Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Ok, so I feel like I've been blogging a lot about Japanese food in the South Bay.  So far, I have yet to be disappointed.  Inaba is home to some solid soba and udon dishes.  The menu had many choices, but I like to go with dinner sets when I can.  It's headache enough to choose a restaurant to go to for dinner, and sometimes, by the time you get there, you're just too overwhelmed to figure out what you want to eat.  Dinner sets or omakase are a good way to go during those moments.  Japanese people are so smart!!

Special Tempura Dinner Course appetizer, miso soup, sashimi, tempura, egg custard, rice, mini soba
This was Smooth Obturator's choice.  It was pretty filling.

This was a sort of sesame tofu.  It had all the texture of a firm tofu, but the taste of sesame instead of soybeans.  It was innovative and different, bordering on weird.

Your standard salad.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011


What is Niwatori?  Smooth Obturator called it a "chicken place," so that probably explains why I never jumped at the chance to eat here.  Chicken is definitely not something I get excited for.  I rarely order chicken when I dine at fancy restaurants, because I feel like chicken is just so ordinary.  I woudln't want to eat anything at a restaurant that I could eat at home.

DonBon was in town for some business so he called up his cousins, myself and Smooth Obturator to see if we were free for dinner.  I figured if I was going to drive an hour to get to the South Bay that we might as well eat around there too.  Finally, I relented and agreed to go to the "chicken place" since my brother said it was quite special.  They're specialty is Jidori chicken, which to this day I'm still not quite sure what that means.

Asazuke lightly pickled vegetables
After making all our selections, we noticed a dearth of greenery.  I just love pickled vegetables.  I can eat them plain, but of course they taste best eaten with rice and meat.  Yum!  These were more on the salty pickled side (as opposed to sour or sweet) but had some bite to it with thin slivers of ginger that were pickled too.

Cold Chawanmushi chilled egg custard, shrimp, crab meat
I was quite impressed with this, mostly because it was pretty chilly!  But it was very smooth with decent sized chunks of fresh sweet shrimp and crab.  I really liked the jelly stuff on top which was probably some congealed broth or sauce of sorts.  It added a bit of sweet soy taste.

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Monday, August 22, 2011


You know that saying, "It's all about who you know"?  It's not just a statement for the job seekers, business whores, and budding actors/musicians/artists of this world.  For the last few years, I have been to some nice restaurants for FREE because I roll with King Arthur and his entourage.  It's a difficult status to attain, but I have managed to maintain a firm position within this "inner circle" of eaters and intellects (my euphemisms for gluttons and nerds).  Being an outsider, I feel that one has to prove one's worth to join The King's possy.  Of course, you better like to eat, and you better be damn amusing.  The King does not employ any jesters in his court for this very reason!

This was probably my last gratis dinner with The King and his crew, Teety, Soprano Man, and Chops (previously known as Ms. Chatty Cathy).  The Pouter had more important people to dine with that evening (who could be more important than The King?), and The Attending, let's just say we've gone our separate ways.  One for good and the other for evil.  Haha...jk?

Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Toast sweet ginger chili sauce
Compliments of the chef, this was the first of 2 amuse bouche to kick start the evening.  We were all sooo hungry by this point.  Shrimp and crispy!

Curried Seafood Turnover
These were sorta like seafood empanadas.  I didn't think they were as tasty as the shrimp toasts.  

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Feng Mao Mutton Kebab

Who knew there were Chinese people in Ktown?!  I surely did not, but slowly I have come across a few native Koreans who grew up in China or vice versa.  I've had my fare share of Chinese-Korean food, mostly in the form of jja jiang myun at Dragon Restaurant.  For some reason, another popular Chinese-Korean dish is sweet and sour pork.  I can't really understand why, since it tastes like Americanized Chinese food.  Anyways, I digress, since I'm here to talk about a whole different food experience when it comes to the genre of Chinese-Korean cuisine, namely mutton!

Mutton?  No, that's not dog meat, but rather sheep.  Apparently lamb is meat of a sheep in its first year, while mutton is adult sheep.  At Feng Mao, they specialize in grilled meat skewers, varying from mutton, of course, to chicken, beef, and all sorts of offal.

Ban Chan
What Korean meal would be complete without some side dishes?  The offering wasn't very extensive here and I was really craving something to vary up the taste of grilled meats in my mouth.

Gye Gran Jjim egg custard soup
Pretty standard.

Gun Bae or Gan Bay?  Who cares?  Drink up!

Skewered Meat mutton, chicken, beef, kidney, heart
Some reviews recommended 10 skewers per person.  Sounds like a lot right?  I can't remember how many I ate, but it's like eating popcorn, you just pop 'em in your mouth and before you know they're all gone!  I don't think I ate quite as many as 10, but I'm damn sure The Bottomless Pit had his fair share.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Mission

For our last meal in San Diego, we decided to brunch it up at The Mission.  What's up with brunch places always having some crazy wait?  Why does everyone love brunch soooooo darn much?!  It's just breakfast, but at lunch time.  For some crazy reason, people get way too excited about eggs and pancakes at noontime.  I like brunch, but I don't love it.

CMac Attack kicked off the meal by ordering a caramel machiatto or latte.  The nice waiter brought her a freshly made hot drink, with a smiley face made in the foam.  CMac Attack kindly conveyed her disappointment in the error since she wanted a cold drink.  The waiter surprisingly brought her another drink, cold, but with a sad face this time.  Haha!

House Quesadilla Grilled chicken, cheese, tomatoes, cilantro, salsa cruda, green onions and sour cream served with Mission black beans 
CMac Attack did what she did best, attack!!!!  Haha, jk.  I think she enjoyed this dish.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Extraordinary Desserts

No trip to San Diego is complete without a visit to Extraordinary Desserts, especially if you've never been before.  It is the "go-to" spot for some of the prettiest cakes and desserts.  After many years since opening this 2nd location near Downtown San Diego, the place still has a busy line out the door with a long wait on the weekends.  I will admit that I'm not a huge fan of cakes in general, but this is a fun place to take friends here for their first time experience.  You can't deny the awe-inspiring effect a large display of cakes and desserts has on people as they walk through the door.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011


Since we were staying in the Gaslamp district of Downtown San Diego, we decided to check out Little Italy, which was fairly close by.  Who doesn't like pasta?!

Fiori di Zucca Ripieni lightly fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and smoked mozarella
I've never actually tried zucchini blossoms before, but who knew a flower could be so tasty?  I guess anything that's fried and breaded will be delicious, but the creamy mixture of cheeses used to stuff this little guys made for a winning combination.  The side servings of sun dried tomatoes added great contrast of flavor.

Burrata burrata cheese, shaved fennel and celery salad in lemon vinaigrette
The other members of the party didn't seem too enthusiastic with this choice of appetizer (no chimes of agreement or "ooo that looks goood"), but since our first choice (fried saffron risotto balls) were out, I quickly threw this one in as the replacement.  After everyone had their first tastes, the praises came raining down.  I suspect some did not know what burrata was or that fennel could be so crunchy and refreshing? 

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Lucha Libre

A few weeks ago, the high school crew (+ The Toothbrush Sharer) and I celebrated Dubabo's birthday in sunny San Diego.  Much to my surprise, after too many years post-graduation, were all still good friends.  Most of them still hang out regularly (DJ SuCha, HemaSh, CMac Attack, etc) but I'm just too far and too busy to hike it down to the OC to hang out most of the time.  But when I do get to meet up, it's like time never really passed.  It's just good times through and through which makes me really happy.

HemaSh lived in San Diego for 3 years so she pretty much served as our trusty guide.  She suggested Lucha Libre for lunch.  It's a pretty funny little joint with pictures of lucha libre fighters all over the walls that serves fancied up tacos, burritos, etc.

They even have a special golden booth that get's table side service and a special fight bell to ring to call the waiter.  We were sad we couldn't sit here since it was already reserved.  We just ordered at the counter and found some regular seats.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sen Nari Sushi

I had always been meaning to check out the foodie scene in South Bay (ie Torrance, Gardena, etc).  Perhaps "foodie" is an overstatement, but there are a fare number of highly rated Japanese restaurants in the area that both Smooth Obturator and Nancy Rheeeee have recommended at one time or another.  So I took it upon myself to brave the traffic and meet up with Me So Hairy! in his neck of the woods.  I've been told time and time again that the best way to experience sushi is omakase, which leaves the selection to the chef.  That way, you are getting the freshest and best selection of sushi.  Most times, I've been asked what I do not like to eat.  Here, they just started serving us, so I ended up getting things I don't normally eat.

Very very special 
That was the response when we asked our sushi chef what it was he was serving us.  It looked and tasted like monkfish liver, foie gras of the sea, as some may describe it.  Sometimes I like it, and sometimes I don't.  It really depends on how fishy it tastes and smells.  This one was on the fishier side, but I am no expert and maybe monkfish liver will always be fishy.  It tasted like it was drizzled with some ponzu which helped to mask the fishiness.

Seared Bonito
The fish was just lightly seared on the exterior and retained its rare meaty texture within.  There was only a light drizzle of ponzu.  The added finely chopped ginger and scallions on top brought out some nice flavor to the fish and cut the fishiness of the bonito which apparently is in the mackerel family.

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Monday, August 1, 2011


I meet up with Big Willie for the first time in a long time.  It's amazing how you can live just minutes away from someone and still never see them.  We go way back, back to the days when were wild and free.  Now were just a pair of old tame retired senior citizens, retreating to our respective niches in life.  Me? Obviously it's with food.  For him, its anything that involves a paddle and water. 

Big Willie suggested Nanbankan, which used to be a very frequent haunt of his.  It was nice to not have to think about or look up places to eat.  Sometimes it's just a more relaxing experience when you're just told when and where to be.  It's even better when the place is supposed to be good, so you don't expect disappointment from wasted stomach real estate.

Nanbankan serves up your standard yakitori fare.  I'm slowly expanding my horizons when it comes to this genre of Japanese food and find that Nanbankan is far superior to Honda-Ya in Downtown.  The vibe is certainly different, being a little more posh, modern, and quiet.  Honda-Ya is better for big groups of friends and late night eating and drinking.

These were great to munch on before the real food came.  It was also nice as a palate cleanser in between dishes.

Miso sauce
Of course I was dipping the veggies in this wonderful miso sauce.  It was sharply salty, but soothingly sweet at the same time.

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
The asparagus had the right amount of crunch and tenderness.  The bacon added some good smokey salt.
Beef Tongue
It was tender and juicy and charred well.

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