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A Trip to the Secret Garden

I have several friends in the bay area, so it was great to catch up with them. I passed by this place in mountain view and had to include it. I like the name. It would be even better if it was Pho King instead of Pho Queen. But they’re funny either way.

We went to Korean Secret Garden restaurant for dinner. It was somewhat later, and we got a table all the way in the back. The service was horrible. Just horrible. But really, korean restaurants aren’t exactly known for their service, so it didn’t really bother me. J ordered some soju. It’s like the official liquor of korea. Made of rice and sweet potato and some other stuff. Like sake is to Japan. Like cachaca is to Brazil. It’s just what we drink.
We ordered a pajon (big pancake with stuff mixed in). It was too thick! Usually, they make it thinner and it’s big and round, so it’s slightly crispy. This one was thick and all folded over. And way too many scallions. I’ve had much better pajon in my life. What a damn shame.
J ordered the soondubu. That’s a pretty famous soft tofu hotpot dish. He got one with out spice so that his kid could possibly eat it. Frankly, it looked a little bland to me. What’s soondubu if it’s not firey red and spiced to the gills?

D ordered a dolsot bibimbap with seafood. It comes in this sizzling hot stone bowl, so everything is kinda crackling when they bring it to you. I also think she didn’t put any of the spicy kochujang in it becauase their other kid might have wanted to eat. What’s with babies and not being able to eat spicy food?

L ordered a special combo dinner. Poor L, they completely forgot about his order. We were all well into eating ours when we reminded the server (see, I told you that the service sucked) that he still needed his food. Oops. But once he got it, things were much better. Those shrimps are flippin huge.J went with the traditional bibimbap. Always a good solid choice. While he was mixing his up, he found a piece of orange in it. I’ve never seen that before in any bibimbap I’ve ever had. Intentional, or not? You make the call.

As for me, I went with my staple, ojingaboekum. Or stir fried squid. And what can I say…. but I’ve certainly had better. Yeah, it was alright, nothing too special. I’ve definitely had much more fabulous versions of this dish. On the other hand, their selection of banchan (the little side dishes) was good. And their kimchis, especially the cucumber one and the radish one, were excellent. As for the rest of the food and certain the service, that needs a bit of work!Korean Secret Garden
3430 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA

Korean Secret Garden on Urbanspoon

Gilroy – Garlic Capital Ain’t No Lie

On friday I drove back to the south bay from crappy mariposa. On my way, I passed through Gilroy. Gilroy, don’t you know, is the garlic capital of the world! They have a famous garlic festival there every july. It’s one of my dreams to attend it one day. The strangest thing about Gilroy, and something completely unexpected that just hit me, is that the whole town smells like garlic. Seriously. Would I make this up? It’s not offensive, but it is just not normal. I mean I’ve passed plenty of places that smell like poo, like Kennett Square and what not. But garlic, that’s a new scent to be wafting.

While there, I stopped for lunch. I didn’t know my way around so I ended up at some random strip mall by the highway. And by chance, I had my first hawaiian plate lunch at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. I’d seen this plenty of times on tv, so I was excited to try. This place is a chain, but we don’t have any around Philly.

I wanted to try a bunch of stuff. But they were very limited in the menu and what combos you could get. I even asked if I could make my own combo, but he didn’t understand me. Seriously. I told him I wanted to get three things and he could charge me extra, but he just said we can’t do that. Why the hell not? Can a restaurant not be flexible? Dear L&L, allow your patrons to make their own combos. Please.

So I went with the hawaiian barbecue meat and fried shrimp combo. Basically folks, this “hawaiian barbecue meat” they speak of is korean bulgogi. Except they use a much crappier cut of meat that is full of gristle. Eek. The shrimp were good. They’re butterflied, panko’d, and fried. Yum. This was the regular size that comes with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad. As you can see the two scoops of rice are huge. I don’t know what kind of scoops they use, but they must have been made for elephants. The meat itself wasn’t anything special. It was saltier than normal bulgogi, and like I said, some bites were so chewy that I had to spit it out. That’s not a good thing. But I’m very happy about having had my first hawaiian plate lunch and look forward to having my next one in hawaii!

Palo Alto Sushi Fun Time

For dinner tuesday night, A and I met up halfway between where she was and I was. A suggested Miyake, a sushi spot on Palo Alto’s University Ave. Palo Alto, if you don’t know, is home to Stanford University. Yes, people who go there are really smart. Freakishly smart. It’s also one of the most wealthiest universities in the universe, so the campus itself is really beautiful and swanky. The main strip is also fairly swanky as well. Nicer than any college or university I ever went to… not that I’m knocking University Circle in Cleveland or Guadalupe in Austin, but we didn’t have sushi joints.

Miyake is made for college kids. It’s cheap. It’s close to campus. It prides itself on getting people drunk on sake bombs. It has disco lights. Did I mention it’s cheap? In the short time we were there, they put the lights on a couple of times and made some kids get up on chairs and do sake shots. Do you see the lights? And all the mirrors on the walls? But at least there’s no pretense here. They know people are here to just have a good time and get drunk and maybe have some mediocre sushi. Let’s not pretend it’s haute cuisine.

A got a few rolls… the summertime roll, a spiy tuna roll (it was supposed to be a hand roll but it came out a regular roll), and another roll with eel in it. I loved the bright and colorful dishes they served everything on.

I wasn’t really feeling like sushi, so I went with a nebenyaki udon. I had no idea it would come in a giant metal cauldron of a bowl. It was huge. It tasted ok. I didn’t expect much. It was only $8 or so, and the bowl was huge, so it was rather a bargain. In any other normal japanese restaurant it would have been 1/3 of the size and at least 50% more expensive. So all in all, it was a good deal.

I also got a spicy california roll. It was also ok. Better than I expected really. Beautiful plate. The service here is fairly fast and friendly. It’s a very strange looking place inside. Large dining area, one entire side being the sushi bar. There is a sushi conveyor belt. The decor sucks, and there are two out of place giant corinthian columns in the middle of the dining rooms. But I hear the place is really fun on the weekends and when you scream “sake”, everyone else screams “bomb”.

140 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 323-9449
Miyake on Urbanspoon

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