Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Foto-Buffet

A collection of food photos that will probably not make it to a proper post otherwise. At least anytime soon. They are this Friday's Food Foto-Buffet.

Back in February I visited Cafe Hue for the first time. Or maybe I should say I finally tried something instead of just sticking my head in, ha. The cheesecake gelato was really good. The savory crepe (I think was ham, egg and cheese) I felt I would've enjoyed more if I had chosen a different sauce. Or maybe it just needed less of it?

According to my album the same month were visits to Bottlecraft in Little Italy with coworkers a few times. The Hitachino Nest Beer White Ale I tried once was pretty crisp, a little fruity and flavorful. Kept the bottle cause it had a cute owl on it. Nice place to chill on Fridays after work. According to Eater SD, seems like they're expanding into the Linkery space.

Another on beer, friends and I also have been going to Torrey Pints in Whole Foods - La Jolla soon as they opened this year. It's hard to beat the convenience but the servers here are super nice which makes it a total plus.

Pretty decent burgers are served too. Plated is the Old Guardian Onion & Brie Burger which is newer and their recently updated menu can be found here.

Another of a burger, I had one at the Encinitas Ale House some time ago that looked really promising (above). So I'm completely with the concept of not overcooking a burger till it's dry, but on the contrary, is a severely under-seared any better? I could do an occasional medium-rare (house recommended doneness), but this seemed far under that. When these thicker pattied (and on top higher fat 'Wagyu' grind) lacks a good developed crust, you're left with a majority mouth feel of mushy textured raw ground beef, which at least to me doesn't describe a good burger experience. I really loved the local vibe of the place and they had some great beers on tap. I'm sure I'll give them another try someday.

Above was from Vegas in November, 2012 during the World Food Championships. Was in the city for something other but came across a row of tents in front of Bally's while on a late evening stroll. Shown is an offering from Gordon Ramsay Steak. Was pretty scrumptious though I can't remember details much. Did wish it were bigger. Sorry, that's pretty much all I remember.

Kaki Furai (panko fried oysters) OTR (On The Rice), from Izakaya Sakura. Their creamy and slightly sweeter tartar sauce which isn't heavy complements well.

Pleasantly rare in the center and comes with a few fried zucchini. I recently had a disappointing early dinner experience here which I won't go into now but overall Sakura for me still remains a relatively solid standby for Japanese, both washoku and yoshoku.

Have been back to Ichimi-An in Torrance a few times since my first quick visit. I hope to do a longer dedicated post eventually.

There were definitely dishes that were misses, but you'll fair out well by sticking to the sobas. Shown is the hot Tororo Soba. As of end of May they had started serving breakfast with new morning hours. I totally welcome this trend and wish other ethnic cuisine restaurants also followed suit! :)

Balboa International Market and its food service counter is actually open from 9AM which borderline makes the Early Bird cut. The lamb shank was "Ok" this day but look at that beautiful tahdig! Buttery burnt rice awesomeness, only while the day's supplies last. I do wish they gave you more of that lamb broth, but overall not bad for nine-bucks. Store website here.

Some donuts that were just made at Mary's. Mmmm.

Old fashioned are my favorite. And it's not because they remind me of Sata Andagi. ;)
Perfect to mention here that another Kyushuu & Okinawa event is happening soon at a So. Cal. Mitsuwa near you. Man, I love Kumamon. I'm sure I'll be buying some Kumamoto items just because of the packaging, ha. Below some bentos from Costa Mesa. Ours at SD have improved a lot. But can they be improved more? Bentos should excite. :)

Gotta say Don Don Tei's katsudon was a bust though (I plan to include in next week's FFB). The Chikuwa-ten purchased at Mugimaru next door made up for it. A tempura-fied chikuwa fish cake with lovely aonori flavoring. Aka an isobeyaki style. My only qualm is that it's hard to justify the $1.50 price which isn't even for a whole chikuwa (it's a half split). Their giant (and tasty) tangerine sized chicken karaage is $0.90 yo.

A retaste of the Tokyo Shoyu at Ramen Mottainai back in April. I had it koi-me, or asked on the rich side. Was still pretty decent for my tastes I thought, with that subtle niboshi note that most lack. Trumps any shoyu in SD at the moment anyway.

And same could be said about the Japanese gyozas. The place doesn't feel the same without Nobu-san, the previous manager. I was told he went to a Yamadaya branch.

I had high hopes for RakiRaki here when they first started. I don't know what happened, but anything other than the Original Tsukemen is just very frustratingly inconsistent and pretty much all I'd get these days. They serve the noodles hot now which is not usual for tsukemen but I guess many didn't like how it cooled the soup down too quickly. The good is that I feel San Diego has a very respectable tsukemen that is better than most mom-n-pop shops in L.A. And it's totally chicken-based (rare) to boot. I think one's better off with the chicken chashu rather than the pork which is often lean and dry (not helped by the further torching which I'm usually in favor of). If they'd only do the eggs hanjyuku I just might visit more often.

Last a Gyutan Kakuni Nikomi (block beef tongue simmer) had at Wa Dining Okan for lunch a couple weeks back. They seriously need to start tweeting about their plat du jour specials.

I wasn't sure of the point doing a lunch follow up to Part-Five, but maybe I will.
Gyutan kakuni OTR.

Still plenty more photos for next week. Hope to have again something for everyone. :)


Jinxi said...

Hi Dennis, great round-up and it's making me hungry. I was actually also in Vegas during the World Food Championships! Really wanted to go and check it out but had no time :\ I've been meaning to check out Torrey Pints one of these days, as well as lunch at Wa Dining Okan :)

Dennis K. said...

Thanks Jinxi! I was just at Okan again today. The day's lunch special they usually do well with. I don't recommend the bowl upgrades, but email me if you ever want recs. Torrey Pints is convenient, I haven't ventured the menu much other than the burgers. But I still don't know why there are so many haters on yelp, haha.

caninecologne said...

Such a fun post! I liked the title too, "Foto Buffet"!!! That was a neat shot of the mini hamburger in Vegas. Interesting to know that Raki Raki is now serving the tsukemen noodles hot. I liked them cold!

@Jinxi - FYI, it's cash only at Okan for lunch. :)

Dennis K. said...

Hi CC! Thanks, I hope to post the next on Thursday night.. (I came up with the idea last minute.)
RakiRaki will still chill the tsukemen noodles for you if you ask. I often get cash at Nijiya before heading into Okan for lunch.

K and S said...

yummy variety of photos!

Dennis K. said...

Thanks Kat!

Cathy Doe said...

Well, five of these places have been recent stops- Torrey Pints does a beer and burger for $10 on Thursdays (and that included the Fourth of July!) and they will cook to medium rare. If available, I choose a crueller at Mary's; the old fashioned are my close second choice. A great line up- and reference for the next road trip.

Dennis K. said...

Thanks Cathy! I've had the $10 deal at Torrey Pints, but with a soda since I had to work again after. A crueller sounds good right now.. :)