Friday, May 23, 2008

Donut Man (Glendora)


After a night of getting a pre-dinner of a hot Bobba tea drink with a side of spicy chicken, a full course dinner at Newport seafood, and a dessert of ice cream at Fosselman's Ice Cream. Believe it or not, there was actually more room in my belly.

The birthday boy wanted to put a capper to his birthday celebration by suggesting we should make a run for donuts. Not just any donuts, but strawberry donuts!

I'm skeptical towards donuts. It's not my kind of treat or snack as it's more for lazy couch potatoes and unmotivated slobs you seen in a Simpson's episode. I swored Chief Wiggum would make a perfect national spokesperson for donuts.

We hit up the 210 freeway (on its way to Vegas, in case you want to make a pit stop) and off the Grand St. exit. The street of Route 66 is a dark ghetto street at the middle of the night. We had to be on the lookout for a stand by itself donut stand with its own parking lot. It's hard to find on a dark street, but we did managed to track it down.

Once we found the stand, we were not alone in making a midnight run (I'm talking about 12:45 am in the morning when this occurred) for some tasty donuts. It's comforting for me to know that there are die hard donut fans at this late of the hour and we were not the only losers coming here this late.

The seasonal donuts right now is the strawberry donuts. What entails this tart attraction to this stand was the fact that they split a donut open like a hamburger bun and stuffed it with fresh strawberries that usually reserved for tarts or cupcakes. Then they lavished some sweet syrupy jam all over this delicious yummy monstrosity.


From Left (clockwork): Strawberry Donut, Raspberry Cheesecake, Chocolate donut with Bavarian Creme

Take a look at what I got the first time around, I went out and get a chocolate bomb like donut with a Bavarian creme inside. I also got a raspberry cream cheesecake.

After about maybe 8 minutes?...maybe more or less...I decided right then and there to order another strawberry donut. It's one of those impulse buying moment I had that I couldn't controlled myself. Yes, I'm a loser at this point and gave in to temptations. It's like I am going to be on a diet anytime soon.


From Top (clockwork): Strawberry Donut, Apple Crumble, Bear Claw

So I took another round of strawberry donut with a bearclaw and a apple crumble donut. Gluttony will not be the only sin I had to endure. I can see sloth in my future. These strawberry donuts are only seasonal just like strawberry would be. In the upcoming season, peach donuts are the next seasonal fruits to be part of the lore for this stand.

It's something that I don't know if I am going to cave in for. I just lose my self control as that night will attest. These donuts are damaging to my belief of self control. It's so worth it for $11 for these 6 donuts.

I'm faithful to Pineapple buns, but for one night I surrendered to Donut Man.

Donut Man
915 E. Route 66
Glendora, CA 91740
(626) 335-9111

Grade:

Donut Man on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wood Spoon (Los Angeles)


First thing that comes to my mind when I think of Brazilian food is the chuchurria or the all you can eat meat. Luckily I have experienced some good Brazilian meal today.


Black Bean with Rice


Brazilian Coffee

Based on other overwhelming positive reviews that I have from other blogs, I have to concur with most reviewers on their assessment about this place. Although I have to suggest the correction on the restaurant style that was mentioned that it was not authentic. Let me preface this, the place is an authentic BRAZILIAN restaurant, not Cuban or Caribbean.


Plantains

The restaurant was a little tricky to find at first because it doesn't have a name on the big sign. Instead I saw a big wooden spoon on the front sign. You get it? Wooden Spoon! ....yeah, that was what I was thinking too.


Turkey Panchetta

The two big dishes that was overwhelming choice to eat in here are the Pork Burger or the Brazilian Chicken Pot Pie.



Chicken Pot Pie

I took the liberty of ordering the Pork Burger. That thing although was delicious. It's also very humongous! The patty was very thick and fulfilling after eating half of it. Instead of lettuce, the burger instead comes with cabbage. Instead of potato fries, it's yam fires instead. It's sweet and have a different unique taste to go along with the pork burger.


Pork Burger

Now, back to the pork burger. I thought it was going to be shredded meat or a pork chop cutlet. With the patty portion, because it was so big, I had to cut in pieces .


Inside of Pork Burger

Even with that, I'll probably need to take two meals to finish that monstrosity of a huge burger. Definitely very fulfilling!


Coxhina

The appetizers are in two popular choices. The most requested seemed to be the Coxhina, which is a chicken in unique batter with special mayonnaise sauce. Also on hand was the Pastel Portuguese: which was a shrimp dumpling smothered in potato flavored batter marinated with pork sauce.


Pastel Portuguese


Inside of Pastel Portuguese

The restaurant is located in heart of downtown LA very near the Jewelery district. The service in this place was top notch as our server was excellent throughout the meal and was very knowledgeable in helping us decide. The chef also greet her guests warmly and was willing to take all suggestions that patrons might have. With service like this, it makes your meal more enjoyable

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Brazilian Grilled Beef

For an authentic Brazilian or any Latin American meal, I would highly recommend anyone check this place out as it is unique in not just the sense of its bright colorful decor, but they also have wooden benches for seats for people sit along with the walls. They also provided many different unique cushions to go along with it.


Chocolate Truffle

Biggest obscurity?

Remembered about thinking about eating alone? Wonder no more! There's a table set up for people dining alone right in the middle of the restaurant. Every table is against the wall, only except that one. Plus as you can see in the picture, the table setting and chair is only for one. I think someone should take the opportunity and sit in that!


Wood Spoon
107 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 629-1765

Grade:

Wood Spoon on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Korean BBQ @ Shik Do Rak (Garden Grove)



Late last year (when I don't know any better and still isn't any better), I made a proclamation in that I would marry a Korean girl if I can go to Korean BBQ every night.

Well, let me amend that. I'll marry one if it's the right kind of Korean BBQ.

I guess I wasn't fully prepared coming here thinking it's strictly Galbi (beef short ribs) kind of Korean BBQ. Just like my earlier review of Korean BBQ place of The Toad House, Shik Do Rak specialized in pork meat more so than beef.

Their big selling point in the menu tends to be the Black Angus Deckle (chadol) which is thinly sliced beef that is freeze frozen and shriveled up like a shabu shabu meat . When neatly placed on the circular grill the meat would shrunk and shriveled up like a strip of bacon.

There is a form of strip of bacon in the pork bellies. That was another popular item in this place. Most KBBQ places I had been to would slab a huge piece of pork meat on the grill, then the server would cut it into pieces. At this place, the meat is already cut into small pieces for you to dump it in.


Round Shape Grill

The cool thing about coming here was the two different wrappers that is served here. One is a rice noodle with the other being the veggie wrap. Once you dipped into one of the two different spice sauce, it make the meat more enjoyable and favorable.

I was a little hesitant in coming here because I saw the picture of the Yelpers on Yelp.com posted with a portable grill, but I think it's just for a certain item and glad that a bigger grill is in place at the middle of the table.


Banchans (side dishes)

The service is excellent here with plenty of banchans (side dishes) passed out whenever we requested to get refill. It is also very good air ventilation at this joint so that you don't have to smell like crap when you go home.

The big knocked I have against this place is obviously the beef was sort of lackluster as I needed to dip it extra (hate the double/triple dipping of sauce). I think enjoyed the pork belly more than the black angus deckle.


Black Angus Deckle

The place is not bad at pricing of $60 for three people worth of food. The great thing is that you can substitute a bottle of soju for either a bottle of beer or more meat. (we chose more meat!)


2nd round of banchans

After trying out this place, it completed my 5 must go KBBQ places in Double G. My favorite is still Lighttown House (until I go back reviewing their gas grill). With New Seoul, Cham Soot Gol, Korea House, and Shak Do Rak bringing out the rear end.

BTW, if you must ask, all of the places are gas grill and not fire coal (Soot) BBQ.

As in for my previous review of marrying a Korean girl, I guess I will save that proclamation only for this place: New Seoul (Garden Grove). It's a shame really.

Shik Do Rak
9691 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 534-7668

Grade:

Shik do Rak on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A New Korean BBQ Favorite in our Hood @ Hwarosarang (Buena Park)



I think Buena Park is essentially the KBBQ capital in both LA and Orange County. Hands down they had some of the best KBBQ restaurants.

The only one I liked in downtown LA area was Park's BBQ and New Seoul for Garden Grove area. Those were the only good ratings I would recommend for each of those so called "Korea town".

Buena Park was one of the city that have seen new restaurants that opened up to strengthen the Korean restaurants destinations. I noticed just like La Habra, there seemed to just spruced up in the same concentrated area.

Brand new Korean BBQ place has one advantage they usually can solved where it would be hard to do for old places was the installation of a new air ventilation. This I have to say was one of the very few time I did not smelled like I just got out of meat fire pit. The only other time was at Park's BBQ.

When I entered the place, it had that new look kind of feel without the fading wood or the greasy feeling in the dining area. The restaurants has ample amount of tables with the ever popular iron pot lid as the grill. They have also have some big air ventilation over the table. Then again I never really seen the smoke pop up to my face which was a huge sigh of relief. (I just didn't want to smell a hour later at a different function).

The combo is pretty straight forward. It starts off at $40, which was one of the cheapest I have seen in a KBBQ place for a combo. It is good enough to feed 2 people. The pricing start going higher at $60 for three and $80 for four people.

The basic combo would include a plate of tender sirloin, beef brisket, and sliced pork. You also get a egg tofu and a choice of either a bottle of soju or two glass of wine. The higher combos get a plate of galbi and other beef dishes.

It get a little tricky because my companion and I don't wished to drink that night so I tried to negotiate out of the alcohol and get a replacement for that. (Please don't PM me to call me a weaksauce because I know!). They wouldn't allowed it citing their policy.

OK, then I tried to finagle my way to a galbi (marinated beef short ribs) and switching it out of one of the three dish. My best hope is to get out of the tenderloin because it was charging the same price for a plate in the menu. Finally with the manager consent, we got our wish in switching off the beef tenderloin in favor of the marinated beef.

Let's just say it was the best trade I had made since my e-trade stocks trades before the Dotcom gloom.



The marinated beef was not too sweet and when cooked on the grill it had that aroma of a simmering kaboob. The galbi melt right in your mouth. The brisket has the most amount of meat and was the easiest to cook. The pork is like a slice of bacon. When cooked, it didn't swivel like most places would have. It tells it was freshly prepared and not frozen before hand.

I liked the service here. Like the old theory goes, does it help to have a SLR camera to influence the staff to be active? I just can't tell because I had the feeling I was being watched. There were three different wait staff that constantly comes by to check on us. It was one of the better experience in terms of service in a KBBQ I ever had. Not once did I pressed the buzzer to ring for them nor do I had to called them out with a shout of :"Yah-gio".

There were also some nice presentations of 10 different banchans (side dishes of bean sprouts, relishes, and kimchis). The egg tofu that came with our dinner was also refilled along with the side dishes. The rice wrappers for the meat and the salad was also included in our feast.

Nicely done with only $42 for two person.Even better was the free coffee machine for the drinks. Yet I felt cheated for some reason...

I was told that there was a Blueberry yogurt that was served here for free after the meal. I didn't get one. Either that or I felt Jiffed, but nonetheless I had a very good experience in dining in this place.

I would say overall, it's almost as posh or the place was as clean as Surrah's in Buena Park. Hwarosarang offered better better combo choices than the other Buena Park KBBQ and the meat was almost as good as Wako Honey Pig. This place will definitely get my choice as a place to go for KBBQ. It's much closer drive than to Park's or New Seoul.

Buena Park may not be as ghetto as I used to thought after all.

Hwarosarang
8552 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90620
(714) 229-8978

Grade:

Hwarosarang on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 17, 2008

FAQ

There are many questions asked about me. I could have updated the profile which I could do, but I didn't want to get in to nonsense of what is the best movie. (Big Trouble in Little China...jk!)

Without further ado, here are some questions that I have answers to:

1) Q: Why is your handle or ID named Pepsi Monster?

A: Not really because I guzzed down the soda drink like no tomorrow, but it was something back in the 90's where one of my friend bought nothing but Pepsi and stored it up in his fridge. One time I opened up 7 cans of Pepsi half finished and the friend was pissed about my waste of his hospitality.

That's where I got the name from.

2) Q: Are you related to Elmo Monster at Monster Munching?

A: No, I'm not related to him nor did we ever met before. It was by coincidence in that his name is Elmo and I'm Pepsi. I'm a big fan of his website since last year when I found out he was as a big foodie as I am. I am still a follower of his web page, but he's more into Orange County where I'm up in Westside and north part of LA.

No relations at all. I have the handle of Pepsi Monster as my email and other chat forums throughout the years. It's just really a coincidence his name and my ID name are so similar.

3) Q: What are some of your favorite cuisine?

A: I'll chow down with any type of food. When I was younger, my palate is Tony Roma and El Toritto. Those two places are my "fine dining". Not anymore obviously, but I'll eat any food. Fine dining or hole in the wall. I'm not a food snob.

4) Q: What is your favorite restaurants?

A: I will compile some sort of list later on the year. I'll do one of those favorite places to eat like an essential 99 or something like my top 10 restaurants of 2008. Don't know yet, but I'll think something later.

5) Q: What are some of your favorite TV shows? Hell's Kitchen? Top Chef? Iron Chef America? Or your favorite cooking show?

A: My favorite was the Dotch cooking show on channel 18 in Los Angeles. I think they imported or replayed the show broadcast from Japan. I used to like the slogan of Go Dotch! Missed that show now that it's canceled.

As in for Hell's Kitchen, Top Chef, and other competition show; I watched it. I like the third season of Hell's Kitchen and the first two seasons of Top Chef. Didn't cared for Iron Chef America.

My favorite cooking show? Rachel Ray? Yeah right....I like Nigella Lawson.
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That's it for now!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some Like It Hot..and Some Don't @ Chung King (San Gabriel)



If there is a movie named after the food served here, it would be "Some Like It Hot".

Alas, it wasn't sexy hot like Marilyn Monroe, but an awkward hot just like how Jack Lemmon felt wearing the lady get-ups in the movie.

On a faithful afternoon, I went in very blindly on what to expect from the food served here. Didn't do much on the research or read up on the dishes that was served here. So I let my dining companions who do have good ideas on what to order at this location. We were very excited to try out this location because it was highly recommended by LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold.

The location of this restaurant is a stand alone restaurant on San Gabriel Blvd away from the busy streets of Valley Blvd and Las Tunas where galore of Chinese restaurants are bumper to bumper next to each other. It is a quiet small little yellow house in a street that is surrounded by local small businesses that is pretty much resembled what The Andy Griffith show was showing on its re-runs.

It is a small place with two big tables and a half dozen small booth seats. I was getting the feeling the decor matches with a Catina or a Mexican restaurant as I'm pretty sure the restaurant took over the former resident of this establishment. There is an AC blasting to cool down a hot afternoon, but a fan was blowing right into one spot of the table. Our waitress told me ahead of time in not to sit at that one booth because so many customers were complaining their hair was going to be cold dry, so I took it as a sign to move into another table before my dining companions shows up.

Before we ordered the dry beef, we tried to ask a question about a beef/fish in small pot as we wanted to know if the dish comes in a soup bowl. Our waitress was a little dismissive of the question and quickly suggested the dry beef in pot as she insisted that was the most popular dish. In a way I was taken aback by the exchange, but I was a little bit more appreciated when the dish came out because it might signaled to me that the fish was not good that day (or they found it easier to cook it along with the lamb. As the pictures indicated, they looked almost identical).


Dry Beef in Pot

My overall thought about the food runs in the line of it's spicy hot for people who appreciated, but not necessary for people who want just to try something new. The dishes are Sichuan (or popular spelled Szechwan) specialties that relies so much on Sichuan peppercorn which has this super numbing effect of making it spicy hot for all the diners.

The beef and lamb we have ordered with the spices are stirred dry until it was ready to be chew. The cold chicken in many of the other Chinese specialties would have been served with wine sauce or dipped in soy sauce. At this location, it was lavished with good amount of spicy pepper and thick hot sauce to change the flavor of the chicken. The won tons themselves were dipped in a bowl of spicy hot soup.


Spicy Chicken

For a brief moment I actually lost a sensation in my tongue as my taste buds went south after a bout of spicy food. After deciding to power through the spicy food and not slowing down because the spiciness of the food will overpower you.

I realized in that I really never got the full fulfillment on the flavor or the taste of the food. The spiciness can be overpowering and done it with a bit much to turn you red instead of letting you enjoy the succinct flavor of the regions of the food. That was a bummer point for me throughout the meal.


Spicy Hot Lamb

It is also a "take it or leave it" kind of a place, where it's not like Shin Shen Guimi where you dial up or dial down the spicy level of the food. It is very hard to tell whether or not they overdone the hotness of our food or this was the norm. If it was the norm, then we really were sweating after our meal. I felt like I was in Sahara desert searching for that elusive water fountain. Luckily our server came back often to check on us to get us plenty of liquid to quench our thirst.


Spicy Won Tons

After our initial order, the service was actually very good and attentive throughout the course of our meal. We really needed it throughout the meal to get our water refilled.

After enduring the pain and sufferings of our spicy food, I can honestly say that Orochon Ramen is nothing compared to this place. I probably would suggest people to come here if they love spicy food.


What's left of that dry Beef in small pot. All those hot peppers and spices!

Be warned though, it's not easy to endure for the people who are used to mild or medium spicy.

Chung King
1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 286-0298

Grade:

Chung King on Urbanspoon

Feeling Out of Place @ Father's Office (Santa Monica)



For the review of Father's Office in Culver City, please read here.

Sigh! I'm on the fence on this one. I really want to like this place, but there's always something that bothers me to a point of not giving this place higher ratings.

Let's call it what this place is really is....it's a bar. Not a dive bar, or any kind of cocktail or martini bar. it's just an old fashioned bar that serves many different beer on tap. That's what seemed to be their specialty lies on.

They do serve burger, but so does Hinano and Tiny's KO. Yet we called both of them bars and dive bar. The other giveaways in terms of why this should not be classified as a restaurant would be the fact that there's no waiters service as you have to order your drinks and food on the counter which they called it "The Rack". Plus they do card you to make sure you're 21.

The place is very deceptive. I don't think it's small as others have described. They do have about 6 tables along the wall with 4 more on the back end of the room with plenty of bar counter seats. It looked like the place can accommodate more than 60-75 patrons in here. There's only one Television for the bar, so you might have to get best seat in the house for that.



Father's Office Burger with Frites

The $11 gourmet burger that is popular in this place, which tends to be the big attraction. It's moist with a nice toasted bun. For a few dollars more you can order frites (seasoned fries).


Sweet Potato Fries

The cute little attraction they also have is their fries comes in a shopping cart. Nice setup for a cool feature.


Anderson Valley Pleeko with a bottle Coke

The food is not bad and very delicious with some of the orders. They do have nice selections of beer which I enjoy. I ordered the Anderson Valley Poleeko Gold which is one of their newest beer on the list.


Inside of the Father's Office Burger

If all food and the beer isn't that bad, why am I on the fence about this place? Well, for two reasons: the price and the ambiance of the place.

First price is a little bit high for what is being served. Obviously the place along Montana Ave is catered to the affluent crowd. I can sort of understand the gourmet burgers and some of their menu items are attractive and very good in presentations for a bar establishment, but it's a little bit harsh for food in a bar.

Second, the ambiance as in the crowd for this place can be somewhat of a turnoff for me. When our group was standing in line to get in to the place, the crowd behind us looked at us snobbishly as some of them whispering as though they are blaming us for the long wait because of the big group. I only can wish to tell them to chill out because the crowd at Daikokuya is not as impatient as these crowd.

Inside the place, the mood of music was playing mainstream hard rock with the sound of the TV playing in the background. Overall, I do find the service to be very friendly as the staff was as hospitable and polite, more so than the crowd that patronize there. Imagine that!

I probably would highly recommend coming here for the beer or the sweet potato fries. Nicely seasoned and well cooked in that you can't really tell it's a yam.

If you can stomach the crowd or feel the need to be in a "scene" atmosphere, then this is the place to be. Just make sure you don't try to come in with a huge crowd or it can be maddening to listen to the unwanted mutter.

Father's Office
1018 Montana Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 393-2337

Grade:


Father's Office on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Institution Landmark That is Still Ticking @ Apple Pan (West LA)


Apple Pan is one of those place I am often perplexed at. I'm not into the whole "institutions" or "old landmark" kind of places. Even though it's been around for awhile, I just get the feeling that people loves the charms of the old place.

The place actually looked quite nice and very charming as if the outside of the place looked like an old hickory shack. What's even better was that the inside of this place looked very unique as they only have an U-shape counter seats. There are no tables or booth seats for privacy. Just the counter seats like you have seen in the old Alan Ladd film noir days.

I guess they do all their cookings at the brick-layers oven grill. It brings out the flavor I guess. The old mechanical cash register that doesn't need electricity gave the place the old vintage class.

The menu is very limited at best with only two types of burgers. I skipped the Hickory burger and ordered the steak burger instead. Sounds fancy, but it's just a beef patty burger. I did ordered their two dollar fries. They don't have a combo or very extensive menu. This one page sheet menu pretty much stayed the same forever.


Here's the punch in the gut. That steak burger which sounds fancy, but looked like a famous star from Carl's Junior minus the tomato and such ......cost $8.

Yes, I have complained about the gourmet burger coming from a bar that cost $11 in Santa Monica, $12 French toast in West Hollywood, and an $8 omelet in Long Beach. Let's put it this way, if that $8 burger was a wowser, I would not be complaining and comparing it to Carl's.

Alas, it's a decent chow, but not really that good. I'm sticking with In-N-Out Burgers as the better burger in town.

I think I was also held in a stick up when I ordered their "Combination". No, that is a combo meal, but just a simple baked ham and Swiss cheese sandwich with a lettuce. Guess how much that was? $7!?

Yes, I can see this place is more geared towards the affluent crowds of people living nearby or people wants to relieve the Golden Age of Eisenhower and Nixon. But geesh, the prices were harsh. The place can be crowded with people waiting for a seat. It seats less than 32 people, so you are going to need to be there during non-rush hour. Big groups are discourage from coming here. If you think Daikokuya is bad, you haven't seen this place on a prime lunch or dinner hours.

I'm just too scared to try the pies because I didn't want my wallet to be drained that quick, but apparently some people have no problem stimulating the economy by buying a piece of any of the five different slice of pie that would have cost the same for a whole pie elsewhere.

Like I said, it was really hard for me to understand about this place. Perplexed by the time I walked out and still left unsatisfied.

Apple Pan
10801 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 475-3585

Grade:

Apple Pan on Urbanspoon

The Apple Pan in Los Angeles