Week 8 – Kaenyama, Fremont CA

In my quest to try a new restaurant every week, my fiance and I decided to try this restaurant on for size on Sunday afternoon. From the outside it looked closed, but the number of cars in the parking lot was a better indicator of its open status.

We were immediately greeted and seated. The host showed us the list of specials for the day and went back to his post. Our waitress asked us “What do you want to drink?” No other words passed her lips. We responded “tea please.” She rolled her eyes and walked off. 10 minutes later our tea arrived, but she didn’t stick around to take our order.

We overheard her at the next table saying “What do you want to eat?” Then she came to us and asked the same question. My fiance ordered a couple of rolls (they weren’t memorable). I ordered the tropical shrimp. Both meals were OK. His fish seemed fresh. I finished most of mine, but thought that the sauce they put on the fruit did nothing for the flavoring.

Overall, the place has a cool look, but the mediocre food and abrupt wait staff didn’t make me want to return. It might be fun to try the teppanyaki with a larger group, but I’m not impressed with this restaurant.

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Week 7 – City Bistro, Hayward & Palomares Cafe, Castro Valley

This week I ate at 2 new restaurants – Yay!

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After being trapped in an airport and on a plane for several hours, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was cook.  One of my friends recommended City Bistro in Hayward to me a few months back, so I grabbed my Fiance and headed out.

We were immediately greeted by a man (the owner, I think) who said that we could sit anywhere we’d like.  Since we had the place to ourselves we chose the bench seating along the wall.  I know, I know…  I’m vocal about my disdain for bench seating.  To be fair, this place has minimal bench seating, with well over half the restaurant being made up of tables and chairs.

The guy brought our menus and stayed to chat for a moment.  I like it when they do that – gives the waiter/manager guy some personality.  I ordered a lemonade and the reuben.  My Fiance ordered a coffee and the Rudolph Giuliani.

The sandwiches were huge!  I couldn’t get my mouth around mine.  They came with a potato salad (yum), coleslaw (OK), and a pasta salad (meh).  Both sandwiches were tasty.

The only odd things that happened were that someone started cleaning the windows with a very strong smelling window cleaner just as we received our orders.  And the lady who brought out the orders didn’t smile and was a bit abrupt.  Even with that bit of weirdness, I’d still eat there and recommend it to others.

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A group of about 10 of us visited Palomares Cafe for a retirement party last night.  Originally there were only going to be 6 people… and as more showed up they let us move.  They were super accommodating which was nice.

All of the food we were served looked good.  It must have tasted good too because all of our plates were empty by the end of the meal.  I had the Mediterranean Pasta with Creme Brulee for dessert.  My pasta was a bit firm for my taste, but the prawns were cooked to perfection.  The creme brulee was creamy and flavorful.

At the end of the meal they were kind enough to take group pictures with several cameras.  As we were leaving the band in the bar started up.  I wish I had time to hang out and listen. Maybe the next time I come in I’ll be able to enjoy the music.  Definitely good for date night.

Week 6 – Tacos & Tequila, Las Vegas

For Valentine’s weekend my hunny and I decided to visit Las Vegas.  I’d missed Vegas, so I was excited for the chance to go again.  And I figured that finding a place I hadn’t eaten at before would be easy. I’d been wanting to try Tacos and Tequila since we passed by it while exploring the Luxor.  My fiance and I thought “We like tacos.  We also like tequila.  This seems like a sure thing!”  So, we made sure to try it our last afternoon in Vegas.

We walked in and were asked to wait for a seat.  Confused, since there were 4-5 empty tables spread throughout the restaurant we agreed.  I leaned against a wall and noticed a young lady who was dressed nicely sitting attentively in a chair.  I figured she was waiting for her date so I didn’t think much of it.  After 20 minutes we were sat directly in front of the lady who I’d noticed.

We placed our orders.  He ordered the first margarita on the list, and the chicken tacos.  I ordered the ginger mango margarita and the crab tostadas.

They brought out chips and two types of salsa; both were yummy.

The margaritas tasted good.  The tequilas chosen complimented the base flavors nicely.  They weren’t the basic Silver or Gold tequilas that you find in most restaurant margaritas.  They were well worth the $12 each we paid.

My fiance liked his tacos, but noted that they were a bit small.  He cleaned his plate, and that almost never happens.

My crab tostadas were small as well.  Think of it as 3 round tortilla chips piled high with a mayonnaise-y crab and avocado mix.  They were hard to eat – kind of messy, you know?  But on the plus side, the crab was real crab.

As we were eating, we overheard our waiter talk to the girl who had been waiting since before we arrived.  She was there for an interview.  Just before we finished our meal, the hostess went to the girl and said “I don’t know when he’ll be here to talk to you.  You might want to go.”

I would have liked this place more if they didn’t leave the poor girl waiting.  It also would have helped if the portion sizes were a bit bigger.  I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied, like I could have eaten another course, but after $60 I couldn’t stomach the thought of adding on another $15 for dessert.

Week 5 – Chef’s Experience

Yesterday, my BFF and I ate lunch at Chef’s Experience in downtown Hayward.  I’d heard good things about it from people at work, and she’d heard good things about it from her friends, so off we went.

Parking is in the rear of the building and so is the entrance.  It was a bit odd entering the building at the end of the hallway that is also the restroom access but when in Rome…  My friend’s 16 month old was enthralled with the fish tank, so they sat us right next to it.  That definitely helped keep the toddler calm.  Along the walls is bench seating, which everyone by now knows I really dislike.  Since we were at the tail end of the lunch hour we were pretty private so it wasn’t much of an issue.  We were also near the bar.  If it were dinner time, I might have ordered a drink but it didn’t seem right at lunch.

We ordered two lunch entrees (Walnut Shrimp, and Basil Shrimp and Chicken) and the Crab wonton appetizer.  We also had jasmine tea.

The tea was fragrant.  It didn’t get bitter like some teas do after a while.  They kept the teapot and our water glasses full the entire time.

The crab wontons were tasty.  The wrapper was a beautiful, crispy golden brown.  The filling was creamy.  A great blend of textures and flavors.

The walnut shrimp was a little soggy but not overly sweet.  In spite of the sogginess I really liked it.  The 16 month old liked it too… so much that she shoved half a prawn in her mouth and almost choked!  Normally she’s good about biting things instead of shoving the whole thing in, but not this time!

The basil shrimp and chicken was very tasty.  It included green beans, onions, and bell peppers.  The basil flavor wasn’t overwhelming.

I’d definitely eat here again.  There were lots of things on the menu I wanted to try, but just didn’t have the stomach space for.  Just as a warning: the food is a bit pricey and it’s definitely Americanized.  But still – try it out!

Week 4 – Crepes de Art

I’ve been driving past Crepes de Art in Hayward twice a day since they opened and had yet to give it a try.  Then on Tuesday I got to leave work early so I decided to stop in and have a taste.

I liked that there were lots of different choices on the menu, but it was a bit difficult to read.  The words kind of ran together on the chalkboard.  After deliberating for a few minutes, my hunny ordered the salmon crepe, and I ordered the turkey mushroom one, without the mushrooms.  We also ordered a mocha.

Even though we were the only people in the restaurant, it took quite a bit of time for our order to come up.  Both crepes were tasty, but mine was better.  The mocha was pretty good too.

I’d go back again to try the sweet crepes, and maybe some of the other savory ones.  Although the people working there were very nice and outgoing, they do need to work on getting the food out faster.

Week 3 – Naru Sushi

Week 3 in my adventures with meeting my New Year’s resolution to try a new restaurant every week.

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This week I decided to try Naru Sushi in Newark (http://www.sushinaru.com).  It had been on my list since December because of the signs outside that mentioned 99-cent sake bombs.  Unfortunately I got sick, and it just didn’t seem fair to go to a place that offered such a great price on sake bombs without being able to try them.  So, we finally got to go on Wednesday.

First off, this place seems very mom-n-pop which is always a plus for me.  I really like to support local businesses, especially if they’re not corporately owned.  One negative is that they had bench seating, where all the tables are in a row along one long bench.  The lack of intimacy and privacy really bugs me, but it seems to be normal these days.

The employees were really nice and were very attentive.  They brought out tea and edamame.  We each got a sake bomb, but drank the sake and beer separately ’cause that’s how we roll.  The sake was warm and sweet, the beer was Sapporo.  Yum.  We also ordered miso soup, and then we shared the cherry blossom roll and the spicy rainbow roll.  The miso was light, not too salty, and the tofu was creamy.  The cherry blossom roll was plated nicely with a nice flavor.  The spicy rainbow roll was plated much like any other roll might be with each piece staggered.  It wasn’t very spicy though, which was a disappointment for me.

Overall, I really liked this place.  The bathroom was clean, the people were nice and the food was tasty.  If they didn’t have bench seating it would be a perfect sushi experience for me.

Week 2 – Coconut Grove

This week I tried Coconut Grove at the Great Mall in Milpitas. Like last week, this restaurant serves Thai food. But they also incorporate Singaporean and Malaysian flavors as well. It kind of reminded me of one of my favorite restaurants, Banana Leaf, also in Milpitas.

We always pass by Coconut Grove, so my hunny and I thought we’d try it. Of course, we missed the $1 roti Wednesdays, but we went in anyway.

We were the first people in the restaurant around 5PM. We ordered the roti parada, mango prawns, green curry chicken, small sapporo (beer), and malaysian iced tea. With tip, it came to $50 and some change.

The roti was a bit small, and not as crispy as I like, but it tasted pretty good. The mango prawns were very sweet, and the mango was a bit soft. It was tasty though. The green curry chicken was good, with just a little bite, but there wasn’t enough chicken to suit me.

The service was good. The server was attentive to us and patient with the crazy people who came in after us.

I’d go again if I were in the neighborhood, but the dinner price puts it outside of my “definitely seek out” restaurant list.

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