Sunday, April 26, 2015

Crab Bruschetta

When I think of my favorite spots to eat, I don't think of just the restaurant. I think of the restaurant in terms of my favorite thing to eat there. 

For instance, when I think of City Tacos in North Park, I think of its callo de rajas (scallop) tacos. When I think of Pho Cow Cali in Mira Mesa, I think of its bun bo hue. When I think of Phuong Trang in Kearny Mesa, I think of its egg rolls

When it comes to Edgewater Grill in Seaport Village, I will always think of its crab bruschetta. 

My friend Lindsay and I split the appetizer, and I'm so glad we did. One bite and I knew this was the good stuff. 

Usually I hesitate to get dishes like this because a lot of the times the seafood isn't fresh. It's either canned or frozen. Things like crab, lobster and crawfish need to be eaten fresh. Not to sound like a total food prude here, but they're really not worth eating if they weren't swimming earlier that day. They lose flavor, texture gets mushy or chewy and there's usually a lot of mayo involved. 

That's not the case with this crab bruschetta. 

The star of this dish was definitely the crab. The meat wasn't mixed with much because it didn't have to be. All the ingredients highlighted the meat - onions, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, etc. Really good stuff. As our former Governator would say, "I'll be back."

I Hope This Doesn't Bug You

"Hey, I want to try a bug today," said no one ever. Well, said very few people I know....ever.

Even I don't wake up and crave bugs, but I am often curious about what they taste like. Every time I've tried one or have seen someone try one, the response is usually the same - it's not as bad as I thought it would be. 

They're not bad for you (the edible ones, of course). In fact, in 2013 the United Nations released a report encouraging people to eat bugs because they're good for you and the world.

They're low in fat, high in fiber, protein-rich and, best of all, have a very low carbon footprint. Unlike traditional meat, it takes much less energy to raise bug protein.

If you're like me and curious about entomophagy (otherwise known as eating bugs), Tacos Perla in North Park is the place to grub on some grubs. Or you can be like Lindsay and watch in horror while some else eats them.

"I can't! I just can't!"

At Tacos Perla, they serve crickets as a topping. For 75 cent extra you can have the little critters sprinkled on whatever your heart desires. They taste like they're seasoned with lime, fried and then tossed in salt.

The crickets themselves don't taste like much, especially if you get them on something flavorful like a carne asada taco. Lindsay got them on a quesadilla which was no bueno. The tortilla was plain. The cheese was plain, which means the crickets were the main attraction. You can see by her face below what she thought of it. Haha!

Personally, I liked it. More than actually eating it, I liked the idea of it. It's cool that a new, hip eatery in San Diego is taking a risk and giving people this kind of option. North Park is a great place to do that too.

Definitely worth a try if you can stomach it. If you want to learn more about bug eating, here are some interesting reads:

Petco Park. I Went for the Baseball (Food).

This is truly off the eaten path. Are you ready for it? Are you?!

I mean, really. Who knows what crazy meat parts are ground up, smushed together and stuffed into this equally questionable clear casing! If you've eating this, you have truly eaten bizarre foods.

I'm the last person to care about that. I LOVE hot dogs. Plus, they always taste better when you're at a ball game with good company.

I write this post because I actually didn't eat anything that remarkable at Petco Park. I didn't do it right! I didn't venture far enough! I've been told time and time again there's great food there.

Next time you guys see me, let me know where I need to go to get a good dog or anything else for that matter. It was cold and rainy last night and the Padres were losing. I only had the heart to walk a few hundred feet for food. #foodfail #trytryagain

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Are You Even Ready For Thai Food This Legit? I Wasn't.

Sab-e-lee, I know you closed one of your locations in Linda Vista, so how about moving to North Park? Adams Avenue? Okay, okay...City Heights, but I can only visit before 3 P.M. and I'll have to bring pepper spray. 

You broke my heart last December. I went to go see you at the Ulric Street location for your boat noodle soup and was confronted with a sad, desolate shell of what you once were. Rumor has it you found someone someplace else up north. Rumors, that's all I have. Empty, foodless, loveless rumors.


Fine. I give up. I just stalked you online and I see you're now in Mira Mesa, Rancho Penasquitos and at another location in Linda Vista. That's good news, but I'm still hurt.

You see, before I met you I didn't even like Thai food. I thought "Pad thai? Yellow curry? What is this tamed version of Asian food?! Blegh!"

But, then you changed everything.

You introduced me to spicy levels 1 through 10. You brought larb into my life. We had sticky rice and mango for the first time together! How could you forget and just close up shop like that?! I thought we had something...

I forgive you, but don't do it again (I will always say for the millionth time...).

You're so beautiful...

You're not for everyone. That's for sure. You're like that crazy, irrational bad boy who loves Radiohead, got a tattoo in Thailand and still thinks black eyeliner is cool. Many of my friends don't like you, but those who do are as obsessed. And it's the things that turn others off that I LOVE. For instance your beef boat noodle soup.

Beef, Liver, Tripe, Meatballs and Bean Sprouts in Beef Blood Soup
I'm not going to ease you into this, my friends. You're in deep with me now. This soup has much more than beef. It has liver, tripe and blood in the soup. I actually like liver and tripe, so those were pluses for me. As for the blood in the soup, I was indifferent about it when I saw it on the menu. It didn't gross me out nor did it entice me. When I tried the soup though...oh man, OH MAN. Good God, great balls of fire it is good!

I'm not sure to credit the blood really. It does make the soup a bit thicker, but I don't know how it contributes to the flavor. Bottom line, the soup itself is fantastic if you like this kind of stuff. The noodles were cooked perfectly (just like pho noodles), and it had so many different kinds of meatballs/meat cuts and veggies that every bite was different. You know what, just forget everything I just wrote about the blood. I know that's all you can think about right now. It's just soup. I swear. Just soup.

There there's larb.

There's duck larb, catfish larb, chicken larb, pork larb, tofu larb, mock duck larb, larby larb larb larb larb (I just like writing "larb"). Larb is a very popular Southeast Asian dish which consists of a minced protein mixed with lime juice, fish sauce, roasted ground rice and fresh herbs. It's like a meat salad. You'll have garlic/onion breath afterward, but it's a very good and very authentic dish I like to eat over rice all alone in my living room in pajamas watching old episodes of No Reservations on YouTube while drinking Heinekens.

I also had the spicy raw beef dish (Koy Nua) here. The beef is thinly sliced and mixed with an insane amount of garlic, mint and lime sauce. Incredible stuff, but if you're on a first date, you might want to avoid it or make sure you have a lot of gum on you.

(FYI, Sab-e-lee has many tamer menu options I'm sure are fabulous)

I have only covered a fraction of the dishes served at Sab-e-lee. That's because I haven't tried many of the them. It's hard to sample a lot of dishes when you go to these places alone. My tiny tummy can only fit so much food and the sad "she needs a friend" glances usually get me out pretty quick. Still, Sab-e-lee has the most authentic, daring, hit you where it hurts (but it feels so good) Thai food I've ever eaten.

That's why, Sab-e-lee, you need to come to me! I'll be waiting. You can just park your little, spicy self right next to my unit and we'll be happy pandas.

Oh, and if you're reading this and happen to be a hungry zigallionaire, can you just eat there, see what I'm saying and invest in them so they can open another location in North Park near Kansas Street? Why that location? reason. I just heard there's a hungry person there who'd, you know, appreciate it. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

This Is Where You Can Get Lobster For <$20

But, it's not in San Diego...

Sorry! I was in the Bay Area for the weekend visiting family and they introduced me to a "come to mama" seafood joint that's both delicious and affordable. Two of my favorite things. Say hello to my not-so-little friend!

First, let me explain what happened. My family was planning to have a birthday dinner for me here at New England Lobster Company Market & Eatery in Burlingame (near SFO) Sunday. Saturday, the day before, my aunt, uncle and mom pick me up from the airport. My aunt says, "Maybe we should sample this place first. Make sure it's good before we bring everyone else." Okay...suspicious....

"Sampling" turned out to be this...

Four lobster platters, two lobster/corn chowder bowls, a dozen oysters and four raw clams (*the oysters and clams are not worth it. Too expensive. Go to Tomales Bay Oyster Company). I'd like to say I was surprised, but I wasn't. When it comes to food, we go big.

It's sort of a DIY restaurant where there aren't servers. You have to walk up to a counter yourself, order and get a number. I really don't mind this style of restaurant service. If the food is this good and it keeps the cost down, it's considered a win-win for me.

Oh hey maw, sorry, I didn't see you there behind my...MONSTER LOBSTER CLAW.
For $19.95 you can get the "special platter," which includes a 1.25 lb whole lobster, coleslaw and chips. To give you an idea of what a phenomenal deal this is, I ate at fancy shmancy restaurant in San Diego and paid more than $40 for a smaller, overcooked lobster.

Let's put it this way. This place is so good, my family ate there twice in one weekend. We had a great time and made great memories. From my family to yours, we hope you do too! 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Scraps. I Like 'Em.

I do, and here's why.

Back in the day the poorer communities were forced to eat the offal, the giblets, the heads, the butts, the face and the feet. Those were the only cuts they could afford, or probably in some cases, find. All the "good meat" went to the wealthy. Poorer folks made do with what was available REALLY had to be a good cook to make this stuff taste good. If you were able to make those dishes good, they were usually REALLY good. Or at least, that's my logic.

Slow cooking, pickling, fermenting, heavy use of spices -- those methods didn't come from people having a fresh lobster or filet mignon at their disposal. 

So, to the good stuff, or TGS. I'm talking about dishes like oxtail stew, Chinese braised or pickled chicken feet, pig ear, sisig, I really could go on and on. I mean c'mon! You have to be pretty dope if you can make hacked up pig's face taste bomb. That's sisig by the way, and it is BOMB. Anthony Bourdain thinks so.

If you find yourself a little grossed out right now, go get a cup of water, take a breath and come back to this. If you find your mouth is watering, keep reading foodie friend! These are some of my favorite places to order scrumptious scraps.

 1) Fried Chicken Skins at Saiko Sushi in North Park:

The chef told me he used to just throw away the restaurant's leftover chicken skins. One evening, he fried them up and served them as a snack to his staff. They loved it so much, it ended up on the menu! It's served with lime and some homemade Sriracha. These chickeny crunchies are super tasty. I wouldn't eat a whole bowl of them, but it's a fun, yummy dish to share among friends. 

2) Pig Ear Cold Dish at Dede's Teajuice City in Kearny Mesa

I really have to write a whole post about Dede's Teajuice City. It is so good! The name doesn't make any sense because I've never seen anyone drink any juice at this place. However, the more you eat at Chinese restaurants, the more you'll realize names of places rarely make sense. Dede's serves some amazing Szechuan food and is famous for doling out spicy and adventurous dishes. In the picture above, the pig ear dish is the brown striped-looking things to the upper right. It's savory, Szechuan peppercorn-y and a bit gelatinous. You'll either love it or hate it. 

3) Diniguan at Tita's Kitchenette in National City

I'm not even going to tell you what diniguan is. All I'll say is that it's pork and it's shown to the left of the white rice in the picture above. Other than that, all you need to know is "don't think and eat." It's delicious and tastes worlds better than it looks. Make sure you eat it over rice. It has a tangy, savory taste and needs the rice to balance it out. The picture above and to the right also shows sinigang (Filipino sour soup. Really good!) and chicken adobo (can't go wrong with this. Everyone loves it.).

I wasn't a fan of the sisig here. It was a bit too fatty. If you have a good place in mind, holla! Warning, this place is cash only. Make sure to bring the green. You won't have to bring a lot of it though because you can get a tons of food here for cheap. 

4) Yakatori at Yakiyudori in Kearny Mesa

I know what you're thinking. Candice, uh what did you just say? Yakiyudori is the name of the place and yakatori is a style of eating. Usually it's different grilled and skewered chicken bits. Many places are doing it with other meats too now as well as vegetables. 

It's a fun and relatively cheap way to eat. Plus, you'll feel like you're in Japan. 

5) Lengua tacos almost anywhere. If you don't know what lengua is yet and you live in San Diego, shame on you. Tacos El Gordo  in Chula Vista is great!

#NomOn Friends

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What If I Told You...You've Been Eating Egg Rolls All Wrong

Yup, you heard me. me. Whatever. You know what I mean.

I'm talking about Vietnamese egg rolls. All you Chinese egg roll eaters, no worries you're good. Go back to eating that orange chicken and shrimp shaped ground up fish. All is right in your world.

As for Vietnamese spring rolls...

I mean, it's not BAD if you grab one of those rolls and just eat them. It's not wrong. It's not a SIN. You're simply defying centuries of Vietnamese history over which wars have been fought, lives have been lost, honor has been defended. Just kidding. I have no idea. I was raised on Chinese food and found out about the "right way" to eat Vietnamese spring rolls at friends' houses in high school. 

Still, I've had a taste of the good life and there's no going back. If you think those vegetables in the background are just that, background, think again. They are what will bring that fried, golden, savory crunch tube to the next level. In Vietnamese cuisine, it's all about wrapping fried stuff in healthy stuff yo.

Think of it as a lettuce taco or burrito, but far more exciting than that sounds. You take the lettuce, put the egg roll in it and top it off with some of the Asian basil, cilantro and really whatever other green things the restaurant gives you. Roll that up tightly, dip it in the lime, sugar, fish sauce mix and see what I mean. You'll experience a crunch from the lettuce and the egg roll. Inside will be soft and meaty, but balanced by the coolness of the basil and mint. Divine.

Most non-shady Vietnamese restaurants in San Diego will have decent egg rolls, but my favorite ones are from Phuong Trang in Kearny Mesa.

The difference is the wrapper. It's much thinner and almost pastry-like. Really good. And for your non beef and swine eaters, sometimes there's a chicken option.

I really want to try more of their rice wrap menu items, especially the baked catfish. That dish is supposed to be shared between like 10 people, so I may need help. Holla if you want to get your grub on and be in my next post! Don't y'all call me all at once now.  

#NomOn friends. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Eat, Eat, Love

"The Banh Mi Queens"
Hoi An's Phuong Bahn Mi

"Enjoying #1 - With Everything"
A fried egg makes things better

"Cham Island Man"
Grilled seafood off the mainland

"I'll Have That, That & That"
Abalone and sea urchin (uni)

"Keeping it Local"
Sure, this is hotel food, but it's delicious. Simple and delicious

"Night Market"
Pick-your-own-seafood-dinner at Koh Samui's night market

"Pretty Papaya"
Spicy young papaya salad with tomato rose

"The Tastes of Thailand"
Sour, sweet, spicy and salty

"Green Machine"
Trying Okinawa seaweed for the first and probably last time

"Best Airport Food...Ever"