Brazen BBQ

S and I have been wanting to try other barbecue restaurants in San Diego, even though Coop’s has been our favorite for a long time now. I guess our thinking is that it never hurts to discover more good BBQ…? Haha. Anyway, Brazen BBQ was on our list, and we visited with our friend A.

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Parking was sort of a pain, being in Hillcrest and all, but we eventually found some street parking a couple of streets away.

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I immediately noticed the specials board, which included Tex-Mex Mondays. It’s so weird for me to see Tex-Mex here in San Diego, with its abundance of Baja-style Mexican cuisine.

We also noticed plenty of accolades for the restaurant:

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Apparently Brazen has won many BBQ competitions in California and other places around the country. I wonder how Coop’s would fare in such competitions… probably smoke everyone out of the water, haha.

We had read from Yelp reviews that Brazen is most famous for their ribs, but we also wanted to try the brisket – my BBQ staple. In the end, we settled on a “Family Platter” – you could choose three meats and three regular sides.

Family Platter: Pulled Pork, Brisket, Baby Back Ribs [$49.99]

Family Platter: Pulled Pork, Brisket, Baby Back Ribs [$49.99]

In addition to brisket and ribs, we also chose pulled pork.

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Iceskimo

Iceskimo started out as a pop-up shop serving snow-shaved ice, or snowflake ice. I’ve visited the pop-up shop several times last summer, and they finally opened a brick-and-mortar store in October last year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around for the grand opening weekend, and after that I just was never in the mood for a cold treat – until one recent day when the craving for snow ice suddenly kicked in, and I finally got to check out the store!

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Too bad it was already dark out when I went… the building is painted a really lovely shade of blue, and the little round logo is quite adorable.

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They’ve changed things up a bit – now, you can “build your own snow” – basically pick a flavor, and add any amount of toppings from the toppings bar. Most of them are what you’d see at a frozen yogurt shop, actually.

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Betty’s Pie Whole

While we were in Encinitas last month, S and I wanted a snack and decided to check out Betty’s Pie Whole, sister bakery of Elizabethan Desserts. Upon entering, I immediately fell in love with the saloon-style decor and bright feeling of the place.

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We arrived in the late afternoon, and quite a few of the pie offerings were sold out. We looked through the display cases and still found a few that we wanted to try!

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Sorry for the glare… blargh.

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We picked two mini pies – one savory and one sweet – to enjoy at the restaurant, and took one home for later.

Boyd's Break-the-Fast Pie [$5.95/individual pie]

Boyd’s Break-the-Fast Pie [$5.95/individual pie]

This was one of the few savory pies that they still had left – it has eggs, potatoes, turkey bacon, smoked poultry sausage, and cheese, all baked into a biscuit crust. At first I was quite skeptical of the biscuit crust, but it actually turned out to be quite good – the crust was flaky and buttery, less firm than a traditional pie crust, but definitely created a “breakfast-y” feeling. We thought that it would have been better if they used pork bacon and sausage (of course), but still enjoyed it a lot.

Key Lime Pie [$5.95/individual]

Key Lime Pie [$5.95/individual]

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Casa Guadalajara

We recently had dinner at Casa Guadalajara with a couple of friends, one of whom was visiting from out of town and craved Mexican food.

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Located in Old Town, it reminded S and I of Cafe Coyote, which is a bit touristy in terms of the atmosphere (and food, too, to a certain extent). In the middle of dinner, there was a mariachi singer walking around and serenading people. It was pretty awesome, actually.

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Our meal was mostly focused on catching up and chatting, so I didn’t take too many pictures of the food… But here are a few snapshots:

Chips & Salsa

Chips & Salsa

The complimentary chips and salsa tasted pretty standard – the salsa tasted homemade, although slightly watery. I liked that the chips were served warm!

S and I were both craving mole that day, so we both opted for two different types.

Pollo Mole Poblano [$13.95]

Pollo Mole Poblano [$13.95]

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Draft Republic

Draft Republic, part of the Cohn Restaurant Group, recently opened in La Jolla Strip Club’s former location, in the Costa Verde plaza in UTC. It looked quite nice and swanky, and they were running a special for Super Bowl Sunday, so S and I went to catch the big game there!

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The Super Bowl special consisted of the Draft Republic burger with parmesan fries, a shot of Benchmark bourbon, and a Bud Light tall boy for $15 – quite a good deal!

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I ordered the special, and S and A ordered some a la carte menu items and we all shared everything. The restaurant actually ran out of the Benchmark bourbon and gave us another bourbon – I can’t quite remember what it was, but I gave most of it to A – I just wanted the Bud Light that day, haha. I know, I know.

Crispy Maple Bourbon Bacon Sticks [$5 (HH)]

Crispy Maple Bourbon Bacon Sticks [$5 (HH)]

Since we were there around 2pm, during Happy Hour, we decided to try the “bacon sticks” – I’ve seen these on Kirbie and CC’s blogs, and they looked so good. Instead of thinly-sliced bacon like you might imagine from the name, these were actually slabs of pork belly. They were tender, and I loved the maple bourbon glaze. The accompanying apple chips weren’t too special – they were quite tart, probably to offset the sweet glaze on the pork belly. But that pork belly itself is good enough that I’d order this every time.

Sausage Sampler [$15.95]

Sausage Sampler [$15.95]

We saw this being ordered by almost every table around us, so of course we also had to join in.

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I forgot to ask what sausages these were, unfortunately, but we enjoyed all three of them. I particularly liked the light-colored one served with potato salad. The sausages were flavorful, but not overly salty. The sides were quite light in flavor – almost too light, haha. My favorite of the sides was the potato salad.

Draft Republic Burger

Draft Republic Burger

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Kogi BBQ

Continuing our exploration of different Korean BBQ restaurants in San Diego, we decided to try out Kogi BBQ, an all-you-can-eat joint located on Kearny Villa Rd off of Hwy 163 and Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

The main reason that we were interested in Kogi is because of their Happy Hour special – $16.95 after 9pm. The menu is slightly limited compared with the regular menu ($19.95), but it had everything that we wanted. (Unfortunately, my picture of the menu didn’t turn out so well – here is a link to a pretty decent photo from Yelp.)

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Unlike other KBBQ restaurants that have a full table of banchan, there’s only a small plate of assorted side dishes as shown above. I actually really liked the kimchi and the potato salad, though. I’m pretty sure there are unlimited refills, although we didn’t ask for any as we didn’t want to fill up on the sides. Also, unlike other KBBQ, Kogi has a separate “Sides” portion of the menu – you can order as many as you want, but there’s also a charge if you don’t finish everything, just like the meats.

Corn Cheese

Corn Cheese

The corn cheese was the side that I was most curious about – and we really liked it. It’s super simple, basically just corn mixed with melted mozzarella cheese, but those two things just happen to be two of my favorite things I guess, haha. We ended up liking it so much that we ordered another one later on.

Thinly-sliced radish

Thinly-sliced radish

Another one of the sides that you can order is the thin radish slices, which I like to pair with the grilled meat to balance out the salt and grease.

Soy Bean Soup

Soy Bean Soup

Our friend A ordered the soy bean soup, which is one of her favorite soups. I tried a bit of it, and it’s pretty salty but has a good amount of spiciness! I’ll have to try some more next time.

Steamed Egg

Steamed Egg

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Yakyudori Yakitori revisit

We used to frequent Yakyudori for their ramen, but lately, since I’ve been obsessed with yakitori, we’ve been focusing more on the grilled items instead so I thought I’d do a revisit post.

Hiyayakko (Cold tofu) [$3]

Hiyayakko (Cold tofu) [$3]

We started out with the hiya-yakko, a cold tofu appetizer. I’ve read a lot of tofu recipes recently that talk about how to make tofu exciting and flavorful by frying or dousing it in sauce… I guess I’ve never felt that way as I always thought that tofu is quite flavorful on its own. In this dish, uncooked tofu is seasoned simply with some soy sauce, bonito flakes, green onions, and grated ginger, and I find it delightful and refreshing.

Negima (Chicken thigh w/ green onion) [$2/each]

Negima (Chicken thigh w/ green onion) [$2/each]

Buta Bara (Pork) [$2/each]; Gyutan (Beef tongue) [$2.50/each]

Buta Bara (Pork) [$2/each]; Gyutan (Beef tongue) [$2.50/each]

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Chicago Trip Recap, Part 6: Nico Osteria

During my Chicago trip last year, we had the pleasure of dining at Nico Osteria, voted by Esquire as one of Chicago’s best new restaurants of 2014. S’s sister V is a pastry cook there, so we got a big discount on our meal and a bunch of freebies.

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What better way to start off a meal than with warm bread? All the bread is made daily in-house, and the focaccia was amazing. Really, I just wanted to eat another 10 pieces by myself. But I had to remind myself that there was going to be an actual meal coming up and show some self-restraint.

This meal was quite a while ago (yes, I’m a huge procrastinator on writing posts) so I don’t remember all of the details. We started out our meal with some oysters on the half-shell, which were nice and refreshing.

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Crudo

Crudo

We also got a few crudo dishes – salmon, hamachi, and marlin. I wasn’t super impressed with the fish, since I thought they were sliced a bit too thin. I suppose I was expecting something more like sashimi, but this was different.

Corzetti with corn, squid, soffrito

Corzetti with corn, squid, soffrito

Squid ink pasta with tuna sausage

Squid ink pasta with tuna sausage

We also shared two pastas. Corzetti is a round, flat-shaped pasta, and apparently there are various ways to make it based on family tradition. I really enjoyed the dish, especially the fresh corn in the sauce. The squid ink pasta dish was also quite good, although I liked the squid ink pasta at Eataly more. Continue reading →

Crispy Fried Chicken

S and I have been wanting to try out Crispy Fried Chicken, located in the City Heights – a neighborhood that we don’t frequent, but really should because of the various places that are on my bookmarks list. Recently, we decided to check off one item off that list when we were craving fried chicken.

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It’s not the nicest restaurant for sure, but honestly, we don’t really care about restaurant atmosphere as long as the food is good. However, it was a bit chilly that evening and they had all the doors open, so we decided to take our food to-go so we could enjoy it in the warmth of our home, haha.

We ordered a 5-piece dark meat combo, with comes with 2 sides, and an additional 3 pieces of dark meat (w/out the combo). (I know it sounds like a lot of food, but we were also sharing with our friend!)

Fried chicken with hush puppies and cole slaw

Fried chicken with hush puppies and cole slaw

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Hello Kitty Cafe Truck

Several weeks ago, the Hello Kitty Cafe truck stopped by San Diego, offering Hello Kitty fans a chance to purchase adorable treats. I went with a few friends, including Kirbie. We arrived at Fashion Valley Mall around 10AM, only to find a long line ahead of us…

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Thankfully I was in the company of good friends, because the wait to the front of the line ended up being 2 hours!

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We were all quite amused that truck (well, more like a van) was a Mercedes… We thought it should have been a Japanese car, at least! Haha.

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The truck was selling various Hello Kitty-branded foods, listed on the menu here:

Menu

Menu

After waiting for so long, I decided to get more than what I had originally intended… haha. First off, a box of donuts for my friend whose birthday happened to be that day:

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