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

Posts tagged “Review

Supernatural Sandwiches – The Lair

A few weeks ago, I grabbed a couple of coworkers to go with me to Supernatural Sandwiches new brick and mortar location on Miramar Road.  I was excited to go visit their store front since discovering that they were opening and pretty close to the office.

The restaurant is located pretty far in on the very, very long road and at least for now, there was no sign to indicate where it was.  With the directions in hand, we found a strip mall that had a “Grand Opening” banner over one door.  I just assumed that this was the place and as we drove closer, we could see their sign on the window – Bingo!

Talking with the cashier, all of the sandwiches on their menu can be made into salads too, but I want a sandwich!

20140502_143325

My choice for the first visit was their iconic sandwich – The Siren.  Six plump garlicky shrimps drizzled with aioli, on a little bed of cherry tomatoes, mixed greens, and shredded white cheddar, squeezed into a buttery toasted bun.  Man…this sandwich was good!  I know that as you read through what’s in the sandwich, you may think it would be heavy but it isn’t at all!  It’s light, buttery, a little spice kick to it and makes you lick your fingers after you’ve consumed it.  All sandwiches come with the shrimp chips you see here and those are my childhood addiction.

20140502_143334

In addition to my sandwich, I also got a side of the garlic shrimp fried rice.  It’s not listed on their website, but it’s on their “Sides” menu at the restaurant.  This packed a nice garlic kick and the rice wasn’t too sticky at all.  Although, if it was up to me, I wish there was some chili sauce to go with it to make it spicy.

20140502_143419

My friend opted for their surf n’ turf sandwich – the Chimera.  This sandwich has Korean steak BBQ and those plump shrimps!  Along with a sesame chili aioli and kimchi relish on a buttery toasted brioche bun.  My friend was loving the sandwich and had the same feeling as I did with mine – although it sounds filling, he said he didn’t feel overly stuffed after the decadent sandwich.

And the other coworker friend of mine that day got the Garuda in a salad form.  Unfortunately, I was so busy eating that I forgot to take a picture of her’s.  It was a generous salad portion topped with the Garuda’s Korean BBQ chicken.  She said the chicken was super moist and packed with flavor.

On my second visit with even more coworkers, majority got the Siren and Chimera since we were raving about them after we got back to work the first time.  So I decided to try another sandwich because honestly, I want to try at least 3/4 of the menu!

20140509_121608

 

On the table this time is the Kappa!  (By the way…I love the names of their sandwiches.)  This is basically a grilled cheese with spicy crab!  Now this time, maybe because it is melted cheese that it did feel a little heavier but still by no means, too stuffy.

I love this place and I just wish it was closer to one of the freeways on Miramar.  Even the workers there admit that although the location isn’t ideal, they want to spread the word out to let people know that they are there.  I really hope the word does get out and then maybe they can get a better (second?) location!

Supernatural Sandwiches
7094 Miramar Rd #105
San Diego, CA 92121

http://www.supernaturalsandwiches.com/

Advertisements

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!

DSC_0696

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:

DSC_0702

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?

DSC_0701 DSC_0698

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


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


My Ramen Obsession

As far as I can remember, I have loved all kinds of noodles.  It was a staple in my childhood diet especially when the only food I ate fell in the carbohydrates category, chicken, turkey, pork, and fruit.  To say the least my diet was very imbalanced would be an understatement.  Despite the fact that I have since expanded my eating horizon quite significantly, the foundation of my food love has never really changed all that much.

I love food that is flavorful – duh…I mean who likes bland food???  For instance: I have always loved tofu, but trying to eat it in its natural form without any sauces or spices, I cannot stomach it.  And despite the fact that I had try the little to no carb diet back in college, that didn’t last very long for me as the thought of bread, noodles, rice, pasta haunted me day and night.  Giving up my foundation was literally driving me insane!

Fast forward to today: I am eating carbs again and I love it!  However, I am more discerning about my choices in the various carbohydrate options.  One of the things that I never really thought much about was ramen.  Growing up in North Carolina, ramen meant Top Ramen or Instant Cup Noodles.  Even when I finally moved back to San Diego with my family, ramen had only expanded as far as the options that were given prepackaged with the fried and dried noodles.

Then my first experience with having ramen that was NOT from a package was at Tajima about 5-6 years ago?  Back then, that was the benchmark of delicious ramen for me.  That is until I tried my bowl of ramen while vacationing in Honolulu back in the Spring of 2011, then the mind blowing bowl from Hide-chan in New York during the Fall of the same year.  What I have known as “ramen” was forever changed since then.

So the most recent adventures into the ramen world while in San Diego included three of the “newer” additions to our wonderful city: Hinotez, Ramen Yamadaya, and Rakiraki.

Shall we begin going down the rabbit hole?

Hinotez

This restaurant came in after the old Honey Bee Café left their spot several years ago.  Sandwiched between auto shops, across from the rows of dealerships, and it’s next door neighbor (same building) is a bar, it isn’t exactly broadcasting itself in the best light.

That was why I was so surprised when I first stepped in that it was completely redone and looked the part of a ramen house.  Ok…good start!  A look at the menu and you know they are trying to just run a no frills shop and that’s just the way I like it.  The choices are limited and simple: ramen (limited choices), a few entrees from the kitchen, and then the short yakitori list.  The reason I came in was for their ramen, but I can’t go without at least trying their chicken thigh yakitori.  Here is the breakdown of Hinotez:

I have been back several times and although it never felt like we were intentionally being ignored or neglected, they seem to conveniently forget a part of the order the last three visits.  And each time, they apologize profusely and depending on the time and mood and fullness, I’ll either have them still put the order through or just have it skipped.

ImageImage

A good broth is hard to find and time consuming to make.  That’s why I have to look at a restaurant lovingly when they do a good broth for me.  Hinotez’ tonkotsu broth is milky, thick, and flavorful.  It is on the saltier side, which makes it hard for me to finish the WHOLE bowl’s broth (though I do make a nice dent to it).  As for the noodles, it can vary from being slight overcooked to almost just right.

In addition to the ramen, we also ordered steamed gyozas and they were only ok.  Nothing to rave about nor complain about.  Just kind of “meh” (hence why there has never been a picture of it) and not worth your stomach space – skip it!

Image

As for the chicken thigh yakitori, that came with two skewers, I love!  The chicken was juicy and seasoned with only salt and that was all that it needed.  However, on my last visit, they didn’t quite grill it to that perfect caramelization on the outside that I loved the first two times.

Overall Verdict?…I hope that Hinotez will have more yakitori choices down the road, but this place has potential.  There are some things that need to be worked out such as consistency in cooking, but they have the flavors that can keep me coming back for more.

Ramen Yamadaya

Located in the same strip mall where Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot resides, this little (emphasis on little) shop is unassuming.  Yet it is Los Angeles chain that has graced our town (why can’t more of this happen????) and I was very excited to go try it one evening with my mom and younger sister.

Ramen Yamadaya has a small indoor seating area, with bar seating right in front of the open kitchen where you can watch the guys prepare your ramen.  There is also an outdoor patio area that has some limited seating as well.  Even though the place has been open just a little over two months, the word is out that Yamadaya is here.  Is it good you ask?  Well if you’re a chain with six locations in southern California, I would imagine they have the art of ramen down to the ‘T’.

Image

See those glops of fat floating at the surface?…Yea that’s what you look for when you’re getting yourself prep and hyped up for a delicious tonkotsu broth experience.  Just like Hinotez, these guys have the broth’s consistency down – thick and rich with porky goodness that coats your mouth and all the way down your throat before settling happily in your stomach.  Yea…this was freaking good.  Best part?  It was NOT over salted and thus…I only put down my spoon because I was going to be scraping the bottom.

When it was done, I had to dig myself out of that fatty, rich goodness to remember more about the rest of the bowl.  Noodles?  Yes, there was noodles and I had order extra just because I could see their portions run small.  They were cooked just right and even though I am not a slow eater (by nature), by the time I took my last bite, that was when the noodles felt a little “softer”.  Not bad Yamadaya…not bad at all (gawds I want myself a bowl now…*gurgling*).

The service was bare-bones – two front of the house servers on a Friday night with three or four guys working the kitchen (cooking, cleaning, etc).  Hence you may have a little more problems getting their attention when you really want something.  However, I’m all for helping myself to things when the restaurant’s small and short on staff.  For this bowl, I’m willing to sacrifice a waiter’s attention as long as he brings me my order.

Rakiraki

Actually…I didn’t make it to Rakiraki as intended, but hopefully by next week!


Philly Frank’s in San Marcos

Ok, so I don’t normally track up to the San Marcos area for food.  Or at all since it is never “on my way” to anything!  However, my coworker introduced me to a place up in San Marcos about three weeks ago and my world has been forever changed.  (And the realization dawned on me that San Marcos is actually NOT that far away from our office in Rancho Bernardo!)

CB started talking about getting Philly cheesesteaks one day and that got me really hungry.  Then he proceeded to tell me the name of the restaurant – Philly Frank’s.  Of course, the moment he gave me the name of the restaurant, I went hunting for the place online to see if it was worth my saliva (because I was drooling already at the thought of it).  Upon browsing through Yelp’s comments, reviews, and the pictures, I was completely sold!

Since I don’t eat beef, the only “Philly cheesesteak” that I’m familiar with is of the chicken variety.  There were good reviews for Philly Frank’s chicken variety and hence, there was an immediate need to make a lunch trip up.  Fortunately, for us, the managers were all gone for training during the week and so, it was time to schedule a “long” lunch!

There were four of us who made the trip that one fateful afternoon – CB (the culprit), PY, XP, and myself.  Between the four of us, we ordered the following: Cheese Steak, The Works (with peppers, mushrooms, and onions) – Beef  (3), and The Work (with everything) – Chicken, two orders of seasoned fries and an order of the onion rings.

Up close shot of my chicken philly

Needless to say, we had a LOT of food for the four of us that afternoon.  We thought that we could tackle it without any problems-no that is actually a lie.  Once we saw everything in front of us, we knew it would be a challenge that we had willingly accepted!

Unfortunately, I forgot to take an aerial shot of the table, but trust me, put all those sandwiches together and our sides and you’ll get the idea.  And by the end, I ended up eating more than 80% of the fries, some of the onion rings, and half of my sandwich.  There were definitely some food coma issues for the four of us upon our return to the office.  Was it all worth it?  HECK YES!!!!

It was so worthwhile, that CB and I made another trip last week with three other coworkers – MW, MB and RC.  They too understood why we would risk falling asleep during work hours for this sandwich!  Results were just the same as the first time – lots of food, happy eaters, and very tired workers.

Though the sad ending for our second trip, my leftover half of the sandwich was accidently left at the office fridge.  It was over the weekend, but there were no notices that the fridge was going to be cleaned out, which is done every now and then.  I come back to work on Monday morning, and was going to put my side salad I brought from home to eat with the sandwich, only to find my sandwich was GONE.  Seriously, I don’t get people who take other people’s food!  Sadly, that meant that I didn’t have the protein I needed for lunch that day and was starving soon after lunch.

This just means that I need to make another trip up to Philly Frank’s so I can have my other half of the sandwich!

Philly Frank’s
151 South Rancho Santa Fe Road
San Marcos, CA 92069


Gaijin Noodle + Sake House

After our first Padres evening game, CP and I had to find some food afterwards to wash away the sad outcome.  I had read about a new place opening in the Gaslamp last month, and decided that it was the perfect time to check it out – Gaijin Noodle + Sake House.

After mapping it out and walking closer to the location, I then realized that the restaurant was where the old Cheese Shop location was!  Hence the restaurant is narrow and opens deep into the building.  Off to the right hand side is where the magic begins with the grill lined with rows of skewers of meat.  Let’s get started!

For all patrons, they provide for you a complementary “salad” of shredded cabbage, dressed in a “kimichi” spicy-sour dressing.  Nothing mind blowing, just additional water-based vegetables to consume.  I personally love cabbage, but not the biggest fan for the dressing so this dish is not something I would want again.

Our bowls (or in this picture, just mine) of the Spicy Miso Chasu Hakata Ramen.  Accompanying the spicy miso based soup were slices of chasu, bamboo, mushrooms, naruto (no, not the anime character, the swirly fish cake), bok choy, and cabbage.

It was a good bowl of noodles, not ramen.  I say this because it was not the “hakata” style ramen I’ve come to know while in Hawaii and New York.  This is definitely passable and suitable for a “Gaijin” who is looking for something to eat after a night of drinking.  I don’t absolutely hate this bowl of noodles, but I wouldn’t call it ramen or even recommend it as a bowl of ramen.  I will tell you that it’s a nice bowl of noodles and that’s about it.

The true star of the night were the skewers of chicken thigh meat, marinaded with red miso.  These skewers of savory meat were juicy and tender and I could probably eat about 5 skewers by myself!  I mean, there was nothing better that I could think of than to eat more of these skewers and makes me wonder how the other options are.  If this is any indication, then I would not mind having a meat fest with Gaijin Noodle + Sake House….mmmm….meeeeat.

Overall?  This is a nice new addition to the Gaslamp Quarter, and I sincerely hope they expand their yakitori options!

Gaijin Noodle + Sake House
627 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101


Stacked

There days (or nights) when I want something simple to eat, but if the restaurant can make it entertaining for me too…I can love it even more.  It makes me wonder why don’t more restaurants get this??? A distinguishing factor can help a restaurant stick out from the sea of options for patrons.

Stacked in Fashion Valley Mall occupies where the UNO Pizzeria used to be many ages ago.  This restaurant is a burger, salad, pizza, sandwich joint.  What makes this place different than say, a Burger King or Chili’s?…….It’s self-service, to an extent.  There are still servers and cooks, however the servers do not take your orders.  You put in your own order on your table’s personal tablet:

I know it seems so trivial and some may even find this annoying that they have to put in their own orders.  However, for today’s generation and the current technological culture, this is a welcomed addition for restaurant goers.  You can check out their website and see what their menu looks like.  And since you place your own orders, you can customize it as much or as little as you want.  The control is ALL yours!

With that control, I created this sandwich for myself:

What you see before you is CP’s burger: Brioche bun + Angus Burger + Romain Lettuce + Bacon + Onion Straws + BBQ Sauce + Side of Jalapenos (for me).

My sandwich: Whole Wheat Bun + Blackened Grilled Chicken + Romaine Lettuce + Caramelized Onions + Roasted Red Peppers + Sides of Garlic Aioli and Chipotle Mayo.

And to accompany our sandwiches – a combo of half fresh cut fries and housemade chips.  Ketchup for CP and ranch for me!

All of this did not come cheap, so don’t expect this restaurant to be your run of the mill place.  With each customization, it’ll cost you – yes, even the sauces which does include the ketchup.  However, I will say the idea of having a perfectly created sandwich, cooked to our liking to our exact order is empowering.  Also, the housemade chips are just ridiculously addicting, but I would recommend that you request for “less salt”.

To wrap up the evening, I ordered a dessert (another “stacked” item): Scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip and snicker doodle cookies.  The chocolate chip cookie was a little over baked, but the whole dessert was still delicious because you can’t go wrong with ice cream and cookies!

The second time CP and I went, he ordered a customized pizza and it was good too.  Not outstanding, nor best pizza ever.  At the end of the day, Stacked is fun and good for a simple (or not so simple if you’re technologically illiterate) meal.  I think the novelty factor makes it worthwhile to warrant a visit.  Go ahead, stack your own meal!

Stacked (Multiple Locations)
Fashion Valley
7007 Friars Road
San Diego, CA 92108
Suite #356