Monday, May 25, 2015

Pho With Beef on the Side Please

It's cold. It's cloudy. I'm starving and I have about an hour before I have run back to this news story. 

You know what that means? Pho. Like, pho-shizzle mah nizzle, I will eat this pho-ever. The PHO-tastic, pho-nomenal pho. I don't pho around. 

It's funny. Whenever I'm even a little hungry and my photographer is driving to our next destination, I find myself giving my surroundings a hardcore ocular pat-down. For potential interviews of course, but also for where to eat. It's like that Over the Hedge movie....SQUIRREL!! FOOD!

Don't lie, you know you do this too. 

Tonight, we're at Pho Cadao in Santee. There are a few locations around the county. I'm going old school and getting the small, combo pho. If it's a non-shady pho place, I get my raw beef on the side. Pho Cadao is a good place to get it. Lots of pho-lovers do this. Squeeze the lime over the raw meet and then dip or dump the beefy slices in the hot broth. It will

So, who's hungry now? Pho-REAL!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Favorite Ramen in San Diego (and the best way to eat it)

I need to be careful about promoting "the best" ramen in San Diego because I haven't tried them all. I'd love to though. If I could stop everything and just eat ramen, I would die a happy person. Probably really fat, but happy. "Death by Ramen" on my tombstone wouldn't be the worst thing ever.

I've been eating ramen here since my college days. I didn't go to school in San Diego, but I had plenty of friends who did and these were our late night, early morning, heck, all day long meals. Ramen has suddenly become really popular, but these, my friends, are my tried-and-true favorite spots. Favorite for different reasons too.

1. Izakaya Masa in Mission Hills

Stepping into Izakaya Masa is like stepping back in time and into a small town Japanese restaurant. In fact, an izakaya (居酒屋) is a common kind of bar or restaurant in Japan known to serve food that complement drinks. Think tapas, but Japanese. Izakaya Masa has some of the best ramen I've ever had. It's not flashy. It's not a huge portion. It's just right.        

2. Tajima in Kearny Mesa

Tajima is bold. Some of their soups are thicker than most and definitely flavorful. For some reason, I particularly remember their noodles. I got the spicy tonkotsu ramen and the noodles were a lot thicker, almost meaty in texture. It was so delicious because the little curves and crevices in the noodles helped pick up more soup.

3. Santouka in Mitsuwa Market in Kearny Mesa

This place is so fun. It's in the middle of a Japanese supermarket and has a mall/food court feel to it. It totally feels like you're visiting Japan without leaving America (like that little guy to the left said). For $10-$12, you can get a great combo which includes your favorite kind of ramen and a Japanese side dish, like fish roe over rice or soy sauce soft-boiled egg.

If you're wondering how eat ramen, PLEASE watch this video. There's no wrong way to eat ramen, but there is a better way.

1) Don't take too long eating ramen (the noodles will expand)
2) SLURP! Like a good wine =)
3) Crack the poached egg half way in and savor it

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mexican Snack Addiction #It'sAThing

If my taste buds were climbers, Mexican snacks would be Mount Everests (if Mount Everest can be plural...and splashed with limón, chile powder and chicharones *drool*). Being handed a bag of tostilocos is like looking up from the base of the mountain. You want to get started, but you're afraid. How will it feel? Will I regret it?

You're climbing, climbing...regretting those Coronas at the bar the other night that got you announcing to the world you'd do this. But, when you get to the top you're happy you did. Without a doubt it was intense and, at times, too much. The weirder thing is, later on you find yourself wanting to feel that feeling again. Or, in this case, eat more tostilocos you crazy person you!

Or chamango, tamarind candy or takis for that matter. Oh, Mexican snacks - the unhealthy obsession/addiction love you've created for my tastebuds. Who knew flavor face implosion would be an enjoyable experience. I just need one more. Get out of my way! ONE MORE!

What is tostilocos? I thought you'd never ask. I'm not just going to tell you what it is. I'm going to show you.

(Quick background: my photographer and I were in Tijuana doing a story on a secret smuggling tunnel when we embarked on this tostilocos venture)

First, it starts with a bag of CHIPS or Tostitos.

That little girl thinks I'm so lame. 
Then, JICAMA (a.k.a. Mexican turnip).

She's completely over us. Like, why are you filming this?

Then, my favorite, CUERITOS (PICKLED PIG SKIN)!


You think it stops there. Oh no. Dear God, no. Then, LIME JUICE, HOT SAUCE AND CHAMOY (salty, sweet, sour, spicy chile sauce)!


On the outside, I'm smiling in this picture. In the inside, I'm freaking out thinking, "Holy mother to all that's good in the world, what did I just order?!" The sheer weight of the thing was about a pound! I thought my photographer and I were going to share it, but he said "Oh no, that's all you."

I'm proud to say I finished most of it. It's a lot of picking, moving around, eating your favorite things first, leaving the other stuff for the end action. For those of you who can't go to TJ to try tostilocos, here are a few spots in San Diego. I haven't been to these places personally, but they have decent reviews online:

1. Neveria Tocumbo in Chollas View

2. Frutilandia in City Heights

3. Teresita's Fruiteria in Otay Mesa/San Ysidro area

While you at it, make sure to try chamango! Alex and I got some, but they were the processed frozen kind. If anything he has the appropriate reaction in this photo. Make sure you get the ones with real mango inside.

Note to self: When you go to TJ, bring more than $1

Happy eating, friends!