Sunday, October 15, 2006

Saturday Eats

Lunch on Saturday was actually more like a celebratory feast. Had we known this, we would not have made dinner plans at a local Cuban restaurant. So, anyway QB and I were invited to a lunch to celebrate the birth of her aunt's now one-month old newborn. So, we show up to China Stix in Santa Clara, and to our surprise, we learn that a total of 5 tables were reserved for this occasion. The tables were decorated with streams of gold ribbon, and every seat had its own cover. Even the chopsticks were fancy with gold-colored metallic ends.

We had a total of 11 courses in the 3 hours that followed our arrival... I'll just list them out with a dash of detail.

1) Cold Appetizer Plate - Typical dish to start off any Chinese banquet. Various cold cuts of meat, jellyfish, and some vegetables.

2) Shark Fin Soup - Imitation, of course. It was quite good. In fact, I really liked all the food that was served.

3) Peking Duck - I usually don't like duck, as it's often greasy. But, Peking Duck I don't mind because the bread that goes with the duck does a good job soaking up the grease.

4) Lobster With Ginger And Onions - I'm not that huge a lobster fan, but the couple chunks I had were tasty.

5) Wealth & Happiness Double Cake - This, I'd never had before. It was slices of honey glazed ham and a crunchy somewhat sweet cracker that went into some bread.

6) Minced Lobster With Lettuce Cup - This was new to me also. Again, I'm not a lobster fan, but I had two of these. Basically, lobster meat in a cup of lettuce. Really a nice and refreshing course.

7) Braised Sea Cucumber With Bok Choy, Chicken, and Mushrooms - Yummy. As gross as it may sound to eat a sea slug, sea cucumbers when prepared correctly remains one of my favorites. And, this place really did get it right.

8) Steamed Trout - Each table had two fish. I was pretty full at this point, so I only had a tiny bit knowing that there was more to come.

9) Napa with Scallops - This was a simple dish... Chinese Napa vegetables with scallop shreds in a seafood sauce.

10) Seafood Yee-Mein - This was the closer... a soft seafood noodle dish. Traditionally, noodles are mandatory fare at any birthday-related feast. It has something to do with their symbolism of longevity.

11) Sweet Rice In Pineapple Bowl - I liked this dessert quite a bit. It was an empty half-pineapple shell filled with rice and sweet red bean, and some pineapple chunks.

Okay, I lied. There was a 12th course... a second dessert. The new parents of Jaeden (the baby's name) brought over some cake also. So, everyone had some of it despite being way overstuffed already.

I went into a food coma shortly after this 3-hour meal. QB and I even had to move our dinner reservations by an hour, since there's no way we'd be able to eat much without more of a break.

So, this brings us to our Cuban dinner at Habana Cuba in downtown San Jose. Neither of us have ever had Cuban food, so we really didn't know what to expect. Also, there's no way for us to tell if the restaurant's food is really authentic. But, if the crowd was any indication, the place must be good. It was completely packed, and without reservations, there'd be quite a wait.

We didn't really know what to order, so we just winged it. We were still a bit too full to order any appetizers, so we just had the salad and chicken-corn soup that came with our meals. We decided to share dishes to get more exposure to Cuban cuisine. We ordered the Rabo Encendido, which was slow-braised oxtail in a red wine sauce. And, we also ordered the Lechón a la Cubana, which was a traditional Cuban pork dish.

I really like oxtail, and this dish met my expectations. It was delicious and full of spices and had lots of taste. The lechon had a light taste, and so QB wasn't thrilled. I, on the other hand, thought it tasted pretty good. Along with the meal, QB had a mojito, and I gave Hatuey, their Cuban beer offering, a try. The beer was okay, nothing remarkable. The mojito was also far from the best that I've tried.

I also played a lengthy poker session, but unfortunately I was stuck over a rack after about eight hours. I'll probably write something up later that will read more like a sad tale than anything else. Okay, this post is long enough as it is. Enjoy your weekend.

No comments: