so what’s happenin’, mama? (10 feb)

thursday, february 10

6pm – 10pm.  Valentines gift bazaar at El Take It Easy.  Free tosti locos and all night happy hour – eat and drink while supporting local businesses by buying crafty gifts for your sweetie!

friday, february 11

10am – 1pm.  Alchemy of the Hearth presents “Start a Food-Based Business.”  $65. 

saturday, february 12

11am – 4pm.  Six contestants compete in a live cooking challenge for a spot as an instructor at Great News! Cooking School.  $10.

12pm-5pm.  Pizza Port Carlsbad Brewbies Festival!  20 local handcrafted beers plus a special edition Pizza Port pink beer. 100% of the proceeds go directly to Keep a Breast to support their efforts to increase breast cancer awareness among young people.

1pm-5pm.  For the Love of Chocolate.  Downtown Escondido festival will include vendors, chocolate pairings by local breweries and wineries, champagne garden with live music, and beer & wine bar.  Tasting tickets are $20 for 10 tastes.

sunday, february 13

10am – 5pm.  Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with San Diego Chinese Historical Society & Museum in downtown San Diego’s Asian Pacific Historic District.   Why not make a day of it and also hit up the Third Ave Certified Farmers’ Market and Asian Bazaar between Island Avenue and J Street from 9am to 1pm?   Check out the San Diego Farm Bureau for a complete daily listing of farmers’ markets around town.

monday, february 14

Well, it’s Valentines’ Day.  Seriously, this is a made up holiday and all the restaurants will be slammed, which means your food will cost more, take longer, and not be as good as it usually is.  This is not romantic.  Do yourself and your sweetie a favor and make a romantic dinner at home tonight.  Not sure what to make?  All thumbs and no knife skills?  Check out tomorrow’s post for a no-fail, super easy, romantic dinner roadmap!

No sweetie?  No problem!  Make a beeline for Proper Gastropub’sAnti-Valentine’s Day” Party starting at 4pm and enjoy their specially priced “Kiss-Off!” cocktail list.  Dress in black or bring a pic of your former flame and get a Screw U Driver off the special cocktail menu for just $1 (and isn’t that cheaper than therapy?). 

tuesday, february 15

730pm – 8pm.  Stop by O’Brien’s Pub and catch Three Sheets with Zane Lamprey, a half hour tv show featuring drinks and drinking customs around the world.  If you’re lucky, they’ll have some Dogfish Head left over from this week’s Dogfish Head night!

 wednesday, february 16

7pm – 11pm.  It’s DRINKABOUT time!  Hop on the free bus and do a loop of some of the best craft beer bars in San Diego (or beyond!) with stops at the Blind Lady Ale House, Small Bar, Live Wire, Toronado, Hamilton’s and more.  Complete schedule and map here.

tajima after dark

Is there anything more satisfying than delicious, greasy, post-bar, late night restaurant adventuring?   The biggest challenge in San Diego can be actually finding a place that’s open (assuming you’ve had your fill of Denny’s, Jack in the Box, and [fill-in-the-blank]-berto’s).   Although we’ve done a lot of growing up in the last few years, San Diego still retains some sleepy little town feel when it comes to kitchens still serving after midnight.  

We recently hit one of our go-to spots for late night grub – Tajima Japanese Noodle House.   Open and serving food until 3am thurs-sat, this location of Tajima is a ramenya, a restaurant specializing in hot, (hopefully) tasty bowls of ramen.  In Japan, ramen is a sacrament with fervent disciples debating ramen ideology.   The New York Times describes Tokyo’s ramen scene as a “…sprawling ramen ecosystem, a realm that encompasses multilingual guidebooks, glossy magazines, databases that score shops to three decimal places…comic books, TV shows, movies (like the 1985 classic “Tampopo,” in which a Stetson-wearing trucker helps a beleaguered widow learn the art of ramen) and, according to the Shinyokohama Raumen Museum…the 4,137 shops selling bowls of noodles in broth.”    

At Tajima, the setup is simple – small, close-together tables (expect a line at “bar-thirty”), and a short menu emphasizing ramen and a few Japanese tapas-style dishes (the main focus at the Izakaya Tajima location down the street).   To order ramen at Tajima, you first select your ramen type: Regular (BBQ pork & egg), Spicy (spicy ground pork & egg), Vegetable (vegetables, pork & egg), Extra BBQ (extra pork & egg), Kakuni (pork belly & egg), Mabo Tofu (tofu, ground pork, egg), or Asari (asari clam & egg).  From there, choose either thin or fat noodles and soup flavor (soy sauce, salt,  miso, tonkotsu).   

ikasugata at Tajima

We ordered a bowl of regular tonkotsu ramen with fat noodles to share.  Because we were pathetically starving, we also ordered Tonpei (grilled pork with egg) and Ikasugata (grilled squid) to share from the a la cart menu.  

The tonpei and ikasugata were the first to arrive.  I love the ikasugata and always end up ordering it at either Tajima location.  I think I keep ordering the tonpei and forgetting that I don’t really like it – menu description and presentation look interesting, but it ultimately just tastes like ham and eggs in mayonnaise to me.  It’s certainly edible (pathetically starving, remember?), but I wish I’d ordered the Tan Shio instead.  

If you go to either location, I really do recommend trying the tan shio.  Yes, it is beef tongue, but it has a kind of beefy bacon flavor and comes with green onions and a nostril-clearing spicy mustard – delicious –  it’s honestly probably the best post-bar tongue you’ll get that night.  I kid, I kid!  Besides, isn’t our motto to be adventurous and try new things, especially delicious ones?  Hooray, it is!  

The ramen comes out quickly and is topped with chashu (simmered pork), nori, negi (green onion), and hanjuku tamajo,  a sort of halfway hard-boiled egg with a firm white and semi-l iquid yolk that’s been steeped in a soy sauce marinade.   The noodles definitely have a lot of chew to them – ramen noodles are typically expected to have some bite to them and some people think they are undercooked or “hard” – you can try to order yours soft or “yawarakame” if you like them less firm.   

  

ninniku-dare

 I like to add a big scoop (or two) of ninniku-dare (garlic paste) from the condiment tubs on the side of the table.  Hooray garlic!   

Grand total for ramen, squid, tonpei, and tea?  Just over $20.  With nearly 200 places in San Diego selling ramen, is Tajima the best ramenya in town?  Is it authentic?  I can’t claim to have the expertise to really answer either question.  I can, however, vouch for it being a pretty darn good choice for cheap 2 am eats, whether or not Tampopo is in your Netflix queue.  

 

Tajima Japanese Noodle House, 4681 Convoy St., San Diego, CA 92111 (858)576-7244, open lunch, dinner, and late night (thurs-sat 10:30pm-3am).

 

Want to know more about ramen?  Check out Ramenate, Ramen Adventures, or Serious Eats for ramen eating in Japan and beyond, mmm-yoso for what’s what in San Diego ramen, or RAMENRAMENRAMEN to brush up on your ramen terminology.

Ramen not your proverbial cup of tea?  Still recovering from the Great Ramen Eating Contest of 2010?  Stayed tuned for an upcoming post on eating after midnight in San Diego!

 

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