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Matcha Love (Kearny Mesa)

Matcha Love (Kearny Mesa)

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Matcha Love opened a little over a week ago in the Mitsuwa Market off of Balboa Ave. and the 163. The pictures looked great from what people were posting, and what better way to fight off this 90+ degree weather than a nice refreshing scoop of ice cream, or three…

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Ito En is Japan’s largest green tea distributor. If you have had Costco’s Kirkland brand green tea, then you have already tried Ito En tea as they source their green tea from them.

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Sorry for the reflection on the menu! We were already full from boba from Yes!Pingo so we were only able to fit a Triple Ice Waffle Bowl in our tummies. They do offer samples, so I would try them out first before you make your choice. Even though the menu lists matcha, black sesame, and vanilla as the options for the triple ice waffle bowl, they allow you to choose Hoji-cha as well.

DSC_0026 (5)  And that is precisely what we did! Starting from the back, the black sesame was fairly strong but not strong enough for it to be off putting. It is slightly more rich than the black sesame shaved snow at Blockheads up in LA if you’ve had that for comparison sake. For me it seemed the sweetest of the bunch after letting it dissolve in your mouth for a few seconds. On the right is obviously the green tea. It had a distinct, flavorful green tea taste. I enjoy black sesame flavor more than green tea in general, and I thought it had a stronger aftertaste than the black sesame. The black sesame to me seemed to finish sweet while the green tea left less of a sweet aftertaste and more of a lingering straight green tea flavor. And finally, the hoji cha on the left had a perfect balance between a subtle roasted tea flavor and gentle sweetness to counterbalance it. It was the most delicate and light of the three, and my favorite. For those that have never tried any of the three, I think it would be easiest to enjoy the hoji cha since it is lighter and more mellow than the other two flavors.

Having said that, all of them were smooth, delicious, and dense. I read about other people getting flavors that melted a lot faster than the others. For us, all of them were firm and seemed to melt at the same rate. Michael loves his rock hard ice cream and for soft serve, I imagine you can’t get it that much harder than this. They have only been open for a short time and are most likely perfecting their ice cream making process along the way. If you are nearby and want to sock this heatwave right smack in the face, head on over to Matcha Love! They will not disappoint.

Matcha Love
4240 Kearny Mesa Rd.
San Diego, CA 92111

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Spotted Cow Viet Kitchen (Kearny Mesa)

Spotted Cow Viet Kitchen (Kearny Mesa)

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We were invited to try Spotted Cow Viet Kitchen in the Zion Market off of Clairemont Mesa Blvd. the other day. It is located in the right hand corner of the food court area.

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Maybe it was my false assumption but I had thought our experience was going to mirror Chipotle where you pick and choose different things to add to create your own bowl of pho. I don’t know where I got that notion, but it turned out to be more of an assembly line where you choose a bowl and they put it together for you.

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They do keep it simple for you and only offer a few soup options. There’s beef pho(most popular), chicken pho, vegetarian pho, beef stew, and egg noodle soup to choose from. They also have a few banh mi sandwich options.

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Lastly, there are mixed plates you can order that come with a meat, veggies, vermicelli, and egg rolls.

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Here are the various items and broths they add to make your soup.

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They also had a drink menu so I opted for an iced Vietnamese coffee. It was sweet and refreshing. I’ve had very strong Vietnamese coffee’s before and this one was slightly less strong than the average Vietnamese coffee.

DSC_0034 (2)They recommended we get the lemongrass pork since they were out of the beef filet mignon. Coming with a generous portion, we enjoyed the lemongrass flavor with a little sweetness on top. This was a good dish along with the vermicelli and dipping sauce. The green onions were a nice touch on top.

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Their other recommendation was the beef stew. This came out in a large bowl, similar in size to a large bowl of pho you can get at most any other pho restaurant. There were plenty of carrots, beef, and noodles down below to stuff you silly. The main thing we didn’t love about the soup was the broth. It was overly sweet and didn’t give off enough rich bold beefy flavor like a good hearty stew normally does. If we come back we’ll need to try another soup to see how it stacks up. Reflecting back on the experience, we felt welcomed from the start. The gentleman that rang us up was nice and really excited to make recommendations. You always enjoy meals more when you get great hospitality. Thanks to Emily over at Bam for setting up the visit and Tammy, Jenny, and the Spotted Cow staff for having us!  


Spotted Cow Viet Kitchen
7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

San Diego, CA 92111

Spotted Cow on Urbanspoon

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Din Tai Fung (Glendale)

Din Tai Fung (Glendale)

Anh and I have been spending a lot of weekends up in LA lately so why not share what we’ve been eating? There are three different Din Tai Fung locations in the Los Angeles area.  The first two are in Arcadia while the newest location here opened in Glendale late last year at the Americana shopping center. If you are not familiar with Din Tai Fung, they serve different varieties of dumplings including soup dumplings and pan fried dumplings. Be careful what you say around die hard DTF fans, for they would take a bullet for their beloved restaurant.

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At the front by entryway they have a dumpling assembly viewing area where they prepare the dumplings in front of you while you wait. The most obvious difference from the other locations is their check in system. You leave them your cell phone number and they text you about 15 minutes before your table is ready. This is great being right next to the Americana mall so while you wait for your table you can peruse the stores. We were told our total wait would be 45 minutes and received our page about 45 minutes later. We made our way back and checked in again. Thinking we’d only have to wait a little bit after we came back to the restaurant, we were in good shape. That 15 minutes turned into about 35 minutes. I can see why people bash the wait time here. While I like the thought of being able to take a leisurely walk in peace before being texted, I can’t help but feel a little slighted. Have you ever been told the wait time would be 20 minutes, only for it to be 45 minutes? Maybe they should under promise and over deliver.

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The dining area was a little tight, but the high ceilings gave the appearance of more space. You fill out a little paper with your selections and the food magically appears at your table.

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Waiting can be worth it if it means eventual foodgasm. We ordered the juicy pork dumplings and the juicy pork and crab dumplings. It is easy to find a decent dumpling, but very hard to find a great dumpling. Everything has to go right from the texture of the wrapper, to the soup inside, and finally the flavor of everything coming together. It is a delicate balance indeed. Our dumplings on this day fell a little short on all of those aspects. The dumplings were not very warm, and the soup didn’t have as much flavor as I normally am accustomed to receiving at the other Din Tai Fung restaurants. It just seemed average to me. No foodgasm here.

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Feeling unsatisfied we ordered the shrimp and pork wonton soup. We eliminated the temperature problem we had with the first set of dumplings because the soup was hot. The broth was clean and had the right amount of salt. Overall, it gave us what we wanted which was satisfaction.

A weekend later we went to one of the Din Tai Fung restaurants in Arcadia and our meal was night and day. Our wait time was accurate and our food came out hot and flavorful. If you are west of Glendale and Arcadia it may be best to drive a little further to ensure a true DTF experience.

Din Tai Fung
177 Caruso Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91210

www.dintaifungusa.com

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Le Parfait Paris (Part Deux) – Chocolate Almond Croisssant!

Le Parfait Paris (Part Deux) – Chocolate Almond Croisssant!

I told you I’d be back soon!  I couldn’t resist picking up another pain au chocolat, so I brought Jorgina and my daughter to try it.  Again, it was consistently delicious, but we also found two new things I had to share with you immediately. Fotor0327180932 Once we arrived, we chatted with Katherine and Guillaume for a few minutes before settling on a a L’Alsacien sandwich, pain au chocolat (not pictured since I talked about it last time), and a pain au chocolat aux amandes (Chocolate Almond Croissant).  To make things even more interesting, they had us take home 3 Chouquettes as well.  So, we ended up with one savory, and 3 sweet items.  

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We ate the L’Alsacien sandwich on the way home, which was warm.  It was a very nice combination of swiss cheese, egg whites, baby spinach, and Canadian bacon.  I loved the buttery croissant.  

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Jorgina and I have made a couple trips to Santa Barbara in the past, specifically to visit Renaud’s for their famous almond croissant.  So, we have been on a mission ever since (7 years now) for an almond croissant to rival this perfect pastry.  As fate would have it, Le Parfait Paris, delivered an almond croissant as good (if not better – it has chocolate too!) than our holy grail of croissants.  OMG!  The almond filling is sinfully delightful with a rich chocolate ribbon in between.  AWESOME.  Sadly we didn’t have pictures of the inside because we devoured it so quickly!

20140325_202115 As if we weren’t happy enough with our new find, we decided to take a quick taste of the Chouquettes.  Wow.  These little guys are the perfect bite.  I hate to call this a creme puff, but that’s roughly the size to give you a idea.  The outside has a sprinkling of sugar crystals baked into the outer layer of pastry and the inside holds a velvety chocolate mousse that is heavenly.  You need to try these too!! We have some friends coming into town this weekend.  Guess where we’re taking them??  :-)  To read my original post for Le Parfait Paris,  you can find it here.

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Le Parfait Paris

Le Parfait Paris

C’est magnifique!  What an extraordinary treat to be invited to sample San Diego’s latest French culinary establishment, Le Parfait Paris.  Le Parfait Paris is making it’s debut onto the San Diego Food Scene with a wonderful variety of fresh baked pastries, paninis, and more!

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To say I am excited is an understatement.  I’ve had the good fortune of visiting Paris a few times in the last decade and what I miss most are the phenomenal patisseries and boulangeries that line the streets.  So, I had my fingers crossed when we first heard about Le Parfait Paris opening in San Diego that they would bring a touch of Paris straight to us.  My prayers were answered!  They are currently offering their delectables at their bakery & boutique location and will be opening their cafe in downtown San Diego shortly in April.

Baking Technology

We were given a tour of their bakery operations by Ludi (COO) and Guillaume (Founder & CEO).  Their kitchen was immaculately clean with fascinating contraptions lining every corner.   They even had a high tech macaron machine, which had a touch screen to select the type of shell you wish to create.  Le Parfait Paris only uses the highest quality ingredients and imports directly from France when needed (i.e. butter)!

Baker

Meet Chef Jean François Fays, or Jeff, who makes the magic happen in the kitchen.  He is from the South of France and a mentee of Master Chef Christophe Calderon.  He had always dreamed of coming to the United States, so what better place to move than to America’s Finest City, San Diego!  As you can see, he is handcrafting some tart shells.

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After our tour, Ludi and Guillaume sat us down to a special sampling.  Although Darren and I wanted to eat all of this at once, we paced ourselves and were smart to remember to bring home some treats for the girls.

Dessert

First up were the macarons.  If you’ve never had these before, you’re in for a real treat.  Macarons are sweet meringue-based confections filled with a ganache, fruit, or cream.  Le Parfait Paris brings a solid offering to the table.  Their brilliant colors and and subtle almond essence brought me back to France.   However, the outer layer was missing a little of the bounce and airiness I’m used to and  I also would have preferred a little more depth in the flavors, but again it was pretty good overall.  (Having said that, I’m comparing these to some of the world’s best macarons I’ve indulged in from Pierre Hermé in Paris.)  You should definitely try these though and let me know what you think.

Just below the macarons in the picture, was a chocolate sensation called, Le Trilogie.  Three layers of dark, milk, and white chocolate mousses over a light brownie was literally TO DIE FOR.  Incredible.  As I mentioned earlier, Le Parfait Paris is proud to use only the best ingredients and their chocolate from Cacao Barry is amazing.  You can really taste the difference: perfectly smooth, rich in cacao, and somehow not overly sweet.  This could possibly be my favorite of the tray!

But, before I hang onto the glory of Le Trilogie, the Strawberry cake (I’m totally forgetting the name of this one) was a close second.  Fresh strawberries, a light cake, and a divine vanilla bean custard made for an unforgettable treat.  It seems simple, yet I assure you it was not.  The quality of each individual component is what made these pastries standout.  I’ll talk more about the pain au chocolat more below, but the éclair was fabulous as well.  It also had an infusion of the vanilla bean custard which was perfect with the light outer shell covered with white chocolate.  Can you tell I’m re-living these all!?  :-)

insides

We wanted to take a couple pictures to show you the inside layers of the pastries and breads. One of my favorite items (and there were too many too review) was the pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant).  The croissant was flakey and buttery with a rich chocolate center.  This one was perfectly executed and I may find myself having to grab one of these weekly. The second item you see is their olive bread.  As you can see from where we tore the bread, it had a perfect balance of airy texture, bread, and olive.  We appreciated the crustiness of the outside and the softness inside.  My only regret is that I didn’t have butter with it.

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In reviewing their menu, most of the pastries and breads are very reasonably priced.  I seriously cannot wait to try all the other items I didn’t get to try that day (and we tried a lot!).  I will be back for sure and looking out for their new cafe to open soon.

Finally, a quick note worth mentioning… Le Parfait Paris is also “Giving Colors” which simply means they are contributing a portion of their revenues towards socially conscious programs (example:  a portion of their pink macaron sales will be donated to help breast cancer awareness, etc.)

Well, if you couldn’t tell by now, I am super stoked that Le Parfait Paris has come to San Diego.  Everyone we met from Guillaume, Ludi, to Chef Jeff were super passionate about providing the best quality and service.  We wish them all the best with their endeavors.

http://leparfaitparis.com/

Le Parfait Paris Bakery & Boutique
4564 Alvarado Canyon Rd, Ste. G
San Diego, CA 92120
Hours: 8:30am – 6:30pm  
 
 
Le Parfait Paris Cafe & BoutiqueOpening Soon – April 2014
 
668 G Street San Diego, CA 92101
 

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