It seems like they are slowly adding things to the menu.
The Missus and I went once. But as She says, it can get pretty old after a while. What doesn't get old, at least on cold nights for us is the "tang", the bone based broth. What we found out was that they sell the broth, it's $4.99 for the large version. We really like the "extra spicy" version of this bone based broth.
Which ends up being 2-3 meals for us.....
After picking up the broth, head to the new 99 Ranch Market. The Missus favorite items? Wintermelon, daikon, a variety of bean curd products, bean thread, various vegetables...you name it. Because the broth is nicely rich; it seems like we go mostly vegetarian on this.
Talk about a warming meal that will leave you with a nice sheen of sweat on your forehead (the extra spicy is not super spicy), with a nice "ma" (numbing) to go along with a slight chili induced endorphin high. Can you say "aaaah".
It's worth the slight communication thing.....I had the Missus spell out the broth in Chinese, but just tried to order "tang". The sweet young lady, thinking I was speaking English hilariously pointed to the duck tongues.
The folks working have always been quite accommodating and friendly to us.
So as the next storm moves into San Diego....maybe grabbing some of the hot pot broth and your favorite items (I saw them packing 10 portions of broth and fixins to go during my last visit) might be a nice option for spending a "night in".
Private Kitchens 5440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Our first night in Paris was rather low-keyed. We got a great night's sleep and the Missus was ready to go in the morning. The skies were overcast and hazy, but that didn't stop folks from enjoying the Eiffel Tower....like these Nuns, with smartphones and iPads, taking selfies even!
We had an outline of what the Missus wanted to do on this day and crossed the Seine on Pont d'lena.
I guess they decided not to turn on the fountains in Jardins du Trocadero because of the rather dreary weather on this morning.
From the Palais de Chaillot, the Missus decided She watned to wander Avenue d'Eylau and Rue de Longchamps to Avenue Victor Hugo where we stopped for some espresso and shared a croissant. Up Victot Hugo, we then crossed the super crazy roundabout and headed up Avenue Raymond Poincare to one of the richest and most prestigious streets in Paris; Avenue Foch. Finally stopping at the Arc de Triomphe.
This iconic to celebrate and symbolize France's victories and those who fought for and died for the country in a very Roman way. Take a look at the sculpture of Napoleon being crowned by the Goddess of Victory.
And while Napoleon died long before the completion of the Arc, his remains were passed through the Arc on its return from Saint Helena, on its way to Invalidies.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I was buried here on Armistice Day in 1920.
We decided to take the stairs, all 284 of them to the top.
The stairs weren't too bad, but somewhat dizzying.
The view from the top, even on a overcast, foggy day was still stunning.
And we'd be crossing over to Avenue des Champs-Élysées upon leaving.
There were a few "musts" on the Missus's list for being in Paris for the first time; one of them was a walk down Champs-Élysées. It was a pleasant walk, but really didn't have any of the type of shopping for the Missus's taste. There were some interesting things though, like why no "Golden Arches" for what is considered the "the largest McDonald's Restaurant in the world"?
Apparently, there's some strict sign codes on the Champs-Élysées and if Mickey D's, or "MacDo" as they call them here, wanted to operate on the Avenue. By the way, did you know that the second largest market for McDonalds is France? WTH..... But, according to this posting in NPR, there may be some really good reasons why.
The one must stop for the missus was the Flagship store of Laduree, established in 1862, one of the two "King of Macarons" in France; the other being Pierre Herme, whose namesake used to work for Laduree.
Man, this place was quite....well fancy schmancy.....the boutique and even the counter.
We decided to head to the back area; the "Bar Laduree", which has a bit of a strange underwater theme. Had me humming "Octopus's Garden" by the Beatles.
It seemed to be just the right place to take a break and the Missus's sweet tooth was telling Her it needed to be tended to.
I started with a café noir. I love the way that these lovely shops always provide a little piece of chocolate with your coffee.....or rather, the Missus loves collecting these little tidbits.
Not being big on sweets, it was the Missus ordering all the way. A couple of macarons, which we ended up taking with us. And something from the dessert menu called the Ispahan, which are rosewater macarons sandwiching raspberries and lychee. Not cheap at 12,5€, but it was something that even I enjoyed.
Note overly sweet, with a nice balance of tartness. This was quite fragrant and very elegant as I felt like a complete barbarian trying to eat this.
The Missus loved it and She also enjoyed Her macarons which we ended up taking to go.
The service was very professional, the vibe relaxed. It was a nice little stop on our walk down the Champs-Élysées.
Ladurée 75 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France
Yep, so there I was....sipping a café noir, munching on a frou-frou dessert, in a underwater themed bar on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Who'd have thunk? My day dreams ended quite quickly when the Missus nudged me and said, "ok, enough of this....let's go spend some money." A phrase that sends shudders across my wallet.....
Thanks for reading!
For other thoughts on Laduree, please check out Kirbie's posts, here and here.
For the two years or so, one of my favorite snacks is this......
These "spicy" peanuts are quite addictive. They aren't super spicy, but also have that "ma" (numbing) thing going on with whole Sichuan Peppercorns used along with dried chilies. It's a nice salty, spicy, and numbing snack. Inevitably I started calling these "numb nutz". I even started giving these away to folks, often telling them, "this snack reminded me of you". A little inside joke.
Anyway, I was wondering what would happen if I actually used these peanuts in a dish. I had a couple of cups of corn and used 1 cup of "numb nutz", doing a quick high heat stir fry. This was actually not bad......
The Missus has me cooking with "la rou" a lot these days. Her favorite prep is simply spinach stir fried using the Big Kahuna with La Rou and Garlic.
I topped it with some shaved gobo. It's Her current favorite; though I think the shaved Brussel sprouts with La Rou might be gaining ground. Heck, I've even done an edamame - orange bell pepper stir fry, that was more of a beer snack....it would probably go well with some numb nutz......
During this past summer FuAn Garden officially changed course and owners. Going from Sichuan to Cantonese fare. One of the main players was a former manager of Jasmine. I tried the place and had a terrible meal. Then according to what I understand, there was a major kitchen revolt and the manager was booted. And then I noticed a sign while driving by announcing lunch specials.
Man, $6.99....how good could the food here be now? Well, with the help of Calvin, several visits were made and we got to try out a good amount of the lunch specials.
In case you're thinking that the $6.99 specials were basically going to be egg noodle soup, porridge, and vegetable dishes, you'd be wrong. I was surprised to see some seafood item, though I remained somewhat skeptical about the quality of the dishes.
So here's a rundown of the items we had; best to worst.
In terms of texture, the Salt and Pepper Squid might have been the best overall.
Notice I didn't say technique. Though the squid was impressively tender and decently seasoned, batter was peeling off the squid, showing some lack of good technique. It was also not very crisp; like the oil used for frying wasn't at optimum temp.
Coming in a close second was the Stir Fried Pork Stomach (intestines) with Chili Pepper.
Edging on being too greasy and with little or no spiciness; this was still a decent dish. The intestines were nicely prepped; just the right amount of funk and chew, the vegetables were crisp, and this was mildly seasoned, so you could make out all flavors of the peppers, scallion, intestine.
The Missus's favorite dish; at least for two of the four times I bought it was the Gailan with Preserved Pork (la rou).
This was the first lunch special item I ordered on a solo visit. The portion size was large enough that I ended taking half of it home. The Missus loves La Rou and on this first visit the gailan was perfect; the stalks cooked but crunchy, and the leaves not over cooked. The seasoning was simple which suited this perfectly. So, during my other lunch visits; I'd order this to go for the Missus. The second time it was decent; but the last two times the gailan was blanched too long and was rubbery. After which, the Missus stopped requesting it.
It's hard to mess up simple Soy Sauce Noodles. Which might be the only thing over priced on this $6.99 menu.
The noodles were on the hard side, the presentation left something to be desired, and this was bit too salty.
The Eggplant in the Eggplant with Fermented Bean Curd; basically Yu Hsiang ("Fish Flavored"), was much too sweet and this was on the greasy side.
Though the texture of the eggplant was fair.
The Bittermelon with Black Bean Sauce was terrible.
An overcooked, greasy-gloppy mess, displaying some haphazard wok skills. Way too salty; bitter garlic....'nuff said.
Perhaps my least favorite item here...mainly because of flavor and portion size, the Roast Duck Rice.
Well geez, look at all that broccoli. This was basically the bottom two thirds of a duck leg with the meat and skin splayed out to make it look like more than it was. This was mostly bone. The skin was pleasantly crisp, but had very little of the beany-salty-sweet tones of a good roast duck. The meat was super bland. The rice was on the hard side and I wish they'd put a bit more jus on the rice. Well, I made fun of the broccoli, but that might have been the best item on this plate.
It's hard to complain too much about a $6.99 lunch item. Some things were decent and a good value; others rather uneven. One of the women who works here is very nice. I'd say while your mileage may vary, it might be worth checking out the lunch specials here. It might even be a good alternative to Golden City once in a while. It's even cheaper too.
Fuan Garden Seafood Restaurant 4768 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Hope 2017 is going well so far. Today it's Ed (from Yuma) blogging here. Tomorrow it'll be Kirk or Cathy. Thanks for reading the blog.
In 2013, Yuma changed for the better when Red Rose, a Thai restaurant, opened off of Fortuna road in Foothills. The food was generally good, and it was one of the few places with many choices for vegetarians and vegans. So I was worried last summer when our server told us that new ownership would be taking over. The good news was that the new owner was already the chef at Red Rose.
A new ownership with a new menu means it's time for a new post.
Except for the name change, the exterior looks much the same:
As you can see from these two pictures of the interior, there's not a lot of change there either: Something else that has not changed is the restaurant's BYOB policy, customers can bring their own bottles of wine and Yuma Thai Cuisine will provide glasses etc.:
But I would not recommend bringing a Chardonnay; here I speak from experience, trust me.
There are some significant differences like the huge mugs for ice water:
That picture was taken on my first visit after the ownership change, so I requested lemon. There was no need for it, however, because that's not water straight from the tap, but fresh tasting, very quaffable H₂O. Particularly great during our summers when I can get thirsty just walking from car to restaurant.
This entrée of basil eggplant reflects other changes: The menu (website) has been tweaked. For example, the featured eggplant dish used to contain deep fried slices (think tempura) covered in a Thai style brown sauce, a nice combination of crunchy and smooth. YTC's eggplant dish is more of a standard stirfry, but the eggplant is still creamy and the flavor good overall. I also like that the "pick a protein" dishes provide the option of extra vegetables – as in this case – so that vegetarians or vegans don't have to have to overdose on tofu.
A couple of other differences you can see in this picture:
These days, YTC has a two-page lunch menu with lunch size portions of many dishes at lunch size prices. Some are noodle dishes, but the rest – like this one – are served with rice. Also different is the "brown rice" option. It used to be a nutty flavored and light brown; now it is what I call Korean purple rice.
All the lunch specials also include a small cup of very flavorful spicy tom yum soup with vegetables:
A similar broth highlights the mixed seafood soup:
The soup contained mussels, shrimp, scallops, and squid along with tomato wedges, mushroom slices, Thai basil leaves, and onion chunks. It was all good, fresh tasting and flavorful.
YTC also serves rice noodle soups that remind me ofphớ. The first one I tried was the beef noodle soup:
There was a lot to like. The broth, while not super beefy, was rich and sweet with the taste of anise. The rare steak was flavorful if not especially tender, and the meatballs were lightly spiced and not rubbery. Fried shallots, chopped cilantro, and a sprinkling of bean sprouts were fine.
The soup was served mild with no hot spiciness, but was accompanied by these condiments if I wanted to turn up the heat:
There was just one problem:
The noodles were overcooked, sometimes breaking apart. As I was leaving, the friendly server mentioned that the regular chef was out of town, and I suspect that was the problem because the noodles were perfect a couple of months later when I had the oxtail noodle soup:
And the chunks of oxtail were tender, rich, and succulent. Just wonderful soup.
Noodle dishes in general are a strong point at YTC. This is pad se eaw with chicken:
Overall good flavor, a nice range of ingredients, and the product of a hot wok. Much like this pad kee mao with shrimp:
The ultimate fried noodles are a curry flavored combination of egg, chicken, shrimp, pork, beef, veggies and noodles:
And I really love YTC's version of pad Thai, here with shrimp:
and here with pork:
The sauce is powerful and complex. There is the sweet tang of tamarind and rich umami flavor as well. Good with a lime squeeze. And the noodles masterfully prepared, al dente and toothsome.
The papaya salad always spicy is well done as well. When we request it, YTC happily will prepare a vegan version that's almost as good as the standard version. Sadly, my best papaya salad photo is what was left on the serving plate after four of us had hungrily attacked the salad:
Tina and I also liked the yum nua, the spicy Thai beef salad:
The lettuces were nothing special, but the steak strips were beefy and the salad crunchy and tangy, nicely balancing other dishes like noodles or curries.
While the chicken larb had many of the same flavors, on this night, the meat seemed a little dry:
YTC has many of the same curry options as before – such as this somewhat under flavored green curry with shrimp:
The shrimp and vegetables were great and the sauce creamy, but not a lot of green taste.
The jungle curry, here with tofu, is a new addition and is the only curry sans coconut milk: Again, my only complaint is a lack of intensity. Perhaps if we ordered the dishes at a higher spice level, the other flavors would be jacked up as well.
The menu has also been expanded with an entirely new section, "Thai specialties," which includes many new seafood entrées as well as this very enjoyable red curry duck:
Half of a boneless duck, deep-fried until crunchy crispy, served with pineapple chunks, tomato pieces, pepper strips, abundant Thai basil and a creamy red curry sauce. Our server said this was his favorite dish on the menu, and I can understand why.
We've also sampled a variety of the desserts, the least interesting being sticky rice and Thai custard:
Cool and refreshing in the summer, this dessert seemed more one-dimensional than the fried banana, sort of deep-fried eggrolls filled with soft fleshed banana:
But on this evening, the real winner was the mango sticky rice:
The mango was wonderfully ripe and partnered perfectly with the sweet creamy rice.
If you were a fan of Red Rose Thai, I'm sure you'll love Yuma Thai Cuisine. And if you have not tried this restaurant, you're really missing one of the highlights of the Yuma culinary scene. YTC serves some excellent quality dishes with preparations that you can't find anywhere else in Yuma County.
Yuma Thai Cuisine, 11274 S. Fortuna Rd., C1, Yuma AZ 85367, (928) 342-7777.
I had a couple of days after Christmas off this year. So while the Missus slept, I headed down to Chula Vista. It had been quite a while since I'd really took time to just look around. Usually, I'd just turn on Broadway and H Street, but this time I kept driving North. And at the corner of G and Broadway I saw this place.
If I recall, this place was Mariana's or something like that. So it obviously had been a while since I'd been around here.
The folks working were very friendly and I was quickly seated.
Always a sucker for a good consommé; I went with the Consomme de Chivo and two tacos, the birria de res (beef) and birria de chivo (goat). But this being breakfast, everything started with some café de olla.
Which was quite nice; not too sweet. The usual condiments were provided, including some decent chips. The salsa roja was quite spicy....a bit too much as it basically over powered everything. The other, fairly smoky, I'm thinking chipotle salsa was quite nice.
I ordered the straight up consommé, which was slightly gamey, but not too strong.
Quite a bit of black pepper in this; at least to me. It did well with a hefty squeeze of lime, plus cilantro and onions. Not super rich, but satisfying.
I also ordered my tacos with "tortilla hecha a mano", hand made tortillas, a buck more ($2.95) in price.
The tortillas were quite rustic; thick, full of corn flavor, hefty. The actual proteins were a mixed bag. The portions were generous; the birria de res was on the dry and stringy side, though it had a bit of beefiness to it. The birria de chivo had an interesting texture....chopped into small cubes, it was silken, almost buttery, but lacked that "taste of the pasture" I really enjoy.
Not perfect, but a decent meal. So I decided to go out on a limb. Do a search on Menudo and you'll find a paucity of posts....at least those written by me. When we first moved to San Diego, I tried at least a dozen places for menudo....and man, what I got was a mixed bag....on the negative side.....most of it was really bad. I tend to pick my "menudo battles" carefully these days.
However, we've just entered a New Year....time to turn the page....and I thought...why not have the menudo here.
So I returned, for a New Years breakfast.....
Not too hungry, I just went with the small bowl of menudo ($6.95).
So let's cut to the chase, shall we? I could actually smell the menudo as it was brought to he table. I call this "fragrance au cow patty". It reminds me of when we used to live in Hacienda Heights and when the winds blew west we could smell the cows in Ontario. It was quite funky. The flavor of the broth was quite neutral, very mild....but add a squeeze of lime, oregano, a few shakes of the salsa, cilantro and onions, and things were livened up a bit. The texture of the broth had that tongue coating, almost fatty richness. The tendon was very good, smooth and tender; the various pieces of tripe were also almost buttery. There was hominy in the broth, but it was way too soft to enjoy.
The flavor of the hand made tortillas was nice; but they were too brittle and not up to the task. Still, this was far from bad. The service, while not particularly quick was accommodating and friendly. Perhaps I'll return........
Birrieria Y Menuderia Guadalajara 396 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91910
This year we did something a bit different for New Year's Eve. We decided to go out and have a nice dinner. With the rainy weather we decided to stay close to home and check out the New Years Tasting Menu at Red Card Café. The price seemed quite reasonable at $46 per person and we were pleasantly surprised. We enjoyed our meal.
Red Card Café 4140 Morena Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
I hadn't been back to Lavang in nearly two years and I had been wondering how the place was doing. I had also gotten a couple of emails mentioning the Bun Cha here, so I dropped by to check things out.
Man, the place was empty when I arrived, with no other customers during my entire visit. The folks here are very nice though.
I had "some reservations" (no pun intended) when I saw a sheet of paper with a photo of Anthony Bourdain and President Obama having Bun Cha in one of those episodes of Parts Unknown. Another sheet explained what Bun Cha was.......hmmm.....not sure about this one, but I went ahead and ordered the Bun Cha.
As always, the presentation here is always quite nice.
Now, to be perfectly honest; I didn't expect anything close to what we had in Hanoi or even Westminster. But this was pretty bland; especially the sauce which was really watered down and really bland. The meatballs were hard and dry as well. The grilled pork was fine, on the chewy side which is fine for this dish.
The bun was really done well, exceptionally good stretch to them, but were chopped into short pieces. The herbs were fine; the pickled papaya was given a nice little flower presentation.
Overall, I was underwhelmed with this dish. I'll stick with the version from Nhu Y.
Lavang Restaurant 6755 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92121
R & B Filipino Cuisine:
It had been over two years since I'd been to R&B, so I decided to drop by and get my entire days worth of fat and calories in one meal. I actually had this at 10am and didn't eat again until dinner which was a salad.
I'm rarely able to resist sisig, so I got that. On previous visits, the sisig here had been decent. It still is, except for a few things; it's kept on the side and when served is ice cold. The sour flavors were quite good, but for some reason this time around it was missing spice. There were some really hard bits of lechon kawale in this as well.
I also saw something different this time around; the Paksiw na Pata, basically braised pork leg...it looks deceivingly like adobo. The flavor was interesting, I liked the vinegar tones and unlike adobo this doesn't have much soy sauce and wasn't very salty. I saw a lot of garlic, but strangely the flavor didn't come through. I also enjoy the gelatinous pieces, but not much of that and man, there was this huge slice of pork and fat. Some of the pieces of pork were on the dry side and the overall mouthfeel was a bit on the greasy side. Just a few strands of banana blossom.
The sinigang was pretty good, nice and bracingly sour.
The rice was on the mushy side, but in total, this wasn't bad at all.
R & B Filipino Cuisine 11257 Camino Ruiz San Diego, CA 92126
Deciding on turning a new leaf and all, I went with something totally different. The Hu Tieu My Tho, which besides the BBQ Pork is a bowl of offal.
This really didn't look very inspiring when it arrived....but how often does a bowl of guts and porcine organs really want you to break into song?
Loved the hu tieu which were robustly elastic. The broth started fairly flat, but as it soaked up the flavor from the offal, started tasting quite good. The best of the lot was the intestines, clean and chewy...the thin slices of offal were nice, just enough earthy, bitter tones, but the pig liver tasted a bit off, and not being a big fan of pig liver, unless it's really fresh, it was not my cup of tea. There were two small, rubbery shrimp in the soup.
Not bad. I was surprised at the large groups of customers, most of which weren't Asian! Folks gotta eat on Xmas Day I guess.
Tim Ky Noodle 9330 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
There sure have been quite a few openings during the usually slow holiday season this year. Back in October, "FOY" (friend of yoso) Jan Frederick sent me an email regarding a Banh Bao shop opening in Mira Mesa. I found out through my sources that they opened on Christmas Eve.
Apparently the other two T.P. Banh Bao shops are in Houston and Garden Grove. I'll get a post done after I sample a few more items from the place.
Thanks for the heads-up Jan Frederick!
11271 Camino Ruiz San Diego, CA 92126
Xi'an Kitchen Closes. Noodle Hut Taking Its Place:
Back in early November I noticed that Xian Kitchen had shuttered quite suddenly. I walked up and read the gory details to the right. 'Nuff said.
Apparently something named "Noodle Hut" is taking its place.
4690 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
The Missus Gets Her Kenya Guama Peaberry Fix:
Once in a while the really nice guys at Birdrock on Morena will tell me when something special is going to be available. This year they mentioned that the Kenya Guama Peaberry had scored a 97 on Coffee Review and told me it might be in the top 5 coffees of the year. So when it became available I reserved a bag. Turns out the coffee took #1 of the top 30 coffees of the year.
While the Missus prefers the light acid a fruitiness of Natural Processed beans; these washed processed Peaberry beans were quite distinctive....super smooth, rich, with a long finish. The Missus was a happy coffee nerd.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 1270 Morena Blvd. San Diego, CA 92110
Along with Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Saigon 5 occupies a space in the new 99 Ranch Market Foodcourt. They also open at 9am, which, with my current wacky schedule makes it quite convenient for grabbing lunch at say; 10am.
My understanding is that this is owned by the same folks who run Saigon on Fifth.
I've found this location of 99 Ranch Market to be fairly empty every time I've visit. At 10am on a weekday; the place looked like a ghost town.
Not sure what to get; folks who emailed me mentioned stuff like Pho Bo Kho, which I believe was a special. There were no specials during my three visits, so I was stuck with the regular menu. On my first visit, I just got a simple Dumpling Egg Noodle Soup ($6.95), which was nicely priced.
I appreciated the nice little addition of the pork neck, which kept me busy digging little bits of meat out of the crevices. Enjoyed the greens in the broth as well. The broth was a bit on the "thin" side for me. I think it could have been a bit richer, but the flavor, while on the mild side, mostly salt-pepper, was fine.
The dumplings were on the chewy side; though each one had a piece of shrimp (no, don't get excited, not a whole shrimp) in it. Again, a little weak in pork-shrimp and light with regards to seasoning.
The egg noodles were done right, a slight pull and crunch.
This was not bad at all.
So I returned and went with the Pho Dac Biet ($8.95). The comparison to the "Mi" was night and day. I think I have a contender for the worst pho in the area.
A couple of meatballs and some tasteless, chewy well done steak....that's what almost nine bucks got me. The broth was insipid, almost like just salt, water, and perhaps someone gleefully waved a beef bone over the broth to hopefully impart some flavor. It's almost like they used the same broth as the egg noodle soup, but with even less flavor. The noodles were all chopped short and mushy, totally over cooked.
Less said the better.....I'm trying to forget this bowl.
A couple of weeks later I returned and decided on the Banh Mi Dac Biet ($4.50) as my tie-breaker.
The bread was starting to go, you could tell by the texture. It was also ice cold. I liked the pate, which was nice. Rich and funky. Though the person who applied had pressed so hard into the bread causing one long divot of mushy bread from one end to the other. The pork belly and a cha lua were fine; but on the dry side. They also really like a lot of black pepper here. The pickled daikon and carrots were shredded fine and quite crisp; but in my opinion had not been pickled well as it lacked zip.
I'm not sure what to think about this place. My first visit was pretty good, but that pho was just not good, and while the banh mi was below average, there are places that do better, and are open early.
The service was fine, Both young women who work here are pleasant, though one seems a bit detached.
Saigon 5 5950 Balboa Ave (Inside 99 Ranch Market) San Diego, CA 92111