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Apr 24, 2009 04:29 PM

Miami Hound in San Jose looking for reccomendations this wknd

I'll be in San Jose staying near the Convention Center in downtown tonite thru Monday. Looking for good dinner spots in the immediate area as I do not have a car. In the past, Ive paid $20 each way to go to Santana Row for Blowfish Sushi and thought it was great. Kinda looking to avoid that this year. Ive also done Arcadia and may do that again because it was phenomenal.

Looking for reccos within walking distance (doesnt have to be super close but I'll be with a female work companion who will likely be in heels) or a short cab ride away. Sushi and/or Japanese, French, and any other hotspots would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any assitance you can provide.

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  1. Unfortunately, San Jose & "hotspots" don't exactly go together. That said, hope the following links are helpful.

    There is a Sushi Masa in Japantown mentioned in this thread:

    More recs...

    1. Walking distance and usually good:

      Picasso's Tapas
      Loft Bar and Bistro
      71 Saint Peter

      Also, Billie Berk's is enjoyed by some and is an easy walk. And there is now a Caffe Trieste right around the corner from you, on South First Street.
      Vung Tau

      8 Replies
      1. re: emi50

        Thanks for the recs. Since posting this, I actually searched and read the board posts that were similar to mine but kinda old (sorry for not reading first!!). Looks like Im going to try Picasso's for sure. We have a similar place in Miami run by Michelle Bernstein and I love Spanish tapas. 71 Saint Peter also looks really good, especially the prix fixe that they have going on now. We also really liked E&O Trading last visit so that may be in the works. Emile's is a little out of the budget for this trip I think and it also looks a little stuffy or more formal from what Ive seen on the website. I do wanna try it sometime though cuz I love French. Sushi Masa looks pretty bland. Might just pay for the taxi to Blowfish Sushi again... Gotta look into Eulipia.

        Thanks again!

        1. re: Blind Mind

          I hope you are having a good time. Please report back, okay?

          1. re: emi50

            Went to E & O Trading last night. Had to sit in the bar area cuz it was after 9p and there was an hour wait for a table. Place was packed because they had a party of 100 in the back. I asked if that was gonna impact the kitchen and the server said that surprisingly the bar area had been running really smoothly given the big crowd.

            After ordering a cocktail we got some food. Went with the calamari, the corn fritters(?), and the lettuce wraps. THis was a safe order because we had got the exact same things on a visit 2 years ago. The lettuce wraps came out first. They were ok. The veggies that came in the lettuce cups had some great flavors that really provided a nice accent of flavor. The meat, however, was swimming in marinade and had likely been marinating all day. Just way too sweet for me. My coworker didnt seem to care though. The corn fritters came out next. We had forgotten how enormous these things were. I really like this dish. The flavor of the corn is front and center and I love the crispy texture. The sauce that came with was, again, a bit too sweet for my tastes but this couldve had to do with the fact that I was still reeling from lettuce wrap sauce overload. Calamari came last and was good. Its kinda hard to eff up calamari but when its effed, its really effed. This calamari was very crispy and came with a nice spicy green chili sauce. I think they actually use cornmeal as the breading on the calamari as it had that little extra grit to it.

            The bar cleared out pretty quickly after the large party left and we stuck around for a few more cocktails before calling it a night. I like this place. The menu doesnt "wow" me but the food is adequately good for what it is.

            Tonite we plan to check out Picasso's for some Spanish tapas. Oh, that reminds me... I had a nice bout of deja vu today. We set up for our convention and then searched for a sports bar to watch the Sox/Yanks game and the Heat playoff game (Im originally from Boston and a huge Sox fan and also held Heat season tix for a few years, including the year where they won it all). It blows my mind that there are barely any sports bars open for lunch in San Jose. We ran into this same problem two years ago and ended up finding this great little pizza joint with a few plasmas, cheap beer, pizza slices, and a salad bar. I remembered it was a bit of a walk off of 1st and on a corner. Due to my memory kicking major ass, we were able to find 4th Street Pizza once again. We spent the afternoon doing the exact same thing we had done 2 years ago - eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching both the Sox/Yanks game and the Heat game. Pretty frickin sweet... The pizza is awesome too and the place is hella affordable. I can imagine lots of college kids go there and the bartender said that they were becoming a full bar within the next month and staying open till 2am too (just beer and wine now). I definitely recommend this place and if your are looking for a kickass deal, go on Saturdays where you can get all-you-can-eat pizza and soda for $9.99.

            1. re: Blind Mind

              Thanks for reporting back.

              Another way to go is to search the Places database. Click on a restaurant name and you will usually find a website and linked reports (like the links to your report below) This is a search on San Jose downtown

              Paragon in San Jose might be a place to watch sports. The bar in the SF restaurant had some tvs.

              E & O Trading Co
              96 South First Street, San Jose, CA 95113

              1. re: Blind Mind

                Forgot the 4th Street Pizza link

                4th Street Pizza Co
                150 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                1. re: rworange

                  Just got back from Picasso's Tapas & Restaurant. Lovely little hole-in-the-wall on Santa Clara. I really liked the decor. Bright walls painted a bright yellow and a lime green with a nice Spanish red accent separating the two. Sweet murano glass light fixtures hang from the high ceiling above the tables in the dining area which also have small candles for additional light and intimacy. We got there kinda late, around 915p (place technically closes at 10p), but we were seated without an issue by a gentleman who later revealed himself as one of the owners. Really nice guy. His brother is also an owner and helps to run the business.

                  I had reviewed the menu online so I already had an idea of what I wanted to order. My coworker, who is Cuban and has had a few renditions of some of the menu items, handed me the reigns and let me order. We went with the croquetas, piquillo peppers stuffed with seafood and topped with lobster sauce and pine nuts, and the clams (littleneck) that came in a broth of garlic and parsley.

                  The gentleman who sat us also took our order and mentioned that the croquetas might be chorizo instead of the chicken/mushroom kind listed on the menu. I was obviously OK with that given my love for all things chorizo related. He said if they had both he would serve 2 of each, which he did. Both were serviceable but did not blow me away. Reminded me of regular croquetas you could get in Miami just about anywhere. Nice crispy texture though. The clams and piquillo peppers came out simultaneously. We went after the clams first. These were kinda disappointing. The broth was a nice garlic/parsley broth but the clams were extremely gritty and filled with sand. Some soaking in a tap water or salt water bath for about 30 minutes prior to cooking couldve helped to avoid this. It really ruined the dish for me. I also tasted anise in the clams but later realized that was from the pepper dish. I had taken a little of the sauce before eating the clams and its anise flavor stuck with me. The owner assured me the anise was in the piquillo pepper dish and he was right (I dipped bread in the broth later and no anise flavor detected. The piquillo peppers were very good. 3 good sized peppers stuffed with seafood puree and topped with a lobster cream sauce and some pinenuts. The seafood puree contained the anise which I thought paired really nicely with the pine nuts which muted it out a little bit. The lobster sauce was divine and we sopped up the remaining sauce with some bread. This is their most popular dish and its easy to see why. The flavors just work. For me it was a 9/10. The one thing I would like to see is the removal of the seafood puree and instead have finely chopped seafood to make it more meaty and less pastey so you can discern what is actually in it.

                  After engaging the owner who served us in some conversation about tapas and Spanish flavors, I decided to give their patatas bravas a try. They do their own "brava sauce" which is more of a spicy garlic aioli than a traditional tomato brava sauce. The sauce kicked major ass. It starts off with a blast of intense spiciness which then subsides and allows the flavor of the sauce to mesh with the potatoes. My coworker and I agreed that we would buy a bottle if it was available. The owner said that the woman who does the prep is inconsistent on the spice but I liked it a lot. The bravas are red potatoes that I thought needed to be cooked longer. I told the owner that too and he appreciated the feedback. If they were crispy, this dish wouldve been a smash hit. Instead they had a boiled, potatoey taste if that makes sense.

                  My coworker opted for a glass of house made sangria and I went with a Galecia beer from Spain. Both were good. The owner also served us a small slice of coconut flan that, for 2 people who dont like many desserts, was actually pretty good and definitely appreaciated. Overall, I would head back to this place again to try out the many other small plates that we did not try. Id also like to try one of their paella selections. Nice little joint in San Jose that I'll have to remember for next year.

                  1. re: Blind Mind


                    Picasso's Tapas Restaurant
                    62 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

                    1. re: Blind Mind

                      Thank you for the wonderfully detailed report. This is really helpful, as we haven't been to Picassos in a long time and needed an update. Keep the reports coming!

          2. I quite liked Arcadia - but it isn't any different than the Mina experience elsewhere.

            2 Replies
            1. re: uhockey

              Exactly uhockey... Im avoiding it this trip because with business hurting a bit I dont need to be reprimanded for another $150+ meal (for 2).

              I will take this one second to make a brief and gratuitous plug for Pita Pit on 2nd St. We stumbled onto this place last year and its fantastic. Yes, Im fully aware its a chain and Ive enjoyed their kickass pitas elsewhere in the country, but the staff at this one is top notch. Super friendly people on the phone and in person. We work a trade show all day with little time for a break so I was glad to find out last year that they deliver. Their falafel pita is great and they load it with toppings for ya. Delivery is fast and they even had me in their file from last year when we ordered which was pretty funny considering I live on the other side of the country. Great value too. Definitely recommend Pita Pit for lunch anyday.

              1. re: Blind Mind

                link 2

                Pita Pit
                150 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

            2. Ok, it was our last night in San Jose and we wanted some sushi that was close by. Tried Smile Sushi - closed. Tried Tengu Sushi - closed. Tried Fuji Sushi - closed. What the hell?!?!?! I cant believe how many friggin places are closed on the goddamn weekends here! VERY frustrating to say the least. At least the struggles with sushi led us to a little Thai place that really performed well. Hanuman Thai Cuisine on San Fernando, right next to Gordon Biersch.

              We entered and were greeted by a nice host who escorted us upstairs. The space was pretty cool. Brick walls adorned with various scrolls and I really liked the woodwork that concealed the building's pipes in the main dining room. There were 3 menus - one listed specials, one listed their regular offerings, and a third listed wines, sakes, and beers. I opted for a Thai beer, Chang. It did the trick. We started off with the "Angel Wings", deep fried boneless chicken wings stuffed with ground chicken, corn, and rice noodles. Chicken wings stuffed with ground chicken? What? That was my first reaction and when I asked the server I dont think she understood what I was saying and I sure as hell didnt understand what she was saying. Either way, we said, "eff it" and got em anyways. I also wanted some shrimp Tom Kha soup to start. My coworker went with the chicken pad thai and I opted for the chicken Num Prik Pao which contained chili paste, mushrooms, cauliflower, and baby corn, some of my favorites.

              First out was the Tom Kha soup. I saw the waitress carrying a huge bowl with 2 little bowls and said that I'd said I wanted just a bowl for me, not for 2. She misunderstood and only charged us for the single portion which was nice of her to do. The soup was ordered spicy (a 3 out of 4) and damn did it deliver. The tender shrimp and "dog pecker" mushrooms swam in the coconut milk broth, accented by that classic lemongrass flavor and kicked up some serious notches with chili oil. A nice soup that definitely got my nose running and made the beer that much better. The only gripe I had was that the shrimp was served with the tails on. Why do that in a soup? Im just not a fan of shrimp tails on in general but this was just plain dumb considering we were eating with soup spoons.

              Next up were the Angel Wings. Two what appeared to be chicken legs were deboned, save the lower leg bone, hollowed, stuffed with the chicken/corn/noodle mix, then breaded and fried. The result? Pretty freakin good. At $10 definitely a great value too. This could be an actual meal for one. The wings came with a sweet and sour sauce that went nicely with the dish.

              With our mouths slightly cooled but still reeling from the spicy Tom Kha soup, our mains arrived. The chicken pad thai was good. Hard to eff that one up though. The portion was mammoth though and we really shouldve split a main course, especially given the size of the Angel Wing app. My Num Prik Pao was fantastic. Just a great dish all around and a nice return to Spicyland. Like the pad thai, there was a ton of food here and I also had a $2 white rich (again, huge) to go with it.

              After tax and tip, our entire meal came to $58. We EASILY couldve fed 4 with this meal, proving that Hanuman not only has great food but incredible value as well. This actually led to a major dilemma for me. I really like the city of San Jose and how clean it is but Im perplexed by the large number of homeless people about the city. With that in mind, I wanted to give a "homeless hookup" on our walk back to the hotel. The question I had though was trying to figure out if it was a dick move to give a homeless dude a very spicy meal? We had it boxed up and I decided that Id hook up the dudes who hung out by my hotel and get a few to-go forks along with a warning that the food was really spicy. There were 3 dudes on a perch nearby the hotel that I approached and they were starving and it was pretty chilly out. I warned them that it was really spicy and they thanked me tenfold. They were just happy to get some grub. Problem solved haha.

              I definitely recommend Hanuman Thai Cuisine to anyone looking for a nice Thai meal at a great price. Plus, if you overload like I did you can always help out someone in need. :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Blind Mind

                Hanuman link

                1 E San Fernando St, San Jose, CA

                1. re: rworange

                  Sorry, Im awful at remembering the linkage...