HiroNori Craft Ramen

Went to HiroNori Craft Ramen in Santa Clara. It had 4.5 stars on Yelp so I was obligated to go.
Yelp reservation only. Worked out pretty well, and it was a better experience than waiting in line for 2 hours at Ramen Nagi. Although I do like waiting in lines…
The menu.
Tonkotsu ramen. It was pretty good! Would recommend. For first timers they give you the “garlic black oil” (you can see it in the picture below), a $1 value, for free. The garlic oil was quite good and I’ll probably order it next time, so I guess their advertising scheme worked.
Chicken karaage. Also quite good! It came with some sauce that was also very good. The aforementioned black garlic oil is in the upper left.

Overall I’d say it was solidly solid. I think I like the ramen and the customization options at Ramen Nagi a bit better, but HiroNori compares quite favorably (with no waiting in line). And the chicken karaage was really good, which Ramen Nagi doesn’t offer. I’ll be back.

Using up: baguette

I got a free baguette from somewhere a few months ago. It’s been sitting in my freezer since then, desiccating, apparently. I got it out to make banh mi yesterday and discovered that it was rock hard. I would’ve given up on the whole idea except that I’d already bought all the other ingredients.

To attempt to rehydrate the bread, I… steamed it. It mostly worked. Soggy on the outside and still pretty hard on the inside = delicious, right? Fortunately, panfrying got rid of the sogginess.

Bread down, onto the hacked-together filling! The main components of banh mi are some protein (I used fried tofu and scrambled egg), cilantro, mayo, fish sauce, and marinated veggies. I had trouble with the fish sauce (don’t have it) and the marinated vegetables (don’t have vinegar), so I made some wild substitutions like usual.

Julienned carrots and radish are supposed to be marinated in a combination of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. I didn’t want to buy a whole container of vinegar (and it’s not available in bulk) just as I’m about to move out, so my plan was to use lemon or lime juice in place of vinegar. Lime would be especially fitting – it’s commonly used as a topping. But… the grocery store didn’t have either 🙁 The closest alternative I could find was grapefruit. I still don’t know if that was a good choice.

I added bonito flakes to the marinade to substitute for fish sauce.

The final banh mi-like sandwich. (This nice plate was a bulk-trash-pickup-day find 🙂

The sandwich was actually pretty good, considering. The vegetables only have the faintest hint of grapefruit-bitterness flavor… 😀

Another using-up recipe: cream biscuits

A while ago, I need to use up a pound or so of sour cream (left over from some event) and some over-cooked sweet potato. I steamed it into sweet potato mush 🙁 I had the bright idea of making pancakes (really good, super tender and fluffy) and biscuits (not so great, but edible).

At least they have a good color. Any suggestions on how to use up a ton of biscuits?

The original biscuit recipe, which is much better than my modification, is from Joy of Cooking:

Cream biscuits

20 2-inch biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (might need more salt)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  1. Mix dry ingredients. Add the cream all at once. Mix until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it gently 5-10 times, adhering any loose pieces in the process, until the work area is clean.
  3. Roll or pat the dough out to 1/2-inch thick. Cut into desired size (2-inch squares is standard). Reroll and cut any scraps.
  4. Bake in center rack at 450°F for 10-12 minutes until biscuits are golden on top. Set biscuits close together on baking sheet for joined biscuits with soft sides.
  5. (To cook on a griddle, roll dough out to 1/4-3/8-inch thick. Cook in griddle until brown on one side, 3-4 minutes, then turn and cook until brown on the other side.)

Mostly-free cornbread

I don’t really use cornmeal for anything, so I decided to make cornbread to use up the haul-cornmeal. It had the added benefit of using up the rest of my flour. I’m moving out in a month and am trying to not have any food left. I’m down to my freezer stash of carby foods, like biscuits, brownies, low-tier garlic bread, low-tier baguette (which is gonna be upgraded to banh mi :).

Anyway, my mom provided the Cook’s Illustrated “Northern cornbread” recipe that she likes. (The “Southern cornbread” recipe has more cornmeal and, I believe, less sugar.)

Why is the browning so square?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (I used yoghurt)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat to 425°F. Grease a 9-by-9 pan.
  2. Stir together dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients until just combined.
  3. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake until top is golden brown and lightly cracked and edges have pulled away from side of pan, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao (Flushing)

Friend J (not pictured) took us to Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao in Flushing, it was pretty good!

The titular Xiao Long Bao.

Shanghai Pan Fried Noodles.

Mapo tofu.

Scallion pancake with sliced beef. This one was really amazing!

Sweet soy milk. I really liked it, although N and friend J didn’t seem to agree. I’d come back just for this.

Lotus leaf sticky rice. Unfortunately it seems like the restaurant forgot we ordered this one, and when we asked about it they rushed it out while it was still frozen. But we took it back and had it for breakfast later. Still pretty good.

Free food!

I discovered a neighbor was moving out when I discovered trash bags full of dry goods (gasp!) outside their door. I couldn’t keep myself from asking if it was fine for me to take what I wanted (the answer was “yes” and I was even offered my pick of furniture), so I ended up with this haul:

Let’s see, from left to right, there’s cereal, spaghetti, butter, cornmeal, cashews and almonds, water chestnut flour (used as an alternative to cornstarch, I think?), a “string” of fig “buttons”, various Indian spice mixes, salsa, jaggery (unrefined sugar), olives, chickpeas, cooking oil.

I love getting stuff I wouldn’t normally buy. It’s a treat 🙂 I especially enjoyed the salsa.

The day the neighbors moved out, I dug through the apartment dumpster, and additionally got a chair (for putting my “in use” clothes on), an apparently never-used yoga mat, laundry detergent (never get Gain original scent… On the plus side, I hear Gain is super strong), and a single handkerchief.

NYC+Boston Trip

N and I had an exciting trip to New York and Boston just recently. I flew in from the Bay Area and N took the train from Pittsburgh. Friend J very generously let us stay at his place in New York (thanks Friend J!).

I’ll try to post pictures about the places we visited over the next few {insert unit of time here}.

To start, here’s some photos from SFO.

I flew JetBlue this time around and got to see the international terminal at SFO. Turns out there a newly opened (in 2019) food court area with a sampling of hot SF restaurant destinations.

Kamin is a spin off of Kin Khao, a popular Thai place in SF (1802 reviews, 4 stars, wow). I was going to eat here, but unfortunately they closed while I was being indecisive about ordering.

Instead I got a pork bowl from Tacos Cala (a spin-off of Cala), which was pretty good!

There’s also a Tartine here (I’m sure you spotted it in the first picture). And the line is a lot shorter than in the Mission District.

Wow, look at those affordable prices. Only $8.29 for a matcha latte! (but don’t forget the oat milk)

Hot cross buns

For Hot Cross buns, use the cinnamon roll dough recipe. Add some amount (just eyeball it) of candied fruit and currants when you are ready to shape the dough and make about twelve rolls.  For Hot Cross buns, the egg wash is very important to give the right look.  Whisk together a whole egg with a bit of salt; this is brushed on just before baking.  You can use the other half of the egg or a previously saved egg white can be used.