If you've read my previous posts on BBQ Chicken, you probably already know that I've never been a big fan. A couple years back, I got into a slight disagreement with a fellow blogger on how this was notreally B(est) of the B(est) Q(uality). I found the chicken to have a bit of a fishy smell and am not a big fan of the batter either. Still, when I saw that BBQ Chicken had new ownership and was now open for lunch, I thought "why not try it again".....hey, maybe my tastebuds had, ahem, "matured enough to appreciate the chicken". Or maybe you just need tastebuds that are super mature, i.e. dead, to really enjoy the chicken, in which case there would be no change.
What was nice was that I was actually acknowledged when I arrived, by a very nice young lady. Looking over the menu, I noticed that the lunch specials were nicely priced. Hey, even better......so I ordered a three piece "Olive Luxury Chicken Combo" ($7.99).
One of the positives about BBQ Chicken is that the chicken is cooked to order.....the negative to that is, if things aren't right in the kitchen, it might take a while. Fortunately for me, my chicken arrived sizzling...literally sizzling to my table. Also, the server endeared herself to me......she brought extra napkins! Telling me "you're having fried chicken, I think you might need some extra napkins." Perfect.....
On the good side, the chicken was very moist...and hot! But I'm still not a fan of the bland, crumbliy, somewhat greasy batter....and for some reason, it still smells a bit fishy to me. It could be that I'm just more sensitive to it, but there is something strange in the smell.
You get one side with the lunch and I chose the "corn salad", which was really bland, but at least didn't smell bad.
As for the Chicken......well, I'm still not sold.
BBQ Chicken 4768 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Mon-Thu 11 am - 12 am Fri-Sat 11 am - 1 am Sunday 11 am - 12 am
Ed from Yuma recently mentioned in his post on Sea Rocket Bistro, that we've been doing this for over seven years.....sheesh! I recently saw a comment on an old post of mine wondering why I hadn't posted on El Zarape(the original) in over seven years. so I thought I'd better get this done before another seven passes.......
Seven years is a fairly long time. I'm trying to think what was going on back in 2005.....it sure was a different landscape back then, social media was in it's infancy, we thought Flickr was the best thing since sliced bread...it was "BiP"....."Before iPhone". And that was also the last time I'd eaten at El Zarape.
This was before I'd eaten at all those lonchera's, before I'd experienced birria, before I'd had decent mariscos. I couldn't help but wonder how El Zarape as aged over those years. Curiousity warranted a visit.
And the place looked just about the same........... I know that the "purists" now sneer at El Zarape, at the soy, wasabi, and buffalo chicken burritos. For some reason, the thought of having an "Aloha Burrito" sends shivers up my spine. Yet, I recall, many of those who now criticize El Zarape were head over heels when Luche Libre opened.......
I was pretty pleased to see that EZ's loss leader, the fish taco is still 99 cents, the same price it was when I first ate here in 2001.
Heck, Mariscos el Prieto couldn't even hold their price at a buck for more than a couple of months and the tacos de pescado at Mariscos el Pescador hasn't seen that price in my memory. Truth be told, I'd still pay quarter more to eat at those two trucks than the fish tacos at El Zarape. I'm still not a fan of the crema and the fish was o the dry side with a not so tasty blood line in it. Still, it's hard to argue with 99 cents........
El Zarape makes up their profit margin with their other menu items. I decided to have a scallop and shrimp taco ($3.25/each) here as well.
The scallops seemed kind of sparse and were really bland and rubbery.....it doesn't even stand up to the tortilla in flavor. Not a good value at over three bucks as well.
I've always enjoyed the shrimp at El Zarape, so I wondered how that would be.
I counted six shrimp, which looked like 41/50, maybe about 2-3 ounces. They were nicely browned on the griddle, moist and tender. Decent shrimp flavor.......maybe better than I had back in '05, though that was a looooong time ago.
I'm hoping not to take another seven years before I'm back at El Zarape. Thought it's been far surpassed, they're still truckin' along and they still have a faithful neighborhood following.
A couple of weeks ago, I made one of my rare trips down to the Gaslamp and decided to stop by Bolillo Tortas, which has been getting some good play on some of the local blogs. I'd heard that they made a Torta Ahogada with birote (aka bolillo) from Guadalajara, which got my interest.
The place is pretty easy to find, right across the street from the Horton Grand Theatre on 4th Avenue.
I liked the sleek and modern look of the restaurant. The gentleman behind the counter was very polite and prompt. The prices looked like it had the Gaslamp mark-up and then some...... nine bucks for a Torta Ahogada seemed a bit more than steep. Even though it was pretty early in the morning, about a half past eight, I thought why not just go ahead and get the ahogada....hot sauce be damned. When I ordered, the guy behind the counter asked me to wait for a second to make sure they had the proper bolillo for the sandwich. He then verified what I had heard, the bread did come form Guadalajara. Eventually, the birotes were tracked down, and after paying over twelve bucks for a sandwich and a drink I had a seat outside.
Soon enough my sandwich arrived. It based on the looks and texture, instead of drowning the sandwich, the chile de arbol based sauce had been poured over the sandwich. Still it looked pretty good.
Until you noticed that it took up a bit more than 50% of the plate it was on. Compare the sandwich size to the bacon wrapped jalapeno beside it.......
So either this was a snack sized sandwich or that was the jalapeno that ate the Gaslamp wrapped in a belt sized slice of bacon. I'll let you guess which one it was. Still, if this was great, there would be no complaints.
First off, the bread was kind of gummy, with a texture of the heat and eat genre. The crust was more hard than crusty. It was by no means as good as the bread that El Gallito uses. The sauce was pretty mild for my taste, but I can understand.
The pork on the other hand was moist, tender, with a mild smoke flavor. It was also nicely seasoned.
The bacon wrapped jalapeno was barely marked from the grill and both the texture and taste was raw. The bacon was barely browned and thus had a rubbery texture, which gave you the feeling you were eating raw bacon. The corn was tender and seasoned well with Tajin.
Overall, a mixed bag, but I decided to return for a follow-up a week later. This time I went with the Torta Cubana ($9.75), usually a pretty hefty sandwich, which this was.
This was probably too much stuff for me as everything got pretty much lost in a big sloppy mess. The cheese actually pretty much overwhelmed everything. If you've ever go through my posts on tortas you'll find that I'm pretty much of a single protein kind of guy. I still didn't care for the bread which seemed too doughy. Don't get the steamed vegetables which was very bland, even with the salsas provided. This time, the jalapeno and the bacon were charred and crisp, so perhaps I visited too early the last time. I don't think you'll go hungry with this sandwich.
I really need to try the milanesa, chorizo, and other sandwiches. But I'm not sure how soon that will be. The service was very nice, but the prices are on the high side. When I mentioned this place to Karina, whose family is from Guadalajara, she sounded intrested. Until I told her the prices....."a torta ahogada should not be more than about seven bucks, max, US tourist prices even....."
Bolillo Tortas 417 4th Ave San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Mon-Thurs 8 am - 12 am Fri-Sat 8 am - 3 am Sun 8 am - 12 am
I'm not sure why; but for some reason I'd been drawn to the "coming soon" sign in Plaza del Sol for some time. I really have no explanation for it........but something told me that this place wasn't going to be your typical Pho or Mi joint. A couple of weeks ago, I'd heard about a place opening on Convoy that made their own Banh Pho from scratch and thought "well that's nice.......". Visions of great possibilities doused by poorly a executed concept, a la Mignon Pho came to mind, so I tempered my expectations a bit. Still, it seemed like eons before I saw the Grand Opening sign for Nam An.
Unfortunately, I'd already eaten lunch and was headed to Chicago/Madison the next day. And things had been kinda "blah" for me foodwise since we returned from vacation. This time the blahs seemed to be hanging on a bit longer than usual....so I wasn't really too excited about another Pho shop in the area. Until........ I received a text from "Yummy Yummy" about eating at Nam An. In the text she mentioned one specific dish. This got me pretty excited about coming back.....
It would be a while until I was able to free up some time for a visit to Nam An. My timing, however would be quite fortuitous. This past week, Ballast Point Brewery had a special tasting for International IPA Day, so with PeterL and his lovely wife, Ange in tow we attended the tasting. Feeling a bit peckish afterwards, I suggested hitting up Nam An.....
We arrived to fairly empty restaurant and were handed some menus..... I really wasn't looking for Pho, Com Tam, or Com Chien... where the heck was the "good stuff"? And then it arrived, the drinks menu.... but it's not the beer and soju that grabbed my attention, it was this:
And there it was....... Seeing Vietnamese dishes that I'd never had in San Diego before..... Peter was pretty shocked as well.
And so we started off.... the Surf Clam Salad ($6.50):
This was the spiciest dish of the evening....it had some kick. I loved the watercress, though I don't think Peter and Angela were quite as fond of it. There was a bit left at the end of dinner, so I took it home to the Missus, a fan of watercress, who just loved it.
About this time we had our first encounter with the very friendly and gracious Carolyn, whom I believe is one of the owners. She explained that the "appetizer" menu is only available from Thursdays to Saturdays, since she has to go to LA and Orange County to source what she needs. Thus, the menu changes every week, and they run out of items.... So no Muc Don Thit, stuffed squid...bummer.
The Deep Fried Calamari was very tender and fried well, but no consolation.
Next was the dish I'd been looking forward too Be Thui ($9), rare, almost raw veal, dusted with roasted rice powder.
Since this is veal, it's quite toothsome and the rice powder gives it a somewhat nutty flavor. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy it. I've usually had it served with Tuong Cu Da, a fermented bean and soy sauce with ginger. This one was served with a sauce made with Mam Tom....very pungent and heady, but also with a touch of fruity sweetness to it. On a later visit, the Missus asked Carolyn what gave this sauce the fruity edge. Carolyn was happy to oblige, and told the Missus it was pineapple. Good dish.....
The Sea Snail Green Mango Salad ($6) was delicious..... man these snails must have been humongous.
The snails were fairly tender, with a mildly buttery texture like large abalone. The green mango added a bit of a "tannic" - puckery feel to the dish, Rau Rama anise-pepper-bitter-mintiness.
Rare Steak Marinated in Lemon, called Bo Tai Chanh ($4.50).
Wonderfully tender rare filet mignon slight "cooked" by the acid in a fish sauce-lemon juice based sauce. Onions added a bit of bite to the dish, chilies a mild heat, the rau ram gave it a nice herbaceousness. Personally, I'd like this even more "rare", but it is quite good. If it sound scarey to you, and it shouldn't, think of this as being similar to Thai Beef Salads.
The Bloody Clams in Tu Xuyen Sauce ($10) is a favorite of mine.
The clams are small and have decent flavor, opening them are sometimes rather ponderous....but that sauce. I told Carolyn that I could lick the plate....she told me "no, there's no licking the plate here, I'll give you more sauce!" I believe the base of this Nuoc Mau, the basic Vietnamese Caramel Sauce, there's fish sauce, and also I believe garlic in these. It is a messy, sticky dish, that gives true meaning to "finger licking good"! You'll need to wash your hands afterwards, but it is well worth it.
Seeing how much Peter, Ange, and I were enjoying our meal, Carolyn gave us some Oc Cha, some wonderfully flavored snail based "sausage". The snails added a nice toothsome sweetness to go with the smokey flavor of the leaves it was steamed in.
We left quite satisfied, this is well prepared Vietnamese "beer food". After being married for a while I have a good idea of the Missus's taste preferences, so I made sure to bring Her for a visit "stat". She loved the food and I think we have a new restaurant for our rotation. Carolyn told us that she "wants to serve good food with great ingredients." She would rather not have an item on the menu than serve a subpar dish. As the night wore on, I noticed that younger folk were bringing in their parents and grandparents.....a very good sign.
This led me to ask Peter a question.....his Mom is a fantastic cook. I asked Peter if he'd bring his Mom, also a pretty finicky eater here. Without hesitation he said, "yes, of course....." I think that says quite a lot.
And I still haven't gotten around to the Pho yet, have I?
Nam An Vietnamese Restaurant 4690 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Currently, the "bar" menu is only available Thursday thru Saturday.
mmm-yoso is not on vacation; Kirk is. Cathy will be playing His part on the blog today. ed (from Yuma) is unavailable.
There is another new Mediterranean place near SDSU. It is East of College Avenue on the South side of El Cajon Boulevard. One of few places open late in San Diego (until 2 a.m Sun-Thurs and until 4 a.m. Fri-Sat), you'll see it if you are driving in the evening. During the day, you may not notice, since it is in a strip mall ( next to the check cashing place). Not very large, very clean, with an overhead menu...you order, pay, have a seat and your food is brought out. We started with a falafel appetizer ($5.95) (the online menu has changed). These were good. Now that I have had 'real' falafel, made with fresh (not powdered) chickpeas, I look for something superior to the falafel I consider to be the best. The falafel here come in second; I have to do more research. Falafel here are light on the interior, with a good garlic and parsley flavor, light yet crispy fried exterior and not greasy. Served with the fresh (lemony-light garlic) hummus on the plate, I have no complaints. The gyros plate, with a side of lentil soup (~$9). An excellent rice, Basmati, cooked with toasted angelhair vermicelli and gently flavored with turmeric and something making the rice taste buttery-rich and fresh parsley. The gyros meat was sliced thick and was excellent in taste and in portion size.
The lentil soup. Oh. My. Goodness. Yes, goodness. There was some vermicelli in the soup and it was thick (in a good way) with lentils (both red and green) and vegetables. The deep, rich flavors made me want to be certain to just order this as a side next time I drop in. A combo plate with a beef Kufta kabob (~$9) and salad. The salad was fresh with cucumber, radish slices and red and yellow bell peppers and a good oil/vinegar/herb dressing. The kabob had a great flavor of spices. I think it was zatar (tarragon, sumac and sesame) but also tasted some cumin and maybe ginger...anyway, it was good, juicy, moist but not greasy. Both of the plates were served with a plate of plain (not baked here) pita bread. I have been on the lookout for a fresh baked bread, ever since going to Alforon with ed (from Yuma) and Tina and The Mister in December (hmm, one of us needs to post on that). This was just standard pita. However, all the other food was on the edge of excellent and all the food was very fresh. The Mister had ordered without any beverage, and I asked for a Turkish coffee ($2.50) to sort of have for dessert...The nice young lady ordered it from the Hookah Lounge a few doors down and brought it to our table. A very fresh, excellent cup of Turkish coffee.
The website states they use the "freshest organic produce and meats available". The menu inside has breakfast items, and we will be going back to try those.
Abraj Mediterranean Restaurant 6475 El Cajon Boulevard 92115 (619) 255-3566 Open 10 am, closes 2 am Sun-Th, closes 4 am, Fri-Sat Website (may have old prices)
Cathy is penning today's issue of mmm-yoso!!! The guys (Kirk and ed(from Yuma)) are merely writing things in their brains.
Hi. The other day, FOY(friend of Yoso), Food Detective, asked me in a comment if I had been to Tea Garden. I haven't, even though I have driven by, parked in front of it, walked past it and knew it was there. It is on Convoy, at Engineer Road, across from China Max and sometimes has parking when no place else on that street of countless amazing restaurants has parking available.
Deceptively small looking from the front, there is seating capacity for 57 inside. Of course, as is the rule for Convoy Street and its environs, parking availability does not correspond.You walk in and can grab a menu and sit on the couch next to the cash register, or just read the wall behind the register (that is just the beverage menu), or order a special straight from the whiteboard. Pay. Get a number. Find a seat. Free wifi, a shelf filled with board games, two televisions and nice surroundings. For our first visit,
We decided to try a green tea float ($4.25). Green tea, strong brewed, over ice with vanilla ice cream floating at the top. Very rich flavored. There must be matcha powder in it. My standard Beverage of Indecision (coffee-tea-milk, no sweetener added) ($3.75)-no sweet at all. I could taste each of the three ingredients distinctively. Very nice. An appetizer of popcorn chicken ($3.99). Crispy and moist, mild thin breading flavored with fresh basil leaves (on the plate) from the fryer. An appetizer of salt and pepper squid ($6.99) Soft squid, light breading topped with a relish of garlic, scallions and red pepper. Just enough heat. House Special fried rice noodle ($7.99). A wonderful smoky flavor infused in the thin noodles and perfectly sauteed shrimp, beef and chicken along with green onion tops, onions, carrots, sprouts and (I think) bamboo. Maybe it was a fungus. Those brown things...they had a woody texture and not much flavor. Lots of flavor in everything else. The other day (before this crazy heat wave happened), The Mister wanted soup. So we went back and He ordered the BBQ pork ramen ($6.99). This had a not salty, surprisingly rich broth, along with peas, carrots and cabbage as well as a few pieces of sliced BBQ pork (standard, not outstanding) and noodles which had a nice 'tooth',although not as good as the noodles at Yakyudori, my new favorite. At lunchtime, most main courses come with a free iced black or green tea. You can ask for no sweetener (I think it is a simple syrup) and taste the tea... I wanted to try the fried tofu ($5.59). When this came, I thought it looked like a thick, hard crust and was almost disappointed.Instead, I was pleasantly surprised at the delicate thinness of the coating and soft, soft fresh tofu inside. The dipping sauce was a very dark soy and sesame oil base and filled with chopped garlic, green onion tops and some red pepper flakes. Extremely complimentary for the tofu, and just the right amount of heat. I think if I had ordered the salt and pepper fried tofu (50¢ more), this dipping sauce would have been overpowering.
All in all, the food here has been great. A pot of hot tea is $5.95. Other items on the menu I am wanting to try include a Hot Clay Pot, fried udon, fried rice, congee, sizzling steak, other soups, brick toast, shaved ice and something called "vinaigrette soup" ($5.95), either shrimp, pork or squid. Oh and juices, smoothies and...yes, more appetizer snacks. You can easily get a meal, the plates and bowls are a very good size.
Thank you Food Detective!!! This is a great place.
Tea Garden 4685 Convoy Street, Suite 110 San Diego 92111 (858)277-8988 Website
Hours: Sun-Th 11:00 a.m.-midnight, until 1 a.m. Fri-Sat
mmm-yoso!!! is the food blog you are reading. Cathy is writing because the guys (Kirk and ed(fromYuma)) are busy doing stuff, like researching future posts.
Tucked in a shopping mall near Cuyamaca College, next to the Starbucks, in Rancho San Diego, is this. Taste of Italy, kind of a local chain of "A Taste of Italy" restaurants (another location is on University in Hillcrest, on Carmel Mountain Road in Del Mar and also Vesuvio and Etna are owned by the same group; the primary menu items are all Sicilian (a more complex Italian) based). We like the Rancho San Diego because it is open late (midnight M-Th and 2 a.m. on Fri and Sat), it has a bar, televisions in the bar (we watched a World Cup game here one Saturday) and really really good, house made food.
Inside, there are a selection of wines, or you can bring your own and store the bottles, in a locked area with a personalized plaque, as you might on the island of Sicily.
We were here for lunch one day. We could have also ordered brunch (they just started offering brunch on weekends in June, possibly to coincide with the above mentioned World Cup Games.)
Artichoke soup. Made from scratch. Not heavy (no cream layer stuck to your tongue). Lemony and with a bit of heat (jalapeño juice maybe was in it). Excellent and made in house. There is always a great minestrone, I do like trying the soups. The island of Sicily has a subtropical climate and artichokes and eggplant and citrus are easily grown. Most Sicilian dishes are vegetable and seafood based). A few pieces of garlic bread were brought out- The garlic was complimentary to the soup taste.
I ordered the Classic Antipasto for my meal. Red and green lettuces, fresh pickled mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, olives and rolled mortadella, salami and provolone. This was just the right amount of food for me at lunch. The house made olive oil, balsamic and herb salad dressing (also with a bit of peppery heat) is just right.
The Mister could not decide, but knew he wanted a baked pasta dish and chose the half ravioli half cheese manicotti with the marinara sauce ($14.99). The pastas were tender, house made. The manicotti were very much like crepes and filled with a combination of mozarella, ricotta and romano cheeses. The ravioli were large and overfilled. The marinara sauce, also house made, was very rich in tomato flavor and had just a touch of red pepper heat in it.
You need reservations on Friday and Saturday nights to eat here. It gets very crowded. Because it is good. There are plenty of Italian Restaurants in this part of El Cajon. This is one of the best.
Taste of Italy 2515 Jamacha Road El Cajon 92019 (Rancho San Diego-in the Ralphs/Michael's mall, across from the mall with the movie theaters) (619)660-6300 Website
Rudford's has always had a strange pull on the Missus, as light does a moth. I'm not quite sure what it is about the place......
Rudford's does have one thing going for it, in a town where most everything except chain restaurants close by 10 pm, Rudford's stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
And having been around for sixty years does say something about staying power, though I must say that many of the customers(and smells) eating at Rudford's seem like they've been coming here since 1949.
If you look up the definition of the word "Diner" in the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, you'd read: "A small, usually inexpensive restaurant with a long counter.....
Say what you will, being around so long says something about staying power...... We found the staff to be mostly really nice folks, patient with the wide range of customers, from cranky old folks, to people obviously fighting psychological demons, to drunk, post nightclub kids. We found the younger Servers to be much more flexible than the two older women, with chain smoker complexions, who called everyone "honey" in a raspy voice....... tough birds both of them. Half the fun is the atmosphere.
The food ranges from good honest fare, to stuff that harkens flashbacks to the stuff I ate in my Junior High and High School Cafeteria. As I often say, "it's a fine line between comfort and really bad food".
So for better or worse, here's a rundown of a couple of dishes we've had at Rudford's.....
The Hot Roast Beef Sandwich ($9.25):
When I requested Fries with Gravy instead of mashed potato, the young man told me "no problem", and that's what I got. Perfectly fried steak style fries smothered in brown gravy....Sysco heaven! Ever since I visited Canada back in the 90's, I've loved Poutine. The roast beef was tender, but stringy, and reminded me of cafeteria fare, but it was not inedible. There's something about old fashioned white bread soaked in gravy that I enjoy as well....
The Missus ordered the Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs:
Though the pounded beef was very tender, it was super bland. The country gravy was like eating paste. The Missus did enjoy the O'Brien potatoes, and of course She rarely meets an egg She doesn't like.
One quick thing....what is it with these places and toast? They all seem to do toast right, dry but not crumbly, a good tool for sopping up egg, or other stuff.....
On another visit, I wasn't too happy with my Turkey Club Sandwich ($7.95).... funny thing, to the day She passed on, my Mom always called this a "Clubhouse Sandwich", never a Club Sandwich:
I appreciated the perfect smear of mayo. It's a funny thing, I eschew mayo on most sandwiches, but must have it on my Club(house). I wasn't too happy with the processed turkey and for some reason the American Cheese threw the entire sandwich off.
Lucky for me, I requested and received this for my fries (crinkle cut Sysco-fied this time):
Yes.....brown gravy. Given to me, no charge... a meal saver.....
The Missus got the Monday thru Friday 2 Eggs, Potatoes, and Toast special ($3.79):
No complaints from the Missus......
On Sunday there are two dinner/lunch specials. Like all of these type meals it starts with soup. In this case a pretty decent chicken noodle soup. Noodles kinda mushy, but okay.....
The Missus ordered the Chicken and Dumplings.
Let's just say that for us, this was an example of the worst that restaurants of this ilk put out. Bland, poorly prepared, purely created for the "dead tastebud society". Ick.........
I had the Turkey Dinner, which did look kinda cafeteria-like, down to the little thingy of cranberry sauce:
But the turkey was decent, moist and tender enough. I didn't care for the stuffing, which was very mushy. And of course, I got you-know-what-with-you-know-what. Do you see a common thread????
Stay away from the cooked vegetables if you can though, unless you just had dental surgery, or perhaps forgot your dentures. The veggies were also artificially sweet.....
Remember the peas you squished between your teeth with your tongue to gross people out???? Perfect candidates here.....
On one occasion, I tried the Chili and Scrambled Eggs with potatoes and toast ($7.95):
It turned out that the Missus really enjoyed the chili..... so She ordered it on a return visit, and got a bit of "chili revenge"...... She still wants more though......
At the end of the day, the food may ride the mediocre line, but the characters(on both sides of the counter) and attitude can't be beat. I think there's a place for Rudford's, a place where you don't concern yourself with words and phrases like "non commodity", "organic", "sustainable", "free-range", or "fair trade", and for some reason I find that kinda well, refreshing...... in a retro kinda way. I'll concern myself with those other issues on another day.
To quote one of the Server's when asked for Honey-Mustard Dressing; "I can give you honey, and I can give you mustard darlin', but we can't do honey-mustard.... we're old school!"
Rudford's Restaurant 2900 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA
We've been going to Tajima since we first moved to San Diego back in 2000. I used to enjoy the Menchi Katsu(breaded deep fried ground/minced meat - in this case beef) Curry, now long gone from the menu, the various Ramen, and the Missus had always enjoyed the Okonomiyaki(a savory type of Japanese pancake).
Since an Ownership change a few years back, the menu has been expanded to accommodate a large variety of Izakaya style dishes(think pub grub/tapas style dishes) and Westernized Japanese dishes. Since I've started to make Okonomiyaki at home, the Missus hasn't expressed a desire to eat at Tajima. So most of my visits have been for Ramen at lunch.
On this day, I had my favorite dish at Tajima, the Chashu Ramen($8.95):
The broth for the Chashu Ramen is Tonkotsu style, which is the whitish long boiled pork bone broth. While not as rich and velvety (nor as oily for that matter) as the version from Daikokuya in Little Tokyo(Los Angeles), it is still the best version of Tonkotsu style broth that I've had in San Diego. Though the broth is much darker in color than almost every other version I've had, it is not overly salty, and on the mild side, with a nice amount of oil.
The Char Siu on this visit were 3 slices of mildly flavored pork belly, accompanied by some slices of bamboo shoot, a boiled than marinated egg, bean sprouts, and a piece of nori.
Though thick noodles are available, I usually stick with the thin noodles(you can get more noodles for $1). The noodles have a nice pull and texture, but could stand to be a bit more chewy. I love that boiled egg.....
On some days, I want more of a "blank slate", a very mild broth, so I'll have the "Ramen"($6.95), which in the case of Tajima is a Shoyu Ramen:
The broth is a mild Soy Sauce based broth to which I usually add a nice scoop of garlic paste, and some Shichimi for some zing. Speaking of the garlic paste; on a previous visit a gentleman with some obvious olfactory problems dumped 3 spoons of the garlic paste into his ramen....taking a sip of his soup, his eyes opened wide, exclaiming "Holy crap, this isn't mustard".....he-he-he.
As previously mentioned...I love that boiled egg. A nice hot bowl of Ramen on a rainy day, very few things better than that.
On this day, I needed my fix of Umami, and ordered this:
In case you can't really identify it, let me help you:
It's the Marinated Baby Squid($3.95), a salty-pungent-winey-slightly sweet offering, with a mild Shiokara-like flavor. The julienned basil added a nice clean flavor to this dish.
On a recent visit I managed to drag the Missus along, and being quite hungry we tried a few of the appetizers, along with a main course.
We started with the Tako Wasabi($3.95):
This was pretty good, more on the sweet side, than salty. The Missus enjoyed it, and even thought it was better than the version at Sakura!
The Tuna Tataki($6.95):
Looked fairly nice, but the fish was tough, the ponzu watery, and weak in flavor, and the fried garlic only added a bitterness to the dish.
The Chicken Karaage($3.95):
I love Chicken Karaage, in fact I love Chicken Karaage so much that it only needs to fulfill one of two criteria. Either it's nice and crunchy, with mild flavor, or it can be cold and have a nice salty-soy-slightly-sweet-mildly gingery flavor. This version was on the soggy side, which would be fine if it was loaded with flavor. But as you can tell by the color.........
The Miso Nabeyaki Soba($8.95):
Hardly any miso flavor, and soggy noodles. The shrimp tempura was fine, nice and crisp.
Aaaaah, minced meat, breaded, and fried, how can that be bad? Honestly, not a bad version, nice and crisp on the outside, and not oily at all. The patties had a good amount of filler which kept it moist, and the onion flavor came through. The "butter noodles" are not my favorite thing, and the Hijiki(seaweed) had not been cooked long enough and was like eating wood. The Menchi Katsu came with a bowl of miso soup(okay as miso goes), rice, and a combo Demi Glace - Katsu Sauce, that was too sour for my taste.
OH, before I forget...one of the really great things about Tajima is the late night Ramen! Check check the hours:
Yep, open till 3am Thursdays through Saturday(Convoy location only). And it's a good thing; for now, I think I'll stick with the ramen at Tajima. Don't forget to try the Okonomiyaki!
Tajima Japanese Restaurant 4681 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
I really don't know the Korean name of this restaurant, so will just go by the English sign.
I first noticed this little restaurant over a year ago. We had finished a nice meal at China Max, and were wandering around the strip mall, when I noticed a Woman running two plates of Mandoo over to the Pool Hall located right next door. Even though I was stuffed to the gills, it still looked pretty good. A few days later I received an Email from our eating buddy Calvin; who mentioned that "the food is like what my Mom and Aunts make, and the sometimes surly service is like what you'd get at home." Hmmmm.....sounds good, after all Mom's make the best food, right? Hmmmm...sounds bad, remember how Mom acted when you didn't eat your peas???? Or when that "Tuna Surprise" really did surprise???
Recently the Missus and I finally made our way to this restaurant. The interior is full of wooden booths, with Soju posters on the walls, along with a closing time of 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, I could sense pretty hearty grub.
This really is a Family operation. We were first served by an Older Lady, and later on when 2 other Young Women(daughters?) walked in, they immediately started waiting on us as well. A Middle-Aged Gentleman was manning the kitchen. We looked over the menu, and placed our orders.
And soon enough our panchan arrived.
The portion size of the various panchan were pretty good. And the quality ranged from some pretty tasty stuff, to very, very mediocre(iceberg lettuce salad with thousand island dressing??).
The Missus enjoyed the sweet potato and shrimp:
And the steamed egg.
The Seaweed Salad wasn't bad.
Even though the Baechu(Napa Cabbage) Kimchi wasn't the best, it was still passable. As was the most of the panchan. We were starving so we basically attacked the panchan. And even though we were in the secluded corner booth, the Older Lady came by just as we were finishing up our panchan, looked at us, and said, "Oh, you hungry, huh?" To which we pointed out the stuff we liked and said "It's really good". Damned if She didn't break out into a smile, and a minute later came back with a second round of panchan...and we didn't even ask! Just like Mom????
The Missus, being absolutely starved had ordered the Combination BiBim Naeng Myun and Bulgogi($13.99). Not knowing what to expect, the usual metal bowl of rice, and a sizzling plate of Bulgogi arrived at the table.
The Missus enjoyed the Bulgogi, though I told Her it was on the sweet side, and with the mushrooms and carrots it was almost like a stir fry. I will say this, it wasn't bland in the least. With some help She managed to finish the Bulgogi, only to be met with this. The BiBim Naeng Myun(spicy cold noodles).
Geez, do you think this was enough food? I didn't think this was very good, the Hot sauce tasted earthy and beany, but without any sweetness, or tangy flavor, and suffered from a lack of depth. The noodles were not good either, instead of having a taut elasticity, they were on the mushy side. The ice was shaved frozen broth. Overall, not something I'd have here again.
I realize that we didn't even get to what I had yet. I ordered the Spam and Kimchi Fried Rice($8.99):
This was a large portion of rice, that had been stir fried with a generous helping of Spam(must've been a half can!), some kimchi, and Gochujang. I really enjoyed this, the sour hints from the KimChi kinda freaked the Missus out, so She ate the Egg! Try as I might, I couldn't finish, so I had the rest the next day.
Korean Hometown Restaurant serves up rustic, though tasty Korean dishes. It is indeed Homestyle. Doesn't some KimChi Fried Rice sound good with a couple of Hite? Looks like we'll be back....well, I'll definitely will be back. Mainly to try out this item on the menu:
It's the only item that's priced the same for lunch and dinner. Is that saying something?
Korean Hometown Restaurant 4690 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111