Ludo’s Trois Mec

Sunday, 22nd, 2018

Was it worth it? Yes.

Trois Mec is now up there on my list of best tasting menu experiences* I’ve had so far. It might even be #1. :O

The restaurant: Located in a Yum Yum Donuts strip mall, next door to Petit Trois, Ludo Lefebvre’s other restaurant. Both spaces are really small. The open kitchen is towards the front of the restaurant and there is bar seating right in front to see all the action. We got the table closest to the entrance in a booth with cushions. You’ll want to sit in the front so you can see the happenings in the kitchen, and you’ll also want to go there with just one other person because they seat parties of two or four, but you’ll most likely get to sit more towards the front if you have a smaller party.

The staff: Friendly, funny and prompt.

Portion sizes: Sufficient. You won’t leave hungry. I wasn’t able to finish the last couple desserts.

The music: Mostly 90s hip hop, which was awesome. The fiance was very happy.

The bathroom: Two private ones, basically gender neutral. Clean. Nice choice of candles.

Okay, I’ll stop messing around and talk about the food. These were the main highlights:

We went for the standard wine pairing (there’s also a reserve option but we didn’t need to get that fancy). I don’t remember all the wines we had, but I remember you start off with a brut and end with this jammy red at the end which goes amazing with dessert. More on that later. There was also a wine from Corsica and a white Bordeaux. All tasted great, especially after the first 2 glasses, everything is great right?

Bread and butters. Providing good bread is always good form on a restaurant’s part. Their bread basket included flaky layers of crepe. I couldn’t decide if it tasted the best with the cheese-like dip or the yuzu butter. Probably the yuzu butter.

Chamomile custard, peas, smoked trout roe and buckwheat. Although not the most photogenic dish, the custard was a flavor bomb (and i’m using the word bomb because of the trout roe that was in there) with amazing texture. Between the fresh English peas, crunchy buckwheat and salty, burst in your mouth trout roe, this one was not only rich and delicious, but also fun to eat.

Striped bass, corn risotto, citrus, brown butter miso. This one was to die for. It was so good that I took a picture of the empty dish. The striped bass was tender, almost melting in your mouth. Eat equal parts bass and the corn risotto in one bite.

Black pepper honey duck, squid ink, foie gras butter, eggplant, red shiso. Umptious. Felt like I was eating a piece of high grade steak. Except it was duck. The black pepper crust seals the deal. (Or ties everything together. You get the picture).

Strawberry, creme fraiche, rose honey, vinegar, macaroon crumble. This paired with the last berry-like wine was heaven.

The courses were so, so good. But on top of that, the kitchen was beautiful, the staff was charming and the music made it fun. Since this meal was a birthday gift to the fiance, I gotta say, I did good.

*For those curious of what my list of tasting menu experiences currently consists of and what I’m comparing Trois Mec to, so far I’ve eaten at n/naka, Petit Crenn, Providence and and Kato.

Sandwich #1: altered beef

Sunday, 4th, 2018

One down, 39 to go.

The first sandwich in A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches is called “Altered Beef,” inspired by east coast roast beef sandwiches. The main ingredients are hot roast beef, jus, mozzarella, roasted onions and pickled bean sprouts.

Three components required prep work, so I spread each one out throughout a week’s time, starting with the easiest one which was pickling bean sprouts. You combine sugar, salt, white vinegar and mung bean sprouts into a jar and put it in the fridge. I just used a mason jar. Second part of prep work was making roast beef, which wasn’t too difficult. I slathered the beef with marinade and let it slow cook in the oven for 2 hours. The roast beef required fried shallots as part of the marinade, which I opted out of and just used chopped shallots instead, which was totally fine. Last part of prep work was roasting onions. I went with red to add some color to the sandwich.

As a hot roast beef sandwich, Altered Beef requires the making of au jus. This required getting bones, broccoli stems, onion, ginger and garlic and first roasting those ingredients then creating a stock out of it. I decided to cheat and use beef broth (I know, but honestly I still think it came out tasty). In the beef broth I still simmered those ingredients and strained them and all was fine. I saved myself hours of labor. Disclaimer, as I make each sandwich in this cookbook, I’m going to Sandra Lee my way through some of it to keep this project fun and not something that turns into a burden.

Once the jus is ready, you bring it to a boil and cook the roast beef and roasted onions in it. You then lay the roast beef and onions onto a kaiser roll and top with mozzarella, pickled bean sprouts and cilantro. Then the piece de resistance – ladle the hot au jus over the sandwich. My sandwich picture was pre-jus ladling because I’m not sure how well soggy bread would have photographed. Although not good for photography, the au jus was obviously incredible for the sandwich. I was very happy with the results. 🙂

2 successful instant pot recipes

Tuesday, 27th, 2018

Photo from ItsASmahlWorld where you can also buy this awesome card.

I won an Instant Pot at last year’s white elephant my friends throw every year. It was arguably the best gift. To be honest, I didn’t know exactly what an Instant Pot could do, but by the looks on everyone’s face when I opened the gift, I knew I had to keep it from getting stolen by all means. And protect it I did, but that’s a story for a later time.

Anyway, after hearing claims of “it will change your life” the Instant Pot had a lot of high expectations to live up to. The first thing I tested it out with was baking a sweet potato for Ollie. Usually his sweet potatoes are baked in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. The Instant Pot was able to do it in 10 minutes. So yeah, I guess it has changed my life.

Anyway, sans sweet potato, I wanted to share two instant pot recipes that we’ve made successfully.

The first one is pasta. I’ve been making a rotini & sausage pasta, but you can really use whatever combination you want.

I got inspiration for the recipe from Lemon Lavender Love, but did rotini and sausage instead of penne because I like how the tomato sauce gets in the little crevices of rotini better.

The second recipe is Korean chicken drumettes, which the fiancée made so I’m not going to try to pretend I know how to do this yet. It was definitely more involved than the pasta, but the recipe he used is from Ahjumma Recipes. The dish reminded me of a chicken stew dish I had at OB Bear in Koreatown here in LA. It was really rustic and comforting with big chunks of onion, potato and carrot with spicy chicken.

What are your favorite Instant Pot recipes?

 

The Great Sandwich Project

Monday, 26th, 2018

“The best thing since sliced bread is a bunch of stuff between sliced bread.” – Bon Appetit

Sandwiches are speaking to me lately. Between an episode of The Splendid Table where a large portion was dedicated to discussing the art of sandwich making, to Bon Appetit’s recent A to Z guide to sandwiches I acknowledged that an idea was trying to make its way to me. At least that’s what I think Liz Gilbert is trying to tell us in her book, Big Magic. The way I interpreted her chapter, Enchantment, was that ideas are floating around all of us all the time, looking for a person that will bring them to life. When one comes to you, it’s up to you to act on it. Sometimes they’re fleeting, and if you don’t act on them immediately, the idea may be gone by the time you get around to it. Anyway, I think this happened to me the other day where it just clicked.

In the sandwich episode of The Splendid Table, Francis Lam references a book called A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches. As anyone who has come over to my place knows, I’m a sucker for cookbooks. I will sit and read cookbooks for a couple hours. Actually making anything from the stack of cookbooks that I own is another story. I mean who the hell is able to make anything in the Laduree cookbook? I’m sure a good amount of people, but not me. Long story short, I had my very own Julie & Julia moment when Francis talked about this cookbook of sandwiches. If there’s a cookbook where I’ll actually make recipes from, it’s gotta be a sandwich one. Who wouldn’t be able to make a sandwich?

A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches has 40 sandwich recipes total. I am going to attempt to make every sandwich in this cookbook from start to finish. I’ve already read through the first chapter which is roast beef. And let me tell you, this is not going to be just going to a deli and buying special cuts of meats and cheeses and breads and arranging it in clever ways (darn it). The first step in the roast beef chapter is to bake your own 2 – 3 lbs of roast beef after you’ve created a seasoning out of fried shallots. There’s a lot of steps. I’ve already read through it 2x and haven’t psyched myself up enough to actually go buy the ingredients and invest an afternoon yet. But it’s going to happen. It might take me a year to make all 40 sandwiches, but it doesn’t matter. What matter is, the great sandwich project starts now (with this post). No turning back.

P.S. Pictured above is a stuffed turkey sandwich, one of the toys I bought for Ollie. The other two toys he got were salmon sushi and a Chinese takeout box with soup dumplings inside.

Chinese New Year Dog Treats: Cranberry Biscuits

Friday, 16th, 2018

February is a big month for Ollie. It’s his birthday month and he turned 3 years old this year. But this year February is a big deal for all dogs out there, because it’s Chinese New Year, the year of the dog. What does that mean?

The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle and there are 12 animals in the zodiac. Just like astrology, different elements are associated with the animals. This year is the first time we’re in the year of an Earth Dog since 1958. People born in an Earth Dog year are said to be serious, hard-working and individuals who stick to their principles. Not bad traits for all of us to practice this year. (Except maybe the seriousness part).

So in celebration of Ollie’s birthday and the Year of the Dog, I made dog biscuits with cranberries because red is the core celebration color of Chinese New Year’s. Here’s how to make them:

INGREDIENTS
Half cup of room temperature water
Half cup of dried cranberries
3 tablespoons of coconut flour
1 and a half cups of almond flour
1 tablespoon of coconut oil

RECIPE
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Add dry ingredients besides coconut flour (cranberries, almond flour and coconut oil) into a bowl and mix
On the side, beat two eggs in a separate bowl
Combine the ingredients and mix them together with your hands
If the dough is crumbly, slowly add in small portions of room temp water until sticky
Slowly add a tablespoon of coconut flour at a time to lessen the stickiness of the dough
Roll dough into a ball
Spread out on a flat surface pre-sprinkled with coconut oil
Roll out and use a cookie cutter. I used these dog bone shaped ones.
Bake for 18 – 25 minutes

Happy Chinese New Year!

Creamy, 15-minute Avocado Pasta

Friday, 2nd, 2018

As a LA-native, I’m a true lover of avocados, but even I raised an eyebrow when I heard “avocado pasta.” Other interesting avocado treats I’ve tried include avocado shake, which wasn’t terrible but I don’t care for shakes to begin with. Avocado ice cream at Salt & Straw was pretty delicious. But back to avocado pasta, could a combination of two of my favorite things be good? Turns out indeed it can. Very good. Like I ate two bowls of it after a long day at work good.

Ingredients are simple, and if you cook, you most likely have the majority of them in your kitchen already. Key ingredients are basil, avocado, lemon and pasta. I’d go with linguine or spaghetti.

To make the sauce, toss all ingredients (besides pasta) into a blender. Make sure your pasta is boiling on the side because timing is important.

Drain pasta, scoop sauce out of the blender and toss. Add some lemon zest and chopped basil on top for garnish.

See the full recipe here.

Annual Apple Picking in CA

Wednesday, 18th, 2017

Yes, you can go apple picking in southern California! We’ve been going for 3 years now. From west LA, it’s about an hour and a half to get to Yucaipa where a bunch of apple orchards are. The best time to visit is early September if the actual act of apple picking is what you’re looking to do. It depends on how the crop was for the year of course, but the closer you get to November, the less fruit there will be on the trees. The first time we went was November and it was chilly and beautiful (but no apples to pick).

We went in early October this year and it was 90 degrees and the only orchard with apples was Riley’s. We prefer Stone Pantry because we like supporting the mom and pop experience over the amusement park experience (Riley’s) but this year there were zero apples and they upped the price for making your own cider from $20 to $30 a gallon.

After apple picking we head to Snow Line Orchard for freshly made mini apple cider donuts and hard cider. We unfortunately picked a weekend where a festival was taking place, so the lines were long, but you can drink in line so it’s not so bad. The apple cider + brut mixes they had at the tasting room were nice after being in the hot sun.

So what did I do with my apples this year? We only picked about 8 of them, so I picked this easy fruit crumble recipe. I’m not a baker (I prefer to cook) but these guys came out pretty well.

Next year, we’re going to see what this mile high apple pie is about.

kato: pescatarians rejoice!

Friday, 30th, 2017

One of my first thoughts after eating at Kato was “I need to take my sister here.” My sister is a particular eater – doesn’t like red meat unless it’s well done, no overly pungent food – that type of thing. But that doesn’t mean she’s not excited to try new food. What’s amazing about Kato is you get to try food that is prepared in ways that stretch the imagination. You can be adventurous with no intestines involved! Second reason I thought of my sister is because as an artist, my sister has an appreciation for environmental aesthetics. Either Jonathan Yao or someone on his team has their tableware game on point. LA times described Kato as “living in an Instagram photo.” But not in an annoying “influencer” way IMO, but rather in a genuine, understated, beautiful way.

So the deal is, you get to choose between 2 tasting menus. They are both pescatarian. You can do a 6-course option for $55 or a 9/10-course for $80. In an effort to practice not stuffing our faces at every opportunity, the bf and I went with the 6-course option. It was one of the best tasting menu experiences I’ve ever had. (So far I have been to n/naka, Providence and Petit Crenn, which were all incredible). By best, I’m weighing in the factors that matter most to me. And this would be the level of surprise and delight I felt with each dish. Not only was each bite swooningly delicious, I also felt like there was a flow each dish was taking us on. I never really understood what the critics were talking about on Chef’s Table, but now I think I kind of do.

Let’s go through the courses.

Smelt & Sesame
kato, kato restaurant

Hamachi, cucumber & scallion
kato restaurant, kato tasting menu

Softshell crab
kato restaurant, kato tasting menu

Trout, cabbage, eggplant

Dungeness crab, conpoy, nori

Buttermilk & hibiscus

Some parting thoughts:

I don’t usually like dessert much, but this dessert is up there in the top 5 best I’ve had in my life.

I’m really proud that a fellow Taiwanese-American is doing what he loves and killing it out there.

Happy birthday sister (for when we set a date to take you here)!

matcha mochi cake that literally anyone can make

Sunday, 27th, 2016

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Although I’ve been eating way too much over the Thanksgiving holiday, there’s always have room for dessert! On this lazy Sunday I decided to try a recipe a friend shared with me for matcha mochi cake. The main ingredients I had to pick up at a Japanese market were glutinous rice flour and matcha powder. The rest are things most kitchens have at hand like vegetable oil, sugar, milk and eggs.

This is probably the easiest thing to make next to baking cookies from a tube. You add all the ingredients together and mix well, then just put into a baking dish of your choice. I decided to use a muffin tin because I don’t have enough flat pans, so mine look completely different from the Tiny Urban Kitchen’s, which is where the recipe is from. But that’s what’s fun about cooking, right? Freedom to improvise. Since I used half the required amount of sugar in these, I added some powdered sugar on top for some extra sweetness and of course, for Instagram.

The mochi is best eaten warm and with a cup of your favorite tea.

Uncle Tetsu Cheesecake: Like eating clouds!

Wednesday, 16th, 2016

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What happens when American cheesecake meets French soufflé? I imagine the baby would be something like Japanese cheesecake, specifically from Uncle Tetsu. Lucky for us living in LA, Uncle Tetsu has graced Arcadia with a store. The store is actually in Arcadia, my hometown, which isn’t technically Los Angeles but 45 minutes east of it. Even luckier for me, I am very close to it when I visit my parents.

We had to wait about 35 minutes for a cheesecake, but I hear the line can be 1 – 2 hours. The reason is because they can only make 13 cheesecakes at a time and there is always more than 13 people wanting to buy a cheesecake. They also limit one cheesecake per customer, for equality’s sake. No greedy people making out with 10 cheesecakes and causing everyone else to wait an extra hour. The question is, is it worth the wait?

No, not really. 35 minutes was already pushing it, but I definitely wouldn’t wait longer than that. Or wait 35 minutes ever again. Is it good? Yes. It’s like eating a fluffy cloud that is subtly sweet and subtly tastes like cheese. You’ll feel like you can eat half the cake in one setting, but don’t. You start to feel it sitting heavily in your stomach if you give it 20 minutes.

So, go try it when you have the day off and can go during an odd hour. Or, if you have hookups with Uncle Tetsu folks that can set the cake aside for you.

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Credit: #uncletetsu