Monday, September 28, 2015

Foodie at Great Maple (SD)

A beautiful, cozy Sunday in my hometown, San Diego, called for a breakfast double date with my boyfriend, best friend, and her fiance at the east side of Hillcrest, known for its colorful lifestyle and comforting food.

To inject some buzz to my weary brain and soul, complementing with a generous dose of black coffee we started off with their acclaimed Maple Bacon Donuts.

Arriving in such sensual fashion this fritter came magnanimously coated with velvety, gooey, and flavorful maple glaze plus the graciously tasty chopped bacon. Bite that together with the soft, sugar-glazed indulgence and that sweet, delicious symphony got my tongue raising the roof--of my mouth.

However, the donuts alone weren't enough to stop suckering into this maple sweetened madness.  My best friend and I conquered through their numerous Silver Dollar (sized) Pancakes.  She was in the mood for the sultry Honey Buckwheat & Blackberry, while whetted my desire for the Fresh Blueberry--both containing their pertinent berries inside of these slivers.

Sugar sounding too excessive?  Easy: feast those hungry eyes over into the savory stage, where these respective dishes centered radiantly onto our ravenous palates.

The House-Smoked Grass-Fed Beef Brisket Hash tasted more simplistically divine than its namesake.  The physical, visual hindrance of the new potatoes, consistently tender and flavorsome meat--and more pieces of bacon--was the result of the luscious poached eggs smothered in red pepper drizzle.

Alternatively, if the word "Popover" sparked such attention, there is the same beef brisket with an addition of these eggy rolls.  Our particular plate had one puffy piece intentionally shown in the nude--i.e. no poached egg sitting atop.

In spite of these aesthetically delicious, homey items, reservations are absolutely recommended, as more and more guests have arrived.  Lesser parking slots became available over the course of 2 hours, so plan accordingly to not tune out on another brunch beat in this Finest City.

Grade: B+

Great Maple
1451 Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 255-2282
Great Maple Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Foodie at 626 Night Market

The last 626 Night Market of 2015 is coming up on Labor Day Weekend, September 4-6.  From over 100 food vendors zealously participating in this seasonal feat, I wholly understand if you especially have trouble with choosing which of the vendors are you most interested in munching.  On top of that you may highly be likely inching yourself through the socially congested atmosphere.

Thus, I can very gladly suggest to you my 5 most favorite foodstuffs from their respective vendors. (I am heavily emphasizing "suggest" so that waiting too long for, say, the coveted Ramen Burger may either elicit hesitation, jadedness, or a little strategy in obtaining different foods from different vendors efficiently.)

1. Lamb Skewers from Beijing Tasty House

If you are wondering about their gamey level, it is slightly intense.  So I think they balanced this trait off with an adequate amount of seasoning like cumin and spicy flaky peppers.  Nonetheless they're consistently juicy.

2. Pho Waffle from Nam Gourmet

As the most underrated vendor I've ever visited from my 626 Night Market trips, based on their lack-of-people lines, I am making my "suggestion" an exception, and therefore I am asking you to trust me on this succulent creation.  It's simply a delicious pho wrapped in a soft, flavorful waffle, period.

3. Fruity Pebbles Churro from Ridges Churro Bar

Known also for serving soft-serve ice cream being dunked from their indulgently tasty fried sugar-coated sticks, I caught myself red-handed from ordering this particular sweet sensation every, single trip of this summer.  I frankly didn't need to include their frozen delight since it's yummy on its own merit.

4a. Sea Urchin Ceviche from Poppa's Fresh Fish Company

I unfortunately need to cross them off this list mainly because this vendor is not attending the September Night Market.  *UPDATE 9/5: It turned out that they have returned for Saturday, fantastically with a line eager for this spiky deliciousness. (Now I wonder if they'll be there Sunday...)*  From that observation I remembered relishing the sweet taste of their uni--more particularly, the workers who washed the uni with bottled spring water eliminated some of that unpleasant, overly oceanic aftertaste.

But I still can't leave behind...

4b. Bacon-Wrapped Cheesy Jalapenos from Pork Dork

I was beyond elated that this vendor is finally returning to the crowded scene after trying them out during the OC Night Market in June.  Warm, tender, soft, gooey, bacon-y, savory, a little peppery, and incredibly delicious per one slightly spicy package, I would predict that the addiction factor would play something like, "It's so good, but I don't wanna wait in line--again!"

5. Kelp and Rayu Musubi from Mama Musubi

That would be found at the bottom right corner of the photo.  Of these 8 flavors I was enamored with the vegetarian piece the most, as I personally never had this slightly saucy sea plant tasted so strikingly that I am quite skeptical this is legitimate kelp.  So to the veggie lovers: I got you covered for this market. *UPDATE 9/3: This vendor won't be in the LBD event, either!  Thank you, 626 Night Market, for informing me!*

So, what's the new, guaranteed No. 5?

Indonesian Chicken Satay from Simpang Asia

You too would expect tenderness and downright deliciousness directly from this poultry street food.  How about a sweet coating of a candidly nutty sensation?  That's all it took without trying so hard to fit in especially with some notable, gimmicky food items found in this 3-day feat. (I'm looking at you, Ramen Burger...)

And if you love to know my Honorable Mentions, I can tell you 5:

-Mochi Puffy Egg Waffle from Waffle Land
-Green Thai Tea from Ruby's Kitchen
-Assorted Macarons from PM Macarons
-Cajun Grilled Shrimp from Cajun Shrimp Shack
-Milk Tea from Lee's Taiwanese (Super seriously.)

I hope you can make the most fun out of this eternally crowded, biggest night market in So Cal.  Savor superiorly!

626 Night Market
Santa Anita Park
285 West Huntington Dr
Arcadia, CA 91007

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Foodie at the OC Fair 2015

This year's OC Fair released some heat with the newly cool attractions such as the ice sculptures and an ice skating rink.  But of course it hasn't swayed off the traditional carnival rides, games, exhibits of livestock and a plethora of contests, and--most importantly to me--a thematic slew of incredibly indulgent, health-unfriendly eats.

I wanted to make my calorie intake count, so amidst the thousands of steps my friends and I endured on a sweltering, parched Saturday morning I've gorged happily on these 3 deep-fried crazies.

Mildest Deep Fritter: Blooming Onion at Fresh Frys

Pricking these soft yet savory "petals" off to dip into the ranch dressing liberally, they left off lots of grease marks on my fingers and GI tract, putting myself into a nostalgic appreciation to youthful metabolism when I would eat this guilt free at some Australian corporate restaurant.

Most Creative Spin Just Not That Bizarre Fried Dish: Mexican Funnel Cake at Apple Fries

My favorite deep fried sweet treat weaved into a renowned carnival crave?  How can this not be droolworthy?!  I especially relished the crunchy ridges with such a lightly dense texture that I preferred this hybrid over the traditional edible nest.  There was enough sweetness thanks to my friend who drizzled some bottled raspberry sauce onto this.  If you need more, though there's always the strawberries and whipped cream option!

Weirdest Yet Tastiest: Starbucks Deep Fried Coffee at Chicken Charlie's

I didn't think this would be flavorsome, but I wholly underestimated Charlie's newest creation.  Coming in 3 sugar-coated balls per order (and no puns intended), this avant-garde delectable sent my tongue dancing in joy.  I may not received the caffeinated high from its mush of coffee grounds and chocolate, but it's certainly not gimmicky like the chocolate-covered bacon at some vendor near the main Ferris wheel.

With all said about my short, deep fried endeavor, enjoy the last week of the 125th OC Fair!!  And if you can't attend, there's the LA Fair arriving next month!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Foodie at Pike Place Market

Our first-ever trip to the Pacific Northwest called out for at least one bucket-listed tourist attraction, requiring a modest tolerance of crowds and wayward walking.

Behold, the 100+ year-old Pike Place Market, just 5 or so minutes away from the University Street stop at Seattle's Light Rail.  We arrived in the traditionally early hours of lunchtime, so our first edible venture was where both my friends and bloggers have commended as we invaded the Seahawks' terrain--Pike Place Chowder.

New England Chowder & Smoked Salmon Chowder

Located in the higher incline of the Post Alley, the sizes of their luscious, warm concoction sensibly vary, depending on the level of hunger and the amount patience knocked off thanks to the gradually longer line.  In spite of the seemingly numerous, appetizing flavors of chowder available, I deliberately chose the 8-ounce Smoked Salmon, while my S.O. pounced on this combo that included the 8-oz classic, creamy deliciousness--i.e. New England--a small Dungeness Crab Roll, and a regularly sized drink, i.e. iced tea to sway from my personal distaste on soda.

For 2 persons with evidently different heights, the entire tab came barely at $20 total--tax included.

Keep Clam & Chowder On

Speaking of burning, the piping hot factor on our soups slightly singed on my very sensitive tongue--and for the record, I am the one responsible for not blowing off its steam strongly enough.  That, however, didn't stop me at all on savoring the well-balanced, creamy consistency and the sheer generosity of the wondrous, fresh-off-the-dock flavors from both the off-white version and the salmon-colored version (pun intended).

As much as I sipped joyously on my orange-y comfort food, the S.O. thought that it had a more intense tang due to the obvious smokiness of the tender salmon and the zesty capers.  So if you're looking into the likewise tasty yet more tolerable flair, opt for the traditional New England.

Meanwhile, the Dungeness Crab Roll provided just the sweet and delectable sensation we have looked forward to on fresh crustacean, with the soft bread that nevertheless was sturdy enough for this protein pile.


Literally moving on to our next "quick" eat, we eventually spotted the Original Starbucks store.  Time was seriously precious to our short-feeling itinerary, so the least we could accomplish was taking a snapshot of the storefront and The 5-Footer.

Afterwards a glance of these pearly, fresh salmon brought attention to another popular Seattle, Russian-influenced treat: Piroshky Piroshky.

They sure taste more beautifully than they appear

Before enduring another long, stuffy line, consider the straightforward ordering-online approach and you'll zip through while continuing with touristy eye candy.  We nonetheless conformed unintentionally, waiting and stepping inch-by-inch for an astounding 5 minutes--thrice as less than the wait for the chowders at opening hour.

We gradually transitioned our appetite by ordering both the savory and sweet breads, which I observed their prices at about $4.00 on average.  Hotly fresh and soft were indisputable, as we reverently bit into the charismatic Chocolate Cream Hazelnut Roll, the beloved Apple Cinnamon Cinnamon Roll--which sensibly has less sugar than the 'Murican counterpart--and the outstanding, ambrosial Smoked Salmon Pate.

The Shapes Say Them All

The Inside of the Smoked Salmon Pate

Being careful not to smudge my lipstick

We then searched for one of the least hygienic spots in the West while exploring around 7 stories of and below the main Farmer's Market.  We later realized that this local "landmark" thankfully didn't share the same wall as Pike Place Chowder...

Underneath the ceiling-influenced shadows...

...Reveals the ever-increasing Gum Wall (Find Me!)

From braving the saturated amount of oral microbes stuck in these chromatic yet sticky chewables, we gladly took the stairs back into the main Farmer's Market.  More walking, huffing, and puffing were anticipated immediately after leaving Pike Place Market, and thus our way of storing and burning more energy while indulging simultaneously, was scouring for one last eat for the late morning/early afternoon: Daily Dozen Doughnuts.

How they make these Triple D's

Gazing and passing through the famous fish-catching act, no wonder 2 good friends of mine fervently recommended me to this donut cart.  Unlike those chained counterparts where they serve their fritters in textures like cakey, airy, or crazily unctuous, these pocket-sized morsels consisted of fluffy, slightly doughy delicious.  If you've ever eaten something called a beignet, that's what the bite closely matched with--especially the ones doused with powdered sugar.

12 differently flavored minis were our pick as we concluded our market session: Sprinkled, Glazed, Powdered Sugar, and Cinnamon.  The last 2 were my personal favorites, and unfortunately Assorted somehow didn't include the tempting Maple Bacon.

12 Assorted Mini Edible, Holed Pillows for $6

Roughly 3 hours on this blazing, local treasure were worth discovering and spending--both money-wise and date-wise.  Until then, Pike Place Market; you'll most likely see me sooner than expected.

Look For the Washington State Ferry

P.S. We couldn't return home without these utterly interesting, non-liquid foodstuffs: Truffle Salt from La Buona Tavola/Truffle Cafe, and Dark Chocolate Linguine from Pappardelle's Pasta--both shamelessly sampled and also highly recommended.

Pike Place Chowder
1530 Post Alley
Seattle, WA 98101

Piroshky Piroshky
1908 Pike Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101

Daily Dozen Doughnuts
93 Pike St
Seattle, WA 98101

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Frenzy & Dami Sushi

A new, placid restaurant called Dami Sushi & Izakaya arose within a newly developed plaza in northern Buena Park--at the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Malvern Avenue.

Perhaps it's perceived as the black sheep in this Korean-dominated vicinity--for instance a Korean BBQ and a Korean supermarket named H Mart, which is close to ending construction.  With assertion and an open zeal of raw fish and seafood at its gastronomic finest, owners Thomas Shin and Brandon Lee teamed up with skilled chefs, Executive Chef Jun Kim and Executive Sushi Chef John Yoon, will satiate your hunger while placing the other competitive Asian restaurants in the back of your mind.

Their extensive menu features a camaraderie of Japanese and Korean eats to balance off the traditional Japanese elements and the atmosphere towards the Korean-dominating community.

Aptly beginning with Starters include the enticing Jawanmmushi: a savory Japanese steamed egg custard topped off with shrimp, a gingko nut, shiitake mushroom, and half of a swirly fish cake.  Your mind might have been pre-programmed "custard" belonging to the sweet continuum, but let's adjust that culinary assumption.

Jawanmushi (sample)

Jawanmushi as how it's regularly executed

Their Salads are more enriching than how it's verbally pronounced, such as the Sashimi Salad, Tuna Tataki, and the continental, earthy-feeling Whole Grain Salad--a protein and fiber delight full of black rice, Indian millet, lentils, kidney beans, mozzarella cheese, and baby mesclun dressed with soy vinaigrette.

Whole Grain Salad

If a mix of adventure and familiarity is more comfortable and pleasurable--while simultaneously pursuing for an aphrodisiac--they have fresh Oysters either coming from the Eastern U.S. zone or Pacific zone.  Pictured is a Shooter containing the Blue Point Oyster (from NY) with quail egg, masago, & yuzu sauce.

[Blue Point] Oyster Shooter

Or, on the next picture, you can opt for double the whammy as an aphrodisiac and a fried delicacy under Dami's Deep Fried section of the menu.  However, if a milder sensation suits you, their Shrimp Tempura conveys the safer bet.

Oyster Tempura with Enoki, Grated Radish, and Ponzu Sauce

Perhaps the prominently healthier substance stubbornly adheres to your eating lifestyle.  So besides the salads Dami provides Grilled entrees, such as Teppanyaki Beef, Grilled Yellowtail Collar, and the subtly sweet and inconceivably floral Chilean Sea Bass--marinated in miso and sake.

Center is a sample of Miso Chilean Sea Bass

Also within the menu comprises of their Signature creations, such as the tender and delectable spicy pork belly with rice, and ssamjang sauce, and lettuce to wrap around the aforementioned ingredients encompassing the Ssambab.

Ssam Bab

The Lettuce Wrap

If eating within comfort zone frightens you, step your gastronomic game way up towards dishes like the Golbang Yi Muchim, roughly translated as Sea Snail salad with dried pollack and hot chili pepper sauce, alongside two small, slithery scoops of rice noodles.

Golbang Yi Muchim (Sea Snail Salad)

Or possibly dive into a more proportionally diminutive amount yet slightly intensifying Siragei, which is a rice bowl of dried radish greens slowly cooked with special soy dashi and baby anchovy, topped with masago and ginger.

Siragei (Dried Radish Greens) Rice Bowl

When deliberately tossed altogether, the sauce gradually soaks the blanched-looking rice into a more inviting, light orange hue, at closer look with the masago mixed in--i.e. the sample in the picture below.

Perhaps a smokier touch, plus that adventurous trait in you, will tingle your gustatory senses.  The Saewoojang may as well excellently tailor you--a rice bowl full of raw shrimp preserved with special soy sauce, followed by dried pollack and jujube.

Saewoojang (Preserved Shrimp) Rice Bowl

If for some reason bowls and plates are not your forte of the day, on a separate, checklist menu contains Yakitori, which are mini skewers to nibble joyously while imbibing their beer and/or sake--which by the way poses a reason of the "Izakaya" inscription in their moniker.

Two of their featured skewers boast the Enoki (Mushroom) Maki and Asparagus Maki, both wrapped in savory, slightly crunchy, and tantalizing Japanese pork belly.

Enoki Mushroom Maki

Asparagus Maki

Perhaps none of the above can betray that nitpicky pescatarian brethren of yours, and thus Sushi answers to its loyalty.  On another separated, 2-paged checklist menu spotlights these fresh delicacies as both commonplace rolls and traditional cuts--i.e. sushi and sashimi.

Easily available in the rolls are the low-to-zero carb specialties, such as the zesty Dami Special, which packs up tuna, salmon, albacore, and crab meat with avocado wrapped in cucumber.  If soy paper appeals to personal texture, you might become enraptured with the Love Roll, which hugs around salmon, tuna, yellowtail, albacore, avocado, and cucumber.

Sample of Dami Special (left) & Love Roll (right)

Otherwise go for my personal preference in ordering raw fish: assorted sushi and sashimi by means of 2-piece ordering and 5-piece ordering, respectively--e.g. 8 dishes of fresh and conscientiously cool seafood in a Dami Seafood Box for $40--for 2 customers total.

Assorted Sushi: (from counterclockwise top right) Halibut; Salmon Belly; Red Snapper; Tuna/Maguro; Yellowtail Belly; garlic, ginger, and wasabi; Tuna Seaweed Roll; Abalone

My All-Time Favorite Fish: silky, smooth, and flavorful Sake/Salmon

Ending the night--or possibly commence the evening--can be gradually sweetened with their seductive yet mellow Matcha Green Tea Creme Brulee as a way to both titillate the sugar tooth and eliminate the opposing, savory remnants.

Green Tea Creme Brulee

If you particularly can't bear the wait or the excessive portions of red meat at the Korean BBQ next door, please do not hesitate and eat your heart out at Dami Sushi & Izakaya.  As another approach to enliven that hankering heart is their everyday Happy Hour, offering $1 oysters.

Happy Hour

Dami Sushi & Izakaya
5151 Beach Blvd, Unit A
Buena Park, CA 90621
(714) 739-2537

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