Sunday, June 27, 2010

Various Items with the Brothers Wong

This is another overdue entry. My friend, Josh, had just come back from New York. He, his brother, Justin, and I picked up various items from a Korean market. Here's a report on the things we got:

Josh holding a can of melon soda or something. It came in other flavors, but how often do you get to drink something melon flavored? As you can see from the picture, there's a woman flying or something, I think it's Mary Poppins. She has a "Fantastic Feeling" according to the can. It's also enriched with Vitamin A and something else.

I like melon flavored things, but I didn't like this. Josh liked it, he thought it tasted like a melted melon flavored ice cream bar that one can usually find in Korean markets. I did not care for this drink at all though. It tasted a bit too "tutti frutti" for my liking. It didn't give me a hint that it was melon flavored at all.

Milkis Melon - 1/5

I think this is Justin holding up a ridiculous can/bottle hybrid. The body is that of the bottle, but it has a soda can lid. Ridiculous. Anyway, it's peach flavored and it's from some company or brand named OKF. There was a cherry flavored one that isn't pictured.

I really liked this one. It reminded me of the Sam's Club peach flavored sodas you can buy at Wal-Mart. This container was really cool also. I think we all agreed that this was really good.

OKF Peach - 4/5

The cherry flavored (not pictured) drink was terrible. Awful. I'm not sure how much worse I could describe it. It was well below my standards. It was worse than cherry flavored cough syrup in my opinion.

OKF Cherry - 0/5

The last thing we purchased was a matcha flavored chocolate bar. Josh really has a thing for matcha, so we decided to give this a try.

The candy lets you know right away that it's going to really taste like green tea. It's also slightly melted in this picture

There were no surprises with this bar. It totally tasted like how I imagined it, very good. As it says on the wrapper, it is "Rich Matcha". The taste was creamy and it had a distinct matcha flavor. As with their strawberry flavored bar, Meiji has really blown me away with this. If you like matcha you'll love this bar. If you hate matcha than you'll really, really hate this bar.

Meiji Rich Matcha - 4.5/5

And so concludes my escapades with the Brothers Wong. I have no doubt that in the future I will be doing more of these posts with guests, like the ones I've done with Chris.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bananko w/ guest input from Chris

This entry is long overdue, but better late than never. When my friend, Chris, came back from New York, I stated that we should check out the European market I had found out about. Amongst the many curious items there, the one that Chris chose was a chocolate bar named, "Bananko". My other friend, Roger, also got a Bananko bar. The shopkeeper was nice enough to give us each the Bananko bars for free, but he did tell us that the "Kinder" brand was the best chocolate manufacturer in his country.

A picture of the Bananko wrapper. There's a Diddy Kong lookalike on the wrapper. I'm not a big fan of banana flavored candies, so I wasn't too thrilled about this. However, the fact that it was free did entice me a bit more.

Chris holding his bitten Bananko

When Chris first tried the Bananko, he stated, "Did they put a f*cking banana in here or something?" After that, I knew that I had to try it. I quickly unwrapped my bar and took a bit. Lo and behold, it does indeed seem as if they put a "f*cking banana" in there. I don't know how they did it, but they really captured the taste of a banana in the filling. The chocolate wasn't memorable, but it wasn't bad. The filling is probably the most remarkable thing about the bar because it really does taste as if they jammed a banana in there. I would give this bar a 3.5/5.0 because I'm not a fan of banana (which would have given it a 2 at most), but the fact that they got the banana flavor so dead on made it quite amazing.

Bananko - 3.5/5.0

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Tonight, I had an incredible dining experience. Joining me was my friend Josh. I love eating and he loves eating and fine dining as well, so it was only appropriate that we both go to a place we wouldn't normally go. Since it was his birthday, we decided to go to a restaurant of his choosing. We had considered many different restaurants until we we decided that we would be going to Manresa in Los Gatos. I made reservations in the afternoon and informed them that Josh's birthday was coming up. I didn't eat much because I was saving myself for the dinner. At 8 PM we were off to Manresa.

Josh driving us to Manresa. Notice the shiny fingernail on his middle finger

Josh adjusting the GPS

The sign in front of Manresa. We made it here in less than thirty minutes

Left by the staff of Manresa for Josh's birthday

Signatures and such from the staff at Manresa

Once we entered, we were seated right away and handed menus immediately. Our server, Wayne, was very friendly and very helpful throughout the meal. The card was also brought to our attention by Wayne and we found it to be a very nice gesture. Josh and I decided to go for Manresa's four course menu, as opposed to their tasting menu. We decided to each order different things so that we could try more. I ordered foie gras, abalone, beef bavette, and I decided to forgo my dessert and supplemented a cheese course instead. Josh ordered assorted shellfish, monk fish, porcelet with boudin noir, and their "Flavors of New Orleans" dessert.

Our first amuse bouche: Parmesan churros with dried kale

We received this a little while after we ordered. The churros tasted like, for lack of a better term, really good cheesy bread, and the dried kale was sort of like dried seaweed. They were good, but when compared to the things to come, I'd give this a 3/5.

Our second amuse bouche: Arpege egg with maple syrup and sherry vinegar

This one was very surprising. I was informed that this was a layered dish, so that it would be best to scoop all the way to the bottom to get all the flavors. I can't say that I've ever had anything like this before. The texture and flavor were so odd, but very pleasing at the same time. I would probably give this a 4/5.

Assorted breads with unsalted butter in the middle

I don't want to say that the bread was the highlight of the dinner, but it was definitely A highlight. The olive bread and brioche was delicious. I'm glad that the bread basket came by so often because I plowed through 3 - 4 pieces of each. The butter was good. It was unsalted, but there were crystals of salt on top so that you could flavor it the way you wanted. As Josh can attest, I thoroughly enjoyed the bread. This is a 5/5 for me.

And now onto our first course:

Josh's order of assorted shellfish

I'm sorry for the blurry photo, but let me tell you that this was amazing. The seafood was so fresh and the flavors were so clean. This order was a 5/5.

My duck foie gras

This dish was certainly rich and tasty. It seems like they poached the foie gras. I had a bit of a hard time giving Josh a piece, seeing as how there was a bit of vein. It was very good, but in relation to everything else, it was a 4/5.

Our next courses were:

My abalone in a dashi

I apologize, this picture is rather dark. This dish was good and rich. The mushrooms in the dish were good and I enjoyed the stock. I believe that the stock was probably my favorite part of the dish, it was smoky and rich. Josh seemed to like this dish more than me, I would probably give it a 3.5/5.

Josh's monk fish with fried mussels and a pea puree

This was a clear cut winner for me. The best part of the dish, in my opinion, was the pea puree. We kept referring to it as a "pea guacamole". The monk fish was like lobster. The mussels were absolutely incredible. As you can see, I'm using a lot of adjectives for "really, really, really good". That's basically what this dish was, it was incredible. It gets a 5/5.

Onto the main course:

My beef bavette with morel mushrooms in a sauce consisting of nettles

This was a dish where at first I thought, "This is very good, but not great." However, that was because I started off eating the components individually. When I started eating the beef with the morels, it took this dish to a whole other level. Pardon me for saying this, but the best way I could describe it is, "The absolute best mushroom burger ever." I mean with the ingredients separate, this dish would probably be a 3.5/5, but when they're put together it's definitely a 5/5.

Josh's porcelet with boudin noir

You can practically get fatter just by looking at this picture. There's just so much going on in this picture, it's ridiculous. The pork was incredibly rich and fatty. In fact, at certain points, it got a bit too rich for Josh's liking. The boudin noir was nicely spiced. Josh described the potatoes that came with the dish to falafel, which I have to somewhat agree with. This dish was great and the third course definitely put us over the edge. This dish gets a 5/5.

After several pieces of bread and courses, we got a bit of a break:

Alright, I don't remember what this was, but this is our intermezzo dish

The best way I could describe this dish is ice cream with a bit of a citrus gelee on top. This was a good palette cleanser. I would give this 3.5/5.

Next we have dessert:

Josh is black as night

A picture of Josh's "Flavors of New Orleans" dessert with his birthday candle still burning

Josh's "Flavors of New Orleans" dessert

This dessert was good, but not great. It didn't amaze us as much as the previous courses. The pecan dessert was my definite favorite. The beignets were okay. Again, this was good, not great, so I'd give this dessert a 3/5

My cheese course. On the left I have a goat's cheese, then a sheep's cheese, another goat cheese, and then a cow cheese. Accompanying the cheeses are almonds and a sort of almond paste

The way I would rank the cheeses would be the ones on the left being my least favorite and the ones on the right being my favorite. Our favorite was the Monte Enebro which is the second cheese from the right. It's textures were layered as the outside was hard and the inside being incredibly soft. We couldn't imagine who would be able to finish this course by themselves as it was incredibly rich. I would give this course a 4.5/5. It would probably be a 5/5 if the other cheeses were as amazing as the Camembert (right) and the Monte Enegro (second rom right)

Wayne was kind enough to write down the name of our favorite cheese for us

At this point, we thought the evening was over, but then...

A sliver of the most decadent chocolate dessert ever

This dessert after our dessert was certainly a welcome surprise. At this point we were absolutely stuffed, but this was just too amazing to not eat. Wayne described it to us as, "It's a...well it's REALLY rich chocolate." There are no better words to describe it. It's like the best fudge you will ever have. This as well is a 5/5.

After paying, on our way out we were told to grab a few of their sea salt caramels. I asked Wayne if it would be alright to grab a handful, to which he said that it would be fine. I grabbed about eleven and Josh grabbed another eleven.

Yeah buddy, caramels on my lap

I'm starting to think that eleven for each of us wasn't enough. Like most of everything else we had, these were 5/5 in relation to other caramels. These were soft, rich, and gave a good mouth feel. I'm going to have to ration these out or I'm going to have to go back to Manresa really soon.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I did not regret the price at all. It's definitely something I wouldn't do any time soon, but if I had the means to do so, I would seriously consider coming back soon. The staff were great and my glass never went empty. The bread was amazing and when coupled with the courses, it was nearly gut busting. It was truly, a rad bromance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fanime Loot Part Final

Due to a suggestion from my friend, Karina, I'm going to start scoring things on a 5 point scale. That's to say things from now on will be scored from a 1 (lowest, filth) to 5 (highest, amazing) I'll also be putting in 1/2 or 1/4 points as well. I'll try looking at my old posts and see if I can score the candies I had in the past.

Alright so this is the last part of my Fanime Loot. What's left are mainly Hi-Chews and some hard candy in a tube. Let's start things off.

Judging by the picture alone, I'm going to say that this is Candied Apple Hi Chew. There's a little carnival vendor or something on the lower right selling candied apples. Notice the little specks on the Hi Chew in the lower left hand corner, those are important

An unwrapped Candied Apple Hi Chew. Again, you can see little dark specks in the candy

This Hi Chew seemed to have an overwhelming flavor of caramel or something along those lines. The specks added a surprise as they were crunchy in contrast to the rest of the candy. I couldn't really taste or smell the apple flavor because the caramel smell seemed to overwhelm it. I prefer the fruit flavored Hi Chews.

Candied Apple Hi Chew: 2.5/5

Again, we're going with another carnival treat. This time it's clearly cotton candy. As you can see on the lower left, this Hi Chew advertises specks as well. As a warning, I'm not a big fan of cotton candy flavored candies, so this may bias my review

An unwrapped Cotton Candy Hi Chew. It looks quite plain

The first thing I noticed was that this was very sweet. I would go as far as calling it overly sweet. That's the flaw with making a cotton candy flavored candy in my opinion. What is cotton candy? It's sugar that's heated and spun around. You might as well make sugar flavored candy. Anyway, even a student agreed with me and found this one to be too sweet as well.

Cotton Candy Hi Chew: 1.5/5

Okay this is some sort of cherry explosion Hi Chew. Actually I read the English label and it said, "Sakurambo". I guess that's the Japanese word for "cherry". Anyway, I love cherry candies and I had high expectations for this one.

An unwrapped Sakurambo Hi Chew

This was, by far, the best of the three Hi Chews I tried. Despite it's name being cherry, when I first bit into it I thought it tasted very peachy. However, as I chewed it longer I suppose I could start tasting the cherry flavors. My favorite of the three varieties and I would buy it again if they offered it in nearby stores.

Sakurambo Hi Chew: 3.5/5

I have no idea what this is. Seriously this tube has little tablets on it and three horses (?) drinking something from a boda. There's a C at the end of the Japanese characters I think. I did know that this was a hard candy judging by the sound it made in the tube

It looks a bit like a Certs

This tasted very much like a lemon lime soda. However, when I eat Japanese candies that taste like soda, I want them to fizz. This did not fizz. I was a bit disappointed by it. Maybe if it had some baking soda to make it fizz, I would have enjoyed it more. It didn't, so I'm going to have to give it a lower score.

Lemon-Lime Hard Candy: 2/5

So of the Fanime Loot, I would say that the best items were the Kit Kat Framboise, Cone-Shaped Candy, and Sakurambo Hi Chew. I wonder if I should go to Fanime next year to see what kind of new products they might have.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fanime Loot Part 2

Here are some other things I got at Fanime with some input from my friend Chris:

So I have no idea what this is. I do know that on the cover there is a bear serving ice cream while musical notes are playing. This looks like some sort of ice cream cone themed candy is about the best I can guess

There are two bags in there. I don't think either bag is any different. There are also numbers on the flap, I have no idea what those represent

Despite the different colors, they all taste the same

This candy was pretty good. The cones were made of chocolate and when you bite into the "ice cream" part there's a wafer or something in there. This candy certainly looks very attractive even though color means nothing. Chris' comment: "It's good, what is this a Kit Kat or something?" Funny he should say that, because...

Cone-Shaped Candy: 3.5/5

This is apparently milk tea Kit Kat. There are flowers all along the bottom and I have no idea why this is

Again, like all of the other foreign Kit Kat I've wrote about, the packaging is very attractive

I did not expect them to be white. In-between each wafer you can see what's supposed to be the coffee part

I'm not going to lie, I didn't enjoy this one very much. When I first bit into it, it was a bit too bitter for my liking. When it got sweet, it got too sweet. I couldn't find a happy medium with this candy. Chris' comment: "Blehhh..."

Milk Coffee Kit Kat: 2.5/5

And the last item for now is...

This has to be one of the most girly packaging I've ever seen; there's even a crown at the bottom left. I asked Chris if he knew what Framboise was, he said it was a raspberry flavored beer

This packaging kind of reminds me of Target's Choxie line of chocolates

The pinkish/red hue in-between each layer is the Framboise I suppose

I enjoyed this one the most out of the three items tasted for this entry. The raspberry flavor was very good and went well with the chocolate and wafer. I can look past all the girly packaging because this was a winner. Chris' comment: "Delicious"

Framboise Kit Kat: 4/5

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Takoyaki and the first part of Fanime loot

To start things off, Summer is around the corner. This means that candies that I normally would be able to write about are melting. This is not cool. I went into my trunk the other day to find that some of my candy bars had literally liquified. Since then, I have moved them into various hiding places at work and at home. The problem is when it's hot, ants begin to come out. I need to find places where they won't attack my candy.

Anyway, the first item I'm going to write about is something I've read about and have seen in Japanese movies, but I've never had a chance to try it. Takoyaki, or as I call them, octopus balls, are I guess bits of octopus cut up, put into a batter, cooked, and then sauces and shaved bonito flakes are drizzled over the ball. I had a chance yesterday when I went I went to Mitsuwa Market and they had a stand. At roughly $7 for 8 balls, I have no idea what kind of deal I was getting. I did know that this would be a good time to at least try them.

Sorry for the flash from my camera, but I was surprised that these came in a very nice looking box. On the top there is a picture of an octopus which shows what you're about to eat

This looks pretty messy

The inside of a ball

I don't know what takoyaki is supposed to taste like, but I liked these. They were slightly sweet and savory. The texture was a bit soft; the only part that I really had to chew was when I got to the octopus. The only way I can describe it is it's kind of like the inside of a dumpling or something. I don't know how to really describe it, but that's the best I could do. In short, it was good.

Takoyaki: 4/5

It's been a week since I was at Fanime and I haven't written about the things I got there yet. It's partly because I've only tried a few things. Well this is the first item I'm going to write about:

According to my friend, Karina, there are three gum balls in here. Two of them have a sweet filling while one of them has a very sour filling. I wish I could do what she said and somehow put all the sour ones in one packet and give them to my students

Here they are lined up in a tray

This was basically very good grape flavored gum. I wish they gave you more than three in a packet, but whatcha gonna do? Anyway, I didn't get the sour one, my friend Peter did. There's nothing special about the gum, other than the fact that it's like playing Minesweeper or Russian Roulette. Overall, it's a very good gum, but they only give you three per packet, so you might be better off getting something that has better value.

1/3 Sour Grape Gum: 3/5