February 2008


outside

Well searching around for new places to ear, especially around work can be daunting. You see the same old places and try and keep and ear out for new ones. Well I stumbled onto a new place on a recommendation from a friend. I’ve been concentrating lately around the redeveloping downtown area, but had ignore the opposite direction towards Berkeley.

After finding Riva Cucina, this area of Berkeley is slowly starting to create some culinary waves with 900 Grayson. Although 2 years old, this small place specializes in fresh ingredients and simple foods done right. I heard the thing to get is the burger so that is what I ordered (also voted best burger in San Francisco Magazine)

Burger at 900 Grayson

The bread seemed like Acme Bread quality, and the meat was cooked to the right amount. I also liked the crispy onions and the melty cheese. Although fancier than the good ol’ standby from a greasy spoon, this burger delivers with a deep meaty texture and taste. And the best part of the burger is that although it was juicy, it stayed together throughout the whole meal, without falling apart. I wished the fries were more tasty, but I can’t complain too much.

Their sandwiches and other dishes looked quite delicious. So now the question and dilemma is, since the burger is so good, should I get the burger, or try something new. With problems like this, 900 Grayson will continue to keep me coming back to decide.

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I came across this travel site that has some very interesting data. It’s called farecast. It collects the amount that airline tickets have gone for in the past and then maps out the trend in the pricing so that you can choose different times or dates according to which should be cheaper. It is another way of finding good deals and seeing when to get tickets rather than just looking for what is the best deals as of this minute. They are just rolling out international flights and have started hotel rates as well. It has the usual search functions similar to kayak.com but the real use is the smart predictions. The only drawback is that the predictions only work for only certain cities, but it looks like they are added new ones periodically.

You can read about it more in this NY Times article.

Lois the Pie Queen

I’m not much of a breakfast food person, but there is just something about chicken and waffles. Again, I’m not much of a breakfast food person so the appealing thing about the chicken and waffles is the chicken. Lois the Pie Queen, a non-descript diner in the middle of a residential area of Emeryville, has the diner fare, but also the breakfast fare. It also has one of the best fried chickens in the area. The skin has a great crispiness and consistently has very moist meat. If you go there for lunch, they unfortunately only have the chicken and waffles on the menu and they don’t serve the fried chicken dinner for lunch. You can order a side of chicken instead. This being said I always get the chicken, but wanted to try something else instead. My friend, Thomas, got the chicken and ordered a side of biscuits and gravy. They only had brown gravy, instead of the typical white gravy served with biscuits, which didn’t go as well with the biscuits, according to Thomas.

Lois the Pie Queen

I ordered the smother onion burger. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the onion burger comes on toasted white bread instead of a bun. The onions were smothered with something, though it was more like grilled onions, and there was a plethora of cheddar cheese cascading between the layers. All the components of a good burger was there except the key ingredient, the meat. The meat was overdone and the patty was fairly small. The texture reminded me of a McDonald’s regular hamburger patty. IF I were to order the burger again, I would ask for it medium rare and see if that helps things. Otherwise I’d have to stick with the chicken.

Lois the Pie Queen

And yes I’m also not much of a sweets person so I have not sampled the pie to see if Lois indeed reigns supreme.

Jollibee

While at MacWorld this year, I didn’t have the luxury of time so I headed to get some fast food. I did not get Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell, or a slew of countless other well known places. I went to Jollibee.

It turns out that Jollibee is the Philippines number one fast food restaurant even beating out McDonald’s. It was entertaining to see countless of MacWorld attendees stumbling in with strange looks perusing the unfamiliar menu. Jollibee does have the standard burger, but it also has fried chicken, and noodles, including spaghetti.

I decided to get the Palabok Fiesta, which according to the website features bihon noodles, palabok sauce, pork chicharon bits, tinapa flakes, sauteed pork, shrimps, topped with egg. I was pleasantly surprised at the multitude of flavor. The noodles had a nice soft and hard texture and the palabok sauce was slightly salty but a mixture of very light curry and something sweet. The chicharon bits was the highlight giving a crunchy texture to the overal softness, similar to what pork katsu does in katsu curry. If I were in Moscone area, I may venture back to Jollibee. It was a pleasant fast food experience.

On a bit of a side note, I remember that that particular Jollibee was there a few years ago then closed down for a while. I thought that it went out of business, but then lo and behold, it opened up again. Not sure what happened, but I’m glad that it’s a Jollibee and not just another fast food joint.

You gotta love the mascot though.

Happy Lunar New Year!

To celebrate I’ve been enjoying a new music search site that scours for music, but keeps them on the site so you are not downloading songs illegally, but you can create your own playlists and share them with friends. It’s called seeqpod. It works for both audio and video.

Check it out.

It’s hard to differentiate between all the mediocre food in Japantown in SF. Some are above average, but for the most part each fall short. One would also think that you could find great sushi in Japantown, and for the most part you would be wrong, except for Ino Sushi. Ino Sushi is a tiny place that consistently serve great sushi. It is a tiny place that usually requires a reservation, especially if you want to sit at the bar. The bar is also interesting since you don’t get the usual wooden plate which the chef serves the sushi, instead the whole bar is the plate and you get served the sushi on the bar itself.

Last night the sushi was average, and at Ino that is what you want. Average is much better than most of the sushi places in the bay area. The saba and amber jack were especially really great. Everything was consistant.

Now I really want to like this place but it is hard to. Firstly it is expensive. It is not overly expensive, but you get what you pay for. Secondly, it is tiny, so it is hard to get a seat sometimes, but since it is tucked away, and most people don’t know about it, it is not always busy. Thirdly, and finally, the chef is a bit of a curmudgeon. Last night he was especially in a bad mood. He was bickering with his (I assume) his wife/server. He is very particular about his sushi. Courtney got scolded once for dipping her ginger in the soy sauce, then a second time for dipping the rice side of the sushi in the soy sauce instead of the fish side. I always end a meal with a hand rool and my hand roll was a little sloppy. Instead of the usual conical shape it was more a conical maki made very quickly and not very cared for.

That being said the sushi was delicious, but a great part of eating sushi is the environment and the interaction with the chef, and if that isn’t there, then the sushi experience isn’t there.