Tag Archives: tea

Le Croissant Cafe

4 Sep

I found some old pictures from California that I still want to share. It also helps that I left my card reader in California so I can’t transfer my new photos to my computer, therefore, these are the only photos I have at the moment.

One Saturday morning we didn’t have the energy to go sailing so we slept in and went out to have a lazy brunch. Brian took me to Le Croissant Cafe in Burlingame, CA.

It’s a cute little hole in the wall with a small menu but their breads were fresh and they have a case of pastries to choose from. We went for savory sandwiches rather than pastries but I saw a chocolate croissant that looked good. They also serve coffee drinks but we ordered an earl grey tea latte.

I got the egg salad on croissant. It was delicious! The egg salad was rich and creamy with excellent egg flavor. It complemented the tender, crispy croissant and the tomato and lettuce added the perfect lightness to the sandwich.

Brian got the chicken salad on baguette. The salad had a nice dill flavor but the chicken was shredded and seemed like it was from a pouch or can rather than freshly shredded. Overall, it was a good sandwich but I liked the egg salad better.

We also ordered an earl grey tea latte to drink. It was very light, which Brian liked but I would have preferred it with a stronger tea flavor and richer milk.

The service is great here. They served us everything even though it’s not a restaurant and we were sitting outside. The sun is on the wrong side of the street in the morning so it was a bit chilly sitting outside but I guess it was an unusually cold summer in the bay area anyway. The prices were a bit high but worth it for a nice slow brunch. Afterwards, we strolled around the shops nearby and enjoyed the weather.

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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!

Alice’s Tea Cup Take 2 & 3

21 Mar

curious french toast at alice tea cup
Curious french toast baked with pear surrounded by fresh berries and creme anglaise.

My good friend, Amanda, was visiting her boyfriend, Wayne (and me!) so we went to Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II on the east side. Then my sister and I had to use up a Groupon so we tried out Chapter I on the west side.

tea at alice tea cup
Meow says the tea drip catcher.

I have to say, Chapter I sucked. Service was extremely slow from the kitchen, the waitress could not do her job (didn’t acknowledge us until 10 minutes after we sat down, messed up our orders, didn’t know who ordered what when serving), and the food wasn’t good! The poached eggs tasted like vinegar and the pumpkin scone that I get every time was bland, bland, bland. It took us 30 minutes to get our food. Then I had to wait for the side order the waitress messed up even though I finished my dish already. The only really tasty part of the meal was the berry scone and the yogurt with berries, which they did not have to cook.

scones at alice tea cup
The good scones from Chapter II. Pumpkin and garlic, herb and cheese. This pumpkin had a lot more flavor than the one from chapter I.

Yes, normally people go there to sit and chat for hours on end and I’m usually easy to please when it comes to restaurants but this was just too much for me. So, sorry for the rant.

chicken ruben at alice tea cup
Chicken ruben at chapter II.

Chapter II had tasty food for the most part. Wayne randomly chose the eggs “Benedict”, which teaches you not to randomly pick stuff. The concept of this dish is just wrong but if you read the descriptions you’ll probably pick something you would like. Amanda got the Curious French Toast and I got the Chicken Ruben sandwich. Both were decent. The service was also faster and the waitstaff attentive. I also like the decor of Chapter II better plus they have more seating upstairs with lovely windows.

"eggs benedict" at alice tea cup
Eggs “benedict” on buttermilk scone and side of potatoes and chicken. Starchy and dry with a tart hollandaise sauce.

alice tea cup bigger breakfast
Alice’s Bigger Breakfast from Chapter I – 3 tiers with scone, eggs any style, veggies (asparagus, spinach and bell pepper) or bacon, and vanilla yogurt with berries (straw, blue, black, and rasp -berry).

alice tea cup table
Take home message: go to Chapter II if you do have to splurge on brunch. Time for me to find a new, less touristy, tea place.

Surprise bday party! Tea recipe too.

31 Jan

My really good friends from high school threw a surprise birthday party for Eugene and I since our birthdays are close. My cousin, Wendy, cooked some incredible Korean food. I managed to only get pics of some of the food so there was more but everything was delicious.

jap chae
Jap chae which is glass noodles with mixed veggies and beef.

kalbi
Kalbi – delicious marinated beef short ribs.

kimbap
A whole bunch of kimbap or Korean sushi from the store. There were beef, spicy tuna, california style with spinach and a veggie one.

korean tofu
Carol helped Wendy make this bean paste tofu dish which was really tasty.

cheesecake
Carol bought us a cheesecake with fruit.

We also had a whole bunch of traditional Korean appetizers and I brought a homemade Korean drink that’s sweet and spicy. I first had this drink at Kun Jip in Koreatown and fell in love with it ever since.

Chilled Cinnamon Ginger Tea (Soojong Gwa)
Serves around 8-10.

Ingredients:
1/2 gallon water (divided into 2 pots)
3 sticks cinnamon (about 3-4″ each), rinsed
2-3 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup brown sugar + more to taste
1/3 cup white sugar + more to taste
pinenuts (optional garnish)

Directions:
1. Boil 1/2 the water (4 cups) divided into two pots.
2. Add the cinnamon sticks to one pot and sliced ginger to the other. Simmer on low for 30 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and discard cinnamon sticks and ginger. Combine the two liquids and add sugars. Stir until sugars are dissolved. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.
4. Chill until cold, preferably overnight. Serve cold garnished with pinenuts.

Note: You can boil the cinnamon and ginger in one pot but I’ve read that it’s better to do it in two.

Alice’s Tea Cup

25 Oct

My friend Ying Ying and I went to Alice’s Tea Cup today. I really like tea houses because they always have yummy food and yummy tea. We went to the East 64th St. location. While it was quite small with not much to look at, the food was great. The service was decent and there were a lot of waitstaff though our waitress kept forgetting what peopled ordered because she didn’t write things down – I saw this happen twice. Since there was a party upstairs and only a couple of tables downstairs, go early or be prepared to wait. I put my name down at 11am and got seated pretty quickly, they’ll even call your cell phone when a table becomes available.

Pumpkin scone, banana chocolate chip scone, and cream with raspberry preserves.
alicetea scones

Tea with a kitty drip catcher. Isn’t it so cute?! That little thing by itself is $10!!
alicetea teapot

We shared a scones with tea ($10) and had the pumpkin scone and banana chocolate chip. I ordered the Symphony tea which was a strawberry and chocolate flavored Indian black tea. Wasn’t too impressive. The pumpkin scone was to die for! More cakey than scone like but full of pumpkin flavor and lightly spiced. I didn’t care for the banana chocolate chip flavor but the texture was great. Ying Ying ordered a peach and flower Bellini ($12) but it didn’t taste so good to either of us.

Half finished french toast.
alicetea french toast

For our main dishes, I ordered the Alice’s Special French Toast ($9) and Ying Ying had a Ham and Gruyere Crepe ($12) with mixed greens salad (no pic because she wanted to eat haha). Both our dishes were delicious and cooked perfectly! My french toast was SO good but I was actually full from the scones so I took half of it home. Crispy, soft, warm, sweet, flavorful, and covered in fresh berries. The savory crepe was a nice change from all the sweets and tasted wonderful.

Isn’t Ying Ying so cute? =D
alicetea yinying

Next time I go, I’m going to have to try their cupcakes and maybe a burger and of course, more tea! Who wants to go with me? đŸ˜‰

Oh and then we went and bought a car!! Ying Ying’s newest car is a Honda Civic in sexy black. Very nice.

Reviews: Otafuku and Podunk!

28 Sep

I finally got to go out today and spent the day exploring two new restaurants and shopping at Union Square with two of my friends, Ying Ying and Mou. It was a lot of fun and I liked both restaurants so I recommend them to you! I definitely want to visit these again. Too bad the weather was humid and rainy. We even walked through a street fair along Broadway but I didn’t bother taking my camera out in the rain.

We first went to Otafuku for a snack (breakfast for me.. it was 1pm). Otafuku specializes in Japanese street food and offers a very limited menu of yakisoba (seafood fried noodles), takoyaki (octopus balls – also in plain or cheese), okonomiyaki (pork, beef, shrimp, squid, corn w/ scallion), edamame, some drinks and some desserts. The food ranges from $3 to $8 excluding drinks and dessert.

Here’s Ying Ying enjoying her $1 iced barley tea on the one and only bench outside the restaurants. There isn’t any seating inside. Mou is inside ordering.
otafuku front

There is very little space inside and they don’t like you staying in the restaurant to wait. They make you wait outside once you’ve placed your order and paid. Here’s the dude filling the giant takoyaki pan with batter. You can see the okonomiyaki (savory pancakes with cabbage and meat) being fried in the front.
otafuku takoyaki making

Close up of the dude putting the second layer of batter on top of the octopus filling. They later flip the balls over with a stick but I missed it. Crappy pic because it’s dark inside.
otafuku takoyaki making2

Here’s a half eaten picture of Combo B – 6 octopus takoyaki and 1 order of shrimip okonomiyaki. It takes 10 minutes for them to cook the pancake. Mou got his takoyaki much faster than us because those were made from the last batch. Everything was smothered in a tangy dark sauce, mayo and bonito (fish flakes). Yum. Combo B was $8. It was a filling snack.
otafuku food eaten

After that we walked around the fair and shopped at 14th Street. By then it was around 4pm and we were dead tired so we walked all the way back to 5th St to have some tea.

We went to Podunk, a quaint little tea house run by a quaint little old lady. I loved the place, the small room was full of old fashioned memorabilia and had a mismatched assortment of picnic-y tables and chairs. Most seated only 2 people while there was a party of like 6 by the door when we entered. The place filled up quickly after that.
podunk sign

Counter where you place your order. There’s no wait service here, you order, pick up your things, bring it back and pay after you’re all done.
podunk counter

View of the rest of the room from our table by the counter.
podunk room

I had the Nibbler Tea which was $16 for one person (different price if shared). It included cheddar crackers, apricots stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, spiced cookies, mini scones, mini apples, clotted cream, apricot jam, and what I believe to be fig jam with herbs (not sure). The pot of tea was included and I went with the recommendation of apricot tea. Oh my goodness this was fun to eat. The jams and cream were absolutely delicious. And the tea was divine.. with sugar and cream as well as without.
podunk nibbler tea

Ying Ying had the Cream Tea which was maybe $12 or $14? I forget. Hers included scones, mixed berries, straberry and apricot jams, clotted cream and grapes. She also went with the recommend tea of ceylon (being poured in the background).
podunk cream tea

Picture of the tea with sugar, cream and lemons. Not pictured was Mou’s peppermint tea in a blue pot.
podunk tea

The teas are around $5 to $8 for a personal order if I remember correctly. They have a large tea menu with iced teas as well. Also several “teas” that include food and tea going up to $25. Everything isn’t cheap but since everything is hand made and presented so beautifully, it’s worth the experience. The owner is polite and doesn’t rush you at all to leave at all (though she did seem to get annoyed when she called an order out and the girl on the cellphone didn’t go pick it up). My order didn’t come with the chocolate truffle as mentioned in the menu so we asked about it and she said they ran out. So she let us choose any replacement! We got a pretty pink frosted cupcake. We also asked for more water in the teapots and she had no problems refilling them. The tables are first come first serve though so get there early if you don’t want to wait.. I think people usually stay for a long while once they’re there. I’m still craving some apricot tea.. and now I must buy my own cute little teapot. ^_^

Franchia Vegetarian Tea House

23 Aug

franchia.com

I met up with two of my good girl friends today for lunch at Franchia (34th St. and Park Ave). One of my friends is a hotelie graduate so she always picks the yummy restaurants. My other friend is vegetarian so we decided to try out Franchia which is a vegetarian Korean tea house. It was a really nice experience. Very relaxing decor and music. I loved the hanging linen fabric sheets near the entrance and the intricate wooden ceiling in particular. There is outdoor cafe style seating and seating indoors in a cool three level style that allows for openness yet still private.

Dishes range from around $8 to $20 or so and the teas and specialty drinks range from $5 to $10 or so. I had the Penang stir fried noodles with “beef” ($10) and a Green Tea Tealatta ($6). Both were delicious and portioned just right. The noodles reminded me of the typical Chinese chow har fun dish but with thinner rice noodles cooked just right (not mushy and had a nice bite). The faux beef looked very realistic and was a nice texture though it lacked a bit in flavor. The bean curd pieces that was also included were tasty. The tealatta was really good – cold, sweet, slightly creamy, and made from real tea leaves. I also shared a Crispy Tofu Skin sushi and that was really good too. Great flavor and very fresh.

My hotelie friend went for the 5-course pre-fixe with a seaweed soup, 2 appetizers (3 dumplings and 3 “chicken” satay sticks), entree with fried tofu, pumpkin and other items with brown rice, and finally dessert of soy ice cream (butter pecan I believe) and choice of tea. She tried 2nd-pick green tea (whatever that means.. Franchia offers tea classes). My vegetarian friend went for ramen noodle soup with “lobster” balls because she was feeling under the weather. She also had a white peony tea with honey. She said she couldn’t taste the honey but loved the restaurant.

Afterward, we took a peak at the gift “shop” which is really just a shelf on the wall with really nice tea cups, tea sets and tea. Oh yeah, you can even order things to go. We all decided we must go again to try more of their menu. Overall it was a really relaxing lunch with good food and good friends. 5-stars.

Since I forgot my camera (smacks fore head), all I can leave you with is a picture of the soy ice cream that I found on the internet.