[Irvine] Class 302 三年2班

I love Taiwanese food, and S and I sometimes lament that there really aren’t enough options in San Diego (which would be why, every time we go to LA, we eat five meals per day and bring back as much as possible).  Recently, we went to a concert in Irvine, which also has a number of Taiwanese eateries, including the ever-popular 85C Cafe.  Unfortunately, since our concert ended late, we did not make it to 85C Cafe, but instead went to Class 302, which started in Rowland Heights and recently opened its second location in Irvine.

I never went to elementary school in Taiwan, but my friends said that the decor, tables, and chairs really remind them of their schools.  The seating area was actually quite big, and there was a separate counter for take-out orders.

Cute wall decor

Chinese menu, written on the chalkboard!

The menu is rather extensive, and we all had a hard time deciding what to get.  They have snacks & appetizers, bento boxes, noodle soups, rice dishes – all the things you can find at casual Taiwanese eateries.  In the end, I decided on the pork feet with peanut bento box (花生豬腳便當).

Pork feet with peanuts bento box 花生豬腳便當

Bento veggies: mung bean sprouts, baby corn, cabbage, & carrots

The bento box had a layer on top with the veggies and rice on the bottom, and the pork feet were served in a separate dish.  I thought that sort of defeated the purpose of the bento box.

Pork feet, veggie layer, rice layer (served with ground pork sauce and pickled cabbage)

The pork feet were actually somewhat disappointing – they were not as tender as I had hoped, and there was no trace of peanuts.  I liked the veggies and rice though, and the portions were huge so I happily took half of the meal home for the next day ^^

We also ordered some sweet potato fries to share.  I love sweet potato fries, and in Taiwan they are often seasoned with plum spice powder, which really brings out the sweet potato taste.  These were crispy and delicious.

Sweet potato fries with plum spices 梅子地瓜

And of course, I had to get milk tea.  FYI, I ordered it with half sugar – the waitress told us that they made their drinks on the sweet side.  Half sugar was just about perfect for me.

Milk tea 奶茶

If I had known earlier, I would have saved room for the famous snow ice – there were two pages of the menu dedicated to snow ice…!  How disappointing that I didn’t notice until it was too late… oh well, next time I will be sure to save some room for dessert!

Class 302
10890 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA
(949) 552-0555

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Chinese, Taiwanese

[SD Gaslamp] Extraordinary Desserts

Ahh, dessert.  I love pastries and desserts, and in my opinion, I don’t go to Extraordinary Desserts nearly often enough.  So when S’s sister was in town last weekend (go check out her food blog!), I saw it as an excellent excuse to take her out for an evening of gluttony for some yummy treats.

There are several locations in San Diego, but I’ve actually only been to the one on Fifth Avenue.  It has a nice cafe and outdoor seating area – but we decided to take our desserts back home to enjoy at our leisurely pace.

We visited on a Friday night after dinner, so the line was quite long.  It took about thirty minutes to get to the counter, but that’s okay – more time for us to take photos of everything in sight.  I wanted to eat everything, but alas my stomach has limits.

Selection of teas

Assorted cookies

Crème brûlée bun

Strawberry scones

Danish Parisienne (I’ve tried this before with S – it was so good)

Chocolate strudel

Lemon meringue Napoleon

Devonshire strawberry shortcake

As you can probably tell, it was so, so hard to make up my mind.  I finally went with a napoleon and a creme brulee bun – both of which have puff pastry, my favorite.

Lemon meringue Napoleon & Crème brûlée bun

I loved the crème brûlée bun – it was basically vanilla custard enveloped in a croissant/ morning bun.  You could think of it as a cream cheese danish with puffier puff pastry and creamier filling… or you could just eat the whole thing without thinking about anything except how gosh-darn delicious this is.

Eating Monster’s French apple pie

This was not your traditional apple pie – it had a pie “crust” shell with apple pie filling inside.  The pie crust was amazing, and the filling was pretty good, too.  Instead of the usual Granny Smith apples, it used a crunchy apple variety, providing a nice crisp to every bite.  The flavor was simple, mostly brown sugar and cinnamon, but just spot-on.

Lemon meringue napoleon

The napoleon had a delicious lemon curd for the filling and meringue on top.  I love the look of the torched meringue and how it adds a caramel note, but the texture was quite disappointing.  It was very gritty, like you could taste the individual sugar crystals – I would much prefer smooth, velvety meringue that I’ve always had.

I love trying out new desserts and pastries, and I know I can always find something creative and new at Extraordinary Desserts.  What is the best dessert you’ve had here, or anywhere in San Diego?

Extraordinary Desserts
Balboa Park: 2929 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA
(619) 294-2132
Little Italy: 1430 Union St., San Diego, CA
(619) 294-7001

http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com/

Leave a comment

Filed under American, Cafe, Dessert

[SD Mission Valley] A healthy (but pricey) dinner at True Food Kitchen

I’ve been hearing about True Food Kitchen long before it opened at Fashion Valley Mall, and I was excited to try it out after a shopping spree!

First thing: the restaurant is huge.  There were plenty of seats in the spacious interior, as well as a large patio area.  We chose to sit indoors.

Second thing: this place is so… hippie?  Berkeley-wanna-be?  I know it was advertised to serve healthy, local (as much as possible), “globally-inspired” cuisine, and something about the wood floors and tables, potted plants, and open kitchen definitely gave off that vibe.

Our waiter, upon hearing that it was our first visit, welcomed us and let us know of the day’s specials and introduced us to the drinks made at the juice bar.  Wait a minute.  Did I just hear juice bar?!?

Definitely heard it right… a juice bar!

So of course, I had to try out one of the concoctions – there were quite a few that sounded interesting, such as the Green Arnie (matcha green tea & honey lemonade) or the Hangover Rx (coconut water, honeydew melon, & pineapple).  I eventually went with the Cucumber Refresher.  S loves root beer and had to try the Oogave root beer.

Cucumber Refresher: cucumber & honey lemonade, $5

Oogave root beer, $4

The cucumber drink was very interesting, and definitely refreshing.  I’m still not sure how I feel about pairing cucumber with something tart like lemonade, though.  The root beer was pretty good – the agave syrup definitely adds a different taste than Barq’s or A&W.

Onto the food.  The soup of the day was a chilled corn soup, sort of like a chowder but made with soy instead of cream.  Given my obsession with corn, I had to try it.

Chilled corn soup, $7

It was really refreshing and delicious.  I loved that the sweetness of the corn really came through.  S says that he would have still preferred for it to be made with cream, though.  Haha.

Our entrees came next…

Chicken Chopped Salad: cranberry, local date, jicama, manchego, farro, Marcona almond, & champagne vinaigrette, $12

I really enjoyed the salad – all the ingredients were very fresh, and I especially loved the jicama and dates (although I thought that having both cranberries and dates was a little excessive).  It was also the first time I’ve had farro – the texture feels kind of like cooked mung bean, actually… does anyone out there agree or am I just crazy?  I liked that they were light-handed with the dressing, so that the ingredients could really shine.

Shirataki Noodles: green curry, snap pea, asparagus, oyster mushroom, cashew, $13; add chicken $6

We were a bit disappointed with the dish that S ordered.  When it arrived I almost laughed at how small the portion was – no way he was going to be full.  It turned out to be just okay – the green curry wasn’t very flavorful.  It was also unclear on the menu whether this dish actually had any protein.  S asked about it when he ordered, and our waiter told us that he could add chicken, shrimp, or tofu.  What he did not say was that it would be an extra charge.  Later, when the check arrived, we asked the waiter about the mistake, and he apologized and said that he was supposed to have informed us of the extra charge – but he did not offer to take the charge off our bill, which surprised me a little bit.  So, long story short, for a $19 dish, this was definitely not up to par.

Overall?  True Food Kitchen is definitely innovative, with the organic, healthy, wholesome vibe.  While I really enjoyed the soup and chicken salad, the noodle dish and service were disappointing*.  It has only been open for about a month, so maybe there are still things to be worked out – maybe I’ll give it a try some time in the future, but I probably won’t be back any time soon.

True Food Kitchen
7007 Friars Road, Suite 394, San Diego, CA
(619) 810-2929

http://truefoodkitchen.com/restaurants/true-food-kitchen/

1 Comment

Filed under American, Fusion, New American

[Baking] Banana bread “scones” with brown sugar glaze

I had a huge craving for banana bread the other day – which is weird, because I actually don’t like bananas very much.  Anyhow, it’s been almost two years since I moved to California, and I remember that the first thing I made in my first apartment’s kitchen was hazelnut banana bread.  Now, in my fourth kitchen in two years, I decided to try the old recipe with a new twist.

The recipe is actually from The Kitchn, one of my go-to sites for recipes and tips.  I tweaked it a bit based on the ingredients I had on hand, but otherwise stayed pretty true to the original.  The texture didn’t turn out like scones – it really is just banana bread in scone form, but still delicious!  The preparation is super easy, so try it out, and let me know what you think!  ^^

Click here for a printable recipe! (PDF)

What you’ll need…
For the bread:

  • 2 small-medium ripe bananas
  • 2~4 tbsp whole milk
  • 0.5 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 2.5 cups AP flour
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces.
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

Mash bananas, and add milk to make 1 cup total volume.  Stir in the yogurt, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Work the butter into the dry ingredients using a fork or your hands, until there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea.

Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir just enough to combine.  Fold in the walnuts.

Line a dinner plate with a piece of parchment or wax paper.  Turn the dough onto the paper and pat to form a 1-inch thick disc.  Cover with another piece of wax paper, and freeze the dough for 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400F.  Peel the top wax paper off the dough, invert it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and peel off the second wax paper.  Slice the dough into wedges (I cut mine into 16 pieces, you can do 8 if you want bigger pieces), and pull them apart on the baking sheet.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the scones are firm to the touch and golden-brown at the edges.  Cool completely, and cut apart any scones that baked together with a sharp knife.

For the glaze, melt the butter and milk in the microwave (about 30 seconds).  Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla until the sugar has dissolved.  Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar.  (I used 1/4 cup, but you can add more for a thicker glaze.)  Drizzle glaze over the scones just before serving.

Scones can be stored unglazed in an airtight container for up to one week.

Click here for a printable recipe! (PDF)

1 Comment

Filed under Recipe

[Cooking] Basil-cucumber pesto

w00t, first cooking post in a while~!  I actually cook pretty often, but I usually forget to take a picture, or the food doesn’t turn out so great.  Thank goodness S is super tolerant.

I recently joined a CSA from Suzie’s Farm and have been getting tons of fresh, local, organic produce.  I love it and encourage you guys to sign up for a CSA if you can.

Contents of my first CSA box

In a recent box, I received a bunch of fresh basil – and I immediately thought, PESTO!  My good friend M had recently shared his pesto recipe with me, and I was dying to try it out.

(Forgot to the take photos of the cooking process, sorry!)

Making pesto is super easy, especially if you have an immersion/hand blender.  Just blend together basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil – and voila!

But the pesto was a bit too strong for me – too much basil!  How can I make the flavor a little gentler?  That’s when I saw the fresh cucumbers sitting in the fridge, and I thought, oh why not?  So I chopped up a couple of small cucumbers, tossed them into the blender, and out came a smooth, refreshing pesto sauce.

I tossed it together with some pork tenderloin cubes (embarrassingly, I thought it was a package of chicken, which would have made more sense) and egg pasta.  Quick and easy meal, and delicious too!

Basil-cucumber pesto with pork

I rarely measure out things when I’m cooking – recipe amounts are approximate, and of course, feel free to adjust as you like!  ^.^ Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Recipe

[SD Pacific Beach] Awesome fish tacos at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

I’ve heard about Oscar’s Mexican Seafood for a while and was super excited to try it out a few weeks ago.  My friend was pretty spot-on with his description of it as a “shack in PB, not in the beach-y part.”

There’s a tiny counter for ordering, kitchen behind, and seating outdoors.  Oh, and of course, there is a large assortment of hot sauces.  All kinds.

The menu includes fish, shrimp, and steak tacos, tortas, and a few sides.  I picked the smoked fish taco and shrimp ceviche.

Smoked fish taco, $3.50

Wonderful smoky flavor on the fish, made me want to buy some fish myself and fire up the grill.  Topped with shredded lettuce and some salsa, and of course, in true Californian fashion, two big slices of avocado.

Shrimp ceviche, $3.50

I did not expect the ceviche to come in a plastic cup, but hey it’s under four bucks and absolutely delicious.  The shrimp was fresh and tender, and the lime juice really brought out the sweetness.  Again, huge avocado slices on top.

Homemade beans, $1.50

Seemed like everyone was ordering these, so S decided to get one, too.  It’s a little different than the refried beans I’ve had elsewhere – less mushy and more… bean-y?  I thought it needed a bit more salt.  And are you surprised by now to see avocado slices?  Haha.

I thought it was a really great meal overall, very affordable and very filling (you can’t tell from the picture but the taco was pretty sizable).  I’ll be back to try some of the other tacos!

Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
703 Turquoise St., San Diego, CA
(858) 349-8181

http://oscarsmexicanseafood.com/

Leave a comment

Filed under Mexican, Seafood

[Encinitas] Comfort food at Honey’s Bistro

It’s been a while since my last update.  I’ve got drafts piled up and finally have time to get to them.

I’ve been busy, but there should always be time for going to the spa with a girl friend.  But even better is the lunch afterwards :P  We were in Encinitas and decided to try out Honey’s Bistro, recommended by several people.

It was such a nice day and we got caught up in chatting that I forgot to take pictures of the interior and exterior… oops.  At least I remember to take photos of the food.

Order at the counter, and find a seat.  The menu was several pages long and a bit overwhelming – I really couldn’t make up my mind.  In the end, both of us ordered from the Specials chalkboard menu.

Santa Fe Omelette: chicken sausage, tomatoes, green onions, Ortega chilis, avocado on top.  Served with potato hash.  $9.25

Lobster eggs benedict: lobster, asparagus, green onions, homemade Hollandaise sauce.  Served with potato hash.  $10.95

Not the best photos in the world, but we were hungry and just wanted to dig in.  No time for multiple takes!

Both dishes were delicious – the omelette was soft and fluffy, and the ingredients were fresh.  I don’t normally like chicken sausage but this was really juicy and flavorful.  The lobster benedict eggs were poached perfectly.  The lobster was a bit over-seasoned, but overall really good.

But the real highlight of the dishes was the amazing potato hash.  The outside was browned to a crisp, tossed with green onions, and lightly salted.  Simple, and really really tasty.  It’s as good as the hash at The Mission, which is saying a lot because I loved it there.

Overall, I had a great time at Honey’s Bistro.  It’s a perfect place for a casual lunch, and they also have a few seats outdoors for a nice day.  And of course, the food is great.  Can’t beat that now, can ya?

Honey’s Bistro
632 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA
(760) 942-5433

Leave a comment

Filed under American, Breakfast & Brunch