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My Favorite Foods: the Familiar and the Fresh

Away we go with another topic I would love to revisit very often: food. Lately, I’ve been to my favorite ramen shop in San Francisco called Ajisen Ramen, and I had one of their new menu items called Tam-Tam Men (above). Can you guess the “secret” flavor of the brand new ramen?

Tam-Tam Men by Ajisen Ramen was released last Tuesday as part of their revamped menu options, and I was one of the first diners to taste the dish. Even the waitresses come by and ask me how the flavor and smell was because “I can smell the peanut butter from far away!” Yes, the secret–and surprise–flavor of the new ramen dish is peanut butter. Even a diner next to me told me that the peanut butter smell from my ramen smelled great! But, don’t be fooled by the peanut butter smell: also blended in the mix are, aside from ramen and sliced vegetables of course, (very) spicy pork and sliced “fungus” in which I tried to ask the waitress what the brown ingredient was. At first, the soup had that interesting color combination: by the time I ate the spicy pork and ramen, the color of the soup turned into bloody red, the chili was all over the soup and I sweated heavily. It was a pretty interesting dish (and a bit insane that the sweet smell of peanut butter lingered even after the soup color transformed into red!)

As an aside: what I would normally get at Ajisen Ramen would either be their:

  • Premium Pork Ramen (make it spicy for an extra $1)
  • Spicy Pork Ramen (the boiled egg reminds me of eating Filipino mami back home)
  • Spicy Beef Ramen
Here’s another twist I have tried this week: Miller’s East Coast Deli has two branches in San Francisco, one along Polk Street between Washington and Clay, and a newer branch in San Rafael at the Montecito Shopping Center. What I would usually get from Miller’s would be The Chief, which is a sandwich that has slices of corned beef and pastrami stacked together with coleslaw and dressed with Russian Sauce. Usually, I would get The Chief on soft and sweet challah bread; on my latest visit, though, I ordered the sandwich on sourdough bread to taste the difference. It was great, but I prefer the challah better because the slices are larger and smell wonderful along with the meat slices. And although sourdough is one of my most favorite breads, I find the combination on The Chief not as much delightful as the one on challah. However, the macaroni salad as my chosen side helped soften the blow of the pretty funky taste of the sourdough bread, and having it with water, it tasted all right for me.

What I would usually get along with The Chief would be, aside from the sandwich and macaroni salad, onion rings on the side. And sometimes, I would swap the macaroni salad with their equally delicious potato salad (aside from coleslaw as another side option). Even one time, instead of onion rings, I ordered their French fries, and it tasted wonderful with the sandwich. A very filling meal that you might want to skip breakfast and have it for brunch. (A side note: yeah, I really love that New Era cap too!)

You might be surprised, but from the time I’ve been living in the Bay Area, I’ve been eating a lot of chicken curry. In fact, I love the following curries a lot:

To summarize, curries are made using pastes, which in turn is composed of several herbs and spices, from cilantro to cumin, cloves to chili. Curries are of Indian origin, which has been spread to nearby Asian countries, most notably Pakistan, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Although the Philippines offers Kare-Kare as a derivative of Indian curry, it is worth noting that the Thai and Indian curries offer more flavor and texture, as well as spicier and livelier than the Filipino rendition.

Green curry paste is made using basil leaves mixed with eggplants and peas, along with cilantro, green chili, and star anise. Yellow curry paste, on the other hand, is usually derived from yellow curry powder which contains turmeric and ginger. Massaman curry paste, also a key ingredient in making delicious grilled satay, is made with cloves, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, green onions, shallots, and galangal (Thai ginger). All of the curries are prepared nearly the same way: dry roast the spices, mix in the herbs, and use them to combine with chicken, beef, pork, or seafood. In the process, coconut milk is added that makes up the sweet and spicy sauce.

For a Mexican treat, I usually head to either Celia’s in San Rafael or Mi Pueblo in Downtown Novato. This week, my uncle and I ended up going to Celia’s and ordered my favorite combo meal: ground beef crunchy taco and a ground beef enchilada (with all the oozing cheese) with all rice, no beans, and skip the coleslaw (above). Add a drink of Coke to the combo, and it is a very satisfying lunch indeed. It can be a little too heavy for midday, but it surely helps me keep my weight (and wallet) in check.

Next time, I will explore even more great places to eat, so happy eating!

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