It was hard to come up with my favorite meals of 2013. The previous year (2012) was such an indulgent year with the honeymoon in Europe, a reservation at French Laundry and more. I knew at the end of 2012 that there was no way 2013 would even come close. We also made a conscious decisions to cut back on meals this year in order to save money for some other life goals.
While we didn’t have as many memorable meals, we did have some delicious bites so this year’s list is a combination of top meals and savory dishes of 2013:
#10 Crab Guacamole from Puesto at The Headquarters
During the annual San Diego Food Blogger Holiday Party which took place a the new Puesto located at The Headquarters, I tried the Crab Guacamole dip and immediately fell in love with it. The crab and avocado paired so well together. It seems so simple but I’ve attempted to make my own at home multiple times since and can’t quite replicate the flavors of the Puesto version.
#9 Potato Pancake from Cafe21
It’s not much to look at, but the potato pancake served during brunch hours at Cafe21 is one of my favorite bites of 2013. Shredded potatoes mixed with cheese and pepper is browned and crisped on the outside, with a soft and creamy center. It’s reminiscent of a McDonald’s hash brown, but a more refined and grown-up version.
#8 Monkfish Liver from Sushi Tadokoro
The monkfish liver here is prepared in-house and is the best version of monkfish liver I’ve tasted to date. Each bite is soft, creamy and decadent.
#7 Chongqing Chicken Wings from Mission Chinese Food
The wings here are crunchy and fried to the point that there is no visible fat on the skin. They are cooked with Sichuan peppercorns which leaves a tingling sensation on your lips as you eat these wings. I want these at my Superbowl viewing party.
#6 Roasted Crab and Garlic Noodles from Crustacean
On a recent trip to SF, I got a taste of this famed dish offered at Crustacean and Thanh Long. A whole roasted and seasoned dungeness crab is paired with buttery garlic noodles. The combination works well together. The subtle sweetness of the crab is emphasized by the butter and garlic and the savory noodles accompany the crab meat well.
#5 Tea Smoked Chilean Sea Bass from Pearl Chinese Restaurant
During my wedding banquet, everyone raved about the tea-smoked fish. Since I was busy greeting all the guests, I didn’t know what they were talking about. When we revisited our wedding banquet meal during our first anniversary, we were unable to order the fish as we were told it needed to be ordered the day before. But at a recent rehearsal dinner, I finally got to try the dish, and I finally understood why it won such rave reviews. The fish is tender and flaky, and surprisingly tastes more like crab meat than like fish, making this one thick cut of boneless/shell-less crab meat.
#4 Truffle Dumplings from Din Tai Fung
The newest Din Tai Fung location in LA debuted with truffle dumplings. Each dumpling contains a generous piece of truffle and the truffle essence is very apparent in the soup and the meat. If you enjoy truffle, each bite is quite blissful.
#3 Margherita Pizza from Pizzeria Mozza Costa Mesa
We were in a serious pizza slump after returning from Italy until we tasted the margherita pizza from Pizzeria Mozza in Costa Mesa. The sauce was flavorful, the crust thin and charred but without being bitter. We loved everything about this pizza and have been back for it several times since our initial trip. Unfortunately, the SD Pizzeria Mozza needs some work, but I’m hoping they will eventually be making the margherita as well as the one in Costa Mesa.
#2 Crispy Confit of Suckling Pig from Jean-Georges
Our overall meal at Jean-Georges was one of our favorites of the year, but the standout was definitely the crispy confit of suckling pig. The skin was thick and crunchy and the pork incredibly moist and flavorful. We’ve eaten a lot of suckling pig, but this was definitely the best we’ve had.
I have no specific favorite dish from this epic meal, but the meal was my favorite of 2013. We loved the whole experience: the show, the presentation, the flavors, the food, the kitchen tour.
To view my past round-ups: