Review of Orenchi Ramen

A Delicious Delicacy Hidden in a Run-down Restaurant

Review of Orenchi Ramen Restaurant

3540 Homestead Rd
Santa Clara, CA 95051

Cuisine: Japanese

Price: $$

Good for: Lunch, Dinner

When my friends said that they were craving ramen, they really meant that they were craving Orenchi Ramen. This strange noodle house is just down Homestead from Santa Clara University. It’s located in a run-down strip mall with several empty stores, but don’t let the appearance of the place spook you; Orenchi’s ramen will well make up for it. The interior of the restaurant is little better than the empty storefronts around it; the walls are mud brown and are unfinished in some places. I wondered if that may have been intentional but if it was, then it was a poor decision. Hip-hop and rap drips from the sound system, which I thought was a strange choice of music for a noodle house. However, despite the restaurant’s aesthetically unappealing appearance, the food they serve there is unique and delicious.

Orenchi’s menu is short, with a page worth of appetizers, salads and rice dishes to compliment the three types of ramen that you can choose from. They offer Shio (which is similar to miso in taste), Shoyu and their signature Orenchi ramen, which is their interpretation of Tonkotsui ramen from Kyushu, Japan. My friends explained to me that the broth for this particular ramen is simmered for 18 hours before being served. This sort of preparation results in a superb soup containing curly rice noodles, pork, green onion, bamboo shoot, mushroom, sesame, nori seaweed and a boiled, seasoned egg. I was hesitant at first about the egg, but it turned out to be gooey, seasoned well and quite delicious. I also highly recommend trying the potato croquettes that can be found on the appetizer menu. The breaded exterior is crunchy and the interior is finger-licking good. I was incredibly impressed with the speed of service (we were served our food in under 10 minutes) and the staff was upbeat and friendly. Orenchi always seems to have a line that extends outside the door, but it moves quickly and the food is well-worth the wait.

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New Photos

Several new photos are up! You can find them here at

http://jpgmag.com/people/Mangovia

Enjoy!

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The Ins and Outs of a Commuter Relationship

I am in what some might call a ‘commuter relationship’. My boyfriend lives in San Francisco and I live in Santa Clara. He has a car, I don’t. We go back and forth as to who comes to who and it’s generally for the whole weekend. Because of this, I have had to become adept at packing exactly the right things to get me through 2-4 days of having no access to my stuff at home. Over the course of our relationship, I have come to realize that there are several very necessary items that you should bring with you, and some that you should leave at home. For anyone else out there in a commuter relationship, here’s my list of what I think is necessary and what isn’t.

Things to bring:

  1. Headphones. As I write this, I am sitting on Caltrain headphone-less, wishing to god I had remembered the little pink ear buds that make any trip so much more enjoyable. Always bring them- you may have to block out a crying baby or a creepy old guy you wind up sitting next to because there are no other seats on the train. As I am, at this very moment.
  2. A brush. I don’t know about other male households, but my boyfriend’s has a distinct lack of hair brushes. Buy a travel-sized brush (or better yet, one of the foldable brushes that has the pop-out bristles) that can fit into your purse. You will be horribly upset when you discover that, after a windy day or long night of canoodling, there is no brush to tame the wild rat’s nest that is your hair.
  3. Waterproof shoes. There’s nothing worse than being unprepared for the rain. Short of buying new shoes, you’re going to be stuck with the ones you brought with you and if the weather changes, as it is wont to do, you will be out of luck. Once, when I made the foolish mistake of only bringing boots that were apparently incredibly susceptible to rain, I actually wore plastic bags over my socks and under my boots. It kept my toes perfectly dry but every time I took a step, I crackled like the bag lady that rolls her shopping cart full of plastic bags around the city. You don’t want to be a crackly bag lady. I recommend getting boots that you can wear during your commute and a pair of flats that can be stuck into some small zipped area of your bag.
  4. Layers of clothing. Simply take the top shirt off and voila! A whole new outfit. This probably isn’t the most hygienic of practices, but when you have a limited amount of space to carry clothes in, you’re just going to have to re-wear some clothes and get over it.
  5. A small bottle of conditioner. In my experience, men, or at least the men I’ve dated, do not use conditioner. If you have thick hair like I do, a shower without conditioner results in fluffy, not-so-nice feeling hair. Grab a travel sized conditioner and you’re good to go. This is more of a one-time necessity. After your first commute up, just leave it in his bathroom and then you’re set for following weekends.

Things you don’t need to bring:

  1. A sweatshirt. He’s a man, he will have plenty. And in any case, men’s sweatshirts are way more comfortable than women’s. It might have something to do with the largeness of the article of clothing or the hopelessly romantic notion that it is his and you are wearing it. Either way, it’s just how it is. Leave yours at home.
  2. A hair dryer/ straightener. These take up space. They are bulky and heavy. He will love you anyway, even if your hair is frizzy and warped because it has dried naturally. But, if you absolutely must do something with your hair, pick one- don’t bring both- and try to find a travel sized device.
  3. Toothpaste. That is one thing that he will definitely have, and if he doesn’t, that’s just strange and you might want to reconsider your relationship. Don’t forget your toothbrush however- that’s a necessity.
  4. Every Caltrain ticket you’ve ever received. I know this isn’t an actual item, but if you are taking public transportation, as I do, then I highly recommend throwing out your ticket as soon as you get off the train. The other day, the conductor asked for my ticket and when I looked into the pocket of my purse that I generally keep such things in, I discovered upwards of 6 different tickets from different days. This makes it rather difficult to find the right one and clutters your purse. Throw them away.
  5. All of your makeup. I highly recommend selecting just the things you need (mascara, eyeliner, your favorite eye shadow etc.) and limiting yourself to those select items. Carrying a makeup bag around adds a lot of unnecessary weight to your luggage.

And there you have it, the ins and outs of what is necessary to bring, and what is not, in a commuter relationship.

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Photos, Photos Everywhere

I have officially renewed my account information and from here on out will be posting a few new photos to my JPG Mag site (http://jpgmag.com/people/Mangovia) each week. New ones are up now. They come from all times and places in my life. Some are from a year or so ago, others will be from today. Each one is near and dear to my heart for one reason or another; it might capture a special moment, or remind me of a wonderful day, or simply make me smile. Here is the latest photo (to entice you to check out my page):

Apparently these little guys are dangerous (at least, thats what my friend led me to believe). I’m not sure I’m buying it though… they’re just too silly looking to cause too much damage.

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Un peu de Paris à San Francisco: Cafe Claude Review

Restaurant: Cafe Claude

Cuisine : French

Price : $$ (Main courses range from $18-$30)

Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

Over the weekend, I was treated to one of the most delightful dining experiences I’ve had in a very long time. My boyfriend took me to Café Claude, a restaurant in San Francisco that seems like it was transported right out of Paris and placed in a narrow alleyway that just about screams Europe. The restaurant is fronted by sweeping red awnings that protect a heated patio perfect for people-watching. Of course, we happened to be there during a torrential downpour which made the glowing, cozy atmosphere of the patio that much more romantic and Parisian. A jazz band plays in the front window of the restaurant every Thursday through Saturday and their bluesy notes tantalizingly dance in the air with the delectable aromas that waft from the kitchen.

Upon walking into Café Claude, diners are met with a dazzling zinc bar and vintage tables rescued from a long-since-closed Parisian café. Candles wink and flicker, illuminating the period travel posters that hang on the walls and catch on the many glasses being lifted in toasts and good cheer.

Christian and I were seated at one of the tables on the patio and were kept warm by the heaters hanging from the ceiling and the delicious wine that filled our glasses. Or, more accurately, my glass; he had a sophisticated Johnny Walker on the rocks. We had a difficult time deciding what to order because, to be honest, everything sounded amazing and we were starving. Luckily, the waiter brought us freshly baked slices of baguette to curb our appetites. We settled on an order of the escargot because we were at a fancy French restaurant and we both love garlic and butter, no matter what they happen to be drenching. I ordered the tuna with cumquats and bean ragu, he the salmon with Israeli couscous and the escarole.

The first to arrive was the escargot. Some people may find it disturbing to eat snails. Even those people would have loved this dish. Not only were they soaked so thoroughly in garlic and butter that they were unrecognizable as snails, but they were also topped with a poof of a pastry button that truly melted in my mouth. It was like eating a little snail-shaped piece of heaven. I don’t even think it could really be considered escargot at that point; it was too delicious to have once been something that lives in a shell and quietly destroys gardens.

The main dishes were equally as delicious, albeit a bit on the small side, as San Franciscan cuisine is wont to be. My tuna was superb, especially paired with the sauvignon blanc I had ordered, and the cumquats added a zingy sweetness that tangoed well with the saltiness of the fish. Christian’s was also delicious, particularly the couscous, which balanced the salmon with the rest of the plate divinely.

Of course, to finish off an evening such as this, one must have dessert. We elected for the crème brulee, a classic French dish that nearly floored us with its sugary goodness. Unlike most American restaurants, the waitress at Café Claude never hovered, waiting for us to be done so that she could give us the check. Instead, in part because of the waterfall that appeared to be coming from the sky just outside the safety of our patio, she waited patiently for us to ever so slowly finish our drinks before asking if we would like the bill. Her serenity was pleasantly surprising in a country that often has you scooting out the door before you have finished your last bite. Thus ended a thoroughly Parisian night. As we ran away through the rain, the jazz music clung to our clothes and the taste of Paris lingered on our lips.

To learn more about Café Claude, check out their website:

http://www.cafeclaude.com/index.html

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Into the Woods

Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does.
George Bernard Shaw

If, on some sunny day, you find yourself in Santa Clara with nothing to do, I highly  recommend heading down highway 17 to Castle Rock State Park. There was no school on Monday so some of my friends and I decided to do just that. There is no hike so close to campus that can rival Castle Rock. It’s only a 15 minute drive from SCU and trails range from those perfect for serious backpackers to people who have only seen nature on the Discovery channel. The park is absolutely gorgeous. Views of the sky, land and sea combine to overwhelm the senses in a kaleidoscope of jade forests, cerulean skies and distant grey waters.

The state park runs along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains and has a network of 32 different trails for both hiking and horseback riding. Hikes vary from a quick jaunt around Castle Rock and the Saratoga trails to a 32-mile hike called the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail. We opted for a shorter walk that took us out and around Castle Rock. The namesake of the park is a  strange rock formation that rises out of the woods like some ancient, natural fortress. The rock has numerous ‘rooms’ cut into its smooth surface that can be explored both by hoisting yourself up or by legitimately rock climbing. We opted to scramble our way up to some of the lower openings, which resulted in several seemingly near death experiences that left me with a scraped knee and grins on all of our faces. Some of the rooms have a strange lacework of circular indentations that remind me of the scars left behind by chicken pox scratched one too many times. The air was extremely chilly but in the rooms it became warmer, particularly where sunlight shown in through the openings. If you’re looking for a unique place to have a picnic, you won’t find one more execptional than this.

There are also primitive camps that dot the park. Backpackers can trek out to any of the camps and spend the night under the stars or, more likely, the fog. While on top of the ridge, hikers get spectacular views of the park and Monterey Bay way out in the distance. If you do decide on a day hike, my recommendation is to stick around for the sunset. The road leading to the Castle Rock trailhead stretches in the other direction and offers  plenty of spots to pull off and watch the sky grow steadily more exquisite. We opted for a spot just a little down the road from the trailhead. Armed with blankets, celery and peanut butter, my friends and I hiked out to a spot on the brink of the world and watched the sun die and sink behind the opposite, densely forested crest.

Here is a link to the Castle Rock State Park website:

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=538

Go be astounded by the seemingly infinite beauty of this incredible state park.

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Captured

There’s an odd sort of magic that exists through pictures. They are images of a subject or a scene that have, since the time the photo was taken, changed irreversibly. With a click of a button though, those subjects and scenes are captured eternally just as they are in that moment. In a way, photos remind us that no matter how long we pine for things past or fret about the future, the only thing that really exists is the breath we take right now, what we see and feel at this exact moment in the present.

Here is a link to some of the photographic work that I have done:

http://jpgmag.com/people/Mangovia

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