Metro's Best of Silicon Valley 2002

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[whitespace] Editors Picks: Stick a Fork in the Road

Best Kool-Aid

A Taste of New Orleans
665 N. Sixth St., San Jose 408.275.8877

Right smack in Japantown, where Bini's used to be, sits a sleepy restaurant that serves Louisiana favorites. Look for fried chicken, shrimp and catfish po' boys, jambalaya, red beans and rice, gumbo, hot links and corn bread warm from the oven. The food is great, and they serve it on nice plates with silverware, but this ain't no highfalutin place. Listed on the menu is the beverage of choice: Kool-Aid. The childhood favorite boasts just the right combination of sugar and water, kicked up a notch with "secret ingredients." The recipe is a family secret, kept between owner Colette Baloney-Choates and her sister, who came up with the concoction. Pineapple juice? Corn syrup? We might never know, but the magical elixir served in little Mason jars rolls across the tongue and makes everyone--from business suits to kids--crack that telltale Kool-Aid smile.

Best Place To Dine As If You're Salvador Dali

320 Village Lane, Los Gatos 408.354.4330

Maybe we can blame it on the mustache, but surrealist painter Salvador Dali had quite a reputation as a finicky eater. Reportedly, Dali loved soul food, snails and sea urchins, and he would go out of his way to find a good restaurant. Dali would have loved the high class hijinks at Los Gatos eatery Manresa, where chef David Kinch reinvents food to artistic effect. In Kinch's hands, a dish consisting of scallops, eggplant and radish (scallop carpaccio) is actually magnificent. So, too, is an entree of yellowtail paired with a cucumber salad. And for dessert, a decadent caramel soufflé may very well melt your wristwatch. Yes, Dali would approve.

Best Vegetarian Food at a Rock Show

Gaslighter Theater
400 E. Campbell Ave., Campbell 408.866.1408

Club-going vegetarians get pretty dang tired of cheese sandwiches and meatless pizzas. Improvising veg-head fare in carnivore territory can be tricky. Sympathetic to this plight, Tiana Noyes, Gaslighter Theater's singer/songwriter/grillmeister, recently began flipping meatless foods, such as Morning Star's mini-corn dogs and Boca's chik'n patties and burgers for her all-ages clientele. Noyes says that most people, including nonvegetarians like herself, love the food. In fact, meat substitutes have come so far that fast-food junkies might not even notice the difference. But she does keep all-beef jumbo hot dogs in stock for customers who think soy is spelled "y-u-k."

Best Fire-Breathing Dinner

House of Siam
151 S. Second St., San Jose 408.295.3397

Spicy-food masochists looking for the true higher experience--those who savor the blood, sweat and tears that come along with a ridiculously spicy Thai dinner--will be glad to find that House of Siam is happy to oblige. What's the appeal of taste-bud-searing amounts of chiles, you may ask? It's the rush. It's the impulse. It's the havoc wreaked on your intestines the next morning. Hah! No other Thai restaurant in San Jose welcomes the spicy-food masochist the way House of Siam does. Sure, it may take four or five visits for them to get it as hot as you actually want it, since they're used to turning down the heat for the mostly uninitiated customers, but once this culinary dominatrix flogs your taste buds, you'll always come back for more.

Tireless contributors to this year's editor's picks included Corinne Asturias, Michael Gant, Allie Gottlieb, Todd Inoue, Gary Singh, Sarah Quelland, Loren Stein and Gordon Young

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From the October 10-16, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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