You've heard those arguments, right? You stop in a bar for a beer and two knuckleheads gentlemen at the bar are doing the "who is better" thing......Ryan or Koufax, Montana or Elway, Kikaida or Kamen Rider? Kikaida or Kamen Rider??? Believe it or not....two guys at my favorite watering hole "back home" almost came to blows over that one! So there I was, listening to these two guys go at each other over Al Pastor....interesting! It became a lot less interesting after I found out that they were comparing JV's and Lalo's. No offense, but there's a lot better to be had here. Still, it made for some fine entertainment and it had been a while since I'd been to either place, 8 years since JV's and a whopping 9 1/2 years since Lalo's. So why not? I started with.....
JV's Mexican Food:
I'd say this place is timeless. As in the sign has kind of faded and the prices have gone up, but the place looks basically the same as I recalled.
I've always had friendly service here and on this visit it was the same. What was different was that they have "street tacos".
Three Al Pastor Tacos go for a wallet friendly $4.50.
As before, the Al Pastor lacks that trompo crusted texture and is less sweet than I prefer....actually, it's a bit on the bland side. The tortillas are typical, not terrible, but nothing special. The salsas are decent and this all works together adequately. It's not terrible, JV's will never be the first that comes to mind, when it comes to Al Pastor.....but it's decent rather cheap easts.
JV's Mexican Food 1112 Morena Blvd San Diego, CA 92110
I think the guy here was having a bit of a bad day....he couldn't wait to get rid of me....
The same $4.50 got me this - two small Al Pastor tacos.
Liked the guacamole, the tortillas weren't very good. The al pastor lacked color and the texture was on the mushy side and quite bland. The salsas here are pretty good, the picante is truly spicy. Yet I can't help thinking that time hasn't been real friendly to Lalo's.
Lalo’s Tacos Etc 1266 University Ave San Diego, CA 92103
In the end, I really can't recommend either location for Al Pastor; though perhaps JV's might be a ahead.
So what about that Kikaida versus Kamen Rider argument? I guess in this case it would be Rainbowman. So how's that for a nostalgic walk back to "small kid time"?
They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; today, however, Ed (from Yuma) will tell about a dinner that happened there anyway. Tomorrow, Kirk or Cathy will be sharing food with you.
In a previous life, when I lived in Monterey, California, Corey and I worked in the same shop. He now lives in Las Vegas, so when Tina and I were in town, we all had to get together. I remembered that sushi was one of Corey's favorite foods, so it seemed appropriate to meet up at Yonaka, a modern Japanese restaurant: Not wanting to spend a lot of time going over the menu, we ordered an omakase – our server recommended the 11 course chef’s special tasting menu which he said would include a range of dishes and be enough to satisfy three hungry appetites. Corey had beer, Tina wine, and me sake.
The first course to arrive was Scottish salmon: The chunks of fish were accompanied by pieces of Asian pear and baby heirloom tomatoes, all topped with a sesame/ginger dressing. While this picture isn't much good, we all agreed that this was a pretty good beginning course. The pear and tomato balanced the salmon well.
Then a large bowl of charred brussels sprouts arrived, smoky, chewy, crispy and crunchy, with a light chili lemon touch: This was a tasty vegetable dish that we continued to munch on between other courses until the bowl was empty.
The next item was some decent hamachi with unusual accompaniment: Between each slice of hamachi, there was a slice of Gala apple, all covered by a Granny Smith apple relish and accompanied by a deep-fried latticework composed of dried apples. Hamachi with apples done three ways? Again there was a light dressing accompaniment. While each item was okay, my palate did not find hamachi/apple interplay especially interesting. Your palate might well be different.
A generous plate of tuna belly accompanied by walnuts and cranberry jelly arrived next: This was an attractive dish, the fish slices topped with micro greens and seaweed strips. The tuna belly itself was good, but not outstanding.
On the other hand, the sashimi plate was excellent: The maguro had an almost suspicious deep red color, but it was flavorful with a good texture. The flying fish sashimi was firm, a bit chewy, and mild. For me, the highlight was the golden thread sea bream – rich and fresh tasting, leading to a long creamy finish.
Also quite tasty was the moist cooked salmon accompanied by baby bok choy and sliced peppers, all bathed in a spicy coconut cream. Yep, this worked: The sea bream bones, deep-fried, showed up next, but they were a little too sturdy and thick for me, not nearly as pleasantly crunchy as a Spanish mackerel skeleton: Maine lobster and braised fennel in a spicy sauce: The idea of this dish was excellent; we liked the interplay of the fennel, sauce, and lobster. The lobster itself, however, was a little overcooked. Still it was okay.
Tender and flavorful wagyu beef, cooked rare, accented by a fruit salsa: We also enjoyed the roasted carrots that seemed to be standing guard over the plate.
The apogee of the meal had to be this: Perfectly prepared pork belly. Incredibly rich, fork tender, slightly sweet, and pleasantly porky. Yum. I salivate just thinking about it. That's apple kimchi in the background.
The final savory course was fried rice with broiled hamachi, uni, ikura, and baby bok choy: While I enjoyed the seafoods and vegetable, the rice seemed pretty ho-hum – something to fill up anyone still hungry at this point, and that was not me. Of course, the pork belly was a tough (tender?) act to follow.
The desert, on the other hand, was surprisingly good: Mango two ways – gelato on the left and panna cotta on the right. I believe the panna cotta was covered in a vanilla sauce, but the best touch was the panna cotta itself, stuffed with a mango center, so when you cut into it and opened it up, the yellow filling flowed out like an over easy egg yolk. Sadly, I was so amazed that I forgot to take a picture of it. Nonetheless, we all thought the desert was a nice finish.
It was great seeing Corey again, and all three of us enjoyed the meal. The extensive use of fruits throughout made our experience unique, and we all left full and happy.
Yonaka Modern Japanese, 4983 W Flamingo Rd, Suite A, Las Vegas, NV 89103, 702-685-8358
Having put away a couple of beers, we thought it would be a good time to grab a bite to eat. We headed back up to St Bavo's Square. Right next to the Dutch Theatre is a brasserie that was recommended to me for typical Ghent style Flemish food named 't Vosken. The place was pretty crowded; though most of it were tourists having beer on the patio.
The menu did indeed have some dishes we were interested in.
I started with a Palm Royale; fairly sweet, apple/pear thing going....not too boozy, pretty light and easy to drink.
I ordered the House Rabbit; which came which was a nice braised rabbit. The sauce was obviously beer based and it reminded me of carbonnade.
The rabbit was decently tender and the dish came with frites (not very good) and apple sauce which went well with the rabbit.
The Missus chose Ghent's signature dish, which originated in this city; Waterzooi. 't Vosken only serves the chicken version. The dish really looks strikingly different from other Belgian type braised and stewed dishes we'd had so far.
The color comes from the combination of egg yolk and cream used to add texture to this broth.....it was originally a very simple stew, I was told that "waterzooi" basically means to "boil in water". The Missus really enjoyed this.
We finished up with a Rodenbach Grand Cru.....a favorite of mine with nice stone fruit flavors that we love in Flanders Reds. The Missus loves Her Flanders Reds....
‘t Vosken Sint-Baafsplein 19 Ghent, Belgium
Lunch was fairly heavy so we walked back to apartment.
There was quite the shindig going on at the Groentenmarkt and band playing, folks having drinks....notice the singer in the band is using a "cheat "sheet"!
One of the vendors had this beautiful looking dog......
When I bent over to pet her, she turned over submissively.....so she got a nice belly rub....
After our nap, we headed back out. We'd be eating in that evening, but decided to take a pre and post dinner walk. By this time the day trippers seemed headed back to Brussels or Bruges......
After returning and having our dinner....cheese, bread, and some charcuterie we headed back out and had a nice walk. The Town Hall was lit up nicely. The building itself is kind of odd as it looks like several buildings of distinctly different styles were grafted together. Somehow, in Ghent, it just seems to work.
The Belfry and the Dutch Theatre looked quite dramatic at dusk.....just like a movie set.
And that party at Groentenmarkt was still going strong. Different band, but maybe, the same folks were still hanging out?
On the way back, we stopped in at what is probably the Missus's favorite bar in the world; Dulle Griet.
A combination of locals and tourists, this slightly dumpy and divey joint, with somewhat grumpy staff and a beer list of over 250 was just the right fit for us. We just felt at home.
We quickly noticed that there were several people walking around with only one shoe on. Apparently, if you order a "max beer", which looks like a liter, you need to leave a shoe as collateral. It is then hoisted in a basket to the ceiling. To prevent folks from stealing the glass perhaps?
I guess once you pay your tab, you get your footwear back.
And then there's our infamous "Duchesse" experience. The place had Duchesse De Bourgogne on tap, the Missus's favorite. So we ordered it....well, we tried to order it. The woman kept going "huh?" So I showed her the beer list and she went "oooohh, Doo-Chezz....doo-chezz....ha-ha-ha-ha, snort, snort." She then pointed us out to the other server and they giggled and snorted, I guess we were the big joke of the night. Anyway, this was the best "Doo-chezz" I've ever tasted....slightly pruney, balsamic like tones...the temperature was perfect. Much better than what I've had back here in the states....even on tap. We'd noticed that something is lost when beer is transported.
My Bornem Trippel seemed so mild in comparison.....
We loved this place.......even though we were now known as the "Doo-chezz" couple.
If you'd ask the Missus and I what our favorite city in Belgium was, the answer would be unanimous. It would be Ghent. Unpretentious and quite easy to like and navigate, not quite as touristy as Bruges, we loved the vibe that this city of 250,000 gave off. Ghent is but a 40 minute train ride away from Brussels. And like Bruges, Ghent has those wonderful canals as well.
It's just not crawling with all those tourists......
And a strange thing happened to us here....in a way, we even forgot we were tourists. That part of the brain which dictates the places to be and the places you need to see got shut off. Instead, we just enjoyed the city. From the time we caught Tram #1, getting off near Het Gravensteen (The Castle of the Counts), walking to our apartment near Vrijdagmarkt, we felt so at ease.
The city is full of "market squares". Indeed, we were staying one block away from Vrijdagmarkt - Friday Market Square. Having stowed our stuffs, we headed out, down the street to Groentenmarkt - Vegetable Market, which ironically has the ever bustling Meat Market right next to it.
The interior of the structure is quite impressive; the place was built without nails, and hams still hang form the ceiling......this was once the only place in the city where meat was allowed to be sold. These days it's a bustling restaurant.
Right across the way is this famous shop.
Tierenteyn-Verlent is known for their mustard and has been selling it since 1790. I read that it is still made in the basement of the shop.
It's some heady stuff. Guaranteed to clear those sinuses and quite good as well. We bought a small jar, but it cracked before we got past Bruges.
Luckily, I've got some great friends and Candice bought us a bottle when she returned from her trip to Ghent.
Tierenteyn-Verlent Groentenmarkt 3 Gent, Belgium
We were having so much fun that I totally forgot to take photos until we were close to City Hall. Along the way there's a little portal and a street; Werregaren Straat, walking down the alley, the faint smell of urine in the air, you'll be on "Graffitistraat" - Graffiti Street.
This is Ghent's solution to Belgium's strict laws on graffiti; it is basically illegal and the penalties stiff. Ghent has designated this street as an expression free zone for Ghent's graffiti artists.
Most of the grand historic structures in Ghent are in the area of Saint Bavo Square.
In retrospect, we should have been better at playing the tourist, but we were just enjoying the city.
South of this area, down what seem some rather small streets is Ghent's shopping area, full of interesting shops. We saw this one; named Kaas Mekka.
This was cheese heaven. We couldn't help but purchase some for our next two dinners.
Kaas Mekka Koestraat 9 Ghent, Belgium
Exploring further down the street we started coming across crowds of people....apparently there was some kind of major sidewalk shopping festival going on.
A very festive kind of vibe going on.......even a band or two along the way.
It looked like some folks even brought their own chairs and sat outside restaurants and bars....enjoying the sun and a nice beverage (and a nap?) or two.
It was in the area right across the river that we found the first spot I wanted to "hit". We were on the hunt for chocolates for my MIL and I'd heard some great things about a shop named Yuzu.
This shop is the result of former archaeologist Nicolas Vanaise's passion for Japanese and Middle Eastern Culture and chocolate. The flavors presented are a product of his travels. This was by far the best; and most interesting chocolate we bought on this trip.....flavors like Whiskey and Cuban Tobacco.....
Yuzu Walpoortstraat 11 Ghent, Belgium
This made a nice addition to the "collection" we put together for my MIL.
Right around the corner from Yuzu was another one of my target destinations. Even among the beer-focused Belgians; Gruut Brewery is unique. Before hops were used for beer making, a mixture of spices were used instead. This medieval mix was called gruut; the namesake of Gruut. Annick De Splenter is the owner and brew master here.
The place looks quite low keyed from the outside, but was quite busy. There was one large table of folks who were obviously on a "beer tour" and each beer was introduced and explained to them in detail. Meanwhile other folks were reading, chilling, just hanging out, and having a nice time.
We basically tasted everything before deciding on what we really wanted. My favorite was the Amber; which had some caramel tones, and a touch of sweetness. The beer has a really nice tongue coating texture and there is even a mild bitter finish so you're not really missing the hops.
It was a nice beer and we ended up buying a four pack to take with us back to the apartment.
Two ambers and two of the Missus's favorite.
The Blonde, which was very drinkable, light, fizzy, with an interesting herbaceous finish. Nice beer for a hot summer day....I'm kind of wishing for a pint of this today since it's been really humid here in San Diego.
They gave us a couple of Gruut Coasters when we bought our beer.
One quick thing. If you visit Gruut and are male, make sure to drink enough beer so that you'll be able to visit the restroom. The urinals are quite "unique".....
"Feed me, Seymour - Feed me all night long........"
Gruut Stadsbrouwerij Grote Huidevettershoek 10 Ghent, Belgium
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog. Three friends share the writing responsibilities here. Kirk, who is busy with work right now, Ed(from Yuma) who is busy with retirement right now and Cathy, who is blogging this post for you right now.
I've written a good portion of the posts on this blog about local Markets and Grocers, usually mentioning that most have in store restaurants...and then showing you some of the meals from those restaurants.
This Indian grocery store doesn't have a hot foods area.Located on Miramar road, just West of the 15 between Black Mountain Road and the North entrance to MCAS Miramar, the signage caught our eye.
The "Simply South" advertisement of 'fresh batter made here' is why we began shopping here regularly. This very clean, well stocked, quite large Indian grocery has been here since 2011. There's a good selection of fresh produce, yogurts, pre-packaged naan, a whole aisle of just coffees and teas and malt beverage drink mixes and an open refrigerator of various roti. Rice of all types (and brands) along the far wall, frozen foods(35 doors) along the entire back wall.Other brands of dough (in addition to the Simply South brand) for making fresh Dosa, Idli and Uttapam are also sold in the refrigerated area. Sweets and kitchen/household items are also sold here. There are also aisles of sauces, spices, mixes and snacks, none of which did I take photos...it's almost overwhelming for someone who doesn't know brands. I must say that everything I have purchased here has turned out to be very good...but I've spent a lot of time reading the labels for ingredients.Beverages (Indian beer in the refrigerator), syrups...pretty much a regular grocery store...with the most interesting area in front of the cash registers. Yes, I'm pretty certain the words "Kwality Ice Cream" on the storefront signage caught your eye in that second photo. The Founder of Kwality, a Food Technologist and Flavorist, pretty much began the company while studying at Rutgers University. The photo above, my first taste of 'pistachio nut' had such a complex blend of other flavors (saffron, cardamom and others) all complementing the nutty pistachio flavor.This Falooda Drink for $6 is probably the most wonderful and decadent flavor blend I've had in a very long time. Falooda noodles, watercress seeds, rose syrup, rose kulfi and malai kulfi. The flavor mix was refreshing and cooling and so very different.
The ice cream here makes shopping so much fun.
Cash & Carry 9252 Miramar Road San Diego 92126 (858)566-4819 Open Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat-Sun 9-9 Website
A decent version, not too salty, rice a bit more mushy than I like. If you don't like chunks of preserved fish in your fried rice; this version might do it for you as the salted fish is finely minced.
I was looking for something to have with my meal and the Whole Fried Fish was recommended. I must have had vapor lock since I just went ahead and got it without asking what kind of fish.....tilapia....sigh....
Fried to death and beyond.......dry flesh, but at least it didn't taste too muddy. I've got stories about tilapia and growing up in Hawaii....sometimes called "the mahimahi of the Ala Wai Canal".
Sang Deuan Thai & Lao Kitchen 3904 Convoy St. Suite 112 San Diego, CA 92111
Tim Ky Noodle:
Well, it had been over 6 months since my last visit, and in spite of the heat, I thought I'd get some Bun Suong. Which unfortunately is no longer on the menu, which look a bit abbreviated from what I recalled. So I went with the Won Ton and Dumpling Egg Noodle soup which I recalled was pretty decent compared to other versions in San Diego.
While I don't expect excellence in won tons and dumplings in "Mi shop" versions, these weren't quite as good as I'd previously had. They were still more tender than say Luong Hai Ky or Minh Ky. The real difference between what I'd had before was how bland the broth was; there was a shortage of flavor and richness in this bowl. Just compare it to what I had on my previous visit:
Quite a difference, eh?
It's hard to complain about a bowl of noodle soup that is cheaper than a sandwich (not of the banh mi species), but this was nowhere as good as what I'd had before. Disappointing and kind of sad....I'm hoping this is the exception and not the rule.
Tim Ky Noodle 9330 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Thanks for stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! Cathy is writing today; Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are busily researching places and food items.
Some days, I just want a simple meal-sandwich or salad, maybe a coffee. Ending up at Panera, Subway or Starbucks makes for a dull post. I've taken photos of every food item consumed for almost a decade, those don't necessarily show up on the blog but this time, simple foods from a locally owned place are worth sharing.Just a few weeks ago, while driving along 163 South, we noticed this signage over what had been a Starbucks, turned briefly into Pizza Studio (another one of those 'customizable' pizza places) (which, after six months, had a 'Closed for Remodeling' sign on the window). (I did write a post about Pizza Studio, but it was very negative and proven by the sudden closure so it was deleted). Lil' Farmers Cafe is in the same parking lot as Mitsuwa Marketplace,Chopstix Too and (soon to be open) Nishiki.The ubiquitous, hipster, reclaimed wood wall was already there......as was the walk along refrigerated glassed in area.The simple menu (nothing is priced over $5.99 except for the 'to go' organic beverage packs which serve 12) is pretty much all customizable.You can choose your bread and toppings for a sandwich......as well as salad ingredients if you want something added or not included in the menu selections.The beverage selection is interesting (as is the pricing variance between 12, 16 and 20 ounces) and I really like the organic coffee. The concept of a Bacon and Bean salad ($5.49) is interesting. For the first order, I wanted my personalization to be the lettuce choice and the salad dressing (Oil and vinegar, which was mixed thoroughly and in a perfect proportion). Lettuce, bacon, garbanzo and kidney beans, fresh tomatoes and Parmesan. This was very large, very fresh and just right (I am always afraid when the lettuce is already mixed in with dressing, but the technique used here is correct, with no excess 'pooling' at the bottom of the bowl). The Mister ordered a Farmer Panini ($5.49) Roast beef, cream cheese, tomato, onion and (our addition) sprouts. Panini'd and on sourdough, this was a really good sandwich. We ended up speaking with the manager, a very nice lady, who told us the owner is a former San Diego Socker. We've seen him in the restaurant the times we have visited; he is keeping an eye on things and looking for feedback and ways to improve the menu.Another visit had me craving a simple salad. Farmer Greens ($4.49), a nice mix of arugula, spinach, red pepper and roasted tomatoes (I chose sesame dressing) is very good (roasted tomatoes would be a great salad add-on in the future; such great flavor) and hit the spot. The Mister had another menu item in mind, the pesto-chicken flatbread ($5.99). The flatbread (a whole grain dough; very nice) is first warmed, then the items placed on top, then it's all placed back into the small oven for about one minute to melt the cheese and warm the chicken and the flatbread gets a bit crispier. Pesto, chicken, Mozzarella and shaved Parmesan are the only ingredients and truly is all that are needed needed. Again, the flavors are just right.You may or may not have noticed a small area at the bottom of the small menu. Ice cream. 99¢ a scoop ice cream. Only chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors (which can be made into a shake). Excellent, extra creamy, 'old fashioned' (to my tastebuds) ice cream. It reminds me of the 10¢ squared/not round scoops of wonderful ice cream from Thrifty's. The bottom of the menu 'flatbread' choice is a sweet version ($4.99). Again, the bread is first warmed, then spread with Nutella and sliced banana, folded over itself, warmed a bit more (the bread is almost toasty) and topped with caramel and chocolate sauce. This was good, if not a bit too sweet (I think a dollop of fatty whipped cream might cut the sweetness, but really have no complaints).
Each visit we've shared a cup of the organic coffee, which is very good. There are no claims made about other organic items here; the freshness on each visit has been remarkable. It's nice to have a local place to enjoy a good, simple meal.
Lil' Farmers Cafe 4240 Kearny Mesa Road San Diego 92111 (between Ross and Trex, just across from the In-n-Out) (858) 430-6554Website Open Mon-Fri 8-6, Sat 10-6
Man, it wasn't the heat, but the humidity that was pretty bad for a while there, eh? I'm from Hawaii and it still drove me crazy. And I just saw that we're in for a bit more the next couple of days.
One of my favorite dishes during our recent trip to Spain was Salmorejo, a thick puree/soup made up of tomatoes and thickened by bread. It's the bread that makes this look almost like a thick carrot soup.
It is served cold, like gazpacho, but is much richer and thicker. It was one of my favorite items in Spain. It's usually topped with finely chopped Serrano ham and coarsely chopped boiled egg. I really didn't feel staying the kitchen and boiling some eggs so I went with some finely chopped prosciutto ends; which you can buy at Bristol Farms. They sell it cheap. It's hard and waxy, but does well as salad topping when chopped finely. I added some cucumber and red onion and a few small, thin slices of Serrano peppers from the yard.
Here's a photo of my favorite version from Madrid (I'll get to the post one of these days):
It was much more refined than what I made. I based this on a recipe from the late Penelope Casas' fine cookbook; 1,000 Spanish Recipes. It's an easy recipe. And a refreshing dish....of course, the more ripe the tomatoes, the better the flavor.
1 1/2 (approx) Cups Country Bread (I used a leftover baguette) crust removed, cubed
1 1/2 pounds very ripe Roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Arbequina extra virgin olive oil or something that you enjoy
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Finely chopped Serrano Ham Hard Boiled Eggs Coarsely Chopped
1 - Soak the bread in water for about 3-4 minutes, then squeeze dry
2 - Place tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, and half the bread in a blender/food processor.
3 - Start the blender and add in the olive oil until smooth
4 - Slowly add in the rest of the bread until the desired texture is reached
5 - Season with salt and pepper to taste
6 - Refrigerate at least an hour - I've found that this does taste better the next day.
To serve, ladle into a shallow bowl, top with ham and eggs, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.