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Servers: Eat in Secrecy, Please

Similar to another commenter, I have seen plenty of servers at the homey in-the-hood Vietnamese restaurants I frequent taking their meal breaks at a designated employee table in the dining room, in full view of the customers. It's never occurred to me to have a problem with it. Goodness knows these pros are all on-the-go hustle for long hours--why pretend they don't need to refuel after all that? And how their visibility while dining might imply any lack in their post-meal hygiene totally escapes me. For that matter, I've seen workers in Asian restaurants sit at a free table in the dining room during a slow period with a big bin of produce before them, performing such painstaking prepwork as stringing snowpea pods or removing root-hairs from beansprouts. Often it's been an older lady who I assumed was one of the matriarchs of the family running the restaurant. And sometimes I've seen younger folks, offspring of the restaurant family to judge by the interactions, seated at a corner table eating dinner, or even doing schoolwork. Rather than being repelled by any of this, I have been nothing but charmed at these displays of family life in the midst of "taking care of business." I realize that all of these behaviors would be strictly frowned upon in a high-end restaurant, and that's certainly fine if that's the dining experience one desires. But for me, it's probably just as well that I can't afford such places these days, because my heart is more with keeping it real in the hood.

Jan 27, 2012
mizducky in Features

The Guy Fieri Drinking Game

Dude! Ya gotta drink whenever he fist bumps the chef he's visiting on Triple-D. Or ... maybe not, because you'd be totally shnockered after a single episode.

Jan 27, 2012
mizducky in Features

Good cheap eats in Eugene OR?

Oh, now north Salem's reputation for Mexican food I did not know about. Very good to know.

Jan 26, 2012
mizducky in Pacific Northwest

Good cheap eats in Eugene OR?

Yay! A response! ... seriously, that's a good tip. Thanks!

I was beginning to wonder if the silence was due to a scarcity of the kind of places I said I was looking for in Eugene, or a scarcity of Chowhound interest in that area. Does it help if I clarify that Springfield is fair game too?

Jan 24, 2012
mizducky in Pacific Northwest

What's your favorite vegetarian restaurant in San Diego?

Sipz has just opened a second location in North Park, on 30th just north of Ranchos Cocina.

Another noteworthy new contender in the San Diego vegetarian dining scene is Loving Hut. It is admittedly part of a chain -- an international vegan fast-food chain founded by an Asian religious sect, yet -- but the lemongrass-seasoned dish I had there was wonderfully flavored, the interior decor was pleasant, and I saw no signs of overt proselytizing in the restaurant itself, so what's not to like?

3914 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

Loving Hut
1905 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

Jan 17, 2012
mizducky in San Diego

Good cheap eats in Eugene OR?

I'm going to be relocating to Eugene by the end of February. By preference as well as budget, I have a thing for good cheap eats -- little unpretentious diners, mom 'n' pop joints, ethnic eateries, hippy-dippy cafes, that kind of thing. My tastes in grocery shopping run to much the same thing, with an especial eye for good cheap produce. Been catching up on the existing threads, and already seeing that unless there have been changes, I'm probably going to be making runs to Portland for pho (*sob!*) ... but what else is going on Eugene in this category of fooding? What's the local cheap eats thrill?

Jan 16, 2012
mizducky in Pacific Northwest

When You're Forced to Eat Out...(gasp) East County/SD

Hi Gayla--yeah, getting burned out on eating out is definitely a novel experience, eh?

Another suggestion for your list: Golden City, in the strip mall at the corner of Kearny Villa Rd.and Clairemont Mesa Blvd. just off the 163. Many of the dishes, especially the lunch specials, are very reasonably priced, and the menu mix of more Chinese-American dishes and more authentically Chinese fare should appeal to both your mom and yourself. :-).

Sep 12, 2007
mizducky in California

any healthy restaurants in san diego

Heh. I sound like a broken record because I'm pretty sure I've posted about these places on Chowhound before, but here again are a few of my personal favorite healthy-eats places:

Sipz Fusion Cafe on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. right off the 805 has an all-vegetarian menu, and will serve brown rice instead of white rice on request.

Veg'n'Out in North Park -- again all-vegetarian, very informal, specializes in gloriously sloppy "burgers" with lots of whole grains, good salad side options.

The Linkery -- both meat and vegetarian options; while it's easy to do a decadently unhealthy meal here, it's also way easy to put together a light and veggie/grain-rich meal as well, so it's good for dining with a mixed crowd (so to speak). They actually do a lower percentage of fat in their house-made sausages than the norm, which makes them a little dry to some people's tastes but I really dig 'em that way. And the whole-wheat pasta in their vegetarian lasagna is some of the smoothest I've ever eaten.

Sep 12, 2007
mizducky in California

Where to eat in San Diego?

I adore Pokez, but also feel it's important to set expectations about the place--the service can get spacey, especially when it starts getting slammed in the busy hours. Plus it's more of a Cali-Mex burrito-shop style of food. But yeah, I think it's lots of fun, like walking into an episode of the classic punk-rawk comic book "Love and Rockets." ;-)

Otherwise ... yeah, I'm afraid your boss is going to need to get out of the Gaslamp/Downtown area if she's wanting informal joints where the locals eat. My recommendation would be for her to catch a #2 bus on Broadway and take it to South Park or North Park or all the way up to Adams Ave.--that'll take her past a whole slew of fun and interesting local joints of all different descriptions and levels (The Big Kitchen, The Linkery, and Jayne's Gastropub are just three that immediately spring to mind).

Sep 12, 2007
mizducky in California

Does your resto database need updating (SD)?

Emerald is pretty good and reliable, but I kind of like their sibling-restaurant Pearl better, even though its location in Rancho Bernardo makes it a little bit more of a shlep for me.

Sep 12, 2007
mizducky in California

spicy food san diego

Ba Ren, check and double-check. A decent runner-up (IMO) in the Szechuan category is Dede's, in the same little strip mall as Convoy Noodle House.

Mien Trung, the tiny little Vietnamese place just down the block from K Sandwiches on Mesa College Drive, has a divinely hot version of bun bo Hue. Get the extra large Dac Biet and prepare to sweat buckets.

Other hot hits for me: the seafood soups at Siete Mares in Barrio Logan; and seemingly a good half or more of the prepared foods to go in the deli section of Zion Market, up on Mercury Street in Kearny Mesa (some of those panchans will definitely sneak up and getcha late at night when you're out of Tums ... but in the nicest way, of course).

Sep 12, 2007
mizducky in California

where is the best pho in san diego?

Well, I dunno about "best" pho in San Diego, but my favorite open-late pho-serving Vietnamese restaurant is Saigon Restaurant on El Cajon Blvd. in City Heights (NOT to be confused with "Saigon on 5th" on University in Hillcrest!) -- open till 10pm Sun-Thurs, 11pm Fri-Sat. It has a huge menu, but pho is featured prominently in the front.

Other favorites that I suspect aren't open so late, but I include anyway for whatever it may be worth:

Ca Dao -- also on El Cajon Blvd, further east than Saigon, shares parking lot with World Foods Supermarket

Convoy Noodle House -- on Convoy, logically. :-)

Haven't eaten in Pho Pasteur for a long time, but I recall liking it too.

Apr 15, 2007
mizducky in California

What's On Your Rotation? (San Diego)

Hi folks! This looks like a fun game ... :-)

Here's my current rotation, some of which have been mentioned already, some not:
--Big Kitchen Cafe
--Thai Cafe (Clairemont Mesa)
--Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe
--The Linkery
--Ba Ren
--East Buffet (Miramar)
--Mien Trung (Linda Vista)
--Ca Dao
--Cafe India (near Sports Arena)
--Sipz Fusion Cafe
--Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (this is only in my rotation because of a friend's band that plays here frequently. But once here, the bar menu has a couple of great items, and they finally hired somebody who knows how to make a decent Manhattan.)

Feb 17, 2007
mizducky in California

What's your favorite vegetarian restaurant in San Diego?

I'd say Spread is definitely worth the modestly higher prices; they're aiming at a higher level and I think they hit it. Both food and setting are fun, arty and tasty--not your usual vegetarian fare or look. I also really like Sipz--well done pan-Asian fusion cuisine using some pretty tasty, and sometimes surprisingly convincing, tofu-based mock meats. They've recently expanded, and added a vegan sushi bar, which puts out some pretty decent rolls (especially the hand rolls). I've had some good grub at Pokez, and yeah, the punk-rawk vibe does make me nostalgic, but I confess I like their meat-containing dishes better than their veg ones. I find Ranchos Cocina way uneven--sometimes they're fine, sometimes, weeelllllll ... One place that hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread is Cafe India out near the Sports Arena. Not in the same league as the yummy Madras Cafe up on Black Mountain Road, but still a nice place to grab a plateful of vegetarian buffet if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Jan 30, 2007
mizducky in San Diego

Looking for good fishmonger in San Diego

About Asian fish markets: yeah, it can sometimes be challenging to just walk in and find certain specific types of fish popular with American diners. But if you're open to experimenting with species that are unfamiliar to you, take the time to do a little research beforehand, and/or are willing to work with the language differences, the Asian markets IMO do have some of the best seafood selections in town--and at prices that beat Point Loma Seafood and Whole Paycheck to pieces. I've discovered some great new-to-me fish by rolling the dice and taking a chance--and at the prices in these places, it's an inexpensive gamble.

Of the Asian markets in town, I like the Vien Dong Markets the best for seafood. Vien Dong is a small local chain attuned to the Vietnamese community; the ones on Linda Vista Road and on El Cajon Blvd (the latter a.k.a. World Foods Supermarket) are the ones I'm most familiar with. Lucky Seafood and Seafood City on Mira Mesa Blvd. are also very good--they're actually geared to the Filipino community, rather than the Chinese community as a previous poster implied (there's another, larger Seafood City down in National City to serve the Filipino community down there). And 99 Ranch in Kearny Mesa also has a pretty good selection.

What all these Asian markets have that I seldom see elsewhere in town is lots of whole fish, including live fish in tanks, that they'll clean and prep to order while you shop; at Seafood City, they'll actually call your number over the PA when your fish is all prepped and ready to pick up.

Jan 29, 2007
mizducky in San Diego