Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two Meals - Saturday 03.20.2010

I'm trying something a little new and writing about the two meals I had today quickly. Well, the day didn't start very well with a sub-par bowl of Pho for lunch so I was determined to end the day on a positive note. Decided to finally check out Latin Chef. A place in Pacific Beach that offers a Peruvian and Brazilian menu.

And boy was I glad I did. :) I'm pretty sure Latin Chef was one of Kirk of mmm-yoso's recommendations to me when I had asked about the lack of good lunch spots in PB so I must give credit here. Kirk's early visits in 2007 can be found here and here.

This place is super cute and cozy. A friendly portion of fried corn kernels arrived immediately after I ordered.

A nice salty and crunchy to munch on while you wait. My description of the Guarana soda was a fruitier version of a ginger ale type drink. Also had a Coxinha ($2.50).

A curious conical shaped appetizer, described on the menu as a fried flour pastry filled with chicken. The fried dough to me had a pleasant potato-starchy / light cheesy flavor that I really enjoyed and a flavored shredded chicken filling to match. Was told typically eaten with ketchup but to me it was nice just as-is (and I'm a total ketchup fiend).

The Tallaran Verde con Bistec had then arrived..(!)

($11) I ordered it partially because I wanted to compare it with another bistec dish I had previously elsewhere (future post). They actually ask you the doneness of the bistec here and had it medium.

I thought the bistec was acceptably tender for such a lean cut while I also enjoyed the light marinated flavor. The pasta was intensely creamy pesto!

On the menu the pesto was described as made with pecans but it seemed to also have a hint of a curry type of spice that differentiated it from something purely Italian. But all in all pretty much what I had imagined this plate would be. The pasta did prove to be a bit heavy near the end but I managed to finish. I was stuffed. Thank you Latin Chef for a very good meal to end my day. I will be back for lunch very soon!

Latin Chef, 1142 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

Pho Point Loma & Grill used to be an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet called South China Restaurant. I visited roughly two years ago and remember leaving very.. uninspired. By chance I drove by the area early this week and noticed it had changed to PPL. I was more than happy to put the old memories aside and give these new tenants a try. Truth be told I failed to find the Classics Malt Shop this day (I now realize I misspelled their name on my GPS!).

PPL's menu was extensive enough running the full gamut from appetizers to banh mi sandwiches to com tam plates to stir-fries, and of course Pho. They let me order a half order of Cha Gio.

The wrapper was the Chinese egg roll kind which I personally don't have a problem with though purists may. What did somewhat bug me though was that it wasn't piping hot which I can't remember cha gio ever not being served that way except for the few that I had at to-go places (piled high under heat lamps but priced attractively). With only two other lunch groups (who were already eating) besides me this was a bummer. The nuoc mam cham was sweet enough but light in the fish sauce. Unfortunately none were provided on the table to personally remedy.

I ordered the Pho No. 2 ($5.75) which read - rare steak, well-done steak, flank, brisket and tripe.

They may have given me the No. 3 because I noticed there were no rare steak but some tendon instead. Anyhow the soup was a mild salty broth with very little beef/herb/spice flavor distinctive of Pho. In the past I tended to be more forgiving of this if the meats were prepared well but this wasn't the case. :( Many of the meats (I'm guessing flank) was very fatty but not in a good way and hard to chew gummy. For better or worse they weren't very generous with the amount and except for the brisket were all not very desirable cuts. The nuoc beo even wasn't enough to save this bowl which for me says a lot.

I'm hoping the Pho would improve over time since the place is new and is a relatively easy area for me to get to from home. Until then I would gladly visit many others, not to mention Pho La Jolla (which I'd like to clarify that I never said was bad but just that there were better out there..) or even Pho Time or Pho Sao Bien in PB if from work, and of course my favorite Pho Lucky if I'm inclined to make the light trek to Mira Mesa. So you can say I thought PPL had a lot of work cut out for them as far as their Pho is concerned.. Could be the rest of their menu makes up for it.. So I may revisit but not without waiting for a few months time..

Pho Point Loma & Grill, 2788 Midway Dr, San Diego, Ca 92110

Well maybe one good meal out of two today isn't so bad..


Mike said...

I went to Latin Chef soon after they opened, and it was a mixed experience. I should give them another shot now that they've been around longer.

Dennis K. said...

Thanks for the heads up Mike. I have visited both spots only once and to be fair PPL has just opened as well so I guess time will tell.


If oyu like fish you should try the cebiche at Latin Chef - it is one of the best versions in San Diego with an outstanding leche de tigre.

KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - The cebiche lenguado(pescado) at Latin Chef is very good, as is the Tiradito, if they have that back on the menu. What do I always say about Nouc Beo.... ;o)

Dennis K. said...

Thanks for the recommendation TF1J! I've been a born again fish lover recently.. :)

Thanks Kirk! Will try..
You know maybe my Pho palate is becoming more sophisticated?? haha. But the lousy meats had put me over the edge... (as positive as I try to be..)

caninecologne said...

hi dennis
i like latin chef - there was a fish dish i had there before (sorry, forgot the name) but it was pretty good! the owner was also very nice and loves to talk! i just tried nazca grill (haven't posted it yet) in clairemont...

as for the former south china restaurant - it used to be a buffet place. went there for a friend's wedding rehearsal dinner. the food was kinda crappy. this is next to aaron brothers and some titty bar i believe.

word ver:

Dennis K. said...

Hi CC, I was just wondering about Nazca Grill the other day passing it. I ate at Tropical Star. My food was very simple fair but I found myself very strangely attracted to the place's atmosphere, haha. Hope to post soon as well.