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
Just a quick little post on a warm Thanksgiving eve.
Sang Devan Thai and Lao Kitchen coming to Convoy:
I actually saw the sign lit up when driving home from Nijiya a couple of nights ago. This shop will take the place of the long running Philadelphia Sandwich Company. As much as I love businesses who have been around forever, the food at PSC seemed dated and a bit tired, so maybe it was time. As for Sang Devan, well, I'm interested and time will tell....
And yes, I did stop by. You know how I am. I'll eat here a couple of times before posting.
I will say, the servers are very friendly, there are the usual Sichuan suspects on the menu. The menu is a bit disconcerting....along with the to be expected ABC (American Born Chinese) dishes, usually on the menu as a concession to the lunch crowd; there's the very non-Sichuan Xiao Long Bao and Hongshao Rou....... Not quite what comes to mind with regards to "Szechuan Tastes".....
So we'll see....
Szechuan Taste 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Qi Wei Kitchen kinda quietly opened just when we got back from our trip. I asked some coworkers and other folks who are tuned into Weibo and other social media and was warned off. Low quality products, off flavors, long waits (like over an hour), really made me hesitate. In retrospect, I should have done what I usually do, just plow in full speed ahead. The other thing being, it seems that only Sichuan and Hot Pot restaurants are interested in opening in San Diego. Also, unlike how things used to be, it seems to be all about portion sizes now(as in Szechuan Chef)....quantity is in, quality be damned. About 2 weeks ago, "YZ" gave me the all clear on Qi Wei and along with Lily, we headed down the street to Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.
Qi Wewi specializes in one thing; what they call Mala Xiang Guo - Numbing-Hot "dry" fragrant (Hot) Pot, which looks a lot like some of the dry cooked dishes I'm familiar with.
The drill is basically ordering a size of "dry pot"....the $10.99 version is only available for lunch from Monday - Thursday. You then choose the type...well ma-la of course; spice level. The $30.99 special gives you a choice of two protein based items (except for stuff like lobster and fish) to add to the base pot, which has four items....which I thought would be bad luck; but whose counting. Those four items, cauliflower, potato, bean sprouts, and celery. You can add proteins for $10.99 and vegetables and such run form 99 cents to $2.99. I think you get the picture, it can get pretty pricey, pretty quickly.
Anyway, we went with the Combo. Strong flavored and offal type items are a natural for this style, so ordered the duck gizzards and the ox tripe.
This was mostly mushy french fries and cauliflower. What gizzard and tripe existed was very salty. Not very......no numbing Sichuan Peppercorn, very blah. Plus, it took almost 30 minutes to arrive. Not terrible, but quite mediocre.
As it stood, most folks would say "meh" and never return. But you know me.....I just needed to verify. So I returned a while later, solo, since I didn't want to put anyone else through what we'd had before
The woman on this visit was very nice. I ordered the $10.99 deal, medium spicy, with mutton, a favorite of mine. Sadly, what I got was beef......the server was very apologetic and told me, "the beef is very good....my favorite". I'm sure she was embellishing things, but I have to say, the beef, though on the chewy side had some pretty decent flavor....the beefiness and five spice came though nicely. As you can clearly see, it looks much better than on the previous visit.
The celery, which was MIA on our previous visit was here.....the amount of beef was adequate....there was even a some decent heat, though still not enough of the Sichuan Peppercorn numbingness I adore. It wasn't as salty and had some decent flavor. I couldn't finish all that cauliflower and french fries so I took it home. The Missus thought it was decent.
Overall, not a great value, but if you're looking to fill up on potatoes and rice, I guess this might fit the bill. I might try to return for mutton or even better, intestine, though to be perfectly honest, I'd rather have some dry cooked lamb, intestine, or beef from Fu An or even Spicy City.....boy do I miss Ba Ren.
They also have a location in our old neck of the woods; Rowland Heights as well.
Qi Wei Kitchen 8058 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
What the heck? What's the tie in with these two places? Well, read on and I think you'll see. Mostly photos in this one....I've posted on these places before. So let's C(lear) O(ut) the M(emory) C(ard) shall we?
Golden City for the billionth time:
I actually hadn't been back to Golden City in a while. But after reading Lynn's post, even though she ordered things that I would never have at Golden City. I thought it was time for a revisit and yet another post to see if they have gone severely downhill. I had thoughts of picking up on my Golden City Hot Pot project, but man, it's been so hot. Anyway, the photos kind of speak for themselves.
My favorite - the Kwai Fei Ji. Also a favorite of Dennis.
Steamed Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetable.
Macau Roast Pork......on one visit, with my buddy Candice, it was too salty. On this visit, with my coworkers YZ and Lily, it was quite good.....
YZ, from Shanghai and Lily from Shanxi ("I'm from Taiyuan, not Taiwan, ok") really know the questions to ask whenever we eat Chinese food.... where are the owners from and what is the style of food. I think of Golden City as basically a Guangdong (Cantonese to you) style restaurant that pulls ever so slightly toward Chaozhou (Eastern Guangdong), though many of the dishes that reflect that are no longer on the menu .
Like the Beef Stew (actually a braise) with Radish. I've had it when it was quite good. On this day, it wasn't quite ready for prime time; the beef was nice, tender, moist, yet not falling to pieces, but the daikon was still too hard.
The food can sometimes be uneven. The Fish in Black Bean Sauce had me asking where the fish was during a lunch with Reza.
The textures and flavors were right, but the ratio of onions to everything else was off.
The dishes we order occaisionally draw stares from the gringo ordering customers, as I've mentioned before, I really don't think ordering dishes from the Easternmost Regional Chinese Cuisine..... that would be ABCD ("American Born Chinese Dining"), is what they do best here. And I think folks like CAB, Dennis, and even Kirbie would agree. Nothing fancy, but decent grub.
Golden City Restaurant 5375 Kearny Villa Rd. San Diego, CA 92123
Carnitas Snack Shack:
The Missus had been fighting a cold during the super hot week we had recently. She doesn't handle being sick very well. And the heat just made things that much worse. So, while on the road to recovery, the Missus told me She wanted to visit one of Her current favorite places, basically for this.
It didn't look quite right, but the flavor, the sweet-porkiness was still right on. And the Missus just basically inhaled the thing.
Carnitas now has a second location in Del Mar, which Kirbie, Jinxi, and Faye have posted on...man, it's Food Blogger Central! I was wondering if there was going to be a drop off at the original location, but no, things were good as ever. It's really nice that things have really been fine tuned since my first visit back in 2011.
Carnitas' Snack Shack 2632 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92104
Just a quick note for a beautiful Wednesday. Driving back from lunch at Golden City I saw this sign.
Hmmm....another Sichuan Restaurant, huh? It looks like construction had just begun. Sichuan restaurants in the SGV is having kind of a renaissance, with places like Chengdu Taste and Szechuan Impression opening up. I hope this place measures up.....
8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Check this out.....
Now being that red is nature's warning color, it's easy to under estimate these White Ghost Peppers. Until you cut them open. Not as hot as the Red Ghost Pepper, but plenty spicy.
The peppers that really surprised me were the Carribean Red Habaneros that I grew from seeds purchased from the New Mexico State University Chili Institute. These are very large and much more spicy than the fruit from the red habanero plant I bought earlier in the year.
It's also much more fruity, with a bite that lasts about 8-9 minutes. I'm thinking I'll purchase more seeds from the program next year, maybe even try to get some Carolina Reaper seeds. What do you think?
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
One the way back home from a roadtrip earlier in the year, I finally had a chance to stop by JYTH Restaurant. I'd tried to convince the Missus to stop by before, but She declared havung the specialty of the house, mao erduo - ("cat's ears"), too much carbs. Since this was a solo trip, I was able to stop by.
Since this is the SGV, you just knew the place was going to be in....a strip mall of course. The place was quite empty when I arrived, the woman working here was very nice and friendly.
I was only after one thing..... mao erduo (貓耳朵). Which arrived steaming hot.
Very simply prepared, which is sometimes best, the noodle, which resembles Orecchiette, or as my coworker "Lily" who is from Shanxi, where mao erduo is one of the regional specialties says, "no, Orecchiette, resembles mao erduo." This version is quite chewy, almost dense, and hardens a bit as it cools. Quite substantial, it is stir-fried with soy sauce, garlic, a bit of napa cabbage, and a touch of sesame oil. It is topped eggs scrambled with scallions and wood ear fungus. Quite filling, I could only put away half of this before calling it quits. I thought it was fine, but nothing I'd go out of my way for in the future.
I later spoke to Lily about this type of noodle and was told it should be chewy, but also smooth and clean in flavor. This seemed a bit to dense and over-worked.
One really cute thing happened as I was finishing up my meal. The front door of the restaurant opened; two old-timers in wheelchairs were pushed in by younger women and a table was set-up for them.
The women were wearing scrubs, so I'm assuming there's a senior/assisted living facility nearby. Apparently this is a fairly regular thing as the server saw me smiling and gave me a wink! The gentlemen seemed very happy to have the attention, the women were very attentive....I guess these guys are their favorites! For some reason, I found this kind of cute and charming as all four seemed to be having a great time. Other folks I mentioned this to found it creepy.... I guess it's all based on your viewpoint.
Of course, in spite of the attention of young ladies, one must still be able to focus on the business at hand, right? Which means checking out the liang cai (cold dishes). The menu is quite a collection of everything from Sichuan to Northern Chinese, the prices are quite reasonable. The main item of note here are the noodles.
JTYH Restaurant 9425 Valley Blvd Rosemead, CA 91770
Of course I stopped to get take-out on the way home......
After all, no place even comes close with regard to these dishes in San Diego...
A few weeks back we finally had some time to return to the SGV....we hadn't been back since we got back from our trip. I gave the Missus a list of places and She decided to forgo those choices and just return to Sea Harbour for dim sum. I've posted on the place a couple of times already, so I decided to do one of my C(learing) O(ut the) M(emory) C(ard) posts.
So it'll be mostly photos from here on...other than commenting on that "interesting" menu item to the right. I felt if I ordered this, it would try to hump my leg.....or something like that.
Still our favorite dim sum in LA.
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant 3939 Rosemead Blvd Rosemead, CA 91770
Strange what you notice when waiting for take-out. Here's the sign right next to the front door of Shufeng Garden. I thought it was a kind of odd location....unless of course, this is a common occurence here.
I hope everyone has a great weekend! No choking allowed!
Well, sort of....... I've posted on this place when it was just Chin's on Convoy. I actually had dinner here after the name change which was....well, ok. It was too dark and my photos never came out. A few weeks ago, feeling the need for some Niu Rou Mian, I decided on revisiting.
Even though it was pretty hot out, I just needed some NRM.
I don't know if it was bad timing, or if it was the "b" team in action, but this wasn't even close to what I had here before. Sorely lacking beef flavor, this was very salty, missing the nice kick I had in previous versions. The beef was fine, moist and tender, but those noodles were terrible. I was never the biggest fan of the noodles here, which are passable when prepared well, but when overcooked and mushy......
I ordered the fried pork chop, which was even worse than the NRM.
Greasy, soggy, and too salty....I think I'll leave it at that.
After this visit, I wondered if it had just been a bad day. I'd been craving Shanghai style cold dishes and with all the hot weather, it just seemed like the right time to try again....this time with my buddy "R" along for the ride.
We started with the Wined Chicken, which was pretty good.
The texture was spot on, the mildly cured texture, not too salty, and without the overly boozy, sometimes bitter flavor of too much Shaoxing, this was a decent rendition of the classic "Su Cai" dish.
The five spice beef was nicely flavored, not too sweet, which this type of cuisine can be.
If it were just a bit more tender I would have enjoyed it more.
The cold roasted duck's flavor was much better than what I've had here in the past. The nice sweet-soy flavor came through nicely.
Nice duck flavor, combined with a toothsome, but not too tough duck, made this the best dish of the day.
I'm glad the duck and chicken came through with flying colors, because the Wuxi Spareribs, a dish that's usually pretty good here was terrible.
Usually, I'm complaining that they make make it much too sweet here. But this time it really lacked flavor....the sauce was very bland. Combine that with gloppy gooeyness, sometimes a mild plus when sauces tend to be heavily flavored just made this a mediocre dish at best. The spareribs really lacked flavor, though they weren't too tough. Bummer, because this was possibly my favorite here.
At least my second meal was better than my first. If it gets terribly hot, I might just head back.....I'm hoping those spareribs are much better. The lunchtime crowd here is quite diverse, mostly made up of folks ordering the "ABC" style dishes, perhaps that's why the NRM wasn't very good?