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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung is a very popular dumpling place with outposts all over the world. We used to drive to Arcadia to eat the dumplings but now there's a location at Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara.

The restaurant opens at 10 am on the weekends and there was already a line when we arrived at 9:50 am. You can make reservations online--stand in the left line or you can sit at the bar if you have no reservations--stand in the right line. When we finished our lunch, there was no line at all. Surprising because when the restaurant opened 2 months ago, there were 4-hour waits.

House Chicken Soup--$8.50. This is a very simple soup but so full of flavor with ginger. What amazed me is that the broth is so clear.

Chicken Fried Rice--$9.25 for white rice, $1 more if you want brown rice. I didn't care for this. It was greasy and there was too much green onion.

The star of the show--pork xiao long bao (soup dumpling)--$8 for 6 pieces. My husband thought the skin was thicker than at their other locations but I liked it. The pork filling was juicy and flavorful. 

Add vinegar to the ginger and dip your XLB in it. Pick the XLB up at the top so the skin doesn't break and leak the juice everywhere. The juice is the best part of the XLB.

This is the big controversy. At the Santa Clara location, each basket only has 6 XLB whereas in the rest of the locations around the world, you get 10. At the Arcadia restaurant, we used to pay $5.50 for 10 XLB but that was 6 years ago. In Seoul, Korea, we paid $9 for 10 XLB in 2013.

2016 07 24

Saturday, July 30, 2016


I found a Travelzoo deal at Piperade again this year. $79 for 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and 2 desserts.

Piperade is located at 1015 Battery Street in San Francisco. 

It's a Basque restaurant. This is the Basque cross or lauburu.

2015 Chateau d’Esclans, Whispering Angel, Grenache Rose, Rolle, France--$38. This retails for $22 so the markup wasn't bad. It was a nice light drink, perfect for a scorching weekend.

Warm Sheep's Milk Cheese + Ham Terrine, Aged Sherry--$16. This was way too salty.

Twice Cooked Oxtail, Napa Cabbage, Pickled Pepper Salpicon--$16. This was delicious. The oxtail was so tender and full of flavor. I liked the pickled napa cabbage as well.

Blue Nose Sea Bass, Spinach, Fried Garlic Vinaigrette--$27. This was well cooked. The fish was just perfect and the spinach was a nice accompaniment.

Sauteed King Salmon, Corn Pudding + Celery, Cherry Salpicon--$30. My salmon was well cooked, just slightly raw in the middle, which is the way I like it. The corn pudding had whole kernels of corn. The celery had a strong flavor but worked well with the cherry. It tempered the sweetness.

Dark Chocolate Cake "Arnatxi"--$9. I loved this cake. It was warm and not too sweet.

Traditional Gateau Basque + Cherry Confit--$9. The cake had marzipan in it and my husband liked it.

Milk Chocolate + Peanut Butter "Rocher"--$9. My sister liked this dessert but I thought the bottom layer was a little too crunchy.

We were celebrating a birthday so we got a bonus dessert. Carmel Custard "Koka." I liked this 2nd to my chocolate dessert. It was just the right egginess.

2106 07 23

Friday, July 29, 2016

Thursday Night Dinner

Here's this week's Thursday Night Dinner at Flavor Bistro in downtown Santa Rosa. It's a 4-course dinner with wine pairings for $24.95.

Bruschetta Con Gamberoni--Topped with Grilled Marinated Jumbo Prawns, Wild Arugula, Tomato-Basil Salsa & Spicy Saffron Aioli, paired with 2015 La Valentina Rosato Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, D.O.C., Italy. This was a nice rose, especially since it was only $10.99 per bottle.

Pasta Candy--Homemade Candy Wrapper Shaped Pasta Filled with Vegetali Mousse & Trio of Cheeses Served in Sugo Di Pomodoro, paired with 2013 Easton Wines Zinfandel, Amador. This zin had a nice nose but needs to age a little longer.

Anatra Al Forno--Stone Oven Roasted Duck Breast Garnished with Grilled Balsamic Glazed Treviso, Fontina-Sweet Corn Polenta, Pan Roasted Jus & Rosemary Brown Butter, paired with 2013 Bonny Doon Vineyard "A Proper Claret" Cabernet  Sauvignon Blend, California

Crostata Di Pesca--"Peach Pie" Garnished with Toasted Almond Gremolata & Vanilla
Mascarpone Cream, paired with 2015 Centorri Moscato di Pavia I.G.T., Italy

2016 07 28

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gamle Bergen

Just a 10 minute bus ride from the center of Bergen is Gamle Bergen or Old Bergen. It's a recreated village with 18th-20th century homes and shops. The buildings were moved from elsewhere in Bergen. Entry fee--NOK100.

We took a bus from just outside the Radisson Blu. Any bus going west stops at Gamle Bergen. There were 3 of us and we purchased a group ticket for NOK108 from the machine. On the way back from Gamle Bergen, there was no machine and the ticket was NOK50 per person, paid to the driver.

Bergen was Europe's largest wooden city and the steep, densely built city is well represented at Gamle Bergen.

Actors make the stories come to life. Walk inside the buildings and the actors tell the story of life in the era of the building.

This was a recreated hair salon from the 1950s.

2016 05 22

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I found Lysverket on TripAdvisor. Turns out, the restaurant has many Thomas Keller-trained chefs. It's located in Kode Museum 4.

View from our table.

We started with amuse bouche:

Whale with Capers, Fish Pudding with Smoked Cod, Rye with Mackerel Butter and Lovage. The whale tasted like filet mignon, the fish pudding tasted like a Japanese pudding Chawanmushi and the mackerel wasn't too fishy.

Take on Bergen Fish Soup. This was more like a creamy chowder.

You can choose the 4-course menu for NOK695:

Scallop with Tomato from Jaeren, herbs, black garlic and crouton

Green Asparagus with Mushroom Ragu, Fried Potato and Ramps

Hake, Sunchoke, Sunchoke-citrus Broth and Brown Butter

Rhubarb, Brown Miso Ice Cream and Lemon Thyme

or the 7-course menu for NOK 895. It included the first 4 dishes, plus:

Flat oysters from Bomlo, Baked Leek, Mustard Vinaigrette and Mustard Greens

Langoustine with Salted Plum Puree and Shiso

Pork with Spinach, Charred Spring Onion and Lettuces from Finnegarden

And, we ended with Mignardise

My final notes:
  • 4 courses is enough
  • Although this was good, nothing was really memorable. Hos Thea in Oslo was a better bargain and the food tasted better there.

2016 05 21

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Continuing on a Bergen Tour

After lunch, we walked south from the Fish Market into the modern part of town.

Seafarer's Monument--nicknamed the "cube of goat cheese" for its shape. This 1950's monument celebrates the sea. Each side represents a century: 10th century Vikings, 18th century equipping European ships, 19th century whaling, 20th century shipping and war. This monument marks the start of Bergen's main square Torgallmenningen--translated into a "square for all the people." The square was created as a firebreak.

Statue of Ole Bull. Ole Bull was a pop idol in the 1800s who fathered over 40 children. 

Statue of Edvard Grieg--Norway's greatest composer. 

Lille Lungegardsvann--man-made lake bordered by the Kode Museums.

There is a pleasant path bordering the lake. Tulips were in bloom in late May, when we visited.

2016 05 21

Monday, July 25, 2016

Noshing Around Bergen

After noshing at the Fish Market, we went in search of more food around town.

We didn't eat here but this was a beautiful McDonald's in a 1710 building.

3-Kroneren--a popular hot dog stand.

We had the reindeer sausage for NOK58, roughly $7. Eating is Norway is expensive.

We kept seeing cinnamon rolls everywhere and finally tried one. There was nothing special about it and I like Cinnabon better. This cinnamon roll was NOK33, roughly $4.

2016 05 21

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fish Market, Bergen

The Fish Market in Bergen is open every day from 7 am-7 pm June-August , Monday-Saturday 7 am-4:00 pm the rest of the year. A fish market has been in existence here since 1500s but nowadays it's a tourist haven with stalls selling all kinds of food. Most of the stalls are outdoors but there is an indoor section with fresh seafood.


Topped with sour cream and jam--tasty but pricey at NOK30.

Bergen is known for its fish soup and this one was good at NOK90.

Another fish soup. This had more substance but was also 50% more--NOK130.

Fish Cake NOK15.

2016 05 21