San Diego spots?

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
petitfromageaz
Posts: 31
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7 years ago

We are heading out to San Diego for the first week or so of July. Looking for some guidance on where to eat and any good grocery suggestions.

I found a fish market/restaurant around Point Loma, wondering if anyone has tried it out or bought fresh fish there?

We'll be based in Mission Beach, but are willing to travel.

Many thanks in advance!
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azhotdish
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7 years ago

Preliminary research has led me to:

Yakitori Yakyudori & Ramen
4898 Convoy St Ste 101
San Diego, CA 92111
http://yakyudori.hinotez.com/
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2009/08/d ... table.html

Izakaya Sakura
3904 Convoy St #121
San Diego, CA 92184
http://izakayasakura.menutoeat.com/

Hodad's
5010 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107
http://www.hodadies.com

Super Cocina
3627 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
http://supercocinasd.com
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Joel
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AZLobo
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7 years ago

petitfromageaz wrote:I found a fish market/restaurant around Point Loma, wondering if anyone has tried it out or bought fresh fish there?
Point Loma Seafood, by chance? I've gone there for four years now with my father-in-law and brother-in-law. We love their crab sandwiches. Never bought fish there for later preparation, but it looks pretty damned good.
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

azhotdish wrote: Yakitori Yakyudori & Ramen
4898 Convoy St Ste 101
San Diego, CA 92111
http://yakyudori.hinotez.com/
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2009/08/d ... table.html
Somebody needs to teach these guys the meaning of the term "thumbnail." But you'd better believe this is already at the top of my list.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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azhotdish
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7 years ago

Another to add to the list...

Oscar's Mexican Seafood
http://oscarsmexicanseafood.com/
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Joel
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ericeatsout
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7 years ago

Kaito Sushi in Encinitas. Traditional Tokyo style. Among the best in the country and hole in the wall. http://sushikaito.com/
misterk
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7 years ago

I used to go to the Convoy area all the time for Asian food when I was in school. Beyond Japanese, there's a massive amount of Korean restaurants there, too (Manna BBQ and Do Re Mi House were both pretty good, from what I can remember). You could do a fair amount of damage just in that neighborhood.
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olllllo
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7 years ago

I talked about Tiger Tiger hear and mentioned Lee Chase's other place Blind Lady Alehouse. Great upscale pub fare and beer.
http://phxfoodnerds.com/viewtopic.php?f ... tiger#p642

I didn't get a chance to go to OB Noodle House http://obnoodlehouse.com/, but it gets raves for the noodles and craft beer selection.

All of the Pizza Ports offer locally made beer (multiple GABF winning beer though Jeff Bagby recently left) and no frills pizza.

Have you been or considered Stone's Bistro in Escondido?
Last edited by olllllo 7 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
¡Salud!

Rob
BeerPHXation A local Phoenix Metro beer culture celebration and admonition
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misterk
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7 years ago

Oh and as far as groceries, you have a Henry's (kinda like Sprouts) and a Trader Joes close to one another off of Garnet in PB...short distance from Mission Beach. Otherwise there's a whole foods, trader joes and ralphs near the UCSD campus, and another whole foods and trader joes in hillcrest.
sinosoul
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7 years ago

olllllo wrote:All of the Pizza Ports offer locally made beer (multiple GABF winning beer though Jeff Bagby recently left) and no frills pizza.

Have you been or considered Stone's Bistro in Escondido?
Except pizza port's food is completely disgusting. Sitting in the dining room makes me want to hurl. I wouldn't feed that to my kid, but others do.

Karl Strauss is now a pretty big "chain", but the beers deserve a visit, if only just for paying respects.

Chick friends LUUUURV Extraordinary Desserts, but I'm always like.. EHHN. For brunch, again, the same girls love Hash House a Go Go (now franchised to multiple locations in Vegas) and Broken Yolk. All this is mostly hogwash. Personally, I am still fond of Cafe Chloe for brunch, though it's really not spectacular nor that impressive. It carries a good combination of price/food/location/ambience/SD sun.

It's touristy as hell, but pounding a big gulp of blended margies at Casa Del Reys' patio is a fave SD pastime. Please don't call me names.
misterk
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7 years ago

Also, for Moroccan, there's Kous Kous in Hillcrest. The lamb shank tajines there are really well done - with meat falling off the bone as soon as you touch it with your fork. Really enjoyed my meal there some years ago. I'm craving their b'stilla now, in fact.

Kous Kous
3940 4th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
619-295-5560

If you happen to be near the UCSD campus for whatever reason and are looking for a tasty, quick and cheap meal, the International Market & Grill was a favorite go-to of mine during my school days. Humble little Persian-run market with a really good grill. I'd get their chicken kabab wrap at least a couple times a week.

International Market & Grill
3211 Holiday Ct
Ste 100
(between Villa La Jolla Dr & Villa Norte)
La Jolla, CA 92037

Since you guys are going to be in Mission Beach, Isabel's Cantina is also fairly solid for breakfast (since the wait at the Mission can be ridiculous) and just a short drive away over in PB:

Isabel's Cantina
966 Felspar Street
San Diego, CA 92109
858-272-8400

Also right by Isabel's are Cafe 976 and Cass St. Bar & Grill - two of my regular hangouts to study and not study when I lived a block away. Grab an iced coffee and walk down to Crystal Pier and the beach.

Speaking of PB, avoid all the pseudo-sushi places there. You have been warned.
tatterdemalion
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7 years ago

azhotdish basically lays out the handful of places that have now become routine on my visits to SD. It's a funny place and I think it's rather underrated, even amongst the savvy food nerds who would probably rather just make the further drive to LA or TJ for lunch.

Yakitori Yakydori is a real treat if you come from somewhere without real yakitori - ie, NYC or LA - they do a lot of it quite right, importing binchotan, using some good (Jidori?) birds, etc. The execution is there if it's the right person manning the fire, but can be even quite good when you've got the B-team.

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Izakaya Sakura is also excellent, but particularly so if you don't have access to izakaya fare. Which is not intended to be damning with faint praise - but if you're sinosoul and you live in LA, I could see why you might call it dogfood. ;)

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Maybe my favourite place, and I'm a sucker for a specialist, is Aqui es Texcoco which specializes in barbacoa de borrego. They'll start you out with a cup of their consomme, a cup of pride, one whiff and you know what you're in for. Order a whole head and maybe round it out with a huitlacoche quesadilla or some pancita, a sort of Mexican haggis.

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azhotdish
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7 years ago

tatterdemalion wrote:azhotdish basically lays out the handful of places that have now become routine on my visits to SD.
Since my "preliminary research" was looking for San Diego references on LTH, you shouldn't be that shocked. :D
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

We're back with multiple San Diego places to report on! Might as well drop them all here to keep things together. If discussion really takes off on one or two of these places, we can always spin them off.

Sometimes there are places you hear about, and hear about, and hear about, and you start to wonder if you hear about them because everybody hears about them, or because there's really something there. But enough people I trust have praised the burgers at Hodad's that it made our short list.

First observation? A line. A rather long one, with a sign suggesting you visit their other location if it's too long. Few places can make that suggestion with any reasonable chance that it'll be heeded. But of course, it's vacation, so we're in for the experience as much as the food and ditching the original seems wrong somehow. We waited for perhaps half an hour, and our clan of eight ended up having to split into two tables to keep it from being an obscenely long wait.
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Busy. And loud.
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Hodad's is, above all, loud. Also busy and kitschy and irreverent and all kinds of pseudo-rad, with servers who are just genuine enough to keep it from feeling like the heavy metal version of Ed Debevic's. Their flair may be lewd, but it's still flair. And who cares? It's loud and fun and at one point in time probably wasn't a caricature of itself. And the food's pretty good.
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Chocolate Shake
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The chocolate shake is really good. It's barely a shake. It's as close to ice cream as you can get while still barely clearing the suckable bar required to push it into the shake category. It's even topped with what seems like a pint-sized wedge of chocolate ice cream. It is intense and massive, the later of which would prove to be a theme.
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Fries + Rings = Fwings
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Fwings? Okay. It's a pile of onion rings sitting on a pile of french fries. The fries are pretty weak, cut into small wedges with that weird batter coating that I really wish would just go away. The onion rings are solid, if unexceptional. They're built upon nice, thick wedges of onion, which is nice, and it's a crunchy breadcrumb coating that's fried to a deep golden brown. You could certainly do a lot worse.
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RUN!!!!!!!
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Sweet Jesus. I'd skipped lunch, and ordering the bacon double was still a tactical error. Even more insane? Petitefromageaz's was even bigger than mine (mostly due to an almost comical two-inch layer of onion that, truth be told, I coveted). But if you can get your mouth around it, it's a pretty darn good burger. It's big and greasy and dripping with all kinds of goo, and all of the vegetables are sort of roughly hewn rather than carefully sliced, which only adds to the caveman quotient. The true genius of this thing -- though the technique through which it was achieved had to be pointed out to me after the fact -- is the texture of the bacon. It's insanely crunchy and present in every bite. Apparently they kind of chop it up a bit, form it into a patty, and then fry that. So yeah, it isn't a couple of slices, it's an entire bacon patty in addition to the two beef patties. But I have to say, this is a true quantum leap in bacon burger technology. Well done, Hodad's.

Here's the thing. Take away the music, take away the obscene license plates, shrink everything down to a normal size and it's a good burger joint. Better than most, to be sure, but the fame is as much a function of the scene as it is the cuisine. Which isn't to take a shot at the cuisine. If that burger were in a quiet unassuming storefront, I'd go back with three friends and share one in a heartbeat. But I think that's the context in which Hodad's needs to be approached. It's good food in an atmosphere with some character. Perfect for vacation, right?

Hodad's
www.hodadies.com
5010 Newport Ave.
Ocean Beach, CA 92107
619-224-4623
Dominic Armato
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Ericeatsout is a highly vocal fan of Kaito Sushi in Encinitas, and that's always an easy sell for my ladylove, so on the evening we had to ourselves we trucked about half an hour north of city center for a little fish and rice. I knew Kaito was a little neighborhood joint, but I was a little surprised (though by no means disappointed) by just how spartan it is. It's in a strip mall, hidden behind a building on the road, and it has no overhead signage. It's not a sushi speakeasy. One just gets the sense that big, bold declarations of their location isn't a big thing for them. The restaurant inside is very plain and highly functional, with no effort made to conceal a good deal of kitchen equipment on a long counter behind the bar. In short: perfect for scaring off those who aren't primarily concerned with the food.

We made a reservation at the bar, and were seated with the elder itamae (I didn't catch his name). I've read, after the fact, that we should have requested Morita-san, but I'm having a hard time finding fault with the fellow who helped us. We ordered some beer, told him we'd like omakase, assured him that we liked absolutely everything (not completely true for both of us, but we agree that we'd rather not have him second-guessing), and off we went!
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Sunomono - Onion, Radish, Surimi
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I think the sunomono actually hit the bar about ten seconds after we sat down, before we'd even had a chance to say hello. For the record, I'm more than okay with this. It was a thinly slivered, vinegared mix of onion and radish (mostly onion) with little flecks of surimi. Good, refreshing start.
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Hotate (Scallop)
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Go right for my weak spot, don't you. I love scallop. My ladylove loves it less. I got most of this one, and it was a very nice specimen, fresh and sweet with firm texture and a little character.
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The Rest of The Scallop
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I love the rest of the scallop just as much as I love the main event. Here, it was chopped up and cooked with snow peas in a lightly sweet soy-based sauce and served hot.
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Hamachi (Amberjack), Toro (Fatty Tuna), Bakagai (Orange Clam)
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A very nice lineup of pristine sashimi. The hamachi was from Japan, and I didn't catch the precise subset thereof, but it was excellent. Ditto the bluefin toro (feeling guilty - special occasions only!) that we were told came from the waters off Spain. I'm unsure of how he classified it, and it wasn't one of those impossibly creamy cuts that's oozing fat all over the place, but it was nowhere near lean and had great flavor and texture. The orange clam -- Bakagai, I think -- was from the East Coast (NY, probably), briny and umami-laden with just enough resistance to make chewing a pleasure.
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Hirame (Halibut)
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Halibut (I don't recall the source) was clean and elegant and had just a touch of stinging yuzu kosho. His is a tender rice, just barely warm and packed just enough to hold together, very laid back and complementary to the fish, even though they use red rice vinegar which is a little more assertive in terms of flavor.
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Aji (Spanish Mackerel)
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I'm always impressed when I get good aji in the States. If it isn't handled well, it goes way off very quickly. But this was excellent, with a little bit of scallion and grated ginger to play off the subtle, natural funk.
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Maguro (Tuna)
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I don't think this was marinated. If it was, it was lightly so. But maguro is like the boneless, skinless chicken breast of the sushi counter, and it's so nice to encounter some that's actually compelling.
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Chutoro (Fatty Tuna)
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More tuna -- this was all from the same fish, I believe -- a little bit of medium fatty chutoro that was downright succulent. Incidentally, it was around this time that the small group sitting at the bar to our left started chatting about the healing powers of various crystals -- you know, just in case we'd forgotten that we were in SoCal.
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Uni (Sea Urchin)
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There are times when I despair that my ladylove doesn't appreciate the joy that is uni. And there are times when I revel in the fact that it means I get more of it. I had this times two. Hers and mine. The San Diego area is known for being home to some pretty tasty uni, and our itamae said this was the only item that he sourced locally. Sometime, I'd love to land somewhere that lines up uni from a few different regions, so that I could really get a more specific sense of what distinguishes them. These didn't quite have the same natural sweetness that I associate with Santa Barbara uni, but they had a really nice almost mineral-tasting complexity that made them no less, in my eyes -- just different. The joys of eating locally.
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Negitoro Hand Roll
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Nothing wrong with a little chopped toro and scallion wrapped in crisp nori. I find myself loving hand rolls more and more these days. It was at this point that he asked if we were satisfied or would like to have a little more, so we added just a couple...
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Salmon
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...my ladylove's request. She's a sucker for salmon. I love it too, though I get the impression that it isn't a cut with cache back in Japan. Whatever. It was a Scottish salmon, sweet and silky-textured.
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Hand Roll with Uni, Ikura, ?
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Having a hard time calling it quits, I asked for just one more item, and got this hand roll that had uni, ikura (salmon roe), and one or two other items I missed. It was starting to push the boundaries of what I prefer when it comes to traditional sushi complexity, but the fillings were carefully paired and well-balanced. Smartly done, and very tasty.

The problem is that I always get to this point and realize that I could keep going forever. But I decided to leave well enough alone and tap out. This is a really, really good sushi bar. And that I enjoyed it when I still have Tsukiji fresh in my head from January probably says something. I loved that the omakase was very straightforward, very traditional, very minimal. The menu isn't short on bastardized maki (it hurts me to see cream cheese on the menu in a place like this), and a couple of folks around us were partaking, but he nailed us... keep it simple, do it well. Total tab for two of us for the evening including a little beer was about $200... not cheap eats, but a fair price, I think, for the quality. And as usual, if you were a little more selective and careful about ordering items individually, I'm sure you could have a heck of a meal for $50-$60. I don't know that I'm quite as over-the-moon blown away as Eric, and as excellent as this was we have some pretty stunning stuff available right here (I reserve my over-the-moon blown away reaction for ShinBay, even though the two aren't precisely analogous), but yeah, this is an awesome spot the likes of which is tough to find stateside. Good call, Eric.

Kaito Sushi
www.sushikaito.com
130-A N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024
760-634-2746
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
ericeatsout
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7 years ago

Dom - Great write-up on Kaito. We had some of the same items you did when we were there in June. But I wish you had been served some of the more obscure things we were served...."tuna stringy parts" and "abalone guts." (as described by Morita-san) Sometimes they truly go nuts when you let them know that you're really willing to go nuts.

Good reason for a return visit. I love that place. To me, it's excellent quality and attention to detail without the silly nonsense that is ShinBay. (We can agree to disagree on that one!)

Glad you enjoyed it.
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Taro in DC had 4 forms of uni on the menu - St. Lawrence, Japan, Santa Barbara, and another I don't recall. I really couldn't diferentiate between the St. Lawrence and Santa Barbara versions at all on flavor, though the SB were creamier in texture. The Japanese clearly had more of that briny funk.

If you make it to DC, it is a must - they keep feeding you until you say no more and the quality is unreal for the $150/pp Omakase tab.
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Big, big thanks to tatterdemalion for putting Yakitori Yakyudori on our radar. Azhotdish and I snuck out late one night to catch them right before close, and we spent the next two hours getting excited about how fabulous it would be to have a place like this at home, and lamenting the fact that we don't. Beyond serving Japanese food, it's very Japanese in terms of vibe... a casual fairly late-night joint where you can snack on some simple, delicious foods, have a couple of beers or some shochu, make a meal or a snack out of it... you get the idea.

It's a pretty big menu, including a whole bunch of varied small dishes, ramen, rice bowls, etc., but the headliner is the yakitori, grilled -- as tatterdemalion mentions -- over binchotan.
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In Action
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The plume of smoke in the background here is deceptive. Depending on the quality, binchotan provides a nearly smokeless burn, so the items aren't heavily smoked. When something drips onto the charcoal, however, it gets bathed in its own smoke.
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Takoyaki
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We actually started off with some Takoyaki from the "fried" section of the menu, which I thought odd since they aren't typically fried, but rather cooked on a griddle with rounded pits. They were, indeed, deep fried -- first time I've seen them that way -- and they were pretty darn tasty. What was nice is that they were exceptionally crisp, and the batter in the center was just barely set. Great flavor.
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Negima - Chicken Thigh with Green Onion
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The main event. Tender and juicy chicken thigh, just a touch of char and smoke, killer flavor, and a cook who's unafraid to use salt as an actual flavor rather than simply as a neutral seasoning. Again, very Japanese.
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Tsukune - Chicken Meatball
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Yakuydori's tsukune are exceptionally light -- I'm still on the fence about whether I consider that a good or a bad thing -- but their flavor is excellent, about which there's no fence-sitting.
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Chicken Liver
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This was one of my favorites of the night. Fabulous, fresh flavor, just barely set on the outside and still jiggling in the center. If there is any love in your heart for chicken liver, this is a must-have.
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Buta Shiso Maki - Pork and Shiso Roll with Salted Plum
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I think we were split on the Buta Shiso Maki. If I recall, azhotdish felt it got a little dry, and I can't disagree, but it didn't go so far that I didn't enjoy it. I can't say the shiso came through much, but the ume was an awesome tart, salty pair for fatty pork.
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Gyu Oroshi Ponzu - Beef with Radish and Ponzu
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This is so easy to like. Killer beef, a chewy and flavorful cut, with tons of grated daikon and ponzu. Total crowd pleaser.
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Beef Tongue
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Perhaps less of a universal crowd pleaser, but a great entree to somebody who's curious about tongue. This was juicy, salty, intensely flavored and another of my favorites.
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Shishito Peppers with Bonito
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Not much to say here. Fresh shishitos, bonito flapping in the breeze... awesome.
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Smelt
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This was the only one neither of us especially liked. Azhotdish found it dry. I thought the flavor was a bit off. But I love that they do it, and would try it again in hopes that it'd be better next time.
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Spicy Miso Ramen
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The ramen was pretty damn good... not up to the stuff I had in Tokyo in January (an impossible standard), but good enough that I'd strip naked and run around the house screaming if we had offerings like this back home. Azhotdish gave me a taste of his shio ramen, and it was a nice, clean, salty (duh) soup that I would've liked to get deeper into. Mine had some nice heat and depth, quality stuff, with noodles that had a fair amount of bite, some ground pork, bean sprouts, scallion tops and a touch of corn.

Total tab for the two of us, including a couple of large bottles of beer (and the second bowl of ramen, not pictured), just a little over $60. So we both walked away basically saying, why the hell can't we have this in Phoenix? It has to be done with care, but it isn't rocket science. And how is this not a recipe for wild success*? Casual, open late, drinks, inexpensive, graze or gorge, simple, and above all, approachable... who the hell doesn't like meat on a stick? Set the hook with chicken breast, reel them in with tsukune, and if they keep coming back, someday maybe they're eating the livers and gizzards. Can somebody make this happen, please?

In the meantime, however, a great stop in SD.

* - Unless, of course, we add video menus, a DJ, add five ingredients to every skewer and charge double.
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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uhockey
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7 years ago

Yakitori Yauyudori looks awesome - definitely on my list for next SD trip.

Dom, hit Yusho next time you're back home for a completely different (but very impressive) take on Yakitori.
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Yusho looks fabulous, and it's definitely on my list for next time in Chicago. My precise fear is that that's what somebody will try in Phoenix -- jumping straight to the 300 level classes before we've established the basics. There seems to be a tendency to do that... an attempt to do something flashy and creative that doesn't have a solid foundation. But this is another subject for another thread.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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