PPR dungeness island. (San Francisco, CA)

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I came here for lunch on Memorial Day after coming back to San Francisco from a long pig-out weekend in Pismo Beach and Santa Cruz.  I originally wanted to get shabu shabu at Shabu House (the best shabu I’ve had anywhere!), but came across the unfortunate sign on their window stating that they aren’t open for business during lunch on weekdays.  Bummer!  I then did what any person would naturally do in this situation….seek Yelp for suggestions nearby.  That’s when I stumbled across PPR Dungeness Island a few blocks away–4 stars and 1,379 reviews!

The restaurant only had a couple of tables occupied when I entered which didn’t seem too promising since it was peak lunch time on a holiday.  We took a leap of faith anyways putting our trust in Yelp.

First off, it was my fault for choosing another crab-specializing restaurant following the stupendous chow-down at Cracked Crab in Pismo Beach the day before (review and pictures from Cracked Crab here).  Frankly, I was already all-crabbed out from that single Alaskan king crab claw, so I was just looking for the noodle-rice-greasy fried appetizer-type of Vietnamese food.  I admit I wasn’t thinking properly for choosing PPR out of the many Vietnamese restaurants in the surrounding area if I wanted run of the mill Vietnamese food.  Long story short, we didn’t try their specialty dungeness crab dish even after realizing every other table had a huge crab in front of them.  So, this review is for the food that most people don’t bother ordering when coming here…

The Imperial Rolls were one of the worst I’ve ever eaten.  The skin, which is supposed to flaky and crispy, was tough and rubbery giving me the impression that it was probably reheated in the microwave.  Not good…. As for the nuoc mum (fish sauce-based dip), it was so extremely bland and watered down I was practically drinking the stuff just to get any flavor at all.

The boyfriend ordered his usual Charbroiled Pork Chop Rice Plate which came with a side of raw veggies.  The pork chop had good flavor and was tender, a much appreciated improvement from the appetizer we ordered but the nuoc mum was still very very watered down.

I ordered House Garlic Noodles and Peppercorn Prawns per suggestion by reading through a few Yelp reviews.  The garlic noodles have A LOT of garlic, so the dish was true to its name and I enjoyed it.  It was too oily, though.  I had to wipe my mouth after every bite to prevent oil from dripping down my lips.  The prawns were a fairly large size and also quite flavorful.  I wished there was more peppery-ness to it since there seemed to be more garlic than peppercorns in the flavor profile of the dish.

All in all, the meal was decently enjoyable.  If I were to write a review on Yelp, I would’ve given the place 2 stars due to the poor tasting imperial rolls and nuoc mum as well as very very bad service–our water was never refilled, we had to ask several times for a fork since one of the settings didn’t have one, and we had to try flagging someone down to get the check for 10 minutes before anyone noticed us.

I would probably try this restaurant again for the namesake crab just for the heck of it one day, but most likely not anytime soon.

PPQ Dungeness Island (link to Yelp since their website is currently down)

2332 Clement St., San Francisco, 94121

(415) 386-8266

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Volcano curry. (San Francisco, CA)

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I discovered Volcano Curry through Scoutmob, a mobile application that provides 50% discounts on various restaurants and retail stores.  Scoutmob is currently only offered in 10 or so of the larger cities across the United States, but if you live in or near a metropolis it’s definitely worth checking out.

Volcano Curry gives a darn good, simple, straight to the point Japanese-style curry served with rice and mixed vegetables.  Their menu isn’t very extensive, so there’s not too much thinking it’s time to order.  They offer several rice plates, sandwiches, and noodle soups to which you can add various toppings such as cheese, jalapenos, and onion croquettes.  The toppings range in price from $1.00 for a boiled egg and $1.75 for calamari.  Although some of the toppings seem interesting, I took my curry straight during my first visit to Volcano Curry.

The Fried Shrimp Curry and Chicken Katsu Curry rice plates were both really good.  You can choose your own spiciness level (mild, medium, hot, and volcano).  I got “hot” curry which wasn’t quite spicy enough for my taste, so I might try the “volcano” level next time around if I feel daring that day.  Even lacking the desired spiciness level, the curry was flavorful and smooth.

The prices are VERY reasonable.  The two curry dishes and a can of soda was only $8 or so after applying the Scoutmob discount.  That’s cheaper than my typical McDonald’s run!

It’s a quick service type of restaurant where you order at the counter and seat yourself wherever there’s an empty table.  Nothing fancy.  The location is kind of a drag because it usually takes me at least 10 minutes to find parking in the area.  There is a paid parking garage but I learned my lesson after being charged $25 for 2 hours.  There is a lot of metered and street parking, but they’re usually all taken.  Maybe I just don’t have a parking fairy on my side…

Volcano Curry

5454 Geary Blvd.

San Francisco, CA 94121

(415) 752-7671

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Plain truth. (Jodi Piccoult, 2000)

Plain truth. (Jodi Piccoult, 2000)

After enjoying a Jodi Piccoult’s novel for the first time recently (Change of Heart), I was excited to read another of her literary works.  Plain Truth, though, lacked the fluidity and can’t-wait-to-get-to-the-next-page suspense of Change of Heart.  Plain Truth is one of her earlier works so perhaps Piccoult didn’t grow into her literary skin until later.  I very very almost read the book in it’s entirety despite not being fond of it.  I finally gave up on the mundane plot and methodical dialogue 40 or so pages from the end.  The storyline and ending were predictable from the first few chapters so reading as far as I did felt like a waste of time.  Even the few “surprises” thrown in every hundred pages weren’t all too interesting.

I did learn quite a bit about the Amish lifestyle and their way of thinking.  Previously, my only conceptions of the Amish were old-fashioned clothing, the lack of electricity, and farming.  Heck, I wasn’t even aware that Amish people followed Christianity.  This novel at least allowed me to gain a sense of respect for the selflessness and incorruptible nature of the Amish.

Towards the end of the novel, I still didn’t feel an emotional connection to either of the two main characters.  Katie, a young 18-year old Amish girl, has been accused of committing neonaticide of her first-born son.  Yes, the thought of a naive conscionable person being imprisoned for something she didn’t purposefully do is sad, but I didn’t really care what happened to her because  she wasn’t all that likable and I didn’t get a chance to really “know” her.

I’ll give Piccoult another chance before turning my back possibly for good…

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Cracked crab. (Pismo Beach, CA)

Single Bucket w/ Dungeness and Alaskan King Crabs. Cracked crab (Pismo Beach, CA). Seafood.

Believe it or not, but the food pictured above cost a whopping $64.  The thought of getting ripped off made me grimace until I tasted the Alaskan King Crab Leg.  I knew the raving reviews from Yelp wouldn’t steer me wrong 😉  It was THE BEST CRAB I EVER TASTED.  Yes, I feel so strongly that I must shout.  The crab meat was soooo sweet, tender, and there was enough in that single crab leg to get me full (along with buttered bread and a few spoonfuls of clam chowder, of course).  It was so good that I’ve been searching high and low for a restaurant that serves Alaskan King Crab in San Francisco.  When I realized that the “Alaskan King Crabs” of SF were dainty and still over-priced, I looked to Costco for an answer.  I haven’t seen the crab legs at Costco in person yet, but at $200 a box I decided it was better not to torture myself with freezer window shopping.

Everything else I tried at the restaurant were also good.  Of course, the Dungeness Crab couldn’t compare with the Alaskan King but it was still cooked perfectly.  The bread rolls are soft-centered and crusty on the outside.  The New England-style clam chowder was tasteful and served with oyster crackers–only slightly inferior to Splash Cafe.

Similarly to Splash Cafe, Cracked Crab doesn’t take reservations so there’s a wait 90% of the time.  My visit was totally off-peak at 4 pm, and we still had to wait 20 minutes.  If you visit during peak times, expect an 1 to 1.5-hour wait.


Cracked Crab

751 Price St, Pismo Beach, CA  93449

(805) 773-CRAB

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The host. (Stephenie Meyer, 2008)

The host. (Stephenie Meyer, 2008)

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away.

Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy.  Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies reamin intact and continue their lives apparently unchanged.  Most of humanity has succumbed. 

When Melanie, one of the few remaining “wild” humans, is captured, she is certain it is her end.  Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, was warned about the challenges of living inside a human:  the overwhelming emotions, the glut of senses, the too-vivid memories.  But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn’t expect:  the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. 

Wanderer probes Melanie’s thoughts, hoping to discover the whereabouts of the remaining human resistance. Instead, Melanie fills Wanderer’s mind with visions of the man Melanie loves–Jared, a human who still lives in hiding.  Unable to separate herself from her body’s desires, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she has been tasked with exposing.  When outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off on a dangerous and uncertain search for the man they both love.


It’s been a few years since I’ve finished the Twilight series, and I’d forgotten how well Stephenie Meyer could appeal to the longing heart.  I was completely enamored with Edward by the time I’ve finished New Moon, the second book of the series (sorry to those on Team Jacob).  Still, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Host.  Apparently, this book is a rip-off of Animorphs by K.A. Applegate, but I’ve never read or even heard of Animorphs so I’ll just pretend Meyer’s ideas are original (for now, at least).

Like Twilight, there are two guys chasing after one girl.  Well, one girl in the physical sense.  There’s actually two personalities trapped within one body–Melanie is the original human part of the body while Wanda is the alien invader using Melanie’s body as a “host”.  Melanie, for the most part, has no control over her body’s actions since the invasion.  Jared was Melanie’s lover before Wanda took over and is still in love with Melanie.  Ian, a human, fell in love with Wanda as he became acquainted with her.  I admire Ian for his capacity to love Wanda even though she’s just a silvery worm-like alien in reality.  He loves the essence of Wanda–her mind, her soul.   It reminded me of the time I asked my boyfriend what he loved most about me, and he replied that he loved my personality the most.  I was a little offended that he didn’t find me physically attractive, but I was just being too shallow.  Hopefully, my boyfriend loving me for more than my looks means that our love can endure past the onset of wrinkles and age spots.

The Host, being the science fiction novel that it is, got me thinking about the possibility of other worlds in the universe with life.  It seems so unlikely for us to be the only life forms in the extremely vast and seemingly endless expanse of space.  How long will it be before we finally find a planet with “beings”?  How long will it be before they find us?  Or has either of these things happened already and us, the common people, are just ignorantly unaware?  There are too many unanswerable questions that exist, and that’s part of what makes life so profound and interesting.

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