Sep 192014

Recently, my good friend Y celebrated her birthday at Onami Seafood Buffet & BBQ. She and her boyfriend are always on the hunt for good deals for food, and her boyfriend loves all-you-can-eat places! S and I have never been to Onami before, so we were quite curious about what the place would be like.

Onami Seafood Buffet & BBQ 

The restaurant is located inside the Westfield Mission Valley mall, near the Macy’s Home Store and food court.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get very many good photos of the buffet lines – most of them turned out quite blurry. (Sadface.) So, I’ll just share pictures of S’s and my plates:

Assorted sushi, sashimi, nigiri

Assorted sushi, sashimi, nigiri

My friends like this place because of the variety of sashimi and nigiri. We were initially a bit wary of eating raw fish at a buffet, but it turned out not too bad. The salmon was the freshest, out of all the sashimi. I also liked the salmon skin nigiri and went back for a couple more of that later in the evening. 

More sushi

More sushi 

I’m not sure what’s at the back of this plate… Looks a bit like chicken teriyaki, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get that. The seaweed salad was not bad.

Cold soba noodles

Cold soba noodles 

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Aug 012014

I’ve had All-You-Can-Eat sushi in Las Vegas before and wasn’t super impressed – the fish was just okay, service was slow, and the rolls weren’t too good. However, at my friends’ urging, we visited Sushi Mon on this past trip to Vegas. There are two locations – Sahara and Silverado Ranch – and we visited the Sahara one, which is located off the Strip, sort of near the “Asia-town” area.


We visited on a Saturday, right as the place opened (11:30AM) – there was no line, huzzah! Why we were already awake at 11 in the morning in Vegas, I’m not so sure, but nevertheless, we arrived with hungry stomachs.


As you can see, above is the sushi bar. We caught part of the Brazil-Chile World Cup game. The restaurant is mid-sized, with about 10 four-top tables and some seating at the bar. But like I said, it wasn’t busy at all during my visit.

Looking at the All-You-Can-Eat lunch menu, there are a variety of nigiri sushi to choose from, as well as rolls and side dishes. We mostly ordered nigiri – for the best value, and because we weren’t sure how tasty the rolls would be. The price was reasonable – $21.95 per person (before taxes). Below are some of the things we ordered… We definitely ate way more than what’s pictured, but I either forgot to take a photo, or it was “repeat” order because we liked the item so much. 


Tuna, Albacore, Salmon

Clam, Cajun Albacore

Squid, Cajun Albacore

Of the fish, we really loved the salmon and albacore – they were the freshest and most tasty, in my opinion! The Cajun albacore was quite interesting – it was seared and seasoned on the outside with Cajun spices. It was a tad too salty and overpowered the delicate albacore.

Albacore and "Super White Tuna"

Albacore and “Super White Tuna”

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Apr 162014

When I first heard about Maruhide Uni Club, I immediately added it to my “Restaurant Bookmarks” list since I love uni (sea urchin), and this is a whole restaurant dedicated to it! On a recent trip to LA, I finally got the chance to try it out.


I heard that the lines for dinner can get pretty long, but I visited for a late lunch (around 1:30pm, half an hour before they stopped serving lunch), and there were plenty of available seats and tables.

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to order, and a quick glance at the menu confirmed my selection: the Nigiyaka Bowl, served with four preparations of uni.





I was brought some soup and salad to start… the salad was a little sad as you can see – a few pieces of iceberg lettuce and a wedge of tomato, with barely any dressing. I think there was uni incorporated into the dressing, but there was so little of it that it was hard to tell. The soup fared slightly better – there was a sizable piece of uni in the soup, but the overall flavor was quite mild.

My disappointment about the soup and salad quickly faded, though, when this arrived:

Nigiyaka Bowl [$23.95]

Nigiyaka Bowl [$23.95]

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Jan 272014

Continuing with my Taiwan trip, I wanted to share a few more food-related adventures…

In S’s hometown, Fengyuan, there’s a downtown market/shopping area called Miao Dong (廟東). There’s a hidden gem inside that S’s parents discovered a couple of years ago…

Sashimi Platter


Sashimi in Taiwan is really delicious, and really cheap compared to the US, so S and I always try to get our sashimi fill in Taiwan. A 10-piece sashimi platter here costs about $10 USD (240 NTD). As you can see, there’s tuna, yellowtail, salmon, squid, and – something I’ve only seen in Taiwan – marlin (旗魚). My favorite pieces were the marlin, which had a pleasantly chewy texture, and salmon. The salmon was really fatty, and I loved that they wrapped it around the onion slices to give it some crunch and kick. Similarly, the squid/cucumber combination was delicious as well.

Vegetable medley

Japanese-style salad

I’m not sure what to call this in English – in Chinese it’s called 醋物, literally “vinegar object.” Basically it’s sliced vegetables in a vinegar-based sauce, and very refreshing. Corn and tomatoes were really sweet, which went well with the vinegar.

Hana Sushi

Hana Sushi

Another Taiwanese invention – hana sushi (literally “flower sushi”), which is made with not-so-traditionally-Japanese ingredients. The rolls often include cooked or canned salmon and tuna, pork floss, shrimp tempura, etc. Also as you can see, purple rice can also be used. I actually really like these non-traditional sushi rolls – the flavors usually work pretty well together.

Cute sushi clock!

Cute sushi clock & sushi chef with fish

We decided not to eat too much at the sushi place to save room for some takoyaki (octopus balls)…



Probably one of my favorite street foods in Taiwan. These little takoyaki balls are made of a flour-based batter with chopped octopus and cooked in the special molds that you see, and served with plenty of mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and a special BBQ sauce. We asked for garlic-flavored takoyaki, so we also got a generous helping of garlic salt.


There’s a variety of delicious food stands in Miao Dong, and I wasn’t able to document them all. But some other things to try if you’re ever in Fengyuan are: Qing Shui pork chop noodles and oyster pancakes. The oyster pancakes in Fengyuan are probably the most famous – the sauce is quite unique and different from the sauce on any other oyster pancakes.

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Dec 162013

On the last day of my mini-college reunion LA trip, we decided to get sushi for lunch. We had originally planned to try out the popular Sushi Gen, only to find out that they are closed on Sundays. My friend found this place using Yelp, so we decided to check it out. It’s located in the Japan Center in downtown LA/Little Tokyo – and as it turns out, it was a great location because there was a Beard Papa’s in the same building, and Ozero Cafe nearby! So even before lunch, we had dessert and afternoon tea/snack figured out… haha. (Actually, there is one more dessert place that we went to in the nearby area – post coming in the future!)


We were initially worried about not being able to get a table since we had a party of five during lunch hour, and the restaurant was quite tiny, but we were seated right away.

They offer chirashi for $17, which we all thought was a really reasonable price. There’s also a more premium chirashi that includes uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe), for $24. Given my love for uni, I decided to splurge and order that.

Green Tea & Appetizers

Green Tea & Appetizers

To start, I had a cup of green tea, which our waitress kept refilled throughout the meal. We also got some complimentary pickled veggies & seaweed as appetizers, which were nice and refreshing.

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Each of us also got a miso soup, which was also quite good. 

Sashimi Lunch [$16]

Sashimi Lunch [$16]

One of my friends ordered the sashimi set, which came with albacore, whitefish, yellowtail, tuna, octopus, and salmon. It was served with rice.

Chirashi [$17]

Chirashi [$17]

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Dec 042013

Let me preface this post by saying that this, was the best meal of my life.

(Incidentally also the most expensive. But hey, you only turn 25 once, right? Haha.) So yes, it was my birthday, and I really wanted sushi. Originally, I had suggested Sushi Diner, but S actually said, “Why don’t we go somewhere nice?” I was really pleasantly surprised, and remembering how much Kirk of mmm-yoso loved Sushi Tadokoro, that’s the place I chose.

The menu features a “sashimi omakase,” which I knew was probably a platter of the freshest sashimi that day. But I wanted the full-on sit-at-the-sushi-bar-and-interact-with-the-chef experience, which I’ve only read about but never tried. I was a bit shy about asking for that option, but the chef understood immediately that we wanted the “full omakase.” He told us that the price range would be around $80, which we thought was quite reasonable. I had heard that a similar omakase experience at Sushi Ota would be around $120.

Anyway, there are a LOT of photos in this post, so I’ll stop rambling and get started on the pictures. I tried to remember exactly what Chef Soichi told us about each piece of fish, but sometimes I couldn’t quite catch everything. Haha.

Fresh Oyster (Source: Seattle)

Fresh Oyster (Source: Seattle)

Monkfish Liver

Monkfish Liver / Ankimo

Started out with a couple of “appetizers.” When I heard that the oyster was from Seattle I knew that it’d be good, and indeed it was. I was equally impressed by the monkfish liver, which I’ve always wanted to try. It was every bit the delicacy that I’ve heard about – creamy and rich, even better than foie gras. It was served with grated ginger and a seaweed/ponzu sauce.

Sashimi: Sanma (Japan), Toro (Spain), Kanpachi (Japan), Big-Eye Tuna (Hawaii), Uni (San Diego)

Sashimi: Pacific Saury/Sanma (Japan), Bluefin Tuna Belly/Toro (Spain), Amberjack/Kanpachi (Japan), Big-Eye Tuna (Hawaii), Sea Urchin/Uni (San Diego)

The sashimi platter came after that. I was surprised to see bluefin tuna and felt pretty guilty about eating it, but honestly, it was so good. That’s all. My second favorite was the uni, of course – it was super creamy and very sweet. As for the others, I’ve never had either sanma or kanpachi before. Both were pleasant first-time experiences, and the big-eye tuna was very good as well.

Now begins the procession of nigiri. They were presented to us on our own plates, and we were instructed which pieces should be eaten as is, and which ones should be dipped in soy sauce. Our wasabi and ginger pieces were replenished throughout the meal.

Halibut, cured with kelp seaweed

Halibut, cured with kelp seaweed

Golden-Eye Snapper, with yuzu citrus and Himalaya rock salt

Golden-Eye Snapper, with yuzu citrus and Himalaya rock salt

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Apr 122013

After eating at Nozomi, S and I decided that our favorite place for sushi rolls is still Sushi Diner. Which meant… well, we had to go to Sushi Diner. Haha. It has been a while since we’ve paid a visit, anyway. 

We arrived around 8pm on a Monday night, which meant no wait for a seat at the bar (there were also seats available on the patio, but we like sitting at the bar). The place was still pretty full, though. Goes to show how popular it is.

I love the decor of this place. The owner is definitely obsessed with Bob Marley – he’s everywhere, and even some of the rolls’ names are inspired by Marley. One of the reasons I love sitting at the bar is to look at the cute decorations everywhere…



We usually order three rolls, so that we can get our old favorites and also try something new:

The Bob Marley Roll ($9.25)

The Bob Marley Roll ($9.25)

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Apr 102013

S and I love “Americanized” sushi rolls, complete with the spicy mayo and cream cheese and BBQ eel sauce and whatnot. Our favorite place for sushi here is Sushi Diner – the rolls there are so creative, and all of them (that we’ve tried so far) are delicious. However, recently we heard about Nozomi Sushi & Teriyaki from our friends and decided to try it out. There are two locations, one in La Jolla (in the Regents Pizzeria/ Einstein Bagels plaza) and one on Convoy, in the same plaza as Dede’s Teajuice City. The Convoy location is supposedly the better one.


The restaurant owner is Korean; you can read about him and the restaurant on the website for the La Jolla location (for some reason, there is no website for this location…) The menu is also largely the same across the two locations, as is happy hour. 


We had originally planned to share the chirashi salad, which is supposedly a really huge portion, but S wanted to try the rolls instead. The couple at a table near us ordered the chirashi salad, and it was huge – the container was a giant serving bowl. I think it’d take more than just S and me to finish it off. I also contemplated taking a photo of it, but decided it was a bit too sketchy since the couple seemed to be enjoying a date…We knew the portion sizes would be big and didn’t want to over-order, so each of us just picked one roll. S chose the Alaska Roll, which has spicy tuna, crab, sprouts, salmon skin, cucumber, and avocado. The outside is layer of tempura batter.

Spicy Salmon Skin Roll ($13.95)

Alaska Roll ($12.95)

The roll was indeed pretty big… it also arrived on a huge platter with, and the individual pieces were laid out instead of in a roll. There’s also a bunch of ice in the platter, and the rolls were lying on top of a piece of Saran wrap. Creative, but I didn’t see what part of that roll really needed to be kept on ice the whole time. The whole presentation was a bit weird. Overall though I thought it tasted not bad. The proportions of the fillings was a bit off – it was mostly crab and barely a hint of the spicy tuna, but I liked the crunchy salmon skin. The tempura batter on the outside made it a bit messy to eat. Continue reading »

Jul 122012

Sorry for the lack of update in the past couple of weeks!  I’ve been pretty busy, and ever since we set up our kitchen, I haven’t gone out to eat much – and I’ll be starting some recipe posts soon, so stay tuned ^^

S and I visited our dear friend in Seattle last week, and needless to say, we sort of ate a lot.  It was our first time in the city, and we had an overwhelming number of recommendations for places to visit (for sights and food).  I had a fantastic time and wish that our vacation could have been longer… but I’ve been back in reality for a few days now, and it’s time to catch up here.

**Warning: this is going to be a long, hunger-inducing post.  You have been warned!!

We started our trip by going directly from the airport to Facing East Taiwanese Restaurant in Bellevue, which was recommended to me as “one of the best Taiwanese restaurants in the U.S.”

Facing East 東來食府

Taiwanese pork buns 刈包

Taiwanese pork buns, or “gua bao”, are basically pork belly sandwiches with Chinese steamed rolls as the bread.  The pork belly here was braised to perfection, and the steamed roll was soft and fluffy.

Fried shrimp with pineapple 鳳梨蝦球

Another pretty traditional dish – fried shrimp drizzled with mayo and served with pineapples (and other fruits, in this case).  Mayo in Taiwan (and Japan) is sweeter and less thick than the original American mayo, and – dare I say it? – much tastier.

Soy-braised pork belly 東坡肉

Another perfectly-braised pork belly dish.  We kind of go crazy over this stuff.  See the layers of fatty goodness?  More, please.

Post-dinner activity: 4th of July fireworks in Gas Works Park, right over Lake Union.  They were gorgeous!  Unfortunately I did not have a tripod for my camera, so 90% of my fireworks photos turned out really squiggly.

Here’s an okay one…

The second day, we visited Pike’s Place Market, pretty much the largest farmer’s market I’ve ever seen in the U.S.  And it’s open everyday!

We tried some samples from the fruit stands – the cherries and peaches were amazing!  Super juicy and sweet (normally I don’t like sweet fruits but these were so good).

Stopped by the seafood stand and had to try the smoked salmon on a stick.  It was really tasty, not too salty and perfect with the garlic & pepper.

Across the street from the Market were quite a few famous shops and restaurants.  We had to check out Piroshky, Piroshky, the Russian bakery that Anthony Bourdain once visited on No Reservations.

The line was long, but it was definitely well worth the wait.

Beef and cheese piroshkys in the making…

They actually turned out to taste like a type of Chinese stuffed bread (餡餅), except with cheese added.

They also had a variety of sweet pastries… and you know me, I had to get one.

Cinnamon apple roll

The apple was actually quite tart, but overall I liked it.  It wasn’t too sweet, which I normally might complain about, but this way I could continue to eat more.

We stopped by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop, which was just a few doors down.  You could see fresh cheese in the making.

There were also several cheeses for sampling in the store.  My favorite was this Pride of the Beecher’s Fleet.

And we continued our eating journey…

Another highly-rated place.  There were eight different types of chowders, I think – vegetarian, seared scallop, Manhattan, New England… you name.  We shared a cup of the New England, of which I’m not usually a fan, but I must say, the chowder here was amazing (especially if you add a couple of drops of tabasco).

After the chowder, we were almost full… so it was time for dessert.  My frozen desserts radar found us a gelato shop nearby.

Salted caramel and panna cotta gelato

I loved the panna cotta flavor.  It was so rich and creamy, yet still light and refreshing.  And of course, you know my obsession with salted caramel.  This was just heavenly.

But we were not done… We had to get some coffee in Seattle (and no, not Starbucks… although I do have a photo of the First Starbucks).

We were more interested in the local, artisan coffee shops.  And we found this:

They have a “regular” drip coffee counter and also a “Slow Bar,” where you can choose a slower, more sophisticated brewing method for freshly brewed, single-origin coffee.

Of course, we chose the Slow Bar.

The brewing methods offered are the Hario pour-over, Chemex (which I have), or siphon/vacuum pot.  Our favorite is the vacuum pot method.

If you’ve never had coffee brewed with a vacuum pot, I highly recommend that you try it at least once.  Basically, the water is heated so that it will rise into the upper vessel (where your coffee grounds are), then the heat is removed so that the water – having now extracted the essence of the coffee grounds – returns to the lower pot.  By controlling when you remove the heat, you could adjust for exactly how long the coffee is brewed.  And of course, coffee experts have figured out the optimal time for extraction, so that you get the most flavorful cup of coffee.

All this to yield a perfect cup of coffee.

After that, we were really full and had to take a break from eating explored the downtown area for a bit.  It was really a gorgeous day, so perfect.

Dinner was our luxury meal of the trip, Shiro’s Sushi.  I was really looking forward to sushi because I’ve always heard that seafood in Seattle is amazing (I’d already had a taste from the smoked salmon earlier in the day).  According to my friend W, it’s because of the way the currents enter and leave Puget Sound, somehow creating delicious, perfect seafood.  (Anyone wanna confirm/disputethis?  Leave a comment!)

Geoduck stir-fried with butter and asparagus

First time I had geoduck – I always wanted to try it after watching a Youtube video of Hung Huynh cooking a geoduck (in case you didn’t know, Hung is Top Chef Season 3 winner and my favorite Top Chef contestant of all time).  It tasted like a tender version of a clam – and the flavors of this dish were delicious.  The nutty browned butter aroma was the perfect accompaniment to the delicate geoduck.

Broiled black cod

I haven’t had black cod in a long time (since it’s so expensive), and I thought this was pretty good – although S and J say that this would be a pretty standard dish in Taiwan.

Finally, my sashimi omakase arrived…!!

Sashimi omakase

Smelt, albacore tuna, Big Eye tuna, salmon, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, mackerel, red snapper, giant scallop, and a couple that I couldn’t remember.  The favorites were definitely the salmon, yellowtail, sweet shrimp, red snapper, and scallop.  Okay, I liked everything.  They also fried the shrimp head after I was done with everything else – yum!  What a perfect way to end the second night!

The next day, S and I ventured to downtown for lunch.  We found BOKA, the restaurant in Hotel 1000.  It was a really classy, lounge-y place.

Of course, I had to order the salmon.

Alaskan King salmon with corn-pancakes, green beans, and oyster mushrooms

The salmon was perfectly cooked and seasoned – I’ve never had salmon so tender.  The greens and mushrooms were really good, but the corn pancakes were sort of weird and mushy.  Sad.

BOKA burger and truffle fries

I didn’t have any of S’s burger, but the truffle fries were delicious.

In the afternoon, we met up with another one of our college friends here for some drinks:

Beer flight – I actually don’t drink much beer so I couldn’t tell you how special these are.  S liked the Pike XXXXX Extra Stout (the dark colored one).  I was feeling girly and had a cider.

Ended up on the waterfront to Elliot’s Oyster House for more seafood!

Dabob Bay and Baywater Sweet oysters

They offered raw oysters from about six or seven different locations.  We picked Dabob Bay and Baywater Sweet oysters and really liked the ones from Dabob Bay – they were super smooth and sweet.  The Baywater Sweet ones were smaller and had a more “ocean-y” taste.

Manhattan clam chowder

Read recommendations that the Manhattan clam chowder here was good, so we had to have a cup.  It was pretty good – very tomato-y and lots of clams.

Pan-fried oysters with bacon and scallions

We weren’t quite satisfied with just those five oysters at the beginning, so we ordered a few more – large, pan-fried, and with bacon.

Pesto with clams (and amazing foccacia)

And finally, we ordered the pesto with clams since it was on the Catch of the Day menu section.  The pesto sauce went really well with the deliciously fresh clams, and it was perfect for dipping the foccacia bread.

Our trip was quickly wrapping up (and so is this post, I promise), but we had time for brunch the next morning before our flight.  We found The Hangar Cafe in the Georgetown district of Seattle, on our way to the airport (I think).

It was a really cute little place, with a surprisingly extensive menu of breakfast items, crepes, and sandwiches.

S and I split a savory crepe and sweet waffle.

Roast beef crepe with creme fraiche

Lemon panna cotta waffles with delicious maple syrup

Both dishes were delicious.  I loved the roast beef-creme fraiche combo – must try at home sometime.  And the lemon panna cotta was perfect on the waffle, topped with some raspberry jam and maple syrup.  (Just want to point out, also, that it was real maple syrup, not the high-fructose-corn-syrup-with-maple-flavors.)

Anyway, after three food-filled days, it was time to go home.  I really loved Seattle and would definitely love to go back someday… but for now, back to life in San Diego! :)

Apr 292012

Ever since OnlyBurger made its debut on my college campus in North Carolina, I’ve been sort of fascinated with food trucks.  Now, of course, they’re the new “in” – there are food trucks out there for pretty much everything, from Southern barbecue to Thai food.  When I lived in Berkeley, one of my favorite events was the weekly food truck gathering, Off the Grid, just a short walk from my apartment.

Since I’ve moved to San Diego, I actually haven’t explored the mobile food scene much.  Recently, I heard about a sushi truck that stops near where I live for dinner, so SK and I decided to try it out.

They have a happy hour, 4-6pm, during which rolls are Buy 2 Get 1 Free.  SK bought six rolls.  Yes, six.  For the two of us.

We’re gluttonous.  Absolutely.

(I included the full menu descriptions for everything, since the names are too creative for you to know what in the world was in the rolls.)

Top left: Scallop Delight (baked roll; spicy crab & avocado inside, topped with scallops & chipotle mayo, eel sauce, green onions, and white onions), $8
Top right: Sake Bomb (spicy crab, avocado, gobo, & cucumber inside, topped with salmon, red onions, and basil mayo), $7
Bottom: Afro Ninja (fried roll; spicy tuna, spicy crab, jalapeno, cream cheese, & avocado inside, topped with eel sauce and spicy mayo), $7

Top left: Serrano-Hamachi (spicy tuna, cucumber, chives inside, topped with yellowtail, Serrano peppers, & cilantro aioli), $9
Top right: "Sal"antro (spicy tuna, cucumber, & gobo inside, topped with salmon, spicy mayo, chili sauce, & fresh cilantro), $8
Bottom right: Crispy Albacore (spicy crab, shrimp tempura, avocado inside, topped with albacore, crispy onions, garlic chips, & garlic ponzu), $7

As you can see from the descriptions, these rolls are pretty Americanized.  My favorite was probably the Scallop Delight, although I wish it didn’t have so much raw onion – the taste was way too strong.  Second fave is probably the Serrano-Hamachi, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you since I love spicy food so much.  Overall, though, I thought that they were all very heavy – the rolls were pretty much doused in spicy mayo/ eel sauce.  Basically, no way they could compete with Sushi Diner.

But, the location of the food truck is pretty close to my home, and they even deliver within the area – and all deliveries are actually happy hour pricing, so it’s convenient.  I might be willing to give this a second try, making a mental note that I’ll ask them to go easy on the sauce.

Have you ever tried SD Sushi Ninjas?  What is your favorite food truck in San Diego? Let me know in a comment~!