Mar 302014

The SDSU “College Area” Neighborhood is a part of San Diego that I don’t frequent, since it’s pretty far from where I live. But I am always interested in exploring the food and flair of new neighborhoods. Now, there’s a chance to check out the dining scene through the College Area Taste event! The event is a self-guided tour through the neighborhood, where you can sample various offerings from the participating restaurants (see list on attached flyer). It will be held Sunday, April 13 from 11AM-3PM.

The tickets are $25 per person in advance, or $30 at the door – click here for ticket ordering information. Or, keep reading for a chance to win a pair of tickets!


Courtesy of McFarlane Promotions, I will be giving away a pair of tickets to the event for one lucky reader! The giveaway will run until Wednesday, April 9 at 5:59PM. I will draw a winner using and notify them via email, and they must respond within 24 hours with their name and the name of their guest. (If they do not respond within 24 hours, I will draw a new winner.) Good luck!

You can have up to four entries:

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me which restaurant you’d like to sample the most.
  2. Like this post on Facebook and leave a separate comment on this post telling me that you’ve done so, and include your Facebook name if it’s different from your comment name. Make sure you are leaving a comment here and not on the FB post, and please don’t comment without liking the post because I will check.
  3. Tweet the following message: “Enter for a chance to win 2 tickets to College Area Taste via @jinxieats!” and leave a separate comment on this post telling me that you’ve done so, and include your Twitter handle. Please don’t comment without sending the tweet because I will check.
  4. Follow my Pinterest page and leave a separate comment on this post telling me that you’ve done so, and include your Pinterest username. Please don’t comment without following because I will check.
Mar 282014

Craft Pizza Company is a fast-casual pizza place that recently opened in UTC Westfield Mall, and Eater San Diego made a really big deal out of it so I had to check it out. S isn’t a huge fan of pizza, but I got my friend J to accompany me for a lunch time excursion one day.

(It turns out that J had already tried Craft Pizza when it first opened, so he gave me some good tips for what to try. Yay!)



Pizzas on display

Look at that one sad piece of pepperoni pizza left. Well, someone ordered it shortly after I took this picture, and they replaced the pepperoni with another type of pizza – I took a photo of the display case from another angle:


You order by the slice what you want ($3.49 for cheese, $3.69 for any slice with toppings), and they will fire it up in the oven to heat it up.


Carnitas: all-natural mozzarella, roasted pork, organic tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, poblano chiles

Carnitas: all-natural mozzarella, roasted pork, organic tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, poblano chiles

I chose two slices, Carnitas and Truffle. Continue reading »

Mar 262014

Bao’s Awesome Burgers & Sandwiches, or BABS for short, is one of my favorite “hidden gems” in San Diego. S and I really enjoy their burgers, which are a little different from a standard burger as you’ll see later in this post. It had been a while since our last visit, and when I read about Kirbie’s recent visit on her blog, I had such a craving that S and I went there for dinner that day.

The place had undergone some renovations since my last visit. The place used to be quite dim, without much decor on the walls. The tables and chairs also used to be a little bit worn. This time, however, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the walls had been re-painted, the place was brightly lit, and there were new tables and chairs. Everything felt much brighter and more welcoming, and there seemed to be more customers there than our previous visits, too!



I thought this plastic burger was really cute and had to take a photo, haha.


The menu still looks largely the same. S had their Original Burger – he doesn’t like too many fancy things on his burgers.


Original Burger [$4.99]

Remember what I said about the burger here being special? Well, as you can see, the patty is really thick – and that’s because it’s stuffed with melted cheddar cheese on the inside!

Patty stuffed with melted cheese

Patty stuffed with melted cheese

Continue reading »

Mar 242014

I’m really lucky to be part of a lab that loves cooking and eating, and we get to “showcase” our cooking skills through themed potlucks! It’s a really fun tradition; some of the themes we’ve had were: signature dishes from cities, foods that incorporate beer, all-American potluck, pork-luck… among many others. Recently, we had a potluck with the theme “foods from childhood.” I thought long and hard about what to make, since I just remember eating “normal” Chinese food for most of my childhood, haha. And then I remembered – pizza rolls! I had a love-hate relationship with pizza when I was a kid; I really hated cheese on normal pizzas, but in pizza rolls I thought it was great. I was a weird kid I guess… Anyway, as a kid I only had frozen pizza rolls, but now it seemed easy enough to make my own.


I received some coupons from Pillsbury a while back to test out some of their pizza crust products – what a great chance to test these out! I was short on time that day, so I also used pre-bought pizza sauce from Trader Joe’s.


They didn’t turn out too pretty, but the taste was delicious! And that’s all that really mattered to me and my labmates, haha.


I left five rolls at home for S to try, since he wasn’t able to attend the potluck. I figured he’d probably eat one or two at most (since he’s not a huge pizza fan) and I’d still have some left over. To my surprise, they were all gone when I came home! I was pretty flattered that he liked them, hehe.

These are super easy to put together, and they brought me back to childhood. I’ll definitely be making these again as an appetizer or party snack!

Disclaimer: I was sent coupons for a complimentary can of Pillsbury pizza crust. I was not otherwise compensated for the post.

Continue reading »

Mar 212014

As you might know, S and I are obsessed with good barbeque – as in, real Southern bbq. Many friends have responded to my longing for barbeque with, “Why don’t you go to Phil’s?” And I’m not really sure how to respond, other than “Phil’s ain’t the real thing!” Seriously, though, once you’ve had real Southern barbeque – the smokiness and tenderness that results from hours of slow-cooking the meat in a smoker, with unique sauces depending on which regional bbq is your fancy – you’ll never think that Phil’s is real BBQ again. Alas, it’s hard to find good stuff in California – that’s why when S and I first discovered Coop’s West Texas Barbeque, I was SO happy, since it really brought me back to Texas. 

Anyway, we are always up for trying new BBQ joints, and when we heard that Bubba’s Smokehouse BBQ was worth a try, we went to check it out almost immediately. Located in downtown La Jolla, Bubba’s has never really been on my “BBQ radar” since I always associated LJ with, well, “classier” stuff than smoky, greasy, meaty BBQ.


The place totally didn’t fit in with the office buildings vibe, haha. But we definitely knew we were in the right place when we saw the smoke from presumably the smokers.


We didn’t try the sweet tea here – I didn’t see many reviews raving about it.


They had two different types of BBQ sauces, and a variety of other condiments such as Tabasco, malt vinegar, and mustard. We liked the spicy BBQ sauce.

The Bubba Combo: pulled pork, beef brisket, hotlink sausage; with fries and corn muffin [$14.99]

The Bubba Combo: pulled pork, beef brisket, hotlink sausage; with fries and corn muffin [$14.99]

For our lunch, we shared a “Bubba Combo” platter. You could choose three meats (the other choices were BBQ chicken, baby back pork ribs, or beef rib). When we ordered, the staff told us that this was meant for one person, and it might not be enough food for the both of us. He pointed out that they had a “Bubba’s for 2″ option, which was a lot more expensive ($27, but also presumably a lot more food). We decided to stick to the combo platter for the time being and would order more food if we were still hungry.


Continue reading »

Mar 192014

Today’s Snacks Series has a theme… Pocky! If you don’t know, Pocky is a Japanese snack, with the original consisting of chocolate-covered biscuit sticks. They’ve apparently been around since 1966, and have come a long way from the simple chocolate coating.

Like many other Asian kids growing up in the U.S., I had Pocky as a kid – my mom would always let me pick one sweet and one salty snack from our grocery shopping trips (if I was good, of course), and for sweet, I usually chose Hello Panda cookies or the standard chocolate Pocky… and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered there are so many different Pocky varieties now!

Otona no Milk Pocky

Otona no Milk Pocky

The name for this one is actually pretty funny… the Japanese translates to “Adults’ Milk Pocky.” It’s supposed to be a richer, more “luxurious” version of the original chocolate Pocky. I haven’t had the original in a long time so I don’t quite remember if it’s actually richer. But the chocolate layer was pretty thick.

Matcha Pocky Midi

Matcha Pocky Midi

The “Midi” Pocky series is something that I’ve started seeing recently. There are a few flavors, strawberry, matcha green tea, and chocolate. Since S isn’t a fan of strawberry, I picked up the matcha and chocolate.

Chocolate Pocky Midi

Chocolate Pocky Midi

Continue reading »

Mar 162014

I had meant to put this post up before Burger Week ended, but didn’t have the time =( Fortunately, Burger Lounge’s special was a regular menu item. Instead, they were simply offering their “Little Lounge Burger” with bacon for $5 (normally $5.95 for the burger, plus $1.95 for bacon).


Since my first visit to Burger Lounge, the restaurant has really expanded, now with 8 locations throughout San Diego county and several more in Los Angeles. While S and I weren’t particularly impressed with the place when we first tried it, it’s so popular that we decided to try it out again. Since one of our initial complaints had been that their pricing is a bit high for the portions, we thought the Burger Week special was a perfect chance to check it out.

As I mentioned above, the Burger Week special is a Little Lounge Burger with bacon. From their website, it seems that bacon is a recent addition to the menu, and of course, in line with their grass-fed organic philosophy, it’s nitrate/nitrite-free bacon… which would explain why it’d normally cost almost two dollars just to add bacon to your burger.

Little Lounge Burger with Bacon

Little Lounge Burger with Bacon

The burger features a 1/4-pound beef patty, served “Lounge-Style” meaning: butter-toasted bun, organic cheese (white or American), onions (fresh or grilled), lettuce, tomato, and house-made 1000 Island dressing.


Continue reading »

Mar 162014

Taiwan has amazing street food. It’s one of the things I miss the most! I’ve already shared about takoyaki (octopus fritters) in the previous recap… Here are a couple more favorites:




This place, “Hit Cookie Home” (a literal translation from the Chinese 打餅鋪) is found in the Yi-Zhong street market of Taichung. They’re not actually cookies – the translation screwed up. The pancake-like things you see are called “Laobing” – think flatbread, but with flaky layers, then rolled with toppings as shown on the menu. This is S’s absolute favorite street food item, and one of the things that he’s most excited about when we discuss food in Taiwan.


You can kind of see the flaky layers of the laobing. I got one with “Beijing-style pork,” which was pork strips marinated in a sweet, Peking-duck-style sauce, garnished with thinly-sliced green onions. Honestly, the fillings aren’t even that important… The pancake itself is just that good. Some of our favorite toppings/fillings are seaweed & tuna (sounds weird but it’s good, trust me), pork sung, and corn & cheese.

Nearby on Yi-Zhong street, there was the best chicken cutlet…


Literally, Yi-Zhong Giant Chicken Cutlet. I think this was one of the original “giant chicken cutlet” stands – they pound the chicken thigh really thin before frying, so you get 1) really tender meat and 2) lots more surface area for breading. Nowadays, the chicken cutlets get bigger and bigger – to the point where it’s kind of ridiculous and doesn’t even taste that good anymore. This place, though, is still as good as ever.

Fry ALL the things!

Fry ALL the things!

All your fried foods are belong to us!

All your fried foods are belong to us!

Lest you think that they only sell fried chicken, here are a couple of photos to show you all the items that they can fry for you: french fries, green beans, taro, fish balls, squid, different kinds of mushrooms, tofu, onion rings, chicken skin, etc…

We stuck to the original chicken cutlet. Since it’s street food, they actually cut up the cutlet for you so that it’s easier to eat on-the-go. So considerate! Haha. As you’ll notice, Taiwanese street food is often served in little paper pouches with several wooden skewers as utensils.


Sorry for the bad pic – as I said, this is street food and I took it as I was walking, haha. The chicken was moist and tender, and the breading was really crunchy. Oh, how I’ve missed this! We also asked for them to make it spicy, so we got plenty of chili powder. S really likes the chili powder.


We also got french fries with seaweed powder (again, sounds weird but trust me, it works and is amazing). The seaweed powder adds just an extra touch of umami, making these super addictive. Also, they fry everything in the same oil pots, meaning these taste sort of like chicken… haha. Continue reading »

Mar 142014

I learned from the blog Oh-So Yummy that this week (March 7-16) is San Diego Burger Week, where various restaurants are offering $5 burger specials! The list of participating restaurants is actually pretty long, and S and I had a hard time deciding whether we wanted to try something or revisit some old favorites. One place that I definitely wanted to hit was Carnitas’ Snack Shack – we’ve only been to this San Diego favorite once, but I had a really great impression of the food and have been wanting to return. FINALLY, two years since my first post, we made a revisit!


The shack is still a shack, with the pork statue on top of the little ordering window. To avoid the crowd, we opted for a late dinner, arriving around 10PM. There was still a small line at that time!

Menu of the day (not sure if it changes daily or seasonally):


The Burger Week special isn’t listed on the menu – you have to ask for it at the window.

Shack Pork Burger: house ground pork burger, candied bacon, gorgonzola, pretzel bun [$5]

Shack Pork Burger: house ground pork burger, candied bacon, gorgonzola, pretzel bun [$5]

S and I each ordered one, because I guess we weren’t feeling like sharing that day, haha.


I’ve had burgers with pork patties, but this has been the best by far – it was really juicy and “porky,” instead of just imitating a beef burger. One thing I really enjoyed was how well the flavors played together – the candied bacon and gorgonzola cheese paired quite well, but neither (in my opinion) overpowered the patty too much. (S, who doesn’t like any strong cheeses, did not appreciate the gorgonzola. Haha. But he still enjoyed the burger!)

Pork Belly App: braised Duroc pork, sweet-spicy glaze, frisée salad: apples, radishes, lemon vinaigrette [$8]

Pork Belly App: braised Duroc pork, sweet-spicy glaze, frisée salad [$8]

Continue reading »

Mar 122014

Yu’s Garden is a Taiwanese casual restaurant that has made its way from Irvine to San Diego recently. I first read about it on mmm-yoso and insisted to S that we check it out ASAP. So, we paid a visit shortly after the restaurant opened.


The restaurant is located in the Tapioca Express/Crab Hut/RakiRaki plaza on Convoy St. (Yes, that’s the one with terrible parking.) Upon entering the restaurant, two very friendly waitresses greet you and immediately ask whether you want white rice or porridge. S and I were slightly taken aback, but chose white rice.

Then, we were directed to the buffet of options for our meal. Basically, you just choose what you want and they’ll give you a serving of it. During M-F lunch, two items would cost $5.75 and three would be $6.99 – crazy low price. But dinner and weekend lunch are slightly more expensive – two items are $6.25 (no three-item option). In addition, they charge $1.25 per person for rice and tea – not too bad. For our first visit, it was just S and me, and we decided to pick four items.

(In addition to the displayed dishes, you can also order off the menu for made-to-order items. Most items are quite reasonably priced, but I haven’t tried any of them yet – it’ll have to wait for a future re-visit.)

Here are some photos of the various hot and cold dishes offered:




In the cold dishes section, I saw braised pig’s ear, salted duck eggs, eggplants, a variety of vegetable dishes, and marinated meats. In the hot dishes section, there were dishes such as three-cup chicken, mapo tofu, braised bamboo, and stinky tofu.

Minced Pork Stew

Minced Pork Stew

Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu

We chose two hot entrée items. The minced pork stew was pretty authentic and flavorful, and the portion was quite generous – it was more than enough for the amount of rice that we ate. The mapo tofu was also pretty good – it’s nothing like the real Sichuan mapo tofu with copious amounts of peppercorn that numb your mouth at the first bite, but the Taiwanese version has sort of become a dish of its own – mildly spicy, slightly sweet, and quite savory. S really enjoyed the mapo tofu (I still prefer the Sichuan version more, haha).

Wood-Ear Mushroom and Pickled Cucumbers

Wood-Ear Mushroom and Pickled Cucumbers

Continue reading »

Switch to our mobile site