Hanjip Culver City

Friday, 19th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

One thing to keep in mind before going to Hanjip is that it isn’t your typical Korean BBQ. If you’re looking for that, then any of the tried and true establishments, Baekjeong, Hae Jong Chon or Park’s BBQ will do the trick.

Don’t come here looking to eat piles of brisket, pork belly and squid. Instead, you’ll have the best experience trying dishes you wouldn’t get at your everyday KBBQ stop. Try things like the beef poutine, curly fries topped with slides of bulgolgi, marinated onions and bonito aioli. Or go for the uni steamed egg with salmon roe. Don’t forget the bone marrow corn cheese. Enjoy these with watermelon soju – probably one of the craziest punch bowls I’ve seen. You’ll get half a large watermelon that’s been scooped out into small round pieces. The waiter pours soju into the bowl and tops it off with fruity pebbles and pop rocks. How fun is that?

Eye candy from their Instagram:

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 12.08.01 PM

why smorgasburg LA is worth visiting

Thursday, 18th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

If you haven’t been to Smorgasburg LA because someone told you it wasn’t that great, I definitely think it’s worth checking out yourself. I heard some naysayers before I decided to go, but I had a good time at the Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, Dumbo a couple years ago. The selection of food vendors on the west coast and east coast differ, but both were good in their own way.

In LA there are of course special donuts, a variety of drinks and teas and different varieties of tacos. Here’s what I tried:

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 1.36.30 PM

Goa Taco: my favorite stand hands down and the reason why I’d go back. These are tacos made from Indian paratha instead of tortillas that Goa Taco describes as “the buttery, flakey lovechild of a tortilla and a croissant.” I tried both the pork belly and tofu tacos. The pork belly is rich and decadent while the tofu is light, crisp and fresh. If you try anything at Smorgasburg, try this.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 1.37.08 PM

Mama Musubi: Not bad but not amazing. These are your standard rice balls. I tried the original (can’t remember what the filling was), tuna and salmon. They photograph well, but not anything to write home about.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 1.37.38 PM

PopdUp: Another one definitely worth trying, especially because it’s been so hot in LA. Standing without shade on hot concrete makes the heart crave a soda. Lucky for us, PopdUp is healthier than your average can of Coke with no preservatives added, 100% natural and vegan. Essentially they take local fruits and herbs and blend them with raw sugar to create a syrup. Soda water is added to create the fizz we all like. They come in these pretty jars and lovely flavors like grapefruit basil, orange thyme and my favorite – lychee with ginger and elderflower. Love.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 1.38.08 PM

Raindrop Cake: This is one of those things that is worth trying if you’re really curious. The presentation is interesting but the taste is underwhelming. It basically tastes like rain water in a gelatin-like form. Which, to be fair, is what it’s called.

Lastly, the venue, Row LA is an awesome mix of new outdoor west coast styled spaces and classic east coast warehouse vibes. It’s worth visiting just to enjoy the continued development of DTLA.

Corner Beef Noodle House

Wednesday, 27th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Beef Noodle Soup is Taiwan’s national dish. As a staple, it’s expected that any self-respecting Taiwanese person should be very familiar with and love this dish. As a Taiwanese American, my personal opinion is that it’s good, but not at the top of my list. I have more love for other favorites like the oyster omelette and all the components of a proper Taiwanese breakfast. But I’ll save that for another time. Any way, as one would suspect, San Gabriel valley including my hometown Arcadia, is filled with places that serve beef noodle soup. A new one entered my radar from cousins who are visiting from Taiwan, so we went to check it out together.

Corner Beef Noodle House is in El Monte inside a plaza. It’s a no-frills cafe-like restaurant that started out as a to-go only brick and mortar, then expanded into a sit-down situation. There are side dishes and seasonal dishes such as liang mian (cold noodles) kept in a refrigerator for you to order to-go or enjoy at your table. My cousins ordered a half meat, half tendon slightly spicy beef noodle soup, which was really one of the best I’ve ever had. My mom had a pork chop rice and I couldn’t stop stealing pieces of pork chop. For myself, it was too hot for a noodle soup so I got the dry XO sauce on noodles. The best part were the hand-pulled noodles. The minced beef and scallions on top are simple and standard.

I recommend coming here for the beef noodle soup once it cools down. For southern California, that’ll be well into October.

favorite bottomless mimosas: wildcraft

Monday, 25th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

One can never know too many bottomless mimosa spots. My recent favorite in the neighborhood is Wildcraft in Culver City. They serve bottomless mimosas for $15. Such. a. good. deal.

So, beyond having an amazing bottomless mimosa deal, Wildcraft is known for their pizzas. I’ve had my eye on the carbonara, which is a pork lover’s dream with pork belly, bacon and pancetta. It’s then topped with a soft egg, provolone and black pepper. Swoon. I did not end up ordering that when I visited, but it’s definitely on the list for next time. I wasn’t up for a heavy brunch, so instead we ordered from items under the “main” part of the menu versus pizza. Here’s what we had:

The bf ordered carnage hash: pork belly, italian sausage, pancetta, bacon, egg and mornay. Mornay is a Béchamel sauce gruyere cheese.

I had seared gnocchi: berkshire ham, kale, poached eggs, fries and hollandaise.

Both dishes were really flavorful and of course, a bit on the heavy side. But the upside of that is you have leftovers = a nice late night meal later on. I’ve never had gnocchi prepared the way they do it. It tasted and looked more like polenta.

Next time, I’m getting that carbonara pizza. Oh, and their cold brew coffee. It comes in original or lavender flavor, so obviously need to get the lavender. And as always, I leave you with an Instagram snapshot from their account:

via Wildcraft Instagram

why you shouldn’t fall for cute character meals (even though I did)

Wednesday, 20th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Plan Check does a special series sometimes where they feature a cute character and create a themed meal around it. Months ago they featured Gudetama, a lazy egg character from Sanrio. There are hilarious short cartoons you can watch on YouTube – I love them. I missed the Gudetama series, so when I saw the Chococat and Pudding Dog meal, I had to go.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Unfortunately (and somewhat obviously) it wasn’t very good. The meal came with a burger stamped with Pudding Dog on the bun. There were crisscut fries, a tiny cup of mac and cheese, homemade potato chips, a shake and a chocolate cookie for dessert. Everything was adorable but just didn’t taste good. Plan Check is known for their burgers, so the Pudding Dog burger was okay. We also ordered a fried chicken sandwich off the specials menu that was tasty.

To be fair, I’m betting the Gudetama meal tasted a lot better because he’s an egg so they basically added a fried egg to the burger. And we all know everything is better with egg. Lesson learned, no more cute character meals unless the character is a delicious ingredient.

Favorite Happy Hour: EMC Seafood

Thursday, 7th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Happy hour is a genius concept. No one ever gets upset at the thought of happy hour. I mean, that’s the whole point of the name. My favorite for the past 2 years (that’s right, no one has kicked this place off #1 for that long) is EMC Seafood & Raw Bar. Specifically I go to the one in koreatown, closest to me.

$1 oysters and $5 glasses of wine or beer. What more can you ask for? Also, the happy hour is EVERY DAY. There’s an early one from 4 – 7 PM and a late night happy hour from 10 PM – close. Beyond oysters and booze, the other menu items are delicious as well.

Here’s what I’ve eaten there (minus the oysters):
crispy smelt – small fish lightly batter and seasoned with garlic, pepper, salt
crispy garlic brussels sprouts – delicious, mostly because they’re baked to perfection. I can make this dish at home so it’s not a typical order.
crispy soft shell crab sliders – good, but a one time order. The portion is small and flavor is decent but not out of this world.
zucchini fries with yogurt ranch dipping sauce – really good to share for the table
lobster roll – incredibly rich and delicious, not your new england style cold, seafood salad type roll. Cooked with tarragon butter, sea salt and served on a brioche bun.

Lastly, a peek at their beautiful Insta, lobster rolls galore and a new location in Irvine.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 6.47.25 PM

Via @emcseafood

pork and chive dumplings

Wednesday, 8th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Did you know that making dumplings has a therapeutic effect? Maybe not on all people, but it definitely does at our place. Because we spend so much time behind screens, it’s nice to take a break and actually make something with our hands. It’s even better if that something is edible and delicious.

I came across Hey There, Dumpling! when I was shopping for Danny Bowien’s book on Amazon. There’s actually not a lot these two books have in common besides the fact that Asian guys wrote them and they are both books about Asian food. (Good job Amazon algorithm!) Danny Bowien’s book is not a cook book. There are recipes in it, but the book is actually more of a biography / series of interviews that let you learn about him. Hey There, Dumpling on the other hand is a recipe book. Not just for dumplings, but noodles and buns too. So of course I bought it.

The addition of this book at home is what sparked dumpling making for us. It’s become a great way for the 3 of us roomies to bond when we get home from a long day at work and have something yummy to eat afterwards. We’re not experts and we’ve only made the first 2 dumplings in the book so far, but we’re really enjoying it.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

The pork and chive dumplings we’ve been making are exactly that. Ground pork, chives, scallions, ginger, garlic, onion. Combine those ingredients with soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to over night. Then start placing the meat in the dumpling skins. Deep fry. Not a shabby way to spend a week night.

arcadia: henry’s cuisine and nest tea house

Monday, 6th, 2016

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Last weekend in Arcadia, mom wanted to try a new restaurant that her friends had been recommending, a Cantonese restaurant called Henry’s Cuisine. Henry’s Cuisine is taking the place of many other cafes before its time, most of which I remember being good but forgettable. Just your standard Hong Kong style cafe food, but not having any qualities that make you want to go back. Henry’s is different. We pigged out at Henry’s and ate dishes I’ve never heard of or tried before. And I’ve eaten a lot of Chinese food in my time, especially having gone to China multiple times. This place is definitely worth going to, but have at least 3 people in your party so you can try multiple dishes. As always with these restaurants and this one is no exception, you’ll be dining family style.

Here’s what we ate:
Deep fried salted pig feet – for those of you who automatically think “gross” when you hear pig (or any other animal) feet, that’s okay. But you are missing out on life. I’ve had pig feet before, mainly served steamed. This is my first time having fried pig feet and it might be my most favorite way to enjoy it.
Sautéed shrimp with salted egg – these are huge pieces of shrimp cooked with duck egg yolk. It’s a salty and very rich dish. Delicious, but definitely should be shared.
Pan fried seafood and udon in XO sauce – your basic chow mein dish, which is basically delicious.

For dessert we had Hong Kong egg waffle which is also a typical dish at Cantonese restaurants. It’s fluffy and light but not super flavorful. I like breaking off the little “egg” pieces individually.

Later at night we went to Nest Tea House, a newer tea place in the area. We got a rose green tea with mango jelly. The mango jelly was start shaped! The tea was also very good, I’ll definitely be going back.

chicago in spring

Thursday, 2nd, 2016

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

One should always jump at the chance to visit Chicago (unless it’s winter time) because it’s a food lover’s dream. The number of restaurants on the “must visit” list is a long one, especially since the city is home to a lot of America’s best restaurants. I mean, Alinea is there. Even though my visit to n/naka was a bit overwhelming, I’m looking to knock Alinea off my list because ::spoiler alert:: I’d like to eat that sugar balloon in the first episode of Chef’s Table Season 2.

Last week I was sent on a work trip to chi town and I planned my meals accordingly. On the first night, we visited Girl and the Goat. It’s still my favorite restaurant so far and lucky for me the menu was different from when I last visited a year ago.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Here’s what we ate:
chickpea fritter – garam masala yogurt. sugar snap peas. asparagus. sheep’s feta.
pinn oaks lamb tartare – english pea tapenade. tuna aioli. dill crackers.
goat empanadas – miso-blue cheese aioli. squash-apple slaw. – this was my favorite. The empanada was perfectly crisp and the goat inside tender. Ours was topped with strawberry and surprisingly it was an amazing combination.

To drink:
petit verdot blend. girl & the goat . 2012 . walla walla

While we were at Girl and the Goat, some people at our table let us know that the line for Au Cheval, which was basically across the street was always an hour long. Apparently their burgers were worth the wait. The next day we went there for lunch. Since we already snacked during the 1.5 hour wait, my coworker and I split the cheeseburger with bread and butter pickles and thick cut peppered bacon. It was good, but really, really heavy as one could expect. I’m glad we visited but probably won’t be returning. On another spoiler note, did you guys notice Grant Achatz eating here in that episode of Chef’s Table?

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Chicago has a lot of desirable food establishments that New York has. I didn’t realize Magnolia Bakery was one of them. We made a stop there for some coffee and cupcakes. This one reminded me of the kind Kristen Wiig’s character made in Bridesmaids. Pretty and delicious.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Another favorite is the Purple Pig. We went during an odd hour in the late afternoon and got seated promptly. It’s the type of place you need to go to at 11 am or 3 pm. They don’t take reservations and people always want to eat there.

Here’s what we ate:
Antipasti: Calamari, Fregola, Radishes, Cucumbers & Pistachios
Smears: Pork Neckbone Gravy with Ricotta
A La Plancha: Squid stuffed with Prosciutto

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

All in all a good trip with plenty of Garrett’s Popcorn and Eataly gelato in between.


Thursday, 19th, 2016

I watch food programming religiously and I don’t discriminate where the content comes from or where I watch it. I’m a regular viewer of Munchies but will also happily watch reruns of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I like Guy and I don’t care what anyone says. I also watched Season 1 of Chef’s Table about 3 times. n/naka is the only restaurant on Chef’s Table that is located in LA, and it’s on the west side no less. In fact, I used to live on the street that is the intersection of the restaurant, and pass by it walking to yoga every week.

As much as we love food, the bf and I don’t usually splurge on it. We do our research, visit new places, but usually just order the special or their signature. I’m not the fine dining, 10 course meal type of person, but felt like we had to try n/naka. Because until we make it out to Fäviken, I don’t think we’ll be experiencing meals from any of the restaurants featured on the show.

If you’ve watched the n/naka episode of Chef’s Table, what the food journalists and experts say very clearly capture the experience. It’s a similar experience as listening to a symphony, just as they described. However, unlike them, I surprisingly don’t have the stamina for it. By about the 8th or 9th dish, I was really full, pretty drunk (I had opted for the wine pairing, which was marvelous but obviously a bit too much for me) and basically exhausted. The meal lasted from 9 PM – midnight.

Don’t get me wrong. The dishes were some of the best flavors I have tasted in my entire life. Like I said, I just don’t have the stamina for such a meal. If you do, then I highly recommend making a reservation.

Below is a sampling of the dishes in the meal. I can’t remember the components of every single dish, but you can see how beautiful and painstakingly well crafted they are.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

And a collage of the meal from yours truly.