Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2008 by Kelly

It’s been a couple of months since I last wrote in here, or a month and a half, so I’m calling another school-related hiatus for this blog. Posts should be coming back mid-December. Sorry to everyone who reads this.
School > blogging.


Posted in American, Food, Fusion, Los Gatos, Manresa, Spanish/Basque on September 21, 2008 by Kelly

This post is on my September visit to Manresa. (I went back in June, but I’m waiting on a friend to get my notes back from that dinner.) I had a good time. Service was a little slow, but I think the kitchen was swamped because they also had a special sake dinner going on. I would have gone to that but everyone was required to drink and one of us had to drive up to SF after dinner, so we were stuck with the regular dinning room. Of course, if I were always “stuck” with a dinner at Manresa I wouldn’t mind.

Also, forgot my camera at home so no pictures. *headdesk*

That evening’s menu:
First amuse bouche: roasted bell pepper pate de fruits and black olive madeleines
Second amuse bouche: sweet corn croquettes
Third amuse bouche: coriander ice with barely cooked tomato soup
Fourth amuse bouche: arpege farm egg
First savory dish: assorted shellfish marinated in bonito broth with golden raspberries and green curry oil
Second savory dish: fresh tomatoes from the garden, avocado mousse, steel head roe, roast ahi jus
Third savory dish: pedigree pumpkin soup, nasturtium ice cream, roasted pumpkin seeds
Fourth savory dish: into the vegetable garden
Fifth savory dish: cod with abalone and seaweed
Sixth savory dish: slow braised breast of squab, crushed raspberries and radish in its natural jus
Seventh savory dish: roast lamb with mushrooms and fire tongue beans
First sweet dish: cool watermelon soup, vanilla spuma, shiso ice, and raspberry sorbet
Second sweet dish: hazelnut creme, zucchini gaufrette and black cherry ice cream
Third sweet dish: chocolate and coffee vacherin, blackberry sorbet
Mignardise: strawberry pate de fruits and chocolate madeleines

Higlights: I’d have to say the dish I enjoyed the most was probably the pumpkin soup. It had a smooth texture and the ice cream added just a hint of sweetness to it. The roasted seeds provided a little salt and crunch to the dish. The sweet corn croquettes were also very good. They had a lot more flavor than I expected. The assorted shellfish dish was also very tasty. I would have to add that the raspberries did cover up the flavor of the shellfish when you ate the two together, which was unfortunate. The black cherry ice cream had a lot of flavor to it and went well with the hazelnut creme. The shiso ice, surprisingly, didn’t over power the rest of the dish, which was nice. I’m used to a stronger shiso flavor, but I was glad that it got toned down in ice form.

The only dish that I was “meh” about was the coriander ice amuse bouche. The tomato “soup” was too strong of a flavor for the dish and didn’t mesh well with the coriander.

Overall, it was another excellent dinner at Manresa. I love how they use what’s in season and fresh from their gardens. The menu was as exciting and innovative as ever. I’m glad I got to come again.

320 Village Ln
Los Gatos, CA 95030
( 408 ) 354-4330

Alan Wong’s Restaurant

Posted in Alan Wong's, Food, Fusion, Honolulu, Island-style on September 19, 2008 by Kelly

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Alan Wong’s, so I was pleasantly surprised with some of the changes they’ve made to their food. It’s the same style as before, but I have to say that there has been an increase to the portion size. One of their main critiques was the portion size/price ratio. They’re still pretty pricey, but the portion size has gone up.

That evening’s menu:
Big Island Abalone (negi oil, hamakua eryngi mushrooms)
Hamakua Springs Whole Tomato Salad (li hing mui ume vinaigrette)
Pan Steamed Opakapaka (short-tail pink snapper, shrimp pork hash, truffle nage, gingered vegetables, tapioca pearls)
“Coconut Tapioca” (passion fruit sorbet and fresh fruits)

The abalone dish was quite tasty. They gave you two whole abalone with the negi oil and associated sauce in a pool on the bottom of the bowl. They were on the smaller side, but most abalone now days are. The negi oil and sauce was a little bit salty by itself, but went well with the abalone.

The tomato salad was a little bit of a surprise for a couple of reasons: first, I had ordered their other tomato salad with beets and avocado, but in the interest of time decided to stick with this one; second the li hing ume vinaigrette was incredibly flavorful. I love li hing mui, don’t get me wrong, but as a salad dressing, not so much. Then again, this might just be personal preference; I’m not terrible fond of sweet dressings. That point aside, it covered the tomato flavor a little too much and didn’t have nearly enough ume flavor too it.

The opkakapaka was amazing. The pork hash went well with the delicate fish, and the truffle nage broth, surprisingly, didn’t overpower it either. I do have to add that the tapioca pearls seemed a little superfluous, but given that they were there, it was a nice touch. The fish was cooked perfectly and was moist and tender.

The coconut tapioca was an excellent choice for dessert. The passion fruit sorbet was very flavorful and added a nice tang to the tapioca. All of the fruit were sweet and fresh, also marrying well with the tapioca. The tapioca itself was well done. The pearls had just the right texture and the coconut flavor didn’t overpower the rest of the ingredients.

Overall, I’d have to say that, aside from the salad mix up, it was an excellent dinner. I’d be quite willing to go back next time I’m in HI.

Alan Wong’s Restaurant
1857 South King Street
Third Floor
Honolulu, HI 96826
( 808 ) 949-2526

Yoshi’s Grill

Posted in Charlotte, Food, Japanese, Yoshi's Grill on July 17, 2008 by Kelly

Let me preface this post with the following: I was not expecting high quality food when I heard that we were going a sushi place that had half price sushi on certain evenings. I was not thinking it’d be like Yanagi Sushi or Koo or Sushi Sasabune or Kabuto Sushi. So when I say I was disappointed with Yoshi’s Grill, their food really was pathetic.

Let’s first start off with the fact that it was fast food sushi. They had a menu up on the wall with one haole girl taking your order in front and a Mexican guy making the rolls and sushi in the back. Now, not to be racist, but when you have a Japanese “restaurant” and there aren’t any Japanese employees in the building, that is a bad sign. And by “half price sushi” they meant half price maki, whole price nigiri. Of course they didn’t call it that, they were “sushi rolls” and I can’t even remember what they called the nigiri. And, of course, aside from simple things, like “teriyaki” and “gyoza” it was all in English. So when I asked for a double order of the hamachi (yes, double because they only gave you one piece of nigiri for each order, yet asked for a minimum of two orders), the “waitress” had no clue what I just asked for.

Their rolls were horribly Americanized and really poorly made. The rice was cold. The unagi was cold. And don’t even get me started on the hamachi nigiri that I ordered. To me it seemed like they had just bought the fish from the nearest grocery store, sliced it up and put it on top of a ball of rice. It smelled incredibly fishy, something I never associate with good hamachi, and lacked all of the buttery flavor that it was supposed to have. I’m surprised I didn’t get food poisoning. I also got an order of gyoza, which was somehow worse than the packaged Ling Ling pot stickers you can buy at Costco.

Overall, this place was truly atrocious. If it weren’t for how “cheap” (really for the quality it should have been even less) the food was I’d be surprised anyone went there at all. I know I wouldn’t recommend Yoshi’s Grill to anyone, but really, I think you have to see how crappy their “food” is.

Yoshi’s Grill
350 Mccullough Dr
Charlotte, NC 28262
(704) 547-0864

Upcoming Reviews

Posted in Uncategorized on July 17, 2008 by Kelly

I’m well aware that I don’t update this blog on any sort of schedule. Therefore, I’ve created an “Upcoming Reviews” page, listed in the sidebar. There you will find all of the anime and food places that I plan to blog about. The actual posting will be in no particular order. The food reviews will have a rating next to the restaurant so you can get an idea of how good, or bad, the place was before I actually do a “thorough” post about it. The anime reviews, unless otherwise stated, will be full series summaries.

Monterrey Mexican Restaurant

Posted in Charlotte, Food, Mexican, Monterrey Mexican Restaurant on July 17, 2008 by Kelly

Coming from Santa Cruz, I was sorely disappointed with Monterrey. I ordered the lunch special #4 (taco, chile relleno, beans, and rice), and there was nothing special about it. The beans were mush. I’ve had canned beans with more texture and better flavor. The rice was salty. The chile relleno was profoundly sub-par having very little chile to it. I also couldn’t tell if it had been fried or not, as it was one big glob of mush with bitty bits of meat. The sauce that went with it was okay, but not even remotely close to the chile relleno at Las Palmas in Santa Cruz. The taco looked like it needed a lot of love. The meat was oddly seasoned and had gross, mushy texture to it. The taco shell itself was probably store bought. The lettuce was your typical shredded and bagged iceberg lettuce. It did not make for an appetizing presentation.

Overall, if I do go back, which I’m doubtful of, I’m trying something else.

Monterrey Mexican Restaurant
1001 E Wt Harris Blvd Ste A
Charlotte, NC 28213
(704) 593-0167


Posted in Food, Japanese, Koo, San Francisco on June 26, 2008 by Kelly

Spent a day up in San Francisco before I left to go to Charlotte, NC and ended up eating at Koo because my father said I should treat me friends to dinner (they were going to drive me to the airport at 4:00AM). He originally suggested Chez Panisse, but they said no to that and we were in SF instead of Berkeley when dinner time rolled around. I’ve gone to Koo before and have thoroughly enjoyed myself. This time was not different.

That evening’s menu (no pics because I forgot my camera):
A Spoonful of Happiness (Spoonful of uni, quail egg, tobiko, ponzu & ankimo wrapped with whitefish, truffle-oil & a shot of chilled sake)
Eggplant Dengaku (Japanese eggplant with braised sweet miso)
Hamachi Kama (Broiled hamachi kama with ponzu and graded daikon radish)
Tokyo Crunch Roll (Spicy tenkasu, hamachi, unagi, cucumber and tobiko)
Azteca Roll (Crab, avocado, gobo and cucumber wrapped in whitefish, topped w/ a thin slice of jalepeno, spicy mayo, tobiko & ponzu then lightly baked)
Fresh Hotategai
Fresh Blue Shrimp
Belly Trio (Toro, shiro maguro belly, hamachi belly)

Everything was really tasty with the exception of the Azteca roll, which I was a little disappointed with. There wasn’t a lot to the roll given the amount of ingredients that went into it. The white fish that was on top was really bland and the spicy mayo had hardly any flavor too. I also think they may have replaced the gobo with a carrot.

I really enjoyed the belly trio. Each piece had a unique flavor to it and all of them were wonderfully buttery and had that melt in your mouth texture. There was a little difficulty differentiating between the shiro maguro and the hamachi because they were similar in color. The spoonful of happiness is also as delicious as it sounds. We ended up ordering two orders to split between three people, which was a little awkward, but at $10 an order we felt that three would have been a little much. (Crystal did wonder if they’d change the price if we asked for no sake; we didn’t though, and I was a little surprised we weren’t carded, too bad we’re all over 21 anyways.) The ponzu cut the weird aftertaste of the uni much like it does with ankimo, which was a good thing since that’s the part of uni that I don’t like. The ankimo spoon was awesome. I’m such a sucker for truffle oil, but it meshed so well with the ankimo and the whitefish, reminding me of the chawanmushi from Hiroshi.

Overall: I had a really good time at Koo. I probably wouldn’t try the Azteca roll again, but everything else was terrific.

408 Irving Street
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 731-7077