On of my go-to items for lunch is chicken karaage. I just never get tired of the stuff. After returning from Japan I decided to do the rounds and do a short comparison of Karaage and Chicken Nanban(vinegar sauce), commonly served with tartar sauce in these parts. I'm leaving out Taisho and Yakyudori since I recently did a comparison between the two places. So here's how they line up in my opinion.
Still, this was crisp, light, though you really had to use that tsuyu to give it some flavor.
Wish they'd pump up the flavor a bit more, but this isn't a bad choice.
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St Ste 121 San Diego, CA 92111
3 - Ramen Yamadaya:
In spite of not being particularly happy with the ramen here recently, I gave the "Chicken Tartar", a version of Tori Nanban a go. I liked having the tartar sauce on the side as it was really mayo heavy, so a little went a long way. The chicken seemed to be fried a bit too "hard", but that turned out to be a good thing as is stayed crunchy for the whole meal. Love the vinegar tones with a touch of tartar sauce. As I noted in my post back in 2012, there a nice hint of ginger in this which I enjoy as well.
Ramen Yamadaya 4706 Clairement Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
4 - RakiRaki:
All the posters said "best Japanese Fried Chicken in San Diego".
Of course, I say, most "self promoted hype machine in San Diego". It seems like this place sometimes just throws stuff up on the walls to see what sticks. The flavor, with a hint of curry is indeed unique, but the pieces were huge......very ponderous with chopsticks. It was kind of dry and a lot off the batter had flaked off during the cooking process. The portion size was quite generous, but the Tsukemen is preferred........though let's say that might be the best in San Diego by default.
RakiRaki Ramen and Tsukemen 4646 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
I really have to say, I never ever thought this would happen. But over the last year or so, the Missus has come to enjoy a nice cold one. Like my good friend Candice, She's partial to sours....though a nice clean witte is always welcomed with a nice meal. And while I'm still kind of a "Bud Light - bucket ice" kind of guy when "back home". I've come to really respect and enjoy beer in San Diego (and Belgium of course).
Still, I never thought my best beer buddy would ever be the Missus!
It's not strange for us to try a couple of different beer with various foods out side when the weather is warmer.
The Missus has the beer She loves; Monk's Cafe, Duchess, La Fun du Monde, White Rascal, Rueuze (The Bruery), Anderson Valley Brewing's Gose.
We've also been checking out beers we really enjoyed in Belgium; Hop-ruiter was especially memorable, as was the Karmeliet Tripel I had in Antwerp. Unfortunately, it seems that something is really lost when these bottles have to travel all the way here.
My taste varies depending on the day and how I feel.
I do enjoy the Nut Brown from Rip Current and Alesmith. I do like Indra Kunindra and Sculpin (with Blue Cheese!). I too enjoy La Fin du Monde and Blanche de Chambly....if I'm just having beer with no food, I love my dubbels and tripels.....
There seems to be something for every mood and preference......
One thing I did notice about beer.........I often approach it like a restaurant. In spite of what folks will tell me, it's an open book....I'll give it a shot, with an open mind...sometimes more than once. Also, like food, I understand the Missus's taste and mood on specific days...... she'll defer the ordering of beer to me. When tasting a beer, I automatically know if She'll like it or not.... I guess it's called being married for so long.
I don't always take photos of what we're having at home, but I think it's a bit more realistic than saving bottles....which I'm sure would drive the Missus crazy.
We've had more than our share of beer we don't care for. But much like how we approach restaurants and food; it's the journey that makes it worthwhile. And once in a while you find a winner. And all is good in the world.
I hope 2014 was a great year for you all. And we send our best wishes for a great 2015 as well.
I worked a bit early on NYE, then headed off to complete was has become a tradition for me. On every New Year's Eve since 2005, I go to the various Japanese markets to check out the Osechi offerings.
Things have changed over the years, it's more of a pre-order kind of thing nowadays and there aren't too many extravagant items for sale on NYE anymore.
In fact, Marukai had almost nothing.
Mitsuwa had some interesting items, but nothing too interesting.
What I really did enjoy about my visit to Mitsuwa was a young couple, the girl, Japanese, the young man, blue-eyed, blond haired. The young lady went down the shelves explaining the significance of each of the osechi ryori items....stuff that I didn't even know! I just stood there and watched, quite taken with the moment.... At the end, she turned to me and gave me a smile and a wave. Nice job!
As usual, Nijiya had the biggest and best selection.......
It has been quite a year for us; Belgium, the Czech Republic, Japan, Seattle....... I have a feeling the this year will be just as interesting.
We'd like to thank you for reading, commenting, and just being part of our little food blog!
Just for fun, I actually drove by Costco this past weekend. Here's what it looked like at 10 past nine, a full 20 minutes before they opened.
I was actually dragging my feet, because I had to go into work.
I worked for a couple of hours then decided I should get some ramen, so I headed off to Santouka and ran into this.....
So, I just went to Nijiya, picked this up, and headed back to the office.
I lucked out as I love natto maki....yes, while I'd never buy any prepared sushi or sashimi with raw fish in/on it kappa and natto maki is fair game. I grew up eating natto so I really love this stuff. I usually get a bento at least once a week and have rarely seen this. They probably don't make it very often.......it could very well be that I'm the only person who evers buys this.......
Nijiya Market 3860 Convoy St Ste 109 San Diego, CA 92111
During this time of the year, folks are usually quite busy, so here's something short and sweet for Monday.
Jin's Pot appears empty:
Slight pun intended, though I'm not quite sure what to make of the Notice of Non Responsibility....I'm guessing there's a possibility of a lien against the business that the property owner is protecting themselves from. Doesn't sounds good.
The sign says they are reopening this month...so we'll see. Notice how they kept the same color sign?
9330 Mira Mesa Blvd #A San Diego, CA 92126
The Missus current favorite coffee:
While doing a short Trolley Brewery crawl with Candice; we stopped at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in Little Italy. They had an interesting v60....with Haraaz Red Maraqaha. At almost $9, whew was it pricey.Though after tasting it; the smooth, berry flavors, the tongue coating richness with a nice clean finish. It's really a bit too smooth for me, but this is exactly what the Missus loves.....so I bought 8 ounces of beans - $21.95! Ouch!
That's ok though, since She really, really enjoyed, well I should say enjoys this as She's sent me back to pick up more. I'm sure She'll savor it while it lasts.
Bird Rock Coffee Roasters 2295 Kettner Blvd San Diego, CA 92101
A fairly large collection for a SoCal winter Wednesday.
Pho DaKao and Grill Closes:
I drove by and noticed the parking lot was totally empty so I drove in. The Eviction Restoration Notice was posted on the door. Man, this place didn't last very long. I think I visited soon after they opened....so they pulled the plug pretty fast.
I'd driven past a couple of times and the place looked closed so I stopped by earlier in the week.
This former Balboa Avenue institution moved to this location back in the summer of 2013. It's too bad that the renovation and creation of chain restaurant hell drove them from their old location and it seems that they barely made it past a year here. Though never a destination for me, I'd eaten at the old location a couple of times and thought it decent.......
So hopefully I'm mistaken? But it sure looks like they've shut down....
4344 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
So here comes the "New" Dumpling Inn and Shanghai Saloon:
While never great shakes, the place really "jumped the shark" in my opinion after the owner got involved with The Dragon's Den and Del Mar Rendezvous, both of which have been sold. So now we get this........ I'm told he has a taste for "fusion", which is great, remember, I'm from the home of Pacific Rim Cuisine, so I love fusion.....but it's a thin line between fusion and "con-fusion".
In the old First Korean Market location.
4625 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
We had some much needed rain over the last two weeks........and we're kind of enjoying the nice sleeping weather, which would be great if I wasn't working so many long hours.
Still, I actually saw a double rainbow while driving to Target on the way home yesterday. Pardon the bad photos.
Seeing a rainbow in San Diego is rare enough....a double rainbow, well I don't ever recall seeing one here.
So I took a photo....then took photos of other folks taking photos of the double rainbow.....like I said, this is like an event.
Or maybe a celebrity? This guy is having his picture taken "with" the rainbow! No selfies here....though I did pass two couple taking selfies with the rainbow.
We got back from Seattle fairly late in the evening. I had the following day off, but the Missus had to work some pretty long hours early the next morning. I'm the one that usually goes straight back to work.....we got home after midnight from Japan and I was off to sleep at 3am, then at the office at 6. So I guess I shouldn't have felt as bad for the Missus as I did....She did get a whole night's sleep and all; yet I still felt guilt to have the day off. The Missus had requested, "something good to eat for a change...." She wanted Smoked Shio Koji Chicken, just not wings. She also wanted me to try it prepped three different ways.
While out grocery shopping I had an idea; since the chicken would be a two step process; smoking then deep frying; why not start everything in the smoker, then prep/cook them in different ways....I had all afternoon......
Of course everything started off with the chicken, marinated for in my Shio Koji Marinade for three and a half hours; then smoked for 1 1/2 hours over cherry wood.
While the chicken was going, I sauteed some hickory smoked bacon lardons...removing the crisp bacon and setting my trusty cast iron pan aside. A half hour before the chicken was done, I started some baby white potatoes in a pot. These were done in about 15-20 minutes and immediately plunged into ice water for 5 then drained. I then used a skewer to prick several holes in each potato and set aside.
I removed the smoked chicken from the smoker; recharged some of the charcoal, added one piece of hickroy; I wanted a more assertive smoke flavor for what was up next.
It would be potatoes and cauliflower..... The cauliflower was simply seasoned with coarse Maldon Sea Salt, fresh ground pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.
These I smoked at a pretty high temp for an hour and a half. Meanwhile, I had some brussel sprouts on hand so I sliced a good number of them in half and finely shaved a couple.
I then divided the chicken into three "groups", the first got dredged in some potato starch.
I then removed the potatoes and cauliflower from the smoker....man, it really took on a nice smoky taste. I took a small piece and tried to match it with some flavors....I settled on mint and white balsamic....so I made a sauce.
I threw the sliced brussel sprouts into the smoker, I figured the Missus could use them in salads or other dishes.
I started the oil on my Big Kahuna, almost ten years old and a little worse for wear, but still going strong. First, I fried up the shaved brussel sprouts, it takes a few seconds; then the plain chicken, then the potato starch chicken. The last set was just plain.
I then removed the wok with the oil and put my cast iron pan on the fire to heat up that bacon grease. We'd just had some delicious smashed smoked potatoes at Sitka & Spruce and I wanted to get something close. I put a couple of potatoes in the pan, smashed them down and got both sides nice and crisp.
The rest was just plating. Chicken three ways, smoked cauliflower with a white balsamic-mint sauce, topped with fried shaved brussel sprouts, smoked, smashed potatoes with creme fraiche, bacon, and scallions. And a couple of smoked brussel sprouts and some Japanese pickles.
The Missus just loved the cauliflower and potatoes......