Friday, March 28, 2008

Restaurant Jaunt: Gochi

Gochi has been getting some rave reviews in the area. When I called for a reservation, the lady said that the reservations are backed up for two weeks!! I got there early to see what the fuss was all about. The atmosphere is nice, with the option of sitting at a normal table or kneeling Japanese-style on tatami. The hostesses and servers were all very polite and accomodating.
It's a Japanese tapas restaurant, so everything is served in small portions. Gochi is also known as a fusion restaurant, combining Japanese food with cuisines such as Italian, Chinese, Korean, French, and Spanish. They do have some classics, but for really good classic Japanese food I would recommend you go elsewhere.

We started with the Yuzu Ceviche, which came with homemade chips. This wasn't very good. The ceviche was very roughly chopped and I didn't like the flavor or texture of it.
Next, we got some braised pork with yellow wasabi and scallions, which seemed to be Chinese-Japanese fusion. It was good, but nothing new to me... maybe because my mom makes the exact same dish for less than a quarter of the price! :)
Next, we got the Haraime Carpaccio, which was served with alfalfa and pesto sauce. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night!

Haraime Carpaccio

Next we had Salmon Meshi, which is a fairly traditional dish. Meshi dishes are claypot dishes, where rice, fish, and some other seasonings are cooked in a hot rice pot. The rice sticks to the pot and becomes crispy and brown (my favorite!) and the whole thing is mixed then divided into bowls by the server. Definitely a well made, traditional Japanese dish at Gochi.
Another classic was the yaki onigiri, or fried rice balls. We ordered it with tuna-mayo. I was quite disappointed with Gochi's rendition, the tuna-mayo was on top of the yaki onigiri instead of inside. Also, the yaki onigiri wasn't completely golden-brown, and the inside was soft and mushy white rice. I didn't enjoy this dish.
Another one of my favorites of the night was an Italian-Japanese fusion dish of risotto croquettes served in tomato-basil and pesto sauces. The risotto had tiny specks of mushroom in them, and was quite delicious. The outside was fried golden and crispy, complete perfection. This is what fusion food is all about!

Risotto croquettes in tomato-basil and pesto sauce

I wish I took a picture of our last savory dish, a pizza that I have forgotten the name of, but it disappeared so quickly I didn't get the chance. It was covered with lump fresh crab meat, white cheese, enoki mushrooms I think, fish eggs, and a few other things. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the crust was not a regular pizza crust, but a crispy Chinese-pancake style crust, dotted with chopped green onion!The combination was divine. At first I didn't think I was unsure about this dish, but it turned out really good. The saltiness of the fish egg really melded with the softer, meltier flavors of the cheese.

The Gochi dessert menu sounds really ambitious and delicious, so I ordered two: Strawberry Tiramisu and Green Tea Creme Brulee. These dishes sound good in theory, but were very poorly executed. The strawberry tiramisu wasn't soaked in strawberry liquer like I thought it would be, but was just a normal mocha-y tiramisu with some strawberry whipped cream and a strawberry on top. Very disappointing. The creme brulee wasn't terrible, but there was no real indication of it being green tea flavored other than its green color. At 6.50 each, I thought they were wildly overpriced.

Strawberry Tiramisu

Green Tea Creme Brulee

Gochi is a decent restaurant, but I expected to be wowed because of the hype and the prices. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to those expectations. However, a few dishes were truly innovative and delicious, such as the risotto croquettes and the crab pizza. I might come again for those two, and maybe try a few more dishes.

19980 Homestead Rd
Cupertino, CA 95014

Chocolate ganache butter cookies, tea, and flowers

I bought a new tea set and have been putting it to good use. In fact, I made these cookies espressly for the purpose of showing it off! I bought this pink cherry blossom set in San Diego, at Horton Plaza's Whittard Co. The store is a British import of tons of tea and goodies from Chelsea. The prices are very reasonable when on sale.. I love it! I will be making a return visit in the future...

Chocolate ganache butter cookies

The cookies are super, super basic and the chocolate ganache was from some truffles I made earlier, but just softened with a little extra heavy cream.

I also wanted to show off some very pretty flowers I received last weekend...

Roses and orchids

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A tale of two recipes

Last week I really wanted to thank M's family for having me for the weekend, so I decided to surprise them with some pretty homemade baked goods. The first thing I kept in mind was that I was baking for a younger, sweet-tooth M & co, as well as for the older and more adult needs and tastes of his mom. Because of this, I ended up making two versions of each baked good.

The first is my banana bread. It is really delicious!! Not to toot my own horn, but I think it's the best banana bread (especially when fresh.) I made muffins of the extra to give to my roommates, and all three of them raved about them. It has a strong banana flavor and texture, probably due to the large amount of bananas.

For the "healthy" banana bread, I cut the sugar down by 1/2 a cup and increased the cinammon to compromise for the taste. For the "yummy" banana bread, I kept the original recipe and added chocolate chips. Both were delicious! I think I actually prefer it without chocolate chips, because I want to really be able to concentrate on the banana texture.

Next... I tested two recipes of checkerboard cookies because I've never made them before. The first I found online, and it included an egg and was like any normal buttery cookie. The second was a Martha Stewart recipe and didn't have an egg. I found the second to be surprisingly good, very much like a shortbread. Instead of making just chocolate and vanilla checkerboards, I opted for chocolate and orangey-lemon instead :) Instead of vanilla extract, I added Meyer lemon and orange zest and juice to the white dough. It gave the shortbread a delicate and citrusy taste which made all the difference!

Unfortunately a lot of them got broken in transport. They were still mouth-wateringly good though!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Chocolate and Peppermint Cupcakes

I love cupcakes.. probably one of the main reasons is that they are perfect individual servings and that makes them ridiculously cute! I love mini tarts and things too, so expect to see those soon!

Chocolate mint cupcake

But back on topic, I've found that chocolate and peppermint are a really complementary flavor combo. Something about chocolate's rich, full taste is complemented by a whiff of refreshing mint flavor. Since I was in the mood for a cupcake, this flavor combination seemed like a good idea. I googled chocolate mint cupcakes for ideas, and scanned my favorite blogs as well. Chocolate mint cupcakes seemed to be pretty popular.. I saw them on several websites, including Chockylit, my favorite cupcake blog. An interesting addition that I borrowed was a bit of instant coffee mix in the chocolate cupcakes, which really added to the flavor of the cake in my opinion. These were delicious and I would try again! Next time I would cut back on the peppermint extract though... I think the flavor was too strong, and slightly overpowered the chocolate. Or maybe try fresh mint? Not sure how to do that though.

I piped the frosting and decorated with green pastel (Easter?) M&Ms. I couldn't find the right tip though so I resorted to a smaller shell tip which didn't quite have the swirly effect I was looking for. Still, I am quite happy with the results! :)

These cupcakes are decorated and all ready to go. I really enjoy making them and I hope to maybe someday sell them for small events.

Impromptu Panini

I love paninis but I don't have a panini grill at my apartment. However, I do have a George Foreman grill... so being the creative spirit I am, I threw together a panini for lunch.. with random ingredients I happened to have on hand.

Turkey, mozzarella, and basil panini
  • french bread (or focaccia, or anything else you have)
  • deli sliced turkey
  • thick-sliced mozzarella
  • basil leaves
  • fresh peppercorn, salt to taste
  • extra-virgin olive oil
1. Slice bread into two halves. Drizzle each side with olive oil. Add some salt and freshly ground peppercorn to taste.
2. Layer turkey on one half of the bread. Add thick slices of mozzarella and basil leaves.
3. Grill sandwich until golden brown and crispy.

SO delicious! Probably going to add this to my lunchtime repertoire...