Tuesday, November 30, 2010

McRib Ribbit Ribbit

A bit overdue so call this foodie review 999,999,999 of the infamous McRib.  Do you like the dramatic picture?  Its quite metaphoric for the mixed feelings (mostly bad) that I had for this sandwich.  I literally havent had one since high school or college so dont go doing the math and aging me.  It does seem like a no-fail idea right?  Soft bread, bbq sauce, fake meat...yum.  The meat felt...too artificial.  Like trying to eat a chicken nugget after seeing that article where it showed what the nugget meat looked like in a pink paste form in the factory.  At least mine had plenty of sauce and the pickles did add a little taste contrast.  Cult following aside, I wasnt a convert.  Sorry guys.  

Mama's Bakery- North Park

4237 Alabama Street
San Diego CA 92104

Sometimes I wonder if my taste buds like to play tricks on me.  Seriously.  I have been looking forward to this place forever as it was on my list of places to try.  Hubby and I went last weekend and I was starving too when we went.  It wasnt expensive but the outside of the place made me think that it was going to be a cheaper eat than it ended up being.  Portion was decent so maybe that makes up for it?   

Overall I didnt care for this place too much (I'm sure I will hear many a surprised comment or two).  The meat on the shawarma was too salty for me and I didnt really like the texture although I dont really have a frame of expertise here to base this on.  The wrap was about the width of my fist and the length of my forearm (average girl arm/ hand measurements).  Strangely the wrap tasted better than the platter even though the meat was the same variety.  Hubby swears that theres is an unknown yummy herb in the wrap that is absent in the platter.  Maybe.  

The menu says the wrap contained steak, tomatoes, parsley, lettuce and tahini.  The tahini worked like a charm in the wrap...so much that I paid an extra 75cents to get a side of their tahini for the house.  When I tried it at home though, it didnt taste the same! Ughhhh.  

Now that I read the menu, I realize that I never got the basmati rice with my platter.  Hmph.  It might have changed the tone of this review since I am a basmati loving fool.  Sucks for them....  A good meat portion size but they plop it on top of the hummus which I dont like since I dont like food overly touching each other.  Hubby liked the pickles though.  I did enjoy the pita although the salad had way too much dressing.  

Overall, I might come back for another kind of wrap and a Lenin soda if you twist my arm.  Just sayin.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Random eatings

Its funny how fast and slow time passes.  Ever since hubby came home, I cant quite recite what we have been doing but I'm sure we have done a decent amount of things and eaten even more.  So I'm doing the writing equivalent of a freewrite and unload a little bit.  Enjoy the madness. 

  • Maria Maria at Hazard Center is a gigantic waste of $ and eating time.  Even if their swankish ambience and Carlos Santana connection is supposed to be a draw, their food is lacking in flavor and heat
  • If you have a chance to go to a Chinese-Vietnamese style wedding dinner, do it.  On an empty stomach.  With an open mind.  My faves: cold meat platter with headcheese and jellyfish, sauteed lobster, chilean sea bass and peking duck.  Plus, you cant go wrong with the ever roaming bottles of Hennessey! 
  • We got K-BBQ fever and we dont want a cure.  This perfection of a lettuce wrap had a fat piece of pork belly, acorn jelly with soy sauce and one leaf of rustic kimchee.  If that wasnt over the top enough, the pork belly was dipped in my sesame oil/salt/pepper concoction
  • Chipotle is food from God.  Steak burrito with pinto beans, rice, meat, all 3 salsas, corn, cheese, sour cream and guac.  Lettuce on the side.  Gosh, I wish I lived closer than 20 miles from a Chipotle right now =(
  • Krispy Kreme had a free donut promo for military on Veterans day.  We may or may not have also bought a few extra ones as well as made another stop a few days later to pick up a hostess gift for a friend (and some for our house too).  Chocolate glaze sprinkle all the way yo!
  • Boba is only made perfect when paired with something sumptuous like fried chicken snack, medium heat.  Eating it with skewers only adds to the experience and the fried basil leaves are pure genius.  I cant think of a better snack when you want a little bit of sweet, salty, spicy, hot, cold and crunchy...
  • Sushi Deli is what it is.  Cheap, filling and better than alot of other sushi places that dont acknowledge their lot in the restaurant food chain.  But did you know, they also have a rainy day special?  If you come in during a wet day, lots of freebies! 
Sorry for the hodge podge.  xoxo

Pho Van- El Cajon Blvd

4233 El Cajon Boulevard
San DiegoCA 92105
Before I became a homeowner, I rented.  I have lived in many parts of glorious SD including City Heights which is where we find our restaurant of choice.  There is an eating out policy I have. If you go to a certain kind of eating establishment, see a full house and most of them are of that nationality, you have come across an authentic sure bet.  Every time I come to Pho Van, I always see a good number of Vietnamese diners.  Plus my very Vietnamese friend and his family call this their go-to spot for pho take out...do you even need any more assurances than that?  
I always order my pho this way...the fact that I am sharing my trade secrets with you demonstrates how serious I am about this.  I like my pho with brisket and tendon only.  I can eat beef anywhere, raw or cooked.  Im not a tripe person so thats a no-go for me.  You have to try the tendon and brisket here.  Plus they hook it up on the meat and herb portions.  Also, dont forget to ask for the sate sauce if you can handle a little bit of heat.  I dont mess with the hoison, sriracha or sugar.  Just sate, brisket and tendon.  
One more bit of advice, get the spring rolls...fried or fresh.  They are always piping hot or pliable depending on the version you order.  Either way, never a fail.  

Pinks Hot Dogs- Knotts Berry Farm

Have you ever had one of those days where you continually chose the wrong route, answered the wrong call, picked the wrong thing to eat?  I tend to always order the wrong thing when I go to a new place.  Pinks, being legendary for their menu choices was one place where I didnt want to get it wrong.  Too bad I had a stomach ache from eating at one of the food stands inside Knotts and was still kind of full from that as well.  Then I kept changing my mind from selection to selection...bad news bears.  There went my Pinks experience.  But this is not to say that the other two people in my group didnt have a fan-freaking-tastic taste experience there.  

  • Selection 1: The Queen Terry Dog (cant seem to find it on the Pinks website by that name but it was named America the Beautiful dog on their site).  12 inches of jalepeno hot dog with thick cut bacon slices, pastrami piles, lettuce and tomato.  Divine actually.  The dog itself was not spicy.  This was an eat with a fork and knife act for sure.  
  • My choice: Coleslaw Dog.  Worst excuse for a hot dog ever.  By the time I got the dog, the coleslaw juice had mushed the bun so bad that I couldnt even eat it.  On top of that, the coleslaw was not very tasty.  I ended up just taking the dog out and eating only half of it since I was splitting with a friend.  Can I have my $$$ back please?  
  • Selection 3: Nacho Chili Cheese Dog.  Rave reviews from the eater.  Whats not to like, nacho, cheese and hot dog.  Next please. 
Of course I'd come back.  I wouldnt get the coleslaw dog even if they gave it to me for free but I want to come back for a re-do.  If only SD could get one of these joints...Pinks HQ, can you hear me?  

Jeong Won Korean BBQ Buffet- Convoy

4690 Convoy St, Ste 104
San DiegoCA 92111


I'm reunited and it feels so good.  Navy husband is finally home after a 13 month deployment overseas and I find myself adjusting slowly.  If he reads this, I am really trying not to be a Naggy-Mcnaggerson about the messes that you leave in each room, your pickiness in eating leftovers, the way you drive and other really trivial minutiae in the grand scheme of things.   that is one reason why I have been MIA as a poster, but still dutifully checking all my fave blog poster for sure.  The other?  This nagging bug I have had for several weeks now, one of which started off as a jinx to my own self.  Dont ever plot getting out of something under the excuse of sickness as it will become true.  As in 1000th degree.  So the reason I was pretending to be sick has come and gone and failed to take the sickness with it.  I will spare you those gory details and move on to the food. 

I had been looking forward to trying this buffet but purposely waited for hubby to come home so we could share the experience together.  Sickening, huh?  As a Korean girl who grew up with the traditional grill on the table setup, my standards are pretty high about this subject.  Especially since my mom is a phenomenal cook who in another universe, might be a world famous chef on part with Emeril or an Iron Chef.  Its right next door to a now defunct pool hall and San Tong Palace (a Korean style Chinese restaurant).  

The whole shebang.  Right here.  16.95  lunch special includes go get it yourself style meat, veggies, seafood, banchan, sauces and soft serve.  They bring you a bowl of bland miso soup and white rice.  I would have appreciated more variety in rice selection such as brown rice or even korean mixed rice (it looks purple in color).
  • Veggies: sweet potato slices, tofu, sliced corn ears, tomatoes, pepper slices, raw garlic, bell peppers, mushrooms, green zucchini, yellow squash, and potato slices.  I'd avoid the sweet potato b/c they are impossible to cook since they are sliced on the thick bias.  
  • Meats: marinated shortib off the bone, marinated ribeye, beef liver, spicy pork, marinated chicken, tripe, pork belly slices and brisket slices.  I found myself wishing that the ribeye was of higher quality b/c it kind of falls apart on the grill.  Husband didnt like the spicy pork b/c it was too sweet.  
  • Seafood: some white fish, mussel, shrimp, spicy calamari.  I found the calamari to be tough when cooked FYI
  • Banchan: fishcakes, seaweed salad, carrot and turnip mixture, potato salad, mixed greens, bean sprouts, sauteed zucchini, and cabbage and cucumber kimchi.  The cabbage kimchi was on point that day as was the fishcakes.  They also gave us a complimentary side of korean pancakes that were nicely fried up
  • Sauces: these are just guesses on my part but they were one was a sweet soy sesame sauce, one was a sweet chili sauce and one had a thousand island kind of taste (not texture) to it.  My personal favorite is the sauce I made which is standard bill Korean goodness-- salt, pepper and some good sesame oil.  
Overall, here are my two cents.  Skip the miso.  Go for the pork slices, mussells and some of the shortrib.  Avoid the sweet potato since you will just waste your time and get frustrated.  Dont forget to leave room for the soft serve! 

(Im also playing with some changes to the blog format.  Input welcome)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Romesco- Baja Med Bistro (Bonita)

4346 Bonita Road Bonita, CA 91902 - 
(619) 475-8627
Romesco's Official Website

Location location location.  If you are a local, you may have seen this place and wondered, "hmmmm I wonder what that place is like".  Since it is wedged between Baskin Robbins and Rite Aid in the middle of Bonita, it has to try a little harder to impress IMO.  And does it, you might ask? Keep reading, you decide.

You are going to spend a pretty penny by the time you leave.  But, you will leave full and satisfied, if not happy.  The flavors were good, ambiance is clean and elegant, and menu creative.  We ordered 5 tapas and 2 orders of paella.  Back to the ambiance--low lighting, cloth table cloths.  Not exactly complementary to me busting out the flash on the good ole Iphone and snapping away.  I was actually more furtive in my pic snapping skills.  Like a blogging ninja! 

So here is a bit of what we ordered in clockwise order: crusty french bread (complimentary), beer and champagne, Ahi Tuna Tostada, Papas con Chorizo ala Riojana, Fonduta con Chorizo, Beef Filet Mignon Carpaccio, Tacos de Cachete de Res, and Paella.  For about 4 hungry adults with the above entrees and one champagne and one beer, the bill was like 92 bucks before tip.   Can we take a second and admire the artistic vision that is my collage?  I completely forgot how awesome photo editing programs can be! 

The bread was a good starter.  Crusty, chewy and the second loaf was just out the oven.  Lets get to the nitty gritty.  The tostada was small but good tasting.  The guacamole was simple, the lettuce was like a baby green selection and the fish was fresh enough tasting.  At nearly 4 bucks, not enough bang for the buck IMO.

The potatoes with chorizo had a nice spice to it.  All the flavors melded nicely with each other and the components were perfectly cooked to taste.  At 4.50, a bit better of a deal than the tostada but you still want to order something else if you get this.  I cant remember if there was alot of chorizo inside which probably means there wasnt too many of those little critters inside. 

Dont even bother with the fonduta.  I was expecting a more smooth velvety cheese sauce, but really it just seems like straight up melted cheese with chorizo dropped into the pan.  I like salt but this dish seemed to salty even for a salt-a-holic like me.  

The filet carpaccio....actually pretty good! Not the best I had.  That selection goes to this little so-trendy-I-seriously-might-puke place in the middle of Hollywood I went to a few years back.  Best. carpaccio. ever.  I think there was about 4 pieces to the order which seems fair enough at 6 bucks.  The flavor was decent and it could have used a higher quality parmesiano reggiano shavings.  Since I have only had this dish a few times ever, I'm not clear if the fried capers are standard.  They were the hefty size capers and frying them gave a different texture and extra saltiness...interesting.  

The beef tacos were very tender...that is the first thing I noticed.  Deep beefy flavor here...duh! At 6 bucks, there was actually a nice pile of beef and hot corn tortillas to boot.  It only came with a topping of salsa and white onions, which sucked for me since I hate onions that are shaped like circles.  

The piece de resistance was definitely the paella.  You cant tell in the picture but there was actually a good amount of non-rice bits in here.  The menu said it has mussells, clams, shrimp, calamari, chicken, pork rib, and chorizo.  I would agree.  The rice was tasty, well seasoned and had a tiny kick that I enjoyed.  At 19 bucks, it was one of the more moderately high priced items on the menu, but it was very well put together.  Apparently award winning as well.  

One quibble.  Parking sucks due to the number of businesses in this shopping center and the small spaces.  Also, some of the menu prices do not match what we paid on the bill.  We were told that the menus need updating.  If we were the more pushy type, we might have made a deal of it, but we are a peace loving happy bunch aka the less drama the better.  All in all, a nice date place in a surprising location where there isnt a whole lot of eating choices.....

The Mission- North Park

2801 University Avenue
San Diego CA 92104

Today I want to talk about friendships.  Friendships need maintenance, agree?  Friendships need attention and care, agree?  Friendships need to feel satisfying, no?  I value my friends.  I like my social circle, but I value my inner quorum alot.  If you are in the juicy middle, I will love, spoil, trust and give you attention like no other.  Similarly, if you stab me in the back, there is almost no recourse for any kind of making up or getting back to where we used to be.  At the risk of jinxing myself, I love my girls! 

The girls and I went to brunch with one honorary girl (friend's bf) last weekend.  Seeing as how I live the farthest, I had to of course sojourn over to NP (north park) to join the others.  We chose Mission frankly b/c it is known for being cheap and good.  Word of advice?  Go early or be prepared to wait.  I went at 9 on sunday and it was a short wait but when we got out at like 10 it was a packed house with about 15 people waiting outside and at least 10 more inside waiting around.  Parking is straight up curb parking which can be easy or impossible depending on, well, your luck.  If you want to sit, you better make sure your entire party is there with you b/c they are sticklers for this rule.  Trust me, I had to wait 20 minutes since I was the first one there.  

Soy Chorizo & Eggs $8.50
Soy Chorizo scrambled with eggs, served with black beans, cheese, chipotle cream and tortillas

This is what one of my friend's ordered.  She has had it before so she obviously likes it.  The beans were kind of bland but otherwise cooked nicely consistency wise.  The dumb thing about this plate is that salsa is not included and that you have to pay extra for it.  Ugh.  Dont get me started on restaurants upcharging for condiments i.e. a buck for sour cream, buck fifty for 2 ounces of salsa, etc.  They even charged her extra to add a few extra sauteed tomatoes to her plate.  It had to be less than a small roma tomato but I cant remember how much she got charged.  Tortilla looks like a reheater.  Eggs were cooked nicely.  The portion size was plentiful with enough to take home too.  

Mission Rosemary $6.75
Crispy rosemary potatoes, scrambled eggs, sautéed tomatoes, and grilled rosemary bread.

My dish.  I have been somedays opting to be meatless just for digestion and chewing reasons.  Gosh that makes me sound like an old toothless gaseous patheticon doesnt it?  I asked for my eggs soft scrambled...yum.  Perfectly done, not too runny.  It did benefit from a little bit of salt if I am being honest as did the rosemary taters.  I was glad to not have eaten a raw potato and had nice char to them without tasting like the grate on a dirty bbq.  The tomatoes really shouldnt even be added on the menu as a highlight since there was very little of it and didnt really have too much flavor anyways.  The bread.  Disappointing.  I am a bread lover, the more rustic sounding the better.  I felt the bread was too soft and didnt have enough chew.  The portion was generous and they have their own jam here...some kind of berry mix.  Not overly sweet either.  Still, the bread broke my heart.  

Chicken Apple Sausage and Eggs $8.95
Chicken apple sausage is lightly sautéed, served with crispy rosemary potatoes, grilled rosemary bread, and eggs as you like them.

The other two friends got this plate.  Its a good amount of food.  I wont talk about the eggs, bread or taters since I just covered it.  The sausage is nicely cooked.  The pic makes it look burnt but I dont recall anyone complaining about burnt food so I'm sure its a lighting blip.  I rather like the way the light hits the corner of the plate in almost a sunday afternoon kind of way.  My friend took home a sausage and half her taters home btw in case that interests anyone.  

I'm just gonna go ahead and say that this is probably the most awesome pic in this entry.  I dont know if you agree, but the bacon just is screaming to be eaten.  It was perfectly cooked, thickly sliced and perfect combo of salt and sweet that bacon should be.  Not too fatty but not that I would complain if it was.  That is part of the reason why you eat bacon...duh! If you can see in the left corner, this is the other chicken sausage breakfast that was ordered.  Stacks pretty high right?  A small population of you might notice the beer on the right corner of the pic.  Friend's bf stated that it was the weekend and he could drink if he felt like it.  This is a side order of bacon btw.  I think it came with 4 slices but if not, it was at least three.  Couldnt tell you the price of adding a side of bacon...but if it spoke to you the way it seems to do to me, it might be hard to pass on next time.  

All in all, a decent haul for sunday brunch.  For 4 of us adults with one beer, one oj, and one mocha milkshake (dont ask), the damage was like 52 bucks before tip. They offer alot of healthy dishes as well...apparently we are a bunch of gluttons though.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cheesecake Factory- Otay Mesa

2015 Birch Rd # 705
Chula Vista, CA 91915-2007
(619) 421-2500

For me, this place is kind of like a love hate thing.  Love some of their food choices, portion sizes and the fact that they dont use styrofoam for the takeout boxes- hate their prices, long lines, the mass producedness of it, etc.  Once in a long while, I let myself come here and just dive in.  That is, always in the day time, never during a holiday weekend, and only with a friend.  Plus I dont get the cheesecake so somehow I feel better about it like I'm going against the grain or something.  If you have never been, it is a chain of sit down restaurants with a fat menu of choices ranging from omelettes to steak to gumbo to pastas and some attempts at asian food...not to mention many cheesecake and non cheesecake dessert offerings with a full bar service.  Glossy menus, servers decked out in white shirts and pants, shiny displays to tempt you into taking some sweets home.  Whole shebang.  

I happen to come here with a new friend who I am trying to hook up with my sister.  If I find my sister a nice man, then my mother can relax and sleep...since according to my mom, she cannot sleep or relax knowing that my sister is still unmarried and alone.  So we met here so that I could interrogate him and also to tell him a little about her...so old fashioned huh???  We ate outside since I am a hot blooded freak who needs to constantly feel cool even in 60 degree cali weather...which is cold for us! 

Chicken Madeira.  Our most popular chicken dish! Sautéed Chicken Breast Topped with Fresh Asparagus and Melted Mozzarella Cheese. Covered with Fresh Mushroom Madeira Sauce and Served with Mashed Potatoes (taken from website directly courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory Website).  

My eating mate swears by this dish.  He claims to order it every time.  I have recently decided that I dont really like chicken...no reason...no understanding of why.  A hefty portion.  Those potatoes are ridiculously good.  Like I couldnt stop stealing some off the plate good.  Its topped with a few asparagus spears but I felt like it either should have given more asparagus or just not even included them to start with.  Too much of a teaser.  The sauce was good...but not great IMO.  Those potatoes though....

My choice, Shrimp and Chicken Gumbo (minus the chicken).  Shrimp, Chicken, Andouille Sausage, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions and Garlic Simmered in a Spicy Cajun Style Broth with Cream. Topped with Steamed White Rice.  They also give you the option of brown rice which is what I chose.  To be healthy duh! Ok so here is the deal about this one.  I liked it better the last time around, but Im not sure if it was b/c I got it at the Fashion Valley location, operator error, maybe the chicken makes it tastes a little better, etc.  I still liked it, but it lacked the creamy factor that I liked in the last time I had this dish.  The shrimp was a good size and they gave you more than enough in the dish.  The portion size was generous as well.  It was definitely missing something this this time around which made me frown a bit.  But dont let that give you the idea that I would order anything else next time around without much consternation.  It still ranks in my top 3 things to order there....

So I lumped the other two photos in the same line.  They always give you complimentary bread while you wait for your food.  I personally prefer the dark oat bread with a dab of butter.  A touch sweet and bready all at once.  It also has a french bread roll accompaniment btw.  The cake was the Black Out Cake.  Chocolate cake with chocolate chips, nuts, whipped cream and a fudge icing layer.  In case you cant tell from the picture, many layers of cake and chocolate in between. Large slice of course.  My friend says that if you take the cake and warm it in the microwave for 27 seconds, it is heaven.  But then again, he doesnt like whipped cream so ya.... just kidding! 

Happy eatings...brain...is...slowly...going....kaput.  

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Goody's Deli- National City/ Mile of Cars

340 W. 26th street, Suite E
National City, CA 91950

Say what you will about social networking site i.e. facebook.  It made the probable creator into a billionaire, which I want to be so freaking bad.  It has reconnected long lost friends, reunited family members, allowed people to stalk on others anonymously, helped people market their inventions/ businesses, etc.  Through FB, I caught glimpses of this awesome looking sushi rolls via a friend's post and stopped in last week to check it out myself.  

Its located in an industrial-ish building tucked behind In and Out near the National City Mile of Cars.  Thanks to the greatness that is mapquest, I got lost immediately but was able to find my way relatively quickly.  Coming into the restaurant, you will see that it is on the small size.  But the staff are welcoming and make you feel like you have been coming for years! .They havent been open that long so I dont know if there are other plans decor-design wise.  The menu features salads, sushi/ sashimi, sandwiches and other items.  

For the sake of integrity, I will mention that when I walked into the deli, the sushi chef/ owner looked very familiar.  After some small talking, we realized that there is a very good chance that we know each other and definitely have alot of mutual friends between us.  But I also saw how they greet and interact with several other customers while I was trying to narrow down my choices and its clear that they love what they do.  No bitter bettys here!

Shots from the area directly in front of the cashier and sushi counter.  Simple operation but efficient.   Only took a few minutes to get my 2 rolls and side salads.  It actually took me longer to  pick my rolls than to get my food lol.  Food specials on the board.  

 Side salad with their fresh made dressing.  Citrus, ginger and creamy.  Love it.  I wonder if they sell it separately?  Seriously.  I ordered two rolls, one with spicy tuna, red fish eggs and yellowtail and the other with spicy krab, albacore and seaweed salad.  I know one of the rolls was the Al Bundy but I cant remember the other roll's name for the life of me.  Fresh fish for sure.  Creative rolls.  Average price seemed to be between 8-11 bucks a roll.  The rice was not too heavy or vinegary and good ratio to the fillings.  Nice size rolls as well.  I also heard the next customer rave about the sandwiches there...They are about 5 bucks each with choice of chips/ fries so it sounds like a good deal. Just look at their FB page to see more pics of their offerings....i couldnt find an online menu with descriptions for you guys to see.  

Warning, they do take the customary 2 hour closing between lunch and dinner to prep for the night rush so dont come between 230 and 430/5.  Parking is more than plentiful.  They have at least a few things on special according to their board and facebook wall posts.  We will be back....part deux.  This place could seriously be on the sushi rotation for me along with my other die hard place! 

What do you keep in your fridge?

Every weekend I methodically prepare for the next week foodwise.  No more dirty dishes in order to have clean glass tupperware and reusable water bottles for the work week.  Prepping staple items to keep in the fridge.  Grocery shopping only if necessary since I am trying to eat down my pantry and freezer lately.  The most time consuming part of this process however is cooking my breakfasts and dinners for the week.  I love having soup for bfast several times a week, my favorites being scratch made tomato soup with whatever is in my fridge for veggies, meat or pasta inside and korean seaweed soup. Sometimes I will make pasta for the week.  Sometimes, grilling up the meat for the week.  I loved having cubed watermelon and cleaned/ sliced berries ready to take and eat as well.  Take a look:

Bottom row: kimchi, tofu, uncooked corn tortillas, guac, russian pickled tomatoes, and my famous water bottle.  Middle row: brown rice with leftover 1/2 trader joe's chile relleno (so good and only 300-ish calories), leftover afritada and rice, asian pears, edamame, quiche that I had just made and portioned, homemade tomato soup with ravioli and kale and corn chowder.  Top row: soymilk, vitamin water, club soda, day and night allergy meds, leftover chocolate sauce from claim jumpers, and ketchup.  What is in your fridge?

If you looked today, you would find also 6 broiled potatoes, 5 boiled eggs, korean seaweed soup, homemade fettucine alfredo with broccoli, columbian vegetable sides, leftover chocolate cake from cheesecake factory, and a side salad.  Happy eatings...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday eats

Life is funny isnt it?  One minute you are arguing with a loved one, and the next, eating brunch with a friend who you hadn't connected with in awhile.  Its sometimes as if one incident happened to one person and the other, another.  Today was a day like that.  Actually this weekend has been like that.  Even retail therapy wasnt cutting the mustard all the way.  The only think that kind of helped?  Cooking and sharing.  Seeing the look on my neighbor's face as they taste something for the first time, from one person's home to another.  

In case you werent hungry yet, let me speed that process along for you.  Here is a snapshot from our m-eating at the Daily Grind Cafe near SDSU (I have posted on it before: Daily Grind Cafe- Original Post).  Since we didnt end up arriving till about 11, I decided to test out a lunch item.  In fact we all did.  I only took a pic of mine since we all got the same sandwich.  Take a peek:

This is the turkey, avocado and bacon club.  I havent had a proper sandwich in a while so this really hit the spot.  Nice and large sourdough bread griddled perfectly.  Swiss cheese inside with slices of tomatoes.  Not too heavy on the mayo or the lettuce.  Notice the fries?  They are spectacular.  I am normally a non-seasoned fry kind of chick ala in and out style, but these were tasty as all get out. They are wedge seasoned fries, perfectly fried and seasoned.  Kind of reminds me of a way tastier and less burnt KFC fry.  It was so big that I only ate half the sammy but I sure finished my fries.  Hey I gave some to my friend's kid...they were three large fries by the way! In fact, that picture makes me want to go eat the other half right now....=)

Then I came home with an itch to cook.  I guess I am trying to save $ and cook more at home.  I wanted quiche to free up room in my itsy bitsy freezer so I have been thinking of making a quiche for awhile now.  I also did not want to go to the market b/c I have a horrible habit of grocery shopping too often.  The innards of the quiche?  Edamame beans, shredded mozzarella cheese and sundried tomatoes.  I thought it might be a bit of daring combo but I'm a badass so I did it and didnt event think twice.  It came out rather nicely.  I used heavy cream to mix with the eggs so the egg came out creamy and rich.  My only faux pas- I should have used a few more eggs than the recipe indicated since it wasnt as tall as it usually comes out.  

Neighbors loved their first brush with quiche as well as the kare kare I made for them with baby bok choy and mussels (normally made with oxtails I believe).  I used a mix but I wasnt happy with it since I have been spoiled by my normal to-go place.  I can never eat packet cooking again for Filipino food! Neighbors were entranced by my version though so I guess all is well that ends well.  

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hanaoka- Sweetwater National City

1528 Sweetwater Road Suite C

Home Page for Hanaoka

For the record, I didnt want to dislike this place.  It was perhaps ill fated to begin with since the sushi place we originally sought out to eat at was unexpectedly closed.  So we went here b/c my friend knows the place pretty well.  I ate here once (dont think I reviewed it) and felt it was meh.  But I wanted to give it the good old second chance...besides we were hungry!  Our waitress was very sweet and had the most adorable japanese accent.  Sometimes accents are not so pleasant you know?  They have a large menu.  Ive seen larger sushi menus but they also have noodles (cold and hot), rice dishes, cooked fish dishes, salads and sushi boats.  Not the prettiest of ambiance.  I felt the price of their food was too high given the quality.  Eek is that too harsh?  First up... side salad.  One came with the sashimi plate you will see later, the other had to be ordered separate.  I didnt really care for their dressing...some pseudo1000 island concoction.  Too heavy and thick for their standard slightly limp iceberg lettuce array.  For 3.50 I definitely dont feel I got my $ worth.  Still it was something to nosh on and help get you full i suppose.  My friend also got a miso soup with his sashimi plate...he said it was standard.  

This is the mixed handroll...dont know the price.  It is freaking large and in charge for sure.  You cant see it but the seaweed doesnt go all the way around due to its largeness.  I see lots of rice though so that might contribute.  According to my friend, this is good.  Has tuna, crab mix, avo, and shrimp.  I just could not get over the massivity of this thing.  

This was one of my picks.  The Hawaiian roll.  Probably around 10-14 bucks.  Overpriced for sure since it was just shrimp, crab and spicy tuna.  However I do want to point out that it tasted pleasant and I was surprised by the secret ingredient of chili oil laid down on the plate before putting the roll on the plate, allowing it to seep into the rice.  Nice touch.    The spicy tuna part?  Not so spicy but not bland.  

This was friend's sashimi plate.  $17 for 12 pieces of sashimi.  The only fish I sampled was the albacore (yum, could have been sliced a bit more generously imo).  It also came with salmon, tuna and one other fish I cant quite recall.  The middle seaweed salad got me excited until i realized it was just decoration and completely unseasoned.  also comes with a bowl of rice, along with the previously mentioned soup and salad.

The worst dish of the night.  Baked crab roll.  The only good thing about this roll is that the lady mentioned that it comes in half orders so we opted for the half.  That spicy aioli?  Not spicy.  Would be surprised if it was aioli since it tastes similar to the lame salad dressing.  The roll was not piping hot, the rice was not a good texture and the crab was too mayonaisey inside.  I only ate one.  It wasnt a cheap roll either come to think of it.  Lame sauce.  

Overall, I probably wouldnt come back for awhile unless I was outvoted by others.  We went on a Wed night, so it wasnt too crowded or anything.  Parking is more than plentiful as the business next door has gone belly up and its a strip mall actually.  Our bill came out to 51 bucks and with tip, basically 60 something dollars spent here.  I can say without a doubt that I can find better sushi at 51 bucks a pop in at least 2 different places.  Sorry hanaoka and their fans....I will pass

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Greek Style Chicken- El Cajon

955 E. Main Street
El Cajon CA

I know that its not the most authentic of places to grab a gyro.  But dag-nab-it, I have a weak spot for this place.  The portions are pretty sizeable, their tzasiki sauce is one of a kind, and their gyro meat has never disappointed me.

Greek Gyro Burger $5 plus change (add some more change to get the cheese).  Very filling.  The burger patty might look thin but combined with the gyro meat, its a fine balance.  The cheese and the thousand island dressing on the bun might sound weird with the gyro meat but trust me, you at least have to try it once this way.  My only quip is that the iceberg lettuce gets soggy quickly as does the bun.  I wish they would toast the bun on the griddle a bit more...I'm sure they would oblige you if you asked but I didnt want to be a bother.  It also comes with one serving of the famous tzatziki sauce.  The bun seems like a standard issue bleached flour processed bun but it does the job.  I ate one of the pickle slices on its own and it has a very spicy brine on it.  Interesting.  

Onion rings $2 something for the small size which still gives you about 8-10 hefty slices.  More like a wet batter coating than a breaded coat.  The onions were cut way too thick and wide for my liking and the batter while crunchy, could have used more taste.  Keep in mind, I am very particular with onions and onion rings.  Hate the crunch...onions really have to almost melt once bitten into for me to be ok with them.  It works out for me about 50% of the time actually.  I have also ordered the fries and zucchini fries before.  Neither are really anything to write home about imo.  

Since I rave about the sauce, it felt wrong not to show a picture of it.  It has garlic, cucumber, yogurt and what tastes like sour cream???  I want to find out what is in this damn thing one day....an extra sauce container costs 50 cents--that I know for sure! 

There is also another location off Graves where EC hits Lakeside.  Their gyro is also a generous portion as is their salad.  My boss raves about their chicken (their namesake) as well as their fish and chips.  You will just have to test that out yourself.  Now, as a reward for your loyal viewership I am going to share with you the secret I just found out today from the drive through lady.  Diningjoint.com has coupons! I have been coming here for 3 years and never knew of any coupon so this is pretty big news.  Good thing I dont live closeby or else I'd weigh 500 el bees.  Ciao.  

The Old Spaghetti Factory- Downtown SD

275 5th Ave
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 233-4323

Impromptu birthday dinner with my friend, her sister and her aunts took me to dtsd.  It took almost half hour to get a parking spot but it turns out that I had pleeenty of time before we were going to be seated.  Since they dont take reservations by phone, we waited an hour to be seated.  Once seated, everything rolled pretty smoothly though.  In case you havent been before, every entree comes with a free non-alcoholic drink, side salad, bread and a cup of spumoni ice cream. In the words of the rapper Drake, we fancy huh?  We had to upgrade to the cheese bread.  Pretty good...cheesy for sure, I thought they could have gone a little longer in the crisper for more browner edges but that is my own personal quib.  

After much prompting, I opted for the Manager's Favorite option $9.99 where you pick two of the following sauces: meat, mushroom, white clam sauce, mizithra cheese w/ browned butter or marinara sauce.  I picked the mizithra and mushroom.  Guess I didnt feel meaty today.  They have a pretty right on marinara base for their sauce.  The mushrooms seemed more of an afterthought than a rich component in the sauce but still good either way.  I like that you can request gluten free or whole wheat pasta too--I opted for whole wheat.  The mizithra?  Here's my dos centavos on that.  Tasty, yes.  It has almost a chewy texture.  I think it is more the browned butter that gives such a nice base to the pasta dish though.  I wish they wouldnt let the two pastas mix sauces though....

Friend's garlic mizithra pasta $10.99.  It had the mizithra cheese, browned butter as well as garlic, bacon and sauteed mushrooms.  She always gets the mizithra pasta and said that she prefers that better than this.  I tried it and couldnt really taste the garlic.  I thought it was still decent but didnt seem that the other things really jazzed it up as much as the menu suggested.  Decent size portion.  

Small side of brocooli $2.95.  Prepared with the same mizithra cheese and browned butter (notice a theme?). Not overcooked, but I wasnt too impressed.  Seemed a little bland in my humble opinion.  

Lasagna vegetariano $9.99.  Cheese, alfredo sauce, artichokes, squash, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and marinara sauce.  Does anyone know why many places like to make alfredo sauce and marinara sauce the office mixture for veggie lasagna?  I dont like to mix sauces and certainly not alfredo and marinara.  They are like opposite sides of the coin in my book and I dont like them combined! Yes I feel that strongly about it.  

There were more entrees but I didnt get to take pics.  The cheese bread went over well.  The regular lasagna and chicken marsala had a thumbs down from one of the aunts.  The shrimp ravioli was well received and recommended for next time.  Spumoni of course was a winnerl.  We also ordered a slice of bday cake for us three bday girls.  Very strong coffee taste in their mocha ice cream cake...not a winner with me but other eaters loved it.   Overall I might come back but NOT on a saturday dinner night.  An hour wait?  it better be free if I have to wait that long for some food lol.