Since we travel a few times a year, we do spend quite a bit of time in airports......though not as much as in my consulting days. During most trips we plan rather well with regards to bring something to eat (i.e. Jamon Bellota Sandwiches in Spain, nuts are always good) to the airport. But there are those times we do grab something. And then we get to relax and people, or even puppy watch.
So here are a couple of places we've tried at Airports.
Eat at Joe's (Philadelphia International Airport):
I'm not sure why we ate at Joe's. I do remember that for some reason I was starving....and hey, in spite of this being the airport; it's still Philly, right?
So why not get a Cheesesteak?
I've had some nice Cheesesteak's in Philly....the last time back in 90's, having tried both Pat's and Geno's, though my favorite was Rick's in Reading Terminal Market. This one, won't make me forget any of those.
A bit on the dry side. For some reason the texture reminded me of shipped beef. The flavor was nice; the Amoroso roll was ice cold. The fries, hot, but routine.
The dining area was a mess. First off, shame on the customers for not cleaning up after themselves. But there were also four airport employees who were just standing around goofing off, until their supervisor came along. They'd start cleaning. When the boss left; it was back to monkey business.
Eat At Joe's Terminal B, Philadelphia International Airport
Shake Shack (JFK International Airport ):
During a long layover at JFK, I just couldn't help myself.
Other than the bun, which seemed a bit past its due date; this was quite a nice burger; great char, good seasoning...very moist, and a nice beefiness.
The Missus also enjoyed the burger and said basically what I was afraid to say out loud; "if they come to San Diego; In N Out might be in trouble". Of course, I'm not sure what the price point on that would be, but still, blasphemy! And then of course, I read about the possibility of Shake Shack opening in San Diego on Eater. Check out the comment; it says that they've signed with UTC Redevelopment; which I believe is in charge of Westfield UTC......now those will be some major lines!
A few weeks ago; I was in National City and decided to check out what was going on with Point Point Joint. When I drove into the parking lot I was shocked to see PPJ was gone! Wow, first Conching's and now Point Point Joint! I guess I really don't get down here near enough these days. The other thing I was surprised to see; though I probably shouldn't have been, was a place name Poke Etc had taken PPJ's place.
I was just going to get into my car and as we say back home; "hele" to somewhere else. But I decided to take a peek inside; which was kind of interesting. The lay-out seemed very much PPJ; in spite of the freshening up, it still looked a bit worn.
I really wasn't interested in the poke....more interested in the "etc".....stuff like Shoyu Chicken, Lau Lau, Kalua Pork, Teriyaki Chicken....I'm not sure when I last had Ilocano Longanisa. My friends growing up were Ilocano, so I was kind of used to the vinegary; garlicky longanisa. The first time I had Longsilog in San Diego I was rather shocked at how sweet it was. But over the years I've come to enjoy it.
There a collection of "stuffs", an almost random collection most of which you can get from Marukai, and a reach in fridge with Hawaiian Sun, haupia, mac salad, Portuguese sausage (sorry not "my" brand")...you know, etc....
I'd had enough "Mainland poke" for a while so just went with the Lau Lau Combo ($9.95)......not really expecting much.
You know; the lau lau wasn't bad....I mean, it wasn't "really" lau lau if you know what I mean; it was missing the very important salted butterfish, which adds an awesome salty-savory touch to lau lau and is all important. The difference between this and what I typically get here on the mainland is; and it pretty much holds true for most frozen lau lau, is that it was moist, not too salty, it had quite a bit of luau leaf, but I love the steamed taro leaves, which have a smoky, flavor. Again, not really lau lau, but the pork shoulder was moist, tender, and not too stringy. What really put a damper on things is the lack of "chili pepper water"....bummer. The rice was on the dry side foe my taste; especially when eating local kine food.....
I hadn't read the menu very closely; instead of the usual mac salad, this came with a scoop of poke. Oh-oh....... There's basically 8 different poke, already made; over ice, just like home. I'm a purist, so I decided on the Ahi Limu and was pleasantly surprised.
First off, the fish was decent quality; think basically Safeway or Foodland on Oahu. The limu was actually the fine Limu Kohu.......not the hard branches. Some not so great pieces, but mixed and coated evenly, not too salty; a bit of shoyu; this wasn't bad at all.
So I returned and decided to see how the loco moco ($8.95) was. I should have probably just gone with maybe some poke and rice.....
This wasn't good eats, from the very gluey, tasteless gravy; which had the same viscosity as the egg yolk. They just kind of oozed into one another. To the burger which was pretty darn tough, to the rice which was again on the dry side. I just didn't care for this.
The onions might have added to the dish; in this state they added some flavor; but just think if they'd been caramelized a bit more; it would have added some depth.
So, I decided to come in and just get a poke bowl......I got the "Create your own bowl" which was reasonably priced at $8.95. Of course I hot the Ahi Limu and this time added the Kimchi Poke.
On this day the Ahi Limu wasn't right; the fish wasn't coated well, there were too many pieces with tough connective tissue; and in spite of the Limu Kohu, this seemed off. The fish in the Kimchi Poke was slightly better, but not by much. Not a big fan of the flavors which was more salty than spicy. It just wasn't very interesting. To make matters worse, the rice was even more dry than before.
I mean, it's ok to have some pieces with "sugi" in them; but not so many......
Poke Etc was starting to be a bit of enigma; I just couldn't put my finger on what this place did consistently well. I decided to pay one more visit. I was going to order the Shoyu Chicken; but it didn't come with poke and I wanted to give that one more shot. So I decided on the Island Bento ($11.95) to go. The menu states Teriyaki Chicken, Tonkatsu, and Poke. This is what I got.
I have no idea what this was supposed to be, but I don't think it's what I ordered. That tonkatsu was pounded very thin, breaded, then fried to a dry, stringy place that can only be described as death. What's up with the bland sautéed onions and the frozen peas and carrots? Kind of sad because the Ginger Ahi was nicely flavored, not too much ginger, good soy, not too salty, the fish was nicely mixed and coated well, and there were only a few pieces with too much connective tissue. I'd easily have that again.
After this....four visits in the can; I decided that I need to give the place a rest. I'm still not quite sure if they can put out a consistent product; though I do like the "old school" style poke....when it's on. If one of those "Chi-Poke" places (i.e. San Diego Poke Company, etc....) could get it right, it would be great. The woman who works here is really nice and friendly....and heck, I saw boiled peanuts for sale; I need to bring my own chili pepper water though, and there's still that Ilocano Longanisa I have to try one of these days........one of these days.
Interesting to note that Poke Etc is a chain of (currently) four shops, two in Long Beach and one in Carson. I'm sure we'll see more pop-up here in San Diego.
Over my last couple of visits I'd noticed a softer, kinder Pho Hoa, and on this visit they were still quite nice, I was greeted with a smile, and actually handed a menu....this place used to infamous for basically flinging a menu onto the table....but then again, I used to call them the "Fastest Pho in the West".
I ordered the Banh Mi Bo Kho; which actually took a while. This gave me some time to look around and make some observations. No much"older" gentlemen with "wives" at least 20 years or more younger this time around, though the guy on the table next to me managed to work through three Heineken. This was 8am mind you! I also noticed that a fair amount of customers didn't seem to bother to tip? Or maybe they're just leaving the tip with the cashier....I hope so.
So what to say about this? The broth was super hot, but was really fatty and had a bit of a greasy tongue feel. It was decently beefy, but missing in the mild tanginess and slightly pepper/pungent tones I enjoy. The meat was a bit too lean for my taste and there didn't seem to have much tendon; perhaps I'd been gringoed? The carrots were underdone. I liked the lemon, but didn't know what to do with the bean sprouts and all that basil?
The banh mi was nicely heated and crusty; the yeastiness of the bread; standard issue, did well.
And then there was the piece of bone that I nearly cracked my teeth on......no damage done; but a trip to the dentist would have really been a bummer.
I think I'll stick with the fastest pho in the west the next time I visit.
Pho Hoa-Huong Restaurant 6921 Linda Vista Rd San Diego, CA 92111
Tim Ky Noodle:
So, I've been working a few hours on most weekends to keep up with work. I'd usually go in at around 6am and get out in time to do some shopping and run other errands. I'm glad some of these places open rather early; though not many of them in Kearny or Clairemont Mesa do. I needed to pick something up at Lucky Seafood, it was nearly 10am on Sunday, so why not drop by Tim Ky since it had been a while?
Not much going on this morning, but they had 4 guys working in the dining room, so I guess they do get busy. It was a bit too warm to have the won ton egg noodle soup, so I went with the Beef Sate Egg Noodle Soup...dry.
This was much better than the version I'd had here on previous visits. Especially surprising was how tender the beef was and that the sate had hit a decent balance between savory and mildly spicy. The egg noodles were nicely done and all those wonderful savory flavors just went so well together.
The soup was a bit too heavy on the MSG end for me; but spooned onto the noodles it did ok.
This was kind of a spooky one. I drove by around noon this past Wednesday and noticed the place wasn't open. I went in and took a look. There was a hand written "thank you for the support" note. Kind of sad considering I first visited here back in 2001 and first posted on the place in 2005. Over the years they seemed to have changed hands not less than three times.
What really made it spooky was that an hour or so later, I had "FOY" Sage tweeting me, letting me know Do Re Mi House had closed down.
While I thought the quality of the food at Do Re Mi House had fluctuated over the years, they had always provided a reasonable lunch option. I'm sad to see them go.
Do Re Mi House 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste M San Diego, CA 92111
Dede's Becoming "Facing East"......
Or Something like that. I went into this strip mall because I saw the Notice of Ownership Change posted for the former Convoy Noodle House. I was shocked to see that Dede's had closed.
While over the years; I thought the food at Dede's had really gone downhill....I'm more of a quality over quantity kind of guy; it was sad to see the windows papered over. then I also read Faye's post as well. It looks like this place will become a Chinese Restaurant named "Facing East"?
4647 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Meanwhile Convoy Noodle House is Becoming "Submarine Crab":
Or at least that's what the sign says.....
Which is yet another, I think....crawfish chain from the OC?
4647 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
So 99 Ranch is really going into the old Haggen Site on Balboa:
In spite of what Eater San Diego said, I always had my doubts since it seems they would be competing with themselves. But on a recent (I really don't shop there enough these days) visit to 99 Ranch Market I saw this sign:
Out hotel had kindly made reservation for dinner at 8pm. This meant we had some time to kill. We were given directions to our dinner destination and just headed off. First we found our dinner destination, then we decided to explore a bit.
Apparently there's a university nearby as there seemed to be some kind of street market going on and tons of students socializing and having a nice time.
There were also all kinds of knick-knacks and "stuffs" for sale, including some "interesting" items. I used the photo on the right in an earlier post, but thought it interesting enough to post it again.
I'm wondering if the "brownie magico" helped to explain why the sausage place and the waffle shop was so busy?
It was getting close to our reservation time so we headed back. The place I chose for dinner is called Bocanariz....yes, basically, "Mouth - Nose". One of Chile's most well known exports is its wine. In spite of not being oenophiles, I thought it would be a crime not to taste a few. We were lucky enough to be rather close to Bocanariz, which has a list of over 400 Chilean wines. Our nice gentleman who provided directions told me that Wine Spectator had given the "Best Wine List" award to this lovely little wine bar.
The place was almost full when we arrived, good thing I had requested reservations a couple of weeks in advance. We were greeted with smiles and were seated in the bustling bar area.
Our Sommelier was a young lady named "Amanda" who was just amazing. We decided to go with several rounds of "tastings" and Amanda provided information regarding terroir, comparative wines, tasting notes, and some really interesting anecdotes about each wine. We were blown away, both by this young lady's knowledge, but also her efficiency, and fantastic service. She worked all the tables in the bar area and spent a good amount of time with us.
Instead of going into crazy details about everything we had; I'm just going to give you the tasting notes from the menu.
I think the "Wild Wines" were my least favorite as they really lacked depth and character.
The Missus really enjoyed the Garcia-Schwaderer Grenache, which is well regarded. I'd gotten a taste for nice blends and the Tipaume Red Blend had a nice balance.
Both the Missus and I agreed that the Kalfu Sauvignon Blanc was our favorite wine of the evening. It had just enough fruit, acid, and body to make it interesting with the usual musty fragrance in the background. when we mentioned this to Amanda she laughed and said; "yes, it's very low in the usual wet cat pee fragrance in many Sauvignon Blancs." Wet cat pee? That was a new one for me.
Still rather full from lunch we just had bread and a decent cheese plate for dinner. Fairly non-descript, but fine. It did seem some of the portion sizes we saw were quite large and I think we made the right decision to basically go with this strategy.
It was great fun tasting the diversity in wine this way. I'm glad we did this. The 50ml pours were just right; allowing us to try a nice variety.
We finished up with a small pour of the Kalfu Sauvignon Blanc before calling it a night.
There are times when everything seems to fall in place and we receive a memorable experience. Being able to sample a wide range of wine and having someone wonderful like Amanda to guide us definitely made a difference. If we're ever back in Santiago proper, we'll be sure to return here.
Bocanariz José Victorino Lastarria 276 Santiago, Chile
Finishing up, we headed right back to our room. We'd have to wake early, our shuttle to the airport would be picking us up at 5am.
Our flight left Lima at 835am in the morning, and arrived in Santiago Chile at 135pm. would you believe that there's a 2 hour time change between Peru and Chile? Peru is actually in the same time zone as Easter Island, go figure. Since we had so little time in Santiago and really didn't want to deal with transportation glitches, we had our hotel, a wonderful place, named the Lastarria Boutique Hotel arrange for shuttle service. The location of the hotel is wonderful, close to everything, but still a peaceful oasis, with a wonderful, friendly, and accommodating staff. We got to the hotel at around 3; dropped everything off, and headed out. The gentleman at the front desk was very helpful and when we asked about the location of the Mercado Central, he gave us directions. One interesting thing; no less than four people during our stay emphasized how "safe" the area was. Folks seemed generally interested in making sure we knew the area was safe. We followed the sprawling Parque Forestal down to the Mercado. We loved the wonderful green space....it was a beautiful day, families were out and about....
With children of the two and four legged variety having a great time.
There were several museums, monuments, and memorials along the way including the Museum of Contemporary Art and this one, the Iquique Heroes Monument.
Which is right in front of the Mercado Central.
Things seemed so relaxed here; as folks would stop by and chat with the mounted police officers and take time to pet their horses.
In terms of seafood for sale; things were winding down in the market.....the restaurants however, were going strong. Restaurants occupy the entire center of the market.
Hawkers try and tempt you into the restaurants; it seemed so very touristy, like we've seen in cities all over the globe.
We opted to walk the perimeter, until we saw a place full of local families having a great time. Time....well, we had a limited amount of that, so we wanted something simple and local and Marisqueria Yiyi seemed to have it in spades.
The young man working here was an absolute joy...so friendly, kind, gracious, and quite mellow. Looking at the menu we ordered a dish....looking at the next table we also ordered "what he's having!"
Soon enough, some very nice bread made its way to our table, along with the classic Chilean condiment, Pebre, full of tomato, cilantro, and garlic flavors that folks from San Diego would simply call it, well, "salsa". It was nice, but quite mild, which reminded me of an acquaintance who spent time in Chile, and told me; "in spite of the name, there's not very many spicy dishes in Chile."
Sitting right outside the main dining area, we could see the women hard at work in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, the place had started to fill up.
Meanwhile our Ceviche arrived.
The last thing I want to do is to get into any contentious, nationalistic argument. But having had more than my share of Peruvian Cebiche, I found this to be quite surprising. The fish, which looked almost minced reminding me of Japanese bone scrapings were fully "cooked" in citrus. And yet, the marinating liquid seemed quite low in acid. Also, it was lemon here, not lime, adding a totally different flavor profile to things. We actually squeezed at least half a lemon trying to bring the flavor up to our tastes.
The seafood broth that accompanied this was outstanding; clear, yet full of savory, but not overly "fishy" flavors.
The "I'll have what he's having" dish was the classic Chilean Paila Marina.
Man, the shellfish and crab in this were amazingly fresh, bright, and cooked to perfection. The fish in the "stew" were a bit beyond our preferred doneness. The broth needed the help of some salt and again, to adjust for our taste, a good amount of citrus as it was very light.
I don't remember the price of our meal; but I do recall being amazed at how inexpensive it was. I was also impressed with the friendly and gracious service....I mean, everyone else in the place looked local and yet we were treated like regular customers! When we paid, I left a tip.....the young man, looking quite distressed, made sure to go over the check with me, worried that I didn't understand the currency. We really loved the people here.
Marisqueria Yiyi Mercado Central Santiago, Chile
We took a nice leisurely walk back to the hotel.....after all, it was a "dog day Sunday" right?
Parque Forestal was alive with activities; and yet things seemed so relaxed.
If you wanted the children's entertainment; there it was......
If you wanted a nice nap in the grass; well, you could get that too.
Our hotel has an afternoon tea/coffee. I'm thinking there weren't too many folks staying here, slow season and all. So we decided to have nice respite and some coffee. Like I said before, it was like our little, private oasis.
As we had our coffee, we had a chance to chat with the young man who served us. We mentioned how relaxed, laid back, and friendly we found Santiago. He laughed and told us, "it's because today is Sunday....there's no commute, no one is in a rush....there is no competition for space. You should be here on Monday!" I dunno....it might all be relative.
We returned to our room; relaxed and ready for a short nap before "dinner".....which would be a tour through the various wines of Chile.
It's great that Taisho is doing so well. I found out that Taisho was an experiment in more refined, upscale yakitori for the owner (who also owns Yakyudori and Hinotez). They've done so well, that from what I heard Yakitori Hino is going to be fairly similar when they open.
Yakitori Taisho 5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92117
Some Kale Pache and Garlic Paste from Harvest Market:
Recently, they expanded their offerings a bit and put in a dessert counter, have samples during the weekend, and lo' and behold, they had Kale Pache! Which I had to try.
This very rich version is lamb feet, head, and a whole lot of lamb tongues. The Missus was kinda grossed out at the lamb tongues, but I peeled back the membrane and She loved the rich and flavorful meat. The broth is super fatty though, and it needed a good bit of salt. I'll probably have it again....
The okra stew was not very good though; overcooked, very mushy, and lacking in flavor.
Beef Flap is back on the menu in the household. I grilled up a bunch along with other veggies and meat to last the Missus most of the week. This time I did the Cumin and Sichuan Peppercorn thing. The next day, I picked up some garlic paste and flat bread on the way home. We had cucumbers from the garden, some Roma tomatoes, and Vidalia onion. And I mixed some Labneh with mint and a touch of lemon juice. I also had some thinly sliced Berkshire Pork basted with garlic olive oil. Talk about a quick and satisfying dinner.
Harvest International Market 4220 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92117
I've found that the bottle prices at the Poseidon Project are even cheaper than most markets and liquor stores. Here's a few items I've had over the last couple of weeks.
Not too impressed with the NG Native Ale; pretty boring, not quite a brown.
This was an odd one:
Really just tasted like a standard San Diego IPA....really foamy. Don't know what the "Shojo" part is about.
The Missus just loved the Tusk & Grain Coconut Stout.
Though at 13.4% ABV, a couple of sips was all she wrote for Her on this one. In case you didn't know. T&G is Saint Archer's "artisan" line of beers brewed in Bourbon Barrels. They don't mess around; everything I've from T&G is at least 12% ABV.... yikes!
Poseidon Project 4126 Napier St San Diego, CA 92110
When I started to do some research on Seville, I came to the conclusion that we'd eat really well here. And we weren't let down. God bless Basque Country, but man, Seville held it's own in the food department.
After a fairly hectic day, we relaxed until the sun was on it's way down and headed back out to Barrio Santa Cruz, the city's former Jewish Quarter. We decided to pick up on where we left off earlier in the day. Of course we got lost within the winding, meandering streets and alleyways. Many buildings in this neighborhood have been built closely together, creating narrow alleyways called "Kissing Lanes". In some of these, two people can barely pass each other!
We came out upon a pretty little square named Plaza de Dona Elvira.
The lighting on the square was so bright and clean that it seemed like daylight! Orange trees added a nice touch to the pretty tile benches.
Down a twisting street we ended up at a large plaza and eventually at the largest Gothic Cathedral in the World, Seville Cathedral which looked stunning at night.
From the cathedral, we somehow made it to Plaza Nueva and then Calle Zaragoza. There we found one of the three locations of La Azotea. They weren't open yet (it was "only" 815) and the Missus felt strange waiting outside so we explored a bit. When we returned there were already two parties waiting in front of the place! Luckily, these folks wanted tables. After reading about La Azotea on wonderful food blogs like Seville Tapas and Spanish Sabores, I figured out that if you want tapas here, you need to sit at the bar. Otherwise it's raciones.
You get a nice menu, there's seafood listed by the end of the bar; wines, vermouth, cavas, and "Jerez" (Spanish sherry). The bartender was a very nice, efficient, quiet young man named Pablo. He was awesome.
I saw Navajas on the seafood menu and I just had to order it; a media racione (half portion - 8€). Good lord, this was so delici-yoso!!!
This was the most tender, sweetest, clean tasting razor clams I've ever had. The Missus loves Her beans baby beans even more. Loved the olive oil, which, typical of Spanish olive oil was wonderfully peppery and grassy.
Foie Gras? Of course. This is the Foie Gras Casero (5,75€).
Nice, almost buttery in texture, but the marmalade was a bit too sweet for my taste.
The huevo a baja temperature (6,5€) was also a symphony of textures.
Lovely oozy egg, nice flavors and textures from the bread crumb base with earthy flavors from mushrooms. I guess 60 degree egg is a standard thing these days; something we first had as a tapa in San Sebastian.
The Foie Gras ala Plancha (5,75€) was outstanding.
Seared perfectly, still molten and quivering inside.....my goodness, there are few things I love more. This makes me want to get back on a plane! The baked apples added a nice, slightly tart sweetness that just balanced things out perfectly.
The Carrillada Iberica (Braised Pork Cheek - 5€) was fork tender, the red wine sauce was by the book.
Rich, but not over the top, this was a perfect portion size. The goat cheese gratin added a nice acid-milkiness to the dish. Porky goodness.
The only dish we didn't enjoy was the Alcachofas - Artichokes (3,5€).
The confit artichokes were really bland and I didn't care for the texture. The iberico cream sauce seemed a bit disjointed clashing with the sweet caramelized onions.
I guess She was expecting a fortified sherry and wasn't ready for the super dry taste. I didn't mind this at all, but I don't think the Missus will be ordering this again.
Three glasses of wine each, plus the Tio Pepe and all the tapas. The damage? Less than 60 Euros! To us, a bargain. In fact, the Missus loved La Azotea so much, we returned during our last evening in Seville. I'd get another shot at that Foie Gras and Pablo greeted us with a smile. By far our favorite place to grab a bite in Seville.
La Azotea - Zaragoza Calle Zaragoza 5c Sevilla, Spain Open Daily: 130pm - 430pm, 830pm - Midnight
It had been a fantastic meal, and we savored our walk back to our accommodations.
You can't really see it, but the Plaza del Salvador was packed with what looked like hundreds of college students having drinks...on a week night! It looked like things were just starting up. We, on the other hand were bushed and quickly headed back.
I took a quick look out the window of the stairway up to our apartment.
And even here there was something dramatic to be seen!
I mentioned this place in a post back in May. During the Fourth of July weekend, I noticed the place had opened. And while I cringe a bit at those places that misspell "poke", I decided since this place was close enough to work, I should check them out.
Much like San Diego Poke Company; there's that fast-casual assembly line set-up. They feature three bowl "sizes" (small - $7.99, regular - $8.99, large $10.99) and a wrap ($8.99) Basically a 5 step process clearly outlined on signs behind the counter. Choose your base (here you can even get chips), step 2, add-ons (i.e. avocado, onion, surimi - sorry no Flamin' Cheetos here), protein, then sauce, step 5 are toppings, which I found to be a bit confusing with considering step 2, until I saw the difference in portioning. Looks like they are keeping things simple for the assembly line Keeping with "my rules" for checking out these poke places, I had to go with the tuna.....but man; that was the brightest cherry red (courtesy of carbon monoxide), saku (which you can even order from Amazon) fish staring me in the face.
Part of the dining area is set-up with a very industrial style tables and stools.
Even though the tuna turned me off rules be rules, right? To hedge my bet, I got some Hamachi, and some scallops with my bowl, with the "original sauce", which was a slightly sweet soy, with sesame oil and a bit of acid.
In all honesty, the best part of the bowl was the edamame, avocado, and the sauce, which wasn't too cloying and didn't mess up any of the flavors. The Hamachi, while slightly mushy wasn't too bad; the scallops had no flavor and I really missed the briny sweetness of scallops. Everything else was fine; the rice, the almost namasu style cucumbers. I could have used a bit more onion, but that's ok.
In terms of portion size; I'd say that this regular bowl was in line with San Diego Poke Company; though there might have been a tad more seafood in this.
And while I do have an issue with the sign; especially the "Poki (or Poke)" portion and I think they've taken the "salad bowl" portion out of context. They should be made to read Rachel Laudan's fantastic The Food of Paradise especially if they think they're providing information.
Still, the folks here were quite nice; even the older gentleman, who I believe is probably the owner or some reasonable facsimile who tried with all his heart to get me to put seaweed salad on my bowl. So I made it a point to return, the next day as a matter of fact.
This time, I went with the Tuna, Albacore, and Hamachi, with the "Hot" sauce, which wasn't very hot in my opinion. I did like the fact that they don't over-sauce anything. I decided on half and half; rice and salad.
The tuna was better this time around, but not by much.......way too much "sugi". The albacore looked a bit dry and was. The Hamachi was again the best of the three items. No off flavors though.
I liked the standard issue salad mix, though I wish these places would work on dressing the salad a bit if they're serving that. The rice was really bad this time around; dry and hard.
Ok, well, another one down. I'm getting a bit tired of all this saku fish. You know, I thought about asking how they named this place....but after consideration I decided not to since; if you'd compare this place to some of my favorites back home; it wouldn't even be one-third. So why bother? I actually prefer it to San Diego Poke Company, but that's not really saying much.
Poki One N Half 8055 Armour St San Diego, CA 92111
Funny thing; I had a chat with Tommy from Catalina Offshore about all these poke places recently. He's decided not to do business with them, basically because it seems to be a "reverse arms race to see who can get away with serving the cheapest product possible." He also asked me if I was "insulted at the low quality and how they're defiling such a great food item that I have ties to." I told him that right now, I'd just be happy if they spelled "poke" correctly.
Anyway, I still think you might want to check this place out. The prices aren't bad and the folks are nice. And hey, if you live in North Park, you'll have a location near you soon.
One of the guys I know loves this place and keeps telling me I need to check them out. I've told him that I'd been to the Little Italy location a couple of times and have basically found them to be more style than substance. But on a recent weekend morning I found my self in the area and thought "why not"?
Being right around the corner from Tacos Perla and right next to Modern Times Flavordome I'd passed the place enough times. Same drill as the Little Italy location, order at the counter, grab a seat at the table. I do like the lay-out; though I tend to think of ramen as being something for milder, cooler weather; all this outdoor type seating seems to be taking quite a different tangent. Still, really nice counter folks, the guy who brought me my drink was also great.
I simply went with the "Belly of the Beast". At $12, I think it's a dollar cheaper now......
The broth was just above lukewarm, not my favorite temperature for ramen broth. I'm sure the "no-spoon" thing has something to do with that.....though I understand that you can get spoons these days...by request. It was lacking in richness, and not much in terms of flavor other than being much more salty than I recalled. No deep umami, or subtle, nuanced saltiness, it was basically very dull. I left most of it.
There were even less noodles than before; pretty much standard issue, but prepped well; but too crumbly, lacking a nice pull.
If there's anything that set Underbelly apart from other ramen shops (other than the no spoons and hipster-ish-ness), it was the proteins. As before, I found the oxtail dumplings to be on the mushy side; but for some reason, it seems like there's a bit of kimchi in them now, which helped the flavor. As before, I could note no hoisin flavor on the short rib and though I liked the fat on the beef brisket, which also had a decent beefiness, the center of the meat was cold.
Now the egg was the best item, as it was decently soft boiled, and the flavor was right in the ballpark. But the yolk was ice cold....which really didn't go too well with a now almost room temperature broth.
All in all, I think Underbelly has taken a few steps backwards. I took a look at the beer list, which was pretty good. So perhaps that's what Underbelly has become. More of a Gastropub that serves ramen? Well, at least I gave this location a try.