Friday, January 20, 2012

Shabu World

Lots of condiments.  Ponzu, peanut sauce (too sweet), 
grated daikon, minced garlic, etc. etc.

Lots of vegetables, and more cabbage than even I (Jenne) can eat, and I love cabbage.
 Nobody needs this much cabbage!

Seafood assortment.

Pork and beef.

Simmering nicely, with LOTS of assistance from the staff...they
wanted to be very involved in the meal, apparently.

I asked for sesame sauce because I didn't really like the peanut sauce.
You can also get a raw egg to mix in, which unsurprisingly Miko did.

It becomes udon at the end...but the broth had no flavor whatsoever.

During the grand opening month, they give you free green tea ice cream.
Rating: Two sideways thumbs
Date: 1/20/12
Time in: 1:30 PM
What we ordered: Seafood combo (salmon, scallops, shrimp) + egg, meat combo (beef and pork), 2 teas.
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $15.09 + 11.85
  • I couldn't write detailed notes while eating because (1) there was no table space for writing at a shabu shabu place, and (2) the staff was constantly hovering over us. There were like 6 of them waiting on just us, and they'd ask us the same questions over and over.  Kind of annoying.
  • Also, there was one server who looked incredibly out of place.  She was the only non-Asian, and she had an accent (Russian?  European of some kind?).  Her outfit was straight out of a high-fashion magazine, and her makeup made her look like a creepy marionette doll.  We both wondered why they hired her...
  • The salmon was pretty fishy; the scallop was tasteless; and the shrimp tasted a bit like dirt.  Plus...they added the egg into the udon soup when it wasn't hot enough.  So instead of the nice egg-drop I'd have liked, it became raw egg broth.  Ew.
  • The sign looks like it says Swab World.  Haha!
  • We would give this place a thumbs down, but we felt it might be unfair to a restaurant that just opened.  We would probably never go back though.
Address: 3904 Convoy St, Ste 117
Phone number: 858.715.1188
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Crowded lot, especially when The Original Pancake House is open
Ideal group size:
Available vegetarian options: Vegetable combo

Noise level: 2

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sage French Cake

First Visit

The latte came like this, about an inch short of full...
but it didn't really matter because it wasn't very good anyway.
Caramel mousse cake.
Miko thought it was unbearably bitter, but I loved it even though I don't usually like cake.

They very Japanesely put sugar on the bottom, so it doesn't stick to the doily.  Because that would be gauche.
Rating: Two thumbs up (but Jenne had to be talked into it)
Date: 1/7/12
Time in: 2:20 PM
Servers' recommendations: (In firm voice) "Everything is good."
What we ordered: Caramel mousse cake, cafe late [sic], English Breakfast tea.
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: Around $11
  • We know that Sage claims to be a French patisserie.  But it gets a Japanese label because the guy who runs the place is old-school Japanese to the core.  You get the impression that the cakes are his art.  He loves to make them.  He takes great pride in every detail.  For him, the inescapable necessity of selling them and interacting daily with customers must be an unfortunate drawback of being a pastry chef.     
  • For those customers, he grudgingly makes coffee.  Which is why his "cafe late" blows.  The foam is not creamy.  The cup isn't even full.  "Why even bother?" Jenne asks in exasperation.  
  • However, taking home cute little cakes in a box = a special treat for Japanese families.  Even I get all nostalgic when I see the cellophane carefully wrapped around those pastries, and I'm just barely Japanese.  The main purpose of this bakery isn't to act as a cafe.  It's a carryout place.    
  • And the cakes are undoubtedly delicious.  I didn't like the caramel mousse cake, but that's because I'm absurdly sensitive to bitterness.  I can tell that it's a well-constructed cake.  To prove it, Jenne doesn't like most cake, and she was full from lunch, but she finished it anyway. The other pastries looked yummy too, especially because the colors are more natural-looking.
  • P.S. The chef is very handsome, even though he's so stern.

Second Visit

Cheesecake. Sponge cake on the bottom, not graham cracker crust like all other cheesecakes you've ever had!
Fruit Tart (holy DAMN this was delicious).
This time there was a nice lady working there who very kindly
heated some milk so I could have cafe au lait.

When you order tea, they give you a cute little cup to put the teabag in.
It's the little touches like this that get you a gold star, people.
Rating: Two thumbs up!
Date: 1/20/12
What we ordered: Cheesecake, fruit tart, cafe au lait, English Breakfast tea.
Number in our party: 2
  • We now have a crush on the Sage Cake pastry chef.  We couldn't stop giggling over him.  Those rolled up sleeves!  The way he expertly pours melted chocolate!  Dreamy sigh.
  • Today, there was a lovely assistant working.  She was much more given to smiley customer service.
  • A very loud girl came in.  She clearly had a thing for the Handsome Pastry Chef too.  After flirting with him shamelessly ("You've lost weight!  It makes you look younger!"), she chattered on to the assistant.  "I used to be skinny like an Asian girl," she said, "but now I'm fat like a white girl because of his cake!"  (By the way, she was maybe a size 4, tops.)  "I told him he should put signs with calorie information, but you know what he said?  'I don't care about the health of my customers.'  He actually said that!!"  Jenne and I thought this was all hilarious.  
  • Holy mother of JESUS, the fruit tart was amazing!  I've never had cream like it!  We think the crust might be made with almond flour.  It was heavenly.
  • The cheesecake was very light and a bit tart, not very sweet at all. 

A Special Order

We put in an order for a whole fruit tart for a Valentine's Day treat!  Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?
Phone number: 858.571.3484 
Accepts credit cards? Yes, but there's a $10 minimum.
Parking: Crowded lot with teeny spaces.
Ideal group size: 1-4.
Available vegetarian options: Everything.
Noise level: 1 (It's definitely quieter than our library, anyway.)

Monday, January 2, 2012


Sea snails green mango salad.

Free soup.

Fried rice with beef.

Bean curd stir-fried rice noodle.

Fresh orange juice and lemonade (so it says on the menu, but in Vietnamese restaurants, that seems to always mean limeade).
Rating: Two sideways thumbs
Date: 1/2/12
Time in: 6:45 PM
Server's recommendations: Fried rice with shaking filet mignon beef, sea snails green mango salad, free range chicken pho.
What we ordered: Sea snails mango salad, fried rice with beef, Bean curd stir-fried rice noodle
Number in our party: 2
Final check amount: $38.74
  • We are now nearly finished with the west side of Convoy Street!  Before we go to the last restaurant, we wanted to catch up on any new places that opened after our quest began.  Nam An is a newbie.
  • Jenne thought that the sea snail salad tasted good, but the gray curliness of the snails creeped her out.  Miko was okay with the snails but didn't like the herb used to season the salad.  We agreed that the fried onions on top were delicious.
  • The fried rice with beef was quite tasty, although Jenne found it a little bland.  The meat was very tender.
  • I (Miko) strongly disliked the stir-fried noodles.  I found it tasteless except for a bitter aftertaste that I found terribly unpleasant.  (Jenne suspects that I'm a supertaster, so most people might not find it bitter at all.)  I tried adding soy sauce to it, but the brand of soy sauce they provided was bitter too!  Gaaah.  The bean curd in it was also too fried -- it was hard and chewy.
  • The server was nice and attentive.  He had a very pleasing way about him.
  • We very much like that they gave us our own jug of water.
  • There was a call button at each table, but it was VERY LOUD.
  • Overall, we would always choose Phuong Trang over Nam An.
Address: 4690 Convoy Street, Ste 111 (Plaza del Sol)
Phone number: 858.277.7788

Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Private lot shared with rest of plaza -- spaces available.

Ideal group size: 1-4
Available vegetarian options:
Vegetarian fried rice, spring rolls.
Noise level: 2