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Vietnamese

Northern Nevada Trip

So where was my next stop after my time in New York?…

RENO!!!!!!

Thank goodness we also had a stop in Tahoe as well during our visit to the Northern Nevada casino properties.  Being my first time in Northern Nevada, I was shocked at the decay of the city of Reno.  As we drove through the main road of the city, I could see how this was once the hustle and bustle of Northern Nevada.  Now, it is a sadder scene with areas of abandonment and memory of the old days.

However, granted I was traveling with others this time aka – there was no excuse to NOT eat with tons of people and way too much food.

I will just go down chronologically of the meals that we had shared and consumed:

Santa Fe Hotel

235 N Lake St
Reno, NV 89501

This was a Basque restaurant, serving traditional Basque cuisine.  I had never heard of Basque food before and the only time I had even heard of “Basque” was during my travel to Europe and was given a brief history during our drive into Spain from France.  So I was excited to see what this food was all about.

First, the dining room reminded me of an old bar or saloon.  There were rows of long tables that you would share with other parties when it was a full house.  However, that night, the place was already winding down due to the fact it was a late Sunday night. The meals were served family style with a choice of entrée for yourself.  The entrees differ each night and so…let the food precession begin!

Soup

Chorizo

Beans

Fries

Lamb Chops

As you can see, they pretty much covered the bases with a soup starter, meats, and starch.  The food was good overall, but it did not exactly blow my me out of the water.  Still…it was a good start to the trip.

The Cheese Board

247 California Avenue
Reno, Nevada 89509

The following day, after our morning of walking the floors, we met up with another team working on another property for lunch at The Cheese Board.  This place would be considered a casual French/American Bistro. They had sandwiches, salads, specials and of course – wine (which we did not have because we were all on ‘work hours’ and we were being good to stick to it).

Brie

This was so good! I don’t know how you cannot like warm, melting, good quality cheese.

Cheese Board

Because this was the namesake of the Bistro…and the selections were all quite yummy.

Steak Fajitas

Quiche

(It was one of the better quiches that I had ever tried)

Pasta Chicken Salad

Sante Fe Chicken Sandwich

Overall?…A wonderful lunch spot and reminds me that Reno is still alive!

Wild River Grille

17 S. Virginia St. #180
Reno, NV 89501

Since we had such a nice lunch that day, we hoped that this recommendation we received from a fellow colleague would not fail us.  Plus, it sat right by the river so it was the closest “seaside dining” we could muster for Northern Nevada.

Pear & Goat Cheese Crostini

Taste was there, but there was no texture.  It was just a pile of mush on mush…sad 😦

Artichoke & Brie Dip

(Just…no)

House Salad

Possibly the best thing I ate there that night.  Fresh greens dressed in a delicious vinaigrette (plus there was texture here at least!)

Now our entrees:

Meatloaf

Grilled Salmon

Lamb

Good lamb…even better polenta that was served under it.

Pork Chops

Rib Eye

Desserts (I laugh and make a face as I write/think about this):

River Mud

The way they described it on the menu sounds interesting, yet it came out exactly as I had imagined: a brownie with a Klondike bar sitting on top.  =\

Bread Pudding

Disgusting.  Let me describe to you why: imagine cubes of stall bread that was pressed together and re-baked with no liquids to make it remotely moist and then try to cover it with chocolate sauce.  This was the bread pudding.  UCK!!

Crème Brulee

Now for this one – it was scrambled eggs in a dish with caramelized sugar.  Yea…

Crumble

(Chuckling) Ok…on the menu it does not tell you what kinds of berries are used, just that this was a berry crumble.  So we asked the waitress and she tells us, “It’s a deep berry the chef uses.”

….Did you all catch that? “Deep berries.”  If you were like us, you’d be asking (like we actually did): “What (the hell) are ‘deep berries’?” Are they berries deep within a forest? Are they philosophical fruits?  What?!  Let’s just say the waitress could not talk herself out of this one.  (By the way, it ended up being strawberries…because they were out of deep berries apparently.)

My recommendations to you?…Skip the appetizers and desserts, go for the house salad and entrees only.

Golden Flower Vietnamese

205 West 5th Street
Reno, NV 89503

The place is pretty self explanatory of what we had for lunch.  However, in addition to our bowls of pho, we had orders of the Fresh Spring rolls and Fried Eggrolls

Vietnamese Eggrolls

Fresh Spring Rolls

Now…on to Tahoe!

Lone Eagle Grille

111 Country Club Drive
Incline Village, NV 89451

For our first night in Tahoe, we joined with the group at their hotel for dinner.  Let’s just say we ordered more than what we all really needed.  Let the bingeing begin:

Calamari

Pork belly

Quail

French onion soup

Wedge salad

Lamb

NY Strip

Ribeye

Buffalo

Short ribs

Grilled Chicken

Dessert platter

I think the end of the meal was the favorite part of the meal for me that night.  Look at that spread of delicious, fatty, sugary goodness.  We had (going from left to right): Apple Trio; Mud Pie; Cheesecake; Crème Brulee; Chocolate Pear Nougat; Walnut Tart w/ Dolce Dulce Ice Cream.

My gawd…it was an overboard of sugar and we were all already at our breaking point but we were all very dedicated foodies (and a newly initiated one who was brought on to help us and was floored by the amount of food that we ate).  My favorite from the platter?  It would have to be the Walnut Tart with the ice cream.  By the way…this was the platter at the end:

We CRUSHED this platter!

Latin Soul

168 Hwy 50
Stateline, NV 89449

For our last lunch, we headed for some Mexican/Spanish food.  However…it was not that good sadly.

Mushroom & Cheese Empanadas

Tacos – Lamb & Carne

Tacos – Lamb & Al Pastor

The meat tasted fine for the tacos, but not astounding.  Worst part was that the tortillas were too thick.  You needed thinner tortillas to just hold the meats and let the (good) meat do all the talking.  This place’s tacos were just a mumble in the air.

Kalani’s

1001 Heavenly Village Way #26
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Our last night in Tahoe, for dinner, we opted for something amazing to make up for lunch, but yet, staying away from the steakhouses (we both needed seafood to balance out all the red meat).  Thus, it was Kalani’s that really saved the day.

Lobster Bisque

They were kind enough to split an order into two little cups for us.  Thick, flavorful, sweet, a tinge of spice…wonderful.

Pulehu Baby Back Pork Ribs

Sweet, salty, sticky, and fall-off-the-bone tender.  Though we both had enough meat the past few days, this was a great addition to our meal.

Pan Caramelized Miso-Yaki Sea Bass

O.M.G.  I cannot tell you how much I LOVE sea bass and its buttery texture.  This fish really does fall to the slightest force from your fork and melts in your mouth as if it was butter.  Amazing piece of fish and cooked with a crispy side to add a little texture.  Suberb!

Ahi tuna

The special of the night was an ahi tuna steak topped with sweet, fresh crab meat, served on top of kimchi and “veggie sticks” (aka julienne carrots, zucchini and squash).  This was good, but it was not a sea bass.

Coconut Creme Brulee

To round off the night, we finished with this delicious and wonderfully made creme brulee.  The coconut flavor was in your face, but pleasantly so.  By far…it was our best meal to date during this trip!

5th Street Bakery

953 W 5th St.
Reno, NV 89503

Last day in Northern Nevada…back at Reno to grab a quick bite before we headed to the airport.  We wanted something simple and quick.  This little café had a great spirit and a hard working woman who I can only assume was the owner.  She worked the counter, cash register, and waiting/bussing the tables.  Naturally, you see her just running around the little café at great speeds.

While sitting there, you could watch your food be made fresh and also watch them bake their own breads for the menu items.

Morning Cuban

This was toasted bread slice (freshly made in-house), roasted pork, swiss cheese, ham, eggs overeasy, green salsa.  With a little hot sauce, it is the cure for hangovers.

Mediterranean Salad

A mixed organic greens salad with tomato, kalamata olives, red onions, red bell peppers, feta cheese, avocado, procsiutto, house croutons.

We kept it simple and clean….well I did with my salad, can’t say the same for my colleague.

Well friends…that was my first time adventure in Reno and Tahoe.  Will I be back? If it’s for work, I won’t have much of a choice, but if for pleasure, then I will definitely be back to Tahoe.


Eating around…Part I: Westminster/Rowland Heights

I eat a lot…I just realized how much I eat. And if I have enough people to come eat with me…I turn our dining excursion into a sampling of whatever restaurant/place we are eating at. I actually prefer to do it that way since I am one of the most indecisive person you will EVER meet when it comes to food. One minute, I’ll be craving for Thai food, then Mexican next, followed by a sudden urge for Greek, and then maybe perhaps the non-distinguishable American cuisine just because. How can a girl be so fickle?!?! I don’t know either and I’ve been asking myself this for years.

I’ve been eating around and I’ve been taking like a gazillion pictures, but lazy busy me has not done a single post on ANY of the meals that I’ve so enjoyed. That is why I will be making a 3 part rehash of what has entertained my palate to my delight.

Despite the chaotic and confusing fickleness of my food desires, when an urge for a certain cuisine or type of food strikes me and it’s conveniently in front me, I hesitate not to get it ASAP. So when I was shopping with my family at the Asian Garden mall in Westminster, where a plethora of dining options was offered, I did what any person would do at a mall – shop around for food. After going around the central dining area twice, I found one thing that I really wanted: meat on a stick…

 

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…actually make that TWO. Top to bottom: pork meatballs and pork sui mai.

Between the two offerings on a stick…the meatballs won by a long shot! So let’s start with the loser: the sui mai. I felt that the sui mai was just the same, but more bland meatball that was wrapped in wonton skin. And since the woman who got me these puppies went and heated the sui mai in the microwave, it probably was sitting on the “steam tray” for some time. Did I feel like I wasted my money on this one? Why yes…yes I did.

Thank goodness the meatballs came and saved my lunch day! These little unassuming beauties packed just the right flavors that I remember oh so well of a family friend of ours, who is Vietnamese, and they make some mean skewered pork when they throw parties. The meatballs were well seasoned, the saltiness was balanced with the sweet sauce that was squirted on it, and the chili sauce gave it a spicy punch that I just couldn’t get enough of! I love spicy foods to the point where I don’t think it’s quite that healthy but you live only once right?!

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The meatballs did have fillers of vermicelli and carrots, but I think this helped make them less dense, thus easier to eat. MmmMm…good!

My little sister was craving some Bun with eggrolls; and after walking with me around the dining area, she still could not decide which place she wanted her noodles from so I just decided for her by sitting down at a table. The table “belonged” to the stand that was next to the place where I bought my food. A lady behind the counter came with the menu and placed it in front of us when I chose the spot to sit, thus effectively making the decision to eat there.

Little sister ordered the Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuoung (spring rolls & grilled pork with lettuce on rice vermicelli):

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While my mother ordered a Bun Bo Hue (I believe, please correct me if I’m wrong):

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I loved different aspects of each of these 2 buns. The grilled pork from my little sister’s Bun Cha Gio Thit Nuoung was tender, nicely marinated and was sweet but not too sweet. And my mother’s Bun Bo Hue’s broth was delicious. The broth had so much flavor depth that it reminded me somewhat of my mother’s homemade soups that would take an entire day of simmering on low heat to get all the flavors of the meats and vegetables into the soup. I wish I knew what it was exactly that was in the broth that made it taste the way it did because it was nothing I’ve ever tasted before. I don’t understand flavor, but I know that I loved it. Definitely not your average MSG laden Pho broths.

So with our tummies full, we continued to shop throughout the hot, humid day. I hated the weather and cannot conceive why anyone would like to live there other than to have copious amounts of Asian food at their finger tips. That is why towards the late afternoon, while we were in Rowland Heights, I suggested going to Phoenix to have a cool treat.

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Coconut Taro Tapioca Drink — sounded good, but it was more milk than anything and I HATE straight milk. If I drink straight milk, it will make me sick for the rest of the day because I am slightly lactose intolerant. But what was worse with this drink was that it wasn’t even cold! It was lukewarm milk. UCK! Only after we went and got a cup of ice to add to it, was I able to try a little bit more of it…not that it was any better. Maybe this is how Chinese get their calcium intake – put tapioca pearls and something else in – since they do not usually drink milk on a daily basis (I know, I know! I’m being stereotypical, but you know that this is true for most Chinese yet I know I will hear something about this eventually).

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I ordered a red bean, grass jelly, and tapioca shaved ice…no, actually I ordered a Taro, red bean, grass jelly, and tapioca shaved ice but I guess the man who took my order didn’t hear the “taro” part and gave me this one instead. And actually, I think this was better without the taro. This shaved ice was just what I needed after being in the humid climate that as a San Diegan, I was not used to. The ice was finely shaved so there were no chunks at all. Condensed milk was drizzled throughout the ice and each bite melted almost instantaneously the second it touched my tongue. The azuki beans on it were enough so that it gave the whole thing an overall sweet touch, while the grass jelly and tapioca helped cool and smooth every bite. Here’s a shot of the perfect bite:

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After having this shaved ice, it makes all other shaved ice I’ve had seem so plain and too chunky. Why can’t all the restaurants (chains or not) from Orange County be moved down to San Diego?! Why??? Not fair…*pouting*

In addition to my shaved ice, I actually got up and went back to buy a box of coconut-pine nut cookies and black sesame pudding. I don’t have a good picture of the pudding but I’ll put it this way…it’s definitely not your Jello pudding. It’s so much more smoother and richer without being overly sickening. The taste of it reminds me of a custard almost, but with the flavors of black sesame and coconut. Phoenix has a variety of pudding flavors that come packaged in boxes of the individual flavors or as an assorted box. And the cookies?…

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They remind me of a coconut macaroon by looking at it, but the taste is more of the coconut tarts from Chinese bakeries that usually come with a flaky tart crust. It even looks like the middle of the coconut tarts except these are crust-less. Topping each one is a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a pine nut. I don’t know why they put the pine nut on top because I didn’t taste any pine nuts in the cookie itself. Is it because of the single pine nut on top that these are these called “coconut-pine nut” cookies? The questions that plague my mind and take up useful space…

Anyways, these cookies were moist, once again not too sweet (seems to be the theme of the day) as coconut cookies/macaroons can be and like everything from that day…it left me wanting more. I think that’s how it is when your palate has been neglected for so many years that when it experiences such explosive and wonderfully blend of flavors, it will leave you wanting more.

Yeah, I’m greed and hungry…but eat with me and I’ll share my food if you share yours. But even if you don’t want to, I’ll just reach over and take some regardless. I told you I was greedy, what did you expect?!

>>Part II-A: Noshing around downtown San Diego.