Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shabuway and Honeyberry

This past Thursday night, Andy, Kathy, JB, and I all went to Shabuway, a place downtown that we always walk past but have never been in. It labels itself as a Japanese fondue place, and the service is incredibly fast (tho not precisely accurate).

Kathy and JB each ordered a large shabu shabu plate (really thinly sliced raw beef and a platter of like 5 kinds of vegetables). Andy had the large with extra meat, and I got the 10-piece shrimp potstickers. Similar to the Mongolian HotPot place, you get a pot of boiling liquid (again, we got the divided half-and-half with plain on one side and spicy on the other). I didn't care for most of the vegetables (Kathy might have been the only one who truly enjoyed them - she even ordered an extra platter of them), but otherwise it was good. The pricing is fair. They all enjoyed the kobe beef (they were out of lean meat); I thought it tasted just like all other beef. My shrimp tasted more like pork, but that wasn't really a problem. We had a hard time getting our water glasses refilled, and the server wasn't very happy that Kathy wanted extra spicy broth. Lastly, Jonathan and I ordered a side of udon noodles, but instead received an unagi bowl. It was a great deal and tasty eel, but we had to repeat our order twice (the waitress didn't write it down and she mixed up several things when repeating it back to us), and we still received the wrong item.

In the end: I don't really have much purpose in going back, but if you like beef, I say give it a go!

Afterward, we wanted dessert, but the Chinese bakery in Mountain View was already closed, so we kinda just started driving, and arrived at Honeyberry, a frozen yogurt place none of us had been to before. Frozen Yogurt is not a very good description tho, since they only had 4 flavors... they had about 12 gelato choices and another 6 in shaved ice! There were some interesting items on the menu - chocolate-covered strawberries and waffles were on there, strangely enough. I tried the oreo, vanilla, and double espresso gelatos - all incredibly smooth, but the double espresso was realllllly strong. The fresh strawberries and kiwi were nice toppings. The blueberries were sour, the green tea was strong, but otherwise there was nothing that stood out about the other flavors that everyone else got.

There was a frequent buyer card, but you had to buy like $60 worth to get $3 off. Clearly the worst one ever. There is, however, one of those opportunities to guess what your creation will weigh (to the tenth of an ounce), and if you get it right, you get a gift certificate (and the amount escalates with how heavy your cup was, from 10 ounces to over 26!). The overall atmosphere was the icing on the cake... we will not be back, nor recommend the place. It was very unfriendly.

Monday, June 29, 2009

San Francisco Tour, Alcatraz, Pasta?

On Monday morning, Jonathan's parents and I took the Caltrain into San Francisco, then a bus down to Ghirardelli Square so that we could take in some sights. The bus tour (operated by Tower Tours) was very good, and over three and a half hours, we saw a lot of different places. We had an opportunity to get off the bus and photograph city hall, Golden Gate Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the city from Twin Peaks. John was the name of our tour guide, and aside from being rather obsessive about a silent bus was a great guide. There was a sing-along and trivia questions, making the trip pretty fun. Because we saw so many different things, you can easily understand how Jonathan's dad and I ended up with a combined 230 photos!!
City Hallthey even have garlic ice cream at this place! just a few of the many posters about townAIDS quiltGreen parking only! there have cable cars from all over the country! Lombard Streetthe Painted LadiesView from Twin Peaks

Afterward, we asked to be dropped off at Pier 39, where we had lunch at the Boudin Bakery, where I bought a loaf of sourdough three years prior, on my first trip to San Francisco.
I liked this crab topiary.
We walked down to Pier 33, and took the 1:45pm ferry to Alcatraz. This time I was able to watch the Discovery Channel video about the island, which was interesting. Less emphasis was placed on the Native Americans this time for some reason, and part of the audio tour was also different.
In the late 60s, Native Americans took over Alcatraz Island in a protestview of the city from the islandthe morguetypical cellrecreation relics

After we took the ferry back to the mainland, we headed for home. Sadly, we were about 5 feet too short to make the bullet train (the guy literally closed the door of the gate when we were less than ten feet away), so we had to wait half an hour to catch the regular train. In Mountain View, we met up with Jonathan and ate at Pasta? Trattoria, where our server was truly Italian! The bread was good and crusty, but I wasn't too impressed with the Macaroni ai Fromaggi, which was macaroni and cheese with ham. It wasn't really "baked" like the description stated, and the hint of nutmeg in the sauce was strange and uncalled for. Jonathan tried the Gnocci Tartufati, which he liked but I didn't care for due to the truffles in the cream sauce. His dad liked his Fusili con Salsiccia (corkscrew pasta with sausage), and his mom had a spicy penne dish with tomato sauce.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Father's Day: Dim Sum, HP, Stanford, Grilling

For Father's Day, Jonathan and I took his parents to have dim sum at Pan Tao. They enjoyed it, particularly the noodles (which are a personal favorite of mine as well). After that, we drove over to Palo Alto to see the "birthplace of Silicon Valley," which is the garage where Hewlett-Packard started.From there we went over to Stanford. We walked around the campus, admiring the architecture and such, and even went up the Hoover Tower to get a nice aerial view of the campus. There should be tall towers like that at more universities (although Berkeley does have one), since they're pretty neat.
Afterward, Jonathan and his dad went to Fry's, while his mom and I walked downtown Mountain View and checked out the library and Chinese Bakery, among other places. As did many families in our apartment complex, we grilled for dinner. Steak, chicken, pork, potatoes, and onions were done on the grill, while I made up some broccoli and rolls. All in all, it was a great meal, and we had Chinese paper chiffon cake for dessert. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Giants Game, Big Basin Redwoods, Santa Cruz

very broad title, I know.

Jonathan's parents came to visit for a week, so we did a mix of new and old things. They did visit Napa Valley and Gilroy Gardens without us, but here's the first post of things we did together!

We took the Caltrain into San Francisco to catch the Giants play the Rangers at AT&T Park. We caught the bullet train up, but the regular train back, so it was interesting to compare the length of the trips on different trains. Jonathan had gotten the tickets from work, and we had seats in the nosebleed section near third base. The game itself was pretty interesting, and fast! In two hours we were already in the bottom of the 6th inning (we left so it wouldn't be after midnight when we got home). There were a couple homeruns, and they are of particular interest in this stadium because the players can hit the balls into the San Francisco Bay (one of the two made it, and a "splash hit" counter shows there have been 48 others). There were a few other good plays as well. I was excited that we were able to squeeze in this event, since I've been trying to get a lot of things in before we end up moving again soon.
view of the Bay Bridge heading into the gameview of the Bay Bridge heading out of the gamethe Coke bottle is a playground! Lou Seal climbed up and hung out in our section!
Big Basin Redwoods State Park was a little more than an hour away from our apartment. While there was no traffic on the way there (there were hardly any cars at all headed our way), the park itself was full, and within an hour of our arrival, parking was pretty scarce. It was kind of chilly, and we decided to take a 4-mile loop-hike to see the Sempervirens Falls. We were going along, snapping photos of the giant redwoods, and the trail was fairly easy.
it is estimated that this tree sprouted in 544 CE!
However, after about a mile, it ran parallel to the road, and only about 25 feet up. People walking the road were talking about the falls, and we found out that you actually need to get off the trail and onto the road to see the falls. So, we got off when they merged, and went to see the falls. They were kinda puny (we knew in advance they'd be just 17 feet), with the falls themselves being gutter run-off style. We actually decided to walk the road back instead of do the rest of the loop, and took more photos on our way back.

After the park, we drove to Santa Cruz. Jenny, a friend of Jonathan's since the first day of college, was there visiting her parents, so we met up with her at the wharf. It was neat to see a Pacific Ocean beach, sea lions, and learn about the area and the fishing industry there. We also got to see the Santa Cruz boardwalk (there are many commercials on television for it), which looks about as expected. It's a neat idea to have the park so close to the water though. We had a late lunch at Gilbert's Seafood Grill, where every table had an oceanview. Jonathan and Jenny both really enjoyed the New England clam chowder. I really wanted to get the Shrimp Melt, but the mushrooms were cooked with the shrimp, so I went with the Fisherman's Pasta. It was well worth the money, and I'm certain that if you love fish, you'd enjoy it greatly. There were probably four kinds of fish in it, plus GIANT scallops and a few shrimp. The pasta was fettuccine, and the saucy was a white cream sauce with very little cheese. I had half boxed up, and enjoyed the reheated leftovers with extra cheese. Jonathan had the Stuffed Salmon special of the day, which was stuffed with crab and shrimp, covered in hollandaise sauce, and served on top of asparagus and mashed potatoes. He enjoyed it quite a bit, and took the leftovers home. Jonathan's mother had the snapper (very fresh!), served with a vegetable medley and a fantastic rice pilaf. Jenny ordered the same. Between the view, the service, and the ability to watch the sailboats come in and the sea lions play, it was really a fantastic restaurant that we'd all recommend!
Jonathan's dishmy dish