It's rainy, windy, and a bit chilly (by San Diego standards) and we're loving it. Why? Well, that means filling up on some Heokyumso Jeongol (Black Goat Stew) from Grandma's Tofu & BBQ .
While now about $3 more expensive than it used to be and not quite as full of flavor as before.....we use up all the baechu kimchi....plus refills to pump up the broth, we always leave feeling warm and satisfied.
Tonight's version had quite a bit more meat (quite gamey) than I recalled and was not very spicy. Tomorrow, the leftovers will be fortified with tofu, onions, greens, and napa cabbage, makings for a nice second dinner. Something I'm sure Halmuni (Grandma) would want.
Grandma's Tofu & BBQ 4425 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111
Well, maybe the Missus is right. Fall might be the best time of the year....at least it is when you get milder, non-triple digit temps in October. Now that things have cooled off a bit, I could start up on my soups and stuffs again. And I think a six month lag for a revisit is a good amount of time.
Strangely, my favorite dish over the course of my previous series of visits was the Mandu Guk; dumpling soup. It seemed like the wrappers of the dumplings really took to being in a liquid and the broth was just tasty enough.
I was wanting that soup for a while.
So it's what I had.......though it's now $12, which I think is kind of high for a clear soup, with some egg, naengmyun, and ten jiaozi dumplings. The panchan, like before is nothing special...just filler....
The broth was not quite as tasty as on my previous visit; though there's a bit of sneaky garlic in the broth; it is neither as rich or flavorful, though still barely passable.
The fillings of the dumplings were better than I recalled; decent pork flavor, reasonably seasoned. The wrappers though, were not; much more brittle, without the nice pull, perhaps the dough had been "worked" too hard.
The one woman who mostly works in the back is very nice; so too was the guy who asked me what nationality I was and when I told him Japanese, he started talking to me in Japanese! Apparently, he lived in Gardena and all his neighbors were Japanese so he learned some of the language. When I told him my wife is Chinese, he started speaking Mandarin....I am truly not worthy. I'm not sure if I enjoyed myself enough to return anytime soon. Good people though.......
Myung In Dumplings 4344 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
The first thing I noticed were the two women making dumplings behind the counter.
The second thing I really noticed after sitting down were the prices! Mandu, ten bucks! Then I was handed a menu with prices that had been marked down a buck. Not cheap, but a bit better.
So I placed my order and went thru the rest of the menu.
Meanwhile, the dipping sauce, and some panchan made its way to the table. The sauce was on the mild side, but it seemed to have black vinegar in it which I thought was a bit strange......I welcomed it, but it was different.
I had ordered two items, starting with the Wang (King) Mandu ($8), the pork and vegetable version.
Man, these were humongous. I only finished one. I ended giving the rest to "YZ" for her to take home to her daughter.
The actual steamed bun seemed way too "white" and reminded me of something else, but I couldn't place my finger on it. It was very fluffy and fairly nice, if lacking in the great yeastiness of a Wang (King) Mandu dough.
The filling was a bit too crumbly for me, but was moist, though a tad light in flavor.
Yeah, I know....too picky with my steamed buns and dumplings. But I can't help it.
Curious, I also ordered the Boiled Dumpling with shrimp, pork, and vegetable. I don't ever recall seeing this in any of the mandu shops I've been to. You should have seen the look on my face when this arrived.....it was jiaozhi!
These were actually ok. The dough was lacking in the slight chew, stretch, and tenderness that I like in a good dumpling. In case you're wondering where I get this from...well, here's how my MIL makes Jiaozi. Of course, this was not even close to QingDao Bread Food. The filling was also a bit too loose and on the bland side. Still, better than Dumpling Inn. To put things in perspective, below average for me, better than average for San Diego. So I gotta give this a not bad.
The woman serving me was very nice. I mentioned that the dumplings seemed very Chinese, I was told that the owner is Korean, but from China. I was really intrigued. A few days later, I mentioned the place to "Mr.S" who was shocked that a Korean place opened in San Diego without he knowing. When I mentioned the name of the place to him, he looked at me in surprise. He asked me if they had locations in LA and I didn't know. We decided to meet for lunch the very next day. Upon arriving, Mr.S assured me he had eaten at the Koreatown location of Myung In. When he spoke to our Server, who according to Mr.S spoke both Korean and Mandarin, she did confirm that the restaurant had several locations in LA. Looking at the back of the take-out menu confirmed that.
We ended up ordering a pile of food. Starting with the Pork and Kimchi Wang Mandu.
Same huge steamed buns. As for the filling, I prefer the pork and vegetable version. When I mentioned that the dough really reminded me of something else, Mr.S said, "yes, this is like Jjin Bbang...." He was totally right......by the way, they do have red bean seamed bun on the menu.
The item we enjoyed the best was the mandu guk - the mandu soup.
For some reason, the dumplings did really well in this broth, which had enough salt and other flavor to help things along. The wrapper became almost noodle-like and this might be the way to go in the future. It was very hearty and satisfying.
The last thing we had were the spicy steamed roll dumplings. The wrapped meat rolls weren't what made this spicy...it was the accompanying chili paste. Sigh.
Kind of tough and not something I'd order again.
Our server also mentioned that the owner was originally from China and even said where, but I couldn't make it out. Anyway, the next day, I read Kirbie's post on Myung In Dumpling, where she mentions Anthony Bourdain's visit to the LA location. Call me out of touch with mainstream food media. Following the Google trail, I came to find out that the owner is of Korean ancestry, but originally from Shenyang, China. Interesting path.
As for the jiaozi, I think it's decent, better than any other alternative in San Diego. Though I think I may try other stuff....and get the mandu guk the next time. Still, if you can't wait for another trip to the SGV for your jiaozi fix.....
Myung In Dumplings 4344 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
The Missus and I have a pretty nice routine for our "easy" days when we visit "home".
Things start with breakfast. The Missus can never get enough papaya.......there's nothing even remotely close to this stuff on the mainland. And I love good pineapple. What do you expect from the grandchild/child of Maui Pine plantation workers?
We then head off to the Missus's favorite swim spot; of all places, Ala Moana Beach.
We head out right after the morning rush hour....it's a week day so it's all the old timers, students, and Japanese tourists taking wedding photos.
I've always been amazed at how they seem so easy going, wearing wedding gowns and tuxedos in humid, 85 degree weather. But after chatting with folks like Kat, I understand.
On this morning it wasn't one, but two sets of couples taking photos.
While the Missus swims, I usually do a complete lap of Ala Moana Park and sometimes even head off toward Ward Avenue. On days like this one, I can't help but think, "man, to believe that I used to take all of this for granted".
Once out and dry, the Missus and I will head off across the street to Honolulu Coffee Company for a Kona V60 pour over for the coffee snob.
And while it doesn't wow Her like it used to. It's still a good cup of coffee.
Honolulu Coffee Co (in Ala Moana Center) 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste 3066 Honolulu, HI 96814
We then head off and do our various errands. On this day, we decided to head off to Kahala Mall; Whole Foods and the Apple Store were calling. I decided on stopping off at another of my old favorites, in my 'hood, Gina's Bar-B-Q, still going strong 23 years later.
You know, I remembered when this place first opened. It's typical Local style Korean, our version of a Meat and Three. You order your entrée(s) and get three of what we call "vegetables", basically panchan, and the proteins are cooked to order.
It's a very popular style, the most popular is probably a chain called Yummy Korean BBQ. Every one has their neighborhood favorites when it comes to the local kine Korean BBQ places. I used to like Kim Chi II, though I haven't been there in maybe 20 years. My mom liked Choi's Family Restaurant, many of my friends love Soon's in Salt Lake (Oahu, not Utah....).
I'm old enough to remember when Foodland, which is now on the other side of the parking lot used to be in this spot. My good friend's second job was with Foodland. I also remember when there was a very popular video game place here called....if I recall, "The Space"???? I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. I remember once going to use the restroom and finding two huge bags of pakalolo right on the washbasin!
Anyway wanting to check out the state of the food at Gina's, I ordered a "special", still a bargain at eleven bucks or so. It comes with bulgogi, kalbi, and the item I used to really enjoy (second best - the spicy chicken was #1), the BBQ Chicken.
Anyway, we took it to go, got a small salad at WF in Kahala and proceeded to dig in. The bulgogi wasn't up to snuff, dry, bland, and tough. The kalbi was typical local style, nice flavor, but not the best. That chicken was still a winnah! Nice shoyu flavor, slight sweetness, chewy, but in a good way. There was of course, the equivalent of three scoops of rice under all of this, soaking up the juices and drippings. The "vegetables" were passable....I'd say, even better than what I get here at some of the rather pricey Korean places.
Even though it's more about a good value, the chicken is not bad.
I'm hoping to head back to Gina's for the spicy chicken next time. Hopefully, I won't have to wait another decade.
Gina’s Bar-B-Q 2919 Kapiolani Blvd Honolulu, HI 96826
The "Pho" portion of the logo looks strangely familiar, but I just can't place it. I'm still hoping for decent pho in the Convoy-Kearny Mesa area......... I'm hoping this will at least be decent.
3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
The Original Tofu House opening in Mira Mesa:
I saw this a couple of days ago and drove by yesterday to take a photo.
Quite a few Korean food places opening around Mira Mesa.
I believe this used to be Arby's????
9089 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Casa Medina has moved?:
I noticed that Casa Medina had closed on the way home the other day. So I dropped by after work today to check it out.
So it looked like the place has closed, until I turned around and saw the sign for Casa Medina along side that of the old Bismallah Restaurant above World Market & Produce.
So unless the market likes to collect signs of defunct restaurants, you can now get your Halal tacos inside of World Market & Produce.
5440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Was it cold enough for you?
I thought it was pretty chilly this morning and checked my weather app. And did a double, no triple take....
Must be a malfunction, right? This would be the weather in the Bay Park area......and would also be colder than what we experienced in Seattle!
My Christmas dinner:
Both the Missus and I have been working quite a bit. She had to work on Christmas and after grilling a ton of chicken for Her potluck and making Her a separate lunch/dinner, I really didn't feel like doing anymore cooking. So I decided to head over to Sushi Yaro and Sam put together a nice sashimi combo for me between the zillion rolls.
It made for quite a feast. It was also nice seeing Sam; it had been a while. As a bonus, a couple of the "old-time" regulars whom I haven't seen in ages also dropped by, before the place got totally swamped. Sam mentioned that I've known him for about eleven years now! Time does fly.......
Hidden behind the Convoy institution that is Chopstix, this tiny little place is easy to miss. I'm really not the Min Sok Chon, Thang Thang, soju bomb kind of guy, but I got a few recommendations from folks I knew. Though I still had reservations because when I quizzed these folks on the food, the standard answer usually included big portions, and not remembering much because they were...shall we say.....taste deadened and mush minded from overindulging a bit?
It is a pretty small and somewhat cozy kind of place. There are only 5 beers on tap. The main drink of choice for most of the young people who go here are the flavors of soju...."white gummy bear"???
The bartender/server on both of my visits was a very nice and friendly young woman named Nancy...very calm, very chill.
The menu is full of what I call "Kogi-truckish" dishes...you know, bulgogi tacos, bulgogi quesadillas, bulgogi fries, stuff that's already kind of passe'
The dining area is set-up like one of those faux outdoor porch type of restaurants. A acquaintance of mine actually knew the Korean name of that style of set-up....but you know; old age and all that. I just can't seem to remember the term right now.
There's actually one reason I came to Nolbu...the Korean Spicy Wings ($8.99). Almost everyone I spoke to mentioned these wings, though none could not really tell me much about the flavor.
The wings are quite large, the flavor as you can imagine is based on kochujang and almost tastes like my Spicy Misoyaki without as much bean paste. It is indeed a basic sweet chili sauce...sticky, more sweet than spicy, perhaps in need of a bit more complexity. maybe a bit more sour/tart, or savory-garlic tones. The batter was nice at first, perhaps a bit too thick, but still crunchy, but it got really gummy in minutes. Not terrible....but definitely not... Kyochon by any stretch. In fact, this eerily reminded me of the stuff they used to serve at BBQ Chicken, though not nearly as crunchy.
I also decided to try the mandu ("Dumplings" on the menu - $6.99).
These weren't very good in my opinion, too much cabbage filler, the sauce also tasted watered down. The wrapper were decent, but I'd take a pass on these next time.
Overall, not bad and as always I thought a return visit should be done.
One funny thing; when I was waiting for my drink a guy walked in laden with bags....shopping for supplies I'd guess. All the plastic bags were from Zion Market! I guess that's where they do their shopping? I really think stuff like that should be done via the rear entrance.
This time I came with my friends YummyYummy and Candice. We had the spicy wings again, which were a bit better this time...less sickly sweet and the texture held up a bit better.
We also had the haemul pajeon - the seafood pancake ($12.99), a bit small for the price.
But with a pretty generous amount of well.....Zion Seafood probably..... I will say that in terms of texture it was less gummy and a bit lighter than what I'd had at Common Theory, though it was 2/3 the size.
I also wanted to try the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings ($8.99).
A bit light in flavor, these wings swere pretty straight-forward...basically naked, without a coating, but not bad....I'd have these again, as these were nicely fried.
The same five beers on tap; my favorite being the Stone Arbalest since I do enjoy tripels, quads, and Belgian strongs. this one was pretty good, light citrus-woody flavor with a mildly boozy-hoppy finish.
While waiting for my friends to meet me, the same young man walked in ladened with plastic bags....again from Zion Market.
Anyway, in terms of food, this place serves up a more Asian flavor than Common Theory. I was surprised that the food wasn't as salty as, say Min Sok Chon. They do have a decent bottle collection, but only five draft beers and the temps on my second visit seemed a bit off. As much as I like the folks working here, there's really no working knowledge of the beer they're serving...it's more of soju service. As in the version of an umbrella drink - soju served up in a half watermelon.
That said; I might drop in again for some wings and a beer.....if I feel like eating groceries from Zion....
Nolbu Mini Gastropub 4633 Convoy St. Suite 102 San Diego, CA 92111
The Missus was craving Jokbal Bossam and it had been a while since we've had it here, so the timing seemed perfect. I do wish they'd choose something other than napa cabbage, but other than that, this was porky goodness. In spite of the name, it's dishes like the jokbal bossam, heukyumso jungol, kimchi dolsot bi bim bap, and on good days the seolleongtang that works for us here.
The panchan on this day was good. I think folks have gotten used to the "quick kimchi" style panchan, and this sometimes is a bit too fermented or salty for its own good.
Grandma's Tofu & BBQ 4425 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111
Not much to say about this than I need a nap after eating this.
Homestyle Hawaiian Island Style Food 7524 Mesa College Drive San Diego, CA 92111
Santouka, that chain that originated in the coldest city in Japan, Asahikawa, has long been my go-to ramen spot. As with many places I eat at, there's one item I usually order. Here it's the shio ramen - toroniku style.
After going to all the major ramen shops in San Diego back in February 2013, Santouka still was my favorite. the rich, stick to your ribs broth, the nice firm noodles, and the pork which, when "on" has a wonderful, almost smooth texture with a nice pork flavor.
I know, it's really hot out....but on this, a cooler day, it hit the spot.
mmm-yoso!!! Food blog. Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are busily researching subjects for posts. Cathy is posting results of her research.
A few weeks ago, driving to U Mart for some weekly groceries, we noticed a change in the exterior signage.
The Mister and I had been here (the building was the original San Diego location of Zion supermarket) several times since UMart had opened in December and noticed construction going on inside each time. We were told there was a new owner of the building who wanted the name change.There are now cash registers facing each doorway and the 'hallway' of other stores has been widened. As Kirk mentioned in February, Happy Family reopened.
The menu has been simplified further, with ten total offerings.
The Mapo Tofu ($7.99) is always a favorite. It comes with the red pepper paste soup as well as the pickled sides and the black bean paste.
There were a few ounces of ground pork, some wood ear fungus and a lot of very good tofu in this dish. The flavors were not Americanized at all -the way we like it- with a few numbing peppercorns used in the sauce.
The pepper paste soup was made with onions and zucchini and the broth seemed to have a saltiness to it (no condiments were needed with this meal other than what was served).
We also shared an order of fried dumpling ($5.99). These gunmandu were made fresh here (not frozen) and fried to a very crispy (yet still chewy level). The dumpling skins were a bit thick in a good way; there was no leakage of the filling.
The filling, mostly chives with some ground pork: so fresh and the chive greens still crispy. The right amount to balance the fried dumpling dough. These were the nicest version we've ever had. A great way to start our shopping trip.
Happy Family inside Hana Mart 4611 Mercury Street San Diego 92111 (858)279-8713 Open 10-8 Tues-Sunday
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog written by three friends: Kirk, who is not on this continent, Ed(from Yuma), who is not in this state and Cathy, who is right here right now.
A couple of new places and a few new menu items have entered my life within the past couple of weeks and I thought I'd share, before writing a complete post...you know, in case you might want to try something new over this three day weekend.
The signage isn't up yet. The name really is "Donut Panic" and it's a small shop in the mall anchored by Souplantation on Mission Gorge at Vandever (near the 'other' Kaiser) run by a daughter and her father. The 'regular' daily donuts are always fresh and good, BUT on Saturday and Sunday around 9 a.m. and on Wednesday after 6 p.m.--- Vegan Donuts come out of the kitchen. You read that right- no eggs or dairy go into these-the magic ingredient is potato- and each is topped with wonderful, imaginative, fancy flavors and sold at reasonable prices ($1.50 each). Above is a cross section of one with orange almond icing. The texture is light, crispy. The photo of four (clockwise, from bottom left) has the flavors of earl grey tea, vanilla (yes, I know it's pink), chocolate espresso almond and the maple "bacon". (The 'bacon' is unsweetened coconut dipped in soy sauce and flavored with liquid smoke has the right texture and flavor). There are other fancy flavors offered: saffron cardamom, green tea and quite a few others. There are also some filled offerings ($2 each).
I found out about this place from good friend and fellow blogger, cc (there's a link to her first post at the bottom of that link). On Friday, there are fresh vegan cupcakes..a post will be up soon.
Donut Panic 6171 Mission Gorge Road San Diego, CA 92120 (619) 280-1894
The only English on the sign (that isn't a menu item) is "Old Street Food", so I'm assuming that's the name, since I don't read Korean. Located in the center of Zion Supermarket, by the Fruits and Vegetables. Open on Monday, when Gala Chicken, the other shop in that center area is closed, we had to stop, look and order.
You order, then the once fried items are taken to the back stove and fried again.
This solid packed box with squid legs, octopus, purple sweet potato and pumpkin was $6 and still fresh and crispy when we got home. We could have eaten at the counter here, but were full...because
We saw this when we walked into the Zion complex and had to stop.
There are five flavors, three sizes.
Here's a photo of a small ($3.75) green tea shaved ice (excellent flavor of green tea) topped with sweet beans, mochi, sweetened condensed milk and some peanut powder. We saw a large bowl being brought out to a couple and it was HUGE!
Paris Baguette (inside Zion Marketplace) 7655 Clairmont Mesa Blvd. San Diego 92111 (858)650-0404 website
I hope everyone is having a nice and safe three day weekend. Have a good Memorial Day weekend.
I've been fighting this head cold for the last couple of days.......my head aches, I keep coughing, I sound like Barry White; though a phlegmy, very unromantic version..... Soup seems like the most obvious remedy, but man, it's been pretty warm. For some reason, I wanted something with a bit of spice, so........
I've been back a couple of time since my last post and it seems like gone to a change of ownership a couple of times too???? Or is it that they just can't hang on to a chef?
Still, it had been a while, maybe two years or so since I last stepped through those doors and laid my arms on those sticky table covers.
Having a cold hasn't dampened my appetite, though the coughing fits have.
I started with a nice variety of Liang Cai - cold dishes:
the pig ears were the best item; you don't have to worry too much about the flavoring; it's about prepping and cutting it at the right thickness. This was nice a crunchy. The flavoring for the cucumbers was kind of weak and listless and the Fu Qui Fei Pian was cut too thickly, lacking Sichuan peppercorn, and was really weak in the flavor department.
I just wanted something to wake up my tastebuds and went with one of my "comfort dishes" - Sichuan Liang Mian - Sichuan Cold Noodles.
First the good, nice heat, the texture of the noodles was decent. Now, the not so good; the sauce was really thin and runny, lacking in the "good stuff", (i.e. sesame paste, black vinegar). There was a ton of peanuts though...... Just mediocre overall.
Spicy City Chinese Restaurant 4690 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
I was just trying to get my sinuses cleared up and though some Bibim Naengmyun might do the job, so it was off to Buga.
I gotta say, even though the panchan isn't even close to what it was during Buga's heyday, it was still much better than it was during our last visit.
The Missus, as is Her habit, ordered the Yukwe Bi Bim Bap, which now comes with rice on the side. Do you notice another change?
Compare it with the photo here and tell me if you notice a difference? Yep, no more raw egg...I'm wondering if the DOH came down on them or what?
My Naengmyun was flavored well.......
Decent spice, savory, sweet, sour....but those darned noodles were way under prepared.....I'm used to the nice stretchy starch noodles, but man, this was like trying to eat rubber-bands....nicely flavored rubber-bands....but still.
Anyway, the Missus enjoyed Her dish, me, well, I've had better here. But I left with my sinuses a bit less congested, for a short while.
Buga Korean Restaurant 5580 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92117
Speaking of Barry White....well, we were speaking of Barry White weren't we?
After all, it's always a good time for a little Barry White, right?