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February 29, 2008

The worst meal ever!

Another new challenge/surprise or whatever you want to call it. Everyday is always something new. This time...the freezer broke down on a Friday, last Friday...great! Sometime I really feel like I'm in one of those reality shows, well in fact; I AM in a reality show, just not being broadcasted.

Thanks to my buddy Chris, from Maria Seafood on College Ave! Called him at 10:30PM, told him about my situation and he offered some space in his freezer for me. The rest, of course all in my own house and Simon, my manager's house.

Since it's over the weekend, there's nothing much I could do or shop for. I finally found a replacement and scheduled to pick it up on last Tue. Chris even loaned me his truck! Another buddy of mine, Dave, who's kind enough to replace my Japanese maple for me after it was stolen the first time...oh well, his was also stolen after 6 months it was replaced; took a day off and helped me picked up the freezer from Morgan HIll.

We left the restaurant in late morning, took us longer than we thought for the whole process. By the time we were ready to leave Morgan Hill, it was already past 2PM. Poor Dave hadn't eaten anything for the whole day, so we decided to stop at Milpitas, where all the Chinese restaurants are. Most of the restaurants had already closed after lunch hour by the time we got there. Finally we walked into this one and...

It was a self-serving restaurant, and it was supposed to be a very famous one in Taiwan(I don't want to mention the name here since I'm not writing anything good.) I had heard of it and had been meaning to try it. So I was glad they have one in this restaurant mall. First I was standing at the cash register for almost 10 mins trying to place an order. There were people acknowledged my presence, just no one took my order!? Finally someone came, but when I tried to ask them couple questions about the food, all he could do was just to point at a picture on the wall and told me "that's how the food is, looks like that picture." ("Ok..." I thought.) I still ordered a few dishes:

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So first was a satay beef noodle. The beef was marinated in baking soda for so long, that yes the beef was very tender, but totally tasteless. (This is an old trick, but if you use good and high quality meat, and cook it right, please don't use baking soda! It'd kill the texture and the taste of a good piece of beef!) If it wasn't the satay sauce, I'm sure I would be tasting the bitterness from the baking soda. The noodle was fine, but the sauce and the beef... I only had one bite.

Then it was supposed to be an oyster omelet type of dish. I know the Taiwanese version was probably serve with some rice flour while the ChowZhou version, a province in China; only stir fry it with egg and green onion. I actually had the ChowZhou version served at my restaurant before and it was featured in one of the food magazines! This one that I ordered, again I only had one bite. There was so much rice flour in it that it just tasted like glue and I couldn't taste any of the oyster at all! And for the sauce, I really had no idea of what that orange looking thing is!

For this brown soupy noodle, while it was supposed to be hairy fine noodle in their special sauce, just looking at it, I thought it somewhat looked like shark's fin soup. Not until I put my spoon in and scoped a spoonful in my mouth, other than corn starch with soy, I really didn't know what was that!?

The fried fermented tofu was the best of all if I may say. Of course it didn't get the texture of the really good fermented one like you could get in a Shanghainese restaurant. At least for this dish, I had two bites!

The last one was a side order of porkchop. Since it was only $3.50 for a side order of porkchop, I thought why not? This was the time to remind myself again how important it was to cook with good ingredients! All pork that I use at the restaurant are good grade and porkloin with high quality. This porkchop that I tasted, I couldn't even tell if it was the oil, the meat or the oil and the meat. I got a mouth full of grease and fat, that I was ready to spit it out.

Another thing was filthy dishes! We asked for couple bowls to split our dishes, even there were only 2 other tables, I guess if it's self-serve, we just got to serve ourselves. We're told to get our own utensils at some corner. They were all plastic and the bowls were oily. Later the day, Dave told me he was very surprised I didn't just walk out already(he knows me well in this one!) while I was standing for so long just to get someone's attention to place orders. Well, I would have usually but he looked like he was going to die from hunger, and I felt really bad since he helped me and I hadn't fed him anything the entire day so far. Now I know, even if he's going to faint half way to another restaurant, I would chance it next time!

February 19, 2008

Valentine's Dinner

Thanks to all my extra helps again, we had a very successful night on Valentine's Day! So let me share some of the courses we had that night...

Each couple were offered with a shrimp and vegetable consommé, a "hug & kiss": sea salt crusted radish and salt & pepper chili after they're seated. And for those who ordered the tasting menu, two different Rosé Brut were sent to them in addition for a toss.

Every course was pair with wine for the classic tasting and sake for the exotic tasting. The first course for the classic tasting was a "Sesame crusted Ahi tuna salad with ginger sesame soy dressing" while the exotic tasting got the "Sea cucumber & fennel salad with citrus & mustard dressing".
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Then second courses were "Roasted chestnut & mushroom soup with truffle honey" and "Traditional Chinese ginseng & chicken herbal soup".
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Finally the main course were "Oven grilled duck breast w/ goji berries couscous in demi-glace" and "Black mushroom & Chinese ham stuffed quail baked in clay"

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Since the night of the Valentine's day was so crazily busy, we did a "re-run" the following night, so that we could video taped the quail and how we served that. Of course also hopefully to let you see how much fun our guests had on the night!

Lastly dessert! It's a dessert trio consisted of "Persimmon sorbet w/ organic ginger liqueur", "French rose Tiramisu" and "Layered carmel & chocolate cake w/ Cointreau marscapone cream". Some asked me why was I serving the rose tiramisu again this year? I wasn't planning on it until the week before when I found out "tiramisu" actually means "pick me up"! So how could I not then? However I serve it in a different way this year in a martini glass.

Thanks again to all my extra helps! Craig Roby, my guest chef; wouldn't have done it without him! Patty Chu and Auntie Maureen, my last minute called-in help; they certainly had been a great help in the dining room! Last but not least, my regular staff & all of you who continuously supporting the restaurant! Special thanks to those couples who made this their 2nd or even 3rd year celebrating their Valentine's night at the restaurant! You all sure made me felt very special! Thank you!