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

Travel

Day trip to Mexico

On a seemingly cloudy start to a Saturday, a group of nine ventured across the U.S. and Mexican border for a foodie adventure.  What I am about to share in words and pictures, cannot fully explain or describe the experience and food we had.  It is something to be enjoyed first-hand and then one can appreciate it fully.

The day started early in Tijuana at Marisco el Mazatenos.  Now this place has been highly recommended by coworkers for the past couple of years and I finally got to taste it myself.

DSC03386

IMG_4076

They start with providing chips and salsa, along with a seafood consommé.  This consommé is your preview to the amazing food that one is about to partake.  The broth is rich with flavors of shrimp, tomato, garlic and spices we could not pin point.  With a little shredded lettuce, a squeeze of lime, you had yourself a cup of delicious soup to warm your belly.

IMG_4077

IMG_4078

Our first indulgence was their ceviche.  It was refreshing, tart, sweet, and tangy and the appetizer to continue to excite the palate.

IMG_4079

The main attractions and the reason why we were all there for: the La Mazatena tacos!  Plump shrimp with garlic, tomato, peppers, and again probably with spices the restaurant will keep guarded.  Melted on the tortilla itself, was a layer of cheese to make it more tantalizing.

IMG_4080

All that was left was for us to dress them up with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, crema/white sauce, and a spicy green sauce (their “secret” sauce that even when asked by my coworkers on different occasions, no one knew since it was a made by the owner in secret).  With a squeeze of lime, we were taken into taco heaven.

IMG_4084

DSC03395

I’ve had my fair share of seafood tacos, but it was the complete package that took me to a food bliss that no other taco has ever taken me.  Maybe I am over exaggerating, but from coworkers who have visited this restaurant on multiple occasions will proclaim again and again that this is the best seafood taco you will ever have.

That day, we had not only the shrimp tacos, but also the marlin and the octopus.  The octopus was amazingly tender and melted in your mouth.  There was no need to chew repeatedly on the meat in attempt to swallow it because it fell apart in your mouth.  (Sorry, we only had a fuzzy picture of it sadly…we were all a little busy eating and given it was our first meal of the day, we were quite hungry.)

Breakfast was delicious, the service was friendly, and with our tummies full, we headed south.

IMG_4092

The beautiful and off-season Rosarito beach is so relaxing.  We came the weekend right after the colleges’ spring break, so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves along with locals and the few vacationers.  The day was just absolutely perfect to just lounge around, play ball or kicking the ball around.  The was way too cold to swim; I tried putting my feet in the water and my muscles immediately cramped up from the cold.

Well after spending a few hours on the beach, we were all getting pretty hungry so we headed off to Puerto Nuevo.  However, along the way we did make a pit stop to get a snack:

IMG_4103

IMG_4107

I forgot what this was called, but it translates to “coconut shrimp”.  As you can see, it’s not the fried coconut shrimp you would think.  This is literally a shelled out coconut, filled with cooked shrimp and cucumbers. Refreshing, sweet and tangy, a perfect little snack on our way to our meal.  (Actually, we also bought some tamales too along the way, but we ate those up so quickly that no one remember to take pictures sadly =(…they were quite delicious though!)

We arrived to the port town of Puerto Nuevo and for such a small town, there was no end in our choices for dining.  However, our intended destination was La Casa de la Langosta:

IMG_4158

IMG_4156

And if it was not obvious what we were here for by just the name of the restaurant…

IMG_4119

Delicious, delicious lobsters!  At La Casa, you have 3 lobster options that they’ll either steam or fry (aka “Pueto Nuevo” style).  There is the large, medium, and smaller lobsters and rule of thumb from what I found is the smaller the fish or crustacean, or anything from the sea in general, tends to be sweeter and tastier.  Everyone went for the smaller, local lobsters, and most went Pueto Nuevo style, only couple went for the steamed version.  The meal came with soup or salad, rice, beans, and tortillas.

IMG_4137 IMG_4138 IMG_4139 IMG_4143 IMG_4146

Look at that pile of awesome, juicy, deliciousness.  Geez louise!  I can taste it just looking at the pictures.  The meat was juicy, sweet and just a little spice for good measure.  Who can say nothing taste better with a little spice?  Butter wasn’t even needed since it was plenty succulent on its own.  Just pile on some rice, beans and unbelievably soft and warm tortillas, we were in eating heaven.

Needless to say after our meal, we all kind of felt like Don Pisto…

IMG_4153

So what’s a team of foodies supposed to do with the sun slowly setting and full bellies?  Well…we enjoy the sunset, the scenery, and a couple of brewskis leftover from the beach earlier that day.  Aaaah…life is good.

DSC_0655

BUT WAIT!!!  What was that?  We needed more food?  Tacos?  Street tacos?  Why yes, please bring us more!

At Tacos el Franc (yes, the name was not lost upon us when a coworker suggested it because it was just too funny…or maybe we were suffering from food-induced dementia), they serve a simple menu of meat on corn tortillas.  Street meat…BRING IT!

IMG_4180

Oh delicious cone of carnivorous delight, why do you tempt me so?  How is it that you can still tempt me to consume you when my own stomach is still filled with the delights of the sea?

IMG_4187 IMG_4188 IMG_4181 IMG_4182

I do believe at this point in the day, we were all just delusional and following our gluttonous instincts – especially one of us, whom probably won in the day’s eat-a-thon.  JA at the end of the day, polished another 5 tacos at el Franc and was still smiling at the end.

And although one would think that would be the end of the foodie trip to Mexico as would any normal, sane person would, but no, we were not sane nor normal to begin with.  We needed dessert before calling quits – off to find some ice cream!  Which we did and again, forgot to take a picture of our delicious and palate cleansing passion fruit ice cream.

That my friends, is how we have a good foodie adventure.  No diets.  No logic.  No room for weaklings or food-a-phobes.  All you need is a will of steel and determination and be willing to hand yourself over to pure pleasure of food.

Least to say, in order to truly appreciate what I’ve shared with you in this post, you have to experience yourself first hand.  There are no words to describe the experience without it sounding repetitive, so just soak it all in via the pictures and pretend you were there…until you finally make it there yourself! 🙂

Disclaimer: We had two guys with us who grew up in Tijuana and has made multiple trips back and throughout Mexico.  This made the trip a lot easier to navigate having someone who knew the landmarks and roads.  It’s helpful to have someone who knows the city/country, or if you were to travel there on your own, do a lot of research and mapping of your destination beforehand.  This is to keep you safe in a country that is more than willing and wanting tourists to visit, but to travel without preparation is not advisable.  But most importantly, remember to have fun and be willing to take on the unfamiliar because in the end, you’ll find yourself in a more familiar state of mind then when you first started.


Ssam Bar (Momofuku)

As far as I’m concerned, NYC is pretty much my home away from home when it comes to woes of my stomach.  This city always offers us so much and even after a hard hit to the locals here the past week and still in a tough spot for many.

Despite all the mounting reasons why it would be better for a postponement of a department training, we continued.  To make the best I could for my time in the city, I still tried to give my business to the proprietors of the city.  This evening, a group of 8 hungry, hungry hippos (yes, it’s a MEGA version of the game) made its way down to East Village for Ssam Bar.

The last time I was at this Momofuku establishment was back in March, but it left a specific memory for myself – we need more people to eat!  Last time, it was only my friend KF and myself.  We did our fair share of sampling David Chang’s signature dishes, plus staff favorites.  This time, we had more than enough mouths to sample even more!

shanghai noodle – chanterelles, hearts of palm, trout roe

This was a cold, small dish of noodles that was dressed in what seemed like some sort of sesame sauce.  The roe added the little salt and the hearts of palm seem to freshen up my bite.  It was good, but not stellar.

crispy pig ear ssäm – yuzu kosho, umezuki, thai basil

Wow….the pig ear was fried super crispy and seasoned so well that I thought I was eating chips!  If you weren’t told you were eating pig ears, you could easily pass this for fried jerky.  Yums!

honeycrisp apple kimchi – maple labne, jowl bacon, arugula

This pretty much explains itself: kimchi-ed apples with bacon and arugula.  This is served with a maple yogurt that cuts the pickled apples.  The reason I ordered this dish for the table was because I remember this dish being the big surprise from my first visit.  It was unexpected in how much I liked it!

steamed buns – pork belly, hoisin, cucumbers, scallions

bbq bun – crispy pork belly, coleslaw, smoked mayo

lobster sandwich – sour cream crisps, iceberg lettuce

Yes…we had a LOT of the bun appetizers (actually we ordered all of them).  Everyone was floored at how good the steamed and bbq buns were.  Seems like the consensus at the table was that the bbq buns were the favorite of them all.  I personally had a gripe this time about the steam buns – the bread itself was too dry and just made me sad!  The buns used for the bbq version were nice and soft and fluffy.  Why?!?!  As for the lobster roll…it’s nothing special at all.  I would suggest skipping this one and go else where if the craving is lobster roll.

roasted quail – pineapple, spaghetti squash, vadouvan

I didn’t get to try the quail itself, but my colleagues seem to really like it.  One even said, “I wasn’t expecting anything and it is better than I thought it would be.”  I did try the spaghetti squash that was coated with what tasted like curry and it was good.

 

spicy pork sausage & rice cakes – chinese broccoli, sichuan peppercorn

This was the dish that I would say, should be the signature entree of the restaurant.  It was just as good as the first time – spicy, tangy, savory, cripsy, chewy, meaty, crunchy.  There is no way I was going to split one order with 7 other people, so I insisted on ordering 2 of them!  Everyone was loving this dish as well and diving into them.

charred spanish octopus – pine nuts, celery, black olive

O.M.G…this dish was MY highlight of the evening.  During my first visit, KF and I saw people ordering the octopus and it looked soooo good.  That’s why this time, I was determined to get it!!  Gee willikers batman! That is a darn good plate of octopus!! I mean…it was cooked perfectly that this was one of two times I’ve ever had octopus in my life when it was NOT chewy (like rubber). One thing I did have an issue with this was that it was overly salted.  Other than that, give. me. MOAR!!!!

After two visits during different times of the year, I found Ssam Bar to be addicting and consistent (more or less….fix that dry bun issue!).  The staff is attentive but not overly bearing and even took the time to talk to one of our colleagues because she wanted to modify an overly strong drink.  Would I be back?  Heck. YES.

Ssam Bar | momofuku
207 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003


M.I.A

Sorry y’all! I’ve been swamped from travel jobs, to weddings, to diving into the real estate market to officially be a homeowner!

I know there are no excuses other than just pure laziness and some times negligence of the site is the real reason why I don’t have a post. Granted, where I am currently…there is absolutely NOTHING to write home about. I am currently deployed to Nowhere, USA for a job and just miserable.

To give you an idea of the type of place I’m in:
– There is nothing but corn and soybean fields around the town I’m in.
– More than half of the businesses in the town are closed and only an empty building sits.
– Options for food are mainly nationwide chains.
– The few “local” shops have provided to be severely disappointing (even with extremely low expectations), or just too sketchy to eat.

Yeah…it’s a dang, gosh terrible place they dropped me off. =( *sigh*  Here’s a picture of a very pink plate of Pad Thai in the only Thai restaurant in this area (the picture doesn’t do the color justice…the noodles were close to the color of a Sweet n’ Low packet):


Minca – New York, NY

After finally spending a FULL week back at home in San Diego, I realized it was time to do a post!  It has been a little crazy and I don’t know how this much time could have gone by already.  Anyways…I have to tell you all (those who actually read my little blog) about an amazing meal I had while in New York!

Presenting…Minca Ramen Factory’s Basic Pork Broth with thin cut noodles.  This piping bowl of goodness includes: “stewed pork” (charsu), bamboo, “wild mushroom”, boiled egg, and nori.

I don’t know how to describe how amazing this bowl was.  It was pretty darn awesome….and that was just me overcoming me sudden lack of vocabulary at my disposal.  There have been only a small handful of GOOD ramen I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying in my lifetime.  This has to be in my top 3!

The flavor of the broth was so rich and velvety, that I wanted to gurgle with the broth just so it could coat my the entire of my mouth for even longer. I could taste the salt and garlic seasoning the broth, accenting the pork-based broth.  The flavor of pork is not as in your face despite the cloudy appearance, yet I think I liked this balance.  Makes me wonder what their other broths taste like…

When I stepped into this little hole in the wall, that was behind a dumpster (due to construction), I was not even remotely hungry.  Yet, this bowl of magic could still carry every flavor note on the tongue.  That is a sign of a good meal – when you can crave and love it, even though you are practically stuffed to the gill already.  I would have ordered 2 bowls for myself that night actually, but I was with my coworkers and I just decided I had too much to eat that day.  Instead, I took my coworker’s unfinished bowl of ramen and proceeded to eat hers too.

However, I urge you all to go out there and try a bowl!  Especially if you do live in the area!  Otherwise, next time you find yourself out in that city, give it a slurp!

Minca Ramen Factory
536 E Fifth St
New York, NY 10009


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


What a slacker I am…(and NOLA – Pt. Deux!)

Now that I have time again in my life, I find that I am slacking off on things!  I have to exert extra effort to do things and that kind of enthusiasm quickly declines after one day.  Allie of Hyperbole and a Half did a wonderful illustration that pretty much depicts this…in comic form actually!

Over the weekend, I attempted to organize my memory card’s ridiculous crap-load of pictures and realized, “Sh*t!  How did I let it get this bad??  I haven’t even uploaded minuscule percentage of it for my friends!”  Because some of the pictures actually have people in them!  And it’s not just food!  They know that it takes me forever to upload pictures for them, but because they love me (I hope), they allow for me to continue on with my ways.  However, this weekend was to make up for it!  For almost a year’s worth of photos, I planned on organizing, backing up, and uploading them for all to see!

…………….yea that didn’t happen. *sigh*

AND to add salt to the wound – I am falling behind on my weekly posts!  *double sigh*

Well I did promise myself and you, that I would tell the rest of my New Orleans Adventure!  Here goes!

NOLA – Part Deux!

Cafe Beignet

So as you can see…my first official NOLA beignets were NOT from the famous Cafe Du Monde.  I was tired, and still reeling from the whole event of the previous night (see Part 1), so I was in NO mood to stand in line for a beignet.  Hence, this little cafe on Bourbon Street was our savior – Cafe Beignet.

Now, I had enough sense in me to know NOT to eat only sweets (and nothing else) as a meal.  That is why you see an order of jambalaya and a shrimp po-boy.  They were mostly to coat CP’s and my stomachs before the main attraction…

The FRESH beignets!  Oh man…even though our actual food was sitting there, I dug into one of these puppies immediately.  And honestly, it was good…yet at the end of the day – they are powdered doughnuts.  Don’t get me wrong!  I have nothing against it!  Or hate it!!! I loved every bite of it, that I came back with CP the following day for another round.  However, for me…it wasn’t something that made me go: this is genius!  It’s simple, done well, tastes good…there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Commander’s Palace

That evening was done in high style and tradition.  CP had made dinner plans for our last evening in NOLA.  He wanted to keep it as a surprise from me (which is a hard thing to do!) and I must say, he did extraordinarily!

Warm Garlic Bread to start

Gumbo du Jour (Tasso and shrimp)

Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish

Seared Sea Scallops (my fave)

Simple scoop of vanilla ice cream for CP

Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé (and that whiskey sauce was NOT kidding around!)

Just all around amazing restaurant.  Sitting in the main dining room on the first floor, you can feel the history.  That place has seen it’s fair share of faces, lived through disasters, survived through wars, and still manages to show up every night with its bells and whistles on.  I loved Commander’s Palace and I would come back again.  Although it isn’t cheap, it’s worth every penny for the experience and great food.

So going from the blazer type restaurant, to the down to the basics simple but still delicious, the following day…

Gumbo Shop

This was our last official meal of New Orleans and we wanted something simple, but still good.  The Gumbo Shop delivered us just that:

(left to right) Crawfish Étouffée, Jambalaya, & Shrimp Creole

(left to right) Red Beans & Rice, Jambalaya, & Shrimp Creole

Simple, delicious, and warmed our stomachs to a state of blissful contentment.  What more do you need?

So that wraps it up for CP’s and my first trip to the Big Easy.  There were extreme highs and extreme lows in this trip, and not for the reasons most people associate this town with.  Our time there was short lived, but the memories of the sounds, smells, and sights are forever with us.  New Orleans…you are one H*LL of a city!  As they say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Cafe Beignet
311 Bourbon Street
334-B Royal Street

Commander’s Palace

1403 Washington Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130

Gumbo Shop
630 Saint Peter St,  New Orleans, LA 70116″


Trip to New Orleans

I think there has been enough time since we came back from New Orleans that I can look at my pictures again.  A little more than a week ago, CP and I headed off to New Orleans for the Bowl game.  We had our hopes high and we were excited for not only our first visit to this infamous city, but for the game.  Let’s just say…it still hurts to think about the game itself.

Instead, I’ll focus on telling you about the food we had.  Shall we start?

Cajun Cabin

Our first stop was off of Bourbon Street.  CP and I had been traveling practically all day and we hadn’t gotten lunch thus, we were famished.  This dinner was a little later than we would have liked because we wanted to go to the “pep rally” for the Bowl game!  Hence, we practically walked into the first decent looking place off the street.

CP and I both wanted Jambalaya and Red Beans n’ Rice.  Hence, I suggested we both order each and split our dishes, welcoming us to this great city.  Though the restaurant isn’t the well-known type and those that get hyped up, but it was delicious.  Both dishes were flavorful and made you wanted to lick the plates clean.  Also, the Red Beans n’ Rice at the Cajun Cabin was my favorite from the entire trip.

Nola

The next morning, we had a late start and went to one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants – Nola, for lunch!

The space was modern industrial and gorgeous, with an open kitchen and woodfire oven where they made their pizza appetizer. However, we weren’t here for the pizzas…

To start – warm herbed roll and bell pepper cornbread, served with room temperature butter.  This was a great start!

CP and I both had the gumbo of the day as our appetizers.  It was pretty chilly outside and this warmed us right up.  The gumbo that day was andouille and smoked pork.  I could use some right now!

Our entrees: Grilled Atlantic Salmon with black bean-sweet corn succotash, chimichurri butter sauce and tomatillo salsa (top), was CP’s choice.  My entree was the Shrimp & Grits – grilled green onions, smoked cheddar grits, apple smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms and red chili-abita butter sauce.

The salmon was cooked wonderfully to the point where even I liked it!  Cooked salmon is not my choice of fish most of the time (unless it is sashimi grade) since it tends to be a little “fish” for me.  However, Nola’s was just perfect and we both loved it.  The shrimps in my dish were huge and perfectly sauteed, keeping its juicy and tenderness.

You see that?  You see it?!  ‘Cuz I did!!!  Pumpkin Bread Pudding!!!!

Mmmm…this bread pudding, though small, was packed with the flavors of the season!  It was moist, spiced, warm, and melts in your mouth.  The gingerbread-molasses ice cream that was paired with it, complemented it so well.  Oh man…so good!

After our lunch, we walked along the river walk, did some shopping, and made our way to Mardi Gras World!  We took the tour of their warehouse, looking at all the floats that had been used and will be used for Mardi Gras parades!

As part of the tour, they also serve you some King Cake!

Unfortunately, neither CP nor I got the baby so we were not royalty after all :(.  Oh well, still had a delicious piece of cinnamon swirl pastry.

After the tour, CP and I just walked more around town sightseeing, before going back to the hotel to rest up for the game!  Now…just looking through a few pictures, I feel immense sadness still, but I must continue!

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is truly an amazing venue.  The place was enormous and just trying to imagine the conditions of the place during Katrina…it was hard.  Anyway because I had to give the food vendors a little nod because they didn’t just serve the standard stadium fare:

Food choices included Jambalaya with hush puppies (which were dry as rocks…sadly) and alligator sausage with some remoulade sauce.  The best of the two?…Alligator Sausage by a LONG shot!  However, to make it better – ditch the cold bun and mix with the rice…perfection.

After the game…CP needed some more food…as part of our “drown out the sorrows and frustration”.  Therefore, we found ourselves in a quite little bar at the end of the hub of downtown – Coop’s Place.

Simple order of Red Beans n’ Rice with smoked sausage, plus a side order of fries.  Worst plate of food from our trip.  The beans were cold and tasteless.  However, we were both so tired and dejected that I didn’t even bother voicing the fact it was cold.  Saving grace – sausage was good and the fries were good too.

That is part one of New Orleans, part deux will be later this week! :).

Cajun Cabin
503 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70195

NOLA Restaurant
534 St Louis St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Coop’s Place
1109 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Mardi Gras World