With the Lunar New Year quickly approaching, my coworker "YZ" decided that we should go out and grab some lunch. I knew she had been missing dishes from her hometown of Shanghai, so I suggested Chef Zhu, since it had been a while since I last visited. Since YZ has been in san Diego for a while, she had also eaten at the owner's previous restaurant, Shanghai City, and was curious as to how the dishes would compare.
As I mentioned before, the previous "ABCDE" (American Born Chinese Dining Establishment) menu is in place and folks come in calling the place "Double Happiness", so it's an interesting crowd.
We ended up ordering three dishes, all of which I've had before and thought were the three strongest on the menu. They did not disappoint.
Starting with the Yin Doo Xin, which is my favorite item on the menu.
A deceptively simple pork + (preserved) pork based broth. Clean, just salty enough, satisfying.
With the New Year on the way, I thought we should order the Chao Nian Gao.
Nicely texture, not too chewy or soft. I thought it could have a bit more saltiness....but YZ and SJP who joined us for lunch sure enjoyed it. SJP who is Korean seemed surprised to see that nian gao was essentially "dduk"....or perhaps visa versa.
We needed a bit of meat......well, just because. I went with the steamed pork with preserved vegetable which was better than I recalled.
Not too salty, balanced sweetness which cut the richness of the pork, this was pretty good overall.
In the end, we all had a nice meal, and even better conversation. I wish our busy work schedules allowed for more lunches like this..
I get to work pretty early in the morning. It's still dark out. The day had been busy and I didn't step outside my little molehill/bunker/office until 1pm. Holy smokes! I check the temperature and good lord it's 84 degrees! Like what is this, Yuma? Just kidding Ed!
It's strange, but for whatever reason, I crave Sichuan Liang Mian and Liang Cai (cold dishes) when it starts getting warm. Were this before February of 2012, the choice would be easy; it would be Ba Ren. And while the assistant chef from Ba Ren now resides at Fu An, things have been inconsistent to say the least.
Still, I needed my fix, so that's where I headed.
The cold dishes weren't bad.....but there's still something missing...the amount of spice, the amount of vinegar, the slight touches that make all the difference. Still, it's not terrible.
Same can be said of the Sichuan Liang Mian. The flavor is almost there....there's even a bit of that Sichuan Peppercorn tingle....but it too is missing those last pieces of the puzzle. And the noodles are hard, stiff, almost like they needed to be cooked ever so slightly more.
However, we beggar's can't be choosers. I got my fix in.......
Fu An Garden 4768 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Looking at that temp.....I wonder, if it was another degree hotter, would I have thought of going here?
I was a bit sad when Tan Ky on Mira Mesa closed down. The place wasn't amazing, but they did serve some pretty solid dishes. So of course when I saw Tim Ky Noodle was taking its place, I made sure to check them out. And you know how that goes.......I try to check places out a couple of times whenever possible.
They've done a decent job of freshening up the place. New lighting, wood paneling....though you can still recognize it as Tan Ky.
The menu is typical of these type of shops, a million and one combinations of Hu Tieu or Mi noodle soups, fried rice, all the usual suspects.
I had been craving Beef Sate Egg Noodle - dry and my lousy visit to Luong Hai Ky did nothing to diminish things. So of course I had to try it here, right?
First thing I noticed was...this place was into that "big bowl" facade thing. The portion was noticably smaller than what Tan Ky delivered. On the good side, the egg noodles were done adequately....I like mine with a bit of crunch still in them, but not raw with a powdery edge. There wasn't enough sate in this as things were too mild and the beef "fair to middlin". The broth that accompanied the dish was much too light and plain bland. I'll probably not order this again.
The young man who served me was very nice and friendly. I asked him what he thought the specialty of the house was. He said it was the Bun Suong, which was surprising. If I recall, it was a noodle soup that looked a lot like Bun Rieu.
The folks here were very nice, so I came back to try the Bun Suong, which ain't cheap at $8.45.
This was pretty good. They used the thin bun for this; the type that would be appropriate for Bun Rieu. There were 8 shrimp "meatballs" that weren't too squeaky and still had some shrimp flavor. The annatto oil did make it look like bun rieu a bit, though the broth was milder. Liked that fact it wasn't loaded with MSG and the broth had a decent flavor which kind of reminded me more of chicken than pork.
This was not bad. I'll have it again.
It would only be a matter of time before I tried the Won Ton and Dumpling Egg Noodle soup ($6.49).
This was the best bowl I had here. It's been so long sonce I've had a decent Won Ton/Dumpling egg noodle soup that I'd become jaded....so perhaps that amplified my enjoyment? There were only 2 won ton and 2 dumplings in this, the dumplings were definitely superior to the won tons. But I gotta say, instead of the usual hard as rock fillings, these were adequately tender.
The broth had a nice flavor to it and even some decent richness as you can tell by the dots of fat floating around. I do wish the soup were a bit hotter.
This was a nice bowl.
I might have pushed my luck a bit when I returned and had the Duck Leg Egg Noodle Soup ($7.49). I actually wanted the roast duck version, but they were all out. The broth reminded me a bit of a watered down Thai style duck noodle, with dark soy sauce giving it a deep, dark color and the shiitake mushrooms in the soup.
There were faint hints of flavor....the mere wisp of star anise, but just not enough oomph for me. The duck, though tender, had a bit of a stale, refrigerator flavor to it. No complaints about the temp of the broth on this one as I had to figure out how to break down that duck leg floating in scalding broth.
I'd like to try the roast duck version next time, but otherwise will stick with the dumpling egg noodle soup. Plus, it looks like they have chicken wings on the menu as well.
I like the folks who work here....even the kind of serious server, who, while not too friendly, is nice enough. So of course I'll be back.
Tim Ky Noodle 9330 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Thanks for stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! Kirk and Ed(fromYuma) and Cathy are the primary bloggers here, trying to stay on the subject of food. Today's post is pretty direct.
Again, it was December when The Mister's tastebuds kind of went all wacky and he started bugging me about craving the Little Sheep 'spicy Hot Pot mix', which we had at home, but I didn't feel like finding all the other ingredients needed. So weheaded West, to Clairmont Boulevard at Diane Street.Kirk posted about Little Sheep twice when it first opened in San Diego and I wrote a post a few years later when The Mister and I met Ed (from Yuma) and Tina here, yet I know all of us have been here quite a few more times, just without photographing the meals.Although a chain, there is only one San Diego location. Each table (as well as each seat at the bar area) has induction cooktops built in.Being seated, menus as well as an ordering sheet were brought out. I noticed you could order a low sodium broth, and chose it for both the spicy and original; the herbs and other flavorings for the original are so different from the 'spicy' and we didn't notice any lack of sodium...Each add in has a different flavor when cooked in a different broth. The veggie combo platter ($8.95) is pretty much always an order, because there is so much variety and we never can decide which vegetables we want...although next time we will also order mushrooms; I felt that was what was missing, if I were to be nitpicky.This visit, we knew we wanted the large order of lamb wonton ($5.95) instead of any sort of noodle.For the protein portion, the beef and lamb ($10.95) was today's choice.
Of course, we also had hot tea (no charge) and had a wonderful time cooking and enjoying yet another meal here. As mentioned, swishing and cooking each ingredient in the different broths yields a different set of flavors to enjoy. Hot Pot in general is a great way to satisfy everyone's cravings.
I hope your week is going well.
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
Here we are, mmm-yoso!!! Blogging about food. Cathy has blogging duty today, because Kirk and Ed(from Yuma don't want to blog; they are busy.
Going out for a meal with The Mister has always been random. We get to an intersection, "left or right?", drive more, turn more, exit because of traffic or not and at some point the question of "fingers, forks or chopsticks?" is asked, answered and we each begin a search for signage of anything that looks interesting.
Things changed a bit in December and pretty soon the equation and questions became a bit more detailed: "spicy?", "Mexican, Thai or Chinese flavors?" became part of the routine. About that same time, a new place opened just down Mission Gorge Road, at Zion near Friars Road. First, we only noticed this small sign on the edge of the mall where Chamorro Grillis located. This mall is just Kitty Corner from the Kaiser Hospital corner (where Longhorn and Pho Xpress still are going strong) and next to the mall which contains Ra-Ka-De-Ka,Troys Greek,San Diego Brewing Company, Saigon Star and Gaglione Brothers.Clean, neat and small (less than 50 seats), this family run business seems to have a steady flow of clientele picking up 'To Go' orders. There are lunch special plates (Mon-Fri 11-3) with prices ranging from $5.99-$7.99 and the regular menu has a maximum price of $13.99. The admonishment at the bottom of each menu page is the same: "Hot & Spicy- Please be aware of the spiciness for the spicy food". This fact is confirmed when you order.When we first sat down, I had no expectations. The standard Chinese Zodiac place mats, forks, plastic tablecloths were all signs of this place being "ABCDE" (American Born Chinese Dining Establishment). Into the ordering process, I was happily disproved while asking questions (we asked for and got chopsticks) Our waitress took our order and went to the kitchen window and *yelled* it in to the chef. This talented man works magic with the wok.First up, a simple sesame pancake ($1.99). Fresh, flaky, delightful and this would prove a perfect item to use when sopping up flavorful oil.The menu does not provide much in the way of description other than categories of Noodles/Rice (where the pancake was listed), Green Chili, Sizzling Plate, Dried Pot, Boiled Bowl, Pork/Beef/Lamb, Chicken/Fish/Shrimp, Vegetable/Tofu, Soup and Featured Specials.
Above, Chicken with Green Chili and Hot Sauce ($8.99). Red and green bell peppers, a spicy fresh green chili (looks like a jalapeno but it isn't), dry red chilis, garlic, black beans and plenty of chicken. This is delicious and so very fresh."Featured Special" Twice Cooked Fish with Dried Red Pepper ($11.99). Wow. Dry red pepper, ginger and garlic make the heat and flavors, as did the celery, sweet red bell pepper and plenty (we counted eight) filets of twice cooked, lightly breaded, perfectly crispy fried fish.Returning later in the week, with the intention of ordering a lunch special, the waitress recognized us and brought out two cups of the daily soup before we had ordered. Turns out that the lunch specials looked kind of dull to us and we each were more curious about other menu items. Above, Boiled Bowl two kinds with Hot Sauce (I chose lamb and beef) ($10.99). The bowl is HUGE. Here is a bit of what is in the bowl. Not only beef and lamb (each meat you could taste through the heat of the pepper and garlic) but also plenty of cabbage. The leftover sauce and cabbage was used as a base for soup at home that night.Chicken in dried pot ($8.99)- there is a sterno flame under this pot, which had the most flavorful melding of spices, almost chocolate-like.Underneath all of that were onions (which kept cooking in the heat until almost melted) and really nice, fresh sprouts.
We will be trying the rest of the menu.
Mr. Spicy 6618 Mission Gorge Road San Diego 92120 (619)546-6686 Mon-Sat 10:30-9
It's was prime dinnertime, but the place looked kind of empty. There I stood, promptly ignored by the three guys milling around, when the young guy practically screams at me "SIT!" pointing to one of the booths. And just in case I didn't hear him, he goes "SIT!" again. Now I may talk this way to Sammy and Frankie once in a while; but they have four legs......
Menu promptly flies onto table and the guy hovers over me. Now the last time I was here, I looked high and low for Beef Sate Noodle and the Server who was hovering over me just like this guy practically ordered me to have something else. This time I was going to find that damned dish even if took all night. Much to the dismay of the guy hovering....who finally let out a sigh and left me to concentrate on my meal. And wouldn't you know....I finally found it on the bottom of the menu. So the guy comes back and simply says "what???" Man of few words, or would that be word......
Anyway, here it is in all it's glory Beef Sate Noodle - Dry ($7.30). By the way; it's on the bottom of the noodle soup page.
It looked pretty decent; until you went to mix it and found all that iceberg lettuce hidden by the noodles, which were basically raw and still sort of powdery. There was not enough sauce and the beef was tough.
The broth was basically MSG water....really salty.
Sad really, since in the good old days LHK did a pretty good job. However, since the MM location opened and the failed attempt at reopening on Convoy, it seems the prices have gone up rather quickly, the flavors have gone down, and the Servers here only speak in monosyllables. Actually, the young man spoke perfect California English....there was a table with a couple of guys whom I'm thinking were his friends....they were talking about football. Which was great for his buddies.....though perhaps I would prefer just single word sentences from him......
So this is my third post on the place. And unless someone has some compelling dish to try, I think that's it for "The Original Chinese Noodles".
Luong Hai Ky Restaurant 10606 Camino Ruiz #2 San Diego, CA 92126
During this time of the year, folks are usually quite busy, so here's something short and sweet for Monday.
Jin's Pot appears empty:
Slight pun intended, though I'm not quite sure what to make of the Notice of Non Responsibility....I'm guessing there's a possibility of a lien against the business that the property owner is protecting themselves from. Doesn't sounds good.
The sign says they are reopening this month...so we'll see. Notice how they kept the same color sign?
9330 Mira Mesa Blvd #A San Diego, CA 92126
The Missus current favorite coffee:
While doing a short Trolley Brewery crawl with Candice; we stopped at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in Little Italy. They had an interesting v60....with Haraaz Red Maraqaha. At almost $9, whew was it pricey.Though after tasting it; the smooth, berry flavors, the tongue coating richness with a nice clean finish. It's really a bit too smooth for me, but this is exactly what the Missus loves.....so I bought 8 ounces of beans - $21.95! Ouch!
That's ok though, since She really, really enjoyed, well I should say enjoys this as She's sent me back to pick up more. I'm sure She'll savor it while it lasts.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 2295 Kettner Blvd San Diego, CA 92101
A fairly large collection for a SoCal winter Wednesday.
Pho DaKao and Grill Closes:
I drove by and noticed the parking lot was totally empty so I drove in. The Eviction Restoration Notice was posted on the door. Man, this place didn't last very long. I think I visited soon after they opened....so they pulled the plug pretty fast.
I'd driven past a couple of times and the place looked closed so I stopped by earlier in the week.
This former Balboa Avenue institution moved to this location back in the summer of 2013. It's too bad that the renovation and creation of chain restaurant hell drove them from their old location and it seems that they barely made it past a year here. Though never a destination for me, I'd eaten at the old location a couple of times and thought it decent.......
So hopefully I'm mistaken? But it sure looks like they've shut down....
4344 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
So here comes the "New" Dumpling Inn and Shanghai Saloon:
While never great shakes, the place really "jumped the shark" in my opinion after the owner got involved with The Dragon's Den and Del Mar Rendezvous, both of which have been sold. So now we get this........ I'm told he has a taste for "fusion", which is great, remember, I'm from the home of Pacific Rim Cuisine, so I love fusion.....but it's a thin line between fusion and "con-fusion".
In the old First Korean Market location.
4625 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
We had some much needed rain over the last two weeks........and we're kind of enjoying the nice sleeping weather, which would be great if I wasn't working so many long hours.
Still, I actually saw a double rainbow while driving to Target on the way home yesterday. Pardon the bad photos.
Seeing a rainbow in San Diego is rare enough....a double rainbow, well I don't ever recall seeing one here.
So I took a photo....then took photos of other folks taking photos of the double rainbow.....like I said, this is like an event.
Or maybe a celebrity? This guy is having his picture taken "with" the rainbow! No selfies here....though I did pass two couple taking selfies with the rainbow.
I tried finding out a bit about the place, but my usual network of informants weren't able to find out much...owners supposedly from Seattle via the SGV, the head chef from Chongqing, also via the SGV......
The restaurant itself is quite large......and for the life of me I can't remember what this place was before? It's next to the Bullpen Sports Bar....was it a Men's Wearhouse or something like that? Anyway, the place is bright and clean, the Servers are pretty friendly if a bit slow, overall nothing to complain about.
So here's the rundown on dishes, from the best to the worst..... and no, I didn't order the XLB or the Hongshao Rou.
1 - Shui Zhu Yu - the classic fish "boiled in hot sauce". Called Sliced Fish in Hot & Spicy Gravy ($12.99).
First the good, a decent amount of Sichuan Peppercorn...hallelujah! Really. Nice garlic tones to match the "ma" - the numbing sensation. Not very spicy until having leftover two days later. Lots of oil...I know, I've often said "oil is the pathway to flavor"...but this was really oil heavy with not enough bean paste or stock to balance things out. Which left the flavor a bit on the flat side. The fish was drier and more chewy than the silken texture I prefer as well. That said, not bad. The portion size was quite hefty.
2 - Chongqing La Zi Ji(重庆辣子鸡). Chongqing Hot Chicken ($12.99) on the menu.
Wow, two dishes with a decent amount of Sichuan Peppercorn! Still, "ma" without the "la".....as in not spicy enough. The chicken could have been fried a bit more crisp. And then there's that odd sweetness that we've been noticing in these fried dishes over the last couple of years. It's like an amount of cake flower or something with this annoying sweetness is being used nowadays.
This could have been quite good with more cumin. The meat was decent in terms of texture and it had a slight kick to it. Would have loved some cilantro and more onions. another dish that tasted better two days later.
The humblest of dishes, but also quite comforting when made well.
This was nice and spicy, with good balance. The problem with the dish was that the liang fen was strangely mushy.....really bad.
5 - Szechuan Won Ton ($6.99).
This was not bad, and for me, it's totally legit to have tons of slippery-noodle-ly wrapper (which this was not) with a nice "kou gan" (mouthfeel) and a small amount of meat filler. This was a bit too hard, tough, and dry.
It had some heat, a bit of sweet, but nothing really remarkable.
And nowhere near this:
6 - Pork Intestine with Laba Garlic ($12.99)
Kind of an interesting dish. Laba Garlic is more of a Northern Chinese thing. The garlic is supposed to have a strong vinegar flavor and be green....this garlic was more like "blue" which is normal for pickling garlic, if I recall, something to do with the sulfur comp0unds in the garlic reacting with the amino acids.
The intestine was prepared well, the garlic quite sour, but the dish just didn't seem to some together real well for me. Something was missing.....perhaps a bit more heat....I kept thinking how this would be with Pa Jiao - pickled peppers instead...well, maybe not.
8 - Dry Cooked Intestine Dry Pot ($11.99). I liked the presentation, over a heating element, and my gosh the portion size was humongous.
The heat in this was sneaky and got me good......the intestine was really tough though and the flavor one dimensional. Strangely, this had me thinking of Qi Wei, which ain't no great shakes either, but better than this.
9 - Emei (I guess named after Mount Emei) Mountain Style Beef ($13.99). Another large portion, the beef was nice and tender.
Strangely bland though......
10 - Fu Qi Fei Pian ($7.99). I was having lunch with my coworker Lily. We ordered this and had almost finished the meal when it arrived......strange. We thought they had forgotten about it. This was terrible.
Part of what makes this dish so good is the amount of time it spends marinating....it's also a liang cai (cold dish) and this was warm. The meat was super tough and hadn't really absorbed any flavor.
There is one thing that I had that was worse than the Fu Qi Fei Pian.....I can't really complain because it was free, but the Hot and Sour Soup ...it was barely warm, not very sour, not hot at all, kind of insipid.
Overall, I think a couple of dishes have some potential, but right now it's just another Sichuan place in the area.....other than using a decent amount of peppercorns, I'm not sure what to say. Of course, it seems that most customers of these type of places want quantity more than quality, which is kind of sad. The folks working here were very nice on all my visits.
When things warm up, I'll come back for the Sichuan Liang Mian and the Ko Shui Ji and I'm hoping for maybe some nice surprises.
Szechuan Taste 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111