Thursday, February 25, 2010

Simply.. Marco - Food Television At Its Best?

I found some great circa 1980's clips of Marco Pierre White on a show called simply Marco.. Darn the show is simply........ EIGHTIES, it's great. The shoulder pads on that narrator lady can't be missed. In a four part series Marco first cooks for Albert Roux. Young Marco reminds me of Kurgan..

Part two, and three..

Next Marco cooks for Nico Ladenis, Pt.1.. Check out young baby face Gordon Ramsay!

Part two, and three.

Marco then cooks for Pierre Koffman, Pt.1..

Part-2, Part-3. Love the sound of that bread!

And the best for last.. Marco cooks for Raymond Blanc (skipping to Pt.3). Marco is not in a good mood. You can cut the awkward tension with a dull butter knife. RB seems intimidated by Marco. Oh Marco.. *sigh*

Not to miss part One and Two. I want to try that pig's trotter!
They sure don't make great food television like these these days.. Then again Marco was one of a kind. And so was the eighties. Marco.. "His talent, his volatile temperament, and his phenomenal energy.. have combined to produce a controversial star..."
I'm thinking of changing the name of my blog to Definitely Dennis.. Definitely NOT, haha.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Shoyu Ramen @ Eboshi And A Niboshi Ramen @ Ramen California

Didn't know I'd be having two very wa-fu ramens this day.. A work related errand to L.A. over the weekend gave me the idea of finally checking out Ramen California. I guessed that the big buzz would have settled down by now and I'm just not big on waiting in lines.. (with an exception when in Japan). Anyway it would be that I found RC closed at 2:40PM and to reopen again for dinner at 5:30. Darn! So then decided to check out Eboshi which was a few minutes away. I vaguely remembered visiting here with friends back in early 2000 and that was way before having this blog..

I got the Mini Trio for ~$9 or so with extra pork Chashu (+$1.90). The mini trio comes with a half order of ramen, in this case Shoyu, half order of fried rice or "hanchan", and three gyozas.

Describing the Shoyu Ramen's soup to be light wouldn't be an understatement but I appreciated the subtle wa-fu flavor of the broth. I would guess some dried fish (and I swore I even tasted a hint of kombu dashi) with a main base of probably chicken stock.

This definitely was not your mouth water inducing high savory bowl where Rameniac and Go Ramen went as far as describing it as flat out bland.. If you asked me I'd be honest and say I'd prefer a heartier soup as well but it was hard to criticize the pretty bowl since the noodles used were actually very decent (a nice springiness and chew) and the chashu was also on the lean side to match the soup and all this just didn't feel so arbitrary. After all these years this (very) light Shoyu is clearly Eboshi's thing and witnessing the slow but constant flow of patrons during the light sprinkle of rain and chilly kinda day it was made it apparent.

The Chahan fried rice and Gyoza actually came before the ramen and I thought they were good. The clanking sound of the wok being tossed was so great the few seconds after I had placed my order.

The fried rice was also seasoned lightly but with chopped bits of the pork chashu that is used in the ramen with eggs, scallions, and also some shiitake mushrooms, a pinch of benishoga pickled ginger as a garnish on the side. Hot and fluffy. It had just the right glisten of oil where I also seasoned it to my taste with a light drizzle of soy sauce and a few dashes of white pepper.

The gyoza was a slightly larger than usual hand made and served with a nice fried crisp on one side. The filling was the familiar ground pork and minced (and strained) hakusai but I thought it had a nice balance of ginger, garlic, and chive flavor. These I can eat all day long without tiring.. :)

I really loved the vibe of Eboshi. When my friends and I visited many years ago it was squeaky new, but the place now has a pleasant aged patina. The light rain and the cold certainly didn't hurt priming me for the warm homey meal but also as I entered, a gray haired soft spoken chef in white cook's attire was chatting with two local kids chilling after soccer practice reading some manga comic books.

You can say I was dearly charmed by Eboshi's atmosphere and if the shoyu ramen isn't to your taste the rest of the menu if I can say so myself is a fatso's lunch dream(!?), haha.

Kanitama, Hoikoro, Subuta, Mabo Nasu, Mabo Tofu, Curry.. You name it it's probably there. Would I recommend anyone going out of their way to visit the place? Out in deep Torrance Lomita, not really.. But if I lived or worked in the area Eboshi would probably be my home away from home meal spot.

Later the evening I stopped by Torrance again. Not exactly en route heading back but the detour was a small price to pay to finally check out Ramen California.

Rameniac's post here, Keizo of Go Ramen's here, and Edjusted's of Ramen and Goodies Blog here, and judging you'd think I would be trying many of the tempting Califorinia fusion ramens but I was actually interested in the most Japanese Niboshi (dried baby sardine) Ramen ($8.95 - 20 oz regular size). (Update: Rameniac mentions the dried fish component is comprised of a blend of bonito, mackerel, and sardine.)

Yes! A deep depth dive of niboshi infused (chicken) broth.. Smoky yet flavors as clear as if my taste buds had a pair of those night vision goggles.. Great, though maybe it was the years of consuming MSG that I'm sure has altered my genetic sequence by now but I thought it could've used a teeny bit of sodium. Noodles were a firmer thin side straight type with a nice flavor of (cooked) flour.

The house made Chashu was interesting in that it almost had the texture and flavor of fatty dark chicken meat. Maybe it was the broth seeping through the very thin cut that it was. The flavored hanjuku egg I had on the side was a near perfect half cooked, the center of the yolks glistening in clear dark amber and the whites almost tender as that of a freshly cooked over-easy egg.

Though unlike most ramen joints the atmosphere at RC is also very Californian in concept as well where it was akin to a moody wine bar (at least for dinner). You won't be welcome greeted by any loud chant of Japanese『いらっしゃいませ!!』here. Stand by the quiet entrance with a little patience and you'll be escorted to your seat.

But with the myriad styles of ramen existing, if a Californian ever fruits into mainstream (California Sushi Roll anyone?), you can say you had it here first which is quite exciting. Can't wait to be back to try more..

Ramen California, 24231 Crenshaw Blvd #C, Torrance, CA 90505

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Onezies - Sabrett Hot Dog Cart, Genessee And Clairemont

February 2010.. I had a Home Depot errand to run during lunch early this week which in these parts used to mean a quick bite at EZ Take Out Burger but I was more than ready to give Vallarta Express (that had taken its place) another try. I then spotted this Sabrett cart at the Mobil station off of Genessee and Clairemont on the way over...

Funny I never noticed it ever being there. I got the New York style (regular but you have a choice of spicy) which comes with the lovely red onion sauce and mustard. It's been an ancient long while (over 15 years) since I had a Sabrett in Manhattan and once at that. The lady who ran this SD cart was really friendly and someone you can easily strike up a convo with.

The buns were fluffy steamed (almost too hot to hold for a few secs). Unfortunately the natural casing dog felt a wee bit waterlogged and the all important snap that I was looking forward to was faint. Otherwise it was nice and salty in a good way and I found the smooth texture of the meat also a pleasure.

I also enjoyed that sweet tangy cooked onions in tomato red sauce and was glad I had chosen the spicier deli mustard. Still the $2.50 price had me feeling a little steepish. Many fish tacos would bring me change for two. A buck-fifty would get me a jumbo dog And a drink at Costco.. If at the IKEA snack bar I can fetch five of their 50-cent (but mediocre) smaller dogs, not that I would ever want to do that but, haha.

Perhaps a close to a New York dirty water dog experience is still worth it. Or judging by this talk thread maybe any inconsistencies are authentic after all?? In any case I have a feeling I'll be back to try the chili.. I hope my next dog would have a better snap. :)

Sabrett Hot Dog Cart, Mobil Station corner of Genessee and Clairemont, San Diego

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lunching @ Sakura Shokudo - And A Few Lunch Related Updates

Pardon my own personal renaming of Izakaya Sakura to さくら食堂 (Sakura Shokudo, or Sakura Diner).. But for lunch it's just the kind of place that I feel most at home especially in vibe. The casualness to slouch with a five o'clock stubble.. slurrp, pour, take as many photos of my meal as I wish.. whatever.

Aside from the new Curry Omurice ($10) lunch set, if you're a Sakura regular like me do you notice something different in the photo?

Brand new black tables. (And at least for me a prettier backdrop for my pics..) :)

The Karee Omuraisu (curry omelet rice) tasted pretty much as it looked without surprises.
The familiar Sakura's mild curry was ladled over a nicely executed omelet wrapped rice. Eggs still a bit runny inside to my liking.

A definite welcome to the lunch menu though I thought since the eggs made the already mild curry even milder, maybe the dish could've had a little more contrast between the wrapped rice vs. topping.

Some of the curry was used to quickly flavor the rice so the large portioned dish turned out a bit monotonous near the end. If dry curry seasonings were used for a savory but toastier omurice this could've been a big winner for at least my personal Japanese Yoshoku lunch choices are in the area. The Hayashi Omurice (while already having huge props for serving the only Hayashi dish in San Diego) is a bit too sweet for me at least in Sakura's rendition.

My quest to conquer Sakura's lunch menu has been a loong.. I don't expect or care for anyone to understand.. type of personal experiment. All I know is I'm going to finish what I started, haha.

But I've been reordering past favorites such as this Nikomi Hamburg Steak ($9) which isn't helping toward my goal, ha. The version here with a consistent firmer minimally fillerized beef patty, the topped egg also seems to always come a medium to well doneness. While both these could be more tender the nicely reduced and flavorful ground meat tomato sauce is what ties everything together imho.

The tomato sauce was especially flavorful this day where it was almost a shame that the standard Spaghetti plate had disappeared from the lunch menu.

I thought the Guratan Korokke tasted particularly good recently too.. (more butter in the bechamel?) Macaroni pasta, crimini mushrooms, onions.. All deep fried in panko crust. Crispy fried Carb heaven.

I still believe the Chicken Karaage at $3.50 is the best deal for a side here. Usually executed very well with the interior trapped with hot chicken juices and a nice crispy rendered skin on the outer.

This day the flour coating was a bit saltier than usual but I love to dip them in the provided tsuyu with grated daikon radish.

So having done this for a while what are my recommendations???

The Ginger Pork, Miso Marinated Broiled Salmon if you're in for something quick and tasty. The Buri Daikon or Salt Grilled Mackerel if you're in the mood for fish. The Sukiyaki-don if you like a beefier version of the classic gyu-don beef bowl while the Una-don usually doesn't disappoint either.. And of course any of the Kaisen-don fresh seafood bowls when the sushi chef is present. Many more but a quick list for now.

This day there were the usual Sakura kitchen quirks of staggered and/or late arriving meals at tables as well as the sushi chef nowhere in sight even after an hour of opening 12:30PM mark.. Despite this the patient patrons seemed to all have a smile on their faces at the end of their meal.
While I also enjoyed my meal, there is definitely some stiffer competition for Sakura this year..

Killing time I found an advert on Ramen Yakyudori (which I think is the place's official name) on Lighthouse magazine.. According to it it seems the yakitori skewer grilling will be limited to dinner only. A little sad but in some ways it's giving me a reason to buy that new camera I've been wanting maybe.. :) Every time I mention the place to my Japanese friends though they seem to have some reservations for it being a yakitori chain in origin. But as far as I feel and can imagine, they might as well be using all those chicken carcasses for a tasty ramen soup stock don't you think? :)

Okan is going to be open for lunch for a while longer (was originally planned for only three months ending last December). I kinda had the hunch but good news indeed while I'm reminded I have at least a couple visits worth of Okan lunch photos from last year I have yet to share.

I know I haven't been exactly extending my arms of unconditional love toward Curry House on my blog.. But a limited time Customer Appreciation $5.95 lunch special is a deal I can't refuse. :) I would maybe only recommend staying away from their pricey miso soup.

2010 is going to be a fun lunch year!

Kamome Shokudo (Seagull Diner), 2006

Izakaya Sakura, 3904 Convoy St #121, San Diego, CA 92111

New Years Osechi Bento
Saku-Ramen (Ver. 1 and 2), Karaage Teishoku, Curry Rice, Mix Tempura Lunch Set, Chicken Katsu-don, Curry with Nasu Eggplant, Steamed Chicken Mushidori no Teishoku, & Karaage, Hiyayakko, Crab Kani Cream Korokke sides
Uni to Ikura no Zousui, Kimchi Nabe, Saba Misoni (side), Una-don, Unatororo-don, Oyako-don, Sukiyaki-don, Ten-don, Ebi Shrimp Fry, Ten Zaru Soba, Ten Soba (cold), Natto, Ebi Fry Curry
Ginger Pork
Unagi-don (+tororo)
Buri Daikon, Saba no Shioyaki (teishoku), Yasai Itame, Jyaga Tamago, Tensoba, & Sanma no Shioyaki, Mekabu Natto Yamaimo Iri, Saba Misoni, Tonjiru sides
Nagasaki Sara Udon, Nagasaki Champon, Chicken Teriyaki, Yakisoba (w/ egg), & Roll-Kyabetsu, Sanma Nitsuke, Guratan Korokke, Potato Salad sides
Kaki (Oyster) Fry, Chicken Katsu Curry, Chicken Katsu, Plain Omurice, Hayashi Omurice
Uni-don, Chirashi (1 and 2), Ikura-don, Negi Maguro Natto-don, Spicy Nakaochi-don, Tekka-don (+w/tororo)
Liver Nira, Ginger Pork, Garlic Chicken, Saba Amazu Ankake, Hata no Kinoko Ankake, Buri Teri, Steamed Chicken w/ Ponzu, and Tofu Dango, Aji Fry, Saba Shioyaki, Buta Kakuni sides
Curry Udon
Hiyashi Chuka, Hiyashi Somen
Nikomi and Wafu Hamburg, Menchi Katsu, Subuta Dango, Mabo-don, & Hiyayakko, Agedashi Dofu, Yasai Kakiage, Karaage sides
Uni Spaghetti, Miso Marinated Broiled Salmon
Wafu Steak, Special Bento Box - 1
Menchi Katsu Sando

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lunching @ Yakyudori Ramen And Yakitori - A Couple More Bowls

Sorry, so much for variety this week from my last Chashu Ramen post but a couple more bowls I had at Yakyudori Ramen and Yakitori..

Partly cause I was happy that the visits confirmed they are indeed serving some straight shoot'n ramen that I've been craving for a while. A few great American ramen blog reads here.

While reading up on all the exotic ingredient, latest gimmick, and niche flavors are definitely fun, Yakyudori's ramen is an honest 'basics done well' bowl. Maybe for me like if I were in the midwest and an In-N-Out had come to town. Kind of.... But in any case my adolescent joy has been hard to contain these days.

(The kids laughing in the back contagiously joins in later.. so cute!)

Wild innovations and creative twists can wait. In fact I'm quite happy and content with what I've had so far and I hope they keep it up! がんばってくださいね!:)

Their Miso ramen ($7) I had for the first earlier in the week really hit that miso ramen acupoint tsubo for me. This bowl is nothing like the thinned out stuff that resembles a slightly heartier version of the miso soup side one may have had with their California Rolls. This was a semi-opaque red amber colored medium rich Miso flavor with a light aftertaste tang that miso lovers would appreciate. I couldn't find out what type of miso they were using because my two separate attempts at asking the waitresses failed.. ;)

If a type of blend I have an amateur guess of at least one of the ingredients that may have been used but I'll save my comments until (or if) I can confirm.
Got the topping of butter which turned out a pricier thinner slab for $0.50 but a great match to the miso (and corn) nonetheless.

As the butter melts it simultaneously richens and mellows out the flavors. I really dug this bowl and it would probably become what I order the most often here.

The bite-sized chicken Karaage side ($4) I also had was piping hot and good. The lightly marinated and lean (skin and fat trimmed) flavors may not have been strong enough for me to have them by themselves as served though. A dollop of mayo or a tiny mound of salt would've been nice. I guess I could've used some Soy Sauce provided at the table as well but I would've been happier if they just left some of the skin on.. :)

The salt flavored Shio Ramen ($6.50)..

Was again that straight fast ball from the baseball pitcher's mound of Yakyudori.

A nice savory clear broth with a very light mineral note of the (sea?) salt. Haha I said "note", pff. Anyway the oils were on the light side.

Yumm. And here I asked for extra green onions ($0.50) and an extra egg ($1.50). Too bad they were over the hanjyuku half cooked mark this day. A shy before hard boiled but was well marinated and flavorful. The noodles were cooked a tad longer than my first two. Not bad, just that the firmer noodles are what I especially love about these bowls so I hope it's not a new trend. Again they been only open for about two weeks.

The extra negi green onions were super fresh and seemed sliced only moments ago. I might be having this on all my bowls from now. In the beginning I wasn't sure about the provided corn topping for Shio (loved it in the Miso) but I have to admit I did enjoy the bits of the sweet corn later as I worked my very last renge spoonfuls of soup.

It seemed I had better luck than Kirk did with my Takoyaki ($4.50) this day which turned out to be the trendier crispy outer and soft interior like ones I had at Yu-Me-Ya. (I remember Yu-Me-Ya's were even better but the serving was also only four pieces...) These came out fairly quickly before my bowl of noodles so I doubt they're made to order but still fared pretty decent. I did miss that it did not have a sprinkle of Aonori green laver (I love the stuff) and the dough had little or no benishoga pickled red ginger so I did start to tire of it quicker, but then again maybe I should've been sharing it like a normal person.. haha.

If I can indulge myself with a (boring) story.. I worked at a Takoyaki stall during a summer carnival in Junior High and back then a softer fluffy Takoyaki (like miniature okonomiyaki if you will) was the only norm. Inside though were tenkasu bits, benishoga ginger, green onions to name a few and large pieces of soft octopus.. So anyway, while in training I used too much lard to grease the cupped cast iron grill which was also heated a little too high. So most my earlier batches ended up having a rather fried crispy outer which I personally thought was more appetizing but my hires were quick to correct me. If they only knew! ;) Come to think I don't even remember when the trend of lacing threads of mayo started either.. Anyway sorry for the rambling..

Some of the bowls of rice with toppings offered as a side were flavored tofu and also edamame that seemed to help cater a more health conscious crowd. All will change again when actual grilling of skewers will happen which I was told around May when they receive their liquor license.

I do get the "Is the ramen better than Santouka?" thing but these are all different ramen and it's like comparing a cream soup vs. a consomme vs. a miso. So what am I in the mood for today.. I think I'm up for some of that good miso again, and I'm bringing a bottle of green laver with me.. :)

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