Today Ed (from Yuma) wants to share a meal with mmm-yoso readers that he shared on a recent trip to Denver. Tomorrow if Kirk doesn't post, Cathy will. So stay tuned.
One place that Jane insisted we had to try for dinner was her longtime favorite, Café Brazil:
The several rooms were pleasant and unpretentious with a diverse clientele and pleasant Brazilian music that set the mood:
I'm sure they serve beer and probably wine, but Café Brazil has a "rum room," serves around 75 different varieties of rum, and provides list of yummy sounding rum cocktails on the menu. So I decided on a mojito:
Wow! This mojito was tasty and powerful. The sweet/sour flavors were nicely balanced with the taste of mint predominant.
Jane chose a caipirinha, a Brazilian specialty cocktail (the unofficial cocktail of the 2016 Rio Olympics, they say) made with sugar, lime, and a sizable amount of cachaça (sugarcane liquor):
It was also quite good. I guess I had expected something sweet, but the drink had a nice complexity and depth of flavor. A good start to the meal.
Since it was my first time looking over the menu, we decided to start with an appetizer; we picked fried bananas:
These little banana balls were perfectly fried and had a crunchy crisp exterior wrapped around a warm gooey banana center. Good as they were, we kind of wished we had ordered them as a dessert. They did, however, keep us from being hungry for sure.
Our server placed these salsas in the middle of the table:
On the left is a deeply flavored malaqueta pepper salsa, very tasty without being too fiery. On the right a Brazilian style pico de gallo, with red peppers and pickled onions.
Those condiments complemented our small bowls of flavorful black bean soup:
I liked the soup. While not creamy, the soup had a pleasant smokiness in the background and a bright spiciness upfront.
We also received a bread basket:
The breads were a reflection of the cuisine – these were not European-style baguettes, but breads that seemed at home in tropical and subtropical America – earthy flavored lightly sweet breads with mixed whole grains, nuts, and bits of fruit.
We had had some difficulties choosing our entrées – most of the choices looked good. I was severely tempted by the varieties of feijoada (the national dish of Brazil), but in the end we decided to focus on seafood.
I got the moqueca de peixe, a seafood stew in a coconut milk gravy over rice: .
The shrimp were large and of excellent quality. Underneath them, on the left side of the picture, is one of the two large sea scallops in the dish. On the right side is one of the two pieces of bacalhau. The scallops were fine and I was impressed by the preparation of the salt cod. The rice underneath brought together the seafood flavors with the slightly sweet touch of creamy ginger garlic coconut milk.
Jane received La Caleña, a different seafood stew on rice:
From where I was sitting, the entrée looked like a small fortress with red pepper walls and battlements composed of carrot sticks and zucchini wedges as if to protect the large shrimp and scallops within.
So I also took a picture from above:
The spicy broth and rice had tomato and seafood flavors. The red peppers and zucchinis were perfectly cooked – tender but firm. And they took on some of the flavors of the sauce. I thought a couple of the carrots were a little underdone though.
We traded plates back and forth and generally agreed it was a good dinner. Café Brazil did well. I am obviously no expert on Brazilian cuisine, but almost everything tasted great, the ambience and service were fine, and I would love to go back and try more of the menu. I can see why this spot is a local favorite.
While Ed (from Yuma) posts about eating on vacation today, Cathy and Kirk are busy. The world is like that.
You don't need a weatherman to know that July and August are good times for Yumans to go on vacation, so I flew to the Denver area to see an old friend and cool off for a few days. The focus of the visit was not gastronomy, but Jane wanted me to try some of her longtime favorites. Who was I to complain about that? And she let me bring my camera, hence this post.
This teahouse is one of the most unusual spots I've ever posted about. A gift from Dushanbe in Tajikistan to sister city Boulder, Colorado, it even has its own Wikipedia page.
The building was originally constructed in Tajikistan (with no power tools), disassembled, and sent to Boulder where it took about 10 years to find a proper location, secure funding, and reassemble it. The distinctive interior – walls, ceilings, columns – all display wonderfully carved and painted wood surfaces:
Though they serve lunches, dinners, and even high tea (if ordered in advance), we just dropped in for a little pick me up. Jane enjoyed her chilled hibiscus tea:
and I had a pot of superior grade Dragonwell:
Loved the egg timer tea timer: We enjoyed the beverages and the ambience.
As Jane explained, The Med has become a very popular dining spot in Boulder and has expanded over the years so that it stretches from that corner all the way back to its entrance:
We were no sooner seated at our table when a basket of truly excellent bread arrived. I really enjoyed the sourdough – nice crust, nice crumb, nice flavor – but the olive bread was good as well:
We decided to focus on tapas. The menu offered around a dozen cold choices and 20 warm, generally priced around $5. We tried to order a variety, selecting three of each.
The Escabeche arrived first:
It was an interesting approach. The yellowfin had been combined with a lot of avocado, mild green chilies, and pico de gallo and some citrus and the combination placed atop a small tumulus of cucumber strips. While certainly okay, I thought it lacked pizzazz. I expected a more assertive citrus flavor, and the cucumber strips just didn't seem to work together with the rest of the dish.
The roasted beets arrived next:
This was a very attractive plate – the golden beets contrasted nicely with the pickled onions, chevre, micro greens, and fried capers. Overall, a pleasant beet salad. Beety.
The bruschetta was enjoyable:
The toasty slices of excellent bread were spread with a white bean paste and topped off with an artichoke tapenade. A nice range of flavors and textures. Very Mediterranean.
The pastillas were the first warm tapas served:
The pan fried flaky filo crust was wrapped around a curry flavored interior of chicken, vegetables, pinenuts, and raisins. Then the savory little pastries were dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Cut into, a pastilla looked like this:
Different and distinctive flavor/texture range.
Our favorite item of the evening was the grilled polenta topped with a wild mushroom ragout:
The julienned vegetables – carrots, turnips, and scallions – provided nice contrast to the colors and textures of the polenta and mushroom sauce. Even though the shrooms look more domestic than wild, the ragout had overtones of porcini, and the polenta was crispy creamy.
Our last tapas were gambas, griddled shrimp:
This was a classic version. The shrimp were firm and flavorful. A squeeze of lemon and the parsley/scallion salsa provided accents. This was about the shrimp.
I had a glass or two of a pleasant Rioja rosé and Jane chose a Pinot Noir. The restaurant seemed lively with a lot of younger folks, and our server Henry was helpful and personable. We had a very good time.
While Kirk and Cathy are doing important things like working or resting, Ed (from Yuma) is posting today.
Usually, after I've written a post on a place in Yuma, I don't visit again for a while, maybe feeling a little burned out. And when I do visit, I don't bring my camera. So when I had lunch at Crouse’s Flat Top Grill in early March I didn't have my camera with me, so I didn't take this picture of the entrance that day:
I ordered one of the sandwiches that I hadn't tried, the smoked brisket. When it arrived it looked something like this:
It was a great sandwich – a crunchy long roll filled with two thick smoky slices of brisket, crowned with abundant sweet grilled onion, and served with a choice of barbecue sauces on the side. Even the potato salad, which I had largely ignored before, was wonderful, the sour spicy crunchy pickle pieces adding true zest.
It was a meal so good that Tina and I have been eating at Flat Top Grill regularly, and of course I've been bringing my camera along.
Although the restaurant has a very modest wine list:
and a limited number of changing taps,
I can always find at least one or two interesting beers
On our most recent visit, Tina ordered an amazing watermelon, mint and jalapeño Margarita:
The rim of her glass was coated with Tajin, and that lime chili salt added one more level of complexity to the cocktail. Spicy, sweet, sour, cool, and smooth, with a touch of salt and a hint of mint. A real winner.
Since that last post, we have eaten a bunch of different things. For example, we were dining there with friends and they wanted to try the loaded JoJo's:
That could be somebody's dinner. The potatoes were nicely cooked and there’s bacon, cheese, and sour cream. Glad our friends had their teenage son with them.
Tina enjoys the tri-tip salad:
The fresh lettuces are nothing special, but the meat is well flavored and she loves the cilantro lime dressing that adds a Sonoran accent.
Of course, we often have sandwiches. Recently, Tina had the hot dog – split in half, grilled, placed atop a strip of bacon, and thickly covered with guacamole:
That same night, I had the guacamole bacon burger – we must have had guacamole on the brain:
In the last post, I complained about an overdone burger; this one was on the verge of under cooked, but the flavorful hamburger, ground on premises daily, had excellent flavor. And bacon and guacamole.
My favorite burger is the green chili burger:
8 years ago I posted about the mutant green chilies found in some Yuma Mexican restaurants, which are always made with beef, usually finely diced or ground. The green chili here is another variation on that theme. The beef is coarsely ground and is the focus of the dish. The chili has some good heat and green chili flavor. It is topped with melted cheese, pico de gallo, and chopped scallions (also with sour cream, but I ordered that on the side).
We have eaten several entrées as well. The Turkey dinner is an amazing combination of familiar and unusual:
On the left side of the plate, covered with gravy, was first rate red skinned mashed potatoes. The Turkey breast slices, like the ones on their turkey sandwiches, were grilled and pretty ordinary, but the waffle made with turkey dressing underneath was something I'd never seen before:
Kindof a Thanksgiving dinner like no other.
And yes, during evenings The Flat Top Grill does have good old-fashioned greens as a side dish. I'm talking serious greens, smoky and meaty:
A little less interesting – though still very flavorful – was the chicken with mushroom gravy. Two thick slices of grilled chicken breast rested on a bed of those mashed potatoes, all covered with delectably creamy mushroom gravy:
On a couple of weekend nights, we ordered specials not on the menu. Once it was the rib special:
Wonderfully spiced, deeply smoked, and fall off the bone tender. Though there is barbecue sauce on the side where it belongs, it really wasn't needed. We took the leftovers home and had biscuits, ribs, and eggs for breakfast. The corn was a little tough and flavorless, but I was still happy.
And if you are ever at Flat Top Grill and they are serving chicken and waffles, you should be eating chicken and waffles:
The waffle was crispy chewy and served with two different syrups, one maple and one spicy. The moist chicken was encased with a flavorful hard crust. Wonderful deep frying technique.
Today Ed (from Yuma) is finishing up his posts about a recent trip to LA. Tomorrow Kirk or Cathy will be posting about something different. That's what happens here at mmm-yoso!!!
Tina and I had a good time in LA. We saw interesting and sometimes amazing stuff in the museums, but this is a food blog not an art blog, so I’ll mostly focus on food. But I do want to give a brief shout out for the Mapplethorpe exhibits in both LACMA and the Getty. He was an incredibly talented photographer who took pictures of all sorts of things, even things like this:
Now let's look in a different direction:
Since we were comped two days of free breakfast buffets at the Hilton (don't ask) and had a lot of leftovers, we ate very little at the museums. But a lunch at an informal café at the Getty was pretty tasty. I had a half portion of a beef, radicchio, and horseradish sandwich with a cup of vegetable minestrone:
Really quite good. The soup was packed with vegetables and had the classic Italian flavors. I was quite taken with the sandwich – interesting combination of flavors. Tina's sandwich seemed more conventional to me, but she liked it:
The next day at the Huntington, we were feeling a bit peckish from walking around the grounds, so we went to the pavilion at the Chinese garden:
and both had a nice jasmine iced tea and a red bean paste stuffed pastry:
However, the main focus of this post is the meal we had at Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine on Garfield in Alhambra:
This small restaurant says it's the only restaurant in the entire United States featuring the cuisine of the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo. It has a couple tables in the front and then a row of tables along the wall to the back of the restaurant:
The menu had a page of appetizers, a page of soups and curries, a page of rice dishes, and two pages focusing on noodles. We tried to order some variety.
Our server was exceptionally friendly and welcoming, and after we ordered, he set our utensils on the table – two small plates, two forks, two soup bowls, and two soup spoons:
Our first dish, from the rice section, was Ayam Muda Goreng Penyet, which the menu described as Indonesian spiced chicken fried Singapore style:
The fried chicken had no breading but the outside was cooked crackly crisp. Its interior was moist, and while the chicken was very hot, there was no trace of oiliness. Tina and I also enjoyed the nicely sweet and mildly hot chili sauce. A perfect match with the bird.
The steamed rice was fine, and it came in very handy with the second item to arrive at the table, Borneo Oxtail Curry Soup:
While the menu said the coconut curry was spicy, most of the spicing was of the aromatic and sweet variety – a reminder that Borneo is in the same region as the fabled Spice Islands. There was one large piece of tail and two or three smaller pieces. All very tender and mildly beefy. The soup had some scallions and cabbage pieces, but my favorite of the vegetables were the chunks of fresh tomato that provided an acidic contrast to the creamy sweetness of the soup. Of course we ladled the soup into our bowls with the rice.
One page of the menu had been devoted solely to Borneo style homemade egg noodles, which could be thin, medium, or thick and chewy. Each type of noodle could be matched up with one of three types of toppings. We decided on Mie Karet Hakka, chewy egg noodles served Hakka style with red pork, marinated egg, fish ball, and fish cake:
The eggs were tasty, a good upgrade from regular boiled eggs. The few small fish ball halves and the plentiful slices of fish cake provided a nice light seafood flavor. The red pork lacked the porkiness and richness of good char siu, but all of these things – as well as some scallions, fried shallots, bean sprouts, and a thin stalk or two of gai lan (?) – were really just flavorings for the wonderful kinky chewy toothsome egg noodles:
A great noodle dish. It was served with a small bowl of seafood flavored broth on the side:
At first, we ate the noodles dry, sometimes dipping items into the broth, but toward the end of the meal we poured all of the broth into the noodle bowl:
It was good to the last drop.
We enjoyed the meal a lot. The clean bright restaurant, the friendly server and the 90s pop playing in the background created a pleasant atmosphere. The dishes we tried were various and tasty. Though the place is cash only, you gotta like the price tag:
Kirk is on vacation, Cathy is doing bunches of things, so Ed (from Yuma) has today's post on an unusual eatery in San Gabriel Valley.
I had been researching restaurant possibilities for Tina and my trip to LA, and I was intrigued by a short post that Kirk had written back in August, 2009, about the Northern Chinese Restaurant. It was his second restaurant of the day, so he sampled only a few dishes, but hinted that he would be back. If he ever went back, he never told us readers about it.
Tina and I were looking for something different, something we'd never had before, so this place seemed intriguing and its location just down Valley Boulevard in Rosemead was close to our hotel:
The interior, with only about 14 tables, was clean and attractive. Of course, I wondered what a faux rococo pastoral tapestry was doing on the wall in a Chinese restaurant, but it’s certainly better than a bare wall:
We had arrived a little before 6 PM, by the time we left every one of those 14 tables had customers, sometimes large family groups. Tina and I were the only non-Asians in the place, and maybe the only people there who didn't have family ties to northern China. Nonetheless, we were treated well and the menu had clear translations for each of the over 200 dishes available. It was easy to point to what we wanted on the menu, so there was no confusion in the ordering.
The first dish to arrive was the Dried Tofu with Hot Pepper:
Talk about something different that we never had before! Those pale ribbons are not pasta, but strips of dried tofu. The light sauce had a mild pork flavor and the jalapeno slices added a nice spice and crunch to the dish.
Next was a huge bowl of Sour Napa with Pork Belly Soup:
In addition to the suan cai and pork, there were also chunks of frozen tofu and at the bottom of the bowl long transparent noodles.
For me and Tina, this was true comfort food. You can give pork and sauerkraut a different name and throw in some tofu and noodles, but it is still pork and sauerkraut, a combination that brings back memories of my childhood. The sour cabbage had been prepared perfectly so that the finished dish was sweetly sour, the mild tang cutting through the richness of the meat.
A cold dish, the Spicy Cucumber then arrived at the table:
This simple dish was a perfect palate cleanser – salty, garlicky, spicy, and crisp.
When I thought I was finished ordering, the young man wondered if we wanted rice, so I asked if there was something more typical of northern China that he would recommend, and he pointed to Smoked Meat and Pancake. So I ordered that also:
As soon as I saw it, I realized that this was a dish which Kirk had really enjoyed back in 2009. Of course he had called it by its real name, Xun Rou Da Bing, and of course we really enjoyed it in 2016.
The pancake was like a yeasty flatbread with a bit of chew and a nice crusty exterior. We happily would have eaten the bread by itself, but the dark bean paste sauce was wildly good and deeply flavored. The smoked pork was mild and okay, but if you put it and some scallion strips on top of a wedge of pancake slathered with sauce, you ended up with a very very tasty slice of Northern Chinese pizza: But we weren't finished yet. The last dish to hit the table was the one that turned out to be our favorite overall, Cumin Toothpick Lamb:
The numerous chunks of gamy lamb were all speared with toothpicks. Some pieces were very tender and some a little bit chewy and gristly. The meat, tossed with stir fried onion, was flavored by abundant chili flakes, ginger, cilantro, sesame seeds, and especially cumin seeds. The combination was masterful.
Of course, as you have probably already figured out, we ordered way too much food even for two hungry people. We joked that we needed some starving imaginary friends to help us finish. We did eat most of the smoked meat and pancake in the restaurant, but we still had tons of leftovers. The cold lamb was still incredible two days later.
For us, this was more than just a different and interesting meal, it was a real feast.
And a reasonably priced feast: The next day, we went to the Getty Museum and kept crossing the paths of a couple of young Chinese women. As we were leaving, we found ourselves waiting for the same elevator, and I asked if I could take their picture. Kindly, they said yes:
Afterwards, we chatted a bit and I learned that the young lady on the left was from Shanghai and the one on the right was from further north. "Beijing?" I asked.
"No, north from there." So I said that Tina and I had just eaten at a northern Chinese restaurant and had dishes like sour cabbage and pork.
While Kirk is out of the country, Cathy posts the most, but today Ed (from Yuma) posts about an old favorite with a new name.
Tina had some slack time at work, so she and I drove up to LA for a few days. During the day we went to LACMA, the Getty, and the Huntington where we especially enjoyed the Chinese Garden:
We stayed at the Hilton on Valley Boulevard in San Gabriel. That meant a lot of windshield time to LACMA and especially the Getty, but it also meant that we could have dinners in the San Gabriel Valley, which is a very good thing.
In particular, we wanted to go to Seafood Village in Temple city where we ate several times in the past, but that restaurant (as well as the one in Monterey Park) has been renamed Seafood Palace. Had the quality changed? In addition, we’d always ordered the special deep-fried crab, an amazing dish, but this visit we wanted to see what else the kitchen could do. We went there twice for dinner.
Both times we parked in the large lot behind the restaurant and entered through the back door:
One evening, we ordered a bottle of white wine; Seafood Palace had only two white wines, but we were happy with the Emmolo Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc:
It was complex, medium bodied, and dry – remarkably sophisticated with a very fair markup.
The first dish we ordered, the crab and fish maw soup, arrived in a large attractive bowl:
Wonderful soup. Imagine an egg drop soup with crab flavored broth packed with almost chewy, semi-gelatinous, and mildly flavored fish maws (air bladders). So good we each had three little cups:
This squid dish, salty baked squid I think it's called, really doesn't look baked:
The very light and somewhat salty crust has a bit of a crispy crunch and a touch of chili heat. The squid itself was remarkably tender. The tasty cephalopods were topped with slices of jalapenos and scallions and were served with white pepper and red vinegar.
The garlic fried snow fish (alias black cod, sablefish, butterfish) had an equally light breading and was moist, rich, and properly flaky:
Very well prepared. Not greasy at all, the fresh flavor of the fish accented with garlic.
One of our favorite dishes was the chiu chow scallops and asparagus:
Chiu Chow (various spellings) refers to cookery in the style of Chaozhou (various spellings), a city at the northern coastal apex of Guangdong province. In many ways the cuisine is similar to Cantonese but shows distinct Southeast Asian influences.
The asparagus was thick, fresh, moist, and cut perfectly. The large sliced scallops balanced the vegetable well and the mildly spicy sauce brought everything together. Even the scallions and roasted spinach leaves made small contributions.
We also loved the oysters cooked with scallions and ginger:
Scallions are often underappreciated, but here the fresh green onions became the main vegetable. I also liked the numerous oysters, mildly funky with that taste that reminds me of estuaries or small backwater coves. The ginger likewise was abundant, and the presentation emphasized the similarity of knobby and irregular ginger roots and bumpy and uneven oysters. Sort of a culinary pun.
The braised chiu chow duck was a little more problematic:
Every piece of duck was a bony piece of duck. The sauce was strongly flavored with ginger and leek, but I detected a slight odd herbal note and cornstarch. The hot pieces of duck were also hard for me to eat with chopsticks, lips, teeth, and tongue alone. The next day, however, in the privacy of our hotel room, Tina and I used our hands to devour the pieces of cold leftover duck, so I guess the duck was pretty good after all.
On one visit, we had the house special fried rice:
It was interesting, permeated with seafood flavors but light in texture. There were small clouds of egg white, thin slices of asparagus, scattered shards of crab, and occasional bits of shrimp. The rice matched well with the food, but it was the only thing that seemed kind of high-priced ($13.99).
Overall, however, Tina and I were delighted with Seafood Palace. The service was generally good even though the young man serving our wine didn't seem quite sure how to do it; nonetheless, he and the other servers consistently did well. If you want to see costs of the two meals etc., here is meal #1 :
mmm-yoso!!! is a blog about food and travel. Today, Kirk is traveling, Cathy is busy eating, and Ed (from Yuma) is blogging.
"You eaten at Mad Tacos?" It was my friend and former colleague, Dawn.
"What? Where?" She then explained that it had won some awards and was supposed to be really good, and asked if I wanted to join her and a couple other folks there for lunch on an upcoming Friday.
The answer to "Where?" was a little complicated as well, because Mad Tacos is inside a pharmacy, Sant Drugs, that has had a lunch counter ever since the days when lunch counters and soda fountains were commonplace in drugstores and five and dimes: This is what an old-fashioned lunch counter looks like:
Here is the view in the other direction:
With such limited seating, and being open only weekdays from 8:30-6 pm, how can they stay in business? This pic is part of the answer to that question:
Every time I've eaten there, people have come in for takeout, sometimes a lot of takeout.
So why is this little place really busy? I think because the food is really good and the prices are really cheap.
Case in point – Friday is fish taco day, so this taco cost $1 on a Friday (prices as of May, 2016):
There is nothing skimpy about that taco. There are numerous chunks of breaded fish and a lot of toppings including spiced mayo. And if you like your fish tacos to have some crunch, you won't find a better one in town, crackling crunchy.
What's more, the two house salsas are excellent:
The one on the left is the guacamole sauce, smooth and creamy from the avocado, with a lime tang and a spicy zip. Really excellent on the fish tacos, but also great on some of the meats, like asada.
The sauce on the right is a complex, smoky, dried chili salsa. This is not a chip dipping salsa, it is a spicing up flavor booster, perfect for a lot of things like these tostadas (regularly 2 for $5, but Thursdays $1 apiece):
So good. Underneath the cotija cheese, pickled red onions, chopped lettuce and tomato, and spicy mayo, lurked pieces of carnitas and a nice smear of frijoles. Even the crunchy tortilla was first rate, substantial enough that I could eat most of the tostadas with my hands and get no fallout on my shirt.
And if you look carefully at the salsa, you can see numerous tiny flakes, flecks, and bits, many red, but others green, black, white, yellow, and translucent. The complexity of a pointillist painting.
Maybe the most amazing lunch special is rolled taco Monday. Potato tacos at $.50 apiece. So this is a $3 plate:
The quality is also superb. The mashed potato is copious and flavorful, and the shell is deep fried crispy.
As I was leaving that day, I mentioned to Mannie (the head cook and proprietor) that his rolled tacos were better than my previous favorites at Buen Taquito up the street.
"Yeah," he said, "they don't flavor the mashed potatoes and their salsa is real basic." A spot on evaluation, and he could’ve added that his are larger in addition to better tasting. But his answer showed that he knows the competition, pays attention, and focuses on quality.
That's also evident in this bacon wrapped hot dog ($4):
While not as overloaded as some bacon dogs, the grilled and charred onions, chopped tomatoes, spiced mayo, mustard, and ketchup are enough, and the real focus here is on the quarter pound sausage:
That's a good hot dog. It has the right texture, excellent flavors, and abundant juiciness.
The quality also shows up in the plate of 3 tacos (choice of pastor, asada, carnitas, pollo, or pescado), a good value at $6:
In the photo, I’ve got a pastor, a fish, and an asada taco. There was a lot of asada:
and I was particularly impressed with the seasonings and grilling of the pastor:
Similarly, the chicken at Mad Tacos is not just bland generic white meat, but is nicely spiced and grilled. Look at this quesadilla ($4):
About as good as a quesadilla can be. The grilling of the tortilla is perfect, the cheese melted creamy, the chicken flavorful, and the roasted green chili strips abundant.
One day I decided to try takeout, so I called in an order for a chicken burrito ($6). When I walked to the counter, everything was almost ready, so Mannie could assemble it quickly, and my burrito was perfectly fresh and nicely packaged:
That burrito was also very tasty:
I realize that a lot of folks don't like lettuce in their burritos, but here the lettuce, pico de gallo, refritos, and abundant guac sauce complemented the warm spicy chicken chunks.
So is everything at Mad Tacos really great? Well, truth be told, the french fries ($3), are pretty ordinary:
Not bad, but not great. Otherwise most things here are real good eats and real good value. Thanks, Dawn.
Looks like Ed (from Yuma) is less busy today than Kirk or Cathy. That’s why you’re reading this post today.
In my last post about this restaurant, back in February, the focus was on breakfasts, but The Patio does a lot of things, most of them well.
Take for example appetizers. Recently at an event here, Tina and I really loved the crunchy deep-fried calamari and oysters Rockefeller, but I did not have my camera with me. So the only appetizer I have pictured is the pretty Quesadilla:
The red pepper flour tortilla surrounded creamy mellow cheese, shredded chicken, and chorizo. A step above most quesadillas.
The first time I ate lunch at the Patio, I chose the Reuben sandwich, which came with the house made chips:
Those chips are warm, thick, and crunchy and went well with the sandwich. The Reuben itself was marvelous:
The Rye bread was grilled perfectly and there was a generous amount of corned beef and sauerkraut. For my palate, this was a great sandwich and a great lunch.
Not quite as successful was this BLT, which I ordered with the french fries ($1.25 extra):
There was nothing really wrong with the sandwich though I should have added avocado to it for some extra creaminess. Those huge fries have a lot of potato taste, but not as much crispness as I like in french fries.
The burgers are uniformly excellent. Look at this close-up their standard burger patty topped with avocado:
What's not to love? Hand formed patty, char marks, juiciness. All those things add up to a first-class burger.
That even applies to the very basic Basic Burger:
Sure, the burger toppings (lettuce, onion, dill slices, tomato) are standard, but the patty was so good they were all that the burger needed. I left the mustard, mayo, and ketchup untouched.
I had requested the house “kale slaw” instead of chips that day because it's a crunchy, tangy, pretty salad with an excellent balsamic dressing.
I had discovered that wonderful thing when I tried the fish and chips:
The two fish filets were outstanding. The beer batter was good and the sea bass tasted moist, succulent, and fresh. The chips were okay, but less interesting than everything else on the plate.
Usually I don't like to include photos of things that I haven't eaten, but Evonne loved her Asian Short Rib Tacos, so here is a picture:
She swore they were as tasty as they look. They are topped with pickled cucumber, spicy mayo, and sliced red onion. They come with the same slaw, but the deep-fried things in the back are not chips, but chicharrones. Gotta have this on my next visit.
Tina and I have also had a couple of nice dinners at the Patio. When the weather is temperate, you can sit outside:
There's even a little fire going:
While the wine list is small (though featuring Bogle wines) The Patio has a full bar and specialty drinks like the Moscow Mule:
This old time favorite features primarily ginger beer and vodka, and Tina approves.
All of the dinner entrées come with your choice of salads, both excellent. Here is the wedge:
Old-school decadence. Iceberg lettuce smothered in ranch and topped with blue cheese, real bacon pieces, and diced tomato. The drizzle of reduced balsamic adds complexity.
Here's the garden salad:
The half a heart of romaine is topped with dried cranberries, pepitos, chopped cucumber, chopped tomato, shredded carrot, and roasted corn. The sweet tang of the dressing plays well with the other ingredients. Excellent salad in both taste and plating.
The entrées also come with soft dinner rolls and balls of butter:
So far, Tina and I have tried four entrées. Here's Italian sausage meatloaf, a thick slice wrapped with bacon and stuffed with mozzarella cheese:
It lay on a pile of mashed potato and was covered with gravy and topped with crispy fried onion strips. Tina loved the Italian sausage flavor of this rich and decadent meatloaf.
That same evening, I had short ribs:
Braised in stout, the large chunks of tender beef sat atop cheddared mashed potatoes and both were enhanced by the stout gravy. All surmounted by mini onion rings and a tangle of deep-fried carrot shreds that resemble Donald Trump's hair. Outstanding flavors, nonetheless. I'd order this again.
The next dinner we ate indoors, and Tina was looking for something healthier, so she selected the grilled zucchini lasagna:
This tasted much better than it looks in the picture. Basically, it's slices of seriously grilled zucchini covered with cheese and tomato sauce. This close-up may give you a better idea about the entrée:
I wanted lamb chops, which turned out to be two double boned chops slathered with chimichurri sauce and set atop mashed potatoes (and again bewigged like the Donald):
This was tasty. The mildly flavored lamb was tender and not overcooked. The sauce was green and garlicky. That little bowl sitting on the back of the plate was brimming with Mexican-style yellow corn, just like you'd find out on 8th Street:
Roasted corn kernels, charred from the grill, swimming in a rich combination of butter, crema, and Parmesan. Total yummy.
This last year has been good for us Yumans who like eating out. A lot of interesting and tasty new restaurants. The Patio, in particular, offers a great range of various foods in a nice setting. Service is first rate, and many of the dishes are out of the ordinary. That chef Alex's cuisine often reflects Yuma (like that street corn)is an added bonus.
Kirk and Cathy aren’t posting today; Ed (from Yuma) is posting and he is a happy man
Last Saturday, I nearly caused an accident on 8th Street. Disappointed and hungry, we'd given up on locating an elusive truck that I had been told about beyond Ave B. So we were just cruising 8th St to some place open when I glanced over to the right, hit the brakes, and swerved.
On a little building behind the Los Compadres truck, just to the west of El Zarape, were written magic words:
I went around to the front and was disappointed to see that it was CLOSED, but the curtains in the window and the signage let me know that someday soon it would be OPEN:
I went through at least seven stages of grief, finally accepting that it was gone, pretty much giving up any hope.
Now OMG it's back.
Around 5:30 pm, May 5, 2016, Tina and I dropped by and saw that it was open. With smiling faces we opened the door, walked in, and immediately saw Lucia smiling behind the counter. Her first day in business at this new location.
The interior space is very small, but clean and bright. There are only four tables; here’s one:
The building is much more modern than her last location and seems to have an effective AC system:
The aguasfrescas ensalada are still very sweet and chocked full of fruit:
The tamales de pollo may be even better than before:
Extremely rich, but complexly flavored. Note the green and red flecks of herbs and spices in the masa:
And completing the tamale striptease, here's a shot of the juicy hot tender flesh within:
Tina had sopa de pollo, a large bowl packed with bone on chicken, chayote, potato, zucchini, carrot, and chicken broth:
The soup came with colorful rice
and 2 thick handmade corn tortillas:
The broth was light and clean tasting, picked up by a generous squeeze of the lemon. And the portion so generous that the leftovers became Tina's next lunch.
I had pollo en salsa, chicken braised in a light tomato sauce, served with rice, chopped lettuce, cucumber, tomato, and radish, and of course 2 thick corn tortillas:
That picture is somewhat deceiving because the thin but very tasty tomato sauce was put on top of the chicken and rice and then the lettuce and vegetables were plated, so I took another picture just to show the hidden "salsa"
The chicken was moist, fall apart tender, and savory. The rice was perfectly prepared and married happily with the tomato sauce. The lettuce etc. was more condiments than salad. Downhome goodness.
The rebirthed Cabañas did have one new item, a very special cornbread:
We took a simple looking piece home for dessert and were amazed by its complexity. Covered with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a light glaze, it was dense, slightly sweet, corny, and cheesy. Waves of flavors. Only after we had eaten some did I realize I needed a picture of it.
The new Pupuseria Cabañas has hit the ground running. Early on opening night, there were two other tables occupied and people grabbing to go orders.
Because I have written so much about Cabañas in the past, I probably won't be updating information unless something remarkable happens. Based on this one meal, I expect the reincarnated Cabañas will measure up to its former self – and maybe even exceed it!
Lucia plans to be open every day: 8 am through 9 pm Wed – Sat, and Noon through 8 pm Sun – Tues. Every day she expects to have one or two soups and one or two entrées available as well as tamales, pupusas etc. Thursday will be bean soup (woohoo) and Sunday Sopa de Pata, my favorite, sort of a muy rico Salvadoran Menudo.
I feel like I just ran into a dear old friend who I thought I would never see again.
Kirk and Cathy are traveling, eating, doing important stuff, or maybe just resting today. So Ed (from Yuma) is posting about 3 meals (from San Diego).
I had to have some sushi. Just had to. Tina had memories of a good chirashi at Kokoro and its website said it would be open at lunchtime on Friday. And it was:
In addition to tables, Kokoro has an L shaped sushi bar that surrounds an elevated workstation and ingredient storage area, which I think helps executive chef Akio Ishito work more comfortably:
Although I don't remember it from before, the chirashi meal started off with a little lettuce and tomato salad:
The lettuces were very fresh, the tomato very ordinary, and the dressing seem to be based around rice wine vinegar, miso, and soy. Refreshing. Palate cleansing.
For soup, we were given the alternatives of miso or udon. So udon it was:
The noodles were perfectly cooked, toothsome and tender, but the soup overall was bland.
The chirashi looked beautiful:
Underneath the fish and friends, the sushi rice was faultless. The toppings presented a nice selection of sushi bar favorites, all good quality and offered good value at $19. We both liked the sizable slice of mackerel and the halibut (hirami), which was especially firm and fresh – in fact, much like the halibut crudo we would eat the next evening at the Wine Vault. We also liked the uni and shiso leaf pairing, and the surprisingly first-rate ebi, unusually meaty and flavorful. The hamachi also stood out. There were no bad tastes, though the slices of octopus and squid were exceeding thin. Overall, we enjoyed.
It had been a long time since Tina and I had been to any Korean restaurant. We weren’t looking for a smoke filled room or for cooking our own food, so we decided on Halmouny, where we’d always enjoyed our visits in the past:
We noticed they'd remodeled the interior, and we liked the changes – the place seemed cleaner, more modern, and more open:
A flagon of chilled water was brought to the table along with my beer:
A mysterious box on the table, when opened, contained stainless steel soup spoons and chopsticks – nice touch:
A funny thing happened. Tina and I started looking over the large menu, discussing things, and trying to figure out what we wanted. There were so many choices, and almost every one of them seemed inviting. Twice the friendly server came over and asked if we were ready, and we had to say no because we weren't. Then, when she came over the third time, we ordered two of the most standard dishes on the menu.
Soft tofu soup with vegetables:
And dolsit bibimbop:
I'm sure our server must have been laughing with her coworkers about the clueless gaijin taking so long to order such a simple basic meal.
But it was good. While the soup lacked a certain depth of flavor, it was certainly tasty, and the interplay between creamy tofu, spicy broth, and veggies and ‘shrooms was pleasant. The bibimbop was great comfort food. The simple meal was really what we wanted.
Though the ban chan was totally standard and uninspired, we enjoyed them. Here’s some items:
The dried radish was our favorite of those four. There was some baby bok choy and some other veggie that I can't remember, but our favorites were the regular kimchi:
and the wonderful dried tofu
For us, this dinner was, paradoxically, exotic comfort food.
For lunch on Saturday, we were looking Eastern Mediterranean, but La Miche Kabobgee is closed for lunch on Saturdays. We remembered seeing a large restaurant, Sufi, on Balboa not too far from Convoy that promised Mediterranean food. So that's where we went:
It is large, and at lunch, it serves a popular buffet:
Photographing the entire buffet was pretty much impossible as other customers were coming and going. Plus I was getting hungry, so this fuzzy shot shows just a small part of the available choices:
Tina's first plate looked like this:
She really liked the chicken and the fire roasted veggies (the big zucchini slice and the charred tomato half). She also enjoyed the garden salad with the feta dressing, and we both liked the Shirazi salad with chopped onion, cucumber, tomato, and parsley.
Here's my first plate:
For some reason, I chose three slices of sausages, which were okay, but not really unique or outstanding. The baba ghannouj was decent, and the hummus was creamy, but far from the best I've had in San Diego. The chicken wing was OK, the pickled beet excellent, and the beef kebab just okay. Tina and I both enjoyed the stewed zucchini.
At first, the breads were not ready, but soon we were able to get pita bread and Persian naan:
For me, the breads said a lot about Sufi. The pita bread was pitiful – cool, store-bought, and boring. The Persian bread, on the other hand, was warm, tasty, and probably homemade. But in some ways that is the essence of the restaurant. While it calls itself "Mediterranean," Sufi is really a Persian restaurant that serves some generic Lebanese food to broaden its customer base.
In fact, most of our favorites from the lunch were Persian, like this interesting pomegranate soup, a lentil soup with a distinct sour tang:
And the stews on my second plate:
I believe the one on the left is called fesenjoom, a chicken and pomegranate stew. On the right is ghormeh sabzi with a big chunk of tender beef covered in greens along with large dark red beans. The closest item is, I think, gheimeh, beef and yellow split peas. I have no idea about the green bean stew furthest away. In any case, these Persian stews were the most interesting items on the buffet, and I wished that I had focused on them right from the beginning.
Nonetheless, the buffet was interesting and we certainly got to eat all kinds of things we can't get out in the desert.
This little place is the "and more" in the title of the post. It's located right next to Sufi and looked promising, so Tina insisted we visit:
There was a bewildering array of Persian pastries:
So our late-night snack that evening consisted of these walnut or pistachio treats: We were expecting something like baklava, but these were different. The pastry was not fila and they were a little more savory and less sweet than baklava. Four years ago Cathy visited the same bakery and hinted that a post might be forthcoming. Hint hint.
Anyway, we enjoyed all three of these meals. None was spectacular, but each scratched an itch, and that's a good thing: too long in Yuma and I get awfully itchy.