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 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. 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.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

La Finca D'Adobe- Bonita area

5202 Bonita Rd
Bonita CA 91902

Hubby and I had driven past this place a few times and always said "I wonder if that place is any good".  Neighbor was a sport and indulged me on my whim while hubby was away on a certain TT (Taco Tuesday).  They advertise specials occasionally and parking lot seems welcoming.  Here is the interior:

Not sure it translates well in this picture but I adored the decor.  Come to think of it, it really doesnt show here at all.  Very southwesternish and not cheesy or faked southwestern decor.  Separate bar area.  Big menu.  

Fresh chips.  Decent salsa, but made on premises.  I am such a salt monster...especially crunchy chips.  

I got the carne asada steak with cheese enchilada, guac, beans and rice and accompaniments.  I think it was about 12 bucks or so.  Nice portions.  Steak was very tasty actually.  My beef loving neighbor loved it.  Took alot of it home but that is b/c I filled up on chips!

Neighbor's CAB aka carne asada burrito.  It looks sad b/c its all alone on the plate, but apparently it was filling and tasty.  It looked a decent size although I have seen taco shop versions here and there that are bigger.  Jam packed with meat though if you can tell....

Overall, I'd come back.  I want to bring hubsters here of course but I want to try their TT specials.  Service was attentive and for you sports freaks, a few sports things blaring on tvs at the bar.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Craw Island- Chula Vista

509 Telegraph Caynon Rd
Chula VistaCA 91910

Ever since I moved past the 8 and the 15, I have missed the food choices around my new hood.  It is dearly lacking in flavor, health, flavor and options.  I have loved Crab Hut since the day we went for the first time, shortly after they opened.  Since its more of a pain to drive all the way over there and then do the parking fight in that tiny ass parking lot, I was so excited to try Craw Island which is basically a Crab Hut themed place.  They do offer a specialty that the OG Crab Hut doesnt--crepes and boba!   The place is pretty small but not tiny.  Parking is better than the OG predecessor.  Here is the poorly shot outside pic:

Modest place.  Friendly staff.  The station by the window is where they make the crepes.  I still think about those delicious things! 

Crab rangoons.  Served with a sweet tomatoey sauce.  I think it came with 6 to the order.  Adequate, not the greatest.  

But I didnt come for crab rangoons.  Here is the main squeeze.  More corn and sauage than crab hut.  However, the flavor just wasnt right on.  Missing something.  We got the mild but it was still spicy for my neighbor.  Spicier than I imagined mild would be as well.  I'd say nice try, but needs more work.  Plus the corn was overcooked.  No one likes mushy corn!

IMHO, this was the best part of the meal.  We got the nutella crepe with almonds.  Fan-freakin-tastic.  That is coming from a person who doesnt usually go goo-goo-ga-ga over sweet things.  Perfectly cooked crepe.  I could have had a second one to share or at least my own crepe with no sharesies.  

Overall?  I'd only come here for the crepes or in a "I need crab hut like the dickens but I just cant possibly drive all the way to convoy for it" kind of occasion.  Crepes anyone?  Nutella!!!! Ok I will stop.  =)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fiesta Cantina- Hillcrest

142 University Ave ste G
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-2500

Neighbor and I often do TT aka Taco Tuesday.  We tried out a new place so as not to tire of our usual regular spot.  This was the Fiesta Cantina...TT special is $5 AYCE tacos, chicken or carne asada or ground beef.  It comes with one serving of rice and beans as well.  Each person must buy a beverage however, but each drink during HH is buy one get one.  Come on an empty stomach.  Here is the ambience...can you dig it?

The waiters dont all go shirtless.  Just one of them on this day.  I wasnt complaining though =)

Here is a picture of the daily specials menu.  I get the feeling you come here more for the cheap drinks than the food however....And the eye candy.  

Nice portion size right?  I so wanted to like the tacos.  The meat was pretty bland and the salsa sucked.  Poop.  The beans were blah.  However the rice was flavorful and the only really tasty thing on the plate.  I didnt know that the beans and rice were a one time deal and thought that I had to "clean the plate" to get more tacos so I forced myself to eat it all so I could try the other tacos.  The things I do for you guys! I wasnt made aware that I couldnt get more rice until I ordered the second tacos.  I really wanted to try chicken so I ordered some of those.  

Dont they look good???  They werent.  Salty and dry tasting chicken.  Even neighbor didnt like them and there is rarely a beef or chicken that he wont eat.  It makes me sad just thinking about it.  

I wish I could report that the ground beef taco was any more tasty.  I will leave it at that. Sad times. 

This was my B1G1 beverage.  Watermelon martini.  Again, looks so divine, but taste fell short.  Plus I had two of these things to drink so I made neighbor drink the other one.  Life is so hard isnt it?  

Overall, I would come back but not for the food.  The food might taste better the more you get drunk.  Parking is hit or miss.  Seems to be a popular neighborhood spot.  Oh and beware of the bathrooms.  Co-ed.  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

La Finca D'Adobe- Bonita

5202 Bonita Rd, Bonita, California 91902(619) 773-7131

Hubby and I have driven past this place a few times and thought it looked kind of cool.  Since he is away, neighbor and I tried it out on TT day (Taco Tuesday). Here is a pic of the inside:

 Not sure it translates in the picture but the inside decor is pretty cool.  Very southwesterny.  Two separate eating areas.  Big menu.  

Counterpoint- Golden Hills

830 25th St
(between F St & E St)
San DiegoCA 92102
(619) 564-6722

I was supposed to come here once before but my plans had changed.  Since a friend of mine is good friends with one of the bartenders, it was inevitable that I would venture onto this place again though.  Location wise easy to find.  Parking is street only.  Neighborhood is kinda rough but also lots of beautiful older 1920s style Victorian and Craftsman style home too.  The interior is kinda cool decorwise as well.  We sat in the cool kids booth by the bar with a colored glass chandelier ball thing hanging high above.  Check it out:

Sorry for the yellowy pic.  Iphone does not have the best camera despite raving online blog reviews on the iphone 4 prior to my decision to take the plunge.  Large selection of beer and wines- no hard liquor guys.  Bar food with a twist menu.  We went on a Saturday night so no happy hour deals here.  

Pork sausage and asiago cheese pizza $14.  Very cheesy.  Good size portion.  I could have used a bit more sauce on the pizza myself but I love tomato sauce.  

Grilled cheese $10.  The bread apparently is baked locally at bread & cie.  Menu says almost a 1/4 lb of Cahills-Porter cheese, a dark Irish cheese.  The cheese has such an intense flavor and a large portion as well for the sammy.  It is served with cole slaw thing on the side.  It will definitely fill your grilled cheese craving.  

Pain Frites $6.  Basically, toasted "fries" of french bread, topped with melty blue cheese.  You dip it into this crazy concoction of champagne, honey and jalepenos.  Sweet and spicy basically.  Its definitely worth a try.  

The food is definitely guilty pleasure inducing.  Cheese galore, thick breads, and libations to boot.  =)

Guess who took a little hiatus...

I have a few semi-acceptable reasons why I have been MIA.  I thought we were on a break.  Its not you its me. I have been sick with what they call bronchopneumonia aka walking pneumonia.  Plus it was my bday.... Is that good enough?  Can we move forward?

I couldnt decide which mediterranean food place to eat after my thrift store shopping ventures failed today.  All I found was a lousy $4 wine rack.  Im not gonna lie, the cheap price signs drew me in like a moth to a flame.  Its basically a small middle eastern foods mom and pop supermarket with a few hot foods in their deli. Due to severe language incompatibilities, it took for-e-ver to order anything.  I just ended up going for a few of their beef kebabs.  Whopping total: $2.07 for three decent size kebabs and cucumbers and tomatoes on the side.  Plus I picked up some canned hummus for a special someone who loves getting my packages.

The verdict: I would come here again.  The meat tasted kind of gamey, was nicely cooked and the veggies were very fresh.  For basically 2 bucks.  Best deal in town.  

Athena Foods 
435 W. Main Street, El Cajon CA 92020