Monday, July 28, 2008

Beer and Tacos

I recently tried two new Vegas taco joints, and two new beers(well, three, but I can't recall the name of the Bavarian dark, apparently it's from the CA Bay Area).

Pepe's: Located at the corner of Charleston and Fremont, this is a quick and cheap taco joint. They have a good selection of soft tacos and one glance at the options makes it apparent that they are obviously not catering to American tastes, and the food is all the better for it. The soft tacos are small, but full of meat, and the basic salsa has a nice heat. The Carne Asada is flavourful and the pork is quite good as well. I have to say this is the only Mexican place I've tried in Vegas that has not left me disappointed(and considering I didn't expect much from the others, that's saying a lot).

Yayo Taco: A neo-fusion taco joint, it's trying to cater to the UNLV students with it's kitschy and relaxed atmosphere. It has an excellent beer and tequila section, but I recommend you stay away from the tacos. I tried a chicken curry taco and it barely had any flavour, the carne asada tacos weren't much better. The service is pretty good and the owner is friendly. Good for hanging with friends over beers, but not really a place to grab a quick meal.

Drake Imperial Stout: Smooth, with a slight bitter note, it's a bit too sweet for my tastes when it comes to a stout. It also feels a little thin for a stout. Not bad, I would still go for a Rasputin Imperial Stout over this.

Kwak: A friend bought this for the bottle and I helped her drink it. It's light and has a slight weird aftertaste that gets stronger and stronger with each drink, making this beer less and less appealing the more you drink it. There's not much to it, and considering all the other similar beers out there, I'd avoid this one.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Lesser Known Bay

I am currently visiting the California Bay Area and figured I'd give some quick reviews on some of the places I've stopped.

Lyons Restaurant: A chain restaurant I thought had gone out of business over 10 years ago. Apparently it didn't, it should have. The service was horrible. It took 30 minutes for our orders to be taken, and then my drink didn't come until after the food had. I ordered the Belgian waffle and they managed to do what I thought impossible, it tasted rotten. Like they had left the batter sitting around growing mold and then used it. It wasn't good 15 years ago, it's not good now.

Koong's Restaurant (in Milpitas): Not bad but not good. Before eating there I asked if the BBQ Pork w/ tofu used fried tofu and was assured by three of the staff that it was. So, I ordered it. It wasn't fried tofu. I ordered a Sprite to drink. That never came. The default was to give patron's forks, not chopsticks, and when I asked for chopsticks, those never came either. Bad service or complete incompetence aside, the dish, which came quickly, was actually quite good.

La Milpa (in Milpitas): Good Mexican food and fast service, the staff have been there for years. Unfortunately, the last time I went their main chip salsa was mild instead of pleasantly hot. It was still good, but it had obviously finally given in to Americanization and lost it's zing. The rest of the food was as good as usual, and the service was still top notch. I recommend stopping by if you're in the area.

Cream Coffee (in San Jose): I normally don't consider myself a coffee conosieur beyond hating the bitter swill at Starbucks. I've tried many one off coffee joints and many chains (my favourite chain being Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), but I must say, Crema is doing something right. I ordered the Mocha and it was perfectly brewed and had a creamy mouthfeel without the fatty aspect you usually get when you use actual cream. I don't know what they did use, but it's doing the job.

Q-Cup: A chain Boba stop in California, it's got a full range of Boba drinks, Asian fruit drinks, crepes, and deep fried snacks. I highly recommend the Mango Cup, which is composed of 4 different mango products. Their Chocolate Milk Tea is also good, but they have a tendancy to not mix it enough for the powder they're using, so you end up with little crunchy, chocolatey bits every once in a while and a slightly weak chocolate taste the rest of the time.

HC Dumpling House (in San Jose): The best Siu Leong Bao(sp?) in the area. The service isn't that good, but that is readily apparent when you walk in. In addition to very good dumplings, they have decent Fried Fat Shanghai Noodles, but I suggest giving the scallion pancakes a pass. If you want dumplings, this is the place to go, if you want anything else, there's better places.

Shanghai Family (in San Jose): Good Siu Leong Bao, but definitely the place to go if you also want other stuff as well. The deep fried fish in brown sauce is excellent, the pork in preserved vegetables is quite good, the scallion pancakes are good, and the noodles are good.