Sunday, July 03, 2005

International Weekend Gluttony

This weekend, we decided on Afghani and Brazillian cuisines. Both styles of food were new to the both of us, so we were truly entering uncharted waters. We had some idea of what to expect, but you never really know for sure what it is going to be like until you're in the middle of the experience. We also attended a traditional Chinese dinner banquet, which topped off our weekend.

So, on Friday, we went to the Afghani House in Sunnyvale. The restaurant was quite large, and decorated nicely with traditional Afghani artifacts as well as pictures of Afghanistan. The tables were set up beautifully, and restaurant carried an ambience of subtle romance. Before we talk about the food, I must say that the service was impeccable. Their waitstaff never failed to keep our drink glasses full, and they were always quick and courteous. This was such a nice departure from the usual crummy service provided by so many restaurants these days.

Having never had Afghani food before, we both just took a shot and ordered what sounded good. Well, everything turned out great. We started out with mantu, which are meat dumplings and vegetables topped with a yogurt cream sauce. I'm not a fan of yogurt, but this appetizer was excellent. It also came with a rather spicy and sour green sauce on the side. For our main courses, she had the Kabob Gousfand, which is a dish of skewered lamb cubes. It was served with a spiced brown rice called pallaw. I had the Korma Challaw which was a stew-like dish containing very tender pieces of beef, served with seasoned white rice. The portions were so large that we simply did not have any room for dessert. Next time, I'll bring a heartier appetite, because the desserts ordered by the table next to ours looked quite tasty.

On Saturday, we went to Espetus in San Francisco. This was recommended by a Brazillian colleague of mine. Of all the Brazillian restaurants she's tried in the area, this was only one of two that she would classify as authentic and worthwhile. When we arrived there, we were told to expect a 25 minute wait. So, we had a couple of white and red sangrias at the restaurant bar, which helped the time pass. It should be noted that the restaurant was not spacious, and tables were tightly packed. Brazillian steakhouses are all-you-can-eat with waiters bringing around freshly cooked meat and carving slices for you on the spot. A variety of meat was available, ranging from different marinated versions of top sirloin to lamb cubes to the more adventurous chicken hearts. While this was a steakhouse, they also had a good number of Brazillian side dishes to offer. Despite the tight space, the food was excellent, and I would recommend it to any meat lovers. Keep the vegetarians away from this place, it's really not for them.

Tonight, we attended a fine dinner banquet at Chez Mayflower in Milpitas. The food here is consistently good, especially the seafood which is always fresh. The service is excellent for a Chinese restaurant, but average when compared to finer dining establishments. The dinner was a full 11 courses. We started off with an appetizer plate consisting of delicate cuts of meat, seaweed, and seasoned jellyfish. This was followed by shark's fin soup. For you environmentalist types, note that this was imitation shark's fin. True shark's fin would run upwards of $30 a bowl. After the soup came a refreshing lettuce wrap stuffed with a meat, which cleansed our palate. Next, we were served a seafood dish containing squid, scallops, and vegetables. The seafood medley then continued with braised sea cucumber and mushrooms. Once again, to break the monotony, we had some Yang Zhou fried rice along with a crispy baked chicken dish. All of this was then followed by stir-fried crab and also a delicious sea bass. Finally, the meal ended with a noodle dish and a red bean and lotus dessert soup with a hint of citrus flavor.

The food this weekend was amazing. I don't know when I'll have another weekend as gluttonous as this one. No complaints at all, but I think I need to hit the gym a few extra times this week. Tomorrow, we're off to a block party where a friend's band will be performing a bunch of Beatles hits. Should be fun. Have a happy Fourth of July, everyone.

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