In this thread, I asked about ideas for a food road trip to the Peninsula/San Jose....
had lots of responses, and here's what we ended up doing:
Our road trip developed into a bit of a Vietnamese snack-food crawl through San Jose, instead of the original plan of Afghan or Persian. But it was a huge success nonetheless.
We wanted to go to Salang Pass, but it was closed for lunch on Mondays, so the initial plan was to go to the Grand Century Mall first, then eventually head to Shalizaar on the way back. But by the time we got to Grand Century, we were pretty hungry and intrigued by lots of things, so we ended up just doing most eating in San Jose.
We started at the food court - shared an order of banh khot from that stand, and a chicken salad from another stand. I didn't think either were as good as their equivalents at my favorite Vietnamese places in SF, but they were both pretty tasty. The banh khot seemed to be made only with egg whites (they were white, not yellow) and didn't taste super coconutty to me. The chicken salad was chicken on the bone, which I didn't love - but the gingery dressing was really good, and is different than most Vietnamese chicken salad that I've had.
We shared a few drinks - sugarcane juice w/ kumquat, lemonade, peach/mango smoothie. All quite good. We also really enjoyed the green mochi from the dessert stand - filled w/ coconut, mung bean or taro - I think we all agreed coconut was best, and I brought a few home w/ me as well.
After these snacks, we walked around the mall - we stopped at the candy/dried goods shop and tried some jerky samples - three of us ended up buying the deer jerky. I think it's great! sfbing describes it well - I can pick up lots of flavors in there, including some lemongrass, definitely also sesame, a bit of chile....it, and most other jerkys, were 8 dollars per lb. The woman working there seemed happy to give out samples - I also tried pickled mango which I didn't really like. Friends got dried banana, and also some lemon ginger candy.
The kitchen/restaurant supply store was fun. They sell cast iron banh khot frying pans for $10.99. We didn't buy one, but thought about it. How easy is it to make banh khot?
Next we went to the bakery near the front entrance (Grand Century Bakery?). They were making bright green pandan leaf waffles (green seemed to be the theme of the day in this mall) and I bought one. Very tasty, and nice to eat it fresh from the waffle iron. Friends bought more mochi here, which I thought were too goopy texture-wise, but they liked them.
Already feeling half-full, we decided that a short banh-mi crawl would round out the trip. So we looked on chowhound quickly and went to two spots that are recommended for banh mi - located in diagonally opposite strip malls at the corner of Tully and King.
We first went to Huong Lan Sandwiches, where we had 1 BBQ pork and 1 Grilled Pork. Both $2.50. I liked both sandwiches, certainly as good (if not better) than any I've had in SF. The BBQ pork was cold, and cut thin, so I didn't taste too much flavor...I liked the grilled pork better, and I liked that this sandwich came w/ chopped peanuts and fried garlic on top too. I also had a hot Lipton tea for 50 cents.
Next we went over to Kim's Sandwiches, where we shared 1 charcoaled pork sandwich. I thought this was slightly less good than the grilled pork sandwich at Huong Lan, but still tasty. Also $2.50. I also bought some sticky rice and banana sweets, which I ate tonight - pretty good, though not the best I've ever had. I also bought sticky rice w/ pork but I haven't opened that one yet.
This was the end of our visit to San Jose. However, on the way home, we made a stop in San Carlos for some yogurt at Harmony!
I liked this place - the yogurt is all organic Strauss Dairy, and they had good topping selection. We sampled all flavors - blueberry, blackberry, plain. I thought all were good. I had blueberry w/ mochi. Others had plain yogurt w/ a very good homemade tasting raspberry sauce. I'd definitely return to this yogurt place if I am in the area.
Thanks everyone for suggestions - perhaps there will still be Taiwanese, Persian and Afghan road trips in the near future.
P.S. On the way in and out of the mall, we passed a fruit stand set up in the parking lot. There they were selling fresh jackfruit, rambutan and mangosteens! Nothing was cheap, so we didn't buy, but we did see other people purchasing fruit there. I think a bag of 4-5 mangosteens was $15.
1816 Tully Rd 182, San Jose, CA 95111
Huong Lan Sandwiches
1655 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122
Harmony Frozen Yogurt
1226 Arroyo Ave, San Carlos, CA 94070
Grand Century Shopping Mall
1001 Story Rd, San Jose, CA
1111 Story Rd, San Jose, CA