was tender enough. The vegetable toppers were all quite fresh. I am not sure how ‘healthy’ it really was as my rice was completely drenched in the sweet fish sauce. Serving was more generous than I have expected but it wasn’t difficult to finish everything.
Lunch came up over $10 without any drinks or appetizers. A bit expensive for what you get. This is not Japanese bento, Chinese rice plate or Vietnamese noodle. It is just western food with some Asian ingredients. If you want something authentic, there are better options elsewhere.
Baume, Palo Alto, CA
12 dishes, 4 small bites, 2 glasses of champagne and 3 hours later, I left the restaurant happy but a little puzzled. Baume is worthy of its 2 Michelin stars status. However, there are still some elements missing. My dining experience was good but not exceptional. For a restaurant in this class I found the service to be just average. Descriptions of the dishes sounded robotic and simply boring. Most of the time all I heard was just a list of ingredients used. Some enthusiasm, or explanation of the technique would certainly have made things more interesting. I definitely enjoyed the showiness and dramatic presentation. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you) The “white tablet” made a great first impression. The kabocha soup with “pumpkin seeds” ice cream and the mandarin tree were both lovely surprises. I think they could go even further and put on more dazzling shows. There are quite a few memorable dishes. I could understand why the 62.5C egg is the chef’s signature dish. The texture was unreal and I think it might just be the best egg I have had. Both salad courses were wonderful. There were so much that went on in just one bite. Noirmoutier Turbot fish course was the highlight of my meal. The texture was uniform, juicy and bouncy. The sous-vide petite filet was tender and passed the ‘cutting with your fork’ test with ease. Desserts were beyond spectacular. There are a few dishes that made me wonder. Caviar Parfait is one. Creme fraiche, carrot puree and apple have a suppressing rather than enhancing effect on the caviar. Maine Lobster with the split pea puree, anise and hibiscus gelee seemed too sweet and lacked balance. Baume would be an interesting experience if it is your first molecular gastronomy encounter. Whether it is worthy of a return visit for a special occasion? I am still unsure.
Evvia Estiatorio, Palo Alto, CA
Food is good but not as great as the sister restaurant Kokkari. I tried similar dishes here for comparison and the result is obvious.
The Grilled Octopus appetizer from Kokkari that I adore was just average here. Evvia’s version of the octopus is tender but not crispy on the outside. The olive oil was also not as fragrant.
Lamb Riblets were likable. The meat fall off the bone easily although there were some parts that are slightly too dry.
The Lamb Chops here was comparable to the quality of Kokkari. If you like lamb chop you won’t be disappointed. Texture was good and seasoning was flavorful but not overwhelming. Not the best I have had but it was satisfying.
Location is everything when it comes to restaurant business. Evvia is tactically located in the heart of Palo Alto downtown close to all those banks and financial companies. It is always very busy. I doubt they could accommodate any walk in for lunch or dinner. If you really want to eat here, make sure you make a reservation well in advance (think in weeks, not days). Is it really worthy of marking your calender and confirming twice? (yes they call you twice to confirm) Personally I don’t think so. If location is not too big of a concern to you, I would recommend dining at Kokkari instead. The food and service are both better there.
SDG Tofu House, Palo Alto, CA
Dohatsuten Ramen, Palo Alto, CA
To be honest, the ramen is good value but the quality is average. I would say it is about 1 star below popular places like Ramen Dojo, Santouka and Orenchi. The ramen alone is nothing really to rave about. Toppings were plentiful but nothing really stood out. The stewed pork was a bit tough and too sweet. Chashu and the noodle were both mediocre. Tonkotsu broth was not bad. It was a bit on the mellow side but not too salty nor oily.
What I really like are the addon options for the ramen. For only $2.00 you can supersize your ramen with more noodle, broth and toppings! If that is still not enough, you can even opt for extra noodle ($1.50) or ramen chazuke ($1.50) (rice bowl you pour into the broth and eat after finishing your noodle). An extra large Hyper-Dohatsuten Ramen (with all toppings) is a very generous portion more than enough for two to share. That is a better deal than getting two separate regular bowls in my opinion. But don’t be too greedy and do save some room for the delicious mini donburi. They are only $2.99/$3.99 with any ramen order. The Shiro Maguro Don I had was really good. The seared white tuna is of very good quality. I enjoyed it even more than my ramen. Oh yes, they also have a few izakya (tapas) items on the the menu. The Nankotsu Karage (Fried chicken knee cartilage) was crispy and delicious!
I like Dohatsuten. It offers a bit more than just a regular ramen house. Pretty good value if you know what to order. I am quite curious about their Iron Yakimeshi. Would definitely go back to try it.
Jin Sho, Palo Alto, CA