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  • Oct 2007
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 320 Village Ln
Los Gatos, CA

very disappointing. went here for an...

very disappointing. went here for an anniversary dinner. had heard it was expensive but worth it, but sadly, it was just expensive, and we left the restaurant hungrier than when we came!

it was the classically bad fine dining experience – the food was a little too intellectual with miserly portions. we were hungry throughout the meal and nothing really delivered. we had gotten the wine pairings with our meal as well, and they were really, really stingy with the pours as well (maybe 2 oz of liquid at best). would recommend bringing your own bottle and eating the corkage fee ($30), although i have to say they had a wide variety of unusual wines from different regions around the world. so if that’s your thing, you’ll get that, at least. i was hoping for the opportunity to actually see how the wine pairs with the dish instead of worrying about drinking it all with the first mouthful.

if i had to sum up the experience i would say that the food was artfully crafted and well-presented, but was a little too experimental for me, and the portions were really not sufficient at all. it’s probably a place to go when you’ve eaten everywhere else already and are tired of the same old thing. but still, i can’t imagine myself eating this stuff over and over – if i went again, i have no idea what i’d order differently. it’s a fun place to try, but be prepared to drop some serious cash for that privilege.

we had ordered the 4 course meal with regular wine pairings, and gotten 1 app, 2 savories and a dessert. in retrospect, i should have ordered 3 or maybe even 4 savories.

i had:
garden greens veloute with foie gras
bone in roast monkfish
dry age been strip
jasmine flower custard

my gf had:
garden greens veloute
black cod
farm poularde
spring carrot pudding

in addition to this they also bring out:
oyster w/some caviar
farm egg

the oyster was great – well balanced, not too fishy. farm egg was very good – masterfully cooked and presented.

garden greens veloute was nice and velvety, but it had a sourness to it that just made my mouth pucker. it was an interesting presentation but something in the veloute just killed it for me. couldn’t really taste the richness of the foie gras either, which is what i was craving.

the monkfish was decent, not very memorable. my gf’s black cod was much the same. i probably don’t remember it because i only had literally 5 bites of it and it was all gone.

the beef strip was good, but i could tell that the restaurant’s strengths lay in other dishes. i was definitely eyeing my gf’s poularde – a very interesting presentation of chicken, sweetbreads and other things rolled up. again, though, there was a max of 6 bites and that was it.

my dessert was good as well, and my gf enjoyed hers but there was something odd about it as well – these weird crispy bits that really stood out and didn’t complement anything.

now that i’m writing this i’m realizing that i actually did like the majority of my dishes, but it’s more of an intellectual enjoyment rather than a more visceral physical enjoyment. my first reaction is more like, oh, that dish was interesting because of x,y,z instead of damn, that was tasty.



 202 S Main St
Salt Lake City, UT

2nd impression: good planning/restauranteur...

2nd impression: good planning/restauranteur backing, but so-so execution. Bambara feels like it would be a high-class, fine dining experience, and it has all the components to be a great restaurant – nice decor, prompt service, etc. However, the cuisine just isn’t there, and pricey dishes just don’t make it worthwhile.

We had a flight to catch so we stopped by Bambara for a quick breakfast before heading out. We both had some Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, and split a Fruit Plate. I ordered the Atlantic Smoked Salmon Benedict, and my companion had an omelette with Spinach, Tomatoes and Salmon. Her dish also came with some sourdough toast.

The fruit plate was definitely sub-par. I was expecting more melon and stone fruits (being fall) but instead got a spread of apples, oranges, grapes, grapefruit, and kiwi (and one lone strawberry). There was a bit of cantaloupe and honeydew, but not as much as I had hoped. Fruit wasn’t that fresh and wasn’t that high quality either – definitely tart. They also left the skin on the kiwi slices – that’s just sloppy.

My entree was only decent. My eggs were definitely overcooked – I like the yolk to be runny and to spill out over the dish, but no such luck – the yolk was pretty firm. The smoked salmon is what made the dish. The hollandaise sauce was good. The dish also came with some country potatoes, which were decent, but in various states of being overcooked and undercooked.

My companion’s omelette looked pretty good. She mentioned, however, that the eggs were too buttery for her tastes, but the omelette itself appeared to be cooked pretty well – good texture. Her toast was nothing special – but they were pretty generous, providing 2 big slices of bread. There was a LOT of butter on the toast, though, but I didn’t mind that.

Total came to $40. Yeah. I get the feeling that Bambara is really catering to people on business trips with money to spend that isn’t theirs. I’ve had better and more filling breakfasts for more reasonable prices. We looked around the restaurant (Wed morning) and saw that pretty much everyone in the restaurant was a business traveler of some kind.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that we had a solid eating option in Bambara just down in the lobby. Still, it’s not markedly better than other eating options in Salt Lake City.


Santa Ramen

 805 S B St
San Mateo, CA

This place is great! I'm not a ramen...

This place is great! I’m not a ramen connoissour, but I do loves me some noodles. We came here later on a Wednesday afternoon, at 1:35ish. The place is very small and even then, there was a bit of a wait. Decor is nothing special and the service is sparse, but once you get your bowl you just dig in and that’s all I need, really.

My companion had mentioned that the pork broth was definitely the broth to get, but they routinely run out of stuff and sure enough, there were several small signs informing us that they were currently out of the pork broth and boiled eggs.

Ordering is a little confusing – there’s an array of placards on the wall that show the base broths – shoyu, pork, and soy bean (miso). Under each base broth, there are a variety of toppings – extra pork, noodles, fresh seaweed, roasted seaweed, bean sprouts, etc. The base level broths show prices like, shoyu $7.00, pork $7.50, miso $7.50 or something like that. Underneath, you’ll see stuff like boiled eggs $8.50, fresh seaweed $8.95, etc. This does NOT mean that the toppings cost $8.50, but rather, it’s the total price (assuming that you get the broth at the top of the column). I thought that wasn’t that intuitive.

Anyway, on to the food. Being out of the pork broth, I got the miso broth with extra pork and fresh seaweed. My companion got the shoyu broth with bean sprouts. I also ordered the chicken karage don, which is only $1.25 extra on top of your meal. You get a couple pieces of chicken karage (breaded and fried chicken pieces) on top of some rice.

The ramen was chock full of stuff – there was bamboo, roasted seaweed, bean sprouts, scallions, and then my pork and fresh seaweed. The broth was amazing! It was bursting with flavor and really infused the ingredients with savory goodness. I looked a little more closely at the broth and noticed lots of little white particulates – you guessed it, fat!! My companion said that it’s probably pork fat. It really makes the broth very savory and not greasy at all. I cringed a little at the quantity of it, but it tasted so good that it didn’t matter.

Would love to go back – great value! Some of the best ramen I’ve had in the Bay Area. Gotta get there early to ensure that they still have pork broth. And the atmosphere/decor is what you’d expect from a place like this. As I’m writing this they still have not moved to their new location, and when asked about it, they simply replied, “We don’t know.”


Tartine Bakery

 600 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA

great little local bakery! loved the chocolate...

great little local bakery! loved the chocolate croissants and the ham quiche. can be crowded, but no worries, get your food to go and take a walk around nearby mission/dolores park.

would like to go back and try all the other yummies that people are talking about.


Market Street Grill

 48 W Market St
Salt Lake City, UT

First impressions: Not bad, but definitely not...

First impressions: Not bad, but definitely not great, especially for the price. Seafood isn’t that fresh, but what do you expect from a landlocked state. Perhaps I’m spoiled from being in California so long, but I don’t think I had unrealistic expectations, especially for a $50 meal. I mean come on, for that much money you should at least be able to outdo what I could do in my own kitchen!

This is my first night in Salt Lake City and after doing some searching around we decided to go to Market Street Grill. My companion loves oysters, and not having any other competitive seafood options, we opted to come here.

Luckily, on Mondays, they have a special on certain oysters that they offer ($0.59 each!). We started out with a half-dozen each of Blue Point, Fanny Bay and Tomales Bay oysters. I’m not an oyster aficionado, but my companion said that she liked them. I thought they were decent – not as gritty as I’ve had. However, I felt the cocktail sauce was too tomato-y and overpowered the oyster.

This also affected our next app, a combination Bay Shrimp and Dungeness Crab Cocktail. This app was pretty poor by any standards – meager portions and pretty tasteless. It was pretty watery, as if they just scooped out the seafood from some ice, rinsed it and plopped it on a plate with some lettuce. Would recommend steering clear of this one.

We both got clam chowder with our meals, and it was nothing to write home about. Good texture, and creamy, but not that much clam and a little bland.

Finally, for mains, I got Alaskan King Crab Legs (2) and my companion ordered the Australian Steamed Lobster Tail. My king crab legs were pitifully small – I could’ve done a lot better just buying king crab legs from Costco and making this myself. For $34 and $9.99/lb I would’ve ended up with a lot more meat. As it were I got two smaller, thinnish legs. The first was cooked perfectly and was great, but the 2nd was definitely overcooked and was too tough. Come on guys, even I know how to boil water to reheat King Crab Legs!! I got rice pilaf as a side – it was terrible! No effort went into that at all – flavorless, and clearly more of the Uncle Ben’s variety.

My companion’s lobster tail definitely looked more appetizing and potentially more worthwhile. I sampled it, and it was pretty good, but a little overcooked and rubbery. She got the fries and some weird squash side – both nothing special. The fries were rock solid and had too much batter, and the squash was just oddly textured and didn’t go very well with the lobster.

Probably the only thing I would recommend here are the oysters if that’s your thing. Can’t vouch as much for that as I’m not that into it, but for $0.59 each on Mondays I’ll give it a shot. They had a pretty large selection of oysters so they have that going for it. Would definitely recommend staying away from the more expensive items on the menu. It definitely feels like the place is cutting corners and you probably want to minimize being on the receiving end of that as much as you can. I would guess that it’s probably a halfway decent place to get some normal bar type food.


Patio Filipino

 1770 El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA

Initial impressions: Good prices, generous...

Initial impressions: Good prices, generous portions, and a slightly more Spanish take on traditional Filipino cuisine.

It definitely doesn’t look it from the outside (just a canopy and a small patio) but the interior was surprisingly light, colorful, and well-appointed. Service was quick and responsive, and the food came quickly.

I noted that there was a paella on the menu, but we decided against it. Something to keep in mind though!

For 6 of us, we ordered the Crispy Pata (fried pork shoulder), Chicken Adobo, Kare Kare (Oxtail with Peanut Sauce) and Pansit Canton (noodles), as well as Garlic Rice and Regular Steamed Rice.

I have to say, the Crispy Pata was excellent. Just the right textures with crispy fried skin, and moist, succulent pork shoulder. It’s great with the soy sauce vinegar, but you should definitely ask for the liver sauce (I forget what it’s called) to dip the meat into.

The Pansit was pretty good – more similar to chow mein. I am used to having pansit with thinner rice noodles rather than the thicker spaghetti noodles, but my girlfriend assures me that this is more traditional. Not bad, but I prefer the vermicelli version.

The Cihcken Adobo was pretty good – standard chicken chopped roughly, stewed in adobo, and served with fried plantains. The plaintains were a nice touch and really complemented the adobo. Definitely a dependable dish.

Lastly, the Kare Kare – definitely more of an ethnic dish. I normally enjoy braised/stewed oxtail, but this dish wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked. It looked more like a curry than a stewed/braised dish. The peanut was evident, but other than that it wasn’t seasoned that well. My friend mentioned that you were supposed to eat it with the provided shrimp paste, but even with that, I wasn’t that impressed.

Dessert: 3 Halo Halos, served inside a coconut and topped with a heaping scoop of taro ice cream. Definitely get this one to share – it’s huge! The taro ice cream was bursting with artificial taro flavor, but I didn’t mind that. Inside the coconut was a treasure trove of various jellies and mixed beans, plus you could actually scrape the inside of the coconut to get the sweet coconut meat. I really enjoyed this dessert, and there are many others that I wanted to try!

I would definitely go back to sample other dishes. Would highly recommend the Crispy Pata and Halo Halo dessert. Very reasonable prices, considering the volume of food that you get, and definitely higher quality atmosphere/cuisine than Goldilocks!


A.P. Stump's

 163 W Santa Clara St
San Jose, CA

Horrible. I'm usually more accomodating but...

Horrible. I’m usually more accomodating but it’s hard after you get food poisoning! My stomach (and my wallet) didn’t feel right after the meal, and I had to leave work early the next day to fend off the onset of stomach cramps and fever.

But maybe I should’ve known better than to order seafood on a Sunday. I had the calamari starter, salmon special entree and banana bread pudding for dessert. The calamari was greasy and super soggy. The salmon was overseasoned and the sides (a white bean puree and some veggies) were a mess. Dessert, though, was pretty tasty.

All this for $40 and a case of food poisoning! Won’t be coming back.


Fu Lam Mum

 246 Castro St
Mountain View, CA

Great little Cantonese spot. Small and gritty,...

Great little Cantonese spot. Small and gritty, it’s not fine dining, but you can get some good eats at good prices!

I love how there’s a complimentary soup and dessert, which really adds to the family-style atmosphere. It’s also great after 9pm, when they start serving a selection of dishes at reduced prices. Probably the best thing to do is come for a late dinner (they’re open until midnight)

I highly recommend the Roast Squab/Chicken, the Twice-Cooked Fried Rice with Abalone and Chicken. You can also get a full 3 course serving of Peking Duck (with the soup, duck w/buns and stir-fried entree) for something like $14! Good selection of rice porridges as well.


San Tung

 1031 Irving St
San Francisco, CA

Was initially dubious - chicken wings from a...

Was initially dubious – chicken wings from a chinese restaurant? but after getting a table, i looked around and saw that everyone had a heaping plate of these wings on their table.

Chicken wings are nice and tangy, crispy, and sauced just enough. Try the dry fried fish for a little variety (and also if you don’t want to get your hands dirty from the wings!). Great dumplings and fresh noodles as well.


Little Star Pizza

 846 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA

Excellent deep dish pizza, and affordable too!...

Excellent deep dish pizza, and affordable too! I went to school in the Chicago area and have had some of the best deep dish pizzas there, and I really enjoyed Little Star.

The pizza texture itself feels a little lighter to me than traditional deep dish – not as much cheese, not as much sauce. Felt more California style – fresher and crisper ingredients, not the heavy Italian sausages and meats that I’ve usually had.

Would have to say the crust at Zachary’s is still better, and the sauce at Patxi’s is better, but overall, you get a good pie at a good price. Can be very crowded and difficult to get a table, but worth it.

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