Stacks Pancake House – Dana Point

August 21, 2012 § 2 Comments

While visiting the sister-in-law, we decided to go out for breakfast. Stacks Pancake House has gotten some pretty good recs from locals and I’m always up for some local grind-type breakfast. We got there before 9 am on Sunday morning and it was pretty crowded, a line going out the door. Inside seating is limited to about 8 or so tables and there were some seating outside on the patio. It was packed inside but luckily there were a couple of tables open outside. SIL grabbed one for us while the Mister and I waited in line to place our order. We got a couple of menus to look at while in line and much to my chagrin, I didn’t see the loco moco that I’ve read about. But then I saw the kalbi and eggs and thought “ba-zing!” That was what I was going to go with. As we moved closer to the ordering counter, I overheard the guy in front of me ask about the loco moco and the young lady taking the order said they had it. Well, alright. Guess he didn’t see the loco moco on the menu either.  After placing our order and getting a number plate, we headed out to the table.

Coffee and other drinks are served when you order. The Mister and SIL got coffee, I decided to go with guava juice. Hey, going local all da way, ya! This came from a big container rather than individual cans.

First up was SIL’s Santa Fe Scramble: Ortega chili, avocado, Swiss cheese, pico de gallo, fried potatoes and a side of pancakes. She enjoyed this.

The Mister ordered the Greek Omelet, I think. It had spinach, tomato, mushrooms and feta cheese, fried potatoes and a side of pancakes. He said it wasn’t exactly what he was expecting but he still enjoyed it.

And the fluffy, large pancakes. There were two per order. Syrup (not sure if it was Maple Syrup) is located with the condiments at each table. I had joked that it could have been teriyaki sauce, which would have sucked.

I was told the pancakes were very fluffy and tasty.

And now for the loco moco.

Those are double over-easy eggs on top of fried rice with Portuguese sausage. I had a choice of Spam too but I like the sausage with my loco moco. I could have gotten steamed white rice but I felt like fried rice. Hindsight though, I’d wish I had gotten the white rice since the fried rice was rather bland and had green bell peppers (yuck). The gravy that was underneath the eggs was okay, reminded me a bit of the gravy from a packet that my Mom used to make. Needed a lot of hot sauce to punch it up. The yolks were runny although it was cooked just a tad past “over-easy.” Not bad and it certainly was a decent amount of food. I couldn’t finish all the rice.

It was a good breakfast to have on a lazy Sunday morning. The marine layer was providing some coverage from the sun, which was nice since it was a bit muggy and we were sitting outside. While we were eating our breakfast, the place was really, I mean really, getting packed. By 10 am when we were getting ready to leave, the line was double the length from when we ordered and people were standing around fighting for tables. Yup, it was time to leave.

Stacks Pancake House
34255 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, California 92629

Nazca Grill and Island Style Cafe Revisits

October 21, 2011 § 8 Comments

Yippee, it’s Friday! Just a quicky on a couple of recent revisits. The Mister and I (finally) had lunch at Nazca Grill.What was different on this visit from my first visit with CC was a special “New Entrees” menu.

A few of the items looked interesting but we didn’t order from it. I noticed that they had tamal as an appetizer on the menu and since I love tamal, I decided to start with that.

Chicken Tamal

This is Peruvian style tamal but to be honest, I don’t really know what that means compared say to a Mexican style tamal. I thought this was very interesting looking but I couldn’t really tell you what those things were on top of the tamal. What I can tell you was this was about the best tasting chicken tamal I’ve ever had. The masa was so flavorful and the pickled red onions was a nice tangy addition. This had to have been good since the Mister said he enjoyed it. He doesn’t like tamal of any sort really. He was going to town on those pickled onions. The dipping sauce was the the same as the one that was served the Lomo Fino Nazca (grilled top sirloin steak) that I had last time. The only thing I wish was that there was just a little more chicken in this. But damn, I’d definitely would get this again next time.

Since I had the Loma Fino Nazca (grilled top sirloin steak) last time and really enjoyed it, the Mister decided to try it. He didn’t get an extra side of the dipping sauce since we still had the one from the tamal but I’m sure he would have gotten another one if we had asked. The french fries were fried perfectly.

Loma Fino Nazca

I decided to get the Lomo Saltado (sauteed strips of beef) this time. Mine also came with the perfectly fried french fries. This beef had a bit more of a kick to it than the Lomo Fino Nazca and we both really enjoyed it.  The Mister liked my dish a little better but he said he would take either one. So would I.

Lomo Saltado

I ordered a diet Inca Kola this time (versus regular) and the Mister really enjoyed sharing that with me. He loved the citrusy flavor of the soda and thought it went well with the beef dishes. Guess I’ll have to pick some up next time I see it.

Nazca Grill
4310 Genesee Ave
San Diego, CA 92117
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm, Sundays: Closed


It’s been just over a year since I last did a post on Island Style Cafe. You can read previous visits here and here. I met my friend, L for lunch since it’s been awhile since I’ve seen her. It’s also been a long time since we’ve been here. Funny as I read my post on that last visit, I realized that we both ended up ordering the exact same thing. L got her teriyaki beef.

Teriyaki Beef, Fried Rice and Salad with Mango Dressing

I got my Kalbi combo but instead of the teriyaki chicken, I asked for the Korean Chicken as a substitution (which will they do if you ask). We both got the green salad with mango dressing, yum.

Kalbi BBQ Combo, Fried Rice and Salad with Mango Dressing

What was different with this visit from the last is what used to be strips of teriyaki beef is now a rather large slab of beef. The flavor was still the same but I recall the beef being a bit more tender on previous visits. I also noticed that my Korean Chicken was missing some of the breading and was slightly soggy. Not the best I’ve had here but not too bad. What you can’t see in the picture of the Kalbi combo is the actual kalbi. It was hidden hidden under the other two proteins. As usual, that was delicious but I’ve yet to meet a kalbi I didn’t like.

No complaints. Food was good (there were a lot of it!) and as always the company. It was nice catching up with L.

Island Style Cafe
5950 Santo Road
San Diego, CA 92124
Tues-Thurs 10:00 am – 2:30 pm, 4:30 – 8:00 pm
Fri-Sat 8:00 am – 8:0 pm
Sun 8:00 am – 3 pm
Mon Closed

Aloha Friday to everyone. Have a terrific weekend!

Kitchen Remodel – Week 3

November 15, 2009 § 2 Comments

In some ways, it doesn’t seem like it’s already the end of Week 3. And what a difference in just 2 weeks. All the plumbing, electrical, lighting and most of the drywall are done.

In what seems like no time at all, it went from this:

To this:

I realized this weekend that I never took before shots when all the old crappy cabinets and sink were still in. Bummer. Maybe I’ll have some shots of it in other pictures somewhere.

Meals for the week:

On my subsequent visit to Ipo BBQ (Week 2), I decided to try Ipo’s Spicy BBQ Ribs ($7.49) as well as the BBQ Beef Bulgogi Rice Bowl ($5.25). Let’s start with the ribs.

Ipo's Spicy BBQ Ribs

Compared to the regular BBQ ribs, this version is a bit spicy which made the ribs seem less sweet. I like this version and I think I’d be hard pressed to choose between the two. Guess it’ll just boil down to what I’m in the mood for at the moment. Other than the sauce, everything is the same as the regular BBQ ribs. A note that on a more recent lunch visit, the number of spicy ribs went from 4 to 3. I don’t know if this is a permanent change but I”ll confirm it next time I’m there.

Now the BBQ Beef Bulgogi Rice Bowl.

The size is about the same size as other rice bowl combos I’ve seen and reasonable for the price. There was enough beef to rice ratio to satisfy my hunger but I probably could have eaten just a bit more. I liked the flavor of the bulgogi, not overly sweet and the meat was tender. That pretty much rounds out the meals for this week.

I finally got the Waring Pro portable dual burner on Friday. The only thing I’ve cooked on it is an egg. One single egg. Over easy and I broke the yolk, boo.  But it cooked up just like a regular stovetop. Likes: heats up fast, powerful enough to boil water (to be tested), solid and nonslip. Dislikes: takes a long time to cool down but I knew this going in since the burners are cast iron, the stainless steal body gets very hot when in use but I knew this going in too. Hopefully I’ll be making more meals on this in the next few weeks to come.

Waring Pro Portable Dual Burner

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!


November 5, 2009 § 4 Comments

Ipo BBQ (pronounced “ee-po”) replaced Maui Express earlier this year.  I had known Maui Express was up for sale and was glad to see another plate lunch takes its place since it is the only plate lunch establishment in Poway. We were hopeful that Ipo’s food would be better than Maui Express, which wouldn’t have been hard to do (enough said about Maui Express).  I’ve only found one other review for Ipo here (with the exception of yelp). Notice how dine-in meals are served on plates and not paper or styrofoam?

So while the Mister is in Hawaii, working supposedly (he better be bringing back lots of crackseed for me if he knows what’s good for him), I thought I’d stop by and give them a try. The interior has changed a bit since Maui Express, much nicer and there’s even a flat panel on the wall. Some kind of Polynesian dance performance was being shown when I was there.  Apologies for not taking any pictures of the inside since I was in a bit of a rush and forgot my camera on my desk.

I did, however, pick up a printed menu. You can find a much better and clearer version of the menu online here.

Ipo BBQ Menu

The menu offers a decent variety of selections. A very nice lady behind the counter (one of the owners) asked for my order. I looked over the menu board trying to take in everything and decided on the regular BBQ Short Ribs ($7.49) since that’s my usual go-to at new places. I also figured that since Ipo has a Korean influence, the short ribs would be a safe bet. A mini version is also available for $5.49.

While I waited for my to-go order, I could hear the sounds of food cooking coming from the kitchen. When the lady brought out my order, I asked her if she was from Hawaii. She said no but that her sister lives in Hawaii. She mentioned that she was Korean and that she lived in New Zealand for 6 years with her family. We chatted a little more about New Zealand and she mentioned they moved to San Diego so she can support her son’s interest in golf. I thought that was very cool.

When I opened my styrofoam box, I was pleasantly surprised by the ribs. There were 4! very good sized and thick cross ribs that looked nicely grilled without being burnt with a nice shiny glaze. For the price, I had expected somewhat of a lesser quality of ribs, you know, the kind that have a strip of grizzle running along the length of the rib. But these ribs lean, what I’d expect from ribs I buy from Zion Market. The thickness of the meat were easily 1/4″ thick. Nice!

BBQ Short Ribs - Regular Size

The standard 2 scoops of rice with a bit of black sesame seed on top of each scoop. I don’t know why but I really like this little bit of touch. A scoop of macaroni salad comes with it also. The servings of rice and macaroni are a wee bit on the small size but I’d take that for the amount of ribs they give you! So what about the taste?

The macaroni was good without being overly mayonnaised. It did need a little bit of salt and pepper for my taste to round it out. The rice was perfectly cooked, sticky and warm. The ribs, as I suspected, wasn’t overly sweet and leaned towards more Korean style rather than Hawaiian BBQ sweeter style. I thought it was really good, especially for the thickness. The meat had good smoke flavor and tender, grilled perfectly for my taste. In fact, this is probably the best BBQ short ribs plate I’ve had in a very very long time.

When I was telling the Mister about it later that night, I realized that it was at least 20 minutes after I got home before I ate my meal. What was interesting was that the ribs did not need to be reheated (still warm) and it lacked the usual sheen of congealed layer of fat from lesser quality ribs after sitting for awhile. I hope that makes sense. My point is, the ribs were lean and higher in quality than other joints I’ve been to. I know, I’ve never met a plate of short ribs I didn’t like but there are some that I favor more than others. Ipo BBQ just made the list! I hope Ipo BBQ does better and stays around longer than its predecessors in that location. I’ll certainly be back to try other offerings.

12370 Poway Road
Poway, CA 92064
Corner of Poway & Pomerado Rd
(same side as Big Lots and right next door to Winchell’s Donuts)
(858) 668-3032

Friday Ramblings

September 25, 2009 § 4 Comments

Since it’s (Aloha) Friday, thought I’d do a quick post on just a couple of recent local grindz kind of lunches.

I took my friend, L to Island Style Cafe for lunch. I’ve been here once before for breakfast. We both had a tough time deciding what to get. I was going back and forth between the Korean Chicken and the Kalbi BBQ plate. L decided to get the Teriyaki Beef with fried rice and macaroni salad.

 She thought the teri beef was very good and she especially enjoyed the fried rice. The fried rice had bits of bacon and what looks like char shiu, Chinese brocoli (??), onions, eggs and possibly other “stuff.”  I ended up getting the Kalbi BBQ Mix, also with fried rice and macaroni salad. I thought the macaroni salad, which had chunks of potato in them, which I enjoyed, was bland but a bit of ground pepper helped. The fried rice was pretty good and a couple of shots of Tabasco kicked it up a bit.

The teriyaki beef was good, meat was tender but the teri sauce was a wee bit sweet for me and there was a lot of it too. The sauce sort of got on everything else so it was kind of hard for me to judge the true taste of the ribs. I typically don’t like teriyaki chicken and this was no exception. The chicken was tender but I could tell the chicken was put on the grill just for markings. If it wasn’t for the overly sweet sauce, it would have lacked any kind of flavor. Meh. L thought it was okay. Nonetheless, there is a lot of food on these plates and I was already getting stuffed even before finishing half my plate. (No, I couldn’t finish everything, whew!)

 The fried rice and the teriyaki beef were the standouts in this lunch. I think these plate lunches really represent the plate lunches I’ve had on the Islands and really not a whole lot of complaining on my end.

Island Style Cafe
5950 Santo Road
San Diego, CA 92124
Breakfast until 11 am
Tues-Thurs 10 am – 8 pm
Fri-Sat 7:30 am – 8 pm
Sun 7:30 am – 3 pm
Mon Closed

Sticking with the Aloha Friday theme, here’s a shot of the Spam Musubi ($1.75) from a recent visit to Kayla’s Island Grill. You can read about one of those visits here. They wrap their musubi similar to how I make mine. But as you can see, Kayla’s has 2 slices of thinner Spam, a double-decker. The rice was decent and the sauce had was teriyaki-ish although not as sweet as some of the other ones I”ve had before. Not bad to sooth any Spam Musubi cravings.

Kayla’s Island Grill
11815 Sorrento Valley Road
San Diego, CA, 92121
Open for lunch and dinner

Well that’s it folks until the next post. Have a fantastic weekend, stay cool, and as always, go and eat well.

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