Restaurant Week is almost here (September 16-21) and I recently was invited to preview the Restaurant Week menu at Del Mar Rendezvous (“DMR”). In addition, I’m giving away a dinner for 2 at DMR during restaurant week! Details at the bottom of this post. DMR is offering a $30 prix fixe menu and has extended their RW from September 8-30.

DMR remains the only Chinese American restaurant to date that I actually enjoy dining at. My first visit can be found here. The key distinction is that the restaurant doesn’t served Americanized Chinese Food, but rather something more like Chinese food with American influences. Co-owner and Head Chef Tony Su is of Taiwanese descent (his parents own Dumpling Inn) and learned to cook traditional, authentic Chinese dishes.  The menu consists mostly of traditional Chinese dishes that are more suitable to the Western palate, with some unconventional elements. There are also some items which you would never find at a traditional Chinese restaurant, such as options for a gluten free or vegetarian menu and a large selection of wine and beers.

Manager and co-owner Dan Schreiber, one of my favorite restaurant managers to chat with, also arranged for us to try out a new on demand private driving company, Uber. Uber offers private town car and limo transportation with prices comparable to a taxi service. You don’t need to reserve ahead, instead you simply text them about 20 minutes before you need to leave and they will promptly give you an ETA. You can follow the progress of the driver with your phone app if you want, and they will also text and call you right before they arrive too. (More information on my review of Uber at the end of this post.) DMR guests during restaurant week will also receive $30 credit to try Uber for themselves.

We started dinner off with some teas and wine. I chose the plum oolong tea, my favorite one here. DH opted for his own pot of green tea. The Restaurant Week menu offers discounted wine flights. Or if you really like wine, come dine on a Sunday where bottles are 50% off! We were seriously tempted to get a bottle but knew we wouldn’t be able to finish.

Steamed Dumpling Sampler: 2 Ha Gau (Shrimp), 2 Su Jiao (Vegetable), and 2 Xiao Long Bao (Pork) dumplings

There are five appetizers to choose from on the RW menu and I chose to try the steamed dumpling sampler. Last time I had tried the XLB here and commented that it was odd that it wasn’t served with vinegar and fresh ginger. The manager took that to heart and now they serve the XLB with fresh ginger, vinegar and a soup soon. Technically, XLB is traditionally served with a black rice vinegar, which has a less acidic taste than the table white vinegar we were offered, but I’m happy they made an effort.

The shrimp dumplings had little bits of chopped water chestnuts mixed with the shrimp. Since I love water chestnuts, I loved this addition. DH prefers the traditional shrimp only version served often at dim sum.

I made this appetizer in anticipation of Labor Day weekend. It’s super easy and tasty. It’s also a great way to enjoy pizza while cutting down on the carbs.

It’s best to use larger mushrooms so you have more surface area to work with. Costco sells the oversized mushrooms for a really good price. I used brown bella mushrooms.

I got the idea after seeing it on Table for Two’s instagram. I’ve also seen versions with zucchini and other vegetables.

Recently I was invited to an Island’s Restaurant event to try out some of their new menu items.

The thought of Island’s does make me a little nostalgic as it was a common hangout during my UCSD days.

We started with three new cocktails: Paradise Mai Tai, Maker’s Wedge and Jager Bay. The highlights for me were the Mai Tai and the Jager Bay. The Mai Tai comes in a tall skinny glass and the sweet pink cocktail is only 149 calories.

The Jager Bay was really sweet, much sweeter than I expected. It’s quite potent but you can’t tell when drinking it, so you do need to be a little careful.

Next up were some new appetizer sliders, topped with caramelized onions and bacon.

Aside from the caramelized bacon, these were your typical sliders. I thought the meat was a little on the dry side.