Today's posting of mmm-yoso!!! is written by Cathy. The guys are busy doing other things.
It's that time of year again; birthday week for The Mister and myself - a week apart; eight days of eating out. Our standard modus operandi is that He gets to choose meals for the first three days, we jointly choose meals the middle two days then I get to choose restaurants the last three days. Putting the posts together, I noticed patterns in our choices this year.
The turmeric coated stir fried fish lightly floured and coated in turmeric and hot pepper flakes, fried until the coating is crisp and topped with stir fried onion, Chinese celery and bell pepper. The numbing shows up at the end while the flavors of the fish and vegetables all come through at first. To accompany the plate of turmeric yumminess, I chose the oyster mushroom with shrimp noodles, which is tasty on its own but neutral enough to have as the 'side' (instead of rice). The bottom of the pot holds a buttery garlic surprise of chopped shrimp and some dried shrimp. It's rare to find any XLB in San Diego, so we chose these soup filled dumplings which were made to order and came out midway through the meal. None were broken and the skins were not chewy at all; quite tender yet not thin. The pork filling was very delicate, had a light crunch (water chestnut) and, of course, pork flavor.
Szechuan Chef 4344 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 279-8881
When it was one of 'my' days to choose a celebratory meal, it was back to Bolsa. Immediately I knew what I wanted. The turmeric fish-Vietnamese style! (cha ca thang long)The fish is coated in flour, turmeric and egg then pan fried with dill and green onion. It's served sizzling on a cast iron platter. Wrapping the fish with some mint in the lettuce and dipping it in the fish sauce is just a perfect grouping of flavors. Not numbing, just tasty. We also ordered a Banh Xeo (which has turmeric in the pancake batter) and is filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and pork as well as some mung beans.
The Mister wanted the pork and shrimp Spring rolls, made to order. Fresh!
Bolsa 9225 Mira Mesa Blvd Ste 118 San Diego, CA 92126 (858)693-3663 Open daily 8:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
There were a couple more 'overlapping' meal choices this year. The Mister and I have similar-yet different- food cravings. Stay tuned!
Thanks for stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! today. Cathy is writing because the guys are just too busy.
After I got my fill of spicy foods following three weeks in the Midwest, it was time for what I just couldn't get back there (comfort food, San Diego style).Kirk posted in 2005 and again in 2015 about the original location of Chopstix. In 2006, he and I wrote a joint post about the second location and, in general, both locations are efficient with fresh food.The simple Hiya Yakko (cold tofu topped with chopped green onion, grated ginger on top of salad)($4) was just something I never thought I would miss and this really hit the spot. Hiyashi Soba ($9)- cold buckwheat noodle topped with imitation crab, chicken, sprouts, corn, cucumber, egg and seaweed was a perfect flavor mix on this day. The Mister ordered his 'usual'- mabo ramen ($7), which has a deep, sweet-spicy flavor along with the ground pork and tofu. Most of the other soup bases and fillings here are sort of 'plain'.
Chopstix 4633 Convoy San Diego 92101 (858)569-9171 open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Ten years ago, I wrote about Niban and then again in 2010 and in 2011. It's a regular spot for us when we don't want to cook at home: fast, fresh, unassuming. After ordering and paying, finding a seat and having water and hot tea (still free) brought out, food soon arrives. The chicken katsu salad ($4.50) was what I wanted. So simple: iceberg lettuce topped with cold noodles, carrot and cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes along with a perfectly breaded and fried chicken thigh. The miso based, Japanese radish/fresh ginger salad dressing is so very good. One of the window specials that day was chicken katsu curry ($7). The Mister wanted his own pieces of chicken along with the flavorful beefy curry sauce made here-it satisfied his cravings.
Niban 7081 Clairmont Mesa Boulevard San Diego 92111 (858)268-0465 Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
Then there was my craving for something from underrated, more than ten yearsin the same location,consistentalways good,comfort food for Kirk also, unassuming restaurant located at the South East corner of the 163 at Claremont Mesa.The rock cod with black bean sauce ($16 if not at lunch or late night (after 9 p.m., when it is $8)) is just done right here. Lightly crisp fried fish with red and green peppers, onions and salty black bean sauce along with some red-chili heat is just what I wanted. Then again, so was the simple beef topped egg foo young ($14 at dinner, $7 at lunch or late night). That is a larger than tablespoon spoon on a very large platter. The crispy vegetable filled omelet, so simple to make (in theory) is just wonderfully flavorful, crispy and somehow addictive in flavor here. Most times, we order it just with gravy/vegetable only, because that's all I really want.
Golden City 5375 Kearny Villa (at Claremont Mesa) 92111 (858) 565-6682 open daily 11 a.m.-midnight website
For some reason, I was craving Zui Ji - "Drunken Chicken" and I thought the version at Tasty Noodle House had been pretty good on previous visits. So I headed over and braved the worst parking lot on Convoy....good thing they open at 11am....there were still three open parking spaces; albeit two of them were partially taken by very "thoughtful and considerate" folks in gigantic SUVs that they aren't able to park like normal folks.
As with previous visits, the staff here are pretty nice.....except that they were out of the Wined Chicken! The young man recommended the Steamed Chicken with Spicy Sesame Sauce....so, thinking this might be something along the lines of Ko Shui Ji. This is what arrived.
Well, the one good thing about this dish; the chicken was nicely prepared, meaty, and moist. But that super thick, "un-spicy", gloppy sauce with too much sesame paste.....well, I think that's a apt description.
On a previous visit, I thought the Chao Nian Gao (stir fried rice cakes) were decent, so I ordered that as well.
I think these folks kind of undercook the rice cakes a bit, but it's not terrible. The pork was tender, though I think it needed a bit more seasoning, especially in terms of sesame oil (I know, if I really wanted sesame flavor I could have dipped this in the tar pit from the chicken dish), though the vegetable (Jì Cài) added a mild bitterness and a textural counterpoint.
I was kind of bummed as my craving wasn't satisfied. I hope the next time I visit, they'll have the drunken chicken.
Tasty Noodle House 4646 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
It's been just about 2 months since Great Wow opened. So it was time for a revisit...plus, I wanted some jiaozi.
They have a proper menu now; with quite a few dishes. Though I was basically here for the dumplings....I'll save trying some of the other dishes (no kung pao chicken or hot and sour soup for me from here though - wrong region if you didn't know....and based on what I've read, a lot of folks don't know).
Other than the pork hocks, I hadn't enjoyed the liang cai; cold dishes at GW much. But for some reason, I wanted to try the spicy potato strings. The Missus loves Her Sichuan style potato strings. This version was not bad.
It was lightly spicy, with a mild numbness as well. The potato was nice and crunchy. And while I've been indoctrinated into wanted a good amount of vinegar on my Chinese style potato dishes, this was not bad....though perhaps it could have used a bit more salt.
This time around; I just went with what I consider the most basic jiaozi....pork and cabbag.
First thing I noticed was that these weren't as plump as what I'd had here before. Also, whomever was making the dough for this had worked it too hard as it was too chewy and almost hard. The filling was fine, nice pork flavor, but could have used a bit more seasoning.
I think I'll stick to the Pork, Shrimp, and Chive. I didn't see pork and celery dumplings on the menu anymore. And one of these days I may try one of the entrees....though don't hold your breath!
I really wanted the Banh Mi Bo Kho from Pho Lucky unfortunately, they are still still closed for remodeling. At least the sign has changed and said "closed for painting". So I decided to see how the Banh Mi Bo Kho was at Pho Cow Cali. They sat me in the section by the restrooms in back....then proceeded to forget about me. Luckily, I managed to flag one of the army of servers down and place my order ($7.25).
So, beyond the rather odd serving dish.....I'm guessing there was a sale somewhere, what to say about this. In keeping with "Cow Cali" there's quite a bit of meat....it's flank and brisket and is quite tender. I really missed the tendon though. The broth was much too thin and this was really salty...as in the "MS heebie-geebies" salty. The bread was nice and warm though I'll stick with the pho here next time.
And of course, there's the typical pho shop service.
Pho Cow Cali 9170 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
This was pretty good; the broth was a bit richer than what I've had in the past. The intestine was prepared well; slightly "offal-y", but quite clean. The noodles nice and chewy with a bit of stretch and the blanched bean sprouts adding a bit of crunch to things.
A bit better than I recalled....and a nice choice on this morning.
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog. Kirk is crazy busy right now, as is Ed(from Yuma) so Cathy is writing a short post on this overcast day.
After driving home from the midwest (there are more 'chapters' about the three weeks of condiment-free foods consumed), I was craving spices, flavors, heat...food that could be consumed with chopsticks...! The Mister suggested LittleSheep,which has beenblogged here a few times since opening in 2007. Lunch was available, with its own menu!($11.95)
Why yes, we each chose the 'spicy' soup base. The Mister chose the lamb shoulder and I chose the fresh fish filet. The same seasonal vegetables, meatballs and noodles were on the plates. I was happy with the flavors and glad to have tried the fish- it was fresh and different than what we've usually had. My brother was visiting and we decided to bring him to Little Sheep, since he had never had Hot Pot. This was dinner, where you can mark your choices off the paper menu.
Playing it 'safe' by ordering the mild as well as vegetarian soups, we went a bit crazy on add-ins. The 'veggie combo' ($9) does not include mushrooms, so a small order of oyster mushrooms ($2.75) was added to it. Traditional hot pot dumplings ($5) were ordered instead of noodles.
A large order of 'Supreme beef' ($14) was more than enough. The small order of chicken breast ($6) was enough) The Tiger Prawns ($8) were great! The beef skewers ($6) were ordered 'just in case' there wasn't enough food. Ha.
All in all, a great way to satisfy the cravings.
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot and Grill 4718 Clairmont Mesa Blvd, San Diego 92117 (858)274-2040 Opens 11:30 a.m. daily. Closed between 3 and 5:30 p.m. M-F. Closes at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. other days. Website
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.
Was in San Diego recently so I'm writing about some SD meals today. Kirk or Cathy will write about some meals tomorrow. That's how we roll.
Regular readers of mmm-yoso have already heard about these places, so I will link to other posts and try to keep my comments simple and short.
Buga. Coming into town I got stuck in a traffic jam on I8 near Alpine caused by a burning truck, so when I finally got to town I wanted to go to someplace easy to find with a large parking lot that could dish up something cool and refreshing. I was tired and ravenous when I pulled into Buga. So tired and ravenous that I forgot my camera. The pan chan were fine, the bulgogi meh, and the cold noodle soup really good.
Village Kitchen. The recent opening of a few regional Chinese restaurants in San Diego seems like a good trend. Not sure which one to try, I ended up at Village Kitchen. As a gringo (is there a Chinese equivalent?), I appreciated the order sheet along with the menu that pictured every dish. Made things simpler and reduced chances of mistakes:
Of course I had to have the mashed eggplant, green chili, and century egg:
That mortar and pestle are huge. This was a lot of food. Describing the flavor is almost impossible. But I’ll ty anyway – intense, earthy umami. Love at first bite. Here's a more detailed picture:
The century eggs are the black things. The mashed eggplant just seems to suck up flavors from the mild green chilies and those stinky eggs. Amazing weird good.
I also tried the Chinese pickle, chopped bamboo shoot, and ground pork:
I like all of those ingredients, and the dish had an interesting flavor profile as well. However, it lacked the power of the eggplant mash. And the finely chopped ingredients along with the ground pork were a challenge for my American chopstick skills. I took most of it to go.
Kokoro has become a regular go-to spot for me in San Diego:
The parking lot has plenty of spaces, and the restaurant is not crowded. I really enjoy the low key ambience, the friendly service, and the easy jazz playing in the background. I ordered the very basic sashimi lunch:
The tuna was surprisingly good, and the other three were all decent. As ordinary as this lunch was, Yuma has no place I can count on getting sashimi that I will like, so I was happy. The lunch came with okay miso soup, rice, and these excellent pickles:
Boiling Passion had a totally different ambience. Hip-hop videos were playing on the flat screen TV in the clean well lighted place:
Not only was I the only non-Asian in the restaurant, I was a good 30 years older than anyone else. However, the energetic and friendly server went out of her way to assist me. For example she explained the difference between the three dipping sauces provided - bean paste garlic soy and hot chili oil - and also suggested the proportions to mix together in the small leaf shaped saucer:
Since I had ordered the seafood hotplate with noodles instead of rice, dry cellophane noodles arrived first, and I was told to let them cook for a couple minutes in the hot pot:
Then the hot pot showed up and soon was bubbling and steaming:
Overall I loved it. The broth was rich and flavorful and improved as the items cooked. I was a little surprised by the beef in a seafood hot pot, but the meat added flavor and tasted good. I liked the fish balls and shrimp balls, and I've quit complaining about krab in a reasonably priced meal. The two or three little clams were okay as were the two pieces of squid. Only the shrimp, which had a mushy texture, disappointed. I would certainly return and would love to try some different hot pots.
So far, my trip was going great. The weather was gorgeous (78° at the beach), and I was eating well. I was also looking forward to Wednesday when I would have a simple lunch at Sakura and then dinner with Kirk and Cathy at Prime – but that will have to wait for Part 2.
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
A couple of weeks back, I ran into an acquaintance, it was nice catching up a bit, and of course the conversation eventually turned to food. He told me about his new favorite Chinese spot named Ma Noodles House. Now for some reason I had a slight malfunction, maybe flashing back to Mama's Lu, so I asked him what regional style of Chinese food this place made? And got the weirdest look.....mainly because he wouldn't know a "Baozi from Bao Bao".
This place did indeed make regional Chinese food, from that province 6600 or so miles east of Shanghai, "Ab-cee-dee". Yep, I should have known, Ma's is an ABCDE ("American Born Chinese Dining Establishment"). And he was more of a quantity over quality kind of guy. But he did mention enjoying the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings here, which is a weakness of mine. So I decided to drop by and check them out.
Ma Noodles House is quite the hole-in-the-wall, quite tiny, and except for the kind of odd out of place swap meet "art" on the wall, could have easily been named something like "New Eastern Pearl Royal Golden Phoenix Panda Garden Restaurant".
The fryer and wok stoves on one side, a lowboy on the other with all the ingredients. For some reason, this place brought back memories of the "old" Noble Chef.
There's a prep area in the back, but this was a one man operation on my visit. The prices are very cheap; figures why "da guy" likes the place so much.
I went with the Pan Fried Crispy Noodle ($7.95) and an side of the Salted (Salt and Pepper) Chicken Wings ($3.50). I felt almost guilty paying so little. The gentleman working here was very nice, though they served me my food with a fork and spoon and had to go scrambling when I asked for chopsticks.
Since this was National City, I had visions of a nice Upside Down Pan Fried Noodle. But while the dish was humongous, it really didn't deliver.
The shrimp weren't bad, they dump them in the fryer briefly so it isn't over-cooked. The chicken, as is the norm with these type of places is quite dry. The "crispy noodles" were more crumbly, powdery, with a rather strong floury flavor. And let's not leave out the bland, gloppy, brown sauce.
For those who prefer large chicken wings; rejoice. I'm more about smaller wings with a great skin to meat ratio. These were pretty large wings; but the batter wasn't very good.
Thick, hard, and crumbly, it just isn't my thing. The flavor was too mild for this sort of chicken wing as well......on the bland side.
Man, I barely made a dent in those noodles. All of this for under $12. Still, I'm more of a quality over quantity kind of guy. So, in spite of the nice service and the cheap prices, this was going to be a one and done. Until one of the guys bought me lunch.....guess from where? You got it...... I got this; the Yang Chow Fried Rice ($7.95). Good god; this was basically three meals for me!
Again, the shrimp were nice, the chicken dry, and portion size huge. Unevenly cooked; the color wasn't uniform, there was no wok-hey, thank god for soy sauce.
And before folks start sending me angry emails again, we do enjoy certain ABCDE/Chinoy dishes, but it has to be done well. Though the prices are good here, there are places that just do it better. I hope they do well though.......this place would keep all those starving students out there well fed.
Ma Noodles House 3108 E Plaza Blvd National City, CA 91950
So for me this means; you don't come to Great Wow for Kung Pao Chicken, nor the XLB......it's about the noodles and dumplings they make in the glass room.....
Last week Candice and I were free for lunch, so we met up at Great Wow. The interior is fairly simple, plain wooden tables, and super hard and rather uncomfortable wooden chairs.
The menus are basically paper pinned together and even though they've been open only a short time looks worn. There's a ton of marks and writing on the menu. But my basic favorites were easily found....though they were out of the pork and celery jioazi.
Candice and I started with two of the liang cai; cold dishes.
Both were a bit disappointing.
The Jellied Pork was very hard and for some reason the black vinegar based sauce seemed watered down; weak and one dimensional. Sad, because jellied pork and jellied mutton are favorites of mine.
There should be a crunch that leads to a bit of meatiness.
The Bean Curd Skin was very bland at first, until we realized that we had to mix it with the pool of sauce on the bottom.
All of this would be forgiven if the jiaozi was any good. And would you believe it; these were pretty good!
The jioazi were on the large side, if this were Beijing where you order jiaozi by batches of 25 at some places, you'd be lying on the floor after one order!
The Pork, Shrimp, and Chive came out first. The wrapper was good, quite thin, though I think the dough has been over-worked a bit as it didn't quite have the tenderness and stretch I like. But that's really splitting hairs. Lot's of meat in the filling, I mean lots of pork. The filling in these were a bit heavy handed with regards to the salt/msg, but were far from bland.
I preferred the Egg, Shrimp, and Chive, which were a bit lighter and you could make out the shrimp flavor.
You could tell that while the dough was perhaps worked by machine, that the final rolling was done by hand...the seal where the wrappers came together were as thick as the rest of the dumpling skin. Overall, these were quite good; probably the best I've had in San Diego.
Funny thing, after getting back to the office, I received a text from Xiāngjiāo....guess what she was having? Then PeterL sent out a text, he was also eating at Great Wow...but of course, in the typical PeterL way, he ordered XLB.....sigh.....
Of course, I rarely do just one visit if doing a post, so I soon returned to Great Wow. The young man working remembered me!
I placed my order and sat back. Remember how rather tattered the menu looks? Well, check out the soy sauce and vinegar dispensers? Only open a week or two and the place already looks like it's in the SGV......are sticky tables around the corner?
I started with the pork hock. The nice young man told me I could do half an order.
This was quite good, not too salty, with decent pork flavor, and rather tender. Nice on a day where the temps were peaking in the low 90's.
This time they had the pork and celery jiaozi.
The wrappers were even better this time around. The filling was nicely seasoned, edging on a bit too salty, but very plump and moist. Lot's of pork; it could have used more celery in my opinion, but hey, it's a meat eater's world these days. The jiaozi here are quite large; I was stuffed.
The free dessert is the typical White Fungus Sweet Soup (冰糖雪耳糖水) with dates. On my first visit it was way to sweet...this time around it was a nice end to a meal on a hot day.
Do you notice something missing? The first thing both "YZ" and the Missus said when they saw this was "where's the lotus seeds"?
Later that day I found out that Candice had returned the day before! Then later in the day Xiāngjiāo sent me photos....she had ended up back at Great Wow. Having spent half a year in Beijing, I think she misses a lot of these type of dishes.
I found the service, at least from the young man with glasses and the young girl working to be very nice. There are quite a few grand opening kinks to work out, but I'm sure they'll get things in line. I'm also hoping they add some additional dishes....not kung pao ji or Xiao long bao, that have true roots in the region to the menu.
Oh and I got 20% off on each of my visits too.....grand opening discount perhaps?
There are a couple of dishes that are favorites of the Missus on the menu, like Xiao Mi Zhou (小米粥 - millet porridge) on the menu. So I'm thinking we'll return when things cool down a bit.