Sunday, December 28, 2008

Super Cocina (San Diego, CA)

A man ... better yet a student can not live on fine dining alone. It is imperative that we find a lunch spot that doesn't cost an arm and a leg but doesn't skip out on quality.You have your usual suspects of Mien Trung and Sakura but when you're craving Mexican food you're relegated to the likes of Roberto and his cousins. But not so fast! I've been reading on Chowhound about a crowd favorite of Super Cocina, a homestyle mexican restaurant located in southern San Diego.

The restaurant's emphasis is on traditional Mexican foods of stews, stewed meats, and soups. The restaurant itself is conducted like your neighorhood Panda Express, you have a nice long counter with a variety of foods and you point and pick. The owner Pablo will walk you through the dishes and even let you sample as many of them as you like. For myself, since I know nothing about Mexican stews outside of Chicken Mole I'm stuck in quite a pickle. I was grateful to be able to try the dishes and pick the ones I liked best. After picking your food out you take your food, find a seat, and start the chomping!

I took a few pictures of their food assembly line for you to take a gander at. If for some unknown reason I know what's actually in the picture i'll tell you.

They had fresh enchiladas, chicken stew, braised chicken thigh (top)
Chilaquiles (corn tortillas cut up into pieces and deep fried. Then they are simmered with Salsa to make them soggy and then topped with cheese and sour cream)

Carnitas on the bottom right and rice and beans *duh* on the top!

MASSIVE chili relleno (Stuffed peppers) and fried pork rinds stewed in chili verde sauce. I was tempted to try the fried pork rinds, but I figure the moment I put it next to my mouth i'll probably have a heart attack.

Every dish comes with a big pile of soft and well-spiced refried beans and a spoonful of rice.

My friend ordered the Chilaquiles with a tomato base stewed pork.

The Chilaquiles were a little bit TOO soft for my liking. I understand that's how the dish is prepared but they could have stopped cooking it just a little bit earlier and it would have still been fine. (fresh batch).
I'm also not particularly fond of the tomato based stew just because the tomato flavor is almost overwhelming in the dish, especially when you're spooned chunks of tomato alongside it. BUT the pork was cooked well with a nice firm consistency.

0 for 2?

I ordered two variations on a spicy pork stew, one involved a more simplified style with peppers and potatoes in a heartier broth while the other one was just straight up spice and pork with more spice on top.

The pork on the left (potatoes) was made with pork spare ribs with pieces of cartilage laced throughout the meat so you get a nice crispy bite with each one. The meat near the cartilage tends to be fattier and more decadent in rich fatty flavor. Yummy! A nice kick of five spice and hot red pepper. The spice just lingers in the back of your mouth as you devour the rest of the dish. The pork was melt in your mouth soft, the fat that got rendered off just made the pork so soft it crumbles in your mouth.

The pork on the right was made with a thicker pork spare rib so you have large chunks of bone under each piece of meat that you'd have to spit out after each bite. This doesn't detract from the fact that this dish is also deliciously spicy but in a different way than the 1st dish, the spice would slowly roll over your mouth and just engulf every single pore.

MAN THEIR PORK DISHES ARE INCREDIBLE. I went again the week after and got another two pork dishes and they were all stupendous.


Even though I didn't love what my friend ordered, my dishes blew my socks off so heavily that I had to walk around barefoot for the rest of the day. I really enjoyed the restaurant the next few times I went and I highly suggest it to ANYONE looking for a different style of Mexican food other than burritos and tacos.

Super Cocina
3627 University Ave
(between 36th St & Cherokee Ave)
San Diego, CA 92104

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

House (San Francisco, CA)

Sorry for the huge delay! Finally settled down and rest from Finals and now back to resume my blogging responsibilities!

The dining partner and I were traveling in San Francisco and we looking for a "neighborhood" joint where you could get good food at reasonable prices. On a suggestion from my friend with the statement "BEST FISH YOU WILL EVER EAT" (approx quote) I decided to book a reservation at House.

A small restaurant with an emphasis on seafood with an Asian influence. It's very similar to Sesame Grill in Los Angeles. The dishes are priced in the $15-20 range with a heavy usage of soy, siracha, fish sauce, hoisin sauce to dose the relatively low quality protein with some flavor.

To start the meal they provide pickled cucumbers with a sprinkle of sesame seed. Nice and crispy with a slight sour and sweet pickle taste.

We first started off with an appetizer, the Deep Fried Salmon Roll with Hot Mustard

Large chunks of rare salmon wrapped with seaweed and fried to a golden crisp. The skin is flaky and crispy with a thin enough crust where it doesn't overwhelm you with oil. The seaweed when fried tastes like it's been lightly toasted. The salmon itself was a bit dry and meaty on the areas that weren't raw but the spicy mustard helps cut past the dryness.

The roll was served on a bed of sweet and spicy pickled slaw.

Next up was the Wasabi Noodles with Angus Flat Iron Steak.

I'm not even sure why places put the word "ANGUS" on their menu like it means something. The steak was thin, flavorless, completely devoid of fat. This would be similar to the steak you find at 99 Ranch Market @ 4.99 a pound. The noodles were good, they had a nice pull to them with a slightly spicy tinge to them from the wasabi.

The next dish was their "special" fish of the day, served with ginger soy and a soy glazed noodle.

The fish was pan seared and served with a side of green beans. I don't remember what type of fish it was.. but if there was a fish that was "rubbery, lacking in flavor, overcooked" then this would be it. I'm not sure how long this dish has been in the freezer but man it was so poorly made. I was so disappointed by this dish, if it wasn't for the SAME pickled cabbage that came with the Salmon Roll and the SAME noodles that came with the steak, I'd probably have gone hungry.

This restaurant is the classic example of a place that TRIES really hard to be something it's not. It tries to pretend it's a "fancy" fusion style restaurant but fails miserably short with horrible cheap ingredients , overdose of sauce, and constant use of the same ingredients.

Avoid this restaurant.

San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


It's that time of year again... Finals! Might see a post or two during finals, but I can guarantee nothing =).

Be back in two weeks!