Archive for March, 2011

The Top Hat and Tails of Beer Pong

| March 31, 2011

Check out the fine craftsmanship to support… fine craftsmanship.

Thanks to independent designer ChippewaFive, there’s a table the champs of the World Series of Beer Pong can spend their $50,000 winnings on without losing a step in their game. It’s decorative and useful for at-home practice with the gents and ladies. It even has light panels on the elevated ends to give those 16-ounce red Dixie cups that showtime glow.

With a beer pong table like this, friends will be clamoring to answer the age-old question, “Who’s got next?”

[Via Thrillist]


Photo from ChippewaFive’s Etsy page.

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Yakitori and Sake at 3904 Convoy

Yokohama-Yakitori-2-smallYokohama Yakitori Koubou is, to my mind, Convoy’s newest spot for Japanese cuisine grilled on a skewer, otherwise known as yakitori.

Scott and I visited around 6:00 p.m. on a Tuesday to find only three other parties seated in the sectioned off tables to the left of the restaurant. Since it was only the two of us, we opted for a spot at the bar. Over the course of our one hour stay, only one other party of two–a father and his 8-year-old son–came into the restaurant. Wondering at the lack of a dinner rush, I asked our waitress how long Yakitori Koubou has been in this space. She told us that they opened about six months ago.

And get this: it’s the only American sibling to a chain of 10 Yakitori Koubou restaurants located in Yokohama, Japan. It’s a fact that I can’t help but feel proud about, that of all of the cities in the US privy to dense populations of Japanese issei (Japanese immigrants) and nikkei (the generations of Japanese-Americans descended from issei), San Diego was picked as the place to introduce America to Yakitori Koubou. True, there could very well be bland economical reasons for starting up in San Diego. But, those wouldn’t be very romantic.

One scan of the character dominant menu, its sometimes too literal English translations, and its unapologetic listing of grilled chicken parts like liver, gizzard, heart, and tail and we knew that we’d happened on a place that serves up genuine Japanese food. Yakitori range from $1.50 to $2.99 per skewer, a la carte dishes range between $3 to $7 a dish, and soups, noodle dishes, and rice dishes range between $1 to $7. In other words, it’s pretty easy to sample a variety of food like you were Anthony Bourdain filming an episode of “No Reservations.”

Yokohama-Yakitori-9-smallThe atmosphere reminded us of our common experience of eating in Tokyo last year minus the smell of nicotine (restaurants in Tokyo are still “divided” into smoking and non-smoking sections.) There was a peaceful stillness in the dining area. The waitresses were soft-spoken and super polite and, once we placed our order, they stood close-by and only came back to us to serve a dish we’d ordered, to clear a plate or when we called them over. They don’t frequently visit the table, interrupting you to ask whether you would care for more of something. No, the service habits you might expect at the Original Pancake House would be considered impolite at Yakitori Koubou. It was a nice change of pace.

Then, there’s their very generous pour of sake. Scott ordered a glass of the $7 Casa Blanca and, on the waitress’ recommendation, had it served cold. She first brought over a small shot of milk which we learned is served to help the sake drinker counter the buzz s/he gets from the alcohol. Being lactose intolerant, Scott quietly left it alone. Next, she came over with what looked like a magnum of the Casa Blanca sake. She placed the glass, which was about the size of a large shot glass, in the center of a small cypress box known as a masu and poured the sake until both the glass and the masu were filled to the brim. To drink the sake, one has to first drink what’s in the glass then drink the overflow in the masu.

The sake tasted the way I imagined the melt from a pure glacial icicle might taste: cool, sweet and clean. And all of the yakitori we ordered–chicken gizzard, chicken thigh with leeks, chicken cartilage, chicken wing, chicken tail, and chicken heart–were salted and grilled well so that, when served, they were still hot, juicy and salted just enough to bring out the flavors of each chicken part. My favorites were the wing, tail, and heart.

I left that night nostalgic for Tokyo and with fond San Diego memories of food and service. I also left curious since I didn’t get to try anything off of the soup, rice, and noodle part of the menu. I guess I’ll have to go back. Anyone want to come with?

(Check out my Facebook album to see the full set of photos.)

Yakitori-Convoy-San-Diego
Clockwise from top left: grilled chicken hearts; Yokohama Yakitori Koubou’s brand; one of the chefs spied through a bottle of sake; a glass of the Casa Blanca sake; from left to right, the chicken thigh with leeks, cartilage, wings, tail, and gizzard; the menu; and a cup to place your empty skewers. | Photos by Christine Pasalo

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Indie art, accessories and clothes a la THREAD Show

| March 29, 2011

THREAD, my favorite indie design and fashion curated show, posted their 2011 show list this past January and–hello, hello–the first show of the year kicks off in San Diego this Sunday, April 3rd from noon to 6:00 p.m. at the Horton Plaza Event space above Sam Goody’s on 4th Avenue and Broadway.

To mix it up, THREAD is introducing new bits to the show roster, added on top of the makeover station, snacks, drinks, and art gallery they’re known for, such as:

  • fashion blocks rather than two fashion shows, meaning we’ll see fashion modeled more frequently throughout the day rather than at two times in the day;
  • an on site, Do It Yourself crafting booth;
  • a Man-cave featuring darts, a putting green, reads, snacks and drinks for, let’s face it, the boyfriends and husbands we ladies bring along;
  • mini-manicures from local nail salon, TheNailBar@6th; and,
  • a THREAD photo booth.

The Deals. Per usual, kids 12 and under get in free. Should you like to be treated as VIP, you can buy a $25 VIP ticket that gets you into the space between 11:00 a.m. and noon, an hour before everyone else. If you’re fine with being ordinary like me, RSVP to the event before noon on Saturday, April 2, and only pay $5 to get in (rather than the $10 on the day of the event.)

Plus, be one of the first 300 in line for the show and, regardless of whether you’re VIP or ordinary, you get a gift bag stuffed with treats, some coupons, and some snacks. TIP: In the past, I’ve lined up an hour before the show and was easily one of the first 300.

Are you a graphic designer or just really artsy? Then consider submitting a t-shirt design to Sezio’s THREAD show: Design contest. If they pick your design to screen onto tees for the event, admission to THREAD is on them and a t-shirt bearing your design is free. Winners will be announced this Thursday, March 31. Check out Sezio’s blog post for the details.

And finally, Ave 5 in Bankers Hill is offering THREAD attendees 2-for-1 specials on food and cocktails. All that’s required is for attendees to show Ave 5 staff their wrist bands from the event.

Thoughts on parking. The show takes place on a Sunday which means that metered parking in Downtown San Diego is free. So, get there early to score a metered street spot if you plan on staying at the show for more than three hours. Otherwise, you can park in Horton Plaza parking for free for three hours with validation.

THREAD-show-San-Diego
Stuff I’ve scored in the past, clockwise from top left: a pair of dangling earrings made from bits of a vintage map of Italy; a charm necklace from Ofina; and a piece of art from local San Diego artist, Kelli Murray.

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Don’t want to pay a service charge for tickets to Taste of Hillcrest 2011?

| March 28, 2011

Here’s the scoop from MacFarlane Promotions: as with previous years, you can buy $30 pre-sale tickets for Taste of Hillcrest 2011 in person at certain Hillcrest restaurants. Buy pre-sale tickets this way and you avoid the online surcharge. The only caveat is that you must pay in cash.

According to the kind MacFarlane Promotions representative I spoke to last Friday, here’s a list of four Hillcrest restaurants that are selling the pre-sale tickets on-site. They’ll have the tickets to sell after 2:00 p.m. today. Remember, they will only take cash:

I opt for this payment option every year since I like to save a buck wherever I can! For more tips sure to help you get the most out of this event, check out my post and comments leading up to last year’s event since they’re still relevant.

What is Taste of Hillcrest? It’s an annual food event that usually takes place in April each year, from noon to 4:00 p.m. in the San Diego neighborhood known as Hillcrest/Uptown. This year, the event takes place on Saturday, April 16. Participating restaurants offer a sample of their food as a way to introduce themselves to San Diego diners. One ticket buys a taste at all of the participating restaurants.

How many restaurants participate in Taste of Hillcrest? According to the Hillcrest Business Association, over 50 restaurants are taking part in this year’s event. In past years, restaurants along and just off of University Avenue and Robinson Avenue between 3rd Avenue and Centre Street have participated as well as restaurants along 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue between Washington Street and Brookes Avenue. Quite a few restaurants have joined the Hillcrest fold since 2010, so I expect the event map will be to be a tad bigger.

An event map is sure to be available as we get closer to the date of the event. Once it is, I’ll make sure to share a link to it on this blog.

How do the tickets and tastes work? Each restaurant is given a number. When you visit that restaurant during the event, they will mark their number off of your ticket then provide you with a sample of a dish from their menu. So, stick to your ticket! Some restaurants offer samples of a variety of dishes, some offer you a choice of two dishes, and some offer you one sample of one particular dish. Once a restaurant has marked themselves off on your ticket, you’re no longer eligible to sample their Taste of Hillcrest offering.

Taste-of-Hillcrest-Christine-Pasalo
(Photo caption, left to right: My ticket and my husband’s ticket at the end of Taste of Hillcrest 2010; Amarin Thai’s spread at Taste of Hillcrest 2010. Photos by Christine Pasalo.)

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My Picks: Things to do in San Diego, March 26-27

It may be sprinkling or drizzling in San Diego today, but the forecast for the weekend points to sun. So, my picks for this weekend include a couple of things to do outside and is rounded out by two food/drink events, one which benefits underprivileged children and the other benefiting American Red Cross’ Japan earthquake and tsunami relief efforts, and a reminder to use a coupon for a free gourmet entree at The Pearl Hotel before March closes out.

Things-to-do-San-Diego-March

Saturday, March 26:

  • 10:00 a.m. Science and PETCO Park. Free, fun, and for the family. The week-long San Diego Science Festival concludes with EXPO DAY at PETCO Park. There’s tons of activities for kids of all ages, like learning about DNA by making bracelets, exploring underwater robots, and a Fleet Science Zone at the Park in the Park. Bring cash for food since several food stands will be open throughout the park.
  • 6:00 p.m. The first South Park Walkabout of the year. As always, this get-to-know South Park event is free. This time the community has collaborated with Tourism Australia and KPBS, resulting in the Walkabout taking on some Australian-centric color like with the Miss PinUp Australia Poster exhibit up for viewing at the Some Like It Hot Photography studio on 30th Street. Click here for a full list of the snacks, samples and discounts offered by the South Park businesses participating in the Walkabout. For some advice on parking, check out my older posts on last year’s Spring and Summer Walkabouts.
  • 8:00 p.m. March Madness Beer Tasting at The Beer Co. I’m glad to see an event take place at Downtown’s latest beer pouring resident, the locally-owned The Beer Co. Thanks to a collaboration between Awesome Beer Drinkers, BestDamnBeerShop, and West Coast, The Beer Co. is hosting the March Madness Beer Tasting Party between 6:00 p.m. and midnight. For $25, guests get five 10-ounce pours of whatever is on tap at Beer Co. There will also be a raffle at the end of the night. Proceeds from the event will help underprivileged children through the Power Of Change foundation.

Sunday, March 27:

  • 11:00 a.m. Eat, drink and help Japan. Ponce’s Restaurant hosts a free event called “Ayuda Japan!” Street tacos will only be $2.25 each and you’ll have your choice of carnitas, adobada (marinated pork), camaron (shrimp), pollo asado (chicken), or carne asada tacos. To help wash the tacos down, Ponce’s is also offering a $3 margarita special. Eat, drink and bid on items in a silent auction and buy tickets for a raffle. 100% of the food and drink sales and the proceeds from the silent auction and raffle will be donated to the American Red Cross’ Japan earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. The event ends at 2:00 p.m., so get to Ponce’s early!
  • 6:00 p.m. Dinner at The Pearl Hotel. End the weekend with a lovely dinner, one of which is free. The Pearl’s dinner coupon, which is good for a complimentary entree, expires on March 31.

(Photo caption, clockwise from top left: Photo of EXPO DAY from San Diego Science Festival’s website; press photo of The Pearl Hotel’s lounge from The Pearl’s website; flyer image from Awesome Beer Drinkers’ blog; poster of South Park’s Spring Walkabout from the event’s website; flyer image from the Ayuda Japan! event listing on Yelp.)

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