Sunday, June 29, 2008

ABC Seafood

I have no idea how this place got the name ABC, since its Chinese name translates to "Palace of the Wealthy". I guess ABC rolls off the tongue more easily (it's easier to spell, too ;-) Anyhoo, I couldn't care less if it was named ABC, 1-2-3, or Do-Re-Mi (there's actually a Chinese restaurant in Milpitas called Do-Re-Mi, but that's another blog post - and what's with all these weird Chinese restaurant names anyway? ;-) This place serves good dim sum, and that's all that matters.

And it was the dim sum that lured us to ABC for our recent visit. We started off with shark fin dumpling soup. The broth was warm and soothing, and the plump, succulent dumpling's tender meat did not disappoint. We liked the fact that there were generous quantities of shark fin strands in both the dumpling and the broth.

Next came the deep fried lobster dumplings. The crispy golden skin had a nice, satisfyingly crunchy texture. And the meat inside was fresh and sweet. A mayonnaise dipping sauce was provided that goes very well with the dumplings.

And then came the siu mai (pork dumplings). For some reason the texture and color of the meat inside had us wondering whether it was pork or chicken. Whatever it was, the end result was good as the dumplings were tender and tasty.

We also had shrimp and mango rolls. The sweetness of the mango added a nice livening touch to the shrimp and vegetable filling.

I always like to add kai lan (Chinese broccoli) to a dim sum meal because it fills me up and I feel that it makes for a more balanced, healthy meal. Besides, my Mom trained me very well to always eat my veggies (nice work, Mom! ;-) The broccoli was firm and crunchy, the way I like it.

Good stuff like this keeps me coming back to ABC, plus the name's easy to remember ;-)

Abc Seafood on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Darda Seafood

A Chinese restaurant without pork? Yes, it does exist - the Darda Seafood restaurant in Milpitas offers Chinese Islamic-style cuisine. Islam has a long history in China, and there is a large Muslim community in China today (particularly in China's northwest region). From this tradition comes the cuisine showcased at Darda.

This place is super-popular, and one almost inevitably has to wait in a long line during weekends at dinnertime. That's exactly what we did, and during our wait I found myself fascinated by this sign above the door. I wondered "What language is this? Is it Arabic? What does it mean? Are these passages from the Koran?" If anyone out there knows, kindly enlighten me.

When we finally got inside, we saw that the place was just packed with people and abuzz with activity.

Another sign caught my attention. Again, if anyone out there knows what language this is and what it means, I would appreciate it if you would kindly let me know.

We started our meal with some seafood soup. The soup was very light and refreshing and featured very fresh ingredients of shrimp, crab, squid, chicken, vegetables, and more.

Next came the lamb stew. The lamb was quite tasty and chewy, with a distinctive and pleasing aroma.

We also enjoyed mushu tofu with egg topping...

...and bread topped with sesame seeds and stuffed with a green onion filling. I particularly enjoyed this bread, because of its crunchy and chewy texture, as well as its light aroma and flavor.

It may take some patience getting a table at Darda, but it's well worth the wait.

Darda Seafood on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Picking Loquats

A friend of ours has loquat (known as pi pa in Chinese) trees in her back yard. When the trees recently bore fruit, she invited us to come over and pick some.

We would either snag the fruit with a hook mounted on a long pole, or climb up a ladder to grab the lower-hanging fruits by hand.

It was a lot of fun, and it also gave me an opportunity to practice using my Nikon D80 (with which these photos were taken).

Along the way, we met this tiny loquat connoisseur, jealously guarding her prize. This led us to conclude that "this particular loquat must be a very sweet one".

Afterwards, we enjoyed the fruits (literally) of our labor by feasting on the sweet loquats. It was a fun and relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Huong Lan Sandwiches

Huong Lan Sandwiches in Milpitas is my favorite place to get Vietnamese banh mi (baguette sandwiches). To me, their banh mi is a fast, cheap, convenient, and very tasty snack, which can also serve as lunch or dinner (in which case I'll eat 2 of them).

I always order the #7 sandwich, which contains pork filling. The bread is crisp on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. The roasted pork comes in generous amounts, and is very tender and tasty. The accompanying ingredients of pickled carrot and radish, cilantro, and peppers combine with the meat to create a unique symphony of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy tastes - deliciously orchestrated and in perfect balance.

They also have a lot of delightful Vietnamese sweets that make for a perfect dessert after enjoying the sandwiches. Like these rice cakes flavored with green beans and banana:

My wife and I like to bring home these sandwiches and munch on them leisurely, as we snuggle closely together while watching movies from that's nice ;-)

Huong Lan Sandwich Iv & Fast on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Celebrating the Birth of Buddha

We recently visited our favorite Buddhist temple in San Jose, where they held a special event celebrating the birth of Buddha. For this occasion, a special glass container was displayed in front of the image of Buddha. Inside the container was a precious relic - a tiny fragment of Buddha's bones.

The monks at the temple explained to me that before he died, Buddha wished for parts of his body to remain intact even after his death. This was to help people remember him and his teachings. His wish came true, resulting in tiny bone fragments that remained even after his body was cremated. The relic on display at the temple was one of those fragments.

The Buddhist devotees at the temple took this opportunity to examine the relic up close and give respect to Buddha. We did the same. However, at the request of the monks, we did not take any photos of the relic.

After taking a look at the relic, I engaged in an enlightening conversation with the temple's head monk, who is very friendly and knowledgeable. Among other things, he explained to me the Buddhist concept of God - which is very different from what I was taught, having been raised as a Catholic.

I also enjoyed a discussion with one of the devotees about how Buddhism has branched into different paths - some of which emphasize deep study and understanding of Buddha's teachings, while others emphasize more practical aspects such as doing good deeds.

Later that afternoon we were treated to some snacks and refreshments. Since the monks and devotees at the temple mostly come from Sri Lanka, we had a tasty Sri Lankan snack called kadala. It is a mixture of garbanzo beans, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and coconut. It is pleasantly spicy and chewy, and is served in paper cones:

We also enjoyed a delicious drink made of rose syrup, basil seeds, pineapple, and water. Served chilled, it was very refreshing - a perfect drink for a hot afternoon:

I am glad we made this visit to the temple. I gained a deeper understanding of Buddhism, and feel eager to learn more about it. We also got to experience a very tiny (but tasty) sample of Sri Lankan cuisine.