Monthly Archives: June 2010

Cocary Shabu Shabu BBQ, Monterey Park

 

If you’ve never been to a shabu-shabu or hotpot then leave all your preconceived notions at the door, Cocary Shabu Shabu is not your typical BBQ place. A mix of Chinese hotpot and Japanese shabu shabu, Cocary makes BBQ a much more arduous task. Instead of picking your meats and seafood from the menu, they make you stand up and pick the plates off some industrial size window fridges (4 in fact). And for just about $2 to $3 a plate, pick you meats, your seafood, your vegetables, your fruits, your condiments, and desserts of choice. And the rest is all up to you.

This is not where you just worry about cooking the meat to your liking, it’s picking you grilling items plus boiling items too. In the middle of the grill comes a pot full of boiling soup, and with much Iron Chef-like style, go ahead and practice that skill and harness it with the mixing of your ingredients to come up with either a boom or a bust.

Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, salmon, button mushrooms, squid, prawns on the buttered grill? Sure! Tofu, quail eggs, rice noodles, corn on the cob, fish balls, crab, and clams in the hotpot? Why not? The possibilities are endless. In fact let’s not leave Cocary without trying something out of our usual realm of comfort picks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We, and by that I meant I, tried the pork intestines. Chewy, the usual acquired taste, nevertheless I thought it was okay. It was even good when I actually cooked it perfectly. The century egg is actually a favorite of mine, but not to the rest of the group. Although this one was not completely preserved to the black color I wanted but I have missed it terribly so it was a great delight devouring this plate all by myself.

And there’s dessert. The taro flan has always been my go-to here; it’s smooth, creamy, and with light yet obvious taro flavor. I had two, hurray diet.

We were slightly unsuccessful with flavoring our broth but it was definitely an experience I’d love a repeat of. It has been a VERY long time since I’ve had hotpot or shabu shabu so every bite had to linger much longer in the mouth. Whew. I was sweating bullets, but I wouldn’t mind slinging that towel on my shoulder just to come back again.

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Filed under Chinese Food, Japanese Food, Shabu Shabu, Smorgasbord, Soup

Casa Bianca, Eagle Rock

Pizza, pasta, and more. Casa Bianca prides itself with the best and freshest of ingredients handmade and always made to order. And so when given a few tips before I dared investigate, I went with much gusto to this location where the long line  have always tickled my curiosity. It must be that good, eh?

Italian food and chefs are sometimes defined by how good your red sauce is, but I went in with a better plan of attack: spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, eggplant parmigiana sandwich, cheese pizza with anchovies, and a side salad. WHEW! And only for two people. I called it in and opted for pick-up. After all, I want to experience the food and not the wait. Still, it would take them almost an hour because of the massive orders they have, and probably the reason why they only open at 4pm, and even closed Sundays and Mondays.


The spaghetti carbonara was (hold the boos and the hatred) “disappointing” (currently at my nicest). The pancetta was hard and dry, clearly overcooked. I missed the salty, fatty, yet ironically somewhat tender bite to it. There was salt, believe me, but the rest were simply on vacation. The spaghetti was al dente, hard to accomplish when it’s on a to-go container, steaming continuously until released from its vessel. There was absolutely no creamy aftertaste, which I was expecting from a carbonara. NO, not like an alfredo, but theirs tasted more like oil and rendered bacon grease than anything else. AND let us not forget the overly GENEROUS helping of basil. I know it is a staple Italian herb, but it was fresh and all from a former life. Laying on top of my pasta was a lifeless, limp, and almost BLACK shreds with absolutely nothing to add but an assault of basil taste that overpowered my tongue. It might be good, I guess, to hide the disappointments in the dish. But still, one hopes to turn this frown upside down.

From the confused to the aggressive we go. If my pasta didn’t know what it wanted to be (salty, bland, herbaceous), we come to the pizza: SALTY.  But I slightly understand, I do have a heart. Their regular style is thin crust, and with only salty cheese and salty anchovies as my toppings, of course the SALT ASSAULT was a given. But I did not expect it to be this much of a kidney battery. Thank you Casa Bianca for giving me so much anchovies, I appreciate the heavy hand but I am sure that my kidneys do not. Let us move on.

And so we come to the clear winner of the night: Joe’s eggplant parmigiana sandwich. A forgotten part of their menu, the lesser popular item, the unexpected order. The eggplant was breaded lightly but the batter clung to it like there’s no tomorrow. The cheese was melted and stringy, not wanting to let go of the rest of the team. It was really all for one and one for all, on flavor and texture. The bread held up well and so it was not hard to devour the savory and crunchy goodness.

Being my own critic, it might have been my fault having veered away from the spaghetti and meatballs, or the fettucine alfredo. But Italian food is more than the red, green, or white sauce. It should be made more famous to the masses for other dishes it can offer. But even the pizza was a “disappointment”, at a PIZZA PIE place. But I will not stop trying this place over and over again. So maybe I will a find a dish I would love to go back for, and maybe even wait in line for an hour.

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Filed under Italian Food, Pasta, Pizza, Sandwich