Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Pink Elephant (San Francisco SoMA District)

This blog has taken a hiatus for some time, but I am kicking it back alive with a new restaurant review!
This review is for The Pink Elephant, in San Francisco's Financial District. This gastropub was opened just three months ago, but already have four stars on Yelp!
They have a full menu on weekdays for lunch and dinner, but only serve brunch on weekends. Even so, the brunch menu is quite decent, with a selection of omelette, eggs benedict, french toast, and a variety of burgers. 

Weekend brunch menu

My friend and I ordered the lamb burger and french toast. We were impressed with how good the food was! The lamb burger came with garlic fries and a side salad of onions, carrots and peppers. Served medium-cooked, the patty was very juicy, with juice oozing out as I cut it. The brioche bun was soft and mildly sweet, the way I like it. The tomato sauce (not ketchup) had a Mexican touch to it, true to the roots of the chef who designed the menu. (p.s. It is always fun to speak to the chef, you can learn so much about what everything on the plate is!) I also like how I did not get a greasy after-taste from the burger, something that really spoke about the quality of the ingredients.

The french toast was delectable. I loved how they used raisin and poppy bread, which made the flavor more complex and interesting. All the ingredients were fresh, with a generous helping of fruit, alongside whipped cream and syrup. The surprise was the chili whipped butter served atop the fruit, a concoction personally made by the chef (as with all sauces and marinades, apparently). It was very lightly-flavored, and complemented the toast quite well. 
Lamb burger with garlic fries and side salad of onion, carrot and peppers
Look how juicy the lamb patty is! 
French toast with lots of fruit, and topped with a house-made chili-whipped butter

Given that it is a pub, we had to try their beer after all. An extensive beer menu, there was at least 10 pages of beer selections from several countries, such as Belgium, Japan, America, etc. I tried their Hitachino Nest Red Rice beer, recommended by the owner to be a slightly sweeter beer to cater to my sweet tooth. Indeed, the beverage was easy on the palate, refreshing with sweet undertones.

I also liked their decor -- modern and simple, it was a rather relaxing environment, suitable for friends to chill out at. The staff were friendly and hardworking as well. All in all, I would return to this gastropub to try out their weekday menu and other beers (many looked very interesting), as well as their $1 Monday happy hour (5-7pm) oysters.

Entrance to the gastropub
  • The Pink Elephant
  • 142 Minna St 
  • San Francisco, CA
  • (this is a side street in the Financial District, SoMa, right next to a parking structure, how convenient)
  • (415) 757-0622

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Pork cheek

Lately I have been frequenting the Mountain View farmer's market, and getting there early for... guess what? Pork cheek! This is one of the more tender and succulent (though fatty in some places) parts of the pig that is not too well-known, partly due to its small limited quantities. However, this cut is also pretty cheap, half the price of pork chop! The lady that I buy from (Full of Life farms -- haha what an irony) says that they normally one have 1 or 2 packs of cheek every week, therefore I try to wake up early on Sunday to get there when they first open. My efforts have paid off so far ^_^
Check out what I've made with my pork cheek (costing only $2.60) this week! 
Yakitori! Marinated in teriyaki sauce, sesame oil and white pepper. I grilled my meat by putting the skewers on a metal steamer rack, in the oven at 375 F. Just remember to put some foil under the meat to catch catch the dripping oil and sauce, and turn the meat occasionally for thorough grilling.
Status: Half-cooked after 5 min at 375F on the grill

Ready for dinner!

Bread pudding

Bread pudding is one of my favorite comfort desserts! I have been craving it for a while now, so I finally got down to making it =)
Here's the recipe (really easy) to make a 8-inch square pan of moist bread pudding!


  1. 6 slices of bread (stale bread preferred)
  2. 1/2 cup raisins
  3. 4 eggs, beaten
  4. 2 cups of milk
  5. 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  6. 3/4 cup of sugar (I like to do a mix of white and brown sugar)
  7. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  8. 3/4 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  9. 1/4 tablespoon of nutmeg
  1. Heat up the oven to 350 F, or 175  C.
  2. Cut the crusts off the bread, and tear the bread into big chunks.
  3. Lay the bread and crusts loosely in the pan. (See first photo; I also line my pan with parchment paper to minimize the amount of washing I have to do afterward)
  4. Sprinkle raisins amidst the bread.
  5. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and mix well.
  6. Pour the egg mixture onto the bread. 
  7. Make sure that the bread soaks up the egg mixture, using a fork to press lightly on the bread. (see second photo)
  8. Put the pudding into the oven, and let it bake for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped. (see third photo)

Ready to eat! Enjoy! 
Placing bread and raisins loosely in a parchment-lined pan

After adding the egg mixture

Done and ready to eat!

Thursday, 3 October 2013


It's been a long three months since I last wrote here, and a lot has happened! 
For two weeks in late June I went to London, where I had spent three years getting my undergraduate degree. I experienced so much over a short holiday, things that I didn't appreciate or had the insight to explore when I was a student. I am really glad for my sister for showing me that side of London that I had missed, and even now I miss the UK all the more. 
Lately I have been trying to reconnect with my artsy, non-science side (this blog was one of my baby steps). Being in a relationship with your PhD and with a long-time boyfriend somehow made me lose touch with my non-science, non-girlfriend side, a side of me that I missed sorely and which I had not realized how much was a definition of "me". So I started reading more, listening to more art/personal development-related talks (TED has a good selection), and doing more yoga at home. I also started taking Japanese lessons, a language that has always held interest for me (I'm admittedly a big Japan-phile), and joined a ballet class on campus. 

The ballet classes made me realize how much I had missed dance as a defining part of who I am; I could never get that feeling from social dance such as salsa or waltz. Sure, it's fun dancing with other people, but ballet (and chinese dance which I did for 12 years of my past life) is the kind that allows you to express your interpretation of the piece with your body, and yours alone. The concentration on perfect execution lets me forget everything else, while doing something that I'm good at without really thinking about it. I suppose that is what being in flow feels like (for those unfamiliar with the term, watch this!), and I relish in the contentment of the moment. Unsurprisingly I experienced the same with my new piano, after having not played for so long.
In addition I also made some adjustments to my daily life, such as waking up earlier in the morning, which makes me feel more productive by lunchtime, and making the effort to bike to work once a week. Oh, and revamping my wardrobe, of course.
A part of growing up? Maybe. 
I have much to post about, food-related, and hopefully that would come soon when I stop procrastinating about organizing my thoughts. 
To end off, here's a neat article about how to cultivate more creativity in your life. I like the part where they wrote: "true fulfillment lies not in the finished product, but in the creative work itself. Distinguish between acknowledgement and achievement. Find joy in your labors. Strive for mastery.", which is really what I like about cooking and baking.
=) Happy autumn! It's time to play with layers and colors!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sumiya Yakitori (Santa Clara)

We came here for date night today. It was our first time here, and it was not bad. The yakitori items we ordered were: pork belly, duck breast, shitake with bonito, kalbi, and chicken thigh. We liked the pork, duck and kalbi best. The shitake was a bit too salty, and the chicken thigh was a little rough. The pork belly had a good fat to meat ratio, and the duck and kalbi were succulent and well-cooked. 
We also tried two other items from the menu: baked avocado with chicken cheese mayo, and Nagoya-style calamari. These were delicious as well -- the calamari was sweet and peppery; it tasted like grilled Ika but with a bit of breading (though not too much). The baked avocado came on a hot plate, and was a generous serving (perhaps too much for two persons) of chicken cheese mayo topped over a baked half-avocado, with salsa on the side. Pretty interesting!

We did notice a difference between Sumiya and Sumika at Los Altos (more expensive) though. The meat, especially the pork and chicken, were better quality at Sumika. Also, the pork belly at Sumiya had some of that soft thin film that you get when you don't grill your meat entirely over a grill, but on a piece of foil, so the meat wasn't entirely dry all around. 
We were pretty stuffed after dinner, and will probably come here for yakitori if we are lazy to make our own, but will go to Sumika for that nice, fancy and perfect yakitori experience.

Nagoya-style Calamari and pork belly yakitori

Baked Avocado topped with chicken cheese mayo and salsa

Shitaki with bonito


Medium-cooked kalbi

Chicken thigh yakitori

Sumika Yakitori
2634 Homestead Rd
Santa Clara, CA 95051
(408) 973-0604

Tea Era

Bubble tea (or boba) is a long-lasting fad in the Bay Area. By far, Tea Era at Castro St, Mountain View, is the best place to get boba. We're lucky that we live so close by!
We usually get the roasted barley milk tea, or the ceylon milk tea. My other favorites are taro milk tea, lavender milk tea, and his favorite for a hot day (like today!!) is honey longan tea. Their pearls are always consistently soft yet chewy (not under- or over-cooked).

Today I tried a new flavor -- dark plum green tea. Yum! (I'm a fan of choya ume by the way.) I added coconut jelly to my tea and it went pretty well! The dark plum is sour but sweet, just right for a hot afternoon. He thought his honey longan was a bit too sweet so we poured it into our glass flask with water and ice -- surprise! Physics at work at home! See the photo below for how the fluids separated out by their respective densities.. Cool!

Dark plum green tea with coconut jelly from Tea Era

Physics at work at home, approved by shiba

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Nutella Mug Cake

This is a ridiculously simple recipe. It makes one mug of cake, almost instantly, and requires only a microwave. Tastes like a normal cake! It is really apt for people who like instant gratification, and makes me wonder why we even bake cakes.... Anyway, here goes!

  1. 4 tablespoons self-rising flour
  2. 4 tablespoons sugar
  3. 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  4. 3 tablespoons Nutella
  5. 3 tablespoons milk
  6. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  7. 1 egg (Added last!)
  1. Add everything together in a mug, and whisk till smooth. 
  2. Cook in a microwave at full power for 1.5 to 3 minutes  (cooking time depends on the power of your microwave). You can also have fun watching it rise and cook!
  3. Ready to eat!! (I also lightly microwaved some marshmallows on the side to eat)
Like I wrote above, it is soft, and tastes just like a normally-baked cake (a bit more crumbly though), and pretty yummy for a late-night snack!

Bon appetit!