Saturday, February 26, 2011

Red Bean and Custard Sweet Griddle Cakes at 99 Ranch

Ive been to 99 Ranch roughly a hundred times in my short life.  I usually prefer the K-markets b/c it reminds me of my heritage and the selection is better/ cheaper for my korean ingredients...or the Vietnamese markets for the awesome price points.  However, 99 ranch is awesome totally in its own right.  The one in SD has also several small shops/ restaurants under the same roof including the eye doctor I have frequented, a vietnamese deli, a jewelery store, a makeup store, a funnish Hello Kitty kind of store, and two decent and well known Chinese restaurants.  I have also seen this little lady who operates a little stand that makes little round treats that are best described as round spheres of batter filled with either red bean or custard creme.  Each one is 60 cents and part of the fun is watching her make them.  B/c I adore you guys, I secret-agent style took some pictures of the action.  She may have heard the first flash b/c the iphone will not be silenced so easily, but i muted and unflashed for the rest of the pics.  

The verdict?  It was ok.  Like anything that you build up so long, it was bound to disappoint.  Husband didnt know these things existed and therefore loved it when he tried it.  At 60 cents, I dare say that you can afford to go get your own and opine on your own.  xoxo

Los Carbones Taco Shop- San Ysidro

After a morning of busy bargain shopping at Las Americas Outlet, my credit card was wincing and my stomach was a-grumbling.  Across the street from the outlet, we saw a sign for 99 cent tacos and I was like a moth to fire.  This is gonna be a short but to the point post but overall, I would definitely come back here again.  Case in point:

 This is the sign that drew me in.  Do you blame me?  Plus we were STARVED.  

 Pictured is the 99 cent fish taco with the soft corn tortilla and the potato taco in the background. The tacos were definitely not like a street taco size and pretty hefty in size.  Fish fillet was nicely fried flaky white fish of some kind and a decent size overall.  It also had pico and cabbage.  Could compete with any other fish taco out there and blows 99 cent tacos out of the water... The potato taco is made of like mashed potatoes filling.  The size is also generous.  What I was most surprised by was that for a fried taco, very little grease factor! I love that about this taco.  It also is filled with iceberg and shredded cheese.  The carrots were offered at the salsa bar that I didnt take a pic of.  The two red sauces in the bar are awesome by the way, the green did not sampled unfortunately.

The ubiquitous carne asada fries.  Hubby and I love these things but we only let ourselves order it once every month or two.  I liked that they use skinny fries but I didnt like the fries themselves. The beans are part of the fries but I asked for it on the side.  I wasnt a fan of the beans but I will let you sample them on your own.  The carne was nicely seasoned and tender and I could have used more guac, but I am a guac monster.  I could seriously just eat a bowl of it with a fork...even without the fork actually...sssshhhhhh dont tell.  At about 6.50, it was in a medium- high price range for this kind of food item.  I wont get this again, but mostly because I need more of those tacos asap.   

Another interesting observation- I happen to catch a glimpse of their california burrito at the counter and gosh dang dilly, that sucker was hefty.  It actually had me wishing I could measure it up against my forearm to size it out, but I dont have the cajones to ask a perfect stranger if I can borrow his burrito for a second.  Other people tended to order tacos, saw some tortas, and quesadilla.  

We will be back.  Go check it out!! =)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Forgot about these...

As I type this, several things are running through my mind.  I love food, I miss my husband (away for a few days), I'm hungry again, and I love GLEE.  Glee just makes me feel better no matter how crappy my day is.  Ryan Murphy is a genius and I wish I had my glee squad around to make me feel better every day! Back to the star of the show...

 $2 Fish taco special.  Larger than usual size taco on a nice corn tortilla.  The fish reminded me of fish and chips standard fare.  The taco didnt have as much of the toppings/ sauces that I like such as cabbage, slaw, or sauce.  Just a pico de gallo which was forgettable.  But for 2 buckaroos?  It could be worse...

 Neighbor got three carne asada tacos.  Somehow the marinade didnt hit a home run with me.  Again, $2 each with the purchase of one drink (I think).  Sometimes, its not good to take too long to post b/c small details get lost in the wind.  Some guac would have been nice or even some shredded lettuce.  

Cheese fries.  Just meh.  It was also on sale happy hour prices.  Thats all I have to say.  

***Parking is awesome and you get a view of the glam National City harbor.  We got to eat at the table with the fire pit outside that has the cool glass rocks that keep you moderately warm and lit up.  They also had HH drink specials.  


 Sourdough bread, turkey, avocado, sprouts, tomatoes and cheese.  Just meh.  I think it was the Californian sandwich.  Also came with pasta salad...more on that later.  

 Isnt the sticker so cute?  Moving on.

 Husband's reuben. He liked but not loved it.  He usually loves reubens so that was ominous.  It is one pretty sandwich though isnt it?  

Alright this is the interesting part.  Their pasta salad tasted like a ranch sauce...a different take on the traditional deli salad.  Also seemed to have some kind of cheese on top.  Al dente pasta as well.  Not bad my friend.  

***Mind you, it is tucked in an industrial part of El Cajon, so it might have office kind of hours and parking was spotty.  You also risk the usual corporate lunch rush as I had to wait about 15 minutes for my order.  Friendly staff btw.  They also seemed to have some delish specials such as lasagna on a stated day of the week.  Lmk if you have tried any of their non sandwich items...


 Portugese sausage breakfast plate.  If you like sausage, you have to try this.  The eggs tasted like eggs, home fries like home fries.  But that sausage....

 Outdoor seating.  I just love these cement garden mosaic tables...

 Literally on the Gillespie Field airport grounds.  This is what you can see if you eat outside.  One poor mom nearby had to drag her screaming son home b/c he was in love with the planes flying by and refused to leave.  

Sausage gravy and biscuits.  Not the best but pretty tasty.  Nice portion size too.  I personally like the more rustic home potatoes style, not the shredded potato action.  

***Im glad I used a coupon for this place.  Its nice to try out new places that you wouldnt drive 20 minutes out of one's way to save a few bucks, test the food and scout the locals.  

Peace out home skillets...its off to bed for this girl! =)

What I have been eating in the past month...

Since I still appear to be in my blog updating slump, this is going to be one gigantic blog-a-thon just so you guys can see that I am still alive, what rocked my socks and where you should avoid at all costs.  Motivation is hard to come by and it cannot be bought, bartered for, nor can you will it to come back to you.  Fickle like a young lover, it comes and goes without a moment's notice even.  Here is mine, fleeting as it may be.  

 A round of drinks to start...their sangria is freaking phenomenal! The other drink was a donkey punch, also reported to be tasty...

 Triple Dip appetizer- white bean hummus, red pepper romesco and spinach artichoke dip.  Just standard, save your dollars for something more exciting.  

 Portabella mushroom sliders (the original and lamb sliders somehow didnt get photographed).  I'd go for the lamb if you had a choice, like vegetarian lifestyles or allergies.  

 Plain mac and cheese- creamyyyyyyy-licious.  They also have a chef's choice mac an cheese offering which is this foundation with some mix ins.  

 New zealand black mussels- interesting take on mussels cooked in wine...the apples and currant bits were fun to eat and made the juice on the bottom of the bowl kinda sweet but take away a bit from the butteriness I was looking for from this dish.

 Tavern chicken and waffle: I wish the waffle was bigger! Perfectly cooked waffle base, but the chicken was tad too crunchy for me.  I'm sure that not everyone would think that this is a bad thing.

Grilled chicken flatbread- definitely has a spicy kick!!!! I thought it was appropriately crispy and pliable as a good flatbread ought to be, saucy and a better portion than many other things that night.  I recommend.  

****Word of caution- not the cheapest eats by any measure.  The four of us with a drink or two and two dishes each spent about $150. That kind of caught me off guard since the word tavern doesnt usually scream expensive especially in the middle of North Park.  I'd go for HH or maybe if they have a groupon or some other similar coupon deal.  

 They brine their own pickles here and you can have as many as you like since its already sitting on each table with a few different mustard choices to nosh on while you wait for your order.  

 Pretty sure this is the reuben special with the tongue substitution for a few bucks extra instead of the standard pastrami or corned beef.  Tongue was tender and just fatty/ creamy tasting enough.  They also make a good rye that you can buy at the bakery counter on your way out.  

 Corned beef reuben lunch special.  I only ate half b/c it is really filling and I just wasnt the biggest fan of their corned beef.  I am not a CB expert btw!!  It just didnt register with my palette i guess.  Boo! I'd definitely look for the lunch special menu if you are there since you save a few bucks and it comes with the fries.  

The Josephine bar.  My choice for our to-go dessert, which I have to add that I rarely order dessert.  But they have this impressive shiny deli counter with meats, cheeses, and sweets and I'll be gosh darned if they cant get me to spend even a few more dollars each time on take home items.  Evil! Back to the almost 5 bucks (prices are not marked on the display), I better have loved it and wanted to take its last name.  I didnt.  Ate one bite and pouted at how much I didnt like it...too sweet and not flaky enough.  Wish I could have a do-over on this one.  

***Overall, they arent too cheap either as their dishes range from 8-14 bucks.  Parking is a capital B word and the place gets pretty packed.  In the past, I have very much enjoyed their tuna melt and fries and hubby loves the tongue there.  They dont normally have coupons that I have seen.  Its definitely a San Diego landmark place so you should at least give it a whirlsky though.  

Drove by and saw this immediately excited....and had to try it out.  Seeing as how the other tofu stew places on the same street average a good $3 a bowl more than this place, I just had to do it.  

 Banchan spread- not bad I guess for a lunch offering.  I really liked the fish cakes...just like mom used to make them.  From left top corner, you can see sprouts, cabbage kimchi, some kind of root in a soy sauce vinegar mix, turnip kimchi, sweet soy sauce potatoes and the lovely fish cakes.  

 I went for the seafood tofu stew.  I figured it was a safe choice as I'd get a flavorful broth and get to taste the essence of this place.  I knew not to expect a whole lot of seafood meat, but boy was I underwhelmed overall.  BLAND.  Exactly one piece of the following seafood bits i.e. shrimp, clam and I believe a mussel.  Not spicy at all.  If you wanted the egg to mix in while it was bubbling, this place didnt offer it (I didnt ask for it either, but other places usually bring it out automatically).  I did like the mixed rice favorite but a pain to make at home.  

 Korean blood sausage stew with a paltry side of the said sausage.  Even worse than my tofu stew, probably b/c at least I knew my stew was cooked.  I tried one of hubby's sausage bites and it was one of the worst I have ever had.  I also wouldnt have bet money or even cheerios that it was even cooked all the way through.  Husband basically threw it into the stew to cook it and dumped the seasoning salt accompaniment directly into the soup to make it edible.  On the plus side, it was also 5.99 I think.  

***I realized after sitting down that this was where the AYCE Korean food buffet used to be.  Staff was nice and the place started filling up as we left.  5.99 tofu stew in san diego, fail.  We can do better guys!!!!! 


 Crab rangoons- the filling was crabby and creamy like it should be but I find myself wishing that they would have put more in there.  See how flat and deflated it looks?  Nicely fried too.  

 One of my favorites here, although sometimes are better than others.  Spicy eggplant with basil leaves.  When I eat this dish, I totally see myself doing the vegetarian thing no sweat...then I think of crab hut, spam and fried chicken and then I resign myself to a life of partial vegetarianism.  Depending on the day of the week. Get even tastes good the next day.  

 Pad see ew.  Love their version as well.  Even better?  They keep crushed peanuts on the table so for a kick, I threw some on top of the noodles and voila...everything I heart about pad thai  (peanut and egg) with the wide flat noodles and sauce.  If you can take some heat, that is the way to go here... This version had beef inside but I have had it with seafood and it rocks both ways.  

Cant remember what kind of curry this was...panang?  I liked it but I only had a little bit of it.  I love that this place is not stingy with the basil leaves in their food! 

Mango sticky rice.  This was my first time, but not the last time.  Their mangos are perfectly ripe and just firm enough.  I personally am gonna ask them not to put the coconut sprinkles on top next time, but that is just my own coconut weirdness.  Attractive presentation and decent portion.  Perfect end to a nice spicy meal...I promise.  

***Beware that the parking lot is tiny and it can be hard to find a spot around lunchtime.  I also have never seen any kind of parking here search as I might.  The portions are standard but the service has been friendly each time I went.  I reviewed this place before and always recommend it to others.  

The only thing that I ever want to eat here- ahi poke stack.  poke, wasabi, carrots, sprouts and avocado laid on top of fried wonton skins squares.  Can someone bring me one asap? 

Til we meet again or till motivation hits again.  Just keeping it real!