Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Japan Files - Part Two (Mister Donut)

Been pretty busy with my family visiting for the holidays. Posting has taken a backseat with all the fun I've been having (especially with my sister's four kids).

A lunch set from Mister Donut that I had with said family.

I was quite Macro Happy at the time (I still am in some ways..).

The donut-on-a-stick my nieces had..

And the Ramen that I shared with my nephew (you can see the kid's bowls for sharing in the background).
This was when Mister Donut was promoting their Yam Cha menu back in 2005 so I'm not sure if it is still available.

Perhaps it was the lack of expectation of having a bowl of ramen at a donut shop but I remember enjoying it more than some I had at places I choose not to speak of.

Randomly ending with a word of wisdom from Master Bruce Lee. (My partial New Year resolution for '09?).

Don't Think! Feeeel! :)

Hope you enjoyed and Happy soon to be New Year!
A link to Japan Files - Part One here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lunching @ Volare - Part Two

A couple more meals I had at Volare Italian Restaurant. If you missed Part One you can read about it here.

This day I arrived a little late for the Lunch Specials so I ordered from their dinner menu. Fyi, lunch is between 11~3PM (weekdays only), but you are still able to order from the entire menu during these hours.

I started with the Antipasto Salad ($3.75).

Amazingly this was their small size. The photo below gives a better sense of scale maybe..

Romain lettuce, slices of Provolone cheese, Pepperoni and another cured sausage, olives, ripe tomatoes, mushrooms and various pickled veggies (pearl onions, celery, red bell pepper, cauliflower) all dressed with a light Balsamic dressing.

I was in the mood for trying a pesto dish so after a short dialog with the nice waitress I ordered the Pesto Sauce with (choice of) Pasta ($6.95). I chose Fettuccini.

What came as I was finishing the antipasto was this Enormous plate. I was afraid of this because the 1/2 portioned lunch specials were already quite filling.

The pasta was cooked a little longer than I like but the Pesto was wonderful. I thought it had a coarser minced texture which held well with the fettuccini while it also allowed me to taste all the individual fresh ingredients. Buono!

Came with free garlic bread (but not on a sesame bun). Light, crispy and good as usual and perfect to dip into the pesto which there definitely was no shortage of.

Good food and a Lot of it. Best to share maybe or I guess you can always take leftovers home. I managed to finish most and didn't need to have dinner this day. A double bargain. :)

My next visit I had the Scaloppini Vino Blanco offered as a Lunch Special. Comes with pasta, bread and soup or salad for $5.95. (!)

The iceberg lettuce in the salad was acceptably fresh but no complaints really. A peperoncini, olive and cherry tomato (buried under the blue cheese dressing).

The main dish. (Ah, now that's more a manageable size..)

Thin cut veal (pounded?), breaded and fried then simmered in a simple white wine sauce with crimini mushrooms.

The veal was sufficiently tender. Wasn't cut-with-a-fork tender but fine as was the white wine sauce, spaghetti with meat sauce, and bread. Nothing earth shattering here but all perfectly fine.

It's when you consider the price of the meal (which would beat a fast food combo any day of the week) that makes it quite amazing. Which reminds me, Volare is probably not best to visit for lunch if you're in a hurry. You can call in ahead for pick-up though.

So I'm slowly becoming a regular.. In fact I copycatted how many were wrapping their breads (I'm assuming to keep warm?) just cause it looked neat, haha.

Also this day I saw people walk out with four ENORMOUS sized pizzas that seemed to barely fit through the exit in a Tetris fashion.
It was their massive 28" pizzas on the way to a fund raiser. The boxes they were in looked as if a starving student can rig into a good size dinner table. Now that would be brilliant. "Where's the food?.. It's in the table.." ;)

Volare Italian Restaurant, 3528 Barnett Ave, San Diego, CA 92110

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Japan Files - Part One

A random picture of un-randomly placed donguri (acorns) at a random park during a stroll along the outskirts of Roppongi..

Is this a playful work of Totoro? Maybe more important, are acorns edible (since this blog is of my food encounters)? Surprisingly I found out they were.

My original intent for starting this blog was to have a place to upload and share my food photos (and other things loosely related). While I considered using Flickr, I like the blog format because of its flexibility. Arranging content the way I see fit and the ability to add hyperlinks to text among other things.

Maybe that paragraph belongs on my profile page.. But anyway here are some photos I dug up from when my hobby of food photo-documenting started (a relatively short time of only 3 years ago). I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I had done this my entire life. The Thanksgiving Dinners.. The sad excuse of lunches served at my high school cafeteria.. My grandmother's Nakami-jiru.. I wish I had snapped them all.

These images are all from Summer/Fall 2005.
A bowl of Ramen (I think mini-size) at Harukiya inside the Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum.

I loved the stronger than usual dried-fish stock flavor. The seven attempts at photographing the extra menma all turned out blurry unfortunately..

Including this one of the exterior.

I was determined to try at least two but the lines were just crazy and the mini size actually was quite filling.

There is another food related museum in Yokohama. It is the Yokohama Curry Museum. Much like the Ramen Museum, this place exhibits many different styles of curries existing in Japan.
This one was from King Delhi.

It was pretty much the only photo of the sampled curries that was acceptably in focus. Oddly the curry at this lower food court stall had left me with the strongest impression the day.

The site of naan being skilfully made from a tandoor led us into Hanuman. Below is the curry I had with.

Another above was very velvety and am in the process of finding out its name, while the last I do remember as the Shonan Curry. The "toro" chicken was excellently fatty/tender but I was almost able to finish the small sampler in about 3 large spoonfuls.

These small samplers weren't cheap (and this was after paying a fee to get in), but all in all it was a fun experience. (update: I've since found out that the YCM had closed March 2007.)

Finding neat Food Packaging is always fun like this "Unit Deli" concept at the Comme Ca section in the Three Minutes Happiness Store, Shibuya.

This is how I imagine meals would be of people living in a space colony.

The individual Onigiri containers were very cool.
The cold noodles looked ordinary but they are displayed on a bias..

And bagels are sliced in half before being packaged to reveal the yummy contents.

Even your ordinary veggie wraps when contained in a perfect clear dome look.. like they are from the future? ;)

More photos to come..

Saturday, December 13, 2008

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

A few meals I've had at the SD Chicken Pie Shop.

If I personally had to choose one word that describes the food here it probably would be "nostalgic." That may sound odd from someone who was raised in Japan but my parents both working and having access to the military commissary meant that frozen dinners were a staple to my diet. (I remember when they used to be wrapped in aluminum foil.)

But simply comparing the food here to T.V. dinners wouldn't be all fair. Sure the style may be similar but the execution substantially superior as you will see with the closest resemblance being perhaps the amazing prices.
Some great reading on the SDCPS if you are interested are ones from Cathy of MMM-YOSO team here, Clayfood here and Amateur Foodie here.

I think I'll start with the Chicken Giblets because it's a Pot Pie derivative that is sometimes overlooked.

It is offered as a dinner set which means it comes with whipped potatoes, vegetables (of the day), coleslaw, a dinner roll and dessert ($6.50).

The chopped giblets are in gravy and served open faced on a pie crust shell. As far as I can tell they were mostly of hearts and gizzards. (I'm guessing the liver is saved for the Sauteed Chicken Livers dinner.)

While the word giblets may turn some people off I would bet they wouldn't have a problem with this if they didn't know what they were having. It is of decent tenderness and basically tastes like very dark chicken meat. Portion was quite large.

The dinner rolls are made on premise. Large and lightly sweet.
[A slab of butter melting in the roll while still warm..]

The whipped potatoes are good as well. I think you can choose brown gravy if you like. Pictured is the white. Aren't the first bite after braking the potato levy the best? :)

You will be offered several pie choices for dessert. I had the peach but to-go.

Crust was coated with coarse granulated sugar while the filling wasn't too sweet.

The famous chicken pie here is simply called the Pie. While you can have it as a dinner for also $6.50, I find the a la carte a more than filling meal for $3.60. Comes with the roll and butter.

Densely packed with meat, a blend of Chicken and Turkey with a minimal amount a gravy. No peas, carrots, potatoes or pearl onions.

If you're feeling a bit over carb'd, you can have a side of cole slaw but that combination will run you $5.25.

I've heard many describe it similar to KFC's which I agree but this is fresher.
The Sauteed Chicken Liver ($7) is pretty tasty here if you're into that.

Looked lightly floured and seared well to create a crispy outer crust. I have it with a dash of salt but it's also pretty good with ketchup (was the waitress' recommendation).

I tried a few of their soups and found the Chicken (with rice) probably the best bet. ($1.75 for a cup.)

Always fresh tasting where this day I was able to also taste some turkey stock in the soup. Filled with large chicken pieces and some rice. My second favorite is probably the split pea.

And the third maybe the corn chowder because it had the least amount of flavor. Could've been an off day.
The Fried Chicken was interesting. The drumstick, thigh and breast pieces had a Shak'n Bake like coating but it did look fried.

All including the breast was fairly moist and wasn't bad but not really amazing in a way that would make me crave in ordering it again.

The Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich ($4.50) is often on the specials board.

It wasn't exactly the best execution of a TCS for my taste but you can read about it on my Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich post.

Other items I've seen listed on the specials board was the Chicken Quesadilla, Chicken Fajitas, Chili and Beans and the Tuna Salad or Sandwich. The Tuna Salad seems to be very popular with the older folks.

Other specials are designated by the day of week. The Meatloaf dinner was a Monday offering for $5.75.

Your basic meatloaf but can't complain much for the price here. You do have to be careful how you order though because you might end up with two sides of mashed potatoes like what happened to me this day. If you ask for a side of mashed potatoes they may think you're interested in a double order because the potatoes are a given and many patrons supposedly order their dinners this way. Shown is with the darker brown gravy.

The pumpkin cream pie again was to go. The cream tasted like Reddi-Wip but the pie was actually pretty decent.

Other specials of comfort food sounding goodness I'd like to eventually try is the Corned Beef and Cabbage (Mon.), Liver and Onions (Tues.) and the Mac and Cheese (Fri.). The Spaghetti on Saturdays I am strangely curious in trying for the heck of it.

Christmas decorations are now up "and the Goose Chicken's getting fat.."?

Which reminds me, cash only but they do have an ATM machine now.

"Please put a penny in the old man's hat.." :)

[A part two revisit can be read about here.]

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop, 2633 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92140