A Sweet Lullaby: Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot and Grill

storefrontI know it’s a terrible habit, but I like falling asleep with the TV still on in the background. I don’t know what it is about a human voice that comforts me so much, but I feel safe and protected when the voice melts into my unconsciousness as a sweet lullaby.

I would sometime fall asleep with a Chinese program (can’t tell the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin) in the background by accident, usually when I doze off while watching a Japanese drama on one of those international, multi-lingual channels that switch languages regularly during the day. Although in a bright daylight, Japanese and Chinese languages have a very contradicting cadence, they often end up transforming into a one, giant blob and I’m not able to tell the difference between the two when shadowed by drowsiness and a daydream. Since Japanese is a derivative of an ancient Chinese language (evidence in its usage of Chinese characters called kanji), I suppose it is not too surprising to find commonalities between the languages that once shared the same root.

It’s also like that in the culinary world for these two cuisines where some dishes go beyond the gastronomic borders and become the very similar entity. Take Japanese Shabu Shabu and Mongolian Hot Pot for instance; these dishes are virtually identical with a few, simple tweaks in the sauce and the broth.

If Shabu Shabu and Mongolian Hot Pot were to fight it out in a culinary battlefield, I wonder who would come out victorious as the royalty of hot pots. I would be a close one. I would personally crown Shabu Shabu as the king (I just love the dipping sauces too much), but the Mongolian type with flavorful broth of herbs, spices and roots are equally impressive.

soup

Lita took me and Maya to Little Sheep in San Diego over the weekend, a perfect destination for the ultimate comfort food for Asian food lovers like us. It was also the perfect way to settle our tired stomachs after the weekend of excessive meat-eating and a fun overdose 🙂

Our Mongolian Hot Pot adventure began with the selection of the broth, the boiling soup that serves as the cooking vehicle for meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles of your choice, as well as the actual soup you can enjoy. What you see here is the order of half mild and half spicy broth. The soup was filled with countless aromatics, making the soup deeply rich in flavor, and ticked all our culinary senses. It was pretty amazing how much different flavors are in this simple soup! I liked the mild broth better than the spicy one (spicy was a bit too oily and way too spicy just to enjoy as a soup). The mild broth reminded a little of the rich, milky tonkotsu broth in Japanese ramen that I love so much.

meat

We ordered lamb, beef, chicken and meatballs for the protein. They come frozen but cooks in seconds in the bubbling liquid. The lamb slices had a very distinct game-y-ness to them but I really liked the flavor and the texture. Lita swore by the chicken and they were good too!

sides

We also ordered tofu, daikon raddish, mushrooms (oysters and shiitake), bak choy and two kinds of vermicelli noodles on the side. Needless to say, we absolutely loved everything here! The broth will become watery and will evaporate over time but you can always have the soup added to the hot pot.

soup-with-veggies

The meal was so filling, I fell asleep right when we got home and my friends’ comforting voice guided me to a deep, satisfying sleep. It was heaven.

Little Sheet Mongolian Hot Pot and Grill
4718 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117
★★★★☆

Girls Just Want to Have Fun: Gaslamp Strip Club

gaslamp-strip-club

I remember when the topic of sex was very much a taboo. Then an establishment like Hooters came to town, bringing together men’s fantasies in beautiful girls in orange hot pants and spicy chicken wings to a bright, PG-13 daylight. And the recent emergence of a show like E! Network’s The Girl Next Door introduced the once-risqué magazine to the mainstream masses, making it acceptable to watch sexy women jump around naked while having dinner with your family (and no more excuses about how much they love the article). What can we say? Sex sells!

gaslamp-insideIf you thought Hooters were sexy, you’ve got to try Gaslamp Strip Club in the heart of Downtown’s Gaslamp District in San Diego. This place is like Hooters on steroid, with much better food and way hotter waitresses and bartenders (girls-next-door type, totally NOT sleazy). It was our special friend Lita’s birthday weekend, and Maya and I traveled to San Diego to celebrate it in a bachelorette-party-meets-girls-night-out style, while our husbands and boyfriend stayed home 🙂

In addition to the unique concept, Gaslamp Strip Club is not just another place where sexy waitresses serve you food. It actually allows you to cook your own steak on a smoking hot grill. Say goodbye to getting a piece of well-done meat when you ordered a medium-rare steak (my pet peeve), or complaining about its lack of seasoning, when you’re on the driver’s seat!

So this is how it goes. First, you order a piece of steak you like. Maya and I ordered the Porterhouse steaks (very reasonably priced at $21.95) and Lita ordered the Strip Club Skirt steak ($14.95). Once you get your uncooked, 21-day aged, Mid-Western, corn-fed Angus meat, you walk over to one of the two grills in the restaurant. Season the steak to your likings from the various available seasonings and slap that meat on the grill!

gaslamp-grill

Look at this big ass Porterhouse steak perfectly cooked medium rare!

gaslamp-steak

All meals come with garlic bread and a delicious family style house salad with creamy Italian dressing.

gaslamp-salad

You can order other side dishes from the XXX-tras selections like the crisp onion rings!

gaslamp-onion-rings

The food offered here is pretty average but it’s the ambiance and the price that makes it irresistible for people looking for something unique and affordable.  As you can imagine, majority of the patrons were men, but the atmosphere is so non-threatening that any women can walk in and have a great time.

girls-3It was so nice that our beautiful and wonderful waitress brought us a complimentary dessert of chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich with a candle for Lita’s birthday! (All three of us had a little girl crush on her.) This night was so much fun, we really thought it should have been illegal. And if you ever thought good girls don’t know how to have fun, you’d be very wrong!

By the way, Maya and I had several of the cocktail called, “Kinky Key Lime Martini,” which was absolutely delicious and potent! When we got back to our hotel room right around the corner, I totally fell asleep (I’m a total light weight), while Lita and Maya watched Sex and the City, the movie. Talk about an ultimate slumber party! Happy birthday, Lita baby!

Gaslamp Strip Club
340 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA
★★★★☆