Fans of DIY cookery should check out the new Shabu Shabu House in Kearny Mesa, where you cook meat or seafood in a boiling, kelp-flavored broth. Each order comes with vegetables, tofu and noodles to add to the soup and round out the meal. While I prefer the more fully flavored broth in the Chinese version of this cooking style found at Little Sheep Hot Pot, this Japanese version is worth a try. 4646 Convoy St.
The owners of Trattoria La Strada, one of the longest-running Italian restaurants in the Gaslamp, have opened nearby Operacaffe, whose menu has a lot of wine-friendly, moderately priced plates, including cheese, cured meats, beef carpaccio and arancini—little Sicilian fried rice dumplings filled with cheese. 835 Fourth Ave. www.operacaffe.com.
A second El Zarape—the popular University Heights Mexican restaurant—will open in March at the corner of Adams Avenue and 32nd Street in Normal Heights. The new location will feature table service, a parking lot and a full bar.
A friend recently introduced me to the handmade delights from Hogetsu Bakery in Chula Vista, where a husband-and-wife team makes small batches of Japanese tea cakes called manju—tender and sweet morsels of glutinous rice dough infused with flavors like green tea and filled with red bean paste. Some are even shaped like flowers and fruit—it's art you can eat. 1210 Third Ave.
Holidays are about taking visiting family to memorable spots. Some favorite eats (and drinks) had by CityBeat in the past couple of weeks include: street tacos and guacamole at Downtown's La Puerta, bartender Dennis' bloody Mary at Whistle Stop Bar, veggie Baja Dogs at Hamilton's Café, tamales and burritos at Don Carlos in La Jolla, seafood stew at Urban Solace and uni nigiri at Encinitas' Kaito Sushi.Got food news? Write to email@example.com.