I gotta give it up for Ed from Yuma. In his post on Emerald, he mentioned "Kirk doesn't seem to eat dim sum here anymore". Which is spot on. There's no way I can convince the Missus to grab dim sum in San Diego.....or even my Chinese coworkers. This doesn't mean we haven't been having dim sum, it just means we haven't been having it in America's Finest City. Over the last year, we've been quite busy and not able to get on over to the SGV as much as we'd like. And when we've had to drive there, the Missus has had one spot in mind, Sea Harbour....while my list of places to visit has grown; it's been Sea Harbour, which I've posted on a number of times, including a COMC post, that the Missus wants to visit. So yes Ed; we don't eat much dim sum in San Diego anymore....but it doesn't mean we're not eating dim sum.
It seems we pretty much get the same thing.......so let's just have some photos...
That is not to say that everything Sea Harbour makes is delish....there are those dishes, like the Seafood Pan Fried Noodles that fall short....
And they have gotten rid of some of our favorites....no longer on the menu.....
They've replaced them with other dishes which I'm hoping is as good as this.
We've been to places that folks claim to have "the best dim sum on the West coast". None of them have hit the right notes for us like Sea Harbour. Again, it's the distinction of favorite, versus best....I won't claim that Sea Harbour has "the best" dim sum on the west coast, but it's our favorite place, in terms of execution and quality. Perhaps those who say that Jasmine (yes, folks actually say that) has the "best dim sum on the west coast"......I think they've confused "favorite" with "best".
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant 3939 Rosemead Blvd Rosemead, CA 91770
It had been a really long day and there was no way I'd be making dinner. So what to pick up on the way home? Village Kitchen and Thai Papaya come to mind, but since by the time I'd be getting home, the Missus would be off to work this one was for me....and I was craving Kwai Fei Chicken. It's been over ten years since I mentioned getting this dish from Golden City and I still crave it a couple of times a year. And I usually get it from Golden City....even when they were located on Convoy way back when. Over the years, I've posted on the place 15-16 times, you can find all those posts on the Big List.
I ended up doing take-out and ordering more than I should have.
Over the years, the chicken's gotten to be a bit drier and tougher. Still, topped with that ginger-scallion-sesame oil sauce, what I call my "cold ginger chicken sauce", because that's what we call the version of Kwai Fei Chicken we eat back home in Hawaii....this is comfort food to me. Especially when the weather gets warmer......savory - herbaceous flavors, with a slight pungency....I can just eat the sauce over rice!
I decided to get some Roast Duck.
Which, on this visit wasn't very good. It wasn't overly salty like many versions in San Diego and it was fairly tender.....it was truly lacking the beany paste and mild five spice flavors I enjoy. Overall, quite bland.
What was really delicious; I'd say even better than the Kwai Fei Chicken on this day was the Pork Intestines with Preserved Vegetable....for some reason, this isn't on the dinner menu, but they were nice enough to make it for me.
The intestines were prepped quite well......I guess it would be even better if it were fried and crisp, but the earthy-musty flavors were nice without being too much. The salty-sour preserved vegetables, which also had just a touch of sweetness kept things in check as did the onions, which added a nice pungency to the dish. Man this was good.
With all the new places opening left and right, it's easy to over-look the rather worn Golden City. I'm glad I didn't on this evening.
Golden City Restaurant 5375 Kearny Villa Rd. San Diego, CA 92123
It's winter in April! At least that's what it felt like last night. A couple more revisits for your consideration.
777 Noodle House:
Another weekend, another list to take of. And another stop for a noodle soup breakfast. It seems like I drop by here every couple of months. And while Ly Heng surely tops this place in terms of Pho/Hu Tieu Nam Vang, I still like the folks working here. They are so nice and friendly.....they still call me "sir" after all these years. Looking at the dining room it struck me that 777 is just one of those places that looked worn since the day they opened.
On this day, I had my sights set on the Pork Intestine Egg Noodle Soup. Strange, but I think it's gotten better over the years, at least I believe better than the first time I had it. Or perhaps my tastes have changed. The noodles were perfect on this day a wonderful counter point to the blanched bean sprouts. The broth wasn't too salty, slightly porky, and had taken on some of the flavor from the intestine.
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
Island Style Café:
So I got in my loco moco fix. It kind of happened by accident. I was going to lunch with Calvin and Deanna.....due to the rainy weather, pho sounded like a good choice....but they wanted "something different". It really doesn't get much different, even in terms of loco moco's, than the Kaloko Moco.
I thought this was better than the one I had last time, though the easy over eggs were style a bit over cooked. The crepe is such an oddity, but it just goes well with this loco....... The burger was better than what I had before and the gravy wasn't too salty...and heck; there's even some veggies! Check out the carrots! Ha!
Deanna, who is from the Midwest really wasn't ready for this, so she got the teri beef and Korean chicken....she loved the mac salad here, so maybe there's hope for her.
Island Style Cafe 5950 Santo Road San Diego, CA 92124
Tina and Ed (from Yuma) just spent a weekend in wonderful San Diego. We came, we saw, and we ate. Thus, this post at mmm-yoso!!! Tomorrow, Kirk or Cathy will be blogging this blog. Stay Tuned.
Sunday morning Tina and I got together for dim sum with her college friend, CF, who moved to San Diego a few years ago. Dim sum – where in San Diego? Kirk doesn't seem to eat dim sum here anymore, so this blog wasn't much help, but I did see that Emerald had been remodeled and had switched over to menu ordering. Thus, this picture to start the post:
The interior has been extensively remodeled:
When we sat down, we were given a picture menu of the items available, and a long two-sided checklist. I felt like we were voting, not choosing brunch. After the order had been processed, the ballot with a printed list attached was returned to the table:
The system seemed to work well and the dishes arrived one or two at a time, not all at once. When we decided we were still hungry we were able to add more.
The dried shrimp rice rolls were my least favorite item:
There was very little dried shrimp flavor and the noodles, which should be the focal point, were overcooked and too soft. The Chinese broccoli was a nice touch.
We all enjoyed the steamed pork ribs with black beans, but they were generic with nothing about them special:
The barbecued pork tarts were new to me. Slightly bland so hot mustard really perked them up. Their pastry exterior had a pleasant soft crunch though I would've liked more filling:
The seafood dumplings were good with a large shrimp inside. The wrappers were thin and perfectly prepared:
Baked barbecue pork buns are an old favorite of mine, slightly sweet and done well here I thought. More bbq pork than in the tarts:
And we all loved the squid in five spices:
This has been one of my favorites at Emerald for many years. Smaller portion now, but classier presentation. The tentacles are pleasantly crunchy/chewy and a little salty. Now served with two sauces –spicy ketchup and hoisin:
We decided that the little sea-critters tasted best with a touch of each sauce together, kind of a yin yang thing.
Truly amazing to us were the pan fried leek buns:
Fresh vegetable flavors intense inside a nice thin wrapper:
The last item we ordered was another favorite, steamed bean curd roll with meat:
These wrinkly rolls proved that looks can be deceiving. Ugly outside, beautifully meaty within. A good conclusion to the meal.
As Kirk will attest, I'm nowhere near knowledgeable about dim sum (and Chinese food in general). But for my palate this was pretty solid. Certainly better than a lot of dim sum I have eaten over the years. The ordering system works well. When I needed to get someone's attention, I could get it.
While I do miss the Cantonese chaos of carts and cart ladies, I prefer a menu card system. Sometimes back in the day, we'd never see the squid. Sometimes the cart ladies didn't show me the interesting stuff, “you no like.” And sometimes the carts would arrive in the middle of conversations that got lost while we chose shu mai or har gow or turnip cake. Also the menu helps things show up fresh - sometimes even too hot to handle.
Online, some people object to being charged for tea and some thought the prices at the remodeled Emerald too high. You can judge for yourself:
While your results may differ, we left Emerald feeling happy and well fed.
We each got a different version of hot pot; "PL" got the "House Special Hot Pot", basically stinky tofu.
While the amount of protein in the hot pot isn't substantial; the overall portion size is. In addition, we were asked several times if we wanted our broth topped off. In spite of this being "stinky tofu", this wasn't very pungent, the flavor quite mild overall. But at least it wasn't too salty.
Three sauces are provided, the bean curd based sauce is the best overall.
"YZ" got the Korean Style Hot Pot.
One interesting thing to note.....the heating gel used is pretty potent and very hard to control. "YZ" broth kept bubbling up and she had to hold up a napkin to avoid getting splashed.
I got the Lamb Hot Pot, which, according to Lily should have had suan cai. The stuff in my hot pot tasted like plain napa cabbage, lacking in any fermented flavor and not even close to the suan cai we make at home.
The lamb was very tasty and gamey, the mung bean noodle, which I chose instead of rice wet quite well in this along with the enoki mushrooms and tofu. I'm not a fan of blood cake, but I really like the version served here, nice texture, ever so slightly sweet without a strong metallic flavor. I do wish the broth had a bit more flavor though. Along with one fill up of broth; this was more than I could finish.
So what about Lily? Well, the point of this lunch was to chat and enjoy so I took only one shot of every hot pot. As you can tell, it came out much too blurry. Lily ordered the winner of the bunch the Ma-la Hot Pot, which had a nice spice; not super spicy, but quite flavorful. She gave me a nice taste in one of the bowls provided.
Kind of a bummer that the photo of the best item of the day didn't turn out.
Luckily, John and Candice had some time to grab dinner and with the weather unseasonably cold, hot pot sounded like just the thing.
This was very light and lacking in the nice mild sweetness I enjoy.
Candice ordered the Curry Hot Pot which was decent and John the Sate....which must have been good, because he basically destroyed it. I was having such a great time chatting that I forgot to take a photo of the Ma-la Hop Pot, 'doh, lightning strikes twice. So you'll have to settle for this photo and basically take my word or it that this is pretty much the way to go here.
As an extra bonus, I noticed that this came with some intestine....something I really enjoy. Heck, even the fish balls tasted pretty good here. Wish they had a bit more bean curd skin though.
Well, I'm just going to have to drop by again...probably soon if the weather holds its course. As of this writing, I probably enjoy the hot pot, well at least the hot and spicy version (the rest are on the bland side) here more than QT Pot, though I need to revisit them soon. The folks here are nice and since it's grand opening trying real hard. Candice recognized one of the owners as previously working at Noble Chef. I hope they do well....check them out and let me know what you think!
Boiling Passion 3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Some photos that have been languishing around for a while....it's time to C(lear) O(ut the) M(emory) C(ard).
Brunch at Tiger! Tiger!:
We'd kind of avoided brunch here as the menu seemed uninspiring. After returning from our last trip, we'd been working hard, so decided to just relax and see how the brunch was here. We were pleasantly surprised. Especially by the wood fired potatoes with the guajillo aioli.
Tiger! Tiger! 3025 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92104
"YZ" had completed a big project, so we decided to go out and grab lunch. We hadn't been to Chef Chin in a while. It was an ok lunch. The best item by far was the Xun Yu, the Jellyfish Head with Chicken the worst.
Chef Chin 4433 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Carnitas' Snack Shack:
It had been over a year since we last visited and the Missus wanted a snack.....and this is Carnitas' Snack Shack, right? We shared the pulled pork hash, which was delish....the fries were much too salty though.
Carnitas' Snack Shack 2632 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92104
Aaaah, there you go....my memory card is a bit lighter now!
A new shop coming soon and two new places for hump day......
Banh Mi Bakery and Café:
For some reason, this strip mall on the corner of Clairemont Mesa and Ruffin Road always eludes my attention. But on this past weekend, a sign with "Banh Mi" on it caught my eye, so I drove into the parking lot to check it out.
You can find my post on our visits to Boiling Passion here.
I noticed the sign when driving to pick-up a bento at Nijiya. I noticed that Pho Paradise had closed back in January. Boy did they turn this place around quick. But did they really want to name it "Boiling Passion"?
When I sent off a photo and text to my friends; "John" quickly texted me back asking if this was a massage parlor. I quickly sent off a string of texts about "meat" that isn't really appropriate for this blog.....I'll let your imagination go with that one!
3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Mekong Cuisine Replaces Sang Deuan:
I went up the parking lot to turn around and noticed another change.
I hadn't even noticed this one! Sang Deuan sure didn't last long. Well, another place to try. They kept the "Lao & Thai" portion of the old sign, so I'm thinking the menu is probably similar to Sang Deuan's.
What resulted from the Missus's visit was that we did take-out a couple of times and found that they pack the dishes quite well in decent take out containers! Yay, no Styrofoam!
Not everything at VK has been to my liking, but some of the dishes we had were especially good. So, I thought I'd go with picks, pans, and reruns.
On one evening I ordered the Salted Long Bean and Smoked Pork, but when I came home I realized I had something else.
Turns out this is the Sour and Spicy Chicken Gizzards, something that I'd usually not order. Not that I don't care for gizzards, I love them. But there was just something about "sour" and "chicken gizzards" that didn't sound appetizing to me. I was however, wrong, as this has become one of our favorite dishes. The gizzards are sliced thin, with a mild chew, think thinly sliced beef heart. I do love the pickled chilies in this, while not "Hunan spicy" in my book, the pickled peppers give the dish a nice zip. Very nicely flavored.
A wonderful mistake!
Another dish that has become a favorite of our; minus the not so good steamed buns is the Homestyle Baby Radish Leaves. Love the mild chilies and the bitter stir fried radish leaves. The flavors really work well here; bitter-mildly spicy-a touch of sour and just salty enough for our tastes.
The Boiled Green Pork Intestine was nice; the intestine really clean, and the slightly bitter greens added a nice flavor counter-point.
I think this did need a bit more flavor and as nicely as the intestines were prepped, the funky mild-offal flavor was too mild.
When I visited with John and Calvin, I ordered the first dish on the menu; Pickled Chili Chicken.
First off, the cutting job on the chicken wasn't that great. It's okay to have bones with the chicken pieces, but make sure that most of them aren't sharp. There was a bit too much bones for my liking. This was also a bit spicy, but otherwise somewhat bland, and needed a bit more soy sauce and something else to make it less one dimensional.
I've figured out that VK doesn't do pork the way I like it. At least based on previous visits and on these two dishes......
The pork belly with preserved vegetable ("Chef's Braised Pork") was not that great, even disregarding the steamed buns we don't care for. The pork was too lean and on the chewy side and the flavoring just wasn't there.
One evening we tried Grandma's Braised Pork. The flavoring was quite good, great soy sauce flavors, the chilies added a nice "green" flavor to the dish. The pork however, was really tough. like it hadn't been braised long enough. These two dishes, along with the other pork dishes we've tried, have made us a bit gun-shy about ordering swine here.
It's almost spring, so time to start clearing out that memory card. Here's threesome from several months back. As with these posts, it mostly photos.
For some reason the Missus actually wanted to go on my typical Saturday "rounds" on this morning....I think it was because She was hungry. We had eaten at Zen Peninsula the week before and I guess She was wondering how a place like China Max would line up.
Short answer? It doesn't.......
Chicken feet looked good, very tender, but lacking in flavor.
The sauce/soup for the tripe was good, but it hadn't imparted flavor to the tripe.
The wrappers for the shrimp and spinach dumplings were too thick and this really lacked flavor.
Even my old standby here, the pan fried shrimp and chive dumplings weren't spared. Greasy and portions of the wrappers were splitting and burnt, making this bitter.
We've always thought that the gailan at China Max was done pretty well....this time it was over cooked.
I admit that it's pretty slim pickins' with regards to Dim Sum in SD......
The Smoked Wings is one of the two items the Missus comes for; they can sometimes be too salty, or not fried right, but on this visit, things were right.
For some reason the Missus likes the Rib Tips here......I'm not a fan of the sauces at Iron Pig, so we get them without sauce. Now a good rib tip...crunchy cartilage, fatty tissue, man, it can be a thing of beauty. This was very close; it had been smoked perfectly, was moist and tender. The only (big) minus? It needed a more aggressive rub. This was nicely porky, but lacked seasoning.
Nice smoke ring though.......
Iron Pig Alehouse 1520 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109
Yes, time hasn't been very kind to the place; the lamination on the menus are peeling off and the tables have attained a robust amount of stickiness, but I still drop by every so often, mainly for breakfast, to see what's going on. A simple bowl of Wonton and Dumpling Egg Noodle soup for me on this day. It's gone up 50 cents since my visit last year.
For some reason the charsiu really struck me as not being as good as in the past.....not sure why that's what stuck in my head.......
Tan Ky Mi Gia 5237 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
While Kirk is overseas and Cathy is overworked, Ed (from Yuma) has worked up a post about a place he and Tina enjoyed last June.
On our vacation, we did a lot of lazing about and some good eating. After having modern Japanese food and our splurge meal at Twist, we were in the mood for something more basic, like Chinese, so we took a chance on Bund Shanghai, which seemed like the best bet off the strip.
It occupies a sizable space on South Decatur not far from W. Spring Mountain Rd.:
The dining area with its high ceiling is spacious and attractive:
We shuffled through the large menu, and with some input from our friendly and helpful server, decided on a handful of dishes
The first dish to turn up was an old favorite, called here drunken chicken in clay pot:
The cool tender chicken soaked in strong flavored wine. Nothing subtle, but for my tastes, just right.
The pan fried pork buns, with their pale tops and tan toasted bottoms, looked amazing:
The contrasting textures were a nice touch though the skins seemed a little thick (but that may be necessary for the pan frying). The porky interior was juicy and mildly flavored:
We had no idea what vegetables to pick, so we rolled the dice and went with “asparagus fungus and fresh yam”:
Luckily, the asparagus and fungus were two separate items, but the yam was a white vegetable (mountain yam?) definitely not like sweet potato. The ingredients looked pretty and presented a nice range of textures. The sauce/seasoning was minimal, so the dish was all about the veggies.
For seafood, we opted for Shanghai style carp fishtail braised in soy sauce:
It certainly tasted better than it looked, and that fishtail was huge. On the other hand, it was monochromatic in looks and flavor. Probably better with more folks at the table since the simplicity of the mild fish and the soy-based sauce got boring after a while.
Tina and I wanted to try just one more thing, so we asked the server what she would recommend. "Pork ribs in sweet and sour sauce." Since we asked her, I sort of felt like we had to order it – even though I haven't ordered anything like that in eons, ever since my tastes expanded beyond combination plates with fried shrimp, chop suey, and sweet-and-sour pork.
So we were surprised when these dark pork rib chunks showed up, sprinkled with a few sesame seeds:
This was not your mama’s sweet and sour. No, these were more akin to pork crack. Addictive meat candy. The exterior had serious crunch. Inside, rich sweet, tangy, savory, piggy flavors. I felt like we'd hit the jackpot – and in Vegas that's a good thing.