The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse, Palo Alto, CA
Sagas, Barcelona, Spain
Spice Kit, Palo Alto, CA
Roasted Pork Banh Mi
Seven Fish, Key West, FL
Best meal I had in Key West
Gachi-Mogo, Santa Clara, CA
Sparkling new brick and mortar restaurant by the owner of MoGo BBQ food trunk. Fans of the food trunk would be excited to find their signature Korean BBQ fusion burrito and quesadilla here.
The restaurant shows promises despite opened for merely a week. I found their warm wooden furnishings and colorful cartoon artwork on the wall fun and welcoming. Ambiance is chic but casual. You order from the counter, take a seat and the waitstaff will bring you the food soon enough.
The food was not bad at all. The short rib burrito was even better what I had from their food trunk awhile back. The ribs is of fattier cut it seemed. The appetizer meatballs, one of the new additions to the menu, has a lovely lightly flavored zesty tomato sauce. The fried chicken sandwich, another new item, was rather interesting. It was almost a crossover between Vietnamese banh mi and Chick-fil-a. The bread could be crispier but the sauce was good and the fried chicken bites were tasty enough.
Gachi-Mogo, Sunnyvale, CA
My only complaint was the fries on the side. Some were a little soggy. The burrito and the sandwich already have a good amount of carbs. Things like kimchi or coleslaw would be a better compliment to the entree.
Overall a decent place for the price. Food only costs a little more than the food truck version but you get to sit down to enjoy your meal. Those who work near the area could consider coming here for a quick lunch.
Food: 3/5. Decent Korean BBQ meat in many different formats.
Service: 4/5. Quick and enthusiastic.
Ambiance: 4/5. Sparkling new, clean and trendy.
Price to Value: 4/5. Fairly generous portion for the price and food was reasonably tasty.
Alexander’s Steakhouse, Cupertino, CA
Hamura Saimin, Lihue, Kauai Island, HI
Saimin, a crossover between Japanese Ramen and Chinese egg noodle, is a local Hawaiian dish that is seldom found outside of the islands.
Travelers from major metropolitan area with good exposure to Asian cuisine might be slightly disappointed here. Unfortunately, saimin is really no delicacy. It is far simpler, or frankly, inferior, than both of its parents.
Hamura made a decent bowl of saimin, as far as saimin would go. Noodles were soft and chewy. The sliced pork topping was fatty and juicy. Fish cakes were mere standard fare. Wontons were least of my favorite. The unflavored ground pork and the coarse thick wrap did not excite me.
I wouldn’t consider this place a must try for your Kauai trip. Especially if you already had saimin elsewhere. It is a good value place to fill your stomach if you are in the area. A fairly large bowl of noodle is only a few bucks.
Food: 2/5. Really nothing special about these noodles.
Service: 2/5. Service with no smiles.
Ambiance: 2/5. A real hole in the wall with one S shape communal table.
Price to Value: 3/5. Large portion cheap food.
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
Ludlow, Cupertino, CA
Underwhelming is an understatement.
For a restaurant that offers multi-course and even omakase (tasting) menus, one would expect a finer dining experience. At first glance, the restaurant have its charms - elegant minimalist decor with floor length glass panels and all that. Unfortunately, both quality of the service and the food fall short.
A two-course dinner lasted over two hours was just ridiculous. A simple salad and an appetizer took over 45 minutes and then entrees were another 50 minutes.
The food was child’s play. It would be good, if from someone’s home kitchen. The Ludlow salad has just a few tiny pieces of paper thin sashimi. The Shrimp Tower, which was practically shrimp and sweet potato tempura on a stick, was no better than what you could easily find in most Japanese restaurants. The batter was a bit thick and not crisp enough.
Had the Octopus Risotto and Beef Stew entrees. Neither impresses. The texture of the beef chunks were inconsistent. A few pieces would be all nice and tender while the rest was super chewy. The miso sauce was not bad even though it was a bit ordinary. The octopus topping on the risotto was actually quite nice. Every pieces were cooked right. The risotto was sadly too mushy with very little firmness.
I think Ludlow would be much better off if positioned as a casual and more humble homestyle diner.
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.
AsiaSF, San Francisco, CA
It is impossible not to have a great time here. At first glance, the venue is much smaller than I imagined. The bar seats are fairly cramped and not exactly what you would consider comfortable. It didn’t take long before I started getting used to the more intimate atmosphere. Everyone from the bartenders to the dancer ‘ladies’ were extremely friendly and approachable. They took time to talk to all customers and noted any special occasions/requests. You get the feel that they were working hard to make you feel like a valued customer.
They really made great use of the small venue. The best seats in the house are at the bar. The performance was very energetic and the dancers were all lovely. There were no awkwardness and it is absolutely not a freak show in case you are wondering. Some ladies were celebrating her birthday there and got a ‘blowjob’ served by one of the lady. To be honest, I was quite envious. Why didn’t I get that for my birthday! I am considering taking my mom here for hers. I think she’s going to have a great time.
The most surprising thing of all, is the food. I pretty much expected food to suck given the nature of the venue. It didn’t. Not all dishes are great but everything was acceptable. The salmon was nicely made and better than what I had at many restaurants. Rice pudding dessert was tasty.