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Posts tagged “Salad

D Bar

My first time at D Bar was with two lovely ladies from my old job – KF and LT, when LT who had left SD several years back, was coming back to visit.  I had to catch up with two wonderful and extremely driven ladies.  We had a great afternoon catching up and just seeing what everyone was up to since we were all tied up in life itself.  That day, we had sampled several dishes to just get an idea of what D Bar could do – just desserts or food as well?

d Bar collage

On the left hand side, from top to bottom:

Crue Fries – their signature starter of garlic parmesan fries (perfectly fried), mac sauce, melted cheddar jack, bacon, ranch, and chives.  This appetizer is salty but so addictive!

Naan-Burguesa – kobe burger, grilled naan, black bean hummus, chipotle mayo, havarti, avocado, and a side of chips.  Since I don’t eat beef, KF and LT both were a little underwhelm by this  burger.  In part, the use of a grilled naan didn’t hold everything together so when you bit down, everything tends to slide out.

Tahini Grilled Salmon – on a bed of mixed greens, grilled baby bok choy, tossed in a ginger soy vinaigrette, and topped with toasted almond and edamame.  This salad was again only ok and slightly underwhelming.

Now the real reason why we were here: desserts!

Molten Cake Thingy That Everyone Has – just the name itself made us want to order it.  Plus the three of us have had really good molten cake thingies before, so we had to try it and see where D Bar’s stacked up.  Their version is comes with raspberry compote and Sicilian pistachio ice cream, but we wanted to try their salted caramel ice cream and so we requested the swap.  Well we can say that their cake thingy was quite good.  Was it the best?  We were all hard press to jump up and exclaim this was the best version we’ve had to-date, but it is a darn good contender!

Ch Ch Ch Churros! – Made. To. Order.  Those are the three words that almost always ensures that you are going to have a great churro.  And boy, D Bar knows their churros alright! It was the best freaking plate of churros ever!!! And it comes with a little dish of melted dark chocolate for dipping which was more for scooping out and eating straight.

On my second visit with two other wonder ladies – LA and JW, I knew there were two items I couldn’t go without: crue fries and churros.  Except this time, it was for dinner so ordered more items to try in hopes that it would turn out better, but first…some drinks!

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Normally, I don’t drink so I wouldn’t be posting about drinks, but my gals do and one drink intrigued us all – the Fresca Picante (martini glass one).  This was a strawberry jalapeno infused tequila with agave and lime.  I had taken a sip and the jalapeno is this after kick that happens a few seconds after drinking.  It was such an interesting taste and experience that it had all three of us just inspecting it as we waited for food.

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Oh these wonderful babies again…come to mama! NOM NOM NOM!!!

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Bacon Mac & Cheese – because we were all feeling like mac n’ cheese.  Don’t question us! We wanted this ooey, gooey bowl of melted goodness.  It’s a four cheese mac, with bacon and cheese nips and panko crumb top.  It was as decadent as it sounded, but good for sharing!

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Lobster Risotto – grilled lobster tail with rosemary butter, served with roasted poblano risotto and broccolini and pea tendrils.  The lobster was sweet and tender and I could have eaten several more of that tail!  So good…

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And since we were ordering so many rich dishes, I felt we needed at least one salad to help balance it out a little.  The Grilled Caesar salad, drizzled with balsamic glaze  and topped with shaved parm, it help give us that fresh crunch we needed.

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Oh the desserts…delicious, delicious desserts…I pretty much dictated this order:

Chocolate Souffle – 65% chocolate souffle, nutella filled beignets with chocolate sauce, and praline ice cream.  The souffle was not as airy as I’ve had in some places, but still delicious and fluffy.  The beignets were too thick and not fluffy enough.  Beignets are suppose to be little pockets of fried heaven (as I have experienced before in NOLA), so I was a little sadden to eat these little guys here.  As for the chocolate, we learned from our waiter that they “pay more for the chocolate per pound than we do for the steak”.  Now that’s something to be proud of! If I do say so myself!

And those churros, I ordered it knowing what I would get, but my friends were both skeptical.  I told them that I swear by them and upon their first bites, I just ruined their ideas of churros forever.  LA was just peeved at me for making her taste a damn good churro and now other churros will never be the same.  Job. Well. Done.

D Bar as a whole, I love – from the food, atmosphere, venue and the people working there.  It’s a great place to gather, enjoy a few dishes and drinks.  Although I did not have pictures of my take out desserts from D Bar, I did try their macarons and chocolates.  The macarons were much too dry!  I was quite disappointed, but at least their chocolates were superb!  I really hope the restaurant will continue to do well, so that I may keep coming back and try everything on the menu (but always with the churros).

D Bar
3930 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103


Restaurant Week 2012 – La Bastide Bistro

My SD Restaurant Week restaurant number 2 was with a coworker of mine, JT (and no, it’s not that JT).  Since she was working during the MLK holiday (in lieu of another holiday), we choose a place closer to the office.  Our selection was because of the number of choices the restaurant had for the pre-fixe menu, and here were our choices for La Bastide Bistro in Scripps Ranch:

Appetizers:

Crab Cake Served on Spinach with Orange Reduction Sauce

Warm Goat Cheese Crouton, Drizzled with Lavender Honey, Candied Walnuts, Mixed Greens with Apple, Bacon, Mushrooms &Truffle Vinaigrette

I have to say, this was our favorite course of the meal.  According to JT, the crab cake was loaded with lumps of crab meat.  She loved it and it did look pretty darn good from where I was sitting!  My salad was absolutely delicious!  The best part is the highlighted item – warm goat cheese, drizzled in the lavender honey.  My goodness, I could have eaten TEN of these croutons!  Paired with a fresh salad, it made me feel like I was eating something healthy and good.  Althought I would have to say that those mushrooms were a bit out of placed.  Had they been marinated mushrooms, that would have made the dish twice as good.

Entrees:

Fisherman’s Stew with Mussels, Fish, and Potatoes, In a Saffron Lobster Broth with a Rouille Crouton

Duck Confit with Fries & Salad

Our entrees was not our first choices, because they ran out of the Cassoulet (White Bean Stew with Duck Confit, Bacon & Sausage). 😦  JT enjoyed her stew, and it smelled nice, but it was not what I would want either.  My Duck Confit was sadly under seasoned and a little dry.  Also, my fries should have been crispier too.  There’s nothing worse than a limp fry!

Dessert:

Apple Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Ice Cream

JT and I both ordered the Tartin, but again…much to our disappointment, the apple filling was too sweet for us.  It felt like canned apple pie filling to me, but I cannot confirm that this was the case.  The best part of this dessert was the ice cream.

Overall, La Bastide Bistro completely failed my expectations and they were not even set high to begin with!  That was probably the worst part for me.  Would I come back?  For the prices they are charging both in their lunch and dinner menu, I think I’d rather opt for a different option.

La Bastide Bistro
10006 Scripps Ranch Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92131


Northern Nevada Trip

So where was my next stop after my time in New York?…

RENO!!!!!!

Thank goodness we also had a stop in Tahoe as well during our visit to the Northern Nevada casino properties.  Being my first time in Northern Nevada, I was shocked at the decay of the city of Reno.  As we drove through the main road of the city, I could see how this was once the hustle and bustle of Northern Nevada.  Now, it is a sadder scene with areas of abandonment and memory of the old days.

However, granted I was traveling with others this time aka – there was no excuse to NOT eat with tons of people and way too much food.

I will just go down chronologically of the meals that we had shared and consumed:

Santa Fe Hotel

235 N Lake St
Reno, NV 89501

This was a Basque restaurant, serving traditional Basque cuisine.  I had never heard of Basque food before and the only time I had even heard of “Basque” was during my travel to Europe and was given a brief history during our drive into Spain from France.  So I was excited to see what this food was all about.

First, the dining room reminded me of an old bar or saloon.  There were rows of long tables that you would share with other parties when it was a full house.  However, that night, the place was already winding down due to the fact it was a late Sunday night. The meals were served family style with a choice of entrée for yourself.  The entrees differ each night and so…let the food precession begin!

Soup

Chorizo

Beans

Fries

Lamb Chops

As you can see, they pretty much covered the bases with a soup starter, meats, and starch.  The food was good overall, but it did not exactly blow my me out of the water.  Still…it was a good start to the trip.

The Cheese Board

247 California Avenue
Reno, Nevada 89509

The following day, after our morning of walking the floors, we met up with another team working on another property for lunch at The Cheese Board.  This place would be considered a casual French/American Bistro. They had sandwiches, salads, specials and of course – wine (which we did not have because we were all on ‘work hours’ and we were being good to stick to it).

Brie

This was so good! I don’t know how you cannot like warm, melting, good quality cheese.

Cheese Board

Because this was the namesake of the Bistro…and the selections were all quite yummy.

Steak Fajitas

Quiche

(It was one of the better quiches that I had ever tried)

Pasta Chicken Salad

Sante Fe Chicken Sandwich

Overall?…A wonderful lunch spot and reminds me that Reno is still alive!

Wild River Grille

17 S. Virginia St. #180
Reno, NV 89501

Since we had such a nice lunch that day, we hoped that this recommendation we received from a fellow colleague would not fail us.  Plus, it sat right by the river so it was the closest “seaside dining” we could muster for Northern Nevada.

Pear & Goat Cheese Crostini

Taste was there, but there was no texture.  It was just a pile of mush on mush…sad 😦

Artichoke & Brie Dip

(Just…no)

House Salad

Possibly the best thing I ate there that night.  Fresh greens dressed in a delicious vinaigrette (plus there was texture here at least!)

Now our entrees:

Meatloaf

Grilled Salmon

Lamb

Good lamb…even better polenta that was served under it.

Pork Chops

Rib Eye

Desserts (I laugh and make a face as I write/think about this):

River Mud

The way they described it on the menu sounds interesting, yet it came out exactly as I had imagined: a brownie with a Klondike bar sitting on top.  =\

Bread Pudding

Disgusting.  Let me describe to you why: imagine cubes of stall bread that was pressed together and re-baked with no liquids to make it remotely moist and then try to cover it with chocolate sauce.  This was the bread pudding.  UCK!!

Crème Brulee

Now for this one – it was scrambled eggs in a dish with caramelized sugar.  Yea…

Crumble

(Chuckling) Ok…on the menu it does not tell you what kinds of berries are used, just that this was a berry crumble.  So we asked the waitress and she tells us, “It’s a deep berry the chef uses.”

….Did you all catch that? “Deep berries.”  If you were like us, you’d be asking (like we actually did): “What (the hell) are ‘deep berries’?” Are they berries deep within a forest? Are they philosophical fruits?  What?!  Let’s just say the waitress could not talk herself out of this one.  (By the way, it ended up being strawberries…because they were out of deep berries apparently.)

My recommendations to you?…Skip the appetizers and desserts, go for the house salad and entrees only.

Golden Flower Vietnamese

205 West 5th Street
Reno, NV 89503

The place is pretty self explanatory of what we had for lunch.  However, in addition to our bowls of pho, we had orders of the Fresh Spring rolls and Fried Eggrolls

Vietnamese Eggrolls

Fresh Spring Rolls

Now…on to Tahoe!

Lone Eagle Grille

111 Country Club Drive
Incline Village, NV 89451

For our first night in Tahoe, we joined with the group at their hotel for dinner.  Let’s just say we ordered more than what we all really needed.  Let the bingeing begin:

Calamari

Pork belly

Quail

French onion soup

Wedge salad

Lamb

NY Strip

Ribeye

Buffalo

Short ribs

Grilled Chicken

Dessert platter

I think the end of the meal was the favorite part of the meal for me that night.  Look at that spread of delicious, fatty, sugary goodness.  We had (going from left to right): Apple Trio; Mud Pie; Cheesecake; Crème Brulee; Chocolate Pear Nougat; Walnut Tart w/ Dolce Dulce Ice Cream.

My gawd…it was an overboard of sugar and we were all already at our breaking point but we were all very dedicated foodies (and a newly initiated one who was brought on to help us and was floored by the amount of food that we ate).  My favorite from the platter?  It would have to be the Walnut Tart with the ice cream.  By the way…this was the platter at the end:

We CRUSHED this platter!

Latin Soul

168 Hwy 50
Stateline, NV 89449

For our last lunch, we headed for some Mexican/Spanish food.  However…it was not that good sadly.

Mushroom & Cheese Empanadas

Tacos – Lamb & Carne

Tacos – Lamb & Al Pastor

The meat tasted fine for the tacos, but not astounding.  Worst part was that the tortillas were too thick.  You needed thinner tortillas to just hold the meats and let the (good) meat do all the talking.  This place’s tacos were just a mumble in the air.

Kalani’s

1001 Heavenly Village Way #26
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Our last night in Tahoe, for dinner, we opted for something amazing to make up for lunch, but yet, staying away from the steakhouses (we both needed seafood to balance out all the red meat).  Thus, it was Kalani’s that really saved the day.

Lobster Bisque

They were kind enough to split an order into two little cups for us.  Thick, flavorful, sweet, a tinge of spice…wonderful.

Pulehu Baby Back Pork Ribs

Sweet, salty, sticky, and fall-off-the-bone tender.  Though we both had enough meat the past few days, this was a great addition to our meal.

Pan Caramelized Miso-Yaki Sea Bass

O.M.G.  I cannot tell you how much I LOVE sea bass and its buttery texture.  This fish really does fall to the slightest force from your fork and melts in your mouth as if it was butter.  Amazing piece of fish and cooked with a crispy side to add a little texture.  Suberb!

Ahi tuna

The special of the night was an ahi tuna steak topped with sweet, fresh crab meat, served on top of kimchi and “veggie sticks” (aka julienne carrots, zucchini and squash).  This was good, but it was not a sea bass.

Coconut Creme Brulee

To round off the night, we finished with this delicious and wonderfully made creme brulee.  The coconut flavor was in your face, but pleasantly so.  By far…it was our best meal to date during this trip!

5th Street Bakery

953 W 5th St.
Reno, NV 89503

Last day in Northern Nevada…back at Reno to grab a quick bite before we headed to the airport.  We wanted something simple and quick.  This little café had a great spirit and a hard working woman who I can only assume was the owner.  She worked the counter, cash register, and waiting/bussing the tables.  Naturally, you see her just running around the little café at great speeds.

While sitting there, you could watch your food be made fresh and also watch them bake their own breads for the menu items.

Morning Cuban

This was toasted bread slice (freshly made in-house), roasted pork, swiss cheese, ham, eggs overeasy, green salsa.  With a little hot sauce, it is the cure for hangovers.

Mediterranean Salad

A mixed organic greens salad with tomato, kalamata olives, red onions, red bell peppers, feta cheese, avocado, procsiutto, house croutons.

We kept it simple and clean….well I did with my salad, can’t say the same for my colleague.

Well friends…that was my first time adventure in Reno and Tahoe.  Will I be back? If it’s for work, I won’t have much of a choice, but if for pleasure, then I will definitely be back to Tahoe.


Returning to NYC

My first time in New York was a complete culture shock and I just didn’t have enough time to do everything a tourist does in the city, PLUS touring all the eateries.  However, my second trip to the city was just one of two things to do: go to work and eat.  Guess what I liked doing more?

I must say though, one down side for a foodie in such a huge city with so many options for meals and snacks, is the hard question: what should I eat?!

So again…I will let my pictures do all the talking :):

Momofuku: má pêche
15 west 56th street
new york, ny 10019

summer rolls – pork/ shrimp/ tofu, lettuce, daikon, peanut

broccoli with red miso and sesame

noodles with pork belly and fried pig skin

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013

Blue Crab Crostini with jalapeno and tomato

Pappardelle with lamb bolognese, ricotta and mint

Roasted Sea Scallops with sicilian cauliflower and citrus

Gelato: Chocolate, Cardamom, and Buttermilk

Soto
357 6th Ave
New York, NY 10079

Tuna Tartare

Salmon and Tuna Nigiri

Uni and Unagi Nigiri

Scallop with Shiso Leaf Roll

Rice To Riches
37 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012

Inside the rice pudding bar!

Tiramisu Rice Pudding

luent in French w. Toasted Coconut & Graham Cracker bits

Morimoto
88 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Toro Tartare with osetra caviar, sour cream, wasabi, dashi-soy

kakuni (ten hour braised pork) with congee cooked with soy-scallion jus made from the braising liquids

Grom
International locations and limited locations within US

Pistachio Gelato

Wafels & Dinges Truck (and Mini too)
Various locations in Manhattan (dependent on day and time)

Leige Wafel with Nutella

Tasty Dumpling Inc
54 Mulberry St # E
New York, NY 10013

Dumplings: Pork & Chives; Pork & Cabbage

It was a whirl wind of a week of training and food!  My favorites this time?…

  • Locanda Verde – this restaurant really surprised me by the quality of food and the simple, yet dazzling flavors.  This restaurant will be a must visit here on out whenever I find myself in the City!
  • Rice to Riches – I now understand all the rave about this place…it’s freaking delicious (and I used to make rice pudding by the quarts).
  • Morimoto – the toro tartare of course…the congee that came with the braised pork was soaked with pork goodness, amazing.
  • Tasty Dumplings – um…duh, dumpling filling were great, but needed more to the ratio of wrapper.  Also, their dumpling wrapping was too thick in my opinion.

I will be back New York!  I love you and the whole city’s talent for creating some of the best morsels!


Chicago – Again and again

The past two weeks I have been on travel for training and have been getting as much as I could in every aspect: knowledge, networking, and most of all – FOOD.

Last week, I was back in the great city of Chicago and this time, I was actually in the city versus my first trip to the Second City where I was mostly there to sleep.  Granted, it helped that my fellow colleagues all wanted to go out each night to get the most we could together.

However, when I first arrived in the city on Sunday night I was on my own since I had yet to know who was in town.  I quickly checked in and headed straight out to take the metro to my first food destination: Blue 13.

I found this restaurant from researching online and had great ratings, along with fabulous raves from foodies like myself.  When I arrived, it was quaint little restaurant with a warm overall feel to it in its minimalist interior design.  As far as I could tell, there was only one server and one host who bus tables when it became busier through the night.

To begin the meal, I ordered a simple Mixed Green salad:

The salad of mixed greens, shaved carrots, and radish tossed with Dijon vinaigrette and topped with a generous amount of pecorino.  A great, refreshing start to the meal.  There is little for me to say about the salad other than it was a great salad.  Plus, the fresh, hot bread that came out along with olive oil to dip in made a delish start to the meal.

For my entrée, as I was dining for one, I ordered the highly recommended “3 Birds” Lobster Pizza:

I know what you’re thinking already. Yes, I did know I was ordering a thin crust pizza in the city known for deep dish.  However, if you come here, I am going to echo what I had found during my online research – this is a must have dish.

The crust was charred perfectly and thin so that you would have to do the fold right down the middle to make sure everything stayed on.  This is a white pie with a roasted garlic puree base, caramelized onions, chunks of lobster, and manchego cheese to hold it all together with a sprinkling of herbs.  This pizza has the sweetness that reminds you of a cheesy, yummy, lobster bisque.  It all balances so well together that I couldn’t stop eating it.  I pushed myself beyond the point of bursting because it was that delicious.  However, I sadly left behind two slices that were stripped of their lobster pieces because my stomach said, “Please…no more!!”

Despite my comatose state at that moment, I still ordered a dessert because how can I call this meal completed until I did?!  So of the 3 dessert choices, this was the one that perked my interest: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Waffle.

Understand that I had no more intention of stuffing myself, but when I saw “candied bacon” I knew I had to try it.  What came out was a waffle, drizzled with chocolate sauce, topped with candied bacon and hazelnut, and paired with butter pecan ice cream.

First off – the candied bacon was the best part of the dessert.  You’re wondering what did it taste like right?  Just imagine breakfast, where you have a side of bacon with your pancake/waffle, and the maple syrup drips over to the bacon.  It was sticky, sweet, crispy, and salty.  The waffle did not have chocolate chips and needed more peanut butter.  Overall, I would suggest you skip this dessert, try a different one, or just order yourself another lobster pizza.

This is the type of restaurant you go to with friends to just catch up, share some good food, and enjoy the evening.  The two servers were great and attentive, but when it got a little busier by the time I had finished my meal, the lack of staff was apparent.  Still, friendly service and great food is the equation for a satisfied customer who will return.

Blue 13
416 W Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654-5714

The following night, after our first day of training, a group of us went out to grab dinner at The Publican where if it oinks, it will end up cooked at this restaurant.  I loved the open space design which was to resemble a barn.  To add to that, their booth seating had little doors to encapsulate diners as if they were in a pig stall.  The rest of the restaurant was set up with communal tables where you could be sitting next to a complete stranger on one side and your friend on the other.

We went family style and ordered various dishes off the menu to share.  I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, with a few inserts by me, so enough grazing through the pictures!

Beets with Clementine segments and yogurt – this was my favorite side that we had ordered that night.  Sweet and tart, great palate cleanser.

Charcuterie plate: pork pie, trotter-foie gras terrine, head cheese, milano, morteau sausage, pickles & mustards

Turnips with rosemary

Cajun Shrimp with Grits – the grits had soaked up all the Cajun spices and shrimp juices.

Fried Smelt with mustard greens and raw onions

Country Ribs with mustard greens & grilled red onions

Sweetbread with sweet potatoes, black trumpets & green garlic-watercress pesto

Pork Belly with fresh chickpeas and stuffing – decadent and you feel so guilty for eating this fatty yet delicious piece of the pig. (*gurgling sound*)

Lamb Sausage with lentils, mint, meyer lemon & yogurt – I love lamb…I love sausage…I loved, LOVED this dish.  The mint and yogurt balanced out the gamey flavor of the sausage and the casing had a great snap to the bite.

Yams

Frites

Apple & Rhubarb Crumble with crème – heaven in one’s mouth.

Waffle with pear butter & plum marmalade – highly suggest that you do not waste your time with this one.  It was nothing special at all.

Dark chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream – a darker heaven in one’s mouth.  Then again I am the biggest fan of dark chocolate, so if you don’t like dark chocolate (WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!) then this is definitely not for you.

The Publican also has a wide beer and wine selection, as well as servers who are willing to mix you up a great cocktail if you desire it.  The restaurant has a fun atmosphere especially for big groups.  Just make sure you don’t have any vegetarians in the group otherwise they will most likely go hungry.

The Publican
837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

On our last night in the city, our dining group only grew to an even larger number than the previous night.  This time around, upon my insistence on move to more ethnic flavors, we decided upon a restaurant that has several locations throughout the country, but still supposedly made great food.  That night…we our taste buds did the samba at SUSHISAMBA!

Once again, we ate family style and tried a little bit of everything.

Edamame organic soybean, sea salt, lime

Tiger shrimp tempura

Salmon sashimi seviche marinated in mizuna, aji amarillo, and orange

This dish was the sunshine of my night (wait…um…yea, I’ll still stand by my description)!  It was fresh, bright, sweet, spicy, turns your life around because it was just that amazing.  It would even put a smile to the worst Debby Downer that you know! (Unless he/she doesn’t like fish…but even then! This dish may convert him/her!)

Yellowtail sashimi seviche marinated in ginger, garlic, and soy

Tuna sashimi seviche marinated in coconut, lime, and serrano chilies

Of the 3 seviches we ordered that night, this was the most disappointing for me.  It didn’t have the vibrant flavors of the salmon nor yellowtail seviches. 😦  However, our fish adventures had just started because out came our platter of various sushi rolls:

(Going from left to right): Spicy Tuna; Bobo - brazil seared kobe beef, avocado, kaiware, shiso, red onion, chimichurri ponzu; Unagi tamago - freshwater eel, zuke tuna, cucumber, tempura flake, wasabi crema;Rainbow dragon - freshwater eel, red bell pepper, cucumber, mango, avocado

Charcoal roasted mussels garlic, white wine, Peruvian chili

Unfortunately, the mussels did not taste fresh (consistently) and so we asked for them to return it and traded for:

Spicy Popcorn Shrimp – sweet and spicy, fried tempura shrimp.

We also ordered the churrasco “supreme” (aka meatfest) with: rio grande grilled hanger steak, ribeye, pork tenderloin, chorizo and linguica.  This was served with sides of white rice, black beans, collard greens, and farofa.  Additionally, various dipping sauces including malagueta pepper oil and chimichurri:

Meat-palooza!

The Miso-marinated Chilean sea bass roasted organic vegetables is one of those dishes that I still think about.  This is the perfect example of a perfectly cooked fish that is so smooth, so fresh, so buttery, so fracking delish that I gurgle as I giggle with giddy.

Whole crispy red snapper spicy red curry sauce, scallion, ginger, coconut rice – the rice was good! The fish staring at me…not so much.

Side of Peruvian corn – it’s like hominy; I wasn’t much of a fan.

And of course, we had to have desserts.  Note the plural form of that: desserts.  We really went all out for dessert and there were no regrets what-so-ever afterwards because they were all delicioso!

Coco duo: Brazilian dark and white chocolate custard, chocolate pearls, praline

Peruvian hot chocolate served with traditional churros

Rosca: housemade doughnuts, vanilla glaze, chocolate hazelnut sauce

Warm chocolate banana cake maple butter, banana chip, vanilla rum ice cream

Cassava carrot cake brown butter ice cream, cinnamon cream, rainbow carrot chip, orange reduction

Carmen Miranda:  seasonal fresh fruit, pop rocks, lemon sorvete…sorry, no pictures for this one :(.  I can describe to you what it was: a bowl of fresh berries that included strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, with a sprinkle of pink pop rocks (not enough apparently since the tasters didn’t feel the effects of it) and a scoop of lemon sorbet.

I don’t know which one I liked more, but I did know I had a taste of everything and there wasn’t one that I didn’t like!  Even though it is not a local restaurant, this place has a fun atmosphere and serves stellar food with great service.  SUSHISAMBA…I think you will have to be part of my favorite small, national chain!  One note though: of all the food we ate, it unanimous that the “sushi” part of the restaurant was something that fell short on with the exception of the “seviche.”

SUSHISAMBA
Several locations in the US

Thank you Chicago for showing me yet another good time! 🙂


San Diego Restaurant Week Recap

As many of you may have known, San Diego hosted  it’s 7th Restaurant Week and this year, more than half of the participating restaurants extended their RW into the following week.  This gave restaurants more opportunities to introduce themselves to new audiences and thus, creating a bigger fan base.  Some may like RW, while others do not and I think (which I have felt myself as well) it is due to the fact that for regulars, their restaurants are suddenly overtaken by new customers who ware clamoring for the pre-fix menu.  What you have to realize is this kind of exposure for restaurants is a great way to build up their client base.  We must not be selfish because we all want our favorite restaurants to survive one of the toughest and cut throat  industries.

I participated in 2 RW menus for restaurants I had been wanting to visit for the longest time: Nobu San Diego and Cucina Urbana.

Both restaurants are very different in nature, but both were exquisite in food and service.  There is a reason why Nobu is so highly regarded and why locals cannot get enough of Cucina Urbana.  Nobu is sleek, chic, and hip.  Cucina Urbana is rustic, homey, and modern.  Either one can do no wrong and lived up to what I had expected when I stepped foot in each.

Nobu – San Diego (Hard Rock Hotel)

The appetizer to start the night off was the Salmon Tataki Salad.  Lightly seared salmon sashimi was accompanied by shaved root vegetables, with cilantro dressing. Usually I am not a big fan of seared sashimi because I think it takes away from the beauty of the fish, but in this case, I found the sear to be perfect.  The center was still beautifully fresh and melted on my tongue.

For our entrees, CP and I each ordered something different and split it:

The Artic Char with with Jalapeno Cauliflower was pan-seared so the outer skin was crisped up and then roasted.  The skin did get charred a little too much but it did not effect the fish itself thankfully.  The char was tender and delicious.  The jalapeno cauliflower was so good that I could eat a bowl of it on its own!

Nobu’s take on Fish n’ Chips made me want to eat more fish…mostly because they used Chilean sea bass.  I want to talk to whoever came up with this idea of battering and deep frying sea bass!  Granted, it was delicious with a slightly thicker tempura batter, but why would you deep fry a beautiful fish like sea bass?!  I love sea bass…like it is my TOP fish choice and I would never, EVER think of deep frying it.  It feels just wrong…but yet…it did taste oh so heavenly…I was torn!  The chips were a little limpy and sad, but that honey anti-cucho sauce was so good that I just wanted to dip everything in it!

Each entree came with a Spicy Tuna roll.  My only grip about this was that the menu promised me spicy yellowtail (which is my favorite fish for sushi), but instead tuna came.  I love tuna and everything, but my hopes were up and then shot back down.

However, nothing shot me down as quickly as the dessert…

Nobu’s best-seller and customer favorite dessert: the Bento Box.  This is a Araguani 72% chocolate fondant cake, with a sesame crisp and green tea matcha gelato.  First off…I know that the Valrhona Araguani dark chocolate is one of the best to use for a deep, dark, bittersweet chocolate and my chocolate preference leans on the dark side.  However, this cake was just….terrible.  First off, I think the chef forgot the sugar all together.  It was bland and bitter, which I could not even tell if it was from the dark chocolate or it was burnt because it actually tasted burnt to me.  This made me really sad because I always look forward to desserts!  Sigh…thank goodness the green tea gelato saved the night! It was smooth, light, and packed with matcha awesomeness!  (By the way…do YOU see any sesame crisp?…no? neither did I..until I finished my gelato and found this semi-clear sugar-like crisp.  I’m guessing that’s the sesame crisp?)

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Nobu.  The restaurant is definitely one of those “hip”, “mod”, “the cool place to be”.  The music was loud, the customers were more or less inebriated, but the service was friendly and attentive.  Will I be back for more? Heck Yes!  (Will I be having the Bento Box again?…not in this lifetime or next!)

Cucina Urbana

Another night, another meal!  CP’s chopped house salad really was chopped and tossed! It was medley of soppresata (salami), pepperoni, olive, red onion, tomato, asiago, pepperoncini, and some lettuce.  Not sure if I’d really would call this a “salad” in my terms, but it was delicious bowl of chopped meats and vegetables (mostly the former).  It was all tossed in a vinaigrette that was sweet but had a little bit to it too.

My first course choice was the roasted baby beet and orange salad was divine! Light, summery salad with lots of color and it was simply fun and smart.  The baby beets were tender and delicious with the cashews.  I think my favorite part were the scoops of ‘yo-goat’…or basically, goat’s milk yogurt.  Goat cheese is my absolute favorite cheese in the whole, wide world!  However, I’ve never had goat’s milk yogurt!  Just imagine goat cheese…but SOFTER!  HEAVEN!!!

We went with the pizza pre-fix menu so CP went to where his Italian heart will always be: a red pie with pepperoni and fennel sausage.  The nice charred underskirt of the baked dough held the sweet red sauce, with house-made mozzarella and the meat. CP gave 2 thumbs up to the wood fire oven pizza and proceeded to consume the whole thing.

I HAD to try their signature pizza with guanciale (pork belly!!! Get in MY belly!!), fingerling potato, brie, bésciamela, and 2 fresh cracked eggs!  O.M.G…Ok…how should I start?  This was like…a ridiculously indulgent breakfast-like pizza. The pork belly melted and flavored the pizza.  The saltiness of the pork melded well with the salty brie and then when you broke the yolk of the egg and let it spread through the pizza.  It’s just an indescribable experience!  Then to top off this amazing pie was a spicy chili sauce the waiter brought over and let me in on the fact that it is the perfect pairing.  My gosh…was he right!  The chili sauce elevated the pizza to 10 times higher and for once, I truly could taste the spice.  Oh lordy….*drooling at the thought*

The pear crisp with mascarpone gelato was not all that impressive but still good none-the-less.  In comparison though…

The chocolate budino with chocolate chantilly and salted chocolate biscuit….CHOCOLATE ORGASMIC PSYCHEDELIC EXTRAVAGANZA!  “Wow” would be an understatement.  Let me help put this in context….I had already had 2 full courses which did include a sizable pizza…and the fact that I could still taste and have my mind be blown away by this budino….yes, it was just that good!  Budino is Italian for pudding and that’s just what it was: a dark chocolate pudding. Thick and unadulterated chocolate pudding that was intense in flavor.  Perfectly balanced, just sweet enough, but still a dark chocolate pudding.  The chantilly helped lightened up a bite if you were (like me) already feeling like you’re at your breaking point in your stomach.  The salted chocolate cookie was good, but I found myself not wanting it because it got in my way of the budino.

I love Cucina Urbana for it’s rustic, no frills, yet still very much stylish atmosphere.  They present food as it is and let’s the food’s own brilliance shine through.  All the chef does is perhaps polish it up and gives its a nice pep talk before it makes its debut on your table.  Wonderful experience.

I must say that this year’s RW did not fail to impress me.  The number of restaurants now participating in this event has seem to grow with each passing year.  This shows that restaurants now understand the power of this well sponsored and advertised event is to their advantage.  I have also noticed that a lot of restaurants continue to promote the pre-fixed menus (yay!) for both the cost-conscious consumers and encourages regulars to try something new at their old haunt. A good addition to a restaurant’s recipe for a long life in a world where only the best of best can shine through the decades.

Nobu (in Hard Rock Hotel)
207 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 814-4124

Cucina Urbana
505 Laurel Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222


New York, New York – part 1

This trip was actually made back in April and while going through my picture files, I realized that it’s been already 5 months since I was there!  I can’t believe how time flies!  As I didn’t have any spectacular meal during the week, I decided to use an archive folder for this Sunday’s post!  Now, CP and I were in the City for 5 days and it was my first time there so naturally I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. Alas, my stomach can only take so much food and that is why I hand picked a few places that I MUST have. Among them was Otto.

I had read about this place forever and I wanted to try it!  I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking:

The “ticket” we got while we waited for our table.  I loved the train schedule board that indicates when your table’s ready.  A much better way for waiting on a table than the vibrating coasters.  Once we were seated, I had the hardest time deciding on what to get as I was not starving, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from sampling everything!

We started off with the Cauliflower “alla Siciliana” antipasti.  I remembered how deliciously seasoned the cauliflowers were and how I thought I could just make a meal out of this!  Along with…

A simple chopped romaine and red onion salad, simply dressed in a peppery vinaigrette.  All of it was light and perfect after a long day of exploring.

For the main course, I ordered the lasagnette with braised pork shoulder in a tomato sauce.  The pasta was cooked al dente, there were huge chunks of pork shoulders, and the sauce helped tie everything together.

CP ordered the rigatoni with escarole and sweet Italian sausage, tossed with a olive oil and garlic.  However, being the ever perspective person that I was, I knew the minute the plate came to CP’s side, he immediately was disappointed.  You see, CP prefers his pasta dishes to come with sauce, usually of the red variety and none other.  Thus, I knew this very well and without even asking if he liked it after his first couple of bites, I suggested that we switch cause I really liked his dish.  I liked both, but I knew that CP would like mine more so I traded.  I didn’t mind since his dish was actually more in tune with my tastes.  It was a win-win situation!

To wrap up the evening, we finished off with an order of gelato: hazelnut stracciatella and the coveted OLIVE OIL!!!  My word, let me tell you…once I tried olive oil gelato, it has officially become my favorite gelato flavor ever.  The nuttiness, sweet, creamy concoction is just frozen perfection!

CP made a good point while on this trip: I don’t ever travel without a food agenda or motivation.  Every move I make while traveling tends to circle around food and this is very true.  I discover a city not only through its landmarks and history, but their food as well.  Food is so deeply ingrain with every culture and given the fact that I grew up with food being always a focal point for celebrations and quality time spent with loved ones…is it such a surprise?

Eat on my friends!

OTTO
One Fifth Ave.
New York City, NY 10003