Sophie’s Spectacular Food Adventures in the Bay Area #2 (Ramen, Coffee, and Fortunes)

Philly Cheese Steak @ The Cheese Steak Shop
We stopped by for a quick bite to eat before the Michael Jackson Cirque du Soliel show.
It comes with thinly sliced cheese steak, spicy peppers, provolone cheese and white roll.
For additional charge, the shop offers a variety of choices and topping to customize your burger.
San Jose, California
Verdict – It was ok and they had prompt service.

Cafe Sua Doa @ Hai Ky Mi Gia
Iced french dripped dark roasted coffee with condensed milk
San Francisco, California
Verdict – Right down my alley as I’ve grown to like the strong roasted flavor and the sweetness.

Butter Corn Ramen @ Ramen House Ryowa
It actually had a slab of butter in the salt based ramen soup! (seen in picture)
I enjoyed the loads of sweet corn and consistency of the egg noodles.
Mountain View, California
Verdict – Would come back to try other ramen soup bases and friendly server

Chinese Food with our friends Hoang & Minh (I forgot the name)
This was a pretty sweet deal as it was $7 and we got to try like 6 different dishes.
There was wonton soup, fried rice, fried noodle, sweet & sour pork, broccoli with beef, and almond chicken.
San Francisco, California
Verdict – Food was average but the company was wonderful, plenty to eat, and the lady was friendly.

This was my fortune…

Sophie’s Spectacular Random Food Adventures in the Bay Area #1 (Ikea and Little Saigon)

Multilayer Icee Creation @ San Jose Flea Market
The machines are self serve. So I got cherry, blue raspberry, lemonade and orange Icee flavors!
San Jose, California
Verdict – Sugar rush goodness 🙂

French Onion Soup and Turkey Sandwich on White @ Panera Bread
This is my ideal of a delicious lunch where I can get half and half
San Jose, California – chain store
Verdict – Coming back and next time I’m getting lemonade too.

Braised Duck with Wontons, Thin Egg Noodles and Soup @ Hai Ky Mi Gia
Thanks to Andrew, I was able to discovered this restaurant wedged in a street corner of Little Saigon.
The duck is so good, moist and tender. Yum! Yum!
San Francisco, California
Verdict – I desire to be a regular at this establishment

Chicken Curry Thali Lunch Plate @ Kennedy’s Irish Pub & Curry House
Honestly, this restaurant is a bit odd because it’s an Indian restaurant joined with a Irish pub.
I find the food to be absolutely delicious, flavorful and served in large quantities.
I really enjoyed the lunch plate served 11-2pm as it offers a bit of everything.
San Francisco, California
Verdict – This might be able to persuade me to love Indian Food. Yes it’s that good.

Swedish Meatball Combo Plate @ Ikea (Food Marketplace)
After a day of exhausting furniture shopping, I am pleased to find myself in the haven known as the Ikea food court.
The food court is very reasonable priced and filled with swedish food.
Also These items can also be purchased frozen to cook at home.

The plate is only 5.99 it comes with swedish meatballs, gravy, mashed potatoes, ligon berry sauce and side of garden salad. Since I love desserts we had to have a slice apple pie with cream custard sauce. Needless to say I was stuffed!
Oakland, California – chain store
Verdict – When you are fleeing from shopping the food court is a must detour!

I just finished reading the Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.
It’s about supernatural beings that maintain the balance between good and evil that centers around a girl with shape changing powers and her pursuit to find her brother. It’s considered a prequel to the Eternal Devices series. I found it a interesting fast read. I am looking forward to getting my hands on the next book called the Clockwork Prince. (sci-fi, young adult)

*Everything pictured was under $10 and highly recommended!

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Jasmine Thai Restaurant Review

Jasmine Thai
1710 Berryessa Rd
San Jose, CA 95133
Type – Thai

This is a cute little restaurant tucked away in a plaza strip. My roommate and I were craving a bit of Thai food and after looking at some yelp reviews we ended up here. It was a quiet night so there was no wait, the pricing was moderate $ and food arrived quickly.

Pineapple Fried Rice $12
Pineapple fried rice is my favorite dish so I’m quite critical about it. I was pleased with the color array and  it was ample amount of food with plenty to share. My concern was that I didn’t find the pineapple was able to properly flavor the rice. The rice was quite plain in taste. The dish contains both shrimp / chicken. However only 1-2 shrimp in it.

Would I order again – Eh, it was ok. I would prefer to try something new.

Pad Thai Noodles $8
The pad thai noodles were very yummy! It was what I expected pad thai to taste like. There was a good balance of ingredient, textures and properly cooked noodles.

Would I order again – Yes

Fried Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream $5
It’s a not a night out with some tasty dessert! These are lightly battered fried bananas with coconut and pineapple ice cream. I like the contrasting flavors and temperatures in this dessert.

Would I order again – Probably

Overall I really enjoyed going out with my roomies ❤ and I would probably recommend Jasmine Thai if I was craving some Thai food near my area. (Total Rating = B / Average)

What we do.

Recipe – Learning how to make Chinese Stir Fry Nian Gao

During the winter holiday, I went back to Minnesota and my mother taught me how to make stir-fry nian gao (rice cakes)
It’s one of my favorite dishes because I love the chewy texture of the noodles.

Nian Gao
Is a flat noodle that’s made from glutinous rice. It’s usually white, molded flat shape and in this recipe needs to be re-hydrated. (1 day ahead preparation)

This dish is very affordable, easy to make and delicious!

2 skinless chicken breasts
bok choy
nian gao (rice cakes – dried package / rehydrate)
Kikkoman soy sauce
Pearl River Bridge dark soy sauce
corn starch, salt, sugar, oil
stirring device, skillet pan

Level – Easy
Time – 45 min (including prep time)
You will need to soak the nian gao noodles the NIGHT before


Cut the chicken into long strips
Soak to color  in a mixture of Kikkoman soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch, 1 teaspoon of salt

[Bok Choy]
Rinse/Wash the vegetable

[Nian Gao]
Soak noodles in water for approx 1 day

For Each Component – Meat – Vegetable – Noodle cook separately*
This recipe is easy to do for both vegetarians and meat eaters.
Also the meat and vegetables can be substitute for any other variation according to your preferences.

1. Heat Pan with Oil

2. Thoroughly cook meat in the pan until tender and not pink, remove

3.  Stir fry bok choy in pan with oil and sprinkling of salt. Cook until vegetables shrink in size and are malleable, remove

4. Cook the nian gao noodles until they become softer in texture and will stick together or appear sticky
5. Add Pearl River Bridge dark soy sauce (approx 2 tablespoons) basically color the noodles to light brown
6. Add Meat + Vegetable + Nian Gao + Pinch of Salt & Sugar = Mix

Ta Da! You have achieved it!

The most cumbersome part is that it’s best to cook everything separately for stronger flavors and then combine it in the end. You can also have 2 pans going at the same time to cut cooking time.

Product Review: Maruchan Instant Lunch Cheddar Cheese Flavor

Maruchan Instant Lunch – Cheddar Cheese Flavor
Can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart
Cost $1
Have you tried them? I used to be die-hard fan of the Maruchan Instant Lunch Chicken Flavor. I just call them cup of noodles. Anyways, my brother picked up these while we were at Wal-mart. It’s the same old packaging but it seems they branching off into more flavors.

Instant Lunch Preparations
-remove outer packaging & plastic
-open lid
-pour hot water & close lid or pour water microwave 2-3 min
– consume

Instant lunches are slightly “fancier” than their cheaper counterparts the plastic packets of noodles. They usually have more flavor and they provide you the cup to consume out of. Which is actually quite useful when you are on the go and don’t have a bowl. There’s no packets to open, no complicated instructions and speedy creation. Heck! When I was in grade school people even just crushed these and would eat them raw! I didn’t but there were people.

Maruchan Instant Lunch – Cheddar Cheese Flavor
My brother made them and pour them into this bowl.

Noodles– They were thicker variety than those in the regular instant lunch and they had wavy texture. However despite looking like bold orange color, there was little to no flavor. Similar taste compared to the old noodles.

Soup-Some people dump the soup and some other people eat it. Well this soup was super salty, orange, and tasted like powder from cheese ball snacks. It did not resemble mac & cheese nor did it at any point thicken. It was a very liquid consistency.

Overall, I would not recommend purchasing this item. The cheese flavor was artificial, salty, and not-appetizing. Needless to say we did not finish the bowl we had. I think I’d stick to my good old mac & cheese if I wanted something cheesy or the other flavors of Instant Lunches.

Thanks for reading! -S

Review: Nongshim Japanese Udon Noodle Soup

Nongshim Japanese Udon Noodle Soup
Purchased at Costco
Quantity 6 bowls
Price $13 ($2.17 a bowl)
Regular Price at Mass Retailer approx. $2.50 dollars

I use to love cup noodles and all sort of “instant” asian noodles we’d purchase downtown at our Asian grocery in Minnesota. I was a huge fan of “instant” food. It’s cheap, fast, and portable. However, since my study abroad to Shanghai, China in 2009 I have stopped eating “instant noodles” and their appeal to me has almost completely vanished. My mom being craving to try these noodles since she loves trying new foods or perhaps because she’s a Costco addict. She likes to call these noodles “uno”.

We got the big ole box from Costco which is cheaper per bowl. But if you are just trying it out, you can probably just pick up single bowl at Wal-Mart.
This is what a single bowl looks like. The bowls were actually much larger and sturdier than I expected them to be. It is by far one the best packaging in instant noodles that I’ve tried. So you don’t have to worry about the bowl being fragile.

These are the ingredients: soup packet, pre-cooked udon noodles & soup flavoring/ topping packet.
For being voted Chef’s Best in 2010, it is a very simple & ordinary “instant” noodle design.
Instructions for Cooking
1. Take out the food packets. Open the udon packet and put the udon in the bowl.
2. Pour hot water up to 2nd line of the bowl, cover, and wait 2 minutes
3. Drain the water using the perforated cuts on the cover
4. Open the soup & seasoning packets and pour into bowl with noodles
5. Re-pour hot water into bowl up to 1st line mark, cover and wait 1 minute

So I guess this is what makes these “instant noodle” different in design. I find it rather tedious to keep pouring and pouring out water. I’m not sure if you can just microwave the water in the bowl. The bowl’s instructions don’t really provide microwave details or even if it’s microwave safe. Which I think I is disappointing because boiling water twice takes a long time so remember to boil enough water. (No I have no patience). The procedure is easy and there’s not too much to mess up.

The udon is very flavorful without having additional MSG which I like . I love the texture of the noodles (chewy), the size of the portion, and how it looks like restaurant style meal.The taste very similar to udon I’ve had before. Overall the quantity was quite filling for me. However I did think the pricing points of the bowls was bit high for instant noodles. My mom says because udon noodles are expensive.  Thus I would probably not stock these in my house for daily consumption but it’s a great go to meal if I am on the go or at work.

Pho Ca Dao

Pho Ca Dao
8373 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126

Pho Ca Dao is a Vietnamese restaurant that I often visit with my friends. I hear this particular restaurant is a chain but I’ve only been to the Mira Mesa Location. The restaurant serves a variety of Vietnamese dishes, really fast service and family-friendly, clean establishment.
We started off with the egg rolls $5 (comes 6 eggrolls -we were hungry so only 4 in pic- lettuce, basil, mint leaves, fish sauce)
I always really liked their egg rolls. They are crispy and have a good mixture/texture on the inside. You can use the lettuce to wrap around the egg roll. I guess it would make it healthier?

DAC BIET XE LUA (Extra Large Bowl) $6.45 (5.70 for small bowl)
It comes with house special combo of sliced steak, well-done steak, marble brisket, flank, soft tendon & tripe.
Their large sizes are pretty big. It comes with lemon & mint/basil leaves,and  bean sprouts. They also have hosin sauce & sriracha spicy sauce for using with your meal. I like to dip my noodles in the mixture. The meat was bit overcooked so it was chewy. In general, I usually prefer Pho Tai (rare steak) due to this circumstance. I like the broth and Max seemed to like the other ingredients as well.
Broken Rice dish with PorkChops $7 (it comes with cucumbers, tomato, fish sauce, broken rice, porkchop & a bowl of pho soup)
I love broken rice. Perhaps because I never have it at home but the taste & texture always seems to hit the spot. There’s also nice balance of meat, veggies, and soup in the meal. The meat was tender, nicely flavored and grilled.

Overall I really like Pho Ca Dao atmosphere and service. Everything came promptly and the establishment is nicer than other Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been to in San Diego. It’s amazing how fast they can re-fill your drinks! It’s doubtful you’ll ever finish a cup without them immediately filling it. The servers are friendly, attentive, and food is prompt.

Noodles & Co -Purgatory Lake

Noodles & Co
13300 Technology Dr # 100
Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3627

Noodles & Co is chain restaurant that serves a variety of noodle dishes. Their menu features noodle dishes from Asia, Mediterranean, American, and you customize it. Recently I heard they started offering sandwiches too.
I really like this restaurant because of the portion sizes (bowl or plate), pretty affordable, and great location. It’s right by Purgatory Lake (yep awesome name) which is pretty scenic, nice bridge, calm lake, and water fountain.

We both order the same dish! Well it was really delicious! I got the plate size but you can also get bowl.
The prices range $4-$7 + add -ons such as chicken.

Mediterranean – (Pesto Cavatappi) curly pasta sauteed with basil pesto, garlic, mushrooms, tomato and splash of cream. It was topped with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley. I also added additional Parmesan crusted chicken which I think was $1-2 more but well worth it.

I loved the texture of the curly pasta and how the pesto was not overpowering but blended well with the other ingredients. The chicken increased flavor and I got my protein. ^_^

Anna seemed to have enjoyed her meal too.

{New Update for SD viewers} They just built a new Noodles & Co at the La Jolla’s UTC mall by the food court.
I’m so pumped to go try it out so expect review on it soon.

Plus is you haven’t already sign up for their noodles gram email club.
It’s FREE, get updates, promos & a FREE meal on your birthday. It’s a pretty sweet deal.