Indian Take-Out

The South Bay also boasts quite a bit of good Indian cuisine. We’re lucky to have an Indian grocery nearby, as well as a small Indian restaurant. I needed to pick up some fennel seed from the store. At the checkout, I asked if they had some samosas for sale. The gentleman said no, but I could buy them at the restaurant just a few doors down.

Hot out of the oil, these are deep fried dumplings filled with potatoes and peas and Indian spices. It comes with two sauces, a minty green sauce and a sweet, tangy tamarind sauce. I couldn’t resist eating a second.

Aloha, Nate.

Vietnamese Take-Out

Another great thing about living in San Jose is the absolute abundance of Vietnamese food here. Especially in the King and Tully Rd area of East San Jose. This is some Vietnamese take-out from Huong Lan.

Can’t give you the Vietnamese names, but the one on the left is a roll with grilled chicken in the middle, wrapped with lettuce, and wrapped again with a rice flour roll that was more stringy than solid. The topping is green onions and minced dried shrimp.

The middle is a summer roll with shrimp, lettuce and mint wrapped in rice paper and covered with peanut sauce.

The right is just flat rice sheets folded over and topped with fried shallots. Nothing to complain about, including the price.

Huong Lan makes great banh mi (sandwiches) too.

Aloha, Nate

East Ocean Restaurant (Alameda)

We wanted to go to Oakland Chinatown for dim sum recently, but were hesitant of the crowds at Peony. We ended up going to East Ocean Restaurant in Alameda (an island just a stone’s throw west from Oakland). We arrived at 10 am and were seated immediately.

One thing about dim sum around here – they usually just roll out the “standard” stuff until it gets closer to lunchtime. Here’s our standard radish cake, siu mai, cheong fun, and beef meatball.


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Athena Grill (Santa Clara)

A few weeks back, we went to John’s XLNT Food as a compromise when we found our first choice, Athena Grill was not open on Saturday. We didn’t think it was “XLNT” at all. We had a chance to go to Athena Grill on a weeknight, so we took it.

The restaurant is located in a light-industrial area off of San Tomas Expressway in Santa Clara. We arrived at 7 pm and were seated right away. Our waitress brought out a basket of pita wedges and a plate of Taramosaláta, which is a mayonnaise-like dip made from bread, olive oil, and lemon juice.

The waitress comes back, and we ask if we can try another dip, the Meltizanosaláta, made from roasted eggplant, garlic, onions, parsley, roasted red pepper, herbs, vinegar, lemon, and olive oil. It is *wonderful*. If you spread on the Taramsalata first, then spread on some Meltizanosalata, the two complement each other

Annie ordered the lamb chops and I ordered one of the specials for the night (specials are written out on butcher paper, tacked up on the wall near the cash register), Kokkinisto (braised lamb shoulder in tomato sauce over pasta). Each entree comes with a choice of salads. Annie got the Horiatiki (tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives, feta cheese) salad and I got the house. The salads were quite large on their own. We were enjoying the pita and salads so much that we hardly had any room for the main courses.

Then my kokkinisto arrived. This dish was *huge*. But more than that, the lamb was so tender and flavorful.

Annie’s lamb chops entree was another huge dish. The lamb chops were amazing. Perfectly seasoned and grilled just right. The ragout on the left side was another surprise, alive with flavor. The fries on the right side, made from fresh-cut potatoes, were served with an addictive mayonnaise-kalamata olive dip.

We tried to savor as much of the dishes as we could, but we were quickly becoming full. Even with the law of diminishing returns in effect though, each bite of the lamb continued to elicit groans of delight.

We thought we couldn’t eat another bite, but the waitress tempted us with a peek at the dessert menu. Annie chose the Ekmek (layers of kataife pastry dough, chopped walnuts and almonds, peaches, vanilla custard, lemon zest and whipped cream). The first bite was a little strange, as the taste of cloves and cinnamon seemed to overwhelm. But with each successive bite, the tastes evened out until the entire pie was consumed.

When the waitress brought our bill, I had to chuckle. This meal was *so* much better than John’s XLNT, yet *so* much cheaper. The service was helpful, pleasant, attentive, and efficient. The atmosphere for dinner was quite comfortable. We are never going to John’s again.

We are going to be back here, for sure. And we’ll bring our friends who are big into lamb, especially prepared the Greek way. I look forward to introducing them to this restaurant. Though the wine list is kind of limited, they do allow you to bring your own bottle for $10 corkage.

Athena Grill
1505 Space Park Drive
Santa Clara, CA

http://www.athenagrill.com

Open M-F 10:30 AM – 9 PM, CLOSED SAT, SUN, and HOLIDAYS

Aloha, Nate

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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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