Saturday, August 14, 2010

Haute Stoner Cuisine, SD Edition

With the recent surge in marijuana raids here in San Diego county, I figured it timely to compile a list (or rather, the start of one) of what I believe to be the best haute stoner cuisine our region has to offer. ‘What in the hell is haute stoner cuisine,’ you ask? Well, you can start by reading the New York Times article published in May on the subject, or just believe my interpretation here and now:
  • It’s fat kid food all grown up; rich, calorie-ridden, and hide-it-under-the-mattress-so-the S.O. doesn’t find it goooood.
  • It messes with the senses, all of them; out of the norm flavor and texture combos that result in dining-table-slapping fits of jubilation.
  • It makes you think, or try to, depending on your state; both fantasy, and nostalgia, are key ingredients in haute stoner cuisine.
  • Simply put: Food that a stoner would dig.
Before you report me to the feds or try to have me fired: I do not endorse the use of marijuana, nor find issues of substance abuse even mildly amusing; however, whether you smoke weed or condemn those who do, there’s no denying these dish’s tasty layers of creativity that comfort, and disturb at once. On that note, the next time you’re tempted to mate last nite’s pizza with last week’s Chinese take out, put your hands behind your head, run out the front door, and seek these professionals for help.
Fish and Chips roll @Hane Sushi

Holy Mother of the Sea: this dish is so right, and so wrong. Marrying the quintessental dishes of England and Japan, fish and chips in sushi form are delightful to eat, and fun to giggle about. Tender fried pieces of fish are wrapped with lettuce in nori, surrounded by rice and flecked with black sesame seed. A fried piece of dill is served off to the side and I highly recommend you integrate that, and a brush of the ‘tartar’ like sauce, with each bite. Looks like sushi, tastes like fish and chips?? Whoa, dude.
5 spice BBQ Beef Fries @Tabe Korean BBQ Taco Truck

Korean BBQ beef meets a San Diego drunk/stoned staple: the carne asada fries. An unhealthy union of sweet and spicy, over-sauced meat heaped onto fries, topped with cheese, a white sauce emulating crema, and of course, sprinkled with 5 spice, you may not live to see tomorrow after eating these. If pot drives people to eat foods like this, then seriously ill patients deserve legal access to this medicine. Looks like carne asada fries, tastes like trouble. Just sayin’.
Mojados De Carne @Mama Testa

Mojados De Carne translated: 4 beef rolled tacos chopped into bite sized pieces and sent swimming in a pool of bright tomato broth that’s spicy, citrusy, and pungent with a sprinkling of raw white onions, fresh cilantro and queso fresco. In an unrelated blog topic, I’ve been thinking of this soup every time i’m hungry it seems. After having it for the first time a couple weeks ago, i don’t think I can live without it! Taquitos and soup (two of my favorite things!) as one- castaway shredded beef infuses the tomato broth so that it tastes as though you’re slurping on salsa drenched rolled tacos. The tortillas go from crunchy to tender and spongy before your eyes and taste-buds, and you can also order the pollo version if you’re a lame-O that doesn’t eat beef. Also a great way to warm up this July.
Pretzel dog and more @Hotdogs @ 428

What stoner, let alone what American, doesn’t love a juicy all-beef hotdog? The pretzel dog is every festival food you loved as a kid rolled into one. I’ll admit, I was wary that the pretzel would be stale or the dog dried out, but 428 proved me wrong with this pig in a German blanket. Hebrew National franks are served til 3am from the Market Street storefront with a handy sidewalk facing order window and a little counter space for perching.
Mmmm, fatty, salty, and a mess to eat. Lots under 5 bucks- check it. More on this topic soon to be posted. Until then, Puff, Puff, Granite- out!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Proper indeed!

A Proper toast to the #1 National League Padres. Photo courtesy of Proper Gastropub.
The San Diego Padres are #1 in the National League, giving home-game-goers every reason to celebrate before, during, and after the fireworks show. This ball season, Proper Gastropub and sister-store/neighbor, Wine Steals debut as Petco Park’s pre, post and away game ultimate hangout spot (view of the televised away game big screen in the park). With a sports deck overlooking the action, and happy hour specials served 4-7pm, then again from 10pm-midnight, there’s no better venue with a view to toast the home team.
Best of all, the service at Proper is consistent, friendly, and fast. Truly some of the friendliest bartenders in town. Tip em properly!
What to order:
I dig the fish and chips at Proper. The fish is perfectly golden fried in a light batter and the tartar sauce is delicious; best in town I’ve had. No frills, as it should be.
The fried calamari is a happy hour special, and also worth ordering.
The mule is an awesome drink here. The ginger beer they use here is lightly carbonated, sweet and spicy; go the extra mile and order it up with top shelf vodka. Discounted prices at HH.
Fried mac and cheese balls. Need I say more? Nice marinara for dipping.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Buzz-worthy or not? Drink and decide.

Bravo’s Top Chef Miami finalist and San Diego native, Chef Brian Malarkey’s inventive ‘New American’ menu at Searsucker features never-imbibed-before cocktails.
A roasted red-pepper margarita or watermelon-jalapeno martini might not be every downtown drinker’s cup of booze, but that’s not stopping the mixologists at Searsucker from pouring an adventuresome menu of crafty cocktails. Top Chef season 3 finalist Brian Malarkey’s debut restaurant opened earlier this month, and with a little help from the award winning mixologists behind WisknLadle, is offering downtown an inventive mixed drinks menu that stands up to bold ‘New American Classic’ dishes, like Spicy Shrimp and Bacon Grits. Not for the faint of appetite, or thirst, satiate your gastro-thrills nightly ‘til 1am.

Mercato eats

The Little Italy Mercato farmer’s market is becoming a weekly tradition for locavores in search of the best street-side eats in town. Here’s 3 stops to add to your list for next week’s visit.
Diners and shoppers alike enjoy fresh shucked oysters, and uni, by World Famous Fish near the Kettner Street end of the market. As fresh as it gets, this seafood purveyor also sells Carlsbad Aqua Farm clams and mussels by the pound.
On the Union Street side of The Mercato, stop by Knight Salumi for grilled, handmade spicy pork ‘kasekrainer’ sausages, oozing with gouda cheese, dressed with spicy mustard and sauerkraut on a soft roll. A variety of salumi is also sold here by the pound.
Locally grown, sun-ripened fruit is frozen on a stick and served in the form of Viva Pops. From blood orange juice to creamy blueberry, and agave sweetened white nectarine, there’s a flavor for all, and under 3 bucks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Taco Hunting

The no frills, 99 cent fish taco at TJ Oyster Bar in Chula Vista: lightly battered fish on corn tortillas topped with tomato, cabbage, and cream.
The fish taco is to San Diego what pizza is to New York City. And, like any other region’s quintessential street food, the fish taco is a touchy subject for many a San Diegan who believes it’stheir spot that serves the best.
Touted by the sun and surf worshipping crowd in Ocean Beach is South Beach Bar and Grill’s teriyaki glazed mahi-mahi rendition with ranch dressing-esque sauce, all wrapped in a flour tortilla. Just up the coast in La Jolla, the slow-food-themed WisknLadle serves a popular version consisting of grilled local fish, topped with mango and jicama slaw on a corn tortilla.
No matter how many margaritas you have or haven’t had, it’s hard to deny these dishes a far cry from their Baja origins, which, is only about a 3 hour car ride from San Diego city limits, by the way…
So, I’ve been fishing around for an authentic taste of Baja, and suggest you visit the TJ Oyster Bar in Chula Vista. Listed as the ‘Fish’ taco on the menu, order a few, because they’re only 99 cents.

Where to eat on Convoy Street

When San Diego-proper closes its eyes and eateries for the night, resist the drive thru and instead head a few miles northeast to Convoy Street. Along this 3-mile stretch of road, a survey of Asian cuisine beckons your taste buds’ attention— sizzling stirfrys to handmade steamed dumplings, silky curries with sticky rice; yakitori, pho, and Korean BBQ in between. Whether you wash it all down with Boba tea, or cap it off with Soju, head to Convoy Street, San Diego’s ‘Asia-Town.’
4861 Convoy Street
SD, 92111
Ramen cravings are satisfied until 3am Thursday through Sunday at Tajima, and don’t miss out on nightly specials like Japanese style pancakes, Yakitori and sushi rolls.
4916 Convoy Street
SD, 92111
Tucked away in a strip mall, handmade Chinese noodles and (of course) a variety of traditional steamed or fried dumplings are worth the crowds and wait.
4255 Convoy Street
SD, 92111
Tom Yum soup with rice, roasted duck panang curry, and wide egg noodles with brown sauce and broccoli (pad see ew) are reigning favorites at Thai House Cuisine.
Soju Town
4681 Convoy Street
SD, 92111
Depending how much Soju you consume, choose from karaoke, spicy chicken gizzard skewers, and more at this multi-faceted restaurant and lounge.
Rare pieces of beef cook before your eyes in an herbaceous broth of fennel, mint and cilantro, while translucent rice noodles soak up all the goodness.
4647 Convoy Street
SD, 92111
Galbi, or beef short ribs marinated in garlic, soy sauce, sugar and barbecued are deliciously tender at Friend’s House Korean; served alongside the seafood hot pot, this meal might be perfect.
4646 Convoy Street
Popular milk teas with tapioca, or boba, are a sweet yet light way to celebrate dessert time; try the almond milt tea, hot or iced.