Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

I’ve had Little Sheep Mongolian hot pot at home before, since you can easily buy the soup base mix at Asian grocery stores. However, I have always wanted to visit the actual restaurant and see if there’s actually any differences, and recently S and I went with some friends for a hot pot dinner.

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The restaurant is located in the same strip mall as Ramen Yamadaya on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. We went on a Saturday evening, and it was crowded. The entire lobby area was full, and there were several groups waiting outside. Pro-tip: if you have a party of 6 or more, you can make a reservation. Good thing we did, because the waits seemed to be at least an hour long.

There is an induction cooktop at each table, and for our group of 6, we had two cooktops (and therefore two pots). S and I shared a spicy hot pot with one of our friends, while the other three shared a “yin-yang” pot, consisting of half spicy and half original. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the cool-looking yin-yang pot.

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The soup had the same distinct smell – heavy on the cumin – and looked like it had more spices than the packaged soup base mix. Maybe there really is a difference, after all – the meat actually did taste more flavorful. I noticed that they had way more green onion stems and garlic cloves than what the soup mix called for, so maybe I should also try to increase that next time at home.

Anyway, I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of everything since I was too distracted by cooking/eating/chatting… So these are just a few shots that I managed to snag throughout the meal.

Supreme Angus Beef [$13.95/12 oz]

Supreme Angus Beef [$13.95/12 oz]

Supreme Lamb Shoulder [$13.95/12 oz]

Supreme Lamb Shoulder [$13.95/12 oz]

The meat quality here was really quite good. Of course, we did choose the more “premium” meats. Continue reading →

Taste of the Himalayas (La Jolla)

Taste of the Himalayas is one of my favorite Indian/Nepalese restaurants in San Diego. A few months ago, they opened a new location in downtown La Jolla, and when I received a coupon in the mail for 20% off the entire order, we decided to pay a visit.

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The first thing that we noticed was that everything was “La Jolla” priced – every item was ~$4-5 more expensive than the original Midway store. So that actually meant that our coupon would just bring it back to the pricing that we were expecting… haha. Oh well.

After our server took our orders, he brought out some complimentary lentil soup. I love lentil soup and really enjoyed this a lot.

Lentil soup

Lentil soup

For our entrées, we decided to order some of the Nepalese dishes, which are the restaurant’s specialty.

Lamb Tarkari

Bhera ko Tarkari (Lamb Tarkari) [$15.95]

The lamb tarkari’s description was “boneless lamb pieces cooked in Himalayan special sauce with different herbs and spices” – not very informative, haha. The lamb was tender, and the sauce was spicy and flavorful. I’ve found that I enjoy the less creamy curries and prefer them more “soupy”, and the sauce here fits the bill.

Bhanta ka Kukhara (Chicken & Eggplant) [$13.95]

Bhanta ka Kukhara (Chicken & Eggplant) [$13.95]

This was something that we didn’t see last time at the Midway location, and since S and I love eggplant, we decided to give it a try – diced eggplant and boneless chicken with a Nepalese-style sauce. I actually ended up liking this dish more than the lamb one, probably because the eggplants went so well with the sauce. This sauce was less “pungent” than the lamb one, but still plenty flavorful.

Side note: this place can bring the heat! We ordered a “7” for the spice level, and I think S was dying towards the end. I actually am trying to eat less spicy now, too, but if you’re a spicy food-lover, this place should be a good challenge. Continue reading →

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is a BBQ franchise originating from my sort-of hometown of Dallas, Texas. (I say sort of because, well, I’ve moved around a lot and “grew up” in a bunch of different places. But Dallas-Ft. Worth is where my parents currently live and where I went to high school, hence, sort-of hometown.) Anyway, even though I’ve only been to Dickey’s once or twice while actually living in Texas, I was still excited for its presence in San Diego. So on their second day of opening, S and I paid a visit!

Dickey's BBQ Pit

We definitely did not expect there to be such a crowd – I didn’t think that there were this many BBQ lovers in SD!

Dickey's BBQ Pit

There were three of us dining together, and we were starving after waiting in line for so long, so (of course) we ended up ordering a ton of food.

Picnic Pack w/ brisket [$28.95]

Picnic Pack w/ brisket [$28.95]

The Picnic Pack comes with 1 lb. of meat, 2 medium sides, and 4 dinner rolls. Of course, we had the brisket. The meat is cut to order, so I made sure to ask for the fattier part! It was relatively moist, but not nearly as juicy and smoky as the brisket at Coop’s – especially the leaner slices. Side note: they ask whether you want the brisket chopped or sliced. I went with sliced, since that’s what I’m used to, but I also overheard the person telling the next customer that they recommend chopped. Maybe that’s what we should go with next time – maybe it’d be better balanced between the fat and lean parts and overall more juicy?

Fried okra

Fried okra

Continue reading →

Yakitori Taisho

One of S and my new “obsessions” is yakitori… Hinotez and Yokohama Yakitori Koubou are part of our regular rotations now (we love Yakyudori, too, but it gets quite crowded so we visit less often). So when we saw rave reviews of Yakitori Taisho, the newest sister restaurant of Yakyudori and Hinotez, we made plans for a visit.

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Located in the Smart & Final strip mall on Clairemont Mesa Blvd, Yakitori Taisho wasn’t exactly in the nicest part of town. But it’s the food that matters to us.

After reading Kirk’s posts as well as the review by the guys at San Diego Food Net, we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to order.

Tsukimi Tororo: grated nagaimo yam with quail egg [$5.5]

Tsukimi Tororo: grated nagaimo yam with quail egg [$5.5]

Mekabu Natto: mekabu seaweed and fermented soybeans with quail egg [$5.5]

Mekabu Natto: mekabu seaweed and fermented soybeans with quail egg [$5.5]

Our friend A wanted the tororo – I tried it for the first time and quite liked it, although I still preferred the natto, which was a pungent, savory, and perfect way to start my meal.

One of the nice things that we discovered was that even though the menu says each order is two skewers, we could actually order 3 since we had 3 people.

Bara (pork belly) [$2/ea], Sunazuri (chicken gizzard) [$1.75/ea]

Pork Belly (bara) [$2/ea], Chicken Gizzard (sunazuri)[$1.75/ea]

The pork belly was nice and fatty, with plenty of smoky flavor from the binchotan (well, everything did). It tasted quite similar to the version at Taisho’s sister restaurants. The gizzard had a nice “crunch” and “chew”.

Pork with Shiso (butashiso) [$2.5/ea], Chicken Thigh with Onion (torinegima) [$2.25/ea]

Pork with Shiso (butashiso) [$2.5/ea], Chicken Thigh with Onion (torinegima) [$2.25/ea]

The butashiso here was outstanding – we all agreed that it’s the best butashiso we’ve had in SD so far. The pork was moist, tender, and flavorful, and the shiso was subtle but added a nice, noticeable layer. The chicken thigh with onions – instead of the usual green onions – was definitely interesting. I think I still prefer green onions, but the chicken itself was quite delicious.

Chicken Heart (hatsu) [$1.75/ea]

Chicken Heart (hatsu) [$1.75/ea]

I was hoping to try the chicken vein, but alas they ran out. Chicken heart is one of S’s faves, so of course we had to try it. It was pretty good, although not super memorable.

Grilled Scallop (hotate yaki) [$7.50]

Grilled Scallop (hotate yaki) [$7.50]

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This was from their “Appetizer & Salad” section – scallops grilled over the binchotan charcoal. I LOVE that they give you the entirety of the scallop instead of just the inner part (I do not know what the technical term is…). It was smoky, tender, and had plenty of that “fresh seafood” flavor (which I don’t think S actually liked that much. He just likes the normal scallops. But I liked this a lot!).

Chicken Skin (kawa) [$2.4/ea]

Chicken Skin (kawa) [$2.4/ea]

Our last skewer of the evening was chicken skin. It was grilled perfectly, with the right amount of crunch. Even S, who doesn’t normally enjoy chicken skin, liked this.

Grilled Sliced Beef Tongue [$10]

Grilled Sliced Beef Tongue [$10]

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Grilled sliced beef tongue was on the specials board that night, and after some deliberation we decided to try it out. I really enjoyed it!

Fried Chicken Cartilage [$6]

Fried Chicken Cartilage [$6]

At this point, we were getting full, but I was craving something deep-fried, so we ordered the chicken cartilage off of the specials board. These were crispy and crunchy and satisfied my craving.

Nori Chazuke [$5.5]

Nori Chazuke [$5.5]

Last but not least, rice with seaweed in a green tea broth. This was simple but a perfect way to end a delicious meal!

Overall, we really enjoyed our dinner at Yakitori Taisho. Many of the items were similar to Yakyudori or Hinotez, but some of them definitely stood out – such as the butashiso. Although its price point is slightly higher, I liked it so much here that I’m sure a revisit will be happening soon!

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Specials

Specials Board

Yakitori Taisho
5185 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117

Trinitea

S and I are always on the lookout for new milk tea shops, so when we read about Trinitea on Kirbie and CC‘s blogs, we decided to try it out. Although we’re rarely in Hillcrest, we found an opportunity to visit after having lunch at Streetcar Merchants.

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The place was quite spacious, with the ordering counter tucked away in a corner and lots of tables. I think they’re trying to make it into a cool “hang out” spot, with board games and wifi and whatnot.

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Close-up of the menu. They have pretty much the “standard” milk tea offerings as well as a bunch of coffees, blended drinks, and flavored teas. Continue reading →

85C Bakery Cafe

A couple of months ago, the famous Taiwanese bakery 85°C Bakery Cafe opened a location in San Diego! I’ve visited the Irvine location (the first store in the U.S.) several times in the past, and I was really excited to finally see a store here in SD.

85C Bakery Cafe

85°C is located near the intersection of Balboa Ave & Genessee Ave, in the Vons shopping center. There wasn’t much of a line during our first couple of visits, although I’ve read accounts of really long waits to get inside!

I wanted to get some pictures of the interior, but it was really crowded which didn’t make for good photos. I’ll just share some pics of my haul from my first 2 visits:

Egg Tart

Egg Tart

Coconut Custard Roll

Coconut Custard Roll

These are two of S and my go-to’s – the egg tarts from 85°C are better than all other ones I’ve had in various bakeries around San Diego (Paris Baguette, Pangea, 99 Ranch Market). The shells are flaky, and the center is a smooth and rich custard. S also really loves the coconut custard roll cake, simply because he’s a fan of vanilla and coconut.

Pork Sung Bun

Pork Sung Bun

Cheese Dog

Cheese Dog Bun

Continue reading →

Streetcar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts & Coffee

We recently learned about Streetcar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts & Coffee through Eater SD. Unfortunately, getting sick over the holidays meant that fried chicken plans had to be put on hold, but we made a visit as soon as we started feeling better, hehe.

Streetcar Merchants

Streetcar Merchants

I’m not sure why they picked such a mouthful for the name, but at least it’s quite clear what they sell.

Streetcar Merchants

The first word that comes to mind to describe this place is… hipster. So we were actually initially quite skeptical about the fried chicken. There are three “styles” – Southern fried, Korean twice-fried and glazed, and Nashville “hot” chicken. I really wanted to try the hot chicken, but since I still had a cough, it probably wasn’t a good idea that day. So we got “quarter birds” of the Southern and Korean styles. The fried chicken is made to order, so there was a slight wait, but it wasn’t too bad.

Southern Fried Chicken - Quarter Bird Dark [$8]

Southern Fried Chicken – Quarter Bird Dark [$8]

Southern Fried Chicken

I was a tad disappointed that quarter bird only meant two pieces, so we had to split them between three of us (we were dining with our friend). However, the fried chicken itself did not disappoint – the batter was perfectly crunchy, the chicken was juicy and tender and flavorful – I really enjoyed it.

K-Town Twice Fried Chicken - Quarter Bird Dark with Molasses Wasabi BBQ [$10]

K-Town Twice Fried Chicken – Quarter Bird Dark with Molasses Wasabi BBQ [$10]

The K-Town twice fried chicken was less spectacular in my opinion. There were a variety of sauces to choose from, and we picked the molasses wasabi BBQ – initially we had asked for it on the side, but they messed up and gave it to us already glazed. Oh well. I didn’t like this as much.

6 Whole Wings - Southern style [$12]

6 Whole Wings – Southern style [$12]

Continue reading →

Sea & Smoke revisit

I first visited Sea & Smoke shortly after its opening – along with fellow bloggers Mary and Faye – and really loved it, but haven’t found the time to return until recently. This time, I brought S and our friend A, both of whom haven’t been here before. The menu has changed quite a bit since my last post, so I was quite excited to try some new things.

Ode to Oaxaca

Ode to Oaxaca [$9]

A decided to try the Ode to Oaxaca cocktail, which is made with mezcal, amaro bitters, citrus, and ginger syrup. It was quite good, with plenty of smokiness from the mezcal.

Basil Cream Biscuits with garlic herb butter [$7]

Basil Cream Biscuits with garlic herb butter [$7]

We had a hard time deciding whether to try the biscuits or skillet cornbread – but since S and A both aren’t huge fans of cornbread, we chose the biscuits. I remember really liking the biscuits at Urban Solace, the sister restaurant of Sea & Smoke, so it was no surprise that these were so good – a nice golden crust, with fluffy and buttery layers. The garlic herb butter spread was also quite delicious.

Grass-Fed Beef Tartare

Grass-Fed Beef Tartare: shallots, chives, capers, parmesan, black pepper crème fraîche, poached egg [$12]

I enjoyed the poached egg but thought that the seasoning on the beef was a bit light.

Vanilla Scented Beet Salad

Vanilla Scented Beet Salad: orange, arugula pesto, pistachio, garlic goat cheese, cress leaves, citrus vin [$10.5]

Continue reading →

Thanksgiving in Texas: Seven Mile Cafe

Over Thanksgiving, I visited my family in Texas – it was a really nice long weekend filled with delicious food and fun times (many of which I documented on my Instagram). One of the special things that I did during my trip was spend some time hanging out with my big sister in Denton, where she lives. Her boyfriend is a manager at Seven Mile Cafe, one of the city’s popular brunch spots, so of course I had to check it out.

Seven Mile Cafe

There are actually two separate buildings to the cafe – a coffee shop and restaurant, and we stopped by the coffee shop first.

Seven Mile Coffee

Seven Mile Coffee

The cafe serves both a house roast and Stumptown Coffee. The baristas, who are friends with Sis, recommended the Stumptown rotating single origin, which happened to be Guatemala.

NOLA Iced Coffee and Pour-Over Coffee

NOLA Iced Coffee and Pour-Over Coffee

Sis got the NOLA, which is sweetened cold brew with milk. I don’t have much experience with cold brew, but this was nice and refreshing.

After getting our coffees, we walked over to the restaurant, where we were presented with the difficult choice of what to order! Sis was really excited and wanted me to try everything.

In the end, we decided on…

Pulled Pork Breakfast Tacos

Pulled Pork Breakfast Tacos

These breakfast tacos were awesome – stuffed with tender and flavorful pulled pork, scrambled eggs, cheese, and hash browns – yes that’s right, hash browns. Really crispy ones. So good!

Benny Sampler: Eggs Florentine and Chicken Apple Sausage Benny

Benny Sampler: Eggs Florentine and Chicken Apple Sausage

One of the things that I thought was really neat was the “benny sampler” – you can choose any two from their selection of Eggs Benedicts. I tried the Eggs Florentine, which had sautéed spinach and tomatoes, and the Chicken Apple Sausage – I enjoyed both of them but preferred the chicken apple sausage a bit more! Both were served on a toasted biscuit instead of English muffin – the biscuit was great, but I still think that I prefer my benedicts on the muffin. The hollandaise sauce was served on the side and was rich but not overpowering. Finally, the benedicts come with a side of hash browns, or an upgrade to smoked gouda grits for an extra 75 cents. Oh boy, that was a really hard decision for me… in the end, I chose the grits. It came out a bit dry – sis and her boyfriend said that the grits are better first thing in the morning – but it was still super yummy. I loved that they sprinkled green onions on top!

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

Lastly, we had to try some of the famous pancakes. Sis and I had the HARDEST time deciding what flavor to get, and in the end, we picked the pineapple upside-down. I loved the caramelized pineapple chunks inside and the cinnamon butter that was served alongside. Initially I was also worried that it would be too sweet, but it turned out to be perfect. I haven’t had such good pancakes in quite a long time.

Overall, I had a really wonderful time at Seven Mile Cafe. It was great to finally get to know my sister’s city a bit better, and this was just one of the several great meals we had together. Many thanks to Sis for bringing me here, and Sis’s boyfriend for cooking some delicious food for us! For any DFW-area readers out there, if you’re ever up in Denton, be sure to check out this place for brunch!

Seven Mile Cafe
311 W. Congress St, Denton, TX 76201
http://www.sevenmilecafe.com/

Sushi Mura

Sushi Mura, located in Liberty Station, opened about a year ago and has been recommended to me several times. Finally, S and I decided to go check it out along with our friend who’s been here before.

Sushi Mura

Sushi Mura

The place wasn’t too big, but also didn’t have many customers that day. I briefly thought about sitting at the sushi counter, but decided that I wanted to have a good view of the TV, which was playing the Chargers vs. 49ers game. (I’m still sad about the Chargers’ season. But go Cowboys! Also, how many readers did I just lose from that?)

Their menu included a bunch of sushi options, as well as rice and ramen. We got an assortment of different items, but mostly focused on sushi.

Miso soup

Miso soup

Our meals came with miso soup… I didn’t enjoy it too much, though – I remember it being really salty.

Tonkotsu ramen [$10]

Tonkotsu ramen [$10]

S’s tonkotsu ramen arrived first – we had heard that the broth was pretty good and wanted to try it. The broth was pretty rich and flavorful, not too salty (in fact, I thought it could have used a tad more salt), and the noodles were decently spring-y. The toppings were fairly standard, and overall we thought this was a good, but not super exciting, bowl of tonkotsu ramen.

Mura Mini Omakase [$29]

Mura Mini Omakase [$29]

S chose the “mini” omakase, which includes 10 pieces of nigiri. I can’t exactly remember what all of them were, boo, but I know that S really enjoyed the salmon, amberjack, and halibut.

Monkfish liver (ankimo) [$5]

Monkfish liver (ankimo) [$5]

Continue reading →