Monthly Archives: March 2015

Tender, roasted lemon wings bring peppery spiciness at Amici’s, known for brick-oven pizza

The Flame Roasted Lemon Chicken Wings at Amici's East Coast Pizzeria in Cupertino.

The Flame Roasted Lemon Chicken Wings at Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria in Cupertino.

Dining out while counting calories has proven to be a challenge the last few weeks. The foods you assume are low-calorie and low-fat end up being the exact opposite, and it can be a startling revelation.

So when a friend of mine wanted to go to Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria in Cupertino for dinner, I was a bit apprehensive. Pizza is not a low-calorie food (at least not the good kind).

I was pleasantly surprised to find Amici’s has dishes that aren’t completely going to tip the scale, and taste delicious at the same time.

Dish of Choice

We decided to share two items: The flame roasted lemon chicken wings, marinated in the kitchen’s special blend of spices and roasted in a brick oven; and a small margherita pizza, made with mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil.

We ordered the 10-piece spicy wing platter, and for the pizza we chose the tomato sauce, which is optional. Altogether, the cost for the wings and pizza was about $27.

Side note: In total, five of the wings were 240 calories, while two small slices of margherita pizza were 242 calories, according to my MyFitnessPal app.

The Margherita Pizza at Amici's East Coast Pizzeria in Cupertino.

The Margherita Pizza at Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria in Cupertino.

The Taste

The meat on the wings was tender, and the seasoning was peppery with just enough spice to wake you up and clear the sinuses a little bit.

I also loved that the chef sprinkled the wings with a generous amount of cilantro to give it that extra fresh flavor (I love cilantro!) Just be prepared to get peppery seasoned goodness all over your hands. Wings are supposed to be a little messy.

Amici’s is known for making its pizza in a 700-degree brick oven, which produces a crispy, toasty thin crust. If you’re a big thin-crust pizza fan, you should give Amici’s a try.

I liked how the crust had a slight charring on the edges and bottom. There wasn’t a lot of tomato sauce used on the pizza, but I didn’t mind because what it lacked in quantity, it made up for in hearty flavor. Plus, with a thin crust, you don’t want a large quantity of sauce to bog it down and make it soggy.

Other Details

Amici’s is a California chain with about a dozen locations, mostly in the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area. The restaurant offers online ordering and catering, and also has a gluten-free menu.

The Cupertino restaurant is located at 10310 S. De Anza Blvd, and hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call the restaurant at (408) 252-3333 or visit

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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Italian, pizza, wings


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Curry Up Now’s unique flatbread sandwich brings the spice at Off The Grid food-truck event

The Kathi Roll with chickent from San Mateo's Curry Up Now.

The Kathi Roll with chicken from San Mateo’s Curry Up Now.

I’ve always been curious to stop by one of those food trucks that serves up tacos and Indian food as I drive down El Camino Real every week. So I was happy to discover that a local event — Off The Grid — hosts a number of food trucks with diverse cuisine in one setting on a weekly basis in Sunnyvale.

Since food trucks have hit mainstream popularity in the last five or so years — Food Network even has a show called “The Great Food Truck Race” — I figured I might not be able to find a parking spot near the event. It turns out Off The Grid was not that busy Thursday evening, which was good for the diners because it allowed us to sample a variety of food without having to wait in long lines.

Dish of Choice

I made my way to two food trucks that evening (I had to restrain myself for the sake of my wallet and stomach): I ventured to San Mateo’s Curry Up Now, which offers Indian street food, and San Francisco-based We Sushi, which serves Japanese cuisine.

At Curry Up Now, I ordered the Kathi Roll, which was made with mughlai paratha (flatbread prepared with a pan-fried egg), sliced onions and chutney, rolled with your choice of beef, chicken, paneer (cheese) or vegan style. I went with chicken. With tax, my Kathi Roll came out to about $9.

The Crispy California Roll from San Francisco's We Sushi.

The Crispy California Roll from San Francisco’s We Sushi.

At We Sushi, I ordered the Crispy California Roll, which was made with crab and avocado wrapped in seaweed and rice, then fried in a tempura breading and drizzled with a spicy aioli. With tax, the Crispy California Roll cost about $8.

The Taste

Let me start with the Kathi Roll: My stepmom says you know a meal is good if you end up wearing it. Well, I was definitely wearing the juice from the wrap sandwich on my shirt, but I didn’t mind. The chicken was tender with a spicy marinade, and I liked how the egg was soft on the inside but crispy on the edges. The flatbread was toasted just enough without being crunchy, and the chutney brought some heat without burning your mouth. I would describe it as medium spicy. This was a sandwich that I would definitely get again.

The Crispy California Roll did not wow me as much as the Kathi Roll, but it was still tasty. The tempura breading had a nice crispiness on the outside without being heavy or greasy. The aioli reminded me of a Thousand Island dressing, but with a little more kick. The dish came with eight pieces of sushi roll, so there was enough there to walk away satisfied.

Off The Grid's weekly Thursday market at 1177 Kern Ave. in Sunnyvale, CA, next door to Sports Basement.

Off The Grid’s weekly Thursday market at 1177 Kern Ave. in Sunnyvale, CA, next door to Sports Basement.

The Ambiance

Off The Grid had a laidback vibe and was located in a lot next to a local sports equipment store. People could easily walk from truck to truck without feeling like they were bumping into each other. There were plenty of seats for people to enjoy their food and have a casual conversation with other diners. I wish there were tables because it was kind of hard to juggle all that food on your lap. Other than that, it was a great event to get outdoors and try some outside-the-box cuisine.

Other Details

Off The Grid was started in 2010 and currently operates 35 weekly public markets throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, according to its website. It works with more than 200 food, bar and amenities vendors weekly and offers catering for groups ranging from 100 to 10,000 people. To check out its market schedules and vendors, visit

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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Indian, sandwiches, sushi


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Detroit-style Coney sauce recipe brings back memories of famed Lafayette Coney Island

My version of the Detroit-style Coney hot dog, from the Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe.

My version of the Detroit-style Coney hot dog, from the Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe.

I have enjoyed living in California and all the diverse cuisine it has to offer. But one thing I miss about Michigan is having a good Coney hot dog.

Depending on what region of Michigan you travel through, a Coney can be topped with chopped white onions, yellow mustard, and crumbled, loose beef heart or a thinner, beanless chili sauce. I like both, but my favorite is the latter Detroit-style Coney.

So when my friend Bill sent me the recipe for my favorite Coney spot — Lafayette Coney Island in downtown Detroit — I was ecstatic. Although I was skeptical that the recipe could emulate the original deliciousness that I remembered as a kid, I had to attempt to make it.

The Recipe

The Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe published on has two versions, but the second, updated version is an easier shortcut:

2 cans (11 ounces each) of beef chili soup (beanless); 12 ounces of V8 tomato juice; 1 envelope of taco seasoning mix; 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish; and 2 tablespoons of dried chopped onion.

I mixed the ingredients into a sauce pan and placed it on medium heat on the stove for about 10-15 minutes, until it simmered. Along with those ingredients, I also bought an 8-pack of hot dogs, buns, a large white onion and a bottle of yellow mustard.

I know Coney connoisseurs will frown on this, but I couldn’t find the Koegel Vienna hot dogs! Nothing beats that crunch of the natural casing when you bite into a Koegel hot dog. But I settled for Ball Park franks.

Altogether with tax, my bill came out to about $24. The cost could be more or less depending on where you shop and what specific brands you prefer. Considering I was cooking for three people, the meal came out to $8 per person, which is less than what you would spend at a diner out here in Silicon Valley.

The ingredients for the Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe.

The ingredients for the Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe.

The Taste

I was amazed by the taste and how similar it was to that of Lafayette Coney Island. It had the same kicking spice (not burn-your-mouth spice), savoriness and soupy texture that I remember.

Nothing can beat the original, but this recipe comes close. My stepmom, who never had a Coney before, was dancing as she was eating one, so I know that the meal turned out well.

About the Coney Dog

A lot of people think the Coney was created on Coney Island, New York, but the dish really got its start in Michigan, according to the Detroit Historical Society. There is still debate among historians and Coney lovers about where in Michigan it originated. American Coney Island in Detroit, Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit and Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson each claim to be the Coney’s birthplace, according to DHS.

The book “Coney Detroit,” written by Katherine Yung and Joe Grimm, investigates the history of how Detroit became the global capital of the Coney Island Hot Dog. The regional favorite was created by Greek immigrants in the early 1900s and is served by hundreds of restaurants today, according to the book.

The Coney’s history and traditions have been documented by many news outlets, including National Public Radio, Huffington Post, Crain’s Detroit and MLive Media Group. For more history of the Coney, visit Also, click here to try out the Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe for yourself.

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Posted by on March 12, 2015 in comfort food, Coney, hot dogs


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Dessert for breakfast: Flames’ Gourmet Strawberry Waffle will make your inner child happy

The Gourmet Strawberry Waffle at Flames Eatery & Bar in downtown San Jose.

The Gourmet Strawberry Waffle at Flames Eatery & Bar in downtown San Jose.

If you are looking for a bustling, lively place to eat brunch on a Sunday afternoon, Flames Eatery & Bar in downtown San Jose is the place for you. If you’re looking for a quiet afternoon brunch, steer clear of here.

The place was crazy busy and buzzing with activity, with no extra seats in the bar area. Music was playing over the speakers, and every few minutes, the upbeat host would announce over the P.A. system when a party’s table was ready.

I was surprised, though, that our party of 15 only had to wait about 15 or so minutes to get a table. The wait staff and bussers were working hard and fast to get tables ready for new customers.

It was loud at Flames, and you definitely had to speak at a high volume to talk to the person across from you. Still, I enjoyed my time there and felt like I was at a party in the middle of the day.

Dish of Choice

Flames has an extensive menu that has something to satisfy anyone’s stomach. If you don’t find anything that you would like from the menu, you’re just too picky. I typically go for the basic meat-and-eggs or breakfast burrito when it comes to brunch, so I wanted to switch it up and go in the sweet direction.

I chose the Gourmet Strawberry Waffle, a Belgian waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, glazed strawberries, whipped cream and powdered sugar. With a cup of coffee and water, my bill came out to about $13, including tax.

The Taste

The Gourmet Strawberry Waffle tasted like a waffle cone sundae. My inner child was happy about this. The waffle was large and soft and topped with a generous scoop of rich vanilla ice cream. The strawberries tasted fresh and sweet, but I wish there were more of them. The whipped cream was a nice touch and tasted like real cream, not that oil-based crap. It was definitely dessert for breakfast.

The Ambiance

Flames Eatery & Bar feels like a contemporary twist on the traditional diner, decorated in granite and dark wood furnishings and modern, dim lighting. It also has a nice bakery area with a display of huge, delicious-looking cakes and desserts and a large bar area that looks like it can seat 20 people, if not more.

The restaurant has events and specials throughout the week, including a daily happy hour, Karaoke Wednesday and Taco Thursday. It also has a bottomless mimosas special on Sundays, so it’s a great place for a Sunday Funday with a group of friends.

Other Details

Flames Eatery & Bar is located at 88 S. Fourth St. in downtown San Jose. Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 7 a.m. to midnight Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call (408) 971-1960 or visit

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Posted by on March 2, 2015 in Uncategorized