Monthly Archives: October 2009

It’s all a trick

It’s almost Halloween and the candies will have to either leave or enter the house. My stash will have to leave as, ALAS, I am too old to go knocking on your doors. I will still wear my cop costume though, in hopes to reprieve my lost youth.

Yes, we do not have Halloween in the Philippines. We had All Saint’s Day on the 1st of November and All Soul’s Day on the 2nd. No one bought costumes or candy, and trick or treat was not the “in” thing to do for kids.

The day before, all of the food would be pre-cooked and readied for the feasting on the 1st. My mom and dad wake up early each year and cook whatever needs to be, packed, and dragged our asses out of bed for a whole day affair at the cemetery. We unfold portable beds, lay out tables, put on top “tupperwares” of food. Pakbet (a local vegetable dish with a Bagoong base), chicken pastel, pork adobo, fried or grilled fish, and plenty of steamed white rice. Now the desserts come, turon, suman, bibingka, sapin-sapin, and fruit salad (fruit cocktail with cream-based sauce).

It takes weeks of preparation for one day of vigil. After the rosary and the novena, after the long talks with relatives, after the belly filled with food, we pack up again, go home and await 364 more days ’til our next trip back.

These are home-cooking dishes and events I truly miss. Although, LA has been bombarded with Filipino cooks and eateries, there is still that little bit of taste of home that makes the difference. Who cares if it happens to be my mom or dad’s sweat, it makes the food theirs and theirs alone. Ugh, home. I mean, they do serve a mean sisig here but it’s not the same. It’s just all a trick to me, really.


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Filed under Chicken, Chicken and Rice, Dessert, Filipino Food, Related Article, Vegetable

Savoy Kitchen, Alhambra

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. Savoy Kitchen in Alhambra may not have the biggest dining room, or the most posh of furniture, or the most elaborate menu. But, since 1982, Savoy has been serving the best Hainan Chicken Rice you will ever find in anywhere (at least for now).

The place is small, with only a bar with limited stools, a dining area and a patio to assist the crowd that may form outside, especially during lunch time. The service is fast and efficient, with food coming out of the kitchen after a few minutes of ordering. They serve free pizza bread that can get you addicted if not careful. The sweet iced tea is unlimited, so are the condiments that come if you order their chicken, and you should.

The menu is full of enticing appetizers and entrees. Their baked escargot with herb butter is glistening with indulgence. Their pizzas are made with original potato dough made fresh daily, and comes with toppings such as butter herb shrimp, smoked beef, and smoked duck. Their pastas are also as unique, with pairings like conch and prosciutto mixed with fettuccine and your choice of tomato or garlic (garlic, white wine, olive oil, and butter) sauce. They’re also famous for their curry; Malaysian style with herbs, spices, coconut milk, and a dozen different fruits and vegetables. Pick your meat of choice; chicken, beef stew, pork chop, fish, tofu, and more.

But this place is 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 addiction. 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. I just can’t get over it. Uhuh.

Unfortunately, it is CASH only so come prepared. I would like to try the curry; it comes highly recommended. But 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.

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Filed under Chicken, Chicken and Rice, Chinese Food, Comfort Food, Malaysian Food, Pasta

Spitz, Eagle Rock

As soon as you walk in to Spitz, your eyes are drawn to two things. One: the vertical meat broilers; look closely enough and you’ll see the juices from the meat ooze out and drip down to each tender, protein crevice. Two: the gelato display, from the indulging white chocolate decadence and the staple butter pecan, all the way to the unfamiliar blackberry cabernet. 12 flavors that is certain to confuse your cravings, surely the savory meal time is not enough to decide which gelato to pounce on first.

But looking will not make any tummy happy, so we  moved on up to the counter and ordered. A classic wrap with french fries. A falafelite wrap with sweet potato fries. A side of their dollar fried pita strips with hummus.

Let us 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.

The classic has always been consistently good. The lavash wrap was soft, chewy, and soaks in all that garlic sauce. The lamb and beef combo inside the wrap was just tender and flavorful despite the onslaught of sauce and vegetables. It does get messy, but sometimes sauce on your shirt is worth the trouble. Note-worthy were the fries. The well-seasoned, deep-fried french fries were crispy, with obvious specks of seasoning stuck to a yummy yellow outside. Each bite was almost enough to convert me into abstaining from anything else on the menu.

The falafelite was still slightly crispy on the outside. The falafel itself was packed with flavor. It does tend to get dry but not this one. 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, soft and sweet on the inside. (I’m not really a fan of sweet potato fries, or anything that threatens to replace my Yukon obsession. So this is as much as I am willing to vouch for it.)

The fried pita strips were oily and crispy, a very deadly combo. And the hummus was chunky and obviously made from scratch. They are like partners in crime and they will steal away your health-conscious sanity if not careful.

The gelato was unremarkable. Although enticing to the eyes and the flavors were interesting enough to make one want to try them all, they were not good enough for a big cup with no sharing privileges. The blackberry cabernet was sweet and bitter. The double espresso was just like strong coffee with a sweet finish. The dark chocolate was milk chocolate in disguise. The texture was a little too rough, almost sandy but try one and let me know if I have to change my mind.

The wraps are cut in half yet each are huge portions enough to satisfy even the most hungry. Take the half home if you can’t finish and 4 minutes later in the oven and you have the perfect midnight snack.

Spitz is the spot for unique comfort food. 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. Be careful though, you might be wrapped in their yum and fail to leave.

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Filed under Dessert, Fries, Gelato, Hummus, Ice Cream, Mediterranean Food, Pita, Wraps

Young Dong, San Gabriel

I still think that soon tofu or soondubu is almost the best hangover soup. Pretty close runner-up to bulalo nilaga (beef and vegetable soup) and 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.

Friends were running late so we finally went in and sat down at around 3pm and immediately an array of Korean side dishes or “banchan” were placed on our table. 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.

We ordered beef and octopus soup, the scallop sizzler, and two combination soons; 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 almost perfect, next to Beverly Soon Tofu, Young Dong’s soon tofu was also flavorful and filling. The broth was not too spicy, 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. The sizzler plate however was an expected let down. It came with very little scallops and a mountain of fillers, AKA bean sprouts. The bulgogi was huhum. No, it was not get off your seat, standing ovation amazing, but tender enough for chewing. 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 again. Comfort foods are personal, although most would say it’s 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.


Filed under Comfort Food, Korean Food, Soup

An intro to epicuriosity

And so I guess it is time to begin another blogsite. My love for food and the 40lbs weight gain should be enough to qualify and support my upcoming posts. 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. Send me an email, subscribe away, and comment without restraint. I welcome it all, after all these places, food, and drinks are best shared with others. Go ahead and satisfy your epicuriosity with me.

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