There is a fine dining restaurant in 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower named Le Jules Verne Restaurant. The kitchen is overseen by Alain Ducasse and it has 1 michelin star, but it is much more about the view than the food. Not to say the food wasn’t fantastic, but to be able to cut the long lines and have the most amazing views of the city while city in Pininfarina chairs felt so opulent. That (and my love for Uni) compelled me to splurge for the $100 appetizer of Soft-boiled egg, sea urchin royale and gold caviar.
The dish was served in a beautiful porcelain egg and the presentation was sharp, with each component looking gorgeous. The soft boiled egg was perfectly cooked, but I was surprised at how muted the Uni and caviar flavors were. It was not a bad dish, but I was expecting more. Still the overall dining experience was excellent and the rest of the meal was quite a bargain for lunchtime, and afterwards you can walk around the outside deck.
I am a big fan of the Food Network show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and am especially excited when they mention a food item in the Bay Area that I have never had. Doubly so when it contains one of my favorite ingredients: Uni. So with much anticipation, I went to Anchor & Hope to try their Warm Sea Urchin with Dungeness Crab.
It had a buttery mash potato base and while it was good, it wasn’t overflowing with uni and crab flavor like I had hoped. In fact, most of the flavors got a little lost in the butteriness of the mash potatoes and there was very little sea urchin to be had. If you find yourself eating there, it is a god choice, but it’s not worth going out of your way and if you want a foodgasm with Sea Urchin and Crab flavors you should check out the Uni and Crab souffle at The Plumed Horse in Saratoga.
The Beef Satay Noodle Soup at Trieu Chau in Santa Ana, CA.
Having eating Thai boat noodle soup all my life, I never got into Pho or Chinese noodle soups or even ramen. And no place in Orange County (if not all of America) does boat noodle soup better than Trieu Chau in Santa, Ana, CA. It’s actually a Laotian Noodle shop that is so dingy and no frills it feels like you are being transported to south east asia. Always a line in the front, I often get take out.
And on their menu is this insane looking noodle soup dish that I have yet to find else where… their Beef Satay Noodle Soup. It is sooo good. It has a thick and chunky spicy peanut sauce base that can look like toxic sludge, which is thinned out with their delicious broth, then poured over spongy rice noodles and tender beef. The spiciness is balanced by the richness of the peanut flavor that expands in your mouth with each chew of the noodles. There is also a little crunch factor too thanks to the chopped peanuts and the fresh bean sprouts. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
They also do a very good Beef Lad Na (Pan fried rice noodle with gravy) since they cook the noodles just right: with almost a burnt wok smokiness but still tender and soft.
Best to eat early in the morning or late in the afternoon, or for take out.
4401 W. 1st
Santa Ana, Ca
open from 7am til 5pm
Sweet Butter Poached Lobster at the French Laundry in Yountville, CA
When people ask me what a meal at the famous French Laundry in Yountville, CA is like, I sum it up as “perfection”. Perfect techniques married to perfect ingredients, redefining my perception of what that dish could be. Like biting into asparagus, it’s like tasting it for the first time but with a heavy fog haze lifted off your sensing and you having a food epiphany of “oh ~ so that’s what it’s suppose to taste like!” And no where was this better demonstrated in the sweet butter poached lobster with fig and corn puree. The lobster was expertly poached and removed at the point where it turned from raw to cooked so it had this unique bursting juiciness to it and just the right tenderness. And that same carefulness was applied to everything on the dish, the corn puree had this pureness that transported you to a sunny cornfield, the type that only exists in dreams. My only problem with this dish and the French Laundry in general is that it is just so hard to get to!
Good luck getting reservations… but yes, it is worth it if you can afford it.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599
Lobster Roll at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay, CA
I have never been to maine, or even tried one in the east coast, but after reading one too many food memoirs, I was really interested in lobster rolls. I had tried Old Port Lobster Shack’s in RWC, and the one at Yankee Pier, in Santana Row, but nothing could come close to the ones at Sam’s Chowder House. There is so much lobster, they even top each off with a huge claw! And it had none of that tank-skank flavor of lobster sitting too long in the tank. The bun is perfect. it was everything I had read about and more. Also the crab sandwich they had was fantastic and overloaded with crab.
They also run a food truck that hits up the Peninsula/South Bay area, if you can’t make it out to HMB.
Sam’s Chowder House
4210 Cabrillo Highway North
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019-5221
I am restarting foodgasm all over again, for the 3rd and hopefully final time. Instead of overloading the detail, I will keep it short and sweet. Just my favorite things to eat and where you can get them. So let’s get it started with one of my favorites:
House Special Lobster at Newport Seafood in Rowland Heights, CA.
Usually with chinese stir fry lobster, all the flavor sticks to the shell and you are left with overwoked rubbery and bland lobster. At Newport Seafood, which is Cambodian run, they mastered a technique to infuse the flavor deep into the lobster meat while still keeping it succulent. And when you get all the scallions and green onions with the lobster roe and oil, mix that into your rice and you have a bowl of lobster infused heaven. Pair that with the Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef) and you have some of the best surf and turf you can get anywhere and at any price.
I can’t recommend this dish enough, every time I go home to SoCal, I must have it.Newport Seafood 18441 Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748