Sunday, October 31, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The meat-fest continues! To celebrate a birthday, MFM - or as I’ve been calling him lately, The Gimch, because he’s a gimp AND a grinch (he recently injured his Achilles, and let's just say he's been in better moods) put on nice clothes and headed to Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino.
I first heard about Alexander’s on Bay Area Check Please, where one of the diners raved about trying a $250 piece of Kobe beef. Our pockets aren’t quite as deep, but our meal was just as good, and felt just as special.
The restaurant itself is somewhat deceiving, located near a rather unassuming shopping mall next to a Benihana. But you enter and the space feels dark, intimate, luxurious. Suburban shoppers are replaced with sharp-dressed business men, groups celebrating special occasions, and dreamy-eyed couples on date night. You know you’re in for something special.
And special calls for really doing it up. For a time, I went crazy for starting my meals with fried calamari. Then I moved on to anything tuna (tartare, poke and the like). Now it’s all about foie gras and theirs was served perfectly seared, with grapes, pistachios and a balsamic vinegar reduction.
I’ve also really been enjoying wedge salads lately. For $5 extra, our server recommended adding candied bacon, which was pretty much the best $5 one can spend. Meaty and salty with the perfect touch of sweetness, we could have ended the meal right there and gone home happy, it was that good.
Tomahawk is one of those words (like machete, or catapult) that’s inherently action-packed, and MFM’s Tomahawk Chop didn’t disappoint. Seasoned simply with herbs and butter, it must’ve been close to 3 pounds, providing 2-3 days of leftovers for most people (for MFM just one). I ordered their filet mignon, tender and melt in your mouth delicious, with a tarragon beurre blanc and demi-glace on top.
Doing it up also implies plenty of sides, and we tried the utterly perfect fries with truffle oil and a parmesan dip as well as the creamy and luxurious truffle mac and cheese. Then we finished off the meal with two desserts – chocolate cake, and to be different, their pastry chef’s ode to corn (corn cake, corn ice cream and corn tuille topped with corn nuts).
I forgot to mention we also had cocktails, an amuse-bouche of cheese and crackers and a palate-cleansing sorbet too. And just when you think you couldn’t possibly eat another bite, the check comes accompanied by a fluffy, irresistible house-spun cotton candy. It was grape! Yum.
Thinking back, this was more than enough delicious for just one meal. I would have been very happy with just the foie gras and wedge salad. Or the filet and mac & cheese. Or just a big plate of their truffle fries, with dessert. But put together, it all added up to one big, sigh-inducing, belt-loosening, bank account-draining, but totally unforgettable meal.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Aside from the name-that-cannot-be-named (would that make it a Volde-name*?) that the bf chose for himself, MFM can also stand for a lot of things, including My Favorite Meal. Which would be, hands down, the namesake House of Prime Rib cut with all the fixings at the House of Prime Rib here in San Francisco. Make mine rare, please!
I’ve watched the prices grow through the years but the one thing that thankfully hasn’t changed is the quality or taste of this fabulous meal. Or the experience itself, which always begins with a chilled salad fork and a wonderfully toothsome salad that's tossed and spun tableside. The unique housemade dressing itself is one of the many parts of the meal that I look forward to – creamy and savory with the right amount of seasoning (is that celery salt?). Really yummy.
Then comes the succulent, cut-to-order prime rib surrounded by creamy spinach, buttery mashed potatoes and a puffy fresh-out-of-the-oven Yorkshire pudding to sop up all the luxurious sauce. My sisters prefer the thinner slices of the English cut (the best way to get that “melt in your mouth” experience, they claim) but I’m a fan of the “sink your teeth into” experience of the much thicker House of Prime Rib cut. And MFM always goes for the King Henry, a huge slab of meat that includes the bone.
Over the years little has changed, but on recent visits we noticed a few things – like creamed corn added to the options and a fancy new wine den that now sits where the bathrooms used to be. The waitress was also really excited that the complimentary birthday Polaroid has been upgraded (“we’re digital now!” she exclaimed).
I love that this meal is a yearly (at least) tradition for my family, usually around the holidays. We’ve been going religiously for so many years that we have plenty of “remember that time…” stories stored up to laugh and reminisce about, the most memorable being the one Christmas Eve we saw a gentleman rushed out of the restaurant on a gurney who looked exactly like Santa Claus (not kidding!). That, and the time my Mom ordered the fish (seriously, who does that??).
And that’s just it. In a city full of restaurants where people wait for hours at the trendiest restaurant or to try a new creation by the hottest chef, my heart completely belongs to a place that hasn’t changed for decades. It's a place that does just one thing, and does it remarkably better than anyone else.
*Volde-anything is a registered trademark of Ms. Gorgongzola Gong.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
If you are what you eat, then I would probably turn into a big bowl of noodles. Seriously, it’s my very favorite thing to eat - always comforting, always delicious. So when Japan-based noodle chain Ajisen opened its first San Francisco location in the Westfield (their first No. Cal outpost is in Fremont), I was there, camera in hand, to slurp & sample their Kumamoto-style ramen.
Located in the SF Center food court (the Nordstrom side) – Ajisen is a bright, beckoning respite among typical mall offerings like Rubio’s and Panda Express. I was surprised to find actual table service (which was super quick and efficient), but noticed others going straight to the front and ordering to go, as well.
With over 300 locations worldwide (mostly in Asia) – Ajisen is known best for their tonkotsu soup base – a milky pork-bone based soup that has been simmered for hours and is just delicious. Their noodles, on the other hand, were a tad skinny and a bit lacking in comparison.
Not that I minded much. MFM and I each ordered a bowl – mine topped with thin slices of "premium" pork and his with pork ribs that were meaty and tender. Both ($9.75 each) were tasty, satisfying, and very generous. If anything, maybe some veggies or bamboo shoots would have added a nice crunch and texture to my bowl.
The waitress recommened the honey green tea aloe drink ($2.95) that was surprisingly one of the best of its kind that I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot.) Isn't aloe that same stuff you put on when you get a sunburn? Turns out it's really delicious.
I sat slurping my ramen and tea drink among the other diners – which I was happy to see included a wide array of folks – from shopping soccer moms and their kids to giggly teeny boppers with a few international tourist mixed in between. All enjoying the one dish that no matter where, no matter when, is always comforting, and at Ajisen especially, is always delicious.