San Diego Ramen Scene- Ikura Sushi & Ramen, Scripps Ranch

Ikura Sushi & Ramen just opened up last month in the Poway/Scripps Ranch area of inland San Diego. Do a Yelp search on the restaurant and the top two comments are:

  1. Yea! Now we don’t need to drive all the way to Kearny Mesa and Convoy Street for our ramen fix!
  2. Try the Tonkotsu Ramen, it is fabulous!

With four teens to taste test with me, I knew I’d get a good overview.

  • When the Chinese kid gives it a thumbs up, you know that the restaurant doesn’t stink (this gets tricky, because he says he isn’t picky and will eat anything…).
  • The Girl wasn’t wowed by her Miso Ramen, but…
  • I ordered the same and LOVED mine.
  • The Boy liked his Teriyaki Chicken, and was jazzed that they let him swap out the salad for edamame.
  • The Boyfriend gave his sushi roll high praise, and liked his Miso Ramen just fine.

Props to Ikura Sushi & Ramen for their online coupon offering a free California Roll with over a $12 purchase for an eat in special. They also offer a 10% discount coupon, also available online, for takeout orders. Our California Roll was one of the best I’ve had in a long time- I highly recommend it. Bottom line: I liked Ikura Sushi & Ramen better than the last Ramen joint, Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen.

Chicken Teriyaki
Chicken Teriyaki
Miso Ramen
Miso Ramen
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12205 Scripps Poway Parkway Suite 106 Poway, CA, 92064

The Upshot: Half the Family = Half the Bill

Plans for a nice family dinner at a favorite Japanese restaurant just didn’t materialize in the way I had hoped for.  I haven’t seen the teens much lately, which sometimes is NOT a bad thing- am I right, fellow moms of teens??? However, I do enjoy these people an overwhelming majority of the time. There are subjects to cover, jokes to hear, stories to catch up on that you can’t hear in the fifteen minutes you see them in the morning before they dash out the door, or pry out of them as they are poring over their studies.

We try really hard to sit down together at dinner every day of the week… by “we try,” it’s really “I try.” All this effort results in maybe three family dinners per week. With fencing, guitar, theater, church leadership, Academic Decathlon, and sneaky Netflix binging, (and this is just The Teens) I feel like I have to out-plan everyone in order to bring us together on a regular basis. That should be a college course for parents! “Family Togetherness 101: Stealthy and Inconspicuous Planning and Gathering- Techniques and Practices Explained.”

No le gusta el atún. Pobrecito.
No le gusta el atún. Pobrecito. Part of the the catch of the day last July. It was Poke City here. Click the pic for a recipe similar to ours
Further evidence of how deep his distaste for fish runs..
Further evidence of how deep his distaste for tuna runs…

It is probably a good thing that The Teens stayed home… one doesn’t like sushi or any fish for that matter, the other racks up quite a bill. We had half the usual bill by leaving half the family at home. Look at The Boy. He’s not kidding. This is the poster child for Mac N Cheese. And fillet mignon. His tastes run amok.

Hamachi (Yellowtail) Sashimi, caught that morning- click for a great poke recipe
Hamachi (Yellowtail) Sashimi, caught that morning

My favorite selections for sushi are always salmon and yellowtail nigiri. Tuna used to be a top choice, but we are extremely fortunate to catch our own on a friend’s boat or receive some of his haul and we have a freezer full of ahi. It. Is. HEAVEN!!

Tobiko and Scallop...
Tobiko and Scallop…

So, we lost the teens and instead were able to have a nice dinner date with just the two of us. Not a bad consolation prize, huh?! Where The Girl was going to have carte blanche with the sushi menu and do the choosing for me, in hindsight, maybe it is a good thing that she wasn’t there? Hmmm… hadn’t thought of that. Who knows what she would have tried to get me to eat? (*shudder*)

The Husband got to choose instead, and we ended up splitting orders of scallop nigiri and tobiko. Holy Yum. The scallops, especially, they were so sweet! I thought that shellfish would be on the tough side if prepared raw, since I’ve only had giant clam sushi… I don’t recommend it. Our favorite little neighborhood sushi joint prepares the scallops with a very light dressing, probably mayo based- I loved it, and so did the mayonnaise-hating husband. And I really did like the tobiko, too. Fresh and ocean-y tasting, lots of fun, salty popping going on, and very yummy.

Downtown Sushi…

We had a few hours to kill while waiting to pick up the son from an event downtown and tried a new-to-us sushi spot-

Sushi Deli 2 http://www.sushideliusa.net/

Those were some great prices on noodles, appetizers and sushi, and the winner was the Yakisoba. Lots of vegetables cooked just right, great flavor to the sauce and good chicken, too. I’d pass on the Udon soup there, the tempura was good with it, as was the broth, but I think the noodles were prepared ahead of time and just reheated in the broth… that might explain the low price. Good overall, but for the noodles. Sushi Deli seems to be known for its specialty rolls, and they did look great as the servers brought them to other tables.

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Sushi Stop 2 Potstickers; Assorted Nigiri; Chicken Yakisoba and Tempura Udon

I wouldn’t go again, but neither would I discourage someone from going there. You sure can’t beat the price, and the atmosphere was pumped.

Pho for Me

On our quest to try some new eats! This time we tried a restaurant that many people have been telling us to try, a chain called Pho Ca Dao. According to one of my kid’s teachers, if you aren’t swearing, you aren’t pronouncing it correctly… I hope she wasn’t pulling my leg.

The daughter’s boyfriend helped us order and he picked some winners. We loved the soups, the pork with rice noodles were meh. Egg rolls- fabulous, spring rolls- less so. I think I am spoiled by having friends make home made spring rolls on many occasions, though.

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Yum! Beef with rice, pork with rice noodles and egg rolls, spring rolls, beef pho and chicken pho with all the condiments- love the sprouts, basil and cilantro!

I’m really glad I finally tried some of the dishes from Pho Ca Dao, and am sure that we will hit it again- great dishes at a surprisingly low price. Here’s the menu, via allmenus.com:

http://www.allmenus.com/ca/san-diego/32447-ca-dao/menu/

New Menu Monday- Carnitas… from Heaven!!

Pulled pork is fabulous in the crock pot; sprinkle a lot of onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper on a pork shoulder butt and 4-8 hours later you have a magnificent meal. With BBQ sauce for the meat, we round it out with a baked sweet potato and maybe green beans. We all love it.

Tonight we are making carnitas with the same cut of pork and swapping out the sweet potato and green beans for a boat load of cilantro, chopped onions, pinto beans and tortillas.

I love me some Pinterest- that’s where I dug around for the carnitas recipe. This is what I found:  http://www.afamilyfeast.com/carnitas/#_a5y_p=1366830

I changed up the recipe only a bit- freshly made mini corn tortillas instead of the suggested flour, and I tossed everything together on the baking sheet- the onions, garlic and I squeezed the citrus juices and 1/3 cup of bacon grease over everything. I only used oregano, salt and pepper, too, and skipped the other spices. I don’t think we missed the one pound of lard to cook the meat in, either… the bacon grease and pork fat from the meat was puh-lenty. But read the original recipe, it looks great as-is.

It was FABULOUS!! Seriously, try the recipe, and if someone really does cook it in the lard, I’d love to know how it turned out.

This was so good, I’m going to serve it to my mother-in-law. Yep. That good.

Pancit, Paneer, and Ponzu- Dining Diversity, YEAH!

We returned to our home state about five years ago after twenty years and three states. One of the best things about being back, besides returning to family, is that we are back in the land of diverse dining options!

Central Pennsylvania and Indiana had great restaurants, (Facia Luna and Three Sisters come to mind, respectively) but when you go into a grocery store intending to make salsa, ask in produce where the cilantro is, and get a puzzled look in return… you know you are in for some bleak years. Penn State students celebrated when Taco Bell arrived in town.

Back in The Southland, it seemed that we patronized strictly the little taquerias, with an occasional In-N-Out stop. I could have eaten tacos every day… and at times we did! After about a year the kids were fed up with our limited dining-out diet and we moved on to more variety, but we really didn’t branch out too far. Japanese, mainly (yum!).

We live smack in the middle of a huge Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean and Indian neighborhood. Half of our church is Filipino, with a monthly pancit and lumpia sale- it doesn’t get any better than this!

Wednesday nights are a good fast-food night for us, and tonight we are branching out to Indian Food! Sitar, buried in a little Sorrento Valley food court, was highly recommended. Check them out here:  http://www.sitarsandiego.com/menu.htm Vetted by my Indian neighbors, it should be great (no pressure on you, Raja, har).

This is what we tried, and here’s our thoughts:

Lamb Vindaloo, Chicken Biryani, Samosas, Coconut Curry Soup, and more...
From Sitar- Lamb Vindaloo, Chicken Biryani, Samosas, Coconut Curry Soup, and more…
Yum.  Dinner for me, and it was great! I liked the Lamb Vindaloo best.
Yum. Dinner for me, and it was great! I liked the Lamb Vindaloo best, and the Samosas were delicious.

Is this how Samosas are supposed to taste? Wow! Crispy, fried, savory, spicy pockets of veggies and meat. The dal was tasty, too, and we all liked the lamb vindaloo better than the chicken biryani. I think my kids enjoyed making naan jokes the best- “Dal? I’ll have naan of that, thankyouverymuch! Naan for me!”