Monday, July 22, 2024

Angkor Chef has official ribbon cutting

Angkor Chef started their soft opening in November, but the restaurant and bar are now formally complete. I love this restaurant for a many reasons. It's the first dedicated Cambodian restaurant in Downtown San Jose, the food is delicious, it has clean modern decor, service is friendly, and everything is reasonably priced. It also has quite the story.

Chef Channy Laux is a survivor of the Cambodian genocide. At 13, she dealt with starvation, sickness, and repeated separation rom her family. In 1979 she made it to Lincoln Nebraska as a refugee and ended up earning a Bachelors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln followed by a Masters in Applied Math from SCU. She then worked as a Silicon Valley engineer for 30 years and now this is her passion project.

Angkor Chef features iconic Cambodian dishes with a focus on noodles, stir-fries, and umami-rich Prahok dishes. All the sauces are made from scratch using produce and herbs sourced from local refugee farmers and imported spices from Cambodia. Some of the sauces are also bottled and sold, one has even won awards (Lemongrass Paste). You don't have to take my word for it, Angkor has a rare 4.5 star rating on Yelp.

Angkor Chef is open Tues-Thur from 11:30am-9pm, Friday from 11:30am-10pm, and Saturday from 12pm to 10pm. It's closed on Sunday and Monday. You can also order pickup or delivery over here.



Sunday, July 21, 2024

San Jose becomes the first city in California to allow homeowners to sell ADUs

In order to solve for housing shortages, skyrocketing rents, and dizzying mortgages we have to think outside the box. San Jose just took a significant step to increase the housing supply and provide more low cost options.

San Jose already is one of the most accommodating cities when it comes to building an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) on your property. On a typical single-family lot, a homeowner can build a detached ADU up to 1,000 SQFT or an attached ADU up to 800 SQFT. Now, instead of just renting out the ADU, you can actually sell it as a condominium.

This will encourage more people to built them in their backyards and open up low-cost homeownership for more people, especially those early on in their careers. Some ADUs are quite nice, like the 500 SQFT one mentioned in the source link below.

San Jose is already receiving four times as many requests to build ADUs as San Francisco. In fact, even homebuilders like Robson Homes are including them as options for new housing projects in San Jose. 

Source: ABC7 News



Saturday, July 20, 2024

Frozen sing-along today at The Tech Interactive

The Tech Interactive is collaborating with Broadway San Jose for a sing-along event featuring what is still one of the most popular children's movies. Kids can belt out their favorite tunes and dance with Elsa, Anna, and Olaf during this one-day event. It runs from 10:30am-12:30pm at The Tech.


Friday, July 19, 2024

Sazon Latin Food Festival in San Jose

The Sazon Latin Food Festival is coming to the Japantown area next month. This free, family-friendly event celebrates the rich diversity of Latin American cuisine and culture, featuring food from the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, along with live Latin music. 


Event Details:


Date: Saturday, August 31st and Sunday, September 1st, 2024
Time: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Location: Gordon Biersch Brewing Company at 357 E Taylor St, San Jose, CA 95112


Event Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sazon-latin-food-festival-in-san-jose-two-days-family-friendly-tickets-889886543607


Highlights:

  • A dozen food vendors offering authentic Latin American dishes

  • Merchandise vendors with unique items reflecting Latin American culture

  • Family-friendly activities such as face painting and henna

  • Live salsa music band performing


Thursday, July 18, 2024

LOOPKICKS 20th Anniversary

I have to come clean and say I've never heard of LOOPKICKS or Tricking before this week. However, all you need to do is watch the 36 second video below to see exactly how crazy this new sport is. Tricking is a mix of combining kicks, flips, and twists. It was created in San Jose by 12-year-old Isiah Flores in 1999.

LOOPKICKS is the longest running tricking team, camp, and gathering. This year is their 20th anniversary and tomorrow, July 19, is their coveted Nightshow where they feature the best domestic and international trickers with battles, exhibitions and performances. 

The LOOPKICKS Nightshow starts at 7:30pm at 2790 El Camino Real in Santa Clara. Tickets are $10 at the door. There is also a whole weekend of classes and workshops over here.


Wednesday, July 17, 2024

100+ affordable homes proposed for 1207 North Capital Avenue

A new project between Alum Rock and Berryessa would add 129 affordable homes in a five-story building right across the street from VTA Light Rail. The proposal has 13,000 SQFT of communal spaces including lounges, fitness facilities, and outdoor spaces.

The location is an easy walk to three different retail centers that have multiple restaurants, a clothing store, and a Safeway. BART is also just three Light Rail stops away.

Today this site is just an empty lot at 1207 North Capital Avenue so very little demolition and prep work would be necessary. Unfortunately, there is no timeline for groundbreaking and construction.

Source: The Mercury News



Tuesday, July 16, 2024

San Pedro Square Block Party on Thursday, July 18th

Over 60 businesses around San Pedro Square will be participating in the latest Downtown San Jose block party. The even will feature live music, tons of food, local makers & artists, and activities for the whole family. Ground zero will be along North San Pedro Street (you can't miss it now with the new mural). 

The event runs from 5pm to 9pm and there is free parking for 90min in the Market & San Pedro Square Parking Garage or free all night on metered spaces after 6pm.You can also easily take Light Rail to Saint James Park and walk two blocks.

Monday, July 15, 2024

1,472 new homes headed to Seely Avenue in North San Jose

There are only a few empty lots left for development in North San Jose, one one of those is at Montague Expressway and Seely Avenue right along the Coyote Creek. The land currently has farmland and orchards, which somehow have survived over the decades right in the middle of Silicon Valley.

The proposal on the table today would add 1,472 residential units and retail between three developers: Hanover Company, Pacific Companies, and SummerHill Homes. The total project would be a whopping 2.3 million SQFT, with 1.7 million SQFT for housing, half a million SQFT for parking, and 16,120 SQFT for retail. 

Most of the housing would be 1,140 market-rate apartments which would wrap around a new public park. 178 units would be affordable housing and 154 units would be townhomes. Of the apartments, 159 would be studios, 737 are one-bedrooms, 368 are two-bedrooms, and 54 are three-bedrooms. Parking would support 1,967 cars and 944 bicycles.

Construction would last about four years from the initial groundbreaking, for which there is no ETA yet.

Source: SF YIMBY







Sunday, July 14, 2024

San Jose's Archer Aviation is partnering with Southwest Airlines to build air taxi network

Archer Aviation is making a number of headlines lately. They just announced plans to build a network of five different air taxi locations across the Bay Area. Now they are announcing a partnership with Southwest Airlines to collaborate on integrating air taxis into California airports.

Southwest is California's largest airline and has operations at 14 different airports across the state. They are the largest operator at San Jose International Airport, which appears to be one of the five air taxi locations that Archer is planning.

The vision is that Southwest customers could do door-to-door trips between places like Napa or Santa Monica that do not have commercial airports within a few hours. You'd go from your Southwest flight to an air taxi that would take you to your destination in 10-15min.

Archer Aviation is headquartered at 190 W. Tasman Drive in North San Jose.

Source: Silicon Valley Business Journal



Saturday, July 13, 2024

Yelp ranks a San Jose Indian restaurant as #2 in the United States

Yelp has put out it's very first ranking of the best Indian restaurants in the US, and the second one on the list is none other than Kadhai Kitchen in North San Jose. It actually started out as a food truck and is a small hole in the wall shop that serves a short menu of vegetarian options. 

I ordered almost the entire menu today on Doordash and was really impressed. In fact, I forgot it was vegetarian. Their specialties are pavs, kind of like Indian sliders using homemade buns stuffed with a potato fritter and a variety of sauces. Many people say it's as good as what you can get in Mumbai.

I ordered Pav Bhaji and Ragda Pattice along with Thums Up (an Indian soda similar to Coke that is now ironically owned by Coke). They also had a corn cutlet which is a corn and potato croquette that my wife and I loved. Their eggless date & walnut cake and a mango lassie were a great way to finish the meal. It wasn't expensive or overly spicy, and the flavors were outstanding. I think it's a perfect option for a quick meal or snack and you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. I'm already looking forward to ordering again--or better yet going in person.

Only two Indian restaurants in California made the list, which is surprising to me. Kadhai Kitchen did San Jose proud!

Kadhai Kitchen is located at 2678 Cropley Avenue and is open from 4:30pm to 9pm Tues-Fri and 4pm to 8:30pm on Sat-Sun.

Source: The Mercury News


Friday, July 12, 2024

San Jose's fanciest movie theater shuts down

The ShowPlace Icon movie theater at Westfield Valley Fair has suddenly shut its doors. The theater was one of the many entertainment draws at Valley Fair and featured premium seating, food, and cocktails. The ShowPlace Icon in Mountain View's San Antonio Center has also shut down.

COVID and the writer's strike was not kind to the movie theater business. Even though Icon offered a more unique upscale spin on going to the movies, sadly it wasn't enough.

There is good news though. The space will remain a movie theater and the general manager of Westfield Valley Fair has indicated that there will be a new theater operator soon.

Source: Silicon Valley Business Journal



Thursday, July 11, 2024

Prime corner spot in Downtown San Jose to become a new restaurant and office space

A new corner restaurant is destined for 189 West Santa Clara Street at the intersection of Almaden Avenue. The space is part of the thriving San Pedro Square area and the owner already operates multiple restaurants around this block.

The space is also known as the Lyndon Building and was constructed in 1884. In 1902 it housed the Times-Mercury which was a precursor to the San Jose Mercury News.

The new restaurant will span 5,500 SQFT and feature both a bar and outdoor seating. It will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the menu will be California-style farm-to-table. It still doesn't have a name, but will be something related to the newspaper printing heritage of the building.

There is also an 8,000 SQFT upper floor that will be leased as office space. This part of the building was a venue for big bands and country music in the 1940s and '50s, and then rock in the '60s. I believe it also hosted the Irish Innovation Center at one point. The building owner envisions a tenant such as a creative firm or AI startup for this space.

A restaurant and high-tech tenant would further activate this space and help connect it to the next block, which has an Opa! Greek restaurant and an office tower.

Source: The Mercury News






Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Downtown West Creekside Socials - Upcoming free classes

Downtown West's Creekside Socials programming is continuing into July. To me this gives hope that Google still has a foot in the door with San Jose. Their multi-million SQFT, mixed-use campus next to Diridon Station might be on hold, but the promised cultural activities and activation of the new neighborhood are still pushing forward.

The latest event is a series of West African dance classes on July 12, July 29, August 16th, and August 30th. This is hosted by Kuumba and is a energetic dance workout featuring live drummers and highlighting the dance and spirit of West Africa. All classes go from 6-7pm at 56 Barack Obama Blvd. in Downtown San Jose. 

There is also a sewing and upcycling event hosted by Chopsticks Alley Art from 5-7pm on Thursday, July 11th. This event will also feature live music by San Jose musician, Lucas Tecson.

Both events are free and you can RSVP to either over here.


Tuesday, July 9, 2024

San Jose to be part of five Bay Area air-taxi locations

How would you like to quickly hop between San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Livermore in just 10-15 minutes? How about Napa for an additional 15-30 minutes? That is exactly what Archer Aviation is planning in the Bay Area.

Archer is planning to build air mobility hubs, with the main one being at Kilroy's Oyster Point in South San Francisco. The San Jose location appears to be the private aviation facility at San Jose International Airport.

Archer is building electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) that seat the pilot and up to four passengers and their carry-on luggage. The aircraft go up to 150 mph and skip all ground traffic. A 90 minute drive can become a 10 minute flight.

Timing is not available nor is pricing, but this will be a hot industry to watch as several companies are entering this space. I'm all for any alternatives that will help people bypass highway traffic.

Source: Businesswire




Monday, July 8, 2024

Dine Downtown San Jose Restaurant Week is July 11-21

Later this week, one of the largest restaurant weeks in Downtown San Jose history will kick off with 40 participating restaurants. This is a great opportunity to try out fixed price multi-course menus and other specials at discount prices.  

There are many classic and new restaurants on the list. I'm going to highlight a few that I've personally been to:
  • AJI - great Japanese Peruvian fusain restaurant in the lobby of the Signa Hotel (former Fairmont). Have been here several times and it has never disappointed, great for groups.
  • Angkor Chef - Downtown San Jose's first Cambodian restaurant. Affordable and delicious.
  • Club on Post - Great brunch, best Espresso Martini in San Jose. 
  • Cobre & Clay (NEW) - Mexican cuisine at the corner of the San Jose Marriott.
  • Dr. Funk - Tiki bar with outstanding ambiance, great way to surprise guests and friends.
  • EggHead (NEW) - Very popular local chain featuring egg sandwiches.
  • Elyse (NEW) - French Vietnamese fine dining in beautiful expanded space. Perfect date-night. restaurant.
  • Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ (NEW) - the only Japanese BBQ Downtown.
  • ISO Beers (NEW) - They're back and newly remolded! Previously they did not serve food, but I see they have will have dinner specials.
  • Orchestria Palm Court - One of the most unique restaurants I have ever been to. Part museum, part 40's restaurant experience.
  • Petiscos - Downtown San Jose's only Michelin-rated restaurant. Excellent introduction to Portuguese cuisine.
  • Pastelaria by Adega - Petisco's sister restaurant with a focus on Portuguese desserts (amazing egg tarts) and snacks.
  • Rollati (NEW) - Hot addition to the San Jose dining scene and the flagship restaurant around City Hall.
  • Silicon Valley Capital Club (LIMITED ACCESS) - This is Downtown San Jose's only place to dine in the sky. It takes up the penthouse floor at 50 West San Fernando and is actually a private club. It's only open for everyone during Restaurant Week. I'd recommend taking advantage of it and soaking up amazing views of San Jose and Silicon Valley from their giant outdoor balcony.
  • Urban Putt (NEW) - The best minigolf course I have ever done, a true love letter to San Jose. Their food and drinks are surprisingly great and unique as well (Pad thai pizza?). If you haven't been here yet, this is a great reason to go.
Check out all 45+ restaurants over here and support your unique, local San Jose Restaurants!


Sunday, July 7, 2024

New renders for impressive Willow Glen apartment midrise

A midrise proposal at 940 Willow Street has a new look. The 86-foot-tall project will be just a couple blocks away from San Jose's ritzy Downtown Willow Glen neighborhood. Excellent restaurants like The Table, Copia, and Bill's are a five minute walk away.

The building will total 183,750 SQFT, half of which is for housing, 15,600 SQFT is amenity space, a whopping 56,200 SQFT will be for parking, and 1,800 SQFT is allocated for retail. There will be a total of 126 apartment units (26 designated as affordable) and 135 parking spaces. The product mix will be: 52 studios, 50 one-bedrooms, 20 two-bedrooms, and four townhome-style units with three bedrooms at street level.

The design is beautiful, especially for a midrise building. I like the pool area and podium cutouts. I've included a few bonus renders on other projects this design studio is working on at the bottom which are also in San Jose.

A single-story commercial building will need to be torn down (image below) and I think you'll agree the tradeoff is worth it. There is no current ETA, but the sooner the better.

Source: SF YIMBY, siliconvalleyjoe from Skyscraper City




What this area looks like now in Willow Glen:


Bonus render for another proposal at 4th & Julian in Downtown San Jose:


Bonus render for another proposal at Alvin Ave. in East San Jose:

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Taste of India Festival this weekend

As I was walking through Downtown San Jose today, I saw that a major event was being setup in Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Now I know what that event is, the Taste of India Festival! It will feature over 150 varieties of Indian Food, nonstop entertainment, an open air Bollywood Glow Party, and a celebrity appearance.

The event goes from noon to 10pm both today and tomorrow is is completely free. All of the details are below.


Event Description: Experience the vibrant flavors and rich cultural heritage of India right here in the Bay Area at the Taste of India Festival! For the first time ever, this grand celebration of Indian cuisine and entertainment is coming to Plaza de Cesar Chavez on July 6th and 7th.

Join us for two unforgettable days filled with:

  • Culinary Delights: Savor over 150+ varieties of delicious Indian food, from street food favorites to gourmet delicacies.
  • Live Performances: Enjoy non-stop entertainment with over 300+ artists showcasing diversified range of Indian music, dance, and performances.
  • Bollywood Glow Party: Dance the night away at the first-ever Open Air Bollywood Glow Party, an electrifying experience you won't want to miss!
  • Celebrity Appearance: Meet and greet one of Bollywood's biggest stars, Preity Zinta, and capture memorable moments with her.

Event Details:

  • Dates: July 6th & 7th
  • Time: 12:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • Location: Plaza de Cesar Chavez, 1 Paseo De San Antonio, San Jose, CA 95113, USA,
  • Entry: Absolutely FREE

Gather your friends and family for a weekend of food, fun, and festivity. Don't miss out on the largest food festival of North America right here in your city. Mark your calendars and get ready for a spectacular Taste of India!

Friday, July 5, 2024

Starlight Cinema - free outdoor screening of Barbie tomorrow

Starlight Cinema is a beloved Downtown San Jose tradition featuring popular movies along with accompanying activities in Saint James Park. Tomorrow the movie is Barbie, starting at dusk (8:50pm). 

The pre-movie activities this time around include craft activities for kids, Barbie-themed face painting, a DJ, local drag queens, lawn games, a rock wall, and a selfie area with props. Dressing up as your favorite Barbie or Ken is also encouraged. The festivities start at 7:30pm.

If you are looking to have a picnic, some local restaurants are offering discounts if you mention "Starlight Cinema." That includes 10% off Serious Dumpling and Angelou's Mexican Grill (newly expanded with a bar) and 15% off at The City Fish. After the movie, Splash will have a Pink Drink special until 1:45am.

Upcoming movies are Kicking & Screaming on July 20th, The Goonies on August 3rd, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar on August 17th.



Thursday, July 4, 2024

Happy 4th of July! 🎆

This year, the big news is a new fireworks show in East San Jose centered around Lake Cunningham. This will be the first official fireworks show on the East Side.

There are already even more ambitious plans for next year to include carnival rides. This could be a great new tradition for an area that has been underserved when it comes to cultural events.

Stay safe and have a great 4th!

Source: NBC Bay Area




Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Rose, White & Blue Parade and Festival

San Jose's 4th of July "Rose, White & Blue" Parade and Festival is a beloved tradition along the Rose Garden neighborhood and The Alameda. The parade itself starts at 9:45am on Dana Avenue and then goes down Naglee and turns onto The Alameda. After the parade is a huge party near the end of the route.

The festival is wrapped around the Westminster Presbyterian Church and goes from 11am-3pm. The event includes dancing, pro wrestling, skateboarding lessons, live music, and a kids play area. The entertainment is accompanied by food trucks and vendors.

In addition to being patriotic, this event represents the multicultural diversity of San Jose and the amalgamation of many different communities. It's a beautiful event and a great way to start off the 4th of July!



Tuesday, July 2, 2024

BollyBE: Uniting Communities and Overcoming Barriers through Dance

There are so many excellent resources, events, and free classes offered by San Jose libraries. I'm starting to take advantage of them myself with a toddler running around. 

Below we have a guest post from Anusha Upadhyayula. The library played a crucial role in shaping her identity as an Indian American. Inspired by all of the great multicultural events local libraries host, the author founded BollyBE, a community-driven initiative that uses Bollywood dance to promote cultural understanding and inclusivity. BollyBE workshops at the Morgan Hill Library have been well-received, with attendees praising the multicultural environment and the fun, easy-to-follow dance routines. Anusha's goal is to spread the joy of Bollywood dance and create a welcoming space for all to learn and celebrate South Asian culture, aiming to break down cultural barriers and promote inclusivity.

You can sign up your kids for free classes hosted by BollyBE over here. Even if you are not interested in dance, it's a great story that showcases one of the many benefits of living in a diverse city.


BollyBE: Uniting Communities and Overcoming Barriers through Dance

The cozy book-lined walls of the library and the memories of the time I spent there attending “Family Time” story sessions and “Mommy & Me” dances are forever etched in my mind. The library helped expand my boundaries as I participated in Lunar New Year and other cultural events and learnt about cultures of the world. Slowly, as I grew older, my sense of identity became increasingly complex. As an Indian American, I struggled with which part of that word I resonated with more closely. Should I embrace my Indian heritage? Or should I be just American? The lack of representation of my South Asian heritage in my community made me feel that it was an insignificant part of who I was. That’s when I fell in love with Bollywood music and dance.

When we listen to a song, regardless of the language, the human body naturally responds, whether it’s tapping feet or swaying to the rhythm. Rhythm, music, and dance transcend language barriers and cultural divides. They possess a unique power to convey entire stories without the need to understand the words themselves. Through Bollywood dance and music, with its soulful melodies and energetic beats, I discovered a way to connect with my heritage. Bollywood movies played a significant role in this discovery, as they seamlessly intertwined dance and music with cultural storytelling. Attending Indian weddings and community events further deepened my love for Bollywood dance, as I witnessed how dance and music were not only integral to the culture of South Asia but also to the community. 

Inspired by the key role dance and music play within a culture and a community and eager to share my own South Asian culture with the rest of the world, I founded BollyBE. From there, it only felt fitting to give back to the library community and share a piece of my own identity in the place that played such a key role in developing it throughout the years. BollyBE is not just about teaching dance steps; it’s about creating a welcoming space where people of all backgrounds can come together, learn, and celebrate South Asian culture.

When I first taught a beginners’ garba routine (a dance style from the state of Gujarat in India), many attendees were eager to delve into the complexities and historical roots of the dance, highlighting the appreciation people have for South Asian art forms and cultural representation. The overwhelming love and enthusiasm for our workshops, especially at the Morgan Hill Library, is a testament to the inclusive and welcoming atmosphere we strive to create at BollyBE. Durdana, who attended one of our Bollywood dance classes, shared her experience, highlighting the unique and multicultural nature of our events: “I attended Anusha’s Bollywood dance class in Morgan Hill, CA. My friends and I had decided to go because we thought it might be fun. We are Pakistani, so we are very familiar with Bollywood music and dance. It was very interesting to see a very diverse group of people turn up for the dance class - not just Indian/Pakistanis. Everyone had a lot of fun, and I think it was great as a multicultural immersion event.”

BollyBE not only provides a platform for cultural immersion but also offers a free and enjoyable way to incorporate physical exercise into people’s routines. Dance experience doesn’t matter at BollyBE; it’s easy for beginners, and participants are encouraged to have fun while dancing. This inclusive approach was highlighted by Kiran R., who attended a BollyBE workshop at the Morgan Hill library with three friends. Kiran shared, “We had a blast. It was fun, great music, easy steps (for women with not so great hearing and body coordination). Anusha broke down the steps and made them easy to follow and didn’t mind the giggles we dissolved into while laughing at ourselves. She is a fantastic teacher, can’t wait to take another class with her.”

As I continue teaching in different library branches across Santa Clara County, my goal is to spread the joy of Bollywood dance and create a welcoming space for all to learn and celebrate South Asian culture together. Through BollyBE, I aim to break down cultural barriers and promote inclusivity. I believe that by sharing the beauty of Bollywood dance, we can inspire people to embrace and celebrate their own cultural identities while appreciating the richness of other cultures. In this way, BollyBE is not just a dance initiative; it’s a cultural movement, bringing people together through the universal language of dance.

-Anusha Upadhyayula

Monday, July 1, 2024

New renders of a slightly downsized Gateway Tower in SoFA

A tower proposed for the edge of Downtown San Jose in the artsy SoFA District has new renders. It's appropriately called the Gateway Tower as it will welcome visitors and residents to the Downtown area. The latest render has been reduced from 20 floors to 15. It still looks fantastic with different facades on each side and even incorporates some of the the historic buildings on the ground floor into the project.

The tower will have a total of 220 units, which now appear to have been allocated to affordable housing. Originally the Gateway Tower was supposed to contain luxury apartments, but they have likely been converted to make approvals and financing easier. If you want luxury, The Fay is just down the street. There will also be 3,800 SQFT of retail along the ground floor.

One exciting aspect of the project is that there will be a small plaza and area for live performances, which jives really well with the character of the SoFA District. The area is known for art festivals and live music.

Another interesting twist is that it will include a historical exhibit to commemorate the career of "Doc" Herrold, who was the first entertainment radio broadcaster (yes, from San Jose). This will pass on some of the legacy of the Herrold College that used to sit on this site.

There is still no ETA for construction, but hopefully they will be able to break ground as soon as possible.

Source: SiliconValley.com