Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View
Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View, CA

Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View

By this point I think I’ve proven that I’m passionate about ramen. My time in NYC has given me plenty of opportunities to learn what I love and what makes a great bowl. So now that I’m spending most of my time in Silicon Valley, there’s no reason not to hunt for that perfect bowl out here as well.

Since I’m working in Sunnyvale and Mountain View is a short eight minute drive from the office, that always seems like an obvious and easy choice for a post-work meal. Feeling a bit ill and in need of a great bowl of curative soup, I decided to find a good ramen joint in town. After a bit of research, I decided on a shop called Maru Ichi which sounded like it would serve exactly what I needed.

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Deliciously Spicy Momo Dumplings and Lamb Curry at Himalayan Kitchen in Mountain View
Deliciously Spicy Momo Dumplings and Lamb Curry at Himalayan Kitchen in Mountain View, CA

Deliciously Spicy Momo Dumplings and Lamb Curry at Himalayan Kitchen in Mountain View

*Editor’s Note 7/17/14: I have recently returned to Himalayan Kitchen and the entire restaurant and shopping center has been remodeled and is much nicer now. The food is just as good as ever, maybe even better.

Way off the beaten path, in a seriously run-down shopping center in Mountain View, California you’ll find a sketchy looking restaurant called Himalayan Kitchen. Had I not read good things about this place online before driving over, I might have been turned off by the truthfully off-putting appearance, but I followed my instincts and continued on with my hungover Himalayan quest.

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Fast, Healthy, Korean in the Desolate Sunnyvale Culinary Wasteland
Fast, Healthy Korean Food in the Desolate Sunnyvale Culinary Wasteland at Bibimbowl

Fast, Healthy, Korean in the Desolate Sunnyvale Culinary Wasteland

In Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale is one of the more vacuous towns in the area. It’s mostly filled with bleak, white-washed office buildings, parking lots, and roads leading nowhere. If you work there, as I currently do, you’ll quickly learn how limited the lunch options are, especially if you want to walk to lunch.

Fortunately for me, I’ve found a lunchtime gem in a nondescript mini-mall called Bibimbowl just a half mile’s walk from the office serving fresh, healthy, high-quality Korean food at a reasonable price.

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Great Silicon Valley Izakaya Open Late at En Japanese Tapas in Santa Clara

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One of the biggest takeaways I’ve gotten from all of this time I’ve been spending in Silicon Valley is that everything in California closes early. Offices become ghost towns at 6:00. Most Happy Hours end at 6:00, maybe 7:00 if you’re lucky. Bars stop serving at 1:30 AM and worst of all, most restaurant kitchens close at 9:00. If you end up working late ’til say 9:00 or later you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to getting a decent dinner.

In all of my digging, I have thankfully found a few places that keep their kitchen open ’til around 10:00. But there is one place I’ve found in Santa Clara for quality late night dining called En Japanese Tapas Restaurant where the kitchen stays open until a glorious 11:30 PM.

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Get the Noodles at Best of Thai Noodle in SF
Get the Noodles at Best of Thai Noodle in San Francisco

Get the Noodles at Best of Thai Noodle in SF

*Editor’s Note 10/23/15: Best of Thai Noodle is under new ownership and is for some reason rebranding as Hippie Thai Street Food, presumably with a similar menu. Only time will tell if the food is the same.

In the vibrant, artsy, dirty hippie-filled San Francisco neighborhood of Haight Ashbury, amongst the many clothing and bong shops, there are many dining options. Wading through the good and the bad isn’t always an easy task, but I found a wholly unnoticed gem of a lunch spot called Best of Thai Noodle hidden in plain sight right on the main drag.

It was a fairly small restaurant by Californian standards, but still had a tall, lofty ceiling and a big kitchen with fiery flaming woks open to the dining area. With just one glance at that wok setup and inferno, I knew this was gonna be great.

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Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal
Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal

Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal

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Located only one block from Stanford’s the restaurant-lined Palo Alto main drag, University Avenue, you will find an unassuming Italian restaurant called Vero. With its tall, vaulted, wood beamed ceiling, candlelit dining room, and open kitchen, it’s quite an inviting restaurant to spot passing by. Though most guests were dining inside, we opted for one of their outdoor seats to take advantage of the miraculously warm early-March Californian weather.

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Seriously Great Greek near Stanford at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto
Seriously Great Greek near Stanford at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto

Seriously Great Greek near Stanford at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto

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OK, I’ll admit it, I’ve been having a tough time finding great restaurants over these weeks I’ve been spending in Silicon Valley. I’ve found a few gems that I’ll be sharing with you all soon, but it ain’t easy. However, there are a couple densely populated ‘downtowns’ that help when hunting and downtown Palo Alto is one such example.

Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, so there’s an actual restaurant row like you often find in college towns. After asking a local Palo Alto-based friend for dinner advise and receiving a glowing recommendation, we ended up at an upscale Greek restaurant called Evvia Estiatorio. It’s hard to pass on a claim that Evvia is the best restaurant in Palo Alto so our group of six headed there on a Monday evening to check it out for ourselves.

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Serious Beer and Excellent Gastropub Fare at Liquid Bread in Campbell
Serious Beer and Excellent Gastropub Fare at Liquid Bread in Campbell, CA

Serious Beer and Excellent Gastropub Fare at Liquid Bread in Campbell

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In northern California, neighboring Cupertino is a small town called Campbell. It seems like kind of a nothing town with chain restaurants and not much else. But, there’s actually a cool little strip of town called Historic Campbell with a number of fun, upscale restaurants.

For some reason they all have the same fiery torches illuminating their front walkways. The walkway torch empresario must have had a hey day selling these tall flickering lanterns to every upscale hotel and restaurant up and down the California coastline. Nestled in amongst the high-end restaurants is a tiny gastropub called Liquid Bread serving gourmet, modern American cuisine along with a ton of quality beers rotating on tap.

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