I noticed the "ABC" notice on the window of the former location of Mama's Grill.
A closer look revealed it's going to be "Yakitori Hino" and the owner is "Yakyudori Inc".
Interesting.....I'm going to have a bunch of questions for Taka-san next time I'm at Taisho. Though with the owner of RakiRaki opening a Yakitori shop and now this; I'm wondering when we'll hit critical mass.
7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Also, in the Same Strip Mall.....:
A location of the Creamistry is opening.
7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Poki One N Half:
Speaking of critical mass..... Yet another poke (not poki) place.
This used to be the old Subway location in the same strip mall as Mitsuwa.
8055 Armour St San Diego, CA 92111
And just in case you need some Camel Milk:
You now get some, albeit frozen at Bristol Farms.
If you're as curious as I am about camel milk, there's some info here. The Missus was really up for buying some, until She saw the $18.99 price tag...... So maybe you can tell us how it is. I've eaten camel and really didn't think it was that good; but we loved riding them in Tunisia.
Our flight from Seoul to New Chitose Airport was perfectly uneventful. The airport is about 30 miles from Sapporo. It might easily be one of my favorite airports....there are a number of shops selling; well, everything! It's not a large airport and easy to maneuver....and good lord, the samples! We ended up buying a load of snacks for my MIL.....so much, that we ended up mailing it Sapporo! As regular readers will know, I'm not much of a snack person, but I was totally taken by this Hokkaido corn snack, which was light, refreshing, and not too sweet. More on that in a later post. After sampling a load of stuff and buying some snacks, we activated our JR Pass and got to Sapporo Station in no time. Our good friend Akiko had made our hotel reservations at the Hotel Monterey Sapporo, telling me that I'm "going to love the breakfast buffet". It was a nice choice, just a five minute walk from the station.
After checking in, freshening up, and relaxing for a bit, we headed out. First stop; the ATM at 7-11, the easiest, most convenient ATMs in Japan. Be it 7-11, Lawson, or whatever; the snack selection and prepared food at these shops are something to be reckoned with.
In spite of it being close to Thanksgiving, it wasn't too cold....yet! So of course the Missus wanted to walk to our lunch destination. Which wasn't so bad after putting in all those miles walking in Seoul. That's the Sapporo TV Tower located in Odori Park.
Strangely, we didn't come across too many people during our walk....perhaps it was a bit cold? Or perhaps folks were just a lot smarter than us and used the subway, which ran just a block from our hotel.
I'd read about Nijo Market before our trip and it was along the way to our destination so we decided to take a look around.
Seeing all that seafood and knowing we'd be around here for a couple of days really got the Missus excited.
The prices were no joke!
But it did get my heart beating a little faster since I knew we'd be looking for some crab for the Missus.......
The Missus had declared this to be a "discovery of ramen and yakitori" trip. Our last stop before leaving Narita for Seoul was for some Seabura (pork backfat) Ramen at Miyamoto. So it only made sense that we'd try some ramen here in Sapporo. It only made sense that we visit a place famous for what I heard called their "flame torched chashu", Ramen Zero, which, being in the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade was really easy to find.
We entered......and of course came across the ramen ticket machine!
As with most places in Japan, the folks here were really nice......most of the labels didn't have kanji characters, but a young lady came out and we made it through punching the right buttons with a combination of really bad Japanese...at least I know what we wanted and could order it in Japanese......it was a matter of finding the right buttons.
We were in Sapporo; so it was only right that we get a Sapporo Classic "Only in Hokkaido". A light Pilsner, easy to drink, great head, with a sweet finish.
So, like I said, Ramen Zero is known for this......
Will you look at that piece of pork belly. This obviously wasn't one of those one thin slice of chashu places. I really liked the pork, which was tender, but not falling to pieces, smoky, with a nice pork flavor. The Missus thought they put too much black pepper on the beast. She also got a nicely soft boiled egg and some rice, which was just perfect.
Since this was Sapporo, I got the Miso Ramen....with the pork of course!
Man, that pork...plus the bowl was about $11 US and totally worth it. The noodles were nice, of the thicker variety,, curly, and firm. The broth was the most un-miso, miso broth I've ever had. It was very mild, slightly thick, with a touch of sweetness, and we made out what seemed like a rather strong ginger flavor. In other words, everything took a back seat to that pork.
As you can tell, we didn't leave hungry. It seems we lucked out as I heard the place often sells out of items early in the evening.
Sapporo Noodle Zero Minami 2 Jōnishi Chūō-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan
Due to the season, night was falling like a curtain as we left. Still, we had a bit of exploring to do before heading back for the evening.
And while my last go around with Pho Hut wasn't bad; this was disappointing.
Well, at least the egg noodles were decent, not overcooked. But the broth was basically MSG water, lacking any depth, the char siu was tough and tasteless, and as with previous visits, the dumpling fillings just floated away from the wrappers....I guess you could look at the wrappers and say it's just another noodle and this should be pseudo meatball egg noodle soup.
Pho Hut & Grill 5252 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92117
And it did to a certain extent as the chashu was low on flavor and tough, so the kakuni pork did quite well. The noodles were nice and firm. Calvin loves the fresh pressed garlic with his ramen, while I think in this bowl it kills all the other flavors. I still think the broth could be hotter as it cooled quite quickly. The egg was decent, but the broth is not what it was when Yamadaya first opened.....lacking in flavor and richness.
The guys really enjoyed the Tori Nanban; the "Chicken Tartar" more.
Crisp, nice ginger tones, with a dose of vinegar........really good this time around.
As a bonus, John and Calvin treated me to lunch! Thanks guys!
Ramen Yamadaya 4706 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Kirk and Cathy are traveling, eating, doing important stuff, or maybe just resting today. So Ed (from Yuma) is posting about 3 meals (from San Diego).
I had to have some sushi. Just had to. Tina had memories of a good chirashi at Kokoro and its website said it would be open at lunchtime on Friday. And it was:
In addition to tables, Kokoro has an L shaped sushi bar that surrounds an elevated workstation and ingredient storage area, which I think helps executive chef Akio Ishito work more comfortably:
Although I don't remember it from before, the chirashi meal started off with a little lettuce and tomato salad:
The lettuces were very fresh, the tomato very ordinary, and the dressing seem to be based around rice wine vinegar, miso, and soy. Refreshing. Palate cleansing.
For soup, we were given the alternatives of miso or udon. So udon it was:
The noodles were perfectly cooked, toothsome and tender, but the soup overall was bland.
The chirashi looked beautiful:
Underneath the fish and friends, the sushi rice was faultless. The toppings presented a nice selection of sushi bar favorites, all good quality and offered good value at $19. We both liked the sizable slice of mackerel and the halibut (hirami), which was especially firm and fresh – in fact, much like the halibut crudo we would eat the next evening at the Wine Vault. We also liked the uni and shiso leaf pairing, and the surprisingly first-rate ebi, unusually meaty and flavorful. The hamachi also stood out. There were no bad tastes, though the slices of octopus and squid were exceeding thin. Overall, we enjoyed.
It had been a long time since Tina and I had been to any Korean restaurant. We weren’t looking for a smoke filled room or for cooking our own food, so we decided on Halmouny, where we’d always enjoyed our visits in the past:
We noticed they'd remodeled the interior, and we liked the changes – the place seemed cleaner, more modern, and more open:
A flagon of chilled water was brought to the table along with my beer:
A mysterious box on the table, when opened, contained stainless steel soup spoons and chopsticks – nice touch:
A funny thing happened. Tina and I started looking over the large menu, discussing things, and trying to figure out what we wanted. There were so many choices, and almost every one of them seemed inviting. Twice the friendly server came over and asked if we were ready, and we had to say no because we weren't. Then, when she came over the third time, we ordered two of the most standard dishes on the menu.
Soft tofu soup with vegetables:
And dolsit bibimbop:
I'm sure our server must have been laughing with her coworkers about the clueless gaijin taking so long to order such a simple basic meal.
But it was good. While the soup lacked a certain depth of flavor, it was certainly tasty, and the interplay between creamy tofu, spicy broth, and veggies and ‘shrooms was pleasant. The bibimbop was great comfort food. The simple meal was really what we wanted.
Though the ban chan was totally standard and uninspired, we enjoyed them. Here’s some items:
The dried radish was our favorite of those four. There was some baby bok choy and some other veggie that I can't remember, but our favorites were the regular kimchi:
and the wonderful dried tofu
For us, this dinner was, paradoxically, exotic comfort food.
For lunch on Saturday, we were looking Eastern Mediterranean, but La Miche Kabobgee is closed for lunch on Saturdays. We remembered seeing a large restaurant, Sufi, on Balboa not too far from Convoy that promised Mediterranean food. So that's where we went:
It is large, and at lunch, it serves a popular buffet:
Photographing the entire buffet was pretty much impossible as other customers were coming and going. Plus I was getting hungry, so this fuzzy shot shows just a small part of the available choices:
Tina's first plate looked like this:
She really liked the chicken and the fire roasted veggies (the big zucchini slice and the charred tomato half). She also enjoyed the garden salad with the feta dressing, and we both liked the Shirazi salad with chopped onion, cucumber, tomato, and parsley.
Here's my first plate:
For some reason, I chose three slices of sausages, which were okay, but not really unique or outstanding. The baba ghannouj was decent, and the hummus was creamy, but far from the best I've had in San Diego. The chicken wing was OK, the pickled beet excellent, and the beef kebab just okay. Tina and I both enjoyed the stewed zucchini.
At first, the breads were not ready, but soon we were able to get pita bread and Persian naan:
For me, the breads said a lot about Sufi. The pita bread was pitiful – cool, store-bought, and boring. The Persian bread, on the other hand, was warm, tasty, and probably homemade. But in some ways that is the essence of the restaurant. While it calls itself "Mediterranean," Sufi is really a Persian restaurant that serves some generic Lebanese food to broaden its customer base.
In fact, most of our favorites from the lunch were Persian, like this interesting pomegranate soup, a lentil soup with a distinct sour tang:
And the stews on my second plate:
I believe the one on the left is called fesenjoom, a chicken and pomegranate stew. On the right is ghormeh sabzi with a big chunk of tender beef covered in greens along with large dark red beans. The closest item is, I think, gheimeh, beef and yellow split peas. I have no idea about the green bean stew furthest away. In any case, these Persian stews were the most interesting items on the buffet, and I wished that I had focused on them right from the beginning.
Nonetheless, the buffet was interesting and we certainly got to eat all kinds of things we can't get out in the desert.
This little place is the "and more" in the title of the post. It's located right next to Sufi and looked promising, so Tina insisted we visit:
There was a bewildering array of Persian pastries:
So our late-night snack that evening consisted of these walnut or pistachio treats: We were expecting something like baklava, but these were different. The pastry was not fila and they were a little more savory and less sweet than baklava. Four years ago Cathy visited the same bakery and hinted that a post might be forthcoming. Hint hint.
Anyway, we enjoyed all three of these meals. None was spectacular, but each scratched an itch, and that's a good thing: too long in Yuma and I get awfully itchy.
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog and Kirk, Ed(from Yuma) and Cathy usually post about memorable meals here. Today, Kirk is exhausted, Ed(from Yuma) is recharging and Cathy has the energy to write a post. Here it is.
Narumi is the new name of Shizuoka, which underwent new ownership about a year ago, after being a three decade mainstay in La Mesa. The front windows are now unadorned, bringing more natural light into the small dining area.
A small (three seat) sushi bar area has been added. The lacy plastic tablecloths are gone. There are boards advertising special items and prices; many are rolls.
The standard bowl of miso soup begins each meal.Mixed tempura appetizer ($5.95) is still a favorite, properly fried/crispy and not greasy. It can be a meal.Chicken Karrage ($4.95) is made with a light batter, is properly fried and the chicken is moist and flavorful.
Being a creature of habit, I've had multiple orders the same 'Daily Special' ($7.95) of teriyaki chicken..you can choose a tempura shrimp or spicy tuna roll as well as edamame or fries. The teriyaki is very good (not sweet) and the char grilled chicken is always moist and has that good charred taste. Another fallback order I have here is the Seafood Salad ($9.95). The salad mix, topped with crispy burdock has cucumber and avocado added in. Shrimp, salmon, tuna and at least one other fish are part of the seafood toppings. The sesame based dressing is just right. The chicken yakisoba special lunch ($7.95) is served with soup, salad and potstickers and always is satisfying' the noodles have that 'wok hay' flavor.The chicken curry ($7.95) is very good and comforting, especially on cold days.
The new owners honored the previous owners by keeping many of the same things: hours, lunch specials (and even the Shizuoka name for about nine months). Some menu items are gone (I loved the mackerel bento lunch here) and the addition of many pages of rolls and sushi items to the menu seems to have brought in new customers, many picking up to go items. Change happens and in this case, it is subtle and remains tasty.
In case you missed the post in Eater. I noticed that the former Coco's on the corner of Clairemont Mesa and Ruffner was being built out, so I walked on over. There's no mistaking the logo...plus the "626" area code.
My good buddy Candice expressed disappointment that I hadn't tried out Bitter Brothers since it was basically in my 'hood. So I made some time to visit recently. I like the set-up, typical industrial-hipster, but in a good way. Wide open, nice breezes blowing through. The beer server was fairly all business at the beginning, spending most of his times with his "bro's", but warmed up after I had got past the tasters phase.
I got tasters of the Little Brother Citra Session IPA and the Prickly Pear version of the Family Tart Berliner Weisse.
That Session was very nice and drinkable, that tart Berlinerweisse was really good, not too dry, but definitely a Berlinerweisse, just sweet-sour enough. I've got to bring the Missus here for this one.
I finished up with a nice Dunkelweiss, great not too overpowering chocolate tones.
Nice place, drinkable beers....nothing over 6 ABV if I recall, great for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Bitter Brothers Brewing 4170 Morena Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Back to the Poseidon Project:
The reason I hadn't been to Bitter Brothers was that I've been enjoying the Poseidon Project since they've opened. The vibe and very friendly folks keep me coming back. I'll bring in some take-out and have a nice meal when the Missus is working.
On this fine Thursday I didn't have to worry about that since two of my favorite neighborhood places joined forces.
I'm hoping they increase the number of pulls, which now numbers 8.
But don't discount the bottles....I was quite surprised to find the bottle prices in line with most retail locations. And once in a while they have some nice surprises.
Love the way they've embraced the neighborhood....the place is crazy dog friendly and food friendly. I think someone was having a birthday the other night and brought in like three boxes of pizzas......no problem.
I'm wondering what'll happen when my friends and I bring in a bushel of oysters???? For some reason, I think they'll be just fine with that.
Poseidon Project 4126 Napier St San Diego, CA 92110
Here are a couple of "bonus bottles". Interesting stuff from the Bruery.
This one I first had at Poseidon. It's a nice dessert type of brew.
For some reason; and I'm not big fan of regular Horchata, but The Bruery's Or Xata really hit a home with me. Great, balanced, not too sweet tones. Great mouthfeel. To me, the base flavor seems closer to coconut than cinnamon though......
And while it wasn't quite as good as what I'd get when Kazu is behind the counter, this was more than enough food for me. A nice variety of fish; ranging from maguro to some shiromi....I did miss the ika which really adds a nice textural component to the earthy, stringy, flavors of the natto. Served with agedashi tofu, and the usual salad with egg yolk dressing and miso soup (that actually had flavor), this was a nice, hefty lunch.
Maybe I can talk the Missus into meeting me for lunch again.
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St Ste 121 San Diego, CA 92111
How are you when sick? I just want to be left alone...the Missus, is well, w-h-in-ey..... She'd been under the weather for the last week and a half, so I've thinking of places to eat. I thought Boiling Passion might do the trick. But when we arrived She had changed Her mind and decided She wanted to eat at Tsuruhashi. It had been a while. Once upon a time, the place had a place in our rotation. But since we started grilling with bincho at home and Tsuruhashi raised their prices, the place had sort of fallen out of favor.
It's still our favorite shop for yakiniku in San Diego though. Not visiting in a year and half made things interesting. The customers were almost all Caucasian and Chinese, very different from how things used to be. The service was very efficient and we enjoyed our meal.
The prime tongue, grilled until the edges are crisp is a thing of beauty....the grill kept nicely greased by that piece of beef fat.
Two of my favorites, the beefy, yet tender prime skirt, lightly dipped in a nice sauce and the clean tasting yukke, raw beef, made even more creamy with the egg yolk, sweetened by the pear, and don't forget the mild thinly sliced onions hiding behind the piece of lettuce.
The Missus really enjoy the vegetables, especially the bunmeiji mushrooms and the corn....I liked the onions.
There's one item that we tried here yet again, and like before just didn't care for. We'd had some really good; make that great horumon, beef intestines during our last trip to Tokyo and even once at an izakaya in Hiroshima, so we thought we'd give it a try here again.
This just didn't do it for us; the intestines were really hard; not tough, hard when cooked and have a rather unpleasant "stickiness". I eat my share of guts and really didn't enjoy this.
This wasn't a cheap dinner, but we had all of this and shared one medium sized bowl of rice; it all came out to $50 and we had no beer. To us, it was worth it because it was just what the Missus needed to feel a little better....which is priceless.
Tsuruhashi Japanese BBQ 3904 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111
Meetings in the Hillcrest area meant that I got to check out Rakitori; which lead me to wonder about the Hillcrest location of Tajima and also revisit Ouan. So here we go......
Rakitori Japanese Pub & Grill:
I recall someone; I don't quite remember who, mentioning this place, so I thought I'd give it a try.
This is a nice little spot right off hectic Washington Street....kind of trying to be hip (vegan ramen, bulgogi tacos), a few craft beers available.
Looking at the menu, I believe the place is a fusion of Korean - Japanese. The young lady waiting on me was very nice. When I ordered the Oxtail Ramen, she started explaining that this "wasn't Japanese ramen".....so I asked if it was like Gori Gomtang......and she smiled brightly and said, "oh yes, are you Korean?"
So here's my Oxtail Ramen ($10), which had everything but the kitchen sink.
So where to start with this? There was the equivalent of perhaps one oxtail worth of fairly bland oxtail meat, really not worth the asking price. The garlic actually tasted really delish in this.....well, because Gori Gomtang needs a heck of a lot of salt added....the salt provided didn't strike me as being of the best quality, making things a bit bitter. And there was a bit of scum as well, though the amount of collagen in this did well coating the straight from Nishimoto noodles (cooked adequately though). You see, no matter how much salt or pepper you add to this; the noodles just seem out of place as a vehicle for moving flavor. And that kimchi mandu, the sour flavor, just didn't go well with this whole thing to me.
The corn was a decent addition adding much needed sweetness to the bowl, the wakame I'm not so sure about.
Good gori-gomtang needs nothing but really good sea salt and a ton of green onions....this, well, had me wishing for rice instead of noodles for some reason.
Rakitori Japanese Pub & Grill 530 University Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Tajima Ramen Bar:
After Rakitori, I was curious about how much ramen was available in Hillcrest over basically three blocks, so I decided to visit Tajima Ramen Bar.
Man, remember when this was the original location of Yakyudori...then it became something else...then Tecchan Yakitori and Izakaya, and now part of the Tajima empire.I remember the original Tajima when I had my consulting gig on San Diego (late 90's) and then when we moved here (in 2001). And while I'm not the biggest fan of the various locations, you have to admit that they have a successful formula. And this location is no different. The service here was the most polished and professional of the three places listed on this post.
I like the set-up; basically two "bar" type areas for solo/duo eating, a communal table, and several four tops.....they've got that covered. Nice, modern design.
I went with the standard tonkotsu ($8.50) with the thicker noodles, which to me, would do well with a rich tonkotsu broth.
So here's the thing...I just noticed that I have an affinity for the "chopstick-noodle thing", so maybe you can tell me what other shot I can take? First off, the egg was nice, not perfect, but decently soft boiled. The chashu was fairly tender and actually had some flavor, the temperature of the broth was nice and steaming hot. Not a big fan of bitter fried garlic in this and the tonkotsu broth was really low on the collagen/fat scale. Still, this wasn't too salty, nor did it have that "tinny" flavor of an quick "base" broth. In fact, this might be the best bowl I've had from Tajima in years, strangely much better than what I've had on Convoy. This doesn't mean I'll be driving up here for my ramen fix....but it was a nice surprise.
Tajima Ramen Bar 3739 6th Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Ramen Izakaya Ouan:
If I was doing Rakitori and Tajima, it seemed only right to revisit Ouan.
I got there a few minutes after 5pm. I was told to take any seat I wanted. To be considerate I took a seat at the bar....which turned out to be quite, well, like a visit to the twilight zone. To the right of me was the "selfie duo", who couldn't help but keep taking selfies during the entire meal....I counted 9. To the left was the "drunk and obnoxious foursome".....ripped at 5pm......two of them kept drumming on their plates with the chopsticks and singing along with whatever was playing overhead. And of course, service was a bit slow, so they couldn't help but flag down the Server and tell him, "look....we need your undivided attention and service....you take care of us and we'll take care of you..." Aaaah, selfish and condescending in one swoop! Meanwhile, the "selfie girls" ordered a cold sake....and decided that they didn't like it and wanted something better......like the hot sake! Shades of Navin Johnson, do you recall "snails on her plate"??? But who am I to judge, right?
Anyway, it took 40 minutes for my ramen, which I thought was really weird......even at places like rokurinsha, with a line that went down to forever....I've never waited that long for ramen. Having had some of the other ramen offerings here, I went with the simplest; the OG Ramen ($9).
So, getting down to brass tacks, how was this? Well first off, the noodles, in terms of texture were perfect for my taste. It basically ended there as the two tiny slivers of pork was tasteless and the broth too "shoyu forward" for my taste......I wanted a bit more shoyu/dashi balance in lieu of the lack of richness/fat in this type of shiru. The "onsen tamago" was ice cold, but there was an abundance of bamboo shoots....this could more accurately be called menma shoyu ramen.
At nine bucks, I think they could do better, sad because I love places like this.......but waiting 40 minutes for a nine dollar ramen...etc.....
Ramen Izakaya Ouan 3882 4th Ave San Diego, CA 92103
We're sort of creatures of habit....the Missus has Her favorites and it's pretty much up to me to do the exploring and find new places these days.
Not sure why; but here are two places on our rotation that we hadn't visited this year. I think we've been busy and having two international trips fairly close together kind of messed up our schedules a bit. But anyway, we're finally getting back to some normalcy around here, which means revisiting our favorites. We've posted on these places a ton of times; so I guess this is a "most photo Friday?"
A favorite of ours since they first opened, I think the Missus had Her fill of Yakitori on our last trip to Japan and needed a break. Then of course, right when She was starting to crave it again we headed off to Spain. As it stands, we returned on a Monday night and I was back at work at 6am the next morning so it took a while for me to get back in the groove.
But, if the crowd right after they opened on a Tuesday evening is any indication, they are doing just fine.
If you want some additional info, you can read any number, of posts I've done on Taisho; even a comparison of Taisho versus Yakyudori. The thing is; as Yakyudori descends, Taisho seems to have gotten even better...except on Thursdays, when Taka-san is off.
Yakitori Taisho 5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92117
Another one of those places that I've posted on a number of times. The truth of the matter is; we were going once a week and the Missus finally got burnt out. we were still hitting up Toronado, but the Missus needed to give TT a rest. And we're glad we did....a fresh seasonal menu and fresh beer options....and instead of a large order of pate, they now offer a nice charcuterie plate. This is the half portion. That house made pancetta was really good.
Wood fired potatoes......
One great thing is that when you order the sausage sandwich without the roll, is that they'll automatically make it into a salad for you! This is the linguica.
A big plus is the beer server here; I believe her name is Dez; who is always so awesome to us!
Tiger! Tiger! 3025 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92104