ramen and pickles

science, technology, and medicine served up with some tasty noodles

RIP Leonard Nimoy, Ramen Aficionado

mr_spock




Peninsula Ethnic Grocery Stores

I thought it might be worth going through some of the grocery stores in the Mt View-Cupertino area which specialize in particular cuisines.

For Chinese (and a bit pan-Asian, including Filipino), the 99 Ranch chain is the largest.   There is one in Mt View:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/99-ranch-market-mountain-view-2, there is also Japanese grocery store (Nijiya) in easy walking distance, that has lots of prepared food as well: http://www.yelp.com/biz/nijiya-market-mountain-view

However, if you want to go a little bit further south, there is a very large complex of mostly Chinese shops, including another 99 Ranch down in Cupertino, in Cupertino Village:  http://www.cupertino.org/index.aspx?page=781

If you want a larger Japanese grocery, tea shops, sushi shop, ramen shop, gyoza shop, Japanese bookstore, Japanese bakery, and Daiso, then you can try this place in northern San Jose:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/mitsuwa-marketplace-san-jose
http://www.yelp.com/biz/strawberry-park-san-jose

If you want a Korean strip mall, with grocery store, home goods stores, food court, etc, then on El Camino, just after the Lawrence Expressway, there is this place: http://www.yelp.com/biz/lawrence-plaza-food-court-santa-clara-2

Although, for just groceries (and a fancy Korean BBQ place next to it), just a little bit before on the other side of the road there is also the very large Hankook Market: http://www.yelp.com/biz/hankook-supermarket-sunnyvale

For South Asian, probably the most fully stocked (with nearby businesses like a sweet shop, ice cream shop, sari store, etc.) this is probably your best bet: http://www.yelp.com/biz/india-cash-and-carry-sunnyvale

A little bit up the street is a similarly named, but quite a bit tidier and more low key Indian place:  http://www.yelp.com/biz/bombay-cash-and-carry-sunnyvale

For Persian groceries and halal meats (and prepared foods), there is this the Rose Market.  You get your kebabs from literally a hole in the wall:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/rose-international-market-mountain-view

For a more Arabic halal market, this place is decent:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/baraka-halal-market-and-grill-sunnyvale
There’s also an awesome Pakistani restaurant right next to it, which is a bit like a nicer version of Naan-N-Curry. It’s worth visiting not only for the food, but also the giant portrait of Dumbledore.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/shah-restaurant-sunnyvale

Happy shopping (and eating!)



Goma-Tei Ramen, Honolulu

At first I was a little skeptical about Goma-Tei, given that the pictures showed what looked to be the kind of ramen that tries to compensate for real flavor by adding a lot of hot pepper and only uses cooked eggs.   However, I was pleasantly surprised.  The shoyu broth that I got was quite good.  Usually when you get pork, you either get cubes or thinner slices, here there were round pieces of chashu, but cut like thick cubes.  The pork was melt-in mouth soft, and very good.  The picture below is midway through eating to give an impression of how robust the pieces were.  Add-ins were otherwise mostly unremarkable, at least with what I got.  There were options that came with more veggies on the menu.

However, one thing that really stands out here was the gyoza.  They were just incredibly fresh and homemade tasting, with visible pieces of green and white onion.  Given the “char siu” spelling for the pork and the taste of the gyoza (which were a bit more like Chinese pan fried dumplings); the Chinese influence is manifest.  However, it’s a tasty place to get some noodle soup, and some excellent pan fried pork dumplings.

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Yotteko-Ya, Honolulu

On the second floor of a small plaza packed with Asian restaurants on Kapiolani Blvd, there is the the very delicious Yotteko-Ya.  We went on a Saturday evening, and there was no waiting for a table in the small restaurant.  The food was absolutely delicious.

There are a range of broths there, including a very good paitan (white/milky broth) broth shown below.

Yotteko-Ya Paitan Ramen

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The Katsuo-dashi broth was quite good as well, if of course, a lot lighter than the paitan.  The chashu and veggies were very good.  One nice element is that they give you an option of a firmer or softer noodle.  Firmer, chewier noodles are more characteristic of ramen overall, but a softer noodle is closer to local Hawaiian saimin and more Kyoto style.  However, I went with a firm noodle, just because that’s my favorite.   Overall, very good ramen.  I would have maybe like to see some more add-ins, like a nice egg on the menu, but I was very happy and I would love to eat at this place again.  Those who live nearby are very fortunate.

It is worth noting that their gyoza are quite tasty as well.

However, I think an important thing to add about the Yotteko-Ya experience is that the front of the menu makes some very strong health claims.  I am certainly biased towards hoping to believe in them, but it is claimed that the collagen rich broth will help keep skin and joints young.

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Torshi Pickles

If you’re looking for a spicy pickle that will go well with a range of cuisines, I’d recommend you take a look at the “Hot Marinated Vegetables” from Sadaf.   It’s a spicy version of Persian torshi pickles.  There is cabbage, peppers, carrot, cabbage, parsley, cilantro, mint, and garlic in a vinegar base.

The aromatic herbs give it a good fresh, herbal, fresh note.  However, it is very spicy, so if you can’t handle capsaicin, beware.  You could mix this in with a mild giardiniera if its too spicy on its own.

These would pair well with Persian food of course, but also middle eastern food in general, Indian food, or as a spicy relish for a European meat and potatoes type of meal.   It is chopped fine enough that you could use it as a relish on a hot dog or sausage in a  bun or as a sandwich/burger spread.

It’s pictured here in the middle.  On the right is one of my favorite torshis, Sima’s Mixed Vegetables.   This is my second or third jar of this stuff from Sima Foods.   It seems like a very high quality product, with a nice and rich, subtle flavor.  It’s nicely packaged, in a manner that makes it look something like the artisinal Bay Area foods.    Overall, I also highly recommend the Sima mixed vegetable pickles.  It is not spicy like the Sadaf, and it’s chopped into larger chunks, but it’s quite good and great pairing for not only Persian food, but things like a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, stuffing and gravy.

Also pictured are some homemade pickles: curried cauliflower with garlic and some dill green beans.

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Mt Olive Bread & Butter

I saw this Mt Olive brand of pickles and thought I should grab some, if only because I loved the name so much.  Nothing says tasty brine like the word olive, and I love that is from a town actually called Mt Olive in North Carolina.

 

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I got the Bread & Butter pickles, as I’ve been on a bit of a kick for them lately.   I had some of Bubbies Bread & Butter left over from the second jar of those that I got, so I could compare them head to head.  The Mt Olive brand was a little bit sweeter, although overall it seemed less complex, it didn’t have some of the additional rich bits of peppery flavor that the Bubbies had.  So I’m going to have to go with having the Bubbies being the winner for the Bread & Butter pickles.

As a side note, I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the Bubbies little kosher dills.  But I will save that an a review of some these delicious Japanese pickles for another day.

 

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Happy Girl Kitchen, Bread ‘n Butter

These are the bread and butter style pickles from Happy Girl Kitchen.   They are pretty tasty, with a nice sweetness.  Lots of sweet onion in there.   Overall, they are good.  I like what Happy Girl Kitchen has going on, and I like visiting their store.  They serve some good vegetarian food, with a rotating set of different things available for lunch, and then even make beverages like lemonade.  However, this small pickle jar was $8, and I’m not sure I can really rationalize that long term.  If that price point is not a deterrent, then they are definitely worth a try.

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Claude Shannon & Theseus the Artificial Mouse, Dawn of Machine Learning

I found this great video featuring Claude Shannon, and his artificial mouse Theseus, named for the Greek hero who slayed the Minotaur in the Labyrinth, one of the earliest examples of machine learning.

http://techchannel.att.com/play-video.cfm/2010/3/16/In-Their-Own-Words-Claude-Shannon-Demonstrates-Machine-Learning

The mouse is able to learn how to solve the maze.  Apparently, Shannon started getting involved down this track of making small robot like devices after his wife bought him a giant erector set as a present.



Paparazzi Protection, Snapchat IRL

Suppose that you’re out having a wild time in Vegas and don’t want to end up in anyone’s pictures.  There is now a device for that.  I couldn’t find anything more than the Fast Company brief overview, but the basic idea is that the device detects the infrared used by cameras (often used for range finding I guess) and then produces a bright counter flash in the IR spectrum to overexpose and prevent a picture from being taken.

Overall, I am a bit skeptical of how efficacious this will be for most cameras, which include pretty strong IR filters already.   Although, apparently sometimes they only have a filter in one of their cameras.  It is also likely that fancy trickery with HDR photography would help resolve the bright part (as it is emitting IR light which is going up and getting reflected off the face as well.

Anyway, it’s an interesting concept, and the general problem of preventing imaging is an interesting challenge.   Maybe we don’t have invisibility suits, but we may develop ways of being invisible on the ubiquity of imaging technology.  Or at least we may have an escalation of technology on that front.   Given the concern people have for ubiquitous surveillance and things like Google Glass, I wonder what other technological attempts at privacy may arise.

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Yelp Reviews vs Michelin Reviews

There is a nice analysis at FiveThirtyEight by Nate Silver which looked at how Michelin reviews restaurants compared to how Yelp does.  They were able to look at the restaurants which have or had a Michelin star in the past few years.  Do Yelp reviews predict whether a restaurant will lose a star?  Which restaurant will gain a star?  Does the Michelin guide have a bias against non French/European cuisine?  What about Yelp?

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/yelp-and-michelin-have-the-same-taste-in-new-york-restaurants/

Yelp vs Michelin Guide

 


 


 

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