Sunday, August 22, 2010

Southland Flavor Cafe

My wife is not easily impressed with restaurants. It takes an exceptional one to gain her accolades. So when she enthusiastically endorses a restaurant as having authentic Taiwanese taste (she herself hails from Taiwan), I have to respect the place for measuring up to her exacting standards. One of these rare places is the Southland Flavor Cafe in Cupertino, CA.

We sauntered in one afternoon and found business to be brisk as always.

We started off with a Taiwanese favorite: stinky tofu. My wife first introduced me to this pungent dish years ago while we were still dating. And although we have (well, mostly she has) eaten it many times since then, I still don't understand the appeal of this unusual dish.

Stinky tofu truly lives up to its name. Know anyone with stinky feet? I mean REALLY foul-smelling ones that cause you to choke, gag, retch, and cover your nose, mouth and other vulnerable body parts as you fall to the ground, convulsing in the fetal position? Well, that's pretty much what it smells like, except you didn't have to put that person's feet in your mouth (well, if you did, shame on you!)

Despite its "aroma", stinky tofu is one of the most popular snacks in Taiwan. So what does it taste like? It doesn't taste bad, actually. But I don't find anything really special about it, either. To me, once one gets past the smell, it doesn't really offer anything different than regular tofu.

However, my wife disagrees and gives Southland Flavor Cafe's stinky tofu two thumbs up. Well, all I can say is bon appetit my love, knock yourself out.

Fortunately, the other dishes we ordered justified my wife's praise for this place. Like the pork potage soup, which featured generous chunks of tender pork immersed in a refreshing broth, spiced up with a tinge of satay sauce.

We had a plateful of on choy - fresh and crunchy.

The sauteed beef special was also quite good.

It's these other dishes that explain to me why this place is one of my wife's favorites. It has also become one of mine, and I look forward to our next visit there. I just won't be going there to eat stinky tofu.

I'll leave that to my wife.

Southland Taste on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Harumi Sushi

(Author's note: I wrote this article about 5 months ago when Harumi Sushi just opened. I was preparing to post the article on this blog, when things got insanely busy for me at work, and my job (I'm an IT worker in a major software firm) just consumed my life for the next several months.

Now that things have calmed down a bit at work (well, for now at least), I revisited this article and realize it is somewhat dated.

Nevertheless, I had a positive experience at Harumi Sushi and I still wish to give them props and recognition. So here are my impressions of Harumi Sushi from several months ago. Enjoy!)

The Daiso store in Cupertino, CA carries a mind-boggling variety of irresistibly cute little knick-knacks from Japan. Which is why my wife can't resist going there, often dragging me along to help carry all the stuff she scoops up. It was after trawling around the Daiso store recently that we stumbled upon a newly opened sushi restaurant in its vicinity: Harumi Sushi.

Harumi Sushi's interior looks slick, clean, and new.

The menu hanging above the bar grabbed my attention because of one of its offerings - Monkey Brain. Could it be THE Monkey Brain, the unusual dish that I've heard so much about?

You see, I've heard tales of special restaurants in Asia that literally serve the grey matter of small, hairy primates. Could this item on Harumi Sushi's menu be the same thing?? My inquiring mind was dying to know...

I asked our waitress about it and she laughingly told me that no, it's not really monkey brains. The main ingredient of this exotic-sounding dish is actually mushrooms.

Okay, with that little detail out of the way, we decided to go with Harumi's more pedestrian-sounding fare. My wife got the assorted maki rolls combo plate:

I got a beef teriyaki bento:

It was all good stuff. The maki rolls were fresh and had a subtle, pleasant seasoning. The beef was tender and tasty. Plus, we got a 30% discount on the rolls thanks to Harumi Sushi's grand opening promo. Our dining experience was a pleasant one and we look forward to visiting this place again next time my wife feels the urge to raid the aisles at Daiso.

Best of all, no monkeys were harmed in the process of writing this article.

Harumi Sushi on Urbanspoon