Monday, October 22, 2007

LA and San Diego trip

My grandpa passed away recently so Patty and I drove to LA last Thursday to attend his funeral service.

On our way there, we stopped at In-N-Out for lunch. (Even though we have a store about a mile from us, it's a requirement that whenever we drive to LA, we must go to In-N-Out.)
In-N-Out burgerDoesn't it look like the burger is saying "Eat me..."?

After arriving, we had a snack at Niko Niko Sushi (Redland, CA). We ordered a genki roll (crab, eel, salmon) and inari to go. Both were pretty good.
Niko Niko Sushi - genki roll and inari
Later in the night, we went to Victoria Gardens (an outdoor mall in Rancho Cucamonga) to walk around. I wish there was something like this in Phoenix. The most comparable mall here would be Kierland Commons. It's much bigger (and better) than Kierland though. Tempe Marketplace and Desert Ridge don't compare.

Before going back to my parent's house, we stopped by Pinkberry for a green tea yogurt w/ mango. (It was kind of chilly so we ate inside the shop - no pictures allowed.)

We had a quick lunch at Tea Station. We had luo buo gao (turnip cake), fried taro balls, fried tofu, and gua bao (a kind of "bun" sandwich). We also had a boba tea. The food items were pretty bad (how can you mess up fried food???) but the drink was good.

Here are some pictures:
Tea Station - boba teaTea Station - turnip cakeTea Station - gua baoTea Station - fried taro balls
After lunch, we headed to the Buddhist Mausoleum at Rose Hills for my grandpa's service.
Here's a picture of him...
my grandpa(Dec. 16, 1911 - Oct. 11, 2007)

Up until his late 80s, he was still riding a moped to get around. He was probably famous in our neighborhood as "the old man with the red scooter"...

After the service, we met up w/ my parents for snacks at Diamond Plaza (in Rowland Heights). We got pastries (can't remember the name of the bakery) and yogurt from Kiwiberry - hover over the pictures for descriptions. I loved the mochi topping on the yogurt...

Here are some pictures:
Kiwiberry - yogurt w/ strawberries, blueberries, and mochiKiwiberry - green tea yogurt w/ strawberries, watermelon, and mangotaro cakegreen tea cake
For a "pre-dinner" snack, Patty and I went to Canaan Restaurant (in the Diamond Plaza Food Court). We had mi fun and won ton soup. Both were good.
Canaan Restaurant - mi funCanaan Restaurant - won ton soup
Patty and I drove to San Diego for a short overnight trip.

Our first stop was La Jolla. We walked around the Village and Ellen Scrips Browning Park.
Here are some pictures:
La JollaLa JollaLa JollaLa Jolla
For lunch we went to Curry House. We ordered a pork katsu curry, corn soup, and iced green tea. All of the items were just ok for me.
Curry HouseCurry House - Pork Katsu Curry w/ 2 supplemented shrimp
After lunch we walked around Nijiya Market (which is in the same plaza as Curry House).
Japanese candyJapanese raisins
We checked into our hotel, took a short afternoon nap, and then headed to the downtown/Gaslamp area. Before leaving, I checked out the Chowhound California board to see what restaurants people were recommending in San Diego. A French place called Cafe Chloe seemed to be mentioned most often so I decided to go there for dinner. We arrived at 5:20pm, right before the dinner rush. By the time we left (around 7), the place was packed. It's a nice looking place w/ indoor and outdoor seating. Here are a few pics:
Cafe Chloe - exteriorCafe Chloe - dining roomCafe Chloe - bar area
We ordered the following items:
  • Garlic Shrimp Brochette
  • Steak and frites w/ a cauliflower gratin
  • Black Cod w/ pumpkin puree and artichokes
  • Pomegranate Mimosa
After almost twenty five minutes (from the time we placed our order), the Shrimp Brochette arrived. The shrimp were overcooked and lukewarm. Not a good start...
Cafe Chloe - Garlic Shrimp Brochette
We waited another twenty minutes before our entrees arrived. The steak and frites were lukewarm. The accompanying cauliflower gratin was extremely hot. The black cod was also lukewarm. I'm guessing this was a timing issue where the kitchen was waiting for the gratin to finish.
Cafe Chloe - Steak and FritesCafe Chloe - Black Cod
The steak and frites were just ok. The black cod was slightly above average. The cauliflower gratin and pumpkin puree were probably the best items.

Service was somewhat erratic throughout the meal. Thinking back, we definitely should have mentioned the temperature of the dishes and the overcooked shrimp.

I was pretty disappointed w/ Cafe Chloe. It's a nice place but the food seems overrated.

After dinner, we walked around the Gaslamp area and Horton Plaza.

Next, we headed to Little Italy. We stopped at Cafe Zucchero for a chocolate and nocciola (hazelnut) gelato. We thought the gelato would/should be decent in Little Italy but we were wrong. The texture and flavor of both the chocolate and nociolla was off. Both had a powdery texture and artificial taste.
Cafe Zucchero
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at Saffron for a "post-dessert" snack. We originally wanted sticky rice w/ mango, but the cashier told us that it was only available during the summer months. We ended up getting sticky rice w/ banana instead. It was very tasty!

We spent the morning at Balboa Park. It was beautiful - I wish we had something like this in Phoenix. It's so sad - I can't think of any major "attractions" in Phoenix. Whenever people come to visit, we end up taking them to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, etc. Why are we still here?!?
Balboa ParkBalboa ParkBalboa Park
As we were walking back to the car, we saw condos (directly across from the park) w/ a banner - "Starting from the 300's". We were going to check them out but upon closer inspection, we saw that they had studio, 1br, and 2br units. 300k for a studio?!? Given it's a prime location, but still...we passed and went to lunch instead.

For lunch we went to Dumpling Inn. I've been to Dumpling Inn twice before, on previous visits to San Diego.

We had spicy beef noodle soup, marinated cucumber, and xiao long bao. The beef noodle soup was good, although the beef was not quite as tender as it should have been. The marinated cucumbers were great - the best thing I ate during our trip. The xiao long bao were good - not the best I've had, but good.
Dumpling Inn - spicy beef noodle soupDumpling Inn - marinated cucumberDumpling Inn - xiao long bao
After lunch we headed back to Phoenix. It looks like we got out of there just in time! (raging fires in San Diego)


Yankee1969 said...

We went to SD in late June and stayed in the Gaslamp. Chloe's was one of the places we thought about trying, but the comments were all over the place. Sounds like it's a good thing we skipped it.

We need to head back at some point, as Tara was somewhat disappointed we didn't make it to Balboa Park to look around. At least now we know to more or less avoid the Gaslamp when it comes to food. I did enjoy Ciro's pizza.

Andy said...

From what I've heard, Phoenix has a better food scene than San Diego.

Definitely check out Balboa next time you are there. With 15 museums, the zoo, and gardens galore, you could spend days there...

I really wanted to wanted to check out the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit ( at the Natural History Museum, but Patty isn't much of a museum/history person. was time for lunch!

Yankee1969 said...

Yeah, we found out the hard way that SD isn't much of a culinary destination. Still, we went from 115 degrees in PHX to 74 in SD, so we still really enjoyed it. Tara's dying to go back, so hopefully it won't be too long.

Jay said...

Incredible. Remind me again how the heck you guys stay so thin? That soup looked great.

I loved Balboa Park too. It puts Papago Park to shame.

Andy said... sister asks me the same question all the time.

I'll attribute it to high metabolism. =)

I did gain a few pounds from this trip though...

Yeah - it's pretty sad. Even if you combined the Heard Museum, AZ Science Center, Phoenix Art Museum, Papago Park (including the Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical), and Encanto Park, you'd still come up short compared to Balboa.