Man, they just opened in April! Cathy sent me a text about this and I went to check out their Facebook Page:
"Char House September 14 at 9:03pm To our valued guests, Char House is now CLOSED. Thank you for your support and we hope to continue serving you at our other location in Hillcrest: Pho Fifth Ave. 3807 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103."
I drove by yesterday.....
Geeez.....the Grand Opening sign is still up.....
7765 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111
Yum Cha Café Closes:
Cathy also mentioned this to me as well. Notice the trash bins in front of the door. The place caused a bit of buzz and opened to lines. But slowly got worse and worse and based on what I had during my last visit, they really did seem like they were circling the drain.
6933 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
Since we've been on 99 Ranch Market watch here at mmm-yoso...... The sign has been up for a couple of weeks.
Man, it's been pretty hectic at work the last 6 months. And I'm thinking it's not going to let up for a while. Recently, I couldn't really count on having lunch at a normal time....there's always some meeting, conference call, or some other thing that needs attention. More often than naught, I'll end up running to Nijiya, Mitsuwa, or Marukai for a bento. But sometimes, you just need to get out of the office....but there aren't that many non-fast/casual food choices before 11am. So recently, I went back to two, sticky tabled places for an early lunch.
Sam Woo BBQ:
Yes, it usually Cathy who does the Sam Woo posts. But I had a 11am conference call, followed by noon and 1pm meetings....so where to go at 930?
Went with something easy....the Shrimp Dumpling Egg Noodle Soup.
The dumplings were surprisingly decent, nice, tender filling.....rather light on the shrimp, but pretty good. The egg noodles, this being of the thin variety had been over-cooked and were mushy. The soup was hot, which was the best thing about it....low on flavor, lacking richness and that "aaah" factor, but it was very cheap at something like $4.25......so my bar wasn't set very high.
Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant 7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste 103 San Diego, CA 92111
Sieu Sieu BBQ:
I'm not quite sure what time this place opens. Sometimes, I'll drive by at 1030 and they aren't open, on this day it was 1015 and they were doing some pretty good business already....some guy came in and picked up 2 whole roasted pigs! On a weekday!
Sieu Sieu BBQ is one of those places that always seemed to have "been there forever".....within a few months of opening in September of 2008 (remember when this place was Maui Maui Hawaiian BBQ for a blink of the eye?) the place was already starting to look a bit worn. And by 2012 they looked like they'd been there for decades.
On this day I was starving and decided on the Roast Duck and Roast Pork on Rice ($8.50). I do like the two women who work here....they are always rather pleasant to me. And this time they got me this thermos of iced water to have with my early lunch.
In short, the rice was dry, the duck really salty and the skin too rubbery and chewy. The pork, in spite of it being on the fatty side (not necessarily a bad thing), was pretty good.....the skin was light and crisp, it was almost hot, which means it had been recently brought out, and was quite moist.
It might be a while before I return, but this was better than what I've had here in recent years. I think I was kind of extra critical since we'd just returned from Vancouver the week before.
Sieu Sieu BBQ 7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Thanks to everyone who is stopping by to read mmm-yoso!!! even though it is only about a day before Thanksgiving. Kirk and His Missus are still enjoying the culture, food and weather in another country (or two) while Ed (from Yuma) and Tina are busily preparing for an American Thanksgiving feast (in Arizona). Cathy is writing another post while The Mister is making plans for Thursday.
Since I seem to be writing about restaurants that are inside Grocery stores, that 'theme' will be continued today. This time, a Chinese restaurant inside an Asian grocery store.From the entrance, you can sort of tell that Vinh Hung used to be a movie theater. Walking inside and going to the restaurant-to the right, just past the cash registers- might make it a bit clearer, especially when you see the stairways leading to the balcony and the lighting around what used the be the 'refreshment' area.
There is a lunch as well as a dim sum menu.
Kirk has written about Hong Kong BBQ & Dim Sum, as well as some other restaurants which are located inside the former 'lobby' area. Even I wrote one post, in 2009.The shrimp dumplings ($3.50) are pretty standard. The inside shrimp are large and juicy and mixed with a bit of ginger and garlic. The crystal skins (tapioca based) were not too thin, soft and didn't break. The steamed spare ribs in black bean sauce ($2.60) are one of our usual orders here. The meat is tender as are any rib bones attached. The sauce that has seeped into the bowl...well, I pour it over some rice, or I just eat it with the spoon. It has all the flavors I like.Squid Black Bean Sauce ($7.95) is so good. The amount of vegetables and squid- so tender- and the salty black bean sauce is one of my cravings. Orange peel chicken ($6.95) is a pretty standard dish, but when made fresh, the tang of the sauce with some mild chili heat...and the crispiness...it just all blends into a nice 'comfort food' dish for us.Putting this post together, I realized we order a 'something'in black bean sauce on almost each trip here. In this case, shrimp with black bean sauce ($7.95). Again, the vegetables with the sauce are so enjoyable and fresh and the shrimp are outstanding.The very last item at the bottom of the lunch menu has 'Deep Fried Flounder' ($7.95). Since I usually read menus 'backwards' as well as from the bottom up, this had been my first item, but usually bypassed in order to try something else. A few weeks ago, we ordered this and it's become a favorite. Not only is it a good price for a whole fish which isn't tilapia, but the fry is so very perfect:light and crispy. The flavor of the fish shines.
So, there you go, another restaurant in a grocery store. Shopping inside is interesting in the product choices (vegetable prices are good) but also looking around and picturing the projector rooms and seeing where the seats and screen used to be in each of the five movie theaters.
Hong Kong BBQ and Dim Sum 10550 Camino Ruiz San Diego 92126 (858) 408-4888 Open Sun-Thurs 9-9, Fri-Sat 9-9:30
It had been quite a while since we headed out of San Diego on a road trip. Things had gotten hectic between vacations and various trips we'd taken. And yet, we really weren't satisfying some of our cravings. One of which was the Cha Ca Thang Long from Song Long. So last weekend we headed out, for the first time this year!
I don't think Song Long has changed much since we first visited a couple of years ago. But it had been long enough that the old menu had been replaced with a newer version and the Cha Ca Thang Long had gone up a buck to $17.95.
It's still more than enough for the two of us.
From the caramelized shallots, to the nicely fired fish to what we call the "gift that keeps on giving", the mam nem, which you keep pouring over your bun and greens, only to have it keep "returning" for the rest of the day! It's just a lovely dish, one of our favorites.
It's also good that they open rather early, since we could hit up places before they got busy on this Sunday.
Song Long Restaurant 9361 Bolsa Ave Suite 108 Westminster, CA 92683
This was nice, not salty, could have used a but more bean paste perhaps, the skin is not the best, but the duck is meaty and it actually tastes better the next day.
It really hit the spot.
The place does put a lot of "jus" over the duck. In case you're wondering what to do with the last few pieces of duck and the sauce. Chop up the skin and what meat....little meat if you've done it right, and make fried rice. I actually made omurice with some of the fried rice I made......I was so hungry and the fragrance just took over, thus I forgot to take photos. Next time perhaps.
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
Thanks to FOY (Friend of Yoso) "Jess", I found out that The Noble Chef was finally reopening on September 3rd.
Imagine me walking in to a menu full of Cantonese dishes facing a case of Chinese BBQ. I decided to just try out the roast duck; I needed time to look over the menu to see what new and maybe promising, and also to see if my old favorites were still there. So I got a half roast duck ($12). Getting home and opening up the styrofoam container, I felt like there was bait and switch going on. The ducks in the case were a nice, lacquered brown....this was a rather beige looking beast.
Skin like rubber, meat moist, but lacking flavor...skin almost without flavor, where was the five spice, the salty, the sweet? I also question the cooking temp/technique as this seemed greasy, not rich with oil, but greasy. This has got to be the worst Chinese Roast Duck I've had in quite a while.
Let's add insult to injury, it seems that many of the dishes I thought were decent at Noble Chef are no longer on the menu; Shrimp with XO Sauce Fried Rice, Shrimp Tomato Sauce, Shrimp and Egg on Rice....in fact, it looks like there aren't very many shrimp dishes on the menu. To make things even worse; one of the lousiest dishes I'd ever had at Noble Chef, the Hainan Chicken Rice is on the lunch menu.
So what to do? I'm not sure....I guess I need to check out some of the lunch specials at the least. Lunch is served until 4pm, which is great......but I'm not so certain about the food. Really nice folks, they seem to be trying hard, but this just didn't do it for me.
The Noble Chef 6159 Balboa Avenue San Diego, CA 92111
Been in a bit of a rut recently and have just been hitting the same old places. I mentioned this to an acquaintance of mine who asked me what I've been eating recently. I told him, "not much, the same old boring stuff". He then asked me what and where and I ticked off most of these places. He looked at me and said, "your routine is nothing like my routine, nor is it like anyone else I know." Maybe, but it's been pretty boring for me lately....though I can't say eating has been terrible.
Golden City Restaurant 5375 Kearny Villa Rd. San Diego, CA 92123
Pho Hiep & Grill:
Pho Hiep & Grill 6947 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St #121 San Diego, CA 92111
777 Noodle House:
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
Sieu Sieu BBQ:
A quick comment....never been a favorite, but I must have ht the jackpot with the roast pork on this trip because it was moist, the skin thin and crunchy. The char siu was the same 'ol, same 'ol, mediocre-ness.
A while back FOY "DavidD" mentioned that this shop made the best roast duck. So I made sure to mention the place to Beach during my last visit. Beach told me he's being going to Lien Hoa for thirty or so years (looking at the sign, they opened in 1981) , knew the owners, and that this was indeed the best place for Chinese BBQ in all of Little Saigon, or even in Orange County.
The place is actually right next to Kang Lac Bakery, so we went in before having Bot Chien.
The shop is tiny with a small and cramped walking space. It's a no frills place, just up my alley...the other thing up my alley? A whole roast duck here costs just $15.50......bargain city.
After arriving home I opened the very heavy foil container took take a peak and a taste or two of the duck.
If you want a meaty duck, this would be the one for you. Personally, for me it;s all about a combination of factors; the skin, the flavor, fat content, and so on. The flavor of this duck will be a surprise for many raised on roast duck in San Diego. It is mild, with anise hints, and not salted to death to cover up the lack of expert preparation. The skin on the top layer was, perhaps a bit too "rubbery", but good overall. Sadly, they poured a ton of "jus" over the duck. There was about two cups of it in the tray (I measured). This meant the skin of the duck on the bottom layer was taut and the meat had started to be mushy. Gladly, even the juice wasn't too salty. I think I'll have them go easy on that stuff next time.
So, if you're passing through, or if roast duck matters enough to you to be worth a drive (like me), this place is worth a shot. And the prices are very reasonable.
Lien Hoa BBQ Deli 9299 Bolsa Ave Westminster, CA 92683
Monterey Palace BBQ Fast Food:
A little over a year ago, we were driving east on Valley Boulevard. right past Focus Plaza, I noticed that a new shop had opened in a location I believe was some kind of bar or nightclub before.
The name of the place was Monterey Palace BBQ, which got me thinking that this place is affiliated with Monterey Palace on Garvey?
The place was bright, spanking new and turned out to be an interesting shop.
As you enter you basically meet the BBQ, followed by a section which is set-up for steam table foods, a la Sam Woo, nothing surprising there. The interesting thing is a bit past the hot foods section is a poultry and meat set-up, with several different types of chicken, duck, even rabbit.
The first time we stopped by and bought the roast duck, I really enjoyed it.
It isn't as meaty as the duck from Lien Hoa, but the skin was nicely lacquered and the flavor of bean paste was forward without overwhelming everything.
We have been back two more times since. On the second visit, the skin of the duck was wrinkled and it was too fatty...signs that temperature control was poor. One the third visit, things were back ot how they were on our first visit.
For now, Monterey Palace has replaced Sam Woo in Alhambra as our "duck stop". I'm hoping that we've found our place for take-out roast duck for now.
One downside to the location is that as far as I can tell, there's only street parking. There are only three spaces on the street in front of the place....so in case you're being tailgated by some aggressive retard like I was and have to stop and park, you may have to deal with the half peace sign salute and screaming from an idiot who was trying to get around the other cars and probably didn't know or didn't care (probably the latter) that you could indeed park on the street in front of the place. I'd forgotten how wonderful drivers were in the SGV...thanks for the reminder, moron. I've found that the best defense in such a situation is to look at the person and give them a big smile...A BIG SMILE.....
Anyway, he had to wait until all the cars drove past to merge into traffic and I got my roast duck. Seems like I got the better of the whole deal, right?
Monterey Palace BBQ Fast Food 118 W Valley Blvd San Gabriel, CA 91776
During the homestretch of our trip to China, we returned to Beijing. Of course we had to have Bei Jing Kao Ya (北京烤鸭), aka Peking Duck. In doing my research, I'd come up with a short list which included the old favorite Quan Ju De and the very popular Da Dong. So what we did was poll the Missus' and my Mother In-Laws friends and acquaintances. It seemed an interesting divide, the older generation, more steeped in tradition told us to go to Quan Ju De established during the Qing Dynasty(1864) and long the gold standard for Peking Duck. The younger generation preferred Da Dong, lighter, less fatty, using more modern techniques. To make matters more difficult, there was the possibility of Bian Yi Fang, home of the other Beijing Kao Ya, also established(1855 or 1885) during the Qing Dynasty. The differences in the duck are vast, Quan Ju De makes what they call "hung-roast duck" where the duck is roasted in a wood burning oven fueled by, if I'm to be believed what I was told date wood. Bian Yi Fang makes "closed oven" or "braised" duck. In the end, after being told that, "If you intend to return to Beijing, I'd suggest Quan Ju De, it is considered the original and most famous. Next time, try whatever is most popular, be it Da Dong or whomever might take its place." Which made sense, plus the Missus had Her first Beijing Kao Ya at Quan Ju De and I thought this would be a nice touch to a day where we'd explore what was left of "Her" Beijing.
We took the bus over to the Tiananmen area and walked over to Quan Ju De. We arrived and were escorted up the elevator to the dining area, which was quite busy.
Our Server went over the whole, long-winded spiel about the age and heritage of the ducks served here....maybe even the family tree for all I know. At the end, the Missus ordered.
When our duck arrived we were handed a card with our duck's serial number and some information. I made sure to tell the Missus, "it's ok, only a number....if our duck had a name, we wouldn't be able to eat it."
Our duck arrived and was carved for serving......
I recall being amazed at the waves of rendered fat rolling off the duck as it was being carved. This was going to be one rich meal.....
We both loved the Tian Mian Jiang, also known as sweet bean paste, sweet noodle sauce, or plain sweet duck sauce. It's not hoisin, Tian Mian Jiang is more savory and much more salty than hoisin.
The pancakes for the duck were very thin, you could almost see through them and had a fine mild stretch.
You are of course, waiting for the duck photos, so here goes:
As is customary with this type of duck service, the meat was carved and placed on a plate. Slices of meat covered by skin. I gotta say, this wasn't the neatest presentation I've ever seen.
The really crisp skin was placed on another plate....this was really great stuff.
Crisp, yet light, after the first "crunch" it almost melts in your mouth. The rest of the duck was rather oily and a bit on the rich side, but the meat had a nice flavor to it.
We also each got a small bowl of bone soup, something the Missus usually really enjoys, but this one was too funky for Her, having a strong almost offal flavor.
I kinda liked it.....very thick, with a real "wild" flavor.
We also needed something with a nice crunch and a bit of bitterness to offset the rich duck so we went with some simple gai lan.
No big deal..... Overall, this was a mixed bag...not quite as good as expected, except for the crisp skin. The Dan Bing and Tian Mian Jiang were excellent.
As we finished our meal, the Server told us to go upstairs where we could see the ducks being prepped to roast. For me, this was actually the highlite of the meal.
The ducks were hung getting ready for the ovens which still burn fruit wood. A couple of years back there was a big uproar when Quan Ju De made the decision to go with electric burning ovens. The backlash was so bad that the decision was reversed and the chain still uses the wood burning ovens for roasting the ducks.
After lunch we got on another bus as the Missus tried to find our way to Her "roots" in Beijing. I've done earlier posts on the Missus and QingDao, where She spent Her childhood. The Missus ended going to high school in Beijing, so we set-off in search of the school, heading down streets turning into various hutongs. We first managed to find where my Father In-Law first taught in Beijing. Originally Furen University, formed by the Order of Saint Benedict, Furen eventually merged with Beijing Normal University. The Missus made sure to stop and take a couple of photos for Her father, telling me that this is one of the few places that looks almost the same as She recalled.
The Missus was able to gain Her bearings from the front of the university, leading me down the narrow alleyways of the hutong, along a path She walked everyday about 20 years ago. Her "compass memory" took over as we walked pass doorways and little shops, winding our way through the hutong, the Missus telling me that this was among the last bit of the Beijing of Her memory that still exists.
After one of the turns, She stopped in front of these gates.......
These were the dormitories, where the Missus lasted a whole week before moving back in with Her parents. Having room-mates just isn't Her thing. I sometimes marvel at still being in one piece after all these years......
After a couple of more streets, alleys, and turns we stopped in front of these gates.
This was Beijing High School number 13, Her high school. As the Missus looked past the gates, I read the sign that said this was the former residence of Prince Tao....
"You went to high school in a Prince's palace?"
"Yeah, I totally forgot....."
"Man, that's pretty neat, kind of cool....."
"Not really, I mean it wasn't important enough for me to remember...."
Just then we were jarred out of our reverie by the ringing of bicycle bells. A hoard of pedicabs came to a stop. Turns out that Prince Tao's Mansion, aka Beijing numer 13 High School is a stop on the "Hutong Tour".
For some reason, this tripped a wire and set off my somewhat weird sense of humor. I just found it funny in a odd way. Like your high school being a stop on a Hollywood Map tour kind of way...... I still chuckle when I think of it.....my wife went to high school in a former Prince's Palace that is a stop on the Hutong Tour....I know, you had to be there........