Overcast and a wee chilly but I'm rather enjoying it. You might have noticed but my uncategorized blog list is actually on purpose. At least for inspiration on food, I find I often enjoy discovering things serendipitously. I'm also a bit of a scatter brain so while processing my thoughts and food photos in a linear fashion can give me one type of satisfaction, sometimes taking the shotgun method is fun too. Constructing a blog post does feel more like preparing an archaic muzzle loading musket most times, but in any case hope some find today's at least mildly entertaining.
I noticed a couple weeks ago that McDonald's Filet-O-Fish had improved buns. Or I should say they were back much closer to what they used to be originally. I first doubted what I saw but the light sheen on the surface turned out indeed the sign of a lightly steamed spongy bun.
These buns seemed somewhat artificially enhanced but was a vast improvement from the improper matt, dry and crumbly bun of the hamburger's which it was forced to share with over the years of cost cutting. This deterioration of quality was most notable with the size of the fillet, becoming a smaller rectangular shape than square. They'd sandwich it skewed over to one side so that from at least one angle it would look like you were getting a full fillet. Then during what seemed their lowest point, I had a fish fillet that was fried bone dry due to it also cost cut thinner, almost to a 1/4".
Well the fillets were back to being a nice 1/2" thickness and properly square. The processed cheese slice was still rectangular though and failed to make the square version Star of David symbol with the fillet. But it was a big improvement.
Of course all this comes at a price. Was ~$3.59 for the sandwich if I remember right. I noticed these shiny steamed spongy buns were also used for their Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich offered at the same price. Wasn't very crispy but the meats were tender and fibers all naturally aligned in one direction like they should. Undressed and with a slice of dill pickle, reminded me a lot of Chick-fil-A's, the chicken sandwich icon of fast food chains.
I've been watching my calorie intake a little more critically these days so haven't had much of a ramen streak than I'd love to as of late. Not long ago though I did run into Ramen Yakyudori for a quick slurp of their clear amber old-school Shoyu, with extra chashu ($6.50 +$2). Full order gyoza (6pcs -$4).
They've been having some mild inconsistency issues but the all woman team I noticed this day delivered a pretty decent bowl (go female power!!). (A.) The broth seems to be improving too. For one it was piping hot for a change, and while the severe lack of any beads of oil on the surface made me sad, the flavor itself was deeper than usual and it had a subtle, almost ham hock like sweetness, at least this day. I always mentioned preferring a Shoyu edging a seafood gyokai based umami but I also think this fishier flavor may be a little challenging for mainstream acceptance, at least in SD at the moment.
(B.) The pork chashu this day was much leaner and not as soft with what I was used to being served here. Also as much as I appreciated the generosity, I felt it was sliced a little too thick for the leanness. (Sorry I might've exaggerated it a little on the photo..) (C.) The egg a nice half done hanjyuku, perfectly marinated, lightly sweet. (D.) Noodles were borderline of becoming too soft for my liking. My fault for not asking for firm maybe, but I also noticed the kitchen doesn't seem to use a timer. It'd help with the consistency if they did.
The "San Diego Style" healthy Japanese gyozas aren't my favorite (none are in SD) but I make due. Topped them on my free half portion of rice (lunch only). Woo hoo.
Posts on YR are scattered about my blog but an earlier one here and another here.
Though I'm pretty faithful to my bentos at Nijiya Market, once in a while I find it fun to check out what others in town are offering. Found an Omurice with my name at Marukai Market ($5.98). Wow, that sure is a lot of mayo though.
Other notables were the Karaage Curry. The Pork Shogayaki (Ginger Pork) I'm sure is good but visually looked dry. They might want to put a little corn starch slurry in the pan liquids. A trick to give it a light glaze that adheres to the meats and help stay looking more appetizing over time (Kombini's in Japan do it all the time). I Spy a Naporitan-ish pasta in one of the radiused corners. Maybe I'll document one day.
Was actually a pretty good Omurice. Fluffy eggs wrapping your basic ketchup flavored pan-fried chicken rice (チキンライス) inside. I'd have it again.
My latest visit to Jasmine Express was a good month ago when I was craving Roast Duck. Must've been one of Nate's posts that did it.
[Jasmine -----------------------> Jasmine Express]
I actually lived in Alhambra for a few years many many years ago and my apartment wasn't very far from Sam Woo BBQ off of W. Valley Blvd. I only realize now how lucky I was. Much tougher to find good roast duck in SD. A quick SD comparison post on Mmm-yoso here where it seems prices have gone up considerably since. I remember paying in the ~$10 range for this half duck. They give you two types of sauces. The typical bright orange sweet duck sauce and the darker duck au jus drippings style which I prefer more.
The pieces typically go all over the spectrum from lean and boney, to meaty, to very fatty, and everything in between. The piece below was one of the best pieces from the box.
It's that sweet spot of meaty, better rendered fat and lightly crispy skin. Had a decent amount of five-spice flavor and the better roast duck I've had recently.
I heard Ichiro was serving a Mabo-don as a lunch special on Mondays and Wednesdays so thought I'd check it out. I actually rarely come here since the place seems pretty content with serving everyday Japanese mainstream fair to the majority American customers. Totally fine by me. But I thought it was a missed opportunity with the Umenoya folks now there and the effort to merge menus seemed to not have been full-hearted. As far as I can tell Umenoya's dishes are what are on the walls, and only written in Japanese.
The Mabo-don was nice and meaty but really not what I personally look forward in one. Like many, it lacked the rich savoriness that should make me crave the rice and was also rather gloppy. But I have to say it was still a pretty good deal for only $5.99, which even comes with a porky Tonjiru and small salad.
To think Sakura's tonjiru that I always felt overpriced (though a larger portion) itself goes for $6 if I remember right. The tonjiru soup here had a nice porky/miso flavor with fillings ranging from konjac, carrots, onions, daikon, gobo burdock root and of course pieces of lean pork.
I do think many places including Ichiro should put a little more effort into the starter salad's dressing, free or not. The best tasting free salad starter off the Convoy area in my opinion is Sammy's / Sushi Yaro. Sakura's eggy style isn't bad but most rest are all afterthoughts. Sorry, silly free-starter-salad-dressing-rant over.
I had a Karee Pan (Curry Pan) at Nijiya ($1.99) one quick visit. If you never had they're kind of a guilty deep fried bread/donut with a savory curry filling.
I came at noon so these were still fairly fresh out of the fryer. The bite shot I documented was all squished and didn't come out so hot, so tried to artificially illustrate it here. They usually have a rather hollow interior with some pasty mild savory curry filling (onions, carrots, potatoes).
The contrast with the sweeter bread coated with panko is great.
Then came across this photo of a crazy special Negi Toro donburi in a food magazine while I was nuking one of my other purchases.
Dang. Some of the list of seasonings were garlic, ginger, and even Korean gochujang.
On the other hand my more tame but Spring Season inspired Potato & Teba Amakara Ni (sweet savory braised potato and chicken wings).
The shishito peppers were also great and for $2.99 I thought extremely reasonable.
I could go on for a while longer but I think I'll stop here. Maybe I'll do another next weekend. Sorry was too lazy to list addresses today. Hope everyone had a great weekend and to you all mommies actual and expecting... Happy Mother's Day!