Din Tai Fung
1108 S. Baldwin Ave
Arcadia CA 91007
It’s been about a year since my last Din Tai Fung (DTF) visit, and to our delight, there are new dessert options!
On top of the usual red bean dumplings, there are now a plethora of other red bean dessert options along with black sesame desserts.
This is the sesame bun. I have a preference when it comes to pretty much any food, so when it comes to black sesame desserts, I want to see my sesame bits.
DTF delivered and I ate.
2495 3rd St
(between 20th St & 22nd St)
San Francisco, CA 94107
I’m not much of a “New” American food kind of person. I’m definitely more biased towards ethnic foods like Indian, Mexican and Asian, so when American food can impress me, it’s gotta be good. Serpentine did just that for me for brunch this past Sunday.
Fried Egg Sandwich (Leadbetter’s english muffin, fried egg, arugula, dill aioli, crispy potatoes) – The texture whore in me was jumping for joy! My anticipation was climbing as I assembled the beautiful layers. The english muffin was toasty and crusty. The fried egg was fried just enough so that the yolk was still a bit yolky without the risk of exploding everywhere upon the bite. The arugula was fresh and crunchy. The dill aioli was singing my name. One Bite……. HEAVEN. Also, they were not kidding when they said CRISPY potatoes. These golden nuggets were crispy and crunchy.
Country Fried Steak & Eggs (flat iron steak, scrambled eggs, biscuit & gravy, crispy potatoes, arugula) – The preparation for this country fried steak was unique. It had a tempura-like batter making the fried steak almost “light” and airy. It was delightfully (yes, I said delightful!) tasty – perfectly seasoned and crunchy.
The biscuit – I have to talk about the biscuit by itself. Something in my gut told me to order a biscuit on the side and that something was sooooooo right! This biscuit was fluffy and dense at the same time? How is that even possible?! The grill marks on the outside left a nice chewy texture and the fluffy and dense inside was mouthfuls of carb heaven. Could it get any better? Yes, I added on a pat… okay not a pat… I slathered on some butter. It was perfect.
Conclusion: Brunch was fantastic! Can I have some more?
334 Santana Row
San Jose, CA 95128
I had a delicious experience at Pizza Antica, but honestly, what the pizza was not the star of the meal for me. The supporting dishes rounded out the meal and satisfied me more than the popular thin crust.
Spring Vegetable Chopped Salad with Goat Cheese and Dill with side of piadini – The salad was so refreshing! Bits of carrots, dill, asparagus and lettuce tossed together in a very light vinegarette. The piadini was a nice complement to the salad because it was thin, chewy and garlicky… mmmm
Soup of the Day – Cream of Asparagus Soup – Mild, creamy and comforting
Pizza – Tomato sauce, roasted garlic, oregano and added mozzarella – The least impressive item…. it wasn’t cooked uniformly, so some parts were more charred than other. So, the undercooked areas were more doughy and lacked the beauty of chewy/crunchy/charred thin crust pizza.
Sour Cherry Limeade – I spied this on their extensive soda menu! Not only do they have the standard fountain drinks, but other unique sodas like this one. The sour cherry limeade tastes as refreshing at it sounds. It was tangy with sweet but not too overpowering and add in fantastic carbonation, I was quenched.
Conclusion: The pizza wasn’t perfect, but the other items more than made up for the experience. I’ll definitely go back if ever back in the area.
5010 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107
Hodad’s is burger heaven for me! Everything was perfectly executed. It was like having In-N-Out on ‘roids for the In-N-Out lovers! Apparently, all the stars were aligned for our trip. We got a parking spot right in front and walked right into immediately available seating!
Here are some tips to prep for your visit to Hodad’s
1. Go early on a weekday because by 12:30, the line was out the door. Or, GO SUPER EARLY, on the weekend because if the weekday crowd was already out the door, then I can’t imagine what the weekend crowd is like.
2. Order the “mini” (not really mini) burgers if you can’t stomach a full size one and add BACON.
3. Share a shake. They are delicious and there’s a LOT of it.
Onto the food!
1. Vanilla Shake – This was amazing! A huge scoop of creamy smooth vanilla ice cream was sitting on top of the metal cupful of milk shake. It is so thick and tasty that you have to eat it with a spoon. I’ll happily scoop away.
2. Onion Rings – The first two onion rings were tasty, but the onion itself came out with one bite. However, I think that the rest of them got scared and shaped up! They were crunchy and each bite came with a little onion at a time. Perfectly crunchy, salty and tasty.
3. Mini cheeseburger – Everything about this burger was fantastic. The lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles were refreshingly cold. The burger patty was not too thick; just the way I like it. There was mayo, mustard and ketchup to bind everything together with the mother of all BACON TOPPINGS – a mutha-beepin’ bacon patty! Strips of bacon pressed together and deep fried.
Now, let’s take a moment to imagine my bite of the burger – Toasty bun, meaty patty, melty cheese, tangy pickles and condiments, crunchy crisp vegetables and the smokey crunch of the deep fried bacon.
Conclusion: Burger heaven. No other place like it. 5/5 Beeps!
3823 30th St
(between North Park Way & University Ave)
San Diego, CA 92104
Neighborhood: North Park
It was a rainy, cold day and the perfect day for comfort food from Urban Solace. They serve what I would call fine dining comfort food. Dishes are enhance with fancy ingredients such as mac n cheese with Duck!
What we had
1. Cheese biscuits with Honey-Butter – cheesy, warm and toasty
2. Sonoma Goat Cheese/Butternut Squash Dip, Spiced Pine Nuts, Cornmeal Crackers and Baguettes – This was enjoyable, but the goat cheese came on a little strong after more bites.
3. Bacon Wrapped Sustainable Trout (Skin on), Mushroom-Spinach Stuffed, Brussels Hash, Lemon Butter – Bacon wrapped fish, what’s not to like. Delicate flakey fish with bacon!
4. New York White Cheddar Mac n’ Cheese, Caramelized Bacon, Grilled Red Onions, Charred Tomatoes – Perfectly cooked macaroni with ooey gooey cheese, bacon and some tangy tomatoes.
5. Duckaroni: Mac ‘n Cheese with Duck Confit, Blue Cheese, Roasted Garlic, Arugula, Scallion – Good ol’ mac n cheese enhance with many robust flavors… mmm mmm!
Conclusion: Come hungry, Leave happy and stuffed. 4/5 beeps.
805 South B Street
San Mateo, CA 94401
Brother had another win this weekend! So the story goes that the famous Santa ramen moved from this location and Dojo ramen moves in. Santa Ramen’s chef stayed and therefore, the quality of delicious ramen stayed.
This was perfect! According to my brother who ONLY eats ramen during his works trips to Osaka and Tokyo, “This is the closest ramen to Japan that I have found.” Both brother and I chose the garlic and pork flavored ramen, but I had regular spicy and added bamboo shoots while he had NO SPICY and no additions. I was in heaven with my first bite to the last. The soup was perfectly robust in flavor and not too salty and just “creamy” enough. The noodles were perfectly cooked to and al dente bounce and chew. I love all the extra regular bonuses like the big leaf of red lettuce, the quail egg with a slightly runny yolk, the crunchy bits of fungus, the chicken gravy that consisted of finely chopped bits of chicken and mushroom, and finally, my addition of bamboo shoots was a great choice! They had a pickled tangy flavor. The cold temperature and tangy flavor of the bamboos slices were a perfect balance to the hot noodles and comforting soup. I slurped everything up, but unfortunately my stomach protested me slurping down the last of the soup. Oh disappointing stomach….
Conclusion: BOmb ramen! 5/5 beeptastic. (Totally overshadowed my visit to Monta Ramen in Las Vegas just two days ago. Monta Ramen does not have as many standard goodies and the chefs there prefer to make their soup base more on the salty side.)
Shanghai Dumpling Shop
Millbrae, CA 94030
[on my 24 hours turnaround in the bay for dear cousin steven’s crazy Chinese wedding banquet, here’s my food adventures…]
My brother has never seemed to be a “foodie” at all and not the best judge of food because everything I take him to he just says, “it’s okay”. So, when he wanted to take us to the best xiao long bao/juicy pork dumplings in the area, I was quite skeptical. Boy, did my brother show me!
1. Xiao long bao (regular) – not only super juicy on the inside but the “skin” on the dumpling itself was thin and chewy. Though Din Tai Fung is still #1, Shanghai Dumpling Shop came pretty darn close! We also ordered the xie fen xiao long bao (crab and pork juicy dumplings); however, they were not as juicy.
2. The stir fried green beans were also very tasty. They were garlicky and seasoned with just enough salt.
3. The deep fried Chinese bread dough (yin si juan/silver thread roll) was a fail. It is supposed to be multilayered by rolling and stretching the dough, but this restaurant cheated and just placed chopped pieces of dough in the center to mimic layers. Texture fail.
Conclusion: As recommended by the brother, don’t come here for the other food because it is subpar, but this is a great option for super juicy xiao long bao in the Millbrae area! 4/5 beeps based on juicy dumplings!
Little Star Pizza
400 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA
Shout out to my brutha! He loves deep dish pizza and he loves Little Star’s Deep Dish PIzza. Most people know me as a thin crust lover, but I still gave it a try. Unable to grasp what deep dish lover’s loved about the pizza, I had to interview my brother and ask him why LIttle Star was the best in the bay.
1. The “Juicy” Factor – a lot of deep dishes that he has encountered have been dry. Little star offers a moist and flavorful mouthful of toppings. I can attest that there was a lot of the tomato saucy goodness. A LOT.
2. The Crust Factor – Despite the bountiful juicy toppings, he noted that the crust still stay managed to stay crispy and crunchy.
3. He ALWAYS orders the Little Star pizza – it has a combo of mozzarella cheese, plentiful tomato sauce topping, spinach and feta (?).
Conclusion: My brother likes it a lot. No comment on the beeps.