Restaurants & Bars

Dearth of GOOD Asian in Blossom Hill San Jose corridor (very long)

Alice Patis | Feb 8, 200608:22 PM     3

In the post linked below Alan408 disagreed to my statement saying there’s a lack of good Asian restaurants in the Blossom Hill area of San Jose, so I’m starting a new post on why I think there’s such a lack. I’m defining this corridor to be bounded by Camden on the west and Snell on the east. Since I work smack in the middle, anything further west or east is farther than I like to go for lunch (except for really good chow).

By the way, a year or so ago, I posted what I thought would be a series of my chow adventures in this corridor. I got some recommendations, but they were mostly east of Snell & Blossom Hill, and I haven’t had much chance to take long lunch breaks. Since that post, I’ve been to only a few places good enough to post about. I wasn’t going to post anything about the bad places because I don’t like to start a thread just to post a bad review. But since I need to explain why I think there’s this dearth of good asian restaurants, below are my short reviews of this corridor. Sorry to make this all one post, instead of a series.

My Roundup of Asian Eats, Going West to East, along the Blossom Hill/85 corridor:

Happy Bamboo, 1711 Branham Ln
Vegetarian Vietnamese. In the good to ok category. Rice plate choices are better than noodle soup choices. Overpriced but decent vegetarian banh mi.

Taste of China, 1659 Branham Ln
Good (but not great) northern Chinese cooked/operated by Koreans. I think I’ve posted about this one.

Sushi Factory, 4632 Meridian Ave
Went once at request of co-worker for their sushi buffet. Some pieces decent, some reminded me of Todai-like sushi. Yes, I shouldn’t have done sushi buffet which is why this shouldn’t count as a review.

Garne’s, 4628 Meridian Ave
Ok this is Persian, not what you normally call Asian, but it’s good. Flavors are good, portions seem small. Lunch specials include free salad from the (just ok) salad “buffet”. I’ve been twice and hope to go again before I write a post.

Wing’s Chinese Fast Food, Almaden & Blossom Hill, same strip mall as Trader Joes and Costco
This is so bad, so bad I don’t know how to write this. Gives Mr Chau’s a good name, but same idea. Panders to the “lemon chicken sweet & sour pork” crowd. I’ve eaten here a few times only when I needed something fast after a TJs or Costco run during my lunch break. Interestingly, the cook at the other Wing’s (on Union & Camden) is capable of making really great food. A co-worker who knows the cook has arranged occasional “banquets” for us, and we’ve had excellent Cantonese fare. I use the term banquet loosely since it is a sparse 6-table fluorescent environment, the dishes are served in small catering trays and you eat from styrofoam plates. But good food those banquets were.

King Buffet, 1051 Blossom Hill Rd
All you can eat, but not much to eat if you’re a chowhound. Only a notch above the takeout food at Wing’s. Of the 10+ things I tried the only decent thing were the steamed prawns. And except for the surimi “krab” everywhere, the prawns were the only seafood item.

Erawan Thai
Good place. Already posted about this. Haven’t been back in a while; too busy trying new places.

Pearl Garden, 4660 Pearl Ave
Chinese restaurant cooked/owned by Vietnamese, serving takeout customers who think Chop Suey is Chinese food. There’s actually a chop suey section on the menu!! I was suckered in when I saw West Lake Beef Soup on the menu, but it was gloppy egg-flower soup with over-tenderized yet chewy beef. Yes I know it’s supposed to have corn starch, but this was quivering. That should’ve clued me in but my other dish (don’t remember what it was) was ok, so I went back. This time I discovered the owner was Vietnamese, but she couldn’t give me any recommendations, saying everything was good. Even when I asked for dishes that the Asian people order, she said they order everything. Seeing “szechuan this” and “szechuan that” on the menu, I asked if there were any dishes with sichuan peppercorns, and she had no idea what I was talking about (though it might’ve been the language barrier, I don’t know the Vietnamese word for that and she gave me blank looks when I tried to explain Ma La). So I got spicy beef noodle soup, which was neither spicy nor beefy, but very noodley (and they were overcooked noodles). The owner is completely uninterested in making the food more authentically Chinese, or opening a true Vietnamese restaurant; she says her takeout business does very well as is. Sigh.

Ariake Sushi, 1008 Blossom Hill Rd
Even just a couple days after eating here, I didn’t remember what I ate. It was one of the bento boxes with I think corn fritters as one of my “entrees” but I don’t remember what they or anything else in my bento tasted like. The sushi on the boat conveyor belt didn’t look very good, and there were a few that kept going round and round and round.

Viet Ville, 5440 Thornwood Dr
I’ve posted on the great banh xeo. Beef Salad is also great. Pho and Bun dishes are just ok.

Chaat Café
I’ve posted about this; been meaning to go back but haven’t had the chance.

Mandarin Gourmet, 5560 Santa Teresa Blvd
Americanized Chinese in pleasant surroundings. Hugely popular at lunch time for an unfathomable reason other than I guess people around here like this kind of food.

Shangkee Noodle House, 615 Blossom Hill Rd.
Chinese/Vietnamese/SE Asian run by Vietnamese, like TK noodle house, but small hole in the wall. Some of the noodle soups are really good with interesting flavors, but it can be one-dimensional where you instantly like the flavors but you’re bored of it after 5 or 6 mouthfuls. I love hearing the wok get worked when they make my stir fried noodle dishes, but there’s no wok-hay. They also have uncommon items like daikon cake and radish cake. They’ve recently added new color photos of all the dishes, so it’s very gringo/gweilo friendly.

Ori-Deli, 5479 Snell Ave
I posted about this, and have since gotten good takeout, but I haven’t been back in a while.

Pho My, 5499 Snell Ave
Now that I’m mistaken about it being closed, I’ll be trying it again soon. The beef salad was not as good as Viet Ville’s, but I’d like to try the pho, cha gio & other recs.

Tomo Sushi, 5487 Snell Ave
I went here on a rec. I sat at the bar but the sushi chef never acknowledged my presence, the waiter served me. I had the sashimi “entrée” and it was good (fresh), but the portion was quite small. I think total with tea, tax & tip came to $20 and I was still hungry.

Blossom Valley Chinese Kitchen, 5585 Snell Ave & Blossom Hill (NW corner)
Actually I’m not sure this is the name of the place, I looked up the Google listing for this location. I wandered in here the day I thought mistakenly that Pho My was closed. The steam table food looked so unappetizing. I would’ve been ok eating Americanized Chinese food just to try this place, but this just looked gross.

Hong Kong Garden, 5665 Snell & Blossom Hill (SW corner, with Pet Club)
Yet another place designed for the sweet and sour pork fan. Lunch Specials all seem like what I could get at Wing’s for $3.50, and seeing them being served, probably the same gloppy overcooked quality. The Singapore noodle was very bland except for yellow curry powder as the sole flavor. The seafood chow mein Hong Kong style was the worst, the catfish so smelly and the white sauce nothing more than cornstarch, salt and water.

Tandoor, 445 Blossom Hill Rd & Snell (NE corner)
Okay buffet, usually not warm enough. Really good “brought fresh to the table” naan, and good Dal, good cilantro chutney. Ordered from the menu once but it wasn’t that much better than the buffet. Very nice service.

I haven’t tried the Indian restaurant next to/near Pet Club, and Google Local shows a sushi restaurant in the same mall though I’ve never noticed one. I haven’t noticed anything in the SE corner of Snell & Blossom Hill so Alan or someone else, if you know there’s a good place there I’ll check it out.

I know there are plenty more places in the Blossom Hill/Monterey Rd area but as I said that’s further east than the time I usually have for lunch. So for this section of the Blossom Hill corridor, I think I’ve exhausted the options and I’m tired of taking yet another bullet for the crowd or whatever the metaphor is.

But for days when I do have time to go farther, I’d be willing to check out more recommendations.

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