Sunday, March 19, 2017

H2O Sushi & Izakaya Debut




To my great surprise and something all of you need to take note of as well, more so for all you sushi lovers for sure! I just got word that H20 Sushi and Izakaya now offers their AYCE sushi all day, all week! Not just on weekends from open to 3pm anymore as I had last heard. This was music to my ears (and belly) when I called into to ask their hours. The price is just $25 for dinner and $20 for lunch. The menu you can pick from is HUGE! Hand rolls, long rolls, premium rolls, nigiri, small plates, salads and even sweet potato fries! Yes, sweet potato fries people! Do you know how awesome it is for me to find sweet fries (and really good ones) on a sushi menu!? 

This was my debut visit to this 5th ave Hillcrest hotspot which was ironic really in that just across the road (directly across) is RB Sushi, another top notch and long time favorite of mine for AYCE sushi outings after crushing solid lifting sessions at the adjacent 24 Hour Fitness. Since RB, only one other venue has impressed me and caught my attention with AYCE value, quality, and service, OB Sushi in well.....OB. 

But now I come strolling into see just what these guys have to offer compared to the already highly set bar I have for my sushi expectations given the two places mentioned above. 

5pm, Sunday evening, not terribly busy at all. No wait, grabbed a bar seat and ordered right up. 3 rounds to order as much as you want but you must finish it all in 2 hours or you get charged for leftovers. Standard rules for AYCE sushi as far as I know. Service was fast, chefs are awesome, friendly and know their craft. Server Hannah was rock solid awesome! Tentative and kind, knew the menu inside and out and made sure I was taken care of the whole visit. I spend almost an hour and a half getting my fill of some of the best sushi I have had in a long time! Nothing I had was just average or even OK. It was all outstanding! The sweet fries were even exactly as I like them to be. Thick, hot, crispy and finished with a dusting of sea salt and brown sugar. Kudos x10 just for those alone!

Take a look at the slide show of pictures of betterbites I found at H2O Sushi Izakaya


Now I have 3 rock solid places to pick from for AYCE sushi. All within 4 miles of my house, all next to a 24 Hour Fitness gym and all about the same price with the same availability for lunch or dinner 7 days a week! San Diego truly does spoil us sushi lovers it seems! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Burger Challenge Debut Event!



THE SINISTER 6 TRUE 1/4LB 
SLIDER CHALLENGE DEBUT!


I just recently got the privilege of being able to take my favorite dining venue for burgers in any city/state I have ever lived in my 32-year life span, and coordinate the first official burger challenge they have offered! Is this real? Could a midwest born & raised burger loving carnivore/foodie like me be so darn lucky? It turns out I am and dreams do come true (yes I dream about burgers).  





Just this Sunday, March 12th, I had previously setup a date with Jeff Hall, GM of Slaters 50/50 Liberty Station to work with me to design and structure an event I have sarcastically toyed with for almost my full 4-year residence in SD. It finally caught traction with Jeff and we made it happen at last! Best of all, I got to test drive this "sinister" plan of ours and now all of you can sit back and find out what it is, how it works and perhaps even hit the course yourself and give it a shot.

The Rules:

  • 36 minutes timed
  • 6x 1/4lb burgers (post-cooked!)
  • 1 must be the burger of the month (BOM)
  • 14 burgers to pick from
  • Cannot have any two burgers the same
  • No veggie burgers
  • No chicken burgers
  • No pork burgers
  • Burgers must come just as described on menu



For those brave/crazy/burger loving types like me.....if you do finish the 6 burgers in time, by yourself. Consider yourself (full) and a worthy victor for having Slain the Sinister 6 Slider Challenge!

As of this writing date, no official award/prize/wall of fame is set up. However, that is likely to change very soon now that its been proven that it can be done. And if that does not convince you......check out the photos below and that should be all the motivation (teasing) you need! 

Better yet, check out my youtube channel for the full video as it actually happened! Click here.


The slideshow of burger awesomeness awaits you! Click here!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Java Joint Opens in Point Loma








When I get wind that a new coffee joint is opening anywhere in town, my eyes and ears perk right up and I am the first guy in line to know when and where it's happening. When I am told its just a couple miles down the road from me, it's on like donkey kong!

Just this case played out this week and weekend off Rosecrans on Shelter Island Drive at a place called the Coffee Hub Cafe which is right next door to the well-known Point Loma Wine Pub (their is a reason for that I will get to!).

This Saturday morning from 8-1200, Sandy and Andy, the owners, held a grand opening event for all community members near and far to attend. They had a short half hour bike ride planned, prizes to win, a live singer, free coffee samples, games, and the full breakfast menu of bites available for the customers to try out. I had a wonderful time visiting with Mia their PR person and regular loyal customer, Sandy one of the two owners and some of the other very kind and friendly staff who were busy at work serving up the many people who were eager to try out the goods like I was! Andy was so busy do the bike thing I never did get to meet him.....next time!


Here are some unique facts about Coffee Hub Cafe you may want to know.....

-The Coffee Hub soft-opened on February 3, 2017

-It's owned by husband/wife duo Sandy and Andy Hanshaw -- Sandy is a small business owner and Andy is Executive Director of the San Diego Bike Coalition. The Coffee Hub came out of Sandy's passion for gourmet food and Andy's love for bikes.

-Sandy Hanshaw's other restaurant, The Wine Pub, shares a kitchen with the Coffee Hub -- The Coffee Hub serves coffee and breakfast/lunch. After it closes for the day, The Wine Pub serves dinner and wine.

-Sandy Hanshaw takes pride in her community and aims to give back wherever she can. She hosts fundraisers and various philanthropic events at her restaurants such as Bike for Boobs, Woofer Wednesday's and Point Loma Heroes.

-On Fridays they offer a FireFigther Fridays offer in which all Firefighters with their badges, get a free small coffee open to close. How cool is that!?

-The Coffee Hub uses only beans roasted from the (very) local SWELL coffee roasted also in Point Loma near Modern Times. 

-The Coffee Hub has an active Facebook Page for community members to interact with the owners as well so check that out!


I will say right out that this is some of the best coffee I have had in a long time! Dark, robust, fresh and an aroma that will wake you up all by itself! I did not get the chance to try out any of the bites they have (yet) but a look over the menu shows me that they have more than a thing or two I would love to come back and try out. 

Cyclist, coffee junkies, coffee house fans.....all of the above, this is the new place to come in and be seen. Grab a seat at the tables inside, the chairs outside and take a minute to relax and enjoy this Corner of San Diego tucked away in Point Loma. A cup of coffee is waiting for you! And for that matter, Abetterbite as well!


Grand Opening Day storyline of photos available here.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Unique Eats: Sunday-Funday Episode II


The beauty of doing some "cross pollination" between my blog here and my youtube channel (below) is that I can get away with driving you readers to my channel and then hopefully my channel viewers to my blog. All with the same exact content but in a different format. I can give you readers a teaser as I will here and then direct you to the "meat and potatoes" video segment over on the full video. Those folks who want just a quick insight, a few pictures, a basic review, and be done with it, this post is for you! Its a win-win for ya'll really. And for me, I can introduce you to the post, post some $$ shots and leave some links to the venues, drop a few honest comments, and be done with the post! That's a wrap! Now take a look, check out these venues, watch the video and go get yourself "A Better Bite" right now!



Pizza Nova Famous BBQ Chicken 10" pie ($13 with tax post 20% military discount)



The ever famous Tiramisu Pancake full stack from Cafe 21 Gaslamp ($14 with tax)



Guahan Grill Point Loma 6lb Chicken Fried Rice Challenge Plate. $25 if not finished in an hour. Free and you win $25 plus a t-shirt if you do! As of now, only 3 people have done it ever!




The pictures do some justice, yes, but the full video feature is where its all at peoples! Take a look, hit the like button and come back for more next week!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

My San Diego Bucket List #7 & #8

This week I made two unusual stops (for me) into two very well known dessert/bakery/pastry shops to take a yonder at two more entree items that our good friend Troy Johnson placed on his 103 items to try before you die in San Diego.  My list of 21 continues with stops 7 and 8 at Le Parfait Paris Liberty Public Market location and then Extraordinary Desserts on Union St. in Little Italy. 

As one who does not really have a true sweet tooth or craving for things like cookies, cake, pie, chocolate etc.....I am much more a savory flavor type guy. I can take it or leave it when it comes to baked goods and sweets without a second thought. But if Troy says these two places have something this good, then perhaps I need to go find out and be sure I am not missing something big, just in case....

For both venue's I did a take out order of the respective item each place has. I brought them home and sampled them out later on in the day after my workout sessions. The items at hand being shown below.....





Pain au Chocolate Aux Amandes

Never actually had a dessert croissant before so this was new. Heck, it had even been a year or more since I had a croissant period. I found this to be a unique little dessert in flavor and texture. Crusty sweet, crunchy outside, soft layers of buttery inside with a delicious layer of chocolate cream on the bottom studded with crushed almonds. Cost was ~$4 and worth it for the novelty alone. 




Blueberry Cheesecake Coffeecake

Any kind of cake I ever get these days is almost always my favorite, carrot cake. So going off the norm and trying a 2-in-1 style cheesecake + coffeecake design was really a stretch for me. The stretch proved worthwhile as it is just that. A perfect balance of cheesecake flavor with coffee cake design and texture. Super moist, very nice cheesecake tartness, soft coffee cake like base and a solid hit of fresh blueberry within and on top of the cake itself. I am glad I had this in the fridge for a bit before biting in as I feel this is certainly best served a bit chilled. Cost was ~$7.




If you are in need of a simple but novel sweet treat to sink your teeth into but want something different, unique and sized just right for moderation, these two picks are sure to deliver you A Better Bite indeed! How "sweet" is that?


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My San Diego Entree Bucket List: #6







As my 6th of 21 planned stops on my "SD Debut Entree Bucket List".....this was a welcoming, off the path visit for me. To be frank, I am actually a true fan of the midwest deep dish style pizza so to be drawn in for anything but when it comes to a pie.....it takes some strong incentive for sure! (Thanks again Troy Johnson!)


Being a Sunday evening prior to a Monday holiday the place was just as busy as any other normal weekend night I am told by the folks I sat near during my visit. They claimed to be regulars with many visits and many great experiences at B.F. They certainly had their share of menu exposure as well as they were telling me all about the many items I must try!

This visit was all about my seeking the Sergio classic style Italian pizza. Mozza cheese, prosciutto, arugula and parma cheese round this thing out. And of course it's all done in their certified VPN clay oven using imported specialty flour for their pizza dough.

Despite the super busy evening with a line well out the door and pizza boxes flying out the door by pick up customers, I was able to grab a seat at the 7-8 seat side patio table area they have adjacent to the main outside dining space. I placed my order (with an authentic Italian server for that matter!) and had my pizza in front of me within 15 minutes which was good time for how busy it was.

Pictures show this looked great. Texture was good but the center section of the pie could have used a wee little bit more time as it was still quite soft vice the rest of the crust which was perfectly crisp with not a spec of burnt spots. The crust has a nice unique flavor all on its own I found unlike anything you would ever get with a delivery joint. The real praise I offer for this pie is the simple flavor combo of fresh ingredients. The cheeses, meat and red sauce work wonderfully to really please the pallet well. Not super cheese heavy, not weighted under tons of meat, not too salty, not too greasy, not too anything, just right as Goldilocks would say.

This pie was the perfect size for sharing on date night (or just me and my bottomless pit) as the crust is not so thick and dense that its a meal by itself. Again, as a deep dish Chicago guy when it comes to"best pizza" its hard for me to rank this kind of pie up there with those. But as for anything outside that domain, this does rank as a pizza I would not hesitate to have again.

If this pie/visit is any representation of the food/service quality then I feel I need to venture out more often to places like this for return visits to satisfy both my ethnic genes and culinary desires at the same time with some solid Italian eats. Now go hit up this SD Better Bite and make your nonna proud! MANGIA!



Monday, February 20, 2017

My San Diego Entree Bucket List: #4 & 5



 #4/21


This was not my debut for Queenstown Public per say as I had been here twice before during the Sunday farmers market. I had previously just grabbed a drink while waiting for some friends to finish brunch. No bites had ever been sampled from here so it felt like a debut visit to me frankly.

Tuesday night, 645pm, place is fairly busy but not packed. I am escorted in by host and seated just behind the bar at my own table. The menu item I was on a quest for was none other than "The Lamb Burger" with a side of (my all time favorite side) crispy sweet fries!

Ordered up right away and within 15 minutes tops I had my plate-O-goodeness arrive at my table. As the pictures show this was every bit as good if not better then it looked to be.

Burger was on point! Amazing combo of flavors from the unique toppings and the lamb burger patty itself. One of my all time favorite burger experience in SD and that is a hard spot to make on my list! I added the fried egg ($1) as that's the only way to top an already stacked burger and make it better....add a darn fried egg!

The sweet fries also a solid staple side item. I went sans blue cheese which is standard for their sweet fries but even with the sea salt and plain jane fries, they were tasty, crispy and warm just like I like'em! The two dips they give with them (wasabi and sriracha) are well worth trying out on your sweet fries let me tell you that much!

The burger also comes with beet chips and despite my uncertainty of trying them....I did and I liked them!

Only catch at all would be in the relative value department. Compared to other burger places I frequent often, this was a more pricey burger plate. Small order sweet fry and lamb burger with the egg brought me to $23 with tax before tipping which is a bit steep IMO for a burger and fries (even one this good). If price is not an issue for you then by itself this is a MUST stop place for top tier burger fare. You do get what you pay for here, that I can say.









#5/21


This was another welcome venue to hit as it was only my 2nd ever Ramen experience in my life let alone my 4 years in SD now. What rock have I been living under!?

Came in at 645pm on a rainy Friday night, grabbed a seat at the bar and despite the crummy weather the place was decently busy yet. What better than a bowl of tasty hot ramen on a cool rainy night right?

I placed my order at the register and took my seat. Within 10 minutes I had a piping hot "belly of the beast" bowl of ramen in front of me. I added seasonal veggies ($3) as I love my veggies! Tender carrots and asparagus with mushrooms were the veggies added and it really did add some nice variation to the ramen. This broth was sweeter and less coconutty than what I had at Tajima. Not better or worse but different in that regard. More chicken noodle-like I'd say.

The whole egg was perfect! Pops in your mouth with a savory runny yolk waiting to zap the taste buds. The oxtail dumplings really shocked me! These were amazing! Never had oxtail and been years since I had a dumpling. The combo of both done well was the most impressive part of the dish.

Ramen noodles vs egg noodles as I had at Tajima also added a new texture and flavor to the dish which I enjoyed very much. 

The three different meats contained in the ramen were succulent, tender and melt in your mouth good! I am loving how unique these meats taste in ramen bowls as an aggregate of the broth, noodles and their own unique umami flavor punch. 

Great service, quick seating, amazing prices (military discounts!) good portions and way cool experience to sit at the bar and see the chefs work the magic that is real-deal ramen. 

The bar remains very high for what I now deem as "good" ramen in SD. I must find more spots like this to score me so solid bowl of ramen far more often! 

So come in, "belly up" and find yourself A Better Bite (and slurp) at Under Belly!