Sugar Mommie Cookies

31 01 2011

Cookies, you say? Let’s just take it easy and start with cupcakes. Well, that’s what I started with, but who knows where Sugar Mommie will take me in the future?

Cupcakes

Cupcakes!!

Last Friday, the Man Thang* and I went to Family House of Fish and Poultry in Hayward (which will be an entirely other story and post) and obtained a heavenly treat: one Red Velvet cupcake made by Sugar Mommie Cookies. For some reason my initial thought was that a $3.50 cupcake was a bit pricey. I have since reconsidered and now wonder how it is that Ms. Mommie can afford to sell much such a treat at such a low price. Cases for buying one of these cupcakes:

  • This is not an elementary-school-sized cupcake, this baby will feed two or even four. It’s monstrous.
  • A dessert at a restaurant (i.e. one that someone else made for me) is easily $5-$8. This is a bargain for not having to heat up my oven!
  • Um, did I mention that it’s fabulous? Ms. Mommie started a baking business for a reason: she knows what’s up in the kitchen.

Ok, so, Sugar Mommie doesn’t have a store to call its own. But we really wanted to share the yum with some friends Saturday night. So we called up Ms. Mommie (510-209-3945, she’s super nice!) and asked if they sell small orders. No, actually, they only sell by the dozen. Shortly after hanging up the phone, however, Ms. Mommie herself called back to say that she’d be happy to bake us a small order, yeay!

Added bonuses and reasons why I Facebook friended them and Yelped them asap:

  • They made us a special order on the same day we called
  • They baked us a variety pack when I can only imagine that’s way more of a pain (2 red velvets, one yellow cake/chocolate frosting, one chocolate/chocolate!)
  • They gave us a deal and only charged $3 per cupcake
  • They delivered it to our front door!

Seriously, what more could we ask (except for bullet point lists of the high points, of course)? The cupcakes were a total hit with our friends. And if they (the cupcakes, not our friends) are an indication of the quality and deliciousness of all of Sugar Mommie’s baked goods, I’d order any item from their extensive menu (cookies, cupcakes) in a heartbeat for my next occasion. Perhaps you should, too?

*My attempt at getting into the Sugar Mommie groove; their tagline is, “all the sweet thangs are made here”!





Millennium

23 01 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited: One  ♦   Will I Return?:  Pretty please?
___________

Don’t you just love San Francisco? I sure do. It’s not in every bum town you find a vegetarian restaurant that offers the finest of fine dining. The Bay Area has such a variety of people and such a diversity of interests and specialties that the very best of everything is corralled right into the seven- by seven-mile area that is San Francisco. And it’s absolutely fabulous for those of us living on the fringes.

Millennium offers the best of the best for vegetarian food and even has a writer at the San Francisco Magazine quoted describing their menu as being able to, “intrigue even the most devoted carnivores among us”. Indeed, I challenge any carnivore with an open palette to make a reservation at Millennium. It is so amazingly good.

This renowned restaurant is actually tucked away into the lobby of a Best Western of sorts, just near Union Square. It’s a bit of an odd situation, but nothing seems the worse for it. The dining area is dim and sophisticated (think dark wood and marble tiled floors) and the room appears to be continuously filled to the brim with ball gowns, Armani ties, ripped jeans, lip rings and everything in between. The atmosphere is at once chic and grunge; it’s amazing.

Millennium Restaurant interior

Looking down on one side of the dining room and the central bar from the hotel lobby balcony.

When you look at the menu you’ll see why: the fabulously creative, new-age dishes wholly exclude any animal products, perhaps drawing the square-rimmed glasses and full-arm tattoos, while the $25/plate price tag draws the open-minded sophisticates. The juxtaposition makes for a fabulously comfortable and positively humming atmosphere any night of the week.

So, the atmosphere is unique and decidedly rad. The menu? The same. I’ll be honest and say that my one problem with the menu is that it was hard for me — an ordinary food lover and unabashed* chain-restaurant goer — to discern exactly what most of the dished actually were. The ingredients are listed and, though some of those were a mystery as well, the descriptions often failed to let me know how these items were going to actually appear on my plate.

Squash raw-violi

My dinner: Squash Raw-violi - Raw squash slices with all kinds of veggies and other stuff in the middle (similar to the construction of ravioli) and on top. Fabulous.

For example, regarding the description of the Yuba Roulade, I wasn’t getting a great mental picture of what my plate was actually going to look like: “seared shiitake mushroom, wilted winter greens & Char siu style seitan filling, edamame-horseradish mashed potatoes, seared Brussels sprouts with black bean-ginger oil, star anise-shallot-red wine reduction”. What I did find after sampling four dishes (mine and my friends’) is that the descriptions absolutely don’t matter. You could close your eyes and just pick something and it would be incredible.

Appetizers

Appetizers: Beet salad and fried something or other... both great.

Dinner

Pasta with Tempeh something or other. So. Damn. Good.

To be perfectly honest, I ate there a couple months ago and didn’t write down each dish we ordered. And because they change their menu constantly (fresh, fresh, fresh!), most of these items aren’t on the website. In my personal opinion, however, this is trivial as everything was so ridiculously fabulous. Overusing adjectives is required.

Dinner

This one is the Maple Roasted Winter Squash: hazelnut-farro risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, baby artichokes & gigante beans, Formanova beet & red wine reduction, braised fennel & treviso salad.

Recommendation: Make a reservation no matter what day you intend to go. They are booked all the time; this place is no secret!

Chocolate Cake

Even vegetarians don't skimp on dessert: Chocolate Almond Midnight - Almond cashew crust, mocha chocolate filling, raspberry sauce, white chocolate mousse.

*Fine, maybe I’m mildly ashamed.





SF Underground Market

19 01 2011

SF Underground Market isn’t exactly a restaurant. Actually, it isn’t anything close. But it’s a foodie event like no other and broccoli & chocolate just attended last Saturday for the first time.

Event Summary: “A venue where you can taste and purchase the food that is being produced in backyards and home kitchens in the Bay Area. Think a farmers market, but at night, with music and drinks.”

Sounds fun, right? It was. But it wasn’t everything I was hoping for. Here’s why:

  1. It was super crowded. Half hour wait to get in (at 7.30 p.m.), shoulder to shoulder once inside (in the evening). Like a concert where you have to shove past all your fellow event-goers to get a decent dinner.
  2. It’s expensive. The $5 cover didn’t phase me, but the $6 grilled cheese sandwich did. K and I spent a cool $43 on admission, a plate of rice and beans, a grilled cheese sandwich and fried pickles, a bowl of vegan daal, water, a tiny cup of soda, one beer and four miniature brownies (= 1 normal sized brownie). For $21/person, I was still hungry when I got home.
  3. It’s too cool for school. While the concept is rad: homegrown fare for sale without pesky government oversight, it’s a total hipster haven. So many folks there were so cool I could almost puke. Or maybe I’m just grumpy that I don’t fit in. Who knows.
  4. What the hell was up with the music? While there were some cute little buskers about with guitars, accordions and keyboards, at about 10pm a girl took the main stage with her cello in hand. Imagine an echo-y cello blaring on a single note for 10 seconds at a time before switching to another dull, droning note. And then repeat for an hour. What happened to the rest of the band? If this doesn’t encourage drug use, I’m not sure what does.

    Vegan, not gross sign

    A sense of humor.

Complaints aside, I didn’t have a bad time. It was fun to go with some friends — there was a decent variety of food stands selling everything from vegan lemon cakes (above) to pulled pork sandwiches and most of the food wasn’t what you’d call mainstream. Oh yeah, we’re all so alternative. Totally.

Daal

Sorry for the terrible pic (I only brought my phone) -- Vegan Daal with rice, raw lintels and cilantro on top. $5

The food we had was tasty and, had it been less crowded, I would have been happy to partake in more. There were pizzas (half hour waiting list to receive your order) that looked fab, I totally saw a girl with a tray of mac ‘n cheese (that stand packed up and left around 8pm), and if I could have gotten a waffle without the chicken, I would have been down.

Man makes food

Taking the good with the bad: guy smokes a cigarette as he makes our grilled cheese sandwich. Yum.

It seemed like a “sell food until you run out” type of vendor listing, and about half of the stalls were closed or closing by 9 or 10 p.m. Which was unfortunate because the event was slated to continue until 2 a.m. I hope you aren’t hungry if you’re coming late.

Also, I’ve noticed some food trends lately: in “super chic” food culture bacon seems to be very “in”. As in, putting bacon on weird things is super cool. At this event there were bacon wrapped mochi and bacon infused biscuits (among other biscuit flavors). At a Yelp Event I attended a couple months ago, there were bacon flavored cupcakes. Good times.

All around, I would totally go back, but I would show up earlier in the day for the “take-homeables and gifts” (11 a.m. – 4 p.m.) part of the fair, or get there right at 6 p.m. to skip the crowds coming by for dinner.





Roosevelt Tamale Parlor

15 01 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited: Two  ♦   Will I Return?:  Yes please!
___________

Wow. For so many reasons. Let’s quickly explore the wows about Roosevelt’s:

  1. It’s been around since 1919 (per their menu). Wow.
  2. Their tamales are really, really good. Wow.
  3. They do not have a website. Triple wow.

Maybe they’re the type of place that quote/unquote “doesn’t need” a website? Because they’re, like, an Establishment in San Francisco? Either way, I’m amazed. I understand that the taqueria down the street doesn’t have a website; they’re small, interchangeable with the next taqueria and most of their business is from people who are walking or working nearby. Fine. But this place is nice, well known and de-licious. Why not use the interwebs to market? I digress, I will need to stop being so surprised at some point.

Roosevelt has been firmly planted at 2817 24th Street in the Mission district of SF for, well, nearly 100 years according to their menu. It’s a small place on a strip of questionable shops and restaurants, but it’s worth the trip.

Roosevelt's Tamale Parlor

Inside Roosevelt's

Nicely decorated, kind service, great menu, and on weekends, a beautiful woman singing softly as she strums an acoustic guitar. What more could you ask? Well, you could ask for it to be closer to home and have a full liquor license, I suppose, but let’s not nitpick.

While they don’t have a full bar, they do beer, wine and they make a killer wine-based margarita that is surprisingly delicious, strong, and doesn’t really taste like wine. They have a huge food menu, but I didn’t get a good inventory to report; my bad.

Ceviche

Fish ceviche appetizer, also good.

What I do know is this: I have never really liked tamales very much. They’re covered in that corn husk, right? What’s that about? And then it’s just mush inside, usually with some sort of pork or something. No thanks. But since it’s a tamale parlor, you gotta try one, right? Yes, definitely. And you won’t be disappointed.

Tamale

Roosevelt's Famous "Round" Tamale, cheese inside, rice and beans.

These tamales are rich and delicious: the tender corn paste — called masa — (already removed from the husk they use to cook it in) is wrapped around chicken, beef, pork, cheese, beans, or squash. Yeay for choices! They actually have a few different kinds of tamale, though I’m not sure what the difference is between their “Famous Round Tamale” and the rest of them. Some appear to be served in the husk (I didn’t have one of those) and they may have different sauces on top.

Tamale

Squash tamale with tomatillo sauce and cheese.

The cheese tamale is fabulous. I don’t know what kind of cheese they use, but it’s the best. Ever. The squash tamale was good too, but the cheesey guy was top dog in my book. Rice, beans, chips, salsa — good. They know what they’re doing and they apparently don’t even need a website to prove it.





Which Hayward Restaurant Do You Like Most?

9 01 2011

Ok, broc-and-choc-ites, it’s time to weigh in! Considering the list of Hayward restaurants below, which do you like the most? Ok, so they’re not exactly apples to apples… I’ve included Japanese, Italian, Indian and Chinese so it may be that you’d pick a different restaurant depending on your mood at the moment. Well, now’s a moment, choose one!

Please also leave a comment to tell me why you chose what you did, what restaurants I should have added to the list or any other thoughts you have! I now hand the floor over to PollDaddy:





Kokyo Sushi Buffet — Revisited

5 01 2011
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Two* ♦   Will I Return?:  For Sure
___________

Since Kokyo Sushi Buffet does not have a website, my previously posted Kokyo Sushi Buffet review has been receiving a lot of traffic, no doubt from potential customers. As my offer to create cheap websites for local restaurants has gone thus far unanswered, I feel obligated to update readers and google searchers about my findings regarding Kokyo Sushi Buffet.

A second visit to Kokyo has yielded some information about their lunch buffet. My previous post was regarding the dinner buffet only and the lunch is slightly different.

Much of the same food is present for the lunch buffet and in generally the same format. Notably, there is no sashimi at the lunch, as there is with dinner. There is sushi (fish on rice), and sushi rolls, but not just the fish by itself (sashimi). Also, there are no crab legs at either the hot seafood bar or the salad bar, which there were for dinner. As I’ve only gone once to each of these, I’m not sure if this is always true, but these changes seem in line with the relative costs of the lunch versus dinner. Prices are reviewed again below:

  • Lunch $8.95 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday
  • Dinner $14.95 4-9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
  • Sunday and Major Holidays all day $14.95
  • Children ages 3-11 Lunch $2.50-$6.50 ($0.50 additional every year), under 3 free
  • Children ages 3-11 Dinner $3.50-$8.70 ($0.65 additional every year), under 3 free
  • Senior Citizens age 60 or above receive 15% off
  • Soft Drinks $1.25 with free refills
  • Buffet To-Go (excludes sashimi) $4.25/lb for Lunch, $5.95/lb for Dinner
  • Catering trays also available, menu at front counter of restaurant

Additionally, I would like to further comment on the soup available at their buffet. I have now tried both the miso and the hot and sour and both were extremely bad. I love this place and I think it’s a great value if you love sushi. But I have no idea what they’re doing wrong with their soups. Both were inedible to me and I thought that was very unfortunate.

hot and sour soup

Hot and sour soup from Kokyo Sushi Buffet in Hayward

Also, the awesome donuts that I raved about last time weren’t as good the second time around; the magic was gone. I think last time the batch was fresh out of the oven and was far better for it. But, I ate one again this time anyway as they are still good.

For the full picture run-down and descriptions of all the food at the buffet stations, see my original post.

Have you gone to Kokyo Sushi Buffet? Tell me what you thought of it with a comment below! I’d love to hear how everyone’s liking (or not liking) Hayward’s latest addition. Also, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask with a comment, I try to respond to every comment within a couple days. Thanks!

*As this is a “revisited” post subsequent to a previous post about the same restaurant, any changes in my ratings at the top of the post are shown in bold. Otherwise, they remain the same as before.

Kokyo Sushi Buffet on Urbanspoon





La Imperial

1 01 2011
Atmosphere: 1/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 2/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  One  ♦   Will I Return?:  No, Thank You
___________

La Imperial* in Hayward has been around since the ’70s as per the dot matrix printing on the front of their menus. This is a difficult review for me because, like some other Hayward favorites (case #1, case #2), I don’t really like it. But some people are wholly devoted to this place, per their Yelp reviews. And since there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing, I’m going to tell you my side of the story.

La Imperial is on C Street in Hayward between Mission and Main. It is directly adjacent to another Mexican restaurant, Los Compadres, which is a bit odd. I have only been to the latter once, but I recall it being very diner-esque and nothing particularly special regarding food or service. But that was a long time ago. And it doesn’t matter because, given the choice now, I’d go pretty much anywhere besides La Imperial. Let’s discuss the pros and cons:

Pros of La Imperial:

  • It’s downtown and centrally located
  • Parking in front is easy to come by
  • The food is pretty cheap and/or the portions are huge compared to how much they cost
  • The waitress (at least the one when we were there) is extremely nice, friendly, talkative and good at her job.

Cons of La Imperial:

  • It’s on C Street which isn’t the nicer part of downtown
  • It’s a diner: leather booths; fake wood paneling on the back wall; old, hideous linoleum floors
  • The layout of the furniture is atrocious
  • The menus are from circa 1980
  • The patrons (at least when we were there) were… low caliber (is there a nice way to say white trash?)
  • The food was not great
  • The nachos had nacho cheese on them (this will be discussed further below)

Entering La Imperial felt, to me, like being magically transported to a diner in Nevada. It’s like they took a small, crappy roadside steakhouse outside Carson City and put up a few pinatas and a south-of-the-border-esque murals and called it a Mexican restaurant. It was the first time I’ve ever been to a Mexican restaurant and not heard one single word of Spanish spoken (Australia included!). It was extremely eerie and not terribly faith-inspiring.

La Imperial

Inside La Imperial, Hayward

La Imperial

Looking toward the front door inside La Imperial, Hayward

So, the people who like this place DO NOT CARE about atmosphere. And some people don’t, that’s fair enough. I do care and I didn’t like it. So there. The people who Yelp up a storm are lovers of their food, however, and the service.

We ordered nachos, a bean/rice/cheese burrito and an enchilada combo. The entire meal cost $19.76 with tax (add $3 for tip). The nachos were just tortilla chips and nacho cheese like at a goddamn baseball game. This is so wrong in my opinion. At the very least, nachos should have regular shredded cheese melted over chips. I also submit they should have any combination of beans, salsa, sour cream, guac or olives. Jalapenos are also an acceptable nachos ingredient., though I always pick them off. Velveeta or whatever is not ok at a sit-down restaurant. Having said that, I do love movie theater nachos, so I partook. But not without judging harshly beforehand.

nachos

Nachos from La Imperial, Hayward

The burrito was ok, though the tortilla wasn’t yummy for some reason. The concoction was a bit plain and since boyfriend didn’t like the salsa (which he usually uses to drown a burrito), he didn’t enjoy it terribly. As a side note, I thought the salsa was tasty though a bit too spicy.

burrito

Burrito from La Imperial... should have gotten a pic of the inside...

I ordered a cheese enchilada meal (2 cheese enchiladas, rice, beans and a salad) for $10.50. It was an amazing amount of food and probably the best thing on the table. I liked that they gave me a bowl of salad with home made Thousand Island dressing as opposed to the tiny scattering of lettuce most Mexican places call salad. The enchiladas were fine but they had the most cheese I’ve ever seen in an enchilada. It was like eating a melted block of cheese with a thin covering of tortilla around it — a bit overwhelming. The rice and beans were solid, kudos to them on that.

salad

Salad with chips and salsa from La Imperial, Hayward

enchiladas

Enchiladas, rice and beans from La Imperial, Hayward. Look at the fork for scale -- so much food!

As for the service, the waitress was totally sweet, seemed to know everyone and was on top of her orders. She seemed neither lazy nor incompetent and was probably the very best thing that La Imperial had going for it in my opinion. If she had been a crotchety crone I would have been grasping at straws to compliment much of anything about this place.

Overall, La Imperial is not my kind of place. The atmosphere is grungy and the food isn’t the premium Mexican that I’ve grown to know and love being a native Californian. To those who love it, I’m glad you do. As for me, I’ll try someplace else next time.

*Yet another restaurant for which I could not find a website… come on people!

La Imperial on Urbanspoon








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 82 other followers