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
I do try to revisit places as much as I can....so long the food or the service wasn't terrible. And my initial visit to Nishiki Ramen during their soft opening was neither of those....though the hype machine was in full swing....shades of RakiRaki! So I waited things out and after returning from our recent trip managed to visit twice.
I will say, post grand opening hype, that things were pretty calm, even slow during my visits....though I do try to get in as early as possible. Also, the service here was really nice; the two young ladies working were very efficient and quite friendly on both visits.
So, it off to the ramen, right?
I decided to start with Nishiki's "signature" tonkotsu style ramen ($9.95), which looked sort of like what I had in my soft-opening visit. Having had a mild, poultry forward broth previously, I was kind of stunned at how salty this was. Also, the broth wasn't as hot as I'd have preferred. In spite of looks, this wasn't quite as rich, nor did it have much in terms of personality with regards to flavor....perhaps it was just too much salt? The chashu was cold, a pet peeve; though the egg was quite nice......perhaps almost perfect.
The noodles had a great texture, nice pull, though the flavor of them seemed different from what I recalled....strange, I know, but something seemed to have changed.
The Chicken Karaage was better than on my previous visit. The flavor was excellent; I'm pretty sure they use shio koji to add that extra complex depth of flavor.
When it arrived it was nice and crisp, but it quickly became soggy........not quite worth the $6.95 I paid for it.
In order to perform my "due diligence" I returned the following week. I saw something called "Nishiki Black" on the menu...there are places that use black garlic oil in their ramen and places that use a black sesame infused oil. So why not, right? Also, I ordered this with the "thicker noodle" which in my mind would prove to be a nice vehicle to move a thicker broth.
So here's the thing about the broth......the flavors are pretty mild here overall and there was a ton of that black garlic sauce/oil in this, way too much as the flavor of the garlic, which really didn't have the nice sweetness of black garlic, overwhelmed the whole bowl. In addition, the temp of the broth wasn't hot enough for my taste as this just projected itself as greasy. The chashu wasn't cold and tasted nice, the egg was again excellent, in terms of being cooked and flavor....away from that broth.
I had ordered the thicker noodle, which, while not what you'd expect for a tsukemen, I preferred to the thinner noodle, I did expect something along the lines of what is served at, say Nagi Ramen. Overall, this was a bit too over the top for me....this coming from a guy who had pork backfat ramen in Narita! And at $10.95, I think it's a bit over-priced.
So, I enjoyed the service, the noodles.....it seemed that the "bloom is off the rose" here as the place was pretty much empty......so we'll see. I'll try to drop by again in a couple of months.
mmm-yoso!!!, the food blog you are reading, has posts alternately written by Kirk, Ed (from Yuma) and Cathy. Kirk wrote most of the posts you read this year, then he went on vacation. Cathy and Ed have been posting in the interim.
A few months ago, Kirk wrote a post about one of the restaurants in the Food Court at Mitsuwa Market. It so happened I had also been to Musashiya that week and had a (blurry) photo of my meal. A few weeks later, I had occasion to return and then a few weeks after that, The Mister and I returned. Each meal was small and I figure if any of you came here with someone else, you don't have to order food at the same place, just like at a Food Court.
Looking forward when walking in, the grocery store is directly in front of you. Directly to your left are Santuoka and Musashiya. (Directly to your right used to be Matcha Love, a great place for tart ice creams, but it is gone). Each has a large display of plastic food replicas, making ordering simplified (or overwhelming in my case); some people point at what they would like to eat, as they do with a Denny's menu. I digress.Musashiya, owned by Mitsuwa, (similar to the way Seafood City owns Grill City locations inside the Food Court areas inside their stores) has several meals which are less than $10. This one is chicken teriyaki. They make the sauce from scratch and it isn't too sweet nor is it salty. Just enough. Everything you see comes with it: the potato salad, sliced cabbage, pickles, miso, rice and in the bottom right corner, a piece of tamagoyaki, a layered omelet made with rice vinegar and sugar, which I consider 'dessert'.Santuoka also has a variety of primarily ramen choices for under $10 (the small and regular sizes; the large is closer to $12)( flavors of broth offered are shio, shoyu, miso and spicy miso) and on this (rainy) day, I chose a small bowl of shoyu ramen. The broth flavor is rich and satisfying and the noodles have a good 'tooth'.Eventually there was a day when The Mister could join me and we stepped inside the Marketplace. On the right side there are prepared boxes of meals, along with a microwave if you plan on eating in the food court after paying. There are also two islands of prepared meals and desserts.There is also this fascinating machine (which wasn't working the last two times I was there) that has push button ease (and toppings on the pans to the right) for some instant miso.Eventually we agreed on the above purchases- chicken karaage, Japanese potato salad, seaweed (all sold by the pound) and a chirashizushi bowl (on top of sushi rice) ($8) and a can of hot tea ($1.29). Heated tea cans, as well as refrigerated ones are inside one beautifully designed appliance, also against that right wall.
All in all, a great place to be able to order what you want.
Yeeesh....it's been a tough week and it's only Tuesday. I need my sleep and some time to regroup, so here's a Clearing Out the Memory Card Post for ya....... Not much verbiage.....mostly photos.
While I think the Hu Tieu Nam Vang at Ly Heng has surpassed 777, you can't deny this is a good deal for $5.77......though the portion is a bit smaller now.
777 Noodle House 4686 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92105
Can this place even serve the noodles cold upon request? The noodles a bit overcooked....the place a lot over-hyped.....still, if you must, I think the Rikimaru Miso Tonkotsu Tsukemen might be the way to go. I will say, there's much more pork these days and the egg, while still overcooked wasn't tragically dry.
RakiRaki Ramen and Tsukemen 4646 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Because I had to after checking out the Flagship Store in Asahikawa....yes....we caught the train there.
While the broth and the pork didn't come close to what we had (no Santouka effect this time); I still think this is the best that San Diego has to offer when it comes to ramen.
Santouka Ramen 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd(In the Mitsuwa Marketplace) San Diego, CA 92111
Not for sushi.....but I needed a break and dropped by to see Sam and grab a bowl of Soki Soba.
Nothing earth shattering mind you, but I like this style of broth....though it could be a bit richer.
Being really busy means I'm not able to hang with my friends.....I am so looking forward to doing so again soon.