You always remember your first time…

I remembered the first time the BF tried and fell in love with sushi and sashimi. I was with him when he tried his first piece and I still remember everything about that moment with perfect clarity despite it having taken place so long ago.

Since then, sushi has been his favorite food and he is always wanting to eat sushi. So I sort of created a monster when I introduced him to sushi. Those of you who are long time readers of my blog know that I have not had the same love affair with sushi.

For years, it was something I ate, but I didn’t particularly love. My sushi was also limited to cooked fish only as I did not like the taste of raw fish. Gradually, BF rubbed off on me. I experimented and tried sashimi from time to time, but it still wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed and my range of sashimi that I would eat was pretty limited.

Then about a year and a half ago, I stumbled upon Sushi Kaito, a tiny sushi joint in Encinitas. I had read amazing things about this place: the fresh fish flown in from all parts of the world, the experienced sushi chefs.  I was excited to take BF to the place because I knew it would be something he would love. However,the night ended up being more memorable for me because it was my first time really truly enjoying sashimi. With the help of Sushi Chef Joe, I was able get a better understanding of my sushi palate and I was able to taste some extremely tasty sashimi. You can read my post here.

After our wonderful visit, we always knew we’d be back, but it’s taken a long time to make our way back. Encinitas is a little far of a drive and in the opposite direction of our usual hang outs. It’s also closed on Sundays, which is usually our free day to have a long meal out.

When we finally made our way to Sushi Kaito, everything was just how I remembered it had been the last time we were there. We were seated at the sushi bar, since we had called ahead to make reservations (I highly recommend doing this because it is a tiny place.)

Shortly after being seated, we were given a cold appetizer.

Once we were finished munching, Sushi Chef Joe asked us what we wanted that night.

Sushi Kaito has a menu you can order from. If you’ve read the yelp reviews, a lot of people recommend the omakase experience which is basically letting the chef choose your meal.

We opted for more of a hybrid of the two. We didn’t use the menu, but instead relied on recommendations from the chef (most of which were fishes not on the menu). We didn’t completely leave it up to the chef though, since he asked us what we wanted each time before serving us our food.

We were told they had fresh scallop, so that is what we started with.

Chef Joe prepared it two ways: one raw and one stir fried. I haven’t been a big fan of raw scallop in the past. I don’t really like the texture and always feel like the scallop flavor you experience eating a cooked one isn’t as apparent in the raw version. But this raw scallop was very fresh and full of flavor. I really enjoyed this and didn’t mind the texture at all. BF preferred the cooked version.

Next we had toro. BF and I both really enjoy toro. The fatty belly section of tuna is very flavorful and melts in your mouth. When I took a bite of this toro, it made all the other toros I previously ate completely pale in comparison. This toro was amazing.. Bursting with flavor, melting in my mouth. This was my favorite bite of the night. I wish I could eat this kind of quality toro all the time.

All of the sushi served to us was already seasoned with sauce so that we didn’t need the soy sauce and wasabi. The sauce created by the chef was perfect in my opinion, complementing the rice and fish. When you dip sushi in soy sauce, the salty flavor of the soy sauce often takes away from the taste of the fish.

I don’t remember the next fish we had. I just remember it was a little out of my palate range.

Our next sushi was the barracuda.

The fish skin was seared and seasoned. The salty and citrusy skin was very flavorful.

Next we requested clam. On our first visit, we had an amazing clam dish, with three different types of clam flown in from different places. This time it was just served with rice. I didn’t enjoy this clam as much as the previous one I had.

Next we tried the red snapper. The skin here was also seasoned, creating a salty flavor that paired well with the fish.

After this, Chef Joe told us he wanted to prepare a special dish for us. Of course we agreed. He prepared a fish tempura, using small silver fish from Japan. He said that these are only in season now. They chip at the ice and dig a hole to get these fish during the winter.

The tempura was nice and light and the fish were soft. You could eat the entire fish, bones and all. I really enjoyed this.

We were getting pretty full at this point, so Chef Joe suggested that he choose one last fish for each of us. Again, I forgot what it was called.

Around this time, Chef Joe began to remember that we had dined here before. He told us we looked familiar. I figured he might vaguely remember us, but that he couldn’t remember us in detail since it had been a year and a half since we visited. But to my surprise, he really did remember us. He started detailing things about our last meal and where we lived! He apologized for his bad memory for not remembering us right away. I was more blown away by his good memory in remembering our one visit so long ago.

To end the night, he gave us each something sweet. I love uni so he made me uni. BF doesn’t like uni so he got a piece of eel belly. My uni was so nice and creamy. A perfect way to end the meal.

As we were waiting for our bill, Chef Joe produced a fried eel spine. I’ve heard about how good this is from yelp reviews. He explained that they are able to get the eel spine themselves since the eel they get is so fresh and he explained how they retrieve the spine. The spine was very cool to look at. It was deep fried so it was like eating a chip.

We left extremely satisfied. This meal was just as enjoyable as our first meal. I had worried we had over romanticized our first meal, but we hadn’t. We will definitely be back and won’t let another year pass before our next revisit.

Kaito Sushi
130 N El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 634-2746
Kaito Sushi on Urbanspoon

Every year I make an Irish cream bundt cake for St. Patrick’s Day. Previously I used a recipe I found on allrecipes that uses yellow cake mix as a base. This year, I thought I’d change it up and make a pound cake.

I’m planning on making a full size bundt for St. Patrick’s Day, but first I experimented with this loaf cake. I thought this cake came out pretty good. The pound cake is dense, moist and velvety. You can taste the irish cream, though it is very subtle. The glaze also has irish cream and eaten together, you can really taste the irish cream in the cake. I might tinker with this recipe a little before my final version but I was pretty happy with how this one came out.

Irish cream pound cake


1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup Irish cream liquor

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a 9 x 5 pan with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Then add in the sour cream, irish cream and vanilla extract and mix again. Finally add in the rest of the flour and mix until everything is just blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Once the cake has completely cooled, pour irish cream glaze on top.

Irish cream glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp irish cream
about 2 tsp milk

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. You may need to add more milk to get the desired consistency. You want the glaze to be liquidy but you don’t want it too thin that it becomes translucent.

Little Bro’s girlfriend (not to be confused with Baby’s Bro’s girlfriend who has been providing the Taiwan post pics.) recently had a birthday. After doing the usual celebrations that college students do, we decided to have a quiet family dinner with her as well.

She is Filipino so she was craving some Filipino food. Little Bro decided to go to Manila Fast Food to pick up some food for the dinner. I took a few quick pics before everything was devoured. Sorry about the poor quality of the pictures.

Pancit, a stir fried vermicelli dish, is very very popular with my family. My sister goes nuts for it. I’m not sure what makes it so addicting, but it is. So we ordered half a tray of pancit ($30). It was scary how fast this disappeared. The tray was big and full and we only had about a serving bowl left of leftovers by the end of the night.

Lumpia, which are filipino egg rolls, are also a popular favorite in my house. We ordered 100 of them ($35).

In addition, we ordered a few individual sized items of different dishes. I should have waited to take pictures when we poured them into bowls, but I was too lazy to take any more pictures by that point.

We had some chicken adobo.

Goat stew

Sinigang na bangus – fish in tamarind soup

Bilo bilo- a sweet dessert with sticky rice balls, ube balls and large tapioca.

kare-kare- a stew with a peanut butter based sauce

Everything tasted pretty good. I was a little relieved because on our last few visits to Manila, the food had been very salty.

Manila Fastfood and Desserts
8979 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126