poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


Pho Off!

Since moving to the Bay Area, my favorite pho place has been Pho Saigon II at the Pacific East Mall in El Cerrito/Richmond. In fact, the pho there is so good that it almost always deterred me from going to the very tempting VH Noodle House just next door. The broth is flavorful but not greasy, the noodles have great chewy texture, and the meat appears to be of good quality.

The combination pho at Pho Saigon II.

The combination pho at Pho Saigon II, medium bowl.*

Recently, SB took me to her favorite pho place, Yummy Yummy in the Inner Sunset District, which she’s been raving about for years. Once the bowl came, I instantly knew why SB loves it so much: the serving size was HUGE! I enjoyed the flavor but I felt extremely overwhelmed by the quantity of noodles. For once, I actually experienced noodle overload, which made me sad. So, I think the winner for me, especially considering location/proximity, is Pho Saigon II.

Combination pho at Yummy Yummy, large bowl.*

Combination pho at Yummy Yummy, large bowl.

Barbeque beef for the DIY rolls that SB and JB ordered.

Barbeque beef for the DIY rolls that SB and JB ordered at Yummy Yummy.

*First photo from my new camera! Look for a new page dedicated for photography soon!!

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Double Feature: Pagolac

I think this is the first time in this blog’s (short) history that I’ve gone to a restaurant twice before I could write a post about it.

Here are the basics:
The restaurant: Pagolac.
The cuisine: Vietnamese.
The neighborhood: Civic Center/Tenderloin.
The vibe: unpretentious, “home-cooking”; the kind of place where you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom.

I’ve never been to Vietnam, but I’d suspect that the food there might be a lot like the dishes they serve at Pagolac. Fresh rolls that you make yourself with well-seasoned, just-off-the-grill meats and a huge mound of veggies.  Interesting combinations like shrimp balls wrapped around sugar cane and tiny beef sausages wrapped in some type of leaf that I can’t recall.

SB introduced me to Pagolac over a month ago. As we walked through the seediness that is the Tenderloin, I hoped that SB knew where she was going, and that it wouldn’t be far. Luckily, we got there just fine and even beat the dinner crowd. As usual, we were gluttonous and ordered way too much. We each ordered a DIY fresh roll entree, which came with grilled meat on top of cute little saucers of vermicelli and a gigantic plate of veggies: lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, radish, mint, and basil. They also provide a bowl of hot water to soak and soften the rice paper wrappers. My rolls were really ugly (hence the lack of photos) but they were very delicious! SB ordered the same thing except with grilled beef.

Grilled shrimp on a bed of vermicelli saucers, with rice paper and hot water.

Grilled shrimp on a bed of vermicelli saucers, with rice paper and hot water.

Ginormous plate of veggies!

Ginormous plate of veggies!

SB and I also ordered a clay pot with chicken and tofu. Like I said, we’re gluttons.

Clay pot with chicken and tofu.

Clay pot with chicken and braised tofu.

Several weeks ago, KH and I went to watch Wicked at the Orpheum Theatre. Due to its proximity to the theater, I suggested going to Pagolac before the show. On my second visit, I wised up and convinced KH that we only needed to order two dishes, so we shared one order of DIY fresh rolls and one order of bun (vermicelli salad bowl) with sugar cane covered with shrimp ball. Both the sausages and the shrimp ball + sugar cane combo were completely new to me and super delicious. I was even more impressed the second time around at Pagolac. The servers were very friendly too. Highly recommended*!

(*Note to potential diners: They don’t take credit cards. Cash only!)

Yummy little sausages wrapped up in mysterious leaves.

Yummy little sausages wrapped up in mysterious leaves.

Shrimp balls and sugar cane bun.

Shrimp balls and sugar cane bun.

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A Gastronomic Tour of Seattle, Part II

Sorry for the delay in posting. I’ve been very busy… but no excuses! Let’s get to it, shall we?

Saturday, 20 June
No food photos that day because I was: A) Preoccupied by the naked cyclists at the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade (Fig. 1); B) By the time we had lunch, I was starving and subsequently scarfed down the delicious food at J&B’s bbq/potluck party before I thought to take any pictures; C) The mid/late-afternoon bbq was the only proper meal I had, followed by a dirty martini at the Big Picture (movie theater + bar that was reminiscent of a much swankier version of The Parkway — RIP). Post-movie, we went for ice cream and french fries at Dick’s Drive In, a local favorite.

What? I was on vacation. You can’t expect me to eat 3 square meals (and take photos) when I’m chillaxing.

Figure 1. Naked people in Seattle

Figure 1. Naked people in Seattle

Sunday, 21 June

mmm... ramen

mmm... ramen!

We had lunch at Samurai Noodle in the International District. It was tiny place, with maybe 4 tables total, so we were very fortunate to snag one as another group finished their meal. They make their ramen to order, so you can customize your broth richness, noodle chewiness, and amount of meat. When the bowls arrived, I thought they were on the small side, but it ended up being perfectly proportioned to avoid food coma. We also had room for dessert, in the form of Chinese baked goods (not pictured).

My bowl of ramen.

My bowl of ramen. Delicious.

Between lunch and dinner, we took advantage of the beautiful weather and of Seattle’s amazing Happy Hour specials. We sat out on the deck of Eastlake Bar & Grill and enjoyed late afternoon drinks and sweet potato fries.

View from my chair at the Eastlake Bar and Grill. Lovely.

View from my chair at the Eastlake Bar and Grill. Lovely.

For dinner, we returned to the International District and hit up Tamarind Tree, a Vietnamese restaurant with an extensive menu and tasteful decor. To start, we had the spring rolls (or did we get the Tamarind Tree rolls?) and the cinnamon pork rice balls.

Tamarind Tree roll. Nice and fresh.

Spring rolls. Nice and fresh.

B shows us how it's done.

B shows us how it's done.

Cinnamon pork rice balls. Interesting, but slightly disappointing.

Cinnamon pork rice balls with fresh coconut. Interesting, but slightly disappointing.

For our main entrees, we ordered a seafood dish, a veggie claypot dish, and a beef dish… the names of which escape me, and I can’t find them on their online menu.  All three were good, though I think the veggie claypot was my favorite because the mushroom flavor was really rich.

Seafood sautee with

Seafood sautee with pineapple and veggies.

Braised mushrooms and tofu over rice in a claypot.

Mushrooms (shitake, oyster, and black) and braised tofu over rice in a claypot.


Beef. It's what's for dinner.

Monday, 22 June
I had lunch with B close to UW campus at his favorite pho place, Pho Thy Thy (sorry no photos again). The pho was good and cheap, and every meal came with a cream puff. You gotta love that.

On our way to the airport, we stopped by the Essential Bakery. By this time, J & B had gotten me on a regular caffeine intake regimen, so I couldn’t say no to one more delicious Seattle espresso.

Foamy perfection.

Foamy perfection.