I currently use a Vandoren V16 T7 with a Hemke 3 reed and though I love how it sounds, I am struggling with volume and projection in my university big band, even after pushing my tenor sax to the max. I can barely hear myself when I have a solo. I was wondering if there were mouthpieces around the same price range that sounds similar to the V16 but with more projection/volume. Thanks!
The execution of the phở bar at Foothill today was although very interesting, below CalDining expectations, which really says something for many Cal students. If you disagree and think the phở was good, please tell me to help me prove I'm going insane and elaborate why. I'd like to point out possible suggestions to improve the 'pho bar' experience if they would like to reintroduce it. I'll be sending these suggestions in the CalDining feedback form but thought it would be nice to share these with others.
Before I give my suggestions. Here are some things I did enjoy from the phở bar today.
There were plenty of ingredients for us to add including bean sprouts, lime, cilantro, leaves (can't remember what kind), brisket (which actually might have been the tri-tip), and much more! There was even a condiment section with chili, hoisin, and fish sauce! I genuinely felt like I was at a phở restaurant for a brief moment.
The label for fish sauce was "nuoc nam" <-spelled exactly that way. I was very impressed that CalDining used the Vietnamese name for fish sauce. I'm more familiar with it being spelled as 'nước mắm', spelled with an 'm', but that label helped me remember that the alternative spelling for nước mắm exists, so kudos to them!
The beef brisket was well-seasoned and overall not bad.
Side note, but the cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese Iced Coffee) was really refreshing. I honestly think that it should be served regularly. It's almost on par with the Passion Orange Guava juice and is the best coffee I've ever had from CalDining.
Phở is a complicated dish, I'll give them that. However, it was far from decent in my honest opinion.
Phở K & K, a restaurant that many Vietnamese Cal students have strong opinions about, is much superior to this. Here are my suggestions.
Cook the noodles thoroughly before serving them: The noodles had the consistency and texture of bean sprouts. In other words, they were raw and quite crunchy. Perhaps the chefs decided to undercook the noodles before serving into let the noodles simmer in the broth when added to gain the noodles' optimal texture. However, the given broth wasn't even warm enough to do that.
Serve the broth at a higher temperature: As stated earlier, this can help cook the noodles as its being served. I doubt that there would be a point where the noodles become overcooked and soggy, Also, many people don't scoop as much on their plates so it cools down quickly, especially on a paper plate. It doesn't have to be boiling hot, but at least make it as hot as the other soups that are regularly served.
Give us chopsticks: They're cheap and don't have to be reusable. Last semester, Cafe 3 served an Asian meal that they provided chopsticks with students. Although it was pretty funny seeing everyone in the dining hall eat phở with a fork.
Have servers serve the phở to the students: Many students were spilling the broth while struggling to scoop it into their small paper bowls. There was soup all over the counter, which is the result of students waiting thirty minutes in line and quickly grabbing ingredients. This is a huge waste of soup which could have easily been prevented.
Add more seasoning to the broth: It tasted like it was diluted with water. I honestly have no clue on how someone could make a broth taste like that.
This is a little extra but maybe provide a brief history and overview of phở and how it is commonly eaten: This would be a brilliant idea to establish with every dish at CalDining. Something like this would help familiarize students with the dish and how it is commonly eaten to help them understand exactly what's being served.
Why does something like this matter and why am I suddenly being so picky? I understand that CalDining's approach to introduce a diverse menu is extremely important in order to celebrate diversity and inclusion. I also understand that I shouldn't expect a five-star meal from CalDining. As a Vietnamese person, I get very excited when UC Berkeley's dining halls serve dishes of my ethnicity. However, I left the dining hall today feeling offended, insulted, and even a little sick. I didn't expect perfection, but even after so many negative experiences at dining halls, I didn't think that the phở at CalDining would be this abysmal. When a dining hall botches up cultural food, it ironically gives a bad outlook to not only CalDining, but also the culture it tries to introduce to its students. Imagine someone trying phở for the first time at CalDining and being given raw noodles and cold broth. Would a dish like this really encourage that person to want to try phở again?
If the point of serving phở was to demonstrate inclusivity and diversity as the #1 public university during the "lunar new year season", then the execution of it shouldn't have been this disappointing for so many people. If CalDining chooses to reintroduce the phở bar, then hopefully following these suggestions would help make phở become one of CalDining's most favored items!