Saturday, November 6, 2010

San Diego: Isabel's Cantina

Another non-food picture to start this post off, because I'm pretty sure the subject of this photo (not the photo itself) is unbeatable.  I took this at the Salk Institute in La Jolla; the Salk is an architectural stunner, with a view that speaks for itself.

But now, on to food.  Wednesday's dinner was at Isabel's Cantina, which I'm pretty sure is the first Latin-American/Asian fusion restaurant I've ever been to.  The students at our table said Isabel's is one of the best places in the area for brunch, but no one really seemed to know what dinner would be like.  We started with some "dragon potatoes" which were basically thick fried wedges of various potato varieties - tasty like most fried potatoes are tasty, but otherwise unremarkable.  For my main dish I ordered the udon noodle bowl simply because I wanted noodles.  These were tossed with julienned vegetables - cabbage, carrots, and red bell peppers, I think - in a spicy and sort of syrupy peanut sauce.  The dish was oversauced for my taste buds and spicier than I expected.  The marinated tofu that I requested was really good, however, with a gently crisp skin on each piece.

On my left was a student from Puerto Rico who kindly told me what authentic Puerto Rican food is like.  He ordered fish tacos, which I thought looked very pretty and asked to photograph.

For dessert, a coconut flan landed in front of several of us, but the student on my right and I decided to order some flourless chocolate cake as well.  The flan was thicker than we expected, to the point where it was reminiscent of cheesecake (in a good way).  I've never been a flan fan (hehe, doesn't that sound funny?), so I was more excited about the cake, and this cake was excellent: rich without being cloyingly dense, and the perfect level of sweetness.

If I were in the area, I would definitely want to try Isabel's for brunch, and I would happily order the chocolate cake anytime.

Those readers who remember Teatime from freshman year will be amused to hear that I ordered a berry iced tea that was strongly reminiscent of the [in]famous Snapple tea.  It turns out that berry-flavored herbal teas taste much better iced than hot.