Saturday, September 19, 2009
Yi Mei Chinese Pastries
736 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
When Boyfriend and I used to go to Monterey Park, we had no idea where to go. If yelp was around, we hadn't discovered it yet. And we didn't read food blogs either. So we would just go into a random place and try it out. Since I've started food blogging, I've collected a list of places I want to try out in the Monterey Park area. The week before we were to make our trip, I was so torn. I didn't know where to go! Too many places were on my list. I went back and forth, constantly changing my mind, reading every review possible. Finally, I settled on Yi Mei Chinese Pastries.
Yi Mei Chinese Pastries sells a variety of Taiwanese dishes, including all the usual breakfast items. The best thing is that they serve the breakfast dishes all day long.
Yi Mei is a very small shop with just a few tables. While we were there, all the customers either got stuff to go, or were there to order their steamed buns. Apparently their steamed buns are pretty popular. When we were there, we saw displays of them.
Since we had no where to go, we opted to eat at the empty shop. The lady who took our order was really nice.
We started off with the Taiwanese meatball.
A Taiwanese meatball (ba wan) isn't like a normal meatball. The outside is a chewy, mochi like texture. Though much thicker and chewier than mochi. The inside is filled with ground meat. I was disappointed when this came out. It was so flat and the sauce didn't taste right. The inside meat tasted pretty good though, but the skin wasn't right.
Next, we got beef noodle soup.
Boyfriend has been craving NRM a lot lately. While eating this, he proclaimed he could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner every night. I wasn't very impressed with this version of beef noodle soup. First, it had sour pickled vegetables. While this is often found in Taiwanese beef noodle soup, I'm not very fond of it as it makes the broth taste sour. The meat also wasn't that flavorful. And the noodles weren't that great either.
Next, I ordered a rice roll (fan tuan)
At my grandmother's old place in Taipei, there was a rice roll vendor right in front of her building. Every morning we would go down and get fresh rice rolls for breakfast. It was fun watching him make it. He had different ones. Salty ones, salty and spicy ones, ones made with purple rice, white rice, and also sweet ones filled with red bean paste. I preferred the salty and spicy ones with purple rice.
A rice roll is like a burrito/sushi roll. The inside is usually a chinese fried crueller (yu tiao), dried shredded pork, and pickled vegetables (usually the spicy pickled radishes).
The rice roll was pretty good. The crueller was still crunchy. Sometimes places use old, no longer crunchy cruellers which ruins the taste roll for me.
We also ordered a green onion pancake.
The pancake was pretty good. It had a good amount of doughiness and a good amount of onion flavor.
Finally, I ordered an oyster pancake.
While the sauce was right, the oyster pancake was completely wrong. It's supposed to be like a pancake, with a chewy flour base, egg, oysters and some vegetables smashed into the pancake. This was a giant omelette with all the vegetables and oysters sitting in between the folds of the omelet instead of being blended into the batter. Plus there were way too many vegetables.
All in all it was a pretty disappointing experience.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Groupon has come to San Diego. About a month ago, I was contacted by the people working at Groupon. Everyday they have a deal of the day for the San Diego area. The idea is to use the buying power of a group to get deals. Except that you don't actually have to be with this group for activities, just for the initial buying. Once enough people have bought the said featured deal of the day, the "deal is on." So far it seems that the number needed to initiliaze the deal has always been met. I've seen some great deals lately, so I wanted to share the site with you if you haven't heard of them. The deals vary. Sometimes it's a gift certificate to a restaurant for 50% off, sometimes it's a discount on cruise tickets, etc. For example, today's deal is a 53% discount on the gondolay cruise in Coronado. I didn't even know this existed! The cruise tries to emulate the feeling and sites of Venice. A one hour boat ride, complimentary appetizer or dessert, ice bucket and wine glasses and you can bring your own wine, Italian music, normally costs $89. Through today's groupon, you can get it for $40. Pretty nice! Boyfriend and I jumped on today's deal and have jumped on a few others. You might want to check them out. http://www.groupon.com/san-diego/
San Diego restaurant is still going on for some restaurants. While the official restaurant week ends September 18, a lot of restaurant have extended theirs an extra week. Some of the restaurants I know that have extended are George's, Oceanaire, and the various Cohn restaurants. You can visit www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com for menu.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Oceanaire Seafood Room
400 J St
San Diego, CA 92101
After a dismal experience at 1500 Ocean for restaurant week, Boyfriend and I looked forward to Oceanaire to redeem our faith in restaurant week. Oceanaire is a favorite of ours. My previous post on Oceanaire can be found here. We actually discovered it before restaurant week was launched, but the way Oceanaire embraces restaurant week make us love Oceanaire even more.
We like to go to Oceanaire for restaurant week because we get the same excellent service, the same well proportioned entrees, the same quality food, and all for a much cheaper bill.
The one tiny complaint/criticism I have about Oceanaire during restaurant week is that they are always running behind. I don't think I've ever been there and been seated right away. There is always about a 15-20 minute wait from my reservation time. But everything that happens after we are seated more than makes up for it.
Our visit to Oceanaire this time did not disappoint. After we were seated, we were presented the menu. Most restaurants offer about 3 choices for restaurant week. Not Oceanaire. Everything that is in bold is part of restaurant week choices. This includes about 7 appetizer choices (including their famous and pricey crabcake), 12 different entrees, and all their desserts. To my despair, I forgot to bring my camera! So I had to rely on Boyfriend's iphone. I wish I had my camera to better capture the delicious and beautiful food that was presented to us.
The waiter gladly explained the restaurant week menu to us and told us that they are extending restaurant week an extra week (till the 25th for anyone who wants to go but didnt get a chance to this week). They do this every time, another thing I love.
Dinner started off with warm sour dough bread and this plate of vegetables and pickled herring.
Soon after we ordered, our appetizer arrived. Oceanaire is famous for their crabcakes as I previously went into detail about. Boyfriend and I love the crabcake so much that we never have been able to try any other appetizer. At $15.95 for a single crabcake, it is quite expensive. I love that Oceanaire offers it as part of their restaurant week menu.
The crabcake was as good as usual. Oceanaire uses large lumps of the best parts of a crab, and doesn't use tons of bread crumbs and other fillings. The sauce that accompanies the crab cake is delicious as well.
Every time we have gone to Oceanaire, we have gotten consistently good service. Despite being busy for restaurant week, service was still excellent. The water glasses at Oceanaire are quite small, but they are constantly refilled. It only takes a few gulps to finish a glass, but as Boyfriend pointed out that evening, his glass was never more than half empty. And it isn't just the attention, it is just the overall treatment. Have you ever experience not so great service because you didn't order expensive wines and appetizers and stuff to go with your meal? At Oceanaire, Boyfriend and I have always gotten great service no matter how much or how little we order. Even when the table next to us might have ordered a hundred dollar bottle of wine, we still get equal treatment. I love this about Oceanaire.
After we finished our crabcakes, we had barely waited more than ten minutes when our waitress appeared with bowls of clam chowder. She explained that she was giving it to us because the entrees were going to take a few more minutes. We were pleasantly surprised. We hadn't even waited that long. 1500 Ocean didn't once check on us during our waits for our entree and dessert, much less give us something while we were waiting.
I had never tried the clam chowder. I thought there wasn't enough clam taste. It had way too much bacon. While I didn't enjoy it as much as the crab cakes, I did enjoy the very nice gesture and since it was free there was nothing much to complain about.
As soon as we finished our soups, our entrees arrived! I ordered the Kid Dynamite. Which is a Mahi Mahi with a screaming rooster sauce.
The dish was so pretty. I loved the orange and green sauces at the bottom. The portions are also very generous. Fish is very filling. Every time I go, I can barely finish my entree after eating the crabcake, bread and vegetables. The waiters always ask if we want a side dish. We've tried some of the side dishes and enjoyed them but now we don't order them because we can never finish them.
I really enjoyed my entree. The fish was very moist. The outside was crispy. The rooster sauce is spicy and tasty.
Boyfriend got the Seared Tombo Tuna.
We both liked the tuna but didn't enjoy the accompanying beans and other vegetables as much.
For dessert, I ordered the apple crisp.
Boyfriend got the espresso mousse.
We enjoyed both desserts.
At the end of the meal, our waitress again reminded us that they are extending restaurant week. She also pointed out that their menu changes daily, so that you can have different choices on a second visit during restaurant week. With so many different entree options and their daily changing menu, I guess you could technically go everyday for two weeks and get something different. Pretty cool.