Friday, May 09, 2008

Other Bay Area Moments

Straits RestaurantWaking up late on a Saturday, I ventured outside my hotel in downtown San Francisco. Unusually, it was quite warm outside and the wind actually felt good rather than chilly. I went up to the Virgin Superstore to see if they were had additional Wii controllers, but had no luck. I will have to buy another copy of Wii Play to get a new controller, which kind of sucks!

Then it was time for lunch and I found myself in Straits Restaurant at Union Square (inside the Westfield Shopping Center). Nice little place which proudly advertised that Roti John was available during all hours. Roti John! What the heck is that?

Roti, of course, is Indian bread. But the origins of Roti John is a Singapore legend. One version says that Roti John had been inspired by a homesick tourist named John who was in search of a sandwich. Failing in his search, a helpful hawker sliced up a loaf of French bread, clapped in a mixture of minced mutton and onion and dipped the whole in beaten egg which he fried until crisp. As locals took to Roti John, it soon becomes a staple at Muslim food stalls.

Another explanation about the origination of Roti John said that this food is actually named after the British who were stationed in Singapore during the colonial era. Roti means bread in Malay and the British were known as “John” to the Malays and that is how the name of this dish originated.

As for what I ate here: The Spicy Basil Chicken wasn't very spicy but was otherwise good. The Singapore Sling was nice and refreshing too.

Cypress CupertinoOh, and I got myself a new set of Bose speakers for the home computer. I like my Dell system - but it came with the worst speakers! These new Bose speakers do not require a seperate sub-woofer and yet reproduces deep, realistic low tones in spite of its small size. How cool is that?

The next day, I checked into The Cypress in Cupertino. After getting some email sorted out, I strolled into Arya for another delightful dinner (you can read about my first visit to Arya here). This time, I started with the Borani Baedemjoon, a medley of sauteed eggplant, yogurt, onions, garlic and mint garnished with kaskh (whey). The crunchiness of the fried onions, the taste of eggplant and the acidity of the whey added up to a great starter.

Starter at AryaFor my entree, I had ordered Chello Kabab Barg, a flattened kabab of minced USDA beef, seaonsed and perfectly grilled, then cut into strips. The Barg came with the usual Persian staple of fragrant, long-grained rice topped with butter. This was delicious too.

Chello Kabab Barg at AryaI decided to stick with Persian till the very end and chose Bakhlava for dessert. I like my bakhlava a little more crunchy and a little less sweet than the one I tasted here. I ended with a cup of Persian tea that was flavored with cardomom and no milk. All in all, a good dinner! Arya continues to be a great place to go for Persian food and an upscale ambiance.

Baklava at AryaThe next day, I ended up at a nearby Chinese buffet restaurant, strangely just called Great Buffet. The restaurant was mostly empty, the food - variety of sushi, BBQ, dim-sums, noodles, fried rice, crab legs and other meat dishes - was not great. Some of the dishes were cold and the sushi did not look fresh. However, the BBQ was hot and good and the Green Tea ice-cream saved the day. Overall, not a place I will recommend.

7 comments:

Kate / Kajal said...

bot u really travel a lot ! and by the virtue of being in all these wonderful places , u get to hog on all the wonderful cuisine.... now i'm beginning to envy you.

Zhu said...

I have always heard SF was a great place to sample world food... looks like it's true!

Shantanu said...

@kate/kajal: :-)

@zhu: Yup, the Bay Area is a great place to sample food from everywhere.

RennyBA said...

What a delicious place and food and you always capture it so well - thanks for sharing - my mouth is watering :-)

Shantanu said...

@rennyba: Thanks for visiting, Renny!

backpakker said...

You get to travel, eat and review awesome food and also spin some interesting legends..wow, thats a great life !!
lakshmi

Shantanu said...

@backappker: That does sound interesting, at least when it put it that way. :)