Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pre-Vacay Ramblings.. Wow, End Of 2010!!

VACATION TIME! :) Flying home tomorrow for a week and then spending another week in Tokyo. I'm not sure what sort of access to the net I'll have during so this post may actually be my last of 2010.

Watched Tron: Legacy Thursday night. Technically it was wee hours of Friday morning.. But anyway, I thought it was pretty good despite still feeling it had potential of being even better, like how surprisingly good The Dark Knight was, but anyway it was good satisfying entertainment. I'd watch it again.

In the area of food consumption.. Visited Aria Kabob Cafe a couple more times. I was tempted in ordering another lamb dish but tried their $4.95 lunch special and thought it was a bargain deal. Coming from the steam trays it's a really quick meal too if you're in a hurry.

You get a little bit of everything, usually around four things plus rice. Just today I had what's above. Beef stew (curry?), a spiced green pea dish, chicken stew and mashed yellow lentils (yum).
Another day were potatoes simmered in spices, chicken curry, fried eggplant (delicious) and green peas in spices. Not bad at all for something priced along a Cali Burrito.

As with Kirk of mmm-yoso I had to try the fried hot dog with three toppings out of pure curiosity. Mine with chili, onions and tomatoes. The wiener was fried up nicely, but as I read it was in fact really just a hot dog. For the price I'll stick to my Costco dog but still glad I tried it since it'll let me sleep better at nights now knowing, haha. ;)

Aria Kabob Cafe, 8010 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

Being in the Holiday Spirit I have some nice things to report on Tajima. Their lunch combos at $8.95 are a pretty good fill and quite decent. A choice of two items from a long list and comes with salad, a light mayo'd pasta, miso soup and bowl of rice.
This day my Surf 'n' Turf lunch of menchi katsu and broiled mackerel.

Recently Tajima has been claiming to use Kobe beef in their hamburg and menchi. I'm sure they really mean Kobe-style beef but in any case despite the menchi being fried close to incineration it proved to still be moist and relatively juicy (when eaten while hot). No complaints on the broiled mackerel either.

Chicken Nanban was offered as a lunch special one day for $9.95 and thought I'd try it. It's the first offered in SD as far as I know.

The fried chicken dipped in a spicy vinegar sauce I wished were crispier but was moist and tasty especially with that light tartar sauce. The plate even came with a hiyayakko. Their gyoza has improved somewhat being a bit more substantial with a little more filling. Still far from mouth watering but the Japanese gyoza whore that I am will most never turn a plate of it down if placed in front of me. ;)

Tajima Japanese Restaurant, 4681 Convoy Street, San Diego, CA 92111

Two lunch meals from a series of work related errands in the last few months. At Miyabi Tei in Mitsuwa Costa Mesa's food court, I usually end up ordering their giant special of the day curry plates but ended up with a hot soba and mini katsu-don combo. I knew it would be very average tasting but it was what I was in the mood for and at $6.25 you can say it's a pretty good deal as well. And look, for your soba all the free tenkasu you want!.. :)

Funny how you can buy tenkasu in a bag for your okonomiyaki or takoyaki recipe, but it really originated as a byproduct from collecting rogue batter bits when frying up large quantities of tempura (something they actually do here at Miyabi Tei). A nice heaping ladleful for me.

Below there are at least five shadows pointing in every which direction on my tray. Six including one of myself that I'm casting over my meal. This food court is one of the worst for taking photos. Anyway, the mini katsu-don was quite Ok and I love takuan. Again, for six bucks it was hard to complain.

Miyabi Tei (in Mitsuwa-CM Food Court) 665 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Another photo of a Styrofoam box, this specimen from Bentoss right across the parking lot..

Bentoss' piping hot Japanese curry when on their "A" game can be delicious. They were on their "B+" game this day but it was still pretty good with lots of umami from sweet veggies. I have a stash of more of these visits that I need to eventually dig up.

Bentoss, 675 Paularino Ave, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Ramen Yakyudori has been like one of those new friends you make where your first impression was great but then realize you have yet to put a finger on their true personality. RY usually delivers a decent Tokyo Shoyu. This day could've had more beads of oils on the surface but more important they really need to crank the heat temperature up on the soup.

Too bad they stopped serving the shoyu in the special bowl. I never understood why they stopped. It was way cooler and for me much more appetizing looking.

But anyway I've yet to try the yakitori during dinner. Kirk's very positive post on it recently it seems the grilled skewers are at least as good as the original location in Hillcrest. Perhaps this place was a Yakitori house that happened to serve ramen after all? :P

Recently the miso was back to the more punchy aka-miso personality. It was on the salty side but something I can handle. If they can only blend the miso so that it'd pack a flavorful miso punch while also not be too salty, I think they'll have something that would satisfy many more San Diegans. Just my humble opinion.

Ramen Yakyudori, 4898 Convoy St., Suite 101, San Diego, CA 92111

Finally a complementary rice ball from an Udon teishoku meal from my personally beloved Izakaya Sakura. From experience the rice ball is usually filled with mentaiko cod roe, but this day was with some of the nice miso marinated salmon from their lunch set.

Delicious. Almost as good as my mother's made for me for Sports Day in grade school, haha.

Be kind, be good, be fair. If you don't hear from me in the two weeks, you will in 2011!

Kuroshio Sea - 2nd largest aquarium tank in the world - (song is Please don't go by Barcelona) from Jon Rawlinson on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Milk Rapper - Shibori

Emcee Shibori representing "Holstein Style"..

A longer clip that includes a geniusly cute intro to the television show milkchapon and a hilarious convo with bartender and milk loving school kid that unwinds at Milk Bar Moo Jersey.

Milk Japan's info taken from youtube channel milkchapon:

MILK JAPAN conducts grassroots activities under the motto - "Making Japan energetic with milk!", to support the healthy growth of children through drinking of milk. On this channel, we deliver various video contents mainly from the TV program "Milk Chapon -- MILK JAPAN for All", broadcast weekly on Friday mornings from 4:35am on TBS.

Neat! :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Blog, Another OXXO

So I found there's a blog out there that the person photographs OXXO stores. I didn't know at the time but OXXO is supposedly the 7-11 equivalent in Mexico. The photos are all beautiful, check them out.

(image: Otro OXXO -

Inspired, I dug out a few of my own photos taken in Mexico. Rather not say which city for now but it's not TJ.

[speed bumps]




[bacon wrapped dog at a mexican quickie mart]

I had to include something food related.. Could've been at an OXXO. I just don't remember.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More Lunches @ Wa Dining Okan

Sharing more of my meals from this hobby of photo-documenting the food I eat.. Tonight lunches I've had at Wa Dining Okan again. My last recent Okan post of a dinner and more lunches here. The rest are kinda scattered about my blog..

Although I recently noticed the sides are now available by themselves at an extra cost, for the better value the drill still is to first order the Basic Set for $6.50 then add a side, or two as I sometimes do when extra hungry. The very healthy basic set typically looks like so..

Comes with some hijiki brown rice (lower left), a piping hot miso soup with lots of vegetables (lower right), homemade pickles (center bottom) and a three taster "tapas" (top) that can range from some Asian potato salad to simmered gobo root..

..renkon lotus root with minced meat, simmered sansai mountain vegetables..
..spicy cucumber salads, kabocha pumpkin..

..and eggplant simmered in miso (which was really great this day) to name a few.

The rice can be switched to white if you like and seconds are free up to an extra half bowl.

As for the weekly changing sides to add, they can range from $3.00 ~ $4.50.
One week was an individual portioned sukiyaki that came in a cute tiny lidded nabe.

The flavor of the soy sauce/sugar/mirin broth was spot on and the herby flavor of the shungiku wonderful. In sukiyaki a raw egg is commonly offered as a dip but a poached egg here. Dippity do da.. Yummo.

One week Kaki Fry (panko fried oysters) were on the menu.

I later received an extra one cause the sizes can vary. I wish now I took a shot after I bit into one but it was perfectly medium-rare with lots of briney oyster liquids inside.

The ginger pork during one lunch had great flavor too.

I did wish it had the pan liquids but the chic and slightly more formal atmosphere Okan has it wasn't like I'd be pouring it over my rice or anything..... ;)
Tonkatsu pork cutlet. They understand the concept of carryover heat where the leaner hire cut was tender and still moist in the center.

Okan usually also has a daily special, recently of various fancy donburis. Below an Una-don that replaces the rice in the basic set for $13.50.

Admittedly on the high side, especially for the quantity but the eel kabayaki was reheated wonderfully by actual grilling and inarguably was great with its extremely fine meat texture.

Despite my carnivorous tendencies, I've come to discover any of Okan's tofu offerings are never disappointing. They're usually never under flavored and have punchy flavors. Fried tofu in sweet Japanese gravy with sesame seeds..

Really great and was surprisingly filling. But the tofu steak with roasted bonito flakes from another day below was So good. But I know the photo doesn't do it justice..

The reserved drizzle of a tart black vinegar sauce was just right, the extra smoky bonito flakes was wonderful, and it had these really great crunchy garlic bits on it damn it.
Below the fried tofu with vegetable and Japanese gravy sauce that really hit the spot too.

I never usually partake in dessert as much as Okan's are great because my severe lack of a sweet tooth. But I gave in one day and tried the Macha Panna Cotta.

The sweetness was very reserved with the custard portion having a light coffee flavor. You'd think it'd totally crash with the bitter green tea Macha topping but it was really good.(!)

With all the weekly and daily changes that goes on with the menu, Okan can really benefit from a Twitter account. Just sayin'.. :)

A friendly reminder that lunch at Okan is cash only and happens on weekdays, plus now also Saturdays. Cheerios.

Wa Dining Okan, 3860 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Few Hot Dog Ramblings

I think I found myself here after hunting down another disguised cell tower on my way home from Irvine one weekend. From what I quickly gathered, this was the second location of Dave's World Famous Burgers • Dogs, the original institutional location being a tiny shack somewhere in Long Beach. I ended up with the Grilled Dog Sandwich and not a burger though.

The manager of the shop was the coolest guy. After I asked if I can snap a photo of my sandwich on the counter, he playfully placed the little folded card stock menu next to it and said he could use some advertisement. :)

I forgot what I paid for the sandwich but it wasn't much. Also not sure what brand the franks were but they were skinless and extra fine in texture. The rest of my sandwich consisted of grilled onions, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, ketchup and mayo. Basic stuff but what I was in the mood for.

I felt I really needed to visit the original location someday, not to mention order up a burger and fries next time.

Dave's World Famous Burgers • Dogs, 2222 Palo Verde Ave, Long Beach, CA 90815

Though it may be hard to tell under all that rich chili sauce, the Chili Hot Dog at Tommy's Original actually has a decent locally produced natural casing all beef dog by Papa Cantella's.

Even after consuming these dogs numerously throughout the years I never really noticed. Since eating the messy thing in a close to any civilized manner is practically impossible, I ordered it with the chili on the side one day. Wow, I can suddenly detect a light snap and beefy flavors..

But too bad the franks are still shy of the bun unlike the image of it hanging right above the Cashier...(protruding out both ends). In any case I still prefer the burgers over the dogs here..

Tommy's Original, 7415 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

I'm sure most already know but you can now get your $1.50 Costco hot dog fix in Kearny Mesa. A new Costco Business Center opened up in the former Home Depot Expo location and there are super convenient parking spaces right next to the concession stand as if they were dedicated to people like me.

I tried the $1.99 slice of pizza for the first time. I have to say it was the biggest slice of Pizza mediocrity I've tried and I really couldn't finish it. I'd bet these taste great cold the next morning but my leftovers consisted of mostly bread.

On the other hand it seems I'm much more forgiving towards a $1.50 over-sized hot dog that comes with a 20 oz. drink (and with refills). Especially when you can pile on an array of condiments. Only mustard, relish and onions for me but lots. And Look, the frank sticks out on both ends of the bun just as advertised. Now that's a nice sight.. ;)

Costco Business Center, 7803 Othello Ave, San Diego, CA 92111