Category Archives: Bay Area

Lalimes!

Because I’m a cheat (and I’m cool), I have two birthdays (: After Gary Danko, Lalimes was the order of the month and this quaint little establishment won me over the instant I stepped in :) ZY had been here once during summer and was sufficiently impressed to designate it as the restaurant for September.

We had (I’m sorry but we forgot to take down the prices of the appetizers):

Lalimes Oyster Salad

I ordered an oyster and spinach salad for my appetizer in an attempt to feel healthy. These deep-fried pieces of sin encased in a golden wonder were anything but. I’m not complaining. The thick batter did interfere with the fresh taste of the oyster, but being the junk foodie that I am, I was more than happy with it.

Lalimes tomato soup

ZY ordered the tomato soup. This was really… fresh. Like the tomato juice we once had at the Berkeley Farmer’s market.

Main courses:

Lalimes beef

ZY got the Grilled Angus beef filet, red wine-onion risotto, Roquefort butter. (USD 28.50)It was very creamy. I think he found it a little hard to stomach but I loved it in all its creamy goodness. The butter blended well with the medium rare beef and made the meat a perfect compliment to the risotto.

lalimes_polenta.jpg

This was my FAVORITE dish of the night. Braised lamb shank, creamy polenta, rosemary gremolata. (USD24.50) To put it simply, polenta with lamb. The lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender, but my attention was completely on the cornmeal mush. I know some people think it tastes like baby food, but BABY FOOD IS GOOD okay. This was delicately flavored, nothing intensive, but the mildness had an exciting quality to it. The lamb was relegated to the back seat. Mui bien!

On a side note, I suddenly remember there was once during my singing class in Lee Wei Song when Stef Sun came for her recording, and she started telling us how she likes polenta. Haha, it’s interesting that I would remember that now. On an even further note, I recieved an email from the modeling agency that I used to work with in Sinapore, and they asked me to do a FOOD AD. Oh my gosh FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD! But I guess that’s for the 1.75m, 48kg me. I don’t quality now.

Unadulterated bliss.

lalimes_10-copy.jpg

This is a place I wouldn’t mind returning to, over and over again. Not just because of the food. I think it’s more of an attitude that rings out from this restaurant. I can’t quite put a term to it, but ZY summed it up pretty well when he said that if he were to open a restaurant, he’d want it to be like Lalime’s.

Lalimes (web)
1329 Gilman Street
Berkeley, CA

Rating: cookie!cookie!

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Gary Danko

This is very embarrassing okay, I am the queen of procrastination, in fact I am so good at it I think I transcend the natural boundaries of civilization and I can go be a prideful little dame in my own country with my own special band of procrastinator sidekicks. I amaze myself!

Gary Danko Setting

Anyway, on to more important things! So ZY was a dear and made a reservation at Gary Danko, one of the top-notch, most widely-acclaimed restaurants in the Bay Area and the proud owner of two Michelin Stars. It was a very special day indeed (: Reservations are really hard to come by, so even though he called about a month in advance, we only managed to secure a 10 o’clock spot because we wanted a Saturday night. But I’m not complaining because 10 o’clock dinners are cool okay (plus they minimize the possibility of the horrifying tummy growl in the middle of the night).

It was obvious that they tried to squeeze as many tables as possible into the limited space they had, but the elegance of the establishment was not lost. The lighting was dim and the quiet, slight chatter in the background eased the butterflies in my stomach – I was actually slightly nervous about the dress code and having to pronounce all the exotic menu items that I was sure would trip up my tongue. This place was packed at 10 o’clock, and we got really interesting seats side by side along the way. (Even now, when the occasion lends itself to our having to be seated in a similar fashion Mr ZY would often affectionately refer to it as being reminiscent of the “Gary Danko Days”.)

Okay, fast forward past our very friendly waitress and the ordering. Between the two of us, we had:
Amuse Bouche on the house
Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Nori, Enoki Mushrooms and Lemon Sauce Dressing.
Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions, Seckel Pear and Huckleberries
Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Fall Root Vegetables and Sage Oil
Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Squash Puree, Roasted Cauliflower, Pistachios and Sour Cherries
Beef Tenderloin with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Potato Gratin, Cipollini Onions and Stitton Butter
Cheese Cart
Chocolate Souffle with Two Sauces
Trio of Creme Brulee with Cookies
Complimentary Birthday Mignardises on the house
Coffee service
Pineapple Muffin on the house

First up was the complimentary amuse bouche, of which I did not catch the name. It’s a Thai-concoction that tasted like fusion tom yum soup, but there was a very interesting milky flavor laced within that made for an exciting combination. A great palate teaser!

The appetizers we chose were the ahi tuna, the lobster risotto and the foie gras. While ZY immediately fell in love with the tuna and later proclaimed it to be the highlight of the light, my first taste of authentic foie gras made me an instant convert. The delightful fattiness of the foie gras melted into the sweetness of the caramelized onions and was absolutely stunning. Being the carb monster that I am, I was absolutely won over by the lobster risotto that was a star in its own right, the creamy buttery cheese studded with large generous pieces of lobster that provided a refreshing contrast to the otherwise heavy dish.

Tuna:

tunalfinal.jpg

Risotto:

risottofinal.jpg

Foie gras:

foiegrasfinal.jpg

I thought the scallops were nothing out of the blue, but the cauliflower puree that came along with it was lip-smacking delicious and completely upstaged the sea gems. ZY liked the beef tenderloin but it was forgettable for me, I was never much of a steak person anyway. The cheese was a novelty for the both of us, we got two goat cheeses, a cow cheese, and a Roaring Bleu that came with grapes and bread (I was looking forward to fig to go with the cheese but, alas! :() We found that we were both partial to the milder cheeses, these had a sweet aftertaste that were not overpowering in their stench. The blue still had that characteristic taste that feels like petrol to me.

Scallops:

scallopsfinal.jpg

Beef:

beeffinal.jpg

Dessert! Oooh, dessert, crowning glory, how mighty art thou. The chocolate souffle with two sauces was OUT OF THIS WORLD, the thick anglaise and dark chocolate sauces were poured into a little hole on the top of the airy souffle at our table, and even as the waitress was performing her art I was secretly chanting “more, more, more” over and over again in my weak heart that is unable to take excitement very well. The sauces were piping hot and worked like a charm with the soft souffle with its tender under belly that crumbled instantly under the attack of the potent liquids. The creme brulee was good, but toward the end me and ZY were simply dying from an overload of food (never thought the day would come). When the mignardises came I could feel him ready to start groaning but I was still very delighted, particularly because this little plate of darlings had a single candle and “Happy Birthday” written on it :) I was a happy camper.

Souffle:

soufflefinal.jpg

Service was excellent, attentive without being intrusive. We each had the four-course dinner, which totaled up to 162 dollars before tax. It was an amazing experience, and of course what that made it most special was the efforts ZY had taken to plan the dinner. At the end of the day, food is still that poignant representation of love, at once sweet and spicy, tender and tangy, transforming the cold night into a scene by the fireplace on the eve of Christmas. Bells toll and the heart bursts with care and hospitality, isn’t that what everything is about?

Thanks for the company.

zhenyuandme.jpg

Gary Danko (link)
800 North Point at Hyde Street

Cafe Cacao (Scharffen Berger)

Cafe Cacao: Cafe located at Scharffen Berger Chocolate Factory

Bottomline: Everybody (almost!) likes chocolate. And more.

Warning: The following review is probably not representative of the cafe.

This is a story about a cookie.

Cookie! 

And a scone.

Scone 

And a cup of chocolate mocha. Cookie. And Scone.

 Chocolate Mocha, Cookie and Scone

It begins. For whom Chocolate makes a very happy person.

YY's eyes gleam..

It begins with the cookie.
The Scharffen Berger Chocolate Chip Cookie.

 Cookie Cookie? Cookiee!

And then.. 

The Scone

The Scharffen Berger Chocolate Chip Scone 

scone Scone!! 

scone? mm.. Scone!! 

Scone. The wonderful wonderful scone.

SCONE!

 Hee.

Cookie and milk

Top it off with the mocha.

Satisfied gwin

Ah. Today was a good day =)

yysj rating:      cookie!

Address:  914 Heinz Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710 (map)
                   (intersection of Heinz and 7th)

Links:    Website (here)
                Yelp Review (here)

Koryo – Authentic Korean

Koryo Wooden Charcoal BBQ

Bottomline:      Authentic Korean Restaurant. Nice place to go.

array of food

Koryo is not cheap. around the $15 range.
Each main dish however, includes 4 to 6 side dishes in the package.

use chopsticks 

Its really authentic and hassle-free. A nice place to sit and eat.
Use chopsticks to pick at each dish, sit and talk for a long time. 

The food is pretty good too. I’ll recommend the bul go gee (beef)

 beef

 

 yy loves the bean sprouts

yy loves korean food. (among all the other kinds of food she loves..)
Also, contrary to popular belief, the two of us are shamed to say that we’re big frauds and don’t actually eat out so often. This is actually the first time we specially arranged and went out for dinner (!)

ah? what's this?    ohhhh.. its FOODDDD.. *chompchompchomp*    hmm! its pretty good! =)

 Well, i think the above pics are pretty self-explanatory =)

Finished =( 

Yes, in case you’re wondering, the two of us ate all that food ourselves. 

entrance to koryo 

This picture is pretty bad.. but the entrance looks like this with an arch.  

Thus sends a happy night

Address:   4390 Telegraph Ave Suite J, North Oakland, USA (map)
                     (Intersection of Telegraph and 44th)

Links:      Yelp Review (here)

yysj rating:   cookie!

Merlion!

Merlion Restaurant:     A high-class taste of Singaporean cuisine.

Bottomline:    Its nothing much, but nice if you’re really craving it ;)
                         This place is way too pricey.

Welcome to the Merlion!

Welcome to the Merlion!

Sotong!More sotong

We got treated to a function here. So, it was finger food galore.

samosa!

Ooh, is that Satay I see? and Roti Prata!

Satay!Roti Prata!

Fried rice, done Singapore-style. Reminds of the taste of home.

Buffet StyleFried Rice!

 But it was abit pricey. Looks really good though. Chicken Curry.

Chicken Curry!

Yum

Verdict:    Not bad for those away from home and missing the food.
                    However, a bit pricey. Just buy prima taste and cook =)

yysj rating:         carrot

Address:     19628 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, CA (map)

Links:      Website (here)
                 Yelp review (here)

West side story

West Side Bakery: Cosy location at west side. Typical chic Berkeley cafe.

Bottomline: Plenty of seats, free internet. Good vegetarian selection

West Side Bakery CounterWest Side Bakery

Here’s some trivia about YY. She hates libraries. Unconventionally, she needs to study in a cafe environment where she’s surrounded by ambient people and where the prospect of food is always available. Thus, when test season comes around, we’re always hunting around for cafes..

The 3 golden requirements of a study cafe

1. Comfy and available seats
2. Clean toilets
3. Free wireless internet

Passing by this place, it said ‘free wireless internet’.
YYSJ decided to check it out =)

Studying!

What’s studying without a little refreshment ;)

Breakfast 

Saute of Mushrooms, Spinach, Tomatoes and Feta 

YY tried the Saute of Mushrooms, Spinach, Tomatoes and Feta ($7.75), which was served open face on bullseye bread. Not bad. The breakfast was pretty standard fare to be found in most places. This place had a pretty good vegetarian selection though, with a number of tofu specialties such as “Tofu scrambler”, “Tofu Chilequiles” and “Tofu Rancheros”. Typical, of your very aware Berkeley cafe.

Omelet!

Looks savory doesn’t it?

*CHOMPCHOMPCHOMP*      FOOOODDD!!

Guess who’s supposed to be studying? ;)

*nibblesdelicately*

=)

Bottomline:

This place is pretty standard. Its nice for a change, but there are many places around which are better. Try Rudy’s Can’t Fail cafe or The-Place-That-May-Not-Be-Named. if you ever find out where it is of course ;)

yysj rating:       carrot

Address:   2570 9th St, Berkeley, CA (map)
                    (Intersection of 9th and Parker)

Links:      Yelp review (here)

Stroll by the Bay

Berkeley Marina: 27 Mar 07

Bay View

This is a happy place.

Sun is setting..

Choppy seas. 
When the sun sets, you can really see the ball move behind the hills.

A long winding road

A long path to walk. Places without crowds are nice.
Beats squeezing with people at the esplanade.

Whooossshhhh

Its windy though. Be warned.

Golden Sunset

yysj rating:          cookie!

Location:       West of Berkeley (map)
                       (Path by Breakwater Dr, Cesar E Chavez Park)