Back to the Bay

First I’d like to thank Chris for being such a great host. Next I’d like to thank Dave and Lexie for showing us around Monterey Bay.

It looks like I was able to escape part of the Seattle heat wave this weekend. I flew down to the bay area to visit Chris and Dave. I’ve been meaning to visit Chris and the bay area for some time. When I went back to LA in May, Dave had mentioned he had a hapkido tournament in Berkeley sometime in August and I thought it’d be great to meet up then. After some coordination, the trip was set.

I flew into SJC. The airport was really nice and apparently I was in the new terminal because Chris didn’t even know the terminal I was at existed. On my way back, there was also a lady standing in front of my gate telling people getting off the plane that this was the new terminal and they should definitely check out the bathroom. A bit weird, but okay… It was also awesome that SJC had free wi-fi.

Ryowa

The only thing I wanted to check out in Berkeley was Ryowa, a really good ramen place. When Chris mentioned that there was a Ryowa in Mountain View, we knew we had to go there for lunch on Friday. The ramen was awesome as expected, but I was sad that the special fried chicken was only offered during dinner on weekdays. Mmmmm, special fried chicken. Next time!

Update: Forgot to mention that while eating ramen, I get an unexpected call from Derek C. Apparently he’ll be in town the same weekend Darryl and Heang are coming up. Sweet!

Santana Row

Dave and I hung out at the Valley Fair mall and Santana Row while we waited for Chris to get off work. Santana Row looked very familiar and when I saw the Maggiano’s, memories of eating there came back. It wasn’t until I saw the Ramada Inn next to Mercado that I began to piece things together. The memory is still a bit fuzzy, but Carol, Dave, and I apparently took a trip to visit the Monterey Bay aquarium a few years ago. Along the way, we thought it’d be nice to visit Chris, but it turned out he was out of town. Apparently the hotel we stayed at is literally just ~5 mins from Chris’ current apartment.

Getting Chris Drunk

The highlight of this trip was getting Chris drunk.

We had dinner at this really good Indian place in Santana Row called Amber India. After dinner, we tried looking for a quiet bar where we could sit and chat, but was unsuccessful in locating one. We opted to pick up some stuff at the supermarket and chill at Chris’ place. We picked up some rum and coke and went back to watch Role Models on Dave’s laptop. It was like back in our old college days.

Halfway through the movie, we got the munchies. Since none of us were in the condition to drive, we decided to walk to Safeway. We all took another shot before leaving. The stuff was pretty gross. I believe it was Southern Comfort. Turns out Chris is also a happy drunk and the walk to Safeway and back was filled with very fun stories. After getting back, we decided to do another round of shots. Apparently I suck at measuring shots, which turned out more like 2 shots each. I guess it didn’t help that we took shots out of mugs. ;p

I don’t think we ever finished the movie, as chatting and catching up was so much more fun. Dave passed out on the couch and after a bit more chatting, we all hit the sack.

Monterey Bay

There were originally plans to drive up to San Francisco, but being unable to decide what we wanted to do in the city, we opted instead to go down to Monterey Bay and check out Point Lobos and the Purple Beach. We met up with Lexie and she was an awesome guide! We learnt really interesting tidbits about the area, why there were currently so many seals and sea lions around the area, how to spot whales from land, what the difference between a seal and sea lion was, and so on.

Seals

Did you know that seal’s pectoral fins (flippers) are less developed compared to a sea lion? As Dave would say, seals are like sausages in the sea, flopping around. Also apparently seals don’t make much noise if any, and if you hear barking, it’s most likely from a sea lion.

Lexie’s also about to begin training sea lions and dolphins to tag sea mines which sounds so cool!

China Beach

I didn’t take any pictures on this trip so I’ve decided to steal a couple from Dave. Plus he has the nicer camera. ;p

I was sad I wasn’t able to try out Lexie’s Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut bread that Chris and Dave praised so highly about.

Before leaving Monterey, Lexie and Dave recommended Turtle Bay Taqueria for dinner. They had some really good Mexican seafood dishes. Their salsa was awesome too. They had this really hot salsa called X’nipec (meaning dog’s nose or something like that) and you just can’t stop eating that salsa, because it’ll burn like crazy.

Inception

We didn’t get back to San Jose till later in the evening. Since neither Chris nor I could ever decide on anything, I suggested watching Inception. Chris hasn’t seen it yet and I had wanted to rewatch it for some time. I also got Chris to invite his friend who had also wanted to see Inception and she joined us on the adventure.

It was just as awesome as the first time and this time I picked up on the several new parts which I had missed. I still couldn’t make out what Mal said during the train scene. I swear to god I still hear her shout, “You’re the devil.” Guess I’ll have to wait for the DVD/Blu-ray.

Things definitely close way too early in San Jose. We were trying to find a coffee shop or boba place after the movie, since how can you not have discussions about the movie after something this epic. Both Yelp and Urbanspoon failed us. Everything close by appears to be closed by 10, even on a Saturday night. Unfortunately, we had to part ways after the movie.

Half-Moon Bay

On my last day down in the bay area, I requested we go to In-n-Out for lunch. Mmmmm. It’s been years since I had In-n-Out and the burger was awesome. Zagat just released that Five Guys beat In-n-Out, taking the crown for the best fast food burger. There’s actually a couple Five Guys here in Seattle. Should definitely check them out sometime.

After lunch, we drove to Half-Moon Bay and hung out at the beach for some time. In retrospect, it would’ve been awesome to have brought a football with us or anything to throw around.

Finally it was time for me to go home. I wasn’t looking forward to returning to 90F+ weather after being in the bay area which was 78F and sunny. Look what happened to the soda can I left in my car! When I got back to my house, my thermostat registered 89F (this was at 9PM). After opening all my windows and waiting half an hour, it dropped back down to ~80F.

Final Thoughts

Listening to the Inception soundtrack and falling asleep on the plane is awesome, especially when there’s a screaming kid sitting across the aisle. According to my Zune, I’ve listened to the entire album 50+ times already.

After switching to my messenger bag, I had opt to leave out a bunch of things since there was less space compared to my backpack. However, during this trip, I realized I needed to add the following back:

  • Zune charger
  • Ethernet cable
  • USB Jump Drive

I got a bit sunburnt again, but not too bad, just a reddish hint.

It looks like I found some new travel buddies. One of the many conversations we had that night was about traveling. There’s a lot of places I would like to visit, but I hate traveling alone. Traveling with companion(s) is so much more fun as you get to share the experience. So Chris, Dave and I were talking over places we’d like to visit. (Side note: For some reason I thought Dubai was in Africa, but it’s really in the Middle East.) Anyway, we decided to start small, with places in the US (New York, D.C., Chicago, Boston, etc.) and then move onto far away lands (Australia, Asia, Europe, etc.). On a similar but unrelated note, we’re trying to plan a snowboarding trip up to Whistler in December or January.

Bite of Seattle + Inception

The password for the following post is: inception

Felt a bit weird to just have a post telling you the password of the following post, so I’ll talk a bit about Bite of Seattle.

Bite of Seattle was fun as usual, though also very crowded as usual. The worst part was getting off the freeway on Mercer. Finding parking wasn’t too bad once you got past the Seattle Center.

All of us got the sampling plate from The Alley which consists of a samples from 7 different restaurants in Seattle for $10:
The Alley Plate
This samples were surprisingly delicious, though I wasn’t too fond of the chilled soup.

When I first saw the Dungeness crab and Berkshire pork sausage, I thought they were cinnamon buns. The sausage was really good!
Dungeness crab and Berkshire pork sausage

We walked around a bit more and checked out some more stands. We then went to the Pacific Science Center IMAX where our movie was going to start at 8. Surprisingly the line wasn’t as long as when they were airing The Dark Knight, though it was sold out several days ago. Guess word of Inception hasn’t gotten around yet, but this movie was definitely amazingly awesome!!! It was not only really fun, but very thought provoking. Don’t want to spoil anything here, but you can check out the trailers. I’ll be making a follow-up post for discussion, and the password for the following post is: inception

Awesome Saturday

Today was so nice! Weather was just perfect!

Since neither Xyon nor Chad have ever tried dim sum, we had been planning to do dim sum for sometime. This weekend turn out to be a great day to do dim sum. I took them to O’Asian, one of the better dim sum places around here, but even that’s not really saying much. If you really want good dim sum, you go to LA or Vancouver, but we had to make do with what we had. Surprisingly their favorite dish was 合桃蝦 (shrimp and walnut), which technically isn’t really a dim sum.

After dim sum, Xyon had to go help Janine pack, while Chad and I went browsing through downtown. Chad had to meet a friend in the city later and his choice was to go home and come back later or hang around till then. I had nothing better to do, so we just hung out around the city. It was such a nice day, so we just walked everywhere.

We first headed to Pike Place Market. At first I thought this was my first time here when everything was opened given that I used to wake up at 4pm on the weekends, but then I recalled I probably took my mom and sister here at a reasonable hour. While going through Pike Place Market, there was this long line in front of this donut shop called Daily Dozen. I asked a random girl if the donuts were really good, and her reply was “They’re awesome!”

Daily Dozen donut making machine

I snapped this picture. Now I want my own donut making machine! I already have a deep fryer. I just need something to make dough turn into O’s.

After chilling at Pike Place Market for awhile, we headed over to International District as I wanted to find a red envelope and a wedding card and Chad wanted melonpan. Oh yeah that reminds me, during dim sum, we had wanted 菠蘿包 (pineapple bun), since I told Chad it’s basically the Chinese equivalent of melonpan, but they had already sold out at noon. Technically pineapple bun’s don’t have any pineapple in it. It’s just that the top crust resembles a pineapple. According to Wikipedia:

Melonpan and pineapple bun from Hong Kong are very similar. By comparison the Japanese style is lighter in weight and taste, slightly dryer and has a firmer outer layer (including top cookie crust) which resists to flaking unlike its Hong Kong counterpart which should be treated with care as the top cookie crust tends to flake easily. The Hong Kong version is also more moist and is generally soft on the outside and inside and has a stronger butter flavour.

Unfortunately there’s no Japanese bakery in International District, so no melonpan. I have been told they sell awesome melonpan somewhere in Lynnwood, but they sell out around noon everyday.

We browsed through Uwajimaya and Kinokuniya, but I wasn’t able to find anything that I particularly liked. They also didn’t have any wedding red envelopes. I had found some wedding red envelopes in the Bellevue Uwajimaya, but they didn’t look that nice and came in packs of 10. Why would I ever need 10 wedding red envelopes. Save for the future? This bigger Uwajimaya didn’t even have wedding red envelopes, just regular lucky ones.

We walked a bit more around International District trying to find a store that might sell wedding cards or red envelopes, but that ended up being fruitless. I personally wouldn’t know what type of store would sell wedding cards and red envelopes. My best guess was a gift shop. We stopped by Gossip to get boba milk tea and sat at the park across the street while we enjoyed the sun and let our legs rest for a bit. It was quite funny trying to explain to Chad what boba meant in Chinese, since it doesn’t mean tapioca. I’m not going to explain it here, but you can read more about it at Urban Dictionary (2nd entry).

Afterwards we took a bus to Westlake shopping center and just hung around Nordstrom and Pacific Place and checked out mostly clothing stores. We ended up in a real Papyrus store (not one of the fake ones where you see a section inside a supermarket) and Chad helped me pick out a really nice wedding card, which I approved. Now I just need to figure out what to write inside of it. Haha. Chad took a big hit in his wallet when we went through Express for Men. Our trip ended in Barnes & Noble, where we hung around there until Chad had to leave.

Earlier, I had planned on getting roast duck for dinner. I was already downtown and it’s been awhile since I had roast duck. However, Tekman and texted me earlier asking if I was coming to his Cinco de Mayo party and I had totally forgotten about it. I replied asking when it was going to end as I was still downtown with Chad at that time. His reply was probably very late as usual. So now that Chad was gone, I called Tekman asking if they wanted roast duck (I still had that roast duck craving). He said he would very much like roast duck. Perfect! I didn’t have to finish all the roast duck by myself + now I get all the extra goodies Angel and Tekman were making.

While I was at Ocean City waiting for them to chop up my duck, I asked the waitress where I could find red envelopes and they pointed me to a book store a block up the street. I guess I should’ve asked for instructions earlier on instead of walking around International District looking for a gift store. Turns out this bookstore sells red envelopes individually and it was only $0.60. Hating carrying change around, I told the shop owner to keep the change (唔使找 – interesting… to make change in Cantonese uses 找 which means to find). However the shop owner insisted I take the $0.40. Oh well.

I headed over to Tekman’s afterwards and enjoyed really awesome tacos and enchiladas. Angel also made these awesome sugar cookies (with lime and zest?). The company there is awesome as usual and the conversations are always intellectual, intriguing, and fun. I played a bit of Rock Band and later switched to Dominion. I got pwned in Dominion every time. Haha. I ended the night by having some of Angel’s awesome margarita cake.

I wonder how many times I used the word awesome?

Christmas Came A Day Early

My Amazon package wasn’t suppose to come till tomorrow, but I guess the delivery guy decided to bring Christmas a day early!

First I got the 2 books I ordered:

Sh*t My Dad SaysLeast I Could Do Beginnings - Look At Me!

Sh*t My Dad Says is by someone I follow on Twitter (@shitmydadsays) and his dad says the most hilarious stuff. I expect no less than cracking myself up when I read this book. Least I Could Do is a daily web comic which I follow and I love their Sunday strips as that’s when they do the “Beginnings”, a strip about when Rayne was a kid. I’ve been looking forward to pick up The Beginnings comic books for awhile, but they’re quite expensive if you purchase them directly + there’s a hefty shipping fee. So when Amazon decided to sell Look At Me!, I knew I had to pick it up. Now I’m waiting for Amazon to carry the 2nd volume of Least I Could Do Beginnings: Adorableness. I asked the artists during Dragon*Con on when they’ll be making a Rayne kid plush doll and they tell me it’s in the works.

Next we have a box of Creme Roulee Dark Chocolate European Style Rolled Wafers which was on sale for $9 for a box of 6. Who knows how long these are going to last me. Don’t think my scale would be happy with me if I finish these too quickly.

Creme Roulee Dark Chocolate European Style Rolled Wafers

Finally I got myself a nice looking wall clock. I’ve been meaning to get one for my living room for awhile, since I often forget when I should go eat or go to bed when I’m watching TV/movies or playing video games. Whenever friends come over to play Rock Band, 2am just suddenly hits us because no one’s been paying attention to the time. The one I got was the La Crosse Technology WT-3102S 10-Inch Atomic Analog Wall Clock and one neat feature is that it automatically synchronizes the time with radio waves.

wall clockwall clock

How To Cook A Wolf

As I mentioned previously, Denise had came up for a workshop in Seattle for her graduate program. She was free on Saturday, so VonLobster and I hung out with her. I was glad Saturday turned out to be such a nice day.

We took her to the Seattle Center and checked out the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. It was VonLobster’s and my first time there too. It was interesting. It was fun to see Denise and VonLobster jamming on a real guitar.

Afterwards, we headed down to Olympic Sculpture Park. Part of the park was closed because a wedding was going on. The ceremony was held in the Gates Amphitheater:

Gates Amphitheater
(Source)

It was so BEAUTIFUL! Chairs were placed along the stairs. The building (completely in glass) you see in the back was where the reception was being held. What you can’t see from the picture is immediately to the right is the lake. The scenery was just breathtaking. Did I mention it was so beautiful?

We walked around downtown a bit more and the topic of dessert came up. Denise decided that she wanted cupcakes and apparently the best cupcakes in the Seattle area is Trophy Cupcakes. We dropped by the one in Wallingford. Denise got the Chocolate Hazelnut Peanut Butter Chocolate, VonLobster picked the Carrot Walnut, and I chose the Vanilla Chocolate. We decided to save these till after dinner, so not to spoil our appetite.

trophy cupcakes

VonLobster introduced us to the restaurant called How To Cook A Wolf. The name of the restaurant was so cool, that I decided to use that as the title of this blog post. Their menu was also very unique and apparently it changes often. Everything on it just sounds so good!

Here’s what we ordered and shared:

  • Treviso (Cauliflower, Orange, Pine Nut, Anchovy Dressing)
  • Quail (Garbanzo Bean, Asparagus, Saffron Aioli)
  • Skate (Brown Butter, Caper, Lemon)
  • Rigatoni (Spicy Sausage, Tomato, Marjoram)
  • Casarecce (Bacon, Onion, Black Pepper)

It was so delicious and now has become one of my favorite restaurants in the Seattle area.

VonLobster had mistaken me for becoming a wine-enthusiast due to my recent Facebook status update of being carded for buying wine. Unfortunately I had to disappoint him. Some time later, the discussion of getting a girl’s number a bar came up, and the fact was, I had previously gotten a number from a girl at a bar. I then realized I never told anyone of what happened in Texas. For those that recall my tweets:

Got either drunk /typsy for the first time in my life. Must’ve drank 5x tonight more than I’ve ever drank ever. Dunno how my brother does it. That’s 3x Long Islands + 3x Starf*ckers + 1 shot of Pitron Tequila + 1 shot of hypnotic. Surprised I can still type.

(Source, Source)

And there’s a good reason why the story is still under wraps, but we were in good company, and I told them what happened. No, I will not discuss what happened on this blog as it was rather embarrassing and a night I would very much want to forget. I must not have been drunk enough as I remember pretty much every detail. VonLobster was jealous. Throughout college, many have tried to get me drunk and never quite succeeded. One night in Texas and everything just goes out the window. I guess my brother has something to be proud of.

Kickin' it at how to cook a wolf

After dinner, we hopped across the street into the game store and we learnt to play Piece ‘o Cake. It was actually very interesting and fun, but since it was our first time playing, no one really figured out the strategies until later in the game. Our scores ended being pretty close, but VonLobster was ultimately the winner.

We went back to VonLobster’s place and played South Park – Let’s Go Tower Defense Play. The game is REALLY fun in co-op mode. I had purchased the game several weeks ago, but since I’ve been really busy, I haven’t gotten a chance to play yet. It’s funny how both VonLobster and I have unopened Xbox 360 games just sitting around. Before we knew it, it was past midnight already. We enjoyed our cupcakes. I would have to say VonLobster’s choice of Carrot Walnut was excellent. We decided to call it a night after those Jackovasaurs kept dominating us.

Due to complications with her hotel, Denise decided to stay over at my place for the night. Before calling it a night, I introduced her to “How I Met Your Mother” and she enjoyed it. I dropped her at the airport earlier today. All in all I had a great time. I presume the others did too. 🙂