Sunday morning I woke up feeling a little tired but more or less ok because I was smart enough to quit drinking earlier than the rest of the crew the night before. CS, superman that he is, somehow managed to get up early too and was going to go sailing with his dad that day. I said my goodbye to him and packed my suitcase as I waited for Lily to wake up and get the day started. My flight wasn’t until late at night (planned that way in case I was hungover from our Sonoma trip the day before), so this was to be a day of relaxing and hanging with family.
First up was dim sum with my grandmother, aunts, uncles and other cousins. I didn’t catch the name or location of the dim sum restaurant (if any of you cousins are reading this, maybe you can add a comment to let me know), but the food was surprisingly good. Better in fact than the dim sum places I’ve been to in NY or Boston. The pork blood (the same kind that appeared in the BÃºn bÃ² Huáº¿ from my previous post) was especially good, as was the crispy deep fried taro dumplings. But pretty much everything we had was above average to great.
After dim sum we headed back to Tony’s mom’s place to chill out. And for those of you who have had big dim sum meals before, you know that kind of chilling out amounts to dozing off on the couch. It was exactly the sort of lazy afternoon I needed after 10 fun but exhausting days. From there we popped over to uncle Simon’s place for a little while and had some some soup. Good ol’ homemade Chinese soup. Didn’t realize how much I missed it!
By then it was late afternoon and we were planning to round up the families again for dinner, Pho this time. But before we did that, Tony insisted I needed to try the taco truck before I left. I still wasn’t even remotely hungry, and we had dinner coming shortly, but what the heck, you know I can always eat. So Tony took me and cousin Merlinda deep into the ghettos of Oakland to what would otherwise have been an abandoned lot if not for the two big taco trucks stationed at either end. He explained that they own the building behind one of the trucks but they choose not to use it as a storefront and instead only sell food out of the trucks. Fascinating. This was definitely the kind of place that you would not want to come to alone at night unless you had a death wish. But fortunately it was daylight out, and all the unsavory types around us didn’t look very menacing because they were happily chowing down on tacos from the truck. I ordered one lengua (tongue) taco and one al pastor (barbecued pork). Can you believe these little beauties are only $1.25 each?
If that picture doesn’t make your mouth water, there’s something wrong with you. As CS might say, these tacos were “ridiculous”. So good. So fresh. It was like tasting a real taco for the very first time. The lengua was my favorite because it had a more substantial chew to it, but flavor-wise they were both superb. Like I said, I wasn’t even hungry, but I scarfed these two puppies down like nothing.
From there we went back to Tony’s place, rounded up the family and went to a local Pho restaurant so I could have one more Vietnamese meal before I left. Sorry, I didn’t catch the name of this place either (can you tell I had already mentally shut down by this point in my trip?), but I ordered the medium sized bowl of pho with sliced beef and tendon. I had been impressed by the quality of all the Vietnamese food I’d had during this trip and this final meal was no exception. The flavor of the soup was so comforting and the tendon had been properly cooked long and slow to the point where every piece was meltingly soft. It was a good, simple heartwarming dinner with family. I can’t think of a better way to close out a trip.
Big thanks go out to everyone who was a part of my week out there. Especially to Nancy, Charlie, Lily, CS, Tony, Mat and Beth. You guys are the best family and friends a guy can have. You gave me a place to crash and kept my plate full the entire time, both literally and figuratively! You guys rock. Thank you.