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Posts tagged “san diego

Adventures into Adulthood

Despite whatever image you may have when you read the name of this post, I am not and have not been a “child” for a while.  What I am talking about is taking on more responsibilities of what one would think an “adult” should be taking on.  After several years of consideration, I have finally decided to invest in a home that I can eventually call my own.  I’m buying a house people!!!!

Well, to be specific I am buying a condo and I am not doing it alone.  CP and I will be going into this together and it has been a roller coaster of a ride – especially for me.

Trying to be supportive of CP’s studies for his CPA exam, I have undertaken the job of finding us the realtor, lender, and the research of every potential condo.  Over the past month, I have been learning the realty “talk” and getting first hand education on all the little nuisances of the world of real estate.  I have been even watching more HGTV because of it!

All my life, I have always had my feet planted firmly down on the ground.  I have grandiose ideas and fantasies of what my ideal situations would be since I was young.  Yet, no matter where those thoughts take me, my left brain is that annoying, too smart and too realistic nerd that keeps poking at me, reminding me that I can keep dreaming, but then there’s reality.

I went into this starting at the amount of liquid assets I could reasonably put up for our down payment.  Considering the traditional requirement is 20%, I knew that the higher that purchase price goes, the higher that requirement becomes.  Mortgage payments did not worry me as much because, again, I had a general idea of how much it would cost.  Hence, working with that “20%” number, I calculated backwards of where our cap should be based on the premise that we would not want to spend more than 40% of our combined liquid assets.

Then came the “Must-Haves”.  CP and I could agree that we needed space and a one bed and one bath would not work for us.  And that was about where our agreement ended.  CP seemed to have the grandiose ideas as I did, but the annoying nerd did not seem to exist in him.  It was definitely something we had to work out because in a world where money talks, we were limited.  Also, CP would like to live in certain parts of San Diego, which I would like to as well.  However, the prices as well as the availability were major limiters for us.

Hence, other than the 2 bed and 2 baths requirement, we were also looking for:

  • Renovated, spacious kitchen
  • Spacious “feeling” living space
  • In-unit washer/dryer
  • Good amount of storage
  • Double vanity for the master bathroom
  • Location: keeping it central (not too far in any cardinal directions) with easy access to freeways

We both would have loved renovated bathrooms too, but I reeled us back in again.  It would be NICE to have, but it should not be a deal breaker either if the price is right.  Therefore, the list above was what we went with.

Now after a long weekend of stress and un-restful sleep, CP and I have found a place that has met our requirements.  An offer has been submitted and as of writing this post, we are now waiting to see what happens.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!

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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


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


Restaurant Week – The Red Door

Restaurant Week has all of San Diego out and dining about the city.  CP and I was part of the Sunday evening crowd, for the first day of Restaurant Week.  Although we both have been to this establishment, I wanted to return because I thought that our first visit was not the best representation of what the restaurant could offer.  Therefore, our first restaurant was a return trip to The Red Door in Mission Hills.

Appetizers

So CP did not go with the pre-fixe menu, but still had a starter.  His choice – the Crab Cake, with fresh lump crab and no fillers.  It is paired with roasted red bell peppers, kalamata olives and sun dried tomato with sweet basil dressing.  Now the order actually comes with TWO crab cakes, and as you can see that was not the case.  However, they quickly realized their mistake and added the additional cake (with all the fixings) immediately.  They also took off this order on the receipt because of the mistake, which I found to be a nice touch of customer service.  Kudos!

My first choice in my three course meal was the Shrimp Creole, which I had the first time I came here and fell head over heals for it.  The dish was presented in a skillet rather than a composed plate, but still as delicious as I recalled.  I couldn’t get enough of the sauce again!!

Entrée

CP’s entree of choice: the Red Door Burger – char grilled ½ lb meyer natural ground beef, buttermilk bun, American cheese (but CP didn’t want it), caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and house burger sauce (aka thousand island).  The shoestring fries were crispy, just the way I like it.

My entree, my second choice, was the Lamb Meatballs – ground Colorado lamb with roasted garlic, feta, pine nuts, home made gnocchi, tomato, spring raab, and chimichurri sauce.  Um…how could I describe my thoughts?  Let’s see…THIS is one of the MANY reasons why I am finding my personal desire to give up lamb to be SO hard!  It was great dish as a whole, but one area of improvement – the meatballs could be a little more tender.  After that, you have achieved perfection my SD friend.

Dessert

Last time, I tried their fruit cobbler (which is one of two choices on the RW menu) and it was not that good.  So I tried something different this time!

For my finale, I chose their signature dessert: the Banana Cream Pie with graham cracker-walnut crust, and chocolate & caramel sauces.  I think this could be a good dessert if: 1. tone down the whip cream a little, and 2. increase the pastry cream filling.

I still love the restaurant and this time around, the service was much better.  It’s a perfect time for you to try The Red Door during Restaurant Week to sample some of their signature items.  The menu will be available through the end of the week on Friday (1/20).  Bon Appetit!

The Red Door
741 W. Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103


San Diego Restaurant Week 2012

It is time for San Diego’s Restaurant Week again starting this Sunday (1/15)!

Have you looked at the menus and booked ahead of time for your spot? 😉 If not, and you would LIKE to be seated between the hours of 6-8pm, I would suggest you get on it!

Here is the site for the list of participating restaurants: http://www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com/

Enjoy!

In the words of Billy Blanks, “When I say get on, you get on it!”