Food Adventure Collage.

carnitas snack shack. c-level. world famous. woodstocks. terra american bistro. buddies. corbins. casey's cupcakes. mandarin beijing. nazca grill. eiffel tower restaurant. gordan ramsay burgr. in-n-out. bankers hill bar and grill. los primos. bistro sixty. ruth's chris.


... to a place I like to call my very own. *waving hello*

I invite you to enjoy reading about the food adventures that I have with friends, family, and colleagues.

I adore food and I cannot just choose one particular food that is my fave.

Food is really is my favorite. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Mandarin Beijing [Lunch Specials] - Otay Ranch

Oh, Mandarin Beijing, I love your food.  And we come here a LOT.  Mainly because it is closer to us than Golden Chopsticks or Golden House, two of my other favorite Chinese restaurants.  Plus, if you do not know about salt & pepper chicken wings yet, you have to get to know them.  They are so delicious that I do not know anyone who does not like them (besides the non-meat eaters, of course).

Like I said, we go here a lot that I take for granted taking pictures of the dishes we have.  Here are my favorites.....

Yeah, I know.  They serve Thai tea ($3.50) here and it is really, REALLY good.  It has the perfect sweetness, creaminess from the condensed milk, and tea flavor. It is hard to pass up getting a Thai tea to go after we eat (my usual ritual - it's like dessert to me). 

Now... who cannot resist awesome lunch specials? Lunch specials from Chinese restaurants are the best because the portions are huge and the cost is low (and awesome). Here at Mandarin Beijing, they have the combination plate lunch specials ($5.95) and the "lunch size" entrees ($6.95). 

I ordered the Kung Pao Chicken lunch special ($5.95), which comes with a cup of egg drop or hot and sour soup, fried or steamed rice and an egg roll.  The egg drop soup is simple goodness.  The broth is thick, creamy and comes out steaming hot.  The egg has a cloud-like, wispy, soft texture and is yummy.  You can also add some complimentary fried won ton chips for more texture.

It may not look like it is, but this is a regular sized dinner plate and the food is piled on it.  It is so much food that technically you can share with someone and ordering an additional cup of soup or appetizer like the delicious Chinese bbq pork (char-siu) would be perfect combination for lunch.   Yup, during this trip, I was hungry, so I ordered my own (sharing, what's that?).  

Mandarin Beijing's kung pao chicken is SO GOOD.  For some reason, the sauce tastes sweet and savory to me.  It is not too sweet, because I highly doubt they put sugar in the recipe.  It just has a nice flavoring that is addicting and deliciously different to me.  It is not spicy at all.  The presence of the chili makes it seem like it is, but it is not.  I always make a forkful of chicken, scallion, a peanut and some steamed rice.  YUM.  And of course, I only ate half of it.  My husband ate my leftovers so he was happy.

Our lunch special also come with egg rolls, which was given to us while I was devouring my kung pao chicken so I missed the photo opportunity for those. They were filled with vegetables and was made fresh for us.

Lastly, what I mentioned at the beginning of the post.... the famous Salt & Pepper Wings ($6.95) lunch entree size.  I am not sure if this is local San Diego thing only.  I mean, if it were a thing in Los Angeles, etc. I would think I would see a whole tray of these at our family parties up north.  NOPE.  Nothing. When we host parties here in San Diego, we always get a large tray of these delights, every single time.   They are always crispy and tossed in crushed red peppers, scallions and garlic.  I always take this scallion mixture and add it to my steamed rice.  Oh, yeah.  Never let them go to waste!  The lunch entrees come with the steamed or fried rice and a cup of soup.  These portions are smaller and are about a $2.00 difference from the regular price.  

Tips:  A lot of people go for their take out.  Your order may or may not be ready when you arrive.   Please be patient.  Order when they first open (11am) and not during the weekend rush lunch time service (guessing 12-1pm), prime time dinner service (guessing 6-7:30pm), and holidays.  Weekdays and weeknights are always chill and not busy at all. 

Mandarin Beijing
2130 Birch Road
Chula Vista, CA 91915
(619) 656-3888

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Puka Dog + The End of the Island - Hanalei, Kauai [Hawaii]

Continuing our trip to Kauai last year... here is a "mini" post because it only has one food picture and the rest are pictures from Hawaii. *smile*  We decided to drive to the "end" of the island (north shore) on Kuhio Highway to explore and to give J a nap.  On the way, M decided to stop by Puka Dog, the famous Hawaiian place featured on the Travel Channel.  Puka Dog is located across the street from our rental home in the Ching Young Village shopping center.  

Puka Dog is known for their local, fresh Hawaiian fruit relishes to top the savory Polish dog inside the "cone-line" (but, not) bun to prevent the sauces from leaking out.  It is not shaped like a cone, more like a bun "sock", I guess?  M chose the Polish Puka Dog (versus a Veggie Dog) for $6.75.  He ordered it with the mild garlic lemon sauce, sweet mango relish and Auntie Lilikoi's (passion fruit) mustard.  Unfortunately, I did not have a bite.  M said it was really delicious.  Well, maybe next time.  I was busy enjoying my chili chicken plate lunch (I'll write about soon).   

Ok, that's the end of the food details.  I leave you now with photos from our mini road trip to the 'end' of the North Shore of Kauai...

There were a lot of "mini" beaches that seemed private.  It looked like a great place for a romantic getaway.  

There were large, green mountains in front of us.  This picture does not do justice to show of the enormity of the mountains as we drove down the road.  It was pretty amazing! 

This cave (above) was the coolest to see.  We did not stop to explore the cave since J was sleeping, but it did look like there were people going inside of it.  No, thanks.  It looked cool, but a tad creepy! 

Okay, last picture.  This is the standard view of Kauai.  Even the views from the car did not disappoint.  This is definitely paradise and why I love Kauai.  

Puka Dog at the Ching Young Village
5-5190 Kuhio Hwy.
Hanalei, HI 96714
(808) 827-8000

Monday, August 17, 2015

Churros El Tigre [Las Americas Premium Outlets] - San Ysidro

Churros El Tigre is located at the Las Americas Premium Outlets in San Ysidro, right near the Mexico-United States border.  J and I met our good friends there for a day of shopping on a Saturday afternoon.   Between our purchases (and great deals),  it was time for a churro break!  Yay for churros!

A churro is a fried dough pastry.  The dough is put through a funnel and fried in hot oil.  Right from the hot oil, they are then tossed in a cinnamon and sugar mixture. 

Churros El Tigre's little stand is located near and outside the food court.  They sell freshly made churros, funnel cakes, raspados (flavored shaved ice), caramelized banana slices, and ice cream sundaes. 

Oooh, they make it fresh right in front of you.  I ordered the five pieces of crispy, fresh churros ($3.00). 

Yum!  This picture of my small bag of churros looks like my hand doing a "hang loose".  The churros were crunchy, warm and delicious.  They were fried perfectly.  I just love the texture of a freshly fried churro.  They were the perfect portion size for me too.  I planned on sharing with J, but he wanted something else....

ICE CREAM!  We also ordered the Supreme Churro Sundae ($7.50).  This dish was massive!  There were a total of six churros, caramelized slices of banana, two humongous scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate sauce, chopped nuts and two maraschino cherries.  It was also supposed to come with 'lechera', sweet condensed milk, but we asked for them to leave it off.   We had a good laugh while the gentleman was making our sundae because we then noticed that they make a smaller version of the sundae (half its size) for $5.00.  The banana slices reminded me of a Filipino banana (saba banana) where the flavor of the cooked banana is different than the usual banana - a bit sweeter and firmer in texture.  This sundae is definitely for sharing!

If you decide to make it a shopping day at the Las Americas outlets, you have to stop by for a quick sweet snack!

4211 Camino De La Plaza
San Diego, CA 92173

Friday, August 14, 2015

San Diego Certified Farmers Markets Schedule

San Diego Farmers Markets are the BEST -- what more can you ask for... fresh local produce, fruits, natural foods, delicious food vendors and the San Diego sunshine!  I was not aware that we have SO many local farmers markets around San Diego.   In addition to the energy, environment and fresh fruits/produce, I really love the food vendors.

This infographic, brought to you by SoDiego Tours, gives you the rundown of all the certified farmers markets are in San Diego.  It tells you where they are located and what day they occur on.  Please click on the image above to see the locations (in a much, larger font) and to get more information on San Diego's Certified Farmers Market, or you can click here.

Please help support our local farmers, eat delicious food, and have fun!  Oh yeah, always bring cash to farmers markets! 

Disclaimer:  The image and information were provided to me by SoDiego Tours.  I was not compensated for writing this blog post.  And, I love farmers markets.  *smile*

Monday, August 10, 2015

North Shore General Store Food Truck at Anini Beach - Hanalei, Kauai [Hawaii]

Anini Beach in Hanalei was our favorite spot to snorkel.  We rented all our gear at Pedal N' Paddle, located inside the Ching Young Village shopping center and headed over to have fun in the warm ocean.  

The first day we visited this beach, there was a food truck parked in the lot near the beach.  It was from the North Shore General Store in Princeville.  I immediately was excited.  I love food trucks!

I was glad to see that the truck was still parked there after having fun in the water.  J and I were up for some grub!

These Hawaiian Sun canned drinks were our favorite treat to drink in Hawaii because it is not only refreshing and delicious!  This can was only $1.00.  When we shopped at Food Land in Princeville, we bought a couple six packs for less than $4.00.  I don't think they sell the six packs here in San Diego.  If anyone knows, please do tell! The Strawbery-Guava Nectar flavor is our favorite. 

J and I, as much as possible, always share plates where ever we go, because it is cost saving and it helps regulate my portion size.  He loves, loves, white rice, so it was a 'no brainer' that I order a plate lunch.  Plus, we are in Hawaii.... plate lunch, it is!

The choices of items ranged from different plate lunches... loco mocos, hamburger steak, chicken katsu, in addition to sandwiches, fish tacos, cheeseburgers, fish n' chips, salads, and snacks.   The last time we visited a food truck in Hawaii was in Oahu's North Shore at Mackey's Shrimp Truck.  I wished they had garlic butter shrimp at this truck, but still the choices here were pretty good.  

I ordered the chicken katsu plate lunch ($9.00), which came witn a fried, breaded chicken cutlet, katsu sauce (a Japanese bbq sauce), steamed rice and mac salad.   Because it was made on the truck, the chicken was crispy and juicy, straight from the fryer.  The sauce added a sweet, bold tang to the katsu.  I love mac salad.  I wished there was a bigger scoop.  

When we visited Anini Beach a second time, the North Shore General Store food truck was not there.  *sad face*  We were happy to have experienced it the first time!

...at Anini Beach Park
Anini Road
Uninc Kauai County, HI 96752

Friday, August 07, 2015

Bushfire Kitchen - Carlsbad

A couple of weekends ago, I was reading Kirbie Cravings' review on Bushfire Kitchen and I immediately texted my good friend and Carlsbad resident, asking her if she has been.  She told me that it is always busy (that's a good sign).  

That evening.... I received an invitation to visit Bushfire Kitchen!  What a coincidence!  I was ecstatic.  My husband, M, and I made it a 'date night' this past Sunday and drove up to La Costa for an early dinner. 

Bushfire Kitchen is located in the La Costa Town Square shopping center in Carlsbad, next to Vons and Jamba Juice.  It is quaint and very cute inside.  They have outdoor seating in the patio, as well. The kitchen is located in the front for everyone to see.  I did not get close enough to take photos of the "cafeteria style" display.  Here's the process... as you wait in line, you can glance to see the hot entrees and sides, and cold side offerings they have behind the glass display.  There are menus posted in front of you to guide you in your decision-making towards the awesome meal you are about to order and receive.

You order your food, pay at the register and they give you a number.

Eddie, the Bushfire Kitchen manager, sat M and I on the outside patio to enjoy the band playing outside.  He gave us a warm greeting and started talking about Bushfire Kitchen's history.  The Barwin cousins (Clive and Brandon), are the owners of the Bushfire Kitchen and Bushfire Grill (Temecula location).  They are from South Africa and Australia and they bring local, fresh, and organic ingredients to their restaurants, along with flavor influences from where they grew up.  Eddie informed us that everything is made from scratch.  He mentioned that when guests ask him, "What is good here?" he responds with "If you do it well, everything is good."  I LOVE that.... and he was right.   Right of the bat, I could tell that Eddie has a passion for food and what he does.

This was the first plate the Bushfire staff brought out to us.  The server explained to us each of the salads on the plate....

Kaleslaw.  I absolutely love coleslaw because of the acidity and crunch.  In addition to the normal coleslaw ingredients of shredded cabbage (green and purple) and shredded carrots, it came with kale and sweet cranberries.  The bitterness of the kale and the sweetness of the cranberries really went well together.  

Spinach & Strawberry Salad.  This one was one of my favorites!  It came with crisp spinach leaves, walnuts, strawberries, and goat cheese -- all dressed in a poppy seed dressing.  I loved the creaminess and tang of the goat cheese with the strawberries.  So good.  I realized I was eating this one a lot and remembered I had to try the other salads too.

Mixed Seasonal Green Salad with their house vinaigrette.  This salad consists of mixed greens, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, peaches and almonds. I loved the addition of the summer fruits, especially the sweet, juicy peaches. 

Rustic Greek Salad. This Greek salad was the simpliest of the four and I loved it. It was the combination of the crunch of the romaine lettuce, the flavor of Greek seasoning and tangy dressing, the crumbly feta cheese, crisp cucumber and diced red onions that I enjoyed altogether. I would order this salad again in a heartbeat.  

As we devoured the salads, we were brought our beverages. M asked about their natural sodas and Eddie suggested their ginger soda. A sip of the ginger soda definitely gave you good "punch" of ginger flavor to start off with, but finishes with a nice hint of sweetness. M enjoyed it. 

I asked Eddie about their strawberry basil lemonade I have read about, but they had a different type of lemonade available: strawberry cucumber lemonade. Yum!  Think 'spa water meets strawberry lemonade'. It was sweet, but it was not overly sweet like most lemonades. It was refreshing on this warm Sunday. 

Then, suddenly, here come the plates. Yes, plural. PLATES.  Yay!

Natural Angus Tri-Tip ($13.95). The tri-tip is one of the entrees Bushfire offers. You get a choice of two sides with this entree, in which they served us garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal grilled vegetables. These two sides were what I would EXACTLY order with the tri-tip. Great choices, team! The tri-tip was served with their recommended chimichurri sauce. The meat was so flavorful and tender. When the meat was paired with the chimichurri, it added a little kick and extra flavor. 

The garlic mashed potatoes had a subtle hint of roasted garlic. It was delicious and simple. It is a perfect side with the tri-tip. 

The grilled vegetables added freshness to the plate. We loved the char of the vegetables, as it reminded me of enjoying a meal at a summer backyard BBQ. 

M and I were each given a warm, house made piece of foccacia bread with a cilantro sauce.  The texture of the bread was light and airy.  The sauce had a sharp flavor of cilantro.  M ended up dipping everything in this sauce, like the tri-tip, roasted chicken and the vegetables. 

The next entree we received was Mary's Free Range Chicken and Ribs Combo ($13.95).  They served us Grandma's Mac + Cheese and Roasted Brussel Sprouts for our two sides.  

Eddie mentioned that Bushfire is known for their 'Peri Peri' sauce, paired with their chicken.  It is as if Eddie read my mind.... he gave us dark meat!  I cut into the roasted chicken leg and it was so juicy. The flavor of the chicken alone was wonderful, perfectly cooked and seasoned. The Peri Peri sauce is a spicy chili sauce. The chili is harvested in regions of Africa. The sauce was a bit spicy for me, but the flavor was really good. 

The quarter rack of baby back ribs were slathered in their homemade BBQ sauce, which had a great, smoky flavor.  The ribs were not as tender as I would have liked them to be, but they were still very delicious.

Cheesy goodness. Yes. Grandma's Mac n' Cheese was the perfect side dish with the chicken and ribs. It was comforting, warm and cheesy.  It had little bits of crusty cheese on top.

I love brussel sprouts!  When they are roasted, especially like these, they are absolutely wonderful in flavor.  If you have never had brussel sprouts before, think mini cabbages.  They are not as bad as you think.  I loved the charred sprout leaves!  They are a little bitter, but I love the flavor.  It goes well with the richness of other dishes on this plate.  

Eddie raved about the Millionaire BLT ($8.95) on their homemade foccacia bread.  Their bacon packed a spicy punch!  He said that it has red hot chili peppers on it.  I really enjoyed eating this sandwich.  Plus, the mayo is made in-house too!  I would order this again with their homemade potato chips and mixed green salad. Yum!

Here is a closer look of the delicious BLT.

We noticed that they had a little herb garden in the patio.  I spy fresh basil and dill.  

....and red peppers!  

M and I really, really enjoyed our experience here.  At the end of our meal, Eddie introduced us to Clive Barwin, himself, the mastermind/owner of Bushfire.  He asked about our experience here and we told him that we loved it.  We also suggested that he open a third location the South Bay.  *smirk* 

I already crave everything that we ate here.  We will definitely make occasional trips to Carlsbad to eat at Bushfire Kitchen.  We highly recommend it!

3433 Via Montebello, Ste 166
Carlsbad, CA 92009

**Disclaimer: I was invited by a PR company to visit Bushfire Kitchen. I was not compensated for writing this post and all opinions and views are my own.  Thanks!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Hanalei Wake Up Cafe - Hanalei, Kauai [Hawaii]

Because of the three hour time difference in Hawaii versus San Diego, we were up between 5-6am at the beginning of our trip.  M, J and I got ourselves ready to explore Hanalei by foot to search for a breakfast spot the second day after we arrived.  We walked down the main road (Kuhio Highway) towards Hanalei Coffee Roasters, for a cup of Kona coffee and waffles with coconut syrup (mmmmm), but the wait and line was WAY too long.  By then, we were starving.  

Across the street and right next door to the house we were staying at, was the Hanalei Wake Up Cafe. The restaurant is very tiny and the dining room opens up to the outside patio to let in the fresh, Hawaiian air.  We were luckily sat on the patio.  It was such a beautiful day in Kauai, as the sun was shining and the weather was slightly warm.

This is the view from our table.  I absolutely love the greenery of the island.  

For J, I ordered the simple goodness that is french toast ($7.00).   It was dusted with a little confectioner sugar and the slices were perfect for him.  He loved it.

M opted for a healthier and lighter breakfast -- The Hanalei Bowl ($9.50), a half of a papaya and topped with creamy yogurt and homemade granola.  I was impressed by the large chunks of nuts.  He loved every bite.  The papaya tasted so fresh.

I ordered a few items from their breakfast a la carte menu.... crispy hash browns ($3.50), two scrambled eggs ($4.00), and whole wheat toast ($2.00).   I know, pretty boring, but hey, it was done right and it was really good.  But, wait until you see what special item we shared....   

THIS.  This is one of the many favorite flavors we had in Kauai..... the Mac Nut Cinnamon Roll ($4.00).  It was sinful and decadent.  We devoured every bite.  Think of a regular cinnamon roll -- butter, cinnamon, inside.  But, on the outside, there was a gooey concoction of chopped, fresh macadamia nuts and butter.  This macadamia nut cinnamon roll tops all cinnamon rolls out there!

Overall, this little cafe was a quaint place to have breakfast in Hanalei.  We are glad we found it and we were extra glad that it was just steps away from us.  Oh yeah, by the way, they take cash only (and traveler's checks).

Hanalei Wake Up Cafe
51-5144 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, HI 96714

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