Friday, September 21, 2012

GNO: Star Anise

After rewarding myself with an hour Thai massage after work yesterday, I continued the Thai theme with a girl's night out at Star Anise. We received a 4th anniversary deal on our door that granted us a free appetizer and dessert with the purchase of two dinner entrees. It was nice for Angie & I to catch up with Rosario and Jasmine. We may live a couple minutes away but only food can bring us together (:

The restaurant was tucked away in a little plaza that was extremely close yet I had no idea existed. It was nicely decorated and details such as seat pillows and elephant themed booklets that held our checks made it quaint.

Our waitress was friendly and attentive though she lacked that pizazz that would merit 5 star service. The waiter who brought our food and cleaned our table did not show one inkling of a smile all night.

For appetizers we got the calamari steak and fried tofu. Both items were nothing special but had a nice crunch. We ordered the Thai fried rice, crab fried rice, pad see ew (not a very inviting name huh?) with tofu, and pad woonsen with chicken. The crab fried rice was exactly like the Thai fried rice but $4 more and had a sprinkle of crab and egg on top. The food appeared to be prepared in more of a Chinese style, none of the dishes felt authentically Thai. I am glad I got to sample my friends' dishes because I felt like the excessive amount of sauce in my noodles would be overwhelming if I was stuck eating it all night. We ended the night with a big scoop of red bean ice cream and fried bananas. Compared to the picture on the menu, the presentation of the desserts looked lackluster. 
Overall, the food was filling but I would not return if I had to pay full price. Everything was just okay. We did get cute Chinese takeout boxes for out leftovers though ^^
Fried tofu

Calamari steak

Pad see ew

thai fried rice

crab fried rice

pad woonsen

fried bananas

red bean ice cream

If you like what you see, comment por favor!

keep feasting fellow gastronomes,
xoxo Amy

San Diego Restaurant Week 2012

After a week racking my brain about where to eat, I finally chose Cucina Urbana after seeing some pictures from a friend on instagram and the 1000+ reviews/4 and a half stars on Yelp. Being apart of Slow Food, I was happy to see the menu advertised the use of local and organic ingredients (+348398394 points). Although I originally wanted a great ocean view, I was fortunate to enjoy a couple moments of the San Diego skyline as the car maneuvered its way up and down Banker's Hill(s).

I will divide this post (and possibly future ones) into three categories:
The neighborhood surrounding the restaurant is pretty quiet but there are a couple other eateries scattered here and there.
As for the inside, it was dimly lit with two walls for wine, chalkboard drawings, ingredients in mason jar....what wasn't amazing and quirky about this restaurant? I give the decor two thumbs up!
I was also in great company which really set the mood for the night. This was BT and I's third restaurant week outing together.

We had a 9:15pm reservation but was not seated until 9:35ish since it was still bumping at that time of the night. Although a private table was not available to us, they did offer us choices to sit at either the communal table (not favored since it required too much human interaction according to BT) or the pizza bar (watching dough being stretched, topped with goodies, and set into a wood fire oven? YES YES YES). Our water was constantly filled and our utensils/dishes were replaced appropriately. The waiter was incredibly attentive and wonderfulll (I think I have an affinity for gay men haha). On an interesting note, my leftovers were boxed and put in a fridge near the hostess where I could pick it up with a ticket that was given to me by the waiter. As with most nice SD restaurants, the takeout box was made from recycled cardboard instead of styrofoam (+39849085984 more points).
Pizza bar seating
CU offers three different menus for restaurant week ranging from $25 to $35. BT ordered the Kensington white sangria, Farmer's chopped salad, fennel sausage and pepperoni pizza, and ricotta cheesecake. I ordered the proscuitto cotto carpaccio (ham salad in its simplest form), short rib pappardelle, and caramel panna cotta. I have loved sangria ever since tasting it at the tapas bar in Barcelona and this was no exception. It even had real chunks of fruit, and the alcohol was noticeable but not too strong. BT's primo/appetizer was a simple salad, and he really enjoyed the cheese. On the other hand, mine was an interesting and more complicated mix of flavors (I hardly knew how to begin eating it) from the saltiness of the prosciutto to the bitterness of the greens. The truffle aioli and caramelized pearl onions really stood out to me. I got the short rib pappardelle (large fettuccine) because it was highly recommended on Yelp. There was a hefty amount of meat that just fell apart with the touch of your fork. It was meaty deliciousness. BT's pizza had a spicy kick from the sausage and was cooked to a perfect crunch. My panna cotta was definitely the star of the night. It had a nutella "gelato" apparently that was a milder but just as tasty version of nutella from the jar. It was milky and melt-in-your-mouth amazing. I don't even remember how BT's desserted tasted hahaha

Farmer's chopped salad

proscuitto cotto carpaccio

fennel sausage & pepperoni pizza

short rib pappardelle

ricotta cheesecake with plum preserves

caramel panna cotta with nutella gelato
Personal note: We went on 9/19/2012

keep feasting fellow gastronomes,
xoxo Amy

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


With the failure of my travel blog, I was a bit hesitant to begin another one. I think I enjoy the possibility of an idea but lack any motivation to actually see it through. Nevertheless, here I go again picking up this blogging thing. Word of warning: My particular food blog won't be the most exciting or mouthwatering thing out there. I cook badly, I have the taste palette of a sick person, and I'm quite the penny pincher when it comes to eating out. Therefore, I won't be attempting any Julie & Julia-esque feats nor will I be sharing the Hoang family recipes ( of now?). Simply put, I will be taking my dear readers along my food journey while simultaneously capturing the precious memories of my last year at UCSD.

Stay tuned fellow gastronomes!
xoxo Amy