A new ube-focused cafe lands in Mountain View
Cafe 86, an ube-focused restaurant chain, is continuing its expansion northward from Southern California and Las Vegas. Its second Bay Area location (after Union City) recently opened in Mountain View, and its third, slated for Daly City, is on the way.
The purple sweet potato native to the Philippines experienced a resurgence in popularity during the pandemic, according to a Forbes article calling ube the "uber ingredient of 2023."
Established in 2014, the cafe's tagline of "ube nerds" rings true in its menu, highlighting the vegetable in a wide array of desserts and drinks, including ube truffles, ube butter bars, ube leche flan cupcakes, Halo Halo bread pudding with ube ice cream, ube crinkle cookies, ube milkshakes and ube lattes. Haho Halo is a Filipino dessert made with crushed ice, evaporated or coconut milk and a mix of ingredients including ube jam, sweetened beans, coconut, flan and ube ice cream.
The menu also includes an assortment of sandwiches, teas, blended drinks and churrochies, mochi dough caramelized in butter and coated with cinnamon sugar and caramel drizzle.
Cafe 86,738 Villa St., Mountain View; 909-465-0886, cafe-86.com, Instagram: @cafe_86.
Kajiken brothless ramen in San Mateo draws a line down the block
After hearing that there was a new restaurant in San Mateo offering aburasoba, a brothless style of ramen, I made plans with a friend to test it out.
I had heard it was popular, but even I hadn't expected to see the line reaching down the block when I arrived just after the opening time on a recent Saturday.
Kajiken, which opened Feb. 8, offers a type of ramen served with housemade aburasoba noodles flavored with oils and sauces rather than broth. The menu includes nine preset aburasoba combinations featuring various pork preparations and a roast beef one, plus a vegetarian mushroom aburasoba. Customers can also customize their bowl with a set of 18 additional toppings, from green onions and bamboo shoots to plum or curry powder.
Kajiken also has a Baltimore location and a number of others in Japan, Singapore and China.
By the time we had worked our way up to the front of the line, we had been waiting about 70 minutes. But once we were at the front of the line, the staff operated with friendliness and efficiency. Seated at a bar with a window view into the noodle rolling machine, the two of us ordered iced oolong tea along with the pork aburasoba and the mushroom aburasoba, respectively, each requesting the add-ons of crispy onions and a soft-boiled egg. We also split an order of takoyaki, a set of fried spherical dumplings made with batter and octopus bites, offering a crispy exterior and a chewy and soft interior.
The mushroom aburasoba came with both shimeji and king trumpet mushrooms, spinach, tofu and red onions. Following the advice of the server to mix the noodles thoroughly, I took my first bite and was delighted with the way the slightly chewy texture of the fresh noodles blended with the oils and sauces.
We more than made up for lost time by practically inhaling our generous noodle portions to make room for the next customers behind us. Looking back, we agreed that had the weather been as chilly during our wait then as it's been this week, we might not have made it to the front of the line, but that the wait was worth it for the new experience of trying a different style of ramen.
No reservations are accepted, and Kajiken is open Wednesdays through Mondays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.
Kajiken, 112 South B. St., San Mateo, kajikenusa.com; Instagram: @kajikenusa.
Gin Bar debuts at Sunnyvale hotel
A new gin-focused cocktail bar has opened in the AC Hotel Sunnyvale Moffett Park.
The aptly named Gin Bar has a collection of more than 150 bottles of the spirit that focuses on unique small-batch producers from around the state and world, according to a recent press release. AC Hotel Sunnyvale Moffett Park opened early last year and shares the property with TETRA.
The bar features a special menu called the "History of Gin," which offers 12 cocktails arranged by the year of their debut from the gimlet in 1867 to the gin basil smash in 2008. Each of these cocktails includes Sipsmith London Dry Gin.
A full menu of wines by the glass and classic cocktails is also available. Guests can dine from the AC Lounge's tapas menu, which includes items such as tortilla espanola and meatball cazuela with romesco, manchego cheese and toast. During happy hour from 5-7 p.m. daily, a selection of beer, wine and cocktails are half off. Gin Bar is open every day from 5-11 p.m.
The new bar joins AC Kitchen, TETRA's Nokori Japanese whisky bar, Coffee Manufactory and Adrestia restaurant as the fifth dining destination at the hotel property.
Gin Bar, 1235 Bordeaux Drive, Sunnyvale; 408-734-3700, Instagram: @achotelmoffettpark.