Sunday, January 28, 2007

Spice Island, Mountain View

A while back, Jon and I enjoyed our first Singaporean dining experience (at Shiok Kitchen). We didn't know much about the cuisine, but were happy with what we ordered. Afterwards, however, we decided to extend a dinner invitation to a Singaporean couple we met through Jon's grad program. Yes, they would be our culinary guides!

So on Friday night, the four of us went off to Spice Islands. Located in downtown Mountain View, it appears to be one of a zillion restaurant options in the area. Even with all of the parking lots they have there, it took us 15 minutes to get a space! And that was after some serious stalking!

But it was worth it. I wish I could tell you exactly what we ordered, but I'm not sure. Our friends consulted with us, but did the actually ordering for the table. For the appetizers, there was a spring roll type of thing and some sort of layered egg dish. Both good. The entrees included curry fish head, okra, short ribs, and noodles with seafood.

Although I liked the flavor of the curry for the fish head entree, I can't really recommend it. The fish part was such a pain to eat! Too many bones. And in the thick sauce, I couldn't make out what I was spooning out; more often than not, ended up with a chunk of bones. No fun. My favorite item was the okra, which I generally just love anyway. But the flavors were sensational here — spicy with a hint of shrimp paste. And our dinner companions explained to us that in Singapore, okra is called "ladyfingers." (Quite different from the spongey cakes that we refer to as ladyfingers.)

So I guess this is only a semi-useful summary of our Spice Island experience, since I can't properly tell you everything we ate. But if you're craving some Singaporean food, you'll have to trust me — and our friends &#151 on this one and try the place for yourself. On a weekend evening, just give yourself plenty of time to find parking!

Spice Island
210 Hope Street
Mountain View, CA
(650) 961-0628

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quick Brunch Bites

Just a few brief notes on a couple of recent places I tried ...

Let me start by saying that I absolutely adore brunch. It is my favorite meal — partly because it really is two meals in one. You can have your sweet or your savory. And you don't have to get up early.

A few weeks ago, I went to Cafe Brioche for the first time. I had read all sorts of rave reviews about how it was supposed to serve one of the best brunches in Palo Alto. As I expected, there was a short wait for a table for two when I arrived that Saturday morning. I wish I could tell you what I ate, but it really was THAT unmemorable. Nothing special. At all. So I'm not sure why there's so much love for Cafe Brioche. (Maybe I just made a bad menu choice?) The service was friendly but oh so very s-l-o-w. Even though I can't remember what I ordered, I do remember waiting 30 minutes for the check. And asking for it TWICE.

This past weekend, I met some friends for brunch at Scott's Seafood in Town & Country Village. First of all, I probably should have known better than to pick a brunch spot that has the word "seafood" in its name AND is a sort of a mini-chain here in the Bay Area. And secondly, that strip mall is one giant mess. The parking lot is a disaster — with people and cars behaving badly. I ordered an omelet that was decent, but not better than anything I can whip up at home (and that's saying a lot since I don't even like to cook). The accompanying home fries and biscuit were horrendous. I am a firm believer that it is really hard to go wrong with potatoes, but these? These had some sort of funky taste to them that I just couldn't figure out. The service at Scott's was very good, but it didn't make up for the blah food.

I wish I had better things to report. But after these two experiences, I think I need to go back to Alana's for my next brunch outing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Eating Elsewhere: Carmel

Poor neglected blog. Last January, I posted 28 times. This January? Not so much. This is just my second post of the new year. What's even sadder: The January 2007 posts thus far are not about the Peninsula!

It's pathetic, I know. But I can't complain because I've been busy with fun freelancing work and fun traveling. Jon and I spent the recent three-day weekend in Carmel Valley. To celebrate my sister's birthday, we had dinner at the Chef's Table at Marinus. SO AWESOME. Everything about the evening was amazing. We ended up consuming 10 savory courses and 3 desserts.


The next day, Jon had the brilliant idea to drive down Highway 1 to one of my favorite places on the planet: Big Sur Bakery. I love this place. It is so cozy and charming. And the food equally comforting (and delicious!). Behold the breakfast pizza:

big sur bakery

After Marinus and BSB, I thought dinner at Bouchee in Carmel would be a let-down. But it so wasn't! Another great meal. Jon enjoyed the Kampachi Sashimi and the Free-Range Sonoma Chicken. I had the Monterey Abalone and the Beef Short Rib "à la Bourguignonne". Dessert was just as good: Churros with Hazelnut Hot Chocolate. (I was considering the beignets, but since they're chocolate, and I like mine plain and straightforward, we only ordered the churros.)

More pictures and descriptions from our Marinus and Big Sur Bakery visits can be seen/read here.

Oh, you know what our first meal was once we got home? Quizno's. We are so all over the map when it comes to food.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Eating Elsewhere: Turks & Caicos

It's been a few weeks since my last post, but I've got good excuses for my blogging absence:

1) The obvious one - The Holidays.
2) And I was on vacation.

#1 involved lots of good eating, family time, post-Christmas shopping, gift-giving and -receiving.

#2 involved Hilton Head Island, SC, and Providenciales, Turks & Caicos. Jon headed out to the East Coast a few days before me (work gets in the way of all the fun!). So we met up in HH for New Year's. And a couple of days later, we were off to the Caribbean.

Since this is a food-related site, let's talk about the food. We made it a priority to hit up the usual/favorite HH spots. It was my first visit to Turks, however, so we mainly took the advice of others. In case you're ever in Provo (which is how most folks refer to Providenciales), here are my dining-out picks:
  • Fancy Meal: O Soleil
  • Casual/Expensive Meal:* Bay Bistro
  • Casual/Cheap Meal: Da Conch Shack
  • Meal with a View: Magnolia


Prices were high pretty much everywhere we went. So your belly may be full, but your wallet will be empty. The best value was Da Conch Shack — where, for $12, I got a plate of fried conch; mac'n'cheese (it was baked-up so crispy, it was like a slice of mac'n'cheese); and fried plantains. So so good!

You can get more details on Provo restaurants here.

* This category explained: You don't have to dress up to dine here because the ambiance is very casual, laid-back, beachfront. But the entrees are still around $30.