Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 11: Shabuway (Yishan)

Shabuway is the best restaurant on this street. Before we began the lunch tour, it was one of our favorite destinations on Castro St, and we would basically come here multiple days in a row. The lunch tour has helped us break out of this pattern, but I was happy to come here again today when it showed up in the regular sequence. If you are like "Gosh, all these reviews! Which restaurant shall I really choose to go to?" then the answer is Shabuway.

Caveat: Not for vegetarians.

Day 11: Shabuway (Niniane)

Today we went to an old standby favorite: Shabuway. We were accompanied by Matin.

We spent most of lunch discussing Matin's new mobile-payment startup, and how he could test for market validation.

Shabuway is healthy, and interactive. A delightful dining experience!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 10: Amarin (Yishan)

I am reluctant to come right out and actually say that I hate Thai food, but every time I come to this restaurant (or any Thai restaurant), I am disappointed. The meal never ends up being like what I imagine it is going to be when I read it on the menu, and I never really enjoy it. In the picture below that Niniane posted, you can see in the background my dish, which was once again disappointing as always.

The only exception is the fried tofu, which I ate with peanut sauce. But that's just an appetizer.

I mean, in theory I love noodles with peanut sauce (made a certain way), but i can never find an adequate dish of any type, including "noodles with peanut sauce" at any Thai restaurant, ever. I literally have a 0% "I enjoyed myself" success rate at Thai restaurants. I really hate Thai food.

And now we're on "the Thai block" on this damn lunch tour. Ugh. At least Shabuway is in the middle there somewhere.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 10: Amarin (Niniane)

Today's guests were David Gausebeck and Sugu, who are Yishan's colleagues from Paypal. David talked about flash rendering and art pipelines. Sugu talked about functional programming languages.

I don't know whether Yishan has invited a representative sample of Paypal people to Sunfire, but I've really liked all the ones he's brought. Also Skye Lee said she used to go into work at Paypal every day and announce, "Skye in the house! Two tunes!" and then play two hip hop songs, DJ-style. So now I have a very positive impression of the Paypal work environment.

I ate the spicy sweet basil with chicken. It was pretty good. I appreciate that Amarin has brown rice.

The first time I ate at Amarin, years ago, I was bowled over by how good it tasted. Subsequent times have been diminishing returns. It's still an above average Thai restaurant, but I rarely go there of my own accord.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 9: Pasta? (Yishan)

This restaurant really isn't that bad.

If you, like me, came to this restaurant numerous times many years ago in your early days in Valley and then got sick of it and stopped, it turns out that it's not that bad. Maybe they've improved, maybe I've just become un-sick of it. You could probably stand to come back and eat a few meals here. In any case, an affordable alternative to Vaso Azzuro on the same street.

A funny story from those years past: once, when my wife was out of town in L.A. - this was back in the days when she was at grad school - I went out to dinner with male friend of mine at this restaurant. My now-wife and I weren't married yet, so I didn't have a ring or any other distinguishing "taken" features. When we were to be seated, the maitre'd, apparently surmising that we were two single dudes out on the prowl, decided to play matchmaker and sat us at a table very close to two (apparently) single ladies. Very close - it was one of those situations where they usually take two 2-person tables and push them together to make a 4-person table, but they had split the two by about literally six inches to make it two 2-person tables. We were right next to them - uncomfortably close. It was not due to the restaurant being full either, as there were plenty of other open 2-person tables.

It ended up being entirely stupid and awkward, because both parties were not actually out on the prowl (my friend was single, but he wasn't looking for women that night), and I think we all sort of seethed at the maitre'd for his presumptuousness and ruining our respective dudes-night-out and ladies-night-out dinners.

Day 9: Pasta? (Niniane)

Today's visitor is Konstantin, co-founder of LinkedIn. He told us a hilarious story of burning his finger on the oven, and then standing next to the sink running cold water on it for five hours. Writing this makes it sound less hilarious, but in person he told it in a highly entertaining fashion.

Our waiter took this photo and cut off several people (Andrea, Jared, half of Yishan). Chris said that this waiter previously waited on him at a different branch of Pasta?, and stepped on his foot for many seconds without apologizing afterwards.

Candid photo where most of us were not ready. Andrea is talking to someone else in the background.

I had caesar salad and whole-wheat spaghetti pomodori. The food was okay, not great. The restaurant generously allowed me to substitute pineapple juice for the soda that comes with the lunch set menu.

I don't intend to return to this restaurant, especially with Vaso Azzurro on the same block.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 8: Bushido (Niniane)

Today's visitor is Adele from Apple. She manages the engineering team working on Webkit. We talked about the culture of secrecy at Apple, and whether it is wise to project how your future self will feel. (My stance is that it's reasonable to predict that static things about your personality will stay similar, but predicting how you will change is usually inaccurate.)

I ate the omelette fried rice. I was introduced to this dish last week by George Pang, a member of Sunfire. Alas, Bushido's version is not as good. Even though the decor of the restaurant is lovely, the food itself left much to be desired.

Andrea: [examining menu] "What is saba shioyaki?"

Yishan: "Well, there's only one way to find out."

Niniane: "By Googling it?"

Yishan: "No! Googling is the enemy of self-experience!"

Day 8: Bushido (Yishan)

This restaurant looks intimidatingly fancy from the outside, but the lunch menu items were all very affordable. The quality of the food was commensurate with the price.

Niniane discovered that you could get a free cocktail if you checked in 8 times on Foursquare at this restaurant. She remarked out loud that perhaps she should try faking 8 checkins in a row to get the free cocktail, until I reminded her that Bushido related to the old samurai code of honor, so it would be especially inappropriate to do so.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 7: La Bamba (Yishan)

Do you like how I'm striking a pose in that picture below in Niniane's post? I'm trying to be a model!

Day 7: La Bamba (Niniane)

Today's visitor is Sutha.

Adam Stepinski told us that his car is unused right now, and Sutha said he also has a second car which is not used. Then, the four of us talked about whether you could apply the AirBnB model to unused cars.

I had chicken fajitas, which were very good. I was only able to eat a fraction of it, so I feel like I got a good deal for my money.

Adam would like to state for the record that his burrito was good.

Sutha ordered carne asada and declined the rice, beans, and fajitas, so I asked if he was trying to avoid carbs. He confirmed that he is, and also said that he's living according to paleo-evolutionary nutrition, where he approximates how pre-historic man would eat. Sometimes he fasts for 24 hours suddenly, and other times he eats three normal meals.

I am now very confused by all the conflicting nutrition advice in the world.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 6: ZPizza (Niniane)

The office had two visitors today: LG and JonHoward, who brought apples, peaches, grapes, and bananas. It's great when the two of them visit, especially when they bring food!

Yishan's parents also came to lunch. Yishan's dad asked JonHoward about his work at a Facebook games company, and then asked, "Why don't you start your own games company?" This won him major points with the audience, for being a "cool dad" and not risk-averse like many people of a previous generation.

The pizza was rather oily. I tilted one slice on its side, and oil dripped off into a small puddle on my plate.

Day 6: ZPizza (Yishan)

I've been here so many times (it's a good family restaurant so we take our very young kids here) so I didn't really want to come to this place yet again, plus when you have your parents along with your work colleagues it can be kind of stressful. But luckily my dad came off sounding like a cool dad!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day 5: The Kitchen Table (Yishan)

Do you think the other Asian guy in the picture from Niniane's post (second from the right) looks like me? Jared from yesterday remarked to me (and apparently to him) that we look exactly alike, so when we met today, there was a moment of intense facial examination of the other guy. I think we were both like, "Well, we kinda look alike, but not super-alike." It was a disappointing experience, but I am interested in other opinions.

Also, yeah, the food was pretty good. Soy mayonnaise is indistinguishable from regular mayonnaise when mixed with ketchup.

Day 5: The Kitchen Table (Niniane)

The Kitchen Table is a kosher restaurant. Their hamburgers come with all sorts of toppings, but no cheese. I wondered aloud what would happen if I snuck in a piece of cheese (inside my purse), but it turns out the restaurant thought of that and wrote a warning on their menu. Customers are forbidden to bring outside food or silverware, lest the restaurant lose their kosher certification!

The food tasted really good, but service was slow. They gave Yishan soy mayonnaise. The decor is elegant, with chandeliers and a wall of embossed metallic panels.

Today's visitors were the Noteleaf founders, and Dileep (founder of a computer-vision startup). It turns out that the Noteleaf founders are roommates with our visitor Jared from lunch yesterday, but they independently emailed us about Sunfire.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 4: Hangen (Yishan)

I concur with Niniane's poor review of this restaurant. I last ate here a decade ago (when I was a college intern in the Bay Area working at Echelon), and while I don't remember specifically that it was bad, I certainly never went back. Today we found out why.

We also realized today that our Brute Force Lunch Tour does not guarantee (and in fact runs a high risk against) making sure we impress potential new office members with our lunch selections.

I really just didn't think that a restaurant that had survived for a decade on Castro St could be so bad. Maybe it is the Kapp's of Chinese restaurants.

Day 4: Hangen (Niniane)

Today we had two visitors: Chiu-Ki (Google) and Jared Tame (TokBox, GraffitiGeo).

I ordered sesame chicken, which had a tangy sour taste that became overwhelming after a few bites. Yishan's general tso chicken had a similar problem. Chiu-ki's bean curd and meat dish was fine, and she shared it with the rest of us.

I do not expect to return to this restaurant again. However, I'm glad that we sampled it as part of Brute Force lunch tour!