Day 1 in the Bay Area: Mexican tortas in San Jose, Stanford University tour and new agey dosa

I spent yesterday savouring San Francisco on my own – enjoying the ocean views, taking it easy and just living in the moment. Today was different – I met a new friend (someone I came into contact with through this blog) and saw an old friend after four years. 

Pretty neat, eh?

The Mexican Torta Reunion

Tiffany and I met during our university days at Hebrew Uni some 8 years ago. I AM SO DATING MYSELF. Anyways, the last time I saw her was in LA – where we painstakingly searched for a torta – and didn’t find one. A torta is a massive Mexican sandwich with everything good in it. Meat, cheese, avocados, tomatoes, jalepenos etc etc etc. It’s so humungous and so over the top that my atheist Argentine Spanish teacher said that ‘it made her believe in God’. 

Well – there’s nothing like a born again believer. 

So I took the Caltrain to San Jose to meet Catherine (my new friend) for the first time. She had magically and serendipitously recommended Bakery Mexico: which I would have had no idea how to find on my own. It’s a no frills type place where everything is super humungous. I mean things were so big that I had to widen my eyes just to look at them. 

If you don’t believe me, just take a look at these cakes. 

I know. I feel like I’m going to get diabetes just from looking at them. They are very aesthetically pleasing, though. 

I wouldn’t mind ordering one for my wedding. Not that I want to have a wedding. 

ANYWAYS – we ended up ordering two tortas to share amongst the three of us. One pork and one beef. I had half of the pork and a quarter of the beef. It’s one of those sandwiches you can’t put down once you pick it up because everything will truly fall apart. 

For a sweet finish, we all had a chocolate cookie each. Catherine ordered a multicoloured heart shaped cookie. 

Mexican torta reunion. I highly approve. 

The Stanford University Tour

And then it was off to Stanford University for a self-guided tour. Guided tours are also available – but I couldn’t be bothered waiting around for it to start. For Christmas holidays last year, I visited Imperial Academy and Confucius Temple in Beijing: a prestigious university from back in the day. So it was only fitting that on my trip to the US – I had to visit Stanford University: a prestigious university that’s groomed and continues to groom students these days – as opposed to back in the day. 

The campus is idyllic and peaceful. Palm trees, wide open manicured lawns, students cycling everywhere. (The sound of kaching kaching kaching everywhere. Hahaha!) A nice mix of old buildings and new buildings. There’s also a church on campus with beautiful mosaics. It was nice to just walk around and take a meander. 

My friend Tiffany and I mused about our own university days – how we ended up deciding on our respective universities – and how our paths ended up crossing in Jerusalem. 

It’s a small world. 

The New Agey Dosa

When I first saw the sign for Dosa – I was elated. As a kid growing up in Singapore, I often alternated between Hainanese Chicken Rice and Dosa for Sunday brunch. They’re both inexpensive soul foods that my family would bond over during the weekend. 

So I was expecting a recreation of that childhood favourite.


I walked into the restaurant. I was a little confused by the hip and trendy decor. Err… when did dosa become so cool? Isn’t it just a typical South Indian breakfast food that kids enjoy with mum and dad?

The restaurant was fully booked – so we ended up sitting at the bar. I looked at the menu with furrowed brows. It had all kinds of combinations that I’ve never heard of before. It dawned on me that I’m really just not as cool as my fellow diners. I settled on an old classic – a paper dosa; and we ordered a plate of samosas to share.

Whilst waiting for our food, the place filled up. With each minute that passed, the restaurant began to resemble a bar more and more. The music was loud and irritating. You know – the doom dush tuk dook dak variety. Music that’s not really music. It was so loud that I had to shout to be heard.

Homesickness hit me again. I remembered the restaurant in Singapore that I used to frequent as a kid. I long for the simplicity of the uncle at the restaurant taking our order with a smile and serving us in a non-pretentious homely way. 

Ah well. And then the samosas finally arrived.

“How it it?” my friend asked me.

“Umm,” I said, looking for the right words. “It tastes new agey.”

And the same with the dosa. It was good, but it didn’t taste like home. It tasted like it was made with some new agey oil. Whatever happened to good old fashioned ghee? The dahl was delicious, but the coconut and red chutney just didn’t hit the spot. It wasn’t bad – it just wasn’t for me.

Ah well. 

During dinner I started to get sleepy. Very sleepy. My body clock is still a little off. We drove home and I passed out.

It was a fantastic day. 

Till next time :o)


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