Beijing Quacks

Entering the restaurant 

Some high cholesterol, finger-licking chow was the order of the day as we marched down to the famous Da Dong Peking Duck Restaurant (大董烤鸭店), well-known for its relatively healthier Peking duck and its unique condiment offerings.

chef prepares peking duck

The Peking duck (RMB158), prepared tableside, was presented in front of us in neat, thinly-sliced layers lying underneath a succulent blanket of crisp duck skin. Eight condiments were paired in four different plates; the mandatory sweet sauce came with the strips of scallion, the radish with the cucumber stalks, the pickles with the salted potherb mustard, and lastly, Da Dong’s unique concept of garlic and sugar.

4 types of condiments!

The duck meat was a tad dry and was lacking in the oil-dripping finger-licking quality that I had experienced and was craving for, but I guess that’s part of the “healthier” package Da Dong was renowned for. Didn’t work for me though, as I could have been munching on chicken and there wouldn’t have been much of a difference. The crispy skin that we were advised to dip in sugar, however, was a clear winner and I was an instant convert as the tender, oily skin melted easily in my mouth, the sweet kiss of sugar offering a delightful contrast to the rich creaminess that might have otherwise proved to be too heavy on the palate.

The restaurant provided an option between the traditional pancakes and hollow sesame flour pockets for some carb-accompaniment to the duck; I went with the pancakes as the flour-to-meat ratio was too high for the pockets to be my cup of tea. I wrapped scallion sticks, pieces of duck meat, topped with a generous douse of the thick, sweet sauce in the thinly rolled pancake; each bite was satisfying with the spicy kick of the scallion packing in a fiery punch that perfectly punctuated the succulent, cloying juice that oozed out. Yum, I like. 

deep fried oysters

goose liver

We ordered some other dishes, deep fried oysters (RMB48) that did not appeal to me – their breaded exterior was soft and had long since lost its crunch definitely looked like it had seen better days, the oysters were retained in whole within the crust and these were smooth and flavorful, but slightly fishy for my taste. The sauteed goose liver in black paper with fresh mushrooms (RMB68) were good, but I am not in a position to comment on the superiority of the materials used as this was my first attempt at goose liver – these little chopped bits of cholesterol bombs mixed well with the mushrooms and I could have gladly used a bowl of rice to soak up the sauce, but it was more of a mushroom herb taste with lots of dark sauce than anything else. My favorite was the braised cabbage with chestnut(RMB40) – the delightful soup was thick and the sweet taste of the chestnut complimented the subtle tones of the cabbage, I don’t usually like sweet soups but this worked for me.

cabbage soup

glutinous rice roll

Dessert, glutinous rice roll with red bean baste (RMB12), was one of Beijing’s famous delicacies, but was nothing to write home about. It was sweet and satisfying, but nothing special. I was in love with the frozen persimmons though, compliments of the chef which were round scoops of sorbet-like goodness bursting with ripe swirls of persimmon meat; served in a cocktail glass, this was refreshing and left a pleasant, clean aftertaste that reduced the uncomfortable effects of the heavy and rich meal.

Verdict? I liked it, but nothing was special enough for me to be back in a hurry.

Address: 东城区东四十条甲22号南新仓国际大厦1-2楼(东四十条桥西南)
Tel:          010-51690329

yy’s rating:       cookie!

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)

Rudy cant fail goodness

Rudys cant fail cafe: Diner-style hearty breakfasts and specials.

Bottomline:   Big breakfasts, killer lunches, 7am – 1am.
                         Not the best, but definitely can’t fail.

Beginnings: yy and I had just started on our weekend brunch rampage.

After being inspired by The-Place-That-Cannot-Be-Named, we decided that we just had to look for a place that could top it. Googling all the breakfast places in the immediate east bay vicinity, Rudy’s Cant Fail cafe came up pretty high on the list, supposedly being the number 1 breakfast place in Emeryville. Heading out, we decided to give it a shot.

 Entrance to Rudys cant fail cafe

Don’t you think the name of the place is catchy? Rudy’s cant fail cafe boasts its own unique logo, which looks a little like an orange cingular man holding a big fork.

Rudy’s super long opening hours follow the traditional diner concept.

Table Top @ Rudy's

 This place definitely has a very unique decor. This is the table top.

 savoury food

 This place is good for traditional, hearty, oozing, savoury food.

oozing goodness..

We tried a couple of things. The Chorizo & Egg Scramble($8.95) was not bad.

 foooddd  GaarrgGH..  hmm. not bad

 The above pictures are self-explanatory as usual.

 This is how i like my eggs.. yum =)

This is how i like my eggs.. nice! 

 More savoury goodness!

Close-up pic of the savoury goodness. 

The food is finishing..

The food is almost gone..

 *gasp* no more food..

Verdict:

Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe is a very cosy diner that is one of the better breakfast places around the area. Definitely, come here if you’re looking for some hearty, savoury goodness. However, this place still pales to the lofty standards set by The-Place-That-May-Not-be-Named.

Address:      4081 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA 94608 (map)
                       (intersection of 40 st and Park ave)

Links:    Website (here)
              Yelp review (here)

yysj rating:      cookie!