Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Kaloko Moco @ Island Style Cafe - And Of Course A TCS..

I was inspired in trying the Kaloko Moco at Island Style Cafe for quite a while now.. But knowing it was a breakfast offering at the (at least for me) bit out of the way Tierrasanta strip mall I had managed to put the thought away and forgotten all about it.

Until during this recent overdue lunch revisit.. I was informed that most of the breakfast items were now available all day (with only the exception of the #4). Island Style Cafe's full menu here.

So the decision was an easy one.. "I'll have the Kaloko Moco please.." *grin*

Looking like a good sized tropical island in its own right, the Kaloko Moco meal ($8.95) turned out to be a miniature mountain landscape full of seismic activity.. To me it seemed as though the molten gravy were threatening the spam, ham and onion homes speckled about the savory sweet crepe island.. Run for your lives! ;)

And because of my inevitable role as a play god on this terrarium island of good eats, only I would know that the time of the sleeping yolk lava's awakening in the over-easy eggs were numbered.. The aftershock.

Almost redefining the term Double-Double.. this was a Double Carbs (Fried Rice and Crepes) and Double Protein (Hamburger Patty and Two Over Easy Eggs) colossus. A triple if I considered the brown gravy a sort of Protein/Carb hybrid?

Chunky textured and beefy flavor seems to be the favored personality of beef patties in Loco Mocos I have tried so far and little that I have read. No exception here but I was able to also taste some additional seasonings of a sweetness (teriyaki maybe) and garlic.

The lip smacking and dense fried rice underneath was to be the foundation of the shifting tectonic beef patty and draped eggs. In the rice were small chunks of red Chinese pork chasu for additional protein and flavor. The sweetness of the crepe took a little getting used to but in the end somehow worked like the popular maple syrup infused McGriddle maybe.

For me the miniature island Kaloko Moco and its unfortunate imaginary inhabitants offered a magnitude of a good lunch. And to think it was once reserved only for breakfast..(!)

I had the Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich during my first visit some time ago. It was during my (post) SD-TCS findings phase.. Here called the Teri Chicken ($8.95) listed under Burgers and Things..

I knew it typically came with my personal TCS pet peeve grilled pineapple but it was easy enough to ask without which I did while in turn asked for adding avocados (+$1).

The meat despite being a skinless chicken breast (with beautiful grill marks) was surprisingly moist and tender. The teriyaki sauce was not too sweet and nice but I will next time ask for more on the side. The larger cut fries were really great as well where it was the kind with a rough texture on the outer surface. I'm wondering if the texture was from a light dredging of flour.. In any case it was fried beautifully.

There are both Senior and Kid's sections on the menu so it's a natural spot for the entire family.

The various salads seemed to be very popular this lunch hour which is good for me (especially now that I'm on a diet) because most of the offerings I'm particularly interested in here I have to earn my way before by a few prior consecutive lighter meals.. But when I Am finally ready for some Loco Moco I like to do it in style. Island Style.. :)

Island Style Cafe, 5950 Santo Rd, Suite K, San Diego, CA 92124

Saturday, May 30, 2009

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop - A Few More Meals..

Just a preface, for this post I had consciously chosen some less than usual items so that it can be a complement to my original that covered most of the basics. So if you have been led here by a search engine or the likes researching the SDCPS, please make sure to read it first! :)

So yes I do own a SDCPS T-shirt but I also live only blocks away from the place.. In these difficult times I thought it would be nice to follow up on this SD institution (so called by many) that helped feed San Diegans for cheap. My most recently documented menu here where I unfortunately noticed another price increase.

The Liver with Onions is a Tuesday only offering ($8) that I always wanted to try since I enjoyed their Chicken Livers Dinner in the past.

I quickly discovered though that this was a whole different animal, literally and figuratively..

Two huge pieces of well done sliced Beef Liver steaks were covered in lovely grilled onions. The beef liver when thoroughly cooked seems to magnify the distinctive strong iron flavor and texture it is so well known for. This dish is obviously for a person that absolutely loves eating liver. It is closest to its elemental form and served straight up. The grilled onions with its fantastic char and light caramelization were great but almost a necessity for me where a slab of the butter from the made in house bread roll was also nice in breaking some of the monotony (though in fairness some of it was due to the sheer large portion of the dish).

Chose the Cream of Broccoli for the soup.

Always searching for better lighting for my photo-documentative purposes the waitress was kind enough to let me sit in the booth by the window which is usually reserved for guests of more than one.

The pie (Coconut Cream) was to-go as usual. Had it later and it was coconutty and creamy.

The Spaghetti is only available on Fridays ($6).

The pasta was till-it-turns-white-and-twice-the-original-diameter cooked. I think this is how many pastas (especially spaghetti) were served back in the day before the word al dente became a popular term and concept (thanks to Mario Batali?).

A very filling meal for six bucks that included garlic bread (nothing fancy but good with light butter, garlic powder and dry parsley flakes). The plate's also pairing with free coleslaw was a bit odd but I actually enjoyed the pasta sauce which was low in acidity, lightly sweet and with some ground beef. (A great talk by Malcolm Gladwell on American spaghetti sauce here..)

The Hot Turkey Sandwich ($5.75) from their main menu.

The concept of the hot sandwich - a sandwich (sometimes open-faced but not in this case) smothered in gravy is very fascinating to me (as does airline food and meals packaged for astronauts, fyi).

The turkey is the typical dryer breast meat and so the served with lighter chicken gravy makes the two a symbiotic relationship that even mother nature would have intended.

Includes a side of mashed potatoes but does not come with the cup of split pea shown ($1.75). I was playing with the non-dairy creamer btw.. This day the soup was a little on the watery side but it usually doesn't disappoint.

Wished this was also true for the Chopped Steak Dinner ($7). It was quite tough and uninspiring. For the price I would way rather have the Meat Loaf ($6) but you'd have to be there on a Monday for that.

The Corn Chowder soup served this particular day had more flavor than in the past with a garlic (powder?) kick. I later passed on dessert which isn't unusual for me.

The Half Baked Chicken is offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays for $8.

Wow, a half of chicken just as described so I wasn't sure why I was surprised at the site of my plate when it arrived. The seasoning was actually lightly sweet and I may have also detected paprika but none of the other stronger aromatics such as rosemary, thyme or garlic was present. The meat was extremely tender..

Though for the now increased price and to know a whole rotisserie can be picked up at Henry's just down the street for less just made me wonder.

My usual Split Pea Soup. The Blueberry Pie I chose was again to-go.

The Macaroni and Cheese is a Friday only ($6). I had asked for the bacon bits and I don't remember if I were charged extra for it.

Was very mild on the cheese flavor and seemed something more made with milk than a heavy cream. I think I've been spoiled by the multi-cheesed and much heavier versions served by the by now almost mainstream Comfort Food with a Modern Twist category many restaurants have.. But I can see a kid really enjoy this and the budget conscious family attracting place the SDCPS is, I would say it fits the bill.

And maybe it was this that brought out the playfulness in me. Sadly for my mother I like to still play with my food on occasion.. Obviously not in a catapulting peas across the room way but I sometimes get inspirations that I want to try out..

Like a Mac-N-Cheese Sandwich.(!)

A lightly buttered roll with a veggie layer of coleslaw, the main mac-n-cheese, and then a generous sprinkle of bacon bits.

It was... interesting. Could've maybe benefited from a cheesier mac, but still would most likely not be a foundation in creating a new fast food franchise to sweep across the nation.

San Diego Chicken Pie Shops will probably not be multiplying across the city anytime soon either but it seems to be serving a niche that keeps many in coming back. Having said that, the gradual price increases over the relatively short time I've lived here is a bit of a concern.

Not having a sweet tooth, the slice of pie included in some meals had never been a big enticement for me personally and so with some dinners (that I had for lunch) creeping up to $8, I have to say I have a few other options. I will keep supporting SDCPS as much as I can but I hope they remember that it is their job to feed us and not the other way around.
Still you will find pretty good deals on the daily specials board by the entrance. If I ever get around doing yet a third post it will most likely be on them.

Ok I now admit I own not one but two of their T-shirts.. in different colors.. ;)

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

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pho Lucky - Mira Mesa

Boy have I come a long way writing about the Vietnamese rice noodle soup - Pho. I'm embarrassed to even provide this link to my hardly informational first of Pho Hoa (still one of my favorites spots).

Well, still learning a lot about Pho but I think I have a new most favorite in SD. Pho Lucky.

A little out of the way for me (especially from home but closer to work) but wasn't as bad as I initially thought. Maybe the Vista location came up on my original google search.. Here at least from North Park-ish town, I would take 15-fwy North, exit Mira Mesa Blvd (West bound) and you're practically there.

Pho Lucky's full menu here. While prices seem to have gone up slightly (judging by the relabeling)..

..It was nice that a dine in order included a free can of soda.
And the Pho.. What a pretty bowl it was. Thinly sliced onions, scallions and cilantro topped the various cuts of beef.

The very fragrant soup had a great medium hearty flavor to match. My closest comparison was the one from Pho Ca Dao but the soup here felt much more refined and with clarity (at least to my palate).

Had the small size ($5.25) and not to persuade anyone in not getting the large or even XL but the small for me is still a fairly good amount. The meats were relatively generous and both tender with flavor. I had the #5 with rare steak, well done brisket, tendon and (s)tripe(?). As good as the soup was I still asked for their side of Nuoc Beo "fatty broth" by habit.

At least finally for this post though (unlike my others) I did enough digging online to see that my original hunch was right about the Nuoc Beo in that this oily concoction was simply the byproduct of the simmering process of the soup. But as a product of one from the hearty soup cauldron of Pho Lucky's would be, this particular liquid gold would be a liquid gold with an extra sprinkle of diamond dust. Pretty pimp stuff.

Speaking of, I never knew I wanted a neon Pho sign of my own until this day. I won't even turn mine into a functional clock. No, just for ambiance.

So with the addition of garnishes and some drizzle of Nuoc Beo the bowl looked like so..

The Ngo Gai - saw leaf herb is not shown well but something that I also enjoy with my Pho and nice because a lot of places do not seem to provide it anymore. Finally a very good amount of noodles that were not over cooked and retained its texture all meant that it was going to be a darn good lunch.

Still waiting for the day SD will have their own Pho with Fillet Mignon spot.. But until then I still feel pretty lucky to have a place like Pho Lucky.

Wasn't able to take too many photos of the Lucky Seafood Market where Pho Lucky resides. My camera's low battery signal had been flashing since my rice noodle shot and I knew I still wanted to get an exterior photo of the building.

These Indian Bitter Melons peaked my interest because although they where much smaller than Goya from back home..

..They had the much more defined candle wax like ridges that I was familiar with. Like Godzilla's back?

I wonder if they have the same bitterness concentration and intensity of the Okinawan Goya. Like ten wheatgrass shots packed into a single bite. My uncles used to have it cut wafer thin raw sashimi style(!). I much prefer it stir fried though, Goya Champuroo. What happened to all those WG shot bars anyway?

Many of the hot steam tray items looked good here as well but I'll save that for next time. SO Much Food. Will I ever get to try them all..

Pho Lucky (inside Lucky Seafood Market), 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92126