Corner Beef Noodle House

Wednesday, 27th, 2016

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Via @emcseafood

pork and chive dumplings

Wednesday, 8th, 2016

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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

n/naka

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.

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And a collage of the meal from yours truly.

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Maple Block Meat Co., Culver City

Tuesday, 10th, 2016
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Another relatively new eating establishment in Culver is Maple Block, which I finally got to try with some girl friends the other night. Barbecue is somewhat of a rare treat for me, definitely not a meal I eat regularly. I learned from watching shows like Mind of a Chef and reading Jim Gaffigan, that there are different styles of BBQ depending on the region. Each region has their own signature style. Maple Block serves wood-smoked meats, focusing on the technique of smoking and incorporating subtle flavor profiles into their BBQ. They serve the sauce on the side. I discovered that I’m more of a saucy type of BBQ eater and wasn’t in love with this drier, smoked style. Usually the sides that come with BBQ are just as if not more exciting than the meat. The sides we had were just okay. For some odd reason everything tasted better as leftovers the next night. Here is what we ate:

Market Greens – fennel, kalamata olive, orange vinaigrette. Served as a nice relief to the heavy food (which is why we ordered it) but nothing to write home about.
Buttermilk Biscuits – probably my favorite part of the meal. They’re fluffy, not too heavy, and the whipped honey butter on the side is money.
Mac & Cheese – between 3 ladies we only needed the half order, contrary to what the waitress said. We ended up with a full, which was way too much. The Mac & Cheese has a cheddar crumble on top but a strange, slightly sweet aftertaste. Not my favorite.
Beef Brisket – 1/2 pound. Decent brisket, it comes with 3 thick cuts. But not the best I’ve had.
Pork Spare Ribs – 1/2 rack. Definitely too much food for us, so I ate these the next day and they were okay. Again, not a huge fan of dry BBQ. Curious to hear from those who do, and if this place hits the spot and does it right.

Dranks
A can of Hell or High Watermelon beer – can’t go wrong.

More BBQ eye candy from their Instagram.

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hatchet hall, culver city

Monday, 2nd, 2016

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Everyone has a favorite restaurant in their neighborhood. Mine closed in 2014 and has now risen from the ashes in new form. Waterloo & City is now Hatchet Hall. Fortunately for me, it does not disappoint. Even though the menu is distinguishably different from what they used to serve, I still really enjoyed it. It’s not the same kind of love, but I still have love for the restaurant for sure. So now onto what we ate:

DINNER
Country Ham: simple, salty and delicious.
Benne Yeast Rolls: rolls topped with seal salt, served with honey butter on the side. The honey butter is legit.
Smoked Trout Croquettes: smoked trout gribiche with lemon. Yummy, but a small portion. Order two if you have more than 3 people in your party.
Chicken Liver: onion jam, grilled bread, pickled ramps, apple vinegar. My favorite dish of the night. Better than the one at Bestia IMO.
Beef Sirloin: snails, green garlic, peppercorn, creamed potato. It’s beef sirloin, usually you can’t go wrong. They got it right, and the snails are an interesting, tasty addition. (I’m usually not a fan of snails).
Cauliflower: salsa rustica, breadcrumbs

DESSERT
Benne Bread Pudding: butterscotch, butter pecan ice cream. OMG. If you aren’t going to come here for anything else, you need to come here and eat this. Best bread pudding I’ve ever had. I’m telling you, that Benne Bread is something else.
Peanut Butter Buckeye Pie: chocolate sorbet, peanut brittle. Like eating a pie of Reese’s but not as sweet. I love Reese’s so I was sold.

COCKTAILS
Redcoat – bourbon, lemon, honey, cider. Delicious for those who enjoy bourbon and honey. (Which is basically everyone).
Pimm’s Cup No. 37 – gin, strawberry, lemon, cucumber. Surprisingly refreshing and not too sweet.

Check out the full menu and go get that Benne Bread Pudding.

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Visuals from their lovely Instagram.