Sunday, September 24, 2017

Chindamani Indian Food Stall in Singapore

Plain Prata

I'd never heard of this place (151A Serangoon North Ave 2) until today. But their roti prata is up there with the best of them thanks to their thin and crispy texture, not to mention loads of butter. The curry was a bit pedestrian though, which means that I still prefer Sin Ming over this place. But Sin Ming's prata is chewy, so if I want a thin crispy one instead, then I'll have to see if these guys have another curry that is punchier.

Friday, September 22, 2017

StopOver Artisan Pasta at Republic Plaza, Singapore

Hefty aglio e olio tagliatelle

This was a random stop today, and could've had a lot of potential given my crusade in finding affordable yet quality pasta around here. See, these guys (9 Raffles Place #B1-03A, 9221-3731) do handmade pasta at relatively cheap prices. And I was encouraged by the fact that they used dry chili flakes in their aglio e olio rather than fresh chili padi. So I went ahead and placed an order.

From there it went downhill. They didn't even toss the pasta in a pan; it was just done in that disposable bowl that you see above. More importantly, it reeked of garlic. Sure, garlic is literally the first word of aglio e olio, but this was just way too much (it was enough garlic to kill a small animal). To make it worse, the garlic was largely still raw, making it irritatingly pungent rather than aromatic.

At least the pasta was firm, even if oddly they pointed to some dry pasta near the cashier when they asked me for my selection. Well, I might not mind trying one of the other sauces if I'm in a rush again nearby. But if the other sauces are loaded with so much raw garlic again, then I'm not coming back. Seriously, no one is going to want to be near me within a two mile radius right now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

San Jose's Happi House Famous Teriyaki

Famous Chicken Teriyaki

Not to be confused with Happy Hound in Los Gatos, Happi House is a local teriyaki place from San Jose's Japantown. It's been around for ages, and yet despite my many years of growing up around here, I'd never been to one. We thus stopped by tonight for a quick meal.

It was terrible. The "famous" chicken was tough like jerky, perhaps from being reheated twice. I tried dousing it in their tabletop sauces, including the spicy teriyaki one and even some Crystal Hot Sauce, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish it.

The only thing I liked was their "Famous Asian Chicken Salad," and I suppose you can't go wrong with some crunchy onion rings either. But the beef flavored rice was rather boring, and worse, we left the place stinking like food. I don't think I'll be going back.

Mint & Basil in San Jose, California


This small chain of restaurants in San Jose is a bit of an odd one. They serve Southeast Asian food, but vegetarian. And they don't make that vegetarian label very obvious either, as the items on the menu just freely say things like "shrimp," "chicken," and "fish" without any qualifiers in front of them. True, the first page of the menu says "vegetarian," but only in small print, and I've heard of folks who left here frustrated after realizing that what they ate was really just tofu.

Still, I had a better-than-expected experience with vegan phở at Loving Hut last year, so I figured that maybe this place would be as good. Unfortunately, it wasn't. A lot of it tasted like processed sauces, and some of the dishes that we got were slightly sweet too, perhaps because they also refused to use MSG in anything. Now, there was a crispy chow fun that was kinda interesting, but it came with a bunch of crudely cut and tasteless cabbage on top. I left here stuffed but unsatisfied.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pho Viet (or is it Pho Bel-Air?) in San Jose, California


I needed a quick lunch after getting into San Jose today, and what could be more local than a piping hot bowl of phở? Conveniently enough, there's a phở place near the airport, and it's nearly walkable...or a quick ride on the free VTA Airport Flyer bus number 10 if you so choose. Oddly, the signage and listing on Google Maps calls it Pho Viet, but the cover of the menu says Phở Bel-Air (1751 North First Street #60, 408-452-1060).

Anyway, that was a refreshing bowl above, with not just some finely sliced tripe but also an impressively tender and chewy tendon (admittedly, I didn't order the tendon, but the lady messed up my order and I figured that I'd go for it anyway). The broth wasn't as punchy as I would've liked though, and thus I didn't finish drinking it. Still, this is a pretty convenient place to hit up next time I need to transfer from the airport to the light rail.

The Counter Custom Burgers: Third Time's A Charm

Create Your Own Burger

It's funny how my opinion of this place keeps changing each time I eat here. This is my third time here, and I loved what I had today. And yet it was largely using the ingredients that I picked out previously, including tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, and cheddar cheese. I don't know if it was just because I was starving or maybe because choosing horseradish aioli instead of mustard let the fresh jalapeno slices shine in front of a beefier-tasting patty this time. I want to get another one.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Another Run to Humberto's Taco Shop in San Diego

Combination #5

I'm only in San Diego for one night, so I took advantage of it to do one last run to Humberto's, this time grabbing a taco with my enchilada rather than tostada like I got the other night. I'm having trouble putting my finger on what makes these X-berto's shops in San Diego so unique, but I just love the greasy combination of beans, cheese, lettuce, and salsa in a foam takeout box.

Craft & Commerce in San Diego, California

Grilled Oysters

Back on the other side of the border, I needed dinner. So I came to this Zagat-rated place (675 West Beech Street, 619-269-2202) that does craft cocktails and craft beer along with food. The drinks were good, as were those grilled oysters above. Normally I prefer my oysters raw and unadulterated, but this one came together nicely with a smoky aroma from the grill pervading it; I liked it so much that I nearly got seconds! It's too bad then that I didn't really like some of my other items, like an eggplant dip that was too tangy as well as a grilled broccoli that was too sweet. I'd still come back here though.

Karnes en su Jugo in Tijuana, Mexico

Karnes en su Jugo

I noticed this shop the other night while walking to El Taller, and I thought, wow, it's been a while since I've had carne en su jugo! I guess it must've stuck in my head over the weekend, because I came here for lunch before crossing back over the border (Boulevard Agua Caliente #1252, 524−9887).

To be sure, it wasn't as good as Karne Garibaldi, not only since they were much slower, but also since they weren't as generous with the garnishes. But their piping hot corn tortillas were delightful, and I still gobbled everything down with ease. I should get back to Guadalajara one day.

Pozole From My Hotel Breakfast in Tijuana, Mexico


I love me a piping hot bowl of pozole in the morning, especially after a night on the town. And fortunately, my hotel's breakfast spread featured it this weekend, along with a number of pleasant surprises like tamales in addition to the requisite chilaquiles and frijoles. Normally I'm not one to care much for hotel breakfasts, but this was both convenient and delicious.

Taconazo in Tijuana, Mexico


After quite a number of drinks, a local friend drove us to an outlet of Taconazo, which he says is one of the best taco shops in town. And I could see why. Not only were the tortillas delicious, but the tripe tacos in particular had some kind of rich smooth depth in there; I think they slathered a thin layer of frijoles and maybe some other stuff onto the tortilla first. Anyway, this hit the spot, even if (I never thought I'd say this) I'm admittedly starting to get sick of all of the tacos that I've been eating lately.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Taco Stand at Plaza Fiesta in Tijuana, Mexico


It turns out that Plaza Fiesta in Tijuana is a wonderful little densely-packed area of craft beer bars. We grabbed a number of beers, but we also needed food. Conveniently enough, there was a taco stand sitting right outside. I got a few items, including a chicharron taco, a bistec en chipotle taco, and a mole taco. All of them were rather saucy and wet, which didn't occur to me when I ordered them, but in retrospect should've been obvious at that time, especially the slightly sweet mole. Anyway, this was just to line our bellies before proceeding into the evening.