Tag Archives: Food

2011 already???

I have been in and out of so many diets that I may have slowed down quite a bit on my visits and blogs, but never to fade away into non-existence.  This is for the year that was…

– Thank you Castle Korean BBQ…you may not be the best but I have been your staple customer for so long that it is your squid and your brisket have been our saving grace countless times.  I have been hungry, and you have been more than willing to feed to poor and needy (thank you inexpensive Korean BBQ).

– Thank you Senor Fish…because when we have no where else to go, you are but a block away of goodness on a plate.  Loving all the more that we do not have to walk with alcohol in hand, your sangrias make you such a popular cheerleader.

– Thank you Yogurt Haven…I have been hooked with your delightful Taro enticing me to the core that even through the coldest of winter I will never tire of you.

– Thank you Starbuck’s on York…for our many nights of hanging out and playing our card games and providing us with such great service every single time.

– Thank you to the many Happy Hour places offering solace after 10pm: Burbank Bar and Grill, Octopus Glendale, Coffee Table Lounge, Red Lion Tavern, Wokcano Pasadena, and the many Korean cafes within reach.

– Thank you Boiling Shrimp…you may not the same as Boiling Crab, but you have never let us wait more than 5minutes, whether for our seats or our food.  It is a plus that you are sans liquor license and have a store next door. Picture this, ready seats and cheap drinks that we can bring in to your establishment.

I am still thankful for my 2009 findings, add to them are the 2010 gems and hole(s)-in-the-wall that will surely be revisited and never forgotten.  I may find more in 2011, but it is not to say that you will be unnoticed and untouched.  Let’s do this 2011.  Pardon the diets I may have, after all…a foodie will live on food alone.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under BBQ, Crab, Dessert, Drinks, Happy Hour, Korean Food, Related Article, Seafood, Squid

PHOlling for Pho, Los Angeles

‘Tis the season after all for the cold and the warm, and by that I meant the weather and the soup.  Recognizing the many Pho places in Los Angeles that are popping up, maybe it’s time to crawl towards the comfort it brings.  Although, there are many better bowls out there, I can only go to so many and therefore may have to pick and choose considering proximity and necessity.  Let’s explore the hole-in-the-wall, the chain, the upscale, the popular, and find out which one we love best.  (For the sake of comparison, I am willing to sacrifice myself and eat combination Pho at each location. )

Pho 2000

“The Hole-in-the-Wall”

Walk along the Western Ave and you’ll find many Pho places.  This one was introduced to me by an aunt a long time ago.  It was my first Pho experience in Los Angeles some *ehem years ago.  Therefore a revisit to this place is a must.  It’s nothing fancy, mismatched chairs you’ll find at any second hand store, tables covered in their menu with plexi glass on top which definitely saves on reprints, and a small counter.  Don’t get me wrong, they do have several of them everywhere in the Koreatown area, but nothing spells authenticity than the confusing and clearly “un-thought” (if that is even a word) of decor and the very humble style.  Their service is fast but not the best of the four: NOT A SMILE IN SIGHT.  Oh well!  The Pho is not as good as I remember, there was a time when I thought it was the most comforting thing I have ever put inside my stomach.  The noodles were mushy and glued together (if that makes sense in your imagination) and the meatballs had a very weird aftertaste that was reminiscent of (spoilage).  The squid and tendons were cooked well, surprisingly.  The broth was on the blander side and so a dash (or aplenty) of sriracha will help the bowl a lot.  In these parts onions are served in and out of the bowl, on the side with plenty of hoisin and sriracha and the winter nights were becoming much much better.  Maybe the chef was on Holiday vacation.  But with the disappointments in the meal, we had to move-on. And so…moving on. 

PhoCiti

“The Chain”

A new 24hour location just opened up in Glendale, thus aiding towards the need for something open late at night after going around Glendale getting slightly “almost sober”.  No further explanation needed.  The service was fine, I suppose.  You order at the counter and the food comes in less than 5min when there are not many customers around.   Oddly enough, it was winter and there were not many customers around.  We do need some help with tougher cuts of meat.  With just chopsticks and a spoon, it was hard for me to cut and gnaw at the huge pieces of meat, it was short of bringing out the cannibal and primal in me.  But the meatballs and noodles here were a sure improvement.  The broth was “fine” (for a lack of better word than boring).  I still needed a little bit of help with my condiment friends but without would have been just as “fine”.  The place and decor stepped it up a little bit, coming from one chain to another.  But even during the cold winter nights, it was lacking in activity (during dinner???).  Maybe that was a sign to move on.  And so moving on once more.

Lemongrass Vietnamese Restaurant 

“The Popular”

Watch out for this one when you crave for Pho.  It can get packed and tables always get full come dinner time and  parking is close to non-existent (NOTE: 2 spots in front).  Not really my favorite but really close to being my go-to.  The broth is actually better than the first two and the rice noodles have this delicious bite to it, not too hard and not too soft.  The meat and cuts were at par, perfect bite-size pieces and tender enough.  The decor was much nicer than the first two, and by far slightly more upscale (and they even offer alcoholic drinks).  If you are a Pho connoisseur then do not come here.  If you’re doing a Pho crawl (just like I was) then definitely try this place.  But for $8 a bowl, I was expecting a golden delicious broth that will blow the rest of its competitors out of the water.  Damn the good service for tipping the scale towards their advantage.  Nevertheless, it was really necessary to seek perfection elsewhere.  Let’s move on.

Indochine Vien

“The Upscale”

I say upscale for several reasons: the location is much better than some of it’s predecessors, the decor and styling is definitely an upgraded version of the other Pho places I’ve ventured in, and the prices are UP UP UP(scale) compared with what  a bowl of Pho is usually valued as.  But for the record, this is ranked as high UP there versus the other three.  The broth is slightly on the sweeter side but at least had enough flavor for the sake of recognition.  The meats were plenty and cooked well that no tutorial on utensil usage was necessary.  Was it worth the $8.50?  I would say it was not quite, but will suffice.  They had ample parking in the back, service was fast and efficient, it was not crowded, and the food was bordering slap-me-silly delicious (interpret/imagine however way you want). 

Lesson for the winter: Pho is as individual as we all are.  Just because it is as seemingly simple as broth, noodles, and meat does not mean they will all comfort you the same way.  Depending on your need for the moment, may it be location, occasion, budget, etc, there will always be a bowl that can satisfy your craving for warmth amidst the cold.  Don’t just take my word for it, you will have to crawl on your own. 

*FYI: I did not have pictures of Golden Deli as it has been a long time since I’ve been (note: pre-blog).  I did not have the means to revisit for the purpose of this post.  But it is by far still my favorite bowl compared with all that I have tried so far (written about or not).  But if you have your own suggestions, please let me know. I’d love to find that best slurp of Pho I want to keep dreaming about and devour even in the middle of a heat wave.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comfort Food, Noodles, Pho, Soup, Uncategorized, Vietnamese Food

The Fix Burger, Los Angeles

Finding the perfect, juicy burger amidst the hype and mushrooming of burger joints in Los Angeles is like finding a needle in a haystack, well maybe a perfect needle in a pin cushion. Most of these burger joints are okay, some are good, and only a few really are just perfectly delicious.

Having passed by The Fix Burger on Hyperion more than a few times, I realized it’s long overdue to try their certified humane burgers. So one day when traffic had me arching one eyebrow more than once, I stopped by for dinner.

The Fix with Seoul: 1/2 pound of meat, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, button mushrooms, Korean slaw, jack cheese, Korean sauce and Mayo. It was one messy package. The beef was thick, medium inside, and actually pretty good. It was simply seasoned that the beefy taste shone through with obvious ease and such impact. The Korean slaw and the sauce was actually almost the same beginning of a typical coleslaw with a twist of a Kimchi. I was hoping for a more spicy kick but was not delivered to my tastebuds. The meat was juicy and the sauce was slightly watery that my buns had no fight at all. It was falling apart as soon as it hit the table and became a knife and fork burger dinner.

Joe had the Veggie Ono: veggie burger, mushrooms, teriyaki sauce, pineapple, jack cheese, and mayo. It was, as explained to me, just “Okay”. Sadly, it was nothing special. The burger itself was fine, it had good texture but on the bland side. The pineapple was sweet and the teriyaki was on the sweeter side as well, this made the flavors slightly off. It’s hard to envision a savory, juicy burger when you can clearly tasted dessert.

The garlic fries were a perfect side dish, in fact, another order and it would have been my main dish. The fries were crispy, and the garlic was embedded in each bite and even in the burnt after-fried bits at the bottom. The garlic basil mayo was not necessary but with each dip added an elevated taste that bordered fried food indulgence. It was just fried comfort food that can make anyone feel good.

The homemade breaded shrooms were actually also pretty good. It was panko breading and fried to a golden color that made it crispy but not burnt. The button mushrooms inside were perfectly cooked and still juicy, with a combination of oil and its own juices. It was a progression of addiction with each bite.

Surprisingly, in a burger joint, the stars were the side dishes. Although the meat on my burger was delicious the rest of the players made it difficult for me to enjoy each bite. It was too cumbersome to savor each bite with ease. I would love to give it a second chance, I heard they do not have ostrich anymore but the buffalo burger sounds promising, and a talk of a lamb burger is encouraging such cravings that are becoming too hard to control.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Food, Beef, Burger, Comfort Food, Fries, Side Dishes, Uncategorized

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.

2 Comments

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italian Food, Pasta, Pizza, Sandwich

Dirty dogs for dinner?

Although, we Filipinos are supposedly known for eating canines back home. I love my babies too much to even fathom the idea. So for me, not tonight, not tomorrow, or not in this lifetime. I’m talking about the famous Mexican-style street cart staple, of course. Bacon-wrapped hotdogs for dinner.

I have no idea if these things should come with a disclaimer or a warning on the side. Tiny cart with no sink anywhere to wash his hands, nothing to cover the hotdogs and toppings from the fuel emission, and a vendor that had no intentions of upgrading his popular means of living. But if the swarm of people do not care, then sure as hell I don’t either. I certainly believe that I grew up eating street food that not only compares well to this cart, but so bizarre that I have grown a stomach that can rival Mr. Andrew Zimmern anytime.  But first, let’s talk dirty dogs here.

This dirty dog is as good as I remember. We used to sell them for fundraisers but there’s something that makes this one so much better. Maybe the thought of eating from the source, I can pretend all day long that I make good ones, but nothing beats the goodness of a really “dirty” dog. A generic hotdog wrapped in a thin slice of bacon cooked, not on any grill or griddle or flat-top, but just a regular, make-shift sheet pan. Hotdogs and jalapenos on one side, onions and peppers on the other. Give the man your $2.50 and he’ll place it in the middle of the tray to heat up, toss around the onions and peppers, place the bun alongside, and you’re almost set. He takes the bun, the hotdog, drizzles ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, and then places the onions and peppers on top. Done. Did not even take him more than 2min to do it.

It was simple and absolutely, satisfyingly delicious. The hotdogs were juicy inside, the bacon added saltiness (and everything’s good with bacon anyway), the ketchup was sweet, the mustard gave it that extra kick, the mayonnaise was generous and creamy, the onions and peppers were so overly cooked down to a sweet, almost caramelized finish. Nothing wrong with this picture. Only err to this event was getting just one. Never overestimate when it comes to dirty dogs, who says one is more than enough. NEVER again.

So do I really care about that little piece of paper that displays the letters of the alphabet, preferably the A? Do I really care that this cart violates every good sense of  clean cooking? The empty foil in my trash says no, I don’t. Sometimes you have to live a little to enjoy the better things in life. In this case, a dirty dog for dinner.

3 Comments

Filed under American Food, Hotdog, Mexican Food, Street-food

Octopus, Glendale 

For the sushi lovers out there. Here’s a little delicious serving of Octopus in Glendale. I wanted to share one of my favorite places to go to for sushi. It’s just a laid-back, unpretentious, casual place where friends and I can have inexpensive yet fresh sushi, be served by really friendly and accommodating wait staff, and enjoy drinks and conversation ’til we finally give up. It’s not really one of those where they blow you off the water, but sometimes simple and generic, like a chain restaurant such as Octopus, is as gratifying as authentic and high-end. Here are the photos and I hope you all enjoy and salivate as much as I do whenever I get a peek at them:

KAMPAI!!!

6 Comments

Filed under Clams, Dessert, Fish, Ice Cream, Japanese Food, Mixed Seafood, Sushi