Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Great China (restaurant)

Great China's website.
2115 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704

Ate there tonight (7/30/08) for the second time (the first time was with Ian, Alex, and Wendy) with my aunt and uncle (who know an awful lot about food and are REALLY GOOD cooks!!) because my aunt's friend told her about their delicious food. My aunt didn't have the list of recommended dishes to we asked the waiter, who was really helpful and nice. Yelp reviews here.


Double Skin (according to their menu, it's "freshly made mung bean flat noodles served with blanched julienned carrots, cucumber, egg crepe, calamari, shrimp, sea cucumber, onions, mushroom, and pork," which is "hand-tossed at the table with a soy sauce vinaigrette and hot Chinese mustard"). Pretty interesting. Light and healthy-tasting (in a good way)...and not really spicy, although the guy didn't add all of the mustard since it was our first time trying it. I ATE SEA CUCUMBER!! lol I'd only poked it in the ocean before. How exciting. Anyway, I don't normally like sea food all that it was weird for me to actually eat a plate full of it.

Before the mixing:


After (sorry...blurry):

The mustard smelled/tasted like wasabi. I think I would hate it by itself. Mixed in with the soy sauce vinaigrette was good though.


Some kinda tofu dish. As my boss would say, "HEAVEN!" Pretty much like agedashi tofu (see Anzu post) except with a less intense taste than that of Anzu's. soft on the inside!

Walnut shrimp, which is also pictured above (although my family loves this dish, we don't go out of our way to order it, but tonight we did because the waiter praised it a lot, claiming that no one makes it the way they do):

Uhh...dried tofu and somethin' 'n' somethin'. Cabbage and bean sprouts? I liked the dried tofu, and the texture was interesting (in a good way), but I don't absolutely have to have it again.

I'd go back a third time for sure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Udupi Palace

* pictures below *

1901 University Ave. (@ MLK) in Berkeley
Website here.

Now one of my favorite restaurants!! I didn't even miss meat at all (this is a vegetarian restaurant). Very interesting flavors, each dish completely unique from the others. I would DEFINITELY go back. The only two things that disappointed me were that they don't accept credit card (shouldn't they have sign somewhere? Or do they?) and that they didn't have all of the dessert options listed on their website. No kulfi or any kind of ice cream. That's why we went to Naia afterwards (see Gelateria Naia post).

Alex and I went crazy and got two appetizers and three dishes...and just split everything. SUCH a good idea. We should always eat family-style. Sorry if I got the names below wrong. I looked most of the things up, but I coulda come across incorrect information.


1. Medu vadas (er...i was one of those the fried lentil donut options):

kinda dry and plain by itself.

2. Samosas (gooood)

Inside a samosa:

Aloo mutter (potato & peas curry) served with rice, chapati, pickle, raita, papad & dessert (this ended up being a VERY citrusy-tasting piece of orange or lime or something that Alex and I thought was gross):

here's that citrusy thing:
This was REALLY good (alex thought so too!). rich, creamy, and spicy:

a very curious thing (puffy chapati? couldn't figure this out):

Mixed vegetable uthappam (didn't taste like what it looks like it would taste; it was a tiny bit sour, but it was good! It was like a savory pancake) served with sambar and coconut chutney: of the rice specialties (the rice thing was creamy and bland at first--until you bit into a peppercorn):

The rice thing up close:

papad up close:

All gone (well, we had SOME leftovers)!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Love at First Bite


Their website.
Love at First Bite Bakery
1510 Walnut Street, Suite G
Berkeley, CA 94709

I love the name. The last time I went there, I only got their mini chocolate cupcake for $1.25 (yeah...this place is expensive).

Here's my $2.75 PUMPKIN cupcake with cream cheese frosting (I cut this with my spoon--not my case you were wondering)!:

Derrick's $4.00 banana pudding (he let me try it, and it was SO GOOD! There were chunks of real bananas, which you just can't leave out of a banana pudding or pie!):

More pics:

I'm trying these chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting sometime:

So good. I'm going back.

Frausto's with Derrick

Berkeley 7/27/08. Around $10 for this first plate & one horchata (possibly my favorite drink when made correctly besides water).

My meal (Red Chicken Enchilada):

Derrick's menudo:

$2.00 for one horchata. Really good!! They were huge, and there were cubes AND frosty bits of ice! MMmmm...what a good idea. It was also really spice-y (not spicy hot) and tons better than the mix I got from Central Fish (not surprising) three years ago...and better than La Burrita's horchata

Derrick's shot from above:

I'd go back. Actually, this was my second time. The last time I can't remember what I got, but my parents both got albondigas, which was reeeeally good. I love that word. Albondigas. And estacionamiento. :p

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cream Puff Pie (aka "Best Custard Pie")

Baking date: 7/25/08

Melissa, Minh-Chau and I made a custard pie (based off of my aunt's "Best Custard Pie" recipe) last night. SO GOOD--and so easy to make!

Whoops...somehow we ended up with too much filling (we didn't even add all of what we made).

Wait--there's a story, as there almost always is whenever I bake (I tend to screw up a lot). We weren't sure what kind of pie or cupcakes we were making until they got here, but we decided to go with this custard one, which is more like a giant cream puff than a custard pie. I got this recipe from my aunt because she made this several years ago for New Year's or Christmas or something. Unfortunately, I didn't read the recipe until we started baking in my we had to make a few substitutions and adjustments. First, I didn't go down to get milk and eggs before Melissa and Minh-Chau came over (stupid!) so we all went downstairs to the little convenience store right on the corner for eggs cuz we didn't think we'd need milk. Then we realized the pudding requires milk and that you gotta make the pudding several hours before you bake the crust (so that the pudding is cold and hard). So we decided to cheat and use ready-made Handi-Snacks Vanilla Pudding (lol in the little individual cups), which I now think is kinda gross. Anyway, we mixed that with the one other filling ingredient (real whipped cream) and sped up to the crust-cooling process too by taking it out of the pan and onto a plate and into the freezer. That all worked out pretty well; it still tasted really good! You just can't think about the pudding part too much (unless you like the taste of Handi-Snacks pudding). I'm still pretty happy!

Oh! And I have to mention that we didn't have a mixer so Melissa whipped the cream by hand!! That was way cool.

Whipping cream in liquid form:

Getting closer...

THERE! *Let me remind you that Melissa did this by hand!*

Next time, I'll prep appropriately (i.e., make and refrigerate the pudding earlier). Can't wait to try it again!

Recipe for Cream Puff Crust:

1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup flour
2 large or 3 small eggs

1. Mix boiling water, shortening, salt & flour over flame/heat.
2. Keep stirring until it rolls off sides & forms a ball
3. Remove from fire/heat.
4. Cool 5 minutes
5. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and beat by hand (fold) until smooth and velvety.
6. Place in 9-inch well-greased pie pan and spread out so it is 1/4 inch up on sides.
7. Bake 15-20 minutes in 400-degree oven.
8. Cool on shelf in pan it was baked in. It won't get soggy so you can bake it the night before.

Recipe for Filling:

1 family size instant vanilla pudding
1 cup whipping cream

1. In the morning to be served, make pudding following instructions on package for pie (will not set if overbeaten).
2. Whip cream and divide in half.
3. Fold half the whipped cream into the filling and save the other half for topping.
4. Put pudding filling in cooked, cooled shell.
5. Cover the top with the remaining whipped cream.
6. Chill.
7. Serve.