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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sushi rookies will enjoy getting out of their comfort zones at Santa Clara’s Yuki Sushi

The sushi lunch special at Yuki Sushi in Santa Clara.

The sushi lunch special at Yuki Sushi in Santa Clara.

I admit that I am a sushi novice. I typically play it safe and order a California Roll (imitation crab, avocado, and cucumber) or a shrimp tempura roll, which is pretty much fried shrimp wrapped in rice.

So I told myself I was going to try something different when I arrived to Yuki Sushi in Santa Clara, which was voted one of the reader’s choice winners for Silicon Valley’s best sushi by Metro magazine.

Dish of Choice

I decided to go with the sushi lunch special because it had a variety of sushi on one platter: one piece of maguro (tuna), hamachi (yellowtail), and ebi (shrimp), which each came on a bed of seasoned rice. The special also included six of the familiar California rolls and six rolls of tekka maki, which was tuna wrapped in rice and seaweed.

The special came with a salad and bowl of miso soup, which is typically made from a paste of soybeans, a starch such as rice or barley, water and yeast. Along with an iced tea, my bill came out to about $14.

The Taste

Friday was the first time that I tried the nigiri form of sushi, and I enjoyed it. The tuna and yellowtail both tasted fresh and tender. There was a small spreading of wasabi in between the fish and the rice. I typically stay away from wasabi because I always feel like my scalp is on fire every time I eat it. However, the sushi chefs used just enough to wake you up and add some spice to the dish. I love shrimp, so I definitely was not disappointed with the ebi nigiri. The California and tekka maki rolls were also fresh and added a nice variety to the dish.

The miso soup and side salad are part of the lunch sushi special at Yuki Sushi in Santa Clara.

The miso soup and side salad are part of the lunch sushi special at Yuki Sushi in Santa Clara.

The miso soup was probably my least favorite part of the meal, but that is not the fault of the restaurant. I have had the soup at other Japanese restaurants, and I’m just not a fan of the barley, yeasty taste.

I enjoyed the dressing on the salad because it was not too heavy or sweet. All in all, it was a great lunch special at a good price.

The Ambiance

Yuki Sushi is a small but quaint restaurant. Along with regular table-chair seating, diners can also sit at low tables on cushions with their shoes off for a more traditional Japanese seating arrangement. Guests can also sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs create their favorite sushi dishes.

Since the restaurant only seats about 40 people, the place fills up fast. I would suggest coming right as the restaurant opens or waiting until about 1 p.m. to avoid the lunch rush.

Other Details

Yuki Sushi is located at 1827 Pruneridge Ave. in Santa Clara. It has a second location at 1140 Lincoln Ave., #8, in San Jose’s Willow Glen area. Lunch hours for the Santa Clara location are 11:30 a.m to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and dinner runs from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (408) 248-9144 or visit yukisushi.com.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2015 in seafood, sushi

 

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Good happy hour prices, so-so appetizers at Sunnyvale’s Firehouse Grill & Brewery

The Ceviche at the Firehouse Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale.

The Ceviche at the Firehouse Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale.

I had heard from several people that the Firehouse Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale was the place to go for happy hour during the week. Although it only received two-and-a-half stars out of five on Yelp.com, I figured I would give it a shot, and I invited an acquaintance of mine to join me. After my visit to the restaurant and bar, I can see the reasoning behind that rating.

Dish of Choice

I chose the ceviche, white fish marinated in lime juice, tomatoes, cilantro, onions and jalapenos, served with pita chips; and the citrus calamari, which was breaded, quick-fried and tossed in cilantro and lime juice. The appetizers were on special for $4.95 and $6.95, respectively. Well cocktails were also on special, so I ordered two cranberry and vodkas. My bill came out to about $24.

The Taste

The ceviche was not what I expected. It was a bit watery, and the white fish was not prominent in the dish. I also could not taste the cilantro or jalapenos. In fact, there was not much seasoning at all. I liked the pita chips, and I wish I had something else to dip them in.

The Citrus Calamari at the Firehouse Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale.

The Citrus Calamari at the Firehouse Grill & Brewery in Sunnyvale.

The calamari did not taste very fresh and was a bit chewy and stringy. The menu said that the calamari was lightly breaded, but it was more on the heavy side. I could taste the citrus, but not the cilantro.

The Ambiance

The bar was bustling and had enough flat-screen televisions for customers to get a good view of live sports, no matter where they were seated. Our waitress was very nice and attentive, and made sure we had everything we needed. The drinks were on par, so I think this is a good place to come for a cocktail, beer or a glass of wine after work.

Other Details

Firehouse Grill and Brewery is located on the Historic Murphy Avenue in downtown Sunnyvale, at 111 S. Murphy Ave. For hours and more information, call (408) 773-9500 or visit firehousegrill.com.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Most tender, juiciest chicken kabob ever at Sunnyvale’s Piccolo

The Kabob Combo at Piccolo in Sunnyvale.

The Kabob Combo at Piccolo in Sunnyvale.

Ever since I arrived in California in August, my stepmom has been talking about Piccolo, a Persian and Mediterranean restaurant in Sunnyvale. She has been talking about the deliciousness of the restaurant’s kabob dish, and since we’ve been eating a lot of pizza and tacos in the past week, I was ready for a change. Plus, I haven’t had a good kabob in a long time.

Dish of Choice

I chose the Kabob Combo, which came with one skewered, barbecued chicken thigh and ground beef each, a half serving of salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion) and a half serving of rice. The entrée came with a side of flatbread with butter and raw onion. With a drink, the meal came out to about $16.

The Taste

I don’t know what kind of marinade they use on the chicken at Piccolo, but it was delicious. The chicken was tender and juicy, and it had a nice charring on the edges. The beef was also tender, very well seasoned and not greasy. The rice was fluffy and not sticky. The salad had a slight pickled taste to it, but it wasn’t overbearing. The dressing that they used was light and had a vinegar taste and texture to it. It was an enjoyable dish, and I had enough to take half of my meal home.

A side of flatbread with butter and raw onion at Piccolo in Sunnyvale.

A side of flatbread with butter and raw onion at Piccolo in Sunnyvale.

The flatbread was different. It was very thin and had a similar taste to that of saltine crackers, without the salt. I think it would be good bread to use for wrap sandwiches or making toasted chips.

The Ambiance

Piccolo is a small, clean and casual restaurant that seats about 20 people. Because of that fact, it’s a good place to get takeout during the lunch rush hour. The gentleman I assumed was the owner was very nice and attentive and made sure we had everything we needed.

Other Details

Piccolo is located at 897 E. El Camino Real, at the corner of Wolfe Road and El Camino Real, in Sunnyvale. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant also offers catering, and online ordering is available. For more information, call (408) 735-7117 or visit its website.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Fancy fruit tarts, unbelievable clam chowder & more, Everywhere, California

The Croque Monsieur panini at Harvey's Bar & Restaurant, San Francisco.

The Croque Monsieur panini at Harvey’s Bar & Restaurant, San Francisco.

Last week, I got a chance to travel along the California coastline with one of my best friends. Along with taking in some of the amazing scenery that the state has to offer, we took on some culinary adventures as well. Check out some of the establishments where we satisfied our appetites between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Harvey’s Restaurant & Bar, San Francisco

Harvey’s is a highly-rated, well-known restaurant and bar in San Francisco’s Castro District and serves as a tribute to politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. The restaurant has a modern yet laid-back atmosphere, and the staff were very courteous and welcoming.

I decided to order the Croque Monsieur panini, which came toasted with country pit ham, havarti and parmesan cheese, dijon and herbed aioli, a creamy sauce usually made with garlic, egg yolks, olive oil and lemon juice. I ordered fries as my side.

To me, panini is just a fancy name for grilled sandwich. But this was a very good, fancy grilled sandwich. The cheese tasted fresh and melted just right, and the aioli added a great flavor to the sandwich. I think I’m going to order anything that has aioli on it for now on.

Me at Pismo Beach. Sorry, no clam chowder photo.

Me at Pismo Beach. Sorry, no clam chowder photo.

I also ordered a cranberry & vodka (warning: Harvey’s makes their cranberry & vodkas strong), and the Outrageous cocktail, which was made with Absolut Citron and Mandrin, 7Up, fresh lime and cranberry juice on the rocks in a pint glass. I typically don’t like cocktails that have more than three ingredients because they tend to be too sweet. But the Outrageous cocktail was refreshing, and I didn’t feel like I was drinking a cup of syrup.

Altogether, my bill came out to about $26, including tax. Harvey’s is located at 500 Castro St. Call (415) 431-4278 or visit www.harveyssf.com for more information.

Splash Cafe, Pismo Beach

I love seafood, so I definitely wanted to stop by Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach, which touts its award-winning New England clam chowder. It also has received requests from Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appetit magazine for its clam chowder recipe, according to its website.

I can believe it because that was the best clam chowder I have ever had. The clams and potatoes were tender, and the broth was creamy and savory. Although it already came in a bread bowl, the chowder was also accompanied by two slices of buttery, grilled sourdough bread to dunk into it. They were a great complement to the dish. I was in a blissful state eating this chowder.

The chowder itself was enough for a meal, but since my eyes were bigger than my stomach that night, I also ordered the cafe’s fish and chips entree. The fish was fresh, flaky, lightly breaded and not overly seasoned. I also like that the fish came with a side of curly fries. I devoured my food so quickly that I forgot to take a photo of the spread (Oops!).

Along with a fountain drink, my meal came out to about $19, including tax. Splash Cafe is located at 197 Pomeroy Ave. Call (805) 773-4653 or visit splashcafe.com for more information.

Fruit tart at Bottega Louie in Los Angeles.

Fruit tart at Bottega Louie in Los Angeles.

Bottega Louie, Los Angeles

A friend we were visiting in Los Angeles said if we like dessert, then we needed to go to Bottega Louie. From the marble floors to the gold-trimmed tables, this restaurant was so upscale that I felt like I needed to be wearing a gown in order to dine there.

The patisserie staff members were standing behind the fancy glass displays, waiting to take our order. From the tiramisu to the creme brulee to macarons, there were so many delicious-looking desserts to choose from. Several of them were in the $10 to $15 range. I decided on the fruit tart, which was made with vanilla creme custard and fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

I’ll be honest. I went with the fruit tart because it was one of the more affordable desserts at $6. However, I wasn’t disappointed by my choice. The fruit tart brought the flavor. The custard was rich without being over-the-top decadent, and the fresh fruit was delicious and created a nice presentation. If I’m in the LA area again and I’m craving dessert, I will come back to Bottega Louie (this time, in a nicer outfit).

Bottega Louie is located at 700 S. Grand Ave. For more information, call (213) 802-1470 or visit www.bottegalouie.com.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in bakery, dessert, seafood

 

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