Kirk is on vacation, Cathy is doing bunches of things, so Ed (from Yuma) has today's post on an unusual eatery in San Gabriel Valley.
I had been researching restaurant possibilities for Tina and my trip to LA, and I was intrigued by a short post that Kirk had written back in August, 2009, about the Northern Chinese Restaurant. It was his second restaurant of the day, so he sampled only a few dishes, but hinted that he would be back. If he ever went back, he never told us readers about it.
Tina and I were looking for something different, something we'd never had before, so this place seemed intriguing and its location just down Valley Boulevard in Rosemead was close to our hotel:
The interior, with only about 14 tables, was clean and attractive. Of course, I wondered what a faux rococo pastoral tapestry was doing on the wall in a Chinese restaurant, but it’s certainly better than a bare wall:
We had arrived a little before 6 PM, by the time we left every one of those 14 tables had customers, sometimes large family groups. Tina and I were the only non-Asians in the place, and maybe the only people there who didn't have family ties to northern China. Nonetheless, we were treated well and the menu had clear translations for each of the over 200 dishes available. It was easy to point to what we wanted on the menu, so there was no confusion in the ordering.
The first dish to arrive was the Dried Tofu with Hot Pepper:
Talk about something different that we never had before! Those pale ribbons are not pasta, but strips of dried tofu. The light sauce had a mild pork flavor and the jalapeno slices added a nice spice and crunch to the dish.
Next was a huge bowl of Sour Napa with Pork Belly Soup:
In addition to the suan cai and pork, there were also chunks of frozen tofu and at the bottom of the bowl long transparent noodles.
For me and Tina, this was true comfort food. You can give pork and sauerkraut a different name and throw in some tofu and noodles, but it is still pork and sauerkraut, a combination that brings back memories of my childhood. The sour cabbage had been prepared perfectly so that the finished dish was sweetly sour, the mild tang cutting through the richness of the meat.
A cold dish, the Spicy Cucumber then arrived at the table:
This simple dish was a perfect palate cleanser – salty, garlicky, spicy, and crisp.
When I thought I was finished ordering, the young man wondered if we wanted rice, so I asked if there was something more typical of northern China that he would recommend, and he pointed to Smoked Meat and Pancake. So I ordered that also:
As soon as I saw it, I realized that this was a dish which Kirk had really enjoyed back in 2009. Of course he had called it by its real name, Xun Rou Da Bing, and of course we really enjoyed it in 2016.
The pancake was like a yeasty flatbread with a bit of chew and a nice crusty exterior. We happily would have eaten the bread by itself, but the dark bean paste sauce was wildly good and deeply flavored. The smoked pork was mild and okay, but if you put it and some scallion strips on top of a wedge of pancake slathered with sauce, you ended up with a very very tasty slice of Northern Chinese pizza: But we weren't finished yet. The last dish to hit the table was the one that turned out to be our favorite overall, Cumin Toothpick Lamb:
The numerous chunks of gamy lamb were all speared with toothpicks. Some pieces were very tender and some a little bit chewy and gristly. The meat, tossed with stir fried onion, was flavored by abundant chili flakes, ginger, cilantro, sesame seeds, and especially cumin seeds. The combination was masterful.
Of course, as you have probably already figured out, we ordered way too much food even for two hungry people. We joked that we needed some starving imaginary friends to help us finish. We did eat most of the smoked meat and pancake in the restaurant, but we still had tons of leftovers. The cold lamb was still incredible two days later.
For us, this was more than just a different and interesting meal, it was a real feast.
The next day, we went to the Getty Museum and kept crossing the paths of a couple of young Chinese women. As we were leaving, we found ourselves waiting for the same elevator, and I asked if I could take their picture. Kindly, they said yes:
Afterwards, we chatted a bit and I learned that the young lady on the left was from Shanghai and the one on the right was from further north. "Beijing?" I asked.
"No, north from there." So I said that Tina and I had just eaten at a northern Chinese restaurant and had dishes like sour cabbage and pork.
While Kirk is out of the country, Cathy posts the most, but today Ed (from Yuma) posts about an old favorite with a new name.
Tina had some slack time at work, so she and I drove up to LA for a few days. During the day we went to LACMA, the Getty, and the Huntington where we especially enjoyed the Chinese Garden:
We stayed at the Hilton on Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel. That meant a lot of windshield time to LACMA and especially the Getty, but it also meant that we could have dinners in the San Gabriel Valley, which is a very good thing.
In particular, we wanted to go to Seafood Village in Temple city where we ate several times in the past, but that restaurant (as well as the one in Monterey Park) has been renamed Seafood Palace. Had the quality changed? In addition, we’d always ordered the special deep-fried crab, an amazing dish, but this visit we wanted to see what else the kitchen could do. We went there twice for dinner.
Both times we parked in the large lot behind the restaurant and entered through the back door:
One evening, we ordered a bottle of white wine; Seafood Palace had only two white wines, but we were happy with the Emmolo Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc:
It was complex, medium bodied, and dry – remarkably sophisticated with a very fair markup.
The first dish we ordered, the crab and fish maw soup, arrived in a large attractive bowl:
Wonderful soup. Imagine an egg drop soup with crab flavored broth packed with almost chewy, semi-gelatinous, and mildly flavored fish maws (air bladders). So good we each had three little cups:
This squid dish, salty baked squid I think it's called, really doesn't look baked:
The very light and somewhat salty crust has a bit of a crispy crunch and a touch of chili heat. The squid itself was remarkably tender. The tasty cephalopods were topped with slices of jalapenos and scallions and were served with white pepper and red vinegar.
The garlic fried snow fish (alias black cod, sablefish, butterfish) had an equally light breading and was moist, rich, and properly flaky:
Very well prepared. Not greasy at all, the fresh flavor of the fish accented with garlic.
One of our favorite dishes was the chiu chow scallops and asparagus:
Chiu Chow (various spellings) refers to cookery in the style of Chaozhou (various spellings), a city at the northern coastal apex of Guangdong province. In many ways the cuisine is similar to Cantonese but shows distinct Southeast Asian influences.
The asparagus was thick, fresh, moist, and cut perfectly. The large sliced scallops balanced the vegetable well and the mildly spicy sauce brought everything together. Even the scallions and roasted spinach leaves made small contributions.
We also loved the oysters cooked with scallions and ginger:
Scallions are often underappreciated, but here the fresh green onions became the main vegetable. I also liked the numerous oysters, mildly funky with that taste that reminds me of estuaries or small backwater coves. The ginger likewise was abundant, and the presentation emphasized the similarity of knobby and irregular ginger roots and bumpy and uneven oysters. Sort of a culinary pun.
The braised chiu chow duck was a little more problematic:
Every piece of duck was a bony piece of duck. The sauce was strongly flavored with ginger and leek, but I detected a slight odd herbal note and cornstarch. The hot pieces of duck were also hard for me to eat with chopsticks, lips, teeth, and tongue alone. The next day, however, in the privacy of our hotel room, Tina and I used our hands to devour the pieces of cold leftover duck, so I guess the duck was pretty good after all.
On one visit, we had the house special fried rice:
It was interesting, permeated with seafood flavors but light in texture. There were small clouds of egg white, thin slices of asparagus, scattered shards of crab, and occasional bits of shrimp. The rice matched well with the food, but it was the only thing that seemed kind of high-priced ($13.99).
Overall, however, Tina and I were delighted with Seafood Palace. The service was generally good even though the young man serving our wine didn't seem quite sure how to do it; nonetheless, he and the other servers consistently did well. If you want to see costs of the two meals etc., here is meal #1 :
Thanks you for stopping by to see what and where mmm-yoso!!! is writing about today. Kirk is still having difficulty going online, Ed (from Yuma) is busy writing another post and Cathy has this post about some meals.
I'm always wondering if I am cooking Filipino food correctly and will stop at one of many Filipino markets, food stands and restaurants when able. The closest to our home is in Mira Mesa.
The South East corner of the 15 at the Mira Mesa Boulevard; that mall was rebuilt/modernized in 2012. Manila Sunset is in the first part of the mall as you turn in off of Mira Mesa Boulevard (Trader Joe's anchors the second part).
Walk up, order and pay. You'll receive a table marker with simply the name of a colonial town (Vigan) or location ( Intramuros is the original Manila -a walled city- and you get there via a Rotonda - a roundabout): Something you can research on your phone while waiting for your order to be brought to you.
The interior is both beautiful with art and quirky, with shoes hanging off of an overhead electric wire just above a small 'hut' table area.
Many people think of lumpia as only being a fried item. There is such a thing as "Fresh Lumpia"- it's not fried, but a light crepe, wrapping sautéed mixed vegetables, topped with chopped hard boiled eggs and peanuts and covered in a slightly sweet (not crazy sweet) sauce ($3.25). I have had other versions, but like the Manila Sunset version best.
Here is what the 'Shanghai' Lumpia ($2.65 for six pieces) looks like. Each piece, approximately the size of your little finger, is freshly fried, filled with pork and vegetables finely minced. These are a good option if you want some protein (the larger fried lumpia are like the fresh-all vegetable filled). A longaniza and fried egg plate ($6.95). The longaniza here is unique (as are all Filipino longanizas, which vary the spices by region) and nicely garlic-y. Three large pieces, two scoops of rice and a bowl of vegetable soup accompanied the hard fried egg.
The pork inihaw plate ($6.45) also came with rice and soup. Charbroiled pork slices which were marinated in vinegar and garlic are the primary component- good tasting and tender. There is a grill in the back with a glass window where you can watch the char grilling happen; photos came out cloudy.
You can buy individual skewers of BBQ meat (beef, pork or chicken) for $2.05 each, or a plate which includes three skewers, rice and soup for $6.45. I do like the vegetable soup here. Every part of it, from broth to the leafy vegetables is just so flavorful.
A simple, dish, Pancit Malabon ( a rice noodle dish from originating in the City of Malabon) is known for its crab fat/fish sauce sauce ($4.15). This isn't a large dish, doesn't come with soup and those three shrimp you see are only half shrimp, but it is filled with flavor and just enough food. I wrote about Bibingka, a traditional filipino dessert, in a 2013 post (and probably in a few other posts) because I try it whenever I can find this traditional Christmas dessert. The version of Bibingka ($3.25) here is 'Royal' Bibingka- topped with cheese (which accounts for the dark colored top). A bit of savory in addition to the sweetness of the traditional rice flour, eggs, sugar and coconut milk baked in a banana leaf. This was served warm with raw coconut shavings on the side. So good.
CC says almost everything here is a comfort food for her and it is for me, too.
Manila Sunset Grille 9837 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego 92131 (858) 578-6200 open 10 am-8 pm daily Website
Other bloggers have been to Manila Sunset Grille too! Faye had a recent post and Kirbie visited in 2013.
mmm-yoso!!! is a blog about food and travel. Today, Kirk is traveling, Cathy is busy eating, and Ed (from Yuma) is blogging.
"You eaten at Mad Tacos?" It was my friend and former colleague, Dawn.
"What? Where?" She then explained that it had won some awards and was supposed to be really good, and asked if I wanted to join her and a couple other folks there for lunch on an upcoming Friday.
The answer to "Where?" was a little complicated as well, because Mad Tacos is inside a pharmacy, Sant Drugs, that has had a lunch counter ever since the days when lunch counters and soda fountains were commonplace in drugstores and five and dimes: This is what an old-fashioned lunch counter looks like:
Here is the view in the other direction:
With such limited seating, and being open only weekdays from 8:30-6 pm, how can they stay in business? This pic is part of the answer to that question:
Every time I've eaten there, people have come in for takeout, sometimes a lot of takeout.
So why is this little place really busy? I think because the food is really good and the prices are really cheap.
Case in point – Friday is fish taco day, so this taco cost $1 on a Friday (prices as of May, 2016):
There is nothing skimpy about that taco. There are numerous chunks of breaded fish and a lot of toppings including spiced mayo. And if you like your fish tacos to have some crunch, you won't find a better one in town, crackling crunchy.
What's more, the two house salsas are excellent:
The one on the left is the guacamole sauce, smooth and creamy from the avocado, with a lime tang and a spicy zip. Really excellent on the fish tacos, but also great on some of the meats, like asada.
The sauce on the right is a complex, smoky, dried chili salsa. This is not a chip dipping salsa, it is a spicing up flavor booster, perfect for a lot of things like these tostadas (regularly 2 for $5, but Thursdays $1 apiece):
So good. Underneath the cotija cheese, pickled red onions, chopped lettuce and tomato, and spicy mayo, lurked pieces of carnitas and a nice smear of frijoles. Even the crunchy tortilla was first rate, substantial enough that I could eat most of the tostadas with my hands and get no fallout on my shirt.
And if you look carefully at the salsa, you can see numerous tiny flakes, flecks, and bits, many red, but others green, black, white, yellow, and translucent. The complexity of a pointillist painting.
Maybe the most amazing lunch special is rolled taco Monday. Potato tacos at $.50 apiece. So this is a $3 plate:
The quality is also superb. The mashed potato is copious and flavorful, and the shell is deep fried crispy.
As I was leaving that day, I mentioned to Mannie (the head cook and proprietor) that his rolled tacos were better than my previous favorites at Buen Taquito up the street.
"Yeah," he said, "they don't flavor the mashed potatoes and their salsa is real basic." A spot on evaluation, and he could’ve added that his are larger in addition to better tasting. But his answer showed that he knows the competition, pays attention, and focuses on quality.
That's also evident in this bacon wrapped hot dog ($4):
While not as overloaded as some bacon dogs, the grilled and charred onions, chopped tomatoes, spiced mayo, mustard, and ketchup are enough, and the real focus here is on the quarter pound sausage:
That's a good hot dog. It has the right texture, excellent flavors, and abundant juiciness.
The quality also shows up in the plate of 3 tacos (choice of pastor, asada, carnitas, pollo, or pescado), a good value at $6:
In the photo, I’ve got a pastor, a fish, and an asada taco. There was a lot of asada:
and I was particularly impressed with the seasonings and grilling of the pastor:
Similarly, the chicken at Mad Tacos is not just bland generic white meat, but is nicely spiced and grilled. Look at this quesadilla ($4):
About as good as a quesadilla can be. The grilling of the tortilla is perfect, the cheese melted creamy, the chicken flavorful, and the roasted green chili strips abundant.
One day I decided to try takeout, so I called in an order for a chicken burrito ($6). When I walked to the counter, everything was almost ready, so Mannie could assemble it quickly, and my burrito was perfectly fresh and nicely packaged:
That burrito was also very tasty:
I realize that a lot of folks don't like lettuce in their burritos, but here the lettuce, pico de gallo, refritos, and abundant guac sauce complemented the warm spicy chicken chunks.
So is everything at Mad Tacos really great? Well, truth be told, the french fries ($3), are pretty ordinary:
Not bad, but not great. Otherwise most things here are real good eats and real good value. Thanks, Dawn.
Thanks for once again stopping by to read mmm-yoso!!!, a blog about food. Kirk is dealing with some connectivity issues right now, Ed (from Yuma) is recovering from a short vacation (not in Yuma) and Cathy is connected and rested, so she is writing today.
It's an El Niño year out here in Southern California and a day can range from chilly-cold to rainy to windy to hot. It's kind of fun to never know what to expect when stepping out in the morning. A few weeks ago, The Mister and I stepped out and drove a short way to have breakfast.
Patty's opened on Lake Murray Boulevard in August 2012 in the Big Lots anchored mall, across the street from the Ross Dress for Less anchored mall, on the North side of La Mesa, about two doors down from Papa's Donuts.Neat and clean, the small restaurant offers a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, has whiteboard specials and opens at 7 a.m. every day. The Gyros Omelet, made with feta, tomato and onion and served with pita , sliced tomatoes and tzatziki sauce was a whiteboard special ($8) one weekday. (It is regularly $9.95) Thick and heavy, the flavors melded well and we had leftovers to bring home. Mariana's Special Sandwich ($9.95) is a sort of craving for me. A plain, toasted bagel with cream cheese, over easy egg, ham and bacon and served with home fries (or hash browns) seems to satisfy just about every early morning craving I have, all in one bite.
The gyros and chicken salad ($11.95) is very large and served with dressing and tzatziki sauce on the side, along with toasty warm pita bread. Both the gyros and chicken are flavorful and moist.
The 1/2 lb gyros burger ($8.95) is great and adding onion rings ($2.95) makes this a meal for two. A thick patty, lightly char grilled and topped with all the gyros made each bite enjoyable. The onion rings were thick and fried properly.
We'll be back for more meals at this great neighborhood Cafe.
Patty's Cafe 6155 Lake Murray Boulevard La Mesa, CA 91942 (619)462-1922 Website Open Mon-Sat 7-9, Sun 7-3
mmm-yoso!!! is a blog about food. Kirk is busy today and traveling around looking for food, Ed (from Yuma) is busy consuming food and preparing another interesting post about Yumans and their available food choices, so Cathy is writing this post.
Kirk blogged about a few visits when Szechuan Taste first opened,he also mentioned it in mid-March last year. Despite his not so favorable assessment, The Mister has been having on and off cravings for 'spicy' food and we've made a few visits. During our first visit, I determined that the tabletop condiment selection, with the metal tin containing sauce of spices mixed with oil is necessary for me to be happy with the flavor + heat levels here. The Szechuan chicken lunch special ($7) is served with the egg drop soup. It is fine for someone who is used to take out Chinese food, and not spicy to me, again, necessitating the addition of the tabletop sauce. The seafood crispy noodles ($11)is not made to be spicy and the flavors are pretty generic, but enhanced with the addition of the sauce. The green onion pancake ($5) is well made, with the flaky layers quite tasty. However, I ended up wanting more heat and dipped pieces into the sauce part of The Misters choice:of mabo tofu ($9). This was a good sauce, complimenting the tofu and ground pork and not needing any additional 'heat' component.Even the sauce that the spicy wontons ($7) were swimming in wasn't spicy enough for me. Yet, we returned again, hoping for some spicy heat with flavor, perhaps by trying another part of the menu. On this rainy day, the Lamb and fish hot pot ($14) was excellent in both flavor and heat level. Finally, a dish which needed no condiments!The light flavor imparted on the tea smoked duck ($13) was just right and no spice needed to be added.
Hit and miss, not terrible if you have expectations of Chinese food, not great if you are expecting Szechuan.
Szechuan Taste 8199 Claremont Mesa Blvd San Diego 92111 (858) 754-8888 Website
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog with contributions about food consumed from various places under various circumstances. Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are relaxing today. Cathy is writing about her circumstances.
Yes, it is that time of year again. The President, Theme (Echoes of Success), Marching Bands and some float designs for the 128th Tournament of Roses parade were announced not long after the 126th Parade ended on January 1, 2016. Floats are in the beginning stages of being built and a "T-1" (first float road test of mechanics and maneuverability) of floats built by Phoenix Decorating Company (who built 22 of the 44 floats in the 2016 parade) was held on Saturday morning at 7 a.m.
Listening to traffic reports, an accident had the North 5 with all lanes closed, so The Mister and I left home before 5 a.m. and stopped at Tan Hoang Huong (THH) in Tustin, since we were there before 6 a.m. (when Cream Pan (our usual stop) opens). Located just West (under the 5) of Cream Pan, it is good place to grab a sandwich and other treats. I knew about it because of several posts on CC's blog.
We ordered two egg rolls (@65¢) and a pork pate chaud (85¢) to eat while we waited for our bahn mi to be prepared. Yes, that's a 'spam' and egg sandwich ($4.25).
Fresh items, great tasting. Not the same as K Sandwiches, but very good. THH 14081 Newport Ave Tustin, CA (714)731-1366 Open Mon-Sat 5 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Sun 7 am-4 pm website
We detoured around the accident (which blocked the North 5 for more than six hours) and arrived at the Road Test just after 7 a.m.
Raymond Street is the place. The floats were lined up. The Rotary International float is in a very basic stage. You can see exactly where the driver and spotter are seated. They are communicating via headsets, as they will during the parade. The spotter on the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs float is the lady to the left in the photo. She will be seated below the floor of that gazebo-like structure. The Kiwanis float is taking shape. The City of Alhambra float has a fire engine being driven by both a fireman and a fire dog... Lions Clubs International is celebrating 100 years of Service in 2017. I can tell this float will be even more magnificent once it is decorated.
There were more details, but you get the idea. We were off to our next stop, Copenhagen Pastry (again, I knew about it from CC's blog), located East on Colorado Boulevard. The truck (and a few cars) parked in front of the otherwise quiet street made the subtle storefront easy to find. The fresh selections were so tempting- yes, that's about everything offered- We bought a loaf of Rye bread ($6) the dense, chewy style, made with rye berries, sunflower and black flax seeds, a Spandauer ($1.95) flaky pastry topped with almond paste and custard and a slice of Kringle ($1.95) also filled with almond paste, custard and sugar. We will return.
We began heading home, stopped at a Super H-Mart for some items and then hit another accident prone area of the 91 freeway, exited and decided to stop at Burger Basket, which we have driven past during prior sidesteps from traffic. Order, pay, have a seat...watch the char grill happen. A double cheese burger- (charred to perfection)($5.49) Gosh, I haven't had such a great burger since Sima's. My semi-usual morning order of an egg sandwich with sausage ($5.89). Let me say, this was heavy and huge with unexpectedly large tasty breakfast sausages (skin slightly burned), a lot of egg and lettuce with tomato and mayonnaise. Burger Basket has been at this location since at least 2007 and again, wish we had stopped here sooner. We will be back.
Burger Basket 1058 West Sixth Corona, CA 92882 (951) 734-1331 Open 7 days 6:30-9:30 Website
It was a long morning and we were home before noon. I hope you are having a good weekend!
Thanks for dropping by to read the food blog, mmm-yoso!!! Kirk is unable to get near a computer right now, as is Ed(from Yuma). Cathy is available and has something food-related to write about.
More than once, I have heard about cities like El Cajon, Santee and La Mesa being located 'all the way out in East County' and too far to drive to, even for good food. In return, I have told people to look at a map of San Diego County so they could realize the size and the real center of our County.
Heading East on the 8 Interstate freeway, past Alpine are signs indicating you have entered the Cleveland National Forest, a 460,000 acre wilderness environment within urban boundaries.
Taking the Highway 79 exit and driving North for about 1.5 miles, you will see a few businesses and on the left-Descanso Junction Restaurant. The corner land and building was originally a gas station (in 1920) and in 2004, Descanso Junction Restaurant opened. Stepping inside, the decor (memorabilia of motorcyles, horses and the West) is comfortable and reminiscent of the past. There are many 'regulars' eating and meeting here.
The menu is rather extensive and there are also chalkboard specials (hanging in the Saloon area when you walk in).
Since I've only met clients here for lunch (and they were paying, so I ordered a quesadilla
/whiteboard special), the breakfast menu was overwhelming (in a good way, with my being undecided for a while). I opted to try something more or less 'traditional'-the Country Scramble ($8.99)- scrambled eggs with homemade biscuits, homemade gravy and (really good, thick, skin on) breakfast sausage. Yes, I realize the gravy with country fried steak with this same gravy will probably be my choice next time.
The Mister chose to ignore traditional breakfast choices and instead, the Smoked Bourbon Tri-Tip with eggs ($11.99). Wow! The meat was perfect (medium rare, which he requested), the smoked Bourbon flavor was so good and new taste point for me, the over easy eggs had those yummy orange yolks and those home fries were really really great!
Check out the menu and Monday-Friday specials listed; in case you might want to eat on the way home after enjoying a staycation within the country that doesn't involve the ocean. There is a lot to see and do in San Diego.
Descanso Junction Restaurant 8306 Highway 79 Descanso, CA 91916 Open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily Website