Hello and welcome to the food blog, mmm-yoso!!! Kirk and Ed (from Yuma) have both been extremely busy and Cathy is not yet at the point of extremely busy, so she is writing today's post.
As I had mentioned, The Mister has been having unusual cravings lately, primarily in wanting certain spices, heat levels or flavors...not a particular food. He had been mentioning 'Hot Pot but not the same as Little Sheep, that was very peppery' and since we needed to get some groceries after this lunch (it's located inside the 99Ranch complex), E & Drink seemed the perfect place to stop. Usually, we discuss our menu choices and decide what to share. This was the first time in almost forever when we didn't. He opened the menu, saw what he wanted and closed the menu, saying 'ready'. I noticed this placard on the table... and assumed The Mister was ordering hot pot and so the bottom combination of a Hot Pot plus an item listed as 'Lunch Special' seemed an option. Unusual 'appetizers' were brought out with our respective utensils. Turns out that The Mister had ordered the 'Lamb with pickled cabbage' hot pot, which arrived bubbling and ended up with much flavor. The Mister had asked for noodle on the side (instead of rice) and that was a change up and, I think a better choice. This was a hot pot of flavors we had never tried before and it was excellent. A meaty bubbling broth, the vegetables and hot pot fillers (pickled cabbage, meat ball, tofu, corn, kamaboko, fish cake, tempura, egg, napa cabbage, carrot, radish, vermicelli) were really good, still crisp and the lamb was tender and had a good flavor that we both enjoyed. Sometimes we order 'add ins' from the menu and, as you can see, the pot is full and it was very flavorful without needing anything added in.
I mentioned that we did not discuss our meal choices, merely ordering by number from the menu...Coincidentally, I ordered a meat with preserved vegetable also. "Pork with preserved vegetable" the menu stated... it was preserved rather than pickled (which is indeed a type of preserving) vegetable (an addictive saute of something from the cabbage family, but a dark green and it was not salty nor vinegared) with sides of chilled fried eggplant, broccoli and a wonderful pickled radish. As you might see, the serving of pork is very much pork belly. It was perfect. The fatty goodness and charred edges went so well with the vegetables and rice. Definitely ordering this again.
There are an array of drinks, desserts, appetizers and snacks available here. I hope your week has started out well.
E and Drink 7330 Clairmont Mesa Blvd, A110 San Diego 92111 (858) 560-9888 open 10:30- midnight daily.
Just a few months ago, "YummyYummy" mentioned that a new "Chinese Restaurant" was going into the former B H Chung location. When I asked around, no one knew much....though the term "Fast Food" was bandied about, much to my disappointment. Finally, the sign went up, the place was given a name....Yu's Garden, whose location in Irvine Kirbie posted on back in 2009. Looking at her post, I could see that the term "fast foodish" didn't appear to be to far from the truth. A couple of weeks ago, the menu went up, and Yu's Garden, San Diego quietly opened.
After checking around a bit, I kind of knew what to expect. We've got some young folks I know who love the place. Of course these kids aren't too far removed from college and still talk about how much they love Nongshim (though the Missus likes it too) instant noodles, which kind of puts things into perspective.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I managed to visit twice; once with my good friend Candice, who had met me for an awful lunch at Yes! Pingo. I was hoping that this would be an improvement. One good thing about Yu's is that they open early, remember, this is possibly the worst parking lot in San Diego, at 10am Monday thru Thursdays, 8am Friday to Sunday....although according to the sign, they must have some special calendar with two Sundays on it......having two Sundays a week, wouldn't that be grand?
The use of the plastic sheet sleeve also makes me wonder what on earth they need to protect this piece of 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper from? It's pretty far from the tables in a remote corner. One can only wonder?
As for the interior....well, much like the Irvine location, this place is ready with the quick steam and cold table stuff. Much of which looks rather greasy. So on my visits, I stuck to ordering from the menu. The hot and cold foods were really close together, which didn't quite look up to food handling standards.
This place also wins the award for making a new business look like it's been around for years. There are already stains on the walls, if you take a good look at the steam table, you can quickly see that the plywood paneling looks like it's been hacked, or at least badly cut, perhaps with a steak knife as the edges of the wood are jagged and not flush to the floor. The panel on the left is of a different make as it doesn't really match the rest. also, it has been mounted onto the steam table with a plain untreated piece of plywood that looks totally different. Which makes me think that it's only a matter of time before the tables get that nice "San Gabriel stickiness" to them.
In addition to the ton of prepared items, the menu is huge with a 139 items (I counted) on it, not counting specials. The prices are also inexpensive, with $8.99 being the priciest dish.
I know you've been wanting me to get to the point, so here's what was eaten.......
Sauteed Intestine w/Sour Vegetable ($7.99). I just can't help ordering this......
In terms of cooking technique, this was done well. If you don't enjoy the offal flavor of intestine, you might like this. If you don't enjoy your pickled mustard greens to have any flavor this might be enjoyable. If you love dishes that have way too much sesame oil on them, you will positively adore this. Still, I have no qualms with how this was cooked.
I had a synaptic short circuit and ordered the Pan Fried Pork and Napa Dumplings ($5.99). I should know better.....I mean, I have been indoctrinated...you don't pan fry jiaozi....in guotie, the dough is worked differently. If it's on the menu doing double duty, you should probably not get it......
You know that pretty yellow bag on stuff they sell at Costco with the cute panda on the front? Personally, I'd take that over this....cardboard like wrappers and mushy tasteless filling.
What would a meal here be without Chou Doufu (stinky tofu - $5.99).
You know what the Missus says, right? If I can eat it; it's not any good. This was pretty mild and bland. Nothing even close to, say Dynasty Plaza or even Shau Mei, and thankfully not even remotely close to the stuff I had in Hangzhou which I could barely swallow. I took the leftovers of this home....the Missus thought the version of smacked cucumbers was good, but of course said that the tofu was terribly bland and the sauce lacked any depth and that touch of sweetness She enjoys.
I had to have the Beef Stew Noodle Soup. Which really didn't look like much when it hit the table. In terms of presentation it looked rather plain....no pickled vegetable....
Overall, based on price, $5.99, I'd say this wasn't bad. I wish it was a bit richer, but the beef and anise flavor was there, though things were a bit heavy-handed in terms of MSG. The noodles were routine, which I expected for the price, but at least the beef was tender and flavorful. Plus this was steaming hot.
The best dish I've had at Yu's so far would be the Chicken w/Basil, aka three cup chicken. ($6.99).
Even though this looks like gloppy Chinese "faux-food", I really enjoyed it. The chicken was fried before the stir fry, keeping the skin (yes...skin on, joy of joys) crisp. Sweet, edging on too salty, I really enjoyed this. Candice summed things up when she asked me what time the place closed.......thoughts of having this after a couple of beers at O'Brien's did sound like a good thing. It was a nice parting shot to the meal......which motivated me to return a couple of days later.
I thought I'd try one of the most expensive items on the menu, the Sauteed Lamb with Scallion ($8.99).
This was a fair to middlin' dish. Nice char from the wok, the lamb was very mild in flavor, the dish was a bit too salty overall. For some reason, having the ends of the scallions, roots and all lind of bugged me, not sure why, but it just seemed wrong.
The Eggplant in Garlic Sauce ($6.99) was just a few notches down from being good. The eggplant was nice; crisp on the exterior, but molten and creamy inside.
It just lacked the amount of flavor I'd enjoy on a dish like this. Plus that pool of oil on the bottom of the bowl was a good half inch deep. I also found a piece of chicken mixed in with my eggplant....a bonus????
A note about the starch......get the rice. The free porridge is an absolutely pasty, badly prepared, mess devoid of any flavor at all.
Overall, Yu's wasn't bad, you get what you pay for......I will say, with a bit of humor that the place is the best Chinese food in this strip mall taking into consideration the places I call the the "Bland Brothers". It's great student food....so those Nongshim lover's did have a point. No pretense here, no gimmicks, or catchy name.
The young ladies serving us were polite and pleasant, though still obviously learning the ropes.
So will I return? Honestly, the person working the wok here shows more skill than the folks at say....Dumpling Inn and things aren't gringo-ized. It does have MSG, it can be salty, it can also be bland, it can be greasy, it will be interesting to see how some of the other dishes are.....
As the year started winding down, I've found myself thinking that I needed to circle back at some of those places that, well, really didn't impress me too much over the years, just to see.
This short and sweet post on Liang's is probably a good start since I hadn't been here in a while. Even though it was perfect soup weather, the place seems a bit slower than when I first visited.
I started with the Stewed Bean Curd Skin.
Not the prettiest dish in the world, this really looked like offal, and for some reason the decorative bit of tomato and cilantro leaf really didn't do much for the presentation. The flavor, though mild, had just enough soy sauce flavor to push this up to decent. The yba was kind of hard in some of the thicker pieces, but this wasn't bad at all.
I went with the Beef Tendon Noodle Soup with handmade noodles. The broth was very slightly beefy, better than on previous visits, which really doesn't say much. But what this terrible was that there was a pervading taste bleach. I tried to explain to the Server who nodded, walked away and never returned. Then I tried to explain to the young lady who brought me my check, but no go...... I just cut my losses. I don't think they rinsed this off after sanitizing, or something of the sort.
Anyway, the tendon was plus/minus, some tough pieces, some pretty good. The pieces of beef were dry. I like the pickeld mustard greens and the noodles, though still too gummy and over-worked for my taste, were actually an improvement over previous visits.
I left and went and had some ramen........
Liang’s Kitchen 4681 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
For some reason the name of this place just didn't motivate me to visit. After reading posts by Kirbie and Jinxi, I did feel a bit more motivated. I really hadn't had decent Taiwanese food in San Diego, so I recruited my buddy Candice, to see if Yes! Pingo would fill the bill.
I liked the menu which was full of standard Taiwanese "snack" items, many of which were familiar to me having spent five years living in the SGV.
So where to start? Well, I thought the classic oyster pancake (omelete) would be a decent choice.
My preference is for a bit more egg and a bit less flour/starch, which made this gummy. The usual ketchup based sauce could have used some flavor as this was kind of bland and runny. The oysters were decent, though rather sparse.
I like a good Ba-wan, pretty much a glutinous meatball, called Taiwanese Meatball on the menu.
This had a couple of large chunks of pork, tasteless and tough. This also lacked flavor and was rather disappointing. I never thought I'd be wishing for something from the now defunct 168 Restaurant.
Looking to improve our luck; I went with another Taiwanese standard that almost never fails. The fried pork chop.
Loved the texture, crisp and light. But whomever seasoned this must have dead tastebuds because this was extremely salty....unpleasantly salty.
One of my favorite Taiwanese dishes is Three Cup Chicken......
Loved the color, but this was also way too salty...almost bitter in flavor. I was wondering who was in the kitchen?
We met our final dish with trepidation.....Niu Rou Mian, beef noodle soup.
The best thing about the broth was that it was hot......other than that...well where to start. The noodles were overcooked, the beef tough, dry, and cold in the center. The worst was the soup, which was insipid, tasting like a beef bone was merely waved over it. This needed more of everything....
At the end of the meal I asked Candice what she thought the best dish was. Her response? The pickled vegetables that came with the pork chop! I also asked an acquaintance of mine who is from Taiwan about the place. He laughed and told me the owner is a well intentioned recent University Grad with no restaurant experience and that the kitchen doesn't have much either. It just seemed that the dishes here were really skewed on our visit; either very bland or way too salty. It wouldn't be too bad if one or two of the dishes were this way, but all five were. I know other folks really like the place, so perhaps it was a bad day. I really don't know what to say.....
Welcome back to mmm-yoso!!! This food blog is a compendium of road trips, vacations, food store shopping, events, meals, snacks, events and general food-centric posts. Kirk usually posts here, but is catching up from his recent vacation. Ed (from Yuma) is also recovering from his recent San Diego vacation. Cathy is writing today, about another meal during her staycation in the County.
I discovered Tea Houses and Boba places several years ago when one day a friend took me to one and realized that snacks were served in addition to beverages. It was so fascinating as well as tasty. Since then, I've writtentwo individual posts about visits here. It's simple, good and a nice place to share a snack or meal with friends. (I'm the White girl on this blog and there were no Tea or Boba places when I was at the Unversity of Michigan...heck, there was no Zingerman's when I was there).
The exterior and expanded interior have remained the same; neat and clean. Once you order, a basket of utensils, bowls and napkins are brought to the table.
The teas and all beverages are made to order here, (which is why you can get a beverage with half, quarter or no sweetness added-something you can't always ask for from other boba shops because they use pre-mixed syrup bases) and this pot of Kuan-Yin (monkey picked) tea ($5) actually was brought to our table last, perfectly brewed. We usually ask for a bit more water to be added after we finish the first serving; the tea leaves are just about as strong on the second pour. (A brief explanation of 'monkey picked' meaning premium tea is here.)
One order of Taiwan sausage ($5.50)...my 2013 obsession (see this post ). Served with slices of raw garlic, the combination of the sweet in the sausage with the slight bitter of garlic is amazing.
Inside the menu was a "monthly special" card -the 'fried shrimp roll' ($3.99) was really a version of Vietnamese Tau Hu Ky (beancurd wrapped shrimp paste), which I order with bun at Vietnamese restaurants. You can see this is a large serving and that there were pieces of whole shrimp as well as paste inside the delicately fried tofu skin. This was excellent.
We were handed a "Daily Specials" ($6.50) card with the regular menu and the day we were here, the special was chicken curry (quite a bit of chicken, onion, carrots, potatoes and green pepper in a not spicy but a sweet, medium-hot Japanese curry). The football shaped mound of rice divides the curry from the three daily side dishes (which change). This day it was green beans with slices of dry tofu, delicate (rice) noodles with beef pieces and pickled vegetables with pork pieces. A tasty variety that complimented the semi-spice of the curry.
Another nice visit with good food and a really good pot of tea.
Tea Station 7315 Clairmont Mesa Boulevard San Diego 92111 (858) 268-8198 Website
Thanks for visiting mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog. Kirk, Ed(from Yuma) and Cathy are the usual contributors to the posts you are reading. Today, it's another post from Cathy, because Kirk is busy and Ed(from Yuma) is also busy.
I posted about E & Drink almost a year ago and it's become a semi-regular stop when I'm either in the mood for hot pot, or just a quick snack before shopping at 99Ranch. They finally have visible signage.
There are a few snacks at the front area instead of going into the restaurant (where you can order a to go beverage, a tea egg or a Hong Kong style waffle) (I can't believe I've never taken a photo of one from E&Drink, but can't find any saved on my iPhone to share).
If you are seated, there a quite a few tables inside and outside, a couple of televisions with closed captioning and very friendly service by everyone working.
The Mister had ordered a Hot Pot lunch special, which comes with a choice of black or green/ hot or cold tea. Several small bowls of side dishes and dipping sauces meant to compliment our order are brought out with the beverages.
I ordered , among other items, the fried squid balls; no carbs and always good.
The Szechewan spicy wonton ($4.99) are sometimes a craving I have.
The wontons are not too small, are made with a good wrapper that is not too thick yet not thin enough that it breaks easily, filled with a good amount of ground pork and the spicy sauce is very pleasant and not crazy spicy in heat level.
Another favorite of mine is the marinated tofu ($2.99). I'm not sure how they make this, but it's different than marinated tofu I've purchased elsewhere. A good, firm tofu and a very nice marinade makes this another crave-able item for me.
The Mister's mini Hong Kong curry fish ball mini hot pot (lunch special, with rice and a beverage $10.99) arrived bubbling and with its own sterno heater...so you can have a hot pot that stays hot.
Much more than fish balls are in this hot pot-and all of it fresh. The menu doesn't list ingredients, but you can see the variety. The curry sauce is very pleasant and has an almost sweet undertone; definitely not crazy spicy.
I couldn't decide which photo showed more of the ingredients. You can see the quail egg and some of the clear noodles in this photo. Each hot pot here is quite large and always is very good. Each beverage I've ordered here, I have asked for less or no sugar and have been quite pleased with the quality. I can taste the tea in the tea milk orders.
E & Drink 7330 Clairmont Mesa Blvd San Diego 92111 (858) 560-9888 Open 7 days 10:30-midnight
Hi. You've found mmm-yoso!!! the food blog. Kirk, ed(from Yuma) and Cathy usually write about food and things related to food. Today's post is about food and Cathy is writing because Kirk and ed(from Yuma) are busy.
This is the Clairmont Mesa Boulevard entrance to 99Ranch Market. The 'back' parking area is closer for me, since I exit from the 52 at Convoy Street, but the other day I decided to get out of my comfort zone and did things a bit differently. The fountain, with its oxidation, is quite beautiful.
99Ranch Market has undergone renovations recently and is a regular stop for groceries (and, like most other markets The Mister and I frequent, has an eat in area-there will be an updated post soon). Once inside the building, you are in a long hallway which has several businesses along with the Market. Three of those businesses are are sit downrestaurants.
Yes, three. At the North end ('my' parking lot entrance), across from Sam Woo in the former Video Store space, E & Drink has popped up.
The Mister and I had passed E & Drink several times in the past two weeks, checking out the menu at the entrance and making mental notes to stop in. They seem to specialize in Taiwanese Hot Pot and boba-like drinks and snacks. It finally was time. (See that orange rice cooker in the above photo? Tea eggs are being sold for $1 as a grab and go snack.)
Once we were seated, we were given both a beverage menu and a food menu. The lady behind this counter is making beverages. I like the idea of a dual level additional seating bar area. There are about 20 two person tables that can be reconfigured for groups in the rest of the eating area.
The decoration is modern, with one television and overhead music, which was on pretty loud until someone complained. We were here at lunch, but the menu remains the same all day with one small difference.
The Hot Pot Lunch Special includes green or black tea (hot or cold); no beverage is included with the Hot Pot Dinner. That's the black tea on the right. It is slightly sweet and has a nice tannin 'bite' to it. I did not order the Lunch Special, so no beverage came with and ordered my usual, (because I can't decide) a coffee milk tea ($3.55). The beverage selection is extensive and I have plans to try other items. Add-ins, like boba and sago are 25¢ and I think the prices are reasonable, especially for the size. The coffee milk tea tastes of all three flavors-very refreshing.
When we first sat down, two small plates of a sort of appetizer were brought out- cucumbers and cabbage, both lightly pickled. A nice salty accompaniment which we 'saved' to use with our meals; there are no condiments on the tables. Our utensils, small plate and napkin were also brought out.
We had also decided to try a tea egg appetizer ($2.50 for two)
This was really good. The egg white took on the flavors of anise/five spice and the egg yolk took on the tea flavor. (As a side note, the eggs in the rice cooker at the entrance are in there longer and have more flavor that the ones from the kitchen, at least if you come in to eat closer to opening time. In any case, all are good.)
Since The Mister had ordered a Hot pot, he was given a choice of five sauces to go with and chose the peanut and the spicy bean sauces (the ones he did not choose were soy, hot chili and bar-b-que sauce). Not knowing what was in his pot, he added on a side of cuttlefish dumplings for $2.25. Below is the menu page of add- ons for the Hot Pots.
Oh. His hot pot?
The seafood. Served in a mini wok on top of a nice stand which held a sort of sterno heat source which was lighted at the table, this didn't need any add ins and in fact, the dumplings could not be added in right away because the pot was filled. There were several pieces of a flaky white fish, some squid rings, two head on shrimp, fresh tofu, several types of mushrooms, fish cake, krab and an egg along with broccoli and bok choy. All in a very rich seafood broth which was not salty. There were also clear rice noodles on the bottom of the pot AND a choice of rice or noodles came with the pot. (The Mister chose the (very good) sticky rice) .
At first, I was going to try a few items from the "Small Dish" menu, then at the bottom, I saw the "E & Drink House Special" and had to for this first visit.
Quite a large serving of marinated pigs ears, marinated tofu, marinated seaweed and (raw) peanuts.($7.99) Wonderful! The marinade had sesame oil as well as the traditional marinade which includes cinnamon, anise, soy, pepper and garlic. This was a wonderful combination of flavors, a very large portion and in combination with the hot pot, a *lot* of food.
We will be back- to try other hot pots (there were about ten to choose from) and some of the fried items...
E & Drink 7330 Clairmont Mesa Boulevard San Diego 92111 *Cash Only* open 10:30 a.m.-midnight, seven days
There was a bit of a buzz when Liang's Kitchen first opened during the fall of last year. Not so much for us though, since a couple of years back we had a most horrendous meal and service at Liang's in Irvine...so bad that I wouldn't do a post on it. So even if I'd be willing to visit Liang's here in San Diego, the Missus will not.
Actually, the Chinese name of the restaurant, translated as something like "Mama Liang's home style military dependant village kitchen, is perhaps a more apt description of what Liang's serves. Now before you go off and think this will be something reminiscent of mess line slop, stop for a moment. When the KMT retreated to Taiwan, housing had to be built for those fleeing. Settlements were funded by the military and built with the intent of being temporary housing. It was believed that people would only have to live in these villages for a short time until the ROC defeated the Communists and folks would move back to their homeland. This of course, never happened. Over time these villages comprised of people from all over China developed social networks and a sense of community. A nice article on these villages can be found here, I particularly enjoyed the story of "Ho" from Shandong:
"After Ho retired from the military, he opened a breakfast store in the village selling traditional Shandong dishes like steamed buns, fried dough sticks and salty soybean milk which became quite popular among villagers and even nearby Taiwanese residents."
Liang's claims to serve the diasporic cuisine of those villages, using the sentimental value to draw folks in.
Since Liang's first opened, I've visited five times with mixed results. In the beginning, the prices seemed to change, always in the "up" direction...perhaps three times on items like the Niu Rou Mian and Niu Rou Chuan. Once I was served by a young lady wearing flip-flop like sandals and grey sweat pants. I will say that my last two visits have been the best, as the prices and service have finally evened out a bit. Not quite sure about the food yet....
The first two times I had the Niu Rou Mian (Beef Noodle Soup), I was less than pleased.
On the first visit, the broth had been flavored by what the Missus calls "the wave method", as in the soup tasted like someone had waved a beef bone over it to flavor it. The beef was fairly tender, but dry and cold in the center. I selected the regular noodles, which were prepared nicely. On the second visit, the broth was better, but too sweet, the beef was still pretty dry, and the "Lapian Handmade Noodles" tough and gummy. The broth also seemed low with regards to anise flavor as well.
However, on my last visit, I ordered the Beef Tendon version and was rewarded with a decent bowl.
Even though the broth still didn't have enough anise or beef flavor for me, it was hot, not too sweet, not overly salty, and most of all, not bland. The beef tendon was very nice, soft and almost buttery. The pieces of beef were still the same, too dry and stringy for me. Ditto for the handmade noodles, too gummy and over-worked.
Still, I felt pretty happy about the whole situation, until FOY (Friend of Yoso) the "Zompus" asked me, "since when is one out of three good, other than in baseball." I'm hoping that I improve on that slow start during future visits.
On one of my visits, I had the Niu Rou Chuan - the Beef Roll, which was then something like $6.50, but the last time I looked at the menu was up to $7.25.
The sesame bread was too dry as was the beef. I did enjoy the addition of what I believe is Ji Cai, pickled mustard greens, which adds a nice palate cleansing salty-sour component to this, but overall, I didn't care much for it.
When I mentioned this to another FOY "Liver", I was instructed to order the Pork version instead. Which is what I did on another visit with my good friend Candice.
The fat and the flavor of the pork added to the dish.
During our visit we tried a couple of other items.
The Special Red Pork Cutlet($5.25) had a nice light-crunchy texture.
Mild sweetness, though not much else that stood out.
The stuffed squid ($6.99) served cold.
Would have been a real winner if they removed the quills from the squid before they stuffed them. Biting into the squid, then being stabbed by the plastic like quills makes for a rather unpleasant experience.
The Stewed Pigs Feet ($6), in my opinion could have been stewed much longer and needed a flavor injection.
It was like eating hard rubber......
And that's kind of how it's gone for my meals at Liang's. I'd try something like the Salty Pork Stuffed Chili ($5 when I tried it, now $5.50).
Which was indeed salty, but in a good way. You'll also play a bit of chili-roulette with this one as some of the peppers were hot, but other not. The roasting of the peppers also adds a bit of sweetness.
Then I'd order something like the Salty Duck ($6.75). If I'd gotten something 1/10th of what I had in Nanjing or even half-way close to what I get in the SGV, I'd have been happy.
But this was very dry, tasted salty, but also a bit "refrigerator-rancid"......I tried to explain to the yong lady working, but she either didn't, or pretended not to understand. I opted to cut my losses and retreat.
If you like variety, you'll get it here. Is the NRM the best in San Diego? In a town of blind men, is the one-eyed man king? Ditto the Beef Roll..... They also say "nothing ventured, nothing gained", here's hoping that your ratio of gains to ventures is a good one. For balance please read Kirbie'sposts and Gastro-bits post on Liang's.
Liang’s Kitchen 4681 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
168 Restaurant, located in the shadow of the 99 Ranch Market sign, is a popular and inexpensive Taiwanese restaurant in the area.
The bare bones atmosphere, and "sticky" tables, along with the faint smell of vinegar in the air take me back to many of the Chinese "coffee shops" in the San Gabriel Valley. 168 specializes in homestyle Chinese and Taiwanese "grub" at very reasonable prices. Forget about atmosphere though, it doesn't exist at 168. We also ate with our "elbows up" and off of the sticky-tacky tables.
Many of the people during our visits were eating Fried Rice, Noodle Soup, or some other noodle dish.
We decided to try some menu items that we hadn't ordered before. Starting with the Smoked Chicken($3.75):
I really enjoyed this cold chicken dish, it had a mild smokey flavor, the meat had a slightly "cured" texture, and though it teetered on the edge of being too salty it was very satisfying on this very hot day.
Pan Fried Egg with Dried Radish($4.25):
This homestyle omelet had strips of dried radish in it. It is really nothing different from what I make at home. The eggs were very salty, though the radish added a nice crunch to the dish
Glutinous Rice in Bowl($3.25):
I enjoyed the gooey glutinous rice that surrounded a "filling" of chunks of pork and dried radish. Here's a look:
Slightly sweet, slightly salty, with a sauce with hints of......well, as the Missus put's it, "It's Five-Spice, okay, F-I-V-E Spice. None of this hints of anise stuff, it tastes like five spice". Okay??? This was not bad, I'd have it again.
I really don't know why I ordered the Xiao Long Bao($5.75), big mistake:
Really big mistake, the wrappers were a bit freezer burnt, and only two or three of the dumplings actually had "soup" in them.
A few weeks later, we found ourselves at 168 again. And in keeping with our previous meal, we decided to try items we'd never had here before.
Since we enjoyed the cold Smoked Chicken on our previous visit, we ordered the Wined Chicken($3.75):
The chicken tasted much better than it looked. The flavor of the chicken was neither too strong, nor totally bland like the version at Mei Long Village. The texture of the chicken was slightly dense and cured, with a slight salty-winey flavor. Not as strong in flavor as the version at Shanghai City, but still quite good.
Of course some Stinky Tofu(Cho Dofu - $5.25):
The Missus has a basic "rule" when it comes to Cho Dofu. If I can smell it, than eat it, it's probably not good. The usual foul, what I call a dark-deep-damp-acrid odor of decomposition was very tame and mild. In addition, the sauce was very mild and weak. I had 3 pieces of the Cho Dofu, which really tasted like fried tofu, with a slight acrid odor. So this brined than fermented tofu dish was not very good.
Goose Meat w/Bean Thread($5.25):
A light clear poultry based broth, had a nice quantity of slightly chewy bean thread. The broth was mild, and the julienned ginger added a very nice clean flavor to what would be a fairly weak soup. The "Goose Meat" tasted strangely like Duck Leg, it just wasn't as rich and gamey as goose is. We thought this was just okay.
Oyster w/"Thin Noodles" Soup($4.75):
This thickened soup was a strange mish-mash of conflicting flavors, and the lack of decent quality ingredients didn't help it in the least. I really like the slightly gooey soup, it had a nice assertive vinegar and white pepper flavor. The Missus thought it was too sour. I really enjoyed the chewy brown wheat based thin Taiwanese style noodles. There were 2 items that ruined the dish. First, the Oysters tasted very bad, like they had been starting to "break-down" with a fishy-bitter flavor. I fished all of them out of the bowl, no sense in spending the night sleeping the bathroom, if you know what I mean. The bamboo shoots had a metallic-sour flavor to them. I'm pretty sure that the bamboo shoots were old, and that when they were removed from the can, the shoots were not drained or rinsed. Too bad, I thought this soup had potential.
The menu at 168 is quite extensive, with everything from Squid Potage and 3 Cup Chicken(posted on he wall) to Fried Rice and Kung Pao Chicken. What 168 does best are Chinese Coffee shop and snack dishes. And those are still a "mixed bag" and quite inconsistent. The service is basic Chinese restaurant in style and quality, you usually need to ask for anything you need. Of course being open till almost midnight is a big plus.
168 Restaurant 7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111