Omakase at Sushi Sam’s!

6 Feb

OK apparently there is some super famous sushi place in San Mateo? AJ and his friend James were visiting from Seattle, and they were super hyped about Sushi Sam’s, so we headed there Saturday afternoon.

I texted Daphne, who lives in San Mateo, that we were going and she said to expect a wait. This was the queue about five minutes before it opened:
IMG_20170204_113247It actually wasn’t too bad though, because the restaurant was a decent size and once it opened almost everyone got a seat. It definitely makes sense to get there 5-10 minutes early, because if you missed that first seating you would have to wait 60+ minutes for a group from the first batch to finish. We were near the back of the line and got seated at the counter, which was the complete opposite of what I was expecting!

James was less excited than I was:
IMG_20170204_122428Also, check out those tea cups – they had a nice weight to them, were a great size and I loved the design, with a cat, a fat vampire(?) and the restaurant logo. But more on those later!

We started off with miso soup and green tea. The main sushi chef was super fun and the waiter was very friendly and efficient. We got the omakase, which was delicious (omakase? For Saturday brunch? How decadent!).

I should have written down what we ate because I’ve forgotten a lot of it. =( This was shrimp, shrimp heads and something else I can’t remember:
IMG_20170204_114740I asked James if he could remember any of these and he just started randomly naming fish.

James (when he saw I wasn’t listening to him): Kaye doesn’t want my guesses. She wants cold, hard facts.

He did remember that the one on the right was a scallop. I think the other was amberjack:
IMG_20170204_115200And here we have Spanish mackerel and arctic salmon, with a tea cup background:
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James: I remembered that was the Spanish mackerel because it was all twirly.

Next we had fatty tuna and baby lobster. I loooooved the fatty tuna – it pretty much melted in my mouth.
IMG_20170204_120951I think one of these is Japanese mackerel and the other is yellowtail. The one on the left was topped with Japanese seaweed.
IMG_20170204_122103One of these is barracuda and I can’t remember what the other is (sigh). The one on the left had kiwi and was very dessert-like.
IMG_20170204_122731On the left is miyazaki beef, which was amazingly tender, and on the right is crab with crab organs:
IMG_20170204_123713We decided to call it there. You all know I could have kept going, but I guess we were aiming for “pleasantly full” rather than “roll me out the door”. I took a photo of James and my plates stacked up (and in the background you can see the head chef):
IMG_20170204_123900But James shook his head and was like “no, you have to make the stack look more epic.” And he grabbed my phone and took this picture:
IMG_20170204_123918But we weren’t quite done yet! For dessert I had green tea tiramisu. I remember having one at a restaurant in Seattle that was very unimpressive but I really liked this one – it much lighter than regular tiramisu:
IMG_20170204_124642I remember the head chef was laughing at (other) James and AJ because  of how quickly they finished their desserts. It was crazy how fast they ate – they were done by the time I’d taken two bites!

James had the almond tofu which was also very good:
IMG_20170204_124655So yeah, back to the tea cups! I asked the waiter if they sold them and he said they used to until they started to run out. But he said they’d recently gotten a new shipment (the only difference being that the ones we used were light blue and the one I bought was white) so to talk to him afterwards and I could buy one. It worked out to be a pretty cute souvenir. =D

Price-wise Sushi Sam’s was in the same ballpark as our other omakase experience at Shiro’s in Seattle – $170ish vs $210ish before tip (I think James ate more at Shiro’s and we also had booze). The nigiri at Shiro’s was constructed with a bit more care (a couple of my pieces here collapsed when I tried to pick them up) but I really enjoyed the service at Sam’s, it was less of a hassle to get in, and it was overall more fun.

Look at us! Having fun!

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photo stolen from James

The New Pull-Up Bar!

25 Jan

I’ve been meaning to get a pull-up bar pretty much ever since we bought this place. But I don’t really like the look of door pull-up bars and James was worried they wouldn’t be sturdy enough for him, so our options were pretty limited.

Until I came across the ceiling mounted bar from Gronk Fitness. It’s about as nice-looking as you can expect a piece of exercise equipment to look and it’s mounted into the wood so it’s super sturdy. This is the view sitting in bed and looking up:
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Because we were so sporadic about going to the gym my pull-ups suffered a lot.I’m back down to single pull-ups but as long as I can do one extra pull-up a day I’m slowly improving.

I’m currently up to eight single pull-ups and hopefully next week I’ll be able to get a set of two in and work up from there. Is a set of eight an unrealistic goal for the end of the year? I guess we’ll see!

Christmas at Mammoth and June

10 Jan

We finally made it to Mammoth for Christmas! Last year our flight kept getting cancelled but this year we managed to get ahead of the storm (we also got upgraded! Yay!)

I always love de-planing at Mammoth. The mountains are so pretty and the air is so cold and crisp. =)
IMG_20161219_162507On James’ birthday his aunt and uncle took us out for a fancy meal which was super nice of them. We had a couple of sunny, not-too-busy days to get our snow legs back before the storm. Plus lots more eating and drinking!

On the day of the storm it was cold, wet, and the visibility was pretty bad.
IMG_20161223_120034Storm days are always my favourite because the snow keeps getting refreshed and hardly anyone is on the mountain, and everyone who is there is so happy! It was definitely the best day of the trip. =)

The weather was pretty cold this time – I wore five layers most days. My gloves are pretty ratty now, so for the next trip I bought a bright pair of mittens so I’m nice and easy to find.
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All the days leading up to Christmas were pretty decent crowd-wise – last year the Christmas to New Year period was awful, so we were pleasantly surprised.

This is James looking majestic on Christmas Day.
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The highlight of the day had to be meeting up with Woolly and a random Santa!
IMG_1116 (2)It was a great way to spend Christmas morning/afternoon – the snow was nice, the sun was out, and everyone was in a good mood.

But then … disaster! As we were walking back from the resort James got paged. =( He spent the rest of the day (4pm-1:30am) on a work emergency. Here he is, looking very depressed with his festive hat and champagne flute.
IMG_20161225_184938Poor thing. =( We were all eating our delicious Christmas dinner and he was in the corner on a conference call with a plate of food.

The next day Ian, James and I headed to June Mountain to escape the Boxing Day crowds. It was busier than the last time we went but not too bad.

This is the view from the resort – gorgeous!IMG_20161226_141636I can’t remember which run I took this photo on – it was a green run that had beautiful views all the way down which made up for the fact that the snow was fairly crappy.
IMG_20161226_140628Last time Ian and I were at June we took the ski-back trail, but there wasn’t enough snow this time so we had to take the chairlift back to the parking lot.

Going down was a very different experience to going up! I was holding my snowboard and had the bar down because if the chairlift suddenly stopped I didn’t want to go tumbling down the mountain.

The most nervewracking part was when I took my phone out for some photos – the board was wedged between me and the bar, and I had a death grip on my phone … which I couldn’t even feel because my hands were so cold.

No regrets!
IMG_20161226_142151Then our last day we spent at Mammoth again, and that was our Christmas holiday! I snowboarded seven out of the eight days we were there, which isn’t bad.

It was great seeing James’ relatives again, and I’m looking forward to our next trip out!

Google Christmas Party 2016

31 Dec

The holiday party this year was Peter Pan themed. Weird, but it could have been weirder I guess – Anne Marie’s party theme was Mythbusters!

It was in the same location as last year (though no oyster bar, boooo!) and everyone agreed that this year seemed much more crowded. The food and bar lines moved quite quickly though, so it wasn’t inconvenient – just busy.

Helen got there right as it started so was able to take this photo with almost nobody in it:

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photo stolen from Helen

As usual the party had casino games, cigars, bourbon tasting, various food stalls, wandering entertainers and foosball/ping pong/shuffleboard games.

The new stuff they had included a room of giant teddy bears to chillax in, a lovely lady with a snake and caricatures (apparently the line was crazy long so we didn’t bother).

The food and booze were much better this year! I did miss the oyster bar, but the sushi bar helped make up for it.
IMG_20161217_202123(Wow, red-eye – haven’t seen that in awhile!)

The sushi bar only provided teeny tiny plates but we used larger ones from one of the other food stands – people kept coming up to us and asking where we’d gotten them from.

The evening’s signature cocktails (though they could make other stuff if you wanted):
IMG_20161217_194701I also met James’ manager. He was very nice and introduced James to his wife as “the guy whose coattails I’m going to ride to get promoted”. =D

This snake was called Lola and she was my favourite part of the entire night:
IMG_20161217_215513She was so docile (which apparently they are bred for) and her scales were surprisingly moist. And here we are with her handler:
IMG_20161217_213905 (1)There was a big pirate ship in the middle of the hall, with lots of comfy seating next to it:
IMG_20161217_223855Which I didn’t need because I swapped to ballet flats about 3/4 of the way in.

There were the customary photo booths. This one took three photos in quick succession:
Google Holiday Party 2016 with Nick and KellyLook at that expert prop exchange. It took a lot of planning.

And here we are in the giant pile of teddy bears at the end of the night. It was hard to get too comfy in them because I saw a guy leap into the bears, and as he did, a huge layer of dust went up in the air like a mushroom cloud.

IMG_0384 (2)

photo stolen from Alex

We caught up with friends, ate and drank in moderation like responsible adults, and had a really great night. =)

A Visit to Google NYC

15 Dec

James has to go to New York several times a year for work and sometimes I decide to tag along because we both love the city.
IMG_20160713_135543Though I love it a lot less now I know how humid it gets in summer. I’m not sure if New York is particularly disgusting when it’s hot or if living in Seattle and San Francisco has spoiled us. Probably a little from column A and a little from column B.

But yeah, James worked during the day, and in the evenings we did fun touristy things like …

Book of Mormon!
IMG_20160714_184320We got pizza afterwards. =) The top one had pepperoni and honey and it was delicious.
IMG_20160714_220500On one of James’ travel days we visited the Museum of Natural History. The insanely massive Megalodon was my favourite – it was so big its head was peeking out of the room.
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The t-rex was also cool.
IMG_20160715_103154But the main reason I joined James this trip was because I’d managed to get dinner reservations to Eleven Madison Park!

Here are our pre-dinner cocktails:
IMG_20160713_174615The food (and wine matching – with frequent refills!) was wonderful. These were our appetisers – the boxes were handmade and arrived stacked on top of each other.
IMG_20160713_175313When stacked, they looked like the chandeliers above us. =)
IMG_20160713_201044I am such a sucker for fancy butter – I just spoon it into my mouth like ice cream. The bread was also amazing and they kept offering me more and I kept taking it.
IMG_20160713_181022This one was really fun. A picnic basket was delivered to our table with little jars of condiments. (The drink was the only dud of the night. I thought it was cider but it was some sort of gross tomato flavoured thing)
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Fast forward to the end, and this was part of our dessert being made:
IMG_20160713_202649The second part was a chocolate game (apparently dessert used to involve a magic trick so I was a little bit bummed … until I saw how much chocolate they gave us!)

There were four bars of chocolate and we had to guess which was which out of coffee, smoke, maple syrup and chilli.
IMG_20160713_204922James and I guessed identically … identically wrong. We only got one out of the four correct. =(

We couldn’t finish that much chocolate so we asked for a little bag for the leftovers and they were like “oh we’ll give you a fresh set!” (We ended up taking that extra set AND our chocolate leftovers – because duh).

Afterwards we went to a swanky bar with James’ coworkers and made them play the chocolate game while we all drank cocktails. It was an awesome night. =)

James also gave me a tour of the Google NY campus. He always talks about how much cooler it is than Mountain View, and how it must be so disappointing for the NY employees whenever they visit HQ.IMG_20160715_151912The building is opposite the Chelsea Market and basically takes up a whole city block:
IMG_20160713_140539There was a cool lego room where people could make and store their own lego projects:
IMG_20160714_123900And a project display wall and a weird ladder that only Google employees were allowed to climb:
IMG_20160714_123927Someone made a replica of the Google building:
IMG_20160714_124041The area also had a lego-themed micro kitchen:
IMG_20160714_124238 With brain food.IMG_20160714_124224James really liked the temporary work spaces at the New York office. He said he normally goes to a high floor and sits somewhere with a nice view of the city but he was also fond of these impressively orange honeycombs:
IMG_20160715_160841We also found a couple of trams:
IMG_20160714_124726James was super jealous that the New York office has Killer Queen. It’s an awesome 10 player arcade game that our friends introduced us to. There’s one at Brewcade in San Francisco … but it’s not free like this one! There were a couple of guys playing while we were there so our group joined in and we had a mini battle (we won, primarily because of James’ queenly skills).
IMG_20160714_130741And this is the bouldering wall. There’s also one in Mountain View but it’s so far away that James never bothers going.
IMG_20160715_162136(Oh, and you know how you travel on bikes around the Mountain View campus? In the New York building you get little kick scooters to ride around on)

Here’s James and his team on one of the decks. It was so hot and humid that we all sought shelter inside as soon as I took the photo.
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The New York campus has a lot of cool food options – they bring in a lot of guest chefs to cook for the employees. I saw David Chang (of Momofuku fame) featured on their wall of fame. =O

This was a food truck that was inside the building, though it was closed when we toured it at the end of the day.
IMG_20160715_153811 (1)
Above the Chelsea Market there’s a Google cafeteria decorated like a cool loft.
IMG_20160714_133046 We ate upstairs in one of the meeting rooms. I really liked the fancy animal portraits. =)IMG_20160714_133819We did a bunch of other stuff – saw Then She Fell (an interactive play like Sleep No More), ate and drank a lot, and I did some shopping while James worked. Did you know New York has no sales tax on clothing that costs less than $110? That was a pleasant surprise. =D

Cat and Mitch are planning to visit New York next year so hopefully we can time a trip to coincide with that (although ugh, it will be in summer again).

So it looks like there will be a lot of trips to NYC in our future! (Though I hope it’s not like how we visited San Francisco a lot while we lived in Seattle and then ended up moving there and thinking … well that was a waste)

Bye NYC! See you soon!
IMG_20160714_123802

The Pacific Coast Highway and Big Sur

30 Nov

Waaaaay back in June (6 months ago! Eek!) Nicola came to visit us in San Francisco on her way to a wedding. She only had a couple of days and had already done a lot of the touristy stuff, so we decided to drive down to Big Sur.

Day 1

It was overcast when we started our trip. Our first stop was Moss Landing, where we saw otters floating on their backs and a bunch of different birds. Oh, and a decomposing sea lion. (Nixi has the most amazing vision – we were walking on the beach and she said “is that a dead sea lion?” I kind of squinted off into the distance and was like “nah it’s a log with a seagull on it.”)

We walked to this rock pier where we saw a couple of seals and some fishermen.
IMG_20160613_141437Our next destination was Pebble Beach, which is a golf course so famous that even I’ve heard of it. Turns out it’s also a very scenic 17 mile drive, with the ocean as a spectacular backdrop to the golf greens. It’s a private road so we had to pay an entry fee (I think maybe $5?) which came with a little guide showing us which locations to stop at.

One of the stops was to view the Lone Cypress, which is the tree on all the Pebble Beach merchandise. It was a bitch to get a photo of because we kept getting blocked by a busload of super rude Chinese tourists. But anyway, here’s the tree. I don’t really get it.
IMG_20160613_155954Afterwards we drove to Carmel where we checked into our hotel. The original plan had been to drive to Pfeiffer Beach, but it was almost an hour away and we decided just to wander around downtown Carmel and have an early dinner. None of the restaurants looked appealing, so we grabbed some pizza to eat on the beach. Genius!
IMG_20160613_190901We stuffed ourselves and then walked down the beach to admire the waves.
IMG_20160613_201646And watch the sun set.IMG_20160613_200413
Then it was time to head back to our hotel to get some rest for the next day.

Day 2

In the morning we stopped by Bruno’s Market in Carmel to buy a picnic lunch. Our first stop was Point Lobos State Reserve where we did the Cypress Grove Trail, which was a super quick and easy hike.
IMG_20160614_083551The breathtaking ocean views were a great way to start the morning.
IMG_20160614_083918After that short walk we drove until we reached Bixby Bridge, which is apparently one of the most photographed bridges in California.
IMG_20160614_092027Then it was onto Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to do the Pfeiffer Falls trail (about 2 miles), which is supposed to be the “must do” hike in the park. It was a nice hike and I’m glad we did it, but I think if you wanted to skip any of the three hikes we did this one would be it.

It was much clearer and sunnier today so we were treated to some wonderful coastline views. It looks just like a painting!
IMG_20160614_111957The main hike of the day was the Ewoldsen Trail (a 4.5 mile loop) at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Seriously, all these parks and beaches are so confusingly named – I gather the Pfeiffers were pretty important.

We started our hike off in the forest:
IMG_20160614_113814Where we found a giant tree bridge:
IMG_20160614_121216At roughly the halfway mark we had our picnic lunch. It was a good thing we had it in the forest because the rest of the hike was in unshaded hills (though we had views of the ocean, so that was nice).
IMG_20160614_125850After we finished our hike we made our way across the street to check out McWay Falls.

The path leading to the overlook:IMG_20160614_14081130 seconds later we arrived! Isn’t this something?
IMG_20160614_141418We’d made pretty good time so decided to stop at Pfeiffer Beach since it was on the way home. When we paid admission the guy warned us that the beach was extremely windy that day. Afterwards we kind of scoffed and were like “pft, we’re Australian – I think we’ve experienced a bit of wind at the beach”

OMG.

It was so fucking windy. Mein hubris!

Every grain of sand became a tiny needle and whenever the wind picked up (which was frequently) we’d get pelted by a giant blanket of sand needles. I huddled into a ball but the sand would still sting the rest of my exposed skin – my neck my ankles, my hands – it was crazy.

We did manage to explore the beach in between cowering from the sand. The water was much too cold to swim or even wade in (for me, anyway – apparently Nixi has feet of titanium) but I really liked the rocks.IMG_20160614_154559Pfeiffer Beach is known for its purple sand (which comes from manganese garnet deposits in the rocks). The sand wasn’t uniformly purple – only parts of it, and only noticeable when wet. You can see some in the foreground of this photo:
IMG_20160614_155106We saw a lot of beautiful scenery that day and Pfeiffer Beach still managed to be memorable. I bet it’s gorgeous at sunset.IMG_20160614_160025Check out our built in shoe storage:
IMG_20160614_160736Then it was time to brush the sand off our feet (and hands, and face) and start the long drive home. We did stop at In N Out for dinner, because what better way to finish off the quintessential Californian road trip. =)

It’s a super gorgeous drive, especially if it is sunny. There are so many beaches to stop at, and little roadside stands selling fruit, and you feel so outdoorsy and wholesome even though you’re in a car. I’m glad we did it mid-week because it was still reasonably busy, so I bet it’s chockers on the weekend or public holidays. It’s definitely a must-do for anyone living in the Bay Area, so I can’t wait to go with James one day.

Googleween 2016: Pachimari & Video Games

4 Nov

This year’s Googleween was video and board game themed. Right down my alley! And since I’ve been mega obsessed with Overwatch recently I decided to dress up as one of the characters.

Mercy? Mei? Tracer? Widowmaker?

No. Pachimari! =D

Pachimari

image from Overwatch Wiki

I’ve always loved Pachimari’s stupid squeaky face, so when I saw on Twitter that someone had made a Pachimari costume, in a fit of uncharacteristic boldness, I contacted her to ask if she made them for sale. She didn’t, but she told me she would show me how to make my own Pachimari costume.

I know right?? How super sweet is that? She described how she made it, showed me some progress pics and even a little video. Of course, I still needed help because I can barely sew a button. So I begged Helen and she totally took charge and saved my bacon. =D

Here we are with the internal structure of Pachimari at Helen’s place (you might recognise the hamburger in the background from last year’s Googleween).

IMG_20161020_112432And some of the external parts!
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The costume took about 8 hours to make. Helen taught me how to use the sewing machine so I did the simple stuff and she did the trickier parts. I’ve never worked on something like this before and it was really fun and satisfying.

The next day we brought Pachimari home.
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Poor James had to take him to work on the shuttle.

He was a champion all day – costume wrangling and being the photographer for the people who wanted pictures taken with me. =)

But anyway, Googleween! This photo is out of sync because we took it at the end, but it shows the signpost for some of the attractions:
IMG_20161026_190014The booze was waaaay better this year! Not that I could have much – I was limited to drinks with straws that James would hold up to my mouth (I told you he was a champion). They had lots of thematic snacks as well.

Hedgehog donut holes (you can also see the pokeball cake pops to the right)!
IMG_20161026_160644 Angry Bird food! Plus some fruit skewers to the right.IMG_20161026_160651Diglet dig, diglet dig, trio trio trio!
IMG_20161026_160659Plus a bunch of other stuff that we didn’t get photos of. They also had petting zoos with teacup pigs (so warm and snuffly and sweet) and little hedgehogs (like patting tiny hairbrushes).

I entered the costume contest and thought I had a pretty good chance … until Jon Snow showed up riding a freaking handmade dragon. You can’t really tell from this photo, but up close it had individual scales and was super elaborate.
IMG_20161026_172147After the contest James and I kind of wandered around, taking photos and checking everything out. We had heaps of people come up asking for photos (at one point it was three groups one after the other and James said he was worried people thought I was one of the attractions).

Pachimari’s Big Day

Pachimari visits Super Mario World.
IMG_20161026_185448 And Donkey Kong Country. IMG_20161026_185020Pachimari is a big Pikachu fan.
IMG_20161026_184145(Actually this photo was really fun – when James put the Pikachu hat on me I could hear like, five girls start squealing).

Meeting his idol in person.
IMG_20161026_184506 And Charizard X.IMG_20161026_184550
Then he ate some cake.
IMG_20161026_180205And went to jail with Agent 47. A fair few people recognised James’ costume! Including one guy who asked for a photo of James strangling him … which is possibly how we ended up in jail.
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I definitely recognised some of the decorations from last year. The jail was there last year, a couple of the bouncy houses, and a maze in the middle. But there were also lots of new attractions that unfortunately I didn’t try out because of my costume. =(

They had an inflatable Hungry Hippos game, where people were tethered to the wall with some sort of bungee cord and they had to lunge into the middle to grab balls for their team. There was also a bouncing castle where you had to avoid a giant rotating beam in the middle, several obstacle courses, and this carnival ladder game.
IMG_20161026_182659Spiderman kept shouting at James “how are you not falling off????” It’s because a few months ago, he read one of those guides on how to beat carnival games lol.

But yeah, so that was Googleween. I know it’s probably lame … but I love it so much. Can’t wait for next year!