But last week, I finally did; twice. This spot is not too large, 11 tables, but probably three times the size of the old location. Still, it wasn't so large that they'd kill the kitchen.
Interesting mix; young Thai Kids, mixed groups, gringos ordering Won Tons and eating sticky rice with a spoon.
I did recognize one of the servers...he does double duty at the PQ location. Other than that none of the faces looked familiar.
The food? I'm happy to say, just about everything was pretty much spot on. You can read all my previous posts and get the lowdown.....
The Koi Soi - Koi Neua (Spicy Raw Beef) had been "cooked" too long in citrus and was much too sour and the texture wasn't right. It's usually a very refreshing dish. Over the years, my heat tolerance has gone down.....I can no longer get this as a "10" and these days settle for a "7".
Still, it was fine.
I once thought that SEL had no ceiling, unlimited potential. These days I consider it good grub, a place that makes me feel like I walked into a little restaurant in Issan and had a nice meal. And I'm more than happy to settle for that.
The Original Sab E Lee 6925 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
So I visited soon after they opened. The place look fairly nice. The interior somewhat "bistro-ish". The young lady who served me during all three visits was quite efficient and reasonably amiable.
I did notice just a handful of what I'd call Lao dishes on the menu; Khao Piak, Papaya Salad, that sort of thing. Nothing like what Sang Dao has. So, I decided to use this visit to see how some of the usual suspects were done
My favorite dish that gauges the stir fry skills is Pad Se Ew. I went with the shrimp version.
This didn't turn out very well. The noodles were mushy and lacking in flavor. As you can tell, there's no "wok hay" no scent, essence, caramelization, nor personality of the use of a hot wok skillfully. The shrimp were dry and the dish really lacked flavor and came across as being kind of greasy.
I also ordered the Nham Tok. Not being asked for a "heat range" can be a mixed blessing. At places like Vientiane Thai Laos in Garden Grove it's great because you'll get served it as spicy as they think appropriate. On the other hand, there's always a chance this happens.
I got "gringo'd"....this was maybe below a 1? The meat was fairly chewy, at least they used roasted rice powder, but the overall flavor was kind of weak.
Man, this wasn't quite the start I thought I'd have here. Before leaving, I asked the nice young lady about some other Lao dishes that weren't on the menu. Apparently, there's a whole world of items that are "off-menu". Among them is my personal favorite Nem Khao, the crispy rice dish made with Lao fermented sausage. So.....in spite of this shaky start, I just had to return.
Unfortunately, when I did return, they had no Lao Sausage, and I was told they "weren't ready to serve nem".......so what to do?
I went with the Salted fish Fried Rice.
This was pretty good. The salted fish was very finely minced so it wasn't as "in your face" fermented-savory as the version at The Original Sab E Lee, nor was it as salty. It was closer to the milder version at Sab E Lee Santee. It was adequately stir fried, you could count every grain of rice. Decent flavors; not bad at all.
Still, I hadn't gotten what I came for. This only meant that I had to return and give it one more try. This time they had Nem Khao.
Accompanied by a plate of sparkling fresh lettuce and herbs my rice dish arrived at the table. This was a nice dish, less sour and not quite as crisp as my favorite versions, but it had some nice spice and a decent flavor overall. Not bad, I'd have it again.
What I won't have again is the Crispy Pork with Chinese Broccoli. I had optimistically hoping for something like what we get at Yai Restaurant. What I got was this.
While the flavor was decent, that familiar soy-garlic-etc, the gailan was overcooked and the pork was hard, not tough, definitely not crisp, but hard. I'm thinking that the two pieces I managed to swallow are probably still floating around in my GI tract somewhere....well hopefully not.
That said, service was nice, the salted fish fried rice and the nem khao was good.....I'm thinking that they must make the green bean salad that I always enjoyed at Sang Dao......so I guess I'll be back.
Sang Deuan 3904 Convoy St. Suite 112 San Diego, CA 92111 Hours: Tues - Thurs 10am - 9pm Fri - Sat 10am - 10pm Sunday 10am - 9pm Closed on Mondays
Just a quick little post on a warm Thanksgiving eve.
Sang Deuan Thai and Lao Kitchen coming to Convoy:
I actually saw the sign lit up when driving home from Nijiya a couple of nights ago. This shop will take the place of the long running Philadelphia Sandwich Company. As much as I love businesses who have been around forever, the food at PSC seemed dated and a bit tired, so maybe it was time. As for Sang Devan, well, I'm interested and time will tell....
And yes, I did stop by. You know how I am. I'll eat here a couple of times before posting.
I will say, the servers are very friendly, there are the usual Sichuan suspects on the menu. The menu is a bit disconcerting....along with the to be expected ABC (American Born Chinese) dishes, usually on the menu as a concession to the lunch crowd; there's the very non-Sichuan Xiao Long Bao and Hongshao Rou....... Not quite what comes to mind with regards to "Szechuan Tastes".....
So we'll see....
Szechuan Taste 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
Yep, we've done a ton of posts on these places, so here are mostly photos.
We've been coming since they first opened, though I haven't posted on the place in a couple of years. Forgot to take a photo of the Yukke, but here's the rest....oh, and we had two orders of the "harami" - prime skirt steak.
Service recently has been really nice.......so we've been enjoying ourselves here.
Tsuruhashi Japanese BBQ 3904 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111
I never noticed the Plato Azteca on previous visits...basically nopales (cactus) stir fried with two selections....I choose huitlacoche(of course) and flor de calabaza (squash blossom).
Aqui Es Texcoco 1043 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91911
As a bonus, I ran into none other than Sawyer at Hogetsu! Great seeing you man!
Rather close to the office, there are a couple of dishes I think they do well.
The fried spareribs is not one of them.
The Khao Karr Moo - the simmered pork leg, takes me back to Thailand.....getting off a water taxi, you're inundated by the fragrances coming off the various food stands.....
The Pla Sahm Rod presentation looked sloppy, but it had a decent flavor and the fish was fried well.
Not as good as my previous visit, the rice was terrible, some of it hard as rock, the other hald mushy. Still, we didn't come here for the rice. Service was friendly, even though the place was totally slammed at lunch. Much better than the sometimes surly service I'd gotten here at times in the past.
Koon Thai Kitchen 3860 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
The Original Sab E Lee moving into the (former) Bale location:
Funny thing. This past weekend I wanted something with a little "zip", so in spite of some not so great meals in the last year or so, since I needed to grab something from Thuan Phat, I decided to get some take-out from what was once our favorite take-out spot, the Original Sab E Lee. Over the last couple of years, there seems to be a rotation of young people running the front of house....on this day, the young lady was, well, kind of rude..... But taking a peek back at the kitchen, I saw one of the "old crew" who had moved over to Rancho Penasquitos location cooking in the back. Needless to say, it was a very nice meal....though I found that my tolerance for heat....I used to be a level 10 kind of guy, has gone down. A "7" on this day was kicking my butt. Still, this was the best stuff I've had from here in a while....especially the salted fish fried rice!
Anyway, I also noticed that Bale had closed down....well, they lasted two years.....
Yesterday, I was on my way to a meeting and I decided to drive by and take a photo for a post......and my goodness what a surprise!
Way back in 2008, Kobey told me they had looked at this spot, but thought it was too expensive. I'm glad they're pulling the trigger now. The spot really hasn't done well since Le's closed, in 2009 it became LV Sandwiches, in 2010 Toan Ky, Bale opened in 2012, now in 2014 it's going to be the TOSEL...more tables, more parking, I hope the staff and the kitchen can keep up.
The Original Sab E Lee 2405 Ulric St San Diego, CA 92111
6925 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
Marukai has new hours:
This past weekend, the Missus went back to work. She requested Sukiyaki, so I decided to drop by Marukai. I got there a bit earlier than the usual (former) opening time of 930 and noticed folks were already exiting the market.
That's when I noticed the new hours.
I also did pretty well in the meat department.
I'm glad to have the new hours....9 or 930 is kinda late to get started shopping for me on weekends.
Marukai Market 8151 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111
Last weekend, cc and I had planned another road trip ...and I was impatient and drove up to Glendora early on Thursday. Since she and I still had the day free, we decided to see the sights around San Diego and one of many of the planned and spur of the moment stops of the day was here. Located in a small mall at the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Scott Street, the corner storefront looks plain. However, the interior is bright, clean and modern. The regular menu has a page explaining the philosophy (It's Farm to Table Thai!) and care used in the ingredient sourcing and the special/limited menu caught our eye. Hot tea ($1.50) was brought out in this heavy cast iron pot along with a heavy cup.
The house made Essan Sausage appetizer ($9.50) was, as both Kirk and cc stated, excellent. No filler, coarsely chopped pork, plenty of fresh herbs-lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, shallots and crispy deep fried with just a touch of crispy pan fried burn, the sides of lettuce, peanuts, ginger and Thai chili were complimentary to this wonderful sausage.
CC and I both like to eat whole fish when dining out. This was a perfect way to try out the special fish of the day- a Rockfish (small, 2.5-3 lb size, $25). The beautiful presentation lent itself to having the entirety of the fish skin crispy. Tamarind, garlic, chili, pepper, mushrooms, an array of Thai spices, that fried shallot and fried basil on top...all were complimentary to the meaty firm fish.
Usually our respective husbands are there to clean the carcass.But I think we did a pretty good job. I can't wait to go back and try more of the menu.
mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog with posts centering around food, sometimes sharing the process which the acqusition of said food occurred. Kirk is busy, Ed(from Yuma) is busy and Cathy is writing.
More than a month ago, friend and fellow food blogger, cc, asked (another friend and food blogger) CAB and I to accompany her on a celebratory (beginning of vacation) food crawl 'Up North'. CAB unfortunately had a change in plans and couldn't make it. I discovered on Wednesday before our scheduled crawl that the first Rose Parade float road testing was also going to be held that Saturday morning. Checking out the road testing is something The Mister and I do and share here on the blog ( I also sharedecoratingand other 'behind the scenes'posts about float consruction). I felt guilty, A) Because The Mister wouldn't be able to come with us and 2. For asking for a slight change in 'plans'. Except our plans included and lot of 'maybe here and maybe there' places to visit and eat..so I added one in. Of course it had to be the first thing we did that day, because testing begins at 7 a.m.. In Pasadena.
At the end of this epic day (I was at cc's home at 5 a.m. on the dot and got back to my home at 6:35 p.m.), I was exhausted, had driven 314 miles and had 327 photos on my camera (many were the same subject from different angles) and so this post is mostly photos. Details in future posts.
First the 2015 Rose Parade. The floats tested this day were all sponsored by service (volunteer) organizations. The theme of the Tournament of Roses parade is "Inspiring Stories". The Grand Marshal will be Louis Zamperini, WWII POW, Olympian and the subject of soon to be released movie, Unbroken. Each float is the interpretation of the theme by each participating organization.
This will be the Donate Life float. It's in the basic stage of construction and testing. Those detailed butterflies are just so beautiful. You can see the float driver in this photo.
Now, to the food portion of this post. In order: what we ate and did. One photo from each place. Yep. We did a LOT in a few hours. It was fun, educational, tasty and only slightly exhausting. The details will be revealed in future posts. Feel free to guess or ask questions. Hope you are having a good week!
A couple weeks back, "Rik" sent me an email telling me that a new Thai Restaurant had opened in Chula Vista and was serving up Issan style dishes. Which sounded great to me. I finally found time in my schedule to head down to Broadway and check out Krua Thai.
The place is a tiny hole-in-the-wall that you'll miss if you blink while driving past Halsey Street.
The tiny place, a couple of tables and a counter, with no A/C reminded me of Sab E Lee, circa 2008. And to my extreme surprise, when the cook came out front....we both stared at each other and laughed; it was one of the cooks from the later version of the Original Sab E Lee!
Sadly, looking over the menu, I noticed few Issan dishes; I was told that there's no customer base in the South Bay for Duck Larb, Koi Soi, Nam Tok and such. Still I ordered items that I thought would give a good indication of flavor, spice, and technique.
Starting with the Yum Nuea, the beef salad.
I ordered this at a heat level "7" and it did bring it on. The base flavors were there; mild sweetness, pungent fish sauce and garlic. Protein was pretty scarce and I didn't take to the iceberg lettuce, no cabbage and really tough beef makes this lean more on the "no bueno" side.
Issan Sausage (of course).
This was very dark and the casing a bit over-fried. Flavor the same as TOSEL, after all, it's the same sausage. No cabbage, ginger, chilies, and cucumber makes this kind of fall short. The wilted cilantro made the dish look sad....but the sausage was fine in spite of how dark the casing looked.
My usual test of the cooks wok skills, Pad See Ew (with shrimp).
This lacked the color and "wok hey" that I look for in Pad See Ew. I did appreciate that the noodles weren't over-cooked. The shrimp were also done right. The flavor was good, if a bit too sweet. This one just missed the mark.
The service was very friendly and mellow. I was told they'd make me anything from Sab E Lee's menu if I ordered ahead, so you might try and do that if you visit. This place has potential, the dishes are so close, just barely missing the mark. I'm sure I'll have a better meal next time. Nice folks here, I hope they do well.
Krua Thai Cuisine 686 Broadway Chula Vista, CA 91910
So this meal got me thinking. I hadn't been to TOSEL in a while.....as much as I've written about the place, it seems that they've kind of "jumped the shark" over the last year or so. Many of the dishes I've gotten have been uneven and some of the young folks there seem to be somewhat blase' these days. Perhaps that's what success brings.....but I really do miss Koby and the tight ship he ran.
So I decided to drop by and order the Issan Sausage and the Yum Nuea.
You can see the difference, though the Beef Salad flavors were pretty close, the meat was more tender and there was just more of it. I will say, this is not the same as the version I enjoyed back in 2008. It seems like the flavors of some of the dishes here have been somewhat diluted, probably just as the talent pool of cooks is. Sad to say, TOSEL is just not on my rotation anymore......
The Original Sab E Lee 2405 Ulric St San Diego, CA 92111
Though I haven't been to Sab E Lee Santee in ages.......
We left San Bruno at a bit after 5am the night after having a wonderful meal at Wakuriya. We decided on grabbing lunch in LA, then doing a couple of errands, then heading straight home.
We stopped at "fragrant" Harris Ranch for gas and bought some stuff for Da' Boyz. What was really funny was that the Missus had never been back to LA this way.....so when I turned off at Gilroy, She asked me "why the hell are we taking side streets!!!"
Now if you recall, this was during the first weekend of December, which was the coldest of the year. The Missus told me to take a break and She'd drive until we reached Castaic. I dozed off, but awoke when the Missus told me, "hey, check this out!" We were on the Grapevine at the Tejon Pass and my god, it was snowing........like sideways snow. Now you have to remember, I'm a kid from Hawaii, the Missus didn't learn how to drive until She moved to the US......in LA. We don't drive in snow.....
I looked ahead......I told the Missus, "you see those vehicles in front of us? Those are snowplows!" Yep, at the Northern tip of LA County......snowplows....
This was something very different for us.....and yes, the Missus was actually fascinated by the experience.
We were very lucky, they had closed the Tejon Pass about 15 minutes later. A few minutes more and we'd had been caught in a traffic jam. Here's what it looked like in Castaic.....
We made it to our lunch destination right on time; a shade after 11am. We'd been wanting to return to Yai Restaurant for a while. Alot of water had passed under the bridge since that visit in 2006; we'd been to Thailand, Laos, had our favorites in San Diego, and were wondering if our impression of Yai would be the same.
Yai resides on the outskirts of "Thai Town". It's a no frills, no pretense, simply furnished joint. I kind of believe that what Yai does best is are Chinese influenced Thai dishes.
We ordered the two dishes that really made an impression years ago and went with one I was interested in trying.
One of the dishes that we really enjoyed was the BBQ Duck with Chili and Garlic ($10.95).
This was definitely not visually appealing. It did have that wonderful sweet-garlic flavor, though it was a bit on the greasy side. The duck was also on the chewy side, but had a really nice flavor.
The Black Egg Pow ($8.95)
So good, just the way we recalled. I don't ever recall seeing this dish anywhere else. Preserved duck egg is deep fried, then combined with a wonderfully sweet and savory sauce that captures classic Thai flavors.
The fried basil leaves add a crunchiness and a mildly sweet-herbaceous flavor to the dish. The preserved eggs have a wonderful texture, the exterior crunch, yields to the firm egg, then gives way to a creamy center. There's a slight sulphuric - musty finish that I find pleasant in a strange sort of way. This is one of my "desert island dishes".
This is simply called Roast Pork with Chinese Broccoli ($8.95) on the menu and is actually crisp roast pork with gailan. But this dish is more than just a description. I'm not sure where they get that roast pork, but it is simply wonderful. It almost melts in your mouth.
This was a nice way to end our roadtrip....it's always gratifying to visit places you really enjoyed years ago and find they're still putting out good grub.
Yai Restaurant 5757 Hollywood Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90028
Yes, even though I noticed this place back in August of last year, I took my time checking it out. For osme reason, the "Thai Gourmet Express" portion of the name made me think of bad mall food court Thai.....
Gladly, this was a "steam-table free" zone. It seems to be using the now somewhat redundant "fast- casual" model...the Chipotle-ness of the world continues. And yet, Thailand has some of the best of what I'd consider "fast food/food court" cuisine. I mean Khao Karr Moo - stewed pork shank, in a Hospital Food Court?
There was a wok station where an older gentleman did his thing....the place was shiny, clean.....
I liked the menu; it's simple, tight, poultry driven. They even sold Thai BBQ Chicken by the piece, so I started with that ($2).
I pretty much got what I expected......standard rotisserie chicken with some lemongrass flavor. It was moist, the skin a bit too rubbery for my taste, lacking the complex, nuanced flavor of good Kai Yaang; garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, sweetness from sugar and perhaps a bit of honey or something similar. The flesh was "American soft"; I actually enjoy a more toothsome and flavorful bird for dishes like this.
Seeing Roast Duck on the menu, I decided to get the Roasted Duck Thai Fried Rice - medium spicy.
The guy working the wok looked like he knew what he was doing, but the rice was on the mushy side. There was a nice amount of roasted duck, which was on the mild side in terms of flavor, but was passable. Not enough fish sauce, lacking in sweetness, the heat was one-dimensional coming via crushed red pepper flakes. Just average.
The gratis soup......well, I'd rather do without.
I wanted to give that wok chef another shot so I returned and ordered the ever so deceivingly simple Pad See Ew with Shrimp($8):
This was not terrible, at least the noodles weren't overcooked and mushy. It did lack enough color, soy sauce flavor, pungent white pepper and the very mild sweetness I enjoy in Pad See Ew. Also, the shrimp 41-50 in size were cooked to death and very rubbery. I also wasn't thrilled that they didn't use Chinese broccoli, at eight bucks for a rather small portion, I think they could have at least done that.
Overall, this isn't the Panda Express of Thai Food, but in my opinion, its bit too "gringo" for my taste. The food is prepared fresh to order. I didn't expect Sab E Lee and this place was definitely not. Like I said about J & T Thai Street Food, "I usually don't go to Chipotle when I'm craving Mexican Food, but I don't hold it against those who do."
Still, the couple on one of the tables was ooooh-ing and aah-ing about the Roast Duck Larb....so maybe someday.
Green Shallots Thai Gourmet Express 5447 Kearny Villa Rd San Diego, CA 92123