Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Black Bear Diner (Fremont)

Chalk up another Black Bear Diner for me, my sixth so far (Fremont, Sonoma and Milpitas, CA; Bullhead City, AZ; St. George, UT; and Las Vegas, NV). 

And, as usual, it was an enjoyable dining adventure in the whimsically decorated theme restaurant. I mean, like bears all over the place. This one pretty much sneaks up on you, so as you drive along Mowry Avenue, south of Fremont Hub shopping area. 

Keep your eyes peeled ahead to the right for Mowry Landing Shopping Center, a small strip mall just past Blacow Road. Be prepared to turn right as soon as you cross Blacow. 

I would have taken a picture of the wife's meal, but she had a boring ol' soup and sandwich lunch – beef/vegetable soup and a tuna sandwich. For her, that hit the spot. For me, that would NOT have hit the spot. 

The last time I had Black Bear's Chicken-Fried Steak and Eggs was a few years ago in Bullhead City. The last time I EVER had chicken-fried steak was at Mil's Diner in Milpitas in April. So, I definitely was in the mood for it. 

The steak was crunchy-coated and tender, smothered by a most delicious country gravy. My two over-easy eggs were perfectly cooked to order, just oozing yolk all over the plate. And those country potatoes were just the way you'd want them to be – crispy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, dancing on the plate with red and green sweet pepper and onion bits. 

Their orange juice is sweet and freshly squeezed on site, by the way. Plus, I've never had a bad cup of coffee there, and this time ended up drinking at least three full mugs worth ... thrice my usual breakfast intake. But who's counting, anyway? 

I was thinking I'd have one of their apple cobblers for dessert, but there was no room left in my ample belly, so I passed this time.
Maybe next time?
Black Bear Diner: 5035 Mowry Ave. Phone (510) 796-8000.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Yuki Japanese Restaurant (Fremont) 2

I was in the mood for some sushi – no special okazu, no special side dishes – during our last trip to California, so I suggested we re-visit Yuki Japanese Restaurant.

While the other members of the family indulged in whatever they were hungry for, I munched on a wide variety of sushi off my Chef’s Combo platter.

I’m not so sure of all of the fish on the platter, but I do know I got some calamari, maguro tuna, shrimp, chiso-leaf wrapped cuttlefish, salmon, spicy tuna and ginger roll … and a couple of other freshly sliced fish on rice. All with the gari ginger and wasabi horseradish.

Major oishii-desu!

Yuki Japanese Restaurant, 1932 Driscoll Road. Phone (510)656-5021.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cafe Siena (Las Vegas)

I wasn't able to get convenient parking at Kona Grill in Boca Park, located in the Summerville area of Las Vegas, so I drove over to the nearby Suncoast Hotel and Casino to give their coffee shop – Cafe Siena – a try.

All I can say is, I should have gotten some fast food instead. The food at a Cafe Siena was pretty bad, not even average.

I ordered their Fish and Chips, which came with a pretty ordinary iceberg lettuce salad with over-toasted croutons and thousand island dressing.

Nestled amongst the chopped lettuce were two sour cherry tomatoes, a few thin gratings of carrots, and one slice of cucumber.

The fish wasn't tasty at all. Oh, it had a taste, but the taste was old. Also, the fish batter was very dark (not golden) brown. The chips (fries) were terrible. The cole slaw was okay, as was the tartar sauce.

I ate one fish stick out of three, about a half-dozen fries, and a few bites of the cole slaw, then called it a night.

I'm not going to eat there again, if I can help it.

Cafe Siena; Suncoast Hotel and Casino, 9090 Alta Dr. Phone (702) 636-7111.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dungeness Bay Seafood House (Seattle)

With a five-hour layover in Seattle, on my way home to Hawaii from Las Vegas (don't ask), I needed to get something to eat, having had nothing to eat since getting up at 6:45 to catch my first flight.

I'd checked the Sea-Tac website before leaving home, and made a note to eat at Anthony's Restaurant or Ivar's at the airport. That didn't work out, but I chanced upon the Dungeness Bay Seafood House near the S gates where I was scheduled to board my plane.

Click on Picture for Larger View
So ... Why not? I wasn't terribly hungry and thought, maybe a bowl of soup, perhaps. They did have Northwest Clam Chowder, along with a plethora of sandwiches and entrees. That's all I needed – so many choices I had a difficult time making up my mind.  Plus, I've read raves about their crab cakes.

The final choice? Dungeness Crab and Bay Shrimp Louis Salad. Lots of frisée greens, pretty yummy seafood, a hard-boiled egg (breakfast!), some matchstick cucumber, rich avocado, and sweet grape tomatoes, all ready to slather with thousand island dressing.

Pretty good. Nothing extra special, but pretty good.

Dungeness Bay Seafood House: Seattle-Tacoma (SEA-TAC) Airport, 17801 International Blvd. Phone (206) 244-2909.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nijo Castle Japanese Restaurant (Newark)

We had a very nice Japanese dinner here on a Sunday evening, a short 15-minute drive from my son's home in Fremont. There were some people sitting in the foyer, waiting for a table, so I was a little worried that they wouldn't have immediate seating for us.

We needn't have worried, those diners were waiting for a teppanyaki (tep-pahn-yah-key) table, and we wanted a table in the dining room. Niño Castle has four dining areas: the teppanyaki grill room, the sushi bar area, a regular bar area, and the main dining room.

Sushi bar

Portion of the main dining room

Teppanyaki room
It's not easy to decide on your selections when they seat you with their menus. There are dozens of sushi items, dozens of appetizers, dozens of entrees, and dozens of everything else. It'll take you a while to make up your mind, that's for sure. What's neat, though, is that they have an on-table push-button system that allows you to buzz your waitress when you're ready to order and/or have service requests.

Hiyayakko tofu

Grilled squid

Ha-te yaki scallops


For the table, my son and his wife ordered a few appetizers: Hiyayakko (hi-yah-yah-koh) chilled tofu topped with bonito, green onion and grated ginger), Hate Yaki (hah-teh-yah-key, grilled scallops on orange slices, topped with special sauce), grilled squid, abayaki (ah-bah-yah-key, seared white tuna) topped with a mustard sauce, a tsukemono (tsu-keh-moh-noh, pickled vegetables) tray, and a complimentary bowl of edamame (eh-dah-mah-meh) soy beans.

The wife ordered one of her usuals: yosenabe (yo-seh-nah-beh, seafood and vegetable soup in broth). They lugged a huge, steaming bowl over and placed it in front of her, jam-packed with crab legs, scallops, shrimp, clam, mussels, mushrooms, fish cake, tofu and vegetables. Needless to say, it was impossible for her to finish.

Or maybe it was because she nibbled on all of the appetizers and stole some of my food.

I ordered a box dinner. They started me off with a garden salad and miso soup. Good dressing ... reminded me of a thousand island vinaigrette.

I then had a choice of from two to four items from a long list. What I did was copy one of the illustrations on the menu and selected teriyaki BBQ beef short ribs (cut thin, Korean style), agedashi (ah-geh-dah-shi) tofu (tofu simmered in a lightly ginger-seasoned sauce, and assorted tempura (shrimp, sweet potato, carrot, mushroom, bean, broccoli).

I didn't swipe a taste of the wife's yosenabe, although she kept trying to foist off some of it to me. I was enjoying my dinner bento box too much for any of those shenanigans. The food was very good, nicely intensely flavored, nothing real subtle, (except for the light sauce in which my agedashi floated).

Nijo Castle's ambiance is very Japanese, except for a curious mix of cultures in the fountain at the entrance – a Japanese bamboo water sluice, ceramic frogs, and a little European cherub boy standing in the pool. But what the heck, the food is good. The place filled up, and by the time we left (on a Sunday evening, at that), the waitresses were in a second-gear hustle trying to keep up.

Nijo Castle Japanese Restaurant: 39888 Balentine Dr. Phone (510) 657-6456.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Original Pancake House (Fremont) 2

Awrighty, just a short report. We went back to the The Original Pancake House in Fremont so I could try their Apple Pancake. I didn't even have to look at the menu; I knew exactly what I wanted.

I took a while, but soon, there it was, taking up humongous space in front of me.

Totally delicious, eggy, almost like custard in a crust topped with sweet apples. Kind of like a French apple tartin and mighty, mighty filling.

I couldn't finish. In fact, I ate about 25% and the wife ate some, just enough to leave 2/3 remaining. Good thing I cut it in a few pieces before starting; it made it easier to take home, where we had it for breakfast and a snack the next day.

If you go to The Original Pancake House, no matter what city, make sure you try this.

The Original Pancake House: 39222 Fremont Blvd. (510) 744-1957.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

W Bistro at 1010 (Honolulu)

W Bistro at 1010 is at the corner of Victoria and King Streets, diagonally across King Street from the Honolulu International Center's Concert Hall.

It's where Le Guignol moved to about five years ago (a guess), from its original Kalakaua near King location. 

If you didn't know it was there, in the Medical Arts building, you might miss it completely. I think W Bistro opened early this year in January (I forgot to ask/confirm). 
I had their special iced tea before ordering – Lavender/Camomile. At first, I was a little concerned, for lavender can be a bit cloying if the flavor is too intense. The hostess assured me that it wasn't. She was right; it was very refreshing. It sure did look like a glass of ice-cold beer.

Our server, Bianca, was extremely helpful with her descriptions of the entrées, both the day's specials and menu listings. Which was good, because I was having a difficult time making up my mind. You know how it is when you dine somewhere for the first time and everything on the menu looks so good. 

The wife had no problem all. Her preliminary choice was Grilled Mahimahi, but when offered the Pan-Seared Onaga (red snapper) Special, she jumped ship and ordered it. 

Perfectly crusted to tender perfection and accompanied by a scoop of sweet Jasmine rice and a melange of fresh local vegetables, it looked, and tasted marvelous. 

As for me? I had a problem deciding. I mean, I first thought of getting an appetizer variety order of Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce, Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Puree and Bosc Pear, and Pork Belly with Bleu Cheese, Arugula, Grapefruit Slices and Corn Bread. Then, I shifted my thoughts to their Boneless Braised Short Ribs (because I love short ribs). 

The Steak Frites (Hawaiian-salted rib eye with veggies, butter and fries) made my eyes drool, the Special Poulet of the Day (chicken schnitzel) sounded delicious too. 

Well, I settled (wait, "settled" is not a good choice of words) ... I decided on their Seafood Coconut Curry – scallops, shrimp, fish in a spicy, creamy delicious curry sauce that caused the top of my head to moisten with perspiration, with strips of local sweet peppers and other vegetables. And, it came with two large scoops of Jasmine rice. 

Can you just imagine how wonder the curry sauce tasted with the sweet Jasmine rice? Yep, just as good as you might imagine. Man, that was good. 

A wonderful dinner deserves a great dessert. This time it was their best-selling favorite, White Chocolate and Blueberry Bread Pudding topped with a thick whipped cream (creme fraiche?) and a sprig of mint. Delicious. Sinfully delicious. 

W Bistro at 1010 is a BYOB restaurant with no corkage fee that's open for brunch (weekends), lunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinner (5 to 9 p.m.). They're closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
W Bistro at 1010: 1010 S. King St. Phone (808) 589-2295.