Tofu House in Santa Clara
My mother is IN LOVE with this place. So much so that she has asked, every day since, when we can go back. It's charming and quirky. For starters, all of the chairs have split-open tennis balls on the bottom of their legs so that they 1) don't scratch the floor and 2) don't make noise. I know you have all seen this done with Senior-citizen walkers, and it's quite a sight when all the chairs are wearing tennis ball shoes.
Tofu House offers a variety of hot stone bowl tofu soup, plus Korean bbq and bibimbop. All can be made in a variety of spice levels (from no-spice, which Mom likes, all the way to holy stinkin' hot) and come with an assortment of kim chee, vegetables and a dish of purple rice.
It's just good homey food, served by people who are happy to be there. The manager is an infectiously happy Korean gent who hands you a stick of melon gum and thanks you personally as you leave. Since it was close to Mothers Day, he "secretly" gave my mom and her friend a whole pack of gum each, and told them how happy he was that they tried the restaurant. Is it any wonder my mother is in love?
Lunch with Rodin--Cool Cafe @ Stanford Museum
A small cafe tucked into the rarefied air of the Stanford Museum. The menu is primarily salads and sandwiches with mostly organic ingredients from local farms and dairies. A mushroom burger with Point Reyes bleu cheese was tasty and just the right size, but really, it's the ambiance of eating next to the Gates of Hell, with nary a tennis ball-clad chair in sight.
Kitsho Japanese Restaurant
The dingy exterior, plus the crinkly hand-printed sign that reads "Do not put important items in your car, such as wallets computers...windows have been broken" does not instill confidence.
But my in-laws and my mom swear by Kitsho. For more traditional Japanese fare, this is the place. Miso eggplant, fish and sushi are all excellent. My mom declared the miso soup and "shiru" (broth) for udon to be top-notch.
Last, but definitely not least. Mom and I just had lunch at Oryza in Valley Fair. It's called "Bistro Asiana" and for our lunch it was good, mostly Thai Food. At about $8-10 each, the lunch specials are a great alternative to the Cheesecake Factory or CPK if you need to fuel up when shopping.
However, the service here is AWESOME. They gave us a wheelchair-friendly table. They were attentive and just plain kind. Mom wanted to try a curry with kabocha but wasn't sure she could tolerate a spicy curry. Without being asked, the server brought out a small sample of the pumpkin curry to her to try. It's delicious. However, she decided the pumpkin curry was too spicy, and settled on a mild yellow curry. When the chef heard this, he added kabocha to the yellow curry. Mom was thrilled and thoroughly enjoyed the entire lunch. Yellow curry (plus pumpkin) and a shared green papaya salad. I would happily go there again, simply because they were so kind.
And what do Ladies who Lunch have for dinner? Leftovers, so look for a delayed weekly menu.
Eat Well. Be Well.