Kirk and Ed (from Yuma), mmm-yoso!!! writers, have been posting a lot about their recent vacations. Cathy has been out of California for a while also, though not primarily on a vacation. Here is a trip report of her 2016 adventure, including food.
It was not a vacation, nor was it planned. Starting out with a flurry of phone calls, while I was with cc,on another Rose Parade float road testas well asa fewother stops. The spur of the moment 2400+ mile, 37 hour drive was highlighted with a start and finish at the Las Vegas airport; meeting my nephew (who flew in to assist with the drive to Michigan) and dropping my brother off for a flight back.
We drove across the prairies and flatlands, through the Eisenhower Tunnel (the longest mountain tunnel and highest point on the US Highway system; the small green sign on the wall to the left in that photo indicates the Continental Divide).
Along the way, stopping for breaks at a variety of interesting and informative 'Rest Areas'. The last photo above is called an "Oasis"- each side has a fuel station and the walkover (over the Highway) and has a variety of fast food eateries, information stands (interestingly, popcorn concessions) and importantly, rest rooms. Other rest areas have vending machines (which take credit cards).
There are also combination Fuel/Travel Centers,Sapp Bros is one.
Known for the coffee pot/with percolator neon lighting on a small water tower symbol seen from the Highway, the coffee choices ('Awake', 'Smile' and 'Decaf') are always fresh and ready when you drop in. (Note the popcorn machine at the far left in the below photo).
This was the first location of a Maid Rite (there were more) on this trip.
Loose meat burger, delicate seasoning-not plain, not overpowering-steamed bun with the 'standard' toppings of chopped onion, mustard and pickles. Delightful, along with the ever traditional midwest snack, cheese curds (made with Iowa cheese, of course).
An even more popular Convenience Store chain that also sells fuel is...
Yes, you are reading it correctly. Kum & Go has been around since 1959 and this location was impressive.
That milk shake machine plays your selection of music while it is preparing the shake you choose from the ice cream selections in the freezer below.
Pick a beverage, a snack or...
Yes, there's beer on tap here, along with free samples and growlers. Those Midwesterners!
There were hotels, too, some with views, most others, not so much. But those with 'breakfast included' had pancake and waffle machines, along with many choices to make a tasty breakfast.
At the end of the drive home, I stopped in Barstow for one final fill up. It was that fateful Tuesday when the Bluecut fire began. The radio informed that the I-15 was closing in both directions as the fire had grown to 1000 acres.
Driving North two exits and taking the 247, through the Lucerne Valley
and into the San Bernadino National Forest, up to 7000 feet above sea level, on winding (10 mph on curves at some points), steep (10% grade, not the usual 6% grade) roads, then back down, to
Big Bear Lake after about two hours of driving, taking a break then driving another hour and a half to get back to the 210 freeway and home. An adventure across America, Summer 2016.
After getting back to Tokyo and a good nights sleep; the Missus was ready to go fairly early in the morning. Being a short minute walk from Tokyo Station meant transportation would be a snap. The Missus had decided on a day trip to Kamakura, the former capital during the Kamakura Shogunate from 1185 - 1333. She was interested in all the temples and of course, the Daibutsu (The Great Buddha). We enjoyed Kamakura so much that we ended up returning the next day.
We arrived quite early.....during this part of the day; before hordes of tourists descend on Kamakura, the place has a relaxed, sleepy feel to. Even Komachi Street......
We decided to find a place to stop for our caffeine fix; so I kept on the look-out. I noticed the sign for Komeda's Coffee on the scond floor of one of the buildings. The place looked open so we walked up the stairs. We were cheerfully seated and handed some menus.
Looking at the menus, we were nicely surprised to see that Komeda's had a "morning special", free toast and a boiled egg with any beverage purchase. I guess the Komeda chain is well known for this special. Perfect!
The Missus and I both ordered coffee along with the "special".
Which turned out to be enough to hold us until lunch.
The young lady working was very nice........and heck, you can't complain about free breakfast, right?
Komeda's Coffee Komachi, 2 Chome−2−18 2F Kamakura
After finishing up; bolstered by caffeine, it was a short walk down the street to our first stop, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. The shrine, dedicated to Hachiman, god of war, is Kamakura's most well known and important shrine.
The backdrop and greenery makes for quite a dramatic sight.
I read that over two million people visit this shrine over the New Year holiday.
The bridges and ponds are quite lovely.
We saw this family; children in traditional garb ascending the stairs..... About halfway up; you could tell the kids were totally over the experience!
We exited via the gate on the northwest side of the temple and ended up on the road leading to our next stop.
I believe this marker is to commemorate the visit of Dogen, the famous Zen Masters' visit to Kamakura.
It was a nice walk; slightly uphill at first, then back downhill. The weather was cool, but pleasant. We had thoughts of stopping at Orindo....but decided to pass.
We also passed on a couple of other temples along the way as well.
And ended up at Kenchoji, Japan's oldest Zen Monastery, founded in 1253.
Things are set-up in the very typical Zen style with all the gates and the main buildings built in a straight line.
The Bonsho (Temple Bell) is considered a National Treasure. The Butsuden (Buddha Hall) contains a well worn statue of Jizō Bosatsu (Bodhisattva).
In direct contrast to the rather austere structures was this gate, which really stood out.
This is the Karamon (Grand Gate).
After lingering for a few minutes more, we set off.....to the next set of temples the Missus wanted to see.
After a wonderful stay in Sarlat, we were heading out the next morning. We loved staying in the wonderful B&B we had booked....well...except for a couple of the paintings......which strangely kind of spooked me in some strange way.
But, here we were ready to head out for the next leg of our trip in the in the "Le Gauche.....La Droite....Sortie....mobile"
If there was any doubt as to the beauty of this part of France, all you need to do is to take short pause at the Limeuil Bridge. On a day like this; with the sun shining, the water sparkling...can you see the folks fishing?
We drove along, our objective the hill town of Domme. I'd read that some of the best views of the Dordogne Valley were to be had here. Which I believe are true.
Most folks might be too young, but my Mom used to play this old album once in a while.....
"On a clear day Rise and look around you And you see who you are On a clear day How it will astound you"
Many of the canoe trips on the Dordogne River start here.
It's quite an amazing drive. We stopped at a little shop by the side of the road and bought some duck rillette and foie gras for Sammy....yes, for Sammy. And from the parking lot you had a dramatic view of Chateau de Castelnaud.
A few kilometers down the road from La Roque is the stunning and yet imposing village of Beynac-et-Cazenac.
Walking from the waters edge, up the charming narrow, winding, cobbled streets, it seems like you've just stepped onto a movie set.
You should park in the lots at the bottom of the hill, or you'll risk the fate of this automobile, manned by a British couple, who had gotten to the point of no return and seemed trapped on in of the narrow lanes. The poor guy seemed like he was going to have a coronary, while the woman was quite amused. They managed to get the attention of one of the locals, who kindly jumped into the car and maneuvered it down the street. I told her, "you've sure got a story to tell when you get home, don't you?" And the woman cracked up and nodded.
The rest of the walk uphill was uneventful and we just took in our surroundings. Near the top there are cafes and restaurants. You can visit the Chateau, and yes, there's even a parking lot....apparently there's an easy way up the hill.
We just walked to the look-out and took in the view. Yet another fantastic sight.
The best shots of the Chateau are taken from right above the cemetery.
The Chateau was once seized by Richard the Lionheart who used it as his base of operations in the area. You can read a nice history of the structure here.
Our destination for the day was Les Eyzies de Tayac so we passed through the village of Saint Cyprien and the road was closed. It was market day, so we decided to stop and enjoy.
There were many temptations.
But in the end, we just went with some fromage.....
And a strong double espresso.....
We got out of town via a round about way and actually got to Les Eyzies quite early........
There wasn't much going on so we decided to just head up north, to Perigueux, the Prefecture, administrative "capitol" of the area. We parked in one of the lots alongside the river of this old Roman town and paid a visit to the TI and picked up a walking tour map, which started at the Mataguerre Tower right across the street.
There were once 28 towers forming the walls that protected the district of Puy Saint Front. Built in the 15th Century, this is the last one standing.
The walking tour took us up and down winding alleyways, past historic buildings like the Maison des Dames de la Foi. The façade dates back to the 12th century. In the 17th century, the structure was turned into a convent.
We found the streets to be eerily quiet. I guess Sunday is a very slow day in Perigueux.
Round the corners you'd find little alleyways which seemed to be protected by a metal gate....which was open.
Exiting the alleyway, we found ourselves in a square....which was very peaceful and sedate.
We were getting a bit hungry, so we found one of the few shops open, a bakery, and got espresso, water, a croissant....
And had a bit of our cheese.......
Funny thing about France....I could just about live on croissants, baguettes, cheese, charcuterie, and wine.
We finished things up by visiting the rather imposing Cathedrale Saint Front (Perigueux Cathedral). A UNESCO World Heritage Site with quite a long history. This area has been used as a place of worship since the 6th century.
The interior space is quite large and one of the most noted features is the Baroque altarpiece carved from oak and walnut.
The Bell Tower soars 200 feet over Perigueux.
We were starting to get a bit tired. It was time to head back to Les Eyzies de Tayac to check-in and freshen up....and maybe meet a Cro-Magnon or two.....
I'm always looking for options for a weekend breakfast while performing all those "honey-doo" tasks and was recently reminded that El Portal (has it really been that long?) serves breakfast and they open at 7am. I literally pass this place daily.
It's been over a decade since I last visited, but the place looks the same. I got the basic Huevos a l Mexicana; which was pretty hefty for $7.05.
Eggs scrambled with peppers, onions, and tomato...topped with cheese. Potatoes from the fryer, a load of fairly salty beans, and tortillas. The coup de grace....a bag of chips. I covered things in pico de gallo and could not finish this. Nothing fancy, nothing amazing....but if you're looking to eat nothing until dinner this might do.
A bit too much for me.......
El Portal Fresh Mexican Grill 4101 Genesee Ave San Diego, CA 92111
Well, it's been a good 10 months since I last visited. It had been one of those mornings; so hectic that the last thing I really wanted to think about was lunch. So I just headed down Convoy and decided to stop at AppeThai.
I did enjoy the Tod Man KhaoPod - Fried Corn Fritters on my previous visits, so I ordered that along with one of those "pick the protein, pick the prep" lunches that many Thai places serve.
The Corn Fritters are now four bucks a pop and this, while still crisp and sweet, also had a slight flavor of old oil.
Kind of fried, I just went ahead and ordered "whatever", which in this case was the Roasted Duck with Spicy Bamboo Shoots ($10.50).
Needless to say, I should have just told them to forget about the insipid soup, the smear of cream cheese in a wonton....well....the salad wasn't too bad.
When my entrée arrived, I took one look and was quite disappointed.
It looked like this wasn't even stir-fried; there was no color; the duck a sad grey, the veggies almost raw....did they put this in a microwave? It was, other than having a small stash of Thai Chilies hiding at the bottom of this fairly bland. The rubbery duck had a bit of flavor; but this wasn't quite what I signed up for.
No wok hey, it's like they made it in a non-stick pan at too low a heat...... Very disappointing.
There were no other customers during my entire meal. I'm not sure this place is going to make it.
Sadly, our stash of olive oil we brought back from Granada and Seville ran out a couple of months ago.
We've tried various Spanish brands here in San Diego; the Missus loves the grassy-peppery nuances of Spanish Olive Oil, and most have fallen short. So we headed back to.....
Baker and Olive:
This little shop in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, stocks various olive oils and vinegars.
We're really not interested in the flavored one's, but just get whatever version of Arbequina Olive Oil they have. At the time of our visit, they were starting to switch from Northern Hemishere product (i.e. Spain), to Southern Hemisphere (Chile). Here are some of the bottles we have.
Nice folks working here. One of the women is from Kailua, Hawaii, though she doesn't look it. It's always great fun chatting with her. I will also get Dea Harissa Paste here once in a while; though I usually order it from Amazon.
Baker & Olive 12925 El Camino Real San Diego, CA 92130
Back during the middle of spring; the Missus was also grumbling about how hard it was finding unshelled walnuts. She was really enjoying using the nut cracker she bought in Sarlat. So one morning I was in the Mission Gorge area and decided to stop at.....
We used to come here all the time when we lived in Mission Valley. Its been over a decade since I've last visited.
Still looks the same, with a nice variety of produce and other products for sale.
And yes, there were unshelled walnuts for sale.
Which got the Missus crackin' again......though that loud cracking sound scares the daylights out of Sammy!
Now, if She'd only clean up Her mess.....
Farmers Outlet 10407 Friars Rd San Diego, CA 92120
How does our garden grow:
Because of our travels and other things, we got a late start on the garden this year. Still, we've done pretty well so far. As janfrederick commented on in a recent post, we had quite the bumper crop of cucumbers for a while. Sometimes 3-4 a day! The funny thing was; the Missus didn't want to waste, She was determined to consume every single cucumber. Which is how it was for about 3-4 weeks!
I think it's time to plant the next batch.
It looks like squirrels have eaten all our Roma Tomatoes and kale, so that's a lost cause.
Though the leeks are doing quite well this year.
As for our peppers. Again, I was kind of late, though it looks like the Trinidad 7 Pot Douglah is doing fine.
These are very hot, but not as fragrant as Ghost Peppers in my opinion.
Speaking of Ghost Peppers; they are just starting to ripen.
Though the Scorpion Peppers are a little late.
We have Serrano Pepper plants that are getting up there in age; they are starting to produce smaller and less fruit. There's a golden lining on this however. A few months back, I was weeding the plants, when I noticed a couple of little sprouts; which, after nurturing a bit, became some fairly robust plants.
Not sure what the deal is; but these are some of the biggest Serrano I've ever seen.
Sadly, our White Ghost Pepper didn't make it. But while pulling out the dead plant, I saw a couple of little shoots. So now I'm hoping these will do ok and will bear fruit this year.
Our Chili de Arbol is doing well too.
I was surprised to see a certain chili plant when I went to the nursery to pick up some fertilizer. I just had to get it.
Today Ed (from Yuma) wants to share a meal with mmm-yoso readers that he shared on a recent trip to Denver. Tomorrow if Kirk doesn't post, Cathy will. So stay tuned.
One place that Jane insisted we had to try for dinner was her longtime favorite, Café Brazil:
The several rooms were pleasant and unpretentious with a diverse clientele and pleasant Brazilian music that set the mood:
I'm sure they serve beer and probably wine, but Café Brazil has a "rum room," serves around 75 different varieties of rum, and provides list of yummy sounding rum cocktails on the menu. So I decided on a mojito:
Wow! This mojito was tasty and powerful. The sweet/sour flavors were nicely balanced with the taste of mint predominant.
Jane chose a caipirinha, a Brazilian specialty cocktail (the unofficial cocktail of the 2016 Rio Olympics, they say) made with sugar, lime, and a sizable amount of cachaça (sugarcane liquor):
It was also quite good. I guess I had expected something sweet, but the drink had a nice complexity and depth of flavor. A good start to the meal.
Since it was my first time looking over the menu, we decided to start with an appetizer; we picked fried bananas:
These little banana balls were perfectly fried and had a crunchy crisp exterior wrapped around a warm gooey banana center. Good as they were, we kind of wished we had ordered them as a dessert. They did, however, keep us from being hungry for sure.
Our server placed these salsas in the middle of the table:
On the left is a deeply flavored malaqueta pepper salsa, very tasty without being too fiery. On the right a Brazilian style pico de gallo, with red peppers and pickled onions.
Those condiments complemented our small bowls of flavorful black bean soup:
I liked the soup. While not creamy, the soup had a pleasant smokiness in the background and a bright spiciness upfront.
We also received a bread basket:
The breads were a reflection of the cuisine – these were not European-style baguettes, but breads that seemed at home in tropical and subtropical America – earthy flavored lightly sweet breads with mixed whole grains, nuts, and bits of fruit.
We had had some difficulties choosing our entrées – most of the choices looked good. I was severely tempted by the varieties of feijoada (the national dish of Brazil), but in the end we decided to focus on seafood.
I got the moqueca de peixe, a seafood stew in a coconut milk gravy over rice: .
The shrimp were large and of excellent quality. Underneath them, on the left side of the picture, is one of the two large sea scallops in the dish. On the right side is one of the two pieces of bacalhau. The scallops were fine and I was impressed by the preparation of the salt cod. The rice underneath brought together the seafood flavors with the slightly sweet touch of creamy ginger garlic coconut milk.
Jane received La Caleña, a different seafood stew on rice:
From where I was sitting, the entrée looked like a small fortress with red pepper walls and battlements composed of carrot sticks and zucchini wedges as if to protect the large shrimp and scallops within.
So I also took a picture from above:
The spicy broth and rice had tomato and seafood flavors. The red peppers and zucchinis were perfectly cooked – tender but firm. And they took on some of the flavors of the sauce. I thought a couple of the carrots were a little underdone though.
We traded plates back and forth and generally agreed it was a good dinner. Café Brazil did well. I am obviously no expert on Brazilian cuisine, but almost everything tasted great, the ambience and service were fine, and I would love to go back and try more of the menu. I can see why this spot is a local favorite.
So for me this means; you don't come to Great Wow for Kung Pao Chicken, nor the XLB......it's about the noodles and dumplings they make in the glass room.....
Last week Candice and I were free for lunch, so we met up at Great Wow. The interior is fairly simple, plain wooden tables, and super hard and rather uncomfortable wooden chairs.
The menus are basically paper pinned together and even though they've been open only a short time looks worn. There's a ton of marks and writing on the menu. But my basic favorites were easily found....though they were out of the pork and celery jioazi.
Candice and I started with two of the liang cai; cold dishes.
Both were a bit disappointing.
The Jellied Pork was very hard and for some reason the black vinegar based sauce seemed watered down; weak and one dimensional. Sad, because jellied pork and jellied mutton are favorites of mine.
There should be a crunch that leads to a bit of meatiness.
The Bean Curd Skin was very bland at first, until we realized that we had to mix it with the pool of sauce on the bottom.
All of this would be forgiven if the jiaozi was any good. And would you believe it; these were pretty good!
The jioazi were on the large side, if this were Beijing where you order jiaozi by batches of 25 at some places, you'd be lying on the floor after one order!
The Pork, Shrimp, and Chive came out first. The wrapper was good, quite thin, though I think the dough has been over-worked a bit as it didn't quite have the tenderness and stretch I like. But that's really splitting hairs. Lot's of meat in the filling, I mean lots of pork. The filling in these were a bit heavy handed with regards to the salt/msg, but were far from bland.
I preferred the Egg, Shrimp, and Chive, which were a bit lighter and you could make out the shrimp flavor.
You could tell that while the dough was perhaps worked by machine, that the final rolling was done by hand...the seal where the wrappers came together were as thick as the rest of the dumpling skin. Overall, these were quite good; probably the best I've had in San Diego.
Funny thing, after getting back to the office, I received a text from Xiāngjiāo....guess what she was having? Then PeterL sent out a text, he was also eating at Great Wow...but of course, in the typical PeterL way, he ordered XLB.....sigh.....
Of course, I rarely do just one visit if doing a post, so I soon returned to Great Wow. The young man working remembered me!
I placed my order and sat back. Remember how rather tattered the menu looks? Well, check out the soy sauce and vinegar dispensers? Only open a week or two and the place already looks like it's in the SGV......are sticky tables around the corner?
I started with the pork hock. The nice young man told me I could do half an order.
This was quite good, not too salty, with decent pork flavor, and rather tender. Nice on a day where the temps were peaking in the low 90's.
This time they had the pork and celery jiaozi.
The wrappers were even better this time around. The filling was nicely seasoned, edging on a bit too salty, but very plump and moist. Lot's of pork; it could have used more celery in my opinion, but hey, it's a meat eater's world these days. The jiaozi here are quite large; I was stuffed.
The free dessert is the typical White Fungus Sweet Soup (冰糖雪耳糖水) with dates. On my first visit it was way to sweet...this time around it was a nice end to a meal on a hot day.
Do you notice something missing? The first thing both "YZ" and the Missus said when they saw this was "where's the lotus seeds"?
Later that day I found out that Candice had returned the day before! Then later in the day Xiāngjiāo sent me photos....she had ended up back at Great Wow. Having spent half a year in Beijing, I think she misses a lot of these type of dishes.
I found the service, at least from the young man with glasses and the young girl working to be very nice. There are quite a few grand opening kinks to work out, but I'm sure they'll get things in line. I'm also hoping they add some additional dishes....not kung pao ji or Xiao long bao, that have true roots in the region to the menu.
Oh and I got 20% off on each of my visits too.....grand opening discount perhaps?
There are a couple of dishes that are favorites of the Missus on the menu, like Xiao Mi Zhou (小米粥 - millet porridge) on the menu. So I'm thinking we'll return when things cool down a bit.
We took a short nap after our poutine lunch. It was pretty warm in Vancouver and the sun didn't set until 9pm, so having dinner fairly late (for us) sounded like a great idea. Upon waking and freshening up, we decided to take the long way to dinner. So we headed Southeast on Robson, then down Richards, and back onto Georgia, where we came across this impressive structure.
This is the Vancouver Public Library. I loved the distinctive design. From here we took a left down Cambie Street, the neighborhood started looking a bit more gritty, though still much cleaner than Seattle.
The main reason for walking down Cambie Street was to view the Gastown Steam Clock. I pointed to it as we headed down the street. At first the Missus said, "that's so puny, what's the big deal?" Until we walked up to it and She saw puffs of steam coming out of the top of the clock.
For some reason She was smitten as were a good number of tourists. This being "Gastown", the steam clock might seem to be a remnant of some bygone era. This was actually built in 1977. Gastown much like Pioneer Square in Seattle is the oldest neighborhood in the city. It has all of the kinds of things that these type of neighborhoods have; tourist shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and a good number of homeless. Still, the Missus really enjoyed the character of this neighborhood and we'd return to visit Kit and Ace and Lululemon....and even walk down Alexander to the Alibi Room. But that's for another day.
We walked to the waterfront, the views were quite nice, the air clean and crisp. Looking away from the water, here's a photo of Harbour Centre.
I had made reservations for dinner at Miku and we were trying to find the entrance. There was quite a bit of construction going on and the signs pointing to Miku lead to a locked door. A nice young man saw us and asked, "are you looking for Miku?" How the heck did he know? Anyway, he provided some directions and we found ourselves at the quite busy Miku Restaurant.
I gave my name to the hostess at the stand, who looked, frowned, and asked us to wait a second. A few minutes later, a very nice young man came up to us, and introduced himself as Kevin. I believe he was managing the front of house. He was so pleasant, shook our hands, then told us that they'd missed something on our reservations. I'd requested their kaiseki dinner when making reservations and immediately had reservations about doing so. Kevin explained that they would do the best they could to put together something for us, but I told him not to worry, we'd be perfectly happy ordering from the menu. He smiled and said, "great......I'll make sure that you both get one of the best tables we have!"
I saw this fellow waiting for his mom or dad outside Miku while we waited for our table to be prepped.
Poor guy. Folks kept taking photos or trying to comfort him, but he wanted nothing except his owners. He was adorable.
We loved the view from our table.
In case you're wondering if Miku was one of these touristy, overly fusion, pan-Asian, type restaurants.....you might be partially right. You see Miku is owned by the Tora Corporation headquartered in Miyazaki, Japan. I believe they own a number of Kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) and Aburi/Oshizushi type restaurants in the Miyazaki area. I was quite intrigued by a aplce specializing in aburizushi. I've had a nigiri or two of aburi sushi at a number of places, including Urasawa, though in most American style sushi joints it's kind of a gimmick.
Anyway, we were on vacation...in Vancouver....it was time to relax and have a cocktail....or two.
There were a few interesting custom cocktails along with some standards like a Moscow Mule and Pisco Sours...which I ordered. The Missus looked at me and told me to "not be so boring...." So I relented.
The Missus ordered the Genmai's Tea, which included green tea infused vodka and cucumber. It was fine, but nothing special. I ordered the Shiso Mojito which we both love....shiso was a natural for a mojito, as this tasted so clean.....it also seemed fairly low in alcohol as well. Delish!
We started with the Aburi Beef Carpaccio, which was everything we expected and more.
The torched beef was very beefy in flavor and the texture was fantastic. The sousvide egg added a wonderful creaminess and the yolk tasted delicious. Nice, not too sour ponzu, with a mild kick. The Missus felt that the baby greens was a bit of overkill, detracting from the overall flavors of the dish; though the Asian Pear added a nice mild sweetness and crunch, like in a good Yukhoe.
The Missus had never had Tori Nanban, which I thought was kind of strange....but thinking back, I usually order the stuff for lunch. So I decided to get that.
I was surprised at how much She enjoyed the rice vinegar tones and mild sweetness in this, though She could easily leave the tartar sauce out. The chicken was light and crisp outside, very tender and moist. I was told that they get their poultry from Fraser Valley Chicken in BC. Very nice.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Oshizushi on the menu at Miku. As I've mentioned before, oshizushi is a bit of a specialty. There are three aburi versions here at Miku; Salmon, Ebi, and Saba. Now for me, Battera is the classic pressed sushi. The Missus isn't the biggest fan of saba as in most places it's oily and fishy....though for some strange reason She loves sardines and some anchovy. I convinced the Missus to try the saba version and am glad we did.
The prepared rice was pressed well, though it was rather mild in vinegar tones. The saba, which had cured inhouse and torched was really good, not too fishy, but with a nice cured-cheesy flavor to it. The torching provided a touch of pleasant smokiness. The miso sauce was nice, slightly sweet, savory, but not too salty.
By this time, I needed a drink. Kelsey, who was our Server was fantastic, efficient, pleasant, friendly, but not overly so, suggested something by a local brewery; Strange Fellows. The ale was very nice....the Missus actually loved this and we'd be getting their brews every chance we had.
We finished our meal with a foursome of aburi nigiri. Clockwise from the top left; Hotate (scallop), Wagyu, Toro, and Hirame.
All of the seafood was fantastic and the beef decadent. The one problem for us and since this is nigiri it was a major issue was the rice which was really mushy and formed with too much pressure......I'm figuring most folks wouldn't notice; but any nigiri lover would immediately pick that up. The hotate was tender and sweet, with the torching adding a wonderful touch of flavor. The hirame was very fresh, but the toro was just fantastic as it melted in your mouth as did the wagyu beef which was out of this world.
Night had settled in as we finished up our meal. We marveled at how the service and pacing here at Miku was just perfect for us. They struck the perfect balance in terms of service, friendliness, and made us feel very comfortable. Kelsey was quite knowledgeable and his recommendations, after asking us a few questions, were spot on.
And while Miku looks like one of those stylish-hip places, the food delivered, and the atmosphere was totally not stuffy.
There are times when you just have a great experience....where a place just seems like a perfect fit for you. Miku did that for us. In terms of price; our meal, including drinks came out to something like $115 US......which I thought was a bargain. I've spent more at Sushi Yaro for dinner! I'm sure we'll be back to Vancouver. And we will definitely be back to Miku.
Miku 200 Granville Street Suite 70 Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4, Canada
Here's an interesting tidbit; mention Easter Island to someone in the Spanish speaking world and you might get a blank stare. The official Spanish name is Isla de Pascua. I mentioned Easter Island a few times in Santiago and got quizzical looks. Upon returning, I mentioned Easter Island to one of the folks in another department, she is Peruvian (Tusan!), and she had no idea what I was talking about until I said Isla de Pascua! She loves talking to me about Peruvian food and I'm definitely going to get some recommendations from her next time we travel to Peru.
Our The flight out of Hanga Roa didn't leave until 11, so we had some time to take a short drive and refill the fuel, and stuffs like that. While I was taking the trash out I heard the sound of hooves and took a look around the hedges! There was a guy riding a horse down the street....with a pony following! You sure don't see that everyday here in San Diego!
I quietly walked back to the cabanas, when, I was met by a familiar creature....dum, da, dum, dum......
He looked rather irritated and I'd had enough. I let the cat sit in my lap and gave it some attention. When I put the cat down....it got rather angry, but I moved quickly enough and avoided any parting shots.
Having escaped the clutches of the cat, we headed off and did a last short drive around Hanga Roa.
We got the specialty of the house; the eggs and Nescafe. This time I got a polka dot cup.....
We then went to the gas station, filled up and headed back to the cabanas to relax before our trip.
Check-out went smoothly. When Vero, the wonderful woman at Marae - Cabañas went to call us a shuttle, we told her that we'd rather walk. The airport was just a 15 minute walk away.
Check-In and everything else was fine; a bit slow, but again...this is island life....you don't rush things. Once past security, while waiting we watched the excited visitors exit the place. This is where we were just a few days before.
Due to the time change, it was almost 9pm when we got into Santiago. Our flight to Lima left at 8 the next morning so there was no sense in heading into Santiago. There's a very convenient Holiday Inn right across the street from the airport. After grabbing a sandwich in the airport, this is where we settled in. We decided on a nightcap and went to the bar.
The guy working the bar was so nice and friendly that we decided to stay for a second drink. We talked about Santiago and he mentioned how busy the city is. We asked about classic Chilean dishes and he was nice enough to pull photos from Instagram and other sites, describing the various dishes. What a great guy.
He also made a decent Old Fashioned.....
Soon enough, it was time to head back up to our room. We'd try to grab some shut-eye before our flight to Lima in the morning......though I could still see Moai dancing in my dreams!
After a pretty hectic but exhilarating day we returned to our cabanas and had a short nap. Upon waking we relaxed.....the Missus fiddled around and I worked on a post. The Missus opened the front door and shrieked! The "Killer Pussy" was back! And taunting us!
I mean...there were lots of possible victims.....the chickens looked like fair game.
But no......this cat seem to want some attention, or else!
We decided to wait out the killer cat, who eventually lost interest and left. A few minutes later we headed out for a drive and dinner.....we saw the cat running toward us. Luckily, we made it to the car rather quickly.
We took a nice drive down along the ocean......ending at a nice patch of green. Man, the backdrop of the pacific makes all the photos look great.
Rather than search around for a dinner destination, we decided to head back to Te Moana.
It was much more busy on this evening, but we got the same table as the previous night. Same Server too.
This time I decided on the Ceviche Ika Mata. As before the fish was sparkling fresh, though this seemed a tad "over-cooked" by citrus.
While I wasn't a big fan of adding mustard, nor the sauce to my ceviche....red onions, cilantro, avocado, fresh fish....what's not to like? I also kind of enjoyed the garlic toast as well.....though it didn't seem to go real well with the fish.
The Missus wanted Her favorite from the previous night; the Ceviche Te Moana.
The ceviche was just as lovely this night as well. The touch of coconut milk added a nice counter-point to the citrus and also added a mild creaminess to the lovely fish. The Missus also enjoyed the shrimp. And just like the previous night; that rice was terrible. Of course we didn't order this for the rice.
I also wanted to try the octopus; which was nice and tender, very mild in flavor.
Wasn't a fan of the rather odd tasting sauce, nor the mushy, slightly water-logged mashed potato either.
Overall, Te Moana delivered, the seafood wonderful.
That sunset was fantastic as well.
Te Moana Policarpo Toro Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Valparaiso, Chile
There's a playground just outside the restaurant. Where kids were playing and dogs were hanging out.
The Missus decided to have a bit of fun and a friend joined Her!
He followed the Missus all over the park. Even standing guard while the Missus had fun on the swings.
We wanted to bring him home! But a few minutes later, the pup left for greener pastures.
We took the long way back. Easter Island was an amazing experience. Definitely "bucket list" stuff. But even though we hadn't seen everything, it was time to move on. Tomorrow we'd be flying back to Santiago.