Friday, July 16, 2010
BF and I had some things to take care of in Orange County and decided to stick around for the day and revisit some old haunts. It's been a while since we've taken a trip to OC, as most of our road trips have taken us further: to downtown Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, Rowland Heights, etc.
Kula Sushi Bar
2700 Alton Parkway, Suite 133
Irvine, CA 92606
For dinner, we wanted to go to Kula again. Kula has a revolving conveyer belt running throughout the entire restaurant. It's open all day; no break between lunch and dinner. It always seems to be pretty busy. Every plate is $2. We previously visited Kula here. I noticed on this trip that were quite a few new items. This is the list of sushi plates they serve:
The list itself looks kind of small, but it's a pretty big variety. It seems like every time I looked up, there was a different dish passing by me. Every time I come here, I want to get everything passing by me. I love the $2 pricing per plate. I like this place more than BF. He doesn't think the raw fish plates are that great. I like this place because it offers a lot of things I like: clams, octopus, shrimp, mochi.
Here is the plates we ended up getting:
Spicy crunchy tuna:
Spicy tuna roll:
Ebi (sweet shrimp with deep fried head)
Crunchy Salmon roll
Some sort of spicy roll:
Crispy rice topped with crab
Spicy tuna on top of crispy rice
2710 Alton Pkwy, Ste 215,
After dinner, we went to The Balcony for dessert. I've become obsessed with snowflake shaved ice, which is a very fine shaved ice that tastes like ice cream. Condensed milk is mixed with the ice before it is shaved, creating a fluffy sweet ice that also melts a lot slower than traditional shaved ice. I've been trying to find places closer than Class 302 and Pa Pa Walk that serve the shaved ice. I found out that The Balcony serves it as well. The Balcony is a taiwanese bar/restaurant. Their dinner menu consists mainly of shabu shabu, which I thought was weird since shabu shabu isn't Taiwanese. They also offer some Taiwanese snacks and of course the snowflake shaved ice.
Though they offer quite a few shaved ice toppings, the one I like the best, mango shaved ice, is not offered.
They have strawberry and mango one, but it didn't taste the same. The strawberries tasted really sour when mixed with the mangoes, syrup and condensed milk. The shaved ice here is very much like the one at Class 302, coming out in sheets. It tasted good, but not as good as the one at Class 302. I also thought the quantity was a lot less.
Class 302 is still my favorite spot for snowflake ice. It's the cheapest spot I've been to and their mango shaved ice has sweet mango pieces and mango syrup in the actual ice. I was also surprised to see that the shaved ice here actually melted faster, whereas it really didn't melt at all when I went to Class 302 and Pa Pa Walk.
We also got some sweet potato fries:
These were just okay to me. I did like that they had sour plum powder sprinkled on it.
Fried stinky tofu:
The fermented taste was not strong enough. This dish was disappointing.
Finally, we got another shaved ice since we love the snowflake shaved ice so much. This was further proof that the quantities here are smaller than Class 302, since BF and I were able to polish off both shaved ices. This one we got with the more traditional toppings of mochi balls and red beans. While I normally love the traditional toppings, I've found that I don't enjoy it as much on the snowflake ice. Since the snowflake ice is already flavored with condensed milk, the toppings seem too sweet. The Taiwanese shaved ice I grew up with had no flavor in the ice, so it worked better that.
Here is the menu:
We went to quite a few other places in the area, but I'll have to cover that in another post.
Friday, July 16, 2010
One of the things I missed most when I went off to college was mealtimes with my family. With a family of six, mealtime is always a festive occasion. There is lots of conversation, laughter, and eating. For some reason, food just tastes better when there are others around,
fighting sharing the same food.
I still get to experience family dinners and lunches when I visit my parents, but one thing we rarely have anymore is breakfast. Even if everyone is home, everyone sleeps in and breakfast is usually just a piece of toast. Growing up, breakfast would be pancakes, omelets, French toast, etc.
Over July 4th weekend, I finally got to have a family breakfast experience again with my brothers. For once, no one had to work and everyone was awake. It was the perfect opportunity to use my new Emilware aluminum cast iron griddle, which was provided to me by CSN Stores. You can read about CSN stores' generous offering here. I chose the griddle because I wanted to make more than one pancake at once and I wanted to make big pancakes.
The griddle fits across one and a half burners on my stove. It is super, super heavy. I was prepared for this as it's a better material, but it made it hard to clean since I had to use two hands just to hold it. However, the grill was very sturdy, didn't slide around. And other than the fact that it was heavy, it was pretty easy to clean. It worked quite well and I set out to make big, fluffy, blueberry pancakes. I was able to make the pancakes much bigger than with my frying pan. The only downside was that I was still only able to make one pancake at a time. The griddle is heated up on the stove. While the whole griddle gets hot, only the part that was directly above the big burner heated up sufficiently to cook the pancakes. Does anyone with a stovetop griddle have any tips? Was I do something wrong?
I had some sour cream I needed to use up, so I made sour cream pancakes. I love how high the sour cream pancakes rise. I had fresh sweet blueberries which I sprinkled onto the batter after the pancakes began to cook. I doubled the recipe below and added blueberries:
Sour Cream Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
PAM spray for the griddle
1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
2. In another bowl combine sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla extract.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix only until combined.
Don’t overmix the batter, or your pancake will be chewy, dense and
tough! (I love that you don't need to mix out the lumps)
4. Grease pan/skillet with butter or PAM spray
5. Pour the pancake batter into the skillet and cook until bubbles
appear on top and the bottom is nicely
5. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another minute or so until its
6. Serve warm with butter and/or maple syrup.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Yakitori Yakyudori & Ramen
4898 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
Despite enjoying my first visit to Yakitori shortly after it opened, which can be read about here, I haven't had a chance to revisit this place.
This past weekend, we were originally planning on visiting Sushi Yaro. I had seen the grand opening sign while running errands, and recalled Kirk of mmm-yoso's post alerting us of the new sushi spot. Unfortunately, when we go there, it was closed! Apparently they are not opened on Sundays. Boo.
So we decided to go to Yakitori instead. On our way there, we passed a huge family of skunks! BF stopped the car so I could snap some pictures. Now normally I would not be so excited by skunks, but I had never seen so many all at once. I think they were all babies.
While I was busy trying to get a good picture, I suddenly saw three of them scurrying straight towards us! Luckily they suddenly turned around and went back to the pack.
We noticed some changes when we arrived at Yakitori. For one, they now have their liquor license. They also offer a few more appetizers now, but not the grilled items offered at their Hillcrest location.
BF and I both wanted the miso ramen. He ordered a regular one with pork and egg. I got the vegetable one.
On my previous visit, I had really enjoyed the miso ramen. At the time they were using this red miso which I really liked and was surprised to find didn't taste like the traditional miso paste I'm used to.
The miso broth now tastes like the traditional miso paste I am used to, except much saltier. In fact, my broth was way too salty. I wasn't able to drink any of the soup. The saltiness pretty much ruined my bowl of ramen.
BF didn't seem to mind as much about the saltiness. But he did have a lot of soup left. So he ordered a side of extra noodles for $1.50.
Despite the bowl looking big, I feel like the quantity is a lot less compared to our previous visit. Last time I had left fairly filled. And BF had not needed to order extra noodles. This time, I left still hungry.
We also ordered the sea urchin jellyfish appetizer since I love sea urchin. This appetizer was a bit spicy. As a result, you really couldn't taste the sea urchin. The only indication it is there is the orange creamy sauce mixed with the jellyfish. This appetizer was just alright for me. I wouldn't order it again.
I also noticed that Yakitori serves dessert now. We didn't order any, but I thought tit was funny that they cite to wikipedia as their source.
Overall, this was a disappointing experience. I think it will be a while before I go back to give Yakitori another shot.