Tag Archives: San Diego

[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/

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[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/

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[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/

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[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

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[SD Pacific Beach] Awesome wings at Dirty Birds

My very first blog post on Jinxi Eats was about Carolina Ale House, in Durham NC – the best chicken wings I’ve ever had.  In fact, to this day, S and I have judged every wings place against Carolina Ale House, and we have sadly concluded that none could compare.

But I am relentless in my quest to find delicious wings wherever I live.  Lately, a friend recommended Dirty Birds in Pacific Beach – loaded tater tots and wings in over 20 different flavors?  I’ve got to check it out.

The place was pretty crowded for a Tuesday evening – then again, Tuesday is all-day Happy Hour (1/2-price wings and domestic pitchers).

 

Since the “domestic pitchers” only referred to Bud light and Coors light, my friends ordered a couple of the microbrewery beers on tap.  I’m not a beer connoisseur, but I really liked the Magic Hat #9 :P

The loaded tots were highly recommended, so we had to order some…

Loaded Tots: tater tots topped with melted cheese, pulled pork, and BBQ sauce, $8

For the meat topping, you could choose between diced steak, bacon, or pulled pork.  I went for the pulled pork – even though I was a bit scared of what this restaurant would do with “pulled pork” – but it turned out to be delicious!

Three orders of 10-piece wings: Honey Mustard, Roasted Red Pepper (“RPG”), Dirty Ranch, Maple Chipotle BBQ, Buffalo, Spicy Garlic, $6 each (HH price; $12 regular price)

The wings themselves were nice and crispy and tender inside.  My favorite sauces were probably the Spicy Garlic and Maple Chipotle BBQ.  As for the rest, I guess they were not so special – still tasty, though, and there are still plenty of other flavors that I would love to try.

Side note #1:  The heat level of the sauces were ranked from 1 to 5, with 1 being totally not spicy (such as Honey Mustard) and only one flavor ranking a 5, the Habanero.  The hottest that we ordered was the Maple Chipotle BBQ, at 3.5… but honestly, it wasn’t that spicy.  This isn’t just my opinion, either!  My dining companions, who are much less spicy-tolerant than me, were the first to point out the misleading heat labels.

Side note #2: My friend actually said that the Spicy Garlic reminded him of bean paste fish (豆瓣魚), a Taiwanese dish.  None of us believed this hilarious comment, but once we bit into the Spicy Garlic… well, let’s just say that you couldn’t untaste the 豆瓣魚 flavor.  Haha.

The bottom line?  I had a great meal here at Dirty Birds, and at $6 for 10 wings during Happy Hour, it really doesn’t get much better.  Next time I have a wing craving, I will be back!

Last side note:  All photos courtesy of ekimc’s iPhone :P

Dirty Birds
4656 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA
(858) 274-2473

http://dirtybirdspb.com/

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[SD Mission Hills] Brunch at The Red Door

I had Sunday brunch with a couple of girl friends a few weeks back.  While we were planning, I was originally vouching for dim sum, but they convinced me to try out The Red Door, a quaint little restaurant in Mission Hills.

I was instantly charmed by the sunny interior, cute decor, and of course, the live music.  Ukulele and double bass, what a lovely combo.

A friendly server brought us our menus.  I was very tempted by the bottomless mimosas… but decided to hold off that day.  Didn’t want to be hazy for the rest of the day.

Complimentary muffins and scones for the table – the raspberry muffins were decent and fluffy, but the dried blueberry scones were delicious.  Crunchy, egg-washed exterior with crumbly and soft interior.  If only they had some crème fraîche for accompaniment.. that would really be perfection.

We asked for 2 more baskets of the scones, they were that good.  The waiter was a little shocked that three girls like us could eat so much.

I almost didn’t want to order anything and just eat scones all morning, but the menu items looked so good, too – finally decided on the sausage benedict.

Sausage benedict: chicken-jalapeno sausage patties over polenta, with hollandaise sauce.  Served with fresh fruit, $11

I’m usually a skeptic when it comes to chicken sausage (why deviate from pork, the best thing ever?), but I must admit that this chicken sausage patty was pretty good.  It was juicy and flavorful, especially with the added spiciness from the jalapeno.  Overall a nice dish – creamy polenta, deliciously runny poached eggs, and a super rich (almost overly so) hollandaise sauce.  Actually, the hollandaise sauce broke soon after it was served to me, which was a little sad.  The benedicts came with a huge bowl of berries.

Friends ordered the Skillet Egg Souffle and Shrimp and Grits (not pictured).

Skillet Egg Soufflé: ham, eggs, and caramelized onions baked in a puff pastry.  Served with fresh fruit, $12

Certainly wins many points for presentation.  I think anything that comes out in a skillet just deserves extra points, even more so if there’s puff pastry involved.  After tasting some, though, I wasn’t as impressed by the taste – the eggs were too overcooked to be considered a “soufflé.”  Maybe like a frittata?

I didn’t get a photo of the Shrimp and Grits, which I now regret because I wish I could show all the folks in the South just what Californians have done to grits.  Instead of the creamy “corn porridge” served in a bowl, the grits looked like mashed potatoes, but more yellow.  I almost think that they took the same polenta from my benedict dish and mashed it into “grits”…haha.  Alas.

The bottom line?  I don’t think any of the dishes wow’ed me (although the scones certainly did), but the relaxing atmosphere was perfect for a lazy Sunday morning, and I had a nice time here.  I checked out their dinner menu online – a little pricey but the items sound yummy!  Maybe the next date night?

The Red Door
741 W. Washington St., San Diego, CA
(619) 295-6000

http://thereddoorsd.com/

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[SD Logan Heights] Tacos from Las Cuatro Milpas and playing some more with LR4

I’ve heard S talk about Las Cuatro Milpas for quite a while now, and I’ve always wanted to try it.  But it only opens until 3pm and is closed Sundays, so we haven’t had the chance to check it out until a couple of weeks ago.  Per his suggestion, we arrived around 1:30 so that the line would be shorter, but it was still quite a wait.

It was truly a gorgeous day in San Diego, though, so I didn’t mind too much.

It was my first time in this area of San Diego.  It had a small-town, charming feel to it.  I love how the restaurant is basically located in the midst of a residential neighborhood – our friend said that it reminds me a bit of Taiwan; business and home are all in one place.

It was perhaps appropriate, then, that Las Cuatro Milpas is a family business.  According to San Diego Reader, it has been around for nearly three decades.

I couldn’t help adding a filter to get the “family-owned restaurant” feel.

The menu is simple.  Tacos.  Roll tacos.  Tamales.  Chorizo with eggs.  Rice and beans.  You get one choice of meat and that is pork.  (Actually, you can also get chicken tacos.  But everything else is pork-only.)

Tacos are $1.50 each – freshly fried shells, braised carnitas, shredded lettuce, queso enchilada.  Add in your own cilantro and onions.  Simple and ridiculously flavorful.

Roll tacos are five for $4.25, topped with sour cream, shredded lettuce, and queso enchilada, served over a bed of salsa – probably homemade.  Again, freshly-fried shells and delicious, flavorful, juicy, tender meat.

This is definitely one of the best tacos I’ve had, right up there with Chubby’s in Durham and Tacos el Gordo in Chula Vista.  Unlike Tacos el Gordo (or many other taco joints in San Diego), Las Cuatro Milpas isn’t “California-nized” – no avocadoes here, and this is more like the tacos you would find in Mexico.

The bottom line?  This is really a must-try – I promise, it’s worth the long lines.  (Actually, if you arrive around 2pm, there usually isn’t a line anymore.)  I will definitely be back for more.

Las Cuatro Milpas
1875 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA
(619) 234-4460

Open Mon-Sat, 9am-3pm

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