Just as they were opening at 11 AM, Tina and I drove up, parked the car, and came in through the side entrance:
The restaurant is a large, festively decorated space with high open ceilings:
but the weather was so nice we sat outside in the patio area:
As we were looking over the menu, we ordered a glass of white wine to share and were very pleased that our helpful young server brought it out in two glasses: In fact, we were thoroughly happy with the service at Buck & Rider even though our waitress confessed it was her first day on the job. She smiled a lot, worked hard to do well, and kept our water glasses filled.
The fried calamari with Thai dipping sauce showed up first:
This was good. The tender rings of baby squid were nicely crunchy and went well with the sauce. A pleasant amount of chili heat. At first I thought that came from the dipping sauce, but as we worked our way down to the bottom, we discovered a bunch of deep-fried jalapeno slices:
The gumbo followed the calamari, and the server split it into two bowls, so this is a half portion:
There is a lot to like here. Look at the thick dark roux, which was redolent with the flavor of filé. The sausage was excellent. In fact there was really only one shortcoming – a couple of my shrimp tasted off. They weren't terrible, and Tina said hers were okay, but still . . .
The meal ended on a better note with the smoked trout salad (again, this is a half portion):
Good stuff. The trout was nice and smoky, the lettuce fresh and crisp, and the avocado sweet and creamy. Pieces of olives and fennel added some complexity to the excellent preserved lemon vinaigrette. Tart enough, but not acidic. A good lunch overall.
After lunch, we were reminded that we were in the big city. We had parked adjacent to an area that said "FREE CHARGE." It took me a few seconds of puzzlement (if you're charged, how can it be free?) before I figured out what that meant. Anyway, when we came out, we found our RAV4 parked next to 2 Teslas on one side and a Bentley on the other. "Toto I don't think we're in Yuma anymore."
Buck & Rider, 4225 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85018, (602) 346-0110.
For dinner that evening, we went to Crudo, a place with a contemporary approach to Italian food. It fronts on the backside of a shopping area and presents a green and rustic exterior:
Inside, it is spacious, clean, modern, and well lit:
The seating along the sides of the room, where we sat, combined booth and chairs in a way that allowed for large groups or couples like us:
Upbeat 60s, 70s, and 80s soul tunes played in the background adding to the ambience. Tina and I chuckled because Buck & Rider had virtually identical music. Pleasant and friendly.
Our server, likewise, was pleasant and friendly as well as extremely competent and helpful. She brought us glasses of ice water, which were kept filled throughout the dinner, and Tina and I split a glass of vermentino while we looked over the menu:
The entrée items are divided into four categories, crudo (raw), mozzo (cheese), cotto (cooked), and griglia (grilled). While you could just order one or two entrées by themselves, any three choices per person were available for $35, four for $45, and five for $55. And it made no difference which categories.
As we were trying to sort things out, our server told us that the restaurant was offering a charcuterie plate as an appetizer, so of course, that's where we started:
And what a good start it was. Closest to the camera was a mild chicken liver mousse topped with the dice of pickled vegetables. Smooth and crunchy with a nice balance. On the right side of the plate, pork rillettes lay on apple marmalade. Again a pleasant combination. On the left, rustic pork pâté was covered with mustard sauce. A garlic aïoli and pickled peppercini slices sat on either side. Very tasty and enjoyable. The sauces complexified but did not overwhelm. Of course, the crunchy toasted slices of Italian bread went well with everything.
Speaking of going well with everything, we selected an unusual white wine to accompany dinner:
Luisa from the Friuli region of northeastern Italy is made with the rare ribolla gialla varietal native to the region. It tasted smooth and fresh, its fruit flavors and minerality going with the entire dinner.
Our two raw plates showed up at the table next. This is the albacore:
The tomato, cucumber, citrus and olive oil topping highlighted the freshness of the fish.
But the rich slices yellowtail were even better – controne, a flavorful Italian dried chile, gave some spice, bits of bottarga added a fishy saltiness, and chopped chives provided color:
After eating sushi and sashimi for over 30 years, these presentations were delightful.
The squid ink risotto tasted much better than it looked:
The dish had a good spicy seafood flavor, chunks of tuna adding taste and texture to the slightly al dente rice.
The house-made gargati pasta and mussels were served in a sauce made from uni and tomatoes and topped with basil and mint leaves:
Another unusual preparation that worked.
The semolina gnocchi was next:
The dumplings themselves were like little soft pillows, and the main flavors came from the topping of braised lamb neck and nectarine. Again an unusual flavor combination that enchanted my palate.
The dinner concluded with pork belly with smoked tomato agrodolce along with creamy polenta:
Another amazing plate. The richness of the polenta and pork contrasted with the sour/sweet spicy agrodolce that reminded both Tina and I – with our German backgrounds – of well prepared blaukraut.
We were stuffed and we were delighted. Overall a great meal. At a fair price:
Crudo, 3603 E. Indian School Rd., Suite B, Phoenix AZ 85018, (602) 358-8666.
Thanks for stopping by to read mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog. Kirk and His Missus are doing something somewhere right now. Ed (from Yuma) and Tina are relaxing after a really nice little vacation. Cathy is writing this post about some meals she had with The Mister right here, in San Diego.
Briefly mentioned at the top of this post, it was 'birthday week' for The Mister and myself not long ago. A week apart, Mondays this year. Once I started writing about our eight meals out, I had noticed commonalities in our respective choices. Opening in June, there was a lot of buzz on various media sites about Beerfish, a small (1500 square foot interior, 1300 square food outdoor patio area) seafood centric restaurant on Adams Avenue. Walk up, order and pay and your food is brought to your table. There are 30 taps serving local craft beer and also a few wine selections. The limited menu is ever-changing based on availability of fresh seafood. We were here for clams and not beer.
First, our side order of fresh made onion rings ($4) (beer battered, of course) was delivered to the table, accompanied by a fresh, but plain, aioli. The batter was crunchy, not greasy and the onions very mild; really nice in textures but it needed something. I ended up putting Mexi Pep (and eventually some salt) with the aioli to get a complimentary flavor that I wanted. The one item I had been reading about, Clam Toast ($10.90) was my choice. This was a mix of flavors: too many flavors for my palate, unfortunately. Each item was good on its own: sourdough bread (fresh and toasted), topped with a lemon mayonnaise, (very fresh, plump) chopped clams, mixed with a good amount (almost the same amount) of meaty chopped bacon along with grilled sweet onions and topped with fresh herbs, microgreens and fresh chopped garlic. Quite a bit of garlic. This would have gone well with some beer. The Mister ordered the steamed mussels and clams ($13.90). Again, there was a tremendous multitude of flavors, which may have gone well with beer as well as separately. The four mussels and dozen clams were plump, fresh and wonderful. The broth had two whole lemons, shallots, leeks, herb butter and, again, a tremendous amount of fresh chopped garlic. All this was served with a flavorful, fresh sourdough (with an unsalted, whipped butter-which are just right together).
The freshness is there, the clams were what I wanted and I enjoyed them-plain. When we go back, we will have to share a glass of beer and perhaps ask for less or no garlic and perhaps other items on the side.
Beerfish 2933 Adams Ave San Diego, CA 92116 (619) 363-2337 website Open seven days 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
The Mister's birthday meal choice was fried clams fromPoint Loma Seafoods, a place I blogged about first in 2007, again in 2010,2011, 2012, and most recently in 2014 The fresh, lightly battered, perfectly fried Ipswich clams are in season in September, (about $19 for the plate) and just the perfect childhood food memory for The Mister. I got the fish and chips plate ($12), which is my own 'fish friday' childhood memory. This was really good, as always.
Point Loma Seafoods 2805 Emerson Street San Diego, CA 92106 (619)223-1109 website Open Mon-Sat 9-7, Sunday 10-7
Kirk and Cathy are doing something else today, so Ed (from Yuma) is posting.
Yuma is blessed with numerous Mexican restaurants, but seafood places are not common. Of course, there is Juanita's and usually one or two other seafood trucks, but Mariscos Mar Azul has been the premier local seafood house ever since it opened. But now with La Resaca, Yuma has two excellent options:
Located somewhat off the main drag on 3rd Avenue, where the Mad Greek used to be, La Resaca has a large main dining area with many modern booths:
a bar area with more tables:
and even a small stage for music some evenings:
When you sit down, you are soon served whole crunchy tostito rounds, a few saltines, flavorful and spicy salsa, and a bunch of lime wedges:
On my first visit, I decided to start with tacos:
They were served with a mayo based basic crema and a chipotle flavored one:
The shrimp taco was excellent, the flavorful fresh shrimp nicely breaded and perfectly cooked:
Similarly, the fish taco was about the freshness of the flavorful breaded fish rather than crunchiness:
And the mantarraya was also nicely prepared, full flavored but not too salty, fishy but not funky:
Food this good I wanted to share, so the next evening Tina and I showed up for dinner.
As appetizers, we picked tostadas. One was ceviche:
the other octopus:
The octopus was sliced well and had just the right amount of chew and mollusk flavor. We were especially impressed by the ceviche. The fish and vegetables tasted very fresh and the whole tostada had a very pleasant flavor and multiple textures.
That evening we also tried a couple of cooked seafood entrées. Tina chose the albañil, shrimp grilled with bacon, poblano and jalapeno peppers, and onions, served on corn tortillas:
The shrimp were well-prepared (not over-cooked) and the bacon and grilled vegetables really added to their flavor. Tina loved the abundant avocado, The rice was okay and the salad had no dressing – though I suspect we could have asked for some.
I had the pescado Veracruz:
I liked the fish preparation. There were four or five little filets of tilapia, lightly breaded and nicely grilled, covered with a very mellow Veracruz sauce, much like a ranchero sauce with onions, celery, green olives, peppers, and a lot of carrot slices. Good food.
On my next visit, I had to try a seafood cocktele; after all, La Resaca specializes in cruda (raw). They come in three sizes with your choice of mariscos – shrimp, octopus, oyster, scallop, and/or snail. I ordered a medium "campechana," a combination:
That is a nice looking cocktele:
The cooked shrimp were pristine and juicy. The scallops clean and fresh tasting. The octopus was fine. And the snail pieces (you can see one hiding under the scallop in that picture) added some chew if little flavor to the contents of the sundae glass.
I was especially impressed by the quality of the cocktele water. Smooth flavors of the sea, with a little lime tang, balanced by a touch of ketchup sweetness. My only complaint would be the lack of an oyster in the cocktele.
So when I got together for lunch with Greg, I made sure to order a half-dozen oysters:
They were very fresh and pristine, mildly flavored but distinctively oyster. Next time I will try some of the 10 bottles of salsa on the table to see which goes best.
That day Greg selected the house special tostada:
You can see why the folks at La Resaca choose this tostada for the first page of their menu. It is a combination of their basic cold mariscos along with avocado slices, onion slices, and a dice of vegetables . As tasty as it is attractive.
My first version of this post ended right about here, but Greg called me soon after I was finished (so I thought) and we decided to go back to La Resaca the next day. We tried three more dishes.
The first was fried calamari:
This was pretty standard stuff, might even have come from a Sysco truck. Strips of squid steak, decent texture but little flavor. The breading substantial and crunchy. Served with the chipotle crema and a first-rate cocktail sauce. Not bad at all.
Aguachile – the original red version – came next:
The cool lime and chile broth was just right for my tastes, tangy but not sour, picante but not fuego. There was plenty of avocado, sliced red onion, and seeded cucumber, but the real star of the show was, of course, the wonderful raw camarones:
Their fresh clean taste matched their impeccable white color.
Last to show up was caldo de siete mares (seven seas soup):
The best version I've had in the United States, for sure. And well presented. A good seven seas soup needs to have claws, legs or tentacles projecting out from the bowl. The seafood and tomato flavored broth contained sliced red onion, sliced poblanos and jalapenos, chunks of carrot, and chopped cilantro. Along with those veggies and that crab (what kind of crab is that?), the soup contained shrimp, mussels, clams, tilapia, octopus, and sea snails, and yes, that adds up to seven seafoods. It was good enough to remind Greg and I of our first bowls of siete mares over 25 years ago in a restaurant overlooking the Pacific right by Bufadora park near Ensenada.
As you can tell, I am delighted that La Resaca decided to locate in Yuma. With other locations in Calexico and El Centro, the restaurant has the experience to know how to do things right. The menu is large and interesting, everything I've eaten has been tasty, and the service and decor are good as well.
La Resaca, 1725 S 3rd Ave, Yuma AZ 85364, (928) 276-3280
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.