From my backlog of restaurant visits that I have yet to post: Here are some eats from a recent visit to see my sister down in San Diego.
My parents and sister are all ramen lovers; so my sister decided to take us to Yakitori Yakyudori, a recently opened yakitori (skewers) and ramen place on Convoy in Kearny Mesa, a virtual mecca of Asian restaurants.
Note: When we visited, the restaurant had only ramen; they had yet to start doing yakitori. Another reason for going back, I suppose.
Starters: Takoyaki, (dumplings filled with chopped pieces of octopus, topped with mayo, a thick, sweet and sour sauce and bonito flakes, in the foreground) and gyoza (pan-fried pork dumplings, in the background). Both served piping hot and still sizzling (the waitress even warned us that the innards of the takoyaki were extremely hot and we would risk burning ourselves if eating right away). Both are two of my favorite “snack foods” from Japan, and these were delicious.
My order: I wasn’t in the mood for ramen, so I decided to go for a rice-based dish. I originally ordered the shiso-topped rice, but was informed that they were already sold out (sadness). Instead, I opted for the tofu-topped rice.
It sounds quite boring and pedestrian (chopped, mashed tofu on rice?), but its simple, light, subtle flavors were just right. The tofu was lightly seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil (I think?) and when eaten on top of the freshly cooked, chewy Japanese rice, this really hit the spot.
Miso ramen. Sister’s order. A hearty, full-bodied broth. Heady on the miso flavor. I think this is for those who like stronger flavors, or for those who don’t mind being thirsty after their meal. Quite delicious, but I don’t know if I’d be able to eat a lot in one sitting as I prefer lighter brothed soups.
Shio ramen. Mom’s order. Clearer broth, not as hearty or salty as the miso ramen, but full of flavor nonetheless. I preferred this one as the miso broth was a bit too strong for my taste.
For some reason I didn’t have a picture of my dad’s order of Chashu ramen, but he assured me that it was delicious.
Chashu (thin slices of fatty pork) comes in all the ramen varieties, and so often ramen places either skimp on the chashu or serve thick, tough, dry slices. At Yakitori Yakyudori, the chashu is quite soft and almost melts in your mouth. A success in my book.
4898 Convoy St., Suite 101
San Diego, CA 92111
Mon-Sun 11:30 a.m. – 3 a.m.
My sister and I decided to hit up a local vegetarian place (Sipz) for dinner:
My “caterpillar” roll: Brown rice, shitake mushrooms, avocado, yam, and some veggies, topped with avocado, teriyaki and sriracha. Isn’t it cute?
It was pretty delicious too. I kind of wish the rice had been seasoned more like sushi rice (vinegar, mirin and sugar, in the Japanese style); it’s the only thing that would have made this roll better than it already was. But it was good nonetheless. And incredibly filling.
My sister ordered their “chicken” chow mein: Eggless noodles stir-fried in a savory brown sauce with vegetables and their faux vegetarian chicken. I normally shy away from vegetarian faux meats (I don’t really agree with the idea and most meat alternatives that try to imitate meat fail miserable in both taste and texture). But this “chicken” was eerily chicken-like; if I didn’t know it was vegetarian I would have thought it was really chicken. It had me wondering what kind of process and ingredients they used (gluten? Too chewy. Soy? Beany tasting and would give you the wrong texture). Amazing. I imagine if you were someone who recently turned vegetarian but were missing meat, Sipz would be your to-go place.
This place was hopping on a Friday night and now I understand why. Their menu is extensive, offering Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and even Italian-inspired dishes. Apparently their vegan desserts are legendary for being super delicious (I glanced around at my fellow diners; most of them ordered some kind of dessert), but after our meal, we were simply too stuffed to eat sweets (what can we say, we’re lightweights!). In any case, it’s a definite reason to go back and try some of Sipz’s other offerings.
Sipz Vegetarian Cafe
5501 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92117
Mon-Sun 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.