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Hillcrest is a neighborhood that celebrates diversity. As new business open, they bring different cultures, ideas, and worldviews to the residents, enriching the community and making the area a successful melting pot of people and perspectives from around the world.With the grand opening of Karma Relaxation Spa at 3969 1st Avenue, Jing Sun and her family bring a new cultural perspective to the spa business. Instead of the guilty luxury that most people imagine, they wanted to introduce a more traditional Chinese model that offers the same high quality treatments as other facilities but at a much more accessible price for the average person.The 3969 location on 1st Avenue has everything they want, 4,000 square feet of space, a nice and modern glass exterior, it was near University and the heart of the community and had a parking lot outside and in back.Jing explains that in China, everyone gets massages; they are so common that many people get them every day after work. On weekends, it is common for an entire family to spend a day at a spa.The facilities are usually several stories tall, and clients will remove their shoes and walk into the men’s or women’s shower to rinse off. After showering, you enter another room and get full body sea salt scrub. Walking to the second floor, there are many different steam rooms, wet and dry, some with wood, others with stone. Once you are done, on the third floor there is a common area where everyone relaxes, talks, exercises, and plays games together while waiting for a foot and body massage. After the massage, you go to the top floor where there is another common area with a buffet table, so everyone finishes the day eating and socializing well into the night.Americans, while very sexually open, are much more shy and cautious about their bodies than people are in China, so they could not duplicate the model, but had to adapt it to American comfort levels. The result is a large facility offering body and foot massages, Vichy showers, detox treatments, milk or honey baths, and a sauna at a fraction of the price.The President package, one of their most expensive, last about three hours and includes a 60 minute body massage, a 60 minute foot massage, a 15 minute body detox, a Vichy shower, a milk or honey bath, and a sauna treatment followed by a hot towel wrap, all for $79.99!While they could charge two to three times the price and still be less expensive than most, they would rather make up the difference in volume so that everyone can afford the physical and emotional benefits of regular and frequent treatments instead of keeping it as an expensive infrequent indulgence.Featuring seven top-of-the line fully adjustable foot massage lounge chairs, and ten massage tables in spread between eight themed rooms, high quality gold paint gives the different sections a warm radiance that is tempered by sheer curtains diffusing of the light. Smells of lavender and vanilla relax your mind while arousing the senses.Open from 10:00am to 11:00pm seven days a week, there is little doubt that this is a cultural experience that the community will whole-heartedly embrace. As the buffet of different regions, countries, and traditions expands, residents increasingly get to pick and choose from the best that the diversity of the world has to offer. When you can enjoy an authentic Italian lunch at Buonissimo, a Chinese styled spa afternoon at Karma, and finish it off with a Turkish coffee and hookah at Istanbul, all without setting foot on a plane, or even leaving your own neighborhood, then you know you truly live in America’s Finest City.
Turning the tide and getting jobs back is Master Sushi Chef Gerardo Torres. Behind the counter at Ue Kara Grill he is serving up quality Sushi with jalapenos and cilantro. Thus knocking out the wasabe supplier and serving the balance of trade, keeping it all home grown and locally owned. The tea is Yamamotoyama though.At the helm of Ue Kara Grill is Arturo Ayala of Chula Vista. Building it through sweat equity, no bank's outrageous loans to tie him down. At times I think, "Like Sancho Panza he is chasing fish gills." I'd like to say he is 25 years too late but he is only 23 years old, shouldn't he be going Chinese? Whatever the case I will be fascinating to see his business grow. Torres is a creative chef with 15 years at Ichiban in PB and a two-year stint as head chef at Sushiya in Otay Ranch. Ayala's grandfather was the largest exporter of fish in the state of Morenos, Mexico. They have a fighting chance in a tough downtown market.Try the Sashimi Mexican Style. I had it with Yellow Tail Tuna, but I think with Salmon may have been a better selection. The dish was topped with jalepeños, lemon, cilantro, a seaweed salad and gobo. Nonetheless, it was a nice surprise like a jumbo ceviche and a beautiful photo op. In fact all of Torres' creations are almost too pretty to eat. The decor is not yet much to look at, but there is tile for a new floor in one corner, new higher tables are on order, and a liquor license application has been filed. Yogata! That is Japanese for Que Bien! He has a 42 inch flat panel in place and a large projection screen. Outdoor seating is available. There were no Foo Fighters, in fact the place was a bit too silent, make your mark drop off some classical Biwa (a pear shaped lute) or some hardcore Japanese punk.Ue Kara Grill also has a great selection of Udon Noodles, Bento (lunch) boxes for under $7.00 making it a destination for a quick and convenient downtown lunch and in San Diego, isn't it right to have Sushi with a bit of Mexican flair?
Walking past El Vitral along the open stadium of Petco Park, shelves of premium tequila glisten in the restaurant window. Walking into the establishment, it becomes evident that tequila is definitely a theme. And why not? It is a quality product from Mexico, which falls in line with Chef/Owner Pablo Becker’s whole vision. His vision is to introduce all things good from fine Mexican cuisine and changing the way San Diego views Mexican food. If that isn’t the best first impression, wait until you walk into the main attraction, the open kitchen. Floor to ceiling stainless steel wrapped in glass pane, the kitchen is the ultimate centerpiece. Chef Becker compares the development of a restaurant is like fitting together pieces of the puzzle. He knows because he speaks from experience. When he first started in the restaurant business his mentor asked him to start like any other employee with no prior experience; by washing dishes. From there, he went through every step of the business from the bottom up. Today, as a restaurateur, he knows a restaurant inside and out and top to bottom. In fact from the hostess to the bartender, all are trained to answer any questions a patron might have about the décor, the various brands of tequila and most importantly, the food. Also on his team is Chef de Cuisine Norma Martinez. She heads the concept menu and blends items in like grandma’s mole recipe. With Chef Becker’s depth of culinary skills, extensive restaurant experience, and love for the restaurant industry, El Vitral is a definite home run.
Some restaurants don't only speak for themselves, but yell. And you should be caught by Mama Testa, every dish is made from scratch. In an age when fusion is all the rage, Mama Testa is happy to show that going back to the authentic is by no means archaic. Each dish represents a focus on the traditions and techniques responsible for producing complicated flavors and textures. This is all especially true when fish tacos are the topic of conversation. Mama Testa was the first restaurant in San Diego to take on Bobby Flay, as part of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. And although these tacos may not have been the original cause of Mama Testa's good reputation, besting Flay was a great way to prove that it was one fish taco you don't want to miss.What made all this possible is Cesar Gonzalez, owner of Mama Testa, and his passion for Mexican cuisine and culture. He didn't want free range chicken just for the health reasons or because it was the current trend, but because only free range can bring out the flavors realized by the dishes as they are made in Mexico. In fact, all the fresh ingredients are for making Mexican food the way Mexicans do. And Cesar knows that just the food is not enough to give a sense of the culture, so he has made sure that while you dine, you can't help but notice the decor; pieces taken from themes of the golden era of Mexican movies and chairs baring actor's names. The entire idea of Mama Testa Taqueria is to fill your senses with the flavors, smells and sights of Mexico. A goal it has surely achieved.
I've gone to Karma Relaxation Spa twice last month and both times they exceeded my expectations. I like my massages a little on the hard side and medium to deep tissue is what I always request. It feels really great especially on the upper back and shoulders. Tony really worked on my knots and did a great job on the whole body. What I find helpful is requesting what type of massage you want up front before you go in because if you don't, you may not like the pressure they use on you. This way there are no surprises and you're more likely to have a good experience.They took me to an open room dimly lit and nicely decorated with soothing music playing in the background. More importantly, it was clean. During the foot massage I did hear light whispers and other people coming in for their massages which is expected because it is an open setting. I think about 8 people can get treatment in that room at once. If you want complete isolation you may want to opt for a room and get a body massage. I also got a body detox and my water turned orange which they said meant toxins were released from my joints. I don't know what that did but that night I slept like a baby. The paraffin wax for both my hands and feet were amazing and left everything feeling extra soft and smooth. The wax is hotter than I expected, so if you get it, you may want to have them turn it down a bit for you depending on your preference. I liked it hot. All and all I had a great experience here. I would definitely come back again.
Order the Squash Blossoms...Order the Squash Blossoms...did you hear me? Order the Squash Blossoms!My friend and I ate here before going to the theater and the biggest problem was I ate way too much and was uncomfortable during the entire musical. Nothing like watching Wicked while turning green yourself! Seriously, the squash blossoms are so delectable and light, full of flavor, and simply one of the best appetizers I've ever had. We also shared the polenta board, which is polenta severed table side with the ragu of the day. The polenta was creamy and delightful, and the ragu is always different ours was filled with summer veggies and full bodied flavors.For our main courses I ordered the spring lamb bolognese rigatoni and my friend ordered the short rib pappardelle. I really wish I had stopped eating half way through my pasta, however it was so delicious I couldn't control myself. Cucina Urbana is totally worth putting on your list of places to mangia!
So as a makeup artist im always doing full looks on my face, and nothing completes that better than lashes. Falsies were just never good enough for me because not only are they a pain to apply but they dont look real at all. So i went to Suki day spa by referral to get my lashes done and let me tell you..THEY WERE AMAZING! They were SOOO natural looking but still gave me that boldness and length. I had been looking around at MANY, MANY other places to see where the best deals and results would be. My mom, cousins, and friends all got extensions at other locations (for cheap) and you could just tell the quality of the lashes and overall look just wasnt good at all and they still looked very fake and harsh. At suki day spa you are DEFINITELY getting your moneys worth!! SO NATURAL looking the workers are amazing and take their time and pay much attention to detail. Mine lasted a month! BEST eye lash extensions in san diego by far.
I have been to Karma Relaxation Spa twice in the last month and both times they have exceeded my expectations. I like my massages a little on the hard side and medium to deep tissue is what I always request. It feels really great especially on the upper back and shoulders. They took me to an open room dimly lit and nicely decorated with soothing music playing in the background. More importantly, it was clean. I also got a body detox and my water turned orange which they said meant toxins were released from my joints. I don't know what that did but that night I slept like a baby. The paraffin wax for both my hands and feet were amazing and left everything feeling extra soft and smooth. The wax is hotter than I expected, so if you get it, you may want to have them turn it down a bit for you depending on your preference. I liked it hot. All and all I had a great experience here. I would definitely come back again.
This is THE thing I miss about living in San Diego... We used to live down the street from this amazing little eatery and have been there probably 50 times in the past 4 years. We have NEVER been disappointed. From the incredible wine and beer selection to the AMAZING mac and cheese, I don't think I've ever had a meal there that I haven't loved! I love their commitment to sustainable food, as well as fresh, local produce. With a seasonally changing menu, I always look for something new to try, but I have to say if you are into it, GET THE MEATLOAF. It is the one thing (besides the mac and cheese) that I look for EVERY time we go. It's moist, and delicious and the lamb pairs incredibly well with the sweetness of the figs... it's not your Momma's Meatloaf, but it sure is DAMN good. Top off that meatloaf with the salted caramel pot de creme and you will need to be rolled out the door, pleasantly stuffed!
Walking into the Gaslamp Garage, I notice that this was not a typical novelty store. The walls were covered with murals, the ceiling lined with old rims and tires, making true every sense of the store's name. On the back wall were Roxy, Hurley and Quicksilver clothing and accessories. This means that I could find a bathing suit for me and a gift for my little sister all in one store. I was impressed by the colorful decor and upbeat music. With 5,000 square feet of retail space, I could browse for hours. The coffee table books were fun, with titles like "He Said, She Said." Not only that, this store offers the largest selection of souvenir merchandise in San Diego. You can find anything from a T-shirt, keychain, shot glass, or fleece hoodie. The employees were professional, dressed in store polo shirts. I could definitely do a lot of shopping here.