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Restaurants & Bars 5

Recent eating (VH Noodle, Banana Garden, Sam Kee)

Yvonne | Sep 3, 200105:33 PM

I'm taking a break from med school apps so I thought I'd give a quick review of some highlights/lowlights of the last few weeks.

I went to VH Noodle (Pacific East Mall) twice in the last 2 weeks and was very disappointed. First time, I had the fried chicken rice. It was half a small fried chicken on egg fried rice. The chicken was OK, although somewhat dry. But the rice was soaked in grease, so bad that the oil left a filmy aftertaste in my mouth. When I pushed aside the rice, I saw a puddle of grease on the bottom of the plate and lost my appetite. The second time, I ordered beef chow fun. For some reason, their napa cabbage is a little bitter, something that I've noticed on previous visits. Again, the dish was so greasy that I didn't eat much. The gravy separated from the oil after a few minutes and I was left with a layer of grease and a layer of sauce. I also tried the fried fish cakes, a restaurant specialty. They were hot, fresh tasting, and surprisingly, greaseless. But they just didn't do anything for me. For noodles and rice plates, I would recommend the pho place next door. Perhaps because of the competition, portions have been more generous and quality has improved.

My family showed up at Sam Kee (corner of Wolfe and Homestead in Cupertino) at 10:45 Sunday morning and our party of 6 was seated immediately. 15 minutes later, there was a wait although not as bad as some places. Sam Kee doesn't offer much in terms of creative and unusual dim sum but they do serve all the basics. Sometimes I've noticed that places like Fook Yuen or Peony that have more unusual items sometimes lack the basics, but Sam Kee is just the opposite. There was a wide variety available even relatively early and whatever wasn't on the carts, we ordered from a waiter. Everything was good and piping hot, even with cart service. I think I've said this before, but Sam Kee is my family's dependable standby for Cantonese in the South Bay. For some reason, I've never heard it mentioned on this board. Anyone else ever tried this place?

I also went to Banana Garden twice this past week, partly because after I brought my mom there, she insisted on going back yesterday. The winners of the first meal were Gado Gado (fried fish, fried tofu, hard-boiled eggs, and bean sprouts in a spicy peanuty sauce), coconut jumbo shrimp, and on choy/kong1xin1cai1 with shrimp paste. Rendang beef was only so-so and I probably wouldn't order it again. Pineapple fried rice (and I like the ketchup!) and mango chicken were OK. We couldn't figure out what the lacy stuff was on the coconut shrimp. Some thought it was fried pork or fish sung, but the waiter told us it was deep-fried scrambled eggs. Either way, it was delicious. The shrimp and kong xin cai were repeats on the second visit. Malaysian spare ribs were delicious and served with a sweet chili dipping sauce (I think the type usually used with chicken in SE Asian cooking). So-so ratings for the satay tofu and pad thai but those were concessions to my 5-year-old brother. Pretty good lichee drink and grass jelly drink (called Malaysian jelly on the menu) as well.

As a side note, why is it so easy for me to write so much, so quickly and easily, when I'm talking about food. Yet when I'm working on essays for these applications, I can stare at a blank Word document forever with no result?

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