Categories
Foods

Under the Radar: Nara Thai

I have been living in Houston for almost 7 years and have visited many Thai places but I have never heard about this place before. One day, I was browsing the deals on Groupon, and found this place in Midtown area. Since the place is pretty close to my workplace, I invited my co-workers to join. When we passed the restaurant, one of my co-worker changed his mind because of the restaurant is next to the gas station and he was afraid that the food is going to be bad. We went to different place on that day

nara-thai  nara-thai-2

Couple days later, I convinced them to go to that place again. I told them that I will pay for their lunch. Once we get inside the place, it was completely different from what we see outside. It was clean and nice. They have awesome customer service.

I ordered Pad See Ew (I always order this when I go to Thai restaurant).
pad-see-ew
This place has the best Pad See Ew in Houston. I have gone to many Thai and other Asian places, but I had never eaten the fried flat rice noodle that as good as this one. It has rich flavor of the sweet soy sauce. This dish has similar taste to the Indonesian dish in Jakarta (Kwetiau Tek Tek).

I also tried the curry, it was OK (not the best).
yellow-curry

CHERUBSCORE: 9.0
Don’t judge the book by it’s cover.

This is the address of Nara Thai :
2111 Fannin St. Ste 109, Houston, TX 77002
Tips: Don’t go here at night for your safety.

Categories
Technology

Houston Traffic Widget for Mac OS X

I was trying to find the traffic widget on Apple website and could not find it. Luckily, I was able to find similar widget created by Luke FranclI and modified it. If you live in Houston area and need to see Houston’s live traffic on you dashboard, you can download this widget. It will do auto refresh on Yosemite.

Download link

Categories
Foods

Visiting Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Most of you probably have seen the cool documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The documentary tells us the story of Jiro Ono, one of the greatest sushi chef in the world. He received 3 stars from Michelin. For more story about him, you could watch the the trailer or buy the movie above.


After watching the documentary, I made the promise to myself when I am travelling to Japan. To make reservation, it is not easy thing to do. Many magazines or blogs mentioned that this place is the most difficult place to get into. They only have 10 seats in their stores and we have make the reservation 1 month before. The rule number one: you have to know somebody that speaks Japanese in Japan to reserve it. I did countless phone calls to concierges and hotels, none of them are willing to help me to reserve it. There reason was that if you miss the appointment, the person who make the reservation has to pay 10,000 yen /$100 cancellation fee. I almost gave up go somewhere else for sushi. Fortunately, I found the hotel that could make the reservation. Hint: Book a room at expensive hotel like Ritz Carlton, not in cheap hostel or love hotel.

Once I have received the confirmation, I bought my ticket to fly to Japan. My appointment was for dinner at 7pm. They have 2 locations, one in Ginza and the other one in Roppongi Hills. If you don’t speak Japanese, they usually send you to the Roppongi location. If you are Obama or Katy Perry, you probably could meet Jiro.

The chef in Roppongi location is Jiro’s younger son,  Ono Takashi. He is really friendly guy and speaks English.


OnoTakashi

During my visit, I was not the only foreigner in there. All of them are tourist that came from Europe and Brazil. When they asked me if I do not eat any certain sushi, I told them that I would eat anything (I just don’t want to miss any of good stuff >.<) . Usually for a meal you will get about 20 pieces of sushi, you are not gonna be hungry for sure.

These are the sushi pictures in the order they were served:

hirame
Hirame (flounder)
sumi-ika-cattlefish
Sumi-ika (squid)

 

The fish quality are the best one in Japan. When I bite the sushi, it was chewy and rich in flavor.

Mushi Awabi
Mushi Awabi (Abalone)

He served the the blue fin tuna sushi, from the cheap one (less fat) to the most expensive one. It was super amazing. I have never tried blue fin tuna that has rich taste and not fishy before. They found the secret to make the fish taste rich does not have fishy taste.

Akami
Akami (top part of blue fin tuna)
Chu-toro
Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna)
Oo-toro
Oo-toro (super fatty tuna)

 

 

kohada akagai IMG_2658 ikura kuruma-ebi Uni IMG_2666 IMG_2667 IMG_2670 IMG_2671 anago IMG_2675

Their Anago or salt water ell was super awesome. It was the first time for me and was delicious. It has rich and sweet flavor inside.

tamagoyaki

And for desert don’t forget to eat, Tamagoyaki, a cake made of egg. It is different from what I usually eat in US. In US, Tamagoyaki is similar to omelette. This one is more like a cake and sweet. The total bill was 28,000 yen or $280. It was probably the most expensive dinner ever for me, but it was really worth it. Definitely will come back.

CHERUBSCORE: 10/10 

Categories
Foods

The best BBQ in Texas: Franklin BBQ

Texas is well-known for their barbecue. One of the thing that I would do when I travel around Texas is to try the most popular BBQ in the town.  There are 3 different kind of BBQ in Texas; Central, East, and West Texas style. Each style has their own unique characteristics. For Central Texas, they put a lot of the focus on the quality and the taste of the meat. I would recommend to eat the BBQ without the sauce to feel the rich taste of it. The most popular place to find the Central Texas BBQ is Lockhart, which is the capital of Central Texas BBQ. I have been to  Black’s, Smitty’s, and City market in Luling, Texas.

Recently, I heard that there is one place in Austin that have better quality of BBQ. I also saw the Anthony Bourdain No Reservation show about this place. So I gave it a try last weekend.

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We went there about 9 AM in the morning to wait in the line. The place usually open around 11PM. The place has limited number of the BBQ, so make sure you come earlier, if you want to get the ribs. I have never seen the place like this before, people don’t mind to wait that long to get a BBQ. How about on the weekdays? Same thing.

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After waiting for 4 hours, finally we could order the BBQ. We ordered the sausage, pulled pork, pork ribs, beef ribs, and brisket.

How is it?
Sausage: Ok, can’t really tell. Not a really good indicator.
pulled pork: Ok, soft and tender.
Pork ribs: Really good. tender,rich, and sweet.

Beef ribs and brisket: HEAVEN, It is really amazing. I have never seen the BBQ that really tender and moist like this before. The temperature when he cooked it was perfect. We can feel the rich flavor in the meats. This is possible because Franklin use wood-fire smoker and oaks which gives a strong flavor to the meat.

CHERUBSCORE: 9.8

Franklin Barbeque
Address: 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702
Phone:(512) 653-1187

IMG_3264 IMG_3263 IMG_3262

Categories
Foods

First Bite: Ramen Jin, Houston

I heard about the rumor and news that the new ramen store will be opened in Westchase area since couple months ago. So yesterday my friends texted me to try their ramen on the second day of the opening. They got there around 6.45PM and started to wait in the line. I met them about 15 minutes later. The line was not too long, we still could line up inside the building. (It is really cold outside).
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The wait time is really looooong. I saw many people just gave up and left. The line was moving 1 feet every 10 minutes. The problem was that they could not cook fast enough to keep up with the number of the customers. They also did not have enough people that work as the waiter. The cashier had to help cleaning and delivering the food to the table. We saw a lot of empty tables (almost half of the store), while we are standing and waiting to order the food at the cashier. The wait time on the line was 2 hours and 30 minutes.
We ordered Tonkotsu ramen noodles and few appetizers.IMG_3208
T
he one that I order called Gua Bao. It came to our table not long after we sat down. It has the crispy pork in it. So where is our ramen?

30 minutes have passed already…..
We were still waiting in our table without our ramens. They might put our order in the wrong order. A lot of people that ordered after us, got their food already. My comrades started to lose their will to fight. Our vision started to get blurry.

Oh well, Finally the ramen is here… (It is better to be good, after that long suffering).

IMG_3209

Let me break it up into several component of the ramen:
The broth/soup: tasted like water, no flavor (literally).
Egg: Tasted like normal egg, just half-cooked
Pork Slices: Soft and tender, but too salty
Noodle: Too hard and no flavor. They should cook it longer to make it softer and let the noodle absorb the flavor from the broth.

CHERUB SCORE: 6.5

I hope that they could improve the quality of their ramen and service. At the moment Tiger Den in Chinatown is still my first choice for ramen in Houston area.

Categories
Racing

Need For Speed – MSR Cresson

I have been a big fans of racing since i was little. I love to watch the F-1 GP on the TV and play racing video games. Last weekend, I have a chance to do it on the track.

I attended 2 day driving school with Driver’s Edge. It is really good school: good instructions, cheaper compared to other driving schools, and good management. They taught me how to make a good driving line on the track, to brake before the turn, and hit the apex.

The track is located about 1 hour from Dallas, Texas. We were driving on 3.1 mile track configuration and going counter-clockwise. This is the track layout.

Track_Layout_3_1

And this is the video from my last session there. It was recorded with my iPhone 5 (great phone, but i can’t turn off the image stabilization).

Categories
Foods

Houston best pizza: Pizzeria Solario

I have been making a review of Asian foods so far, so how about any other food? Don’t worry, this time it the time for Italian food review. Found this new place from Houston Chronicle website. The place is located in Greenway Plaza area, in the apartment complex behind Costco. It just opened about one month ago.

This is the exact address:
3333 Weslayan St #100
Houston, TX 77027.

Solario Pizza-6Solario Pizza-5

The pizza that they are making is different from what i usually eat from Pizza Hut. Their pizza style is called Neapolitan Style Pizza. It has the wet look because of the olive oil and mozarella. The pizza itself is thin and designed to be eaten by using knife and fork. They use the wood fired oven to cook the pizza.
Solario Pizza-3 Solario Pizza-7

What to order? My friends and me ordered 3 different kind of 12-inch pizza. See below

These pizza has a good balance in tomato sauce, mozzarella, and olive oil. You could feel the richness of the tomato sauce and the cheese at the same time. The thickness of the pizza was perfect, not too thick and crunchy. The bottom of the pizza is not too burn and cooked at the perfect time. When you order the pizza, don’t forget to add an egg on top of it. 🙂

CHERUBSCORE: 9.0

Is it really 9.0? Don’t worry, I have many experiences with pizza, I have visited various pizza places in Houston such as Bombay Pizza, Pass and Provision, Buca di Beppo, Romanos’s Pizza. I think this is still the winner out of all.

Categories
Foods

Ramen Adventure in Tokyo: Ichiran Ramen

Now I am going to share with you all about my little adventure in Tokyo, Japan. I went there last year (2012) during spring season. The main reason of my trip was to visit the most populated city on earth, go to Mount Fuji, and enjoy the cherry blossom. One of the thing that i should not miss is to try their local food. So, i did google search and looked for the popular ramen shop over there.

After couple hours of researching, i found this place called Ichiran ramen, located on Ueno Station (7-1-1 Ueno Taito-ku Tokyo-to 110-0005). The place was not too far from the hotel where i was staying. Tokyo is really convenient city. Basically, you don’t need car to go everywhere in the city. They have really good public transportation.

Please check this map of Tokyo subway system
Tokyo Metro subway map

Subway Map [English]

Back to the topic, So i went to the station where this place is located. Was it easy to find this place? 🙂 I got lost in this station.

Fortunately, there is a nice janitor that was willing to direct me to the place. My Japanese was not that good at that moment. What i did was showing him the name of the place on my phone 😛

Finally, I found the place!!!

The place is not big. It has 27 counter-seats and 10 table seats. When I came to the restaurant, the employee greeted me in Japanese, he told me to sit in one of the cubicle there.

He explained how to order the food (in English). I had to do my order from the ticket vending machine. He also gave me the form to specify my ramen preference. I could specify the thickness of the broth, the softness of the noodle, the saltiness of the soup, etc.
You could find more instruction from this website http://www.ichiran.co.jp/english/html/oshokuji.html

I ordered the tonkotsu ramen with extra meats. After waiting for about 10 minutes, they brought the ramen bowl to my booth.
ichiran ramen

The ramen was perfect. The broth has really rich taste, the meat was tender. The noodle was cooked perfectly, you can feel the texture and the softness of the noodle. The Ramen came with their signature red sauce on the ramen. The red pepper sauce did not kill the taste of the ramen, It has a good balance.

CHERUBSCORE: 9.6
Note: This place opens 24 hours. So if you are hungry at night or lost in subway station, this is the good place to go.

 

Categories
Foods

Sushi Zo – Los Angeles Review

 

sushi-zo-2

 

sushi-zo-1

When I was in LA. I got a chance to try this sushi restaurant. This place only serve omakase style sushi. It means that the chef will serve the sushi randomly. I was not even know what sushi will be coming next.

Based on my sushi knowledge, this place has really good quality sushi. They are fresh and unique. Most of the sushi in here are marinated and the waiter tell us not to put extra soy sauce.

Wait…. Where is the wasabi?

My friend asked the waiter for more wasabi. The waiter told him that they can’t give us more wasabi. Looks like they are using the real wasabi instead of the fake one (horse radish) that we usually have on the Japanese restaurant.

Reason: The price of the real wasabi is soooooo expensive.

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Don’t expect to see Californian roll or crunchy rolls (Americanized version of sushi), they only serve Nigiri style sushi. Most of the people that work there are Japanese including the chefs.  So if you want to know the taste of real Japanese sushi, you can visit this place.

CHERUBSCORE: 9.0

The place is located at
9824 National Blvd  Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 842-3977

sushizo-bill
How much was the cost?
We spend for about $200/person. 🙁
sushi-zo-34
Don’t forget to order the sake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFF TOPIC

If you still hungry and need to try more sushi, try this sushi pizza from JW Marriott’s L.A. Market Restaurant

IMG_7280

Categories
Foods

Kata Robata and Foie Gras

One day, when i was browsing my netflix account, i found the korean Tv series called “Pasta“. In that Tv series, i learned about many Italian cuisines. One of the food that caught my attention is Foie Gras. Foie Gras is the French word for fat liver. It is made of the liver of the duck or goose.

After doing the research on the yelp and asking my friends, i found out that Kata Robata is serving Foie Gras. I have visited that restaurant couple times. They have good and fresh Japanese food.

The place is located on

3600 Kirby Dr  Houston, TX 77098

On their menu, they have several food with the foie gras. I tried the Foie Gras Sashimi

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The flavour of the foie gras is so rich. Once i put it in my mouth, i could feel the rich taste of the oil. It melted inside my mouth. This food is in my list of “life changing experience”.

CHERUB SCORE: 9.5

One other thing that i tried is the miso crusted bone marrow, Which also really good. hmm.

Bone marrow

I wanted to try their O Toro (blue fin tuna), unfortunately it was sold out :(. Well, maybe next time