To feed your body and soul in San Diego and all over the world

Chinese

Dede’s Teajuice City

Another institution that has been in San Diego for years, but I never made it to since I don’t have the right group of people to go with.  However, when a group of friends whom I met during my previous job at the client wanted to go get lunch.  The opportunity came up and I suggested Dede’s Teajuice City!

The restaurant is small, but still a decent size yet it is in one of the many super small strip mall all over Kearny Mesa.  At this point, I think I’m just used to it that I don’t even complain about it anymore.  Anyway, I was there specifically for some delicious food and I was not going to be denied of it!

Special Cooked Baby Rib

Dede’s Special Cooked Baby Ribs were good, but I wish there was more meat!  I’m not one to eat off the bone and when I do, I expect there to be meat!  Lots and lots of meat!

Cumin Flavored Lamb

The Cumin Lamb that my friends told me was delicious.  It smelled great!  If it really tastes as good as it smelled, then I wish I did eat lamb….*sigh*

Sichuan Eggplant

The Spicy Sichuan Eggplant a dish that I’m just so familiar with and it does makes me think of home. I can’t ever reject eggplant, mmmm….purple….spicy purple!

Deep Fried Fish w/ Dry Red Pepper

The dish that I really wanted to have that day was the Boiled Fish Hot Pot.  Basically fried fish fillets with tons of peppers and potatoes.  I have an obsession for spicy foods and there is no end to it and this little pot is like gold for me.  Spicy, but still flavorful and the fish with its crispy outer layer and moist, tender flesh interior….mmm, perfection!

We had several other dishes to go along side with our main stars, but as they were coming out with one dish after another, we kept eating.  The full meal included:

Dan Dan Noodles, which were enjoyed by the whole table.  It’s spicy here too and I have no complaints about that!  Dan Dan Noodles was one of those dishes that I learned to fall in love with as I grew older, whereas it was a favorite of my Dad’s.

We also had an order of pan fried dumplings (it was pork filled) and scallion pancakes because hey! Why the freak not?!  We were all grown adults with adult appetites!  LET US FEAST!

…..and somewhere in the middle of feasting, I had to take an aerial shot of our table:

DSC_0543

I am quite proud of our ability to consume and I think we could do better next time by ordering more food.  I love Dede’s since it’s the food that I’m most familiar with and feel at home with.   Definitely returning to Dede’s for more meals!

Dede’s Teajuice City
4647 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111


Dim Sum…you want some?

Then I’ll give you some! 🙂

How would it be possible for me to not have one meal which would include Dim Sum while in Hong Kong?  That would just not do!  Not to mention my fellow foodies would never let me hear the end of it.  Even though I have been Dim Sum-ed out over the years, I knew I had to try my hand at least one Dim Sum parlor during my short time in the city that comes up with the truly spectacular mini dishes.

We had our first Dim Sum lunch with my Mom’s older sister, who took us to a restaurant in a huge shopping mall.  Do I remember what the place was called or even where it was near? Sadly I do not, but what do have are my glorious pictures to show you the delicious things we ate.

On the left, we have a vegetarian rice noodle roll.  There was an assortment of vegetables in the rice noodles and although I prefer the meat variety, the rice noodle skin was superb.  Soft, tender, smooth, and thin…mmmm.  On the right are BBQ pork pineapple buns.  They’re called pineapple buns because of the cracked sugary topping of the bread (or at least that’s how I’ve always associated it).  The sweet and salty pork was perfect – little fat, glazed just enough, and tasted fresh (*gasp!*).  Man…I don’t really recall ever having any type of pork bun tasting so delicious.  And oh!  The plate up at the top left is more of that delicious BBQ pork for the bowls of noodles below.

Going clockwise from the top left: “micro-pulled noodles” (x2) and “thin-pulled noodles”.  These noodles were ordered upon Dad’s request for them, but when I tried each type, I wasn’t impressed.  Thus, I moved on with my eating!

Top left: chiu-chow fun guo – my Dad’s favorite dim sum dish.  I took a bite and found nothing special from the usual.

Next, the ma lai gou but in the rolled version (top right), which is A MILLION TIMES BETTER!  We used to have this version of the traditional ma lai gou in San Diego, but for whatever reason (cost according to my Dad) they discontinued it.  Even in the LA dim sum places we’ve been to, they don’t make it.  Soft, moist, and the sweet custard between the rolled layers add another level of decadence that is not usually there.

The bottom plate is what I call: genius.  Delicious genius to be exact.  Cubed, pan-fried radish cakes, stir fried with onion, pepper, celery, and TONS of garlic.  Add a dash of hot chili oil and we had a terrible time of stopping ourselves from gorging senselessly at this dish.  By far, it was the most flavorful and unique dish we had that day.  And hands down, my favorite at that table.

This was the Szechuan spicy wonton.  Do not let the red color deceive you!  This was hardly spicy, heck! It was actually SWEET!  Much to my great disappointment.  I was expecting to be taken to that endorphin-filled rush that one gets from eating foods so spicy that you’re sweating after one bite.  Nope…instead, I got a really delicious and well crafted wonton that had a slightly sweet sauce with it.  Sigh…

Ok…did this meal help change my mind on Dim Sum?  Yes and no…because I know that I could never find something of this level in the states.  I have friends and family who go wide and far for good Dim Sum, but they all have told me the same thing over and over again: nothing can compare to Dim Sum in Hong Kong.  The true masters of the art of Dim Sum resides in Hong Kong.  Whether it be in a fancy, sit-down, air-conditioned restaurant, to a side street vendor.  The good stuff is overseas and I am glad I partake in this food journey to something I knew, yet knew nothing about.


Best meal of my trip

During my first full day in Hong Kong, my family and I went to visit the graves of Grandpa and my uncle in the mountain sides.  While doing so, the mosquitoes were feasting on my legs during the entire time.  I became their all-you-can-eat buffet from the West.  What didn’t make sense was that they completely bypassed my sister and mom, even though they were both prone for mosquitoes as well.  So within 2 hours, I left with at least 9 huge bites and I mean they were SWELLING.

Not hard to tell that I was quite miserable at that point.  I was hot, sticky, itchy, and hungry.  Some vacation huh?  Thank goodness we had my cousin, who was showing us around, to take us to our lunch spot.  The shop wasn’t classy, nor spacious, but my cousin boasted it being the best spot for a bowl of wonton and fish cake soup noodles.

What can I say about this meal, other than – OH MY F-ING GAWD THIS WAS ONE MOTHER FREAKING AMAZING MEAL I COULD EVER HAD FOR UNDER $25!!!!!  Ok, let me break it down for you:  the lemon tea at top was super refreshing and perfect to cool off a hot traveler.

The first bowl is of wide rice noodles with fish cakes and wonton.  The next bowl is of egg noodles with fish balls and cake.  The fish cake and balls were perfectly tender, but neither mushy nor gummy.  It was the freshest fish cake/ball I have ever tasted!  The wonton – aaaamazing!  And even though I forgot my picture of the chili oil, it was one of the most, intense (like someone took a bottle and cap off some of hell’s fire into it) heat I had ever experienced!

The noodles were handmade, cooked al dente, and just slurp-able!  And oh!  The broth was perfect – clean and only enhanced everything else!

Of all the meals I had during my time away, this was the one that stood out the most.  I know from experience that the most unexpected meals can hit you and leave an indent in you so deep that you cannot ever forget it.  Trust me, this meal will never be forgotten and all other wonton/fish cake/ball noodles will be judged upon this.


Looking back at the food eaten

This past week was my first full week back home, so I finally had the chance to take a look back on all the food that I had partake in during my tour of China, and visit back to Hong Kong.  Although I am sure there was much more to try in China, unfortunately the food I ate was all geared towards “tourists.”  We were in a tour group, but it still makes me sad that there could be amazing food out there that I never got my hands on.  In my recap, I think I want to focus on the items that stood out above all the rest and mediocre.

When I browse through my album and relived all that I ate in the 16 days away, I must say that the one that caught me completely off guard was this:

This simple, hot, sticky, delicious, hot mess was something that I thought I should have thought of…SO WHY DIDN’T I?!?!  The snack before you is a sliced, fresh roll that has been toasted and slathered with butter, natural, chunky peanut butter, and drizzled with sweet condensed milk.  Yes my friends…this is totally NOT part of ANY diets out there, but it was part of my diet of orgasmic food experiences.

The bread was perfectly toasted on the sliced side, soft on the insides, and natural crust to the outside.  It was a perfect vehicle for all the extra goodness to be piled on top!

Now that I know this is a GREAT combo, I plan on making this my special Sunday brunch at home :).  I just need to find the right natural chunky PB to match it.  Any suggestions??  (or if you know a place in San Diego that serves this, let me know too!)

Tsui Wah Restaurant
All over Hong Kong, Kowloon, and New Territories;
Shanghai, China; Macau


Day 2 in Oahu

We woke up to clear, blue skies and pristine, crystal waters.  So what else would we do, but go swimming!

Trust me…I was very high strung when we arrived, but after going through this routine: dip into the crystal blue waters, lay on the warm sands, soaking in the sun, and repeat – one can see why you can easily get swept up in the lazy attitude.  Basically, the only reason we finally decided to do something was because our stomachs were growling.  So…it was off to find a late lunch!

Lines of in-house made relish and mustards ready for dispensing

Puka dogs!

PUKA DOGS!!! It is basically taking a Chinese bakery item, that is quite common, and give it a Hawaiian twist.  A loaf of slightly sweet bread, pierced by a “puka” or a hot, iron poker, which toasts the bread from inside out.  They offer both white and wheat bread and then you get the choice of a polish or veggie sausage.  Next comes the hardest part: the choices of many relishes and mustard.  I had gone on a store worker’s suggestion (when we asked for directions): mango relish and guava mustard, with Hot garlic lemon sauce, on my polish dog with wheat bread.  CP had gone with a polish dog in white, with Mild garlic lemon sauce, and dijon mustard.

Simple and delicious. With the bread toasted inside, it gave it a nice little crunch when you bit into it.  My puka dog was salty and sweet, not that spicy (as my spice level is pretty high).  It was a mouthful of the tropics and not exactly what I would normally go for, but it was something I had to try and did not regret doing so!  CP was equally happy with his choice.

After that snack, we returned to the waters and continued our day with the amazing weather.  Eventually, we needed another snack and I needed some shaved ice!! (After all, we were in Hawaii!)

Under not only 1 visitor’s suggestion, but also a local who I work with, I avoided the “tourist trap” and headed to where the locals do:

Waiola Store

This place was literally on the corner of a neighborhood.  It isn’t a place where you would “drive by”, nor give a second thought had you driven by.  However, under the guidance of fellow foodies, CP and I had ourselves some great shaved ice:

Our respective treats: my azuki with mochi shaved ice, topped with a little condense milk.  And CP’s lime and pink lemonade shaved ice.  I loved how finely shaved the ice was because you would just put a little in your mouth and before you can even close your mouth, the ice was melted.  Next best way to cool off after dipping into the water.

Basically, after this side snack, we took a drive around the island to see the rest of the island:

After we made it back to the hotel, we clean up and by that time, it was dinner time.  Where did we head to?  Yet, another suggestion by the same 2 foodies:

The best way to describe this place is a Chinese cafe style restaurant with big family portion dishes.  We ordered the signature Side Street Inn fried rice and the Miso-yaki chicken.  The fried rice was loaded with char siu, bacon, and Portuguese sausage…aka: it was pig with some rice.

The chicken was sweet, savory, and tender. It is what you would want for a good, grilled chicken.  The secret: marinating and cook with skin.  Mmmm….

It was another great day in paradise!

Puka Dog (2 locations)
Island of Oahu
Waikiki Town Center
2301 Kuhio Avenue # 2
Honolulu, HI 96815

Island of Kauai
Poipu Shopping Village
2650 Kiahuna Plantation Dr.
Koloa, HI 96756

Waiola Store
2135 Waiola St
Corner of Paani St
Honolulu, HI 96805

Side Street Inn (2 locations)
1225 Hopaka St.
Honolulu, HI

614 Kapahulu Ave.
Honolulu, HI


If you had a black hole of a stomach…

What would you want for the ultimate buffet/sampling of your favorite foods?  Here would be my list of delicious dishes and one-off items I would want:

  • Almond Croissant – Tartine Bakery (San Francisco, CA), Payard (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Tofu Stew – Tofu House (San Diego, CA)
  • Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken) and Began Bertha – Punjabi Tandoor (San Diego, CA)
  • Cannoli – Solunto Bakery (San Diego, CA)
  • Gelato (any flavor) – Papalecco (San Diego, CA)
  • Drunken Noodles and Spicy Fried Rice – Amarin Thai (Mira Mesa: San Diego, CA)
  • Green Curry – Antique Thai (San Diego, CA)
  • Cupcakes – Elizabethian Desserts (Encinitas, CA)
  • Falafel – Mama’s Lebanese Bakery (San Diego, CA) or Armenian Cafe (Carlsbad, CA)
  • Xi Long Bao – Shanghai House (San Francisco, CA)
  • Sushi (sashimi) – Sushi Ota (San Diego, CA)
  • Sushi rolls – Harney Sushi (San Diego, CA), Sushi Okoze (San Francisco, CA)
  • Red Beans n’ Rice – Bud’s Louisiana Cafe (San Diego, CA)
  • Ice cream – Mariposa Ice Cream (San Diego, CA), Bi-Rite Creamery (San Francisco, CA)
  • Sandwich (Hot) – Spicy Pickle, Sandwich Emporium, Earl of Sandwich (San Diego, CA), any shop in Paris
  • Tapas: Sautéed Meatballs al Jerez; Shrimp Croquetas; Brava Sautéed Potatoes; Fabada – Cafe Sevilla (San Diego, CA)
  • Thin Crust Pizza – Bongiornos New York Pizzeria, Cucina Urbana (San Diego, CA), Delfina Pizzeria (San Francisco, CA), John’s Pizzeria (NY, NY)
  • Spicy Eggplant with Ground Pork – Dumpling Inn (San Diego, CA)
  • Smoked Bologna – Earl’s Rib Place (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Smoked Turkey and Green Beans – County Line Barbecue (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Cheese Danish – Ingrid’s Kitchen (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • Smoked Ham – Gates BBQ (North Kansas City, MO)
  • Lamb Shank – MoZen Bistro (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Chocolate Budino – Cucina Urbana (San Diego, CA)
  • Pumpkin Custard – Luv-It Frozen Custard (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Harvest Pie – Coco’s Bakery (national chain)
  • Macaron – Lauree (Paris, France), La Maison Du Chocolat (NY,NY and international)
  • Chicken and Lamb over Rice – 53rd & 6th Halal Cart (NY, NY)
  • Tuscan White Bean soup (seasonal) – B&B Ristorante (Venetian: Las Vegas, NV)
  • Chocolate Duo – Opera Patisserie (San Diego, CA)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie – Norstrom Cafe, Potbelly(multiple locations)
  • Egg Tart – Golden Gate Bakery (San Francisco, CA)
  • Saffron Spaghetti with Lobster; Seared Scallops – 1500 Ocean(San Diego, CA)
  • Gobo Salad – Wa Dining Okan(San Diego, CA)
  • Grilled Chicken Wings; Salmon Rice Ball with Broth – Yakitori Yakyudori (San Diego, CA)
  • Peanut Butter Cookie – Extraordinary Desserts (San Diego, CA)
  • Olive Oil Gelato – L’Arte del Gelato (NY,NY)
  • Belgium Waffles – Any fresh or packaged even in Germany
  • Strozzapreti Bolognese – La Terrazza (Vancouver, BC)
  • Crab cakes and Crab Soup – Jerry’s Place (Prince Fredrick, MD)

Man…I realized that I really like eating when writing this.

So readers – want to share what YOU like to eat and from where? 🙂


Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the 3 holidays where majority of my family gather together to break bread.  Or in my family’s case, we break out the noodles!

We’ve always done a potluck style Thanksgiving and everybody brings something different.  There are no restrictions on what we have to bring.  However, a few cousins will almost always bring some of the traditional dishes to the table like: mashed potatoes, candied yams, and of course the turkey!  Granted, we do make sticky rice stuffing instead of the “traditional” stuffing.

I have traditionally contributed my share year after year with a dessert.  In the past, I’ve made brownies, cookies, and even a tiramisu.  I really wanted to make something besides dessert.

Now something to share about myself: I can’t cook.  I can cook to survive, which means that I would rarely want to subject others to food of my own creation.  I cook to eat and survive, but I bake to present and serve to others.  Baking comes so much easier to me because it’s a precise mathematical approach.  And helps that I absolutely love it.

However, I decided that if i had a recipe, I could make anything.  So I made not only a pasta dish, but also a “soup”.   Those 2 did not go over so well sadly.  *sigh…*

My cake on the other hand was a tremendous success.  I made a 4 tiered layered cake with alternating flavors of pumpkin and dark chocolate.  I whipped up some fresh chocolate whipped cream for the filling and used some of the extra ganache to keep the cakes moist.  Finishing off the tower with cream cheese frosting and cake crumbles.

This was my first time making a cake that was more than 2 layers.  I was extremely happy with the results given my first time and this was learning experience.  The cakes were moist and not too sweet, which was perfect because the ganache was the sweet touch.  My whipped cream filling kept it from being too heavy, but let’s be honest.  Look at that puppy…having anything after one’s finished eating everything else for dinner (see below spread picture),  it all becomes quite heavy!

Behold!! Our Thanksgiving dining table converted to a buffet line!  I’ll try to remember what we had exactly starting with the turkey and going counterwise:

Turkey (26 lbs) with sticky rice stuffing with taro; Deviled eggs; Green Beans sauteed in white wine, onion and dried shrimp; Shanghai noodles (center); BBQ short ribs; Spring Rolls; Singapore Noodles; Celery Tofu; Cauliflower Sausage Pasta (from me); Garlic Shrimp; Singapore Noodles; Vegetable Orzo Soup (from me too!); Tea eggs; Mac ‘n Cheese; Candied yam (you can only see the corner of it); Guacamole; and Mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy (not in the shot unfortunately).

And we didn’t even have the other desserts in this picture!  We had a pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and pumpkin cheesecake.  Yeah…when my family eats, we EAT.  By the end of the night, we had still so much food leftoever that everybody just started packing food to go home after some exchanges.

What am I thankful for?  I’m thankful for having great people in my life who help get me through the thick and thin.  And I am thankful for the bounty of food as always.

Hope everyone had a great holiday, cheers!