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Bali Thai Cafe (via Eat24)

Lately I’ve been ordering takeout via online websites.  At first this was purely because I wanted to try it out, but then when the site starts sending me electronic coupons too, that would usually do it for me.  It was because of Eat24 that I finally tried a restaurant that has been on my go-to list forever, but never made it because it was just out of the way.  Considering it’s one of two places that I know of in San Diego that serves some Malaysian dishes, I don’t know why it took me so long to try Bali Thai.  With that said, after the first successful order via Eat24, Bali Thai Cafe has been my go-to-to-go spot for specifically, their Malaysian dishes!

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The spread for…well myself!!  CP was going out with his family that evening and I was by myself for dinner, so instead of cooking (which I have been doing a lot of), I ordered my favorite dishes:

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This is an order of the Mie Goreng, an Indonesian/Malay dish of thin egg noodles stir fried with fried tofu, onion, carrots, cabbage, bean sprouts in a sweet soy sauce.  The dish is popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, so it’s not a surprise that it tastes something like a cross between Chinese chow mein and Japanese yakisoba.  Yet the taste is its own and not like either of the two.  Maybe that’s why I can’t get enough of it?

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The Nasi Goreng Bali Thai combo: quarter of the Ayum Bumbu Bali, two satay skewers (I guess this puts the “Thai” into the combo?), nasi goreng, and a fried egg.

The Ayum Bumbu Bali is a grilled, Balinese chili marinated chicken.  It’s sweet and spicy and they serve it with another heaping of chili on top.  From searching for how one would make this dish, it seems the chili seasoning is a mixture of ginger, red pepper, nutmeg, cloves, garlic, and shrimp paste.  The flavors are just explosive in comparison to the chicken skewers and that much more tender and juicy.  I would have gladly given up those skewers for some more of that chili paste and slather it all over myself (or toast).

The combo also comes with the Nasi Goreng, which is basically the fried rice version of the Mie Goreng.  Fried rice with onions in a sweet soy sauce and topped with a fried egg.  Actually, the last time I just ordered Nasi Goreng, they had scrambled the egg into the fried rice, versus topping it off with a friend egg like this.  Honestly, I prefer it to be this way and even though I understand why they wouldn’t serve the egg runny, I sorely wished they did.  Note to myself: ask them to make it a sunny side up egg for my Nasi Goreng next time.

All the dishes at Bali Thai Cafe are extremely affordable and tasty.  Considering I’ve never been to Malaysia or Indonesia yet, I’ve had my taste of the cuisine here in San Diego (the other venue I will post later on), New York, and in Florida (yes…that was an odd one but still good).  It just reinforces my love for cuisines that will use a heavy hand on spices to cook up wonderful dishes.

And remember kids: just say ‘NO’ to bland food!

Bali Thai Cafe
407 Camino Del Rio S
San Diego, CA 92108


Best of Park Ridge, NJ

While traveling for work the last two weeks in Park Ridge, New Jersey, wasn’t exactly the most thrilling and exciting trip ever, it wasn’t the worst.  There were some real gems in the surrounding area (especially Ridgewood) and here were my best of Northern New Jersey!

Best List / Must Eats

Fire & Oak – come Monday night and you can get $1 oysters and I’m talking about BIG, good oysters.  However, skip the sushi and the seafood entrees.  The sushi was terrible and the entrees were so bland that my coworker were passing the salt between us throughout the meal.  So after you down as many oysters as you can, order yourself a slab of their chocolate peanut butter pie.  It comes ala mode (but you can’t see it due to the mountain of whipped cream) and it is ridiculous how rich this dessert was.  I had to pull myself away because it was just that good, yet I knew I shouldn’t polish it off on my own.

Sushi Village – Do NOT be alarmed by the fact this restaurant is in a strip mall, nor it’s exterior outlooks.  Once inside, you’ll be completely transported to a modern, fresh feeling restaurant.  The reason this place made it on my list is not because it was the best sushi I’ve ever had.  The sushi was good (far, far better than Fire & Oak’s), but there were two things that got me:

  1. All you can eat sushi dinner for $19.99!  It is a freaking deal no matter how you swing it.
  2. The “Spicy Seaweed Salad” – this concoction is pure genius! Take the usual seaweed salad, but add spicy krab and mix it in with some tempura crunchies…it becomes a mouth of happiness.  So simple, yet so addicting and delicious.

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria – straight up good, wood burning oven, pizza in the area.  I personally enjoyed our pie and I know how strongly people feel about pizza in that state and it’s neighboring one too.  However, I found it to be delicious and I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing. (Note: it’s cash only business)

Bricklane Curry House – my gawd…this place was the place that gave me one of those food-awe-haze moments.  The Butter Masala was incredible to the point where I would say it comes close to my fave at Punjabi Tandoor’s Makhani.  And their paneer pakora (which my friend has coined as “pan-pak”) was amazing too.  I don’t know if I like Village Indian’s pan-pak or Bricklane’s more!  AHHHHHH THE DILEMMA!  (Oh! Don’t forget to order yourself a mango lassi – thick, creamy, and packed with mango goodness!)

Organic Tofu House – when I think of middle of nowhere cities in the woods…I don’t automatically think amazing Korean tofu stew.  Who would??  However, this Korean tofu house was a real diamond in the rough.  It’s in a strip mall and on the other side of the main street through Ridgewood.  Complete unassuming and yet, for those who venture in, they are met with a quaint little restaurant that whips out a pot of bubbling, scathing hot, organic tofu stew!  Man oh man…my coworker and I dove into our bubbly pots with little care for our tongues because we wanted the stew!!

Fire & Oak
2 locations in New Jersey

Sushi Village
700-90 Broadway
Westwood, NJ 07642

Brooklyn’s Pizzeria
15 Oak St
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Bricklane Curry House
Multiple Locations – NJ and NY

Organic Tofu House
88 Godwin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450


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? 🙂


The best of my San Francisco trip

I didn’t want to do this. I know it would just EAT up time that I should be using to do other things. But I can’t shake this gnawing feeling away…that SF deserves a post on its own. Darn it!

Well, what can I say? I love San Francisco for many reasons: efficient public transportation, friendly people, beautiful city when it’s not raining like crazy, and ummm……….oh who am I kidding?! I love the city because of the food! San Francisco holds some of the best tasting food I’ve had the pleasure of trying. From an authentic bowl of preserve egg jok, to the freshest seafood, to the ultimate egg custard tart, to the abundance of talented bakers! This year’s trip to the bay city had some hits and misses. I went with my two best friends (‘M’ and ‘L’) the day right after my last final. So here were the food highlights of my trip:

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My first sundae at Ghiradelli – the Cookie Sundae with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and topped with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. The best part of this? The chocolate chip cookie underneath the ice cream because it was warm and it contrasted with the cold ice cream so wonderfully. There was too much chocolate at the bottom and I would’ve been happy with less. We chose this through the consent between ‘M’ and myself, but had I chosen my own, I would have gotten the Dark chocolate raspberry sundae because I think the dark chocolate would have been much better than your typical (but Ghiradelli) chocolate sauce.

The Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown is THE place to go to for your Chinese baked treats. If you’ve heard of it, then you know what I say is true: no one does an egg custard tart better than them. People line up, pack into the tiny space, and phone in way ahead of time for their custard tarts. The shell is perfectly flaky and has a flavor on its own. The filling is wonderfully balanced – not too sweet, not too “eggy,” and has the perfect texture – just firm enough so it’s not runny, but soft enough so you know you’re eating a custard. However, I am sad to say that this year, I was not able to get my hands on even ONE! When I went in, the women behind the counter told me that it would be approximately half an hour to 45 minutes because they were baking them and there were orders already for them. And I saw at least 5 of those pink boxes, folded and ready to be filled with these delectable treats. I sighed and accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get to have my favorite treat, so I bought 2 of the coconut tarts that I had seen in the window as I walked in.

521111688_aefc31b326.jpg I’m sorry the picture isn’t good, but I took this picture that night at the inn and it was just horrible lighting that my little camera could do nothing to improve. As you can see, there’s only 1 tart in the bag. I ate one after my dinner that day and I was surprised by this tart. I wasn’t expecting much, but was fully taken back at the quality of it. The coconut was not super sticky nor overly sweetened. You could taste the coconut flavor and it washed over me and sweeping me into bliss. The shell was like a flaky cookie? I’m not sure how I would describe the shell, but I know this is how I want my tart shells to be like. Excellent!

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Dim sum in Chinatown was not that good, there are a few points that are worth mentioning. First, the hom sui gok (top left) was fresh out of the fryer so it was absolutely, positively DELICIOUS. Had it been sitting out for a bit…then I’m not sure. The woo gok (bottom right) had a curry filling inside and this was the first time I had ever seen that. It’s usually just a savory meat filling inside with the taro around it, but this place made their filling with curry. And the bean curd skin wrap (bottom left) was the 2nd favorite of mine because of their use of curry flavoring for the sauce they braised it in. Maybe this restaurant really likes using curry as their flavoring for everything. But once again…the curry sauce wasn’t traditional, yet it was mighty tasty.

We ventured into Japantown the same day (our theme was around the world?). And for dinner, I had a sushi roll.

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Inside: shrimp tempura and cucumber. Outside: salmon, tuna, fresh crab, and tobiko. My favorite part of this roll would have to be the fresh crab meat on the top. The roll as a whole I thought was mediocre and thus, I was severely disappointed. The last time I had a sushi roll in J-town, I had the pleasure of enoying the freshest fish and the tastiest blending of flavors in a roll. We should have gone back to that restaurant.

 

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Another disappointing meal…I don’t know why I was having such bad luck with my meals this time around in SF. This was from DELICA rf1 in the Ferry Building Marketplace. A Japanese deli that gets points for their nice design of the storefront, but the food?….They failed. Going clockwise from the greens with little beans in it: Hajiki salad, spinach salad, fried shrimp cake, chicken meatball, and chicken-tofu patty. The best tasting items? The hajiki salad – nice crunch and flavor – and the shrimp cake probably because it was fried.

Now onto the BEST meal of my entire weekend in SF. So good that even now I still crave for these items and sadly, I’ve yet to fulfill that urge. If there was only one place I INSISTED on going to in San Francisco, it was Tartine. On our last day in the bay area, we ventured out to SoMa’s neighborhood and I am glad we went (so were ‘M’ and ‘L’).

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The. Best. Breakfast. The fragipane (almond) crossiant was….there are no words to describe how good this was. The crossiant was flaky, buttery, and baked thoroughly with a slight singe. In my opinion, the singe actually enhanced the flavor and nuttiness of the almonds! The whole thing was baked, cutted in half, then a good slathering of fragipane (almond paste) on both halves, and finally sprinkle sliced almonds inside before putting this masterpiece back together again. Finished off with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Add a cup of fresh, good coffee….*muah* Magnifico!

Most places aren’t as generous with the fragipane as Tartine, which is sad. But I’ve gotten some good recommendations for the Westgate Deli in Downtown San Diego so I will be going later this week. Hopefully, I will find an almond crossiant that is close if not up to par with Tartine’s.

Along with my crossiant, I got the Buttermilk Current Scone

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It had just come out of the kitchen and I could not resist! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my scone that I took to-go, but here is the whole tray of them on display! Man, Tartine has set the standard really high for scones and crossiants that San Diego will have a hard time matching. The scone was a little hard on the outside, but soft and somewhat dense on the inside. They sprinkled coarse sugar on top that added a nice crunch to the scone every time you took a bite. Also, the currants are dispersed pretty evenly throughout the scone and added a little sweet sharpness.

And finally, my last item that I purchased was the fragipane tart topped with blueberries (I think).

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I was not expecting a flaky, pastry crust when I got this tart. I was actually expecting and wanting a sugar dough tart. So when I ate this the next day, it reminded me of my amazing crossiant the morning before. However, it wasn’t the same. This tart was still good, but I would probably get the crossiant instead of this if I want my fragipane fix. I do want to try the coconut cream pie instead! Next time Tartine…next time.

Tartine is amazing. I envy San Francisco because they have a bakery like this at their fingertips. Heck, I envy San Francisco for all their food offerings. That is why I now insist on trying everything in San Diego because I know it has its gems too. It is my desire for good food that I will seek out San Diego’s must eats!


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