Ed (from Yuma) shares a fancy omakase dinner with Tina – and now with you, dear reader. Tomorrow Kirk or Cathy will share something different.
It was a dark and stormy night, after a dark and stormy drive over to San Diego, so Tina and I were happy to walk into the clean well lighted space that is Kokoro (website). We'd made an early reservation so Ishito-san had no other customers at the bar when we arrived:
Both Kirk and I have posted about omakase experiences here, so Tina and I wanted the top-of-the-line omakase and ordered it three days in advance.
The meal started with a simple looking mushroom appetizer – enoki and sliced oyster mushrooms in beautiful little bowls:
That pic doesn’t show much food, but the shrooms were lightly sauced and had an earthy/woodsy flavor. Nice modest beginning.
Then bowls showed up with a large oyster cut into three pieces, flanked by little pieces of dark seaweed, and topped with a blast of ginger:
The concentrated flavor of the ocean.
About this time I ordered 6 oz Kikusui sake:
It was cold, smooth, and altogether pleasant.
Our sashimi plate was a thing of beauty:
The maguro was exceptional and deeply flavored. The uni was good, of course, and the tako had a nice balance between flavor and chewiness. Even the scallop, which was pretty bland really, tasted fresh and tender. I should add that the wasabi was quality as well, hot spicy with bits of real wasabi throughout.
Here's another view of the plate:
Ishito-san was proud of the white fish selection. "Five different fish, all different flavor and texture." The hamachi was what you'd expect, fresh tasting, firm, and rich. The hirame (right behind the octopus) had firmer texture and deeper richer flavor than expected. I'm pretty sure that the slices were endawa, dorsal fin muscle, which I have not had since Wal Mi Do closed. Both Tina and I enjoyed the range of flavors, textures, and richness among the five.
The last item on the platter was maybe the most amazing of all:
I have never had or seen two toned tuna before. And yeah, real good and real rich.
It was time for a change of pace, so we were pleased to see a small covered bowl set in front of each of us:
Inside was a deceptively simple looking clear broth soup:
The cube was a piece of crab and seafood cake, mild and tender. The green herb was very strong flavored and contrasted nicely with the cake. But the key to the whole dish is the thin golden brown oval on the bottom of the bowl – a slice of bottarga – salted, cured, pressed, and aged mullet caviar. When you bite into it, it dissolves into a myriad of minuscule fish eggs.
The next course was one of our favorites, a complex autumn/winter stew that seemed perfect for a rainy evening:
The two main ingredients were pieces of crunchy fried fish and thick succulent tender slices of beautifully braised daikon. They were accompanied by gobo root matchsticks, fried slices of lotus root, a couple of candlenuts, and a few salmon eggs. The flavors, textures, and colors of the stew made this a big winner for both of us.
At this time, our hashi were replaced with new ones. “Why?” crossed my mind briefly, and then an amazing beef salad was set before us:
The steak was exceptionally tender, deeply flavored, and rich. The greens with their fresh and sometimes bitter flavors provided contrast. And the yuzu based steak sauce/salad dressing went with both, its tang balancing the rich meat. "That's wagyu beef from Japan,” Ishito san said, “Grade A5, the best." We believed him. It was good.
Then Tina and I each got a couple slices of fried monkfish accompanied by ponzu:
Okay, but not especially memorable.
The sushi course was the last savory part of the meal. It looked pretty ordinary:
However, it was quite good. The anago was sprinkled with coarse salt and was fresh and meaty tasting. The saba had been lightly cured so we could taste real mackerel flavor. The unusually large ebi, never a favorite sushi of mine, was wonderful here. We were told to use no shoyu, which seemed odd, but the shrimp were so fresh, meaty, and sweet that Ishito san wanted nothing to mask that taste.
The meal concluded with a choice of Italian style ice creams or sorbet. Tina loved her raisin and vanilla bean ice cream:
And I was blown away by the green apple sorbet:
Overall a great meal.
Kokoro, 3298 Greyling Dr. Ste. B, San Diego, CA 92123, (858) 565-4113
T.P. Banh Bao 3 quietly opened on Christmas Eve. I decided to drop by right after the Christmas Weekend to bring some of the Banh Bao to work. So I grabbed Calvin and we headed off.
This is the third shop of the T.P Banh Bao family, the first opened in Houston, which is where I first heard of the place from "FOY" Xiāngjiāo. The second location opened in Garden Grove. And now we have this shop in the rather odd location on Camino Ruiz in Mira Mesa. Go figure. And no, that's not my Ferrari parked in front of the place!
There are 17 varieties of Banh Bao available. For an extra $2.50 (minimum 3 Banh Bao) you get the Banh Bao of your choice fried up. Now I've had Banh Bao, Charsiu bao, Manapua ( both the classic version and baked), Siópao, Hmong Galapao, Thai Salapao and even Samoan Keke Pua'a. Even different versions of Chinese Baozi; in the North, the dough is not sweet, the Missus's preference. I grew up eating manapua and siopao; heck, I remember the "manapua man"! But I'd never had fried banh bao.
Anyway, we got the #1, pork, sausage, and egg fried and wanted to get the Pork and salted Egg, but they were out. So we decided to just get the Regular Pork, egg, and sausage version steamed as well. Just so you know; they'll steam your banh bao to order, so it means a short - 10 minute wait, so be prepared. So steaming banh bao in tow we headed back to the office and busted it out on the back table.
This was pretty good; the exterior crunchy, the dough a bit less fluffy than I prefer, but fine. Not too sweet, the filling very moist and soft. Nice porkiness, really couldn't make out any sausage, and the banh bao signature egg yolk was rather dry. As with most Banh Bao, the filling to bread ratio sided on the meat. Frying makes this rather rich and one is enough for me. This was much better than the steamed version and folks in the office really enjoyed this.
This was on the gummy-soggy side, though the filling, like the fried version was very moist. The texture of the dough made this less pleasant to eat than the fried stuff and there were 3-4 of these still left at the end of the day.
Hoping for a better selection and going into the office on New Years eve, I stopped by to pick something up for breakfast.
I was determined to get the pork and salted egg banh bao. The young lady working was very sweet and even marked the box to let me know where each banh bao was situated in my container.
Nice touch, yeah?
Unfortunately, the pork and salted egg banh bao had suffered from some leakage. The bottom was just mush and when I removed the paper at the bottom it just all came off. The filling was a bit on the dry side; probably from all the "good stuff", the juices leaking away. This is a very "egg forward" in terms of taste and might have been quite good if not for the poor handling of the dough.
I'd take a pass on the BBQ Pork.
While the dough was nice and fluffy on this version and the meat to bread ratio quite good, you can easily see how dry this was. Also, this really lacked the nice sweet-salty-savory tones that make for a good BBQ pork filling. The texture was mealy and dry.
For some reason, I decided to try the vegetarian Banh Bao. Now this one had a greater bread to filling ratio. The textures of the filling; mushroom and so forth was fairly pleasant, but like most vegetarian baos, the overall flavor was on the bland side, to the point that the sweetness of the bread over shadowed the filling. The dough on this was nice and fluffy.
At this point I thought this enough, time to do a post. But my good friend "YummyYummy" sent me a copy of the press release on the right. Wow, talk about a mea culpa! After reading, I forwarded this to CC, who had recently also tried out TP Banh Bao. I then read Kirbie's post and decided to give them another try.
After all, I really like the woman who runs the place, she's very friendly, and the folks working for her, who seem to be a bit lost at times are also very nice.
I ended up getting three pork, salted egg yolk, and sausage Banh Bao, fried. You can tell the difference with these.
Notice how the filling is nicely centered, that golden orb had a nice concentrated "yolky" flavor....now I'm not a big fan of moon cakes; but here, combined with pork, surrounded with slightly sweet dough, with a nice crust around it....now this was good, if a bit rich for me. One was all I could handle.
I also ordered the BBQ Chicken and Taro and Pork Banh Bao as well.
I have never been a big fan of chicken in Bao and that still stands.
This was like an even blander and drier version of the BBQ Pork Banh Bao.
The Pork and Taro Banh Bao was not bad. You can tell how much better made and steamed these were compared to my previous visits.
This might be a bit too "mystery meat" in texture for some. But the taro adds heft and balances out the porkiness of the filling.
As things stand, I've had more banh bao in the last three weeks then maybe in the five or six years! I think it's time for a break from banh bao for now. My recommendation is to go with the fried versions (call ahead). I think they'll be great for groups of folks or parties....so long you eat them fairly quickly. I'm also glad that I usually try a new place a couple of times before posting. In this case it paid off. I hope they keep on improving.
T.P. Banh Bao 3 11271 Camino Ruiz San Diego, CA 92126
Funny thing, this post had me reminiscing about the neighborhood manapua man, who used to carry two old shoyu tin cans on a bamboo pole over his shoulder, full of manapua, pepeiao, and pork hash, yelling out "peh-peh-yao...man-a-pua" walking down the street. Eventually these folks graduated to trucks.......and these days, the Manapua Man (or woman) drives a Manapua Van! Here's a really nice video....a real slice of life from "back home".
Well, Lemon House opened and closed so quickly, I never got a chance to check them out. My sources did tell me they really didn't enjoy their visits; so perhaps it's for the better. So now, we welcome a Steamy Piggy into the spot. I think the folks from Lemon House are still running this new concept as well.
4681 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92123
Tasty Pot on Convoy Looks Ready to Open:
At least when I went to pick up take-out from the newly opened Noodle Hut.
Curious, I drove by a couple of days later and the place does indeed look ready to go.
There's even a menu posted.
4698 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
So there you go......a little peek of what's going on.
mmm-yoso!!! is the name of this blog. Kirk is not posting today and neither is Ed (from Yuma); Cathy has free time.
There are several diners that The Mister and I tend to frequent. I wrote a short post about Gus's in 2011 and we've been here many times since then. You'll see menu specials on the exterior windows and there's a sandwich board at the door... along with the menu above the cash register, which mirrors the one handed to you and there are more specials listed on an inner wall.We seem to be here for breakfast most of the time. The Top Sirloin and Eggs (now $10.99) is (still) a good deal, served with home fries or hash browns and toast or pancakes. French toast with eggs and sausage (that is a very large, very flavorful sausage) or bacon ($8.25) is also a tasty choice.
Most of the lunches come with a choice of soup or salad and the house made pea soup is always a choice. Liver and onions ($8.95) is also a choice of mine at many lunches. The calves liver here is prepared nicely: tender with a floured/light crunch. The gyros topped Greek salad ($9.25), served with garlic toast and a very good (house made) dressing usually results in leftovers and my enjoying another meal later that day.
One of the exterior window specials is for a large (one topping) pizza and salad ($11.99) and that is a definite meal with leftovers for us. The pizza over here is cheesy and is nicely crispy. The crust sometimes seems a bit 'fluffy' and tastes better the next day, but really I have no complaints. The sausage topping is, again, unique in flavor and texture; really good.
The pastrami sub (12 inches, $12.75) is one of the best we've ever had. Fresh bread, toasted and brushed with mustard and layered with a plentiful amount of quality smokey pastrami, griddled thoroughly, with crisped edges and melted provolone which is then pressed before serving...it is perfection. Taking home half results in enough meat for two omelets the next morning.
Ending this post with a rather sloppy set of photos is not intentional. A 1/2 lb chili cheese burger with fries ($9.95) is a comfort meal sometimes. The chili is made with beans and has a good spicy kick. The charred part of the burger went with the chili. The fresh, toasted bun and side of fries made from gigantic potatoes is, again, more than enough food for a single meal.
Gus's Subs and Pizza 5620 Baltimore Drive La Mesa 91942 (619)462-4877 Open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. 7 days
Welcome to another edition of mmm-yoyo!!!, the food blog with variants on the acquisition of said foodstuffs. Kirk is very busy with work this week and Ed (from Yuma) is very busy with retirement (in Yuma). Cathy is writing today.
Last Monday, January 2, was the official New Year holiday and the Tournament of Roses held its annual parade and Bowl Game. The following morning, The Mister and I drove North to see the parade floats lined up end to end, at the Showcase of Floats. The Banner float, which was first in the 96 unit parade entries (floats, bands, equestrian units), reflected the theme of this year, "Echoes of Success". Of the 44 floats in the parade, five are not judged (this is one of those) and 24 of the remaining floats are trophy winners. I'll just show you some details from some of the floats. Walking along to view takes at least two hours and that's if you aren't paying attention to the details that went into the meticulous decorations. You can see the work and thought that went into the design and execution of each float.
Cal Poly Universities entry, 'A New Leaf' featured three chameleons, with that yellow one changing color via an elaborate system of dowels. (YouTube video, 1:45 in length). The California Milk Advisory Board, with its entry "Legacy of Generations" provided a surreal view of a good variety of California Dairy products and emphasized the generations of California dairy families who helped to make California the most successful dairy state in the nation (The 'raisins' are covered with real raisins and the 'cereal flakes' are dried apple skin).
A block away,
we'd been seeing this signage (and outside lantern decor) for years, but never were here when Egg Roll Express was open. We had finally the chance to dine here!
Simple decor, a pitcher of hot tea and weekday lunch specials!
Each lunch special comes with a choice of either hot and sour or egg flower soup. This was a wonderful, fresh, chicken based, creamy and very eggy egg drop served in a quite large bowl. I wanted more.
The serving plate of the special(#30-fish filet with Szechuan sauce)($7.29)was so cute! The food was even better. The spicy fish and vegetables were so fresh and flavorful.
The egg roll? Well, it was fried right (not greasy and nicely crispy) and filled with fresh and bright flavored vegetables. Quite good. Since this was our first visit to a new Chinese restaurant, our standard , Egg Foo Young (with chicken) was ordered ($8.99). Wow! Every restaurant makes EFY their own way and The Mister and I liked this version. Filled with bean sprouts, onion and eggy goodness, the pancake was crispy even under the (not salty) gravy, chicken and fresh vegetables.
Egg Roll Express 2397 E. Washington Blvd Pasadena, Ca 91104 (626)791-2398 open daily 11a.m.-9:30 p.m. Website
After our very nice and refreshing stop at Laduree, the Missus was itching to do some shopping.
I was however, quite surprised that She kept a rather leisurely pace as we headed down Champs-Élysées.
And while we didn't visit the exhibition at the Grand Palais, which was actually built as an exhibition hall for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, the building has had many uses over the years. During World War I it served as military hospital, during the Nazi occupation a truck depot.
We stopped at the statue of Charles de Gaulle on Place Clemenceau to take a photo.
This area, full of lovely green spaces is called des Jardin des Champs-Élysées and is quite lovely. There are many statues and fountains located on the garden grounds. This one, named "Fontaine des Ambassadeurs", also known as the "Venus Fountain" dates back to 1840.
The Avenue des Champs-Élysées ends at a large public square, Place de la Concorde, know for its two grand fountains.
And one dramatic looking, gold topped obelisk, which was originally located at the entrance of Luxor Temple in Eqypt. If you've read our posts on Istanbul, Rome, and even Brno, you'll know that the Missus has a thing for Obelisks, so we had to stop here. The Luxor Obelisk is supposedly over 3000 years old and was shipped from Luxor in 1832, arriving in Paris late in 1833. The pedestal details how the obelisk was transported to Paris, quite an engineering feat back in the day. The original pedestal resides in the Louvre. The gold leaf Pyramidion was installed in 1998 to replace one that had been missing since the 6th century.
It's quite a busy area.
We were going to check out Place de la Madeleine, but by this time the Missus was focused. So we turned left on Rue Saint Honore, then left on Rue Cambon, and arrived at the Missus's destination in the very upscale Opera Neighborhood.
They flagship store of Chanel......sigh. It was quite an experience, with one on one service, refreshment, and so on. I won't go into how much $$$$, or should I say "€€€€" the Missus spent. But let's just say She was quite happy...except for not having shoes in Her size.
In case you're thinking about stopping by:
Chanel Cambon 31 Rue Cambon 75001 Paris, France
The Missus, disappointed in Chanel not having the shoes She wanted, had a plan B so we headed off. At least I know why they call this area "Opera". It's because of the Palais Garnier, the striking looking Opera House.
Around the corner from the Opera House on Rue de la Paix is a location of Repetto. Repetto was founded in 1947 as a maker of ballet shoes. It is super popular in Japan. Being married to the Missus has its hazards; I know more about handbags and women's shoes than any red blooded male should. Anyway, the shoes are quite beautiful. The Missus requested black; but the savvy saleswoman brought out a pair of the Repetto BB in Flame Red and told the Missus they were the number one selling shoe in Japan! I gotta admit, they did look good, so I told the Missus buy them both (She's since bought four more.....sigh). Here's a wonderful blog post if you want to know more about Repetto shoes. There was one funny thing that happened. As I paid for the shoes, the young lady who helped us looked at my name and started talking to me in fluent Japanese! Ok......tis was starting to get a bit surreal. In chatting I found out she was one-quarter Japanese, though she didn't look it at all, and felt more comfortable speaking in Japanese than English!
Boutique Repetto 22 Rue de la Paix 75002 Paris, France
Lest you think I've gone around the bend and this has suddenly become a fashion blog.....
The Missus and I were getting somewhat hungry. While we didn't want too much to eat since we had quite a dinner planned, a croissant and coffee was just not going to do. Looking at my trusty Google Map, I noticed one of the places I entered, an interesting concept restaurant named Boco.
Created by two brothers, Vincent and Simon Ferniot, the shop is basically what I'd call Fast-Casual...or perhaps "Fast-Bistro". It has definitive French twist. Most of the items are served in a "bocal" (glass jar), which, in additional to being recyclable, means you can eat it in the restaurant, or take it home with you. In fact we saw two folks come in and leave with bags full of jars. I read that most ingredients are organic, and here's the kicker, are recipes from a star studded cast of chefs.
You basically pick your stuff out....let them know if you want to eat in, whereupon they'll heat up the items that need it, or take it to go.
Word of warning; this ain't super cheap. Especially if you visit the shop in Orly Airport. But just wanting a smaller sized meal, this proved to be quite relaxed and nice.
We started with Rabbit Rillettes and Celeriac...sorry no photo, we were hungry and just whacked this.
This recipe was courtesy of multi-Michelin starred chef Stéphane Décotterd. It was refreshing, the lapin perhaps a bit on the dry side, but the celeriac and mustard-aioli based sauce was really nice. Not too rich, nice acidity.
The Missus loved the Ouef Moelleux et Mousse de Courge au Lard.
Think of it as a perfect poached egg in a pumpkin mousse, with bacon. This recipe courtesy of Gilles Goujon, whose name I recognized. He is the chef and owner of Three Michelin starred L'Auberge du Vieux Puits.
My favorite dish was the lamb confit over winter vegetable ratatouille.
So perfectly gamey...at Orly, the whole dining area of Boco there smelled like this. Kinda scary to Americans, comforting to me. Loved the sauce, a bit of acid, some tanginess, I think from a tomato product, with an interesting sweetness. The lamb was both tender and gamey...the flavor of the green pasture coming through.
Overall we enjoyed this meal. It was comforting, the portion sizes not too large, definitely not like your friendly neighborhood Chiptole, Five Guys, Luna Grill, or Panera. The young man working here was very friendly. Not everyone's cup of tea....but if we had one on the corner, I'd be there quite often.
boco 3 Rue Danielle Casanova 75001 Paris, France
From here we headed back, walking through the Jardine de Tuileries. Folks were out and about, socializing. We stopped to watch this game of bocce.
A couple of the guys waved me down...wanting me to embarrass participate. I just laughed and nodded a solid negative. Where was the uptight and serious French folks told me about?
Surely not here in the park...enjoying the fall colors or lounging by the fountains.
We walked along the Seine and past Place de la Concorde.
Passing by the steady gaze of the statue that represents the City of Lyon.
And over the bridge.
We meandered our way back to our hotel on Avenue de la Bourdonnais.
We decided to take a short nap. As we unloaded our bags, you could see that the Missus had "made out".
And while this was much better than on my previous visit, it was still missing something. It's a bit more gritty these days, but not bad at all and truly quite filling. I like the flavor; not too much parsley. I'm wondering if they still use the same ratio of favas to garbanzos?
The tahini here is not my favorite version; kind of bland, the pita was fine, standard issue stuff.
As always, the folks working here are warm and wonderful. And yes, they make this stuff fresh so you'll have to wait a few minutes......which is the way things should be.
Mister Falafel 4461 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117 Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 1100am - 800pm
Soo has already posted on the Rabo Encendido here (you can read my comment in the post). The version he had looked nice, though perhaps over done. I ordered it because it wasn't on the menu during my first visits to Havana Grill.
What I got was enormous; though obviously under done and on the tough and chewy side. In fact trying to cut it without holding with my mitts, it broke the plastic knife. The flavor was quite tangy and not quite the flavor I'd experience in other versions I've had; a bit of sweetness, somewhat beefy, and in some version a bit of clove/allspice, and definitely some garlic tones. This wasn't bad; just kind of one tone in taste.
The biggest disappointment were the black beans, which during my first visits back when they first opened was really nice; complex in flavor. This one was bitter, really watery, like the stuff was from the bottom of a pot that had been cooking too long.
The rice was dry, the plantains very tasty. The folks, nice as always. I'm probably going to stick with the Ropa Vieja and the El Cubano, which placed second in my Cubano comparison during future visits.
Havana Grill 5450 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Thanks for taking a break to read this food blog, mmm-yoso!!! Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are too busy researching places to post about so Cathy is writing today's post.
In early October, cc and I met up for a Saturday breakfast at a location which has changed owners and business models a few times in the past 30 years. (In the late 80's, The Mister and I came to this location for fried chicken every Sunday and I also recall it being only a coffee shop for a short while, until the Starbucks opened across the street). Located across the street from Ralphs (and on the other side, from Starbucks) in the general area of SDSU, you may have noticed the small building with a large sign on the roof if stuck at the signal light. The interior hasn't changed much over the years. It isn't hipster, just clean and comfy. Family owned, with customers from the neighborhood as well as from the University, Daily Grind(s) is steadily busy.
That Saturday morning, cc ordered her usual, a chicken fried steak and eggs plate ($9.95) -tender cubed steak with a crispy, light batter topped with a good peppery sausage gravy. I ordered the pancake special($9.95)-three fluffy (with lightly crisp edges) pancakes wrapped around a filling of scrambled eggs and sausage (there was a choice of sausage or bacon). This was a quality, tasty basic breakfast.
A few weeks ago, there was finally time for The Mister to come back to this great place with me. It was a weekday and there is a special Monday-Thursday menu offered.
He chose the bacon and cheese omelet ($6.95) which comes with home fries and toast. This was a large, heavy omelet and very filled; I only have blurred photos of a cross section, though. I decided on the french toast plate ($7.95) which comes with two eggs and a choice of bacon or sausage. The french toast was properly made (crispy outside and fluffy/gooey innards), the eggs were properly over easy and the bacon was of good quality; thick and smoke flavored.
All in all, a really nice neighborhood diner.
Daily Grinds Cafe El Cajon Blvd San Diego 92115 (619)697-0750 Open Daily 6a.m.-4 p.m.