Ray and I in South Korea
Ray and I in South Korea

I’m in a good mood today because I found out yesterday that my little brother Ray, tested negative for CDH1 which puts him in the clear! Now, we’re just waiting on the results for my other little brother, Austin. I think his results should be in soon. With that said… Kate called the rest of this blog masochistic, but I like to think of it like a stroll down memory lane.

Here is the list that everyone has been waiting for when it comes to my farewell stomach tour. Being in recovery has given me a lot of time to reflect and evaluate all of the great food we tried on our tour, feel free to debate me on some of these, but I feel pretty confident that I have chosen correctly. There are so many categories I could have created, but these were my favorite. What was my criteria? Almost everything I ate on this food tour was delicious, so really I had to go with: most memorable, strongest craving post-surgery, and uniqueness. So go ahead, let your stomach live vicariously through me, because now, I will be living vicariously through yours.

Best Sandwich: Giordano Bros, San Francisco, CA. This was a close one with Pasadena Sandwich Company in Pasadena, CA, but with a sandwich this unique and local, you gotta’ go with the home field advantage.

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Best Italian FoodIl Vecchio, Pacific Grove, CA. Homemade pasta and an awesome environment, need I say more?

Best Sushi: Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Maui, HI. This was tough because we also love Cha Cha Sushi in San Jose, CA, but with fresh fish from Maui, it was too much of a hurdle to overcome for the others.

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Best Steakhouse: Alexander’s Steakhouse, Cupertino, CA. There are plenty of good steakhouses in our area, but the top dog has to be Alexander’s. It’s pricey, but the steak here is worth every penny. Perfectly seasoned and cooked steak, but for me, their amazing creamed spinach with filo topping puts this steakhouse over the edge.

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Best Wings/Chicken: Smokeeaters, San Jose/Cupertino, CA. Perfectly cooked and juicy wings covered in a delicious “nuclear” sauce that packs a solid punch, but has an addicting sweetness makes this my favorite wing place.  Not just wings here though, I always go with the tenders which are HUGE… never get more than 3 my friends, you’ll thank me later. Did I mention the fact that it’s covered wall to wall in flat screens for all of your sport-loving needs!?!

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Best American Cuisine: Nola, Palo Alto, CA. New Orleans style food, but don’t let the Silicon Valley swank throw you for a loop, the food here is fresh, delicious and beautiful. Don’t leave without the Beignets, you’d be missing out.

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Best Taqueria: La Victoria, San Jose, CA. Best taqueria was an all-out brawl. My love of Mexican food in a city where you can get an amazing taco virtually everywhere, made this a tough call so I had to tighten the judging requirements. When it all came down to it, best taqueria had to go to the place I would take out of town friends to try when looking for something uniquely San Jose. The orange sauce, the breakfast burrito and the lady screaming at you made La Vic just too hard to pass up. I might get the most resistance with this one, but can you really argue against orange sauce?

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Best Donut: The Donut Man, Glendora, CA. Call it nostalgia if you want too, but you really can’t argue with the tiger tail. Best donut was too easy.

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Best Breakfast: Los Gatos Cafe, Los Gatos, CA. Sure an egg is an egg, but can you get curry spiced potatoes just anywhere? No. I could have gone with Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline only because of it’s motorcycle/car enthusiasts cliental, but the breakfast doesn’t scream unique. Now I love Ducati’s, but this list is about food, so stop at Los Gatos Cafe before you drag some knee on Hwy 9.

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Best Burger: Mainstreet Burger, Los Gatos, CA.  Thick grass-fed beef cooked medium rare is my love language. Top it off with a garlic, pesto or sriracha aioli and you really can’t go wrong. Try it as a lettuce wrap, the crunch is addicting.

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Best Dessert: Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Maui, HI. Wow. Did a sushi place really get “best dessert”? When you cover vanilla ice cream in coconut batter, deep fry it, cover it in chocolate and caramel sauce all while keeping the inside ice cream perfectly frozen, you’re on to something special. Congrats on making the list twice Sansei.

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Best Ice Cream Parlor (yes, ice cream deserved it’s own category): Sweet Rendezvous, San Jose, CA. The fact that the owners love my my daughter doesn’t hurt, but the ambiance, friendly staff and the fact that they carry both Macapuno and Ube in their mix, puts Sweet Rendezvous on the top of ice cream mountain.

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Best Coffee: Verve Coffee Roasters, Santa Cruz, CA. If you know me, you know my love of coffee and coffee houses. I almost separated this into two categories, but this list is really about “the best of”. This award could have gone to three different places and believe honorable mentions go to: Blvd Coffee, Los Gatos, CA and The Abbey, Santa Cruz, CA. What makes Verve stand out to me is consistency. Every cappuccino is perfect. You can float a spoon on the foam and the espresso is never burned. The coffee house is unique and sits right in downtown Santa Cruz and has just enough hipsters to give it legitimacy without the judgement.

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Best Overall Meal: This one was tough because we had eaten at so many great restaurants and in the end it was showdown between Gary Danko in San Francisco and Mama’s Fish House in Maui. While both restaurants had amazing service and equally amazing food, paradise was just too difficult to overcome. In judging all of these great restaurants I thought about what I craved most during recovery: something unique… something unforgettable… and it all came down to one unexpected dish that has to be one of the best things I have ever eaten, fresh caught octopus. Only available at Mama’s Fish House in Maui, HI. Absolutely fantastic.

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3 thoughts on “The Best of the Farewell Stomach Tour

  1. Dear Steve Dang,
    We are honored to have made your list. Next time you are in, please ask for me at the front because the first round of Hamachi Shots will be on me! Cheers!
    Sincerely,
    Mario Prado, General Manager
    Alexander’s Steakhouse, Cupertino

    1. Mario!
      Wow! That is incredibly generous of you and I’m just blown away! When I can go back to eating steak again, you’ll be the first place we visit! Keep up the awesome work, we loved our visit to Alexander’s. Can’t wait!
      Graces,

      -Steve

  2. Awesome your brother tested positive!! I have a younger brother as well and I hope he has the same outcome as Ray. He hasn’t been tested yet but is planning to be tested.

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