Foodie Friday: Pampas Palo Alto

My family’s love of churrascaria, or what Americans know as Brazilian restaurant started in San Diego where I made my yearly pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic-Con (not any more sadly. I can gloat that I was there when Hall H became Hall H and left when SDCC became bombarded with Hollywood. Color me hipster) at a place called Rei Do Gado. I was super surprised to find small churrascarias during my stay in Japan (that was before I learned that there is a large Japanese community in Brazil). Suffice to say it’s been a while that my family have gone to eat Brazilian barbecue together so for my mom’s birthday we went over to Palo Alto’s Pampas

Love the downtown Palo Alto area.
Love the downtown Palo Alto area.

I was really impressed with the layout of the restaurant. Very classy yet not stuffy that you felt at odds if you came in jeans and a shirt. The service was the same as any other churrascaria. If you ordered the rodizio, waiters come around with a skewer of delicious meats and you say yay or nay if you want a slice or not.  The food was delicious, both the meat and the side bar, but what I really remember of that night was not the meat, but my aunt’s drink:

Behold! the Cosmo do Diabo
Behold! the Cosmo do Diabo

My aunt and I were intrigued with the ingredients: infused pepper vodka, pineapple, and passion fruit.

Peppers? Challenge accepted! But oh man, the look on my aunt’s face after a teeny sip. I almost thought she was bluffing, until I took a sip. Holy Batman. This drink is a sneaky one too! I tasted the fruit first and thought ‘pshh, this ain’t so bad!’ then as it slowly went down my throat the pepper and the alcohol burn creeped up on me and burned my mouth like a volcano. That drink was the best surprise of the night. My aunt said the heat goes down once the pepper flecks sink to the bottom and it was easier for her to drink it. It’s definitely a drink I didn’t expect to like, but if I ever came back to Pampas, I would be tempted to order this beast.


Foodie Friday: Food Truck Smorgasbord

We Sushi, Soulnese Food Trucks
We Sushi, Soulnese Food Trucks


Waiting in line at the Curry Up Now food truck
Waiting in line at the Curry Up Now food truck

*No*, I did not try these food trucks all at once. As much as I think death-by-food-coma is probably the best way you can leave this world, I’d like to enjoy food a little more.


Curry Up Now

Fridays tend to be my foodie days in SF, where I don’t bring lunch and go out and try what the FiDi has to offer. Curry Up Now was one of my targets. Doc’s Burgers was a hit with not only me, but my co-workers, so I was excited to try this truck that sells Indian/Mexican hybrid goodies. Despite the wait, I still wasn’t really able to decide when it was my turn to order, so I went for a combo and ordered the popular stuff: tikka masala burrito with a mango lassi and a samosa. I *loved* it: the burrito was spicy (people weren’t kidding about the kick), and the samosa was huge and yummy. The mango lassi was the only disappointment. It didn’t have the tang and thickness I associate with a lassi drink. The only bad point I can recall is how messy the burrito was. It makes sense  I guess, I’m eating Indian curry covered in a huge, yet thin tortilla. You better have a plate and lots of napkins near by after that first bite. If I ever go back, which is probably a heck yes, I’d go for the deconstructed samosas or one of the vegan options. Hopefully next time they’ll have their wheat tortillas in stock too.

Soulnese & We Sushi

One of the reasons why I love eating with friends is that there are more chances to order more food all in the name of “sharing”.  While waiting for the San Jose Taiko concert my friend and I walked around the park which had food trucks lined up. My friend wanted sushi, I wanted to be adventurous and out of all the food trucks at the park, Soulnese’ chicken & waffle burrito took the prize. Of course, to assuage my guilt my friend and I shared the burrito. So glad to have friends who enjoy food too.

Lobster crunch sushi and chicken and waffle burrito. Gross? Amazing? Hmm..

Despite the new cred food trucks have now, sushi food trucks was pushing it for me, but We Sushi proved me wrong with the Lobster Crunch. It tasted pretty much like any American sushi you would order at a Mikuni’s or Japanese fusion restaurants, definitely didn’t taste like the ingredients were stale and out for a while (I’m still alive after all).

We Sushi website

The burrito was kind of another story:

A girl can splurge every once in a while right? Right?!

If you like chicken and waffles (and why wouldn’t you?), you would enjoy this crazy breakfast burrito. Fried chicken, egg, ham, bacon, and waffle with maple syrup. Although I did enjoy it, the waffle and fried chicken were not crisp and more on the soggy side. I think I’d prefer chicken and waffles spread out on a plate so I can enjoy the crispiness and pour any amount of syrup I want. I’m glad I tried it, but probably won’t order it again.

Soulnese website


Foodie Friday: Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles

I keep telling myself next time I go to a southern food restaurant I *will* try something new. Like a meal with collard greens or black eyed peas or something. But no, since I rarely go to southern food restaurants, I tend to get the same, bad-but-oh-so-goood  weird but awesome combination: chicken & waffles. While hanging out in the city with my brother, he pointed this place out: Gussie’s.

chicken & waffles, a romantic meal..?


I was surprised at the low-lighting, almost romantic setting of the restaurant. Hope I don’t come off as a food racist (foodist?) or anything, but southern food, or at least chicken & waffles don’t give me that romantic dinner for two vibe. I’ve always imagined southern food as the ultimate comfort food where you just enjoy mom’s/auntie’s cooking, calories be damned.

When I was looking at the menu and tempted to try other non-waffle things, like collard greens and black eyed peas, I saw Gussie’s signature sweet potato waffles. Sweet potatoes. Waffles. I was doomed from the start. And of *course* I had to add the fried chicken. Pretty sketch of them to not automatically add the chicken, but whatever.


Gussie’s signature sweet potato waffles + fried chicken


I wish the chicken had a bit more meat in them, but the star of the show for me were the waffles anyway and they were amazing. And pretty big (that’swhatshesaid, sorry I had to). My brother and I shared jalapeno hush puppies while I washed it down with some southern sweet tea.

The sweet potato waffles alone are worth going to Gussie’s, but you can probably get more portion for your buck elsewhere. The place is definitely good enough that I’d want to try other food on the menu. Just don’t let me look at the chicken & waffles section. You can check out the website here: Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles

Foodie Friday: Tofu Cuban Sandwich

I am a sandwich fiend. I don’t know what makes sandwiches so awesome— they’re so…portable. And you can’t really mess it up. Plus I’m always a sucker for anything with bread.

Well, I tried this recipe right off the Food Network Magazine: a Tofu Cuban Sandwich. Alas I didn’t make the jicama sticks due to a lack of them at my grocery stores. The result, besides the burnt bread (>_>) , was tasty and pretty easy to make. It’s definitely a nice change from the standard, dull turkey or chicken sandwich. One of these I’ll definitely make some time on a Sunday and prepare it for a work lunch because eating out in San Francisco, as tasty as it is, is pricey.

I burnt the bread. I fail in life
I burnt the bread. I fail in life


Tofu Cuban Sandwich


1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
1 small onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 oranges

4 small whole-wheat hoagie rolls, split

1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 1/4 cups shredded low-fat low-sodium Swiss cheese (5 ounces)
2/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed
1/2 kosher dill pickle, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

I pretty much copied the recipe —minus the bits about the jicama sticks— which you can follow here .  After cutting the tofu into 8 pieces, soak it with the onion, garlic, OJ, and olive oil for about 5-10 minutes. Cook the tofu on a nonstick skillet until golden on both sides then add that plus the rest of the mixture/other ingredients on the bread roll and cook again on the skillet until the bread is toasted to your liking. In my case, the bread toasted *really* fast… If I ever find those darn jicama I’ll give that a go, but until then maybe I might put the chili powder that is meant for the sticks to the sandwich instead for a bit of kick? The peppers and juice give the tofu and sandwich a nice flavor, but might be plain for some without that “oomph.” This sandwich was kinda fun to make, burnt bread and all.

Foodie Friday: Mochimochimochimochi

Good news: I got a job. Huzzah!

Kinda sorta bad news: The commute leaves me zombified which I just trudge to my room and pass out to start the process all over again.

Good news: I’m pretty much eating my way through San Francisco so I’ll possibly have more Foodie stuff to post about. Huzzah!

About a month ago I was doing my usual Amazon book splurge and I finally decided to purchase a mochi recipe book I had my eye on for a while, thanks to Deb Aoki, a manga critic/ foodie who I kinda stalk on Twitter. So.

Put a face on any food and it becomes the cutest thing EVER
Put a face on any food and it becomes the cutest thing EVER

I *loooove* mochi and with my new baking, I figured why not? Doesn’t seem too bad. And it isn’t. Well, Jenn Fujikawa’s way anyway. She puts a lot more than just anko in her recipes—I tried a PB&J and sweet potato mochi (separate recipes of course). The PB&J mochi was hard since the book doesn’t state how much mochi to tear off and fill. Apparently I suck at guestimating so I ended up with gigantic ones and ones where it was ooozing with peanut butter and strawberry jam deliciousness. And you know what? That’s fine with me! The sweet potato was just a mix-and-bake deal. To be honest I’m not really sure if I did it correctly since the top of the “mochi” had a crispy exterior and had the feel and texture of a chewy bread than what I usually envision when I think of mochi, but it tasted good (so my friends say). Sad to say I think I forgot to take a picture of the sweet potato mochi. All in all, I like this book and will try the other recipes, especially the savory ones. I just wish there was more detail on the measurements and timing. Pictures for every recipe would have been nice too.

 the best looking ones of the lot
the best looking ones of the lot. Er, don’t mind the color


Saturday TV: Senyu, the 5 minute RPG parody

aka The Hero Who Gets Harassed By Everyone And Saves No One
aka The Hero Who Gets Harassed By Everyone And Saves No One

Title: 戦勇、Senyuu
Type: Anime
Status: Currently streaming
Where it can be found: Crunchyroll
Keywords: RPGs, parodies, MC-getting-butt-kicked-by-allies, snarky partners, anime

The blurb:

Long ago, there lived an evil being who reigned over the world through fear, called Satan Rchimedes. He invaded the human world with his many demon underlings, spreading madness and chaos everywhere. One thousand years ago, this menace was sealed by the hero Creation, and peace returned to the world.

Then, one day, a great hole suddenly appeared on the surface of the world, and a vast number of demons appeared. The king discerned that the menace Satan had returned after being sealed away for a thousand years, and decided to send the hero’s descendants to battle him. He found 75 men. As one thousand years had passed, you see, it was difficult to tell who the hero’s descendants were.

So the king declared that he would grant the title of “true hero” and great fortune to the one who defeated Satan, and ordered the new hero, Alba, and his warrior attendant, Ross, on a quest to bring down the evil Satan.

Though he struggles with lesser monsters and is even nearly killed by his partner Ross, Alba’s quest to polish his fighting skills leads him to new places and new meetings that he had never expected. Battles, laughter, and emotional moments enhance this adventure tale of an incompetent hero and a sadistic warrior!

Honestly, by the time you finish reading the summary you would be halfway through an episode of Senyuu since an episode is only 5 minutes total, including the intro and ending theme song. This show really is a hilarious gem though; any RPG gamer or anyone who knows their basic fantasy/hero setting can instantly catch the jokes of this show. Senyuu is one of those shows that doesn’t take itself and the genre it portrays seriously. I feel bad for the hero since he has to survive not being killed by his own partner, Ross (who is the most amazing snarkiest anime character I’ve seen in a while) and is surrounded by weird characters like the old knight who’s a proud lover of lolicon. Not only is it *really* funny, but it’s just relaxing to just watch a show and not have to pay too close attention to the plot. Plus it’s only *5* minutes!

Best moment yet: Ross, the hero’s partner cutting down the other hero/enemy while he yells out his super move and the hero being horrified that Ross did that. I’m pretty sure all RPG gamers have wanted to do this while the boss/enemy charges up for a move that might possibly kill you.

I believe anyone who has 5 minutes to spare and have a laugh should take a look at Senyuu. And by anyone, I mean everyone because everyone should have 5 minutes to spare, right?

Foodie Friday: Erik’s DeliCafe

Sad story, but true: due to my mom’s diabetic and kidney condition, she gets hospitalized. A lot. Ironically, the only food places around the hospital are Carl’s Jr.s and Jack in the Boxes. Fortunately, I found through Foursquare a little cute cafe/deli that sells tasty soups sandwiches and tempting baking goods. May I present, Erik’s Deli Cafe.

Turkey walnut pesto sandwich

The cafe is a bit on the pricey side, but I feel like I’m paying for the quality of the food. The best deal you can get is the half and half combination so I got the turkey walnut pesto sandwich and butternut squash soup. Man I forgot to ask them to take out the sprouts, but the turkey, avocado, jack cheese, walnut pesto aioli on the 9-grain wheat bread make up for it.



The store had cabin, antique feel to it. It’s cute


The only complaint I have is that they messed up my order the first and second time I went there, which is a bit annoying, but their food is tasty so I forgive them. Let’s hope third time’s the charm!


WoGF review: The Girl Who Got Around To Reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland And Loved It…

girl fairyland
The Alice in Wonderland of this generation? I hope so

Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Illustration: Ana Juan
Publisher: Square Fish
Type: Paperback, 247 p
Keywords: alice in wonderland, kids going to magical worlds and coming back awesome, whimsical words!, yummy food
Why? I’ve been meaning to read this book, or any of Valente’s works for a while now.  I also challenged myself to the Worlds Without End Women of Genre Fiction challenge and she just happens to be on the author list! Plus Neil Gaiman has a blurb on the cover. Neil. Gaiman.

In their words:

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

Are all fairy tales like this? Full of characters that are created so well that you feel that they’re real, regardless if they’re a wyverary or a golem made of soap? Are these so-called children/YA books full of deeper meanings and hiding behind a simple fairy tale storyline? If so, adults are missing out on a whole lot of books and I need to re-read all the books I read as a kid because GUYS this book is so gooood. Haven’t felt this kind of bittersweetness since reading John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. The writing really gave Fairyland that whimsical feel to it and gave me the impression that Fairyland is both a wonderful and kind of terrifying place to be. My favorite description has to be about the Autumn Provinces:

The trees go all red and blazing orange and gold, and wood fires burn at night so that everything smells of crisp branches. The world rolls about delightedly in a heap of cider and candy and apples and pumpkinds, and cold stars rush by through wispy, ragged clouds, past a mon like a bony knee…Autumn in Fairyland is all that, of course. You would never feel cheated by the colors of a Fairyland forest or the morbidity of the Fairyland moon.

Squeeze your eyes closed, as tight as you can, and think of all your favorite autumns, crisp and perfect, all bound up together like a stack of cards. That is what it is like, the awful, wonderful brightness of Fairy colors. Try to smell the hard, pale wood sending up sharp, green smoke into the afternoon. To feel the mellow, golden sun on your skin, more gentle and cozier and more golden than even the light of your favorite reading nook at the close of the day.

I also loved how Valente wasn’t afraid to be brutal to the protagonist September: from breaking bones, fighting an all-out brawl with a magical marid, and sailing around Fairyland naked. 0_o

And the characters! The snarky narrator! Death who can’t sleep because it dreams of people’s regrets. I want my own Wyverary! I want to hug Saturday and give him some tasty sea stones to eat! And the story of Queen Mallow is heartbreaking. Just another reason that this book rocks: not everything is black and white, good or bad. I love my books in shades of gray~

This book can be for everyone I think. For the lovers of quirky humor, stories that are deeper than first glance, and Alice in Wonderland, down the rabbit hole type of stories. Curses now I need to buy the sequel STAT. And what a good start for the WWEnd challenge! I think the next author I will try is Rae Carson, another author I’ve been meaning to read.

Here’s a sample of some of my favorite passages:

“I said ‘Hello!'”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“What?” said September, confused.
“Are you very dull or very deaf?” said the other woman, flinging an alarmed lizard into the cauldron.
“Oh!” cried the young man. “A little deaf child! How sweet! We should adopt her and teach her to write symphonies.  She’ll be all the rage in town. I’ll buy her a powdered wig and a tricorne!”

“Green! Stop it! I just want to know—”
“One! Because you were born in—”
“If I am special,” finished September, halfway between a whisper and a squeak. “In stories, when someone appears in a poof of green clouds and asks a girl to go away on an adventure, it’s because she’s special…”
…”But what I mean to say is: Maybe you meant to go to another girl’s house and let her ride on the Leopard. Maybe you didn’t mean to choose me at all, because I’m not like storybook girls. I’m short and my father ran away with the army and I wouldn’t even be able to keep a dog from eating a bird.”
The Leopard turned her prodigious spotted head and looked at September with large, solemn yellow eyes.
“We came for you,” she growled. “Just you.”

Feed Yourself With Some Soul Fo–Eater NOT! Vol 1-2

       SOULNOT_1     Ohkubo_SouleEaterNOTv2_TP

Title: Soul Eater NOT!
Manga-ka: Atsushi Ohkubo (大久保 篤)
Publisher: Yen Press/SQUARE ENIX
Why? Because I *love* Soul Eater
Keywords: Soul Eater, creepy-Nightmare-Before-Christmas-cute, girls, people turning into weapons, deathscythes, shinigami, school life


Ding-dong! DEAD-dong! Class is about to begin, and you don’t want to be late on your first day of school! Join Tsugumi Harudori in the NOT class at Death Weapon Meister Academy, a school dedicated to training transforming Weapons like Tsugumi and the Meisters who will wield them. Many NOT (Normally Overcome Target) students aspire to join the elite EAT (Especially Advantaged Talent) class, but it may take Tsugumi some time to find her confidence—and a partner—at this crazy school!

Where *exactly* is Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA)? Why do some people turn into weapons? What other weapons are there? How was Sid before he became a zombie? If you were burning with these questions, then this manga is for you! I like to think of SEN as Soul Eater Lite, or Soul Eater School Days. The story takes place before the storyline of Soul Eater and focuses on Tsugumi Harudori, a good-natured, but unsure Halberd weapon who can’t fully transform and is having a hard time choosing a meister. Right now her choices are between Meme, a girl who can barely remember her name, but can remember to kick someone’s ass when necessary, and Anya, a well-to-do girl who wants to learn more about the common folk. Think of a tsundere Tamaki from Ouran High School. This series gives a more lighthearted, school comedy tone to the Soul Eater universe, where it focuses on the antics of the three girls and their interactions with characters both new and familiar. That’s not to say there isn’t any action; it’s a school where half the kids turn into weapons after all. Behind the scenes students and teachers try and figure out the mysterious traitors that attack in Death City.

The three girls are, though formulaic, still entertaining to read. Tsugumi is unsure, but has her brave moments and tries. Plus she turns into an awesome weapon so I hope to see some badass-ery from her later on. There is fanservice, but it’s not distracting, plus the manga recognizes it with Anya making comments about the high skirts and wondering why they have to wear them.  Of course, fans of the main manga will enjoy the cameos. I loved the fact that Tsugumi adores Maka and enjoyed the little back story on how Kim and Jacqueline became partners. Sad to say I kind of squee-d a bit when Kid made a brief appearance and was being his OCD self. (I’m currently reading volume 18 in Japanese and I’m really freaked out at what’s happening with Kid right now.)

You can really see how far Ookubo has gone with the art after comparing the art in early Soul Eater art. I love his detail and use of space. I find in shonen manga panels can be tight and packed with background noise and action words, but Soul Eater almost has a minimalist look to it at times and it’s easier for me to take it all in and appreciate the art and detail.

The end of volume 2 ended on a sad and serious note so I’ll be waiting for volume 3. I think SEN is one of the few series where it can be read by both fans of Soul Eater and newcomers.

On another note, I really enjoy Yen Press’s publishing quality and like the direction they’re taking with manga-izing popular YA titles such as Gail Carriger’s Soulless and James Patterson’s Witch and Wizard. Keep it up, Yen Press!

M-M-M-M-M-Mad-Madness: Muse In Concert 1.28.13 @ Oakland, CA

Madness pretty much sums up my experience

Just looking at my pictures give me shivers about Monday night.

I can die happily knowing I was able to see one of my favorite bands ever live. I’ve heard good things about Muse live so my aunt (who is pretty much the only person I know that likes Muse too) and I went to Oakland to see them.

It’s hard for me to describe Muse’s music. When people ask what kind of music they play, the only word I can come up with is…”epic.” After watching them live I feel like the CD restrains the music and doesn’t let it go like how it sounds like in concert. I guess their awesome blend of rock, electronic and haunting, chorus-like melodies really go well for big arenas. The lights and special effects were a show all on its own. Crazy laser beams, inverted triangles, and the trippy video effects of the band and audience made it seem like I was part of a music video.

Epic group, epic performance, epic night. I already received an email about their upcoming performance in Vegas in March and I am *this* close to taking a mini vacation and seeing them again  seeing my family.

Next time I will try and get standing/arena seats so I can dance and rock out to my heart’s content. Everyone in the upper level was waaay too calm for Muse.

Found the set list on the San Jose Mercury News website:

More or less in order:

1. “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable”
My thought during the opening: Holy crap, and this was just the FIRST song!

2. “Supremacy”

3. “Hysteria”

4. “Panic Station”

5. “Supermassive Black Hole”
Twilight fans rejoice! >_>

6. “Resistance”

7. “Animals”

8. “Knights of Cydonia”
I felt like starting a riot during this song!

9. “Monty Jam”

10. “Sunburn”

11. “Time is Running Out”

12. “Liquid State”

13. “Madness”

14. “Follow Me”

15. “Undisclosed Desires”

16. “Plug in Baby”

17. “New Born”

18. Encore: “Uprising”

19. Encore: “Starlight”

20. Encore: “Survival”