I had planned to spend the weekend in the Bay Area, but my plans were changed at the last minute when the flights from OAK to LGB were all sold out on Sunday. Plus, Bill had to come back to LGB Friday night to work the on-call shift over the weekend. Since he became the supervisor, he didn’t need to be part of the on-call rotation. But all of his team had other obligations this weekend, so he came home. It was an odd and exciting feeling when I got home Friday evening… I had nothing planned for the weekend!
So, what did we do? First of all, we slept in. Second. we went to work cleaning up the flower beds in preparation for our summer vegetables. Last year I did seven varieties of tomatoes from seeds I purchased online. Since I have absolutely no idea what I did with the leftover seeds from last summer, we purchased plants from our local nursery. We bought five varieties of heirloom tomatoes: a red “Beefmaster,” a purple plum tomato, a cream-colored white tomato, a orange-red striped tomato, and a bright yellow tomato with orange stripes. We also bought zucchini, watermelon, sweet basil, jalapeno peppers and “Thai Dragon” peppers. We are already growing sugar snap peas and leeks. Funny enough, we didn’t plant the leeks… they just sprouted up in random places in our backyard. So I transplanted them all to one place and they’re doing pretty well. We still plan to grow white corn when we can find the plants. The nursery was out. In addition to planting the vegetables, I planted some red and burgandy geraniums in the front yard and I have a small area prepped for a bougainvilla that will be able to climb up the far side of our front porch. I just need to find the plant. The one place where we saw bougainvilla yesterday had them overpriced. So, I’m still looking. I was also pricing Japanese maple trees for the area in our backyard that used to have that ugly ivy plant. Why is it that the plants/trees/flowers/etc I’d like to have in our yard always have to be the expensive ones?!?!? Japanese maples are really expensive! I found a small tree that was around 5 feet tall that was priced at $250. I knew they were going to be pricey, but I didn’t know they would be that much! Perhaps I will rethink the backyard design I had in mind…
We’ve discovered two relatively new restaurants in our area. The first is the Sweetee Thai Cafe located in a new shopping center about 10 minutes from home. The big attraction for us to this restaurant is that it’s open late… til midnight on weeknights and 1am on the weekends. We don’t really eat out that late, but, often Bill or I will come home from a flight that gets in around 10pm… and most of the restaurants we frequent are closed. This Thai restaurant is pretty good with uber-trendy decor. We normally shy away from a place decorated so well… as it normally means the food is over-priced or not very good or both. Now, I have no idea if the Thai food here is authentic. Judging from the Thai food I’ve had before, it seems to be more of a Thai and Chinese fusion. We’ve eaten there three times and have been happy with the food and the service every time. We last ate there Friday evening around 10pm and it was busier than we’ve ever seen. And we seemed to be at least a decade older than the average customer. Whatever… the food is good, the service is excellent and the prices are reasonable: about $15 to $20 for the two of us. We’ll probably eat there more.
The second restaurant we discovered isthe Korean owned Joe’s Sushi and Teppan Grill. This restaurant only opened a couple of months ago and is walking distance from our house. There is a second Joe’s Sushi in Riverside that is apparently quite popular with the locals. A few of things have kept us away from this place. One, it’s a terrible location along a major street with only street parking… the kind of place you just drive by and don’t stop. But, since our favorite Long Beach sushi restaurant, Sushi Studio, is located in a similar setting, we figured we’d give them the benefit of the doubt. The second item is the neon sign advertising “All-You-Can-East Sushi.” To us this normally means mediocre sushi and a pitiful selection. Thirdly, we tend to avoid Teppan-style restaurants because they tend to be over-priced and much more fun when you’re eating with a group of people. Alas, we were hungry on Saturday night and didn’t want to deal with a mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo… so we gave Joe’s Sushi a try. We were still debating whether to try this restaurant as we walked up to the door…. and hesitated… and looked in the windows to see that they were practically empty on a warm Saturday night…. man, there was a lot about this place that made us very wary. I guess we were feeling brave so we went in. As is common in sushi restaurants we were greeted with a very loud “Irasshaimase!” (welcome or come in). The host actually introduced himself and shook our hands. We sat at the sushi bar and debated whether to actually do the all-you-can-eat sushi meal or play it safe and order teriyaki and tempura. We decided to be brave again and went with the sushi. They have all of the common nigiri style sushi along with a variety of specialty rolls. The majority of the specialty rolls start as simple California Rolls and have added stuff on top like salmon, tuna, eel, avocado and more. As we went, everything was pretty good. Since it was such a slow night, the sushi chefs started making random things that we weren’t ordering… and weren’t on the menu. And, it would be terribly disrespectful to refuse. We had a few baked mussels that had some random sauces on them. One chef asked if we liked scallops… of course we do! He made us a handfull of bay scallops baked in a small abalone shell with a couple of tart sauces and topped with a gob of flying fish roe. They were fantastic. We ordered a couple of rolls and Bill ordered a few pieces of sake sushi (raw salmon on a small bit of rice.) The chef asked him if he liked the fatty pieces from the belly of the salmon. Bill nodded with enthusiasm and the chef pulled out a fantastic-looking piece of salmon. I think Bill ordered two pieces and ended up with five. Then the chef gave him two more pieces that were extremely fatty, fattier than I’d ever seen. I think Bill had a food-gasm. He made another couple of pieces of the fatty salmon and hit them with a blow torch, added some sweet vinegars and some rooster sauce. The flavors were wonderful. He also made us a California Roll that had shrimp tempura inside, but instead of wrapping it in the normal nori (seaweed) he wrapped it in iceberg lettuce. We ended the meal with a shared scoop of green tea ice cream and carefully rolled ourselves out the door. Dinner is $21.95 per person, we ate more than enough to cover it. On a normal night, I wouldn’t really eat enough to make the $22 worth while. So this is a restaurant that we’ll probably only eat at each once in a while. The service and attention made the meal a lot of fun. The chefs were chatty and our chef often sang along with the Korean pop music that was playing. We also know that if the restaurant becomes popular, the attention and entertainment will probably diminish. Perhaps when some friends and family visit, we’ll try the Teppan part of the restaurant.