Thursday, May 17, 2007


I heard and read great reviews about this little izakaya in Sunnyvale, so I had to go try it. Izakayas are basically Japanese drinking establishments serving appetizer-size snacks, although my impression is that izakayas are now equally known for their food and drinks. Anyway, after my friends and I ordered some Orion beer (imported from Okinawa), we ordered dish after dish of yummy, traditional-style izakaya food:

Chicken karage - crispy fried chicken with that wonderful Japanese mayonnaise

Beef tataki - fresh thinly sliced rare beef topped with daikon, chopped green onion, and ponzu sauce

Fried oysters with mustard sauce on the side

Unagi (eel) rolls

Some chicken leg that one of my friends got...don't remember how it was prepared

Salmon onigiri - Japanese snack formed with rice in a triangular shape, lightly crisp, topped with salmon roe

Rice pot with eel, seaweed, and an egg

Overall, the food was excellent. Very traditional and authentic Japanese flavors, and the portions were good for a group. My favorites were the chicken karage and the salmon onigiri (arguably the best onigiri I've had outside Japan). Our waitress was a bit slow on the service, but otherwise it was a great meal.

A word of warning though - it can get pretty crowded, so reservations are a good idea. And the place can be a bit tricky to find, so have their number on hand to call them if you get a bit lost.

1063 E. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 244-7311

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Vietnamese Affair

I have a tendency of always having something to nibble or sip on in the midst of studying for finals. I like to think it helps to keep me focused. Anyway, I'm grateful to be within walking distance of two great Vietnamese places in the Tenderloin where I can grab a quick meal to go. The first is Tu Lan, which is literally a hole in the wall on Market and Sixth serving quick, cheap, greasy, and oh-so-good Vietnamese fare. Their prices are low but they give you very generous portions of rice and noodles. I usually get their pork combo rice that comes with a salad and imperial rolls, to go because I don't really like sitting down to eat there. Granted, it's not the best pork or imperial rolls ever, but it's decent enough for 6 bucks. And they always stuff my takeout box with so much rice, pork, and salad until it's almost impossible to close.

The second place I love is Saigon Sandwiches on Larkin in between Eddy and Turk. Best Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) I've ever had. I ordered the combination special sandwich, which was somewhere in the $3 range. The fresh crusty baguette was lined with a pate spread and stuffed with a variety of meats, pickled daikon and carrots, and cilantro. And if you're in the mood for some good iced coffee with condensed milk, I suggest hopping across the street to Lee's Sandwiches (I don't like their sandwiches, but their coffee is great).

Tu Lan
8 6th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-0927

Saigon Sandwiches
560 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 474-5698

Sunday, May 6, 2007


I was expecting a pricey lunch when I went to Palomino, but it was actually quite reasonable given the high-quality European/American food and its Embarcadero location. My friends and I sat at a table by the window, which gave us a gorgeous view of the Bay Bridge.

I am usually not much of a "drink at lunchtime" gal, but I couldn't resist ordering the tiramisu cocktail to start. Tiramisu is my absolute favorite dessert of all time. To put it in drink form seemed like pure genius to me.

Tiramisu cocktail ($8.50) - Stoli Vanil vodka, Baileys Irish Cream, Starbucks coffee liqueur, Godiva chocolate liqueur, and chocolate shavings floating on top. A must-have for any chocolate or coffee lover (who can handle the slight taste of vodka, of course).

Our smoked salmon appetizer brought the meal off to a good start:

And I continued the fish theme by ordering the grilled salmon with artichoke tartar. Very fresh and not over-grilled, and perfectly complemented by the tartar sauce.

Grilled salmon with artichoke tartar and lemon-vermouth butter, with a side of spring greens drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette ($15.95)

However, my friend Erica ordered the asiago crusted tilapia, which beat out my salmon in terms of taste. It must have been that creamy cheese sauce.

Asiago crusted tilapia - pan seared with Parmesan cheeses and fresh chive butter sauce ($13.95)

Two other things on their menu that struck my eye:

1. They have a combination lunch special where you can get a soup/ salad for $10.95, pasta and soup/salad for $11.95, or a half sandwich and pasta/soup/salad for $11.95. Seems like it would be a good place for a nice, relaxing lunch at a decent price.

2. I didn't order any dessert when I went, but I would gladly go back to try them. It's kind of hard for me to resist things like chocolate torte with espresso creme anglaise and vanilla creme brulee.

Anyway, for good, fresh, reasonably-priced food with a view of the bay, check this place out!

345 Spear Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 512-7400