Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler, Mountain View

I’ve decided that there’s something about self-serve burger places that I don’t like. I don’t like having to rummage for my lettuce, pickles, ketchup, what have you, at a counter with ten other people, when the burger creator could very well have just added lettuce for me. Take Clarke’s for instance. They’ll ask you if you want tomato, and they will put that in your burger for you. But lettuce? Pickles? You’re on your own there.

The small local burger/ribs/breakfast joint is in a good location on El Camino in Mountain View near downtown Castro. When I think of ‘burgers’ in Mountain View, I usually think of Clarke’s. Convenient, not crowded, and large selection of burger types.

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The main eating part is split into three parts – the center where there are high bar stools and tables, and the condiment bar. Then there are two wings to the side with booths. You can also sit outside.

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I had the lizzie burger, which is a cheeseburger with grilled onions. My burger was decent, but didn’t have wow factor. Maybe I wasn’t hungry enough. Honestly though, after having the santa fe burger at Barney’s which had amazing grilled onions, it was no competition. The cheese in my burger was melted just right, but the onions weren’t as grilled as I would have liked – bordered on just cooked, but no caramelized flavor. And of course, I had to go to the condiment bar to get my lettuce. The meat was decent, but the bun was too thick and I never end up eating both halves.

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Apologies for the terrible pictures in this post, had to use the Droid since my actual camera was sitting at home being a bum.

Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler
615 W El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040

The lowdown so far:

Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler
Bob’s Big Boy

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Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers, Berkeley

Our Sunday trek to get ramen turned into a burger meal. Santouka – you fail. Barney’s, you win! Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers has been a Berkeley favorite for both burger and hipster enthusiasts alike. The first time I went in college, I didn’t really care about ‘gourmet burgers.’ Back then, McDonalds was good enough (hey, it still is, I’m just saying). But now I can definitely appreciate a well made, high quality burger.

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The weird thing about this restaurant is that it doesn’t face Shattuck. If you drive down Shattuck looking for it, you’re bound to see Crepevine instead and think Barney’s no longer exists. It’s hidden behind Crepevine towards the small street between Barney’s and Andronico’s.

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The inside is very no nonsense – walls covered in awards, gleaming silver counter tops, wooden tables and chairs.

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We started with the famous vegetable basket, which are basically deep fried veggies – onions, zucchini, and fat mushrooms. The outside is crunchy, and the veggies taste very fresh. The mushrooms are so big and hearty it’s like eating crunchy steak. That’s how meaty they are! Another plus? The batter is thick enough so that you don’t bite into a scalding hot oily mess.

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The chili cheese fries were nothing to write home about – skinny fries with bean chili and cheese that wasn’t particularly compelling.

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Behold my delicious Santa Fe burger! This is a definite must – thick beef patty covered in lots of grilled jalapeno and onion, all on a soft sesame bun. The jalapenos are HOT! They leave the seeds in, and these are fresh jalapenos, not pickled ones. I couldn’t stop marvelling how spicy and drool worthy my burger was. So far one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

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Kyung’s burger was not quite as oozingly greasy (darn!) but was very tasty – he had the blackened burger, which had a very robustly spiced meat patty that had a slight kick to it. It was covered in cajun seasoning and made the patty look red.

So far in burger month, Barney’s is far and away the winner.

Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers
1600 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709

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Bob’s Big Boy, Norco

When Kyung was a wee youngster, he used to love going to Bob’s Big Boy, a small hamburger joint in SoCal. The joint became lowkey for a while, but in the last couple years has reappeared all around SoCal and seems to now be referred to as ‘Big Boy.’ I didn’t go to the original one in Burbank, but I did get to try the one in Norco. After going, I think I want to try the original. The Norco one was pretty disappointing for a restaurant that’s supposed to have a lot of history, including having local classic car meets. This Norco location was full of families and SUVs.


The inside is very diner like, and since it was a few days post Christmas, the place was still very festive with Christmas lights.


The staff wasn’t especially friendly, and they were hard to flag down at times. I kind of expected a cheery ‘hello honey’ that you always get at family diners, but I guess this was probably more similar to Denny’s.

Since we were at a diner, I ordered a Oreo milkshake. It was decent, but the whipped cream was too much and the oreo was skimpy.


I ordered the ‘Big Boy’ which is ‘the original Double-Decker Hamburger’ and is what they are famous for. It tasted and looked exactly like a giant Big Mac.


Maybe the two SoCal founders of McDonald’s and Bob’s Big Boy were friends at some point? I don’t know. The burger was decent, with sauce that tasted just like the Big Mac’s secret sauce, but it was unnerving, since if I wanted something like this I could get it for cheaper and faster at MCD.

Kyung ordered a chili burger, which was served open face and tasted almost like a giant sloppy joe.


It felt like eating a hamburger swimming inside of chili, instead of a chili burger.

I probably won’t eat Bob’s Big Boy again, except at the original Burbank location, so that I can see if that place is as historical as it seems to be. And, maybe it’ll taste better!

Bob’s Big Boy
3521 Hamner Avenue
Norco , California 92860

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Bullshead, SF

Today was an adventure to West Portal in SF in search of a tasty cheeseburger. Danimal suggested we try Bullshead, a neighborhood favorite.


It’s a small restaurant tucked into a busy street corner next to the end of a rail line. Amidst honking cars and the dinner crowd, it’s a small oasis.


The staff was friendly, and our food came out quickly. The only weird thing, though they were very discreet about it, was that it seemed that their drains had gotten clogged during the normal business day. Someone came in with a giant pump, and was mopping the ground. Someone else came with two large unopened bottles of Drano. I briefly thought about how gross this was while the food was being prepared, but I soon forgot about it when our appetizer came – we ordered buffalo wings and those wings were so good! Crispy on the outside (slightly tasted like it was fried in peanut oil), and soft and moist meat inside. Ranch and hot sauce were both served on the side, so you weren’t forced to eat spicy if you didn’t want to!


We were super excited to try the burgers after the good wings. This place is known for their buffalo burgers, so of course we had to order it. This place is also known for having lots of meat, and you can order burgers in many several types and sizes (1/3 lb or 1/2 lb, turkey, beef, 100% organic beef, and buffalo). There are also chicken and fish burgers for the non red meat eaters.


At this point anticipation was high!


My 1/3 lb buffalo meat cheeseburger was delicious – slightly pink in the middle, thick patty, thick cheddar slice melted, and fresh tomatoes and lettuce. The french fries were bland, but it was probably intentional so that you could salt them yourselves.


Kyung’s garlic burger was covered in so much garlic that you can still smell it hours later. He ordered the 1/2 lb buffalo burger with onion rings. The onion rings were so good – thick and crispy. I put one of them in my burger and it made my burger even better!


Danimal’s Hawaiian was large and super juicy; halfway through it fell apart but he was definitely enjoying the burger. He had always been meaning to order the burger his last few visits, and this time he did and it was worth the wait!

A great find in a cool neighborhood.

BullsHead Restaurant
840 Ulloa St
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 665-4350

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New year new diet? No, not me. Back to blogging though. January will be burger month. Mmm.

LA is known for having some of the best junk food around. Home of the chili dog, kogi truck, fat pastrami sandwiches, you name it. First stop on this burger train? Tommy’s! And it’s not just any Tommy’s. Make sure it’s the Tommy’s with the shack in its logo. Apparently there are imitations.


What’s so special about Tommy’s you say? Big fat chili burgers. Oooh yes.


These burgers are so …thick. Thick but soft buns, fat piece of meat patty covered in melted cheese and topped with pickles, tomato, and a healthy topping of chili. The chili isn’t spicy, but it’s well-spiced. Now imagine that with chili cheese fries on the side. Fat fries covered in hot chili.


The restaurant itself is typical fast food stop – but the colors remind me of In-n-Out!


I think this burger month is starting out delicious!


Original Tommy’s Hamburgers
2280 Compton Ave.
Drive-thru/Dining Room
Sun-Thur: Open 9AM-11PM / Fri-Sat: Open 9AM-12AM

Kit Kats – Final Round

At long last, the entire collection of Kit Kats I managed to bring home have been completely sampled. I took my sweet time (pun intended?). I think this post contains some of my absolute favorites of them all!


Strawberry flavored and endorsed by Rilakkuma himself! Beyond the insane cuteness, the light strawberry flavor was delicious! In case you’re wondering who or what Rilakkuma is, he’s actually a San-X bear that I have been completely obsessed by for the last few months. Before Tokyo I was already pretty crazy about this bear, and then the explosion of Rilakkuma EVERYWHERE in Tokyo had me going nuts – it was so bad that one night Kyung and I spent over an hour in our hotel room watching the same musical video over and over of Rilakkuma and friends dancing. But I digress…


Kit Kat with cookie crumble – another winner. It tasted remarkably like Twix, though there was no caramel to be seen. The creaminess of the Kit Kat with the crunch of the cookie were complimentary.


Strawberry cheesecake flavored – light cheese flavor, sweet, with very very slight tang. Definitely one of the better Kit Kat flavors.


Tasted exactly as you’d expect a sweet potato flavored chocolate to taste. I’m ambivalent on this – just like the corn one, it tastes like it’s supposed to, but I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to think – I’d rather just eat a real sweet potato.

Final order:

Green Tea
Red Bean Manju
Cookie Crumble
Ginger Ale
Strawberry Cheesecake
Koi Kinako
White Chocolate
Sweet Potato
Roasted Corn
Soy Sauce
Apple Carrot

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Kit Kats – round 2

I originally intended to only do two blog posts about Kit Kats, but I have more than enough content so I’ll be writing THREE posts about it. Plus, I can only eat so many Kit Kats in a period of time without losing my mind, so I had to spread it out. Now let’s hop to it!


Red bean manju flavored – the ultimate winner! I dare say I liked this even more than the previous blog post winner – green tea. This one had a great flavoring of red bean – subtle, but pleasantly sweet and it lingers on your tongue after the candy is long gone. Even Kyung thought this was the best one he’s ever had, and he doesn’t even really like red bean anything! He liked it so much he asked our friend Daniel (an avid photographer and good friend) to bring some of this loot back from Tokyo, which he did – super awesome. Now we have two more boxes of this goodness. We’ll have to hoard it until the end of the world.


Next up is koi kinako. This probably tasted the most like ‘regular’ Kit Kat out of all the Kit Kats I tried. The kinako flavor was too subtle to really notice (but I guess if it’s bean powder, you really can’t expect much). Wikipedia says this may taste like peanut butter, but it didn’t. Still good though (can’t go wrong with OG Kit Kat flavor).


Roasted corn tastes just like..corn. Seriously. You bite into the Kit Kat wafer texture, get a sweet beginning, and then suddenly you are eating something extremely corn flavored. And then it finishes with another sweet flavor. Chocolate corn? I mean, if you really want to eat something corn flavor they did a VERY good job, but I think I’d rather eat real corn, thanks.


Soy sauce Kit Kat tastes remarkably like salted caramel. Except you have a nice lingering nasty after taste that you really can’t describe and does not go away on its own. Blegh. This is definitely not a winner. And I like salted caramel! What does that tell you??

If I could be in Tokyo right now at a convenience store to purchase some more Kit Kats, I’d get the green tea, ginger ale, and red bean manju.

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Kit Kat from Japan – round one

Japan is serious about Kit Kats. In America, you get milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and the occasional other flavor. In Japan, there are seasonal flavors – numbering in the dozens. I’ve heard about flavors that I didn’t see or buy, and I bought over 10 different kinds to bring back to the States. Ok, some of these flavors are pretty bad, but hey, some sacrifice has to be made for quantity over quality.

I figured I’d split my taste tests into two rounds, since it would be way too much to write about a dozen flavors in one post. I’ve ordered the flavors in order of YUM factor. The more I like it, the higher up it is! Here goes…


This is green tea flavored (aka matcha). This is the best of the bunch – tastes just like green tea ice cream, not too sweet, and with a hint of white chocolate undertones. The Kit Kat itself was light green, with thin green layers between the wafer. I’m sad I didn’t buy more of this flavor!


This one is a bit of a mystery flavor – at first glance I thought it was white chocolate, but it has vanilla overtones, so I’m not sure exactly what it is I’m eating, but I like it – smooth, sweet, and vanilla-y.


The ginger ale one was interesting – it tasted like a lemon creme cookie from the Girl Scouts, but it seemed to have a texture like I was really drinking soda pop – a slight ‘fizz’ sensation on my tongue. Maybe it was in my head. Or maybe they have secret elements of PopRocks.


Canteloupe – Ever been to a Korean restaurant where they give you that melon flavored gum afterwards, in the pink wrapper? That is exactly what this one tasted like. Light melon flavor sandwiched between light milk chocolate flavor.


This one is pretty disgusting, if I say so myself. I believe it’s supposed to be like the flavor of a carrot apple drink from Ito-En (a famous tea company), but with chocolate, it was disgusting. I can’t even begin to describe the flavor, other than there’s a slight apple essence, and then the essence of something that definitely does not go with chocolate.

And there you have it – stay tuned for round 2!

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Tamago to Watashi in Shinjuku

When Kyung and I first started dating, he would randomly cook me omurice. I had no idea what it was before him, so it seemed fitting that while in Tokyo we would search for omurice. And search we did! We found it in the MyLord restaurant megamall that is part of the Odakyu mall, which also happens to rest on top of the Shinjuku station. And it’s pronounced ‘milord’ not ‘my lord’. The restaurant we went to was called ‘Tamago to Watashi’ and had a catchy sign.


Now, before seeing this restaurant, I always thought omurice was basically just an omelet filled with rice (usually cooked with other little bits of meat and veggies). Here, it was that and more – everything came in unique sauces.


Since they didn’t have an English menu, and the descriptive fake foods weren’t descriptive enough, we blindly ordered. I ordered omurice in a thick, dark curry like sauce filled with chunks of beef, carrots, and potatoes. The omurice was delicious (thin layer of egg crepe covering hot seasoned rice), and it went well with the thick curry sauce. Some of the chunks of veggies didn’t taste very fresh, but that’s okay, the rest of it more than made up for it.


Kyung ordered another mystery dish with came with a red sauce and a large slice of what looked similar to Canadian ham. The omurice was tangy with the sauce, and pretty satisfying as well.


This makes me appreciate omurice even more! Now at home when Kyung makes it I’ll probably make some thick curry sauce to go with it. It’s so tasty!

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Donuts in Tokyo

I love donuts. It goes to figure we would look for donuts while in Tokyo. Before heading over, I was curious to see if there was any difference. In a nut shell, they are less sweet than their American counterparts, and have different presentation and flavors. Overall though, I think I prefer the super junky donuts of the US, but for variety I’d go to Japan.

First up is Doughnut Plant. This isn’t a Japanese chain, it actually started in New York, but it is prominently displayed in several subway stations, so I figured I’d give it a try.


I tried the pumpkin cake doughnut, the apple cinnamon glazed donut, and the kinako glazed donut. The pumpkin and kinako ones were fails. No flavor, strange after tastes. The apple cinnamon one tasted the most like what I would expect a fatty donut back home to taste like – it was moist, cinnamony, and soft.

Next up is Mister Donut, which apparently wasn’t always an Asian company but became a predominantly one when an Asian company bought the franchise/chain. These donut shops are all over Tokyo. We went to the one in Akihabara.


I ordered a chocolate dip crueller which was sliced in half and filled with light creme, and a strawberry cake donut. The strawberry cake donut was pretty flavorless as well, but the crueller was delicious – the chocolate was perfectly hardened and had the right crunch when biting into that and the soft donut filled with creme that wasn’t too sweet. A good afternoon treat!

Here’s a better shot of the entire counter:


Okay, for something a little less donut looking but still a donut, we went to a bake shop called Kimuraya. This was in the Matsuya Ginza shopping mall on one of the bottom floors. We ordered a curry bun, and an azuki (red bean) bun.


The curry bun was delicious, even when cold. Kyung and I each ordered one, and it came in a deep fried bun filled with fragrant and delicious curry with bits of meat.


The azuki bun was even more delicious – chock full of red bean that was not overly sweet, in a deep fried soft bun covered in sugar. I love eating these azuki ‘donuts’ and I eat them at home all the time too!

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