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Bizzare Foods San Diego

I was watching the show bizarre foods with Andrew Zimmer. Curious to hear any San Diego bizarre foods restaurants/experiences?

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  1. Well, you can get chapulines (grasshoppers) at a few places. Also a lot of people are squeamish over more than one filipino dish. I think Mr. Zimmern's had those all in other places before, though.

    My wife and kids put ketchup on their hot dogs. I think that also qualifies.

    1. A lamb's head, as found in Aqui es Texcoco, might be considered bizarre (at least by most of the people I know) .

      5 Replies
      1. re: Encinitan

        I thought those were illegal. I remember some episode of No Reservations in New York where Bourdain goes into some back room gathering of chefs to eat a lamb's head that is otherwise illegal.

          1. re: karaethon

            I am pretty sure that was an Ortolan - it sounds like the same scene he describes in Medium Raw.

            1. re: karaethon

              Not to go off subject. But why is lamb's head served in a restaurant illegal in NYC?

              1. re: karaethon

                Lots of Iranian families make a sheep's head and neck soup which is actually pretty good.

            2. I went to their website and they do have lambs head on the menu. Cheap too! Is it good?

              1 Reply
              1. re: dbwave

                Try it and get back to us.

                P.S. Save an eyeball for me.

              2. fermented corn beverage Teijuino at Honey Bananas in National City
                crisy fried chitlin tacos - my favorite taco de tripitas at Tacos El Gordo
                Squid liver dish at Oton in Kearney mesa

                9 Replies
                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Hell yeah- was gonna mention Oton, too. The sea urchin and jellyfish salad at Yakitori Yakudori Ramen is really good, but well, yeah, pretty bizarre when you think about it.

                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    Well in the Japanese repertoire, we have:

                    Motsunabe - Beef Offal Hot Pot - Oton

                    Liver Sashimi - Beef Liver Sashimi - Tsuruhashi
                    Horamon Moriawase - Assorted Offal Plate - Tsuruhashi

                    Gyu Horamon - Beef Intestine - Yakitori Yakyudori + Yakyudori Ramen & Yakitori
                    Kawasu - Vinegared Chicken Skin - Yakitori Yakyudori + Yakyudori Ramen & Yakitori
                    Hatsu - Chicekn Heart - Yakitori Yakyudori + Yakyudori Ramen & Yakitori
                    Akahimo - Chicken Vein - Yakitori Yakyudori
                    Chicken Sashimi - Yakitori Yakyudori

                    Kawa - Broiled Chicken Skin - Yakitori Kobou

                    Shirako - Cod Milt - Kaito Sushi
                    Hoya - Sea Pineapple - Kaito Sushi - http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...
                    Shiokara - Fermented Squid & Liver - Kaito Sushi
                    Maguro Suji - Broiled Bluefin Gristle - Kaito Sushi
                    Katsuo Shinzou - Bonito Heart - Kaito Sushi
                    Hire Zake - Warm Sake w/Kawahagi [or Fugu] Fin - Kaito Sushi

                    Yakitori Yakyudori
                    3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                    Kaito Sushi
                    130-A N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

                    1. re: cgfan

                      1) Do you really eat all that? Not all at once of course

                      2) What is sea pineapple? It looks rather prehistoric

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        1) Yes indeed! These are all items I enjoy and will not have any reservations ordering...

                        Actually I just had some Hoya (Sea Pineapple) tonight at Kaito.

                        And last week at Kaito I also had some Maguro Suji (Bluefin Gristle), Shirako (Cod Milt), and Shiokara (Fermented Squid with Liver), then last week at Yakyudori Ramen & Yakitori I had Kawasu, Chicken Liver and Hatsu (Chicken Heart).

                        This is all very good stuff - none of it really all that "challenging" taste-wise, with perhaps the exception of Hoya which tends to have some bitter notes to it.

                        2) Sea Pineapple is as weird looking as it is weird. Period. In the early part of its life-cycle it freely floats, but in the latter half of its life-cycle it attaches itself to a rock and then consumes its own nervous system - basically it eats its own brain - then exists pretty-much like a plant. It is at this stage that it is harvested.

                        The taste of Hoya is very difficult to describe - it's full of liquor so there's a mild briny / sea spray quality to it, and although it has nothing to do with a pineapple taste-wise, it can have some very muted tropical flavors accompanied with anywhere from a faint to a clear bitterness and occasionally some tartness.

                        Consistency-wise there are parts that are much like an overripe passion fruit & seeds (again not in taste but in consistency), and other parts that are more like, say, the consistency of a tender melon or the flesh of an oyster.

                        Today's was incredible as it was not only the best tasting Hoya that I've ever had, but also since it's been two years since Kaito was last able to acquire Hoya.

                        Of the 4 Hoya that they brought in for today, I was suprised to see that all 4 had sold out. I and another regular each had one, but most surprisingly two newcommers also each had one and loved it! It's probably one of the more challenging items, taste-wise, that one can have at the Sushi bar...

                        1. re: cgfan

                          We've moved a discussion of seafood sustainability to the General Chowhounding Topics board, at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7596...

                      2. re: cgfan

                        I'm really curious, how was the chicken sashimi? I've been wanting to try it but didn't that it'd be available this side of the world.

                        1. re: yangjon

                          A good chicken Sashimi, like a good beef Sashimi, is very close to a fish-like experience with a taste that is light on the palate. Because it's raw it preserves all of the flesh's natural sweetness, but also due to its very high quality, (only the very best is served in this style), it is extremely tender, particularly so with a good beef Sashimi.

                          I've had it at a number of places Stateside, amongst them Senbazuru in the (former) New Otani Hotel in L.A.'s Little Tokyo, at Tsuruhashi, and at Yakitori Yakyudori.

                          Yakitori Yakyudori
                          3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                          3904 Convoy St Ste 106, San Diego, CA 92111

                          1. re: cgfan

                            Are there any safety concerns with eating chicken sashimi? How is the chicken raised?

                            1. re: aloha925

                              Aloha, I was wondering the same thing and found this article:

                              "Most chickens, even most free-range birds, are water-chilled after slaughter. This can be a nasty process and is thought to be a leading source of salmonella contamination in factory birds. It can also bump up the weight of a bird as the carcass absorbs water. Poulet bleu, like most high-end chickens, are air-chilled. This avoids contamination and water bloating."

                    2. well it is not really bizzare in my mind but given what I have seen on the show...check out Pancho Villa Farm Market's hot deli counter. chicharones (pork skin) stewed in chilies, tongue in salsa verde, tripe in chili sauces, mixed pig parts (all offal including head) chopped. all of these are tasty! Super Cocina also has most of the above rotating on their menu.

                      North Park Produce market has every lamb part in their meat case, including testicals. I am curious, but with stuff like this I prefer to leave it to the experts to make before I try and tackle it at home. The Asian markets likely have live frogs-yes I think you are supposed to eat them live. I guess that is the only thing I have seen so far that would give me pause.

                      edit/add: just reviewed El Take it Easy menu noted in another thread. Sweet and sour chicken heads and sauteed spleens . http://eltakeiteasy.com/menu.html. yup need to try this place!

                      Super Cocina
                      3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                      Pancho Villa's
                      3245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lyn

                        I've had the spleens, but not the heads. Not bad at all, but I like their octopus better.

                        I really need to get to Super Cocina one of these days...

                        Super Cocina
                        3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                      2. I just tried a few delicious items from the Gonzalez Northgate Market off s.43rd St.

                        Spicy pickled pig skin (salad like)

                        fried beef tripe-was not honey comb style, but chitterlings style

                        roasted chopped pig parts-tongue, head, innards, ear, crispy skin, snout, you name it. A hot dog (minus nasty chemicals and fillers) deconstructed, if you will. This would be amazing in tacos. I ate it with a cactus salad b/c I don't eat flour and corn, but I could sure see it being good taco filling.

                        Love this place. All was good, but pig parts was the winner.

                        1. Made it to Yakitori last night for the first time. Great experience. Chicken Heart, chicken skin and beef tongue only bizarre things I had. Need to go to Tsuruhashi. It looked a bit more "bizarre".

                          San Diego, CA, San Diego, CA

                          1. There's this Filipina grandma in National City who sells party tray sized orders of Filipino food from her house. My personal favorite dish of hers is Goto. Usually a ginger safflower rice porridge with beef tripe, her rendition also includes coagulated blood cubes, tendons, and other parts of offal that I can't really identify.

                            Add a spritz of kalamansi juice, maybe a dash of fermented fish sauce, and enjoy.

                            1. My post keeps getting deleted - I'm guessing for linking to the review on my site, but I would highly recommend Yakitori Yakyudori in Hillcrest.

                              Yakitori Yakyudori
                              3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Rodzilla

                                This one came through. Can you post again? I was looking for it.

                                1. re: dbwave

                                  I think the reason why these posts were deleted is that they only had a link to the blog post. CH policy has it that you should post your full text of the blog post on CH and a link so that others can see the pics.

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    ah, ok. We'll I'll give it another shot - if it doesn't work out the link to my site is in my profile

                                    22We were seated right away and got straight to ordering. The items started coming out mere minutes after our waitress walked away. We started with the grilled squid tentacles (Geso) pictured at the top of the page. This was some of the chewiest I’ve had, somewhat tough. I enjoyed the texture and accompanying sauce, but would have been put off if I was expecting a more delicate chew.

                                    On special for the night was chicken vein. The skewered vein was very cartilaginous but tender enough to be taken down. This was another one that required some chewing but the texture and sweeter accompanying sauce made it pleasant overall.

                                    Capelin was one of the items I was most looking forward to and I wasn’t let down. It tasted more or less like a grilled sardine, but taste was actually secondary to being able to eat the body in it’s entirety.

                                    The heart was one of the more basic pieces, I liked it and would order again – but it wasn’t particularly memorable. The beef tongue on the other hand was a stand out. Simply seasoned and seared on the outside before giving way to a beefy, fatty flavor – one of my favorites.

                                    Gizzard was awesome, I would describe it as crunchy dark meat and leave it at that. Definitely a must try for offal fans.

                                    Next up was another special for the evening, Whelk Sashimi. Mooms wasn’t much of a fan but I really enjoyed it. If you’ve had clam sashimi, it’s a similar light, almost buttery flavor – with a a much rougher texture. There’s an actual crunch as you bite down into the piece.

                                    I’m a huge fan of quail eggs, and these were some of the best I’ve had, all of the yolk were at a perfect point between soft and hard boiled and seemed disproportionately large for eggs themselves. Awesome.

                                    What came described as Pork Toro was as you may have guessed, fatty pork. It was a bit leaner than traditional pork belly, with more of a chew but had a similar porcine bacon flavor.

                                    If beef tongue was the standout, chicken liver was the surprise of the evening. Both Mooms and I liked this one a lot better than expected. There was definitely the traditional gamy-tinge that would be expected from liver, but it was much more restrained than a piece of beef liver. I liked the texture even more – a slight crunch on the outside but I’d liken the interior to a gritty pâté."