The Missus: Why do they have taco Tuesday? Me: Well, I think that Tuesdays are usually a pretty slow day for business, so it's a marketing thing.... The Missus: But why not Thursday? Me: I believe because business starts picking up on Thursday so they don't need a.... The Missus: That's really not fair.... Me: Ummm, to who? Thursday???
Sometimes it's hard to get past the conversation.....so in deference to the Missus...after all, my boss always tells me, "happy wife, happy life!" It's Taco Thursday. At least here it is.....
I recently had a fun dinner with my friends Candice, Howie, and Jenne. It had been a while since we had gotten together and we had a blast. Anyway, during the conversation Howie mentioned that one of his favorite taco shops is El Paisa. I suddenly realized that I haven't paid this location of El Paisa a visit since it was Tacos el Rico. So I made a mental note to check them out. It was easy enough for me, since I'm in the habit of dropping by the San Diego Public Market every Sunday. Imperial is just a couple of blocks away....there's really no excuse.
Man, they've really renovated this place sine the last time I passed by.
The deck area look really nice......
You can get two different sizes of tacos here; the "minis" run from $1.80 - $1.85, though you can get three for $4.99. The regular sized tacos run from $2.25 - $2.99.
On this day, I went with the Al Pastor and Cabeza ($2.75 each):
The Al Pastor was on the dry side, the spice quite mild, and it lacked the depth of flavor that a good al pastor would have. The tortillas were pretty much middle of the road, nothing outstanding. Ditto for the two salsas I tried....the verde and the roja.
The cabeza was very moist, though it could have been more tender, and rather than being rich seemed more like greasy to me. There were hints of the nice beefiness that I enjoy in cabeza.
The service was rather indifferent to me, though it seems like they really tend to cater to their Hispanic customers.
Still, I could see some potential and thought it only fair that I return. On this visit, the young lady was very friendly. She even brought out squeeze bottles of the salsas to me. On my last visit, all the other tables got those bottles....except me. When I stood up to get limes, she told me to have a seat and brought them to me. Very nice.......
On this trip I went with the Lengua ($2.85) and Carne Asada ($2.75):
The carne asada wasn't too salty and I don't know if it was a byproduct of the griddle, but I could taste hints of what tasted like chipotle and perhaps achiote as well. Just look at the meat and you can see what I mean.
Sadly, this was dry and tough as heck.....it really brought out how gloppy the guacamole was as well.
Looking at the rather grayish lengua wasn't very encouraging either.
Looking closer I could make out the actual papillae of the tongue's surface on the pieces of lengua. It also looked a bit too waxy, but the fragrance was heavenly. And it was surprisingly tender with that somewhat offal-beefiness that I enjoy in good tongue. The onions and cilantro helped to cut the richness and the salsa roja added that bit of pungent push in flavor.
This was good; I'll have it again.
Since I'm in this area every Sunday, i'm thinking I'll hit up La Fachada again. I haven't visited since they moved things around in the parking lot a bit. Unless anyone has some other recommendations for tacos in the area at 10am!
Tacos El Paisa 2494 Imperial Ave San Diego, CA 92102 Hours: Sun - Thurs 8am - midnight Fri - Sat 8am - 3am
During one of our too infrequent meals together, Jenne, Candice, Howie, and I discussed doing a two stop comparison of Yakyudori Ramen & Yakitori and Yokohama Yakitori Koubou. Jenne is partial to Koubou, Candice and I, Yakyudori......Howie, being the mellow un-confrontational guy that he is, was on the fence. I also thought that this final comparison would be a nice part 3 to the two posts I had done before. Plus, I do love meat on a stick. The only way we could really do this was to actually compare apples to apples, so Candice asked me to pick several menu items that are yakitori "standards" if you will. Items that would put the "tori" in Yakitori.
We started at Yakyudori, already almost in crisis mode even on an early Sunday evening; folks waiting in line, servers running madly, perfunctory service and all. Ending at Koubou, mellow, friendly, where they give you a shot of milk with your first beer to help coat that tummy......
So why not start with the Tsukune? Basically grilled chicken meatballs dipped in a sweet tare. Candice had never had these at Yakyudori before and was kind of freaked out by the almost mousse like, creamy texture.
Jenne thought the tare on Yakyudori's version was too sweet and preferred Koubou's, which was more like the standard issue Tsukune. I thought the tare at Koubou was still way too mild, but was in the minority on this one, 3-1 Koubou.
Score: Koubou 1, Yakyudori 0
Next up was the "momo", this was simple thigh meat, there would be no hiding quality, seasoning, and skill here. The clear winner was Yakyudori, simply seasoned with a very tasty sea salt, the flavor of bincho came though...perhaps a bit strong for some, not for us.
Yakyudori was also the moister and more tender of the two, while Koubou's version had been dipped in tare, you could barely taste it. The chicken was a bit dry as well.....good thing we didn't get breast. I recall Howie rhetorically asking, "why does the salt from Yakyudori have that almost sweet complex flavor, while at Koubou it just tastes salty....."
Score: Koubou 1, Yakyudori 1
Third comparison was the easiest....all I have to do is show you the photos of the Teba - chicken wings. First is Yakyudori's:
Yikes!!! One thing I noticed when passing passing the grill at Koubou is that they grill on a grate placed a pretty good distance from the bincho charcoal. It seems perhaps a bit too far from the binchotan.
Score: Yakyudori 2, Koubou 1
Next up was the Negima, your basic chicken with scallion. Same result as the momo. Yakyudori's was moist, smoky, wonderfully salty.......
While Koubou was dry, tough, and looked haphazardly put together......
One looks like the straight, well maintained teeth of a super-model, the other, "meth-mouth". Which would you rather eat?
Score: Yakyudori 3, Koubou 1
Candice thought (rightfully so), that we should include at least one non-chicken item for comparison and the unanimous choice was Gyutan - beef tongue. Personally, I preferred Yakyudori, which was thinner, more evenly grilled and seasoned. Still, I prefer my beef tongue cut a bit thinner, so the edges are crisp and the center is chewy, giving you a nice contrast.
Jenne preferred the thicker slices at Koubou.......
Though you can tell the grilling was uneven. My skewer was sorely lacking in salt, while Howie told me that his had way too much. Don't know what to say, but I'm satisfied with this being a tie.
Score: Yakyudori 3, Koubou 1, 1 even.
One last item I feel needs to be included. Execution and quality were not the only two ways the restaurants differed. The atmosphere at Yakyudori is very, well...."urban". You feel like you're in a big city robata restaurant; the lights are bright, folks waiting in line or sitting elbow to elbow on the bar, plates of meat-on-a-stick and bowls of ramen flying pass you. Hustle and bustle....... not all the time mind you, just most evenings after 530. Koubou is more relaxed, the lighting is darker, folks seemed to be hanging out having beers with their friends. I'm not sure it's always that way, but that's what I noticed the three times I've been there. It's really obvious once you visit both on the same evening.
Conclusion....well not too much really....this being totally anecdotal and all. But the way I look at it is; if I'm after decently executed yakitori, it's Yakyudori. If it's a chill good time and some drinks I'm after and food is secondary to relaxed conversation, Koubou might fit the bill.
Here's some of the other items we had.......
Yokohama Yakitori Koubou 3904 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111
Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori 4898 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Convoy Yakitori Story Part 1: Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori can be found here.
Convoy Yakitori Story Part 2: Yokohama Yakitori Koubou can be found here.
When the folks in our monthly "eating club" were polled as to where our next meal should be.... it was unanimous, Alforon was the only choice. so on a recent weekend night, we arrived at Alforon, looking to take on the menu.
Since my first post, I've been here a couple of times, and have grown to enjoy the warm colors and textures of the small dining area.
We started with some Labni (comes with pickles and bread - $4.25):
The labni was very smooth, with a texture like a thick creme fraiche, with hints of lemon, this was very nice. And this time I didn't forget to take a photo of the pickles, which I think are the best in San Diego.
We were all fascinated with the green item in the pickles.... it had the texture of artichoke. George one of the owners told us it was Snake Cucumber, commonly known as Armenian Cucumber in the US. It is actually a melon with cucumber like characteristics. The pickles at Alforon have a wonderful fresh briney flavor to them, and were one of the favorites during this dinner.
I also requested a small bowl of garlic paste.
I've really taken to this creamy and light paste, with a decent, but not overbearing garlic flavor. It is closer to an aioli then a garlic paste, and recently I've been buying 8 ounce containers to go. It would probably make cardboard delicious. Even though George told us that we should only use the garlic paste for chicken, he appreciated our enthusiasm for it...... his son did tell us that he puts on everything, so I guess we were in good company. Samia and George, the owners have such an honest enthusiasm and concern for their customers that is quite refreshing. George even told us the ingredients for his garlic paste (which is nothing like my two recipes), of course he told us the secret is in how he prepares it, not the ingredients. And nope there is no potato or mayonnaise in the recipe. I won't share the ingredients with you.... I want you to try the garlic paste, and make your own mind up.... and ask George, he'll readily share the ingredients with you.
For the meal proper, we started with Zaatar Extra ($3.25):
It is the organic imported Zaatar (Wild Thyme), that is rightfully the star of this. I really didn't think we even needed the "extra" (tomato, olive, and mint), as there was more than enough flavor to go around.
The Spinach and Cheese Flat Bread ($3.75):
Really paled in flavor after having the Zaatar..... though the Missus loves the Spinach only flat bread.
The Soujouk ($5.75) was up next:
I mentioned this in my previous post, and it was indeed just as good this time around. We preferred this to the Lahm Bajeen with Spicy Peppers ($3.45):
A classic Lebanese minced meat flat bread, this wasn't very spicy, and while quite good, it really didn't have the depth of flavor of the Soujook.
The most suprising item of the night was the Chicken Tawook ($5.75):
Looking like a simple white meat chicken topped flat bread, the chicken had been simply marinated and was very tasty. Of course being topped with the wonderful pickles and garlic paste (we of course added even more), this was very good. And to be perfectly honest, this was lighter, more refined, and had better prepared ingredients than what is served at Mama's. About this time George came around and told us that he prepares four different kinds of dough. And that the meat flat breads used a lighter dough, creating a thinner crust than the non-meat flat breads.
About then our Falafel arrived (Six Falafel, Tahini, and Pickles - $6.75):
If you like light and almost creamy Falafel, you'll love this. For me, I like mine a bit more "gritty" and substantial. FOY Jenne thought these were heavenly topped with...... you guessed it; the garlic paste, which made George laugh and shake his head. Of course, right then the young man chimed in, "yes, that's exactly how I like it".
Right then George walked away and came back with some sesame bread that he wanted us to taste with some Zataar sprinkled on it.
Candice commented on how this tasted almost like Shao Bing..... George told us that this is the very traditional bread they make.
Also arriving was the Feta Cheese Pie ($3.25), but by this time we were pretty stuffed.
The four of us shared a Aaysh Essaraya ($3.95) which finished us off.
All in all a very reasonably priced meal at under $50 for four! And we had a really nice chat with George, who told us how the refractory oven is actually the second oven. The first was bought prefabricated, but had many flaws, so he sent it back ($4200 in shipping), and had the one he uses built on site.
Alforon is quickly becoming a fixture on our rotation.... and even on this night, I had to have a container of garlic paste (8oz - $3.95) to go. As always it was wonderful to spend time eating and chatting with Howie, Jenne, and Candice..... thanks for a great time!
Since Sushi Yaro officially opened on July 1st, I've been visiting at least once a week. I kinda hesitated in doing a post, since I've now known Sam for almost ten years. I really didn't want to seem to be "shill".... but Sam has served up some great meals over the years, not only to me, but to other FOYs as well. But much like your favorite watering hole, the relationship between a regular customer, and his Itamae is a very close one. Sam seems to have settled into Sushi Yaro, and the place is starting to have that neighborhood feel Sammy Sushi had. It does seem like the customers are focused on the "world of rolls", but Sam always seems to have something for me......
And once he got his kitchen guy back from a stint at Sakura, the kitchen food started getting better as well.
No, it isn't Ota or Kaito..... but I can't really afford to eat there three times a week. At Yaro, on a weeknight I can relax, have some sushi or sashimi, and maybe some Kubota Manju or Otokoyama, and the world becomes a better place.
This is one of my favorite cooked dishes at Sushi Yaro:
Shishamo is really great stuff grilled.... but it is the female smelt, especially those laden with eggs that we're after. So what to do with the guys??? I guess Sam decided to batter them, and serve them tempura style. I was a bit surprised at the flavor, there's almost a savory sweetness to this. I had thought that Shishamo was a bit too high in oil to be used for tempura.
And sometimes Sam will have something that surprise me, like the night he broke out some Razor Clams. The kitchen hadn't done a particularly great job with these.... but it was very thoughtful.
So obviously, it was just a matter of time before our "eating club" descended upon Sushi Yaro for dinner. What follows is mostly photos... many of which "my favorite Librarian", Jenne took.
I can't remember the last time I had oyster jun.....
As always, I had a wonderful time with Candice, Howie, and Jenne.... I can't wait until next month!
I don't know if you can tell, but I've been in a bit of an "eating rutt" since returning from China, where every meal, good or bad, was at the least interesting. Since returning from our trip, I've been cooking at home a lot. Whenever I get into these dips, I can always count on my friends to help lift me up. And having a monthly "eating club" consisting of Candice, Howie, and Jenne, is a sure remedy. This month, Howie was in the mood for Mariscos, so it was......
Mariscos Los Koras:
I've posted on Mariscos Los Koras before, this Nayarit styled seafood restaurant lies right off the I-805 Martket Street exit, sort of standing all by its lonesome. I'm fairly certain the very nice lady working here didn't quite know what to make of us. She did find out something fairly quickly.... we like to eat, as after placing our order, she moved the four of us to a larger table.
Howie wanted to taste the Aguachile, so we started with that.
The citrus cooked shrimp came out in a large molcajete, which I could barely budge. This place tends to make some pretty bracing cocteles, and this was no exception.... it was quite sour, but wasn't very spicy.
I've always wanted to try the Sarandeado (Grilled whole fish) at Los Koras, so what better chance than on this day, with Howie on hand?
The flavor of smoky mesquite permeated the fish, which I think was a bit under-cooked. It was moist though. Unfortunately, the largest fish on hand on this day was 1 1/2 pounds, and Howie can do that solo.....
Of course it comes with all the fixins', salsa, tortillas(which were refilled a coupla times), and beans...... beans that we all found quite good, very tasty, better tasting than beans should be....
Until Candice said, "I know why..... I just bit on a piece of pork."
A couple of years.... well sheesh, now nearly five years ago, I visited Ed in Yuma. And the one item I clearly remembered were the empanadas from Mariscos El Nayarita. So of course I couldn't help but get a couple of orders of Nayarit style Shrimp Empanadas, right?
These weren't bad, but were a far cry from those empanadas. While those were light... you could eat them by the dozen, and crisp, these were almost flakey, and filling as heck. One was more then enough.
Funny thing was, the item everyone enjoyed the best was the one item I didn't take a photo of. Mainly because you can see it on my previous post. It was the Filete Los Koras, that green sauce is fantastic. The flavors emanating from that sauce.......
Sharing food, laughter, and stories amongst friends is always a great time. Of course, a couple of Micheladas, that beer-lime juice-chili concoction, sure helps as well!
Mariscos Los Koras 4297 Market St San Diego, CA 92102
Halmouny (Hal Mu Ni) with Ed from Yuma:
A couple of weeks back, Ed from Yuma rode into town. We managed to grab a bite at Halmouny. I broke out the camera, even though I've posted on the place a couple of times already. The new shop looks pretty nice, much better than the modified fast-food look of the previous location one door down.
Funny thing, I always thought Kabul Market was pretty large, but looking at the space since Halmouny took over, it really looks pretty small. Must be all the dividers.
The panchan were all the usual suspects, but done pretty well. Our favorites (gamja jorim) were refilled.....
Knowing what a pork lover Ed is, I ordered the Gul Bossam - steamed pork to be wrapped, in this case, with cabbage leaves.
I've had this a couple of times here, and I gotta say, this was best so far. On occasion the pork has tasted flat and bland. Today, it was mildy sweet, and, can I say it? Actually tasted like fatty pork. A nice dab of bean paste and some radish and oyster, wrapped up in the napa cabbage leaf, this was pretty darn good. There were several moments when Ed was pretty close to doing the "delici-yoso dance".
The Galbi Jjim was a different story.
This was totally different from what we had before. In fact, check out the photos in my previous post and compare. On the good side, the meat on the thick beef ribs were tender, and of course that egg.... well say no more. This dish lacked the tangy-beany savory flavor of the previous versions, and wasn't nearly as spicy. Which led me to believe that either some of the cooking staff or the recipe has been changed.
The service was friendly as usual, and I think Ed even revisited after this meal, and enjoyed himself. I'm thinking of checking this place out again soon.... i'm wondering how many of the other dishes have changed?
Halmouny 4425 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111
We'd like to send out get well soon wishes to Ed from Yuma:
Unfortunately, Ed from Yuma is out of action for a bit. He was working on a post for us when the accident occurred which makes me feel kinda bad.....
Rushing to finish a post, Ed's arm broke....
Damn, tripped up by a Dangling Participle.... those always get you! Seriously, Ed got tripped up in "some computer cords" and fell hard, resulting in a broken arm. Ouch! The good news is Ed is alright, and he did let me know that modern medicine is a wonderful thing. I'm also sure that Tina is taking good care of him. Lucky for Ed that it is his left, non-eating arm, otherwise he'd be sharing a bowl with Lucy.
We wish you a speedy and successful recovery Ed! Take it easy my friend.
What's the deal with the broken arms here.... a couple of years back Cathy breaks her arm, and now Ed. Wait a minute.... that means I'm next.... I think I'll go out and prophylactically get a full body cast.....
One of the wonderful benefits of having a food blog, is that I've had the opportunity to meet (or is meat?) so many fantastic people. Folks who find the same amount of joy in sharing and eating food as I do. Not only does it make me feel less strange about my obsessions, but I've found some great places to eat as well. Over the past year or so, three of my favorite FOYs (Friends of Yoso) and I have been getting together about once a month or so to share a meal, conversation, and some very healthy, and hearty laughs!
This time around, it was Jenne's turn to choose the place, and I was excited. You see, Jenne is quite familiar with the downtown El Cajon area, home of many Chaldean/Iraqi restaurants. I'd already been to Village Grill and Ali Baba, and I was looking forward to checking out La Pita, one Jenne's favorites. Unfortunately, it seems that La Pita has just closed down, so Jenne came out with Hammurabi as a plan B. The restaurant itself is quite interesting, I'm certain that it used to be a diner in a previous life, so think of diner juxtaposed with a kabob house.
After deciding on what to order, I started with some yogurt. Why yogurt........ well, after having visited a few of these places, and seeing what huge meat-fests they are, I needed to get the tummy squared away.
Every one of these Kabob Houses has "feasts" designed for two, three, four, or five people. Actually, it should be more like three, five, six, or the entire neighborhood. What you're about to see is the "feast for two"($35).
Which starts out with a rather innocuous plate of nice fresh greens tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.
It also comes with a nice plate of Hummus.
This was a good version, nice chickpea flavor without being too heavy on the tahini.
And of course there was the bread:
Known as Khubz, this pizza sized flat bread is a wonderful vehicle of flavor. There were two pieces of warm bread overflowing a basket that was surely not up to the job. Better than what we had at Village Grill, but not as good as Ali Baba's.
Next up was our plate of meat, starches, and pickles.... remember all of this, the salad, hummus, bread, and the platter below is for two!
The pickles, the "Turshi" ranged from pretty good the pickled saffron-curry cabbage, to "meh", I thought the pickled turnips were too bitter.
Here's a rundown on the rest of the plate: Two Lamb Kabobs (nice and moist, but low on the gamey scale), Two Chicken Kabob (pretty good, well seasoned), One Chicken Tekka (also pretty good), Shawarma (fairly moist, but mild in flavor), Chicken Chop (which I enjoyed), Rice (meh), and Bulghur (well flavored, mildly spicy and tangy). Sheesh. I finally had the "cream chop", in this case breaded and fried chicken. It was pretty moist, and very tender.
Since Jenne had picked the place, I let her take some photos, like this one.
And darn if she didn't do a better job than I did! Heh, you'll never touch my camera again Jenne! he-he-he....
I'd wanted some Baba Ghanouj, but they were all out. We went with a small Tabbouli($5) instead.
This was not bad, it was fairly heavy on the acid, but the "green" chlorophyll flavor that sometimes overwhelms the dish was adequately muted.
There was one menu item that grabbed my attention:
It simply said "Birds". When I asked the very friendly young lady serving us about this, she said simply: "it's small whole birds........." Small birds? I had visions of the fantastic whole roasted sparrows we had at Highway 4 in Hanoi dancing in my head. So when our "Birds" arrived, I couldn't help but be a bit disappointed.
The "Birds" were simply quail! This was a simple preparation, salt rubbed, some lemon, and roasted. The wings and legs were salty, smokey, and crunchy....great nibbling. The carcass was pretty dank and gamey. Howie and Jenne enjoyed them though. Jenne said it tasted like the wild quail her dad used to hunt.
By the time Candice's dish, the Tashreeb, a braised lamb shank served in a huge bowl lined with Khubz soaking up the wonderful braising vegetables and liquid arrived we were all stuffed. I was too full to take photos! I did have some lamb which was soft and tender, but it's the saturated bread, which I wrapped in another piece of bread that tasted really great.
Needless to say, there was a good amount of leftovers. It was another meal made better by the company. I can't wait to do this again soon! As you can tell, the portions are generous, and make sure to check your gout at the door.
During our meal I kept peeking at the back room, which in contrast to the rather worn dining room, was being nicely decked out. The young lady told us that there was an engagement party later that evening..... As we were leaving I saw men dressed nattily in suits arriving. It gave the evening another interesting twist.
Hammurabi Family Restaurant 401 W Main St El Cajon, CA 92021
I usually try to contain myself and wait a bit before trying out a new restaurant. I'd just mentioned that Yakyudori's second branch would open today. A good example of waiting for a bit until the "kinks" are worked out would be San Diego's Santouka, whereas my first visit really wasn't quite that good, the problems where worked out by my subsequent visits. But today, the opportunity arose to grab a bite at Yakyudori, with two of my favorite FOYs(Friends of Yoso), Candice and Howie. So of course I jumped at it.
I was quite interested to see what changes have been made to the very "fast-foodish" interior of the former BBQ Express Teriyaki. I like the warmer colors, the sort of casual (all the beer posters of course) Japanese Pubish interior, and there's even a "bar" area for solo, or dual slurping....
The menu is small, and there's no yakitori yet, as I believe they are waiting for their liquor license. Six types of ramen, and a couple of small dishes. One of which, Takoyaki ($4.50) we ordered.
I've not had a great deal of Takoyaki, but this was just kinda mediocre in my opinion. First off, it was on the dark side, but lacked that thin layer of crispness. Also, I like the interior to be molten, and creamy, this one was just barely hot and gummy. I enjoyed the "sauce" used, which tasted a bit like a mild Nihai-zu, a vinegar-soy-dashi based sauce. The mayo was overkill in my opinion.... but I'm sure that there're folks who just love the stuff.
I ordered a Shio Ramen($6.50), and noticed in the photo there was corn in it. I prefer to have it sans corn, and ordered it that way. The bowl arrived, and the aroma was excellent, so familiar, and so comforting.
You'll quickly notice that this isn't "Tonkotsu style" (milky pork bone soup) broth. And I'm kinda glad it's not. I love the simple, yet complex tones of a good Shio or Shoyu broth. There is just enough oil to keep you satiated, and the umami flavors come through unmuddled. The noodles were perfect, a bit of stretch, a nice chew to them. I'm thinking that I prefer these to Santouka right now, but perhaps it's just an infatuation with the new kid on the block. One thing for sure.... this sure ain't your standard issue JFC type noodles.....
The egg was wonderful, the yolk was seductively soft and first mildy resisted, than yielded to your bite. The wonderful flavors of soy with a touch of sweetness came through clearly. There was a hiccup or two, to be expected during a grand opening. My bowl arrived with one slice of Chashu, which the young lady quickly swept back to the counter to add the second slice. The second slice of pork was on the dry, grainy side, perhaps because it hadn't had enough time in the jacuzzi. The flavors were as to be expected, rich and decadent, seemingly a bit more homemade than the richly polished version at Santouka. I also think the broth could stand to be a bit hotter, though this type of clear broth stands up better under less heat than a tonkotsu style broth. Also there were a couple of kernals of corn in my broth, so I figure that the kitchen started putting it together, and did an "oopsie". No harm, no foul.
As far as I'm concerned, this was miles above anything Chopstix, Gunco, or Teri Cafe could produce, and I'm glad there's another option for ramen. When I need to be fortified, it'll be Santouka. On those days when I want comfort, there's now Yakyudori.
One other item. I think folks are going to rejoice over this. It looks likethis location of Yakyudori will be open from 1130 am until 3am! Yes, 3am everyday..... be still my heart.....
Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori 4898 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
This place had caught our interest a while back. We'd seen the prepackged Banh Beo, and other snacks with the "Camau Bakery" label on them. But the place always seemed closed. But on this morning, I noticed the shop was actually open! At least the open sign was out. So we stopped immediately, and found some parking. And walked on over to the door......
And it was locked!!! But the nice lady inside waved at us, opened the door and let us in. I kinda got the feeling that Camau really does catering, large orders, and wholesale orders. Nothing was out, and there were pans of covered snacks waiting for pick-up. But after passing by so many times, the Missus wasn't to be denied. She pointed at one of the containers, and said..."I want that!" The woman, who was a bit amused at the Missus's antics, told Her, "this is for an order, but since they're not going to be picked up until later this afternoon we can make more." Her name is Kieu...so thank you so much!
So what did the Missus get?
Well, a bunch of styrofoam containers of course.....
Just kidding. She got a large order of Che Xoi Nuoc. It's a "sweet soup" of sorts, flavored with sugar and ginger. In the "soup" are large dumplings made of rice flour, and stuffed with mung bean paste, much like the Chinese Tāngyuán. These also had scallions in them, and was more savory than other versions we've had before. Still, after being chilled ice cold, and covered with the accompanying cocunut milk and sesame seeds, it was pretty good.
I just wish they had regular hours.....
Camau Bakery & Deli 4857 El Cajon Boulevard San Diego, CA 92115 (619) 583-2904
Some Cheese Balls Maybe???
One of my favorite lines from the movie, I Love You to Death. Recently, "MG" brought these to work. I had never seen them before.
Apparently, these were the "newest thing" at Valerio's. Buttery, sweet, and a bit salty....maybe a bit too oily for me....none the less, not too bad. If you like buttery.......
And how's this for the kicker....it's filled with cream cheese....
Apparently, it was Valerio's in Mira Mesa who first started selling this.....and now it's being sold at other locations. This one was from the National City location.
Valerio's City Bakery 1631 E 8th St National City, CA 91950 (619) 477-8588
And for something a bit more "savory"....
You can get this:
Need a closer look?
It was nice breaking bread (and other things) with two of my favorite people, Howie (please check out his recently redesigned Foodie View) and Candice. And this was one of the dishes we sampled.
If you're wondering about the main ingredient, I think the food labeling may be very accurate in this instance:
Sab E Lee, has been a weekly stop(or more) for us since they opened last August. Just when I think I've got the menu covered, I notice something new. The latest item I noticed was "Thai Fried Chicken." On our visit to Bangkok last November, the Missus andI loved the "TFC" (Thai Fried Chicken) so we were excited to see it on the menu. Unfortunately, much like the Koi Soi there was a short wait while the chef tried to source the "right chicken" for the dish. Finally, last week, when I dropped by to pick-up atake-out order, Koby smiled and said, "Kirk, we're marinating chicken, so you can come by and get chicken from tomorrow." We finally made it back this evening. Being aware that Sab E Lee had been reviewed in the Reader, we dropped by early, at about 430pm. Three tables were already full, and by the time we placed our order, there was a line of folks out the door, and a waiting list of folks! Call it the "Reader effect," I askedKoby about all these folks, and he told me, "these are all new customers, I've never seen any of them before!" So just be prepared if you intend to drop by for some Pad See Ew!
I've basically stopped taking photos at Sab E Lee, but decided to take one of the chicken:
This version was very moist, if a bit short in the spicy and sweet flavors of Thai street cart chicken. I've though of trying uber Food-Blogger Chez Pim'srecipe, which looks so good, that I'm afraid if I made it, I'd never stop eating.......
Of course we had some of the usual suspects like the bamboo shoot salad.
And one of the Missus's favorite things, Salted Fish Fried Rice (not pictured). By this time the little shop had gotten so crowded, that we felt bad about taking up space so we packed up our leftovers and headed home.
We're so happy for Koby and the gang......hard work, and making great food pays off!
Sab-E-Lee Restaurant 2405 Ulric St San Diego, CA 92111
In need of some "Omiyage", I headed off to Hogetsu Bakery, one of my favorite spots. When we arrived, the little shop was quiet as it usually is. But by the time our orders were ready,the place was getting crowded........perhaps this is the Candice Woo effect? What I found slightly humorous was that a group of young folks were carrying cameras! he-he-he....... Personally, I think they need to lose the flash though.... As always, the Missus got Her dozen manju as well:
Being told by the lady that I've been coming here for about 10 years gave me pause, we've only been living in San Diego for almost 8 years. But she was right, I used to come here before heading home when I did consulting work in San Diego back in '99. Sharp memory......
Whatever the reason, I'm glad to see this wonderful family owned business doing well.
Hogetsu Bakery 1210 3rd Ave Chula Vista, CA 91911
And finally, I do a Fro-yo post!
Yes, I've given in.......I'm doing a Frozen Yogurt post. And being the typical totally oblivious, and unhip person, I think I'm what, maybe only 3-4 years too late? When the Missus wanted some frozen yogurt one day....well, I didn't have a clue. Lucky for us, Howie, the brains behind The Foodieview, did all the work for us already. Over the course of a week, we tried some of the top entries in Howie's "Yogurt War." And as usual Howie, and his intrepid, non-lactose intolerant group of yogurt testers were right on. Our favorite was:
Yogurt Lounge on Clairemont Mesa. To us the yogurt here was not too sweet, not too milky, and not super tart. Our favorite is a combination of the Green Coconut and Plain. Can't eat too much of it, since my lactose intolerance will kick in. But it does a nice job of clearing the palate after a spicy or rich meal. I still find fro-yo to be overpriced....it seems no matter how small the cup or bowl is, you'll end up spending four to five bucks.
Yogurt Lounge 7317 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92101
After my not too satisfying visit to the new Santouka in San Diego, I thought I'd wait a bit before trying it out again. But the opportunity arose a lot quicker than I'd thought. The always thoughtful Howie, proprietor of The Foodie View invited me to join his merry group for lunch. (BTW, check out his new feature, The Foodie View of the Day). On this day, the Shio Ramen was spot on, from the wonderfully tongue scortching broth, to the toothsome and elastic noodles. Unfortunately, I was enjoying the wonderful company of Michelle, Caron (of San Diego Foodstuff), and Howie so much, that I really didn't feel motivated to take photos. Great conversation will do that to me sometimes.
Recently, the Missus, needing a change of pace, wanted some ramen. Now the Missus is not a big ramen fan, though I think it is due to the fact that She's had too much "bad ramen". Being that a request for ramen occurs about as often as an appearance of Halley's comet in the mmm-yoso household, I jumped at the chance. We arrived at the Santouka "booth", and the Missus wanted something "salty", so it was a large Miso Ramen for Her, and since She has never met a boiled egg She's never liked, we got the boiled eggs(99 cents) as well. Since I wanted to do an "apple for apple" comparison, I decided on the Shio Ramen again($7.99 - large), and of course I got a side of boiled egg as well.
The shiro(broth) was excellent, tongue melting hot, rich, but not greasy, and full of porky goodness, sweet, and mildly salty. The Chashu was also very good, soft, but not falling to pieces, rich in flavor, and very moist. Even the Missus, who, ummm, "doesn't eat pork", loved it! The noodles were a bit off today, hard and brittle, instead of being chewy, with a nice elasticity. Still, this was way better than that first bowl I had.
I had a sip of The Missus's Miso Ramen, and it still strikes me a being too salty. As for the boiled eggs....the Missus loved them so much, She traded 1 piece of Chashu for my eggs. Sorry, but I wasn't going to just give away my boiled eggs. Chivalry has its limits.
So there you have it, a revisit to Santouka in San Diego, not as good as my undocumented second visit, but better than my first. Still not better than the bowls I've had in Torrance and Costa Mesa, but getting there.
Santouka Ramen 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd(In the Mitsuwa Marketplace) San Diego, CA 92111