Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Conquering My Cooking Fears with Chef'd

I have one dread in life. It does involve conquering its own fears.

I never liked cooking.

This particular "chore" was ingrained on me very early in life. From what I remembered, I wanted to say my parents just don't want me to be domesticated or somehow finding me wound up getting a job as a cook or house servant. Too bizarre, but that's how I grew stigmatized in believing cooking is not part of my repertoire.


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Two of the selections you can find in Chef'd selections


As I never gotten a cooking lesson and live through life by the take out counter... lo and behold an opportunity exists in our day and age.

Meal prep kit was a ever popular idea growing among the cosmopolitan. In a world that diy (do-it-yourself) has gotten a foothold in everyday of life such as home improvements, car repairs, and now creeping in to cooking.

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The step by step guide included in the kit

I had the pleasure of trying out Chef'd, one of the more popular meal prep kit that is widely available in local Costco or Gelson's market. All of the Chef'd meal prep kit comes in a hard shell container with printed instructions on the inner label. Each included ingredients are individually labeled and easily identifiable for you to find them. A much easier task than your usual "assembly required" kits.

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Part of the meal kit that is included inside of the container

The only thing not included are obviously kitchenware, utensils/tools, oven or stove, and more importantly anything of necessities you normally would need in a kitchen (ie cooking oil, bowls, kitchen helper etc etc).

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The 2nd kit I got

At the end of two kits I had bought, my success of this are determined by how satisfied I was with my cooking and how the taste of the meal turned out by my cooking.

Several factors I wanted to share about this kit. First, I think this do it yourself kit is very helpful for people like myself included that finds cooking to be a challenging, in that these kits were easy to understand. Because of the easy step by step, breakdown instruction on each of the kit, it helps guide these meals from start to finish.

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prepping of the additional components

Second, majority of the meal consists of easy to cook protein with a minor sides and a quick blend of seasonings. If it was a massive undertaking of a complex dish, I think it would be a major turn off. Luckily, based on the kits I have purchased, they were all sticking to an easy to make kit.

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The making of the sauce and egg in pad thai

Third, which this is important for most people, the ingredients were fresh before the due date. They are widely available on the refrigerated section of the two major chains I have mentioned above. These meal prep kits can be ordered online with no monthly subscription required. It's ordered as you please with no obligation.

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Prepping the protein before cooking

So in the end, I asked myself how hard it was to either to make a steak or a pad thai noodle? I had to honestly surmised that it was intimidating to do, but was quite easy when you get a step by step instructions. There were some steps required a google search (ie "blanch" the garlic), but most instructions are clear and easy to understand.

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Putting things in pan

It stated it will take 30 minutes to make, but for first timer like me an additional time required in planning and reading the instruction. Once you get a hang of it on what to expect, you can bet that customizing the ingredients for your own liking will be done in the future.

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My finish product of the Pad Thai

As I stated before, two things that will determined if the meal prep kit is successful are that if you were satisfied with your own cooking and if you liked the taste of your own cooking: I must say I was a lot more confident at the end and impressed by the taste. Even though the ingredients are provided, I will say that the positive experience will give me an opportunity to adventure out more creations on my own and experience new dishes.

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My finished product of the steak

This is highly recommended if you wish to do something on your own at home with a helpful guide.

As in for the question... this kit did conquered my fears of cooking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Something New Something Old at Cafe Bora





There is a import to LA of a famous desserts shop that was a rage in southeast Asia, predominantly South Korea.

Now, why do I even cared about gushing on a place that maybe just a trend for most people?

Of course, it's all about the social media! Just kidding, but still..... it's pretty to look at.

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Purple Yam Tiramisu with drinks

This is the dilemma of course. Majority of our pics always wound up on Instagram, short captions or bylines wound up on twitter or FaceBook, visual videos wound up on YouTube, and paragraphs worth of words would wound up here on personal blog or get reposted on publications.

The question we all faced was that if the materials or contents are worth posting on different segments of social media? (ie does the pic look instagrammable or if we can rave about this on Yelp or on our blog?). I wound up facing the same exact question sometimes because of deluge of photos of the same place. This is where I was promised there'll be new stuffs to post.

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Strawberry and Sweet Potato Tiramisu with extra toppings on the side, Purple Sweet Potato Chips

Digress, I waited. It took me some time to think about it if it is worthy to post on here or on my instagram account.

After a year of doing Instagram, I met quite a few new users who are passionate about food and some older users who are more into competitions than anything else. It's funny because I don't feel the difference between this segment of the group than the blogging world that I pretty much abandoned for a decade vs this new wild wild world of capturing the moments.

I was quite relieve to start over and meet a ton of new friendly faces who are eager to shine on a stage that is more suited to them than getting ones who are moving on to here from previous platform, but yet cannot adapt to the new frontier.

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Persimmons Patbingsoo (shaved ice)

To see the excitement and enthusiasm was the sole reason it bought me here to Cafe Bora. I can get the feeling of the trend of making something excitable from this newer class of "influencers". We called the previous class "media". Both the words of "media" and "influencers" are now met with funny smirk these days. This is a label being used as though you can differentiate the age group with one of those words. haha

As you can see some of the popular and colorful tiramisu, shaved ice, and soft serve are being presented here from the original location that was made popular in South Korea. This brings up to me is what the current trend is calling for... enticement for the younger generation with visual eye-catcher, while making it classy for the elder crowd.

Which asked another harder question: who better to do it? A "Media" with old style ways or the younger crowd with the new "influencing" ways.

The funny thing was, I can tell the marketing efforts on both are a tad different, but it's something both can strive for and still works out in the end for both of them.

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The reason I'm here: Sweet Potato Brick Toast

If you ever visited Cafe Bora in heart of Koreatown on the 3rd floor of a shopping center, you will see the divide on the old vs the youth. With that, there's one thing that can combine them together in the ever popular trend of food halls, expansions of aesthetically pleasing background set for selfies, and other dubious creation of glorify colorful food... 

.... something they can all agree on: As long the food is good, it doesn't matter how beautiful or ugly it looks.

For one afternoon, it was glorious.

Cafe Bora (on 3rd Floor of California Market)
450 S Western Ave #308
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Cafe Bora Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Greatest Backup Find Ever at Baldoria

A weird turn of events..

I was hoping to visit Seoul Sausage Company and quickly found out they were closed (happens quite often in DTLA) where shelves life can are worse than a stale bread in your local supermarket. The expiration date to make it or break it tends to be 6 months after it opens, but Seoul Sausage got a few years. I guessed I was surprised it didn't make it.

For a back up plan on the fly, I got to say that Baldoria was a good fall back if I say so myself. It's conveniently located on the other side of the block where we took a short cut along the apartment drive way path to get there.


Caribbean Spiced Duck Wings - Confit Duck Wings, Mango Salsa & Chives

Baldoria was set up to be more of a social hangout that catered to last minute meet togethers or famously posted on their website as a place for people with no plans. Hilariously, it blend well for people not looking for reservations and completely have no expectations on what to get.

Realistically, it's not going to win out the dining crowd that is expecting big fancy dishes. The street near Baldoria is full of these types of restaurants within walking distances, but maybe the promotion strategy of nonchalant might works out.

In their epic strategy of "don't expect anything" faux pas to happen, they got their stuff together. I was massively impressed on the low key gastropub feel of a decor with a no thrill kind of atmosphere to be so lively. Want to know what's more impressive about this? Their food was actually on point.


Lil Tokyo Steak — Miso marinated flat iron, yuzu kosho, shiitake, shishito, cherry tomato red onion


In a weird classic way, they came up with a pizza that meshed with steak. If you think about it, who actually cooked steak well done or trying to baked it too long with the pizza? You just don't, but their steak was nicely tendered grill to be add on to the every slice of this pie. It's a win for this concoction.

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Jack Mortimer - 10 Year WhistlePig Rye, Laird's Apple Jack Brandy, Maple Syrup, Apple

Their drinks may not be the most innovative like some of their mixology that is out there, but suffice to say they are trying to be over the top and just serve the most neat and poignant drink that can be there. No need to outdo a classic drink if you can just serve when people are thirsty for one.

I can honestly say this was the most spectacular luck of turn of events that we really like. It can be a lot worse like going to an original place you wanted to go and turned out bad.

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Which does reminds me.... I actually didn't like Seoul Sausage the first time. Why did we decided to go there in the first place?

Baldoria
243 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Baldoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, May 11, 2018

Coming All Together at PanAsia Sweet and Savory

Asian fusion is well alive in this town.

I reminisced to those days of Wolfgang Puck slinging in his version of what Far East Asian cuisine would be like with all those pretty decorative flowers on his plates. Of course you can tell, majority of the clientele are in his area on the westside of LA and not really catered for people seeking the genuine Asian food.

The team that is behind the venerable chains of cafe and desserts of Phoenix franchises (Boutique, Cafe, Desserts, & Restaurants) are coming out with a brand new "fast casual" restaurant on Alhambra, the heart of meltpot Asian communities. 



Chili Pan Mee, Laksa, Tumuric Chili Wings, Pork Rolls

Fast casual can be somewhat describes of misnomer of fast food like your local BK or Micky D's, but more towards comfort food serves in chic vibrant dining. A lot of restaurant are now into this type dining setting while conveying a more regular hang out spot.

The aptly named PanAsia, consist of many different regions of Southeast Asian cuisine (Thai, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Malaysia, Chinese, and Cantonese style food) for the masses to try. The menu have many types of popular comfort food, but with elaborate fine tuning touches that may suit the taste buds, but also entice the senses of look and smell.



Hainan Chicken Rice

Beautifully plate, but yet enormously appetizing such as for some of the more simple dishes like the Hainan Chicken,  Laksa curry noodle, and their popular Malaysian hand pull noodles of Chili Pan Mee. Obviously with fusion involved, BBQ pork rolls, curry chicken somoas (delicious triangle shaped roll) and wings are also elevated to a more eye pleaser as well.

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Turmeric Chili Chicken Wings

With a pet friendly outdoor patio seating, a stylish vibe on the front end of lounge area to hang out for your tea drinks, or you can dine indoor at their chic communal tables. It has a happening atmosphere either to dine or to just simply relax with your drinks while catching up with your associates. Maybe that's what fast casual should be like.

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Mango Sticky Purple Rice

From an old days of Phoenix Inn to many dessert franchises (which I come to associate them when I was a kid), now back to cool dining, this has earmark of dining for all ages. 

Oh, as in for what they are popular to the masses.... yes, they are keeping many of the hand made drinks and desserts available as well on the menu. Get this, you'll also can pick up many of the prepackaged desserts as well.

Simply put, nothing really will be miss as the place had added something new to include everyone else.

PanAsia Sweet and Savory
45 S. Garfield Ave
Alhambra, CA 91801

PanAsia Sweet & Savory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, May 4, 2018

Elites Gathering at Aveo Table + Bar

I used to be very active on Yelp. I think majority of people understood about what that website was about. With plenty of people venting or raving about the businesses or places they have visited, this was bound to have plenty of users. Recently, I have more ample time and decided to be jump back into actively "contribute" to the site.

Most of the time I think people use Yelp for photos of the establishments to get an idea what the place of business is offering (especially for me on how the place looks in laying out the tables and what the outside of the place looked like).

In a weird sense, I think the website is more informative on hours of operations, address, phone numbers, and maps... than Goggle itself! Which coincidentally Goggle incorporate most of the info from Yelp anyways, but still rely on users of Yelp to update for their Google search for each business.

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Besides the innate info about various forms of establishments (mainly restaurants) are the perks of going to an exclusive event. In many cases, they are like preview or showcasing what the places serves or how business operate. It's like putting on a show for selected members of VIP for using the website. You usually need to be an "elite" .. aka active users.. to be invited to this preview.

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Which in this case, yours truly here got the invite.

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Margherita Flatbread Pizza

An interesting invite caught my eye was to this restaurant that is located on the property of this luxury resort hotel at Dana Point. For the uninitiated, this is going off 30 minutes away from most major metropolitan area of either Orange County or San Diego burbs. Beautiful beaches with excellent nature environment makes this place perfect for a nice weekend getaway.

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Snapper Ceviche

This place was one of the more fascinating place on my list to visit. Situated as an elegant posh restaurant that serves Mediterranean fare with a bit of New American cuisine. I remembered the restaurant had a different take a year back and transitioned to the current situation when a new head chef was on board. When I saw this Yelp event, I immediately jump at it.

To be quite honest, the restaurant did well to impress the dining group that was invited by Yelp. Some of the impressions we got was that obvious it was catered to be high class, but at the same time fun, relaxing and chic atmosphere. Majority of the menu we sample as you seen above was more towards the sea catch affair of local source. With a dash of Mediterranean cooking and a bit of creativity, the dishes came out on gorgeous display.

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The atmosphere of the resort hotel helps quite a bit, beautiful views, elegant settings, and a first class vibe gave anyone a chills of wanting to come back and visit for other dishes. I highly recommend their happy hour menu with the snapper ceviche. The cocktail menu serves delightful drinks as well.

As I said, gorgeous all around.

Now as in for the Yelp event, am I going to get invited all the time to this type of restaurant or dining? Probably not to be honest. The next even I got invited to was a lunch at a hoagie place. Yeah, quite a difference from an elegant restaurant in a five diamond hotel to quick bite at a strip mall.

No complaints, but that was the peak right there.

Aveo Table + Bar
1 Monarch Beach Resort N
Dana Point, CA 92629

Aveo Table + Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Believer of Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

One of the big phenomenon we encountered in the past few years was the craze for fried chicken.

Not just any fried Chicken.... Nashville Fried Chicken!

What is so special about Nashville Fried Chicken? Is it the hotness? Spicy? Red hot to your tongue kind of chili hot spicy? I think the Colonel just got into that for all their chains of fast food joints and for some reasons even the fast food burger joints got into the act of offering these delectable craze.

In one sense to be honest I'm not totally sold on it... just yet. However, I do want to savor different type of chickens recipe the southeast has to offer. Interestingly, I'm about to get that chance finally when one of the more revere chain from Tennessee is coming to town.

Gus's World Famous Chicken is a good place to start. It originated from the back of a tavern where a couple used to sling their famous two piece with a bread, side of beans and a slaw. As you can tell by where I am going with this story, their success would lead to expansions to other parts of the country including Texas, Georgia, and the midwest. When they finally opened a few years ago in LA, I still wasn't too keen on wanting to make a trip to a part of the town I loathed to go (one in the valley and one in the southwest area).

People in LA understands me ... when traffic on the long freeways and congested road are involved.

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Press Play to see the interior

Luckily one opened up in a more down to earth part of Long Beach where it's a bit easier and ample parking to boot. In a very nice way of describing, they still kept some of the charm that a tavern would looked like. A few telies showing the sports games and a checkered table cloth decorating the tables in a cozy dimmed atmosphere that would behooved a saloon somewhere in the country side.


3 Piece with Mac N Cheese, Slaw, & Fried Okra

Why did I fancied fried chicken for dinner? To be honest, I guessed I'm still thinking deep fried is still a work of art that culinary snobs treat it as easy to make with no real difference. Chicken is chicken for many people out there.

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It's still the cooking preparations to cook this poultry and the recipe of the spices on these batter to give either crisp on the skin or the flavor on the meat when it's served red hot. That's where the moment of truth comes to play when I came into this establishment.

Let's get it out the way, for a chain... this was hands down the best fried chicken I have had in a long while. The flavor is not that hot as in burning hot. It doesn't numb your tongue like some of the other Tennessee or southeast chicken would do. This was all about capturing the essence of aromatic flavor for the skin and let the juiciness of the meat speak for itself.

The juiciness of these fried chickens on the bone was mouthwatering and the temptations can be hardly feigned off for your a few of your senses. If there any senses, you would give up, lose the ears because the taste bud, smell, and sight are totally needed for this dining experience.

I personally skipped the beans and substitute it to a mac n cheese, but kept the slaw for my sides. I think they both played well. The fried okras I got was a burgeoning success I thought. With the ranch for dipping, those okras are an excellent mouth poppers.

Value for value, how does it compared? Being truthfully told, this place might rivaled some of your more posh dining restaurants in town. Their "snack box" of 10 pieces of fried chickens will set you back a good $30 in this Long Beach establishment. That is almost three times the amount the Colonel is charging for their bucket special down the street.

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Chocolate Chess Pie


Before I forget, you must get their chocolate chess pie when you get the chance. That itself is a spectacular masterpiece itself.

Here's the question on the top. Was this considered to be Nashville Fried Chicken? Am I believer? I think if this is the representative of what a southeast variety of fried chicken should be, then I would be squarely on their side. Definitely will continue to be purveyor of the fowl devourer.

Trust me, your wallet might not like it, but your tummy will thank you for it. What's worse? Your taste bud might request you to make another order.

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken
2580 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach, CA 90806

Gus's World Famous Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Eternal Sunshine of Spring

To my little surprise, I don't often visit that many French restaurants in Los Angeles.

Not one bit at all. I actually needed to check on list of cuisines on the right hand side column to verify.

To some degree, I think I attribute to my lack of institution of what constitute as a French cuisine. Often times I think I get confused with provincial dishes or classic comfort food as French dishes. To this day... I still thought French Fries are what the French are known for. Yes, shame on me.

My introduction to Spring was made by an old acquaintance, a French restaurant situated in the bottom floor of the Douglas Building in downtown Los Angeles. A building many in LA considers to be a "Xanadu" for some of the wealthiest back in the olden days.

The old acquaintance and I met up at the bar in front of the dining room. It's quite a cozy parlor room that has a great view of the corner street of 3rd and Spring. To get to the fabulous dining room, you would just need to hit up the hallway like it was a speakeasy. Let me tell you, once you get into the dining room, the center of the room has a breathtaking view of the skylight. Like a tree in the view of  a park!

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Click on the play button to view the video

Even though I came in for dinner, I feel like a brunch would be perfect situation especially with the daylight beaming down in the middle of the room.

At the very first occasion, we decided to get the tasting menu to see how the dishes were set up. To my astonishment, I think some of these seasonal dishes were the most beautifully dishes ever presented. So Instagram-able worthy in fact.


Maple Leaf Duck Breast

The dishes were concocted based on the ingredients available for the chef to create with his imaginative presentation that was out of this world. In many instances, I was in awe from dish to dish, all the way to the dessert.


Hamachi Crudo

I think in my first visit, the hamachi crudo and the maple leaf duck breast was the stand out dishes on the tasting menu. This actually got me excited in wanting to go back and tried out their other main courses.


Lamb Sirloin with Couscous

The one dish that people seemed to rave about was the lamb sirloin, which was a fine dish itself. I personally love the desserts that creatively was some of the highlights at this fine establishment.

Beautifully presented, great atmosphere & vibes, and delicious dishes as well. My only beef was that I think they can do better in certain aspect of their services. I know this is not a place to rush people in and out, but I think improvements can be made where attentions to details can be acquired. That will be saved for people writing a Yelp type review, but I do think this is classy elegant restaurant that does strives to be on the top of French restaurant.

I do hope some kinks can be worked out as I do love coming to this restaurant. Especially on how tough LA can be, this restaurant do stands out as one of the best French cuisine restaurant in LA.

Spring
257 Spring St
Los Angeles CA 90012

Spring Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, April 6, 2018

What's In a Chicken Box ?

What is the most efficient way of getting a food to go?

Back in the day, I think a common theme is to set an easy store front with pick up window and then you can bring your food into your car to enjoy the lovely solitude in the comfort of your car. Heck, even something like Sonic can bring the food in a tray out to your car.

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That's the thing about the past on how people dine. You don't see it as much these days of pick up and take out places. One of the more fascinating place I have encountered was this little boutique chicken shack along the chaotic busy street of Whittier Blvd.

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Front of the Shop

The best I can describe this place was it reminded me of a little gift shop on the side of the highway road. The decor reflected the charm of a boutique gift shop. as you can see for yourself.

I am always fascinated by the small charms and the history behind the shop. I guess I am curious whenever I passed by this place that is so out of the way, but seemed to get traffic with plenty of regulars stopping by for their pick up.

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As the name can attest, it's chicken in a box. One type of chicken. Broasted fried chicken.


Chicken In a Box

They also served out seafood, barbecue ribs, and wings. Limited on the menu, but they served on what they are known for, which is their broasted chicken that is battered perfectly. Seasoned well with the skin fall right off as it's not crispy. It's not a deep fried variety with crunch skin crisp, but for the rest of us who prepared the broasted method, this is heaven.

There's always a great way to dine as people are less likely to eat in their car now. Who wants to ruin the leather seat or have weird food smell in their car? Luckily, they have situated a few tables out in their front porch (yes, it's like a converted house in a middle of a parking lot) of their chicken shack restaurant.

Overall, I think I would come here if I ever craved for some of those fried chickens. Mostly I would considered using them if I need to catered to a big group or parties. This would be a great meal for a back yard parties. Did they lived up to their slogan on the sign (it reads "World's Finest Chicken")?

You'll have to go in and judge it yourself. I think it's right up there for broasted chicken.

So remote as I previously mentioned as the place still reminisced of the old days on how fast food or casual take outs supposedly works.

Chicken Box
330 E. Whittier Blvd
La Habra, CA 90631

Chicken Box-Broasted Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Carb Delights of Beijing Pie House

Is there such a thing as too much carbs?

You'll probably throw your inhibitions away once you get a load of these delicious meat pies we're about to see. It's just a doughboy's heaven from here on out.

I was once introduced to this nondescript corner restaurant in San Gabriel Valley because of my heavy craving for dumplings. One of my associate suggested a place known for Chinese meat pies that is beef stuffed in a round flat circle shaped like a table coasters.


The famous Beijing Meat Pie

Imagine if you will of an Irish Pot pie (usually lamb) or maybe one of those British Chicken pie that are much more well known to the masses, but the Chinese beef version has been around for ages. Getting the Northern Chinese fare into general public might be a bit tad hard because of the public oppression towards carbs these days and competition against the popular xiao long baos (Shanghai's soup dumplings) that is a better seller these days.


Beef Green Onion Pancake

If you are ever hanker for this... watch out! Those fillings inside are like soup dumplings as well. Even the green onion cake version sliced perfectly can be tempting to any carb lover's dreams.

The minimalist restaurant has been very popular with the fans of Chinese dumplings for a long time as I have remembered it. It used to be on the annual list of best restaurants of many dining critic here in LA... all because of that one dish.

Make sure you get some walking exercise after the meal because this carb overload is worth that sacrifice.

Beijing Pie House
846 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755

Beijing Pie House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Conscious Dining at Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails

I have just found the longest name on earth for a restaurant.

At first I was trying to read it right and thought maybe the place wanted to remind people a few things about themselves. Can't leave out any important parts, right?

This interesting posh and elgant restaurant is next door to a luxury apartment and high end Mariott Hotel that are close to the Orange County's John Wayne Airport. The name of Conscious cuisine was a way to bring attention to their efforts to dedicate in bringing sustainable seafood and natural farm raised meat for their local California fare in their dishes.

The few times I had been here before was always as a quick get together for a drink as I can tell it tends to situate the out of towners who are staying at the Mariott or for people who are on their way to visit their kids at UC Irvine (which is also down the street as well).


Filet Mignon Carpaccio

For me, I really wanted to say I never get a full chance of dining here until last week when I didn't wanted to brave the parking situation in going to the Jamboree plaza a few miles away for a soiree of dinner with friends.


Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallops

Stopping by here, I got a few cocktails and kicked back to watch a Lakers game on the tele. It seemed pleasant enough as I do always at this place. However, tonight I may just wanted to blow my friends off as I thought about why not just checked out their menu and give it a go.

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Carrot Cake

I thought for the time being as described earlier, it seemed their menu bordered on the local farm to table fare for sustainable and natural raised proteins on their dishes. So naturally, I wanted to check out their seared scallops dishes and maybe tried my luck on their Filet Mignon Carpaccio.

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Apricot Tea-Tini

Their piano bar lounge look tends to be a hit with the older crowd who are looking for a fine dining in a town that is being taken over by the millennials who are just invading what was once cool upper class crowds. This restaurant is pretty much of a throwback to the days when Gordon Gekko of the world can leisurely walked in and have a few lamb chops and a glass of cocktail.

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Tart Toddy

Now it's all about the boba tea shop. This place is still kept some of remembrance and somewhat of a reverence. I do enjoyed the my meal here and the cocktails as well. Very chilled on a Saturday night (don't come on Sunday, they're closed) and would not hesitate to come here for a slow quiet conversations on a dinner.

As in for the name.... well, let's hope they don't add a coffee shop or bakery. That's another add on for their business card.

Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails
2607 Main Street
Irvine, CA 92614

Andrei's Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 2, 2018

Frogtown's Biertgarten at Salazar






This will be a dilemma for some of us. Do we go out of the way for some good grub? More importantly, are we trying to compare apple and oranges (in this case upscale dining vs street food)?

On one hand, you got a cool place that opened up serving a fine array of pretty looking dishes that appeals to the eyes, but also great for the tummy. However, your wallet does not thank you for this.

Keep in mind, this is not going to be competitive with a taco truck value pricing and does serve somewhat of a gourmet Mexican fare. The place obviously gravitate towards a certain clientele. Some say towards hipsters, I say scenesters who reads too much of Variety's or Hollywood Reporter's hottest new restaurants (avoid going to Nomad, Inko Nito, Majordomo, or Freedman's at this moment).


Pork Chop


It's one of those places that's great to be seen. Beautiful outdoor patio that is front of a scenic looking bar that is inside of a remodeled mechanic auto body shop. The patio yard is nicely decked out as I think the courtyard looks nothing like the driveway that it used to be. It looks like a Biergarten if you ever thought of it that way.


Carne Asada Fries

Based on a few inside gossips, I heard they changed the cocktail menu programs a few times. The drinks still looks and taste fabulous. I think the big one to order seemed to be the horchata variety.

Now let's break this bracket down, this is not going to be competitive in pricing wise with the street cart, but their tacos are fantastic! The pricing probably suggest they are going after the hipsters who likes to go to places that are re-gentrified. The reason I say scensters is that I noticed there are more of those people who seems to read what's new on those publications that are coming here when it first opened.


Carnitas Taco

The parking situation as many pointed out will be tricky, especially on weekdays for lunch when you are competing with local businesses in that area for the same street parking. Weekends are a tad easier as some of those business will be closing.

As in my thoughts to my own question... First part of my question, it depends if I'm in the mood and if I'm in that area. Second part.... I never compared, but don't be surprised if many will.

Salazar
2490 Fletcher Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Salazar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fresh Off The Boat at Sapporo Sushi and Grill






Does it matter where it comes from?

It's a hard question to ask when you basically connects with a specific cuisine with certain ethnicity. You figured if it's not made by the origin, it doesn't count. What I'm trying to get at is that for some people they would like to associate certain dish to a specific country in mind. Let's play a game, shall we?

Pizza: Italian. Tacos: Mexican. Greasy cheesy steaks in a sub: American. Ok, so far so good.

Sushi:Japanese.... not so fast compadre. Apparently, not many people think so and will debate this forever. They probably will go on Wikipedia to change the contents and the story to this. The back story is obviously in that sushi are fast food with assorted fishes that get cut into small slices and topped it on a steamed rice are the stuff of legend. Probably popularized as we know it as a Japanese cuisine that can be sold as a ridiculous high priced fancy meal in some uber posh high priced sushi gallery. 


The Premium Boat

However, do you know it's actually originated in southeast Asia near the Mekong River? More importantly as a snack item that is prepared right after the fish are caught on a boat?

This of course brings up my question as many don't associated as a non-Japanese cuisine, which are now popular for many upstarts. Everyone in far east Asia like the Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, and even Vietnamese loves the fish on the rice.

Beef Tataki

With that in mind, I figured trying out a place I always wanted to visit here in Buena Park, north Orange County that is bordered on LA as well. This city is very popular among the Koreans as the suburbia of the central region that have seen surge in dining cuisine outside of the traditional Korean fare.

Pleasantly, the ambiance would be not far off from what you find in most contemporary sushi joints where there are front bar counter seats to watch a few sushi chef slaved over cutting up the fine fishes into thin slice. Craftmanship on these preparation are better than watching slices of beef cooked on grill anyway at your local Mongolian Barbecue.

Interiors consist of a few dining area separating the booth tables with some modern style Asian decor that suggesting a sleeker furnishing, rather than the old bamboo hut style that tends to the butt of joke elsewhere. It's a step up from the other well known Korean owned sushi joints such as Kabuki (an popular chain in LA).

The big attraction here are two dishes that I wanted to get that are popular among users on Yelp. The sushi boat and the beef tataki. The menu options are pretty straight forward with sushi options as the big main courses, some sides that are gear towards the tempura and teriyaki sections, and a few closely related bento styles items (think a protein, a few veggies, and a soup).

The sushi boat was a combination of half order nigiri (fishes on vinegar steamed rice) and sashimi (slices of fish only). The variety of these fishes went from your standard fare of different tuna, yellow tail, sweet shrimp, amberjack, mackarel, and sweet omelet egg. Afterwards, the sweet shrimp's head can be deep fried for you, but I guess I wanted to be put on miso soup.

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Teriyaki Chicken

Afterwards, I was informed there is also a choice of either of teriyaki chicken or fried chicken cutlet can complete the meal. Imagine my shock to discover the good news...after I was full from the boatload of fishes.

The greater question: Does it matter who prepared this? In the very end, craftmanship of these fishes being prepared mattered so little on who serves it. I hope the notion get dismissed quickly as we all know the best chefs in Chinese cuisine are pretty much Latinos in LA. Yeah, I dare to say that.

Leaves little doubt as this is a fine sushi establishment when you are eating with disconcerting taste buds.

Sapporo Sushi and Grill 
5491 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90621

Sapporo Sushi and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fast & Fiery Furious at Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria






Funniest part is that I rarely do food court dining.

I wish I can tell you why or why not in wanting to something of this sort. I feel like in a bad sense of deja vu of having a cafeteria food back in my younger days in school. Remembered all those stale pizzas, sloopy joes, or tater tots that barely passed as edible gourmet chow? Yup, the food they feed to youth those days are worse than rations you give to the military. At least the military can use the excuse of there is no working stove in the front line. 

Want to know something so funny? Apparently now, some of the new or old exciting eatery can be found in food hall. Food court dining are making a huge splash.

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One of my favorite pizza place can be found in a downtown food stall / Farmer's market called Grand Central Market. It is sort of an exciting time for this venue of a wide open space where they now houses some of the quick eateries of different cuisines, desserts, coffee shops, and breweries.

In the past, all you get a run me down Chinese food or Mexican food as they were catered to the surrounding employees that worked in the office buildings of downtown. Hustle and Bustle as how they do when they need bites on the run as most can walk in and out of the joint within their hour lunch break.



What set this food court apart was having this gorgeous of a square space that houses one of the best personal pizza you'll get. Olio's, a casual and somewhat of a fast, made to order pizza operation. This is the 2nd installment after the popular Santa Barbara eatery. Even though this is not intended to be a food stall, it worked out to be a popular dining destination for many diners of all ages.

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Margarherita Plus

Personal Pizza can be had in one size with four slices cut immaculately into equal triangle shape size. Because of the fast pace action here, customization are only available on what the menu will be offered. This will not be like your local made to order pizza operations (ie Pizza Rev, Mod Pizza, Blaze Pizza, etc etc).

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Wild Mushroom & Speck

What they do offered are some of the best wood fired pizza you'll get. Especially in a closed indoor proximity such as Grand Central Market. 

This is the type of food court dining most people crave for these days. It's weird to see a farmer's market that predominately sells farmed produces got changed into a fall hall in matter of years. Baked goods are still sold in some space and a few candies shops are left.

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Spicy Sausage & Peppers

I guess if this fast paced, made to order pizzeria can be part of the new trend in dining, then I'm all for it. In a way, craving for these terrific pizzas are worth the long search of parking in this surrounding area. That's the only drawback of going to Grand Central Market these days in burgeoning downtown.

One more notch on my food stand category!

Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria
(Inside of Grand Central Market)
317 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Olio Gcm Wood Fired Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato