Bold Flavors at Bow’l

I don’t think she reads this, but I will be so sad when M moves back to Italy. Then who will go out on weekdays and stay up late and revel in unemployed bliss with me? With any luck one of the 20 jobs I applied to yesterday will contact me soon. Okay no more blathering–on to the food we enjoyed at Bowl’d, the fairly new Korean restaurant. (I didn’t even have to think of my own cheesy pun with this one.)

Thank goodness we didn't have to walk far for spicy comfort food on this aberrant rainy day in the bay.

Korean food means lots of banchan! I need to figure out how I can just order a bowl of rice and have all those little side dishes because they are the best part. Bowl'd caters to many non-Koreans in the area, and doesn't have the huge variety that I've seen in other places. But with so many diners, you can bet that their food is always fresh and high quality. The pieces of fried tofu swimming in chili sauce on the right was probably my favorite.

I ordered the fried tofu pancakes in egg batter and made it a meal with a bowl of rice and soup (8). They turned out to be less cakey (I doubt there was any flour involved) and more like soft pillows of tofu dipped in egg. It gave me a much-needed protein boost and paired wonderfully with the dipping sauce and kimchi. I'm excited to go back and try some of their other pancakes, like seafood or mung bean. (For those keeping track of my goofy eating habits, my stomach can't handle dairy but I'm trying to eat seafood once in a while if I want to splurge at a restaurant.)

I had a few bites of M's dukboki, or spicy rice cakes with ramen, fish cakes and hardboiled egg. This is one of my favorite things to eat on a cold day but I didn't want to order it because it never fails to put me in a coma afterwards. I'm glad I went with the tofu on this night because the sauce was far too sweet and rich. I mean, is this dinner or dessert? Make up your mind!

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Thai’d Up in Noodles

It’s almost embarrassing to admit how long it took me to think of a punny title for last night’s dinner adventure. M and I originally planned to check out macaroni and cheese place but when we got there it was packed and we were too hungry to wait for a table. Ultimately, a good call seeing as I don’t like cheese, or even had mac and cheese (cue cries of outrage) because it smells offensive to me. Even the vegan option with a walnut topping sounds daunting. As the sky began to drizzle and we felt progressively more miserable, we booked it to campus. Scoped out a bunch of places and finally decided on comfort food at Thai Noodle II.

The collegiate-kitch ambiance

Entrees that are more sweet than savory, like Pad Thai with tofu (7), bother me. The sauce tasted like pure sugar. As a Pad Thai aficionado, M agreed with this and was greatly disappointed in the lack of flavor. She doused it with soy sauce and chili flakes.

The Red Curry Noodles (7) were also shockingly sweet, but coconut milk and chili oil sort of salvaged it. Such a large portion of this rich soup is best shared between people. I did however enjoy the abundance of seasonal veggies and thin springy noodles. I just wasn't sure if I was eating dinner or dessert.

But then after this dismal meal we went to Kingpin to get freshly fried donuts and thus my faith in food was restored.

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my favorite donut

source

Long and Happy Life!

Better this time! I’d go back again for this lunch special that was all J said it would be. We wanted to eat cheap again today, which i definitely don’t mind cause i want to do some damage in asia, and also i afterwards spent the money i saved on clothes. For the price, I don’t know where else you could get such a large, all vegan (excluding fortune cookie) meal, seven days of the week. I wasn’t aware that brown rice doesn’t even cost extra – way to go! It was slow in there, for 1pm on a Saturday. Last time I forgot to mention that the decor is as bad as a Chinese restaurant can be – with the door closed and the lights off, it looked closed. The only other things I remember are sad paper lanterns hanging from the ceilings.

the complimentary hot and sour soup was somehow much better than the one i bought last time! just enough soy sauce and cornstarch

i knew i wanted to try the mock chicken, because it is the only meat i often think of with fond and salivic thoughts. yet i didn't want too much chicken so this spicy mock chicken with tofu (5) was just perfect. the tofu was really fresh this time, praise be i think coming on a weekend makes all the difference. the random veggies were fresh, and the chicken was ok but i wanted something chunkier, not flat like deli meat. i realize now that all their mock meats are like this, just with different flavor profiles. j's ham was pretty salty. i dont think i'd get mock meat here again! the eggroll was fine. the rice was brown. the cost was just right. i still have half for tomorrow. pretty good bean chili sauce that alludes to the comforting homecooking someone's (else's) mum would prepare. on second thought, it alludes to the comforting paste she would spoon from a jar. we always have a couple in our fridge. the radioactive egg roll sauce is in the corner for a reason

check out the stylish stranger i harassed for a picture on my way to the thrift shop! aka J aka the first person to be on this blog,which is kind of weird but this outfit was so put together i wanted to share. i really like the women's ruffle blouse under the vest but unfortunately the sun washed it out. lead the way, J

hopefully i can get out of this cheap asian food rut soon. unless the next time i post it’s from asia!

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Gregoire’s vs. Brazil Cafe: A Tale of Two Vegan Sandwiches

All these graduation and goodbye meals are draining my wallet and filling up the blog. And most importantly my stomach.
Lunch today was cornerstone of gourmet ghetto – and not Cheeseboard or Chez Panisse, both of which I’m rather tired of hearing about.
too cute

too cute

Gregoire’s is small and cute like French people. Like the three French people standing behind me the whole time while I was eating at the bar – the only place to sit inside.  It made me want to be extra dainty and cultured in front of them. Then I spilled salad on myself. But they were basically breathing down my neck – the size of the place is its biggest setback, but most people order to go.

i'm making a "takeout container" catergory in my ratings and giving gregoire's a guac award

I'm making a "takeout container" catergory in my ratings and giving Gregoire's a guac award

The macaroni salad was alright cause’ I like it heavy on the vinegar and light on the oil/mayo. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente, but I’m not a huge fan of these “salads” in general.

The vegan sandwich (6.5) included “firm tofu Provençal with oven dried tomato & roasted garlic in sliced granary bread. I think they use Semifreddi’s bread because it was chewy and aweseme (also more importantly, I saw the bag) I was apprehensive about the thick layer of brown chutney spread on each side but they turned out to be the garlic addition, completely smashed to a paste. The subtle, smoky, carmelized flavor went well with the marinated tofu which were covered with herbs. The tofu was the perfect texture – soft and creamy but dense and substantial. Kind of like mozzarella cheese without the taste of cheese, which is great for me. I also loved(!) the tomatoes bathing in their olive oil-y, concentrated juices. Like a tomato times ten in terms of flavor explosion. A couple slices of lettuce were shoved in as an afterthought and some color. It seems like there’d be too many competing flavors in this sandwich but they combined well. Wouldn’t have worked with a meat though.

famous potato puffs (4.50)

famous potato puffs (4.50)

I didn’t have the potato puffs this time, but they’re definitely worth getting once. I remember them as mashed potatoey innards formed into balls and fried, lightly salted. The buttery inside and crunchy outside make people delusional and they think it’s the best thing, worth shelling out almost 5 bucks for. Personally dont usually feel need to get it again and would rather get bread pudding instead (didn’t this time). Its deliciousness is really all dependent on the aoili – today it was a curry-based flavor that doesn’t compliment as well as garlic or roasted red pepper aioli. Also, this might be a Midwestern thing, but we had “football fries” every week in elementary school and these taste really similar.

Hot smoked Scottish salmon with creamy spinach in Dutch crunch (7.5)

Hot smoked Scottish salmon with creamy spinach in Dutch crunch (7.5)

My roomie G loved the bread (I love dutch crunch too) and creamed spinach but thought the salmon too thick and soft (almost like sashimi). At first we were impressed it was such a huge slab of fish, but I imagine I would’ve liked it thinner, drier, and chewier.

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Because I’m a lucky lucky gal, that wasn’t the only sandwich of the day.

stupidly forgot camera. i obvs didn't take this awesome picture and will remove it if any lawsuit arises

stupidly forgot camera. i obvs didn't take this awesome picture and will remove it if any lawsuit arises

The Lambada veggie sandwich (6.5) beats Gregiore’s by a smidgeon, prob cause I’m a sucker for fresh produce. The sandwich is typically made with a layer of ricotta cheese but I asked for it on the side and didn’t have it, because it was flavorless and because the texture of ricotta’s got to be one of my least favorite. Everything else on the sandwich – corn (OMG), shredded carrots (nice, added sweetness), pimento stuffed olives (great flavor and salt to balance, especially for olive lovers), garlic cilantro sauce (fav ingredients!), and another afterthought slice of lettuce – married their flavors and textures perfectly.  On top of that, they use this awesome grainy/seedy bread for the sandwich that reminds me of the sandwiches at Intermezzo which highlight their homemade bread. Though sadly, this wasn’t as dense and quickly became soggy and fell apart before I finished half the sandwich.

free mango smoothie

free mango smoothie

Lots of diners rave about this smoothie, but wasn’t very remarkable. Imagine really sweet mango puree (must’ve been added sugar) blended with ice. But what really matters is that we got these for free with the purchase of sandwiches because apparently the owner Pedro tends to hand out free coupons. One of the girls with us didn’t have a coupon and he gave her one anyway. So Pedro, your smoothies are too sweet for me but you are not.

The three other diners I went with all got the famed tri-tip sandwich in various forms, and each promised that it deserves the hype. I should have a setting on my bathtub that turns on that garlic cilantro sauce so I can slosh around in it.

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