So I'm having a nice chat with a friend of mine....and we're discussing our favorite sport....eating! And as I went over what I ate over the last couple of weeks, he comments "you sure do eat a lot of raw meat." Which caught me off guard. But he was right; as I went through what we talked about...there sure was a good amount of raw meat involved. I came home and went through my photos...and sure enough, he was right. So I thought what the heck, this'll make as good a post as anything.......
Olivetto Cafe and Wine Bar:
Recently, the Missus has become one of those "ladies who does lunch." And has been grabbing lunch at various places with Her friends. One of the favorites of the "ladies who do lunch" is the new Olivetto Cafe and Wine Bar. "The Girls" have eaten there at least 5 times, mostly because of convenience, service, and the place is usually empty, so a 2 to 3 hour lunch is not out of the question.
During one recent lunch hour, the Missus and I managed to meet up for an now all too rare lunch. The Missus went over what She thought was the restaurants strong points......appetizers(except the cheese & salumi plate). She has been less than satisfied with the burger, pastas, etc..... So now She and the Girls just do appetizers.
So that's what we did. And to start off the "raw" theme, I ordered the Carpaccio($8.95):
The paper thin beef tenderloin was okay, as was the olive oil, nothing special. The Missus loves parmigianno-regiano, and this was nice a milky. So much for Chinese hating the "congealed - curdled milk of an old cow's udder". We both enjoy Arugula, and this was a fine middle of the road version of the dish.
What I really came for were the Truffle Parmesan Fries ($4.95):
The Missus told me that Her friend 'K', had raved about these, repeating over and over to the Missus, "can't you smell the truffle oil". To which the Missus replied, "it smells good, but I don't know what truffle oil smells like!" I loved the appearance of the thin, almost shoestring fries. The last several times I've had truffle fries, they've been oily, heavy, and went soggy quickly. These were the polar opposite, and the Parmesan added a nice saltiness to the dish. As for the truffle oil, this dish had an almost buttery smell, and I felt like I could make out 2,4-Dithiapentane. The fries were rich and filling, and even though I've rarely met a fry I didn't finish, I couldn't finish these.
We also had the Bruschetta Del Giorno ($5.50), the Bruschetta of the day.
Nice, ripe tomatoes bursting with flavor, basil, Parmesan...all would have been working in nice harmony if the bread had not been incinerated.
The service at Olivetto was very relaxed, friendly without being intrusive(according to the Missus this is not always the case), and our waters and drinks were refilled throughout. I'm glad the Missus has a nice, relaxing, and not the least bit stuffy place to grab a nice lunch with Her friends.
Olivetto Cafe and Wine Bar
860 West Washington Street
San Diego, CA 92103
You can also read Gil and Krista's post on Olivetto.
Next stop on the mmm-yoso "raw tour", Sab-E-Lee, and one of my current favorite dishes; Koi Soi (Spicy Raw Beef - $6.95). Like I mentioned before, I've had this dish at two other places, one was very good (though not as good as this), and the other was very difficult for me to eat. This on the other hand is very easy for me to eat.
Yes, in spite of the heat from the chilies, this is one dish that I find hard to stop eating. A pinch of the salad in cabbage in one hand. A ball of sticky rice in the other. Once you start you dare not lose momentum.
The Missus would not eat this at first, sticking with one of the two other beef salads on the menu. But once She tried it, She was hooked. Good stuff.....
2405 Ulric St
San Diego, CA 92111
It is an actual item on the menu at Asmara. Spaghetti is not very high on the list of items I'd like to try at an Eritrean Restaurant, though please tell me if you've tried it, and like it.
While the Missus went for the sampler:
I went for this:
It's called Kitfo, and is the Ethiopian/Eritrean version of steak tartar; finely chopped (not ground) raw beef, flavored with niter kibbeh (a herb infused clarified butter), mitmita (a spicy powder seasoning), and herbs. It is served with the ubiquitous, carpet-padding-look-alike-eating utensil(you use pieces of it as your eating implement - don't ask for a spoon), the sour and spongy flatbread Injera.
This version was not as sour as others, and along with what was used to line the plate, we each received another plate with several "rolls" of injera.
Less you think this is a light dish, it is rich, and the injera is heavy, and we both got really full, really quickly. The portion size is more than sufficient, the spiciness of the mitmita is not too bad either .
Emboldened by Her experiences with the Koi Soi, the Missus dug right in, and was stopped dead in Her tracks. She found eating a raw beef dish that is slightly North of warm (from the clarified butter I assume), and the very strong flavor of the herbs to be disconcerting. This dish stayed with me for a loooong time, as did the aftertaste of the cardamom and fenulgreek. I could still taste it the next morning.
If you've never had this type of food before, Asmara is a great place to start. The restaurant is very clean, and the folks who work here are friendly. I think the gentleman who served us was a bit taken aback when I ordered, but I told Him I've had Kitfo before at a restaurant on Fairfax in Los Angeles, and he was good to go.
Asmara Eritrean Restaurant
4155 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92114
I've posted on Yookwe (Yuk Hwe) from Buga before. I've never gotten a clean shot off, since the ladies always insist on mixing it for when they bring it to my table. I understand that an unmistakable pile of raw meat, topped with a raw egg can be disturbing. But when it's good, it's quite good. Unfortunately, the last 2 times, the meat has tasted a bit off, so I think I'll pass on this dish from now on. Too bad, Buga is about the only place in San Diego that I trust enough to even order this.
Buga Korean BBQ Restaurant
5580 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117
So there you have it...mmm-yoso, like you've never seen it before; from mild to wild, in the raw.......he-he-he.....