Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Japanese Tapas and Do-it-Yourself Frozen Yogurt

Tapas, for those who may not know, are like appetizers. Very common in Spain and similar cultures. There's a great tapas place in Orlando (Cafe Tu Tu Tango), and although we've only been once, we know a lot about tapas in culture thanks to one of our Spanish teachers in high school. She incorporated a lot about living in Spain and Costa Rica into the course, and we even know the hand gesture for "check, please," LoL. So when Kathy suggested we go for Japanese tapas, Jonathan and I were on board!

We drove into Cupertino (about ten minutes away from the apartment) and in the back of a plaza was GocHi, a Japanese Fusion tapas place. GocHi is short for "gochisou," meaning "treat or delicious hearty meal." It was packed for 8:30pm on a Wednesday night, and we waited a few minutes for a table. At first I was very excited, as many of the tables are a more traditional (sit on the floor" style, where shoes are removed and placed in a cubby before entering the seating area. However, we were given a "standard" table, one side was a bench against the wall and the other was chairs.

We ordered five dishes and split them all.
  • First out was one of the daily specials (I don't remember the name), which was deep-friend salmon with potato cream and tartar sauce, described as a croquette, but served like a roll as sushi. I didn't care for it, tasted too much like tempura (which I loathe). The potato cream was tasty, but as a whole I wouldn't order it again. Both Jonathan and Kathy enjoyed it.
  • Then came the Sake Cream Cheese Miso Fushion Pizza. It had salmon and roe, scallions and cheese. It also had mushrooms which were not listed in the menu. I only had one piece, I just couldn't stomach it. The crust was light and crispy and the cheese was delicious and not oily, but it was large roe (probably about a centimeter in diameter), and it grossed me out. I tried eating around it, but I also didn't really care for salmon on pizza. I'd go as far as to say that I wish the salmon was smoked instead of baked, it might have helped. The other two liked it, but JB also pushed off the roe.
  • The shiromaguro tataki came after that, which was seared albacore in garlic oil with little chips of garlic. The garlic chips were not very flavorful, but the albacore was pretty good. (Tataki means seared on the outside and raw in the middle). We probably ate this dish the quickest.
  • Then was the duck steaks in a sweet, thick brown sauce. They were my favorite dish of the evening, and I thought the sauce was great. The meat was a little fatty for duck, but half of the slices were gristle-free. Jonathan didn't like the duck but thought the sauce was good.
  • Last was a vermicelli noodle dish with cod (although none of us could taste it) and seaweed. With some cayenne pepper sprinkled on it, it was good. Otherwise it was a bit flavorless. It wasn't anything special, but it was recommended by the server, and nothing worth complaining about.
Overall, it was an interesting place, and the menu is very extensive. However, I don't think I'm very likely to return. Tapas are not a cheap meal anywhere, so they need to be delicious in my opinion.

We headed to Carvel afterward, but they were closed. So we drove a few blocks and found a plaza with a Baskin Robbins and a DIY Yogurt. It was a very cool place, and a concept that I was unfamiliar with. Basically, you take a cup and add your own frozen yogurt and toppings. They had about 10 flavors of yogurt, including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cappuccino, taro, tart, mango, and a few others. There were over fifty topping options, including a bunch of cereals and candies, four syrups, and probably ten fruits. When you're finished they charge you 33 cents per ounce, and put it on a scale. There's a "weight of the day" and if it matches, yours is free. The weight yesterday was 0.88 oz, and I came closest with 0.83.

I tried vanilla, cappuccino, strawberry, and tart. I added brownie bits, oreos, and strawberries. The strawberries were delicious, and the oreos were a good crushed size. The brownie bits left something to be desired (they weren't "fudgy" or fresh). Tart froyo tastes like yogurt, and I had to mix it with the strawberry for it to be palatable. The strawberry was delicious and strong. Tee cappuccino was too strong, I had to swirl it with the vanilla, which was that "country vanilla" style. As a whole, the place was good and I'd go back. BUT, since this is a typical set-up out here, I'd love to try another fro-yo place, as this one has pretty poor reviews on yelp in comparison.

Sidenote: I asked Kathy if she liked frozen custard (my fave) and she had never had it, even though she went to undergrad at Berkeley (and there's a great place less than a mile from the campus - ate there summer 2006 when I was at a conference). So she's all about going to the Willow Glen place in San Jose, which is the closest place to get some around here (without going into SF). :)

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