Voodoo Donuts – Portlands Doing it Right

I was in Portland a few weeks back shooting a wedding with my cousin and he insisted we hit up Voodoo Donuts, specifically for a maple/bacon donut. Though it sounded disgusting… it turned out to be absolutely amazing. I never thought I’d be eating it again, but last week as I was out with a friend in Escondido my friend insisted we go to Peterson’s Donut Shop for a … yeah.. a freaking maple/bacon donut. If you’re in Escondido or Portland, definitely check it out. And if I end up back at Peterson’s soon I’ll be sure to bring my camera and write up a proper review. For now here are some pics from Voodoo in Portland.

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Pizza Port – The Perfect Combo

The best part about returning to San Diego has probably been the explosion of breweries. I must admit I was never in the “brewery scene” before I left; I knew nothing of the industry. I still don’t actually, but I do know that I can’t seem to go a weekend without a friend suggesting we go to a brewery. This weekend we hit up Pizza Port in Solana Beach. Their name is perfect, because I can’t figure out what they should be better known for, their pizza or port. Both are amazing.

 

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The atmosphere is casual. You could stop in by yourself after work, or come in after surfing with a large crowd. As beach culture seems to encourage – anything goes.

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I can’t remember the names of any of these beers. Apparently I’m not a very good food blogger. But I can say they were delicious, especially the red ale show in the lower photo. Here you can also see a nice patio. Unfortunately it was one of the coldest winter days of the year on this particular day, which isn’t saying much for San Diego. But just slightly too cool to sit outside.

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But poor Toby was stuck out there (im)patienty waiting as usual. Thanks Tobes. It looks like he wants that beer.

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Beer Buddies ($3.25)

Simply a basket of the most amazing breadsticks imaginable. Baked fresh, they take a few minutes to come out, but they’re worth the wait. They’re perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. A perfect name for a perfect dish – they’re the perfect complement to any beer.

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Small BBQ Chicken Pizza ($8.50)

By this point we were so full off of beer and beer buddies I wasn’t sure we’d be able to handle this little pizza here. Carb overload. But we undid our belts and after the first bite I knew it wouldn’t be a problem. Just like the beer buddies, the pizza was perfectly cooked and a perfect savory complement to our beers. I’m looking forward to going back to try the rest of their pizzas. They also have a create-your-own option that I wouldn’t mind trying. On a side note, I just had Volteros Pizza in Kearny Mesa for the first time this week, and it was just crap. Drive out to the beach and enjoy some high quality pizza at Pizza Port.

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Details

Solana Beach Location
135 N Hwy 101

Solana Beach, CA 92075
858-481-7332
http://pizzaport.com
Sun-Thurs: 11a-10p; Fri-Sat 11a-12a

Other Locations:
Carlsbad
Ocean Beach
San Clemente
Bressi Ranch

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Taegukgi – Korean BBQ

The all you can eat Korean BBQ wars have expanded down to San Diego from LA. Thank the Lord God Almighty for this blessing. San Diego desperately needs more of Korea’s best export, Korean women. Korean food is great as well.

This weekend I had the pleasure to finally make it to Taegukgi, which for you non-Koreans out there, means The Korean National Flag. Having just spent 4 years in Korea, gorging my ever growing roturnd stomach on the finest Korean BBQ at the minimum of once a week, I can honestly say I’m a Korean BBQ expert. With that said, Taegukgi was mostly fantastic. On the whole they’ve got most things right, and if you stick with the right items, you’ll be fine. And as this is all you can eat, if you happen to order something that doesn’t fit your palette, just revert back to the tried and true.

I came here on a busy Saturday night and was promptly ushered into a bustling and spacious dining hall by a friendly bright-eyed hostess. For being such a large and busy restaurant, Taegukgi does not skimp on the staff. I’d actually go so far as to the say the service was perfect. Our server was almost always just within reach, our waters were kept filled, our plates were brought quickly, our grill pans were changed regularly, and most importantly our soju cup was replaced immediately after being dropped. A kind young Korean girl in her pajamas who said she was the owner even made her way to our table and asked how our meal was. How sweet.

The all you can eat dinner menu is divided into Original ($21.99) and Premium ($25.99) with the premium having several more… premium items. We opted for the Original as I could eat Beef Brisket all night and not want for more. And the beef brisket did not disappoint. I ordered at least 5 plates of it. We also branched out and tried several more options like the Rib Fingers, Tongue, and Squid. Of those, I’d highly recommend the tongue, but personally did not enjoy the Rib fingers or squid. Your taste may vary, but I found them lacking. But Beef Brisket is typically a fairly expensive meat in Korea and is likely one of their highest costed meats at Taegukgi.

Also, their salad is amazing. It reminds me of the Japanese style salad I used to order extra portions of at Benihana when I was young.

Just a few warnings, there is a two hour time limit and they say you’ll be charged for leftover meat, however they kindly did not charge us.

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Details

7655 Clairemont Mesa BLVD #501
San Diego, CA 92111
858-277-1554
http://www.tggsd.com/
MENU
Sun-Thur 11a-12a
Fri-Sat 11a-1:30a

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Sushi Ota

Sushi Ota is the best sushi in San Diego. I just need to get that out there right from the get go. My Korean family are regulars here, on a first name basis with many of the staff and all that, so I’ve been here quite a number of times for the last 20 years or so. Yeah it’s pricey, but for sheer quality, it just cannot be beat. But this is well known; Ota has won almost every best-sushi-in-san-diego award.

Sandwiched between a Planned Parenthood and 711 in an unassuming corner of Pacific Beach, Ota’s location is the last place you’d expect to find a top quality restaurant. But like a well-read person, Ota’s inside far outshines its modest exterior. With modern and classy design, Ota’s restaurant is every bit as clean and beautiful as its sushi. Once I stepped in I was greeted by a crew of smiling Japanese hostesses. To the left is a large dining area with approximately 25 tables or so, and to the right is a classic Japanese sushi bar, with Chef Ota in his usual spot in the corner. It’s refreshing that the head chef, who now enjoys so much success and is even busy consulting other restaurants, still spends several days a week making sushi and greeting guests. It’s fun watching him. He’s small and lightning quick, but delicate and meticulous. He’s pushing mid 60s now I believe so he’s not the sprite young man I knew him as when he opened the place 23 years ago, but he’s sharp.

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I can’t speak for many items on the menu. I’ve had a few bites of the beef terriyaki, and once had a chirashi bowl, and oftentimes order the seabass, but that’s as far as I stray from pure nigiri sushi. That’s not to say that everything isn’t fantastic here, it is. It’s just that the star of Ota is the absolute freshness of the sushi. I’ve heard stories of Ota’s prowess at the sushi market in his younger days, with him always outbidding every other competitor for the top fish. I expect he has others do that these days, but it’s probably the same system. Ota just gets the best fish and rotates it fast enough that it’s always the freshest in San Diego. I have never had bad fish here. And even fish which I typically don’t like at other restaurants like Uni, they tend to taste good here.

My personal favorites are tuna belly and salmon belly. Tuna belly is separated into Chu Toro and O Toro ($12 and $15 per two piece, respectively). I recommend the Chu Toro, as the O Toro at Ota is so fatty it’s like eating fish flavored oil. I’ve heard some people have spiritual moments with O Toro, but I don’t get it. I stick with Chu Toro and avoid non-belly Tuna altogether, which tastes like plastic to me. The salmon belly is distinguished from regular salmon by the long tail at Ota, and the white stripes of fat running through it. Also here is Hamachi (Yellowtail belly), Uni (Sea Urchin), Tamago (egg), Giant Clam, and Eel.

As for wasabi, we always request copious amounts of “real wasabi”. Real wasabi, as far as I can tell, is straight from the wasabi root, and has a more earthy flavor that won’t punch you in the face so much as synthetic can. Give it a try and let me know how it is.

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Miso Seabass

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As for drinks, today we started with a glass of Sapporo, then moved on to Nigori, a sweet unfiltered Sake that didn’t match the fish at all. And then moved on to Kurosawa, my personal favorite Sake. I recommend that if you eat at Ota, then skip the Nigori, it’ll ruin your palette and go straight to Kurosawa or something better. I ordered the Nirogi because I’ve had great experiences with it in the past, but never partnered with fish on Ota’s scale. But Kurosawa hits the sweet spot of price and quality.SUSHI OTA001 Sushi Ota san diego sd pacific beach japanese cuisine 2  the best sushi in san diego san diego restaurant review ota best sushi 2014 03 12 0001 Sushi Ota san diego sd pacific beach japanese cuisine 2  the best sushi in san diego san diego restaurant review ota best sushi SUSHI OTA012 Sushi Ota san diego sd pacific beach japanese cuisine 2  the best sushi in san diego san diego restaurant review ota best sushi

To finish we ended with some hot green tea and green tea ice cream. It was a perfect way to end a perfect meal.

SUSHI OTA016 Sushi Ota san diego sd pacific beach japanese cuisine 2  the best sushi in san diego san diego restaurant review ota best sushi Sushi Ota isn’t cheap, especially if you stick with sushi, but it’ll be the freshest sushi you’ve ever eaten. Though the price is high, it’s more than worth it. I’ve paid more for sushi and gotten less many times. You’ll always get your monies worth at Ota.

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Tacos El Gordo

What I’ve been wondering all day after eating here this morning is, how have I never heard of Tacos El Gordo before? I used to regularly drive to Mexico just to get some tacos. It was a 2 hour trip for $5 worth of tacos. Thank God, now I can shorten that trip by half and still satisfy my street taco craving. Being in Chula Vista, Tacos El Gordo still isn’t close, but it’s easier to justify when not crossing an international border.

The tacos… Ohh… be still my beating heart. BE STILL. I just ate them 3 hours ago and I want to go back. I feel like Michael Corleone getting hit by the thunderbolt. Except my young beautiful object of desire is greasy adobada tacos. There are a few other selections but word on the street is that the adobada rules so I ordered 3 and left the others to be tried another day. They taste just like they look, dripping dirty sweaty and sloppy, just how I like it. $2 for each taco. I’ll definitely be back, soon, maybe later tonight.

Just a heads up also… you order each different taco at separate areas of the counter. There may be a long line for the adobada, but if you want beef tongue or any other item just walk up to the corresponding section of counter. Also, you can ask for pineapple and veggies, both free. :) ANDDDD finally, my last tip: the horchata is amazing. Get it.

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