Hmmmmm….the best thing I ate in 2016. Well 2016 has been an amazing year for food. Where to begin…I didn’t do as much traveling in 2016 as I would have liked due to a new position at work, so much of this list is comprised of dishes I ate here in my hometown of San Diego.
With so many amazing dishes out there, it was incredibly difficult to choose just a few. But I did it. The list is broken into categories by cuisine, in no particular order. I share my favorite at end, but don’t peek!
- Sea urchin and salmon roe with poached egg at Raku in Las Vegas – Everything served in this dish was excellent. The ingredients were paired together perfectly, not at all overwhelming as I thought it would be. I only wish they gave you more…
- Uni scallops at Wa Dining Okan in San Diego – While only a single mouthful, the uni and scallops complement each other wonderfully, and the soy based sauce topped it off for the perfect meld of flavors.
- Salmon and scallop carpaccio at Wa Dining Okan in San Diego – The quality of the fish is what makes this dish so good. Drizzled in a light, lemony soy based sauce, the salmon all but melts in your mouth.
- Kobe beef liver sashimi at Raku in Las Vegas – Served with a piece of garlic on top and sesame oil to dip. If you like liver, this is a must try. I found the flavors amazing, the garlic and sesame oil offset the irony flavor of the beef liver.
- Pork intestine at Raku in Las Vegas – Perfectly crisp on the outside and delightfully creamy on the inside. I never thought pork intestine would make my top dishes of the year, but here we are.
- Kobe Beef at Tsurahashi Japanese BBQ in San Diego – The beef (Kobe beef Gold) was perfectly marbled and full of flavor; another melt in your mouth dish. You cook the meat yourself at this traditional Japanese BBQ spot, and the dipping sauces they provide are addictive.
- Chicken skin at Yakitori Taisho in San Diego – Yakitori is one of my favorite things to eat, and Yakitori Taisho is my favorite place to eat it. You are limited to one order of chicken skin per person as there is a limited quantity. If you’re worried about it being weird, don’t. It’s absolutely amazing and will have you begging for more.
- Chicken vein at Yakitori Taisho in San Diego- The chicken vein is another winner at this restaurant. Also limited to one order per person, please overlook the fact that it is chicken vein. With just a touch of chewiness, it is packed full of flavor – you won’t regret giving this guy a try.
- Foie gras egg custard at Raku in Las Vegas – A subtle amount of foie gras mixed with egg, steamed, and served with a piece of grilled duck. The grilled duck added an extra bit of richness to the creamy, flavorful custard (I mean, did this dish really need more richness?). Beautifully done.
- Tsukemen at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle in Los Angeles – A tonkotsu (pork) broth simmered for 60 hours, with some seafood thrown in at the end for some added sweetness. The coma-inducing broth was incredibly rich and flavorful, served with perfect thick, chewy noodles and a beautiful soft boiled egg. Up to this point, I had thought Ramen was one of my favorite dishes, but I have converted. We arrived here 15 minutes before they opened and there was already a line, but was totally worth the wait.
- Biang Biang noodles at Shan Xi Magic Kitchen in San Diego – Large, hand ripped fresh made noodles. Topped with ground chili and hot chili oil, chili flakes, ginger and green onion served over bean sprouts and a soy based broth. It was so simple, yet the flavors are intense and delicious. While the flavors were outstanding, it was the fresh made noodles that put this dish on this list.
- Pork XLB (soup dumplings) at Mama Lu’s Dumpling House in Los Angeles – Hands down, the best XLBs I have ever eaten. The broth is rich and fatty, flavorful enough that you could eat them with no condiments (I still like a little vinegar and chili). The dumplings were juicy, not excessively hot when served, and the skins cooked to perfection.
- Rabbit pasta at Catania in San Diego – I have scoured the earth for evidence that this dish existed, but have found none. Not a picture (I wish I had taken a picture), review, or menu including this dish. But I promise I did eat it, and it was one of the best! If you visit this restaurant, I encourage you to ask is they still serve it.
- Smoked duck liver mousse at Catania in San Diego – Smoked duck liver served on toast with dates, persimmons, almonds, shallots, and parsley. It is amazingly divine, and…I hear liver is the new superfood? Like we need a reason to eat it.
- Squid ink risotto at Whisknladle in San Diego – Can you say foodgasm? Perfectly cooked risotto (just a slight bite), just the right amount of squid ink, combined with whatever other magical ingredients they used made for an incredible dish. Unfortunately, it is not currently on their menu, but the second it reappears I will be back….
- Grilled quail at Kettner Exchange in San Diego – Deliciously grilled quail served with char siu, pickled daikon, onions, and turnips on top of a potato puree. The meat was moist and tender, the skin light and crispy, all complemented nicely by the char siu sauce. The potato puree was a nice touch as well.
- Hokkien Mee at Geylang Lor 29 Fried Hokkien Mee in Singapore – Egg and rice noodles cooked in a fragrant broth of shrimp and chicken or pork, and stir fried with egg, pork, prawns, squid, fried pork lard, and deep fried shallots. Mix in a little lime juice and sambal and you’ve got the perfect dish.
- Laksa at Sungei Road Laksa in Singapore – A rich, spicy coconut curry broth, rice noodles and fresh cockles served with sambal. While I had other great Laksa in Singapore, this place had the best broth, and the best count on the cockles. So many cockles!
- Butter garlic chicken wings at Phuong Trang in San Diego – These are ALMOST the best wings of my life, second only to the fish sauce wings we had at Pok Pok in Portland a couple years back. Hot, juicy, buttery and coated with chunks of garlic and salt, these wings will make you happy.
- Gnocchi a la parisienne at Blue Boheme in San Diego – The pan fried Parmesan dumplings that made this dish. Perfectly crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and served in a white wine cream sauce with butternut squash, roasted mushrooms and brussel sprouts.
And that’s that. What was my favorite you ask? Oh gosh, if I HAVE to pick….chicken skin at Yakitori Taisho and Tsukemen at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle are tied for first place.
The new year is right around the corner and I’m ready to start from square one. What will be the best thing I eat in 2017?
What was the best thing you ate this year? Where did you eat it? Have you tried any of the dishes above? What did you think? Where should I go in 2017? I would love to hear your comments!