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
While completing my weekend "honey doo" lists a while back; I decided to return to Pho Hoa. Man, it's been like three years since I last visited this City Heights institution. And while I think this place has slipped over the years; the parking lot was almost filled when I arrived at 0845 on a weekend morning. So it's obviously one of the top choices in the area on a weekend morning.
Pho Hoa is totally old school; from the paying at the register, to the banquet chairs and sticky tables, to the menu being tossed at you and the Server hovering over you like it's expected that you've been here before and already know what to order....the menu is merely a vehicle that symbolizes all that Pho Hoa has. And what Pho had on this day was the same item I had last time #4.....which is now $7.40. All my experiences with the "tai" here have not been pleasant; there's a tendency for the meat to have a metallic taste to it. So I stick with the flank, brisket, tendon, and tripe.
This time around, the broth was much more acceptable, slightly beefy, not too heavy on the MSG, perhaps defatted a bit too much for my taste. The tendon was also decent as was the tripe. For some reason the flank and brisket fell short on this visit, the flank too tough and dry and the brisket lacking flavor.
There's one thing that has never fallen short here...it's the basil, cilantro (Ngo Gai), and sprouts.....always a generous portion, always sparkling fresh. I didn't need the lime today to balance out the broth, a good thing.
The noodles were also perfect.
These days, I sometimes fall into the trap of waxing nostalgically about the borderline indifferent, perfunctory, and hovering service.......I've noticed that things have changed at some of these places like Pho Hoa Huong. Even here, the guy smiled when he delivered my bowl of pho. The guy running the cash register even told me "thank you", when giving me my change. Changing times, I guess. I'm not sure when I'll be back to Pho Hoa, but at least this time around I got a decent bowl.
Pho Hoa Restaurant 4717 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
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.
But for some reason, I just wasn't very excited about eating here. Perhaps it was the very lackluster visits we had at Qi Wei and the menu didn't seem that much different at all. What finally got me visiting was meeting up with Xiāngjiāo and her hubby MichaelFC. We had drinks at Poseidon and XJ brought this along for the ride.
This was actually pretty good! Decent spice, some definite numbing (麻) going on. Not too salty, loved the frozen tofu, and tripe and tendon just seemed a good fit for this. Nice job XJ!
They had me take the leftovers home; the Missus really enjoyed it!
So guess where we went a few days later?
The place looks pretty much the same as Qi Wei, except for all the "stuffs" on the walls. Also, it seems the cooks eat pretty well here.
So here's the drill for us; Large Dry Pot ($30.99), with Beef Tendon and Tripe (you get two "meats" - $10.99 for additional, not worth the upcharge IMHO), Medium Spicy, Ma-la, with frozen tofu ($2.99 extra). Delivered over a heating element, just like hot pot, you give it a couple of good stirs to mix all the flavors together.
Seems on the pricey side; but consider that it's 2-3 meals for us, which breaks down to $10-15 a meal and I'd say it's not priced too bad. This is a total 180 degree turn from Qi Wei, from the decent spice....medium isn't too much; you can still make out all the flavors, to a decent numbing from the Sichuan peppercorn. The tendon has a nice texture, as does the tripe. The frozen tofu soaks up all of that chili oil based sauce. For some reason, the Missus really likes the potatoes and cauliflower in this. I'd love a bit more celery though.
Still, not bad.
So basically, this has turned into a nice take-out option for us. I also took Calvin and JohnF to lunch here, and even though we had John who destroyed a Bandejas Paisa with us, there were left-overs.
I did also try the Won Tons with Hot Sauce ($5.99), which was fairly mediocre, slightly spicy, but quite one dimensional, lacking the rather nuanced flavors and the "kǒugǎn", the "mouthfeel" if you will of really good wontons.
The sauce was also a bit too thin for me; I'm still looking for a good version locally.
In the end; this is sort of like comfort food for the Missus and I. Nothing fancy, but good grub that's great take-out....it gets even better the next day as the spice settles and that frozen tofu sucks up all the sauce. I think tripe, tendon, and intestine are probably the best meats, since beef and chicken would tend to dry out a bit.
The service can be rather uneven, but one of the young men there is quite nice. Not sure about some of the other dishes as I've never seen folks ordering anything other than the dry pot.
Sizzling Pot King 8058 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
There were so many open parking spaces, and yet..... Go figure. Not even close to Paris Bakery, none of the other businesses open, just decided to park here. Actually saw the guy parked in the Handicap stall struggle a bit to get out.