Three Cities, Three Memorable Meals

For the foodies, especially, the food porn photo lovers, I’m going to recount the most memorable meal I enjoyed in each of the three cities during my three week trip to Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco. I only had time to post a few photos to my posts during my travels and only posted one photo of these meals.

Over the years, Vegas has moved up the list of top foodie cities and is now a contender for the top. Probably every well known chef is in Vegas – including Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, and Gordon Ramsey. But there’s plenty of good food in Vegas that’s not going to cost you $100.

For me, the buffet restaurant to visit in Vegas is not at any casino, which I believe have lost value over the years as the price kept going up as casino revenues declined and could no longer subsidize the buffet as a “loss leader” to get you into the casino in hopes that’d you play there before and/or after dinner. For me, the buffet of choice is Lee’s Korean BBQ, on Spring Mountain Road, where many Asian restaurants are clustered because that area is where Chinatown is. Except that now there are also Vietnamese and many other Asian cuisines there, including Korean.

Since it’s Vegas, Lee’s is open 24/7 so you can indulge your need for Korean BBQ at any time of day or night. There are three “levels” for buffet, each priced accordingly based on what meats are offered. We decided that the lowest level, at $20, was more than sufficient and still offered about a $10 savings on what many Strip casinos’ charge for a dinner buffet. That $20 brings as much as you want of eight thin-sliced meats, eight appetizers, soup and rice. Of course, those last three are “filler” so focus on the meats.

The meats include marinated beef, spicy beef, chicken, and baby octopus. You cook the meats on a non-stick grill built into the table. Since the meats are thinly sliced, it takes maybe a minute to cook, although the octopus takes longer since it is whole.

Appetizers

Appetizers

BBQ1

BBQ4_small

Baby octopus was very popular

Baby octopus was very popular

In San Diego, where I went for my Manila high school class’ 45th graduation anniversary reunion, the memorable meal was not at a restaurant. One of my classmates hosted a dinner at his home featuring all the classic Filipino dishes we love. He brought in two chefs to cook most of the food.

Pancit (rice noodles with veggies and meat) and lumpia (Filipino spring roll)

Pancit (rice noodles with veggies, shrimp & meat) with lumpia (Filipino spring roll)

Chicken skewrs and lechon (spit roasted pig)

Chicken skewers and lechon (spit roasted pig)

Thanking the pig for his sacrifice

Thanking the pig for his sacrifice

Dessert of turon (banana fried in thin wrapper)

Dessert of turon (banana fried in thin wrapper)

In San Francisco, I enjoyed two Filipino restaurants. Although House of Sisig was not the one I enjoyed more, it did feature an interesting “family style” meal served on banana leaves which you ate with your hands. This is a meal for four:

sisig

The memorable meal in San Francisco was at Boracay Grill, where a group of five of us enjoyed a six course Filipino meal, including an entree I’d never seen before.

Fried calamari

Fried calamari appetizer

Chicharron bulaklak (fried pork intestines) appetizer

Chicharron bulaklak (fried pork intestines) appetizer

Pancit entree

Pancit entree (There are many variations of pancit)

Lechon kawali (frid pork belly) entree

Lechon kawali (fried pork belly) entree

Grilled bangus (milk fish) stuffed with tomatos, onion and cilantro

Grilled bangus (milk fish) stuffed with tomatos, onion and cilantro (entree)

Blackened (with squid ink) rice with seafood entree

Blackened (with squid ink) rice with seafood entree. New for me.

After all this food, we still managed to eat dessert. Mine was turon with buko (coconut)  pandan (screwpine leaves) ice cream.

Well, I’m hungry now; how about you? If you’ve never eaten Filipino cuisine, go out and find some. You’ll become a fan of at least pancit and lechon. No one I’ve introduced these dishes to has not liked them.

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