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Eat to Bites: Cheap Burger Joints and an Authentic Italian Restaurant

2 Jul

I love saying Tom Hank’s character in the movie “The Terminal”. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about this man from a fake country called Krakozhia. He’s stuck at New York’s JFK airport because he can’t enter the United States because the US doesn’t recognize Krakozhia as a sovereign nation amid a revolution that broke out just as Hanks landed in JFK. At the same time, he can’t go back because there are no flights going there so he ends up staying at the airport for many years. This is based on the true story of  Mehran Karimi Nasseri who stayed for 18 years in one of the airports in Paris, France.

Anyway, that’s where my post title comes from because in the movie Hanks has a hard time saying “Want to get a bite to eat?” when asking Catherine Zita Jones’ character out for dinner. Instead, Hanks says “Want to get an eat to bite?”.


1. Red’s Java House

Pier 30
Bryant & Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94107

This place is located right near the the Bay Bridge that links Oakland and San Francisco, but is ultimately located in San Francisco. Don’t worry about street noise pollution though because you can’t hear the cars whizzing by at all nor will your views of the bay be obstructed by anything.

Eggs and Chili Rancheros

Eggs and Chili Rancheros - $6.95

When I visited Red’s about two weeks ago, I was somewhat surprised that only two types of coffee are served so if you’re looking for a wide selection of coffee, don’t come here.

Hamburger on Sourdough

Hamburger on Sourdough; came with pickles, mustard, onions (no lettuce or tomatoes) - $3.42

On the other hand, if you like a place full of history – there are perhaps 50+ historic photos hung all around the inside walls – and cheap breakfast – San Francisco style – then come here. The atmosphere if anything will make up for any of the cons that you may find.

Interior of Red's Javahouse

Interior of Red's Javahouse

2. Buffalo’s Burgers Restaurant

5317 Geary Blvd
(between 17th Ave & 18th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94121

Chicken Supreme Burger

Chicken Supreme Burger - $5.95 (I think)

Now since I live in this neighborhood, I’ve often seen this little restaurant when walking by on my way to the produce market. I never really stopped in there but I expressed my curiosity about going in to my mom several times.

One night when we were with a family friend and were at a lost of where to go, she suggested the place. I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood for burgers, but I was willing to go anyway. Eating at a new place is always exciting.

Mixed Vegetable Terriyaki Bowl

Mixed Vegetable Terriyaki "Bowl" - $6.95 (I think)

Little did I know that I didn’t have to be worried about the lack of choices. Of course this is a burger place, but Buffalo’s offered chicken breast sandwiches/burgers, fish-n-chips, chili, buffalo shrimps (delicious!), and terriyaki chicken and veggie bowls. Oh, and there’s salads too.

Best of all, everything is cheap. Cheap,cheap,cheap!

It’s such a deal, seriously. The staff are friendly, the food is good, and the cost won’t make a dent into your wallet. I suppose the only thing that may be overpriced is their buffalo shrimps since it’s 1/2 lb for $6.95, but they’re still delicious.

Buffalo Shrimps with Fries
1/2 lb Buffalo Shrimps with Homemade Fries – $6.95 Buffalo’s also has a great tangy buffalo sauce. They sell it in containers just by itself.

Italian Cuisine

1. Mescolanza Restaurant

2221 Clement Street
San Francisco, CA 94121

I saw this restaurant featured on Check Please! last year I think. Like with Buffalo’s Restaurant, I never got around to actually going there until last week.

Polenta al Funghi

"Polenta al Funghi":roasted polenta with assorted seasonal mushrooms - 8.75

And let me just say, if you like thin crust pizza you must go here. And if you like vegetable pizza then you must try the Eggplant pizza called “Pizzetta Melanzane”. Pizzas only come in one size (8 slices). If you’re hungry, then you can finish it as a single diner. Also, the pizza is decently priced.

"Pizzetta Melanzane" (mozzarella, grilled eggplant, pesto, tomato sauce)

"Pizzetta Melanzane": mozzarella, grilled eggplant, pesto, tomato sauce - $13.95

The crust is cracker thin, the cheese on the Melanzane is not too overpowering, and the spices are tastefully used. (There aren’t too many.) I also suggest trying the desserts because they are divine!

"Pizzetta Mescolanza" (mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce)

"Pizzetta Mescolanza": mozzarella, gorgonzola, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce - $13.95

My mom and I told the waiter it was our first time there so he was very helpful. When I asked him if he preferred the tiramisu or “Cioccolata Con Amaretti” (chocolate flan with amaretto and crushed amaretti cookie), he told me the Cioccolata. No problem so that’s what I ordered.  My mom ordered the “Frutti de Bosco” (mixed European berries on cream in a shortbread crust).

"Frutti di Bosco" (a medley of European wild berries floating on a cream filling in an all butter shortbread crust)

"Frutti di Bosco": a medley of European wild berries floating on a cream filling in an all butter shortbread crust - $7.95

"Cioccolata Con Amaretti" : chocolate flan with amaretto and crushed amaretti cookie

"Cioccolata Con Amaretti" :chocolate flan with amaretto and crushed amaretti cookie - $7.95

When the desserts came out, he had three plates.

“This is the Tiramisu. It’s on the house,” he explain.

"Tiramisu": espresso, Marsala soaked lady fingers layered with mascarpone,  chocolate and Italian cream 	 - $7.95

"Tiramisu": espresso, Marsala soaked lady fingers layered with mascarpone, chocolate and Italian cream - $7.95

My take on the desserts? The tiramisu and chocolate flan are delicious! Get these. The tart was okay but the berries were kind of tart. Nice crust though.

Also, you should dress a little nice. Otherwise if you wear jeans (like we did) you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. However, if you don’t mind then you won’t be scoffed at by the patrons or staff. The staff were incredibly nice!

More thoughts…

So with all the restaurants that I review, I’m thinking about creating another tab next to ‘On the Shelf’. What do you think? Would this be easier to find my previous reviews?

Back from a Road Trip

30 May

Just came back from LA. Took a road trip with my mom and family friend Eric. I was supposed to help drive, but Enterprise car rental won’t allow drivers under 21 to drive on long distances.

La Brea Farmer’s Market

Since we arrived at our hotel in Fullerton late Wednesday, we basically relaxed in the hotel until the next morning. On Thursday, we braved the crazy freeways to get to La Brea. Our original plan was to see the La Brea tar pits but we accidentally got distracted at The Grove mall and Farmer’s Market.

I was amazed by everything there. I loved the little food stands everywhere and how tucked away everything felt.

Nuts, nuts, and more nuts!

Confetti Popcorn

Confetti popcorn, anyone? Besides this kind, there were at least 5 other varieties.

The French Crepe Company

The French Crepe Company's cute painting. Lately I've been hearing a lot about the historic World Fairs.

Japanese Teapots

Japanese Teapots. Did you know there are only 3 Japan Town's in the whole United States? There's one in San Francisco, another in San Jose, and a third in downtown Los Angeles.

Cute sign

Because we live on one big green planet!


Would you like jam?

Ordering ice cream

Ice cream stand. Too many choices to choose from!

Vanilla-Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream

Perfect for a warm summer day.

Cajun Menu

Never did get to try that gumbo...

Veggie Chips

Veggie Chips. What doesn't this company make?

Candle Cupcakes

A store even had candle cupcakes.

Fresh Pasta

Fresh Pasta

Veggie Market

We got fresh strawberries, cantalope, plums, and bananas. I bet this market would have even more for better prices during the summer.


We ended up mixing this with the ice cream. A delicious combination!

 From Restaurants: Foxy’s and California Ramen

Fish Taco

Fish Taco from Foxy's Restaurant in Burbank

Fresh dinner rolls with sea salt

Fresh dinner rolls with sea salt. The inside of the dinner roll is made up of strips of bread.

Ramen with grilled chicken and fresh veggies

Ramen with grilled chicken and fresh veggies. The cauliflower were purple and orange, but the waiter assured us they were natural.

Made by Family

Chocolate Loaf Cake

My Aunt Pat made this for me to celebrate my graduation. It's chocolate-y but not dense or fudgy. It has a light crumb and moist texture. The key ingredients: pudding and Bailey's and Vodka. :)

Overall, the trip went well – especially the part beyond the realm of food. :)

10 Things I Love About Flipper’s in Hayes Valley

18 Apr

Flipper's Sign

Flipper’s, A Gourmet Hamburger Place

482 Hayes St, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102
(415) 552.8880
Online Menu

There’s no denying it. Flipper’s is truly “a gourmet hamburger place”.

First of all: every single the burger is made of charbroiled ground chuck. And, all the unique burgers (with the fries/salad) are under $9. A decent price for some food that isn’t very common.

Second: you aren’t limited to just any plain old burger, cheeseburger, or “Big Mac”. The burgers come in so many different varieties with all unique names, like The Granny Flip (burger with eggplant, jack cheese, and tomato with their famous pesto sauce), the California Sunshine (a burger complete with aged cheddar cheese, avocado and alfalfa sprouts), and the Maui Treat (burger with Canadian bacon and pineapple with a teriyaki sauce glaze).

Mediterrean Chicken Burger

The Mediterranean Flavor Burger with eggplant, garlic and tomato, sauteed in olive oil

Not a burger fan? Then they also have chicken breast, turkey patty, veggie patty, and tofu patty available.

(Have I got your mouth watering yet? How about that imagination? The varieties are endless!)

Three: Their curly fries are so flavorful and crispy! I’ve been to some places where the fries are so dull and lifeless I feel bad for the poor things.

Four: Flipper’s serves breakfast all day and brunch specials until 4 pm! For breakfast, you can choose some kind of combination of two eggs (any style), sausage, bacon, or choritzo, and breakfast style potatoes with toast on the side. Their brunch specialties do seem to be various benedicts and florentines. The short and full stack of pancakes with optional blueberries are also on the menu as well as traditional french toast. And of course, there are omelets (the Greek, Denver, and Salsa are just a few).

Five: Got kids? They have a kids (12 & under) menu too. From what I saw, I believe there was a small burger (chicken, beef, or turkey), chicken tenders, breakfast special (pancake, egg, meat), and something else.

The Morning Blast
The “Morning Blast”: two eggs scrambled with chorizo, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and cheddar

Basically, a condense version of the full menu.

Six: Crepes, crepes, crepes. A small list (6, I think) of different savory crepes: chicken, eggplant, and vegetarian to name a few. The dessert crepes include the strawberry, Nutella, apple and cinnamon, and banana varieties.

Seven: When the weather is nice, Flipper’s has an outdoor garden area with sturdy tables and chairs shaded by personal umbrellas that you can eat in.

Eight: The waiting staff is very friendly! It’s nice to walk into a place that’s very accommodating and smiling. Not to mention that the servers do not hover while you eat your food so you don’t feel rushed.

Nine: There is a restroom! Okay, so this isn’t the most important thing about a restaurant, but it does come in handy when  you need one, especially today when it’s very hot and we had plans to walk around.

Ten: Once you’re done eating, you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the beautiful, boutique-filled Hayes Valley, home to Citizen Cake, La Boulange Bakery, Stacks, and more. There’s also a small little grassy square with this giant metal art structure in the center where you can hang out afterward.

So I shared this place with you because I had a good experience going here. I felt very comfortable here and enjoyed the food. Amazingly enough, though the food had lots of exotic creative names, there was a sort of home-style feel to it. I liked the fact that there were different kinds of people there too: families, couples of all ages, and cute excited dogs outside.

I’m not sure where you are, but in San Francisco, it’s beautiful and warm, so if you’re experiencing the same thing, enjoy it! If your weather is slightly gray, I’m sure it’ll get better soon. Spring is here and summer is coming soon.

Hopefully I’ll get to write more soon. I haven’t actually been baking this weekend because it’s too hot! I’ll try to get back in the kitchen sometime this week weather permitting.

Until next time~

Back from Los Angeles: Yogurtland, Kabuki Restaurant, Foxy’s Food

11 Apr

That’s right! I am back. I bet you didn’t even know I was gone, but that’s okay. I would just like to share some tidbits of the places I visited there while I was spending time with my Aunt and her family who live in Burbank. (For pictures of my family, please visit the About Me page).

As much I dislike Los Angeles because of the yellow smog, suffocating traffic, and the expanse of malls, I have to admit that I like to stay at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Glendale because it’s walking distance from little stores and shops much like Filmore Street or Hayes Valley in San Francisco.


The first day my mom and I arrived and we unpacked, we headed straight outdoors into the sunshine down the familiar street. We laughed and pointed out the places we had gone to months before – like Burbank Pastry – and sadly reminisced about the places that didn’t pass the test of time – a local Mexican restaurant closed. Before we knew it, we had arrived at my favorite dessert place there.My cup at Yogurtland

Now before, you say, “That’s an outrage! What kind of true foodie are you? You’re supposed to be for the small guy!”, I would like to say that we all have our weaknesses. This is mine: Yogurtland.

I know I have been blogging about independently-owned businesses, restaurants, bakeries, and the such, but I have this soft spot for Yogurtland. It’s partially because of the fact that there are no franchises in San Francisco – the closest Yogurtland is in Berkeley. I mean, just recently an Asian-chain called Quicklys has begun serving soft-served yogurt with basic toppings, but nothing quite like Yogurtland.

The second reason I love this Yogurtland is because this is where my mom and I ate Thanksgiving night when we came to Glendale (Los Angeles). We had celebrated Thanksgiving the night before at our place with my Aunt and then flew to LA on Thanksgiving day so that my Aunt could spend time with her autistic son. We wanted to give them space for their own private Thanksgiving so we decided to explore the boulevard where we found Yogurtland. We had never seen anything like it before and the $.30 per ounce of yogurt and toppings was a completely novel idea to us that we were hooked.

You can literally order exotic flavors like taro root or you can opt for more traditional flavors like strawberry, chocolate, and cookies-n-cream. Not sure of what to get? You can always ask for a sample cup.

So how it works is that you fill this large cup with whatever flavors of yogurt you want from soft-serve style machines and then top it with whatever you want. Then the cashier weighs it on their scale. (Unfortunately, they include the weight of the cup so I always feel slightly cheated. I wish they would zero the scale out or somehow subtract the weight of the average cup from the total weight at the end). My mom and I always choose the fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and a couple of mangoes. Occasionally, if the peaches are fresh (and not frozen), we pile on those too. Almonds make a very nice garnish as well.

It’s also nice to note that the spoons and napkins are biodegradable; they offer free water; and the place is air conditioned.

Have I convinced you yet?

Perhaps not, but it’s quite the experience to go to one so if you ever see one, I suggest you try it especially if the weather in 90 degrees and the sun is beating down on you relentlessly.

Kabuki Restaurant

The Dynamite at Kabuki

The Dynamite

For lunch on Friday, my mom and I stumbled across this Japanese restaurant called Kabuki. We had passed by it several times but every other time in the past years, it had been closed. Looking for some cold buckwheat or soba noodles, we entered it.

Salmon Nigiri and Saba NigiriChicken and Beef Teriyaki

Almost immediately, the cool air made us tingle all over before a hospitable young Asian woman greeted us with the expression, “Party of two?” We were seated in five minutes and had menus in our hand in less than six menus. The quick service was definitely impressive.

Unlike what we had originally wanted, we decided to get something different. I ended up getting the lunch combination of chicken and beef terriyaki. (Original, I know). My mom, however, ordered something more interesting: the Dynamite, Saba (Makerel) sushi, and Salmon sushi.

The Dynamite consists of baked clams, scallops, mushrooms, and vegetables in a special Kabuki mayo sauce. It has this spicy kick that makes you eat more of it. But the spice is not overpowering nor are the ingredients over cooked either. It’s a masterpiece of balance.

I’m sure I don’t have to mention it, but every dish was absolutely delicious. The beef was so tender and the sushi was so fresh.

One of the interesting things I noticed was the different rices you can order on the side: brown rice, sushi rice, and white rice.

Last Minute Mention: Foxy’s Restaurant

Since I was only in Los Angeles for three days and two nights, I didn’t have too much time to check out many foodie places of interest. I think we ate mostly at the hotel and at this family run business called Foxy’s, which had familiar home-style cooking. I wish I had brought my camera that night because it was a nice restaurant. It’s always the one restaurant we go to when we’re there.

The atmosphere is so cozy as well. The restaurant has two large fireplaces on either side of the cabin-like house and a nice courtyard for sunday brunch. Parking is also available so no looking for street parking.

My favorite is their grilled tilapia with garlic sauteed spinach. The roast chicken dinner is also very good. They also specialize in Mexican-style dishes. Truly this place is a restaurant of all trades.

So, I guess that’s it for my trip. Glad to be back for sure.

Never did get to plant my squash because it was raining when I wanted to, but look at this little guy! He bloomed while I was away! I planted him last year I think, but nothing ever started growing since January of this year.

Yellow Daisy

Yellow Daisy stretching to window

Welcome, Spring! :)

Rainy Adventure to San Francisco’s Ferry Building

24 Jan

Since my mom and I went to the Ferry Building two weeks ago, I could not wait to go back there again. When we first went, it was the Monday before school started back up again so there was no farmer’s market or arts & crafts tents. Plus it was mostly deserted. But, not this time.

This time there was the Walk for Life peace demonstration so the entire Embarcadero and Ferry Building area was jammed packed. The crowds were probably from the demonstration and because it was simply a Saturday. Weekends are when the farmers’ market and arts & crafts fair are set up and roaring to go. The rain did not prevent people from traveling to the Ferry Building either – it sure did not prevent us – it only forced all the crowds that would have been lounging outside into the building. It literally felt like walking through a New York subway! My head was spinning trying to take into the different sights, smells, and sounds.

Once inside and my head stopped spinning, I began to enjoy it. There were so many different kinds of people there: tourists (mostly Asian and Europeans), wet demonstrators, families with little kids and grandparents, and the young couples in their 20’s and 30’s. There were so many good smells coming from everywhere: the Ciao Bella gelatto place, Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop, San Francisco Fish Company, Farm Fresh to You, Far West Fungi, Stonehouse’s California Olive Oil, Imperial Tea Court, ACME Bread Company, Miette, and so much more. The whole directory can be found here.

I was actually surprised how busy and alive the Ferry Building was compared to the time we went there. The storekeepers of all the food shops were giving away samples like how Costco does. This one moment came when the flow of people stopped and across a couple of walking lanes I saw the Farm Fresh to You (grocery store). This older gentlemen with an apron on stood there next to a table with some kind of chocolate treats. He smiled and waved over my mom and I. It did not take much to attract us: it was simply the chocolate


Farm Fresh to You & CJ’s Bitz

CJ's Bitz: Hand Rolled in Toffee Chips (Original); sold at Farm Fresh to You

The grocer handed us a piece of toffee chocolate pretzel (the original flavor) and then when we smiled, nodded our heads that it was delicious, he handed us the peanut butter version which was the same thing but the pretzel was filled with peanut butter. As we stood there with our mouths glued shut with peanut butter, he proceeded to tell us about the white chocolate version with the peanut butter and without the peanut butter. Before we knew it, we agreed that the Original Flavor and the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate versions were the best. And indeed, they were! Which is why we bought a small bag of each kind for $5.99 each, which is a $1 cheaper than their online price here.

After we left the Farm Fresh to You with their delicious organic fruits and vegetables, we headed outside equipped with umbrellas where the real produce stands were. Unfortunately, none of the pictures that I took came out well because of the rain, but I have to say that it was a nice variety. There were organic pastas, breads, vegetables from all over the Bay Area, and even a rotisserie chicken place!  This I got a picture of. (I am a big fan of rotisserie chicken, by the way. I always buy one at my local Lucky’s).

DELICA: A Japanese Delicatessen

After coming back inside to dry off, it was about 11:30 am so everyone was lining up at all the restaurants. We already knew that we wanted to go to DELICA – rf1, a Japanese Delicatessen. (On their sign, it reads more like “Deli CA”). They serve what the Japanese call “bentos”, which are basically like lunch combinations for a special price. The original Japanese bentos consist of rice, chicken, beef, or pork, seaweed, and fruit. It is much like a school child’s lunch.

They do serve various deli items such as Roast Beef sushi, Organic Agedashi (“ah-geh-dah-she”) Tofu Steak, and a Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce. Their salads are superb fusions of their original counter parts. I tried the Hijiki and Soybean Salad, Spicy Burdock Salad, and the Spinach and Sesame Salad. Their Carrot Ginger soup had a delicious taste and slightly thick texture. They had samples of this soup, which is why we bought a cup of it. They also have different sushis and fried items, but we did not try those. If you want the full menu (PDF), go here, or (HTML) here.

Here are the photos our lunch.

Hijiki Rice Ball & Salmon and Sesame Rice Ball - $2

Lunch Plate Combination Displays (Food displays are a typical Japanese custom)

Cold Cases of Deli Items and To Go Foods

Roast Beef Sushi in the Deli case; Tofu and Chicken Patties got cut off

My take-out box: spinach and seasme salad, Hijiki and Soybean Salad, and Tofu-Chicken Pattie with Miso Sauce

Mom's Take Out Box: Spicy Burdock Root Salad, Steamed Rice, and Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce

Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce

Carrot Ginger Soup

Lunch Time Music: Jazz, courtesy of the Man with the Oboe

I tried to get a picture of the little girl, but at the last moment, the woman with the stroller moved in the way. But, just look at everyone's smiles!

While we were enjoying a delicious meal from DELICA, my mom and I opted to sit outside where we were shaded by the roof. Surprisngly, there were still a good number of people seated at similar wire tables and chairs. The best part of the lunch and the view was the beautiful jazz music played by this man on his oboe.

I am not too sure if he was homeless or if he was just playing to play, but he was nonetheless talented. He seemed to be in his 50’s, but his heart was of pure gold. He was smile and laugh as little kids were captivated by his music. When in the presence of any little kid, he usually switched from his jazz tunes to children tunes like “Old McDonald” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. He even made one little boy who was crying so loudly to quiet down and actually giggle. I am sure that the parents of the little boy were so happy. Another little girl was so delighted with him and his music that she started dancing in front of him. Her parents stood by watching their daughter interact with the friendly man.

ACME Bread Company

Because I knew that I could not pass up trying the ACME Bread Company because it was reccomended by Mr. Peter Reinhart himself, we headed there next even though we were quite full from DELICA’s lunch. But, I did try to save room so I was able to squeeze in one of their Teeny Rolls, a palm-sized piece of bread.

It should not come as a shock to know that when we got there, there was a line forming. We quickly go into line and waited to step up to the counter where all the bread displays were. While waiting, I was watching the bread makers in the back punching the dough, rolling it out, and then using the super-sized, commercial ovens.

Once at the counter, I was dazzled by the different types of breads that they were selling. I couldn’t really choose which ones to buy, but somehow the words “onion bread”, “pumpkin bread”, and “three teeny rolls, please” came out. While walking around, we munched on a teeny roll. It was the best bread I have ever tasted. It was not like a sourdough or a sweet french roll. It was soft, moist like a cake but not sweet, with a hint of salt. I swear that it was just like dessert except that it was a piece of bread.

Sur La Table

Here’s just a quick area of where I ended up. (Predictable, aren’t I?)

Oh, and just for you who do not know what “Sur La Table” is, it is a cookingware and bakingware store. I’ve taken classes at the Sur La Table downtown. It’s a good place to go.

I saw this linen napkin and couldn’t help but smile when I saw it too …

The Wrap Up

If you go to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, then you have you try these places:

I did not write about all of them, but these are my personal favorites. Of course do not forget the Weekend Farmer’s Market.

So, if you ever come to San Francisco, come to the Ferry Building. It is a foodie’s heaven! It’s better than Disneyland. :)

Out of the City: The Marin French Cheese Co & Pete’s Henny Penny, reviewed

8 Jan

Well as a last hoorah before I had to go back to school, my Uncle decided to treat my mom and I to a nice breakfast/lunch in Petaluma at this home-style restaurant: Pete’s Henny Penny. The ride up was nice enough with light traffic and the Golden Gate Bridge looking at spectacular as any bridge could look. I had my earbuds in listening to a mixture of Owl City and Taylor Swift (my two current favorites).

Pete’s Henny Penny, reviewed

4995 Petaluma Blvd N
Petalum, CA 94592

I have to say that I was delightfully surprised at Pete’s Henny Penny. Located just off Hwy101 and 116, this restaurant has no real competition except for Cattlemens Restaurant and Denny’s, which is right across the street from Pete’s. Why anyone would go to Denny’s except for Pete’s seems crazy to me.

Sausage Lentil Soup (cup size)

Pete’s Henny Penny is a wonderful, casual, home-style restaurant that serves breakfast all day. Best of all for those with children 12 and under, with one paying adult, one child (12&under) can order a free meal. There’s a special menu but it basically has all the typical foods like hamburgers, spaghetti, grilled cheese, breakfast items, and more. This restaurant is definitely dirt cheap – they serve a lot for the money. Your dollar will go far here.

Chicken Noddle Soup (yumm!)

This brings me to Pete’s next great point: large portion sizes. So maybe you’re traveling through Petaluma on Hwy101 and you want something to eat. You could go to Cattlemens, which I hear is a great steakhouse or if you have a craving for home-style meals, you can eat at Pete’s. Pete’s serves true American food like steaks, hamburgers, halibut filet, numerous sandwich varities, and great breakfast selections. The menu is so large, the portions so plenty, that you will leave stuffed and your wallet fuller. If you don’t want to have such a large portion, they even have specials that are half the size, and half the price. I think their motto should be “Have it your way” except I believe that that slogan is already taken. :P

A House Specialty: Fried Chicken - a must try!

As an added bonus, Pete’s customers and waiters/watresses are friendly and down to earth. The whole atmosphere is relaxing and casual. And now, Pete’s is open 24 hours! Great service all day and all night. It’s simply perfect for road trips. I am definitely stopping by if I ever go past Petaluma again. And as a rule, you must must must try their Fried Chicken. It is simply divine: crunchy, crispy, flavor-packed but not too spicy, and the chicken is moist and tender. Their Charbroiled Chicken is tasty too.

Another House Specialty: Charbroiled Chicken

The Marin Countrysde & M.A.L.T.

So after we had breakfast-lunch at Pete’s Henny Penny, the Uncle took us through the Marin countryside where the farms were under the protection of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT). The terms of the MALT consist of “an agricultural conservation easement [which] is a legal agreement between a landowner and Marin Agricultural Land Trust that prohibits non-agricultural residential or commercial development, subdivision, and uses or practices which would be destructive to the agricultural value of the land. The easement is recorded, and future owners are bound by its terms in perpetuity. The land remains privately owned and on the tax rolls.” The whole idea behind the MALT organization established in the early 1970s was to prevent any commercial development in that area. Personally, I’m glad that the Marin ranchers and environmentalists did this because without MALT, I would not have been able to see the beautiful, breath-taking landscape.One Lane Road in Main Countryside

Marin Farmhouse

Laguna District School Est. 1906

Laguna District School Est. 1906 - one room schoolhouse

It’s a beautiful thing that the MALT has done. I felt as if I had traveled back in time. Who knew Marin had these farms tucked and hidden away? I mean, it’s not often that you see a “Cattle Xing” sign.

The Marin French Cheese Co.

7500 Red Hill Rd., Petaluma, CA 94952

The Marin French Cheese Co.Well, when we finally neared the end of our tour in the countryside, we stumbled upon The Marin French Cheese Co. famous for its cheese tours. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday when we came so there were no tours. (Tours are usually Mon-Fri only).

I have to say that we were caught so off guard when we saw the giant sign sticking out in the distance. When we approached the sign, we saw that it was on a property that also contained a medium-sized man-made lake with picnic tables, a simple farmhouse, and then a long building in the back. The Uncle recognized it immediately.

“It’s the Marin Cheese Factory! I’ve only been here one other time about 10 years ago. I could never figure out how to get back here!”

He immediately pulled over and before I knew it, we were inside asking if they had their daily tours. Unfortunately, as I have said, they did not because it was a Saturday. Darn. But their store was very interesting too. The store was quaint and sold different kinds of cheeses that they personally make there as well as several shelves of jams and jellies, a small room with historical pictures of the cheese-making process and fresh bread and bread supplies. It was heaven.

Between the three of us, we ended up buying a small wooden cheese cutting board engraved with their logo, a small cheese knife, a tall glass jar with a sourdough starter inside, a bread bag, a tote bag with a cow on it, and one of their famous cheeses. We had crackers at home and we were planning to veg out that night with our new goodies. :)

James and Jellies at Marin Cheese Co.

Homemade Cheeses from Marin French Cheese Co.

French Bread at Marin Cheese Co.

Last Summer Getaway: Nick’s Restaurant (at Pacifica), reviewed

4 Sep

Well, as I’m sure you have realized by now, I’m not posting as much as I used too. But I’m making the effort!

About a week ago last Sunday, I went to dinner with my mom and Uncle. The weather was scorching hot and the city was just not the place to be. Where to go when the weather’s being a real bugger? One word: Pacifica.

Why go to Pacifica? It’s less than 35 minutes away, has good restaurants and shops, and the beach! (duh!) Need I say more? :)

My family and I have a personal favorite when we go to Pacifica though. We always head to Rockaway Beach, about an extra mile or two away from the heart of Pacifica. At Rockaway Beach, you can find a small little romantic town with small shops with some restaurants both fancy and casual. The cuisine ranges from American to Mexican to Italian. Regrettably, there’s not much in this area, but we keep coming back for big reason: Nick’s Restaurant near the Sea Breeze Motel.

Nick’s Restaurant

At Rockaway Beach, Pacifica
near the Sea Breeze Motel
Off of Hwy 1

Nick’s Restaurant is good for families and first dates! The tables have white table cloths and candles are automatically placed on tables when the sun goes down. There are large windows that face the beach which is perfect when the sun sets. The colors illuminate the room creating this really good feel to it.

Another great thing about this restaurant is that it has a full-service bar and dance floor equipped with a real stage for real bands. You can rent this space out for parties and events. It’s pretty cool since it’s separated from the fancy white tables. Check out the band calendar here.

As for the food, you will not (and I repeat) will not be disappointed. It’s impossible. If you are, well then, you’re just not human. I’ve come here for their breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I can honestly say that everything was really delicious, tasty, and well worth the effort of the drive down. I recommend their Onion Rings, hamburger, and any of the breakfast. Click here for their menus.

The last time I went there I was craving dinner. And since they have their own parking lot, which is another good thing, we were able to walk inside quickly. The only bad thing about this place is that it’s greatness is not a secret especially when you have tourists from the Sea Breeze Motel eating there. If you get there after 6:30 pm, you will have to wait. Come any time before then, and you’re set. Of course, once tourist season dies down, you can probably be seated in no time. We had to wait 30 minutes, but let me tell you, the food is worth it!

I and the Uncle ended up ordering their Chicken Picatta.

Chicken Picatta – $15 (roughly)

Two breasts of chicken served with wild rice, sauteed green beans, and capers in a delicious lemon sauce

Two breasts of chicken served with wild rice, sauteed green beans, and capers in a delicious lemon sauce

My mom ordered their Broiled Salmon Filet. Mhmm…good! Since they are near the ocean, they get all their fish fresh! Indulge in the goodness!

Broiled Salmon Filet – $16 (roughly)

Salmon filet served with wild rice, sauteed vegetables, and tartar sauce

Salmon filet served with wild rice, sauteed vegetables, and tartar sauce

Overall, I was not disappointed with their dinner! It was fantastic and worth the wait. With the view, lovely ambience and pleasant servers, you cannot beat Nick’s Restaurant at Rockaway Beach off of Hwy 1. It’s a bit pricey compared to the diner style Mexican restaurant next door, but it has good satisfying food. Plus, the entrees pretty much all come with their famous garlic bread! For a weekend getaway, you can always stay at the Sea Breeze Motel, eat at Nick’s, and then head to the beach to relax. :)

Hope you’re summer was/has been good to you! Enjoy it while it lasts!

A Hidden Gem in Mill Valley: Mountain Home Inn & Restaurant, reviewed

13 Aug

Today was just so full of surprises. And I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t like surprises, not from most people at least. Only certain people know exactly what I want and can surprise me real good. However, this time, it was a pleasant surprise.

I made plans to have lunch with my Uncle today, but we had agreed to go a new local Bay Area favorite (Seal Rock Inn Restaurant) that I had found that served good food that was well-priced, had plenty of free parking, and was located near the Ocean Beach. I was prepared to go there, but when my Uncle showed up today, he told me that he had decided to take me to a new place near his home in Mill Valley. At first, I wasn’t too thrilled about it because I had been ready to try the Turkey Burger at the ocean favorite.

Halfway into the drive, my mind wasn’t about to be changed either. It was a nice view of beautiful trees and a view of the bay and ocean, but I was still sulking about the Turkey Burger and the convenience near my home. I didn’t let on though because my uncle was super excited to bring me here. He started talking about all the different hikes and backpacking trips he’d been on when he was in his 30s.

Mountain Home Inn

810 Panoramic Hwy
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Once I saw the restaurant (and you’ll know when you see it because it’s the only restaurant in the area), I was completely surprised – in a good way. It looked like a modern cabin though I knew for sure that it was not a new place because my uncle had eaten there 10 or so years ago. I was quite astonished.

The restaurant inside was small with a bar a about two small areas with tables, but the best place to sit outside on a sunny day like today was outside on the deck. Since it was a clear day, we had a beautiful view of the bay near Mill Valley on one side and another view of beautiful trees in the state park (not sure which one) near Mt. Tam on the other side. I was impressed (and relieved because I was starting to get a bit dizzy from the winding trail we took), but not quite won over yet. The restaurant could be as picturesque as it was, but serve crappy food.

The view of the front of the inn from the deck
The view of the front of the inn from the deck
The view of the bay and trees. I angled it badly, but from other tables you can see the bay better too

The view of the bay and trees. I angled it badly, but from other tables you can see the bay better too

The one-sided menu was simple and straight ford with a bits of variety here and there. There was about 3 different kinds of salads from your classic ceasar to an asian pear salad to their house salad. For lunch, the menu seemed to focus on their Niman Ranch hamburgers that, for extra, you could add bacon, sauteed mushrooms, or even onions. The hamburger starts off at $12 with fries so it’s up to you to add anything else. Here’s their lunch menu, but this is actually slightly different from what they had today.

We were served water in a beautiful wine bottle with a mint leaf in it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Mint Water served in a wine bottle

Mint Water served in a wine bottle

Mint Water Leaf Close-Up

Mint Water Leaf Close-Up

I ended up ordering their Soup of the Day: Corn Chowder and their Turkey Club (not on the online menu above).

Corn Chowder -- $7
Corn Chowder — $7

Turkey Club Sandwich (comes with cole slaw and house potato chips) -- $10
Turkey Club Sandwich: served on thick, toasted Texas toast; comes with cole slaw and house potato chips; house salad for extra $2.5— $10

My uncle decided to order their Niman Ranch Burger with french fries. I didn’t try the burger, but it looked so good with the grilled cross-lines on it and everything! Take a look!

Niman Ranch Burger with fries, fruit, and pesto mayo --- $12

Niman Ranch Burger with fries, fruit, and pesto mayo --- $12

If you’ve read the description of the Niman Ranch Burger, then you’ll realize that I said “pesto mayo”. You may find that interesting or just plain disgusting. If that’s so, then you’ll be glad to know that this is not their usual mayo. For those of you who love pesto mayo or who’d like to try it, then you’ll be glad to know that you can ask for it. The waiter will tell you that they don’t serve it, but that they have their homemade pesto sauce and that you can mix it with the mayo on the side. Do this and you’ll get a lovely pesto mayo.


the experience at the Mountain Home Inn was a pleasant surprise. Their lunch was very good. All of this for $28 including tax. I couldn’t believe the price (after experiencing three bad sandwiches and two desserts at Mel’s Drive In for $68; no, I didn’t eat it all myself either :] ). The menu was simple but definitely satisfying. It embodied all the essential parts of any menu. It’s like a fancy restaurant menu stripped down to the bare – but delicious – core.

The drive is only 25 minutes from the city part of Mill Valley and about 45 minutes – 1 hr away from Sea Cliff and Outer Richmond in San Francisco. It’s also an inn obviously hence the name “Mountain Home Inn” and if you stay, you get a complimentary breakfast too! So, if you’re looking for great food, hiking near Mount Tam, or a romantic weekend getaway, go here.

Eatting Out Asian Style: “On the Bridge”, “Balboa Teriyaki”, and “Pagan Restaurant”

24 Jul

If you’ve been reading my other posts, you’ll realize that the other two restaurants (Caffe Italia and Perry’s) are Italian and American. “Where are the Asian restaurants?” you might be asking. And well, here you go. :)

After a tired night of working, my friend and I decided to eat out in SF’s Japantown on the bridge at the “On the Bridge” restaurant. (I do love the name, don’t you?)

On the Bridge (Literally)

SF Japantwon


Not my photo, from yelp.

It’s fun and ‘hip’, but good for all ages. The chairs are all different neon colors, Japanese comic books line one of the walls, Japanese stuffed animal sit on the back counter, and Japanese movies (with subtitles) always playing on the tvs overhead. Counter seats and tables for two and four are available.

What We Ordered:

Well, the food always come in great presentation. See more photos here.

Grilled Plate: Vegetable Saute – $9.95

Served on a sizzling hot plate with rice.

Mhm…Yummy… :)

Vegetable Curry with Rice – $10.95

Basically the same ingredients as the sizzling vegetable saute, but with a medium spicy Japanese curry sauce. If you’ve never had a Japanese curry, I’ll try to explain. it’s a mild curry compared to Indian and Thai curries; it’s more mild, but there are different levels of spiciness. Medium is best. Mild is good for young kids. There is no strong smell and no strange after taste. The best curry to me.

This is one of my favorite places to go. I’ve been going here since I was four.I don’t think I’ll be stopping any time soon. :)

But honestly, it’s a pretty good price for the amount that you get. There was no curry leftovers, but there was for the sizzling plate. Good service, very friendly and prompt. Cute ambiance and good selection of foods like Japanese pastas (Neapolitan spaghetti and salmon roe noddles, I think) some kind of Japanese pizza, Au Grains, and traditional Japanese selections. I’ve yet to try the Au Grain and Pizza, but I’ve heard it’s good. I love the menu.

Balboa Teriyaki

The Outer Richmond’s Version of Japanese Cuisine

I call it fate or perhaps even destiny that the next day my other friend – who was also taking the summer school course earlier with me – wanted to go have lunch at a Japanese place. I wanted to laugh over the phone when she asked me because I couldn’t believe my luck. However, when she suggested Balboa Teriyaki I knew that I had nothing to fear.

Recently under a new management, this place has only gotten better. With the new management, the menu was the same with the addition of more sushi, don buri, and bento box options. The outside changed too; there’s now a lit picture menu like at the McDonald’s Drive Thru menu. This was slightly strange to me, but as long as the food is good, then it’s fine with me.

Japanese style booths are available as well as tables for four. Japanese decor and the uniforms of the waitresses too. Good for dates, I suppose. But not a fine dining restaurant.
Ambiance: 4/5

Wonderful! We were given their Spicy Tuna Roll, Fried Shrimp Skewers, and Edamame (soft-shelled Japanese beans) for free! The waitress was nice and very accommodating too. I’ve gone here before and gotten free green tea ice cream for our party of three. This time, it was a party of 6. The more people you bring the bigger free items you get…so I hear. :)
Service: 5/5

What We Ordered:

Edameme Beans

Shrimp Skewers

Bento Box: Chicken Teriyaki + Beef Teriyaki – $8.50

Ha..Ha.. Why’s the chicken and beef naked? Well, that’s my fault. I don’t like sauce so I asked for it on the side. Otherwise, the presentation would have looked a lot better.
The bento box comes with your choice of two items, four California rolls, a salad, and miso soup, all for $8.50 at lunch time.

Chicken Katsu – $7.95

From Balboa Teriyaki

Unagi Don – $7.95

Try comparing this to the On the Bridge’s Unagi Don pictured above.

Spicy Tuna Roll

Go here. And quickly. Run! The food is great, service is wonderful, and you never know what kind of free food they’ll give you. Decently authentic Japanese food. Good portions for price.

The bad thing I noticed was that my chicken and beef were pretty scrawny if you look at it.

I’d expect for meat please!

Pagan Restaurant
(at 3199 Clement Street, SF)

This is another good Outer Richmond restaurant. It’s like a hidden gem in this residential neighborhood. On the more quieter side of Clement Street, this restaurant is located on a strip of Clement that has two other small cafes, the Lincoln Golf Course and Playground, and a few other shops and restaurants including a belly dancing restaurant. It can be said that in time, this once quiet street will be bustling with tourists and others from all over the city as this restaurant is discovered.

The dress is casual, but it still feels like a nice restaurant. Definitely good for dates and groups 12 people or less.

There is a big room (shown) and smaller, more private area too.

What We Ordered:

Ginger Salad (Thai) – $7.95

When the salad comes to the table, all the ingredients are separated and the server will explain each one and then toss it right in front of you. Seeing the swirls of colors go ’round and ’round are quite the crowd pleasers, but the taste is exquisite. This particular salad has dried soy beans/edamame beans, peanuts, fried ginger, and fried garlic slices. It’s a very “crunchy” salad with a ginger flavor that doesn’t overpower it. — 5/5

Chicken Thai Fried Rice

Tasty and delicious. It’s not too oily, but this is fried rice so it’s not completely out of the ‘oil’ woods. However, definitely not too much oil. I have no complains. –4.75/5

Spicy Eggplant w/Beef, Bell Peppers, Basil, Garlic -$8.25

Simply the best thing that night. This paired with the rice was great. All the Thai spices with the beef, eggplant, bell peppers, green chilis – you can ask for mild – and the basil make a wonderful dish. —- 5/5

Low Carb Pad Thai – $7.95

The only difference between this dish and their regular Pad Thai is the noodles. I’m not how to explain it, but I’ll try. These seem like the same “glass noddles” that are in the Filipino pancit bihon noodles. But anyhow, if you’re not picky about your noodles, then the dish is basically the same; nothing else has changed.

Personally, I like Pad Thai, but sometimes there’s just too much oil used in the general process. Here is no different but there’s not a large amount either. It’s your typical oil amount.

Good prices for the amount. For all those dishes plus two hot teas, the bill was about $46 (not including tip). I have yet to explore the curries and other appetizers like the platha. (I have tried the samosas which is good. No photo though). With a separate Thai menu and Burmese menu, there is a whole lot to try. Great for all ages.

For dessert, they also have a typical fried banana with coconut ice cream. ($4.50)

I hope this helps you when you go out to eat “Asian style” in San Francisco. Overall, my favs were On The Bridge and the Pagan Restaurant though the freebies from Balboa Teriyaki wasn’t too bad either.

Walking + Friends + Perry’s Restaurant = Great Day

20 Jul

I seem to have so much energy, don’t I? How do I get myself into these things? Haha. Yesterday I’m with my friend touring UC Davis and now today, I go participate in the annual Aids Walk. Between the two days, I’ve walked about 10 miles. I’ve got a blister on my foot now and a mean suntan to prove for it. I think I’ve gotten more exercise in the last two days than the last month and a half I’ve been at school. But no problem, today was so much fun.

I was a part of a team that raised over $900 for the Aids Walk. We had been planning to do this walk ever since April so we were excited for today. I unknowingly placed the two “walking” days together, but I’m still alive so all is well. I managed to survive the walk with all the volunteer cheerers and freebies – ice cream, fruit, granola bars, croissants, hot dogs, and hamburgers – all the way as well as afterwards. I don’t have any photos of the trip (I’m sorry!) because I forgot that I had brought my camera. All I can say is that it was a fun event and worth the stupid blister on my foot.

After leaving Golden Gate Park, about four of us decided to go get some lunch on Union Street near Filmore Street. It’s a cute area with endless boutiques, restaurants, cafe’s, and salons. The perfect “yuppy” area, I suppose. My friend recommended a place that she used to go to before: Perry’s. Apparently there was another Perry’s in the city at a hotel, but this was the original.

From the outside it hardly looked any different from all the other stylish cafes in the area so this made me wonder how it managed to stay in business. In fact, I wondered how any of the cafes stayed in business as each cafe and restaurant looked so good and appealing. My thoughts were confirmed as I saw at least one “For Lease” sign every block. However, I was sure that if Perry’s managed to survive a long time even during the drooping economy, it was must something special.

Perry’s Restaurant on Union Street, SF

Ambiance: Nice and quirky, much like like Caffe Italia. Cool historic San Francisco pictures and iconic figures like James Dean and sports related artwork. There is a outdoor seating, a bar inside with some tables in that room, a small hallway that leads to the back where there are more seats and a small outdoor area lit by sunlight. That’s where we sat. There’s a small upstairs for a few more seats and the restrooms. Definitely charming.

My friend claimed that it had been there for 40 years, and it was confirmed when we came to the table.

What we ordered:

Perry’s Club Sandwich – $10.95

roasted turkey with Hobbs bacon; plus a side of fries or sweet potato fries

The Baby Spinach Salad – $8.95
with pears, candied walnuts, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

Side of Sweet Potato Fries -$4.50
Seriously, you need to try these. Instead of bland french fries, you get a sweet and slightly salty treat. Good for Perry’s, it served the fries without all the extra grease. These were so crispy!
The Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich – $10.75
with green and red peppers, slices of yellow squash, and mozzarella cheese, and pesto sauce (versus mayo)

Reasonable (especially for the area), but definitely not cheap or what I consider a “bargain”.


Good place to eat. But I’d like to check out the other cafes in the area as well.