[Cooking] Japanese “Hamburger” (Hanbagu)

Sometimes, I have really grand cooking ambitions, such as trying to oven-roast carnitas in under two hours. About one and a half hours in, I’m poking at the meat, realizing that it will be dinner time soon and the pork roast is definitely not ready yet. And I panic slightly, because I don’t like to tell S that we’re having a homecooked meal, only to admit my poor planning skills, and resort to going out or waiting a long time before dinner’s ready.

Luckily, I usually have some ground meat in the fridge, ready for a quick and easy meal. If it’s ground pork, I make Taiwanese-style minced pork stew or ground pork patty or Szechuan-style Dan Dan noodles. If it’s ground beef, I usually make pasta sauce since I almost always have tomatoes. But I wanted to try something different. We’ve had a lot of pasta lately. And so my mind wandered to Japanese hamburger steak, or hanbagu.


Hanbagu is the Japanese’ take on Salisbury steak, consisting of ground beef mixed with egg, chopped onions, and bread crumbs. There are several variations, including topped with cheese, tomato sauce, curry, or gravy. But I kept it simple (most because I didn’t have time to do those fancy things, haha) and mixed up my own “hanbagu sauce” (equal parts ketchup and Worchestershire sauce) and drizzled it over the patty.


Add some rice, a (really ugly) fried egg, and some vegetables, and I had a complete dinner! Also, the pre-formed patties freeze quite well, so next time I’m trying a new/prone-to-fail recipe, hopefully I’ll remember to defrost them for a back-up plan, heh heh…

Read More »

[SD Kearny Mesa] Sieu Sieu BBQ

One of my good friends has been telling me about Sieu Sieu BBQ ever since I posted about Sam Woo.  He had high recommendations for the roast duck, which is one of my favorite things from Cantonese-style barbecue.

Sieu Sieu Barbeque, tucked away in a plaza near Ranch 99 Market on Clairemont Mesa Blvd

Cute sign ^^

A display case of Cantonese barbecue meats greeted us as we walked in, and the restaurant is pretty low-key – 5 or 6 tables, empty except for us when we first arrived.  According to my friend, they usually do wholesale to other places in San Diego, so they can run out of the popular meats pretty quickly.  Luckily, on the day that we visited (Sunday evening), everything was still available.

Roast duck & roast pork

I should have taken photos of the menu since I can’t find their website, but I was too hungry and forgot this time.  But they offer rice plates, noodles, and noodle soups, all paired with different meat choices.  I definitely wanted to try the roast duck and my favorite Cantonese bbq item, crispy-skin roast pork, and S ordered a rice plate with roast pork and char siu pork.

Roast duck and roast pork with rice, $6.95

The duck was amazing.  Juicy and flavorful without being overly greasy, I thought it was some of the best roast duck I’ve ever had.  S compared it to Fortune Palace in Raleigh, which is his golden standard for roast duck.  I also love the sauce that accompanies the duck – we even asked for some extra sauce so that we could douse it on the rice.

Roast pork & char siu pork with rice, $6.95

The roast pork was okay – the meat was tender, but the skin wasn’t as crispy as I would have liked, and I found the flavor a bit plain.

Char siu pork

The char siu pork was much better than the roast pork.  I liked it more than the one at Sam Woo since it had more balanced sweet and salty flavors.

Sieu Sieu BBQ is now my go-to place for Cantonese BBQ, and I definitely will be back again.  Thanks to M for introducing it to me!

Sieu Sieu BBQ
7429 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA
(858) 571-8928

[Cooking] BBQ chicken mac n cheese

First of all, many apologies for not posting for a few days… I’ve been playing around with WordPress plug-ins and such, and sort of got distracted haha.  Hopefully the posting schedule will return to normal soon.

Anyway, onto today’s topic.  I remember there used to be a beer-BBQ chicken-mac-n-cheese at Karl Strauss restaurant, and it was so good.  Creamy mac n cheese with chicken drenched in beer-flavored barbecue sauce – seriously a match made in heaven.  Unfortunately, that item is no longer available on the menu.  So I attempted to make my own version.

Making a good mac n cheese isn’t hard but does require some patience.  I looked around many sources for a recipe, and sort of made an adaptation of various ones.  I also ended up making my own barbecue sauce since I didn’t have any store-bought ones on hand, but you can certainly use whatever you please.

Let me know what you think of the recipe format, and of the mac and cheese!

BBQ chicken mac n cheese | Jinxi Eats

Serves 3-4
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Misc Serve Hot
This skillet barbecue chicken mac-n-cheese is simple and filled with flavor. Use your favorite barbecue sauce, or follow the recipe to make your own version!


Mac n cheese

  • 3 Medium boneless skinless chicken thighs (cubed)
  • 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 8oz elbow macaroni (cooked and drained)
  • 2.5 tablespoons butter
  • 2.5 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheese ((I used a mixture of mozzerella, cheddar, jack, and parmesan))

Barbecue sauce

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • pinch red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • pinch salt (adjust to taste)


Mac n cheese
Season the chicken pieces with salt & pepper. Cook on medium heat until no longer pink in a greased, oven-safe skillet. While the chicken is cooking, preheat oven to 350F, and prepare the macaroni according to instructions.
Remove chicken from skillet and toss with barbecue sauce (recipe below). Set aside.
In the same skillet, melt butter over low-heat. Slowly stir in flour, then add all the seasonings. Stir in milk, then cream, then cheese. Add in the cooked & drained macaroni and stir until everything is mixed. Finally, add chicken back into the skillet and stir until evenly mixed into the mac n cheese.
Cover the top with panko crumbs and more cheese (if desired). Place skillet into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.
Barbecue sauce
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Adjust seasoning as desired.

[SD Mission Valley] A healthy (but pricey) dinner at True Food Kitchen

I’ve been hearing about True Food Kitchen long before it opened at Fashion Valley Mall, and I was excited to try it out after a shopping spree!

First thing: the restaurant is huge.  There were plenty of seats in the spacious interior, as well as a large patio area.  We chose to sit indoors.

Second thing: this place is so… hippie?  Berkeley-wanna-be?  I know it was advertised to serve healthy, local (as much as possible), “globally-inspired” cuisine, and something about the wood floors and tables, potted plants, and open kitchen definitely gave off that vibe.

Our waiter, upon hearing that it was our first visit, welcomed us and let us know of the day’s specials and introduced us to the drinks made at the juice bar.  Wait a minute.  Did I just hear juice bar?!?

Definitely heard it right… a juice bar!

So of course, I had to try out one of the concoctions – there were quite a few that sounded interesting, such as the Green Arnie (matcha green tea & honey lemonade) or the Hangover Rx (coconut water, honeydew melon, & pineapple).  I eventually went with the Cucumber Refresher.  S loves root beer and had to try the Oogave root beer.

Cucumber Refresher: cucumber & honey lemonade, $5

Oogave root beer, $4

The cucumber drink was very interesting, and definitely refreshing.  I’m still not sure how I feel about pairing cucumber with something tart like lemonade, though.  The root beer was pretty good – the agave syrup definitely adds a different taste than Barq’s or A&W.

Onto the food.  The soup of the day was a chilled corn soup, sort of like a chowder but made with soy instead of cream.  Given my obsession with corn, I had to try it.

Chilled corn soup, $7

It was really refreshing and delicious.  I loved that the sweetness of the corn really came through.  S says that he would have still preferred for it to be made with cream, though.  Haha.

Our entrees came next…

Chicken Chopped Salad: cranberry, local date, jicama, manchego, farro, Marcona almond, & champagne vinaigrette, $12

I really enjoyed the salad – all the ingredients were very fresh, and I especially loved the jicama and dates (although I thought that having both cranberries and dates was a little excessive).  It was also the first time I’ve had farro – the texture feels kind of like cooked mung bean, actually… does anyone out there agree or am I just crazy?  I liked that they were light-handed with the dressing, so that the ingredients could really shine.

Shirataki Noodles: green curry, snap pea, asparagus, oyster mushroom, cashew, $13; add chicken $6

We were a bit disappointed with the dish that S ordered.  When it arrived I almost laughed at how small the portion was – no way he was going to be full.  It turned out to be just okay – the green curry wasn’t very flavorful.  It was also unclear on the menu whether this dish actually had any protein.  S asked about it when he ordered, and our waiter told us that he could add chicken, shrimp, or tofu.  What he did not say was that it would be an extra charge.  Later, when the check arrived, we asked the waiter about the mistake, and he apologized and said that he was supposed to have informed us of the extra charge – but he did not offer to take the charge off our bill, which surprised me a little bit.  So, long story short, for a $19 dish, this was definitely not up to par.

Overall?  True Food Kitchen is definitely innovative, with the organic, healthy, wholesome vibe.  While I really enjoyed the soup and chicken salad, the noodle dish and service were disappointing*.  It has only been open for about a month, so maybe there are still things to be worked out – maybe I’ll give it a try some time in the future, but I probably won’t be back any time soon.

True Food Kitchen
7007 Friars Road, Suite 394, San Diego, CA
(619) 810-2929


Dinner at home: miso ramen


The ingredients are simple: water, miso, corn, sprouts, sliced pork, noodles. The result is a warm, home-y dinner :)

Thanksgiving dinner!

I successfully hosted my very first Thanksgiving dinner! Thanks to D.Z. and M.C. for coming over and spending it with me =)

Since there were only three of us, I decided that a turkey wasn’t worth the trouble, so I made a mixture of Chinese and American dishes. The pan-fried beef cake recipe was adapted from a Chinese cookbook – but the original recipe called for water chestnuts, which I did not have. The chicken & green bean casserole recipe was actually adapted from Mrs. Cubbison’s classic dressing mix box =P Again, I did not have all the ingredients on hand so I changed around a couple of things. Sauteed spinach is pretty standard (spinach + garlic + soy sauce), and the sweet potato fries were just tossed with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and sugar, baked at 350F until crisp.

For dessert, I decided to do cupcake-style since there was 1- no point in baking a whole pie or cake for three people, and 2- this way, we can have two types of dessert XD

My recipes:

Pan-Fried Beef Cakes

You need:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 c. chopped onions
  • 1 stalk minced green onions
  • 1 c. fresh bread crumbs, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 large egg, well-beaten
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce

Combine the ground beef, onions, green onions, and bread crumbs in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the egg and cornstarch. Finally, slowly stir in the soy sauce and mix until well-combined.

Form the ground beef mixture into patties, about 1cm (just under 1/2-in) thick and 8cm (2&1/2-in) in diameter, about 9 patties.

Lightly grease a cooking pan and set the heat to medium. Once the pan is hot, add the patties, cover the pan, and let it cook for ~1 minute. Flip the patties over, cover, and cook for another minute. Uncover and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the top & bottom are golden and the insides are cooked. Plate and serve!

Yields about nine 8-inch patties.

Chicken & Green Bean Casserole

You need:

For the dressing part:

  • 1 pkg (6 oz) Mrs. Cubbison’s Seasoned Dressing
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/2 c. onions, chopped & sauteed
  • 1 c. chicken broth

For the casserole:

  • 3 c. boneless chicken meat (breast or thigh), cooked and cubed
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. fresh green beans
  • 1 c. mushrooms
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste

To prepare the dressing, combine the dressing mix with butter and onions in a bowl. Stir in the chicken broth gradually and spoon the mixture into a 2&1/2 or 3-quart casserole dish or oven-safe pan. Bake covered for 30-minutes at 350F. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes for a crisp top.

To prepare the chicken casserole, combine chicken, green beans, mushrooms, and bell pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the broth, and stir to mix well. Spoon the mixture into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan, top with the prepared dressing, then sprinkle with salt & pepper. If desired, add a cup of shredded cheese or 1/2 c. heavy cream. Bake covered for 30 minutes at 375F.

Makes 6-8 (1/2 cup) servings.

Mini NY-style cheesecakes

You need:

For the crust:

  • 4 pieces of graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 c. 1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • cinnamon to taste

For the filling:

  • 4-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2-oz sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a jellyroll pan with a towel. Add some hot water into the pan.

For the crust, stir together the graham crackers, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and stir until well-combined. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin pan lined with baking cups, about 6 cups. Using a spoon or your fingers, press the mixture firmly on the bottom and sides of the cups.

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add in egg, and beat on low speed until combined, then use a spatula to scrape down the sides. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth.

Pour the filling into the prepared cups. Then, put the muffin pan on the prepared jellyroll pan and put both pans into the oven. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, then turn off the oven, open the oven a slight crack, and let it bake with the residual heat for an additional 40 minutes until the center is set. Remove from the oven and take out the individual cups to cool to room temperature, then return them to the pan and refrigerate.

Yields about 6 mini cheesecakes.

Mini Pumpkin Pie

You need:

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 large egg
  • 1/4 can (4-oz) pumpkin
  • 1/4 can (3-oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 unbaked pie crust (I bought Pilsbury rollable pie crust)

Prepare the crust by cutting out circles with an empty food can, and lining the baking cups (in a greased muffin pan) with the pie crust circles.

Combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat together the egg and pumpkin, and then add the sugar mixture and beat until well combined. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk, and mix until well-combined.

Pour into the baking cups (can fill about 8 cups). Bake in preheated oven at 425F for about 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until the center is set. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yields about 8 mini pumpkin pies.

Hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And of course, remember that Thanksgiving should not be the only day to be thankful :)


Japanese-style curry (日式咖喱)

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since my last update! Not many restaurant reviews these days since I’m out of town a lot, plus my long-awaited spring break is coming (whee!!), but I’ll post here and there about some of my cooking adventures and maybe some out-of-Durham experiences, too.

Anyway, yesterday I had the chance to cook for the first time in a while, so I decided to do a simple favorite – Japanese-style curry. This is a super-easy dorm-cooking style meal, and I highly recommend it if you are short on time or don’t want to spend too much effort concocting several dishes for a full meal.

Japanese-style curry is pretty different from most other curries that I’ve tasted – namely Thai, Indian, and Malaysian. It’s seasoned with coriander, and my favorite part about it is the sweet undertone. You basically buy the curry “blocks” or packets for cooking. (I use the Golden Curry brand, which has standard as well as apple-flavored curry – it sounds weird, but it’s really good, I promise. They have a scale of how hot the curry can be, and I always try to choose the hottest. Basically, the hotter it is, the less sweet. I happen to find the hottest one the perfect balance between hot and sweet. *shrug*)

There are really many ways to do this, but I’ll just tell you my way of preparation. For a medium pot of curry (serves 3-4 people), basically all you need is:

  • ½ onion, diced
  • 4 pieces boneless skinless chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-cm (1-in) pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled coarsely chopped
  • (optional) ½ apple, peeled and cut into 2-cm (1-in) pieces…

    Read More »

Beef in Black Pepper Sauce (黑胡椒牛柳)

Ahh.. cooking. So, I’ve never actually written about my cooking stories because, well, they’ve been rather unexciting. But I suppose today, I’ll share my little experience in Chinese cooking so that you guys can provide advice and help me along on my adventures ^^”

Tonight’s featured dish is beef in black pepper sauce, 黑胡椒牛柳. I’m not sure where the dish originated, but the style seems to be adapted from Cantonese. Here was my take on the recipe (I’ll keep the directions in English and use both Chinese and English for the ingredients, so that if there are bilingual readers, it’s easier to express which ingredient I am using.) :…

Read More »