Aqui Es Texcoco 1043 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91911
Oscar's Mexican Seafood (Hillcrest):
Was in the area after a meeting finished early, so I thought I'd drop by for a revisit. The Taco de Marlyn (Smoked fish taco) was actually better than before, though the flavor was still too mild and that tortilla wasn't very good.
The fried shrimp in the Fried Shrimp Taco was greasy and the batter started falling off and got gummy quickly.....and the tortilla also failed fast.
There's much better down south, but this is pretty much the only show in town.
Oscar’s Mexican Seafood 646 University Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Sieu Sieu BBQ:
Another place I haven't been to in a while. Is it just me or has Sieu Sieu aged faster than a second term President? The place is looking pretty beat.
That I think that the Chinese BBQ here is better than Sam Woo should provide me some consolation.....I guess. That rice was horrible by the way.
Sieu Sieu BBQ 7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
The first thing I noticed were the two women making dumplings behind the counter.
The second thing I really noticed after sitting down were the prices! Mandu, ten bucks! Then I was handed a menu with prices that had been marked down a buck. Not cheap, but a bit better.
So I placed my order and went thru the rest of the menu.
Meanwhile, the dipping sauce, and some panchan made its way to the table. The sauce was on the mild side, but it seemed to have black vinegar in it which I thought was a bit strange......I welcomed it, but it was different.
I had ordered two items, starting with the Wang (King) Mandu ($8), the pork and vegetable version.
Man, these were humongous. I only finished one. I ended giving the rest to "YZ" for her to take home to her daughter.
The actual steamed bun seemed way too "white" and reminded me of something else, but I couldn't place my finger on it. It was very fluffy and fairly nice, if lacking in the great yeastiness of a Wang (King) Mandu dough.
The filling was a bit too crumbly for me, but was moist, though a tad light in flavor.
Yeah, I know....too picky with my steamed buns and dumplings. But I can't help it.
Curious, I also ordered the Boiled Dumpling with shrimp, pork, and vegetable. I don't ever recall seeing this in any of the mandu shops I've been to. You should have seen the look on my face when this arrived.....it was jiaozhi!
These were actually ok. The dough was lacking in the slight chew, stretch, and tenderness that I like in a good dumpling. In case you're wondering where I get this from...well, here's how my MIL makes Jiaozi. Of course, this was not even close to QingDao Bread Food. The filling was also a bit too loose and on the bland side. Still, better than Dumpling Inn. To put things in perspective, below average for me, better than average for San Diego. So I gotta give this a not bad.
The woman serving me was very nice. I mentioned that the dumplings seemed very Chinese, I was told that the owner is Korean, but from China. I was really intrigued. A few days later, I mentioned the place to "Mr.S" who was shocked that a Korean place opened in San Diego without he knowing. When I mentioned the name of the place to him, he looked at me in surprise. He asked me if they had locations in LA and I didn't know. We decided to meet for lunch the very next day. Upon arriving, Mr.S assured me he had eaten at the Koreatown location of Myung In. When he spoke to our Server, who according to Mr.S spoke both Korean and Mandarin, she did confirm that the restaurant had several locations in LA. Looking at the back of the take-out menu confirmed that.
We ended up ordering a pile of food. Starting with the Pork and Kimchi Wang Mandu.
Same huge steamed buns. As for the filling, I prefer the pork and vegetable version. When I mentioned that the dough really reminded me of something else, Mr.S said, "yes, this is like Jjin Bbang...." He was totally right......by the way, they do have red bean seamed bun on the menu.
The item we enjoyed the best was the mandu guk - the mandu soup.
For some reason, the dumplings did really well in this broth, which had enough salt and other flavor to help things along. The wrapper became almost noodle-like and this might be the way to go in the future. It was very hearty and satisfying.
The last thing we had were the spicy steamed roll dumplings. The wrapped meat rolls weren't what made this spicy...it was the accompanying chili paste. Sigh.
Kind of tough and not something I'd order again.
Our server also mentioned that the owner was originally from China and even said where, but I couldn't make it out. Anyway, the next day, I read Kirbie's post on Myung In Dumpling, where she mentions Anthony Bourdain's visit to the LA location. Call me out of touch with mainstream food media. Following the Google trail, I came to find out that the owner is of Korean ancestry, but originally from Shenyang, China. Interesting path.
As for the jiaozi, I think it's decent, better than any other alternative in San Diego. Though I think I may try other stuff....and get the mandu guk the next time. Still, if you can't wait for another trip to the SGV for your jiaozi fix.....
Myung In Dumplings 4344 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
But last week, I finally did; twice. This spot is not too large, 11 tables, but probably three times the size of the old location. Still, it wasn't so large that they'd kill the kitchen.
Interesting mix; young Thai Kids, mixed groups, gringos ordering Won Tons and eating sticky rice with a spoon.
I did recognize one of the servers...he does double duty at the PQ location. Other than that none of the faces looked familiar.
The food? I'm happy to say, just about everything was pretty much spot on. You can read all my previous posts and get the lowdown.....
The Koi Soi - Koi Neua (Spicy Raw Beef) had been "cooked" too long in citrus and was much too sour and the texture wasn't right. It's usually a very refreshing dish. Over the years, my heat tolerance has gone down.....I can no longer get this as a "10" and these days settle for a "7".
Still, it was fine.
I once thought that SEL had no ceiling, unlimited potential. These days I consider it good grub, a place that makes me feel like I walked into a little restaurant in Issan and had a nice meal. And I'm more than happy to settle for that.
The Original Sab E Lee 6925 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
The Missus and I have a pretty nice routine for our "easy" days when we visit "home".
Things start with breakfast. The Missus can never get enough papaya.......there's nothing even remotely close to this stuff on the mainland. And I love good pineapple. What do you expect from the grandchild/child of Maui Pine plantation workers?
We then head off to the Missus's favorite swim spot; of all places, Ala Moana Beach.
We head out right after the morning rush hour....it's a week day so it's all the old timers, students, and Japanese tourists taking wedding photos.
I've always been amazed at how they seem so easy going, wearing wedding gowns and tuxedos in humid, 85 degree weather. But after chatting with folks like Kat, I understand.
On this morning it wasn't one, but two sets of couples taking photos.
While the Missus swims, I usually do a complete lap of Ala Moana Park and sometimes even head off toward Ward Avenue. On days like this one, I can't help but think, "man, to believe that I used to take all of this for granted".
Once out and dry, the Missus and I will head off across the street to Honolulu Coffee Company for a Kona V60 pour over for the coffee snob.
And while it doesn't wow Her like it used to. It's still a good cup of coffee.
Honolulu Coffee Co (in Ala Moana Center) 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 3066 Honolulu, HI 96814
We then head off and do our various errands. On this day, we decided to head off to Kahala Mall; Whole Foods and the Apple Store were calling. I decided on stopping off at another of my old favorites, in my 'hood, Gina's Bar-B-Q, still going strong 23 years later.
You know, I remembered when this place first opened. It's typical Local style Korean, our version of a Meat and Three. You order your entrée(s) and get three of what we call "vegetables", basically panchan, and the proteins are cooked to order.
It's a very popular style, the most popular is probably a chain called Yummy Korean BBQ. Every one has their neighborhood favorites when it comes to the local kine Korean BBQ places. I used to like Kim Chi II, though I haven't been there in maybe 20 years. My mom liked Choi's Family Restaurant, many of my friends love Soon's in Salt Lake (Oahu, not Utah....).
I'm old enough to remember when Foodland, which is now on the other side of the parking lot used to be in this spot. My good friend's second job was with Foodland. I also remember when there was a very popular video game place here called....if I recall, "The Space"???? I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. I remember once going to use the restroom and finding two huge bags of pakalolo right on the washbasin!
Anyway wanting to check out the state of the food at Gina's, I ordered a "special", still a bargain at eleven bucks or so. It comes with bulgogi, kalbi, and the item I used to really enjoy (second best - the spicy chicken was #1), the BBQ Chicken.
Anyway, we took it to go, got a small salad at WF in Kahala and proceeded to dig in. The bulgogi wasn't up to snuff, dry, bland, and tough. The kalbi was typical local style, nice flavor, but not the best. That chicken was still a winnah! Nice shoyu flavor, slight sweetness, chewy, but in a good way. There was of course, the equivalent of three scoops of rice under all of this, soaking up the juices and drippings. The "vegetables" were passable....I'd say, even better than what I get here at some of the rather pricey Korean places.
Even though it's more about a good value, the chicken is not bad.
I'm hoping to head back to Gina's for the spicy chicken next time. Hopefully, I won't have to wait another decade.
Gina’s Bar-B-Q 2919 Kapiolani Blvd Honolulu, HI 96826
Our last morning started just like the previous one did. The Missus slept in a bit and I took a walk, much shorter this time, and no donuts. We would be grabbing breakfast before checking out and heading to the airport. The Missus really wanted to go back to Tasty N Alder yet again. However, they didn't open until 9, which would be cutting things a bit too close.
So instead we walked one block over to Cheryl's on 12th which opens at 8am on Sundays.
The space reminded me a bit of the London Plane, not as fancy or hip, but this was part market, bakery, deli, as well as restaurant.
We were greeted with a bright smile and led to a nice little table.
Ordering for me was quite easy, though the Missus needed a bit of time.
Meanwhile, our coffee arrived along with some very light, warm, beignets.
The Missus went with the Wild Mushroom Omelete ($9):
While it kind of looked like a hot mess, the flavors were good, sweetness from the caramelized onions and the milky-salty feta cheese balancing out the earthy mushroom flavor. The potatoes were mediocre, bland, greasy, and without color or and crispness.
Minus the avocado and this could have easily been served at, say, Like Like Drive-In, or some other local spot on Oahu. There was a generous portion of sliced and nicely sautéed sausage, decent flavor, nicely spiced, lot's of sausage in the fried rice as well, though the rice was much too hard and needed some shoyu to kick it up a bit. Still, the Missus poached a good amount of the sausage (and the avocado), and this was well worth ten bucks.
Cheryl’s On 12th 1135 SW Washington St Portland, OR 97205 Hours: Mon - Sat 7am - 8pm Sunday 8am - 4pm
In retrospect, we could have easily spent a few more days in PDX. As it was, we missed a few places we had on our list....unfinished business as it were.
It was actually a nice walk. The sky was overcast, but it never rained.
We crossed the Willamette on the Burnside Bridge and passed the iconic Portland White Stag sign.
Traffic looked pretty heavy along Burnside.
You could tell spring was approaching as the Cherry Blossoms were starting to bloom. It was quite a lovely sight.
Our destination was a restaurant named Davenport, which I had read used local ingredients in simple dishes, with excellent and refined technique. The idea is to let the ingredients shine. The Chef Kevin Gibson is a semi-finalist for the James Beard; Best Chef: Northwest category.
There area couple of interesting things about the place, there's no large sign, you have to find 2215 East Burnside, then look for the "red door". Also, the phone conversation for making reservations was, well, interesting.....a woman picked up the phone with simply "hello"...... I had to ask if this was Davenport. At the end of the process, I noticed they hadn't asked for a phone number, so I inquired if they needed one. The answer, "no....if you show up, you show up...if you don't, you don't." Ok.... Well, we did show up.
The menu is ever changing.....in fact, it changes almost everyday.
We loved the menu and it was quite easy to choose our courses.
We had heard that Co-owner Kurt Heilemann curates an amazing wine list. So we asked our server, who was just perfect, efficient, professional, but not stuffy if he would select a glass to pair with each dish.
I will say, that even though I'm not an oenophile, I really enjoyed the pairings. I'm not going to go into detail about the wine, though I will say, the first glass...that Riesling, pared with the foie gras mousse was just perfect. It was without a doubt the best pairing of the evening. When I mentioned how beautiful the stemware was, our server told us it's hand-blown Zalto stemware.
The foie gras mousse was nice, smooth, rich, all you could ever want.
The pate was good, quite refined, balanced in flavor.....perhaps a bit too perfect. Loved the bits of hazelnut which gave it a nice contrasting texture.
For us, it was the pickled sunchokes that really got our attention, great crunch, perfect flavor. The salad was my least favorite....it tasted like it had been dressed with plain white vinegar, as it was way too sour; the pomegranate seeds didn't help adding another layer of tart and tannic flavor to everything.
The rapini, which was beautifully charred, bitterness subdued, smokey flavor enhanced was wonderful.
The addition of the breadcrumbs which added more crunch, only to be balanced with the boiled egg white and richness of the egg yolk just elevated the dish in my opinion. The anchovy was a bit too strong for the dish as just a squeeze of lemon was perfect.
We finished with the grilled lamb shoulder.
Slightly toothsome, but still tender enough considering it was shoulder. The lamb flavor made the perfect, "yes, you are eating lamb" statement. It was perfectly seasoned, a bit too rare for the Missus, but I loved it. The salsa verde really didn'y play into the flavors for me.
Overall, a very nice meal. In terms of service and timing, things were just perfect for us. While we enjoyed our meal, which was good, nothing really extended it into the "great" territory for us. Now the prices, well the food only came out to $60! The wine at $45 almost matched the price of the food. We weren't complaining though as in terms of cost, we thought this to be a reasonably priced meal.
Next time, I think something more along the lines of Le Pigeon would be the Missus's cup of tea.
Davenport 2215 East Burnside Portland, OR 97214
Of course, we weren't quite ready to call it a night. Candice had recommended that we stop in at Belmont Station. So the Missus decided we needed to work off at least a portion of our dinner....so add another mile-and-a-half to the tab. The streets looked rather dark on SE Stark Street and Belmont Station shone like a pearl in the night.
Basically an amazing bottle shop, with a huge 1200+ bottle list. Connected to the shop is the "Biercafe" which has a nice selection of items on tap.
Our "beertender" was a very nice...cool guy. The Missus got a sour and I ordered something that looked quite interesting - the New Belgium Cocoa Mole Spiced Strong Dark Ale. I was asked if I like "interesting flavors" and said yes. The guy behind the bar said, "folks here either love it or instantly dislike it". Me, I loved it....
Like a pseudo porter, with a pronounced chili-chocolate aroma. Since I love chili beers, I really enjoyed this. Mild spice that very slowly intensified, but never really got too hot. The flavor was quite complex. Even the Missus, who is not a big fan of porters really enjoyed this one.
It was a nice way to end our evening.
Belmont Station 4500 SE Stark St Portland, OR 97215
By this time, the Missus had figured I'd done enough walking for the day and decided we could catch the bus back. She did have a change of heart as we crossed the Belmont Bridge and decided to ring for a stop. But after all the walking I had done that day. The stroll back to the hotel was nothing.
Such is a typical day for us when travelling...lots of walking and lots of good food....and drinks!
It'll take longer to read this post than to actually make this. But first, a word from our legal department:
Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.
Now that we got that out of the way....yes, I use raw eggs...well, egg actually, for this.
I also use an immersion blender and a Ball Jar.
The eggs are either pasteurized or the best we can find - pasture raised and all that. I also use whole eggs, which makes this much lighter than just egg yolks. As for the science; if you love that kind of stuff, get Harold McGee's classic - On Food and Cooking.
I've read where having all ingredients at room temperature, but I've done this with cold eggs and mustard and the results has been fine.