As much as I enjoyed Easter Island, I was thrilled to be back in Lima, as I really enjoy the food in this city. For the Missus it was all about Cebiche. For me, it was noticing the interesting way that the cuisine has changed here since we first visited back in 2007. Back then, it was places, which are still around like, Astrid y Gaston, Pescado Capitales, and El Fayke Piurano. On this trip, we'd already seen the evolution of "Nikkei" cuisine at Maido, but were on the fence about our meal at La Mar. The Missus wanted Her Cebiche....a good and pure cebiche, which for Her is the ultimate taste of Peru.
We landed at Jorge Chaevez airport ontime at a shade after 11am. Like before, our driver from Taxidatum was waiting for us as we cleared immigration. It was too early to check in at our hotel, we were staying at the rather new Courtyard Miraflores. So we dropped off our bags and headed out to find some lunch. I knew the Missus really wanted cebiche, so we headed off to one of the places on my list. A place named El Veridico de Fidel.
Located rather close to Maido, Calle Colon is fairly quiet, as was this place when we arrived.
No English menu, just one very sweet young lady who spoke English, I guess she gets any tourist who visits. It was our kind of place. An unfussy menu, which started off with some canchita.....which was decent, but not as good as what we had earlier at La Mar.
On the menu, it said....in Spanish of course, that the "Nuesto Plato Bandera" was Leche de Tigre.....leche de tigre? Now, I love the liquid used as the base for classic Peruvian cebiche....but a dish based around that? I had to try it. I saw "erizo" on one of the versions of this and had to get it, the "Leche de Tigre Super Especial" (28S/$8.50). In case you don't know what "erizo" is, the picture is worth a thousand words.
Yes, it's uni...and a nice fresh and sweet scallop with roe, and nicely marinated lenguado, whitefish, in an interesting broth. Not quite as sour as chugging straight leche de tigre; but creamy, tempered, flavored with cilantro...this was so refreshing, I just loved it. The Missus poached the camote (simmered sweet potato) which She enjoyed. Man, this was good.
The Missus got the Ceviche Clasico (38S/$11.30 US).
The Missus loved the lenguado; She said it was perfectly prepared and flavored for Her taste. We told the nice young lady that we do enjoy "picante" so she brought us some aji limo, which were spicy, but quite sweet and floral. I gotta get my hands on some plants. The Missus of course enjoyed the camote (sweet potato) and the corn. She was less enamored with the concha negras, which were a bit too bitter for us. Still, She loved that ceviche.
I also wanted to try the Causa, so we ordered the Causa Langostinos.
Which we really didn't enjoy too much. The potato portion was a bit too dry for our taste and there was too much mayo.
On the funny end, I hadn't tried Chicha Morada in years! This "Kool-Aidish" style drink was quite sweet, but we still enjoyed this as it made us feel like we were really in Peru.
The place filled up fast. What we noticed was the customers in this faux patio were all limeños having lunch.
Simply put, this is the kind of place we enjoy. It's really no fuss, no muss, straight forward food. Quite good...the Missus loved the place. So we made reservations. We'd have our last meal in Lima here at El Veridico de Fidel.
El Veridico de Fidel Calle Colon 246 Lima 18, Peru
So....we managed to finally get into our room at the Courtyard rather late. And they did a nice thing and we got upgraded to a corner suite.
And in spite of not everything making sense in the room; for instance, the "espresso pod" machine was on a shelf that didn't pull out, so you had to actually unplug the machine, then put in on some table, then plug into run........it was quite a comfortable room.
And when it came down to location, this was great; a nice convenience store across the street, a nice view at night. Or even during the day......
The combination of super hot and muggy weather and missing all the great cebiche we recently had in Lima, where we cebiche 6 times and tiradito 3 times in four days, finally gave me a chance to visit Ceviche House. Located on a quieter part of 30th street, close to Fall Brewing and the new location of Chris' Ono Grinds (I still have to check them out), the place just kind of slipped my mind.
I finally made it a point to visit Ceviche House. It was mid-afternoon and I'd had breakfast earlier, so I thought a light lunch would be great.
The shop is tiny, with a few tables outside....roasting in the hot sun on this day.
The young lady working was very nice, she did a great job with customers who had questions, and was wonderful to deal with.
I went with the Gobernador Tostada ($8), which looked nothing at all like the Gobernador tacos I enjoy, which are rustic, yet so delicious.
This was a rather small appetizer sized tostada, though the shrimp a la plancha was nicely done, very tasty, moist , and plump, though there wasn't much of it. Enjoyed the Chipotle Cream sauce which was smoky, with a light kick. The young lady also brought me some extra sauce, a very nice touch. The avocado and the micro greens added nice texture, though I wished for some pungency and perhaps some sweetness. The fire roasted cheese cubes really didn't do it for me. I kind of missed that nice layer of queso at the bottom of the tortilla shielding it from all the juices. Still, this was quite tasty.
So, I returned the next day....still the weekend, still scorching. This time I got the Ceviche, the "Acalpulco" ($6.50).
The fish, a whitefish that was nice, perhaps a bit more tender than the usual Lenguado (sole) that is the staple of the Peruvian Ceviche I enjoy so much was marinated well. It had spent the perfect amount of time in the marinade preventing it from becoming too "cooked" and mushy. Enjoyed all the ingredients, which added nice textures. My one problem was with flavor....this was really mild, with hardly any flavor. However, I was given a small container of "aguachile" sauce (mmm aguachile, another one of my favorites), which turned out to be too much too sour for this ceviche and even with the chips to temper the flavors, kind of sent things in the wrong direction for me.
Still, the service was great as always, so I decided on one more visit. I'd see one of my favorite dishes, tiradito, a product of the Nikkei Perujin, on the menu. Every version of tiradito I've had has been different, but this, the Yellowtail Tiradito ($12) might take the cake for the oddest.....not in an over-the-top way as the Tiradito at Alfresco in Miraflores was, nor even this version which we recently had in Lima at Punto Azul; the one on the right was made with a parmesan cream and was actually pretty good.
I'm used to the type with a slightly creamy aji Amarillo based sauce; like this version from Cevicheria Bam Bam in back of Surquillo Market in Lima.
No, this might be the oddest "Tiradito" I've ever encountered....because it basically looked like plain old sashimi with microgreens over bean sprouts and avocado.
The yellowtail was dry and too chewy for my taste. The sauce was a very sour-salty-spicy soy based concoction that edged on bitter and seemed oddly out of place on everything but the blanched bean sprouts......where it made it taste like a very sour namul. It really didn't do the avocado any favors. The cut was a bit too thick even for the traditional "usuzukuri" cutting technique used on yellowtail. And frankly, I prefer the more traditional thinner cut strips fish, which is sometimes then flattened a bit with the knife to tenderize, but that's just me.
I did love the Sparkling Grapefruit drink which kind of revived things for me.
Overall, very nice service, though the flavors seemed to be a bit out of synch with the food. Well, I'm not sure it's worth going out of your way for. They told me that a Peruvian style ceviche with leche de tigre was in the works....but after having that tiradito, I'm not quite sure.
We took a short nap after our poutine lunch. It was pretty warm in Vancouver and the sun didn't set until 9pm, so having dinner fairly late (for us) sounded like a great idea. Upon waking and freshening up, we decided to take the long way to dinner. So we headed Southeast on Robson, then down Richards, and back onto Georgia, where we came across this impressive structure.
This is the Vancouver Public Library. I loved the distinctive design. From here we took a left down Cambie Street, the neighborhood started looking a bit more gritty, though still much cleaner than Seattle.
The main reason for walking down Cambie Street was to view the Gastown Steam Clock. I pointed to it as we headed down the street. At first the Missus said, "that's so puny, what's the big deal?" Until we walked up to it and She saw puffs of steam coming out of the top of the clock.
For some reason She was smitten as were a good number of tourists. This being "Gastown", the steam clock might seem to be a remnant of some bygone era. This was actually built in 1977. Gastown much like Pioneer Square in Seattle is the oldest neighborhood in the city. It has all of the kinds of things that these type of neighborhoods have; tourist shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and a good number of homeless. Still, the Missus really enjoyed the character of this neighborhood and we'd return to visit Kit and Ace and Lululemon....and even walk down Alexander to the Alibi Room. But that's for another day.
We walked to the waterfront, the views were quite nice, the air clean and crisp. Looking away from the water, here's a photo of Harbour Centre.
I had made reservations for dinner at Miku and we were trying to find the entrance. There was quite a bit of construction going on and the signs pointing to Miku lead to a locked door. A nice young man saw us and asked, "are you looking for Miku?" How the heck did he know? Anyway, he provided some directions and we found ourselves at the quite busy Miku Restaurant.
I gave my name to the hostess at the stand, who looked, frowned, and asked us to wait a second. A few minutes later, a very nice young man came up to us, and introduced himself as Kevin. I believe he was managing the front of house. He was so pleasant, shook our hands, then told us that they'd missed something on our reservations. I'd requested their kaiseki dinner when making reservations and immediately had reservations about doing so. Kevin explained that they would do the best they could to put together something for us, but I told him not to worry, we'd be perfectly happy ordering from the menu. He smiled and said, "great......I'll make sure that you both get one of the best tables we have!"
I saw this fellow waiting for his mom or dad outside Miku while we waited for our table to be prepped.
Poor guy. Folks kept taking photos or trying to comfort him, but he wanted nothing except his owners. He was adorable.
We loved the view from our table.
In case you're wondering if Miku was one of these touristy, overly fusion, pan-Asian, type restaurants.....you might be partially right. You see Miku is owned by the Tora Corporation headquartered in Miyazaki, Japan. I believe they own a number of Kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) and Aburi/Oshizushi type restaurants in the Miyazaki area. I was quite intrigued by a aplce specializing in aburizushi. I've had a nigiri or two of aburi sushi at a number of places, including Urasawa, though in most American style sushi joints it's kind of a gimmick.
Anyway, we were on vacation...in Vancouver....it was time to relax and have a cocktail....or two.
There were a few interesting custom cocktails along with some standards like a Moscow Mule and Pisco Sours...which I ordered. The Missus looked at me and told me to "not be so boring...." So I relented.
The Missus ordered the Genmai's Tea, which included green tea infused vodka and cucumber. It was fine, but nothing special. I ordered the Shiso Mojito which we both love....shiso was a natural for a mojito, as this tasted so clean.....it also seemed fairly low in alcohol as well. Delish!
We started with the Aburi Beef Carpaccio, which was everything we expected and more.
The torched beef was very beefy in flavor and the texture was fantastic. The sousvide egg added a wonderful creaminess and the yolk tasted delicious. Nice, not too sour ponzu, with a mild kick. The Missus felt that the baby greens was a bit of overkill, detracting from the overall flavors of the dish; though the Asian Pear added a nice mild sweetness and crunch, like in a good Yukhoe.
The Missus had never had Tori Nanban, which I thought was kind of strange....but thinking back, I usually order the stuff for lunch. So I decided to get that.
I was surprised at how much She enjoyed the rice vinegar tones and mild sweetness in this, though She could easily leave the tartar sauce out. The chicken was light and crisp outside, very tender and moist. I was told that they get their poultry from Fraser Valley Chicken in BC. Very nice.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Oshizushi on the menu at Miku. As I've mentioned before, oshizushi is a bit of a specialty. There are three aburi versions here at Miku; Salmon, Ebi, and Saba. Now for me, Battera is the classic pressed sushi. The Missus isn't the biggest fan of saba as in most places it's oily and fishy....though for some strange reason She loves sardines and some anchovy. I convinced the Missus to try the saba version and am glad we did.
The prepared rice was pressed well, though it was rather mild in vinegar tones. The saba, which had cured inhouse and torched was really good, not too fishy, but with a nice cured-cheesy flavor to it. The torching provided a touch of pleasant smokiness. The miso sauce was nice, slightly sweet, savory, but not too salty.
By this time, I needed a drink. Kelsey, who was our Server was fantastic, efficient, pleasant, friendly, but not overly so, suggested something by a local brewery; Strange Fellows. The ale was very nice....the Missus actually loved this and we'd be getting their brews every chance we had.
We finished our meal with a foursome of aburi nigiri. Clockwise from the top left; Hotate (scallop), Wagyu, Toro, and Hirame.
All of the seafood was fantastic and the beef decadent. The one problem for us and since this is nigiri it was a major issue was the rice which was really mushy and formed with too much pressure......I'm figuring most folks wouldn't notice; but any nigiri lover would immediately pick that up. The hotate was tender and sweet, with the torching adding a wonderful touch of flavor. The hirame was very fresh, but the toro was just fantastic as it melted in your mouth as did the wagyu beef which was out of this world.
Night had settled in as we finished up our meal. We marveled at how the service and pacing here at Miku was just perfect for us. They struck the perfect balance in terms of service, friendliness, and made us feel very comfortable. Kelsey was quite knowledgeable and his recommendations, after asking us a few questions, were spot on.
And while Miku looks like one of those stylish-hip places, the food delivered, and the atmosphere was totally not stuffy.
There are times when you just have a great experience....where a place just seems like a perfect fit for you. Miku did that for us. In terms of price; our meal, including drinks came out to something like $115 US......which I thought was a bargain. I've spent more at Sushi Yaro for dinner! I'm sure we'll be back to Vancouver. And we will definitely be back to Miku.
Miku 200 Granville Street Suite 70 Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4, Canada
After a pretty hectic but exhilarating day we returned to our cabanas and had a short nap. Upon waking we relaxed.....the Missus fiddled around and I worked on a post. The Missus opened the front door and shrieked! The "Killer Pussy" was back! And taunting us!
I mean...there were lots of possible victims.....the chickens looked like fair game.
But no......this cat seem to want some attention, or else!
We decided to wait out the killer cat, who eventually lost interest and left. A few minutes later we headed out for a drive and dinner.....we saw the cat running toward us. Luckily, we made it to the car rather quickly.
We took a nice drive down along the ocean......ending at a nice patch of green. Man, the backdrop of the pacific makes all the photos look great.
Rather than search around for a dinner destination, we decided to head back to Te Moana.
It was much more busy on this evening, but we got the same table as the previous night. Same Server too.
This time I decided on the Ceviche Ika Mata. As before the fish was sparkling fresh, though this seemed a tad "over-cooked" by citrus.
While I wasn't a big fan of adding mustard, nor the sauce to my ceviche....red onions, cilantro, avocado, fresh fish....what's not to like? I also kind of enjoyed the garlic toast as well.....though it didn't seem to go real well with the fish.
The Missus wanted Her favorite from the previous night; the Ceviche Te Moana.
The ceviche was just as lovely this night as well. The touch of coconut milk added a nice counter-point to the citrus and also added a mild creaminess to the lovely fish. The Missus also enjoyed the shrimp. And just like the previous night; that rice was terrible. Of course we didn't order this for the rice.
I also wanted to try the octopus; which was nice and tender, very mild in flavor.
Wasn't a fan of the rather odd tasting sauce, nor the mushy, slightly water-logged mashed potato either.
Overall, Te Moana delivered, the seafood wonderful.
That sunset was fantastic as well.
Te Moana Policarpo Toro Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Valparaiso, Chile
There's a playground just outside the restaurant. Where kids were playing and dogs were hanging out.
The Missus decided to have a bit of fun and a friend joined Her!
He followed the Missus all over the park. Even standing guard while the Missus had fun on the swings.
We wanted to bring him home! But a few minutes later, the pup left for greener pastures.
We took the long way back. Easter Island was an amazing experience. Definitely "bucket list" stuff. But even though we hadn't seen everything, it was time to move on. Tomorrow we'd be flying back to Santiago.
After breakfast we headed off to a site I was really looking forward to Orongo Ceremonial Village. Because this, like Rano Raraku was one of the two places where you absolutely needed admission, and they didn't open until 9am, we took our time. Meandering along the shoreline near Hanga Roa.
This one spot, where the road basically ends looked wonderful on a day like today....or perhaps it always looks amazing.
We'd soon be heading up that mountain in the background. But for now, we were content to watch the waves crash onto the rocks.
There's a campground right across the street. Quite a dramatic location. Though I wondered how things were during the high winds and rain the night before.
It must be great to wake up and have a banana while watching the wild Pacific doing its thing though.
We soon headed off, up Policarpo Toro and all the guest houses up the mountain. We stopped along the way at various view-points (mirador).
Our little Daihatsu Terios was doing a pretty nice job of getting us around.
At the top is Orongo Ceremonial Village. You need to show your tickets or purchase some, you also need to sign in. At Rano Raraku, I took a look at the country of origin of parties signing in; none were from the US. It was the same here. Strangely, very few people I know even know where Easter Island is, or if they've heard of the place, don't even know where it's located.
There are also some rather sad stories of how the site has been plundered and destroyed over the years.
Things start on a beautiful grassy trail.
Which stops on a dramatic cliff over-looking three small "islands".
It is those islands that the competitors of the Birdman Competition would swim to and collect the first seagull egg of the season. Strangely, the folks doing the actually swimming weren't considered the real competitors, but the actual "sponsors" and those holding important positions who decided who would actually perform the physical duties were. Sort of like today, eh?
Further up the trail are some restored stone "houses" made of basalt slabs. Most have been restored.
One was left half restored so we could see the tiny quarters......
The one thing that really caught my attention when I turned the corner was this.
This is Rano Kau, the crater of an extinct volcano that has become a lake. We found this mesmerizing and just plain beautiful; a bog of reed islets.
I wanted a better look so we left Orongo and went to the Rano Kau look-out.
Looking at this amazing sight, the inner Edwin Malone of my bookworm years arose. It left so much to the imagination......
Looking at the crater below, I recall telling the Missus, "Because its protected from the elements and population as a whole, I'm wondering if there's a special little micro eco-system down there; where there might be plants that are native to Easter island that can't be found anywhere else." Ah yes, there's still a bit of fantasy and romance left I guess. Then I came home and read the story of the Toromiro Tree. Endemic to Easter island, the last tree surviving in the wild was cut down in 1960. However, Thor Heyerdahl had saved seeds from a tree in Rano Kau during his time here in 1955-56. And while the species is basically extinct in the wild, it still survives in botanic gardens. All the trees that survive are thought to have descended from this one singular tree.
It was still rather early in the day. The Missus decided She wanted to visit one more place before lunch; the lava tubes that make up Ana Kakenga. Getting there was bit interesting as there's a definite lack of signage....you just go until the road ends and keep going.
The recent rains had made for some deceptively deep "pools". While nothing of consequence at first, it steadily got worse (sorry no photos - I was just trying to make sure we didn't get stuck). Finally, there was a road block and a makeshift shack where a Park Ranger had everyone park, sign the book and head off on foot.
And so we headed off......
With not a "two legged" soul in site......
Until we came to this......
And the sign said we'd passed our destination.
So we turned back.....
And then came upon a pretty large (like six-four, probably over three hundred pounds) guy. He asked in Spanish if we'd seen "Ana Kakenga" and we said no. So we all headed back. then we heard some exclamations; apparently his young son and daughter had found the place. You gotta love the sign......
We found a woman waiting among some backpacks and what was basically a hole in the ground.
There were folks checking things out, we'd wait until they finished then go down. It was a nice time to check out the scenery.
Finally, it was our chance to go down the rabbit hole. The Missus first of course!
Next me....at which things slowed down a bit. You see, the "big dude" got stuck. Finally, his kids and wife managed to pull him through...... He really wanted to hang with his kids, you gotta love it!
You're enrobed in pitch black darkness, with rocks ready to trip you at any moment. Your iPhone Flashlight is your best friend. You see two lights in the distance and understand why it's called "windows", basically two lava tubes formed perhaps centuries ago.
You head toward the light, making sure not to fall down the steep cliff at the end. No, this isn't the United States where everything is safety friendly.
You are ultimately paid off in full by this amazing view of the Pacific.
You turn the light to the direction by whence you came and go "holy s%!+".
Can you tell I'm not a caver?
You turn tail and get the heck out of there and walk back to your vehicle without getting on the wrong side of the rightful occupants of the place.
And yet, there are those for whom this is the norm.
We got back to the vehicle and made the short drive back to Hang Roa. It was lunch time.
While I've posted photos of the horses, cows, chickens, and killer cat, I really haven't mentioned all the dogs in Hanga Roa. Much like Cusco, they are everywhere in Hanga Roa.
And yet, there's a kind of rhythm to life here. The dogs fit in, they know the rules....those that don't, well, I think they don't make it. The dogs do their thing, most of them looked cared for and what was most interesting was that they will go to the door of shops and markets, but will not go in......I guess that's asking for trouble. They know the boundaries of life. Knowing that makes it a "dog's life".
I had a specific place for lunch in mind. Even though it seemed like a pretty busy lunch hour in town, we actually found the place, which we had searched for and found closed on our first day in town; Makona Restaurant.
There were two things on the Missus's mind for lunch; ceviche....and ceviche, so we ordered ceviche.
The folks working here were very nice; just like everywhere else on the island.
And we got ceviche and more ceviche.
The fish, while not as good quality as Te Moana, was still nice and fresh. It was nicely dressed, not too much citrus, great balanced flavors.
Slight ginger tones and the pungency of onion to balance things out. Like I mentioned before, I'm not a fan of the soy sauce they use in Hanga Roa. A touch of cilantro finished things off. Simple is sometimes best!
Meanwhile, we watched this fellow....who obviously was looking for a handout.
Doesn't he seem to be asking, "anything for me?"
And yet, he would not cross that threshold.
Makona Restaurant Atamu Tekena Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile
After our lunch empanadas, the Missus decided we should take a break. It was getting quite windy with occasional drizzles. Which didn't seem to bother the chickens one bit.
Our accommodations were quite large and spacious.
In case you were wondering; there is one local television station (where I watched an interesting episode of the Simpsons - dubbed of course) and two from Chile.
I enjoyed the patio and I'm sure the grill would be fun if you're here during better weather and perhaps a longer period of time.
The cooler weather helped while trying to nap and we awoke refreshed and ready to do a bit more exploring. Looking over the map, the Missus decided we should head inland and up the slopes of Maunga Terevaka, the tallest of the three extinct volcanos that make up Easter Island. Along the southern slopes is the very unique Ahu Akivi.
Unique because not only are these Moai inland, but they face the ocean instead of away from it. Also, the Moai are fairly uniform in size and folks believe that they were all built at the same time. The seven Moai are said to represent the "Seven Explorers" whom Hotu Matu'a sent toward the morning sun to find a place for his people to live.
The seven Moai are also perfectly aligned with the point in which the sun sets during the equinox.
On the way back from Ahu Akivi we stopped at Puna Pau.
Remember those "Pukao", the top knots on the Moai? They were made from Red Scoria and the only place where this is available on the island is in the crater that is Puna Pau.
It is thought that Pukao was a late addition in the construction of the Moai as there are about 100 pukao to approximately 1,000 Moai.
Much like Rano Raraku, where Moai are sprinkled along the hillside, here you'll find pukao lying along the trail.
As if a crew were going to arrive to transport these to some deserving Moai anytime now.
There's also a pretty nice view from here. You could see the rain coming in on Hang Roa.
We were getting pretty hungry. So we left Puna Pau and headed back to Hang Roa.
We headed toward the ocean and the cliffs at the edge of Hang Roa.
Stopping to enjoy the view......
The restaurant I had as number one on my list was also along the ocean side; Neptune Island which was closed during our stay, so was Vero's pick, Haka Honu (by the way, just like Hawaiian, Honu means turtle in the Rapa Nui language....Vero was tickled that I new what it meant). So we headed up to the northern edge of Hanga Roa, close to where we went looking for Moai when we first arrived. A place named Te Moana...which was open!
Apparently, this is a very popular spot because of the wonderful view.
There was no one in the place when we arrived, rather early for dinner. We sat at a small table near the back door of the dining area, which would turn out to be good location for us. Our Server was a very warm and friendly guy and he quickly brought out some rolls to start things off.
The Missus had Her Pisco Sour, not too sweet and I, a Mahina Pale Ale.
After having empanadas, hot dogs, and papas, over our last three meals, we really wanted to start eating well. This was an island.......where was the seafood?
Well here of course.
Starting with the Duo de Pescado not cheap at 17,000CLP ($25/US).
While I wasn't a big fan of the carpaccio; that cheese and fish with capers thing just didn't seem a great match. And then add mustard? Oh, and the soy sauce here is not to my liking either. But that Ceviche was divine. This version had sesame oil on it along with lime applied with restraint. The tuna was super tender, sparkling fresh, and delicious. Puts all the faux poke I've been eating recently to shame. This is in another league.
And after eating almost nothing green for a couple of days; we enjoyed the veggies.
The Missus had never had Poisson Cru, so I ordered the Ceviche Te Moana 15,000 CLP (about $22/US), which was made with lime and coconut milk much like the classic Tahitian dish.
The Missus was smitten; She just loved the clean interaction of flavors that both the coconut milk and the lime gave to this dish. The fish being sparkling fresh really helped too. The portion size was also quite generous. The shrimp was nicely fried and quite tasty. And of course...Island life, how many starches do you see? That jasmine rice was terrible, but the bananas and local potatoes were pretty good.
By now the place was starting to fill up and the service kind of slowed down....but heck, you need to slow down when you're on Isla de Pascua, take a chill pill and relax. What's the rush? After all, you can't make the sun set any sooner, can you?
As the sun started to set, I joined the Missus outside to enjoy the windy sunset.
Wonderful fish, great view, what else do you need?
Te Moana Policarpo Toro Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Valparaiso, Chile
The rain was starting to come down and the wind was picking up as we drove back to the cabanas. I was kind of enjoying things, having a Mahina on the front porch, when I got a visit from one of "the locals"......
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.
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.
The Missus loves crab, I have never seen anyone destroy a pile of crab with speed and efficiency like the Missus and Her Cousins. So I decided on what I read was he oldest crab specialty restaurant in Sapporo; Hyousetsu-no-Mon. Located in the Susukino district, we had made reservations on our first evening in Sapporo. We had a rather difficult time finding the place the first time and we headed over a bit early just in case we got a bit lost. Funny story about our reservation. The restaurant is multi-level deal, you have to find the level with the front desk, which we did. The studious looking gentleman behind the front desk was very professional and serious looking. He spoke decent English and we worked out a time for our reservation. Then he took down my name.....with a big look of surprise....then a huge smile, "Aaaah, Xxxxxxxxx-san, Xxxxxxxxx-san!" He was so friendly, like a different person. He didn't think I was Japanese! He then wrote my name down in the book and showed it to me. Now, I'd never, ever seen my family name written in Japanese, so I just smiled and nodded. By this time, the Missus was cracking up!
The Missus couldn't help but laugh when we walked up to the reception desk, and the gentleman saw me and called out a greeting!
We were taken to one of the private rooms. The woman serving us was probably in her 60's, but was amazingly efficient. While walking to the restroom, I saw the youngers girls trying to keep up with her. When she slide open the door, I looked at the table and went "oh-oh". I dread having to sit on the floor, it's just an accident waiting to happen. Luckily, the floor below the table was sunken. Whew.
I had ordered the Live Hairy Crab and King Crab Course for the Missus (13,000¥ - about $125/US) and the King Crab Full Course (9,300¥ - about $90/US) for me.
Of course you needed sake; we started with something from Otokoyama, the kuniyoshi nona torizake (1,010¥ - about $10). A nice, crisp, and clean tasting sake.
While we met our guest of honor.
And the appetizer course arrived.
Man, we loved the crab roe!
The Sashimi Course was three hairy crab legs
So sweet, if a bit on the chewy side.
And a nice crab claw.
I gotta say, the King Crab Claw meat has maybe the best flavor of all the pieces I had. It was really sweet and had a very clean taste.
Then a portable stove and hot pot was delivered to our table.
We were both given King Crab Legs and some vegetables for the hot pot. This was nice, but no big deal. We just made sure not to cook the legs too much. For some reason, I thought the hot pot broth tasted quite good on its own.
The grilled king crab was nice, with rich, smoky touches, and quite delicious.
Then came what I call the Missus's course; the steamed hairy crab. I let Her have all of it; She does love Her crab.
While I ordered Chitosetsuru Junmai-Daiginjo (1,375¥ - about $14/US). Floral, on the light side.
While my steamed King Crab Legs arrived.
Rich and buttery, nice clean flavors.
Up next were the tempura courses; which both the Missus and I thought were light and crisp, but nothing especially distinctive.
The next two courses weren't our favorites. The crab in a vinegar sauce was too sour and you couldn't make out anything.
The King Crab Gratin was a bit too rich for us and you really couldn't make out any crab. It was quite filling though.
Our last sake was our favorite, simply called Maruta (935¥ - about $9/US). Considered one of the best examples of Ginpu (a sake rice grown on Hokkaido) Junmaishu.
Crisp with an interesting tongue feel.
I wasn't too sure about the Crab Nigiri, but it was quite good, served Aburi (torched) style, which helped to develop the flavors and texture.
We both enjoyed the final course, which was an egg drop porridge. It helped to finish things off and really did have that "aaah" factor.
And the serving was quite generous.
The nice palate cleansing sorbet was the dessert.
This was quite a meal. You'd think we'd be stuffed. But because of the pacing, both the Missus and I, while full, didn't feel like we were bursting at the seams. The service was excellent. While I don't think we'll be doing this again, it was a fun experience and we were glad we did it.
Hyosetsu-no-Mon Minami 5 Jonishi Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
We really enjoyed our time in Sapporo and were kind of sad to be leaving the next day. So we took the long way back to the hotel......
I know, it's kind of rough doing a post on one of these fast-casual poke concept places right after doing one on the great, inexpensive seafood on rice in Hokkaido. But that's the breaks. I've got really mixed feelings about the recent poke boom on the mainland. On one hand, it's great that something I've eaten since "small kid time", we're talking almost half a century here, has gained general acceptance and popularity. On the other hand, much of it looks more style and hype over substance, jumping on the latest bandwagon, remember cronuts? Or maybe fro-yo? Or maybe (fill in the blanks). I'm not one who follows fads and I've always said, I'd never get poke from a place where I wouldn't eat the fish without all the sauces or what not, but there I was in front of San Diego Poke Company. Mainly because one of their regular customers from their Farmer's Market stall emailed me saying it was quite good.
I'd kind of made up my approach to trying these places on the way to this shop. Because I always like to experience the food at any eating establishment at its best, I'd never go on Sundays and Mondays (since I don't know when their fish is picked up/delivered). Because, to me, poke is traditionally ahi/aku, Ala'e/sea salt, limu, inamona, and because of my background, shoyu, and onions, though I guess these days I make it all kinds of ways, I'm going to stick with fish from the tuna family at first.
The drill here is ordering perhaps a "specialty bowl", or doing the fast-casual, have it your way thing, a base of starch plus seafood item, sauce, then any variety of toppings. Like Kirbie mentioned in her post, the world is your oyster, you can get anything from avocado to Flaming Hot Cheetos (whatever...) if you make it your own way.
Nice group of folks here, quite friendly. On my first visit, I went with the large OG SD ($11.95), which looked like a modification of shoyu poke. I thought the amount of fish used was much more generous than what I had at Poke Go back in August of last year. It also had a ton of rice.
The fish seemed to be better quality than what I had at Poke Go, though obviously not top grade. There were a couple of pieces that had quite a bit of "suji" (connective tissue) and a few pieces smelled a bit off, so I didn't eat those. The sauce was a simple shoyu - teriyaki-ish based sauce which didn't mess too much with the fish. Love onions in my poke, though this was a bit too much. The avocado added a nice creamy component to things. Way too much rice for me though, so I made note to just get a regular bowl the next time.
I like a good Poisson Cru and had two somewhat similar versions of it in Hanga Roa recently, so I thought trying the Koko Loko (regular - build your own bowl $9.95), a coconut, citrus, and sweet chili sauce base would be nice. Though when I asked the guy at the counter if this was similar to Poisson Cru or 'Ota'ika, he looked at me weird and said, "no, this is koko loko...." Okay......shame on me for expecting he would actually know a bit more about something very similar. Food nerd malfunction.
The sauce was a bit too heavy in coconut for me, also a bit too sweet, and I thought it needed a bit more citrus. Cucumbers are a must for this type of poke/ceviche and I wish tomatoes were available. The fish was actually even better this time around, though I noticed that it looked like two different batches thrown together as there were some mushy pieces. For me, avocado always adds a bit of creaminess, even with the coconut based sauce, the masago adds a nice crunch as does the seaweed salad, though this "bled" all over the rice making it green. I stopped the guy after one scoop of rice in my bowl, that was enough for my carb needs.
In the end, while it wouldn't make me forget places like Ono Seafood, Tanioka's, or any number of places back home, this was better than other versions I've had in San Diego. Think of it as "Poke Chipotle", which I guess is better than "Poke Micky D's". It's worth a stop if you want something a bit more healthy and are in the area.
San Diego Poke Co 10387 Friars Rd San Diego, CA 92120 Open Daily 11am - 9pm