Who: A Father and Son that like to eat.

Where: The Bay Area, California.

The Goal: To find the best hidden lunch spots based on your suggestions. We're looking for secret gems, not your neighborhood Chili's. We'll try anything - no distance in the Bay Area too far, no ethnicity of food too scary. We love a good challenge.

The Result: Based on our rating system, we will determine the best spot for lunch by the end of summer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lunch #2: International Gourmet Buffet (San Jose, CA)

My dad made the call this week and we headed out to the International Gourmet Buffet on Curtner by the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. This restaurant can be hard to find, buried in the middle of a giant shopping center with rows and rows of new eateries and stores. It is nicely decorated and was busy at around 1pm with business professionals having lunch and taking in the World Cup on the several televisions around the dining area. There is a large seating area and the decor was upscale - this should not be confused for a Hometown Buffet by any stretch. There are three rows of buffet stations featuring international cuisine with everything from Mexican, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, American Southern and much more. Let's get to the food.

We did a pretty good job of getting a sample of most of the buffet items that were being served. My dads favorite by far were the Lemon Grass Pork Ribs, which he thought were tender and moist with great flavor. He also liked the Portuguese Beef Stew and the Blackened Fish. My dad commented during lunch that most of the dishes had flavor and nothing was bland, compared to other buffets we've been to - and I would have to agree with that, although I didn't find anything that was a stand out.

Probably the three best things I had were the Chicken Curry and Lemon Chicken Kabob and if I had ordered them individually as an entree, I would have been pleased - but the rest of the quality was only average. I would strongly advise them to stop with the Southern favorites, because the two worst things were the Herbal Corn, a horrible take on cream corn, and an incredibly dry piece of cornbread. Together, they might be able to plug the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

There were many dessert options and they were all fine, but really no standouts. My dad got a bad piece of bread pudding, but went back and found of much moister piece that was probably my favorite dessert on the 2nd try.

When the crumbs have settled and the forks have been put down, I don't think the International Gourmet Buffet will be in the running for our best lunch place in the Bay Area. I would describe it as having food ADD - they do many different types of food but none of them especially well.

101 Curtner Avenue
Hours: M-F 11-10pm, Sat 10-10pm
Our Rating: 5.5 out of 10. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Lunch #1: Freshly Baked (San Jose)

The ground rules have been established. Our rating system of 1-10 decided on. Over 40 suggestions have flooded in to my Facebook page. We are locked and loaded and ready to eat.

My dad and I headed to Downtown San Jose for the inaugural lunch of Plate Lunch With Boom Boom. We've been eating lunch on a weekly basis together for the last year, mostly at our favorite Hawaiian BBQ joint in Cupertino called J&J on Stevens Creek and Budd across from DeAnza College. My dad being from Oahu, Hawaii - he knows about these things and what a good plate lunch (meat, rice and mac salad) should be - and J&J is always a home run, so much so that they catered the rehearsal dinner for my wedding.

LUNCH #1: Freshly Baked 

Freshly Baked is hidden in an office building and isn't visible from the street, you've got to know about it to find it. Inside you'll find a simple deli counter with fresh meats on display and the smell of freshly baked sourdough bread fills the room and you can't miss the rotisserie spinning roasted chicken and turkey. They have a simple menu of about 16 different sandwiches and they all cost $7 from what we could tell. This place is very East Coast, service was friendly and super fast - we ordered and had our sandwiches in no less than three minutes - they have it down to a science. All their sandwiches come with mayo, mustard, red onion, lettuce and swiss cheese - unless you say otherwise. When we walked out to sit on their patio with lunch, we were stunned to see a line of about 15-20 people out the door. We showed up at just the right time.

Boom Boom was torn between roast beef, pastrami and turkey but went for the pastrami.

Doug went for the turkey and pastrami combo.

The pastrami was lean and delicious, but the fresh bread puts this sandwich spot over the top and separates it from just a normal deli. My dad thinks it was one of the best sandwiches he's ever had and I'd have to put it in the top as well, although I might struggle to choose between a sandwich between Freshly Baked and Zanotto's. If you're in the mood for a great sandwich and a lover of fresh warm bread, this lunch spot is a must hit. We will both be back and it was a great way to start off Plate Lunches With Boom Boom.

152 N. 3rd St.  Downtown San Jose
Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30-2:30pm
Our Rating: 8 out of 10 or "Brok da Mout" (Outstanding in Hawaiian slang)