Friday, April 20, 2012

Starting April 29th - Pranzo at Vivace

Vivace is a nice Italian centered, very nice date night restaurant, located at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, their service and setting has always been first class and I've never had less than a stellar time eating there or at the Park Hyatt.  Plus they have oysters at the antipasti buffett!  Well worth the $45 in unlimited oysters alone, let alone the other dishes.

So, I pass along this information passed along to me, they are having a new concept on Sunday brunch Italian style, I hope you check it out, here's the info, peace, Georgie Caye:

Pranzo – meaning lunch in Italian – remains a significant family event in Italy. Park Hyatt Aviara is continuing the tradition by offering a selection of traditional Italian specialties with the usual modern twist from Chef de Cuisine Jesse Paul. Menu Highlights:

Aperitvi – Bellini, Negroni, Americano

Antipasti Stations – crudo with oysters from Carlsbad Aquafarm, artisan burrata and mozzarella from local cheese makers, house-cured salumi sliced fresh to order and other assorted cold Italian delicacies.

Family Meal – each guest selects an individual entrée and contorni (side dish). Generous portions – and the delivery of additional plates – encourage guests to share the dishes amongst their family and friends. Wood Roasted Tenderloin with Beef Sugo; Wood Roasted Half Jidori Chicken with Marsala Brodo; Roasted Sea Bass - Grilled Meyer Lemon, Capers, Brodo; Ravioli al Formaggio with Mushroom Ragu and Huckleberries; Rigatoni alla Bolognese

Dolci – a selection of traditional Italian desserts including Tiramisu’, Zuppa Inglese, Ricotta Cannoli, Zeppole, Crostata alla frutta, Zabaglione, Biscotti, Panna Cotta, Torta di Cioccolato, Torrone

Pranzo will be served at Vivace at Park Hyatt Aviara every Sunday between 11:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m and is priced at $45 per person (including glass of Prosecco/antipasti buffet/ choice of one pasta or entrée plus contorni/desserts). Reservations can be made by calling (760) 448-1234 or visiting  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Japengo! (aka go to Sushi Ota now!)

From Japengo!

If you ever want to experience what an upscale sushi restaurant in Ohio might be like, head to La Jolla for Café Japengo.  If you miss eating at an airport sushi restaurant in anytown USA get yourself to Café Japengo for a fix.  If you want to see lots of people in suits chasing money and talking about sales with each other very loudly, yes, Café Japengo.  Dark, cheesily upscale but not, like a set piece from Mad Men 1987.

Not sure what kind of fish I got when ordering tuna sushi, it looked a bit like it was on its way out, like a jaggedly pulled piece of translucent tongue that a dog had yanked out of some dead animal’s mouth, and someone put on a piece of rice.  It tasted like chewy tap water.

Café Japengo is the kind of sushi restaurant that gives you a golf ball sized hunk of green horseradish because you need it to mask the flavor of their old fish.

The yellowtail was ok, I have to admit, it was not chewy like the tuna, and still tasted fresh, unlike the tuna, however, the tuna and the two rolls were pretty sick, I’m sorry to say.

From Japengo!

Spicy tuna roll’s seaweed wrap tasted watery and was old, chewy and hard to bite, unlike fresh seaweed which in rolls evaporates under your teeth like heaven. 

Sushi Ota is just down the road in Pacific Beach.  Why anyone would go to Café Japengo when Ota is so close is beyond me.

I thought I’d give it a shot, since it pretends to be fancy, is at the Hyatt, and has a large bar, however, it gave me a shot, in the stomach and the wallet, lunch jumps up and kicks you in the balls and yells “JAPENGO!”

A lunch should not cost $60, especially this lunch.

The place was packed with business people mid-week lunchtime, we waited and waited, the hostess was harried and ignored us standing at the counter while she counted a stack of menus frantically, then left, coming back to write something, then left again, a waiter nodded at me as he walked by with a tray of waters, then he left too.  The wait was 20 minutes for a table, but we could sit at the bar area, which was empty completely.  However, we sat there for another 15 minutes (alone in the bar) without anyone coming up to us.  I went and grabbed menus from the front counter.

Finally a very nice waiter came by.  He gave us a dish of water and two white tablets that looked like alka seltzer.  He said it was their special thing, you put the tablet in the water and it turns into a wet napkin, so “we wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom”.  The wet napkin trick looked like a tampon unfolding as it sat in the dish of water.  Our table remained foodless and drinkless for some time as I watched this feat of ingenuity.

From Japengo!

The napkin looked like gauze.  I didn’t understand it.  Except maybe one of the suit-wearing idiots around me was likely a salesperson for this napkin in a pill thing, and duped the manager or someone into buying them and having them.

I wish it was alka seltzer and I could take them after my meal.  Or gauze to wrap my bleeding wallet in after getting bilked for $60 worth of junk sushi.

The food was gross.  I ate it because it was expensive.  I’m passive aggressive about everything too so did not complain while there, so here are my complaints.  Take them as you will.  All kinds of people love this place on yelp. 

Sorry, really, Japengo, but actually I’m not sorry, you promised me so much, then just robbed me blind, leaving me in the sunlight with a feeling like I’ve been had.

Don’t go to Café Japengo, go to Sushi Ota, ok?

Monday, February 27, 2012

International Market & Grill - La Jolla, Iranian

The couple in the International Market Grill is arguing.  They are sweet like that.  An elderly Iranian couple run this unassuming kebab grill.  I’m sitting by myself in the corner watching UCSD students go to the Pho place next door.  This small, out of the way joint has some sweet kebabs though.  It is clean and well lit.  They also sell groceries like Cortas Hummus (the best canned brand you can buy, it often is better than most store or restaurant made Hummus, Trader Joe’s Hummus tastes like mustard), and Arabic and Iranian breads and a whole section of Iranian/Middle Eastern desserts.

A couple of detectives, or FBI agents or vacuum cleaner salesmen sidle up to the bar (there’s like a lunch bar around the grill area), dressed like a 1970s police show, one of them has suspenders and smoked a pipe outside – “You got scrambled eggs, lox?” (laughter) “how bought bacon?” (more laughter) “is that rice from China?” (laughing) “I want Chinese rice” “Can I get some water, some onion water?  I want it from the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Hormuz” (laughter) “They cook it up here like grandma” (laughing) – “The best “Italian” food I’ve ever seen” (laughing)

I’m about to stand up and throw my water glass at their heads, but the owner seems to know these guys and he jokingly takes it all in stride and everyone jibs and jabs like a bunch of men in a locker room.  You can PC-ify all you want in your classroom, but PC just doesn’t jive with reality, even a block from UC San Diego.

From International Market

Anyway.  I decided to resurrect San Diego Food Blog for this post (and perhaps future ones as well), because this place isn’t as packed as it should be.  It’s small, it’s out of the way for most people, tucked into a random mini-mall a block from UC San Diego, it’s kind of a café-type feel, you pay after you eat, and it takes a long time to make your order – but that’s only because they cook to order – and, it’s not exactly cheap (kebabs are around $7).

They specialize in kebabs but also have a revolving daily special based on Iranian favorites.

I’ve had their house kebab, a beef kebab lightly spiced in a Persian bread wrap with fresh lettuce and tomato and onion and a side dish of thick yogurt that I like dipping the sandwich in or spreading on top of it.  Chicken kebabs are also very good, as is their salad, and rice.  I haven’t had anything other than that.

pictures of bitten food (sorry, couldn't wait)

The food is very fresh, which is why I like this place so much, they make and marinate their meats every day, and the veggies are always of high quality.  Their kebabs are great, go and eat them. 

Expect a wait, if you’re in a hurry call them and order ahead.  Parking in this lot is tight during the noon rush, and there are lots of harried business people doing this or that as they worry about their money and boss.  If you can come at 11 it’s better than noon.

The International Market and Grill is closed on Sundays.

3211 Holiday Ct
Ste 100

(between Villa La Jolla Dr & Villa Norte)
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 535-9700

Thursday, January 12, 2012

ArtPower San Diego Presents Movie and a Dinner

This sounds like a good movie about food, you also get fed:

ArtPower! Presents: lezioni di cioccolato (lessons in chocolate) FOOVIES
[FOOD + MOVIE] Thursday January 19th, 2012 / 7:00 PM
The Loft

A ruthless Perugian businessman gets his comeuppance in this delectable
romantic comedy. Mattia is a cost-cutting contractor who is being
blackmailed by his injured employee, an Egyptian named Kamal. At fault for
the mishap, Mattia is forced to attend a chocolate cooking class in
Kamal¹s name. When he catches the eye of fellow chef Cecilia, he takes
advantage of being mistaken for the hardworking immigrant. [Claudio
Cupellini, 2007, Italy, 98 min.]

MENU Falafel Salad with Baby Romaine, Shaved Red Onion and Yogurt-Harissa
Dressing; Spaghetti Bolognese; Aged Parmesan Garlic Bread; Truffle Duo.
Drinks not included.

Regular: $30 (food + movie) / $8 (movie)
UCSD Student: $24 (food + movie) / $4 (movie)

To purchase tickets online, go to
or visit the UCSD Box Office, located in the Price Center Plaza.
Check out our facebook event at