Ever since we've been doing a good amount of travel internationally, the Missus really hasn't been too keen travelling much in the US, other than heading "home" to visit Her parents and such. But, we had such a great time on our recent visit to Seattle, a city we used to visit almost yearly, that the Missus asked me if I'd like to take a belated birthday trip to Portland. I'd heard that the food scene in PDX has really taken off in the last couple years and it had been over 7 years since our last visit. In other words, we were overdue. I always enjoyed the city, folks are very nice, almost borderline too friendly at times....even the street kids are often quite polite. We did notice a few changes since our last visit immediately; many, many, more hipsters.....man, I don't think they sell many razors in PDX anymore. Folks seemed even more eccentric....some of the outfits wouldn't be out of place in Shibuya! Loved the gal who walked out of one of the business high rises; briefcase in tow, rockin' shiny tap dance shoes featuring bright red bows, a polka dot mini skirt, and a mouse-ear barrette! Keep Portland Weird indeed....or were the folks just doing a reverse satire of Portlandia?
Did I mention the easy $2.50 Max Red Line from the airport to downtown. That, added to being able to check in at 945am at the Paramount, and things were starting out well.
We were of course starving....and downtown Portland is a very easy walking town. Tasty N Alder had been on my list for a while and the Missus and I enjoy family style......
The place was quite full when we arrived....mid-morning and all. Our Server was the most amazingly cheerful and friendly woman. I wish I got her name....friendly, efficient, did a great job talking to us about the menu. She made our visit so pleasant and pleasurable.
always on the look-out for veggies, we started with the Radicchio ($6), which turned out to be the Missus's favorite dish of the trip. In fact, She requested a return visit just for this supposedly simple looking salad.
This dish was just so subtly excellent, from the nice crisp thick cut bacon lardons, to the ice cold radicchio, prepped perfectly, without any of the bitter bite. Topped with crumbled egg...you know how much the Missus loves Her eggs, right. The manchego cheese was shredded so fine that I asked if it was done using a microplane (it is). The cheese melted into the wonderful dressing thickening it....I also think there's some bacon fat in the dressing as well. It was thick and rich in a pleasant way......almost like the best possible Caesar dressing. Wonderful!
Curious, we ordered the "Saigon Brussel Sprouts". Actually, the flavor is more Thai influenced.
The Missus took one bite and said, "I know this flavor....you know this flavor....you make stuff using these flavors". This indeed had the Palm Sugar-Fish Sauce-Garlic flavor I use for making my Thai Garlic Shrimp. Though this is much more sweet and is glazed. I loved the idea and knew I'd be making this after we returned home.
The Smoke Trout Board ($10) was our least favorite item of the day. The trout was decently smoked, but nothing special, the 6 minute egg was over done, though the pickled beets are really great with a nice, balanced flavor.
I was fascinated with the Patatas Bravas, which turned out to be a huge portion for $7. And to make the Missus even more happy it was topped with....you guessed it, two more easy over eggs. That make about five eggs if you're counting.
The garlic aioli had a wonderful "punch", the potatoes had the great texture of spuds that had been twice fried as the interior was fairly creamy. It was a bit too salty and the sauce seemed a bit heavy handed with regards to paprika, but you can't say it was bland.
So this with coffee....what do you think this would cost in San Diego? Here it was $33.......almost a shocking bargain for us. Plus no sales tax. I'd forgotten how reasonably priced things were in Portland.
Like I mentioned before, the woman who waited on us was just a joy. While the Missus went to the restroom, she stopped by and we had a nice chat about the food scene in the city. She told me that the last 3-4 years have been quite amazing for the city. Man, I was looking forward to the rest of our trip.
After brunch we headed off to see some familiar sites and to make one important stop....Powell's Books. To quote something from an earlier post that included Powell's; "yes, it's all true; the bookstore takes up an entire city block. And yes, you do need a map to get around. And yes.....used books are mixed in with the new. And yes, I think there are people living in Powell's, that may have not left in years" I managed to pull myself away from Powell's.......
Powell's Books 1005 W Burnside Portland, OR 97209 USA
I really enjoyed the "Pearl" district on my previous visits so we walked on over....man, it's gotten even more upscale since our last visit. Lots of development. The Missus couldn't resist dropping by the Whole Foods to take a peek and even bought some goji berries which were $7/lb cheaper than in San Diego.
The beer selection was pretty darn good as well. This looked like a nice Whole Foods.
We walked a bit more, then headed back to the hotel for a nap. We both woke a 4am to catch our flight, so a nap was in order......
We just got back from an overdue visit to Portland over the last couple of days. The very busy Cathy was kind enough to cover (as usual) for us. The somewhat ironic thing being, the weather when we returned from Portland, was more like Portland than Portland was....or something like that! Anyway, after feasting on foie gras and bone marrow (posts to come) having some soup was quite nice. So here's where I've been since we got back.
Something I've noticed over the last couple of years. As "Mom" gets older, the broth for the Bun Bo Hue sometimes is rather heavy handed with regards to MSG, or even spiciness. Such was the case on this day....not to say I didn't finish every lemongrass tinged drop of soup.
The Hen Xuc Banh Trang however, was a spicy-peppery-savory joy to devour.
Mien Trung Restaurant 7530 Mesa College Dr San Diego, CA 92111
I know, they've just opened and I'm doing a revisit post already.
Call me cynical, but I've been kind of down on pho in Kearny Mesa for a while so when I actually had what I thought was a decent bowl here, I had a hard time believing it wasn't a fluke.
So, on my return, I didn't order the rare steak, which was cut to thick, making it quite dry the last time, and just went with the brisket, flank, etc..... the brisket and flank were dry and tough; but the tendon was quite nice as was the tripe.
Of course, there was the broth.....for me broth is the key. This time it was a bit different; not quite as rich and still a touch too salty. The flavor however was pretty much the same mildly beefy, faint anise, strong shallot-onion. Not bad at all. The noodles were even prepared better this time and there was a more generous (and better quality) amount of herbs and sprouts.
So maybe there's decent pho to be had on Convoy after all.....
Pho Paradise 3904 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
Pho Nhu Y:
The weather had got me craving Bun Mam for some reason. I really didn't feel like heading to City Heights. So I headed over to Pho Nhu Y on Clairemont Mesa, which is run by the original owner of Nhu Y. I even went after the 3pm Bun Mam hour. They had declared Bun Mam off limits until after 3pm as to not offend their gringo lunch crowd. Anyway, I found, much to my disappointment that Bun Mam is no longer offered. Bummer....... So what to order? Heck, wanting some noodle soup, I went with the Bun Rieu ($8.75).
The bowl arrived scalding hot....and the positives stopped there. The soup was tasted like pho broth with a touch of tomato and a tiny bit of seafood flavor, but not enough to make it proper bun rieu. There were little crumbs of a meat paste which had no flavor...this was mainly cha lua and fried tofu. I call this "shadow soup"...where a noodle soup; like Bun Bo Hue/Bun Rieu/Bun Mang Vit is made to barely reference the true flavors.
Well....at least I wouldn't be "offending customers" right? I know this place can do better....
Pho Nhu Y Vietnamese Grill 5375 Kearny Villa Rd San Diego, CA 92123
So I've got a kind of new reader....I think. At least the person has been emailing me.....very entertaining emails......telling me I really don't "represent" what true San Diegans eat, or want to eat. Which perhaps is the point of the blog, right? Anyway, I got sent some photos of what, according to this reader, "real San Diegans" eat. And was asked why I don't post on stuff like that....... Great thing is, I can just use the photo sent to me:
Hot Dog....mmmmm. I actually enjoy hot dogs. Heck, I have a whole category devoted to them. Still, perhaps not this one; though it's a good bargain (much better when it was Hebrew National)....maybe one day, never say never, after all, I've had worse at Costco. Still, this makes me chuckle because it reminds me of my good FOY's (Friend of Yoso) "Xiang Jiao" (you can see her here taking a cleaver to a whole roasted pig we snuck into a karaoke room - as if you could really sneak a whole pig into one) road trip with "friends"....very frugal friends, who insisted on eating at every Costco they could find (they had it mapped out) along the way. Personally "XJ" is too sweet and patient....I would have mutinied....friendships would have been ended and blood (perhaps mine) would have been shed. But that's just me.......
Thank you for once again stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! Todays food centric blog post is written by Cathy because Kirk is (once again) very busy and Ed(from Yuma) is very retired and busy in his own way.
I've mentioned before that we still get newspapers delivered to our home daily. There are many advantages to this old fashioned way of receiving news, not limited to easier comprehension for those of us who grew up learning to read the printed word on paper. Yes, I'm talking ads that can't be 'blocked'.
For the past few months, on a Saturday, the Los Angeles Times has run full page ads for L.A. based 'Revolving Sushi' restaurant, Kula. The ads mention specials (January was 'Winter's Hot Food Fair', February until March 12 is 'Salmon Fair', no ad was in this past Saturday newspaper, so I expect to see something next Saturday).
There are three $5 off of $20 coupons at the bottom of the page. This was a reason to put the ad into the car when we were taking a drive North one weekday. We were hoping to find a place closer to home that reminded us of our experience at A'Float Sushi, in 2010.Unsure of how crowded this restaurant would be, we chose the Rancho Cucamonga location (one of seven) and had alternative plans to stop at the Bass Pro Shop a few miles away, remembering our meal at the in-store restaurant, Islamorada Fish Company, in 2008. As you can see, we had no worries on this weekday morning.Walking in, we saw the sushi conveyor moving around the restaurant. Each booth, table and seat at the bar has access to the plates. It wasn't crowded at opening (11:30), but was almost filled up by the time we were leaving.Taking seats at the bar gave us access to watching the rice maker, which not only cooks the (organic, from Lundberg Family Farms) rice, but pops out pre-formed, uniformly sized servings. I was fascinated by this machine. We also were privy to watching the constant preparation of conveyor items.
The sushi conveyor constantly moves via a belt under the crescent shaped chain, turns at the end to return in the opposite direction. The sushi makers prepare three plates of a serving (all conveyor items are $2.25), placing a plate with a description which you see first, then the three serving plates, each covered for your protection. Some servings have one, two or three items, some servings are in bowls.Above, you can see the first plate with the label for Conch, two empty spaces, where plates have been removed and one remaining plate, ready for the grabbing. When the sushi makers see only the plate with the signage passing by, they remove it and that's another order of three plates they need to prepare.Fresh wasabi is brought out to the table. The condiment tray with chopsticks, a covered ginger container, soy sauce server and red pepper are all you need here.
There is a separate menu wherein you can order items from the kitchen.
We ordered green tea, miso soup (each $2)and a soft shell crab ($ 3.80) from the kitchen. Everything else came from the kaiten, the merry-go-round track of plates moving in front of us. This is a Kula roll. Real crab, topped with both tuna and salmon. Very good.Karaage chicken, with mayonnaise for dipping. Perfectly fried.Seared steak sushi...good...different.The Mister wanted to try uni. He had never had uni. The plate has a single portion. Yes, it appears it had been frozen and a mushy thaw...let's just say The Mister has no desire to try uni again. This had a label of Chicken Sukiyaki. Smooth flavor, dark meat chicken with an onion-y sauce.Sorry for this blurry photo of the wonderful cucumber salad, a refreshing mix of sliced cucumber, seaweed and bamboo in a sesame oil-soy dressing topped with toasted sesame seeds.More apologies for this blurred photo of scallops with a sort of mayonnaise sauce on top of rice. This was very good.You keep your dishes and steam covers stacked and the waitress counts them at the end to calculate your bill.
The food is...good, the experience is fun and interesting. We spent $33 before the $5 discount...it's so easy to grab a plate; discipline is needed...
Perhaps you are wondering why I'm posting about a Los Angeles based chain. After we ate here, I was researching other posts about Kula and saw this article by Candice Woo in the Eater, written in November. The space it will occupy in San Diego shares the same parking lot with Iceskimo and appears to be ready to open very soon.
Kula Revolving Sushi Bar Website Address: 9659 Milliken Ave., Suite 104-105 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730 Phone:909-294-3429 Daily 11:30am-9:00pm (Last Seating, Last Order 8:45pm)
Thank you for stopping to read mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog. Today, Cathy is writing, because Kirk is just too busy and has no time to write, while Ed (from Yuma) is doing something associated with retirement (in Yuma) .
Yes, there are many, many,many small 'pubs' near the Jack MurphySan Diego Chargers football stadium.Each of these purveyors of adult beverages are open during daylight hours and serve food. I did post about Camel's Breath Inn back in 2009, am now less fearful of taking photos and figure an update is due.
People familiar with the area of Friars Road East of the Stadium may have noticed an Armstrong Nursery just along Friars road, with a Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Steakhouse on the corner. Camel's Breath Inn is located with other businesses in that parking lot. There's a theme to the decor here. There are specials listed on the chalkboard (to the left in the third photo up) and usually there's a placard on the tables. This is a link to a current menu. We were here on a Sunday (but not during football season, when there are even more specials between 9 and 10 a.m.). Brunch was available.However, The Mister wanted a burger and ordered a 'build your own burger'($9). The 1/2 lb hand formed fresh ground beef patty, topped with His choices of cheese, avocado and mushrooms along with the standard lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles (bacon as well as a number of other items are choices and all for the same price). The burger comes with a choice of sides and, as you can see, slaw it was. The burger was cooked to a medium rare char on a flat top grill, was very good flavored. The lightly toasted sesame seeded bun was fresh and held up to the burger and toppings. The slaw here is very good. Still on my Benedict craving, the carnitas Benedict (alternately called a 'pulled pork' Benedict on the table menu) ($8) was my choice. Placed on top of a sliced and toasted slider bun, the large amount of in house cooked pork carnitas, topped with two perfectly poached eggs and a house made Hollandaise, was just right on that chilly morning. The sides of refried beans and home fried potatoes were plentiful and most were taken home as leftovers that day.
The food and atmosphere here are improved over our previous visits. There is a definite competition between the 'taverns' in the one mile radius area (yes, there will be more posts) with more quality food as well as beverage offerings.
Camel's Breath Inn 10330 Friars Road, #106 San Diego 92120 (619)281-1722 website
mmm-yoso!!!, the food blog, is where you have stopped for a moment. The food posting of today is written by Cathy. Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are just not feeling it.
As Kirk has mentioned, our weather had been very strange the past few weeks. Very hot days, very cold days, rainy, windy and now, a bit chilly in the morning and evening but clear and pleasant during mid-day...
On one of the hot days, The Mister and I stopped here, the newest location of a business, (which was a pop up inside Pangea Bakery Cafe just last summer), for a refreshing snack.
Anyhow, you should be able to see the Aqua colored building... Walking into the small storefront, there are a few tables and some bar stool seating. Straight ahead, a suggested menu is available. To the left are the snow shaving machines. Pricing is by the ounce (48 cents/ounce on our most recent visit). Topping choices can be overwhelming. Pretty much anything you'd like is available... There are six main flavors of shaved snow always available: original (condensed milk), strawberry, green tea, lychee, black sesame and salted caramel.That day, I wanted something simple, so a small cup of shaved lychee was mine. (4.5 oz, $2.16)This is a good photo to show you the delicate ribbons formed by shaving the ice block. The snow melts in your mouth and the bright flavor is just wonderfully crisp; not too sweet.Special Selection that day was the 'Frozen Hot Chocolate'. This order weighed 8.7 ounces (and therefore was $4.18; I can do math in my head and not show the work, because I am old).
Chocolate shaved snow (very good chocolate), topped with dark chocolate bits, fresh strawberries and house made whipped cream, along with two fluted cookies. The depth of flavors in this combination was great. Even though I don't crave chocolate, this really did hit the spot for me.
Iceskimo 4609 Convoy San Diego 92111 (858) 216-1111 Mon-Th noon-10:30, Fri-Sat noon-11:30 Sun noon-10:00
mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog, tries to entertain and sometimes amuse you with almost daily posts centered about food. Kirk and Ed(from Yuma) are not blogging today; it's Cathy writing this post.
You've probably seen signage while driving along the freeway or along side streets. Perhaps you've been curious. Here's a post giving you reason to stop.
Farmer Boys first opened in 1981 in Perris, California. Founded by the five Havadjias brothers, the idea of 'Farm to Table' wasn't spoken of as part of the dining experience, yet that's been the business philosophy of this small (79 store) Southern California, Central California and Nevada restaurant chain of both company owned and franchised locations. Yes, it's a chain, but with locations primarily California, it fits into my 'new year resolution' of patronizing locally.There are two locations in San Diego County, both in Escondido. The 'newer' location, pictured above, is near a Home Depot and in the same parking lot as the Escondido Vallarta Market location.You walk up, order and pay and your food is brought to the table. The decor is country and home-like, as is your freshly prepared meal. The restaurant serves breakfast all day, and my go to item is the 'Daybreak Sandwich' ($4.19 or $4.99 with meat). Pictured above, the Daybreak with a sausage patty (other options are bacon or ham). It's on a potato bun and made with two eggs and a slice of American cheese. Good any time of the day. I really like the sausage served here; it's not greasy and has just the right amount of spices.The hearty pastrami sandwich ($6.99) is served on a toasted garlic ciabatta roll with mustard and pickles. The oven roasted, smoky pastrami is of excellent quality.
That's a 7 piece side of 'Colossal onion rings' ($4.19) [a four piece side order is $3.49 if you want to avoid temptation and/or can't do math]. Not only are those rings colossal in size, but also in flavor...the fresh hand battered rings are usually ordered with any meal here. The fry is perfect and never greasy. There are also zucchini and harvest fries available as sides; both are also excellent, fresh and never frozen.The menu has had a 'Natural' (hormone free, antibiotic free, fresh never frozen) burger ($6.29) on the menu for quite a long time. It's 1/3 lb, served on the potato bun (all other burgers are served on sesame seeded buns) with American cheese, onion, pickle and 1000 island dressing. Juicy and flavorful (and *much* better than the Carls Jr 'Natural'), this is my burger of choice here, even though the 'Bacon Boy' and 'Farmers Burger' are a bit heavier and larger in size, the Natural Burger has the flavor I enjoy.The Mister and I came here on a Friday and ordered the 4 piece hand battered fish dinner ($9.99) to share. Hand battered, wild caught, pollock filets (each filet was quite large; the above photo shows two pieces; one is butterflied so it would cook evenly. The photo above it has all four filets as it was originally served.) served with Harvest Fries, two onion rings,the garlic ciabatta bread, toasted...andyour choice of soup or salad. The soups are made fresh daily. The choices are almost always clam chowder or cream of broccoli. Both are excellent.
The menu has enough choices to satisfy almost any craving or dietary restriction. The shakes are made with real ice cream, need I say more?
Farmer Boys 1333 East Valley Parkway Escondido 92027 (760)739-0770 Mon-Sat 6-midnight, Sun 7-midnight Website