I never knew you could get the intestine "fried first" to give a bit more texture. I was told on this visit. At $6.77, this is priced right. Good swiney, earthy intestine, the pickled vegetable is typical, but this is a good value and I have no complaints.
Nice folks....I still get a kick that they call me "sir"......
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
Come Tuesday it was on the chilly side...so it was over to Yakyudori for some Shio Ramen. Hard to believe the place was empty when I arrived.
Went for the shio ramen. It was interesting; I still think they changed the salt they use for this a while back...it just doesn't have the same flavor. The broth was also a lot darker than I recalled. The chashu was better than what I've had before. At least it wasn't ice cold. The boiled egg was lovely....not the best, but decent. The noodles prepped well.
The service was a lot less surly than what I've recently experienced. As I left, the place was getting crowded.
Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori 4898 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
They've done a bit of renovation since the last time I was here.
I really love the texture of the crisp and light kakiage. And though the broth and udon is nothing special; it's the sum of the parts that works for me. That onigiri still seems like overkill to me....but I'm not complaining.
Plus, it's still $8.95.
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St #121 San Diego, CA 92111
By Thursday, it was in the 80's. It was time to treat myself to a nice Hwe Dup Bop.
And Sam know just how I like it. Easy on the rice, a good amount of cho-jang...crisp, fresh, a little spicy. Just what I needed to refresh.
Sushi Yaro 7905 Engineer Road San Diego, CA 92111
The weekend came and it was a bit cooler again....so I guess it was back to the beginning.
While Leilani's might be a bit more spiffed up from what I recall; it's still that tiny shop....truly a café. I'd attempted visiting one time before, but the place seems to be doing a nice amount of business. However, on this rainy weekend morning. One in which I sorely missed a loco, there was room for me....and my Hilo Loco:
For some reason; I think the Hilo Loco is better than I recalled. Perhaps time has made the heart grow fonder....but having time between these will make sure my heart doesn't stop mid-beat.
The rice was nice (how's that for a rhyme), nice pieces of Portuguese Sausage give it enough spice and mild heart, making it even more hearty. The gravy is by the book; no complaints here. The hamburger patty is still a bit overworked, too lean, and tough for me.
The eggs....well, while I'd have loved some crisp edges....I'm not going to complain when oozy yolk is staring me in the face.
Leilani has carved out a nice little niche for herself. She even has a shop next door to this cozy little cafe. It's good to know that the Hilo Loco....well...is still a Hilo Loco.
Leilani's Cafe 5109 Cass St San Diego, CA 92109 Open Daily 7am-3pm
Things have been pretty busy the last year and a half or so. I've noticed that I eat more lunches at my desk than I ever did before. Yes, I know it's spposed to actually hurt productivity. But there are those things called conference calls, web meetings, and the ever looming and shifting deadline.
Most often, I'll run out and pick up something from Nijiya; probably at least once a week. So many of the lunches I have at my desk look like this.
I'm definitely not complaining about this one....it's comfort food.
Nijiya Market 3860 Convoy St Ste 109 San Diego, CA 92111
"MG" is a good family friend; the Missus is one (I didn't know that folks can have as many as seven) of her son's Godmothers. We used to work in the same department and had some really fun potlucks. We're now in different departments, but she will sometimes drop by to make sure I'm getting fed. Like bringing me hamanado and tapa from Tita's for lunch. Good lord......how in the world was I able to finish this before?
For some reason, it seems time, at least in my mind, hasn't been good to Tita's...the grey color, the tough beef...though I still like the hamanado. In spite of it being on the tough side I like the mild sweetness and the salty tones.
Yes, it's pretty much about quantity....the love of abundance. It's enough for at least two meals.
Tita's Kitchenette 2720 East Plaza Boulevard National City, CA 91950
One day she dropped off this:
I recognized it immediately...I asked if it was from Tem's and was told "no, it's from Nanay's". Which left me a bit confused, until I found out that Tem's is now Nanay's and apparently the food is basically the same. I will say I enjoyed the "spicy chicken" much more than the pork version I had when the place was Tem's. The "BBQ" chicken kind of reminds me of food court stuff, but it's not terrible....which the rice was, with quite a bit of hard grains in it.
Nanay's Best BBQ 6715 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92121
Speaking of bad rice.......
Just because I have to eat at my desk doesn't mean I can't have stuff to post on. So on the way back from a meeting I stopped by Yum Cha Café. I hadn't been here in ages. I got the Hainan Chicken Rice....mostly because I must be a glutton for punishment. I mean, the place used to have passable cheap grub, but if this is any indication, they've really taken a dive. Dry tasteless chicken...the rice was hard and dry....ick.
Yum Cha Cafe 6933 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
And then there are the times I get to follow-up on a place I had been wondering about. In this case Artisan Bento. I got the Delux Bento...which clocks in at $13.95! I chose Ginger Pork, Shogayaki...which, being on the more salty side really reminds me of what my mom used to make.
I gotta say that these folks seem to have it down. From the time I ordered to leaving the place, less than 10 minutes!
I still enjoy the ohitashi. The kyuri (cucumber) was really bland. The miso soup seemed much more watered down. I usually cringe at the thought of multi-grain rice. But for some reason, I like the version at Artisan Bento....sheesh...what next? Macramé???
For dessert I chose the strawberry cheesecake which I proceeded to give away. I think I can do the regular bento next time.
Artisan Bento 2505 5th Ave San Diego, CA 92103
One change from my previous post. They now open at 11....so no more walking in at 10 to find out they don't serve food until 11.
So, let me ask you.....do you eat at your desk? If so, what's your go to meal to have there? and what do you think about having to eat there?
Recently, I was told that Ichiro's had been renovated. During my last group of visits, the place was starting to look its age. Which is over 30 years old. Ichiro's (though Ichiro is no longer at Ichiro's) is kind of a dying breed; the uncorporate looking, concept free, family owned joint.....I will often use the term "Japanese-American Diner" when talking in terms of places like Ichiro and Yoshino. Fairly inexpensive, by the book, Japanese style dishes. Not quite super gringo, but safe enough for the unadventurous.
I decided that I should do one of my circling back posts on Ichiro's and recently revisited for several lunches.
While the exterior looked pretty much the same, the interior had been upgraded or at least freshened up a bit. And while the tables and chairs were of pretty typical quality, the booths looked quite nice and the walls clean.
We've been going thru some see-saw weather recently. On this day, it was pretty cool outside so I went with the Nabeyaki Udon.
The broth was too salty, like something from a base. The noodles were a tad overdone and starting to get mushy....speaking of mushy...that sad looking shrimp tempura was it. This was disappointing.
I thought of just writing the whole circling back thing off, but decided to play it out.
On my next visit, I went with a basic dish that any Japanese Restaurant serving it should do well. Katsu; in the case Chicken Katsu. When it arrived, the first thing that went thru my mind was, "man, this thing need to spend some time in the tanning booth".
In spite of the very light color, the chicken katsu was done pretty well; it was light and crisp, the chicken moist, and unlike a version I'd had the weekend before, the breading was not falling off the chicken. Everything else was pretty much by the book. The miso soup was actually a bit better than what I'd had before......it actually had some flavor to it.
Not bad overall.
Which meant that I had to complete the trifecta of visits. By this time the weather had turned; well quite warm. In fact, we had a few days of record high temperatures. I looked thru the menu and saw the Reimen, basically Hiyashi Chuka.
This was ok; the noodles were standard issue and the sauce tasted like it came from a package. The crab mixture tasted a bit off.....sadly, the item I enjoyed best was the corn, which kind of says a lot.
During my visits to Ichiro, I noticed a couple of things. during my three visits, there was not a single Asian person other than yours truly eating in the place. I also saw a couple of interesting, well, humorous things. One guy had a salad for his entrée delivered to his table. He didn't know how to use chopsticks and asked for a fork. When they went to get it for him, he just proceeded to eat his salad with his hands! Yikes! And then there was the guy on the table next to me who looked at my reimen and asked the very nice server what it was......she told him, "it is cold ramen, called reimen." Apparently he couldn't hear very well because he said real loud, "OK....I'll have some of THAT SEMEN!" I almost spit my food out!
So while the food just wasn't what I was looking for....at least the nice folks here, and the customers gave me a good laugh. I'll never look at reimen the same way.......I'm not sure that I can even order it again!
Ichiro's Japanese Restaurant 4344 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
So here's more Ramen; one by request (Ototo) and the other because of a sign I saw.
I guess it was inevitable based on the discussion in the comments of this post. A couple of folks asked me what I thought of the ramen here...including Taka-san at Taisho. You know I'm not a "rolls" kind of guy, so otherwise, this second restaurant from the owner of Sushi-ya really wouldn't interest me.
The décor is simple, but modern, with an area of stool and bar type tables, which I thought was kind of neat.
The menu features 3 types of ramen; a red (miso) based, a white tonkotsu, and a chicken based version. I went with the Shio White Tonkotsu. The young lady and gentleman serving me were quite nice, but on the slow side. I watched my ramen come up and stay in the window while they gathered themselves to do...well, I don't know.
Eventually, the ramen made it's way, first to another, then finally my table.
My first reaction was, "is this tonkotsu"? Where was a the nice milky richness. The broth had a yellowish tone and even smelled somewhat "chicken-ny". It had a decent amount of oil, but was still not very rich. I'm wondering what kind of salt they use, or perhaps it's a bagged base, because it tasted kind of bitter to me. The boiled egg was quite good, the chashu, hard, cold, flavorless. The noodles were mushy and overcooked....perhaps it had waited a bit too long to reach my table?
In my opinion, overpriced at $9.50. I'll take a pass on this.....
Ototo Sushi Co 5651 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111
I saw a flier that mentioned Oton was serving Tonkotsu style ramen for lunch. So I thought I'd go and check them out.
A small, by the book salad accompanied the ramen.
Which when it arrived looked totally like it came from the Tonkotsu 101 manual. But let us first spend a moment admiring that lovely orb of goodness, the egg. This may be the best ajitsuke tamago in terms of cooking time and prep in San Diego. The noodles were also a perfect texture for me.......mass produced, but prepared well.
The broth was very white, but also too thin, and almost fully defatted which took away from the "coat your tongue" feeling you get from a good tonkotsu. The flavor was also mild, but passable. The chashu was cold, hard, though it had decent flavor. What's up with serving a solid piece of ice cold pork?
Not bad, but I'd rather go several other places before coming here for the ramen.
Oton 5447 Kearny Villa Road San Diego, CA 92123
So where do I think these rank in the now crowded world of ramen in San Diego? Well, Otot, umm Ototo is definitely second tier. Oton, is higher second tier, perhaps along the lines Ouan, or maybe even better.
Isn't it nice to be able to walk into a place and say, "I'm hungry, can I just get some sashimi?" And get something like this?
I'm not expecting anything mind-blowing, no Michelin star experience. It's been a long week and I want some decent fish, a good meal, to leave satisfied. I get all of the above.
I've known Sam for over a decade now. And he knows me....such is the relationship of the Itamae and his regulars. That is why the term "Sushi bar" seems so appropriate. Like your favorite watering hole, be it here or wherever......it's such a great feeling to walk in after a hard day and have your drink waiting on the counter when you arrive. As a regular customer, I feel that I have some responsibility as well. I'll often request to be served last, new customers are the lifeblood of a small business, I try to tip well, and I never take freebees.. At Tadokoro, I make reservations for the earliest possible time. I know Take-san will do his best and when you're slammed, regardless of your profession, you can't do that. It's about being a good regular customer as well......
The reason I'm writing this is because I've seen various posts on sites such as Chowhound that flaunt this idea of self-entitlement, and have even seen in person cases where folks will say; "I'm a Elite (the four lettered review website) member and I want xxxx". It disturbs me. So I needed a sashimi break......though really....it's not all about just me.
On of my go-to items for lunch is chicken karaage. I just never get tired of the stuff. After returning from Japan I decided to do the rounds and do a short comparison of Karaage and Chicken Nanban(vinegar sauce), commonly served with tartar sauce in these parts. I'm leaving out Taisho and Yakyudori since I recently did a comparison between the two places. So here's how they line up in my opinion.
Still, this was crisp, light, though you really had to use that tsuyu to give it some flavor.
Wish they'd pump up the flavor a bit more, but this isn't a bad choice.
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St Ste 121 San Diego, CA 92111
3 - Ramen Yamadaya:
In spite of not being particularly happy with the ramen here recently, I gave the "Chicken Tartar", a version of Tori Nanban a go. I liked having the tartar sauce on the side as it was really mayo heavy, so a little went a long way. The chicken seemed to be fried a bit too "hard", but that turned out to be a good thing as is stayed crunchy for the whole meal. Love the vinegar tones with a touch of tartar sauce. As I noted in my post back in 2012, there a nice hint of ginger in this which I enjoy as well.
Ramen Yamadaya 4706 Clairement Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
4 - RakiRaki:
All the posters said "best Japanese Fried Chicken in San Diego".
Of course, I say, most "self promoted hype machine in San Diego". It seems like this place sometimes just throws stuff up on the walls to see what sticks. The flavor, with a hint of curry is indeed unique, but the pieces were huge......very ponderous with chopsticks. It was kind of dry and a lot off the batter had flaked off during the cooking process. The portion size was quite generous, but the Tsukemen is preferred........though let's say that might be the best in San Diego by default.
RakiRaki Ramen and Tsukemen 4646 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Thank you for once again stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! Todays food centric blog post is written by Cathy because Kirk is (once again) very busy and Ed(from Yuma) is very retired and busy in his own way.
I've mentioned before that we still get newspapers delivered to our home daily. There are many advantages to this old fashioned way of receiving news, not limited to easier comprehension for those of us who grew up learning to read the printed word on paper. Yes, I'm talking ads that can't be 'blocked'.
For the past few months, on a Saturday, the Los Angeles Times has run full page ads for L.A. based 'Revolving Sushi' restaurant, Kula. The ads mention specials (January was 'Winter's Hot Food Fair', February until March 12 is 'Salmon Fair', no ad was in this past Saturday newspaper, so I expect to see something next Saturday).
There are three $5 off of $20 coupons at the bottom of the page. This was a reason to put the ad into the car when we were taking a drive North one weekday. We were hoping to find a place closer to home that reminded us of our experience at A'Float Sushi, in 2010.Unsure of how crowded this restaurant would be, we chose the Rancho Cucamonga location (one of seven) and had alternative plans to stop at the Bass Pro Shop a few miles away, remembering our meal at the in-store restaurant, Islamorada Fish Company, in 2008. As you can see, we had no worries on this weekday morning.Walking in, we saw the sushi conveyor moving around the restaurant. Each booth, table and seat at the bar has access to the plates. It wasn't crowded at opening (11:30), but was almost filled up by the time we were leaving.Taking seats at the bar gave us access to watching the rice maker, which not only cooks the (organic, from Lundberg Family Farms) rice, but pops out pre-formed, uniformly sized servings. I was fascinated by this machine. We also were privy to watching the constant preparation of conveyor items.
The sushi conveyor constantly moves via a belt under the crescent shaped chain, turns at the end to return in the opposite direction. The sushi makers prepare three plates of a serving (all conveyor items are $2.25), placing a plate with a description which you see first, then the three serving plates, each covered for your protection. Some servings have one, two or three items, some servings are in bowls.Above, you can see the first plate with the label for Conch, two empty spaces, where plates have been removed and one remaining plate, ready for the grabbing. When the sushi makers see only the plate with the signage passing by, they remove it and that's another order of three plates they need to prepare.Fresh wasabi is brought out to the table. The condiment tray with chopsticks, a covered ginger container, soy sauce server and red pepper are all you need here.
There is a separate menu wherein you can order items from the kitchen.
We ordered green tea, miso soup (each $2)and a soft shell crab ($ 3.80) from the kitchen. Everything else came from the kaiten, the merry-go-round track of plates moving in front of us. This is a Kula roll. Real crab, topped with both tuna and salmon. Very good.Karaage chicken, with mayonnaise for dipping. Perfectly fried.Seared steak sushi...good...different.The Mister wanted to try uni. He had never had uni. The plate has a single portion. Yes, it appears it had been frozen and a mushy thaw...let's just say The Mister has no desire to try uni again. This had a label of Chicken Sukiyaki. Smooth flavor, dark meat chicken with an onion-y sauce.Sorry for this blurry photo of the wonderful cucumber salad, a refreshing mix of sliced cucumber, seaweed and bamboo in a sesame oil-soy dressing topped with toasted sesame seeds.More apologies for this blurred photo of scallops with a sort of mayonnaise sauce on top of rice. This was very good.You keep your dishes and steam covers stacked and the waitress counts them at the end to calculate your bill.
The food is...good, the experience is fun and interesting. We spent $33 before the $5 discount...it's so easy to grab a plate; discipline is needed...
Perhaps you are wondering why I'm posting about a Los Angeles based chain. After we ate here, I was researching other posts about Kula and saw this article by Candice Woo in the Eater, written in November. The space it will occupy in San Diego shares the same parking lot with Iceskimo and appears to be ready to open very soon.
Kula Revolving Sushi Bar Website Address: 9659 Milliken Ave., Suite 104-105 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 Phone:909-294-3429 Daily 11:30am-9:00pm (Last Seating, Last Order 8:45pm)
So last week the mercury was flirting with the 80's. I was thinking about which taco shops I needed to visit. This weekend it's cloudy and now it's starting to rain. Go figure......
The one silver lining....this gave me a chance to revisit a couple of ramen shops.
Since they are open all the way through from 1130 on weekends, I decided to check them out at 4pm, thinking they'd be fairly calm.
I surprised to see how busy they were....not a full house, but at least 3/4 full. They had the seat yourself thing in place, so I had a seat......they saw me, but still, I waited, and waited......and waited. Another group arrived after me and they had water served and orders taken......a couple sat on the table next to me....and they waited......while I had my order taken and another group who had come after them were being served...the woman decided to take matters into her own hands and just grabbed one of the servers......so they could finally get some water and get their orders taken. The place just seemed much more disorganized than I recalled, even with three working front of house. They seemed to spend a good deal of time huddled at the POS and doing things like organizing chopsticks while dirty tables sat.... They were really nice kids, but it seemed like they needed someone running the front of house.
When I did get my order taken - Kotteri, with Kakuni Pork, noodles extra firm, things went fairly quickly.
The Hakata style noodles were exactly as I like them. While the broth isn't quite what I'd call "kotteri" it was passable, if a bit too mild in the flavor department. Two things kind of killed this for me. While the broth was served at a decent temperature, the egg was ice cold....now if you serve it on the side, I'd be ok with that, but in my soup, no thanks. Ditto with the buta kakuni, which was adequately tender, if a bit on the bland side.....but ice cold.
Ramen Yamadaya 4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Yes again. Though the Missus is over "the Santouka effect" and is now, kinda, sorta, back on planet Earth, we're able to enjoy Santouka in context.
This was the status quo.....on this day, they were giving out the eggs......overcooked for us. The pork cheek was tender and porky, the noodles had a great chew. The broth, shio, which ironically is the least salty of all choices was scalding hot...the thick ceramic bowl kept the temperature "right" for the whole meal. The broth coated our tongues and bellies....and while it would not make us forget the best of what we had in Japan, it did the job.
Santouka Ramen 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd(In the Mitsuwa Marketplace) San Diego, CA 92111