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Friday, July 31, 2009

Pondok Kaki Lima (Indonesian Street Food Fair) - Duarte Inn - Duarte

Pondok Kaki Lima (Indonesian Street Food) - Duarte Inn - Duarte 1

My foray into Indonesian cuisine started gradually with the basic satay skewers and fried rice at Alhambra's Summer Jubilee before I dined at the Indo Kitchen - Alhambra later that year. I had read about Pondok Kaki Lima, an Indonesian street food fair, on Monster Munching and had bookmarked it to try, but it was shut down before I could get to it. Then the food fair reopened in January 2009. So when Gourmet Pigs asked if I wanted to go with her, I leapt at the chance.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Aguadito-ish Vegetable Soup with Cilantro Puree

Before I had done a proper Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup), on account of the fact that I didn't have any chicken, peas, or potatoes in the kitchen, I made a vegetable soup with cilantro puree.

If you're a cilantro lover, pureeing cilantro brings this soup to a whole 'nother dimension. It's hard to describe, you just have to do it. Don't chop or mince, puree. There's a big difference. I think the pureeing releases cilantro oils that just doesn't happen otherwise.

I just used this soup as an opportunity to clean out my fridge and tossed in whatever vegetables I had on hand. I added some bacon for savoriness, but you could keep it vegetarian if you wish.

Aguadito-ish Vegetable Soup with Pureed Cilantro 1

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pollo Mania - El Monte

Last winter, I had such a craving for roast chicken and Aji Verde (Peruvian Green Chili Sauce) but I didn't want to drive very far. It was raining and let's face it, Southern California drivers just don't handle the rain well.

A bit of Googling turned up a list of Peruvian restaurants and on the list was the quirkily-named Pollo Mania in El Monte. A search for Pollo Mania turned up a Pennysaver coupon for 1/4 roast chicken and two sides for only $3.99. Chicken! Aji! Coupon! Rain or not, I was on my way.

As I neared the exit, I noticed a rainbow overhead. OK! Things were looking up already.

Pollo Mania - El Monte 1

Pollos a la lena? What's lena? Woodfire!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup)

Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup) 1

Aguadito. Aguadito. While waiting for my order of 1/4 Peruvian roast chicken and two sides at Pollo Mania - El Monte, I wondered what was in this lovely green soup. I would have ordered it, but I had a coupon for the chicken you see, and well, I can't let the coupon go to waste. Ordering chicken, two sides, and a big container of soup was too much, even if it was for the blog.

So I got home and Googled and found out that it was basically a chicken soup with potatoes, rice, and peas and pureed cilantro. Ooooh. If you're a cilantro lover, you'll know what I mean. At the time, I didn't have any chicken or potatoes on hand, so I made an Aguadito-ish Vegetable Soup and added pureed cilantro and it was lovely. Loooovely.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Crab Rangoons

Crab Rangoons 1

When Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok, host of the cilantro roundup of Weekend Wokking, announced CHEESE as the secret ingredient for this month's challenge, I thought I'd have to go with some kind of pasta or pizza dish. Luckily, I remembered I had crab rangoons sitting in the queue.

I know they're horribly inauthentic. Imitation crab meat and cream cheese in a fried wonton wrapper. And yet, every time I hit up a Chinese buffet, I can't help myself. Especially, if I dip them into cloyingly sweet and sour sauce.

According to Wikipedia, crab rangoons are an American Chinese or more recently, American Thai, restaurant staple. It may have been created or at least was popularized by Polynesian-themed Trader Vic's in San Francisco in 1957. But wait, wasn't Rangoon (now Yangoon) a city in Burma (now Myanmar)? Supposedly the dish served at a Hawaiian-themed party in 1952 was called "Rangoon a la Jack." Who's Jack?

Maybe we'll never know the true origins of this appetizer, but there's no arguing its deliciousness, or that Tiki culture is still popular.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tiki-Ti - Los Angeles

If you're just tuning in, we started off the night at Indo Kitchen - Alhambra, then went to Silver Lake Wine before hitting up Tiki-Ti.

Tiki-Ti - Los Angeles 1

I'm not much for hitting up bars, even back in my younger days, but Tiki-Ti is seriously cute! It's also got a fascinating history. The cocktail bar was started by Ray Buhen, a Filipino immigrant who came to California in 1930. After working as a bellhop at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then attending bartending school, he started working at Don the Beachcomber's in 1934. After bouncing around several other bars (click on the above link for the detailed history), he finally opened Tiki-Ti in 1961. Today, his son Mike, and grandsons Mike Jr. and Mark, run the bar and mix the drinks.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Osso Bucco (Italian Braised Beef Shanks)

Ossobucco (Italian Braised Beef Shanks) 1

As I said, "The Black Chook" sparkling shiraz from Silver Lake Wine went wonderfully with Osso Bucco (Italian Braised Beef Shanks). Actually, osso bucco is supposed to be made with veal, but I used ordinary beef shanks.

I was wandering the grocery store aisle when I saw a small package of beef shanks for only $2.something. So cheap! Of course, I bought it. Mmm. Look at that marrow. That's gonna make the stew so fatty and delicious.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Silver Lake Wine - Los Angeles (Silver Lake)

Silver Lake Wine - Los Angeles (Silver Lake) 1

I'm sooo not hip. Three years ago, I read Jeni of Oishii Eats' posts about Silver Lake Wine's various tastings and thought they sounded interesting. HC of LA and OC Foodventures likes their low-key Monday tastings. Aaron of Destination Eats has blogged about the Thursday tastings when Let's Be Frank hot dogs are parked in front of the store. Mattatouille is now hosting blogger wine tastings there.

A few months back we (I, Gourmet Pigs, her college friend, and Danny of Kung Food Panda) started the celebration of her passing her exams at Indo Kitchen - Alhambra. We then moved to Silver Lake Wine for drinks.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blogger Prom - Andaz West Hollywood - West Hollywood

Blogger Prom - Andaz West Hollywood - West Hollywood 1

The view over Sunset Boulevard from the Andaz West Hollywood.

A few hundred SoCal bloggers, not just food bloggers, came out for Blogger Prom. For how Blogger Prom came to be, you can read Caroline on Crack and Estar LA's posts.

The younger '88's sister was my date for the evening. The theme was the 80s. My cousin wore a very cute cocktail dress that her brother, Phong Hong designed. I wore two tank tops, a lace tiered skirt, leggings, and loads of necklaces. Was that like, totally rad, or what? :P

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tra Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Tea)

Tra Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Tea) 1

I've been cooking with lemongrass a lot lately and rather than toss the leaves into the compost bin as I usually do, I've been turning them into tra xa (Vietnamese lemongrass tea). Again, this would be one of those non-recipe recipes except that I just liked my pictures so much, I thought I'd share.

The glass is from a set that I nabbed from my mom when I was Portland last month. Actually, I raided her cupboards and she let me take what I liked. I took a lot. :)

The teapot below was only $6.95 at The Wok Shop in San Francisco's Chinatown.

I have really horrible lighting in my kitchen -- a small window over the sink and a half-covered window on the other side of my dining table. Sometimes though, as the sun sets, I get marginally better lighting. I think I just liked these photos for the way the light and shadows shifted from one moment to the next. All in all, from the first picture to the last, only eight minutes had passed. I shot off about 50 photos as I played with placement of the teapot and the glass, which object to focus on, and tying off lemongrass leaves.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monsieur Vuong - Berlin - Germany

One of the most fascinating aspects of traveling for me is seeing Asian restaurants abroad. I've shown you the burrito-sized egg rolls at a Chinese restaurant in Salzburg, Austria. So when I found out my friend intended to dine at a Vietnamese restaurant while she was in Berlin, Germany, I asked if she'd be willing to write a guest post for the blog.

With very minor edits for consistency, please welcome my friend Coffee Travails' account of her experience dining at Monsieur Vuong in Berlin. The fabulous photography is all hers, of course. And do check out her blog if you're interested in reading about coffee, academia, and Vietnam, or the intersection of all three.


Whenever I travel abroad I like to seek out three things: 1) street food and 2) Southeast Asian food and 3) coffee. Sometimes they come in one package.

During a recent but brief trip to Berlin I found the former in Currywurst (pork sausage with ketchup and curry powder for 1 Euro) and my Southeast Asian fix in numerous Vietnamese and Thai restaurants scattered around the city.

German Currywurst
Photo courtesy of Coffee Travails

Germany has a sizable Vietnamese diaspora and I saw plenty of restaurants, trendy and otherwise, that looked enticing and worthy of a future visit. I read about Monsieur Vuong (or Mr. Vuong as my friends in Berlin called it) in the New York Times “36 Hours in Berlin” feature from 2006.

The photo of, perhaps, Mr. Vuong on their website was too good to pass up and several of my friends said that it’s a hip place with a small but ever-changing menu. They don’t take reservations and the seating is communal, spread across low set wooden tables and small stools. That said, my party was still able to snag a table for five on a Thursday night at 8 p.m. with minimal wait.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Regional Recipes #9 (Korea)

My introduction to Korean food started with buffets in college. I know, everyone turns up their noses at buffets. But honestly, that's where I first ate a lot of Korean food without really knowing what I was eating. Later, I graduated to dining at non-buffet restaurants and began to pay attention to what each dish was called. Luckily, the participants in the Korean round-up of Regional Recipes are much better educated than I was about Korean food. The recipes included meat, stew, noodles, and vegetarian dishes.

The first dish is...


Chap Jae (Korean Stir-Fried Noodles) by Christine of Kits Chow in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The package of sweet potato vermicelli noodles was purchased by accident. I'll gladly take such accidents if they result in this happy melange of colorful vegetables and beef.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vegetarian Soon Dubu Jjigae (Korean Tofu Stew)

Vegetarian Soon Dubu Jjigae (Korean Tofu Stew) 1

On cold winter nights, or even hot summer nights when I don't want to eat anything too heavy, a soon dubu chigae (Korean tofu stew) almost always hits the spot. Of course, as long as there's tofu and Baechu Kimchee (Korean Pickled Napa Cabbage), I'm happy.

It's not that I can't put whatever I want into a Korean stew, but there are a few vegetables that I like in a vegetarian version that just makes it taste a little heartier. Mushrooms and squash just fill me up a little more. Also, I like to add a dollop of miso paste to bring out the flavor more since there isn't any meat in the soup.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe - Oakland

2 Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe - Oakland 1

To start our day of hanging around the city, the middle '87 took lil' sis and me to her brother's favorite Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup) restaurant -- Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe in Oakland. I first read of this restaurant on cousin Q's blog, but it was a place that his older brother didn't find until after we had all moved away.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chai Thai Noodles - Oakland

1 Chai Thai Noodles - Oakland 1

I guess it was just as well that lil' sis ate all the beef kebabs on the drive up to the Bay Area because cousin Q's older brother took us out for dinner.


He suggested Chai Thai Noodles in Oakland, which ended up being a great choice because I got to try two new things that I've never had before.

After being seated, we were immediately given Banh Phong Tom (Vietnamese Shrimp Chips) to munch on while we figured out what to order.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Persian Dill Rice

Persian Dill Rice 1

I had so much fun spending time with my friends and going around San Francisco during my Jamba Juice trip, that I decided I really needed a little vacation just to see everyone again and to do more things. So a few weeks later, lil' sis and went up for her birthday.

As a snack for the car, I hastily made kebabs with beef cubes marinated with Indonesian kecap manis. Lil' sis loved the simple marinade so much that despite telling the middle '87 we were bringing her some food, lil' sis ate it all. :P

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cabo Taco Baja Grill - La Mirada

Cabo Taco Baja Grill - La Mirada 1

Not much brings me out to La Mirada, but when Kenny, the owner of Cabo Taco Baja Grill, invited me to a taco and beer pairing event, I was all for it. Although the variety of beers sounded interesting, I was really there for the tacos. Aside from the usual Ensenada fish and Baja shrimp tacos, there were also gorgonzola steak, Asian pulled pork, roast chipotle duck, chile colorado, Jamaican jerk chicken, and crispy ceviche tacos.

Monday, July 13, 2009

AltaMed's 4th Annual East LA Meets Napa (Union Station) - Los Angeles

AltaMed's 4th Annual East LA Meets Napa - Los Angeles 1

At the last minute, Gourmet Pigs invited me to be her +1 at AltaMed's 4th Annual East LA Meets Napa celebration at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Luckily, I was completely free because East LA Meets Napa turned out to be one of the best food and wine events I've been to so far.

The event brings together a variety of mainly Mexican, and other Latino restaurants, in Southern California with Latino-owned wineries. All proceeds benefit AltaMed's programs to provide care for underserved communities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Near the entrance of Union Station's courtyard, I immediately zeroed in on La Parrilla Restaurant because the servers wore these lovely outfits.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

First Tomatoes

7.12 First Tomatoes 1

At the end of June, my first tomato (singular) was almost ripe enough for eating. It was the Early Girl tomato that beat out Better Boy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lollicup Tea Zone - San Gabriel (Closed)

It's funny how some people are stuck on certain chains and certain locations. For instance, I prefer the Tapioca Express Inc. - San Gabriel. But once, after meeting up with a friend for lunch at Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel, instead of going across the street to Tapioca Express, her husband specifically wanted to go to this Lollicup Tea Zone.

Lollicup Tea Zone - San Gabriel 1

The only one I like is the Lollicup Tea Zone - Westminster (Little Saigon) for the matcha green tea slushie.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tapioca Express Inc. - San Gabriel (Las Tunas Dr.) (Closed)

Instead of the Tapioca Express Inc. - Alhambra, I go to the location in San Gabriel on Las Tunas Dr.

Tapioca Express Inc. - San Gabriel 1

This location is conveniently across the street from Golden Deli Vietnamese Restaurant - San Gabriel, Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel, and Vietnam House Vietnamese Restaurant - San Gabriel.

It's not just about the tea drinks. There are plenty of tables, chairs, and sofas. Even when it's packed, I've always been able to find a spot. And plenty of outlets for my laptop.

Best of all, I never feel rushed.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tapioca Express Inc. - Alhambra

Did you know this Alhambra Tapioca Express was the original?

Tapioca Express Inc.  - Alhambra 1

It might seem as if Chinese tea shops have always been ubiquitous in Southern California now, but in 1999 when this Tapioca Express opened, I remember the sealed lids were quite a sensation. As was the $1.99 price tag.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Behind the Scenes: Jamba Juice Headquarters - Emeryville


The reason I was flown up to the Bay Area by Jamba Juice was because they were introducing several food items that they wanted to promote via bloggers. So they didn't fly just me in. There were about a dozen of us, although most of them were local. They sent a car to pick me up from cousin Q's older brother's condo along with another blogger who lived nearby.

Behind the Scenes - Jamba Juice Headquarters - Emeryville 1

The California flatbreads that they were rolling out. Holding the sign was none other than Rand, the fabulous brother of Kalyn's Kitchen whom she mentions quite often and who designs the mastheads on her blog. So it was fun to finally place a face to the name.

After everyone arrived, we were introduced to some Jamba Juice executives, given the story of how it all began (in 1990 as a juice bar in San Luis Obispo, Calif. and has now grown to 700+ locations in 30 states and the Bahamas), and watched a promotional clip of a guy in banana costume. The current campaign featured "cubicle picnics" of Jamba Juice's new menu items with posts of breezy beach scenes you could pin to your office wall for your faux picnic. That was all nice, but you, and I, really just want to see the test kitchen, don't we?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ti Couz - San Francisco (Mission)

After dinner at Burma Superstar Restaurant, I suggested Ti Couz in the Mission for dessert.

6 Ti Couz - San Francisco (Mission) 1

I was recommended this restaurant waaaay back when I still lived up in the Bay Area and it was my go-to spot for dessert when I had guests.

For one specific reason -- flambed crepes.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Burma Superstar Restaurant - San Francisco (Inner Richmond)

After my little shopping trip at The Wok Shop, my friend M with the lovely French name, picked me and the middle '87 up from the gateway to Chinatown. How time flies. I hadn't seen her in more than two years, since our dim sum at Restaurant Peony - Oakland. Funny how I measure time now by when and with whom I had eaten. She was moving out of California the next month so it was lucky I was caught her when I did.

5 Burma Superstar Restaurant - San Francisco (Inner Richmond) 1

I've tried Burmese food at a few restaurants in SoCal, but either hadn't ordered enough dishes or revisited to blog about them yet. I had heard good things about Burma Superstar Restaurant though, so I immediately said yes when my friend suggested it. Apparently, they do not take reservations and get quite busy with an hour's wait at times. My friend called to check and they said if we came right away, there wasn't a wait. So off we went.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Wok Shop - San Francisco (Chinatown)

After lunch at La Boulange Cafe & Bakery, my friend dropped me off at Union Square, where I met up with the middle '87. After a bit of shopping, we wandered up to Chinatown because I wanted a few items from The Wok Shop.

4 The Wok Shop - San Francisco (Chinatown) 1

Actually, it's something I had been thinking about since my last trip to The Wok Shop. So yes, for three years, I wished I had bought this item. I found it while killing time before my friend's wedding reception three years ago. I know. I'm crazy. I wonder if you can guess which item?

The inside. Woks and every kind of kitchenware imaginable. Maybe I like The Wok Shop because it looks like my house? :P

Friday, July 03, 2009

San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge

San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge 1

A few days after I got back from Portland, I received an email from Hillary of Neighbor Agency, who handles PR for Jamba Juice offering me a sneak peak at big news that they were announcing back in June. It would require traveling to San Francisco, but they would cover my travel expenses if I accepted such things.

A tour of Jamba Juice's lab, support center, and taste some new items? And my flight paid for? Umm, yes, please. :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mom's Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup)

My quick grocery run at Oriental Food Value was to get garnish for this. Mmm.

16 Mom's Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup) 1

My recipe for Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup).

Cousin E came over to hang out on my last night in town, along with my second-youngest aunt. When my uncle heard what my mom was making for dinner, he called to chat with my mom until he finagled an invite too. Haha.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Oriental Food Value Supermarket - Portland - Oregon

15 Oriental Food Value - Portland 1

On my last night in town, my mom asked me to pick up some cilantro and bean sprouts because she was making Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup) for dinner.

For quick Asian grocery store trips, I go to Oriental Food Value. It's owned by a Chinese husband and Korean wife, so there are Chinese and Korean groceries, as well as Vietnamese. But located just off SE 82nd Avenue and Foster Road, in a heavily Russian area, there are Russian and Polish groceries as well. Kinda cool, eh?

(I won't even go into how much I hate the word Oriental and how behind the times it seems that it's still used in Portland. See the last few paragraphs of this post for the more detailed explanation about why the word Oriental is offensive.)

Look! There's even an aisle dedicated to Russian food.