Friday, April 27, 2007

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

Chicken pot pie, one of the most filling foods known to man. When consumed it immediately settles into your stomach, giving you that warm feeling inside that's reserved for the most content of meals.

Now what if i told you you could get a chicken pot pie, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, dinner roll, veggies, and a slice of fresh pie for $6?

Not only does your stomach feel warm and fuzzy, so does your wallet from all the $1 dollar bills you're saving from eating a cheap meal.

The question here really is if a $6 dollar meal is really worth it, how good could it possibly be? how horrible must the ingredients be? how run down must the restaurant be that serves it? and do you need some sort of military grade protection to go into that neighborhood to eat?

So Matt and i journeyed off in search for answers at the San Diego institution of chicken pot pie, San Diego Chicken Pie Shop. Apparently this restaurant has been around for quite a few years (60+) and it looks like some of the regulars from when it first came to be still frequent it.

They do take out and dining in, you can order pot pie's to go for 2.25 a piece.

We heard two things about this joint, their pot pie deal (6$) is a steal (i'm a poet and i didn't even know it) (oh my there it goes again) and their fried chicken (8.50) is extra special. So since there were two of us, we ordered one of each.

Both meals come with dinner rolls, a slice of pie, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. The pot pie comes with coleslaw and the fried chicken comes with your choice of soup and salad.

So on to the pictures as i guide you thru a magical journey through my phone's lens. (btw i just ordered a sd1000 so you won't have to subject yourself to my crappy pictures anymore, but if you did for some reason like my rustic picture taking style with the phone .. much love to you).

First up are the dinner rolls. Large floury rolls that rip apart with the softest pull. Since they come out rather warm the butter just melts into it. Very delicious rolls, i'm usually all for stuffing myself with bread but i believe if i ate one more of these rolls i would have died (i had 1), it was so thick , it took some chewing to go down (this is a good thing for rolls).

Next was Matt's soup. They have different soups each day + their standards. Today's selections were Cream of Potato (special), Chicken Soup (below), and Split Pea (obviously for the older generation).
A few seconds after this picture was taken, the bowl was removed from under matt's spoon and into mine. Why you may ask? Because the soup tastes like Campbell's chicken soup with cooked rice added in. Absolutely nothing special about the flavor in the soup. I ate it cause i love rice in soup (sorry i'm chinese) but i definitely wasn't going to pull an Oliver Twist and want seconds.

I didn't take any pictures of his salad, because it was rather uneventful. But what i did take a picture of was the coleslaw.
At first glance it looks like KFC coleslaw, the most magical coleslaw in all of the lands. Heck, even at first taste it tastes like it. Sadly as you start to eat it it becomes just a little to sour for my taste. I like my coleslaw sweet without the kick of sour. I reserve that to my fried pork.

With the rather disappointing appetizers out of the way we get down to the real nitty gritty.

First up is matt's fried chicken.
Do you notice something interesting about the chicken? Its not like normal fried chicken. Normal fried chicken has a thin layer of skin that's fried to a crisp. This chicken seemed to be coated in a bread crumb (shake and bake style) like batch of spices. Its almost as if they fried it and then baked it afterwards. THe skin wasn't crispy and it was like getting a bite of stuffing with every bite.

Sounds not so good? um.. kinda. It was actually tasty. The chicken skin was a unique blend of spices that you usually don't find with fried chicken. It was alot less oily than normally fried chicken restaurants and you can't say no to 3 very large pieces of chicken. The chicken was good, it would have been better if it was juicier, but i have a feeling that they have alot of this premade and its not fresh fried, which is kind of disappointing for fried chicken, especially if its not made with a crisp skin like this style. Take what i just said, absorb it, then try it for yourself.

Next up was their pot pie.
The mashed potatoes and the pot pie are both smothered in chicken gravy. The pot pie itself has a less flaky crust than i'm normally used to. Its more along the lines of doughy. The pot pie also doesn't have much "soup" in it. Which actually isn't much of a detraction in this case because its FILLED to the brim with turkey and chicken.

look at that thing, there is absolutely no space for anything except for the meat. The turkey was especially good in the pot pie. Some chunks of the chicken breast were rather dry, but i usually expect that. Overall, it was a decent pie. The crust was tasty and the meat was good.

Also a quick note, neither of us ate the peas, it looked disgusting. Places still serve peas on the side? really? come on now. At least give me some corn. I know you cater to 60+ year olds but corn is so good! The mashed potatoes were okay, nothing special. No lumps nothing, just a glob of potatoes.

Next up is the pie. There was a rather large assortment of pies to choose from, the one we really wanted was their "fresh strawberry pie" but she didn't list that as one of the pies we could choose. Maybe she forgot? who knows!
but i did order the apple pie and i do not regret it.
A delicious sugary crust that flakes with a gentle push of the fork, filled with sweet cinnamon apples. Ah, just like how my momma used to make it (if she made pie and didn't just buy it from Marie Callendars). I cleaned this up real good.

I have a few side comments for the food we received. Nothing i got was hot. Everything was lukewarm. Soup was lukewarm, pot pie was MOSTLY luke warm (one really hot piece of chicken), potatoes were luke warm, HECK EVEN the waitresses attitude was luke warm. I'm also pretty sure if i ate the peas they'd be luke warm too.

So the question here is with all the complaints would i still go again?
It really depends. I know Matt probably wouldn't want to go again. I'd go solely because of the price, that much food for 6$ really can't be beat. I'd take some new people, let them try it out, if enough people dislike it, i just probably won't go again.

Overall the experience was just a little above average, but they have daily specials like steak and lasagna, so maybe i'll order something else next time.

So if you want to give it a shot (or are over 60 and love this place already)

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop
2633 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92104-1214

p.s. my mom never cooked chicken pot pie or fried chicken.

Monday, April 23, 2007

a little bit different

I'm going to go away from my normal posting and talk a little bit about a great dinner that my uncle made for us one night!
My Aunt (his sister in law) would always talks so much about how great my Uncle Jeff's enchiladas so he invited the family to his place to have a little mexican food party!

On the menu?
Chicken tortilla soup
Mexican rice.
guacamole/sour cream/chips
Roasted Veggies!

First my uncle chopped up a large plate of squash, red peppers, and zuchinni, sprinkled some salt and pepper on it and set it to a slow bake in the oven.

He sets it on just about 325 to let the vegetables slowly break down. I believe he ended up cooking it for just about 30 minutes. The veggies came out delicious, there' s just a little bit of resistance when you bite in and then it just melts in your mouth, ah wonderful. I love roasted vegetables, i just .. i could eat a whole bowl full... which sadly i almost did.

Next they made a green chicken enchilada.
It was more of a casserole then individual enchiladas, significantly easier to serve 10 like this than with individually wrapped portions. Inside a generous amount of shredded chicken, cheese, and green chiles. On the very top a large amount of cheese that was put over with 10 minutes left to cooking.
On my plate here i have the enchiladas on the left, some veggies in the middle, and some mexican rice on the right.
(mexican rice consisted of some green peppers, corn, rice and who knows what else)

Everyone in my family loved the enchiladas and rice. I personally only ate a little (hence the small amount on my place). Not because i didn't like it, i was just absolutely stuffed on chips, fresh guac, veggies, and my very very favorite chicken tortilla soup.

A giant pot of chicken tortilla soup to be exact. I think i may account for at least half the pot.
Tons of shredded chicken, just a kick of spice and a good strong chicken broth, apparently the recipe is from Paula Dean on food network haha

Filled with chiles, tomatoes, and onions they had a lil place on the counter where you could add extra cheese and shredded tortilla chips.

Look at that soup! a huge bite of chicken and veggies in every bite.
Since i'm so ingenious i actually then added some of the roasted veggies into the soup and made it even heartier!

Souplantation eat your heart out!

My uncle's house
Irvine, CA.

p.s. i'll be back with another restaurant in a few days with a whole different style

Friday, April 20, 2007

One for lunch? HI!

Sigh. After my second trip to the Acura dealership they finally fixed my car. I was rather saddened that my poor baby Celeste's power seating wouldn't work.

But on the bright side, i picked the car up right during lunch time and the car dealership was on Kearney Mesa!! So i drove down Kearney Mesa trying to figure out what i wanted to eat. I figured i'd just go down the safe route and go grab a bite to eat at Sakura cause i was craving japanese and the Chirashi is absolutely unbelievable there.
(sorry had to do a little plug in picture of it, i dont really want to devote ANOTHER post to Sakura... you should know by now its good , you don't need me talking about it!)

As i was driving down the road i spotted the new Tajima on my left. I saw a big sign "NOW SERVING LUNCH SPECIAL", not one to avoid a good deal or new things i flipped a U and parked myself into their lot. Its located right across from the Japanese Market on Mercury.

This Tajima is different from what I normally expect from Tajima, when i think Tajima i think 2 pages of Ramen of all different sorts (only cause i always go for Ramen Nights) . Yet when i open the menu here... its actually an Izakaya. Lots of traditional japanese appetizers (think Tapas), a nice sake selection, and even beer on tap!

On top of the appetizers they have a lunch special. You can either pick 2-3 dishes from a list of typical japanese fare (teriyaki, tempura and the like) or what i ordered. Udon and Sushi (8.95).

The first thing that arrived was a simple salad.
I give them high marks for using baby greens which i love in a salad. The sauce was very "eh~~", not much flavor and sometimes a lil too tangy.

The next to come up was the Sushi. Now this was a surprise. When they said sushi i expected 3-4 small pieces of Tuna, Salmon, Tamago, and imitation crab. BUT i was pleasantly surprised.
I received decent sized tuna, yellow tail, giant shrimp (dont want to say prawns, not sure), salmon, albacore, and a couple of pieces of california rolls.

This made me rather excited, a pretty good deal at 8 dollars and i still had udon to go! The fish was good, not great, but it was definitely more than 8 dollars worth. For a place without a sushi bar it was much more than i expected.

After i finished my sushi, the waitress came out with the udon. I was hoping for a treat since Tajima is known for their noodle soups!

And here we have it, in all its glory a pretty small bowl of udon. Sadly the udon tastes as pathetic as it looks. The noodles tasted worse than the ones i buy myself at the market, they were overcooked and extremely short. The soup had a very very strong seaweed taste to it and was overly salty. I tried to drink the soup but it made me so thirsty, i think i went through 2 and a half glasses of water, got in my car and drank another bottle of water cause i was so parched. The udon was definitely nothing to write home about.

Overall, i have rather mixed reviews about my lunch here. I felt the udon was so inadequate that it made my happiness at the sushi "deal" i was getting dim away. I consider this more as a 8 piece sushi meal with a side of udon. Now for $8.95 i can't really say its an amazing deal.

If i go back again, i'd have to be for the appetizers, or maybe the $6.95 lunch special with the cooked dishes, but it definitely won't be for the udon!

4411 Mercury, San Diego, 92111

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Chinese food in Norcal! (Pt 2 of Road Trip in Cow Country)

While hanging out with my girlfriend i had a huge hankering for noodles, especially since we just came back from Napa. I always say the best way to cure the grogginess of alcohol is a nice big bowl of soup and noodles! So we journeyed (i'm so lost in love, i'm so lost without youuu) over to Davis Noodle City.

I figure... its called noodle city.. so it probably has pretty decent noodles. We walk in and are quickly seated in a rather oddly shaped booth. The waiter brings us a bowl of extremely dried out chinese preserved cabbages that LOOKED like kimchi (every chinese knows that kimchi was stolen from our preserved cabbage pao chia.) , but they were so dry and lacking in flavor that i ate one piece and ignored it for the night.

The dishes they have on the menu is a pretty simple list of noodles you'd find at a typical chinese noodle restaurant. You have beef noodle, Chinese style Za Jian Mein, preserved veggies with pork, wonton noodle soup, and the like.
Apparently the place has "fresh" home made noodles for 75 cents extra, but i didn't see it on the menu, so like the shy submissive asian i am (not) i just didn't bother asking.

We ordered 3 dishes, "5" "spices" beef noodle soup, Mustard green with pork, and hot oil wontons.

First up we have the 5 spices beef noodle (7.50)

You can taste as each of the 5 spices magically bounce within your mouth and the tastebuds in your tongue relay back to your brain the joy they are experiencing with each special ingredient. It was magical, like finding a unicorn being ridden by a phoenix.

Just kidding. Like you all probably know i couldn't tell the difference between the 5 spices if they laid it out to me. I will tell you that the soup was just a LITTLE bit spicy which is perfect for an enjoyable bowl of noodles. As a kid i used to have a death wish so i got the seafood spicy noodles whenever i went out. Let me tell you, i was lucky we had a gameboy in the restroom or i would have been boooooooooreeeeedd.

Anyways. The beef was extremely soft, barely any resistance when you bite into it. It shows the meat has really been marinating for awhile , they devoted a nice big pot of soup with that meat just simmering. Almost as good as my grandpop's .

They tossed in the obligatory pieces of bokchoy and some noodles and we were golden. I actually like the noodles. They are a pretty good length, not so long that when i slurp i get soup all over my girlfriend. not to Q, pretty good. Just a good set of noodles nothing really to complain about. But check out how pipping hot the soup comes! you can see the steam rising out of the bowl. (this was all my girlfriend's taking,probably the one good picture in this batch since i took the rest. I said "Dear i don't want known of that artsy stuff, let's show them the picture and get done with it" but it was so good it deserved some comments for itself. )

Next was the mustard green and pork strips (6.99). I honestly get this dish at every single chinese noodle place i go to, so i think i know a good bowl when i eat one. And when i say i get this dish at every chinese noodle place, i seriously do , i'd give you my mom's email to ask her if she appreciated being bombarded by random strangers about my eating habits (which in her opinion really need to calm down... as she constantly feeds me *shrug*).
This dish was seriously ENGULFED in mustard greens. I was having a field day! every bite i was able to get a bunch of nice freshly chopped greens. *DROOOLLL* . Pork was nice, nice and thinly chopped, didn't distract from the flavor of the greens.

The soup was very tasty, classic broth. They give this GIANT spoons with each bowl, man i wish i had one of those spoons, i would take such massive bites with every meal.

Finally the hot oil wontons. ($6)

I liked the dish alot (kathy didn't) but i dont know where the name hot oil came from. These are just PACKED shrimp/pork wonton's with sweet soysauce and PEANUT sauce on the bottom. I didn't see any hot oil anywhere, but.... since i love peanut sauce cause i'm taiwanese...... i wasn't one to argue.

These things were honestly bursting with meat it was delicious. It would have been nicer if they used a little less peanut sauce for all their other customers cause i could understand how it'd be too much. If you ever go here my San Diego/LA readers and (4 davis readers) just tell them be gentle with the peanut sauce, you aren't George Washington Carver.

Anyways, i liked the place. I was craving noodles hardcore and it totally filled that void. They also have an interesting buy 10 get 1 free coupon like you're getting boba! you can tack it on the wall and leave it there.
129 E St. #D1 (Behind Sophia's Thai Kitchen)

Charlie out!

Friday, April 13, 2007

the little taco cart that could.

I love street food vendors. This could be attributed to my love for food in Taiwanese Market places but i always had the belief, the crappier the place looks, the tastier/authentic it gets.

This belief applies completely to a roving taco cart. What could possibly be more sketchy looking than a taco cart? (maybe a push cart selling fishballs in vats of soup which i also adore)

So when i first started going to USD for school i never knew what to eat. I kept finding myself eating pho/fast food/ or driving to convoy. One night while driving i see a truck with bright shiny lights in the parking lot of Joe's 99 cent store and i'm instantly intrigued. Grabbing my friend Matt we decided to venture over to quite possibly one of the best taco's i've ever had in my life, and the rest is pretty much history.

Most recently they've changed the cart to a little bit more of a refined truck (little bit) so i dragged Kathy along with me. Going away from bringing a lil grill into the cart and grilling meat to having a pretty big flat grill at the window.
Now you can watch the guy cook your meat (which ranges from Carne Asada, Pollo Asado, Cabeza, Lengua (ox tongue), and Pork) and make your taco ($1.50)!
The newest thing they have now are burritos. They used to only make tacos but i guess they ventured into the burrito business the last time i went.. and that was enough to persuade me to take pictures and make a post about it =P

They have a pretty generous Salsa bar for you to use when you get your meal.
A Salsa Verde which is midly spicy, a spicy red sauce, a fresh avocado Salsa which they make on the spot, cilantro/onions, and radishes. BEFORE they changed carts they used to have grilled onions too which oddly enough made the tacos even more amazing.

I usually put a combination of the Avocado Salsa and the Spicy Red Sauce. The Avocado Salsa isn't spicy at all, just a little bit of flavor.

I ordered on this trip a Pollo Asado Taco and what i thought was a Pollo Asado burrito.
As you can see the taco is just bombarded with chicken. I'm talking this thing is filled to the brim with fresh grilled chicken. This is easily THE BEST pollo Asado i've ever had. Alot of places add marinades and flavorings to their Asado but this place is just some seasoning and some grilling.. just amazing.

But i will warn you, this place is oily. Their tortilla for the tacos is dipped in either butter or some other wet substance that makes it extremely oily. If you are easily disgusted by large quantity of fat and oil this may not be the place for you... but uh.. what were you expecting anyways? heh.

To my surprise when i opened up my burrito to add sauce to it..... it wasn't Asado! It was Carne Asada.
I sadly bite into it but then my face lights up.
"Wow the Carne Asada is good!"
I will warn you straight off the bat, i like meat with fat, i will not lie. It gives it a slightly chewy texture and its not as dry. Here they have thin slices of Carne Asada just pilled into the burrito. This is opposed to the small "chunks" that most mexican places give that tend to be a little bit dry, hence why i never order Carne Asada.

Inside the burrito is just Meat and Mexican Salsa (apparently there is a difference between "american" and "mexican" salsa). Just delicious. From here on out no more tacos, for $3.50 the burrito is definitely the best bang for your buck. They also don't dip the tortilla in that oily/lard substance so its a lil bit healthier.

You can eat next to the cart, one of the customers bought them two square tables and a couple of chairs for people to sit on cause he loved the place so much.

You can find it at
6882 Linda Vista Rd San Diego, CA 92111.
Its located in the Joe's 99 cent store parking lot from 6pm-11pm every night.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Wine Capital of America (pt 1 of Road trip to cow country)

Ah Napa valley, one of the most pristine (and uptight!) places in America. You drive thru one lane streets as you watch vineyards and green hills pass you by. You hear the gentle horn of the wine train putting though Sonoma and Napa with its passengers leaning of the railings sitting a glass of wine. Home of the elegant French Laundry, Napa is filled with vineyards producing about 4% of the world’s wine. On this pretty day (the weatherman lied once again, telling us there would be rainfall! HA the heavens spit on your lack of the ability to predict weather properly!!), Kathy and I spent a couple of hours touring a variety of wineries/vineyards drinking and eating thru this lush environment.

Our first stop was Robert Mondavi Vineyard.

From the get go I knew this was going to be a tour to remember. When arrived the entry way opens up to a wide grass field as every direction you look is covered in vines.

Sadly we are in the early season, the grapes won’t flower for another couple of months. So for now all we had are little seedlings popping out of the vines. Our tour guide Annette was a soft spoken lady who educated us on every aspect of the vineyard as we walked through. She took her time guiding us through the vineyard, slowly walking thru explaining how each grape is grown and how the winemasters come out and sample a grape from each batch to see if its time for them to be plucked and made into wine!

After our tour of the vineyard she took us into the wine making plant. Right when we walked in you get hit with the smell of wine/grapes. I felt as though I was assaulted by the fragrance of fermented grapes. All around us were 500 Gallon oak containers that would soon be filled with all varieties of wines from chardonnay to their vineyard specialty, Cabernet Sauvignon.

After each batch of grapes is pressed, cleaned, strained it gets moved to smaller oak containers that are put into its own room and is allowed to sit for a few years in each container as it soaks in each flavor that is unique to each of the oak containers, ranging from a tobacco flavor, berry flavor, and uh... soy sauce flavor (no idea if she said this cause a large chunk of us were Asian).

Leading us thru the barrels we came upon a room with a long table with wine glasses and 4 bottles of wine! The tasting has begun!

Every person sat and waited as she explained each wine that she poured, how we should “nose” the wine glass to smell the flavor, spin the wine to release extra flavors, and to swish the wine in our mouths to appreciate the flavors. Served along with the wines was a salmon cream cheese roll with a hint of rosemary prepared from the Mondavi kitchen.

As Annette elaborated to us, there are a variety of Mondavi Wines. They have their “private selection” which is their low end wine that is actually grown in a separate area of the valley. Then there are “associates” who use their name but aren’t grown in Napa, then they have the Robert Mondavi Vineyard selections , which uh.. are labeled Robert mondavi Vineyard is supposedly their “top” of the line wines.

The first wine we had was a Chardonnay ($25 a bottle) , light with a slight hint of grape.

Next we had a “spotlight” Pinot Noir 2004 ($45)which apparently is only available at the winery and not at stores. Very delicious. This was probably my favorite wine out of the 4 we tried. It had a light kick to it, almost smoky. It had a light red color and wasn’t very “big”, a wine you can enjoy with any type of meat or vegetables. I bought a bottle of this for my grandfather, definitely taste great with what my grandparents will cook for dinner.

Opposed to the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($125) which is very structured. Each sip leaves your tongue and top of your mouth dry from the tannins. This is definitely meant to be eaten with a NICE big piece of meat. (drool). At this point it was about 12:45 so I was starving =P. The taste is very strong but only has an alcohol content of 14.5 which is .5 less than the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir. Apparently Cabernet Sauvignon’s are meant to be kept for awhile to be drank. The most “current” crop of wines Mondavi has released is the 2003, if you see a Cab any later than 2002 right now, its an early drinking cab that may not have the same rich flavors that are of a cab that was able to build flavor and structure in the oak barrels.

The final wine we had was a 2005 Moscato D’Oro ($45) which is a dessert wine. I had guessed this would be Kathy’s favorite wine which was correct! A sweet berry flavor with a light crisp body. A little too sweet for my tastes, but its definitely a good dessert wine. I bought 375ml bottle (25) for Kathy.

Upon leaving, Mondavi presented us each with a 2004 merlot from their Vineyard selection (22-25$ on online retailers). Apparently our tour was of “higher” quality due to one of the girls at Kathy’s law school, her mom is one of the head winemakers at the vineyard! All other tours walked out with some wine glasses but we got some pretty decent Merlot! Steak and wine here I come!!!

Our next stop was lunch at V. Satteri. Vineyards. This place is the DIRECT opposite of Mondavi. The parking lot is PACKED with people. A large lawn has a BBQ grill smoking sausages, fish, and tri tip, A tent with different dips for pretzels (garlic honey mustard? SOOOOOOO Good, too bad it was $9 and I wouldn’t be able to carry it on to my plane ride), and finally a very large indoor “marketplace”. For this trip we didn’t have a tour, but we did do the $5 wine tasting where you basically wait at the counter for the “bar tender” who pours 6 wines for you from a list of 10. When I say pour I actually mean drip, each taste was no more than one gulp which was kind of disappointing, but like I said the place was packed! Each bar tender was serving 10 people at a time with a line behind the 10 waiting to try as well! And on top of that, the guy said it was a slow day!!

I sadly do not remember most of the wines we had, other than the fact that I did not find them all that impressive. But what I did find impressive was their deli section! A whole section devoted to cheeses and spreads (which I got a Garlic Artichoke Cream Cheese Spread (3.99) which was very good, not too salty and not cheesy at all.). Another section devoted to fresh breads (which I got a sweet baguette (2.50) to pair with my Chicken Salad and Cream Cheese Spread), A section in the middle with tons of sauces, apple chipotle sauce, creamy garlic “Caesar” sauce with breads to dip it with =) and Finally! The “deli” section. Panini’s and Sandwiches (Italian Balongi Sandwich 6.99$)scattered around large bowls of Garlic Shrimp, Seafood Salads, Rice, Chilled Pastas, and what I ordered, the Asian Chicken Salad (5.45 for half a pound). Before you call me a pig! Kathy and I shared it =P.

The sandwich was on a sesame foccacia bread with wild greens and thick plentiful slices of Balongi. It was good, the meat was very rich, I just didn’t like the bread all that much.

It was a little too thick and a little too doughy. I wish I had gotten a Panini instead. The Chicken salad on the other hand was wonderful. Mustard/Mayo mix with Green/Red/yellow peppers, slices of celery, and large chunks of chicken breast. Eating this with the crisp skinned Baguette was heaven. I wish I got more than 1/3rd pound cause I would have devoured this puppy!

Our final stop was the Chandon Winery. The Store grounds were so pretty, when you enter there is a covering of rosemary growing as you walk over a small bridge that extends over the small lake. I was tempted to grab a handful of rosemary and bring it on home =).
At Chandon we had a tasting of their sparkling wines. Sadly, I don’t really care for sparkling wine or Champagne. But what I did notice there was their restaurant! At dinner time they have a specialized restaurant that serves quite the selection of California Cuisine. Foie Gras, Veal, Filet Mignon and the like.

Anyways, it was a beautiful day spent with wonderful company. I was so tired and uh... lightly intoxicated by the time we left at 4pm that I slept all the way back to Davis!
Till next time French Laundry! ciao!

Monday, April 2, 2007


April fools! =P (for all 43 people that read my blog on the 1st of april)

now back to our regularly scheduled blogging!

Sushi. Wonderful wonderful sushi. I will travel far and wide to eat "good" sushi. My current adventure has brought me to the city of Costa Mesa in Orange County with my OC/LA eating buddy Nick (when my gf isn't around)

A little family run restaurant by the name of Shibucho Sushi. When we arrived we were greeted by two tables and a sushi bar, with the owner (which i will call dad cause i dont remember his name) and his son (son) were making Tamago. Luckily we made a reservation because everyone else who came in was basically rejected with "there is no more room tonight" even tho at 8pm the place had pretty much emptied (we arrived at 6).

Pops here is cutting a giant giant mackerel while son is making the Tamago on a little grill. There is a giant pot on the stove with bamboo shoots (you can see if at the far left of the picture) which they were constantly checking. Every time they opened the pot a large pillar of steam would loft out, for what they were cooking in there you'll have to wait for later!

The first things we were served (other than beer) was a little appetizer of Fish heads and Daikon stewed together. Very light, just to settle our stomachs for the barrage of fish that is yet to come.
The next thing was just magical. The son was making Tamago that was probably the size of a large piece of paper and thick like a cake.
Just delicious. Came out steaming! with a little side of grated daikon i was in heaven. This was the best tamago i've ever had. Of course all the tamago i've had in my life have always been of the frozen variety. Sooooooooooo yeah. But it was still good =)

We then had a few pieces of fish (i won't detail the fish, all in all it was very good quality fish, i dont remember exactly how they tasted other than they tasted good).

Red Snapper

After a few courses of fish we had Squid Gizzards!
Now this was something i never had. It had almost a muddy consistency and since its the gizzards of squid it also had an ink flavor. It was salty and it came in a perfect quantity. I believe if i had anymore i really would have probably just left it there, but it was good as a small amount.

Then more fish!


We were then presented with a grilled piece of fish. My assumption is that this was part of the mackerel that dad was cutting at the beginning of the day.
It was little broiled with miso flavoring. It just fell apart while i was picking at it with my chopsticks. Very good! i could have easily had more of it! Dad also prepared mackerel bones for the most "frequent" customers. The thing was gigantic. The people sitting next to us were just going at it like beasts! Beasts that were generous enough to offer us some of their food that dad would not offer us. haha.

next was not your typical shrimp. It was a fresh water prawn! you typically find this at Chinese seafood restaurants by the pound! Which by the way i can't help but eat 8-9 of them by myself =(.
I'm not so sure if i liked this as a sushi dish. The meat is very thick and very meaty. It doesn't really blend with the sushi rice. The taste was fine, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

We then went back to some more standard sushi fair
Albalone (Nick kept the shell)
Toro and normal tuna.

Then we had a dish that i have not had in years. I'm talking decade + probably. Fish eggs laid on kelp!
This was so good! its very crispy and the eggs are not salty and overpowering (which is the case normally for me when i have the orange larger eggs). I felt like i was eating a chip! The son was telling me that fishermen would lay the kelp on the spawning floor and after one set is laid they'd flip it and more eggs would be laid on the other side! Very tasty! i really liked this dish.

We then had the item they were hiding in the bamboo steamer all night. Dad took out from the steamer a long piece of sea water eel and proceeded to cut it up.
I've never had sea water eel before. They gave us two pieces, one without sauce and one with the customary eel sauce!. Very meaty, very tasty! it doesn't have the bone aspect that Unagi usually has.

Also had a roll with sprouts, carrots, and mushrooms.
Eh~. Nothing special.
Also a Kanpyo Roll
Its like a gourd shaving. It is sweet and just a LITTLE bit crunchy. ANother thing i dont really care for, but i've never had it before and i found it very interesting!.

Also missing from these pictures are Aji, Penshell clam, and one other dish i cannot remember. The total damage after tax/tip/ and beers was roughly 80$ a person. DEFINITELY not expecting the price. When we were driving back i was calculating what we had ordered and i could not get it to that total. No matter what i did it kept ending up around 60$ a person. (i'm going off the sushi list they checked off). Shrug.

I was told that most of the time the omakase costs about 60$ which is what i was expecting. BUT i do have a picture of what the 60$ TOGO omakase looks like. Yes! To go!

Tons and Tons of fish. I should have just got this haha. There was a Futomaki roll, Uni (the paper wrapped things) , and 4 pieces of Sea eel and a large "specialty" roll (not pictured here). Now that, is a deal!

Anyways, i doubt they cheated us since... that'd be a horrible thing for such a small restaurant, so i'll give it a thumbs up! i was definitely stuffed after eating all the fish, very very tasty!.

Sushi Shibucho
(949) 642-2677
590 W 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627