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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

O Chamé

I'm in a book club, a very democratic book club. Collectively, we nominate and vote on a book. Collectively, we decide on a date and time to meet. And collectively, we decided that a restaurant where we held a recent meeting, O Chamé, was well, just okay.

One of my favorite things about our book club is the book/meeting location match up. We discussed
The Kite Runner over Afghani food and our Seabiscuit meeting took place at the race track. Much of this thougtfulness is due our excellent leaders, including Lisa,
a fellow foodie (check out her blog here.) So since this book takes place in Japan, this Japanese fusion (or so says Yelp) restaurant was a great choice.

I did some preliminary homework (on the restaurant, not the book). Countless Yelpers touted their extraordinary udon. Tempura udon is a favorite of mine, and I ordered it looking forward to the hot, chewy noodles with bits of fried batter, shrimp and vegetables all bathed in a rich savory broth. But when it came to the table I was a little underwhelmed (especially since it's $15.50 a bowl). While the noodles were a soft, slippery perfection, the broth lacked its usual depth and subtle seafood-y flavor. And the shrimp tempura looked lonely among a tangle of seaweed, which while giving the dish texture, did nothing to add to the lackluster flavor.

Another Yelp favorite was the scallion pancakes, which were decent, but had an eggy heaviness, and the caramel balsamic gelato, which we tried but gave a collective thumbs down (6 to 2, against). I'm a fan of salty/sweet (I dream about
Bi-Rite's Salted Caramel) but the sour/sweet combo, which someone compared to sour cherries, just didn't do it for me. Other people enjoyed their bento boxes which came with nicely cooked (albeit small) portions of unagi, sturgeon and tonkatsu.

After they took our bowls away we noticed a small jar of shichimi, a seasoned chili powder, intended for the udon. But honestly, I don't think it would have helped all that much. What a disappointment, especially after reading it was one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the Bay Area. Maybe it was an off day? It certainly was a lovely restaurant in a lovely neighborhood. In the end, Lisa summed it up by saying it was "a little food for a big price." Still, I'm willing to give it another try.

* Special Mention: We did however, all enjoy the book, The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz, which is about a common woman who becomes the crown princess and eventual empress of Japan. All 8 thumbs up on that one - you should check it out!



Jeannette said...

Samantha, your comments were spot on. O Chame did not meet my expectations. Hope the next restaurant we pick is better.

Anonymous said...

$15.50 for Udon...Isaidgoodlawd!!!

Sami and Addie said...

@Jeannette - it was still a really fun place to try. Looking forward to our next meeting!

@greenguneapig1 - I know, right? Highway robbery!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sami,

Thanks for the shout out to my blog! I still enjoyed the bookclub meeting and seeing you!


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