May 25

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot – Mountain View, CA

102 Castro St

Mountain View, CA 94041

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Located on busy Castro Street in Mountain View, Little Sheep Hot Pot opened its newest location in a fairly small space. As we entered, we noticed quite a few people waiting inside and outside for a table. After providing my name to the hostess, we were given a wait time of an hour. The hostess also provided us with a paper check-off menu and a pen. We reviewed and selected all of our food options during our wait time. Luckily, we were called in early for our table in around 30 minutes as long as we were OK with sitting at a temporary 2-person table instead of a booth. Since we did not want to wait, we took the hostess up on the offer.

Today, we decided to order the half & half soup base which came with their house original and house spicy soup in a split pot. For the other items, we ordered the New Zealand spring lamb, American-style Kobe beef, hand sliced supreme fatty beef, American Kurobuta pork, house made beef meat ball, spinach, broccoli, and U-don noodle. The house soup on its own is extremely salty. Even though the instructions on the place mat suggest drinking some of the soup, I cannot suggest you do so because it was so salty. The house spicy soup had way too many chopped up peppers in it. Every time you scoop something, from the spicy side, you always come up with peppers. The broth does add quite a bit of spice to whatever you submerge in it though. We had two side sauces: satay and house special chili sauce, but I found the satay to be overly grainy with no flavor and the house special chili sauce very spicy.

The Kurobuta pork arrived first on a plate rolled up very nice. After cooking the pork, there was not much flavor from the meat itself because you can only taste the soup. The pork was not very tender at all. The American-style Kobe beef came with very few slices, but was very tender and fresh after cooking. The fatty beef was not that fatty at all and just came in a fresh pile. This beef was also quite tender and fresh. The meat balls took a while to cook due to its density, but it had no flavor and did not taste fresh. The spinach and broccoli tasted delicious when cooked in the house soup. The server had actually forgotten the lamb, so that was brought after the rest of the meat. The lamb looked very interesting on the plate and cooked fairly quickly in the broth. The meat tasted very gamey and not very tender.

Overall, Little Sheep Hot Pot offers up a fairly diverse option for hot-pot if you are looking for different types of meat and vegetables. Unfortunately, once you start checking off what you want to eat, your bill total quickly rises. Although we may have over-ordered by one meat plate, the price for the two of us is way overpriced. We had a much better experience and much better tasting food when we ate Japanese hot-pot at Tokyo Shabu Shabu in Pasadena. With its long wait times and lack of room to eat, I do not find myself wanting to come back to any Little Sheep Hot Pot location. If you really want to eat hot-pot with a very spicy soup, then you can come here, but if you want to enjoy delicious hot-pot, just stick with Japanese hot-pot.

May 22

San Fresco Pacific Cafe – San Jose, CA

1350 N 1st St

San Jose, CA 95112

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 

With my free buffet voucher in hand after being placed in a bad hotel room, I endeavored to make the most of the free meal with low expectations. As I entered the fairly desolate restaurant with only a few other customers seated, I was directed to a table and to where the breakfast buffet was located. I reviewed the few options available and settled on sausage, bacon, slice of waffle, and potatoes. In addition to those items, fruit, oatmeal, sliced meat, and cheese were available on the buffet line. The sausage was quite tough on the outside, but decent on the inside. The bacon was not very crispy, but tasted OK. The potatoes were plain and required extensive ketchup treatment. The waffle slice was room temperature, crumby, and flavorless even when smothered in syrup. In an effort to locate more food, I noticed a cook-to-order omelette station was available next to the buffet. I placed my order for a ham and cheese omelette and the cook said she would bring it to my table once it was ready. As I sipped my orange juice, the omelette was delivered moments after ordering. The omelette was fresh and tasted fulfilling, which became the highlight of the meal. With so few choices, I felt that it was time to leave after my refilled orange juice was drained. I signed off my voucher, provided to the cashier, and left. Overall, the food was extremely mediocre, but the omelette station was pretty good. If I was given another free breakfast voucher, I would return, but I would not pay for this buffet. If you plan on staying at the Holiday Inn in San Jose, skip the breakfast unless you got it for free.

May 18

Ten Ren Tea – Cupertino, CA

10881 N Wolfe Rd

Cupertino, CA 95014

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Located in a very busy Asian plaza in Cupertino, Ten Ren Tea serves up delicious tea drinks in addition to their normal high-quality tea sales. When we entered, there was already several large groups of people waiting for their drink orders. As we approached the cashier, we quickly reviewed the very affordable drink menu. Today, we decided to order the peach green tea and the milk green tea, both without pearls. The peach green tea had a very strong tea taste to the point of extreme bitterness. I don’t mind this brew of tea much, but after drinking it for a while, it gets to you. Although, you do taste the essence of peach in this drink. The milk green tea was also fairly strong, but the milk helps the bitterness subside. Both drinks tasted fresh, but the milk green tea was more tasty. Overall, Ten Ren Tea serves up some high quality teas, but they tend to be on the stronger bitter side. I would not mind coming back to Ten Ren to order another tea drink, but I would probably stick to milk teas. If you like Asian tea, give Ten Ren Tea a shot.

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