This past weekend, I found that I had completed most of my "honey-do" list quite early. I decided to head down to CV for some tacos. I dropped by my favorite loncheras, but found that all of them were quite crowded. Driving on Broadway, I noticed a familiar name:
You might recall my post on the Mariscos Tijuana Jr truck last year. I wondered if this was the same folks? This is the old location of Don Rafa, which has since moved. So I parked and walked on in. I was greeted by a very cheerful young man and a young lady. I was asked if I'd be eating in or taking out....they also apologized for not having any English menus. Really nice folks.
I told them not to worry, I'd do fine with the menus. I asked them if this was the same Tijuana Jr that had the lonchera....he smiled and said "yes.......we sold the truck and opened this place because we want more families..." He pointed outside to the Bounce House with kids having a great time. "You see......we like that noise!"
In a moment some chips (routine) and salsas made its way to my table.
I placed my order and the young man asked me if I wanted some "soup". "You mean consommé?" "Yes..." "Of course!" The soup was on the mild side, but super scalding hot.
I'd ordered tres tacos. A Pescado (fish) - the version at the TJ Jr truck was good, so I wanted to see how it was in current state. A "marlin" smoked fish, and a Gobernador.
When the tacos arrived; the first thing I noticed was that the tortillas seemed different since my previous visit. These were much more fragrant and more hardy.
The fish taco was every bit as good as what I had at the truck. Shiny, crisp, lacquer batter....with even more fish than before. It was good with the lighter, almost thousand island dressing like salsa.
The tacos de marlin was interesting. I tasted the fish alone and it was really salty and fishy. Strangely, when I ate the taco, it just fit in nicely. Somehow the sodium had been balanced out and the fishiness had been over ruled by the pic de gallo, cabbage, and salsa.
The gobernador was better than what I had at the truck, though it's still not among my favorites. Though the tortilla held up nicely and the shrimp were cooked well; it just didn't have enough flavor or onions for me. Still, it's not bad at all.
As I got up to pay my check, and older woman came on over to me and asked me, "Please have some dessert....it's free......flan, cheesecake?" She was so sweet. Though I declined saying that I had more than enough to eat. This is a great indication of the folks here....really friendly and helpful. Now I have an option when all my favorite mariscos trucks are too busy.....or even when they're not.
Tijuana JR Tacos y Cockteles 631 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91910
Thanks for continuing to drop by to read mmm-yoso!!! Today, Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are taking breaks and Cathy is writing.
Over the past six months, whenever we'd stop at Carnitas Uruapan (which is far more often than I've posted), The Mister and I watched the progressing construction of this new La Mesa Gastropub, which opened about two weeks ago. The location of Craft Kitchen La Mesa used to be a 7-11. (Look into the distance of the above photo, you can see the new 7-11 location, directly on the other side of Spring Street).Stepping into the front door, the menu board and ordering area are in front of you. There are also menus on the counter and some chairs if you need to peruse. The menu is short.
Order, pay, find a seat...Perhaps decide on a beer or wine to accompany your meal... Then again, there are tasters ($2 each) when you can't decide. Julian Hard Cider and Karl Strauss Mosaic were our choices this day. Other difficult choices were deciding what we wanted to try on this visit (while planning what we want to try on future visits...did you notice there is breakfast...daily breakfast, not just a weekend Brunch...). So, the "Greens " flat bread ($10) was our mutual choice. Fresh made chewy (with a bit of bottom crunch) flatbread topped with Mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, fresh chopped garlic and basil...the flavors all melded wonderfully and went well with each beverage choice. This quite large (despite the photo) "Strawberry Fields" salad ($11) with added chicken ($2) was also a mutually decided choice, primarily because of the cheese -Burrata- and our general tendency toward trying to have a 'balanced' meal. Spring mix greens, whole almonds and a very nice strawberry vinaigrette combined with the Burrata and good portion of warm/just cooked marinated chicken (the flavors of the chicken were good enough not to need any seasoning additions) made this salad an excellent meal...well, half the salad plus half the flatbread was a great meal.
While planning our time in Malta, I thought a side trip to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. The village of 3500 is well known for their Sunday Market, so I thought instead of heading here for a day excursion, why not spend two nights in a sleepy fishing village? It seemed like a nice way to break up our stay on the island. So we took our time; had a morning espresso and spent most of the morning walking around Valletta.
At about 10 we caught our bus right outside the gates of Valletta. 40 minutes later we were getting off our bus in Marsaxlokk. It was overcast and rainy on this morning and walking along the waterfront, we had no idea where our hotel was......
So we stopped at one of the cafes and asked. As is the norm with places like this; the folks were really nice and the gentleman actually walked us to the hotel, which was tucked away on a side street near the end of the harbor close to the transition to an industrial area.
Our room was ready and waiting for us so we got an early check in, freshened up, then headed off to lunch. It was drizzling off and on, so I decided on just going to one of the most well known seafood restaurants in the village; Ir Rizzu.
As it was noon, the place had just opened.
The dining area is quite large....the service fine, mostly young kids, so it was kind of well, like a place where young kids are serving you......kind of uneven, though they did try.
Things started off with a gratis appetizer. I recognized the "bigilla", basically mashed beans....doesn't it look like something you'd get at a Mexican Restaurant? I did like the "ful-bit-tewm", the white beans with garlic.
There's something about the bread on Malta that I really like. This wasn't as yeasty, nor did it have the wonderful texture of what we had the night before at Il Horza, but we still enjoyed it.
We also went with a bottle of a local white from Pjazza Regina winery. A combination of three grapes, it was nice, light, refreshing, and went relatively well with the seafood.
As is the norm for us; we went with a meal of appetizers; starting with the classic Maltese Fish Soup; Aljotta.
This was like a very fishy bouillabaisse and not my favorite thing in the world. Salty and not enough acid to take the edge off for me.
The Octopus was a workman-like effort.
A bit tougher than I prefer, but the flavors were nice....great salt-herbs.
The mussels were quite large, though still moist. They hadn't cooked it to death.
Simple was probably the prudent thing to do with this. Not bad.
The best item were the "Mediterranean King Prawns". Again, nice and simple, cooked to perfection.
Wonderful flavor, nice and sweet, the Missus loved those heads!
Overall, this was a decent meal. Nothing fancy by any means, but simple, and a nice way to start our stay in Marsaxlokk.
Of course, what red-blooded male doesn't want to check out a collection of armor, swords, cannons, and other weapons? It brings out the little boy in me.
What makes this even more interesting is that the entire collection is housed in their original buildings.
Even though the size of the collection is a small fraction of the size it once was....due in part to pilferage by Napoleonic forces during the French Occupation of Malta, it is still quite impressive.
And of course, one could not visit the Armoury without reading about the "Great Siege". In 1565, the Ottomans laid siege to the island. If you recall, back in 1522, the Knights had been defeated and left the Island of Rhodes.
This time though, things would be different. Outnumbered an estimated 8 to 1, the Knights and the people of Malta hung on. Eventually, with morale low within the ranks of the Ottomans, a relief force of Spanish landed, handing the Ottomans a defeat.
It was a great moment in the history of Malta. The Grand Master, Jean de Valette, was Malta's key influential figure during the Great Siege. Indeed, the city of Valletta was built and named in his honor.
We headed back to our dwelling, making a stop at the corner store for some water, diet coke, and something the Missus came to really enjoy; a soft drink produced in Malta called Diet Kinnie. She told me it reminded Her a bit of the beloved Laoshan Cola.
We got back to the apartment and took a short nap.
It was a really special moment for us....the interior of the cathedral a gleaming golden jewel. The concert was one that had only been performed once before, ages ago, written by a composer from Malta.
The owner of our apartment told us his favorite restaurant is Il Horza....so we dropped by the evening before and made reservations for dinner. It would be one of our favorite meals of this trip.
The location and interior is quite unassuming....the menu is quite interesting as you'll see from the dishes we ordered.
But first there was this bread.....
Yes. This bread. Possibly some of the best I've ever had. Yeasty, crusty, not too dense, just plain wonderful. As with many things in Malta, we'd have another encounter with this bread again.
Our least favorite dish of the night was the Fish Stew with Black Rice and Shellfish.
We could never get into the really fishy flavor they like here in Malta. I mean, I like consommé de 7 mares and all that, but this was too much for us.
The Hay Smoked Barbary Duck Breast with Asian Pork Springroll and Greens was an interesting mash-up of familiar flavors and textures.
The duck was tender and delicious, the springroll crisp, the flavors balanced. Nothing was overplayed and this was a nice fusion of flavors.
The Stuffed Quail with Truffle Mousse Wrapped with Pancetta was delicious as was the very porky, Pork Tongue Croquette. For some reason, we didn't enjoy the shaved fresh summer black truffles, but of course the Missus loved the quail egg.
The Crispy Local Pork Belly was lovely. Crisp initially, then melting away......
The house made smoked pork sausage was also lovely, very tasty, straight up flavors. Quite nice.
The Missus loved the "dessert"; unpastuerized local cheese, milky, yet refreshing.
The service was good, the ambiance very nice and romantic....a very good meal.
Il-Horza 6, St. Christopher Street Valletta, Malta
We took a walk back to the apartment. As I mentioned before, the streets of Valletta are usually pretty quiet at night....not on this night as there was a concert happening outside a nearby restaurant.
It was kind of neat....anyone could come by and hang out on the steps....maybe buy a glass of wine at the restaurant and chill.......
So here's the deal.....there are times when I think Tommy at Catalina Offshore will actually recommend something as a bit of a challenge. Something I haven't heard of....with some hint....in this case it was "the texture is like pork....but the flavor is mild".
I'd really never heard of Cobia....this version was wild caught.
What Tommy told me was "the texture is like pork....the flavor is mild...so go for it smart guy....."
So what I did was a nice seasoning with Kosher Salt, Spanish Paprika, granulated garlic, fresh ground pepper, and Turkish oregano.
The glaze was Balsamic Vinegar and Agave Syrup.
After seasoning, the fish was coated with potato starch(katakuriko) then pan fried.
At the end, you remove from heat and add the glaze.
If you're going to have one item here, it should be the fish sauce wings. Since I first tried them in 2008, it's been a beloved item. In my article in the Reader, I noted how Jay told me he was going through as much as a thousand pounds of wings in a month.
It's still a wonderful, sweet, salty, and sticky.......
The Jackfruit Salad is another standby.
Over the years, I've noticed that they've somewhat refined their dishes a bit. In this salad, I noticed that the whole, hard peppercorns were gone and on this visit the nuoc mam cham was more savory, heavier on the fish sauce than sweet and watered done, which was a welcomed change. Nice amount of veggies, the somewhat citrusy-pungent-cilantro tones of rau ram, shrimp, and pork.
This made for a very satisfying meal.
It's good to know that the food here was just as good when Jay wasn't on the premises. It's also good to see Que Huong last when so many haven't.
Que Huong Restaurant 4134 University Ave San Diego, CA 92105
Now that things are settling down I can make more trips up to City Heights. And revisit Tan Ky Mi Gia.
Man, this place is looking a bit run down.
Still, the place has outlasted the pool hall next door.
Still, the prices are still good....$5.75 for basic egg noodle soup. However, on this visit I saw Bot Chien posted on the wall. It was breakfast time, so there was no doubt I'd be ordering it.
While not in the class of Kang Lac, this was not bad. The crisp parts were nice, though there were some kind of gummy parts to it. It was also pretty big, I ended up taking a good part of it home...the Missus, who basically never saw an egg dish She didn't like enjoyed it. Loved the dipping sauce as well. Overall decent.
A week later I returned in the morning and decided to try the Won Ton and Dumpling Egg Noodle Soup ($5.75).
The broth is not quite where it used to be.....a bit more salty, less body, cloudy. The egg noodles were perfect. I didn't care for the hard as rock dumplings and won tons. It's not like I'm expecting amazing for under six bucks. But this just didn't do it for me.
So will I be back......yes, I've got see what the state of the duck egg noodle soup is like. Plus, it's hard to complain about meals like these.......and heck, there one Tan Ky Mi Gia left.
Tan Ky Mi Gia 5237 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
We slept in on our last morning....well, if you call sleeping until 730 sleeping in. Our food experiences in Utah seemed a bit disappointing, but we decided to give one last popular restaurant a shot. Since they didn't open until 10am, we decided to walk on over to Temple Square, the headquarters for the LDS.
It was nice and fairly crisp and we were enjoying the day as we passed the convention center.
We passed the Creek Shopping Center, with shops like Tiffany, Nordstrom, and the Apple Store....and closed on Sundays! I'm guessing it has something to do with being right across the street from Temple Square. We were greeted as we entered and asked if we'd be visiting "Music and the Spoken Word", which is the Sunday morning televised broadcast. We were interested, but told the nice folks that we would have to leave fairly quickly. We were told it was no problem since the rehearsal was going on. We were free to leave anytime before the 930 start.
Which is how we got to watch part of the choir's morning rehearsal in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Quite impressive.
Speaking of impressive, the entire complex is dwarfed by the towering Salt Lake Temple.
The grounds features beautifully manicured gardens, a huge conference center, administrative buildings, several historic houses; the "Lion House" which used to be Brigham Young's residence. It had to be large because Brigham Young had 57 biological children, and the connected "Beehive House".
Temple Square is Utah's most visited tourist attraction, with as many visitors a Utah's 5 National Parks combined!
We saw a lot of folks taking photos....they all seemed overjoyed, almost giddy, at being here.
From the Beehive House, we headed North and got on North Temple Street and headed west. SLC's streets are set-up in a very simple (once you get sued to street with the same name with North/South/East/West) grid system. Our destination was on North Temple and was just under a mile and half walk. Things did seem a bit more "gritty" as we crossed over the I-15. A mere half block later we were at our destination; Red Iguana.
We arrived a few minutes before opening. The exterior looks a bit worn and shabby, but I had read that this is one of the most popular restaurants in the city....Mexican....in Salt Lake City? The place opened and we were told to sit anywhere our hearts desired. Our server; I'm hoping my memory isn't mailing me was named Stephanie. She was super outstanding, so very friendly, accommodating, and gracious.
Within a flash chips (not very good) and some salsa (nice and picante) found its way to our table.
We had come here to try the mole....but was having a difficult time deciding. So Stephanie said not to worry, they put together a sampler for us to try.
What really shocked me was how much I enjoyed the version of Mole Amarillo, not quite the traditional version; this one had raisins and habaneros...sweet with heat. We whittled down the sauces to versions we liked....but was stuck on four. Again, making us half and halfs were not a problem. You gotta love the service.
We choose chicken; which was simple simmered bird. The first combo was half Mole Verde and Mole Poblano ($15.99).
The verde was nice and nutty, but was over-shadowed by the rich, sweet, and spicy mole poblano, which tasted closest to versions I've had before.
The second was Mole Negro and Mole Amarillo ($15.99).
The mole negro was fine, though not nearly as good as say......El Tejate. The unconventional mole Amarillo, sweet and spicy stood up well. It was by far our favorite.
The rice and beans (and the tortillas) were pretty routine and not very good.
And while the food fell short of amazing, it was good, easily our best meal during this trip. And the service was wonderful. Our server is a fairly recent transplant and we chatted about SLC's uniqueness, things that caught her off guard when she moved here. The affinity for sandwiches and burgers; how you can look down Main Street on some days and not see a single car..... She made our meal a pleasure.
Red Iguana 736 W North Temple Salt Lake City, UT 84116
We walked back to the Residence Inn and managed a short catnap before leaving for the airport.
Perhaps the food really didn't stand out on this trip. But the views, well they were priceless.