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Friday, June 19, 2009

SF South Bay Report: Donuts and Afghan


I discovered a not-so-healthy but comforting breakfast at Hunan Home's Restaurant in Los Altos during my Bay Area trip. It was like a massive donut except it looks like a long pipe and you dip it in warm, sweetened soy milk. Definitely not the kind of breakfast to be had every day, but it was a treat.

The stir-fried rice cakes with seafood was ok but nothing special, and the spinach sauteed with garlic was a good counterbalance to the greasy but delicious donut.




I read that the San Jose area had decent banh mi sandwiches, one of my favorite things in the world. So it was only natural that I stopped by Huong Lan Sandwiches to sample these delectable Vietnamese snacks. It was very promising upon entering but alas, the pork barbecue and chicken banh mi were just ok. The baguette was too hard because it wasn't very fresh. And while I liked the pork one better -- especially the smokiness of the pork barbecue -- the pickled radish and carrots didn't seem sour enough to balance (yes, I'm all about balance of flavors and textures) out the porkiness of the pork. The pictured pink-hued chicken was bland.

After a disappointing snack, I headed to Left Bank, a faux French brasserie chain located in an eerie Disneyland-like mall called Santana Row in San Jose. Let's just say the hostess lost me at Bon Soir. It was pretentious but not even that fancy, which made it laughable. Anyway, I had the profiterole, which was interesting because it was filled with ice cream instead of the usual custard. And chocolate fudge sauce, which was good drizzled on top of the (ice) cream puff.

The service was bad but the food didn't look half bad. The question is, would I want to return to such a surreal place that reminds me of one of my least favorite places in LA -- The Grove?

Anyhow, I regretted having had that puff because I was to go to Salang Pass, a gem in Little Kabul, Fremont.


Lamentably, I only had stomach space for an order of aushak, a ravioli filled with leeks and scallions, served on a sauce of yogurt mint and garlic, topped with ground beef and mint; and a pumpkin dish that was sweet and had a similar sauce. I really wish I could have had my favorite qabelee, a pilaf-type rice baked with chunks of lamb shanks, raisins and glazed carrots. I had been to this restaurant before and I remember it being as good as another excellent Afghan joint in Arizona.

Overall, a good food trip. Note to self: pace yourself so you can savor all that each of the places have to offer.

Hunan Home's Restaurant
4880 El Camino Real
Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 965-0877

Huong Lan Sandwiches
1655 Tully Rd
San Jose, CA 95122
(408) 258-8868

Left Bank
377 Santana Row
Suite 1100
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 984-3500

Salang Pass
37462 Fremont Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94536
(510) 795-9200

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