Aug 252014
 

Santouka is a ramen shop that’s found in pretty much every Mitsuwa Marketplace, including the one in San Diego. (I’ve mentioned this before, but SD’s Mitsuwa is so small compared to the ones in Torrance and Costa Mesa! Sadface. Well, at least we do have Santouka.) I’ve had the ramen here several times already, but never got around to posting about it… so here’s a recap of our latest visit.

Santouka

It’s been a while since S and I have had a ramen craving… I guess there was a period of time last year when we had ramen almost every week, so this was our first ramen in months.

Santouka - Tokusen Toroniku Ramen Combo

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen Combo with Cha-shu Rice Bowl

We decided to share a combination, which is your choice of ramen with a rice bowl. The options for ramen are: Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso (soybean paste), and Tokusen Toroniku (“choice pork”). The options for the rice bowls are: Negi (green onion), Ikura (salmon roe), Natto (fermented soybean), and Cha-shu. We picked the Tokusen Toroniku ramen with Cha-shu rice.

Santouka - Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

Santouka - Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

Tokusen Toroniku Ramen

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Aug 222014
 

Last post from my June Vegas trip! S and I often stay at The Venetian hotel, since we can usually get a pretty good deal for rooms through Priceline. One of the “casual” restaurants that we like in The Venetian is Noodle Asia – after all, a good bowl of beef noodle soup is a great hangover cure… hehe.

Noodle Asia

When we first visited this place two years ago, we weren’t sure how the food would be – and it turned out to be a pretty pleasant surprise! Since then, S and I have recommended it to several friends, haha. I actually have some photos from my initial visit in 2012, which I’ll share at the end. 

Noodle Asia - Jellyfish Salad

Jellyfish Salad [$10.95]

This was quite possibly the most expensive jellyfish salad I’ve ever had… Nevertheless, it was a refreshing start to the meal. The seasoning was a good balance of salty and tart, with just a hint of spicy, although the flavors were a bit mild overall. 

Noodle Asia - Szechwan Beef Noodle Soup

Szechwan Beef Noodle Soup [$13.95]

The specialty of Noodle Asia, beef noodle soup. The broth was quite rich – it had definitely been simmered for a while with soy sauce, beef stock, and soy bean paste to generate the deep flavors – and the beef was nice and tender. The noodles tasted like they were made in-house, which is awesome! They had a good “bounce” to it, characteristic of handmade noodles. The soup wasn’t spicy at all (to me), even though it’s branded as “Szechwan”-style, which should have more heat… But other than that, no complaints about this BNS.

Noodle Asia - Pai Goo (pork chop) Noodles

Pai Goo (pork chop) Noodle Soup [$13.95]

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Aug 202014
 

Today’s Snacks Series is – cue gasp – not about Greek yogurts! S and I are taking a small break from all the different Greek yogurt brands and have largely settled on Chobani and Tillamook as our favorites! We’re still trying out new stuff, but at a much slower pace than before… So, I thought it’d be a good chance to round up a few other snacks that I’ve enjoyed recently! 

Taikae Seasoned Seaweed

Taikae Thick-Cut Seaweed

Seaweed is one of my favorite snacks, since it’s super tasty and has the added benefit of being healthier than potato chips. I’m always looking for new variations, and recently I tried these Taikae brand chips from 99 Ranch. Thick, crunchy slices of seaweed is crusted with pepper powder, giving it a pretty intense kick. There’s also a soy sauce flavor available, if pepper isn’t your thing! (Also, for my Taiwanese readers out there, don’t you love the name Taikae? :P )

Calbee Seasoned Fries

Calbee Fries – Salad Flavor

I believe I bought this potato snack from Nijiya Market. The texture was a little bit strange to me, because it was a little bit too crunchy and hard. The “salad” flavor was interesting – I think it was a lot of dehydrated vegetables, like carrot, onions, and scallions. I would have liked the seasoning on chips or something.

Meltykiss Whips - Strawberry

Meltykiss Whips – Strawberry

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Aug 182014
 

Well, I recently found out that one of my good friends is semi-obsessed with chicken wings… as in, she’d eat them everyday for lunch if she could (or something like that, haha). So, after discovering this, we decided to go to Dirty Birds in Pacific Beach sometime. Actually, she was with me on my first visit to Dirty Birds, which left me with generally favorable impressions.

Dirty Birds

We decided on a late Tuesday night dinner, after an evening of badminton/exercise, with hopes that it wouldn’t be super crowded by 10PM. Unfortunately, the place was still quite busy – I guess the Tuesday all-day happy hour (half price wings and domestic pitchers) is too good of a deal for lots of people.

Dirty Birds

We ended up waiting about 20 minutes and snagged a row of seats by the window counter before we could get an actual table. There were four of us, which made conversation somewhat awkward – especially considering that the place was pretty loud.

No one was interested in a domestic pitcher (as in, Coors Light), but my 3 dining companions all ordered a draft to drink…

Dirty Birds

I can’t remember what the dark beer was, but the one on the right is the Green Flash 30th St, which I really liked. Not pictured is T’s Stella Cidre – I’m not a big fan of ciders, so I guess I wasn’t interested in photographing it… haha.

We ordered an appetizer to share, the loaded tater tots…

Dirty Birds - Loaded Tots with Pulled Pork

Loaded Tots with Pulled Pork [$8]

I also ordered the exact same thing during my last visit – the tater tots are super crispy, and topped with a hard-to-fail combo of cheese, barbecue sauce, and pulled pork (you can also choose sliced steak or diced bacon for the meat). If you love tater tots, this is a must-try here.

For the wings, S, A, and I decided to share twenty pieces, which are normally $22, but since it was Tuesday, cost only $11!

Dirty Birds - Lemon Pepper & Fireball wings

Lemon Pepper & Fireball wings

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Aug 152014
 

Don’t forget to enter my Instagram giveaway! Ends tonight at 11:59PM!

S and I were both craving Indian food one of these past days, and we decided to check out a new place instead of just going to our usual, Punjabi Tandoor (although I’ve been wanting to try some new things there, too!). A friend recently suggested Bawarchi Dosa, so we headed over to try it out.

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It’s located next to an Indian grocery store on Black Mountain Road, near the Miramar Road intersection. The outside looked slightly run-down, but I was optimistic.

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The inside was actually quite clean; if you look closely, the restaurant part is actually located inside of a small mall-like building. I believe there was a large space for group events, and an entrance to the grocery store? (Not so sure about that part.)

Our server was very friendly and made some recommendations for us regarding the menu. We knew that we definitely wanted to try the dosa – it’s a south Indian specialty, a fermented crepe made from rice and black lentils. We also considered sticking to south Indian cuisine tradition and order the vegetarian options, but S wasn’t in the mood for vegetarian (the question is, is he ever?). So, our server recommended that we can order one of their “combos” in the South Indian Non-Veg section.

Bawarchi Dosa - Dosa with Goat Curry

Dosa with Goat Curry [$14.99]

Plain Dosa

Plain Dosa

We chose the combo with plain dosa and goat curry. The dosa was served warm, and it was nice and crispy.

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Aug 132014
 

It’s summer, and I am currently obsessed with lemons. I’ve been thinking of new ways to use lemon in my cooking and baking, but the other day, I had a craving for just good old lemon meringue pie.

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And then I thought, why not make mini versions? Because mini pies (or as I like to call them, pie-lets) are adorable. And I do love things that are delicious and adorable!

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I adapted a simple lemon meringue pie recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Alton Brown, and made it miniature-sized! The meringue part didn’t come out as pretty as I had hoped – I should have piped it instead of simply spooning it over the lemon curd – but it was yummy, and that’s all that mattered in the end, I suppose.

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As you can see, the meringue tops are baked until browned, which is the way I like it. However, if you prefer the meringue top a little less baked, you can always shorten the baking time by a couple of minutes.

I used a mixture of Meyer and regular lemons in this recipe, to lessen the acidity, and thus reduced the sugar by a little bit. One of my friends thought that it wasn’t sweet enough, but the sweetness was just right for my preference. If you have a sweet tooth, I’d recommend adding another 1/6 cup of sugar.

I thought that I’d satisfied my lemon craving after making these, but it did just the opposite – now I’ve got ideas for even more lemony desserts! I’ll be trying them out in the upcoming weeks and hopefully sharing them with you!

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Aug 112014
 

Another post today from my recent Vegas trip, which happens to be the last meal we had there – Gordon Ramsay BurGR, located in Planet Hollywood. You’ll probably see a huge line when you’re there, but that’s actually for parties of two, only. If you have a larger group than 2, you can go to the front and leave your phone number – when your table is ready, they will send you a text message! It was quite convenient since we could walk around the casino or the Planet Hollywood shops while we waited. Around lunchtime on Monday, the wait actually wasn’t so bad – around 20 minutes.

BurGR - Front of restaurant

Front of restaurant

BurGR - Bar area

Bar area

I was quite amused when I opened up my menu, to see this… haha.

But here’s the actual menu. You can also see it online.

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A couple of my friends decided to get drinks – one of them ordered a La Fin du Monde beer, while the other went the sweet route and ordered one of the milkshakes. 

BurGR - La Fin du Monde beer and Shake #4

La Fin du Monde and Shake #4 – crème brûlée pudding, Oreo shake, Oreo cookie [$9]

I didn’t try the beer, but the milkshake was amazing! I loved the pudding + Oreo combination. The crème brûlée pudding layer was really delicious, as it had a nice “eggy” flavor which I like. My friend wished that they two parts could have been mixed together more, though.

We decided to share an appetizer – the “Honey-Pig Bao Buns,” which is BurGR’s rendition of the Taiwanese snack, gua bao

BurGR - Honey-Pig Bao Buns

Honey-Pig Bao Buns: roasted pork belly, cucumber, radish, cilantro, honey-hoisin sauce [$13]

This tasted pretty different from the traditional Taiwanese version (according to my friend, at least; I’ve never had this in Taiwan), but I actually liked the flavors a lot. The pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the honey-hoisin sauce was a perfect balance between salty and sweet. The buns were actually steamed quite nicely, too; they weren’t too “gummy” or dry. So even though it wasn’t authentic, all of us really enjoyed it.

Hell's Kitchen Burger: asadero cheese, roasted jalapeño peppers, avocado, oven roasted tomato [$14]

Hell’s Kitchen Burger: asadero cheese, roasted jalapeño peppers, avocado, oven roasted tomato [$14]

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Aug 082014
 

First up, an announcementI am doing an Instagram giveaway today! Be sure to follow jinxieats for details on how to enter! :) 

It’s been quite a long time since I visited Spicy City, one of the most popular Sichuan restaurants in San Diego. S and I recently went with a couple of friends, and we ordered some dishes that we haven’t tried before – so I thought I’d share them here!

By the way, I didn’t put prices on these dishes because I forgot to save the receipt! There are prices for these dishes on the website, but I think they’re a little outdated. Sorry!

Spicy City - Cold pork sliced with garlic chili sauce

蒜泥白肉 Cold Pork Sliced with Garlic Chili Sauce

This is one of my favorite dishes, and I’m not sure why I’ve never ordered it here before. Thinly sliced pork belly is boiled and chilled, then tossed in a spicy chili oil/sesame oil/soy sauce mix, and topped with minced garlic. The version here is quite good – I liked the sprinkling of sesame seeds to enhance the sesame oil – although I found it too salty towards the end.

Spicy City - Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

紅燒茄子 Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

We really like the eggplant dishes here – To me, the key for cooking with eggplant is frying it first before stir-frying with the rest of the dish’s ingredients, and Spicy City’s eggplants haven’t disappointed me. Although the name of the dish is technically “red-braised eggplant”, it didn’t really taste braised to me and instead just stir-fried with the other vegetables. It was still quite tasty, though.

Spicy City - Mao's Style Pork in Brown Sauce

毛家紅燒肉 Mao’s Style Pork in Brown Sauce

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Aug 062014
 

Summer is, of course, grilling season. I was recently sent a sampler pack of Urban Accents Grill Master Complete Grilling Collection, which has spices and marinades for all your grilling needs!

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There were five packs of “Dryglaze,” which go on to the meat dry, and melt into a beautiful glaze as you marinade. On the grill, it develops a really lovely caramelization. 

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There were also four bottles of different blended seasonings for steak, pork, chicken, or whatever you’d like to season!

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Finally, there were two seasonings for corn on the cob, which I LOVE. I’ve definitely put these to good use!

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S and I really like the chili lime seasoning for the corn – we don’t have a grill, but usually bake corn on the cob in the oven, with a few layers of the husk left on – 350°F for 15 minutes, then I remove the husk and sprinkle on the seasoning!

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Aug 042014
 

Recently, S and I were invited to Cafe Coyote to check out their menu offerings. We’ve received an invitation before to sample some of their monthly specials, but this time we just wanted to try some of their regular menu items.

As always, the place was super crowded – it’s definitely a popular spot in Old Town for Mexican food! While waiting in line for the hostess, I snapped a picture of the lady making fresh tortillas:

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I absolutely loved the handmade tortillas here from last time, and it is so fun to watch her make them!

We were seated quickly, and our waitress brought us some chips and salsa:

Complimentary chips & salsa

Complimentary chips & salsa

I enjoyed the chips here, which were served warm. The salsa wasn’t overly impressive to me, though – it was a bit watery.

S and I weren’t sure if the manager or chef wanted to recommend anything to us, but we just went ahead and ordered some things that looked appealing to us from the “Coyote Favorites” section of the (rather extensive) menu.

Carnitas Plate

Carnitas Plate [$12.95]

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Since we’re pork-lovers, we had to try their carnitas. Flavor-wise, it was decent – but I wish that the meat was a little juicier. Maybe I’m just used to the mind-blowing carnitas from Lolita’s, which somehow manages to be juicy and tender, yet with plenty of crispy bits at the same time.

What I do love here, though, are the accompaniments to the plates – all of them are great, but I especially enjoy the tortillas, which are warm and soft and tender, and the refried beans, which are super creamy and smooth, and have amazing flavor. They’re also pretty generous with the guacamole scoop (you can’t tell from the photo, but it’s a pretty decent amount!). 

Steak Ranchero

Steak Ranchero [$13.95]

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