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.

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