mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog. On this beautiful day with the rain 'storm' ending, Kirk is missing humidity, Ed (from Yuma) wonders what precipitation is and Cathy is letting them both settle back and relax while she steps in with a short food post.
Yes, I've written about a few "must be 21 years old" establishments on the blog before. If you go during daylight hours, they are usually run by nice older ladies who know their way around. (Kirk wrote about breakfast here a few years ago!) The Stadium Club (very close to JackMurphy, Qualcomm Stadium) is a sort of 'traditional' place to enjoy an adult beverage before, during and after San Diego Padre Baseball and San Diego Charger games. The sort of typical American neighborhood bar atmosphere, with decor consisting of advertisements for various adult beverage brands is prevalent, as is a typical short order menu. But only on Thursdays, there is just one offering.The $5 meatloaf plate. A good two inch thick slice of meatloaf, made with a mix of beef and pork, green pepper and other flavorful (not too salty) ingredients and served with a side of mashed potatoes, fresh vegetable, lots of gravy and a toasted roll half. A perfect comforting meal, accompanied by an adult beverage and simple seasonings.
Hope you are enjoying your week!
Stadium Club 6065 Fairmont Avenue San Diego 92120 (619) 282-3286
On the way back to the machiya, we ran into Masae, the owner of the property and also the craft beer bar in the shopping arcade. We asked her about finding some tea. She recommended a visit to Ippodo Tea. So after a nice shower and a short nap, we headed off to find Ippodo. Up Higashioji-dori, then west on Marutamachi, crossing the Kamo River.....left on Teramachi-dori right when you hit Kyoto Imperial Palace Park......about four block down, you'll find Ippodo.
The shop and the connected Kaboku Tearoom, where you learn to make and also taste various teas was doing some brisk business. One of the young ladies spoke excellent English. We didn't have time to dally, but she went over all the main types of tea with the Missus and we got to sample a few. We ended up purchasing a few packages.....which the Missus loves. I'm thinking we'll be back.
Ippodo Tea Teramachi-dori Nijo, Nakagyo-ku Kyoto
We really weren't sure of exactly where our dinner destination was. I'd heard of a place serving rustic wild game; I recall the term "mountain food" a couple times when reading about the place. It really didn't take us long to find the place. Masae pointed out it was near the Hotel Heiannomori, right past Okazaki Shrine.
The rabbit is the spirit of the shrine and is also said to house the god and goddess of easy childbirth.
It's a nice peaceful place to visit.
Right past the shrine, you can't help but locate Okariba. You can't miss the signs. The place is dark, warm, and very rustic looking. The trappings are simple; a large grill in the middle of the room; beer kegs lie about, the lines drawn to the taps. The owner is a very gentle and soft-spoken bespeckled gentleman named Aoki-san....whose mild manner belies the name of the place; "Hunting Ground" as well as the firearms hanging on the wall.
The Missus took a quick look at the sake bottles on one of the tables and said; "he has his own sake, with the name of the place on it."
And so we sailed off on our maiden voyage at Okariba, with simple, but nicely braised slices of daikon and aburage.
The sake was mild and sweet, but really, this type of food called for beer. After starting with this; it was beer all the way.
Things started off with what is probably the signature dish here (though folks who came in later all ordered trout); the grilled wild boar. Wonderful, surprisingly tender chunks of wild boar with a classic Japanese marinade and tare; smokey from the charcoal, slightly sweet, nicely porky, but mild. The portion size was quite a surprise for us; this is enough for two or three to start.
We weren't going to Kyushu, but I knew I could get a specialty of that area here; basashi - horse sashimi. I really love the flavor of horse; I know, it's not PC.....but it's not endangered either, right?
This was very nice; served just slightly frozen, just the way I was told it shoud be, the flavor is quite clean, with a mild sweet finish. The texture is like beef, with a tad more toothfullness. I love this dish.....
Arriving with the basashi was a combination of preserved vegetables and something else....more on that in a bit. I grew up eating items like takana-zuke, so I loved the pickled greens. I'd never had fuki-miso, basically akunuki butterbur, stirfried with miso, then preserved.
The most interesting thing was the "Inago" - locusts, which had been glazed with a wonderful sweet mirin-soy. These were nice and crisp and so sweet and salty....going well with beer.
The Missus's favorite dish by far was the hobamiso.......
A wonderful, savory, but not salty miso with mushrooms and scallions grilled on a leaf. It was funny; we thought we were doing pretty well; but Aoki-san came by......and decided he needed to show us how it was done....it became this wonderful, miso-mess of flavors.
This just screamed for another beer; so we ordered one. And were soon surprised with this....Aoki-san brought it over and said "gift-tu"..... Some nice home made tofu.
Then another "gift"....this was fantastic. I'd never had Wasabi-zuke before. This was wonderful; made from the leaves and stems of the wasabi plant; on occasion you'd get a super pungent bite, but the flavors were amazing, sweet-pungent-bitter-sour-salty...totally my kind of dish.
When this arrived, I just thought I needed to have another beer.....he's giving us free food. So I had another beer....at which time fried tofu arrived.
By this time I figured out...the more we drank, the more stuff would be coming out. I'd better quit here or we'd be literally rolling back! If there was a time I wished we could tip in Japan, it was here. The warmth and hospitality made me want to do something. I should have brought some omiyagi, or something......
We decided to follow the Shirakawa canal through Gion. I took this photo on one of the cement bridges, the type with no handrails that passes over the canal near Shinbashi.
Crossing over the Kamo river, we then headed up, the now busy Ponto-chō, restaurants now going full tilt.
As we passed by a hair salon, something caught my eye. I pointed out the one guy doing "hair" in the salon, which was closed to the Missus. She said, "yeah, he's doing hair, so what?" I told Her to take a look....that head had no body! He was actually working on a wig placed on a mannequin head. I'm not sure if this is SOP....but it just seemed a bit, well, strange......
And finally, there as Shijo-dori....while not crazy as Tokyo; which seems to actually be pulsating with it's own heartbeat, the crowds and objective sure were a contrast to the Gion.
The Missus really seemed to take to Kyoto. The size, the crowds, the shops, were just Her speed.
At this point, we decided to head back.......the Missus was tired for a change.
As we crossed Furumozen-dori, we noticed some activity up ahead. Lanterns, laughter, drums......and strange specters seemed to float ahead.
Suddenly we both remembered. Masae had told us that Awata Matsuri was happening this weekend. This was the Awata Jinja Lantern Festival! We were told that one of the key points of the Matsuri was that this was the day when both the Buddhist and Shinto Priests actually get together and celebrate together.
Then of course, there's the inevitable intermingling that occurs when everyone takes a break at Family Mart!
Once things got started, we quickly made it back to the machiya. Why? Well, because the lantern parade went right through the shopping arcade, right past where we were staying.....
It's quite amazing. The paradox, the new, modern, somewhat glitzy, but there's always the respect for tradition that pulls things in....bringing order to things.
And also very thankful. For the fire control, who instantly put out all the burning embers from the fire which was placed on the ground for some symbolic reason. Once it was lifted back up, they sprung into action and made sure everything on the ground was put out in the blink of an eye.......that's Japan in a microcosm.
Having started our day before 5 in the morning, we'd walked at least 7-8 miles easily. The Missus, for the first time I can recall was totally bushed. It had been quite a day. I'd planned our "red-lettered day" in Tokyo; starting with Tsukiji Market and meals at Michelin starred Sushi Iwa and Suzunari. And while that was an epic and unforgettable day. This rather unscripted, hastily planned day was its equal.....Sushi Iwa and Suzunari showed me the skill, execution, and polish of a great restaurant. Karako and Okariba displayed the heart and soul......each has its place in my eating universe.
We must be getting old....it just seemed like the music was playing way too loud......
Anyway, since it's about the weiners......
This one is called the Duck.Duck.Pig ($11).
The duck confit was fried crisp, but was alas, also dry as leather. I thought the orange marmalade was a bit too much for the duck and bacon sausage which was fairly mild with mild smokey tones. I liked the grind, but the Missus prefers either a coarser grind or fine and rather loose. The flavor was fairly nice, but this was a bit too much.
Since the Missus doesn't do much bread these days, a sausage board is always welcome. The meat board ($13) comes with 4 sausages.
The Smoked Beer Bratwurst was very bland. The Bacon Cheddar Jalapeno was quite nice, not too sharp or spicy, a very nicely put together sausage. The Smoked Spicy Cajun had a nice kick, but was really salty and I didn't like the casing on this one; it was too tough. We enjoyed the Linguica, a bit on the mild side, but the flavors went together well. The mustards and sauces were fairly routine.
Altogether not bad and we may return......
Salt & Cleaver 3805 5th Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Granted, I really wanted to come here for the beers, but I walked the Missus into checking the place out for the sausages.
Loved the bartender here......she was very cool, sorta funny, in a rather detached way. She was good at helping folks make beer selections.
There's really no frills about Toronado. It becomes very clear when you order the Sausage Plate ($12)....it comes to the table exactly as ordered....a plate with 3 sausages.....nary a garnish, sauce, mustard, or anything else except the juices leaking from said encased meats.
This was oh-fer-three. The "Morrocan Lamb" was dry and gritty and really needed a bit more seasoning. The Jalapeno Cheddar was a far cry from Salt & Cleaver. The Bratwurst was also too dry and hard as was the casing.
We did enjoy the Pork Belly Skewers ($6).
Loved the texture of the pork belly, crisp on the exterior, creamy like buttah' interior. The sweet chili sauce was too sweet for us, but this was pretty good overall. The jicama-cilantro slaw could have used more flavor.
Of course, like I said, I came here for the beers.
Loved the selection. I was missing Belgium and this was just the fix I needed. I don't think Belgian's travel real well as the flavors are not quite the same as what we had in Belgium, but I'll take it.
Candice and I are trying to talk our friends into doing a 30th street corridor beer crawl. So I'm sure I'll be back soon enough.
Toronado 4026 30th St San Diego, CA 92104
S & M - That's Sausage and Meat:
So, sorry to disappoint anyone who had thoughts that perhaps mmm-yoso was totally going off the rails. Anyway, this is the latest creation from the folks behind Slater's 50/50. The location is quite familiar....this is the former site of Gulf Coast Grill, which lasted much longer than I ever thought it would.
We visited on Veteran's Day, just a short time after they had opened.
I love the logo.......simple, but to the point. The place is bright and wide open, it'll be great during warmer weather.
Like Slater's the menu is full of, well, interestingly, uninteresting items......twists on stuff I know I can get better elsewhere. So, just trying to play it straight we kept out of the flavored bacon jar, instead playing "straight man" for the main part. Trying to see what kind of clothes the Emporer was wearing...if any.
We started with the Charcuterie Board ($11).
This would be almost the antithesis of a Slater restaurant, in having a very mild prosciutto and soppressata. Not a good value. The one item we both loved was the nicely fermented cabbage and the pickles....the dill pickles were just fantastic.
Since the Missus is still on Her "no bread" shall pass these lips kind of thing we went with the Sausage Board ($15).
I love alligator - pork sausages, so the Alligator-Antelope Andouille seemed like a good pick. Unfortunately, I found it to be very tame and bland, lacking in that paprika-garlic-file-chili, smokey-savory flavors that make a good Andouille. I've cooked with Antelope which has a distinct flavor, I couldn't make that out here. The Missus chose Her favorite sausage of late.....Mexican Chorizo. Man, this was way too mild in flavor, lacking in any heat or zip. I will say, that Whiskey Mustard is a wonderful sweet-spicy-sour-tangy condiment and I could live on those pickles.
I had a Modern Times (Blazing World) Amber, mildly (by San Diego terms) Hoppy with a clean finish and the Missus was happy with Her Almanac sour.
The whole ordering, seating, sign process is both neat and kind of strange at the same time....it's really not clear that you order at the counter (or do you?)...which we did. You get these flip cards which indicate your order, when you don't want to be bothered, and when you want to pay. It's a hybrid of the typical gastropub/bar/fast casual ordering system where you're given a number for folks to bring your order. The twist here is different, even though you order at the register, you don't pay(though you do leave your credit card).....at least we didn't. You flip the sign and someone comes and brings you your bill....if you pay with cash, this seems kind of strange and redundant....you either have table service or you don't. Oh, and even though we indicated "Scram" folks came by five times to see how we were doing.....though they were really nice and I totally understand having just opened they wanted to do well. I really liked our Servers.....we'd come back just for the pickles and mustard.....
If you'd like to see the other items on the menu; please read Kirbie's post.
S&M Sausage & Meat 4130 Park Blvd San Diego, CA 92103
And just because I'm feeling silly:
I usually listen to music on iTunes while doing my posts....and yes, they are still usually a one pass deal. Anyway, this song came on.......and took me back. I grew up during the 70's and 80's and this one made me recall the music video...back when MTV actually had music videos. It hasn't aged well, but what the heck. Plus, I always wanted a 'Cuda....though my preference would be for a '70.
The ending is so Miami Vice. One of the guys we knew used to actually dress Miami Vice style...light colored jacket with pastel t-shirts and loafers....white loafers. Egad......he thought he was so cool. He was quite short; like five foot-two, so when we used to see him at the club we used to call him, "Miami mice....."
One of the great things about train stations in Japan is the abundance of storage lockers. For about five bucks US, you get a good sized locker for the whole day. Since we left Tokyo quite early in the morning we arrived way before check in time at the residence where we were staying. We managed to stow our bags....we travel light, I have a Tri-Star and the Missus an Aeronaut 30, which She loves. How the Missus ended up agreeing with me about Her Aeronaut is a story for another day. Anyway, these two bags are European carry-on size and we can easily travel for a month (or more) with what we pack in these bags......mine weighed out at 9 kilos for this trip.
For some reason, we found Kyoto Station to be bit confusing....Tokyo Station was a slam dunk; but Kyoto Station just seemed like a maze at first. After finding the gates to the JR Nara line, which wasn't that hard, we got on the train.....which ended up being the Express, which bypasses the Inari Station! We actually didn't feel too bad, since there were at least a dozen people (all Japanese) who did the same thing. We got off at the first express stop after Inari Station and headed back...with the other folks who took the wrong train and made it to Fushimi-Inari.
Our first impressions of Fushimi Inari-Taisha? It was so strikingly beautiful.......and so crowded!
And while we could enjoy the vibrancy and character to the shrine; the packed crowds, the noise (remember we had spent a couple of days in Tokyo, so it's all relative), and the lines to walk through the colorful torii (gates), were just a bit too much for us. I told the Missus that the shrine opens at dawn.....if we woke early enough, we could get here at dawn, and really enjoy the place.....so we decided to return the next morning. We'd bundle Fushimi Inari and Kiyomizu-dera for the next morning.
Having read enough about our travel, I'm sure you realize that the Missus was not going to stop and proceed to sit on Her hands. She decided we should walk up the street...... It was an interesting walk as the shops gave way to temples, several of which we walked through.....ending up at the impressive gate of Tōfuku-ji.
This massive Sanmon is the oldest in Japan and is considered a national treasure.
The Dragon painting on the ceiling in the Hondou (Main Hall) is by famous Kyoto-born artist Insho Domoto.
The temple is known for the stone and moss gardens and the Tsuutenkyo Bridge.
I can just imagine what this view would be like during autumn when all the leaves turn color!
There are many temples and shrines in the area.....
So we just meandered around.......
We ended up at Shorinji Temple.....
It was nearing noon and our check in time, so we headed down the hill to Tokufuji Station, back to Kyoto Station, where we got confused again....this time trying to remember where our locker was. Once located we headed off to our destination. A Machiya in the Southern Higashiyama area.
First off, the owner wasn't kidding when she said it was one minute from Higashiyama Station....it was literally one minute! Located in a shopping arcade - Furukawacho shopping arcade, this is among the top ten places we've ever stayed....it was huge; two floors, a large kitchen, an awesome bath....of course the sleeping arrangement was traditional Japanese.
Masae was fantastic, so organized, she even had a map of the area around the arcade, with restaurants and shops listed. There was a typhoon, Vongfong headed our way....she kept us appraised via emails. She made our stay wonderful.
Meanwhile, we had asked Reiko about things we should buy in Kyoto. While on the way to the Machiya, Reiko mentioned getting a Furoshiki. And Masae knew just the spot. A few blocks away was Kakefuda. The Missus was taken with the various patterns. The young man here did a demo....a couple of times, showing the Missus how to do some of the basic tying methods. Somehow, no matter how many times She's practiced....it just doesn't look quite right. That's alright though......the Missus got something for herself from Kyoto.
We then headed West, over the Kamo River, finding Nishiki Market. Man, this placed was packed. It was wall to wall people. My first instinct was to bail....but the Missus was hungry and getting a bit grumpy, so we decided to hunt for some "snacks", starting out with an ok Takoyaki....kind of too soggy for my taste. It was just meh......very dull...so I'm thinking a black and white photo describes it best.
We came across a stand selling Hamoyaki; grilled conger eel brushed with a tare. They had a little standing table and we really wanted a respite from the masses. This was actually pretty good. Hamo is very mild in flavor, so it's basically a palette for the tare. We really enjoyed the light texture of the eel.
We made our way further down the market and something caught the Missus' eye.
This place made yakimanju and yakimochi....grilled rice cakes. We tried a yakimanju....
I have to say....I love the fragrance of these....but as a whole, I'm not a fan of yakimochi and this was basically the same thing.
Nothing amazing, but enough to keep us going......we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping around Shijo-dori. When it was time to head back, I asked the Missus what She watned to do for dinner. We'd had a long day; I awoke at 330am and actually did a post. We'd need to wake by at least 5am tomorrow and we were bushed. So, Daimaru's resutoran-gai ("restaurant town") just made sense, especially since the Missus was craving salad, which is rather hard to come by.
This stuff ain't cheap, but the variety is staggering.....as I mentioned previously; large department stores have an entire floor full of food stands and vendors. It's easy to get lost in all of this.
Dinner in hand, we made our way back to the house. Not directly of course......
This thin, alley-like street is named Ponto-chō, it is one of the Hanamachi, Geisha districts in Kyoto. The street runs parallel to the Kamo River and is full of restaurants, bars, and, after being absolutely shocked to see a Geisha walking down the street, Geisha houses I guess?
The wooden buildings and hanging lanterns sure adds to the atmosphere.......
Having come from Shijuku and seeing the Robot Restaurant, then Shibuya and the goth-Hello Kitty chicks, to this in less than three days is something to wrap your head around.
Crossing over to the other side of the Kamo River, we made our way back to where we were staying.
We followed the Shirakawa Canal, into the Gion, another Hanamachi district, and the street folks told me was the most beautiful in all of Japan.
I can see why.......
The sound of the water; the wooden buildings, the trees.....take a photo and ask someone where this is and they'll say, "well, Japan of course....."
Getting back to the machiya, the Missus decided a nice long soak in the wonderful tub was on the agenda. I went upstairs to the sitting area.
I had some tea while watching the folks pass through the marketplace below. There's a meat market and a small convenience type store right across the walkway from the house.
Dinner was a a simple affair......but perfect as we were pretty tired.
As you can see, the Missus got Her "salad fix".
Here's the rather unique Furoshiki the Missus chose. She said it would always remind Her of Kakefuda.
After dinner, we took a walk up Sanjo-dori and some of the side streets in the Gion...packed with bars and Izakayas. There was a Family Mart and a Grocery Store right around the corner from where we were staying as well.
Life is full of happy coincidences. When we arrived, Masae told us that she had just opened a craft beer bar in the same arcade, a few yeards from where we were staying. Really? A craft beer bar? Awesome!
We headed over for a nightcap. The tiny spot was busy, but they found us a small table. Looking at the beer list, I had to crack up; Stone, Lagunitas, Pizza Port, Saint Archer.... you gotta love it!
Of course there was a selection of Japanese craft brews as well. The Missus likes Her sours, so She went with the Morita Kinshachi Fruits Draft Lemon.
I mentioned that we were from San Diego and had recently visited Belgium to Masae....who apparently loves her beer. we had a nice conversation about San Diego breweries, along with a promise that if she visits San Diego, the beer is on us!
I had the Kure Beer Belgian IPA, which was interesting. Less hoppy than an IPA and not veyr boozy; this was on the sweet side and not unpleasant.
Man, it had been quite a long day; from Tokyo and a view of Mount Fuji, to temples, then shopping, and finally a nice quiet self catered dinner, followed by a visit to a craft beer bar......
So this was Kyoto, huh? Though we were dead tired, we were having fun.
The Missus had been on a tear since we returned from Belgium. It was beer and sausages at least once a week. It took me a while to get the Missus to visit Tiger! Tiger! with me, but once She did; well there was no stopping Her. So now, we have this huge collection of photos....
Yes, there's the beer, in fact, I don't think I've ever had a bad pint here. Come early and the folks manning the counter will actually spend time with you, trying to find the best fit. Speaking of fit, for us, Tiger Tiger presents us with a pseudo Goldilocks principle. Yes, Blind Lady Ale House has, in my opinion, a better curated selection of beer...Tiger Tiger is fairly short on sours, which the Missus loves, but TT's food is definitely better. Waypoint Public's food, at least to the Missus has the edge and the selection of beers can be really great, but man, it's pricey...$12 for a pint. It seems that TT is just right for us to enjoy weekly! Ah yes, the Rule of three.
So anyway, here's a C(learing) O(ut the) M(emory) C(ard) collection.
Part 1 - Encased meats:
There seems to be a different sausage featured weekly. While I don't really follows fads, it looks like sausages are in right now.....lucky us.
My favorite - The Smoked Kielbasa...oh man....
The Missus' favorite - The Bratwurst. She likes a more coarse cut, or even a gritty style filling.
Hidden behind the Convoy institution that is Chopstix, this tiny little place is easy to miss. I'm really not the Min Sok Chon, Thang Thang, soju bomb kind of guy, but I got a few recommendations from folks I knew. Though I still had reservations because when I quizzed these folks on the food, the standard answer usually included big portions, and not remembering much because they were...shall we say.....taste deadened and mush minded from overindulging a bit?
It is a pretty small and somewhat cozy kind of place. There are only 5 beers on tap. The main drink of choice for most of the young people who go here are the flavors of soju...."white gummy bear"???
The bartender/server on both of my visits was a very nice and friendly young woman named Nancy...very calm, very chill.
The menu is full of what I call "Kogi-truckish" dishes...you know, bulgogi tacos, bulgogi quesadillas, bulgogi fries, stuff that's already kind of passe'
The dining area is set-up like one of those faux outdoor porch type of restaurants. A acquaintance of mine actually knew the Korean name of that style of set-up....but you know; old age and all that. I just can't seem to remember the term right now.
There's actually one reason I came to Nolbu...the Korean Spicy Wings ($8.99). Almost everyone I spoke to mentioned these wings, though none could not really tell me much about the flavor.
The wings are quite large, the flavor as you can imagine is based on kochujang and almost tastes like my Spicy Misoyaki without as much bean paste. It is indeed a basic sweet chili sauce...sticky, more sweet than spicy, perhaps in need of a bit more complexity. maybe a bit more sour/tart, or savory-garlic tones. The batter was nice at first, perhaps a bit too thick, but still crunchy, but it got really gummy in minutes. Not terrible....but definitely not... Kyochon by any stretch. In fact, this eerily reminded me of the stuff they used to serve at BBQ Chicken, though not nearly as crunchy.
I also decided to try the mandu ("Dumplings" on the menu - $6.99).
These weren't very good in my opinion, too much cabbage filler, the sauce also tasted watered down. The wrapper were decent, but I'd take a pass on these next time.
Overall, not bad and as always I thought a return visit should be done.
One funny thing; when I was waiting for my drink a guy walked in laden with bags....shopping for supplies I'd guess. All the plastic bags were from Zion Market! I guess that's where they do their shopping? I really think stuff like that should be done via the rear entrance.
This time I came with my friends YummyYummy and Candice. We had the spicy wings again, which were a bit better this time...less sickly sweet and the texture held up a bit better.
We also had the haemul pajeon - the seafood pancake ($12.99), a bit small for the price.
But with a pretty generous amount of well.....Zion Seafood probably..... I will say that in terms of texture it was less gummy and a bit lighter than what I'd had at Common Theory, though it was 2/3 the size.
I also wanted to try the Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings ($8.99).
A bit light in flavor, these wings swere pretty straight-forward...basically naked, without a coating, but not bad....I'd have these again, as these were nicely fried.
The same five beers on tap; my favorite being the Stone Arbalest since I do enjoy tripels, quads, and Belgian strongs. this one was pretty good, light citrus-woody flavor with a mildly boozy-hoppy finish.
While waiting for my friends to meet me, the same young man walked in ladened with plastic bags....again from Zion Market.
Anyway, in terms of food, this place serves up a more Asian flavor than Common Theory. I was surprised that the food wasn't as salty as, say Min Sok Chon. They do have a decent bottle collection, but only five draft beers and the temps on my second visit seemed a bit off. As much as I like the folks working here, there's really no working knowledge of the beer they're serving...it's more of soju service. As in the version of an umbrella drink - soju served up in a half watermelon.
That said; I might drop in again for some wings and a beer.....if I feel like eating groceries from Zion....
Nolbu Mini Gastropub 4633 Convoy St. Suite 102 San Diego, CA 92111
Common Theory Public House, which opened and created some nice buzz a couple of months ago is one of those places that leaves me torn. There's so much about the place I really like.
I love the lay-out, the folks manning the bar are usually really nice.....especially "Dave" who has been there on most of our visits. Yep, we....this is the Missus' favorite place for Happy Hour, they've (usually) got a nice selection, though I wish they'd keep more up to date lists on Tap Hunter or their website. One of the partners, Cris is the nicest guy ever and they've got an awesome progressive happy hour which starts with three bucks off draft beers starting at 3pm.
Any issues I have with the place is based around their food....though admittedly, much of the bar grub in San Diego is pretty basic stuff. After trying some of the regular menu items, we decided to stick with Happy Hour. And while there are a few "Asian" influenced dishes on the menu; it is heavy on the fried stuff. Now all of the above is fine with me; it is reasonable and perhaps in the business sense, realistic. To us, and we've been here over a dozen times is that the same dish can vary wildly from visit to visit.
The Missus really only orders two things here, the first being the truffle-duck fat fries, which is a nice happy hour bargain at five bucks.
It can run the gamut; never terrible, but different every time. One the visit above, the fragrance of truffle was rich, the duck comfit moist, the fries limp, and it was way too salty.
The next time the confit was dry, it was barely salted and it seems that the truffle flavor was AWOL. Then there are times when they get it so close.
Doesn't that look like two different dishes....crisp fries, nice truflle flavor, the confit was on the dry side but fine....where was the salt?
The one item we sometimes get that has never let us down are the pickled eggs......
The eggs are fine; it's that pickled watermelon rind, with a anise flavor that just raises it.
The Missus favorite by far are the Truffle Duck Fat Chips, it is usually nice and crisp.
The one item on the dish that always seems different is the cotija-garlic bechamel like cream sauce. Once or twice it has been close to perfect. That's the one in the photo. At other times it has been too salty, or totally lacking in flavor, we could barely make out the garlic in the sauce.
I actually thought the white corn tamales were not bad...moist, nice pork flavor. Not bad at all.
I understand that Cris's Mom makes these.
So, as you can see, it's about the beer here for us...and who's going to complain when you can get a Liefmans Oud Bruin for four bucks? Or a Three Philosohper's?
Still, these were pretty good, nice flavor, crisp, moist, it could have used a bit more garlic...and MSG.... Which I mentioned to Cris, who laughed and described to me the story of his cousin coming over and trying to teach the chef how to make these, handing him some MSG. The chef had never, ever used the stuff in his career and really didn't know what to do with it. I thought these were good enough to mentioned that this might be the best version North of the 94.
Until my next visit at lunchtime with a good friend of mine. The wings were greasy, flavorless, not very crisp. I recently tried them again with the Missus.
What we got was sort of a "tweener". Also, it was now 4 wings for 5 bucks which didn't seem like such a good deal. The batter was hard instead of crisp and like the Missus said, "it needed some zip".
There were a few weeks where it seemed that the usual selection of beers - up to 32 taps seemed a bit out of alignment. On one visit there were 5 Porters or Stouts, on another 10 IPA's...I know, this is San Diego, but man, a third of your taps? Recently things seemed to be balanced a bit better, but they are still a bit short with regards to sours...at least in the Missus's opinion.
Here are a few other menu items I tried.
This is the beast they call the Bourbon Bacon Wrapped "Corn" Dog.
Good God, who hired Chicken Charlie? This is basically a battered and deep fried smoked garlic sausage. For some reason the deep frying and the batter does this no favors as it just really muddles all the flavors.
I tried the Hellfire Wings, which weren't very spicy; pretty much kicked up Buffalo style wings.
Not bad, but not memorable either.
The Chorizo Scotch Quail Eggs were hard and dry.
Something that I don't think is on the menu anymore is the Korean Seafood Pancake - Haemul Pajeon.
It was a bit short on seafood and more gummy than I prefer, but that classic soy based dipping sauce just made you want to keep on eating the thing.
Like I said, there's a lot to like about Common Theory. It's a really nice spot run by super nice folks. Polling all my good friends we came to the same conclusion; this place could really be a special spot if they got their kitchen and menu in order.
I hope that day will come soon. Until then, we'll still be coming for Happy Hour, it's the Missus' favorite watering hole......she;s happy with a Monk's Cafe, Hitachino Nest, or the place's best seller, Avery White Rascal.
Common Theory Public House 4805 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
After lunch, we had a nice little nap. When we awoke, the weather had cleared. This was the first time we saw such clear skies in the Czech Republic. The Missus was ready to go back out exploring again.
Brno was a city with a great sense of humor, it seemed to thrive on a good story, with that little "twist" to it. On one side you'd see the interesting statue, take a look from another angle and it would look a bit strange, perhaps odd, maybe somewhat creepy......
Up on Petrov Hill, we headed back to the Old Town Hall.....which is a little treasure trove of stories....
The first thing you really notice are the pinnacles above the portal of the Old Town Hall.....and you quickly notice that the center one, the tallest and most obvious is strangely bent. Of course there's a legend about this one, right? According to one of the stories, the Architect and Sculptor Anton Pilgram who built the portal and pinnacles found out that he wasn't going to be paid for his work; so he decided to leave his not-so-little mark on the Old Town Hall....another story suggests that Pilgram was too drunk when designing the pinnacle, which led to a "little problem" when it was built. Shades of the "Indecent Little Man" of St James Church!
During the late 10th and early 11th centuries, there are stories of a great beast terrorizing Brno. It is said to have lived in a cave near the Svartka River, eating and tormenting the citizens of Brno. A butcher came up with a plan to rid the city of the "Dragon", he filled a pelt with quicklime (Calcium Oxide) and set it in front of the cave. The beast, thinking it to be an easy mark devoured the lime filled fur bag. When the beast drank water from the river, the exothermic reaction killed the beast which now hangs in the Old Town Hall.
So here's the Dragon of Brno:
Hmmm....sure looks like a crocodile to me. According to what I read, this was probably brought back from the Crusades. Though I prefer the Brno Dragon story.....
And then there's my favorite. It's about this:
Yep, a wagon wheel, but not just any wagon wheel. You see, in 1636, in a pub in Lednice a wheelright named Jiří Birk claimed that he could fell a tree, build his wheel, and roll it from the town of Lednice to Brno (over 25 miles) in a single day. This seemed like easy money, so a bet was made. Jiří Birk was a real master of his craft, and he managed to do what folks thought were impossible and win his bet. The amazed Mayor hung the wheel in the Town Hall. All's well that ends well, right? Remember, this is the Czech Republic, and boy do they like to add those little twists to their stories. After the feat, rumors started going around that Birk had made a bargain with the Devil, who helped him achieve his feat. Folks started avoiding him, he lost all his business, and Jiří Birk died a broke and broken man.
As we made our way to Freedom Square, the sunshine made Brno seem like a total different city from the one we'd seen the day before. Folks were out and about, walking their dogs....you know, I think people might actually take their dogs to work with them...we say them on Trams and at all times during the day...even having lunch with their owners in business suits.
Freedom Square was abuzz; there was a band playing, people were milling about..... this actually did look like the second largest city in the Czech Republic.
Everyone loves a nice, mild, sunny day....as these two young men illustrate.
Man, those kids made me hungry. It was time for dinner. We decided to eat at this pub, which we found out was another Pilsner Urquell restaurant.
By now we were used to the drill in these places; you head right in and find yourself a table. We found an area away from all the cigarette smokers......some of these places can reek of cigarettes when busy. Luckily, it was still early.
I started off with a Fénix, a light, wheat beer with citrus tones. It was very easy to drink.
Well, you know what we started with, right? Pickled sausages of course. These were really light in terms of sourness and really just tasted like Kielbasa.
Even though we were no longer in Olomouc, I wanted to try the Pickled Cheese.
I really enjoyed this. It was a bit more ripe, funky, milky, and had less of a waxy texture than Olomoucké tvarůžky.
I saw Pork Cracklins on the menu and of course had to order it. Fried pork with crouton like cubes of bread that seemed to have also been deep fried. To be eaten with more bread! Of course, there was that ramekin of lard to use as a spread....so hell, I'm not complaining about this one bit!
We also ordered the Smoked Lamb Sausages.
These tasted a bit like merguez, but I feel it needed a bit more spice and it really didn't have enough stronge lamb flavor for us.
This was a decent meal. We avoided most of the heavy smokers and got a couple of pretty good dishes. Remember when I said, "once you leave Prague" things really got inexpensive. If I recall, the entire meal, including 3 beers came in under $25/US, which I thought was bargain.....I mean really, who serves an entire serving of lard here in San Diego? If you do, let me know!
Brno was a blast, there seemed to be an offbeat sort of humor and it was without a doubt a totally different lifestyle. In the morning, when we were leaving the apartment we noticed that trash was being picked up. One of the guys opened up the area where the dumpster was contained. He called the driver and brought out two bottles of Pilsner Urquell, which were either left for them, or just thrown away. You can be sure they weren'r going to let those bottles go to waste. They popped the tops and actually clinked the bottles together in a toast and chugged down the beer, both finishing with an "aaaah"....things sure were different in the Czech Republic.
We were leaving for Prague in the morning. Back on the Student Bus. There were so many here in Brno, but there's one thing left unsolved and is still bugging me. On Masarykova is the oldest pharmacy in Brno.
But I still can't figure out what the lobster has got to do with the place...lobster...pharmacy...what's the connection? Also, why only the body of the lobster....what about the tail? Brno has so many stories...this one has evaded me.
mmm-yoso!!! is a simple blog, with each post eventually concentrating on food consumed. Today, Cathy is showing what was consumed and where it was prepared. Kirk is way busy at work and Ed(from Yuma) is doing his own consuming out there.
In 2009, I wrote about Wongs Golden Palace, then a 42 year La Mesa icon. I mentioned our favorite food selection, chicken liver chow mein and had a few photos of the ever so classic faux marble with gold vein tabletops.
Near the end of that now five year old post, I mentioned the bar area and their 'specials', telling you I just can't take photos in the darkened area. Five years later, the photos are still coming out dark. Be forewarned. The food is great, so I am sharing.
The now 47 year La Mesa restaurant and attached bar, the Dragon Room, (there, to the far right) has a classic exterior (as well as interior) design, from the signage to the facade.Once inside, there are four televisions above the bar, lots of signage about specials and a large selection of beer, and liquor...(the pint beer on tap is $3.75).There's a modern juke box, foosball, pinball and of course, a pool table.Here are the best photos I can acquire of the 1/2 lb angus burger. As you can (sort of) see, it is served on a toasted bun (sesame seeded), hand formed, can be ordered with cheese, comes with crinkle cut fries or battered whole onion rings or half and half. $5.50, available only Monday-Friday from 11:30-2:30. It's really good. Taco Tuesdays are particularly good, if you like tacos like Mom used to make, with ground meat and packaged seasoning. The shells can be soft or fresh-fried (my favorite) and the toppings are fresh and plentiful. Three for $3.25 is a usual order; the five for $4.75 is a great deal, and way too much for the two of us to share. The Fish Fry Friday ($7.50) Plate is a particularly good, large, filling meal. On this day, we received eight smaller batter fried (perfectly fried I might add) pieces of a solid white fish, along with a lot of crinkle cut fries, cole slaw and similarly sized bowl of tartar sauce. Excellent. This plus the 1/2 lb angus burger make a very filling meal.
On every day except Tuesday, you can order from the Wongs menu and have it brought over from the kitchen (Wongs Golden Dragon is closed for lunch on Tuesday). I did not photograph the WingsWednesday nor the weekend menu items (Steak and eggs for $8 Saturday from 9-noon is a deal; the pork chop and chicken fried steak and eggs meals, $7 each are also really good diner-type meals). Hopefully, I'll post about those before the 50th anniversary.
Again, apologies for the dark photography. We come here to eat and don't want to interfere with other patrons.
Wongs Dragon Room 7126 University Avenue La Mesa, CA 91942 (619)464-9772
We awoke early as we usually do when on vacation. It seemed the sun had risen even earlier as it was bright and sunny when we stepped outside.
The Charles Bridge was to be the first stop this morning. There would be no messing around with the weather and getting lost in the streets around the Old Town Square. This time we headed west and walked along the Vitava River. Along the way we passed Kranner's Fountain, which you can read about here.
And then of course, there is the view of the Charles Bridge, Little Quarter, and Castle Quarter looking like it came fresh out of a postcard.
The bridge really had a strange pull on the Missus...well perhaps it was Prague itself that drew Her. We kept coming back to the Bridge at all times of the day. Each time it seemed to have a different personality. On a morning like this, it seemed so peaceful and serene.......
Construction of the bridge was started in 1357. In keeping with all the lore surrounding the bridge; Charles IV, in addition to being Roman Catholic was quite interested in astrology and numerology. In order to have luck on their side, the palindrome 135797531 was used to guide in the building of the bridge; which started on 531 am on July 9th, 1357. Apparently, Charles IV's Astrologers also noted that this would be a favorable time to start as well based on the positioning of Earth and Saturn.
The bridge itself features 30 statues, the earliest of which was built in 1683. All of the statues have been replaced by replicas, which seem aged and "gothic" enough to suit my taste.
Of all the statues, the one thing the Missus wanted to see was this plate.
This marks the spot where John of Nepomuk was thrown off the bridge and drowned by the order of King Wenceslas....I guess he wasn't "Good King Wenceslas" after all? Apparently John was the priest to whom the Queen confessed all her sins. Of course the good King wanted to know all the juicy details, but John refused. Thus, he was tortured, but still refused to give up the goods. The King decided to put an end to John by throwing him off the bridge. Notice the five stars? Apparently, when John hit the water five stars appeared above it. Time has been good to John, who became Saint John of Nepomuk, the National Saint of the Czech Republic. His statue, also on the bridge is probably the most popular.
The bridge ends right below Prague Castle in the area known as the "Little Quarter" (Malá Strana). Originally the area where the ethnic Germans settled, some of the architecture still reflects that time.
We headed right up the street and had an espresso at the cafe right in front of the Church of St Nicholas. As you can see, clouds were forming, it was getting to be a bit windy, and it looked like rain was again on the way.
After our cup of fortifying espresso, we headed right back down the street toward the bridge. What, were we done? Not quite. Right at the Little Quarter end of the bridge; before the tower are stairs. These stairs lead to "Kampa Island", built from the rubble of the Little Quarter.
Water was diverted to feed the waterwheels of the various mills that were located on the island. If you'd like to see the last existing water wheel, you can see it by finding the bridge with all the "love locks" - padlocks sometimes inscribed with names or initials, the keys are thrown away to symbolize a love that cannot be broken.....
How quaint....though the cynical side of me wondered out loud, "in how many cases have these locks outlasted the unbreakable bond?" Which had the Missus mark me as "unromantic". To which I replied, "ok, how's this.....my love for you is unbreakable....it is forever....now let's go to Home Depot and buy a lock!" The Missus reponse? "You're right...I'm better off telling you to give me a couple of hundred bucks to go buy some lululemon......"
Yet, right after this conversation, all my synicism melted away.....
Right around the corner and down the street is the "Lennon Wall". When John Lennon was killed in 1980, this wall was suddenly filled with artwork and graffiti. I can only "Imagine" what the music and lyrics of the music of John Lennon and the Beatles would mean to those who felt repressed by the Communist regime. I've read that the wall would be whitewashed constantly; only to have it full of graffiti by the next morning. In the end, it had become a symbol of freedom and perhaps, an agent of change....a wall. To this day new messages and artwork is constantly added, the originals are long painted over.....but, if you take time to read them, dodging the photo opportunity "peace sign for the camera folks" ....some of it can be very touching.
For me, this was probably my favorite place (other than sitting in a basement having some sausages and beer) in Prague. We'd return one more time to the "Lennon, not Lenin" Wall. Funny thing is, the folks that now own the wall are the Knights of Malta! So, two years ago we went ot Rhodes and I found out about the Knights of St John, who were defeated by the Ottomans and settled on Malta, which we visited last year.....I know, I'm way behind on travel posts.....but if you only knew how much I want to make these posts "right".........which takes a large chunk of time when you do things "stream of consciousness" style.
After this we headed up Ujezd....the area is colorful, though we were now dodging an occasional drizzle. There was one last thing I wanted to see. Up on Petrin Hill, in a serene, park area is this sculpture.
It is a haunting piece.......the human figures start whole at the top, but slowly appear to disintegrate as they move down the hill. This is the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. Down the middle of the sculpture the inscription repeats, "205,486 arrested, 170,938 forced into exile, 4,500 died in prison, 327 shot trying to escape, 248 executed......" Kind of heavy I know.......
We walked back up and around.....the Missus wanted to "save the Castle Quarter" for when we returned.....
Where I saw what is probably one of my favorite signs of all time. You can't say the folks here have no sense of humor, can you?
We walked past a variety of people......folks who seemed to be government bureaucrats, tourists, locals trying to make a buck. And yet, this area didn't seem quite as touristy for some reason.
And so we ended up where we had been the day before.... more confident and comfortable....but still not quite sure where the heck we were.
I pride myself on having a decent sense of direction....but what the heck, who really cares, right?
Soon enough we were at...guess where?
Yep, Old Town Square....and the Ooompah Band was playing "If I Were a Rich Man"...... Take a left right past St Nicholas Church and you're at the "high rent district" with upscale shops and upscale shops. Right past this is the Jewish Quarter........the Missus and I were in need of a break by now though I really wish we spent more time here.
When we're back, we'll spend much more time here.......
At this point, two things were happening; first we were getting pretty hungry....second, it was starting to rain. This meant we needed a stop for lunch, which was close by.
There were several restaurants I had on my "list" in the area, but Kolkovna was the closest. With raindrops starting to come down, we decided this should be the place.
I believe this restaurant is owned by Pilsner Urquell, not necessarily a stamp of approval in my mind. The restaurant does look slightly corporate, but there's a non-smoking area in the basement.
The menu is large and full of items ranging from Greek Salad's and Jambalaya (???) to Moravian Sparrow.
Kolkovna is known to have it's Pilsner Urquell delivered "tank style" straight from the brewer, so that was obviously the way to go. The Missus went with a "half and half" - half Pilsner Urquell, half Kozel Dark.
We started by going with a sampler of Czech beer food type items.
Much of the charcuterie was fairly routine; ham and head cheese. What we both really loved was the pickled sausage, called "Utopenci", which literally means "drowned man". Typical of Czech humor, this pickled sausage is either named after the creator of the dish, a pub owner who got drunk and drowned to death, or because the sausages bobbing in their jars resemble......drowned men. Either way, we loved the tart-sour-porkiness of it. We'd have it almost everywhere we could, even from Tesco, but this was our favorite by far....the most sour. The pickled cheese (nakládaný hermelín) had both that wonderful perky sour flavor and the fermented milkiness. It's made with hermelin cheese which is like camembert.
The Missus went with everything but the kitchen sink.....the Bohemian Platter.
In case your keeping score; beer sausage, thick cut "bacon", smoked pork, sparrow (gamey), red and white cabbage, bread dumplings, and a duck leg.
Nothing really stood out and of course the Missus said the duck was missing Five Spice.
We took a lot back to the apartment and had it with dinner.
It was an interesting way to taste a lot of dishes......and yes, this is for one person!
I ordered the Cabbage Pancakes.....think of potato pancakes with sauerkraut and bacon in it.
These looked greasy but were not. Nice crisp exterior, some smokiness from the smoked pork, a little tart-sour form the cabbage, this went well with the garlic-sour cream condiment. It was also a bit lighter than it looked. Since cabbage was involved, you know the Missus loved this.
Overall, we thought our meal here was decent and would return if in the area. Service was casual but efficient and our server was kind of funny, even joking with us. Of course, as we left the place started getting crowded, it was a good decision to eat early. The prices were also reasonable; we ate all of this and had 3 beers for about $45 US.