Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hot and Sour Soup

Continuing with my San Diego dining saga, I must report that Thursday night's attempt at a "great meal" was almost dashed.  Folks at the office had raved about "Phil's Barbeque" and we, ourselves, had wanted to return to a hotel restaurant we'd enjoyed when we were here two years ago, and we ALSO had as a possibility an Italian meal at the Old Spaghetti Warehouse......  Three options.

Last Night in Downtown San Diego
We made our way out of the hotel parking garage (very tight and scary EVERY time) and decided to try for Phil's.... well, we didn't try too hard, obviously, because I'd forgotten to look up the actual address on Google before leaving the hotel room... my Garmin Nuvi's maps are out of date and, sadly, the address IT has for Phil's is also out of date... another restaurant moved in when Phil's moved to its new "mystery" location....  So, we made the drive to the tried and true hotel restaurant of two years ago.  We parked and entered the establishment, only to find it too had now only open for breakfast and those wishing to dine in the evenings must do so in the very noisy bar...  no thanks.....

So, it was back to the car and a drive back to the Gaslamp district and visions of delicious lasagna. Sure enough, we found this Old Spaghetti place, but... no parking.  We drove around a bit, careful not to run over the exuberant tourists, clearly giddy at finally being able to be out in decent weather, but found no reasonable parking... and by about the third time around the four block area, we concluded we weren't in the mood for lasagna after all.  Back to the hotel we drove and back into the scary tight hotel garage we squeezed our way, finding a parking space that almost allowed us room to open the doors.

Exhausted from our nearly two hour dinner search, we decided to simply walk across the street and get the Domino's special... the "Big Deal".... it was cheap, it was hot and to us, it was DELICIOUS!  So much for downtown San Diego dining... better luck next time!

San Diego -- this morning as we were leaving...

Of course, with our departure from San Diego set for today, the sun decided it was the ideal time to show off, providing Chamber of Commerce weather for those who cared to explore San Diego downtown.  We were off to our next hotel in Rancho Bernardo, and while it is only about twenty miles away from downtown, it is like a completely different world.... well, at least it WAS like a completely different world last time I was here...two years ago.  This place has REALLY changed in those two years.

We stopped at the GIGANTIC post office to get some post card stamps.  I kid you not, this post office is ridiculously big... and yet only two postal workers at the counter.  They had a nifty worker who asked each person in line the nature of their business.  She wrote on an order form, as if it were a fast food restaurant, and handed us the form.... When we were called to the "next available counter" we presented our "order" for the single sheet of post card stamps, and the counter worker asked if we wanted "Forever" stamps.... DUH, no, our order SAYS post card stamps.... still, we assured her we wanted one sheet of post card stamps and she said, "Oh!  post card stamps!  OK."

We got out stamps, and took a couple of shots of ourselves with the "antique" postal truck on display, as we left this monstrosity of a post office, with its useless, workers who fill out forms that nobody reads.  Waste...this place place just reeked of waste.

Antique Postal Truck

After getting settled into the new room, we set out for dinner in Rancho Bernardo.

Getting our "stuff" into the hotel
Not the lightest of travelers, I will admit!

We ended up (after lots of driving around) at the Panda Buffet... where I was completely stuffed after one small plate of food and where Joe ate at least 5 plates full... I think more, but I lost track.  Instead, I amused myself taking pictures of the big kid playing with his food!

Joe...sporting crab claw "fangs"

I started my meal with my usual choice, hot and sour soup.  This soup is different in every restaurant, so I never know whether I will like it.  This particular version was not bad but it was too hot, taking away from the flavor, rather than enhancing it.  I only ate a few spoonfuls before deciding it was too spicy for my palette.  I thought back to the first bowl of hot an sour soup I'd ever had... in a Chinese restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey in 1976 or 1977.  I did NOT like it.... still, the next time I went to the restaurant I decided I wanted another bowl...somehow, within just a few visits, hot and sour soup became my favorite.  Since that first taste of this soup, I have tried many...  Of all the versions I have ever had, my favorite is the one served in a small restaurant in the mall across from my apartment where I lived 1979-1980.  For years after, every time I returned to Maryland to visit, I made my way to that mall in New Carrollton to get a bowl of that soup.  Tonight's soup was not that good, but the memories it evoked were nice.

Plate Number 4????
And some ice cream...of course

Joe clearly enjoyed his meal!  Three and a half hours after we left the hotel in search of supper, we returned, stuffed to the gills!  A good time was had by all, and we even got decent "fortunes" in our fortune cookies!

Sounds reasonable to me....


Sharon said...

With your luck at finding decent food, I believe I would pick up an electric skillet and cook in my room! All that driving just to find a place to eat!

I had my first taste of pizza about 50 years ago, my BIL made it and I didn't like it, though everybody was raving how good it was. Well, I like it now, but there is pizza and then there is PIZZA too!

Canyon Girl said...

Lots of food going on in this post, Judy. I can see you had a lot of fun with it. Just a thought: When I lived in San Diego in 1972-73, it was almost only beautiful country with no buildings, houses, or anything between San Diego and the suburbs of Los Angeles. I know I would not recognize it now.--Inger

Anonymous said...

Hey! I lived in New Carrolton Maryland once, What a coincidence :) I had a roomate who brought home a cat and started my lifelong love of the feline species. Thanks roomie :)

mixednut555 said...

:) Nothing like a GOOD bowl of hot and sour soup! Sorry you didn't have much luck dining in San Diego. There are alot of good places to eat in the region, but I never was successful in downtown San Diego, over priced and less than good. :( Hope you saw some sights though.

Todays word verification is flenin

Judy's Corner said...


LOL... I am NOW in the Staybridge Suites where I CAN cook my own food!

Funny how certain tastes grow on you. I don't recall my first taste of pizza, but I agree... there is pizza and then there is PIZZA!!!

Judy's Corner said...

Your recollections of southern CA are just like Joe' is hard for him to even recognize the place!

Judy's Corner said...

Hey anon!!!!

Spanks RULE!!!

I remember that little kitten...his name was Jordan and he lived a VERY long life...mostly with Dad and Lynne after I moved to FL and could not take him with me....

He lived through unbelievable "nine lives" episodes, before finally leaving this world... I believe he was 19.

Thanks for dropping in!

Judy's Corner said...


You nailed it... everything IS overpriced and yet PACKED. The food just does not live up to the dent it leaves in your wallet!

But we are having fun, none the less!