Tag Archives: sushi

Yume-ya Japanese Izakaya

2 Aug

I thought I knew Japanese food. I love Japanese food and eat at Japanese restaurants quite often. Turns out I’ve never eaten izakaya style food. Izakaya is like a Japanese bar that serves small plates of food (like tapas in Spain). Yume-ya in Sunnyvale, CA is a cross between an izakaya and a sushi joint. We went with a friend who regularly goes and can order in Japanese so I got to try several new dishes. Don’t be scared of this next picture.

First, we got raw squid that had been marinated (fermented?) in its own gut juice (ika no shiokara). The dish looked pretty disgusting. It was very salty with a hint of lemon and the texture was slippery and soft. I couldn’t chew what I assume was the skin layer. I probably won’t order this again.

Next we got garlic shoots with fatty pork belly. This dish was shining with oil but tasted good. The greens were crisp and had excellent onion flavor. The pork was melt in your mouth (because it was mainly fat). I only wish it could be made with less oil.

We also had beef tongue and takoyaki. The beef tongue was grilled nicely and was tender. The sweet vinegar dipping sauce paired nicely with the salty meat. The takoyaki was fresh and hot with the octopus inside not being overcooked. Nice presentation but could have had more bonito flakes, I didn’t taste them at all.

Two orders of uni nigiri and a giant seaweed onigiri came next. Uni is sea urchin and I love it. These tasted great and were creamy. Yum! The rice in the onigiri was cooked perfectly but I didn’t love the spicy filling.

We also got sweet shrimp nigiri, which is raw shrimp. This was my favorite new thing to try. I’ve never had raw shrimp before and it was so creamy and delicate. The wasabi in between the shrimp and rice was great burst of flavor combining with the shrimp and roe in your mouth. This is a must try.

Lastly, we shared a bowl of chazuke, which is rice and fish roe in hot tea. I would have preferred salmon to the roe because I don’t like cooked fish eggs, but it was a comforting finish to the meal.

There were two dishes that we tried but I didn’t get a picture of before they got eaten (I’ve linked to pictures I found on google). One was mackerel, or saba, sashimi. This fish had a nice salty and fatty flavor. The other was fried shrimp heads, which was creepy to me at first due to the large eyes staring at me. I was converted once I bit into the crunchiness. It was a tasty bite.

Sailing, Kimbap, Shanghai Dumplings, Egg Tarts

15 Jul

I remembered to take pictures of sailing last Saturday at the Cal Sailing Club. It was my second sailing lesson and it went great! I hope that I’ll get a few more chances to go before I have to leave California. I already know that we probably won’t have a chance to go this weekend and then the next weekend, we were invited (last minute) to a wedding! I learned a lot this lesson because I got a chance to sail. Our instructor this time, Pierro, was a really detailed teacher. So far I know how to set the boat into the water from a raised dock, tie the boat to dock, rig the sails to be ready to sail, use the tiller (toward the boom = toward the wind, away from the boom = away from the wind), and tacking (changing directions when sailing into the wind). I just hope I can remember all the info the next time I go. I’m bad at sailing at the right angle to the wind (30 is best) but it wasn’t bad for my first time. I didn’t capsize or get seasick!

sail boats at dock

The boat I’m learning is the one with the purple sail in the picture above. It’s a 15-foot Laser Performance Bahia and can fit four people (instructor + 3 students).

the clubhouse

windsurfers and kayakers

Cal Sailing Club also has windsurfing lessons included in membership. You can also borrow wet suits, wet weather gear and PFDs (personal floatation devices).

After sailing, it’s lunchtime so it’s a nice reward to go find something yummy to eat. We ended up in south Berkeley this time where there are lots of cheap eats for college students. I really wanted kimbap for some reason so we stopped at Kimchi Garden for some. Brian was going to go for other stuff somewhere else but when we saw how big the order was, we ended up just having this and bubble tea. This whole order was less than $6!! The restaurant apparently has really bad reviews but my order came out really fast and tasted good so I’ll say it’s safe to order kim bap at least. It even came with kimchi and spicy fish cake.

super huge kim bap

Bubble tea was from Sweet Heart Cafe on the same block. I got the red bean milk coffee with tapioca, which was not bad. The coffee was strong and the red beans on the bottom were tasty. Brian’s vanilla milk green tea with tapioca was watery with a strong green tea flavor.

We then went to the area where Berkeley Labs is located, which has awesome views high up. The platform is right outside the Lawrence Hall of Science. You can see far from this view point. We can even see Berkeley Marina where we were sailing.

That night I didn’t feel like cooking so we ate out with Amanda’s family plus Kim who was visiting (Cornell friend). We ate at Shanghai Dumplings in Cupertino and had siu long bao a.k.a. soup dumplings (regular and crab), chow mien, rice cakes, and pork sticky rice in a hollowed out bamboo stem.

pork bamboo sticky rice in hollow bamboo

siu long bao, crab on the bottom

They were pretty tasty but the ones from Joe’s Shanghai in NYC were richer/fattier. The noodles at Joe’s Shanghai were also better but the food here was good. They even have a dumpling station where you can watch them make the dumplings.

On Sunday, Amanda’s Dad threw a World Cup Finals party. They had cooked up some salmon, chicken and kielbasa while everyone else brought a dish (there was so much food). Since I was unsatisfied with the dan tat from the cooking lesson, I made my own. I knew I had to make a lot and didn’t want to spend too much time on them so I cheated and used store bought refrigerated pie crusts (the rolled ones). For the filling I followed this recipe but added 3 Tbsp of sugar to the filling because it wasn’t sweet enough when paired with the salty pie crust. The crust in the recipe is supposedly very sweet. Make sure you strain the filling or you’ll end up with white spots from the egg white protein. I didn’t have a strainer so my first two batches had spots. This filling recipe makes around 48 egg tarts IF you use a regular sized empty can as a cookie cutter and re-roll pie crust scraps. I used up two packages of crusts (4 pieces total).

dan tat (egg tarts)

Bake at 375 F for about 15-17 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be done soon after they puff up. Stick a wooden skewer in them to test if the filling is set. You don’t want to overcook these because you’ll get tough eggs. I found that the ones that didn’t puff didn’t come out as nice (the egg had leaked below the crust due to overfilling or shaking the pan when putting it into the oven). Egg leakage meant soggy dark bottoms due to excess moisture and sugar. They were still edible but not very presentable.

in the oven

smooth, sweet custard

Even though the crust wasn’t authentic, they were a hit at the party! They were easy to make so I’m going to make more soon.

Backlog of food photos + Bento 39

28 Jun

I haven’t been motivated to write up a post for you all even though I have been taking pictures and all. Now that the weekend is over, I have no excuse to clear out the pictures that have been queuing up on my desktop.

Let’s start off with a bento I made last week. I only have access to two bento boxes (this one and a lock n lock) so they are a little bland in color. I’ll have to try to make more color foods.

bento 39

This bento has cut up homemade peanut zong zi, pork gyoza, and homemade pickled carrots from a previous CSA share. Our newest CSA share didn’t have carrots but had lots of other yummy stuff.

CSA share 5, click for notes

Week 5′s box had (going clockwise from left):
purple cocktail onions – fancy
green butter lettuce
huge bunch of Italian basil – eeks! no food processor/blender to make pesto!
mei quin choi – yay! Chinese veggies! so fresh and good.
gem lettuce (i think..or romaine)
strawberries
romanesco broccoli – tasted like cauliflower!
red norland potatoes
green beans

We ate out a few times even though we had so much food at home. I was really tired of cooking and all the leftovers were getting old so we ignored them and ended up throwing out a bunch of stuff last night. =( I hate wasting food.I need to learn to not buy so much and not cook so much because we only have two people to eat it all (versus 4-5 in my family).

On Friday night we went to Hotaru in downtown San Mateo. The Wine Walk event was occurring where streets were closed off for wine tasting booths on the street and in the stores downtown. It was lively with people enjoying live music, hor douvrs, and local wine. We walked around that for a bit before having dinner.

udon combo 1

Brian got the udon combo with grilled mackerel and California roll. I tried chirashi for the first time. I loved it! The fish here is really fresh and had a lot of flavor. There was also shrimp, octopus, squid, and sweetened egg along with tuna, salmon, and two types of white fish I couldn’t identify.

chirashi regular

For Sunday lunch we went to Saigon City in San Mateo. It was one of the hottest weekends of the summer though it was nothing compared to how hot and humid New York gets. We wanted non-hot food so we ordered banh mi. I got the ham and he got pork. They were really good. The bread was soft yet still had a nice chew unlike most Vietnamese sandwiches that are really chewy. My ham sandwich had two types of ham and pate. The pork was tender, flavorful and grilled nicely (not burnt). Both sandwiches were great with hot sauce.

ham banh mi

pork banh mi

Check out my next post for what we did on Saturday, there will be lots of pictures!

Picnic at Vasona Lake

16 Jun

We crashed got invited to a picnic outing/biking event at Vasona Lake Park on Sunday. It was a party consisting of several families who’s parents knew each other from college. Everybody brought food, bikes and other fun things to do. It was a gorgeous hot day and there were lots of people enjoying the park. The park was big enough that it didn’t feel crowded at all. One of the families went super early to reserve a bunch of picnic tables that were right by the lake yet under shade. They set up a bunch of chairs right in front of the water and the breeze felt so good.

bikes mounted to car, ready to go!

our tables loaded with food

the lakeside deck

our view, we could walk into the water if we wanted to

You could even rent peddle boats and kayaks for $15/hr along with other stuff. People were paddling surf board type things while standing and there was a sail boat. There were lots of dogs in boats too!

chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake

I made chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. The cookie dough was from scratch, the cake and frosting from a box/tub. They came out great! The key is to freeze the dough completely and then not over bake so the cookie doesn’t cook. I followed this recipe. After food some of us played ultimate frisbee but most of us were out of shape that we only scored 2 goals (tie game) before we quit. It was too hot to keep going anyway.

water guns = refreshing

Then water guns came out to cool everyone down. After more food, drinks and sunblock, we biked around the lake. We went about halfway then turned back because not everyone was experienced enough to go all the way. After relaxing on the deck and playing with bubbles, we started a water balloon toss. Once we had a winner, it was free for all. For some reason my balloons don’t pop when they hit people, they just bounce off them!

When balloons hit me though, they popped.. 2 on my shorts! Brian wasn’t playing and was taking pictures instead. After a group photo, one of the adults took a water balloon that he saved without anyone knowing and popped it while pretending to give Brian a hug. Since I was standing right by him, I got splashed too.. gee thanks!

the aftermath

Thanks Amanda for inviting us to the picnic!!!

And here are some pictures of what we ate on Saturday at Maru Ichi in Mountain View.

hiyashi chuka - cold noodle salad

kuru ramen, california roll, gyoza

Both were really good. Kuru Ramen is blacked or roasted garlic soup based ramen. The pork was super soft and melts in your mouth. The cali roll wasn’t great but the pot stickers weren’t bad. Beware, that yellow stuff on the side of the hiyashi chuka is horseradish/wasabi. I didn’t know what it was so I tasted it. It buuuurned. Not smart.

Biking to Foster City

6 Jun kite surfers

First off, food I made for Friday lunch were avocado summer rolls. They had avocado, sprouts, Thai basil, rice noodles, red butter lettuce, and pickled carrots.

avocado summer rolls

For Friday dinner, I got to visit Google!! I had some fantastic food and ate lots of snacks. I didn’t take any pictures because everything was new to me and I didn’t want to seem more out of place than I already was with my visitor sticker. We ate at No Name Cafe, which features a seasonal vegetarian menu. Since it was dinner service, they also had meat. The vegetarian theme was Thai food and their curry and coconut rice were amazing. I also had shrimp scampi, stir fry broccoli, green peas in shell, buttered toasts with Manchego cheese and goat cheese brie, cherry chocolate chip cookies, whipped Greek yogurt mousse with honey and blackberries, and some vegan mango smoothie. Everything was yummy and from fresh ingredients.

approximate path, the whole trip was 14 miles!

On Saturday, we went biking. Starting out I was full of energy. We biked through the streets of San Mateo until we reached the start of the Bay Trail where we were able to leave traffic (biking in traffic makes me nervous). The area by the trail head was great for picnic-ing because there were grassy areas, picnic benches and even a man made sand area with shaded spots. There were lots of families out enjoying the sun.

The trail was great! Not crowded but not desolate either and most importantly, not hilly. It’s right by the water so the scenery was nice and there was a great breeze. Although the water was pretty brown when we started out (low tide), it turned a much nicer blue as it got deeper. We could see many wind surfers and kite surfers in the water since it was a super windy spot.

there were probably 3x more in the water than this pic

Our destination goal was Foster City because there was a park there where we were going to have lunch. To our delight, we found a festival in that very park! It was a pretty standard festival/street fair/carnival set up with kiddie rides, booths to shop at, food stands, local community organizations, etc. We got to explore an ambulance, look at all the compartments of a fully stocked fire truck, shop around and finally we found a nice gazebo along the lake away from all the noise to have lunch. Luckily we brought our own food because otherwise we would be tempted to get expensive unhealthy carnival food like funnel cake!

foster city festival

Here’s the food we brought with us. We got it in a supermarket in San Mateo so it was cheap. The spicy tuna sushi was really, really good because it had masago (fish eggs) and scallions in it. We also got spam musubi, a salmon onigiri and a kombu (seaweed) onigiri.

sushi lunch

While lunching we watched a dragon boat team practice rowing. They didn’t have a drummer so the guy was yelling his throat out counting the strokes for them.

We saw a flag that looked like a fail whale so we called it the fail whale boat. Someone should make a fail whale boating company.

When we were biking home, the wind had picked up considerably. It was pushing against us so it was a really difficult bike home. We were really tired and my butt was killing me (crappy bike seat). It was such a relief to make it home. I was sweating so much that I immediately changed into my swim suit and took a dip in the pool. It felt amazing.

For dinner we went over to Anya’s potluck cheesecake party. We made a Korean spinach side dish because had a whole plastic shopping bag full of fresh spinach from the CSA share. Look at how much spinach there was.

After blanching it, squeezing it dry and mixing it with the sauce, we were left with a much smaller volume. We followed Maangchi’s recipe for sigeumchi naumul.

We finished our meal with the strawberry parfait cheesecake that Anya spent hours making. It was amazingly good and put everyone into a food coma.

strawberry parfait cheesecake

Day 1 in California

25 May

We landed in SFO yesterday. The international airport there is much nicer than JFK. We always fly Virgin America which lands in the international section of the airport. I highly recommend Virgin America, the planes interiors are much nicer than other comparative low-priced airlines. I sat in the middle seat this time which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. If I had a choice, I always pick an aisle seat. I’m mildly claustrophobic and also hate disturbing strangers if I need to use the restroom.

Brian’s apartment is in San Mateo and the complex is really nice. His windows face three gorgeous palm trees, a citrus fruit tree (not sure what type) and another unknown fruit tree that feeds birds. If you know what the fruit are, let me know if it tastes good!

There are lots of squirrels too including the aggressive black squirrels. They like to chase each other up and down the palm trees, spiraling around to avoid each other.

there are 2 squirrels here

Since Brian’s apartment is really close to downtown San Mateo, there are tons of restaurants to sample from. There’s a high concentration of Japanese restaurants in particular. I estimated around 15 Japanese restaurants the last time I was here, which is a huge number considering how small downtown actually is.

While I’m going to try to cook as much as possible to save money and eat healthier, we also like to eat out. It takes a lot of planning to cook in Brian’s kitchen since it’s not well stocked so sometimes we’re too lazy to cook, especially since there are so many affordable restaurants to pick from. So you can expect a lot of posts about restaurants!

For lunch on day 1, we ate at Old Town Sushi in downtown San Mateo. It was the cheapest Japanese restaurant I’ve been to and even though it’s run by Chinese people, the food was good.

We ordered the Shioyaki bento box and the Number One roll to share.

shioyaki with shrimp and veggie tempura

The shioyaki was done very nicely with crispy skin. The shrimp tempura wasn’t that great, the only good tempura were the sweet potato and kobucha pumpkin. It also came with salad, rice and 3 pieces of California roll (didn’t like). See here for full picture.

Number One roll

The Number One roll was really tasty for a super-sized American style sushi roll. The roll consisted of shrimp, avocado, crab salad inside with half salmon and half tuna on top and covered in more crab salad, scallions, black sesame and a mild hot sauce. While it was good, we ended up not eating most of the crab salad on top. I think it’s the same crab they use in the California rolls, which I didn’t like. They also gave us a free bowl of edamame once we sat down along with rice green tea.

miso soup came with the bento box

Brian went back to work and I did some shopping. I went to the thrift store and got hangers and a small ironing board for $5 total. After work, we went grocery shopping at an awesome Asian supermarket called Ranch 99. $30 worth of groceries earned us $3 for their hot deli section so we got the most delicious loaf red bean swirl Taiwanese bread. Yum, the perfect breakfast.

For dinner we ate in Mountain View because Brian is cat-sitting three adorable cats for a friend. We also got a hot roasted oolong milk bubble tea at Tea Era. I have lots of pics but don’t want to bombard this post so I’ll try to post more later if we go back. Dinner was at Pho Garden, home of the pho challenge.

There were so many people attempting the pho challenge, which was to finish 2 lbs of noodles and 2 lbs of beef in one hour (don’t need to finish soup). If they win, they get to keep the giant bowl and a t-shirt, if they lose, they get the t-shirt. You could also order that dish for multiple people to share but you don’t win anything if you finish. I totally think my brother would try this if he were here. I sneaked a picture of these guys who were just starting. Look here for a picture of them signing the contract (several pages long).

pho challenge

I had the Garlic Noodles with Five Spice Chicken. The chicken was great! The noodles were coated in garlic powder.. I was not expecting that. I would have preferred real garlic or some kind of garlic sauce.

5 spice chicken garlic noodles

Brian got the Beef Pho. It’s very important that the soup broth is tasty and this one was. I saved the leftover sprouts and Thai basil to make some summer rolls later. My excuse: the basil and sprouts were sold in huge packs at the supermarket! ^_^

beef pho

We’re having leftovers for lunch and going to Amanda’s home for a family dinner today. I made sai mai lo so I’ll post that tomorrow if I remember to take pictures. Thanks for reading!

Inarizushi and Walnut noodle (bento 21 & 22)

23 Mar

Inarizushi is a tofu pouch that’s stuffed with sushi rice. The pouch is made out of a fried tofu that’s cooked a sweet soy mixture. I can’t find this stuff in the stores I’ve been to in NY but I found them at the Japanese supermarket, Mitsuwa, in Edgewater, NY. I love these pouches because they’re sweet and easily turn into bento food. I actually tried these for the first time at Cornell in their sushi packs. Ah, the good ole days of dining hall and overpriced to-go food. Not that much has changed with the overpriced part in the city.

bento 21

I stuffed these pouches with rice, eel and eel sauce and sprinkled with some wasabi furikake. Yum! I brought it to class but didn’t get to eat it till I got home since class ended early.

bento 22

Today’s laptop lunch features stir fried noodles with toasted walnuts, side of greens and roast pork, hunk of olive bread, super sweet oranges, and orange Pocky. The toasted walnuts were SO GOOD.

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