Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Pho Binh Hoa, Redwood City

It's no secret that Jon and I are regulars at El Grullense — the one that's located inside the little strip mall on Woodside Road. But the other night, during our (at least) weekly visit, we noticed that the Asian restaurant a few doors down, Happy Day, had changed its name. It's now Pho Binh Hoa and, as the name implies, specializes in Vietnamese food.

Very affordable Vietnamese food.

Last night, we popped in for dinner. I ordered a bowl of pho that was the size of my head, and it was only six bucks. I went with the rare steak (which gets cooked in the delicious hot broth) and well-done flank version. But the latter meat was a bit too fatty for my taste. So next time, I think I'll ask for just the rare steak.

Jon, who does not like soups (it's crazy — I know!), ordered a stir-fried chicken and rice dish. He also is not super into white rice, so he ate up most of his chicken, but not all of his rice. And he left his side of soup untouched.

Okay, remember how my pho arrived in a giant bowl? Well, to neither of our surprise, I couldn't finish it. But, given what Jon left behind of his meal, and that I only consumed about 50 percent of mine, the extremely sweet server was very concerned when she came to clear our table. She was so sincere, that I admit, it further endeared this place to me. The first staffer we encountered here (a gentleman who may be the proprietor?) was also very kind. Oh, and this place is super-clean, so it earns extra points with both of us for that. And the easy-listening '80s music is a nice touch.

With our entrees and a drink each (fresh-pressed lemonade for Jon, iced coffee with condensed milk for me), our bill totaled less than $20. BTW, for those who enjoy those pearl drinks — the ones with the tapioca balls in them — they offer several flavors here.

Pho with beef is one of two standard dishes by which I judge a Vietnamese restaurant. The other is the rice vermicelli served with bbq pork and an eggroll. So I'll be making a return visit to Pho Binh Hoa to report back on that one.

In the meantime, check it our for yourself — and don't be scared by the tripe on the menu! (Coincidentally, El Grullense offers tripe as well. But the few times I've ordered a tripe taco, the cashier seems to question if I know what I'm asking for.)

Pho Hoa Binh
756 Woodside Road
Redwood City, CA
(650) 369-3767

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vallco ... Er, I mean Cupertino Square

If you spend much time in Cupertino, you probably know that Vallco Shopping Center is undergoing a massive overhaul — which even includes a new name: Cupertino Square. I've only been to two restaurants there, Alexander's Steakhouse and Benihana,* but there are a couple that I'll probably be frequenting for lunch when their doors finally open.

CPK ASAP has had a coming soon banner out for months now. So today, I decided to look into the situation, because I'm tired of being teased about their opening. It turns out, the ground has been dug up, but they're still waiting for PG&E to come in and lay down some pipes. Only then can construction of the actual interior commence. So it's going to be at least a few months before I can get some BBQ chicken salad for lunch.

In addition to the yet-to-open CPK ASAP, Cupertino Square will also be home to an Islands burger joint. This has one of my coworkers very excited, because in Northern California you can only currently enjoy Islands in the Sacramento area.

* Speaking of Benihana, did I ever tell you that we went there for Jon's birthday a couple of months ago? We did, because we had some gift cards for the place. So when I called to get a reservation at the Burlingame location, I discovered that it's closed for a big renovation. Like a year-long renovation. I can't wait to see what it looks like afterwards! It'd better be really cool if they shut down for this long.

Giada Book-Signing

I am a big Giada de Laurentiis fan because her recipes are actually within my culinary reach. I was at Books, Inc. at Stanford Shopping Center this weekend and noticed that she will be there this Friday at 2pm, signing copies of her new book, Everyday Pasta.

For more info, including the rules for the book-signing, click here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Dutch Goose, Menlo Park

Let me break this down nice and simple: If you like deviled eggs, you'll love the Dutch Goose. They serve these spicy deviled eggs ($1.25 for an order of two halves; $10 for a whole plate) that are delish. While we were waiting in line tonight, I was kidding with Jon and said I was just going to order a plate of eggs for my dinner. After I tasted them, I wish I had actually made good on that notion. Next time ...

(Apparently, the Dutch Goose's egg recipe goes several owners back — to Pete Eccles, who was the guy who gave the place its name. Before he came along, it was called the Busy Bee.)

As far as the other food here, it's your average hamburger, hot dog, etc., joint. The fries aren't consistently crispy enough for my taste. The ambiance is ... well, don't let it deter you. The wood booths and long tables feature years and years of carved names and sentiments. It's one of those eateries that's just an institution 'round here (especially amongst Stanford students and alum). But, really, how can you NOT love a place that sells bags of peanuts and lets you throw the shells right down on the floor?

Other perks: 12 beers on tap, plenty of flat-screen TVs, a heated patio out back, a pool table, and even some arcade games.

Dutch Goose
3567 Alameda de las Pulgas
Menlo Park, CA
(650) 854-3245

Monday, April 02, 2007

Chronicle's Top 100

Of the 17 new restaurants that Michael Bauer et al added to this year's Top 100, three are located in the Peninsula: Junnoon and Mantra in Palo Alto (both upscale Indian) and Kaygetsu in Menlo Park.

Actually, the only other Peninsula/South Bay eateries that made the annual list are Koi Palace in Daly City, Amber India in Mountain View and Manresa in Los Gatos. Hmmm ... I think the 650 and 408 are a bit underrpresented. What about Navio in Half Moon Bay? Or Evvia and Tamarine in PA? I'd gladly dine at either of those restaurants before I return to Junnoon or Amber India. (When we dined at the two Indian restaurants, the service was a little lacking — e.g., the wrong dish brought to the table, a nearly one hour wait for a table despite having a reservation.)