Category Archives: Vegetable

Absolutely Phobulous, Los Angeles

Coming from the many twists and turns of X2, Tatsu, and the Riddler (AKA Six Flags), we all decided we needed something to soothe our stomachs. And so we came to a conclusion to go ahead and eat pho. But with the proliferation of many Vietnamese places serving this staple, it might be hard for the wandering tongue to pick and choose a place. Where to? Where to pho?  Someone said Absolutely Phobulous, I thought it was joke. Only until we parked, did I realize it was not. It is called Absolutely Phobulous. So  then by all means I should take the road less traveled and be enticed by a name that says gimmick written all over it.

Small space with very confused decor strewn all over the wall, with busy wait staff that will unfortunately not wait for you. Look long and hard, decide without doubt and swiftly or you will be passed by without any regret. Fact: he passed by many times without regret.

The menu has more items than the usual Vietnamese pho places. With appetizers, salads, vermicelli and even baguettes and dessert. Fresh spring rolls, vegetarian vermicelli (rice noodles served cold), pho beef combo, baguette sandwich, and Thai iced tea for everyone. Done.

The fresh spring rolls come fat (and I do mean about 2in in diameter each). It was filled with huge shrimp and plenty of vermicelli noodles to easily become an entree vs just an appetizer. The carrots, bean sprouts, and cilantro were crisp and fresh. And instead of the peanut sauce, this time it was served with hoisin which lent it a different sweetness, much different from what you’ll get from the shrimp and vegetables.

The vegetarian vermicelli came with both crystal noodles (clear noodles) and vermicelli which for $6.75 is a big, heaping bowl of satisfaction. It comes with mushrooms, tofu, the usual vegetables, and even a vegetarian egg roll. It’s finished with peanuts on top and drizzled with their “house” sauce (which, by guess, was a mix of soy sauce, vinegar, and maybe a little hoisin). It was a delicious combination of ingredients that a lack of protein was never an issue.

The baguette sandwich was just a simpler version of banh mi. Instead of plus the pickled carrots, daikon, and a pate, this one came with spicy chicken, just the cucumbers, fresh carrots (which on the menu said marinated), slices of jalapeno, and the usual cilantro. Although the baguette was a little too hard, scraping the roof of your mouth (that kind of hard), the fillings were actually a good merry mix of fresh, spicy, and flavor. The chicken just had enough amount of spices to still taste like chicken, until that little kick comes in towards the end.

But we must not forget the purpose of this visit. Let us see if this place lives up to its name. The beef combo came with rare steak, beef meatballs, and brisket. It’s served in beef broth with vermicelli, green onions, and bean sprouts, jalapeno, and basil on the side for your mixing pleasure. The meat balls were flavorless, the brisket was hard (AKA tough), and the rare steak was huhum. The beef broth was not as resounding, meaning many of bullion in lesser time (at least that kind of taste). I was hoping for that thick flavor you get from hours and hours of boiling those lovely bones, but was disappointed. Although pho broth is not as dense as some ramen broths but at least give more love into it. A little bit of hoisin and chili sauce helped enhance the taste a little bit or a lot.

Soon we will find that perfect bowl of Vietnamese chicken noodle (not literally). For now I’ll just be satisfied at their attempt at delivering a delicious bowl; whilst failed, it was still able to provide that sigh of comfort when that warm broth started traveling from my mouth to my stomach (and the rest of the menu were not  that bad either). And that is good comfort food in my book.

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Filed under Beef, Bread, Chicken, Comfort Food, Noodles, Pho, Roll (non-bread), Uncategorized, Vegetable, Vietnamese Food

Mayflower Seafood Restaurant, Los Angeles

Spring is in the air on Spring St in Chinatown. It may be time to smell the roses but dinner must be first priority for now, after hearing multiple complaints from an empty stomach. Inspired by the recent win of boxing great Manny Pacquiao in Texas, I was told that he frequents Mayflower for one of the best Chinese food in the area.  And of course, being a Filipino, I was more than excited to go. With the rows and rows of places to choose from, hearing of the best must not be missed. And so when it was time to pick a place, Mayflower was first in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It did not look like one of those places one would pass by and immediately want to try. The front needs a major overhaul, seriously. But a fan of hole in the wall places, this was a perfect dinner destination. The place is deceivingly bigger than its facade, with even an event hall on the side that fit 100-150people if need be.

The menu had over 400 items to pick from. But having help choosing from two regulars, the orders were flying out of the kitchen in no time.

First came the soup, lobster and fish maw soup. It needed a little bit of help from the chili oil. After a few drops and the soup was almost perfect. It came with chunks of lobster (I had a whole claw-lucky), and the fish maw was chewy but cooked perfectly. The pan-fried fish came next. It was crispy sole that came with a soy and vinegar dipping sauce. It was almost crispy enough to eat the bones; very enjoyable and clearly not enough for four people.

We had to return the house special seafood chow mein, it had a “long and black” unwanted ingredient. We suggest shaving or hair nets please. They were apologetic enough to deliver a new, clean plate (but did not take this off the bill, which I think is more than appropriate since we already started eating the noodles). Moving on, the sauce was a little bland. Understandably, it is usually thick and underseasoned, but this one really had no hand at all. The vegetables and seafood were overflowing, and were well-cooked. A very typical, unspectacular dish. Next, please.

The salt and pepper squid were overly breaded and over-cooked, chewy to the point of no return. We were excited at first glance as this dish is a staple of any Chinese restaurant, and they rarely miss the mark. Today was one of those days.


The fried pork chops were a favorite. They were lightly breaded and perfectly fried, not to oily at all with a little taste of salt that did not overpower the dish (I kept coming back for more that I felt bad for the rest of the table). Having had Newport’s and Coral Reef’s plenty of times now, I admit, I am a salt and pepper pork chop snob, but Mayflower’s was a decent plate of pork. Not as good, but holds its own very well.


At the end of the meal, they bring your dessert. A warm sweet coconut milk soup, filled with tapioca balls and bits of sweet yam. Now this was a good, much needed ending to the meal. The tapioca balls were tiny, chewy jewels that added a surprising bite, and the soup was sweet but not overly, delicious.


Inside, Pacquiao’s pictures were hanging all over the place. He wasn’t there but he was pretty much a part of the decor, therefore part of the place. No proof though, whatsoever, if he liked this place or which dish he would never leave without a taste of. But after a full stomach, it was hard to really care about that.

Outside the restaurant, spring calls once more. All four on the table needed to stand up and smell the flowers, otherwise the rest of the 395 items on the menu would be tried and tested. Giving credit to the place, it does make you want to try every bit of interesting item on the menu, even the usual fried chicken and beef and broccoli. Being so busy, it was easy to have table envy even though disappoints came one after another. The brisket over rice looked good, the house special noodle soup smelled fantastic, the house special lobster looked spicy yummy, and even the snow peas smelled garlicky addicting. Soon, spring needs to be revisited more frequently now.


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Filed under Chinese Food, Dessert, Fish, Mixed Seafood, Noodles, Pork, Pork Chops, Soup, Squid, Vegetable

Newport Tan Cang Seafood, San Gabriel

I watched way too many Anthony Bourdain episodes last night. This streaming from Netflix jeopardized all that hard work. Any diet is assured of failure post-Bourdain. So a “blogging lunch” was inevitable. I had to keep my sanity before I got to Newport. I was craving. I was hungry. I was salivating. 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 was 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 chicken…it 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 chops, now we’re getting somewheret. 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. Fish and 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 ordering at the table. 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 would rather walk there and get my fix. Pea sprouts, people said it was good. I say it was pea sprouts. Shrimp fried rice filled with enough shrimp to make it a full meal, which was surprising. I mean, don’t you get tired of ordering this dish and get two or three pieces of shrimp? Shrimp and scrambled eggs, simple, I know i could have easily made this dish at home 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.

I therefore conclude that I have found this place 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.

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Filed under Boba, Chicken, Chinese Food, Clams, Fish, Pork, Pork Chops, Soup, Vegetable

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