Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bale French Sandwich Deli (Linda Vista Road, south of Genessee)

I believe this general neighborhood is referred to as "Little Saigon" with good reason. As to the name of the deli - I don't know what the hell it means, but I can tell you that the bahn mi sandwiches and all the other delish Vietnamese items are totally D.G.! For $1 (I'm not kidding) you can have a steamed sticky rice ball filled with pork and wrapped in banana leaf. They serve Vietnamese coffee iced or hot for $1.25 (and it's a good sized shot in the ass for that much), and then there's the sandwiches. Let me not wax too philosophical about them - but GodDAMN are they making me drool right now! The baguette is just right (crunchy crust that has pieces shatter off as you bite through) with a soft and chewy texture inside. The marinated pork loin, ham, marinated veggies (daikon & carrot), cilantro, and fresh jalepeno (no onions for me) just add so much layering to the flavors. It makes you want to just cry with gratitude. Besides this, they have some fried bananas, summer (salad) rolls w/peanut dipping sauce, various dumplings (which I haven't tried, I'm still too much in love w/the bahn mi), and hot dishes for lunch. They're located in a strip mall nearby Rite Aid & an Asian supermarket. Try them - you won't be disappointed.

Gelato (Mission Hills)

The exact name escapes me, but I have 3 words - molten lava cake. I think I'm having an orgasm right now...ahhh, that was good :-). And the gelato is tasty also! Flavors are limited (~10 types), but all very well-made and they'll let you taste test all of them (I've done that). Prices are very reasonable, and there's alot of counter-culture rags in the store to read while you relax in or outdoors.

Saffron (Mission Hills)

They serve Indonesian/Vietnamese/Thai-ish kind of food. But the melding of culinary flavors works, and works well. They have some very good pho-like (it's not true pho, it's similar) dishes, salad rolls, and rice noodle dishes (like Thai pad see iew, but not quite). Try it when you have about $8 burning a hole in your pocket. And if you've got leftover bucks, walk on over to...

Alibi Bar

A real neighborhood hole-in-the-wall booze hole. They served food for a short time, but alas no more. Drinks are cheap, the patrons are regular joes, and they have a few pool tables. Be forewarned - don't bring your attitude problems with you, cause this is NOT one of those places. If you want a bunch of assholes trying to cop attitude, wait staff that suck, and overpriced items -> then get the hell back to L.A.

Oh, and I just noticed that there's a hot dog stand in the front called "My Greasy Weiner"...weiner heaven here I come - WOO-HOO!

Hash House (Hillcrest/Balboa Park)

Oh my f**k is this place D.G. (Damn Good)! Eating there is like gulping the "drink me" bottle and sliding into a tastebud-tantalizing Wonderland. The comical element of the size of the plates (really, they're platters - let's just call it like it is, shall we?) makes even a big-boned individual such as myself feel rather svelte. That is, until you eat. The theme here is supposed to be midwestern, but my SO being from Indiana (and being a marvelous specimen of his ilk) it leaves me hard-pressed to imagine that stuffing that many carbs into your gullet would result in someone weighing less than a metric ton. So, methinks that the flavas are midwest "inspired," but the extremely generous portions are just because the chef/owner is a very magnanimous person. Prices are reasonable (that is to say you can split a platter for about $8/person). Espresso is also excellent (and that's high praise coming from a former Seattlelite and current coffee snob). But while I mention espresso, I'm NOT talking about the super-sweet concoctions on the menu...those look a bit too much like dessert, so I'll try them at night.

Amarin Thai (Hillcrest)

My nickname isn't "Pickled Papaya" for nothing - and this place HAS it! If you're not a garlic wimp, then try out the green papaya salad which is so terrific that I finish up the dressing also (nothing goes to waste). Prices aren't exactly cheap, but if it's any consolation, their food is phuken great. Also, there's a little bonus in that they own the wine bar next door, and during happy hour all the wine is 1/2-price (I shit you not).

Places to avoid because the staff SUCKS (Hillcrest)

"LIVING ROOM" COFFEE SHOP AND "ONO SUSHI" (read my previous tirade/blog). The coffee shop has one helluva bitch behind the counter, although I like the goods & the atmosphere. Talk about fricken power-tripping...this chick is gonna make you feel like the fact that you ordered something is a complete imposition on her. We actually avoid this place when we see her behind the counter. Otherwise, the baristas and other staff are very nice, but perhaps she's cowed them into subservience. Too bad for the owner, but our money (and yours) is better spent in more friendly places (like Diedrich Coffee near Trader Joe's). Who needs that negativity when all you want is a cup of joe?

Hillcrest Sushi Bar

Wannabes say that "Ono Sushi" is the best in Hillcrest, but they don't know that the sushi chefs at that place go to Hillcrest Sushi to eat - that is a fact Jack. This place has fish that you could swear was wiggling with life just moments ago, and the seaweed salad is a hearty serving enough for 2 or 3 people to share. When it comes to fresh fish, I'm a Pacific Islander whose family ALL fish in the great blue Pacific, so eating here is like eating at our family gatherings when the tuna was just unloaded from Uncle's boat. Oh, and the staff and chef are very attentive and eager to make suggestions - not like Ono Sushi where they are all fricken brats that don't deserve any tips, and made us wait 30 minutes extra for our order because they forgot to give our order to the chef (they were too busy socializing w/a bunch of assholes about what they were going to wear to the club that night). Avoid at all costs unless you are one of those assholes...if you are then make yourself at home there, but be reminded that the sushi ain't that good. 'Nuf said.

Crush (Hillcrest)

Hillcrest is the predominantly gay area of town and the place that we presently call home. There are lots of little nooks & crannies to forage around, so if you find a good parking spot (and that's not really easy), then spend some time walking around. Here's a spot to check out:

Crush: This little bar is on University Ave sandwiched between a small flower stand and some restaurant which I haven't visited yet. Strangely enough there aren't alot of patrons but there should be! They have some very tasty tapas, particularly the mediterranean smorgasbord (my apologies for the linguistic mix), and perky hot toddies. There is other stuff on the menu, but I haven't made my way through it completely. So far, I have two words for this place - Yum "E" Price is moderate, but add a few drinks and that can get a bit more "moderate"...and I ALWAYS add a "few" drinks (smirk).