Thursday, May 30, 2013

Everyday Bentos 3: Bookstore Clerk Nobu-san's Aisai Bento

"Aisai Bento" (愛妻弁当) describes a packed lunch made with loving care by one's spouse. It's a commonly used word in Japan so there must be quite many loving spouses making these care filled lunch boxes for their significant others. How cool is that! Nobu-san who is employed at a local Japanese bookstore is one of these lucky people who brings said homemade aisai boxes of delicious eats to the office every workday. He is sharing for my blog this day (thanks again for your cooperation Nobu-san!). And so let us have a looksy shall we...

おっ、いい感じに渋いですね!I see Sake (pronounced 'shakĕ') Furēku - seasoned salmon flakes, nori no tsukudani (super nice! A kind of seasoned nori paste which I express my love for in a very old "what's on my rice" post), chicken karaage, and simmered kabocha pumpkin. The miso soup was said to have onions and potatoes in it, and even a side salad of tomatoes and pea shoots to nutritionally balance things out. All the care and loving thoughtfulness is making me blush! ;)

And as usual some simple questions I've asked...

Q: What are your favorite foods?
A: Fish! Salmon is my most favorite. Also Nori no Tsukudani you see today. (Me too!) I hate Liver.

Q: Do you and your wife have any favorite restaurants/eateries in San Diego?
A: We usually don't go out to eat very much because I need to monitor my sugar intake (being diabetic).

Q: In that case, on a rare occasion do you have any favorite guilty foods?
A: I actually like Carl's Jr. Teriyaki Sandwich.

Q: If you were in Japan right now, what would you want to eat?
A: Sushi and Tempura.

Q: Where do you like to shop for groceries in San Diego?
A: Mitsuwa and Nijiya.

Q: I hear you also enjoy cooking. What are your signature dishes?
A: That would be beef stew.

Q: What other things tend to be in your everyday bentos?
A: Nothing special, they are usually leftovers. But when my daughter makes, she usually tries to put in my favorites.

I'd really love to try your beef stew one of these days Nobu-san. And thanks again very much for sharing us your bento!!

Part Two: Kensuke's Paleo Hamburg Bento.
Part One: Hairstylist H.S.san's Naporitan Bento. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Everyday Bentos 2: Kensuke's Paleo Hambagu Bento

This day's personal bento sharing volunteer comes from my local Japanese rental video shop. I've known Kensuke for a while now and he'd always be the first to recommend any new or one-off special food related shows (particularly that of ramen!) that had come in the week. When I discovered he usually brings in a packed lunch I didn't hesitate to ask if he would kindly share for the blog. Thanks buddy! :)

Kensuke admits his lunch usually is made by his loving sister, often consisting of leftovers from the past night. But for the interview he busted out some of his own cooking to better represent his Paleo / Primal Diet. Two large hamburg patties and a side of some broccoli. The hamburger is said to be a mix of ground beef, onions, bacon, eggs, coconut flour, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Broccoli is boiled and covered with butter, salt, and pepper.

Kensuke is also a long distance runner and he explained to me his theory about how he feels the diet helps with his training.

"My diet is Primal to be exact but it is very similar to Paleo diet. The heart of the diet is that you try to avoid anything with grains/sugar/processed foods (which is why I rarely go out to eat). What you want to be eating are things ranging from meat and vegetables, seafood, fruits...

The conventional wisdom would tell me to carbo-load and make sure I have that energy supply but I found that I can go through my training and function just fine. The thing about Primal diet is that you feel so damn good all the time I'd be eating this way even if I wasn't training as an athlete.

I now feel carbo-loading should only be used in special circumstances. Long distance runners do need little more carbohydrates in their diet compared to regular folks but the fact is distance running is primarily an aerobic activity, which relies on oxygen as source of energy not glucose in your muscles.. Thus, you are not training correctly if you are burning glucose stored in your body on a daily basis that requires large amount of carbo-refueling.

Interesting concept Kensuke! And now for some questions for the blog...

Q: What are your favorite foods? Any you can't live without?
A: I wouldn't go as far as I can't live without but I do love bacon and eggs in the morning! I also love strawberries and eat them pretty regularly.

Q: Have any favorite restaurants/eateries in San Diego?
A: I don't eat out much but when my friends visit we go to Phil's BBQ and Tacos El Gordo down a little south.

Q: (My favorite question..) Do you have any favorite guilty/junk foods?
A: Probably chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, since it's not really part of the diet. But I usually don't feel that guilty about it, haha.

Q: I think you said you were from Hawaii? If you were there now, what would you want to eat? Like, what do you miss the most?
A: I am pretty fond of Hawaiian foods like fish and poi (Taro potato) as well as anything coconut. So the Hawaiian food and also garlic chicken from Fat Boys in Kailua!

Q: When you cook, what are areas you take particular care in?
A: Not in particular, but my personality is to take good care of things and I think it rubs off into my cooking.

Q: What other things do you tend to pack in your bentos?
A: Other foods I use for my simple bentos are baked chicken, Primal chili, pork chops, and various vegetables, but as you mentioned they are usually left overs from the night before.

This was fantastic, thanks again for sharing your bento with us!!

Part One: Hairstylist H.S.san's Naporitan Bento.

Lunching @ Green Acre

When Fibonacci's located in the Lilly Biotech Center closed my coworkers and I were pretty bummed to say the least. We really liked them a lot and I particularly felt bad since I never had posted on them. I still have photos of their great pay-by-weight salads (which easily were the best in the area, both Bristol Farms and Whole Foods combined) that were saved for another week-long future Salabration post that never took fruition all of last year. :( Their made to order burgers were quite juicy and tasty too.

Well my lunching cohorts and I now have a pretty sweet replacement called Green Acre, a Brian Malarkey produced establishment situated in a business cafeteria type of setting that seems to be in trend in these parts. For me the sheer convenience is nice enough, if not having such great lunch options. Fyi, you get a small discount if you work in their Nautilus building but Green Acre is open to the public.

Things are pretty comfy here but for me probably the best part is the functioning vegetable garden where the few lawn chairs allow you to actually eat in it, reminding me of old Peter Rabbit tales, ha. :)

So not surprising the salads are great here (tossed to order while boxed can be grabbed if you're on the go) but my go-to meal is usually their burger. I've come to learn to say "the one with meat" as they have another popular veggie pattied option.

Grass-fed beef, roasted tomatoes and leeks, melted brie cheese on a toasted pretzel bun. They've been fairly consistent having the patty done to a pink-center medium the times I've had and the bun holds everything together nicely with good bread-to-protein ratio. It's a pretty good burger. The fries available in russet or yam I'd also recommend. Hopefully you'll get a fresh batch like I did this day. My only wish is to have their 'tomato jam' to taste more like ketchup and less marinara sauce-ish maybe.

My coworker had a special that I apologize not remembering the name of but I had a small taste and the aioli and arugula combo with the moist chicken was fantastic. I'd love to order it if it reappears. Also shown my very manly strawberry lavender lemonade drink with cool paper straw.

Speaking of Fibonacci's, a second Green Acre location is slated to take its place soon. There's a temporary makeshift spot in the front of the Lilly building that I checked out sometime in February I think. The Short Rib Chili was actually Delicious.

The meatloaf sandwich was a little on the dry side and could've been heated more (you can see the unmelted cheese). They have the free 80's arcade machines in there now but I think I'll be waiting until they officially open up in the larger permanent spot out back (only if I don't get a hankering for that chili first).

Last March Canine Cologne, Cathy and I had met up for a weekday lunch. It was my turn to pick a spot so asking if they wouldn't mind the drive I thought it'd be fun to meet at GA. (Thanks again for coming up guys! As usual it was really great to catch up with you both.)

So above, another burger again for me, ha. Cathy's 'Nice!' salad with albacore behind it and CC's 'Drunken Mary' chicken panini and 'Corn Cobb' salad in the next photo. I had a small taste of the quick-seared tuna on Cathy's salad which was done rare and fresh. The time was mostly spent on catching up though and it all but flew too quickly. You can read in detail about them on Canine Cologne's post on her blog here as well as Cathy's description here. I think everyone enjoyed their meals. :)

A Thai style Green Curry with GA veggies was a special one day. Liked that it wasn't too sweet and you could really taste the integrity of the vegetables that are full of flavor. Got some russet fries on the side since I wasn't sure of the portion. :P

You get few Taco options on Tuesdays, a choice between grilled chicken, steak or shrimp.

This was maybe one of their more rare off days where the tacos were served a bit cold, but they were tasty enough with the smashed avo, fresh pico de gallo and shredded smoked cheese. The carrot ginger soup was good too.

I think the Flat Iron Steak Sandwich and Spinach Artichoke Wild Nettles Soup I had the most recent visit, another one of their revolving specials.

Juicy strips of steak with bleu cheese, grilled red onions, Mizuna greens (nice!) and house made steak sauce. Definitely hit the spot. The soup tasted particularly fresh too with flavors of mature garden picked greens potent, an enjoyable nice change.

For some reason if you google "Green Acre, San Diego" at the moment the second locale off Campus Point comes up. The location CC, Cathy and I met up at is the main one off General Atomics Court.

Green Acre, 3535 General Atomics Court, San Diego 92121
Green Acre 2, 10300 Campus Point Dr, San Diego, CA 92121

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Series: Everyday People, Everyday Bentos!

Really excited in introducing a new series tonight about documenting bentos made and had by the people I know around me.(!) The packed lunches may not be the fanciest, but as you might guess 'keep'n it real' is sort of the point of it all. My personal hobby interest of surveying the everyday packed lunches that otherwise would go unnoticed, and the small stories they tell.

My series' willingful Part One volunteer is none other than my hairstylist S-san. Yay (and thank you!). She was also totally cool about taking a full photo as long as I kept the name initialed. (Each person will be different about these things.)

As with me, Miss S. is a big Japanese Spaghetti Naporitan fan (as well as most B-kyu Gurume) and we'd always have fun conversing about our favorites. Like how her hometown Nagoya has a distinctive regional style of Napo being served on a hot iron plate with a thin layer of omelet underneath. Since I've been hearing about some she'd make and pack for lunch I admit in semi-requesting one for this day.

If you're new to the concept of Naporitan, it's basically a Japan invented pan-fried spaghetti dish maybe most known for its humble key seasoning of tomato ketchup. Was explained this version further uses some Demi Glace for a more 'adult flavor' as well as a little Japanese Usutaa Sauce and Shoyu.

After some searing in a standard household frying pan, the resulting umami alchemy is a surprisingly rounded flavor, helped fortified with a little butter and (in this case also) fat from spicy sausages (S-san said she used Farmer John brand this time). Otherwise the sliced bell peppers and onions make it a classic version that is finally topped with a luxurious looking fried egg. The broccoli side is made with some mayo, tuna and white sesame seeds.

Quickly asked a few basic questions for the post...

Q: What are your favorite food/s?
A: Edamame

Q: Favorite restaurant in San Diego?

Q: Do you have any favorite guilty/junk foods?
A: Chili Cheese Fries!

Q: If you were in Japan right now, what would you want to eat?
A: Umeno Hana's - Umeno Hana Zen

Q: Where do you like to shop for groceries in San Diego?
A: H-Mart

Q: Do you enjoy cooking?
A: Yes and No...

Q: When you cook, what are areas you take particular care in?
A: Iro-ai (色合い, or color harmony / color interest).

Q: What other things do you tend to pack in your bentos?
A: Onigiri (rice balls), Donburi-mono, or Sandwiches.

Thanks again S-san for your time, and thanks for sharing your bento with us!!