Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Let me close this year's blog with the many places I am thankful for...
-Thank you Savoy for your Hainan chicken and rice. I hope to eat it more than once this 2010.
-Thank you Kogi for the innovation and the creativity that is Mexi-Korean. It is the pioneer in you that really made me interested in chasing your truck and craving it every week. Thank you for parking in Eagle Rock, it does make my satisfaction a much easier conquest.
-Thank you Coral Reef. It may not be in my blog but it has become a recent favorite for a VERY cheap lunch location.
-Thank you Rambo's for being there when we need a late night meal, status post alcoholic bouts. 
-Thank you Gyu Kaku for our happy hour moments and the cheap beer.
-Thank you Full House for my dimsum fixes. Good every single time.
-Thank you Tofu Village. Your dollar domestic beers are always a good find for early HH moments. I wonder when will you have cold noodles again?
-Thank you Conrad's for always being patient in accommodating the tennis team. It may not have the best of food but it has been the connecting point of many conversations and controversy.

Ooooo, I have so much more to be thankful for. I may not have mentioned it but I will find a way to honor your greatness by continuously supporting you and eating my way through the menu of your establishment.
Goodbye 2009 and Hello 2010. I shall have more offerings, I hope. I'll wipe my salivating palate and type away my satisfied belly once more this coming year. 
Ahhhh....what can i say? This is my life with food. 



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cocktail for Dummies...

I am now a proud owner of Cocktails for Dummies (pocket edition)...YES, I am. We went to target yesterday and there they were...IPhone for Dummies, Twitter for Dummies, Blackberry for Dummies, and Cocktails for Dummies. And for only $1 you will have the pleasure of serving your most favorite and most complicated drinks at your next holiday party. 56 glorious pages of alcohol at its finest. And even on one chapter called Methods to the Madness, it teaches the dummy in us on how to slice a lime or an orange. NICE. I'm not a fancy hostess (well, to a certain a point) so a simple excess of alcohol is enough for me. When they have the cranberry or OJ in place next to the Grey Goose then my part is done. The rest will all fall into their specific glasses. But it is relieving to know that if someone asked me make a Bellini then I would know to muddle a peach in a champagne glass, add simple syrup, and plenty of champagne. Or if someone wanted an Irish Buck then I would know to hand him/her whiskey and ginger ale and call it a day. Or that if someone shouts out Nervous Breakdown it may just mean vodka, Chambord, soda, and a splash of cranberry mixed together. Do NOT call 911. In conclusion, buying ________ for Dummies may not necessarily mean that you're a dummy. It just means there are certain things that you are not so familiar about. Take it from me. I am a self-confessed expert on anything above 5%alc but I did not know before tonight that Buttery Nipples exist (Irish cream, vodka, and Butterscotch Schnapps). 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rambos, Eagle Rock CA

We really didn't have time to cook anything today. And with all the holiday preparations I had to do it was evident that a quick stop was necessary. We were getting tired of the usual burger/fast food places and we happened to have cash so Rambo's was a natural choice. I've mentioned Rambo's in my Kogi blog but it does merit its own. It seems that Rambo's brought many weird, painful, embarrassing, and drunken memories. But tonight was just dinner. I love their cabeza (beef cheeks) so I went ahead with my cabeza torta and a lengua (cow tongue) taco. Joe ordered his BRC (bean, rice, and cheese burrito) with plenty of hot sauce inside plus a cheese quesadilla. The smell of grilled meat filled the car as we drove excitedly back to Joe's house. I was a happy little kid. My beef cheek sandwich was a marvelous piece of art (LOL). It was soft, tender pieces of chopped meat that melts in your mouth with just the right amount of salsa verde dripping down the slightly grilled bread...ready for some serious licking. My lengua taco was just as good with some salsa roja; it was just right. I'm pretty sure Joe enjoyed his BRC. I was too full to try it. He said the quesadilla was pretty good. I will have word for it as another morsel would have pushed me to burst in the seams. Ayayayayay Rambo's. I would love to the an experiment: Leo's vs Rambo's. Someday. Someday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Newport Tan Cang Seafood, San Gabriel CA

I watched way too many Anthony Bourdain episodes last night. This streaming from Netflix jeopardized all that hard work...PKA (Project Kick Ass) was assured of failure post-Bourdain. So a "blogging lunch" is inevitable. I had to keep my sanity before I got to Newport. I was craving. I was hungry. I was salivating. I was ready to devour.I was told that lunch here was not to be missed. Cheap and good. Two words that entice me endless, bother me continuously, haunt me about a place that only the satisfaction of an experience would suffice.
I entered and was immediately drawn to the tank filled with overweight lobsters calling my name. But my goal today is to prove the validity of this cheap and good premise. The free hot and sour soup came first. FREE...that's cheap in my book. $5.75 and $6.25 lunch specials. That's also cheap, considering the recent recession and all...local Chinese food "combo-place" prices inside a very decently designed and appropriately decorated sit-down restaurant. Now to finally taste this GOOD I've been hearing about.
Kung pao was usual; salty and not even spicy. A taste I would find at any "combo-place" around the corner. Personally, I am not much of a fan of the dish and so the bias has taken over even before i put a spoonful inside my mouth.
Salt and pepper fried pork this is what I'm talking about. Crispy outside with a very tender pork inside. It was breaded ever so lightly and served with salt and pepper on the side for dipping or to pour on top of the whole plate. I can almost see the calories but with complete disregard I forged on bite by bite. But since I am a porkaholic it's not hard to make a believer out of me. (Note: i finished the whole plate, to the last bite...well, i did share maybe a piece or two).
Fish/Clams with basil and garlic...both the fish and clams were tender and swimming in a savory, garlicky basil sauce that marries well with either protein. Without the pork chops, i would have been satisfied with a plate of either the fish or clam.
Broccoli with oyster sauce...I know it's a very typical Chinese dish you can get at Panda Express but I was not the only one at the table so I had to try this plate anyway. Panda Express is walking distance from my house. If time comes when I would be in dire need of this dish, I would burn calories and walk to Panda Express and get my fix.
Pea sprouts...Joe's favorite item to order. He said it was good. I say it is pea sprouts.
Shrimp fried rice...their fried rice was filled with enough shrimp and add-ons. I mean, don't you get tired of ordering this dish and get two or three pieces of shrimp? Newport's shrimp fried rice IS shrimp fried rice.
Shrimp and scrambled eggs...simple but good. I know i could have easily made this dish at home as I make Chinese scrambled eggs most brunch days but something about Newport's that just made me sigh. Maybe because it was FULL of sweet, perfectly cooked shrimp. Plump and succulent. Ugh...I'm a sucker for excess.
BOBA...they give you a separate menu for this and it comes in a to-go bag. It may have come from another location but when it comes to boba i usually don't care. I got the durian and it was interesting. Nothing against Newport but my choice of fruit was not exactly the most edible. It tasted like sweetened onions with a very indescribable aftertaste. Go figure me.
In conclusion...I have found that this place is CHEAP and GOOD. For the money you would pay for lunch, this place is indeed an excellent location to satisfy the stomachs of many foodies. Food is good as we did not ask for any to-go boxes even though the portions were considerably larger than the usual lunch plates. The place has either comfy diner booths or large tables that can accommodate a family of many and all male employees that provide fast and friendly service. I would go back again but maybe only for lunch. I heard the place gets packed for dinner and the prices are double so it may not be worth the drive (especially with Mayflower and Coral Reef around the corner).
So if you're looking for an Anthony Bourdain moment filled with witty retorts and charming remarks then Newport is not your muse. At least, it was not mine. On to the next No Reservations conquest.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blue Hen, Eagle Rock CA

EAT DRINK ORGANIC. Blue Hen boasts of many Zagat, AOL, and Citysearch recognitions. So I was definitely made curious the moment I stepped inside. I agree, eating and drinking organic will not hurt for one to try, so I was made more enthusiastic to know of their claim about healthy, organic products coming out of their Vietnamese kitchen.
The menu was fairly simple and small. They had specials posted on the board so Joe had to try one of them right of the bat. We ordered turmeric fries (Japanese sweet potato) for our appetizer, vegetable Vietnamese crepe for Joe, and the caramelized ginger chicken and tofu for me.
The fries were served with diluted fish sauce and organic ketchup. WOW. Just something I do not see in my pantry often. I would like to, and I will because it tasted just like ketchup...even maybe how ketchup is supposed to taste like. By the way, the fries were normal. A cross between sweet potato and Yukon gold. If you've read my Spitz blog then you would know how I feel about "abnormal fries".
Work for your food best describes the crepe. Joe had such a hard time keeping it all together. It was a lot of bean sprouts and carrots with some tofu. Wrap it together and dip it in the sauce. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, working for something that I would rather NOT have defeats the purpose of a foodie enjoying her food. I am thankful I did not get this dish.
My plate sounds promising-BRAISED ORGANIC CHICKEN AND TOFU SERVED WITH RICE AND SIDE OF MARKET GREENS. Yummy, right? I guess. A foodie saying I guess is sacrilegious but this one has no choice. I really dismay in the fact that I have nothing good to say about this dish. Braised chicken that I could not even taste the ginger, simple slices of tofu that has been soaking in the sauce, Chinese broccoli on the side, and undercooked brown rice. The saltiness from the fish sauce just swims and penetrates each and every bite that it hits the back of your throat as you place each bite in your mouth. I was expecting a more ginger taste, but encountered the overpowering fish sauce instead. They also have to know that tofu is like a sponge. It starts tasteless and morphs into whatever liquid it absorbs. So as my chicken, tofu, rice, and side of market greens lay on the ladled sauce, I just had to pray my kidneys would get out of Blue Hen alive.
We had banana pudding after. Even though it wasn't the best I've had, I welcome the change of taste in my mouth. There is hope, after all.
Maybe we just ordered the wrong items on the menu. The place does show proof of many awards. Maybe my palate deceived me and the promise seduced me silly that my expectation were very unreasonable. I don't know, I guess. But it will take a long time for me to try Blue Hen gain. Next time I will stick to Lemongrass. It is just around the corner. It maybe a little bit pricier but organic or is by far better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back for Good?

Do you remember the song? PKA is still in heart and mind but I am back to scouting the hole in the wall, the small spaces, the crowded rooms, and the longest lines. YES.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The chronicles of PKA...

I know that PKA is done. I have lost by a 2lbs. to my friend Lui. It might have been more fair and acceptable if we were to measure by percentage as I was the smallest of six; nevertheless, I lost some poundage and that is all that matters for now. To narrate such ordeal is quite scary, I must admit. I had my weakest points and I had my stronger (much more disciplined) ways. I am proud to have lost many and will be ashamed to gained some back. But blogging leaves me no choice but to continue to forge on to new horizons and eat mas instead of menos. I will eat...if sensibly??? It leaves to wonder. But I will have more weak moments, I PROMISE.

Friday, September 4, 2009

PKA update...

I am surviving...just in case someone out there is curious. Just A yogurt a day...keeps the lbs. away.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


We just finished the weigh in today...whopping 147lbs. PKA is necessary (Project Kick Ass). If not for the incentives then for the motivation it brings to the table. I need to lose weight. I know, it might be very hypocritical to most that a foodie wants to lose weight but when you play tennis and can barely run side to side during a rally then maybe it is a sign that fat has taken over. Palm springs is coming up next month and the day before is the deadline. I must sign off for a while as I do need to make sure I do not give in to the many temptation that surround this deprived blogger. Wish me luck.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Savoy Chicken, Alhambra CA

Full house. There's about 5 or so names written on that stand outside the door. No maitre de, no hostess, no welcoming smiles. Paper without even lines on it. Write your name, how many in your party, and wait. But it will surely be worth it.
Hainan chicken rice heaven. When people tell you to get the Hainan chicken, when Yelpers tells you it's famous and it's HIGHLY recommended, or when you see almost everyone inside eating the Hainan chicken ...THEN for crying out loud...GET THE HAINAN CHICKEN. It is cheap heaven on a plate. For $6.75 (plus $2 for dark meat) you get this huge plate of goodness. The chicken has been poaching in their special broth until it is just fall off the bone tender and infused with such amazing flavor. Dip it in ginger and chili sauce and it is elevated to another level. I mean it is something so simple on a plate. It looks just as plain as chicken and rice, but do not underestimate my friends. This plate is love inside your mouth. Simple yet so complex in flavor, a wave of warmth and comfort on your palate...sweet, salty, savory (SSS-triple threat). And of course, let us not forget the rice. The same poaching liquid for the chicken is used as the cooking liquid, lending such a light, savory flavor to the fluffy rice.
But of course we started off with the escargot. It is baked with herb butter (and baked to PERFECTION). Although, it is not the healthiest, IT IS A MUST try. Ignore the glistening coating on the outside. Let's say it is not is not BUTTER.
Joe had the conch pasta and it was decent. Conch is one tough meat if not cooked properly, and theirs were cooked to tender, edible bites. The fettuccine was mixed in garlic, white wine, and olive oil sauce. Going to an Asian restaurant, pasta would not be first or second or third on my list. Although, he did enjoy it to the last morsel...and I was satisfied with my taste of it (or what I had to fight for).
Mentionable are the crispy, thin shrimp rolls, and the free refills of iced tea. Unfortunately, it is CASH only so come prepared. I would like to try the curry; it comes highly recommended. Well, Joe will have curry and I will have the chicken (best of both worlds). I mean, AFTER ALL, when people tell you to get Hainan Chicken Rice...what do you do??? This foodie will not be told twice...this foodie WILL get Hainan Chicken Rice.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spitz, Eagle Rock CA

I've been a Spitz customer since it opened in 2005. So going there one VERY warm Saturday was a perfect plan to satisfy a hungry belly. My lunchmates did just come from bikram yoga so i'm not really sure if Spitz was a healthy enough pair to 21 sweaty poses, nevertheless we drove on, found parking and made our way to some saucy wraps and sandwiches.
As soon as you walk in, your eyes are drawn to two things (at least mine were). I had to lick my lips constantly just by looking at those vertical meat broilers. Look close enough and you'll see the juices from the meat ooze out and drip down to each tender, protein crevice. My eyes almost popped out by the many choices of gelato they had on display, from the usual butter pecan and double espresso to the indulging white chocolate decadence to the unfamiliar yet inventive blackberry cabernet. 12 choices of flavors brings such a dilemma to the mind and the palate.
Time to order. A classic wrap with french fries. A falafelite wrap with sweet potato fries. A side of their dollar fried pita strips with hummus. Let me elaborate and add to envy. The classic is half lamb and half Doner beef with fresh slices of lettuce, tomatoes, onion, green peppers, and cucumber mixed with a Tzatziki and chili sauce. The falafelite comes with the same base except for slices of falafels. And the pita strips are deep fried and best dipped in their homemade hummus. They've added a new style to your kebab of choice. Spitz has now a "street cart" array of sauces to add-on to your meal. Extra Tzatziki, spicy, Mediterranean, and zesty. I happen to love their garlicky Tzatziki so it was a perfect addition to an already amazing bite. Joe likes anything that resembles fire inside your mouth so the spicy sauce was a must for him.
My classic was, as usual, GOOD. I mean really good. The lavash wrap was soft, chewy, and soaks in all that garlic sauce. The lamb and beef combo inside my wrap were just tender and flavourful despite the onslaught of sauce and vegetables. Note-worthy were the fries. My well-seasoned, deep-friend french fries were crispy, with obvious specks of seasoning stuck to a yummy yellow outside. Each bite were almost enough to convert me into disliking mcdonalds and in&out (well, may be not in&out).
The falafelite was still slightly crispy on the outside, which was a surprising since its been soaking in the Tzatziki and spicy sauce combo. The falafel itself was packed with flavor and it does tend to be dry on the inside, but this time it wasnt. The sauces inside the wrap helped in keeping it soft, warm, and with never a dry spot. The seasoned sweet potato fries were salty on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. Im not really a fan of sweet potato fries, or anything to replace my Yukon obsession. So this is as much as i am willing to describe it.
The fried pita strips were just crispy and the hummus needed absolutely no adjustments in preparation. They were partners in crime and they could steal away your health-conscious sanity if not careful.
Im really a gelato freak, having had both good and bad ones, i really am very critical of what i call gelato. Spitz' gelato was alright. The flavors were interesting enough to make me want to try them all but not explosive enough to make me buy a big cup with no sharing privileges. I did try the blackberry cabernet, sweet and bitter. The double espresso was just like strong coffee with a sweet finish. The texture was a little too rough, almost sandy for my taste but try one and let me know if i have to change my mind.
The wraps were cut in half yet each are huge portions enough to satiate even the most hungry. I couldnt even get myself to start my other half but it was perfect, 4mins inside my oven toaster for a late snack. Worth it.
Spitz does merit a mention in my blog, or yours. Try out their many other choices...chicken, veg, doner plates, get a wrap or a sandwich and for sure you will come back for more. I know i fact, ive been looking for a lunch spot for a while now. Looks like i have found it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kogi, Everywhere in Southern CA

It started with a mere rumor that became an interest...which became a goal then finally a chase. I didn't really chase the Kogi truck everywhere but i did follow it on twitter...if only to put a notch on my belt and say..."yah foos, i just did kogi".
4374 Eagle Rock blvd., yes , it was in my beb's neighbourhood...and as we pass the "Roja" Kogi truck, all that was running around my tiny brain space was PARKING SPACE!!! But luckily we parked near Rambo's (another famous late night taco truck), got out, and went in line regardless of the 90deg hot hot hot weather. Surprisingly the line was not as bad as i expected. It was slightly a family affair, even mothers taking picture of their kids in line and in front of the Roja truck that just parked. We had a conversation going with a former Korean local that has a Mexican restaurant in Vegas (how ironic, huh). We were both in line to try the hype, to test the popularity, and to taste the fad. So here we go.
Azul (the truck-in-training) pulls up, parks, and the prep time begins. Roja did start taking orders first and the menu was simple enough. If you have twitter, they do post the specials of the day including dessert. Yum. I was surprised that parking to prep to order and service was not a wait at all, in fact we did wait longer in line than to order and get our food. Short rib tacos, spicy pork tacos, kimchi quesadillas, and tofu burrito. I will come back in line for the Kogi sliders (short rib burgers with a spicy sauce) and the Kogi dog (hotdog, mexi-korean style). Those made my mouth salivate and my tummy rumble a little bit. But I wanted to try their popular and more interesting dishes first.The food comes unpacked, if you want it to-go (as we did) pull a couple of pieces of foil, get a bag, take your utensils...which are all available at the front of the truck and bag the food yourself. I didn't really mind. They were nice enough to give us extra radish, lime, orange wedges. So off we went.
The short rib tacos were tender, a little spicy with a little bit of tang. It was a little too much on a tiny piece of tortilla but i didn't mind. I picked up fallen pieces of short rib on my plate and enjoyed the moment. The spicy pork taco was not spicy at all, given the mexi-korean style i was expecting explosion and an immediate need for a diet coke extinguisher but...was disappointed. The pork was tender and mild at best. Both tacos came with the same veggie slaw and sauce, which were alright. Slightly different from the original Mexican flavor but did work well with the meat. The kimchi quesadilla was a nice surprise. Interesting but in a very, very good, delicious way. The tortilla was perfectly cooked, the kimchi was excellent, the sauce was a little spicy but not to complain about. But my best bite so far was the tofu burrito. Silky tofu, melted cheese, a sweet yet somewhat spicy sauce inside a huge tortilla, definitely worth more than the 5bucks i paid for it. I can't wait to go to Costco one day to find these in the frozen section, ready for my microwave.
The tacos did under deliver, probably because the hype made me expect so much that the disappointment was very apparent. I would order the short rib again, but only because i waited in line for Kogi so i better get a taste of it anyway. But the highlights were the quesadilla and the burrito. So next time i wait in the heat, i know what my purpose would be. Not for the rumor, the interest, the chase, or the hype...but to try those dogs and to get more of my new found truck favorites.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Full House, Arcadia CA

Chinese ladies in red, peddling hot carts with tiny, steamed pieces of heaven...AKA dim sum. If i were to specify in only 3sec ONE thing i love to eat and would eat everyday...i wouldn't even bat an eyelash, would not even hesitate one's dim sum. It has been one of those rituals or routines that i have down to a peg. Whenever i get a day off during the workweek...i have to have dim sum. They have dim sum Saturdays and Sundays but slightly more expensive and a little bit more crowded than i actually prefer (not that i would say no to your invite...if you want to go, i'll be right behind yah). I've been to several dim sum places and hundreds of times at Full House, the slow wait staff, the nice ladies offering me goodies, and the huge variety of food are all not new to me. To change it up, every time i go to any dim sum place i have to order something new, unique, or "something different". This time i had tito with me to share that something "interesting". We'll get to that soon enough...for now let us begin our dim sum feast.
We never waited more than 3min here at Full House, except that one holiday called Memorial Day, when everyone was off and seemed to want to dim sum with me...aarrgghh. There was no hostess at the door, she's usually standing there taking you to your tables, but not to worry one of the waiters flagged us down (yes, like a cab) and just pointed to "that" direction. We found a table for four at the very front of the bustling kitchen, and sat down. Another waiter gave us the "ticket" (were they stamp corresponding letters/numbers according to the price of the item you ordered), tea, and hot sauce and mustard (a traditional dim sum dipping sauce). We have the best table in the soon as these carts came out of the kitchen, we knew we had first pick at everything. Our first attempt at gluttony were lollipop shrimp with sweet and spicy sauce (think meatballs but its shrimp rolled in breadcrumbs, poked with a sugar cane stick for easier handling then fried to a golden orange goodness), sausage pastry (hotdog wrapped in dough), fish cheong fun (rice noodle roll filled with anything from bbq pork to fish to beef), and fried salt and pepper tofu (salty fried tofu bites with green onion on top). Nice.
My first bite was the tofu and it was delicious, with a crunchy, salty outside and a silky, melts in your mouth inside. In fact, one plate was not enough, we had order one more to satiate our salivating palates. I thought the sausage pastry was an interesting concept, reminiscent of the hotdog pastry topped with ketchup i used to get in the mornings at a Korean bakery when i used to live in ktown. Tita wanted to save it all for herself and i did not complain, in fact i was smiling deviously from the means i had more room in my tummy for more note-worthy dishes.
Here comes the next parade...chinese broccoli with oyster sauce (a very staple dish whenever Filipinos gather around "Chinese" tables), our second helping of fried tofu, shrimp balls with sticky rice (same base as the lollipop shrimp but instead of bread crumbs and fried, it's rolled in sticky rice and steamed), shrimp and pork "siu mai" or shaomai (small steamed dumplings inside a thin wheat flour wrapper filled with many different ingredients and combinations, from pork to shrimp to sharks fin). We also had turnip cake.Turnip cakes are mashed daikon radish filled with bbq pork bits, steamed, cut into squares then pan fried to yummy goodness. This dish was introduced by a friend and a fellow foodie, it was also at Full House when he said "this could be your something different for today" and i was hooked. We both agree that the turnip cake at Empress Chinatown is much better, only because its really fresh off the carts instead of served on trays, but i don't really mind. It has a unique, salty (from the bbq pork) taste you want to keep going back to.
Another cart came rolling out of the kitchen and this time it was the "gow" lady...SHRIMP har gow (shrimp wrapped in white/translucent rice flour skin and steamed) is one of my favorite plates at any dim sum place. You would rarely disappoint me except maybe if you serve me mushy shrimp and inedible wrapping, otherwise keep feeding me. Other than the fact that it is super delicious, it also showcases the artistry of the chef if handmade and from scratch. The skin is hard to make and the pleats or folds are just delicate and beautiful. I can just imagine making hundreds of these by hand...amazing.
We also added another plate of shrimp cheong fun and started our round II "rocky"ish battle. It was quiet, we were all digging in and enjoying the goodness of steamed bites of indulgence...until the roasted cart came by. She was offering us roasted pork and was easily denied by tita. I secretly wanted it to be my "something different" for today, but i guess the crispy skin and glistening meat will have to wait until another day off. She did insist on something much more interesting, at least for her taste. She was pointing at "noodles" and everyone around the table looked at her in amazement as she kept asking for it. Lo and behold...pig ears julienned thinly on top of sauteed bean sprouts. Now i would have eaten that, not a problem, but as soon as i translated to tagalog the poor Chinese lady's attempt on explanation, tita waived the plate no and onward she goes. Come back...i say, your cart has two of my "something different" picks...what to do, what to do.
I did not have to wait that long before i found my "interesting" dish for today...blood cake. It's coagulated blood squares boiled/stewed in a soy sauce base with radish, button mushrooms, and green onions. I would have loved it with tripe and chili oil, as i was expecting, but this time she did serve it as is. The bowl was dripping with sauce and the blood squares were over flowing. I had to hold my breath and started to pick one off the bowl. I am used to blood as an ingredient, in fact we Filipinos have dinuguan or "chocolate meat" which is meat with a blood-based sauce. I just am slightly picky as to who cooks it and how it is cooked. Full House's blood cakes were normal (if you can call it that), the usual, very mineral or iron-type with a very interesting after taste. The texture was much like tofu in its pure form, silky yet firm enough to be picked up even by the most inexperienced chopsticks user. Regardless, i found it ok...between tito and i, we finished the whole bowl...and if he's coming to our next adventure i would order this again (this time with the tripe please).
I have two more days off that is owed to me...i would like to try the chicken feet or "Phoenix Talons" next time, or maybe the roasted pork, or i think the pig's ears are calling my name...or i could just simply retreat to my comfortable shell and order my staples. It does not really matter to my taste buds, all they care about is to be satisfied. And when i come back to full house i will expect the wait staff to be slow (almost ignoring), place to be packed (as always), the Chinese ladies to speak to me in their language (not a popular non-Chinese location), the bill to be cheaper than any in Chinatown (adds to the place's popularity), and the food to be satisfying as some are interesting (can i say yummy again?). I do look forward to Savoy (Malaysian Cuisine) and their Hiananese chicken, but we can have an early dim sum brunch and a late Savoy rice dish snack...restraints please, i need to not pretend to cough and fake a stomach ache just to get a taste of my indulgences again...MANTRA says: i will work tomorrow, i will work tomorrow, i will work tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2009

In-N-Out, Glendale CA in-n-out is not an intangible myth, it is not mere fantasy; it is not a fairy tale from la-la-land. It is real. And perhaps you may have read or heard PLENTY of reviews, blogs, and ratings for this legendary establishment...and I’m pretty sure mine won’t make any difference to either convince, entice or change your mind but I suggest you read on, if not to salivate then to support a struggling, crazy yet bored blogger.
In-n-out is an either or type of a place. Because of the small menu, its either you like it or you don't, its either you'd come back or you won't. Burgers (hamburger, cheeseburger or double-double), fries, three different types of milk shakes, drinks, and cheap coffee. That's about it. It is a family-owned and operated chain so nothing has changed all these years except for maybe raising the prices and adding more items to their "secret menu". I say they know and stick to what they do best...serve me some mighty, delicious burgers.
Double double with grilled onions, no tomato, and well done animal fries. Simple. Perfect. I know a friend that cannot have in-n-out without a strawberry milkshake (which makes her a twice a year customer only...sad, but true). I like mine with plain, reliable diet coke. Two glorious, juicy patties with two slices of melted, salty cheese...lettuce, pickles, grilled onions, and "spread" (just like thousand island but more mayo-based). My fries are crispy and well done (as it should be) with generous "spread", gooey cheese, and pieces of grilled onions. Heaven. And the more I bite into that burger, dripping with juicy, "spready" goodness I can't help but nod each and every time (as if to show the world my much unsolicited approval). And as I dig into my crispy, salty, saucy fries I just can't help but think God is really good. And the night was so much better by adding much welcomed ambiance...under the stars and friends all around. The conversation was non-stop and the burgers were absolutely the same as any other day I’ve been to in-n-out...perfect as always.
I will be using perfect less and be down-a-notch fan as soon as I become disappointed...but it is still yet to come. I look forward to actually finding a burger that comes close to my in-n-out...I heard "the bucket" in eagle rock is a rockin' place with some really good beef but unfortunately not vegetarian-friendly and my special someone is. So til that day when someone is nice enough to pick me up and go with will continue to be on that pedestal...and that's what it is all about...

(btw the secret menu is not really that much hidden from the's very much available on the World Wide Web...check it out)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Young Dong, San Gabriel CA

I still think that soon tofu or soondubu is almost the best hangover soup...pretty close runner-up to beef/bulalo nilaga (beef and vegetable soup) and nissin instant cup ramen (yes, in 3mins and it's bye bye hangover). So after a night of over indulging in Sapporo and Nigori Sake, Young Dong was the perfect late lunch spot. We had some time for "scratchers" at the nearby store while waiting for some friends who were "supposedly" stuck in traffic. Not that i have to really mention this but what the hell. I was expecting the king of punctuality...well...if not early, at least on time, but was slightly disappointed.
We finally went in and got to sit down at around 3pm and immediately an array of Korean side dishes or "banchan" were placed on our table. Banchan are small dishes of food served along with the main course and rice in a stone pot. Kimchi (fermented vegetables with chili peppers and salt), kongnamul (cold, boiled bean sprouts with sesame oil), pajeon (thin Korean pancakes with green onions), japchae (translucent noodles with garlic sauce and vegetables), Korean-style potato salad and a green salad were all served before we even ordered our dishes.
I ordered the beef and octopus soon, joe(my "special someone") ordered the scallop sizzler and our friends ordered two combination soons, it's soup with a pairing, one with bulgogi (thinly sliced beef with garlic and green onion served on a sizzling plate) and the other with bibimbap (mixed rice bowl with vegetables, beef, and egg with a sweet and spicy sauce on the side).
The soups came in little pots, almost boiling, perfect for the uncooked eggs they serve it with. Crack it directly on the soup and it will cook itself in almost no time. The steam coming out of these pots were almost comforting...i guess it's knowing that as soon as my tongue can actually handle it, i can start stirring and feeding my stomach with much needed reprieve. My soup was absolutely perfect, next to Beverly Tofu House, Young Dong's soon tofu was also flavorful and filling. The broth was not too spicy (i got a medium), the tofu pieces were silky and just melts in your mouth, and the portion was neither too big nor too small. They actually do not skimp on beef and octopus, which were both surprisingly tender. For those that know me well, arise and rejoice in the fact that if you take me here you will actually get to smell, sip, eat, and enjoy the food...silence is indeed golden. Joe's sizzler plate however was an expected let down, with very little scallops and a mountain of fillers, AKA bean sprouts. He did say that the scallops were "fine", very definitive??? Oh well, i was enjoying my quiet indulgence, sorry beb, "can't help you right now". The bulgogi was good. No, it was not get off your seat, standing ovation amazing, nevertheless good. They actually give you a big portion, enough for 2-3people according to my "Einstein calculations", but only because i don't really care for more add-ons when you have your soup to focus on. The bibimbap was a big portion as well, very generous with their vegetables, beef, and rice. Although by the end of lunch, it was the to-go meal...not that it was not good but after the spicy banchans, the amazing soup, the tender meat, the heavy carb known as rice...i doubt that anyone can really finish anything to the last morsel.
Although this late lunch was really, really, really LATE...i would not even bat an eyelash and do it over and over again. Comfort foods are personal, although most would say its the chicken noodle soup mom makes or the southern style cooking you crave every now and then...well, this is my chicken noodle soup. Hmmm, although my mom's molo soup is very much missed right now, tofu soup will have to do. So next time i get my hangover headache and stomach upset or for no preconceived reason at all, i definitely know where to go. And it didn't really matter that it was probably 80deg outside and not exactly soup day, we traveled regardless, towards my idea (of the moment) of comfort food.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gyu Kaku, Pasadena CA

So the thought of cooking your own food instead of chefs in the kitchen sounds a little ridiculous...for some people the reason why they actually go out to eat is so they don't have to flex a single muscle except of that putting the forks or spoons full of yummy goodness inside their mouths...if you just want to relax and do nothing while waiting for your food then this is not the place for you...better yet, bring a grillmaster (as we did)...kudos to our friend Juan for sharing with me the pleasure of cooking for the rest of the table...yes i was the only ms. in the group so for some reason it was my "assignment" to cook and serve the men...hmm.
Gyu Kaku is "yakiniku" dining or Japanese bbq, almost like yakitori, although not the traditional grilled chicken in bamboo skewers, nevertheless a must try grilling event, almost the same as Korean bbq dining. Juan has been trying to get us to go for a while now...Happy Hour 9pm to close, $1 draft beers, half off appetizers, $2.95 select grill items and $5 sakes...yes, the dollar beer should have been enough to convince us to go but last night was our night.
I haven't had a decent meal since lunch the previous day so i was wasn't packed and the wait was not that long, it did help that they brought our pitcher of Sapporo at the waiting lounge...$5.41 for the pitcher, can't get any better start to the night than that.
We got our own booth, got seated, and readied ourselves for some much awaited feasting. The appetizers were half off. The Hawaiian Ahi Poke salad was spicy yet not overwhelmingly so. The calamari was salty and tender enough to be addicting. The edamame was, well, edamame. Their appetizer portions are good for tiny little kids, so more than one serving is recommended for a group. We got two more pitchers of beer, ordered our meats and shrimp and relaxed for a few more minutes before the assault began. We really didn't care for chicken but made up for it in bulk orders of Kalbi Chuck, Bistro Harami, and Garlic Shrimp (if you think you can eat, order more servings at a time because happy hour is only from 9pm til 11pm, last call for food is 10:30).
The Kalbi Chuck was meat as it should probably taste like, nothing really special...thinly sliced, so for the hungry it was the easiest and fastest to cook. The Bistro Harami was unexpected. It was aged angus bistro steak and (when i actually cook it right as medium rare) melts in your mouth, almost with a sweet finish. All meats are marinated in their special sesame soy sauce, almost like the traditional "tare" (mirin, sake, soy sauce and sugar) sauce of yakitori. And the sauce just enhances the bistro and did not in anyway mask its goodness. Either that or i was just super hungry...hmmm. The garlic shrimp needed a little bit of help. We "soaked" it in some of their spicy sauce (each table comes with a spicy as well as soy sauce) and freshly squeezed lemon and after a few minutes it was almost as delicious to convert me into my baby's pesco-veg lifestyle. Yes, the fresh off the grill shrimp with garlicky, lemony taste was good enough to repeat the night even without the Kalbi.
More than the beer, more than the meat, and more than the shrimp, the highlight of the night was really the s'mores. Simple, yes, but after a few (or a ton) of savory bites it was most definitely an awesome finish. Where else can you actually grill your meat, drink your sake bombs and dollar beers, devour addicting calamari and end the night by making your own s'mores...come on, my stove top can probably do the job but doing it by myself out of craving is not the same as doing it buzzed (or drunk for some) with friends around you.
Gyu Kaku was a much welcomed experience when shared with some good grillers and good company. The seats could have had more room but rubbing knees with friends is probably forgivable given the cheap bill, good food, and funny topics of conversation. I would definitely go back, impress my honey with some grilling skills, wow my family with finally learning to be slightly domesticated in knowing when the meat is ready to be served, and getting my much needed "stress" buzz after work with friends. I'm going again on Friday...your first beer's on me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Let's Eat...

And so i guess it is time to begin another love for food and the 40lbs weight gain should be enough to qualify and support my upcoming, i am not a food critic nor a food blogger (not yet) but it is about my experiences when food and drinks are on the table, conversation is on-going, and friends and family are sharing their plates with me...these places may not be your cup of tea but if you would like to try them (as some are definitely a must)...then details of the place and the food are provided generously...go ahead and send me an your comments...good food, better drinks, and the best of places are meant to be shared...