Blog Archives

Vietnamese Garlic Noodles with Shrimp

Noodle dishes are very comforting.  Easy to cook and even easier to eat, they’re great for when someone in the house isn’t feeling all that well.  Pick up the flavor by adding lots of garlic, and this tasty recipe is an immune booster.

vietnamese garlic noodles with shrimp

vietnamese garlic noodles with shrimp

Serves 2

12 oz. of chow mein noodles

1/2 lb. of peeled and deveined shrimp

1/4 cup of butter

1/4 cup of minced garlic

3 tbs. of oyster sauce, divided in 2 tbs. and 1 tbs.

1 tbs. of peanut oil, plus 2 tsp.

1 tbs. of soy sauce

1 tbs. of toasted sesame seeds (optional garnish)

Pinch of chopped cilantro (also optional as a garnish)

Heat a wok (or large saute pan) over medium heat.  Add the butter and 1 tbs. of peanut oil, melting the butter and heating both.  Add the garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally with a plastic or wooden spatula.  Add 2 tbs. of oyster sauce and soy sauce, cook for an additional 30 seconds.

breaking up - tossing - agitating

breaking up – tossing – agitating

Add the chow mein noodles and, constantly tossing and agitating, break them apart with spatulas.  Stir so that they get coated with the sauce as they heat.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes until heated through; set aside on serving plate(s).

Reheat the wok with any remaining juices over medium-high heat, and add the remaining 2 tsp. of peanut oil to heat it for about 30 seconds.  Toss in the shrimp and cook while stirring for 1 minute.  Add 1 tbs. of oyster sauce and cook for an additional 45 seconds to 1 minute until the shrimp are cooked through.

Place the shrimp on top of the noddles, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Off the Grid, Belmont CA

Monday + holiday = impossible to find an open restaurant.  Thankfully we have Off the Grid, where tonight in Belmont, we got to try the fare of four new trucks.  Off the Grid provides space, seating, music, and waste services for food trucks to have an area to congregate, and with so many people staying home on this Monday holiday, we breezed through the event with tiny-to-no lines.

Cheese Gone Wild serves exactly what the name describes.  The Alcatraz Island Melt looked most tempting to us: grilled flank steak with homemade balsamic steak sauce, caramelized grilled onions and mushrooms, imported Gruyere and Swiss cheeses, on organic shepherd-style white bread.  The tender beef had a nice acidity from the balsamic glaze, and the sweet onions balanced the palate so it didn’t go too far into savory.  There was just the right amount of cheese so as not to overpower the other ingredients.  Held together between slices of buttery grilled bread, this was sumptuous but far from greasy.  All sandwiches come with kettle chips and cole slaw, which we thought was very fresh and crunchy with a creamy mayonnaise base.  The lemonade with real strawberries had some pulp, not just blended juice.  With more strawberry than lemon flavor, there was little citrus to make your lips pucker, so it was more like a strawberrade.

Roli Roti has spread across the Bay Area and can be found at farmers’ markets all over, but it was our first time bumping into the mobile rotisserie van.  “Serving only sustainably-farmed meats and organic produce at their seasonal best,” as per the website, Roli Roti has secured its spot honorably among those markets.

We got a half of a chicken to split between us, because it doesn’t take much food to be satisfied when it’s quality.  The meat was supremely moist and juicy with a flavorful herbed skin.  To go with it, we ordered a small batch of fingerling potatoes.  These were soft and salted just right with sea salt, but the nicely caramelized skins with rosemary put them a step above.

Providing a few specialties tonight as a detour from their standard menu, Little Green Cyclo impressed us with their Vietnamese treatment of meats.  Locally sourced, all natural, or organic when possible, we appreciate those who put thought into real food.  While Zach enjoyed the first few bites of the wagyu beef and rice vermicelli without the sweet vinegar sauce, it was the sauce that made all the difference in enhancing the noodles, vegetables, and beef itself.  The beef was lean and tender, clearly high quality, and though it was seasoned well, that vinegar sauce was magical.  The duck confit spring rolls had the same vermicelli that was firm but gummy (in a good way).  The fresh veggies provided crispness, but the salty duck gave the spring rolls some meaty crunchiness.  The peanut sauce on the side was smooth and sweet, making for an all-around refreshing and light item.

We didn’t have any savory, but we loaded up on sweet from the Pacific Puffs Puff Truck.  There’s regular size and mini size, but we couldn’t resist – go big or go home, right?  Well, we were going to go home after this stop, so we went big and then went home.  The “classic” was filled with a rich vanilla cream and dipped in chocolate ganache that was dark and almost fudge-like.  The “chocolatier sugar” had a mild chocolate cream filling and light dusting of powdered sugar.  With the same chocolate dip as the “classic,” the special “smores” also had marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs pushed into the top with marshmallow cream inside.  The marshmallow cream had a texture somewhat looser than whipped cream and a delicate marshmallow flavor that didn’t overwhelm the pastry.

With the Bay Bridge closure until tomorrow morning we anticipated much more traffic, but getting to and exploring Off the Grid was easy and fun.  Twice we’ve visited the Belmont location, and twice we’ve left happy and satisfied.

Doggy Style Hot Dogs, Alameda CA

doggy style

doggy style

July 23 is National Hot Dog Day.  It’s also Woody Harrelson, Slash, and Daniel Radcliffe’s birthday, so of course we celebrated with the most unique hot dogs we could find in the Bay Area (apart from making our own).  Doggy Style Hot Dogs in Alameda serves Asian fusion hot dogs, drawing from the cuisines of many cultures.  They say on their website that they “are second to none in [their] innovative style” and after trying six styles of doctored kosher beef frankfurter hot dogs, we agree.

all american

all american

All dogs come on the same seeded French roll, soft and grilled.  There are many links to choose from, like linguica, calabrese, and veggie, but being National Hot Dog Day, we had to stick strictly to classic frankfurters.  Doggy Style uses links made by a local company with decades of experience, and we tasted a finely tuned recipe for quality meat.  Large, smoky, slightly spiced, and flavor packed, the dogs were delicious and the different assortments of toppings just made them enchanting.  We started with the All American, with toppings of cole slaw, cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce.  The crunchy cole slaw with a vinegar base was super crispy and fresh, offering an excellent texture contrast.  The shredded cheddar cheese and bacon were both abundant, piled almost to the tipping point!  The bacon was crispy in its own way and even lean, and its smokiness was highlighted by the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.



The next dog took us to Japan, and it was very umai – August looked it up, it means “delicious,” a very fitting name.  The umai dog has seaweed, pickled radish, teriyaki sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise.  It tasted like hot dog sushi, and as weird as that sounds, it tasted fresh and flavorful.  The teriyaki added a bit of tang to the sea and earth essences of the seaweed and radish, respectively.  It’s the standard teriyaki sauce you’d have with sushi, and you’d never think it works with a hot dog, but it does.

banh mi

bánh mì

Continuing on our globally inspired hot dog tour, our palates visited Vietnam for an interesting twist on the traditional sandwich.  Pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeño, cilantro, and mayonnaise adorned this dog, with a dash of sriracha on the side.  This is kind of like everything you’d want in a bánh mì sandwich – soft but crunchy French roll, exceptionally fresh vegetables, and a bit of kick.  We’ve seen some bánh mì with interesting meats (liverwurst, anyone?), so in all honesty, hot dogs aren’t so big of a stretch.

ka-re dog

ka-re dog

There were a few specials today in honor of National Hot Dog Day, so we couldn’t pass them up.  Probably our favorite savory dog of the evening was the ka-re dog (sounds like curry).  With homemade Japanese curry and pickled radishes, this was a beautiful combination of Japanese, Indian, and American flavors.  The curry is slow-cooked with potatoes, carrots, and onions, resulting in a sauce that is mildly sweet with all the spices of curry but zero heat.  The pickled radishes, also Japanese (Takuwan and Fujin Zuke, as per the menu description), were an amazing pairing with the curry, not just for flavor but also for contrasting crunchy mouthfeel.  It was a flavor symphony of sweet, tangy, and spices.

nut-n-jelly "crunch"

nut-n-jelly “crunch”

The other special threw us for a loop – a dessert dog!  The Nut-n-Jelly “Crunch” has Chex cereal, peanut butter sauce, strawberry jelly, and a granola mix with almonds.  The peanut butter sauce was special with the addition of just a touch of honey, making it very rich and decadent.  The house-made strawberry jelly was naturally sweet and tangy.  All the crunchiness of the cereal, granola, and nuts made this quite a mouthful, like eating a crazy version of Chex Mix.

waffle dog

waffle dog

Even after trying five dogs, we had to do one more because, well, it’s a waffle dog!  Doggy Style’s take on the corn dog is dipped in waffle batter and griddled in a waffle iron shaped specially for a hot dog.  If you like fun food and/or waffles, you’ve got to try this.  It’s highly recommended that you use the maple syrup; think of this as bacon or sausage in maple syrup, something that more Americans do with their breakfast than would admit.

We had the luck of meeting Mike, one of the owners, who made all of our special hot dogs this evening.  He’s a very talented guy with a creative mind, and we cannot wait to go back to try more dogs (once we recover from this binge for National Hot Dog Day).  Eight varieties are standard on the menu but with various specials, we’re sure there will always be something to surprise and delight us.