Boiling Point

such hipster wall
such hipster wall

What does the family do whenever the coolest person that is my brother comes home to visit? Experience a restaurant, of course!

Boiling Point, located in Fremont, is a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant. Upon entering Boiling Point, you are welcomed with an absolutely wonderful aroma that is reminiscent of the streets of Taiwan. By wonderful, I mean absolutely pungent smell that is stinky tofu (aka fermented tofu). The wait to eat at Boiling Point ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours, according to friends and Yelp, but fortunately, we were immediately ushered to our seats.

We ordered a plate of stinky tofu, and each of us ordered a hot soup.

Stinky Tofu
Stinky Tofu

Eating stinky tofu was an interesting experience. The first bite was like eating a typical fried tofu, and then a strong fermented aftertaste knocks the wind out of you. Thankfully the sauce masked the aroma and fermented taste, so by the last tofu on the plate, it was palatable. Apparently this stinky tofu pales in comparison to the ones sold in Taiwanese night markets.

Unfortunately for all those who are allergic to seafood, your choices of hot soup are limited to two out of ten. If you’re like me who is also allergic to nuts, your choice is one: Tomato Veggie Hot Soup, which is still delicious nonetheless. I think the hot pot is large enough for two people, and I would recommend buying just one to share so you have some space for dessert. Honestly, my family was struggling trying to finish our own individual hot pots.

Tomato Veggie Hot Soup
Tomato Veggie Hot Soup

As the name suggests, Tomato Veggie Hot Soup has a decent amount of vegetables. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a large stash of meat hidden under all the veggies. I knew there was pork since the menu lists all the ingredients in the hot pot, but I did not expect a generous amount. I definitely recommend adding some of their sauce to make the hot pot tastier. They even serve a bowl of rice with the hot soup. We couldn’t exchange rice for vermicelli noodles because it was soft opening, but the rice with the hot soup was still good.

I definitely recommend going if you want to try (almost) authentic Taiwanese hot pot. I would definitely go back for the sauce; it’s that darn delicious!

Your Lie In April

© A-1 Pictures
© A-1 Pictures

Have a box of tissues when you watch this anime. Cling to one!!

Synopsis: “Piano prodigy Kousei Arima dominated the competition and has become famous among child musicians. After his mother, who was also his instructor, died, he had a mental breakdown while performing at a piano recital at the age of eleven. As a result, he is no longer able to hear the sound of his piano even though his hearing is perfectly fine. Two years later, Kousei hasn’t touched the piano and views the world in monotone, without any flair or color. He has resigned himself to living out his life with his good friends, Tsubaki and Watari, until, one day, a girl changes everything. Kaori Miyazono, a pretty, free-spirited violinist whose playing style reflects her personality, helps Kousei return to the music world and shows that it should be free and mold breaking unlike the structured and rigid style Kousei was used to.” (source: wikipedia.com)

 photo kaori.gif

+ Absolutely stunning animation. It’s such eye candy that I feel like I was being caressed by beautiful, saturated, and vibrant colors.
+ Likable characters who are all very realistic. I feel like anyone can relate to at least one of these characters on some level.
+ Music is beautiful. Obvious statement considering the plot centers around classical musicians, but I’m also referring to the music composed by Yokoyama Masaru. The opening and closing themes are awesome as well and fit the theme of Your Lie In April. I literally have 光るなら (Hikaru Nara) by Goosehouse on repeat when I exercise because it’s so darn catchy and upbeat.
+ Cohesive plot with a bittersweet ending. Like I said, have a box of tissues with you. There are comedic moments to lighten the mood.
+ I didn’t read the manga—written and drawn by Naoshi Arakawa—but I hear the anime follows the manga closely.

– Around the middle of the anime, I felt like some events were dragged out a bit too long. Otherwise, I think the pacing is good.
– My brother pointed out that the characters tend to repeat the same word 50 billion times in one episode, which I guess could annoy some people. I didn’t notice until he pointed it out because I thought it was to emphasize a point.

You can watch Your Lie In April on crunchyroll or hulu

Sushirrito

Mayan Dragon ($9.00 USD)
Mayan Dragon ($9.00 USD)

A couple weeks ago I had lunch at Sushirrito in Palo Alto. This Bay Area exclusive restaurant fuses the ingredients of a sushi and the shape of a burrito, hence the name Sushirrito.

However, I’m allergic to seafood, so the choices are limited. Also, my friend noticed that the workers don’t change their gloves when handling one sushirrito from another. So if you’re deathly allergic to seafood then stay away like it’s a plague (of course, I’m assuming if you are deathly allergic you wouldn’t even be eating at any sushi restaurant, authentic or fusion).

Anyway, one of the non-seafood choices that stood out is the Mayan Dragon, which I solely chose because it contains potatoes. POH-TAY-TOE. Boil ’em. Mash ’em. Stick ’em in a stew… or in this case, in a sushiritto. The overall taste is delicious and spicy. The curry and chicken katsu complement each other. The vegetables taste fresh and you can taste each grain of rice.

Sushiritto has several branches in SF and one in Palo Alto. Learn more about Sushirrito at its website.

Half World

halfworldTitle: Half World
Type: novel – fiction
Author: Hiromi Goto
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis: Melanie Tamaki is human—but her parents aren’t. They are from Half World, a Limbo between our world and the afterlife, and her father is still there. When her mother disappears, Melanie must follow her to Half World—and neither of them may return alive. Imagine Coraline as filmed by the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle), or Neil Gaiman collaborating with Charles de Lint. Half World is vivid, visceral, unforgettable, a combination of prose and images that will haunt you. (source: goodreads.com)

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Continue reading “Half World”

Birocratic

Talk about underrated artist. Brandon who goes by Biro or Birocratic is absolutely amazing and talented! If you’re a fan of Nujabes or jazzy hip-hop, definitely give Birocratic a listen. I stumbled upon his music, sombre, green whilst studying for my final, immediately fell in love, and headed over to Youtube to listen to his other albums. I cannot describe his music other than addicting, hypnotic, and totally eargasmic. So grateful to have come across quality music.

Here are a few of my favorite tracks

You can listen and support Birocratic by heading over to bandcamp and/or SoundCloud.

Haikyuu!!

Haikyuu

I still remember the day when I started watching Prince of Tennis and how I wanted to learn how to play tennis because of it. Does that ever happen to you? I think this is what happens every time I watch any sports-themed anime.

I read a little bit of the manga and watch the first season of the anime, and the anime follows the manga closely. I love the artwork in both platforms because they capture the intensity of the sport while having moments of comedy. Haikyuu!! is an anime/manga that centers around Karasuno High School’s volleyball team and teamwork.
one of many hilarious moments in Haikyuu!!
I don’t think I have laughed so hard watching an anime in a while. In fact, I somehow gone through all 25 episodes in a day because the storytelling is enticing and all the characters are lovable. I have a soft spot for Suga and Nishinoya and Tanaka… basically all of Karasuno. The soundtrack for the anime is catchy and gets my blood pumping; it’s great workout music. I admit there are a few moments where I wished the plot would move faster. However, there is a good amount of tension and buildup to the point where when it’s the climax, I have my hands flailing in the air and I’m screaming at the screen in excitement. Maybe I’m just easily excited about things, but the show does have me at the edge of my seat. The same goes for the manga.

Head over to crunchyroll or hulu to watch Haikyuu!! I honestly cannot wait for season 2. I would keep myself busy by reading the manga, but I’m trying to keep myself from binge-reading it over at Casonova Scans because it’s only updated once a week.

Matcha Mochi Ice Cream Madness

Mikawaya (left) and Maeda-en (right) green tea ice cream mochi packaging
Mikawaya (left) and Maeda-en (right) green tea ice cream mochi packaging

What is mochi?
For those who do not know, mochi is a glutinous rice cake that has been pounded into a paste and molded to a shape. The texture is sticky, sometimes gooey, and chewy. It’s often used to create confectionery such as daifuku (mochi commonly stuffed with red bean paste). You can read more about mochi here.

I still remember the day when Costco started selling ice cream mochi. A mob of people surrounded the food sample booth, trying to snag a sample before it ran out. After tasting the delicious morsel, my family immediately bought a vanilla flavored pack. I still stand by the belief that the chewy, sticky goodness of mochi encasing a chunk of ice cream is revolutionary.

A lot of American supermarkets sell ice cream mochi ranging from vanilla to green tea (matcha). Unlike American supermarkets, Japanese supermarkets, at least the ones that are around the area I live, sell two brands of ice cream mochi: Mikawaya and Maeda-en. Serendipitously both brands of ice cream mochi were on sale one week; my mom bought Mikawaya’s green tea ice cream mochi at Safeway and I bought Maeda-en’s green tea ice cream mochi at Marukai.

Mikawaya

  • comes with 6 ice cream mochi
  • mochi has stiff consistency which holds the form better, and immediately becomes chewy in the mouth
  • green tea flavor is very subtle, it’s practically nonexistent; taste has a bit of mint and other weird leafy flavors (I can’t really describe the exact taste but it’s not as pleasant as Maeda-en’s green tea ice cream)

Maeda-en

  • comes with 6 ice cream mochi
  • mochi has sticky consistency which makes everything fall apart after taking a bite into it
  • green tea flavor has the perfect balance of matcha which is no surprise because their green tea ice cream is the best thing ever
  • comparing the price at Marukai, Maeda-en is cheaper than Mikawaya; this could vary among location and stores

Ideally if you combine Mikawaya’s mochi with Maeda-en’s green tea ice cream, I would be like

I hope this doesn’t deter you from trying Mikawaya’s matcha mochi ice cream; the taste might be more suitable for you than Maeda-en’s. Both brands offer an array of flavors, so if matcha isn’t your thing, then you can try chocolate, mango, or even plum wine. Trust me, you can never go back to ice cream sandwiches once you tried an ice cream mochi… maybe you might, but do definitely try ice cream mochi once in your life.

La Fondue

My brother was visiting town for Memorial Day weekend, and our family decided to head to La Fondue to have a late Mother’s Day dinner. We had a three-course meal: cheese fondue and salad for appetizers, Le Freak which is a taste of all the meat/seafood they offer (i.e. 2–3 pieces) for the main course, and chocolate fondue for dessert.

4 Cheese
4 Cheese

We chose Four Cheese—which consists of Ementhaler, Gruyere, Fontina Surchoix, and Champagne—and Spinach salad. As the name suggests, the fondue is absolutely cheesy. I think if it had less cheese, it might have been perfect for my palate.

Spinach salad
Spinach salad

The Spinach salad contains an assortment of chopped and sliced vegetables with feta cheese. It’s delicious with or without dressing. Lemon Tarragon complements the salad well in my opinion.

grilling meat meat meat
grilling meat meat meat

The meat/seafood could be cooked in a variety of methods. We went for the lobster bisque and grill. The Lobster Bisque is an extra $20, but it looks tasty judging from my mom sneaking spoonfuls of the soup. I lost count how many times she did that because I was too busy staring at the meat cooking on the grill.

Le Freak offers a lot of exotic meat/seafood. I can finally say I tried kangaroo, alligator, elk, venison, and antelope, which to me, all tasted like steak. I guess that is because I overcooked all the meat. It’s quite difficult to tell if the meat is done in the restaurant’s dim lighting.

With the meat comes six different sauces: teriyaki, BBQ, mango chutney, teriyaki with a hint of wasabi, garlic butter, and sour cream with chopped chives. We used a lot of garlic butter to grease the grill and it gave the meat a wonderful flavor. My go-to sauces are mango chutney and BBQ.

The Decadent One
The Decadent One

We chose The Decadent One for our chocolate fondue, which is Milk & Dark Chocolates,
Espresso, Kahlua, and Creme. I think the subtle bitter taste of kahlua and espresso balances out the sweetness of the chocolates. This fondue goes well with the cream puff, fruit, marshmallows, and cinnamon covered cheesecake balls.

Overall it was a wonderful experience and I’m eternally grateful for Groupon because without it, this meal would have cost $300. The cost is quite high, but I still recommend going to La Fondue if a groupon offer arises, or if you want to share a romantic experience with your companion/significant other/partner (who can say no to chocolate fondue?!).

We are a masterpiece

The more I hear about the professional world under the lens of design thinking, the more I feel like each department is like a color. Design is red, Engineering is blue, Marketing is green, etc. Seemingly separate, when we mix together to solve a problem, we produce something beautiful… a masterpiece you could say.

This analogy sounded better in my head. My point is I think schools should adopt this methodology of cross-disciplinary collaboration to prepare students for the professional world, and to rid of any stigma or misconceptions some may have of other majors.

#randomthoughtsisrandom