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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.

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Cafe Hue – Quaint Dessert Stop

Thank goodness Cafe Hue came and took over that other froyo place.

Cafe Hue is next to the Nijiya market and is a nice little dessert cafe.  It serves coffee, tea, milk teas, and snacks.  What you really come here for is their snacks: waffles and crepes!

Although you will see froyo machines as you enter, I urge you to step past them and head to the counter.  From there, you will see displays and pictures of the possibilities: freshly made waffles and crepes!

I was initially worried that they were buying pre-made waffles and crepes.  However, my worries soon disappeared when I saw the batter for the crepe and the tray of dough to make the waffles.

My friend, her little brother, and I ordered the following (respectively):
– Red bean crepe with green tea gelato
– Nutella and banana crepe
– Dark chocolate dipped waffle w/ vanilla bean gelato

I tried my friend’s red bean crepe and it was good.  However, I think I am still partial to my favorite crepe combo (nutella, banana, and coco).

Red bean crepe with green tea ice cream

What really rocked my world was my chocolate dipped waffle.  The waffle was nice and soft, not quite like the Belgium waffles that I’ve had, but still delicious.  Since it was freshly dipped, the chocolate was still soft and melted in my mouth.  Once the chocolate harden, it added a nice crunch to the bite.  And the gelato was a very nice complement to it ($1.50 extra).

Dark chocolate dipped waffle w/ vanilla bean ice cream

All of our desserts came out to be about $5-7 each.  I would definitely add this to my quick, cheap dessert stop.

Cafe Hue

3860 Convoy St, Ste 106
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 571-7947



Eating around…Part II-A: Noshing around downtown San Diego

Like most office workers, lunchtime is that miraculous hour where we can have a taste of freedom, away from our work. And I tend to want that freedom to taste good, so I make my way all around the areas that are reasonably close to my work for lunch. This post will be a HUMONGOUS one, but trust me…they are all worth it (and I’ll try to keep my rants down to a minimum). Also one more note: the restaurants will not be in chronological order to which I visited it.

Let us start off with a chain *ducks under her desk to avoid any flying objects thrown her way*

Come on, which one of you out there can honestly say that you’ve NEVER eaten in a chain restaurant??? Even the biggest foodies out there have gone to one or another at some point. Seriously, not ALL chains suck. Some do, some more so than others, some a little less, and some are even decent. So let us calm the rage within us and let me talk about the Yardhouse.

For a chain that seems to be more for the beer than the food, their menu is not that bad. Heck, I will risk in saying that it’s pretty darn good! The first time I went there was for lunch with a couple of co-workers who really wanted their Lettuce Wraps, which they offered to let me try without me even asking, yay! I only tried the chicken filling and it was not that bad, not out of this world, but not bad at all. For myself, I decided to go all out and try their crabcakes and house salad dressed in spicy peanut vinaigrette. Both were wonderful enough for me to go a second time after Comic-Con with my little sister and ‘L.’

Although I was seriously tempted to get the crabcakes again, I forced myself to try something else, but I did get the Blackberry green tea that one of my co-workers got and I had tried as well, and fell in love with.

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As to my dinner, what was I going to get?! I wanted onion rings and no one else really wanted to share an appetizer of it with me, so I got the Portabella Burger with onion rings instead of fries:

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Portabella, eggplant, peppers, basil, feta, and sun-dried tomato mayo all on an onion poppyseed bun. The thing I loved the most with this burger was the layers of colors! I mean just look at it! Even if Yardhouse is a chain, they make the best looking portabella burger I’ve ever laid eyes on. And the onion rings (in the back, top right corner) were just as good. Perfect ratio of beer batter to onion and fried to crispy goodness.

With some help and persuasion on my part, my little sister finally decided on the (Mac & Cheese)^2 with roasted chicken, applewood smoked bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar and parmesan cheese with castellane pasta and white truffle oil:

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Now this is what I a call a mac & cheese! None of that stuff that comes in a certain blue box, nope…this is real cheese with cream and/or milk, pasta cooked to al dente, tender and not dried out chicken, and smoky bacon. The best bite of mac & cheese is the crust that forms on the top!

And ‘L’ got the Classic Cheese Burger:

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That came with fries that were to DIE for! The Yardhouse fries are super-thin shoestring fries that are, possibly, twice fried like pommes frites. I wanted to take more fries from her plate and kept asking if she wanted more onion rings just so I didn’t feel so bad for taking her fries. I wonder if they would let you have half fries and half onion rings with your burger…I will have to try it next time!

Now OFF to the next chain!! >> Rocking Baja Lobster (yes, another chain).

After watching the Padres play against the Giants (and winning, w00t!!) during the afternoon game, my boyfriend and I were famished. We had brunch earlier that day (more on that with another post) and were stuffed during the game. The plan was to get some overpriced food during the game, but since we were quite content still from brunch, we didn’t need to pull out a mortgage just to feed ourselves. However, since we didn’t eat during the game, we were both starved when we got out and set off immediately to find ourselves some grub!

As we had walked around the Gaslamp we looked over our options. My boyfriend and I only walked a few blocks up the Gaslamp before we stopped because we realized something. The more we walked, the more options were available to us, thus making it even harder to decide on what and where to eat! And we were slowly starting to feel the effects of low blood sugar from the lack of nourishment, so we stopped at a corner to talk about the options we had seen. Most were WAY overpriced and we just didn’t feel justified to go indulge ourselves that way.

Of all the places we passed by, Rocking Baja Lobster was one of the first and we both had wanted to try the place for sometime (not the Gaslamp one though, but the Old Town one). My boyfriend voiced out his suggestion of trying it and I immediately started pulling him back down the street towards it. Once again, I am completely happy with our decision. We both ordered the Tres Tacos del Patron (San Felipe Style):

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Three crisp batter dipped shrimp and/or slipper lobster tail tacos in warm flour tortillas with tomato, cilantro, cabbage, avocado and creamy cilantro-lime sauce. All of their meals it come with unlimited “create your own” Caesar Salad bar. The cool, refreshing salad was immensely welcomed after baking under the sun for the last 3 hours. And when our tacos came, I was excited because it looked positively scrumptious.

Taking that first bite of the lobster taco was absolute heaven. The crunchy, tender lobster meat was sweet and the cool cilantro-lime sauce mellowed out the deep-fried aspect of the taco, making it irresistible. Even though our waitress said that the shrimp was better of the two, I think both were equally good, but since you don’t usually get lobster tacos. I would highly recommend you getting 2 lobster and 1 shrimp tacos when ordering this!

Now that I’ve gotten the chains out of the way, I can get to the smaller but just as, if not, better establishments in downtown. I will give a small eating tour of San Diego’s Little Italy, going from the “ok” to the “spectaculars”!

Petrini’s is pretty much on the south edge of Little Italy and the only reason I went there was: 1.) They had relatively cheap lunch specials in terms of Little Italy, and 2.) I’ve passed by the place so many times as I enter Little Italy and had a yummy sample of their pizza once. So with that, I went there for lunch and had the eggplant parmesan that came with only 2 little slices of garlic bread:

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Talk about being skimpy. And truthfully, the eggplant didn’t blow me away. However, the meat sauce that covered the mediocre eggplant parmesan was very good. It had a sweetness that comes naturally from the tomato that I loved. It had the right spices so I didn’t miss or even need the red pepper flakes. I used the garlic bread to mop up all the sauce after I was done with the eggplant, which I thought tasted even better.

Would I eat here again? I’m not sure but I definitely won’t be ordering the same thing. I much rather have the Torta di Melanzane (Layered eggplant, mozzarella, pecorino, and Parmesan cheeses, topped with marinara sauce) from Cafe Zucchero even if it is twice as expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion.

I realized just how big this post would be if I did it all in one shot, so I will divide the downtown post into 2 parts for your sake. I’m sure your eyes would be too tired out if I did that. So now it will be divided into: savory and sweets. You’ve just finished the savory portion of the meal, stay tune for the soon to come sweets!……

>>Part II-B:  Noshing around downtown San Diego (cont.)

Yardhouse
1023 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 233-9273
 
Rocking Baja Lobster
310 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-6333
 
Petrini’s
610 W Ash St.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 595-0322

Thai Cafe buffet

My family and I decided to try the only Thai Buffet that I have ever seen anywhere. Thai Cafe in Clairemont has been there for many years, yet I’ve never set foot in it much less try it. So finally today, with a coupon for 75 cent Thai tea/coffee, we gave this place a try.

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522645200_ab173f86a9.jpgWe tried both their Thai tea and coffee. The Thai tea was pretty good, not too sweet nor too watered down. The Thai coffee was decent, but it lacked some of flavors of a true Thai coffee. The best one that I’ve had is still a Thai restaurant in Rowland Heights.

Now as far as the food goes, one must remember that this was a buffet. And we all know how buffet food tends to lose what potential it might have had if it had been fresh due to it sitting on the steam table for some time. That was why I insisted that if we were to try this place out, we go during the weekday lunch rush. This way, the turnover rate is quite high. I was able to sample several items as it came straight out of the kitchen. Here were my plates…

522653061_27e45c5fe0.jpg My 1st plate had: (I don’t remember the actual names) spicy beans, tofu with a peanut sauce, fried spicy squid, and spicy noodle. The tofu and spicy noodle was hands down, the best tasting items, followed closely by the squid. The noodles had just the right amount of spice and the noodles weren’t sticky and cooked al dente. The tofu was good due to the sauce. I love peanut ANYTHING. Had it been fresh, it probably would’ve been even better. And during the course of the meal, I saw a new tray of spicy noodles being brought out, which I quickly went to retrieve some!

522645540_4170d8cd82.jpgHere was my 2nd plate: red curry, krab salad, some mushrooms, and more of the tofu. The red curry was very tasty. I didn’t get any of the chicken because I find that thai restaurants tend to over cook chicken til they are bone dry, but I did get the eggplant, which was delicious.

522653383_6814105e1f.jpgHere’s a plate of fresh pad thai that everyone shared. Even tho it was fresh, it lacked any flavor and just not worth eating, but my dad finished it off. According to him, it was one of the best…I guess we really do have different tastebuds.

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They had fresh spring rolls (as well as fried). On the buffet line, they were out so we asked one of the waiters if there was going to be anymore, the waiter went and asked the cook in the kitchen. Who then came out and told us that he’ll make us some right now and asked us how many we wanted! Wow, now that’s customer service! Well, as promised, the cook made the rolls and BROUGHT it to our table! It was so nice of them to do that. And the spring roll?…It was really good! The rice wrap was so fresh, and inside contained: cucumber, rice noodle, minced chicken, carrots, and cilantro. Yummy!

So my overall impression of Thai Cafe?….I would definitely come back, but only during their rush hours. When fresh, the food is fairly good. And at $6.99 for lunch, plus 75 cent drinks (w/ coupon from SDreader) it’s a steal! Give it a try!

Thai Cafe
4722 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, Ca 858-270-8303