It’s said “home is where the heart is,” but I’m not so convinced. Home is where my favorite food spots are. No run-of-the-mill dishes or mediocre plates allowed. If I’m really bringing you home, these are where I’ll take you. This is my hometown visit: Eating Berkeley Edition.
Welcome to San Jose, California. This city, located about an hour south of Berkeley, is a tech hub surrounded by smaller areas like Willow Glen, Santa Clara and Cupertino that hide the best-kept Bay Area foodie secrets.
Jang Su Jang
First up, we have Jang Su Jang. This Korean BBQ spot is famous among locals and is well loved for a reason. From high quality short ribs and rib eye to be prepared on the spot, to authentic jap chae and tofu stew, I have yet to be disappointed! It’s so good that it’s always my sister’s #1 request when she’s home too.
It’s a bold claim, but I think this may just be the best falafel I’ve ever had. It’s perfectly crispy, never oily and always packed with flavor. Whether served in a salad, or a simple pita with their traditional tahini and spicy sauce, Falafel’s Drive-In can’t be beat. Loved by Guy Fieri himself, this spot is a lunchtime favorite. While it is slightly off the beaten path, it’s definitely worth the trip.
Willow Glen Creamery
When I lived in Pennsylvania, there was a famous custard shop I inhabited every summer. Nearly once a week, without fail, my sisters and I convinced our parents to drive over to this small stand for a cone of vanilla custard. But after I left Allentown, I constantly dreamt of that very cone, so perfectly decorated with rainbow sprinkles. For years, I searched high and low, and I finally found it in Willow Glen Creamery’s homemade custard. Perfectly creamy and rich, Willow Glen truly hit the nail on the head. A part from their wide variety of ice cream, shake and dole whip options, this dessert is the one I always miss and finding myself returning to.
If you can get a table here with less an hour wait, thank the gods because you’re a lucky one, my friend. Probably the best-known ramen in the South Bay, this small restaurant is famous for their tonkotsu ramen. Packed with the rich, salty flavor and perfectly cooked noodles, make sure to show up ready to eat because each spoonful is worth it. But show up early, because this first come, first served spot will close once they run out!
Go Fish Poke Bar
You never realize how good something is till it’s gone. And boy, does that resonate with Go Fish. It wasn’t until I attempted to recreate the same experience in Berkeley that I realized not only the quality and freshness of Go Fish’s poke, but also of their topping and sauce options as well. Similar to Chipotle, in a create-your-own-adventure style, this spot caters to different palettes (even has vegetarian options!) and allows for a lot of experimentation, which means I can constantly switch it up and never be bored.
While it’s not exactly a perfect fit for the “food” category, Chromatic Coffee had to go on this list since I’m an avid coffee drinker. Not only does Chromatic have high quality beans and skilled baristas, but it also has a lively yet perfectly traditional vibe to it. I can sit and work for hours, but can also meet with friends and family over its famous Crème Brûlée Lattes and cold brew. With lines often out the door (rare for a coffee shop) and tables filled to the brim, Chromatic has come to be a community hub were artists and coders alike can find solace.
If you’re even the slightest food-lover, come down and visit San Jose to experience these delectable food options!