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!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sage Cafe - Lakeside

When you think of Indian casino dining, you may think of buffets, food courts, $1 hot dogs, free soda & coffee, and that one 24-hour cafe/restaurant that serves meals all day, every day.

The Sage Cafe is given the label of that "24-hour restaurant" located at the Barona Valley Ranch Casino in Lakeside, CA. However, the dining experience here is much more than just a diner type eatery where you can get a greasy burger, fries, and a Coke for a few bucks.

Sage is located at the back of casino in the non-smoking gaming area, near the hallway that leads to the guest rooms. The waiting area near the hostess stand resembles a living room with comfortable recliner chairs and sofa and a fireplace. The dining room has a large window to the left that overlooks the beautiful green golf course.

When Mike and I received a $40 food credit in the mail for the casino, it was an easy decision to have dinner here after work before it expired. We chose the cafe rather than the buffet, because we did not want to stuff ourselves with cuisines that don't go well together. We actually wanted a nice sit-down meal after a hard day's work.

The Sage Cafe has a simple menu of comfort food favorites, steaks, seafood, sandwiches, a build your own burger option, breakfast items, and even a section for Chinese cuisine.

After we ordered our beverages, which is usually ice water for me, and an iced tea for Mike, our bread basket arrived. Oh, this isn't no ordinary bread basket. Indian fry bread. Yes, that's right. Fry bread. Ours came with two delectable pieces of fry bread, and two "not-so-fun" dinner rolls, white and wheat. Every table in the restaurant has two shakers of cinnamon sugar and confectioner's sugar for these fried treats. As you can see, they also give us little packets of honey.

It was still warm when I bit into it. I put a little cinnamon sugar and confectioner's sugar, and drizzled a tad of honey. I prefer it with just the sugars, but wanted one bite of it with the honey. It was delicious. It could definitely have been a dessert, but we are happy that they serve this before our appetizer/meals arrived.

This is the roasted garlic, spinach and artichoke dip. It's served with toasted pita chips that are cut into large strips and placed inside a "cone" basket. In the picture, it looks like guacamole with cheese on top. This dip has the consistency of a bechamel (cream sauce) because once we dipped the pita chip, it coated it and the excess rolled off. It's like they over-blended the spinach and artichoke. But you know what? Who cares, because this dip is so darn good! You can definitely see and taste the chunks of sweet roasted garlic and whatever they put in it besides the ingredients stated above is beyond me. Yum. I told Mike that I'm going to try and mimic the recipe.

All dinner entrees come with either a wedge salad or cup of soup. Because I ordered the fish n' chips, I wanted crunchy cole slaw. Our server was sweet, and said that she would check with her manager to see if it was OK and of course it was. I forgot to take a picture of the cole slaw, but it was served in a cute little white ramekin. I could definitely taste the red wine vinegar in the dressing, which didn't bother me. It was a good side of slaw.

Holy moly! Now, this is a massive plate of fish n' chips! There were three large pieces of white cod fried in a stone ale batter, a whole freakn' potato served in big potato wedges, and a duo of sauces, tartar and a remoulade. The fish was awesome. The batter was light & crispy, and there was actually fish inside. The fish tasted fresh and the sauces were spot on. The "chips" weren't my favorite. I'm a "shoestring" kind of girl, so the thick cut fries aren't my thing, especially this thick. They weren't even fried either - baked. Healthier, but when you're ordering fish n' chips, I expect fried items. Good, though, but I only ate two of those, considering the size of both equals a half of a medium sized potato.

Mike ordered the chicken tortilla soup to start, and for his entree, the beer braised short rib with macaroni and cheese and a vegetable. The entree actually comes with green beans, but the last time we came here, the green beans were barely even cooked and were blanched too early. He opted for the steamed broccoli instead. The short rib fell off the bone and was flavorful. The mac n' cheese was creamy and well-done.

We skipped dessert and paid our couple bucks (our balance from the $40 food credit) plus 20% tip for the service before we sought out a few slot machines calling our names.

I believe, that evening, we came out beating the casino for once, but we both know that we will eventually give it back. *wink*

Monday, September 07, 2009

Ichiro Japanese Restaurant - Clairemont

This has been driving me crazy. I know for a FACT that Ichiro has a website because to plan our office end-of-the-year dinner a few years ago, I copied and pasted the menu on MS Word. Now, I cannot, for the life of me, find it. Oh, well. Boo, guess a Yelp link will do.

Ichiro Japanese restaurant off of Convoy Street, in the shopping center with Yoshinoya and Boot World, is my FAVORITE Japanese restaurant in town. What makes it a favorite in my book? Authenticity and that they have a kick-butt teriyaki rib eye steak. I say authenticity because most of the personnel are Japanese and speak the language that I studied for four years in college. They also understand me when I say "Gochisosama deshita" ("Thank you for the food - I am spoiled") as we leave the restaurant.

I can't even remember the first time I came here. It was back in the college, for sure. I remember introducing a lot of people to this restaurant - family members, out-of-town friends, my co-workers, and of course, my husband.

When you walk in, you are greeted immediately with "Irrashaimase" and depending how busy they are, they seat you immediately. To the left, there's the sushi bar and large group seating. I am sad that they removed the traditional seating on the floor where you sit on cushions with your shoes off, but I guess it's just better for your body to sit on a bench. Understandable. To the right of the hostess stand are booths and tables. There are food specials written in Hiragana/Kanji/English on whiteboards and types of Japanese beer displayed on the walls.

My favorite food items here are the:
  • Caterpillar Roll - eel (unagi), avocado, cucumber, crab meat
  • Kaki Fry - deep fried oysters, served with lemon wedges and tartar sauce
  • Sesame Chicken - crispy chicken cutlet with teriyaki sauce and toasted sesame seeds
  • Tempura anything
  • and my favorite... the Teriyaki Steak
I tell you, though.... everything is darn good here. Weeeell, I did try natto when I was with my friend, Michiko, and it tasted gross and smelled like feet. Not for me.

Mike and I came here one weekday evening to beat the traffic going down south from Mira Mesa. I ordered the Teriyaki Steak and Mike ordered the Teriyaki Chicken. We got a choice of "creamy mayo" or "ginger soy" as a salad dressing on simple romaine lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, and shredded carrots - pre-packaged, I bet. Here's a tip... always get the ginger soy. It's the best and so oishii (duh-licious). The creamy mayo dressing doesn't really have any flavor, in my opinion.

We were so hungry that I didn't take pictures of the salad or the cup of miso shiru (soup) that comes with your dinner entree. This is the Teriyaki Steak - it's an 8 oz. thinly sliced rib eye steak, grilled to perfection, served on a bed of sauteed bean sprouts, carrots, celery, and onions, with teriyaki sauce all over. When they bring it out from the kitchen to your table, it comes out all sizzling, just like fajitas at a Mexican restaurant. It's a "head turner" because people always look to see what's sizzling and what smells so darn good. Yep, it's my steak, peeps! It's served with a little dish of steamed rice.

I'm telling you. This steak cannot do you wrong. It is so delicious and flavorful, that you will not be sorry. If you run into the small pieces of fat, no worries. Don't eat it - simple as that.

Here's what you do, using your chopsticks, pick up one piece of the pre-cut rib eye with your chopsticks and place on top of your rice bowl, which you are holding in your left hand. You pick up the veggies and place in the bowl too. Then, you eat the steak and veggies in one swoop, then you pick up the rice that has been soaking in the teriyaki sauce. YUM.

On to Mike's food... I forgot to take a picture of his right away, so about 1/4 of his food was already in his tummy. As you can see, the little ramekin of bean sprout salad is all gone and somewhat spread out on his plate.

The teriyaki chicken is a safe, traditional entree that is still ranked high in my book in terms of tastiness. The chicken that they use is dark meat, pounded thin, and grilled. They serve it with a small side of their version of a mashed potato salad, a bean sprout salad, and a serving of steamed rice.

Coming to Ichiro reminds me of how I loved studying the Japanese language in college, how much I miss my tomodachi no Nihonjin (Japanese friends) and that one day we will visit Tokyo, Japan and eat ramen on the edge of river at a little stand.

Nihon-ryouri ga tabetai desu ka?? Ichiro e ikimashouuuuu!

Yeah, I still got it - kinda.
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