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Friday, August 31, 2007

Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant - Alhambra

It took me a while to finally try Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant in Alhambra. I had been meaning to after my post about Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant in Rosemead. NNNH vs. NNKH showdown! Hehe. And then Dylan of Eat, Drink, & Be Merry recently blogged about Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa and wanted to know what I thought of their bun bo Hue so I figured I should go...
For those who aren't familiar and are wondering about the similar-sounding names of the restaurants, nem nuong (Vietnamese grilled pork patties) originated in the town of Ninh Hoa, in Khanh Hoa province, on the South-Central coast of Vietnam. My hometown is an hour north, so since I make my own nem nuong, there's really little need for me to go out and buy it. Gee, see what I do for my readers? Anyway, since I don't want to repeat myself, you can read my recipe for nem nuong with instructions on how to make it and wrap it in rice paper. And for comparisons to Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa. If you're in Orange County, my nem nuong restaurant of choice is Brodard Restaurant in Garden Grove.

OK, now back to Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa. Or well, a slight detour first. Nem nuong to me is a summertime dish. Growing up in Oregon, the plate full of herbs to wrap up with rice paper usually wasn't in season until then. So during this particularly hot summer, Henry Chan of Henry Chan's Food Videos wanted a salad. Well, a plateful of herbs counts in my book as a salad. So after vetoing various restaurant suggestions, he finally agreed to try it out. Hehe, that was my intention all along, but I had to offer worse sounding suggestions first ie. Souplantation. I'm tricky that way. ;) Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa is located on Valley Boulevard on the west side of Atlantic Boulevard in a tiny strip mall. I'm used to going east on Valley when hunting for good eats so this was quite a departure for me. Apparently they've been there for two years now.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beard Papa's - San Gabriel

After the J. Paul Getty Center and Museum, we dropped my cousin off back at his aunt's house. We wanted to take him out for dinner, but he insisted he was still full from lunch at her house and Light Town House Korean BBQ. Actually, we weren't terribly hungry, but we were feeling peckish. So dumplings seemed just the thing for a light dinner.

I suggested Mei Long Village and we ordered a tray of crab and pork and just pork xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings).

Yes, that's either brother or lil' sis sticking their chopsticks in the picture so they can see themselves on the blog. Thin skins and just the right amount of broth. Just as good as ever.

We also wanted to try a non-XLB dumpling, and chose pan-fried dumplings for $5.95. These dumplings are reminiscent of Vietnamese banh bao with thicker doughy skin. The pan-fried bottoms were crunchy, but the bread-like dough just made them too heavy for us to really enjoy them.

The inside was juicy, not soupy. Still, for the same price, I'd rather order another tray of XLB.

And because we were already in the same strip mall, we wandered over to Beard Papa's for dessert.

What kind of dessert? Japanese cream puffs. You'd think I'd try their new ice cream cream puffs, but actually I wanted to see if they had pumpkin. Cousin Q said he's tried pumpkin before. Oh, I was sooo hoping. But no. :(

There's the container of cream puffs waiting to be filled. The metal machine with the nozzle squirts in the filling. I took a video except that all you can see is the guy holding the cream puff up to the nozzle. Seriously, folks. I'll upload the video if you insist, but there was no squirting action for you to see. :P

We ended up with strawberry and green tea cream puffs for $1.75 each. I've only tried vanilla and coffee flavors.

The cream puff was roughly about 3-inches in diameter. Nicely crispy and light. The filling was full of matcha green tea flavor. The consistency is like very lightly whipped cream, slightly chilled. It's quite different from the vanilla custard cream puffs I'm used to at Vietnamese bakeries.

The strawberry flavor though was like artificial strawberry milk. Not quite what we were expecting.

So there you go, Beard Papa's cream puffs. They're popping up all over the place so it's worth a try if you happen to come upon one. I don't go out of my way for them though. The frugal eater in me keeps thinking that I can buy 5 small cream puffs from Vietnamese bakeries for $1.

Beard Papa's (various locations)
301 W. Valley Blvd., #105
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

J. Paul Getty Center and Museum (Summer) - Los Angeles

So after our lunch at Light Town House Korean BBQ in Garden Grove, I decided to take my cousin to the J. Paul Getty Center & Museum. Read J. Paul Getty Center and Museum (Winter) if you missed my quickie overview of the Getty with pictures of the garden in winter and some of my favorite art pieces.

I love the Getty best during the summer, you'll see why in a bit.

Part of my love for the Getty is because my move to SoCal, more or less, coincided with its opening. I can't recall the name of the author or the book, but he? she? wrote an article about a recent book tour which included a stop in California. But instead of opting for San Francisco as his/her agent thought, the author chose Los Angeles. I don't remember anything else that was on the list of why SoCal trumps NorCal, except for the Getty.

And oh what a beauty the Getty is during the summer. Evidently, lots of other people thought so too.

It was so hot that day that they had umbrellas out for people to use as parasols. I was amused by this little boy's attempt to carry four umbrellas back to the stand. He did eventually figure out that folding them up would make it a whole lot easier.

Here we come to my favorite water feature. It was turned off during the winter so I didn't take any photos. It starts with a long narrow trickle of water way at the top of this picture and goes to this shallow pool that barely drips into the center of the opened criss cross. Next you'll have to walk down the stairs to see the bottom of the open hole.

And you stare up at this. It's just slowly dripping like the underside of an urn nor cavern.

Pretty cool huh?

Now we get to the reason why I love the Getty. Just a glimpse of the fuchsia bougainvillea trailing over steel sculptures. Gotta slowly make your way down to it.

Passing through some lovely rock and water features along the way.

Really, if it wasn't so hot, I would have been content to sit underneath the bougainvillea all day.

The azalea maze garden.

And inside the main entrance area is this weird musical art piece. Some of the balloons or whatever you'd call them are the size of buses. I can't remember what else about the exhibit.

And afterward, we stopped by Santa Monica, but after seeing the crowds at the beach and pier, my cousin really wasn't interested in exploring.
The Getty in other seasons:
J. Paul Getty Center and Museum (Winter) - Los Angeles - California

The J. Paul Getty Center and Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Tuesday–Thursday and Sunday 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Closed Monday
Free admission, $8 parking

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Light Town House Korean BBQ - Garden Grove (Korean Business District) (Closed)

One of my older cousins on my mom's side was in town, so my siblings and I headed down to Orange County to take him out for the day. What to do with a 50something-year-old cousin? Not much. :P

Since we were in the area, we decided to go to our favorite Korean barbecue restaurant - Seol Ak San - for the kimchee fried rice cooked on a rock slab. Unfortunately, it was closed on a Sunday afternoon. :( So we went to my second favorite choice for Korean barbecue in Orange County - Light Town House Korean BBQ in Garden Grove.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Squash Blossom Omelet

Isn't it pretty? Right after I finished making my deep-fried squash blossoms stuffed with basil and cottage cheese, my cousin came over with a bag of freshly plucked squash blossoms from my youngest uncle. Yup, same uncle that gave me that huge batch of squash blossoms earlier. So I had to come up with a few more recipes. I mean, I guess I could have cooked my previous recipes but where's the fun in that? ;) Squash Blossom Omelet For one omelet, you'll need: 3 eggs 4 squash blossoms 1 tblsp milk A pinch of salt A few shreds of cheddar cheese A few sprigs of cilantro Heat a pan on medium heat. Beat 3 eggs with 1 tblsp of milk and a pinch of salt. The milk is purely optional, but I think it makes eggs fluffier. Pour into pan and toss in a few sprigs of cilantro. Lay the squash blossoms on top. I like to put the petals facing outward so they'll look prettier when folded in half. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Cover the pan with a lid so the eggs can cook. Then carefully fold the omelet in half and you'll get this. Enjoy! My squash blossoms recipes: Bong Bi Nhoi Tom Chien (Vietnamese Shrimp-Stuffed Deep-fried Squash Blossoms) Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Basil and Cottage Cheese Ravioli with Basil, Squash Blossoms, and Ricotta Sauteed Squash Blossoms Squash Blossom Omelet Squash Blossom and Prosciutto Pizza Squash Blossom Quesadilla

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Deep-Fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Basil and Cottage Cheese

Marvin of Burnt Lumpia's post about longanisa-stuffed squash blossoms reminded me that I still had several recipes sitting in my queue. Oh surely you didn't think I was done with squash blossoms did you? I bought a $1 bag of squash blossoms still attached to zucchini at the farmers' market in Alhambra. They just looked so cute, I couldn't resist. I decided I wanted to do an Italian-style squash blossom recipe by stuffing them with basil and cheese. I had cottage cheese on hand, but ricotta would probably work better. Either way, they were good. Deep-Fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Basil and Cottage Cheese You'll need: As many squash blossoms as you wish About 1 tblsp of cheese per blossom About 1 or 2 basil leaves per blossom Some flour for the batter Squash blossoms should be carefully washed inside and out, stamens removed. Slice basil leaves into thin strips and mix with cottage or ricotta cheese like so. Then prepare a simple batter of flour and water. I don't measure but you can start with equal parts flour and water until it's the consistency you wish. Deep fry until golden. I served mine on a bed of angel hair pasta with tomato sauce, and the leftover basil and cottage cheese mixture in the center. Hmm. I think I ended up making this with too many colors. But it was lovely. Enjoy! My squash blossoms recipes: Bong Bi Nhoi Tom Chien (Vietnamese Shrimp-Stuffed Deep-fried Squash Blossoms) Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Basil and Cottage Cheese Ravioli with Basil, Squash Blossoms, and Ricotta Sauteed Squash Blossoms Squash Blossom Omelet Squash Blossom and Prosciutto Pizza Squash Blossom Quesadilla

Friday, August 24, 2007

KyoChon Chicken - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I know my food. And you know that I know the difference between a drumstick and wing drummette. Except when I evidently don't know the difference.

Oh, you'll enjoy this story. As Henry Chan's Food Videos and I were retelling it to his cousin last night, I was laughing so hard my eyes teared.

I don't know if it's age or stress, but in the last few years, I get moments where I am extremely scatterbrained. Extremely. This day was one of them.

Cousin Q (fellow dumpling-lover who introduced me to Daikokuya Original Noodle & Rice-Bowl in Little Tokyo) and I were headed to lunch when Henry called asking if I wanted to chase down a taquito truck. I said I was going out for Korean fried chicken if he wanted to join us. He had never tried it before so he said yes and I swung by to pick him up. Little did he know what he was in for that day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hibiscus Leaf and Pomegranate Mixed Greens Salad

When Barry had sent me the Jungle Red Hibiscus, he mentioned that the leaves were edible as well as the flowers. So with a bag of mixed salad greens from the farmers' market in Alhambra and some pomegranates from my garden, I made a really pretty salad.

The Jungle Red Hibiscus leaves are tart, reminiscent of sorrel, but oh so much prettier since they look like burgundy maple leaves.

Hibiscus Leaf and Pomegranate Mixed Greens Salad

You'll need:

For salad:

However many mixed salad greens you'd like
Any edible hibiscus leaves you can find
Sprinkles of pomegranate seeds

For dressing:

balsamic vinegar
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Wash and toss salad greens and hibiscus leaves. Sprinkle on some pomegranate seeds. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Give a few turns of black pepper in your pepper mill.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Jungle Red Hibiscus Repairs Itself!

Look how pretty my Vietnamese desert rose looked in August's heat. I was wrong before when I called it a plumeria. Well, it is a member of the same family, and in Vietnamese it's the same word. But a bit of Googling turned up the proper English name. Desert rose seems more apt wouldn't you say?

And yes, I'm a dork. I got so happy when I realized my Jungle Red Hibiscus healed itself. If you look closely in the post about when I did a plant swap, despite the careful packaging, the stem was broken. So I made a makeshift splint with two toothpicks and scotch tape. And a few weeks later when I checked I felt something weirdly knobby. I took off the tape and saw that the tree had healed itself. Isn't Mother Nature grand?

So except for my front porch, this is the sum total of my gardening these days. Yup, half of that is the sugar loaf pineapple, galangal, and hibiscus that Barry sent me. (Thanks again Barry!) One Nearly Wild rose bush that I bought as a bare root and only just got around to planting, so I took it with me. One amaryllis and two peonies in hibernation. And two tuberoses.

Not much by way of pretty gardening pictures to share anymore I'm afraid.