Yokohama Yakitori Koubou

We recently visited Yokohama Yakitori Koubou, located in the Izakaya Sakura/Original Pancake House plaza on Convoy. It’s been on our to-do list for a while, and I was excited to try it out since I love yakitori (grilled skewered items).

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The only other places in San Diego where we’ve had yakitori is Yakitori Yakyudori and its sister restaurant Hinotez. We enjoyed both places, but wanted to try something new.

Yokohama Yakitori Koubou

Chicken Breast w/ Special Sauce [$2.99 each]; Premium Beef Rib [$3.99]; Pork [$2.99]; Chicken Heart [$1.80] 

Yokohama Yakitori Koubou 

We enjoyed all the meat skewers, which were all very tender and cooked nicely. The only thing that I wished for was a more smoky flavor from the grill, and perhaps a touch more salt. All the skewers were served with two sauces – a horseradish paste and a spicy miso paste, both of which were quite good and added the saltiness that I was craving.

Yokohama Yakitori Koubou

Koubou Gurume Yaki (Chicken Breast with Special Sauce): Natto with Leeks; Wasabi; Salmon with Corn

One of their specialties here is the “Koubou Gurume Yaki” – grilled chicken breast with various special topping combinations. We chose three, and my favorite was the natto with leeks. I know that people have pretty polarized feelings about natto – I didn’t know that I enjoyed it until recently, haha. The natto they used here had a very nice flavor, and paired well with the chicken breast. Not to say that the other two flavors weren’t delicious – I enjoyed all three of them! This is definitely something that we haven’t seen at other yakitori joints, so it’s a must-try if you visit. There are other interesting toppings like California Roll and even pizza.

Yokohama Yakitori Koubou

Sumiyaki Onigiri (grilled rice ball) [$3]

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Brunch at Searsucker Del Mar

A friend was craving brunch recently, so we tried to go to Snooze in Del Mar. Unfortunately, the wait time was about an hour, and we were all really hungry and decided to check out Searsucker’s brunch instead – it’s in the same plaza, so we just strolled over. 

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S and I have been to Searsucker for dinner but not brunch. We’ve also never been to the Del Mar location, so I was quite excited to check it out! 

Searsucker

It was a nice day, so we decided to sit outside (for once!). The patio was really nice, complete with a koi pond!

Searsucker 

Searsucker 

We had a pretty hard time deciding what to order. After some debate, S decided to go with one of the egg benedicts.

Pulled Pork Benedict

Pulled Pork Benedict

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Unfortunately I forgot to take note of the exact description of this dish, but basically it was poached eggs, pulled pork, and spinach on a whole-wheat English muffin, with a spicy hollandaise sauce. The eggs were cooked perfectly, and we really liked the flavor of the hollandaise on the pork. The dish was served with a side of hash browns and a small salad, but we weren’t impressed by the hash browns – it wasn’t crispy enough, and not very flavorful. S and I have sort of given up on hash browns in San Diego, though.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles 

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Izakaya Sakura revisit

Reminder: Enter my giveaway for 2 dozen NestFresh eggs here! Four days left to enter!

Izakaya Sakura is one of our go-to Japanese restaurants – they serve a variety of bento lunch and dinners, as well as good quality sushi and sashimi. S and I like visiting for weekend lunch, since they offer reasonably-priced lunch specials. We recently visited with a couple friends, and I thought it’d be fun to do a revisit post since my previous one was during dinner.

We ordered a variety of food… S chose the Chicken Katsu Don:

Chicken Katsu Don [$9]

Chicken Katsu Don [$9]

It was basically an oyako-don (chicken with egg and onions in dashi broth), but with fried chicken cutlet. Both of us really like this dish, especially the lightly sweet dashi broth. 

Lunch Special Bento [$12]

Lunch Special Bento [$12]

Every day, there is a “Lunch Special Bento” consisting of a ton of different items – there are only about 10 of these bentos available each day, and I was lucky enough to get one that day. The bento of the day included (starting from top left): sausage and bacon braised with cabbage, potato croquette, spaghetti with mentaiko, omelette, grilled salmon, chicken croquette, and pork with ginger and onions. It was certainly a very fulfilling bento! I enjoyed all of the items, especially the pork with ginger and onions, and the spaghetti with mentaiko. Also, there was enough food for another meal for me, so it was definitely worth it!

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Yogurt Deviled Eggs & NestFresh Giveaway

The holidays are upon us, which means holiday parties and lots of cooking and baking! One of my favorite appetizers is deviled eggs – growing up in the South, I pretty much had deviled eggs as appetizers for every single party and event I’ve ever attended! 

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Needless to say, there are countless variations of deviled eggs – I’ve had them with everything from anchovies to cucumbers mixed in – but my favorite version is actually *cue gasp* NOT made with mayonnaise! My piano teacher, back in the day, would make them with yogurt instead of mayo, and I really loved that extra tangy flavor the yogurt brought to the mix. (S still prefers mayo, though…)

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I got a little bit impatient while peeling the eggs, so some of them didn’t turn out very pretty… But I guess it’s the taste that matters. Next time, though, I’ll definitely work on my egg-peeling skills.

The eggs I used are provided by NestFresh. NestFresh eggs are organic and from cage-free hens, and the company is committed to treating their hens humanely, as well as the quality of the eggs produced. 

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You can check on their website for locations near you that carry NestFresh eggs; in California, you can find them at Bristol Farms, Whole Foods, Albertson’s, Walmart, and Amazon Fresh. If you’d like to try out NestFresh eggs, I’m hosting a giveaway – see bottom of the post!

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South Bay Food Crawl

Warning – this is a long post, with TONS of pictures! :)

A few weeks ago, CC of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High took Mary, Jake, and T (of This Tasty Life), and S and me, on a food crawl around the South Bay! I was really excited because I knew that there would be plenty of stops with Mexican food – one of our favorite cuisines. Plus, I’ve always wanted to explore some more of Chula Vista and Imperial Beach.

Birria Fernandez

Birria Fernandez

 Our first stop, bright and early at 9:30AM, was Fernandez Restaurant and Catering, located near IB – CC mentioned that there would be a line as early as 9AM, and indeed there was already a small crowd. We arrived later than everyone else – they had already sat down, ordered, and worked through the first batch of tortillas… oops.

Birria de Res [$9]

Birria de Res [$9] 

This is definitely the specialty here, a rich and hearty stew with shredded beef (res). The soup was just so flavorful, adn the meat was incredibly tender.

Birria Fernandez 

These tortillas took forever to arrive at our table, but well worth the wait – possibly some of the best tortillas I’ve ever had! As you can see, they’re dipped with the birria broth, adding extra flavor. 

Birria Fernandez 

I constructed my own taco, with the shredded beef, onions, and cilantro. The birria also came with radishes and limes – I gave my taco a good squeeze of lime juice. It was so delicious! I think all of us wished that we could have eaten more here, but we also knew that there was plenty more good food up ahead.

Fernandez Restaurant and Catering
2265 Flower St, San Diego, CA 92154
http://www.fdzcatering.com/

Mariscos Isaac

Mariscos Isaac 

Our second stop was just a short distance away, at the Mariscos Isaac seafood truck. Apparently, this is a new location for this truck – I’m geographically challenged so I’ll just link to CC’s post for you to figure out exactly where we are, hehe. 

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Seafood Consommé

Seafood Consommé

The seafood consommé is free here! A really nice little gesture to give us something to munch (slurp?) on while we wait for the food. It was served piping hot, which I didn’t really expect and almost burned my tongue off – but trust me, I’d rather have piping hot than lukewarm! It was on the salty side but very flavorful. S stayed away from this since there was shrimp.

We all decided to try different things here…

Fish Taco (Pescado) [$0.99]

Fish Taco (Pescado) [$0.99]

Marlyn [$3.25]

Marlyn [$3.25]

The fish taco wasn’t too special but yummy nevertheless. We also wanted to try the marlin because we haven’t seen it anywhere else so far – the fish was very smoky and rather salty. Still delicious, though. Also, the taco was huge.

Isaac [$3.50]

Isaac [$3.50] 

Gobernator [$3.50]

Gobernador [$3.50]

CC and Mary both opted for shrimp tacos – CC chose the “Isaac”, the truck’s namesake taco, which included grilled onions and peppers. The gobernador was a regular shrimp taco, which had pico de gallo and two generous slices of avocado! The shrimp was cooked perfectly for both tacos, and I really loved the flavors of the “Isaac” taco.

Mariscos Isaac
(Located near Bobar 2 Liquor Store)
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Lumberyard Tavern

We were recently invited to check out Lumberyard Tavern, a pub in Encinitas that boasts a great whiskey selection. S has been super into whiskey recently, so we were pretty excited about the visit!

Lumberyard Tavern 

S and I tried several whiskeys that night, including Blantons (bourbon), Mastersons 10 (rye whiskey), and Lagavulin 16 (Islay). I’m still a whiskey n00b, but I know that S really liked all of them. The Lagavulin was very smoky and had a strong peaty flavor. He liked the Mastersons a lot, since he’s generally a rye fan, and the Blantons too (I can’t remember what it tasted like, though). Bourbons tend to be too sweet for him, but I actually prefer bourbon (I’m a Southern gal at heart, right?). I should get S to write a guest whiskey post sometime to show off all his knowledge and research, hehe.

Lumberyard Tavern 

By the way, the bartender let us try sips of different whiskeys before we made our final decision – not every place does this, so it was really nice of them!

Grilled Artichoke [$10]

Grilled Artichoke [$10]

For the food, we started off with the grilled artichoke, which was something different than the standard fries or mac n cheese appetizers that you’d normally see at bars. The artichoke was grilled nicely, although there were many layers that were really tough so we basically ended up digging out the hearts. It was served with herb aioli and balsamic dipping sauces – I really enjoyed the aioli.

Salmon Skewers [$14]

Salmon Skewers [$14] 

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Chicago Trip Recap, Part 4: Eataly

It’s been a while since my last post on Chicago, but there’s still a lot of stuff that I haven’t posted about yet! We had several wonderful Italian meals in the Windy City – there is certainly an Italian heritage to the city, and it’s reflected in the food.

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One of the things that I was really excited about trying was Eataly, which is an Italian food market. The first one in the US was in New York, and the Chicago one followed soon after. Inside the market, they sell everything from cookware to sauces and pasta to fresh produce and meats.

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There was a Nutella bar! We didn’t get anything from there, though – we chose something else for dessert (you’ll see later!). 

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There’s a butcher shop, a seafood shop, a cheese counter, and more…

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Underbelly (North Park location)

Shortly after I posted about Underbelly in Little Italy, a new location opened in North Park! In addition to ramen, the NP location also serves yakitori, so of course we had to go check it out, and our friend A joined us for a late-night excursion.

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The seating is on this outdoor patio pictured above. The ordering process is a bit confusing – you order food at the counter by the kitchen, which is indoors, and then you order beer at the bar which is outdoors.

One of the things that we were excited to try was the pork belly buns – they are supposed to be reminiscent of the Taiwanese dish, gua bao.

Pork Belly Buns: sous-vide pork belly, pickled cucumber, ginger hoisin mayo [$7]

Pork Belly Buns [$7]

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These pork belly buns were quite good! The sous-vide pork belly was melt-in-your-mouth tender. I really enjoyed the flavor of the accompanying hoisin mayo, even though the flavor isn’t the same as the traditional Taiwanese buns. The buns were nice and fluffy, too.

We also wanted to try a couple of the skewers that were offered:

Pork Belly

Pork Belly [$4]

Beef Tongue

Chicken Heart [$3]

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Juniper & Ivy

Last month, S and I celebrated our six-year anniversary! We chose Juniper & Ivy, Richard Blais’ first restaurant in San Diego, as our celebration spot – both of us were big fans of Chef Blais on Top Chef and have been wanting to try J&I for quite some time.

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We requested to be seated at the Chef’s table (or counter) when making the reservation, and we were lucky enough to get a spot there so that we could watch all the action going on in the kitchen!

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We decided to get a cocktail since this was a special occasion, after all:

A Little R&R: rye, rum, citrus, maple, vanilla & clove [$12]

A Little R&R: rye, rum, citrus, maple, vanilla & clove [$12]

This was really interesting – the maple and vanilla in the drink made it pretty sweet, but it tasted pretty good. (Well, I’m not sure if it was too sweet for S, but I liked it a lot.)

The food menu is divided into sections such as “Snacks”, “Raw”, “Small Plates”, etc, and like many New American restaurants nowadays, everything is meant to be shared. We decided on a variety of smaller plates in addition to a couple of larger entrées.

Slow-Roasted Beets: Bartlett pear ricotta, marcona almond, miso honey vinaigrette, living kale [$12]

Slow-Roasted Beets: Bartlett pear ricotta, marcona almond, miso honey vinaigrette, living kale [$12]

I never knew that S was that into beets, but when he expressed interest in trying them, I immediately agreed. The beets were tender and really tasty, especially paired with the miso honey vinagrette. I remember wishing for a bit more ricotta, though, for some additional creaminess.

Swedish Meatballs: red kuri, McCart's preserves, pumpkin seed pesto [$12]

Swedish Meatballs: red kuri, McCart’s preserves, pumpkin seed pesto [$12]

We liked these house-made Swedish meatballs, but to be honest, the flavor wasn’t overly impressive. I was slightly disappointed that there wasn’t anything that made these stand out above the average meatball, even though the flavor combinations sounded so good.

Buttermilk Biscuit with Smoked Butter [$5]

Buttermilk Biscuit with Smoked Butter [$5]

I was looking forward to the biscuit after reading rave reviews, and this totally delivered. The buttermilk biscuit was warm and fluffy without being too crumbly, and the smoked butter and sea salt added a perfect depth of flavor. I would have been happy to eat another one!

Carne Crudo Asada: quail egg, cotija, jalapeno [$14]

Carne Crudo Asada: quail egg, cotija, jalapeno [$14]

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Butternut Squash Pesto Pasta

Today’s post is brought to you by Melissa’s Produce! I was sent a free box of produce from Melissa’s, and asked to create a recipe using ingredients in the box. The box consisted of classic “fall” produce: butternut squash, potatoes, cranberries, fava beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, pine nuts, cranberries, pearl onions, shallots… I’m relatively new to the world of cooking with beans, so I decided to set those aside for future recipes, and when I saw the pine nuts, I knew that I had to make a pesto. And then I thought… how would butternut squash pair with a pesto sauce? Well, there was only one way to find out.

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I browned some Italian sausage, along with shallots that I received in the produce box, and used the rendered sausage fat to soften and cook the butternut squash. In the meantime, I also whipped up a quick pesto sauce with some fresh basil, plenty of the pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil.

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The butternut squash’s sweetness offset the salty Italian sausage perfectly! I went easy on the pesto sauce so as to not overpower the flavors of the squash, and it was just enough to bring out an extra “fresh” flavor. I also tossed in some whole pine nuts, for some extra depth and to give this dish a more autumn-y feeling.

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This was a super fun produce challenge for me, since I’m learning to come out of my comfort zone and try out some different flavor combinations. Did I mention that there are several other bloggers participating in this Melissa’s Produce Challenge, too? Check out all of their posts, linked below!

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary box of produce from Melissa’s to create my own recipe. All writings and opinions are my own.


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