Well, Lemon House opened and closed so quickly, I never got a chance to check them out. My sources did tell me they really didn't enjoy their visits; so perhaps it's for the better. So now, we welcome a Steamy Piggy into the spot. I think the folks from Lemon House are still running this new concept as well.
4681 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92123
Tasty Pot on Convoy Looks Ready to Open:
At least when I went to pick up take-out from the newly opened Noodle Hut.
Curious, I drove by a couple of days later and the place does indeed look ready to go.
There's even a menu posted.
4698 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
So there you go......a little peek of what's going on.
Welcome to another edition of mmm-yoyo!!!, the food blog with variants on the acquisition of said foodstuffs. Kirk is very busy with work this week and Ed (from Yuma) is very busy with retirement (in Yuma). Cathy is writing today.
Last Monday, January 2, was the official New Year holiday and the Tournament of Roses held its annual parade and Bowl Game. The following morning, The Mister and I drove North to see the parade floats lined up end to end, at the Showcase of Floats. The Banner float, which was first in the 96 unit parade entries (floats, bands, equestrian units), reflected the theme of this year, "Echoes of Success". Of the 44 floats in the parade, five are not judged (this is one of those) and 24 of the remaining floats are trophy winners. I'll just show you some details from some of the floats. Walking along to view takes at least two hours and that's if you aren't paying attention to the details that went into the meticulous decorations. You can see the work and thought that went into the design and execution of each float.
Cal Poly Universities entry, 'A New Leaf' featured three chameleons, with that yellow one changing color via an elaborate system of dowels. (YouTube video, 1:45 in length). The California Milk Advisory Board, with its entry "Legacy of Generations" provided a surreal view of a good variety of California Dairy products and emphasized the generations of California dairy families who helped to make California the most successful dairy state in the nation (The 'raisins' are covered with real raisins and the 'cereal flakes' are dried apple skin).
A block away,
we'd been seeing this signage (and outside lantern decor) for years, but never were here when Egg Roll Express was open. We had finally the chance to dine here!
Simple decor, a pitcher of hot tea and weekday lunch specials!
Each lunch special comes with a choice of either hot and sour or egg flower soup. This was a wonderful, fresh, chicken based, creamy and very eggy egg drop served in a quite large bowl. I wanted more.
The serving plate of the special(#30-fish filet with Szechuan sauce)($7.29)was so cute! The food was even better. The spicy fish and vegetables were so fresh and flavorful.
The egg roll? Well, it was fried right (not greasy and nicely crispy) and filled with fresh and bright flavored vegetables. Quite good. Since this was our first visit to a new Chinese restaurant, our standard , Egg Foo Young (with chicken) was ordered ($8.99). Wow! Every restaurant makes EFY their own way and The Mister and I liked this version. Filled with bean sprouts, onion and eggy goodness, the pancake was crispy even under the (not salty) gravy, chicken and fresh vegetables.
Egg Roll Express 2397 E. Washington Blvd Pasadena, Ca 91104 (626)791-2398 open daily 11a.m.-9:30 p.m. Website
It seems like they are slowly adding things to the menu.
The Missus and I went once. But as She says, it can get pretty old after a while. What doesn't get old, at least on cold nights for us is the "tang", the bone based broth. What we found out was that they sell the broth, it's $4.99 for the large version. We really like the "extra spicy" version of this bone based broth.
Which ends up being 2-3 meals for us.....
After picking up the broth, head to the new 99 Ranch Market. The Missus favorite items? Wintermelon, daikon, a variety of bean curd products, bean thread, various vegetables...you name it. Because the broth is nicely rich; it seems like we go mostly vegetarian on this.
Talk about a warming meal that will leave you with a nice sheen of sweat on your forehead (the extra spicy is not super spicy), with a nice "ma" (numbing) to go along with a slight chili induced endorphin high. Can you say "aaaah".
It's worth the slight communication thing.....I had the Missus spell out the broth in Chinese, but just tried to order "tang". The sweet young lady, thinking I was speaking English hilariously pointed to the duck tongues.
The folks working have always been quite accommodating and friendly to us.
So as the next storm moves into San Diego....maybe grabbing some of the hot pot broth and your favorite items (I saw them packing 10 portions of broth and fixins to go during my last visit) might be a nice option for spending a "night in".
Private Kitchens 5440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
During this past summer FuAn Garden officially changed course and owners. Going from Sichuan to Cantonese fare. One of the main players was a former manager of Jasmine. I tried the place and had a terrible meal. Then according to what I understand, there was a major kitchen revolt and the manager was booted. And then I noticed a sign while driving by announcing lunch specials.
Man, $6.99....how good could the food here be now? Well, with the help of Calvin, several visits were made and we got to try out a good amount of the lunch specials.
In case you're thinking that the $6.99 specials were basically going to be egg noodle soup, porridge, and vegetable dishes, you'd be wrong. I was surprised to see some seafood item, though I remained somewhat skeptical about the quality of the dishes.
So here's a rundown of the items we had; best to worst.
In terms of texture, the Salt and Pepper Squid might have been the best overall.
Notice I didn't say technique. Though the squid was impressively tender and decently seasoned, batter was peeling off the squid, showing some lack of good technique. It was also not very crisp; like the oil used for frying wasn't at optimum temp.
Coming in a close second was the Stir Fried Pork Stomach (intestines) with Chili Pepper.
Edging on being too greasy and with little or no spiciness; this was still a decent dish. The intestines were nicely prepped; just the right amount of funk and chew, the vegetables were crisp, and this was mildly seasoned, so you could make out all flavors of the peppers, scallion, intestine.
The Missus's favorite dish; at least for two of the four times I bought it was the Gailan with Preserved Pork (la rou).
This was the first lunch special item I ordered on a solo visit. The portion size was large enough that I ended taking half of it home. The Missus loves La Rou and on this first visit the gailan was perfect; the stalks cooked but crunchy, and the leaves not over cooked. The seasoning was simple which suited this perfectly. So, during my other lunch visits; I'd order this to go for the Missus. The second time it was decent; but the last two times the gailan was blanched too long and was rubbery. After which, the Missus stopped requesting it.
It's hard to mess up simple Soy Sauce Noodles. Which might be the only thing over priced on this $6.99 menu.
The noodles were on the hard side, the presentation left something to be desired, and this was bit too salty.
The Eggplant in the Eggplant with Fermented Bean Curd; basically Yu Hsiang ("Fish Flavored"), was much too sweet and this was on the greasy side.
Though the texture of the eggplant was fair.
The Bittermelon with Black Bean Sauce was terrible.
An overcooked, greasy-gloppy mess, displaying some haphazard wok skills. Way too salty; bitter garlic....'nuff said.
Perhaps my least favorite item here...mainly because of flavor and portion size, the Roast Duck Rice.
Well geez, look at all that broccoli. This was basically the bottom two thirds of a duck leg with the meat and skin splayed out to make it look like more than it was. This was mostly bone. The skin was pleasantly crisp, but had very little of the beany-salty-sweet tones of a good roast duck. The meat was super bland. The rice was on the hard side and I wish they'd put a bit more jus on the rice. Well, I made fun of the broccoli, but that might have been the best item on this plate.
It's hard to complain too much about a $6.99 lunch item. Some things were decent and a good value; others rather uneven. One of the women who works here is very nice. I'd say while your mileage may vary, it might be worth checking out the lunch specials here. It might even be a good alternative to Golden City once in a while. It's even cheaper too.
Fuan Garden Seafood Restaurant 4768 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
There sure have been quite a few openings during the usually slow holiday season this year. Back in October, "FOY" (friend of yoso) Jan Frederick sent me an email regarding a Banh Bao shop opening in Mira Mesa. I found out through my sources that they opened on Christmas Eve.
Apparently the other two T.P. Banh Bao shops are in Houston and Garden Grove. I'll get a post done after I sample a few more items from the place.
Thanks for the heads-up Jan Frederick!
11271 Camino Ruiz San Diego, CA 92126
Xi'an Kitchen Closes. Noodle Hut Taking Its Place:
Back in early November I noticed that Xian Kitchen had shuttered quite suddenly. I walked up and read the gory details to the right. 'Nuff said.
Apparently something named "Noodle Hut" is taking its place.
4690 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
The Missus Gets Her Kenya Guama Peaberry Fix:
Once in a while the really nice guys at Birdrock on Morena will tell me when something special is going to be available. This year they mentioned that the Kenya Guama Peaberry had scored a 97 on Coffee Review and told me it might be in the top 5 coffees of the year. So when it became available I reserved a bag. Turns out the coffee took #1 of the top 30 coffees of the year.
While the Missus prefers the light acid a fruitiness of Natural Processed beans; these washed processed Peaberry beans were quite distinctive....super smooth, rich, with a long finish. The Missus was a happy coffee nerd.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 1270 Morena Blvd. San Diego, CA 92110
Especially since She's really gotten to enjoy a nice cocktail now and then.
And Her favorite Happy Hour item still are those Deviled Eggs.
$6 during happy hour; the Missus is often tempted to order two. I enjoy the Prosciutto with Truffle Oil the most.
The Rabbit Sausage ($6 - Happy Hour) was nice; but it was the delicious whole grain mustard we really enjoyed.
The wbBLT Sliders ($8 - Happy Hour) are fine; we both enjoy the nice rolls.
The Wild Boar Poutine ($8 - Happy Hour) on the other hand was a disappointment.
Looks like this was placed under a broiler and the fries dried out making it seemed more baked than fried. The cheese was way too gooey and this was pretty salty so we couldn't make out any "wild boar". Also, where's the gravy?
As whole, we really enjoy the good cocktails ($6 - Happy Hour) and good Happy Hour pricing. The rather odd and eye catching artwork is a bonus. The Missus really likes the Lion's Share...to the point that She's willing to head into the Gaslamp.
The Lion's Share 629 Kettner Boulevard San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Open daily 4 pm - 2 am - Happy hour from 4 - 6pm Daily
Aqui es Texcoco:
It's been way too long since we last visited. But our old favorites are still great here.
From the consommé; full of lamb flavor and nice and comforting with a squeeze of lime.
To the salty, but satisfying Chicharron de Queso.....griddled cheese.
And the Missus's favorite; the Plato Azteca......with huitlacoche(of course) and flor de calabaza (squash blossom) of course.
And of course you gotta get some Borrego....in this case the Mixiote.
Something I didn't take a photo of but was pretty impressed with this time around were the tortillas which were excellent.
Aqui es Texcoco never lets us down.
Aqui Es Texcoco 1043 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91911
I couldn't help but take a photo of this sweet face.......waiting faithfully for its owner who was probably doing some Christmas shopping....hopefully for the pooch.
It's funny how things work out. I was headed to a dreaded lunch hour meeting, when I was notified that it was cancelled. I decided to head on down Clairemont Mesa to grab something to eat. I noticed that the place I'd recently seen that replaced the Zisu Indian Market named Private Kitchens had opened....at least the sign said open. So I parked and walked in.
I quickly noticed a couple of things; first off, there's a temporary wall put up and there's still Indian groceries for sale. Second, there was only one person in the place that spoke English, a sweet young lady whose English name is "Julie" I believe.
It's an odd set-up, two folks came in, did some shopping and paid for their groceries at the register. There were some interesting communication issues, but everything got taken care of. I think the shop is liquidating the grocery inventory? I mentioned this to the Missus who told me; "you know my peeps......"
Second thing I noticed. In spite of the huge kitchen, the place was set-up with skewers of various vegetables, meats, bean curd, etc. This was a "chuan chuan xiang" ("fragrant skewers") style place; also know as mala tang ("numb and spicy") style place. A real Chengdu specialty where you pick your skewers and they are cooked in a numbing hot broth. I really haven't seen this here since Ba Ren tried their "Yie-Shi" menu years ago.
This style of eating has a special place in my heart. I couldn't wait to grab a basket and have at it. You get charged by the skewers....frankly, I just picked out stuff I enjoy....it came out to about $11. A "small pot" cost $3.99; though I didn't care for the standard noodles.....instant ramen type.
My favorite items were the frozen and fried tofu, the bean curd skin, along with the enoki mushrooms. The rest was pretty routine and basic, but that broth was definitely, legitimately "numbing hot". I did get the "ma-la" and it was that in spades. I left with a nice layer of sweat on my forehead.
Funny thing, a couple of days later, it was pouring rain, everybody had been stuck in meetings and calls and we decided to grab some lunch. So Calvin, JohnF, Renee, and I headed over for some Mala Tang. This style of eating is quite social; except Renee can't eat tolerate anything too spicy; so we got her a milder version.....I got the Boys medium spicy. Calvin just piled stuff on.....
I ordered kuan fen (cellophane noodles) this time around, which goes quite well with the hot pot. Calvin loves his chicken parts; the heart was good; so was the pork stomach. I gotta say though; if you're going to do this, go for the spicy....the medium just didn't do it for me. We left quite satisfied; Renee had never experienced the "ma" before and told me her lips were numb; "but in a good way". We headed back to the office on a spicy endorphin high.....just the thing to take us through the rest of the day.
Now I'm not going to say this is great, nor even really good. The skewers are fine; it's the broth that makes this. It's also comfort food for me. And so far the version here does enough. I'm hoping it gets better. I'm also wondering what happens when the inventory of Indian Groceries is depleted and that temporary wall comes down? Will the menu expand and offer us more Chengdu style dishes?
One can always hope.....
Private Kitchens 5440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
The mmm-yoso!!! gang has been busy for the past few days, with work, holiday parties, shopping trips and other end of year tasks. Kirk and Ed (from Yuma) haven't had time to write and Cathy is writing a short, pertinent compendium today.
We have had some very cold days this month and today it is wet and windy: Winter has hit San Diego. Kirk mentioned this last week. If The Mister and I aren't staying home and cooking, when eating out, at least one of us is ordering a warm meal that is served in a bowl and has a spoon as an essential utensil.
Kirk had mentioned that Mama Testa was re-opening, but neither of us has done a post. I've had the chicken mojados here ($10): rolled taquitos, cut and topped with lettuce and sour cream with a mild, chicken based broth on the side; you can pour it over everything to make an interesting soup-type meal. (The beef mojados is beef rolled taquitos and a spicy, red broth). This is unique and tasty. Mama Testa 9225 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126 website
The Bahn Mi Bo Kho ($7.50) at Lucky Seafood is indeed the best Vietnamese style beef stew; I have tried versions everywhere, planned on doing a comparison post and was frustrated with so many bad meals. Pho Lucky 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Whenever The Mister and I stop at Chopstix Too, He takes His time looking at the entire menu and alwaysorders the same thing, mabo ramen ($7.45). Chopstix Too 4380 Kearny Mesa Road San Diego 92111 website We were back at Pho Hoa Huong after grocery shopping (and looking for 2017 calendars) and stopped in for a large bowl of pho tai ($7.25) which arrived with the beef still raw and cooking in the hot, flavorful broth. PhoHoa Huong 6921 Linda Vista Rd San Diego, CA 92111 Kirk had called his meals at Sam Woo BBQ 'early lunch'. The menu lists these under 'breakfast' ($4.25 each). I almost always order the fish porridge, but another choice is the shrimp dumpling noodle soup. Each is good and satisfying. Sam Woo BBQ 7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste 103 San Diego, CA 92111 An Item I haven't mentioned that is served at Tip Top Meats is the Beef Stew ($6.98). Made daily from scratch, limited in quantity, this rich, meaty, traditional stew is great. Tip Top Meats and European Delicatessen 6118 Paseo Del Norte Carlsbad, CA 92009 Website
Stay warm and dry!
Then again, you can just drop into a local grocer (this was at H-Mart) and grab something to enjoy at home.
I decided to check the place out. The space is quite modern, with a nice looking bar area, private rooms, a wide open dining area.....and one of the oddest menus I've seen in a while. It was strangely diverse with everything from Jiaozi to Chuan'r (skewers) to dry pots and other Sichuan style dishes...and yes, gasp, Orange Chicken!
I must have seemed a bit of an oddity to the very, very, nice young man who waited on me. Seeing the name "North" I went straight for the Jiaozi. But confused by the menu I asked where the chefs were from. I was told that the head chef and most of the other chefs were from Dongbei! My goodness, Dongbei. Which you might know as Manchuria and a style of cuisine the Missus and I enjoy; though we'd usually have to go to the SGV to get our fix. The menu's English translations really didn't help me, but with the help of the young man, I found the dish I was looking for.
The Jiaozi arrived first. I'd ordered the basic pork and napa cabbage version. This had a real home made kind of texture to the wrappers; a bit too brittle. The filling was mostly pork; something most folks would like, but I enjoy a nice balance. The flavor was fine, perhaps a bit too salty, but not bad. I did appreciate the entire bowl of Black Vinegar I was given, no scrimping there.
Of course; it was the Suan Cai Hot Pot I was looking for. It's Meat with Pickled Cabbage in Hot Pot on the menu.
This was pretty good; the fatty pork is perfect for this type of dish as the fermented flavors of the cabbage gives everything a clean finish. This was really large; of course I took most of it home. The dish had enough salt, but was missing two things....frozen tofu and enough deep fermented tones, though I'm thinking we like things a bit stronger these days since we make our own Suan Cai. Both were added when we had the leftovers for dinner....making this perfect.
I'd enjoyed my meal enough that I tried to return a couple of times; but for some reason the place was closed.....not sure why; I guess it's still the soft-opening, breaking in period.
I drove by recently and peeked down the parking lot and found that the open sign was lit up. So I decided on grabbing some lunch. As before, the dining room was empty....the two large rooms however, were full.
This time, I decided to ask about two classic Dongbei style dishes. I found one easily on the menu; the second one I asked about.....to the same really nice young man. Guo Bao Rou, which I call the "Original Sweet-Sour Pork". I was told that the version here is "modern style" and uses ketchup. Even though I had thought of the sauce looking like the Song Shu Gui Yu we had at De Yue Lou in Suzhou, I thought why not?
This had much more "sauce" than I'm used too. The pork was sliced properly for this dish; that would be thin. The batter; I believe it's usually potato starch based, was very crisp and crunchy. But man, the strong sour and sweetness was quite a shock! It was much stronger than I recalled, having had this dish before, and I didn't care for it at first. Then, bite by bite, I started enjoying it more. I especially appreciated the nice ginger tones which helped keep the sour notes at bay. I really can't eat too much of this, so I took most of it back to the office. I kind of knew who would enjoy this..... I figured this would over power Calvin's taste buds which it did. But had a feeling that "YZ" would like this.....even though she steers toward the Shanghai - Su Cai flavors, I believed that the very forward sweet - sour tastes would be what she liked. She really enjoyed it..... Heck, if you're going to have sweet-sour pork, you might as well have the original version, right?
I needed to balance the very sweet and sour dish and ordered the dish named the "Three Treasures"; Di San Xian.
The classic stir fry of potato, eggplant, and bell peppers. This was actually properly prepared; you basically need to deep fry the potato and eggplant before adding the sauce for thickening. This version kept too much of the cooking oil and the seasoning fell a bit short, I'm used to having it a bit sweeter. This version also seemed to have black vinegar in it, which I kind of enjoyed.
Overall, while the food wasn't outstanding, it was great to reacquaint myself with these classic Chinese dishes. It may not be haute cuisine, hip, trendy, or cool....but this is timeless and traditional comfort food. I took a menu home and started grilling the Missus, looking for more Dongbei-Cai dishes and it looks like they serve jiang gutou - simmered pork bones (probably like we had here) and even La Pi - mung bean sheets on the menu. And perhaps I'll even try some of the Sichuan....because you never know......
On one of my recent honey-doo excursions in the area; I noticed that Lee's Garden had closed. It was kind of a surprise, since they had always seemed pretty popular. This left me wondering bout the sole survivor of the old trifecta of Lucky Star, Lee's, and the place that I'd always confuse with Lee's; Ly's. It seems that they were still open; at least the sign said so. I decided to check things out; even though the parking lot was completely empty....at 11am on a Saturday!
The place looks pretty much the same; huge and cavernous. Perhaps it had reached the age of equilibrium. You know, it can't really look any older.....
I recalled the prices here being ridiculously low. Well, of course they've gone up (no more $2.75 won ton noodle soup), but are still quite inexpensive. Take, for example, my Roast Duck Egg Noodle - soup on the side, $5.95.
The egg noodles were nicely done; a tad crunchy with a bit of stretch to them. Flavored with a mild, but tasty soy sauce based flavoring. The duck; well, I've had better, but I've also had worst, quite recently as a matter of fact. The overall flavor of the duck was rather mild; lacking in richness or sweetness, while pretty meaty, the skin could have also been more crisp. I had expected a smaller portion and was surprised at the amount of duck I was given.
A bowl with pork neck; flecked with meat and connective tissue in broth was also provided. The pork was well flavored, but the broth had a metallic-bitter flavor to it that was unpleasant. I'm glad I got this with soup on the side.
As I ate three more parties came in......all of them folks older than me. I guess that must be the customer base these days.
The service was friendly and efficient; the prices just can't be beat.....though I don't recall them having Pho on the menu all those years ago. I'm not sure how much longer this place will hold on. All things must pass I guess. As once there were three; large Chinese restaurants in the area....the place for wedding receptions and banquets. Heck, I even went to a wedding reception at Lucky Star. Which just seems like a lifetime ago....
Now it's just Ly's......
Ly's Garden Chinese Restaurant 4350 54th St # B San Diego, CA 92115