My favorite (and only!) sister Hui was flying through the Bay Area on business this past Sunday for a bit less than a day (in by 10:30, out by 7:00). In anticipation of her short trip, I tried to plan a few fun activities, mostly involving eating. Initially, I was set on eating at the Waterbar, since it was reviewed favorably on Ms. Lin’s blog. However, after looking at its somewhat exorbitant prices ($40+ for a piece of fish) and receiving an email flyer for a 20% discount at Asia de Cuba, I changed my reservation. Sometimes I can be frugal, you know.
After picking Hui up from the Oakland Airport in the morning, we headed over to San Francisco to lunch at Asia de Cuba. I thought it was unusual that there were barely any patrons at the restaurant during what I consider peak lunch hour – our reservation was at 12:15, and we were 1 of only 3 occupied tables. This was a sharp contrast from our prior visits during dinner time, where the place was bursting at the seams with overdressed girls and boys looking for love in an alcohol-fueled quest. At night, this is usually a seen-and-be-seen type of place, especially as the overflow venue for the glitzy Redwood Room next door, which made it especially odd that many of the occupied tables (the few that were there) were families.
Our lunch turned out to be a huge disappointment. In fact, I’m actually glad that I didn’t take the time to take photos of the food, considering its poor quality. For appetizers, we ordered the tuna tartare and the crab croquetos. The tuna tartare completed lacked any flavor, and even a low-level cook like me could have whipped up something more tasty. The crab croquetos (longer versions of crab cakes) were decent, garnished by delicious shredded slices of mango and cucumber. However, we only got 2!!! AK and I actually had to split one, so really it was about 2 small bites per person. For $15 (I think that was the price), you would think they could throw in a few more…and these were not big pieces by any stretch of the imagination.
The only good lunch entree was the lobster roll, which Hui seemed to have enjoyed (thank goodness the out-of-town guest gets the best item). My butterfish glazed with miso sauce was bland and slightly fishy (I didn’t finish, even though the portion was small), and AK also disliked his Cuban sandwich, which he almost didn’t even want to take home. Overall, it was not a good meal and had I been reviewing for Yelp, I would have only given this place 2 stars out of 5.
Since I felt robbed of a meal by Asia de Cuba (I was bordering on being angry!), I felt I had to at least gorge on good desserts (sigh, this is why I can’t seem to lose weight). I of course immediately placed an “emergency” call to Ms. Lin and asked her where she would take Kat in SF to get some yummy sweets. Lo and behold Kat was with her! Haha (I had forgotten that they were meeting up in San Diego). Although we got some good suggestions (top choice: desserts at Waterbar), in the end we decided that we were too tired and wanted to just pick up a few items from Copenhagen Bakery in Burlingame on our way home. Besides, Hui still needed to drive to Petaluma that night (at least 1-2 hours away…of course as it turned out it was more like 3-4 hours, but she got unlucky).
I must say Hui has an amazing eye for good dessert. Before I had a chance to tell her, she spotted my favorite cake at Cophenhagen, the Princess Cake. It’s a traditional Scandinavian gold cake filled with custard and a thin layer of raspberry, iced with whipped cream and covered in marzipan (an almond paste). Here is the side view of a slice – mouth-watering, isn’t it?
Hui also picked out a chocolate eclair (filled with delicious light custard), and AK chose another cake called Solvang something (yes, named after the Danish town near Santa Barbara). We also bought some “thumbprint” butter cookies to share, which also turned out to be very buttery and fragant (again, good eye Hui!). We hung around at home for a couple of hours watching an episode of “From G’s to Gents” (reality show turning thugs into gentlemen – hilarious!) before deciding to just order in from a local Chinese restaurant, Shanghai East (none of us could muster up the energy to drive up to A16 in the city, so I cancelled our reservation – maybe next time).
It was sad that Hui’s visit was so short this time. I shall look forward to the next time she graces us with her presence! Will try to make better restaurant choices next time too…