Review: Red Chili

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 2/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  One   ♦   Will I Return?:  Maybe
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Red ChiliThis Thai and Vietnamese restaurant has been sitting in wait at the corner of Mission and Industrial in Hayward.  It sees us every few days as we pass by and watches intently as we frequent the gyro place next door.  It finally caught us; we gave the Red Chili a try.

The inside is very nice and totally isn’t what I expected seeing the outside (just like the gyro place).  It’s spacious and nicely decorated and has a nice feel to it.  And, surprisingly, it seems to draw a crowd, which is refreshing and reassuring at the same time…. 

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Review: Cafe Rehoboth

Update: This restaurant is now closed.

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  One   ♦   Will I Return?:  Heck yes
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Cafe RehobothStill haven’t been to Ethiopian food yet?  You’ve gotta do it.  And even if you’ve previously enjoyed scooping up the soupy goodness with your injera, Cafe Rehoboth is highly recommended as a new place to try.

Located just near Japan Town in San Jose, Cafe Rehoboth, though mildly unpronounceable, is a great place for Ethiopian fare.  We’ve become somewhat of Ethiopian connoisseurs over the past few years and find that Rehoboth fits the bill for standard atmosphere and service in an Ethiopian restaurant, while perhaps exceeding expectations in terms of menu layout and choices.

Ethiopian restaurants are to be judged on a different scale than other restaurants.  There seems to be something about them that just does not add up to any “normal” restaurant we’re used to.  I won’t harp on the differences, since I’ve done so before, but let’s just summarize and say that the decor is often stark, the seating is often empty, and there is often no music playing in the background.  This can sometimes be awkward: sitting in a silent, empty room, munching on your slop.  Once you know what to expect, however, you can focus on the food rather than the oddities of the atmosphere.

Cafe Rehoboth

View upon entrance to Cafe Rehoboth

Cafe Rehoboth

Rear dining room at Cafe Rehoboth

Cafe Rehoboth

Front end of rear room inside Cafe Rehoboth

Cafe Rehoboth had the same general lack of customers and background music upon our arrival, but that may have been because we arrived late on a Wednesday evening.  The atmosphere was actually quite nice compared to some of the other places we’ve been to.  The menu here was pro—it looked professionally designed and printed, and was clear and extensive.  This is sometimes hard to find at Ethiopian restaurants that we’ve frequented in the past.  We were hence able to decide our culinary fate with ease.

menu

Menu page at Cafe Rehoboth

I hate to say it, but I have literally found almost no need for other items on Ethiopian menus than sampler plates.  Samplers allow you to experience a variety of the foods offered without committing to any one dish.  It’s the best idea ever and every Ethiopian restaurant seems to be on board with it.  Only glancing over the menu, our table of 7 ordered veggie combos for 5 of us and meat combos for the other 2.

Injera

Injera bread at Cafe Rehoboth

When you order a combo plate (or any dishes) at an Ethiopian restaurant you will undoubtedly receive your meal(s) on one gigantic plate to be shared among up to 4 people.  Again, if you expect this, it’s kinda fun.  Our meals arrived after a bit of a wait (I gave them a break about this—we did order one of everything on the menu in the combos) and were delicious.  Instead of attempting to describe the different flavors of goo in uneducated jargon, perhaps the following pictures of our food can speak instead.

Vegetarian Sampler

Vegetarian Sampler plate for four people at Cafe Rehoboth

Meat Combo

Meat Combo for three at Cafe Rehoboth

The food was well received by all and the staff was kind and friendly as usual (Ethiopian folks seem to be very nice people, at least the ones that staff restaurants in other countries).  I not only enjoyed Cafe Rehoboth, I’d happily return for more anytime we’re in San Jose.

Review: Emil Villa’s Hickory Pit

Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  A million   ♦   Will I Return?:  Probably at some point
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Emil Villa's HaywardAh, the Hickory Pit.  At least that’s what my family’s always called this Hayward Establishment on Mission Boulevard, just near the intersection of Jackson and Foothill.  If you look on the actual sign as it stands today, the words “Hickory Pit” do not appear.  It rather says “Emil Villa’s (world famous) California Barbecue”.  Did it used to say “Hickory Pit”?  I need some comments from the peanut gallery on this one.

Regardless, the Pit (that’s what Grandma used to call it) hasn’t changed a bit since it opened in who-knows-what decade.  It is yet another Hayward establishment that’s hanging on to the past with its tan vinyl booths, checkered tile floor, and old-fashioned food…. 

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Review: Lanesplitter

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  Once   ♦   Will I Return?:  Sure
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LanesplitterThis pizza place and pub on San Pablo in Berkeley is a cute spot for a good slice of authentic New York pizza (or so they tell me) and a fancy glass of beer. It’s neat because you can actually order just a slice of pizza for yourself, and it doesn’t have to be one of the ones sitting out already made. You can order any slice you want and they’ll make it fresh!

They have a few combos (which don’t seem to be listed on their relatively limited website), one of which is a salad and slice combo. One slice of one topping pizza and a side salad was around $8 and was pretty good. You have to like NY Style pizza, which I have mixed feelings about*, but I think it was good for what it was…. 

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Review: Honey Honey

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Once   ♦   Will I Return?:  Would love to
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Honey HoneyHoney Honey is a crepe restaurant way out in SF on Post Street and has yummy crepes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  The place is cute, the prices are reasonable, and the food is good.  I think there are a handful of crepe places around SF, but HH is certainly a great place to start if you’re feeling crepe-ish.

In addition to a huge variety of sweet and savory crepes including strawberry, apple, banana, or Nutella; Florentine, eggplant, pesto, or Mediterranean (respectively), they also serve pancakes, waffles, omelettes, bagels, sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads, and pastas, whew!!  The menu is enormous and posted on the wall as you enter the restaurant…fortunately (sort of) the line was long when we were there so we had adequate time to consider our options–it’s quite a read to get through the whole thing…. 

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Review: China Best Restaurant

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  A million   ♦   Will I Return?:  A million more
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China Best HaywardChina Best is just up the hill from Cal State East Bay (formerly Cal State Hayward), up on the hill in Hayward.  It’s in a small shopping center with a quickie mart, a Subway, a pizza joint, a dry cleaners, and a rotating variety of relatively unmemorable shops.  China Best is by far the greatest thing about this shopping center; I’ve been coming here since they opened their doors in 1999…. 

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