The Whole Hog

The Whole Hog is a sandwich shop that S found on Yelp by searching for “pulled pork”. We’ve been really craving pulled pork ever since our trip to North Carolina in April. The Whole Hog boasts a “Carolina-style” pulled pork sandwich, and while I’m generally skeptical of Southern food in California, we decided to give it a try. Our friend A tagged along, too!

The Whole Hog

The restaurant is located in a small lot on Park Blvd. It was small and unassuming, yet quite charming in its own way.

The Whole Hog

We were given a quick introduction to the menu and settled on a few items to try:

PORK BELLY TACOS [$7.5]
Pork Belly Tacos

The pork belly tacos were a recent addition to the menu, I believe. The pork belly was cut into bite-sized chunks and were quite tender. I liked the pico de gallo and smoked salsa – the flavors complemented the pork belly quite nicely – but the cotija cheese and avocado crema were actually a tad overwhelming.

CAROLINA GOLD PULLED PORK SANDWICH [$8]
Pulled Pork

We learned that they actually use a South Carolinian mustard-based BBQ sauce for this pulled pork. …

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Sushi Kaito

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a pair of tickets to the Big Bite Bacon Festival! Ends TOMORROW at 11:59PM!

A couple of months back, S and I went out to dinner with our friends from Kirbie’s Cravings and One Gal’s Path. We picked Sushi Kaito, since I haven’t been there before.

Sushi Kaito

The restaurant is a small, unassuming place with a sushi bar and just a few tables. We went for an early-ish dinner (~5PM), and it’s a good thing we had reservations because it was actually pretty full.

SEAWEED SALAD
Seaweed salad

The seaweed salad was a nice, refreshing start to the meal.

BEEF TONGUE
Beef Tongue

The beef tongue was grilled lightly and had a lightly smoky taste. The slices were thick-cut – S and I prefer the more thinly-sliced type, which is less chewy, but these were still quite delicious.

CHICKEN KARAAGE
Chicken Karaage

The chicken karaage (fried chicken) here was nice and crispy, but I still prefer the version from Yakyudori Yakitori or Yokohama Yakitori Koubou.

AMBERJACK SASHIMI
Amberjack Sashimi

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Blaze Pizza

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a pair of tickets to the Big Bite Bacon Festival!

Blaze Pizza is another one of those “build-your-own” pizza joints. S isn’t a big pizza fan, but somehow our friend A and I convinced him to try it with us.

Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza is located next to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit on Balboa Ave. The store was pretty empty when we visited just before noon on a Saturday – the lunch crowd started showing up as we were eating, though.

I didn’t get any photos of their topping selections, but it’s quite similar to most of the other customize-your-own pizza joints. There is a list of “Signature Pizzas” that have pre-set toppings, or you could choose everything you want from a large selection of meats, veggies, cheese, and sauces. Here is the menu:

Menu

I like that you could choose different toppings for the two halves of a pie, so that you could try more flavor pairings!

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Big Bite Bacon Fest Giveaway!

The Big Bite Bacon Fest is returning for another year of porky goodness! It will be held August 1~2 on the Queen Mary. Unfortunately, I will be missing the event AGAIN this year, but I’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky reader. (Details at the end of post.)

This year, there will be 40 local restaurants and chefs who will be featuring their bacon creations, including Slater’s 50/50, The Fry Fry Truck, and Chef Bev Lazo (featured on The Food Network). I got some sneak peek photos of the treats that you’ll be seeing at the festival, and they’ve got me drooling!

Sea Salt Rub Chocolate Bacon (Meat, Inc.)

Sea Salt Rub Chocolate Bacon (Meat, Inc.)

 

Bacon Cheese Cupcakes

Bacon Cheese Cupcakes

 

Bacon Mac n Cheese (Slater's 50/50)

Bacon Mac n Cheese (Slater’s 50/50)

 

Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at www.bigbiteevents.com, where you can also find more information about the event. You can also enter my giveaway for a pair of tickets! The giveaway will run until Thursday, July 23. To enter, use the PromoSimple box below. Good luck, and happy bacon-eating!

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[LA/Monterey Park] Dean Sin World

We took a trip to LA back in May for a concert, and of course we had to plan some food stops as well. I had read great reviews of Dean Sin World on Kirbie’s Cravings, Gastronomy Blog, and mmm-yoso, so we decided to check it out.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the storefront, but luckily you can see pictures from the other blogs that I linked. When I visited, the banner that indicated its name, Dean Sin World, was no longer there, and we only saw the “Tastio Bakery Deli” sign. It was a bit confusing, but I made sure that it was the right place. The shop was pretty small, but since we were there in the mid-afternoon, we were the only customers.

Pork & Vegetable Dumplings 白菜水餃:
Pork & Vegetable Dumplings

We were floored by the prices here. I guess I should have expected it since it was LA, but this order of ten dumplings cost us less than $5! They were also really delicious – the house-made dumpling wrappers had a nice “pull”, and the fillings were flavorful and juicy. These dumplings really put everything we have in SD to shame.

Spicy Wontons 紅油抄手:
Spicy Wonton

The spicy wontons were also delicious. …

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Tabletop Commons

Tabletop Commons is a “board game bar” that opened up a couple of months ago in Hillcrest. Being lovers of board games, S and I checked it out along with our friend A shortly after their grand opening.

Tabletop Commons

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The main dining room is downstairs, and there’s a lounge area upstairs with a Wii. The board games are all displayed on a shelf:

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As you can see, the collection is pretty extensive. There’s a good variety of casual and more serious, strategy-based board games.

Onto the food and drinks. There is a list of game/geek-theme cocktails, including names like “Health Potion” and “Senor Mario”. I picked a Hibiscus Orange Margarita, which was obviously not geek-themed, haha.

Hibiscus Orange Margarita

Hibiscus Orange Margarita [$8]

 The margarita is made with Corralejo Tequila, Cointreau, orange juice, lime juice, and hibiscus. It was sweet and pretty strong. We noticed a lot of people around us ordering “The Dude Abides”, which is Irish Whiskey with Dolce Cilento Hazelnut Creme liquor, Caffe Borghetti (coffee liqueur), and cream, and also tried that on a separate visit (not pictured). That one is really smooth and creamy, pretty much an elevated version of Bailey’s.

We also ordered a few “Small Bites” to share:

Poutine with Duck

Poutine with Duck [$10]

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Six Year Blogiversary

I can hardly believe that it’s been six years since my very first post. (I debated for a LONG time whether I should link that, since, well, the photos are a bit cringe-worthy.) It’s been a really amazing experience – I’ve learned so much, eaten so many delicious meals, and, most importantly, met so many wonderful people through the blog. Even though S and I love the perks that come with the blog, the friends that we’ve made (both online and in real life) are definitely the most rewarding part of it all.

Thank you all for your readership, comments, and support. It’s really humbling to know that you guys value my opinions, and I’m motivated everyday to continue improving my cooking, writing, and photography. Here’s to another year of blogging! <3

You can read my previous blogiversary post here: Five Years Blogiversary.

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a sample of Nut Exactly snack bites and $50 Costco gift card! Ends TOMORROW night!

Frequent readers of this blog will know that S and I are pretty big fans of barbecue. I lived in Texas in my high school years – and that’s where my family currently resides – and S and I went to college in North Carolina, so I like to say that I’m from two barbecue meccas. After moving to California, we’ve really missed Southern food and have been on the constant search for barbecue. Recently, Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill opened a location in San Diego and invited us to check it out.

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill

(Photo courtesy of Wood Ranch BBQ)

The menu was quite extensive and included barbecue items as well as burgers & sandwiches, salads, and steaks. Of course, we were just there for the barbecue. The manager was happy to have us try pretty much everything and offered to do a couple of 3-meat combos.

Brisket, Tri-tip. Pulled Pork

Brisket, Tri-tip. Pulled Pork

We were initially slightly worried when we didn’t see much of a smoke ring on the brisket, but it turned out to be quite smoky in taste. The tri-tip was also juicy and tender, even though it tasted more like steak than barbecue. We learned that the beef items were smoked with pecan wood, and the pork with hickory.

Baby Back Ribs, Beef Ribs, St. Louis Ribs

Baby Back Ribs, Beef Ribs, St. Louis Ribs

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Kitchen 4140 (Dinner)

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a sample of Nut Exactly snack bites and $50 Costco gift card!

Kitchen 4140 is one of our favorite brunch spots, and we’ve always planned to check out their dinner but never got around to visit. Recently, we were invited to try their dinner menu, and of course I gladly accepted.

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We took a look at the menu and were slightly overwhelmed – there were a certainly a lot of things we wanted to try! So we decided leave our dinner fate at the hand of the chef.

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Complimentary pistachios

Instead of bread, every table has a small jar of pistachios, seasoned with a variety of spices – I can’t remember all of them, but there was definitely cinnamon. I love pistachios and munched on these while waiting for our meal.

Homage a la Fromage [$12]

Homage a la Fromage [$12]

We started out with a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich – made with brioche bread and three types of cheeses: Humboldt Fog (my fave!), aged cheddar, and taleggio, and finished with a drizzle of truffle oil. As if that wasn’t decadent enough, it was paired with the best tomato soup I’ve ever had – the tomatoes are smoked, which gave the soup a rich and meaty flavor. S said that it was like we were drinking barbecue… haha.

Smoked Pork Belly [$14]

Smoked Pork Belly [$14]

Our other appetizer was one that we requested – the smoked pork belly. The pork belly was quite tender and had a light smoky taste. We also really enjoyed the crispy brussels sprouts, as well as the crispy polenta (which pretty much tasted like cornbread), topped with a confit egg yolk that reminded us of Chinese-style salted duck egg yolk, which was rich and delicious.

Our next course was seafood:

Sea Bass [$40]

Sea Bass [$40]

This sea bass was served in a light miso broth with wilted spinach and topped with crispy garlic slices. I loved the flavor combination and the perfectly-cooked fish.

Seared Scallops [$19]

Seared Scallops [$19]

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Snacks Series & Giveaway: Nut Exactly Snack Bites

Happy long weekend! I’ve got another giveaway for you today – this time, I’m reviewing Nut Exactly Snack Bites.

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Nut Exactly snack bites are now available in San Diego at Costco retailers, and I was sent a sample of the Almond Blueberry Dipped in Dark Chocolate flavor.

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These are really perfect bite-sized snacks for watching TV or movie at home, summer picnics, and parties! Each bite is a mix of almonds, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, and popcorn, dipped in dark chocolate. I love all of those ingredients and was excited that combination of all of them together works really well….

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