Home | Directory | Contact | FAQ | Recipes | Restaurants | Vietnamese Recipes | 100 Vietnamese Foods | Subscribe

Thursday, December 23, 2010

How to Bake Crispy Egg Rolls That Taste Almost As Good As Fried

How to Bake Crispy Egg Rolls That Taste Almost As Good As Fried 1

A while back, I got an email from one of my readers asking if she could bake egg rolls. She feared deep-frying anything after an oil splatter incident, she explained. Understandable.

I suggested a deep-fryer with a lid.

That idea was nixed too.

But, deep-frying egg rolls is far superior to baking them. The only time I've baked egg rolls is if I'm re-heating fried ones.

Obviously, you don't need me to write a whole blog post telling you to bake the usual recipe for egg rolls. Since I was making Cha Gio Cua Be (Vietnamese Crab Egg Rolls), I decided to set aside a few for experimenting. I wanted to replicate, as close to possible, the crispness of fried egg rolls, but by baking them. What these egg rolls needed was oil.

This isn't the healthy alternative to frying egg rolls. Maybe juuuust a smidge healthier, but really, I was after a baking alternative that didn't require you to stand over a pot of boiling oil. Think it worked? Do those egg rolls look like they were fried?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cha Gio Cua Be (Vietnamese Crab Egg Rolls)

Cha Gio Cua Be (Vietnamese Crab Egg Rolls) 2

Cha Gio Cua Be (Vietnamese Crab Egg Rolls). So decadent!

I remember the summer I spent a month in Hanoi, I repeatedly visited Bun Cha Dac Kim at #1 Hang Manh for Bun Cha Hanoi (Vietnamese Hanoi-Style Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork Patties. As the reputedly best in town, sure the bun cha was good, but it was really the crab egg rolls that had me coming back again and again. An order of bun cha nem ran cua be only set me back about $1.50 back then too. *Sigh.*

If only crab egg rolls weren't such a luxury. Normally, any amount of crab I have on hand gets saved for my mom's banh canh cua (Vietnamese thick noodle soup with crab), but I had to make this just once, just for the blog.

Crab is too delicate and flaky to use alone in the filling, so adding some ground pork and shrimp can stretch it further so it's not quite so expensive. I omitted Tree Ear Fungus that I normally add to egg rolls because I felt the mushrooms would overpower the taste of the crab. Other than that, it's a pretty basic egg roll recipe.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mien Bap Cai Nam Meo Trung (Vietnamese Bean Thread Vermicelli Noodles with Cabbage, Tree Fungus, and Eggs)

Mien Bap Cai Nam Meo Trung (Vietnamese Bean Thread Vermicelli Noodles with Cabbage, Tree Fungus, and Eggs) 1

On my last day in Baltimore, while Lan of Angry Asian Creations was at work, I toyed with the idea of exploring the city, but really, I was on vacation because I needed a rest. So that's what I did. The Maryland blue crabs and bean pie will just have to wait for my next visit. After walking 7 miles all over Washington, D.C. two days before, and Mount Vernon the day after, being a couch potato and watching the Cooking Channel and the British version of Law and Order seemed just right.

Shortly before Lan came home from work, I figured I should get off the sofa and make something for dinner. I promised her Hainanese chicken rice (although it still never tastes like how my mom does it). I raided her pantry, and remembering the bean thread noodles with tree fungus and dried shrimp that my mom used to make when I was little, decided to make Mien Bap Cai Nam Meo Trung (Vietnamese Bean Thread Vermicelli Noodles with Cabbage, Tree Fungus, and Eggs). The bean thread noodles were cooked in the leftover chicken broth from making the chicken rice. It's not really a soup, but more of a lightly brothed noodle dish. It certainly can be a soup if you wish though. My youngest aunt often uses the leftover chicken broth from making Hainanese chicken rice and adds bean thread noodles and shredded chicken, but I was afraid there wouldn't be enough chicken to go around so I made this instead.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Mi Ga Tay Tiem (Vietnamese Egg Noodle Soup with Chinese 5-Spice Turkey)

Mi Ga Tay Tiem (Vietnamese Egg Noodle Soup with Chinese 5-Spice Turkey) 1

I had saved a turkey drumstick from Thanksgiving dinner to use in my Bun Mang Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Turkey) recipe. Then I used the bones again to boil another pot of broth to make Mi Ga Tay Tiem (Vietnamese Egg Noodle Soup with Chinese 5-Spice Turkey). Actually, it's the same turkey drumstick, just flipped to conceal the side that had been eaten. :P

This soup is somewhat similar to the former except with egg instead of rice noodles, and Chinese flavorings of 5-spice powder and soy sauce. I used the matsutake mushrooms my dad had foraged in the Oregon forest that I brought back from my $41.40 roundtrip flight to Portland. My mom likes to add in lotus seeds, wolfberries, and dried dates, but I totally forgot about adding those ingredients in my version. Nonetheless, with Chinese chili oil to round out the flavors, it was still a delicious bowl.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Oh! Nuts $25 Gift Certificate Giveaway

The nice folks at Oh! Nuts are once again sponsoring a giveaway for my readers. A $25 gift certificate to Oh! Nuts will get you any of the Christmas gift baskets above, or the Hanukkah gift baskets below. Or you could apply the gift certificate toward a more expensive gift basket. Or you could just buy several bags of their nuts, candies, and dried fruits. I've been enjoying the pine nuts, cashews, and pistachios they sent me several months ago so I can attest to the quality of Oh! Nuts' products.

There are three chances to win so make sure you read the directions carefully.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Chocolate Ale (Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar) Cake

Chocolate Ale (Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar) Cake 1

I'd been wanting to try Nigella Lawson's recipe for chocolate Guinness cake for a while. Not really because I had any affinity for beer in desserts, but because I had a bottle of Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar that seemed perfect for the recipe and oldest nephew's birthday was just the excuse I needed. I guess anyone else would just drink the beer, but the recipe only calls for one cup, so I saved the rest of the bottle for oldest nephew and lil' sis to finish off.

I did make some minor adjustments to Nigella's recipe. After converting ml to oz, I also increased the amount of sour cream and cocoa, and decreased the amount of sugar per my tastebuds. The result was a very moist, slightly damp cake, with the nutty aroma of hazelnuts. The ale seemed to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. The frosting was just a mixture of whipped cream, cream cheese, and powdered sugar, a light complement to the richness of the cake.

Definitely a winner. I wonder what this cake would taste like if I substituted a non-alcoholic drink such as root beer? Hmmm.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Cafe 21 - San Diego (University Heights)

Cafe 21 - San Diego (University Heights) 1

When I asked oldest nephew where he wanted to go in San Diego for his birthday, he asked what would get him a mention on the blog. I said it had to be a new restaurant. Already blogged places or recipes won't get him another entry.

Luckily, oldest nephew is game for anything so when I asked if he wanted to try Azeri cuisine, he was all for it. Lil' sis, however, is decidedly more picky.

"Azerbaijan? Are you making that up?" asked lil' sis, who said she'd rather stay home than eat "imaginary" food. So we left her to frost oldest nephew's birthday Chocolate Ale (Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar) Cake and his childhood friend was content with the Chao Ga Tay (Vietnamese Turkey Rice Porridge) that I brought down.

It was just me and oldest nephew for dinner then. Yay! A post all about oldest nephew, he crowed as we walked out the door.

There were only a few tables when we arrived around 8:30 p.m. on a weeknight. After they left, we were the only diners in the restaurant.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Chao Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Turkey)

Chao Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Turkey) 1

After making enough turkey stock for Bun Mang Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Turkey) and Mi Ga Tay Tiem (Vietnamese Egg Noodle Soup with Turkey and Chinese 5-Spice), I boiled the turkey bones for a final round of broth to make Chao Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Turkey).

Boil the turkey bones, add a few cups of jasmine rice, and you get a pot of turkey rice porridge. So simple and basic, that I can't believe it's taken me so many years to blog this. I guess I just had too many other recipes to use with the broth instead.

While the bone broth was bubbling away on the stove, I made a Chocolate Ale (Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar) Cake to bring down to San Diego for oldest nephew's birthday. The turkey rice porridge was for his childhood friend, whose favorite food is rice porridge if you remember from my Chao/Congee/Jook Thit Heo Bam Hot Vit Bac Thao (Vietnamese/Chinese Rice Porridge with Ground Pork and Preserved Duck Egg) post.

You can doctor up the porridge afterward with ginger slivers or chopped cilantro, but I think the bone broth is so delicious that it's best enjoyed plain.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bun Mang Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Turkey)

Bun Mang Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Turkey) 8

The dried bamboo shoots my mom brought back from Vietnam, and which I subsequently brought back from my $41.40 roundtrip flight to Portland, couldn't be used for just any ordinary dish. So, I saved one drumstick from my Thanksgiving turkey to make Bun Mang Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Turkey).

Usually, this dish is made with duck, but any type of poultry will do. You may use fresh or dried bamboo shoots. If you're using the latter, depending on how much you like bamboo, you may need to boil and drain it off a few times to remove the pungent "earthiness." Personally, I love bamboo shoots so a quick boil to soften them was all that was needed.

Since the turkey was already well-seasoned, I didn't add anything to the stock, but feel free to add salt and fish sauce as needed. I threw in a few dried shiitake mushrooms as well, the earthiness of the mushrooms and bamboo, complementing each other. Then it was a simple matter of boiling rice vermicelli noodles and making an herb platter before assembling each bowl.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Soda Sua Hot Ga (Vietnamese Condensed Milk Egg Soda)

Soda Sua Hot Ga (Vietnamese Condensed Milk Egg Soda) 1

Blame it on the indulgence of Thanksgiving feast, but the next day when I set about boiling leftover turkey bones to make broth for Bun Mang Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Turkey), I thought of how refreshing a glass of Soda Sua Hot Ga (Vietnamese Condensed Milk Egg Soda) would be with the bowl of hot soup.

Light, fizzy, and slightly creamy, a Vietnamese egg soda is reminiscent of an Italian egg cream, although the latter doesn't even have eggs. If you balk at ingesting raw eggs though, then this drink isn't for you.

It's not a complicated recipe, just club soda, condensed milk, and an egg yolk. Pureed until fizzy and poured over ice. Perfect for a hot summer's day, or to contrast with a hot bowl of Vietnamese noodle soup.

I realized I hadn't had a soda sua hot ga since January 2009, when I ordered one at Pho Filet Vietnamese Restaurant - South El Monte, and cousin Q's older brother's new wife had never heard of such a thing before. I meant to make one at home to shoot for the blog, but you know how long it takes me to get around to anything. So better late than never.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Goi Bap Cai Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Cabbage Salad)

Goi Bap Cai Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Cabbage Salad) 1

To balance out the carbs and meat in my Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) Pot Pie, I made a simple Goi Bap Cai Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Cabbage Salad). Cabbage, a carrot, and an onion, tossed with some Vietnamese fish sauce. Actually, it's not that much different from my recipe for Goi Ga Bap Cai (Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Cabbage).

I used soy-marinated wheat gluten puffs which gave it a nice savoriness, but you can easily leave that out if you wish. I realized in looking at these pictures that I didn't add a handful of chopped herbs like I usually do. Must not have had any on hand. The vegetables are pantry staples and can keep for quite a while so even without the herbs, the red onion and carrot added plenty of color. If you want this to be truly vegetarian, you can easily replace the fish sauce with vegetarian fish sauce.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) Pot Pie

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) Pot Pie 20

I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner to make a Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) Pot Pie. I mean, I made Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) Pot Pie years ago so you'd figure this would already be in my radar, but nope.

My first attempt was to modify my Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) recipe by pureeing the lemongrass and thickening the broth, but the result was too thick, not enough gravy, and the bits of lemongrass were too jarring. So I scooped the stew out of the pie shell, added water, and tried again. Still wasn't quite what I wanted.

Why was I trying to fix what wasn't broken? Remembering the beef stew with puff pastry at Hot Stuff Cafe - San Gabriel, I decided to keep the filling as much of a stew as possible. So I started over again with my usual Vietnamese beef stew recipe, but this time, halving the recipe and using only cubed beef, no bones. I did add a bit more flour than usual for a thicker gravy, but the biggest difference was the puff pastry crust. Delicious gravy-laden beef stew with flaky crust. Finally, it was perfect.

Now, the simplest thing to do is make a big batch of my Vietnamese beef stew, spoon some in individual servings and top with puff pastry. If you have some stoneware bowls, this is perfect for everyone to have their own Vietnamese beef stew pot pie. But you can also make a bigger pie portion and top it with a whole puff pastry shell like I did for Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Liver Pate with Bacon and Capers

Turkey Liver Pate with Bacon and Capers 1

I've already blogged regular Turkey Liver Pate. So inspired by the chicken liver crostini with pancetta and apples recipe that I stumbled across while reviewing "50 Great Appetizers" by Pamela Sheldon Johns, I substituted with bacon and added capers, hoping the salty brine would cut down the fatty taste.

The result was a slightly chunkier, saltier version of pate. This still went over well with the family, but then, they're pate fiends.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 15

5.11 May Flowers 19

My favorite blue pitcher,that sometimes doubles as a vase, is broken. :( A casualty of cousin A's bridal shower. Her new husband accidentally tripped over a hose and broke my other two pitchers as well. Those I was fine with, everything else that was borrowed could've shattered and I wouldn't have cared, but this was one of my very favorite kitchen items.

It was from Target's Global Bazaar Scandinavian collection, which I've only ever seen that one time when I was in Oregon visiting my parents. I think only another bargain hunter, or nester, can appreciate what it's like when you spot that perfect item that you instantly love that will go perfectly in your home.

I remember a long time ago when I was a kid and opened a cabinet up high. A bunch of dishes fell out, crashing onto the kitchen floor. I was petrified my mom would be so mad at me. But she just checked to make sure I wasn't hurt, and then swept up the shards. No recriminations. *Sigh.* I know they're just things, and things don't matter as much as people as my mom taught me long ago, but I still mourn my lovely blue pitcher just the same.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving 1

Happy Thanksgiving!

With all the talk about how the Salt Rub and Butter Turkey is my steady Thanksgiving brine, I figured I should have some updated photos to show you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Pre-Thanksgiving

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon and Pre-Thanksgiving 1

I don't know if you really need another macaroni and cheese recipe. I've already blogged good old regular Macaroni and Cheese, then Spicy Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken, and Macaroni and Cheese with Beef and Tomatoes. But hey, it's Thanksgiving, a time of excess and indulgence, so why not go one step further and add bacon to the cheesy goodness?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


11.23 Longans 1

My favorite part of November in the garden is when the longan tree ripens in the backyard.

At the beginning of October, they were still mostly green and not quite ready for eating yet.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Seasons 52 - Costa Mesa

After lunch at Kappa Ramen - Anaheim, lil' sis and I went to South Coast Plaza to do a little shopping before an early dinner at Seasons 52.

Seasons 52 - Costa Mesa 1

I was actually invited to a blogger preview luncheon back in late August, but couldn't make it because of work. I was intrigued by the fact that the restaurant boasts that nothing on the menu is more than 475 calories. No oil. No butter. Nothing fried. How good could the food possibly taste then? Well, according to Gourmet Pigs and Tony of SinoSoul, who both attended the luncheon, it was one of the better media meals they've eaten.

So bummed I missed out. But, the very gracious Marguarite of Marguarite Clark Public Relations, who arranged for my Kappa Ramen lunch invited me to dine here too. I figured since I had to drive down to Orange County for one, why not both? It served as a great half-way point to meet up with lil' sis. Early November was the best time for both of us. I forwarded her the menu and links to both restaurants, and lil' sis eagerly anticipated what she wanted to order.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kappa Ramen - Anaheim (Closed)

Kappa Ramen - Anaheim 1

Kappa Ramen opened in a sleepy strip mall in Anaheim back in September. And unless you live near it, or in Orange County, you might not have known. So when Marguarite of Marguarite Clark Public Relations invited me to dine there, I figured it'd make a good halfway point for me to meet up with lil' sis.

Did I really need a free ramen meal? Probably not. But, would I have ventured into Anaheim if I hadn't been invited? Probably not either.

That's how it works sometimes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Torigara Shoyu (Japanese Soy Sauce Chicken) Ramen

Torigara Shoyu (Japanese Soy Sauce Chicken) Ramen 1

As I was saying, the Tori No Nimono (Japanese Simmered Chicken) was destined as topping for my homemade Torigara Shoyu (Japanese Soy Sauce Chicken) Ramen. I had tried to make ramen a few times before, but it was missing that extra something-something. I figured trying to make a milky tonkotsu broth was too difficult, so I would opt for shoyu since the soy sauce would be pretty flavorful. This time around I went a little crazy supplementing the two chicken carcasses by adding in Dashi Kombu (Japanese Kelp), dried shrimp, dried little fish, and two apples.

But it worked! The result was a flavorful, savory broth that wasn't too salty or too sweet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dashi Kombu (Japanese Kelp Broth)

Dashi Kombu (Japanese Kelp) 1

One of the ingredients I've been experimenting with in cooking Japanese food is dashi kombu (Japanese kelp).

I've been eating and enjoying seaweed forever. And like it wrapped in sushi, simply roasted, or as Canh Tao/Rong Bien (Vietnamese Seaweed Soup). Though my first two attempts with Shio (Japanese Salt) Ramen and Shichimenchou (Japanese Turkey Bone) Ramen were OK, I knew my broth needed an extra oomph.

The best way I could describe using kelp in soup stock is that it provides a natural savoriness without overpowering the broth.

Combine the kelp with shaved bonito flakes and you have the quintessential Japanese stock for ramen, miso soup, udon, or any other soups. Sometimes I add tiny dried anchovies too, but the kelp and bonito flakes are musts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tori No Nimono (Japanese Simmered Chicken)

Tori No Nimono (Japanese Simmered Chicken) 1

In April, I had two roast chicken carcasses that I was turning into Torigara Shoyu (Japanese Soy Sauce Chicken) Ramen. Instead of my usual Buta No Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork), which would have necessitated a trip to the grocery store, I raided my fridge for some frozen chicken thighs. Not that you have to serve this with ramen, the slightly sweet, saucy braised chicken goes great with rice as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nam Matsutake Xao (Vietnamese Sauteed Japanese Pine Mushrooms)

Nam Matsutake Xao (Vietnamese Sauteed Japanese Pine Mushrooms) 1

On my way back from my $41.40 roundtrip flight to Portland, my parents also sent along matsutake (Japanese pine mushrooms) my dad had foraged in the forest. I've mentioned before about how my parents foraged for chanterelles, but matsutakes were unfamiliar to my dad back then. Until now, when someone showed him how to identify matsutakes.

Matsutakes, also called Japanese pine mushrooms, are aptly named. They're found in the duff below pine trees and take on the aroma of the wood. According to Wikipedia, they're very prized in Japan, where the pine trees have been infected and supplies have dwindled. Consequently, matsutakes can command up to $2,000 per kilogram. Imported matsutakes, mainly from North America, run about $90 per kilogram. These are very prized mushrooms indeed.

These mushrooms are quite firm with a pine woodsy aroma. I simply sauteed them with garlic and a few dashes of soy sauce or fish sauce, although you can certainly add them to dishes as well. This isn't so much a recipe as a lesson in how to prepare matsutakes, in case you ever come across any.

Monday, November 15, 2010

$41.40, JetBlue RT LGB to PDX for 35 Hours

I had to skip out early on cousin A's bridal shower because I was going up to Portland again.

For $41.40 round-trip!

After taxes!

$41.40, RT LGB to PDX for 35 Hours 1

JetBlueCheeps LGB to PDX, $10 each way, plus taxes.

Sure I was only going to be home for 35 hours. But did you not see that my round-trip plane ticket was only $41.40?!

Even though my parents were coming down a few days later for cousin A's wedding, it was too good of a deal to pass up. The minute I saw the price, I started furiously typing so I could book it before the deal disappeared, while simultaneously text messaging oldest nephew and dad's friend's daughter to tell them about it. They were too late though.

Surely you'd pay that for two of your momma's homecooked meals?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cousin A's Bridal Shower

Cousin A's Bridal Shower 1

Here is my homemade tiered cupcake stand in action at cousin A's bridal shower. Turned out pretty nice huh?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to Make a Homemade Tiered Cupcake Stand

How to Make a Tiered Cupcake Stand 1

I noticed that cousin A, sometimes referred to as the oldest '87's middle sister, registered for a bunch of cake stands for her bridal shower.

Would she mind terribly if I made her some homemade ones instead?

Remembering my post about "How to Make a Homemade Cake Stand," cousin A immediately said, "Yes!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Phoenix Dessert - Alhambra

Phoenix Dessert - Alhambra 1

A few months after my dad's friend's daughter's last visit, our dinner at Viva Madrid - Claremont, she moved to SoCal. We stopped in for a quick dessert at Phoenix Dessert in Alhambra. Unlike the other Phoenix Food Boutiques in Alhambra and San Gabriel, this location obviously only has dessert. But if you specifically want Chinese puddings, pastries, or jellies, Phoenix Dessert has a better selection than the Phoenix Food Boutique restaurants.

Mmm. Chinese puddings. Mango, durian, taro, red bean, black sesame.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yogurtland - Alhambra

Yogurtland - Alhambra 1

KiwiBear - Claremont (Closed).

Peach House - San Gabriel (Closed).

PinGo Yogurt - Alhambra (Closed).

VeryBerry - San Gabriel (Closed).

Even the chain frozen yogurt locations such as CeFiore - Monterey Park (Closed) and CeFiore - Los Angeles (Little Tokyo) (Closed).

I heard the death knell for Pinkberry - Los Angeles (Koreatown) imitators a few years ago when Nubi Yogurt - San Gabriel opened with its 38 cents an ounce fro-yo. I was just waiting for Yogurtland to come beat that with its 30 cents an ounce fro-yo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bert & Rocky's Cream Company - Claremont

Bert & Rocky's Cream Company - Claremont 1

KiwiBear - Claremont wasn't able to survive the frozen yogurt craze, but good old ice cream shops like Bert & Rocky's Cream Company are still going strong.

These photos are from April 2007. I know! What can I say? Things get lost in the queue.

Hmm. It's been so long I can't even remember where we ate beforehand, and you know how I like to keep track of when and where I've eaten and with whom I ate it. I at least remembered which friend I was with at the time. :P Anyway, after lunch with my friend, we stopped off at Bert & Rocky's for dessert.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

KiwiBear - Claremont (Closed)

Kiwibear - Claremont 1

After walking around the Farmers' Market - Claremont, it was such a hot day that I stopped in for some frozen yogurt. Ah, the Pinkberry fro-yo fad of 2005 spawned a lot of copycats, and has now resulted in a corresponding level of closures.

KiwiBear used to be KiwiBerri, but I guess that was too close to the Pinkberry name.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Farmers' Market - Claremont

Farmers' Market - Claremont 1

For quaintness, the Farmers' Market in Claremont has to be one of my favorites just for how cute the downtown, otherwise referred to as The Village, is to walk around. Tree-lined streets and lots of little shops and restaurants.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Viva Madrid - Claremont

Viva Madrid - Claremont 1

A few months after my dad's friend's daughter visited, she was back again. I was working late that night and wasn't free to meet up with her until around 9 p.m. There weren't that many places open late in the Inland Valley, but I remembered Viva Madrid in Claremont, a tapas bar I had been wanting to try for a while after seeing its flaming drink on a television newsmagazine show.

It's a little hidden. See the sign above on the street. Then walk down this alley.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

MoMo Bakery - Alhambra

MoMo Bakery - Alhambra 1

After picking up fruit at Chi Ut Trai Cay - Rosemead, we stopped off at MoMo Bakery - Alhambra to get some mini cakes for my dad's friend's daughter to bring back to Portland. We already had other mini cakes from Vanille de Patisserie - San Marino when we had afternoon tea the day she came into town, but MoMo Bakery had some cute ones too that were less expensive.

MoMo Bakery is in the space that used to be Kiki Bakery - Alhambra. as I said before, there seems to be some head-to-head competition since Kiki Bakery moved out of this spot only to re-open a few blocks east. The ownership changed, but the employees here are still the same as before. Which also means my favorite pastries and breads were still the same, such as the taro mochi buns and panda cookies!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Chi Ut Trai Cay - Rosemead

After brunch at Dean Sin World - Monterey Park, my dad's friend's daughter wanted to get some guavas and mini cakes to bring back to Portland.We stopped off at the Farmers' Market - Alhambra and got a few guavas, but I told her there might be a better selection at this Vietnamese fruit place I knew.

Chi Ut Trai Cay - Rosemead 1

Chi Ut Trai Cay, which translates as older female's youngest's fruit, is in the same strip mall as lap xuong (Vietnamese sausage) Quang Tran, Inc. - Rosemead. Remember in that post how I said there was a roving van that sells tropical fruit at various popular Vietnamese places in the San Gabriel Valley?

Well, they finally opened their own shop.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dean Sin World - Monterey Park

Dean Sin World - Monterey Park 1

For more than a year now, I've been getting my potsticker and soup dumpling fix at Dean Sin World in Monterey Park. The dumplings are good and cheap, and mama Lu is way nice and almost always gives me freebies. So I tip very generously. And she gives me more freebies to make up for it. So I tip very generously again. And well, you see where this is going? I've also dragged various friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, cousin's cousin, cousin's uncle, nephew, nephew's friend, dad's friend's daughter... I guess I should finally blog about Dean Sin World then huh?

As with many places that have gained popularity among food bloggers, many times the person who discovered the restaurant doesn't get proper credit. You know how I feel about attribution. So it's not just because he's my friend, but because all Dean Sin World hype should be properly credited to Tony of SinoSoul, who discovered it back in 2008.

I first read about Dean Sin World on Pepsi Monster of Right Way to Eat, who said that mama Lu supplies many of the restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley. Not the dumpling houses, but the restaurants who offer dumplings in addition to their menu. But I didn't visit Dean Sin World until last August when Danny of Kung Food Panda took me here since they don't speak English.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Coffee House Heyri - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Coffee House Heyri - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 1

The day after my lunch at Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 Korean BBQ - Los Angeles (Koreatown), my friend Ivan came into town and was staying in Koreatown. He wanted to meet up for coffee in the late afternoon. Phew! Because I'm not sure if I was up for another round of Korean barbecue so soon. Oh who am I kidding? I'm usually up for Korean barbecue, just not that particular day. :P

In the past few years, there has been a slew of higher-end coffee shops opening in Koreatown charging premium prices for so-so coffee. They've been popular because the coffee shops themselves are much nicer than average, sometimes with private rooms, they're open late, and they have free Wi-Fi. I remembered a post on Coffee House Heyri that Jeannie of The World is My Oyster so I suggested it to my friend. Turned out, he was staying just a few blocks away.

Coffee House Heyri was in a really nice converted house. But it was much too nice of a day to stay indoors so I walked straight through to the backyard. Plus, I figured it'd be easier for my friend to locate me than to wander around inside.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 Korean BBQ - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 Korean BBQ - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 1

These pictures have been sitting around since July 2008. So since I just blogged Scoops - Los Angeles, where we stopped off after lunch at Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 Korean BBQ, might as well get this off the queue.

Lil' sis, the oldest '87, and I decided to try out a new-to-us all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant. For $16.99, we got a choice of 14 meats including pork ribs, sliced brisket, marinated ribs, pork belly, barbecued chicken, boneless short ribs, tongue, grilled squid, barbecued beef, tripe, large and small intestine, and beef heart.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Scoops - Los Angeles (Wilshire Center)

Scoops - Los Angeles 1

I had blogged Scoops more than three years ago after my brief visit following dinner at Cobras & Matadors - Los Angeles (Los Feliz), but it really deserves its own and much longer post. Not that Scoops really needs much of an introduction anymore. I mean, who in L.A. hasn't stopped in for some brown bread ice cream? Avocado Guinness sorbet? Peanut butter and celery gelato? Salty chocolate? Roasted corn? Pistachio lavender goat cheese?

Oh, I could go on and on with how much I love Tai Kim's many inventive flavors.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hae Jang Chon Korean Barbecue Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Hae Jang Chon Korean Barbecue Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 1

On my actual birthday, I opted for a tried and true favorite, Korean barbecue with the oldest '87 and her middle sister at Hae Jang Chon Korean Barbecue Restaurant in Koreatown. The photos for this post were actually taken back in February, during my first visit when my dad's friend's daughter was in town.

I guess it does pay to advertise. I noticed the restaurant's ad on LA Weekly's website and clicked over. All you can eat Korean barbecue, including 19 items, for $16.99? And open until 2 a.m. every day? Definitely worth checking out.

So on my dad's friend's daughter's last night in town, we decided to go there for dinner. When I got there, I realized that I actually had tried to go once before with lil' sis, after noticing it during a visit to Kyochon Chicken - Los Angeles (Koreatown). But the restaurant looked empty so early in the day, so we defaulted to Tahoe Galbi Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) for lunch.

It was an hour wait on a Saturday night, but we stopped off at Scoops - Los Angeles for gelato beforehand so we didn't mind.

Part of the reason I wanted to try Hae Jang Chon was for the rock slab grill. You'll see why later in the post. The waiter immediately started bringing out all the panchan (Korean side dishes). The Baechu Kimchee (Korean Pickled Napa Cabbage) and the Kong Namul (Korean Seasoned Soy Bean Sprouts) were the overly fermented kind intended for the grill.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cafe Bizou - Pasadena (Old Town)

When lil' sis told our brother that she was coming up to take me to "Phantom of the Opera" for my birthday, he wanted to take us out for dinner beforehand. He suggested choosing from the Pasadena restaurants that were participating in DineLA. I quickly scanned the lowest-priced tier and chose Cafe Bizou because it seemed to give us the best food options.

Three courses with steak and lobster for $26!

Cafe Bizou - Pasadena (Old Town) 1

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 14

Busy, busy month! My Octobers are always like that though. A while back, lil' sis told me to save October 6 for my birthday surprise. But that's not my birthday, doesn't she know me at all? :(

She wouldn't tell me what it was, but told me to dress nice, ie. no flip-flops. That Wednesday, she drove up right after work and surprised me with tickets to "Phantom of the Opera" at the Pantages Theatre. Aww, how nice!

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 14 1

Monday, October 18, 2010

Paella Valenciana (Spanish Valencian Pan Rice)

Paella Valenciana (Spanish Valencian Pan Rice) 1

It's a thank you paella. Well, technically it's paella Valenciana, but it was made as a gesture of appreciation. Unlike seafood paella, the Valencian version is land-based so there's chicken, sausage, snails (supposedly the garden variety, but I had big sea snails on hand for Vietnamese snail noodle soup), artichokes, green beans, butter beans, and peas.

And of course, all cooked together in a pan of saffron rice.

As I was saying, I injured my foot earlier this month. I stepped on something in my kitchen, and you know how you place one foot on top of the other to dislodge it? Well, without looking to see what it was, that's what I did. All of a sudden, I felt something wet, looked down, and saw a big pool of black. I stupidly stared as it got bigger and bigger, wondering how I spilled soy sauce, when I realized that I had cut myself with a jagged piece of glass. I had recently broken a jar and apparently missed a piece in the clean-up. And in attempting to dislodge it from the the bottom of one foot, I had jabbed the glass deeply into the top of the other foot.

Luckily, I had just washed my kitchen towels so I wadded up a dishcloth to staunch the blood. It soaked up fast! So I folded up another dishcloth for padding, then rolled a third to tie into a makeshift tourniquet. That seemed to do the trick and the blood stopped gushing out.

I hobbled over to my living room and sat there with my foot elevated on the arm of the sofa. A few minutes after I sat down, my youngest aunt knocked on my door with my youngest Argentinian girl cousin. Oh, was she in town visiting, I asked? Nope. She and her husband had enough of Michigan's cold winters and decided to move to SoCal two months ago. Huh?! Sooo random!

After my aunt and cousin left, I messaged Tony of SinoSoul because freak accident + unexpected visitors = randomly weird evening. Instead, he freaked out himself, so he and the missus left the movie theater, and promptly appeared on my door step with hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic cream, and butterfly bandages.

Awww. With friends like that, obviously I needed to thank them with something special.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

TC Donuts - Alhambra

TC Donuts - Alhambra 1

The next morning, oldest nephew's childhood friend said he was craving some sweet pastries for breakfast so I suggested doughnuts, thinking that there would be Danishes or something like that at the shop. What we found was even better.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chao/Congee/Jook Thit Heo Bam Hot Vit Bac Thao (Vietnamese/Chinese Rice Porridge with Ground Pork and Preserved Duck Egg)

Chao  Congee  Jook Thit Heo Bam Hot Vit Bac Thao (Vietnamese  Chinese Rice Porridge with Ground Pork and Preserved Duck Egg) 1

After I got back from the Pasadena Wine Festival, oldest nephew's childhood friend was camped out in my living room, catching up online and doing laundry. Lil' sis and oldest nephew weren't coming to pick him up until the next day since we were going to Fogo de Chao - Beverly Hills for DineLA. A few hours later, jetlag finally caught up with him and the snores were so loud that I couldn't even hear the television, so I retreated to my bedroom.

I figured he'd probably wake up in the middle of the night hungry, so I decided to make rice porridge for him. I've never met anyone who likes rice porridge as much as he does. He likes bland foods he says and can happily eat rice porridge every day for every meal. In fact, I made a 5-quart pot, left a note beside his glasses telling him there was rice porridge on the stove, and went to sleep. At 1 a.m., he woke up and ate three big bowls. He then ate another bowl for breakfast. And happily took home the quart-sized container of leftovers.

I've made Chao Hot Vit Bach Thao (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Preserved Duck Eggs) before, but it's been three years and this recipe has ground pork added. So, you know, a new post is required, right? :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pasadena Wine Festival (Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden) - Arcadia

 Pasadena Wine Festival (Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden) - Arcadia 1

When I queried my Facebook friends to see who wanted to be my +1 for the Pasadena Wine Festival, my friend Don got first dibs. Actually, he was supposed to be my +1 for the 5th Annual AltaMed's East LA Meets Napa event, but he got held up at work and couldn't make it. Too bad because that was my favorite food and wine event. Nonetheless, he was excited at the thought of any wine festival. I warned him to keep his expectations low since I anticipated long lines and wasn't sure whether I was getting general admission or VIP tickets.

Earlier that day, I picked up oldest nephew's childhood friend from the airport and we stopped off for a late lunch/early dinner at Bamboodles Restaurant - San Gabriel. Don joined us at the tail end of our meal so we filled up on green tea pork noodles, spicy beef stew spinach noodles, and spicy wontons before heading out to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

Most people parked across the street at the mall and walked over, but I had injured my foot earlier this month and was still hobbling around, so Don offered to spring for parking at the arboretum. $13! We met up with the middle '87 and older '88, who decided at the last minute they wanted to go.

After checking in, I found out that I got complimentary VIP tickets after all. Thanks Nick and the folks at Pasadena Wine Festival!

We got there around 5 p.m. and the lines were already pretty long. But early October in Southern California is usually so nice -- still warm, but cool and in the shade of the arboretum's trees, the Pasadena Wine Festival looked to be a pretty popular event.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Eat Dragon Fruit

How to Eat Dragon Fruit 1

With all the dragon fruit pictures I've been posting, I realized that I've never shown you how to eat one. Not that you couldn't have figured it out on your own. OK, it was just an excuse to post more pictures. :P

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Whoa! Dragon Fruit!

10.13 Whoa! Dragon Fruit! 1

After photographing my dragon fruit flower abundance in August, I forgot all about them.

On October 2, I noticed that the fruit were almost ripe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kangkong Belacan (Malaysian Stir-Fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste)

Kangkong Belacan (Malaysian Stir-Fried Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste) 1

Salads are all well and good, but most of the time, I prefer my greens sauteed. I love rau muong/ong choy/kangkong (Vietnamese/Chinese/Malaysian water spinach), but mostly eat it as Rau Muong Xao Toi Chao (Vietnamese Water Spinach Stir-fried with Garlic and Fermented Bean Curd). So recently, I decided to change things up a notch and make it Malaysian-style with Mam Ruoc (Vietnamese Fermented Shrimp Paste). If you have blocks of Malaysian belacan, then by all means use that, but I've found the Vietnamese version just fine for substitution.

The fermented shrimp paste and dried shrimp are incredibly pungent, so make sure you have a good exhaust fan or air filter turned on high. And for some weird reason, this recipe is all in portions of two. You'll see what I mean.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wilted Arugula Lettuce Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Wilted Arugula  and Lettuce Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing 1

Lately, I've noticed a steady increase in hits for my recipe for Iceberg Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing. While it's one of my favorite salads, and I think the photos are pretty darn nice even taken with my old camera, I think its recent popularity is because of all the Mad Men love? I don't watch the show myself so someone will have to tell me how the salad features in the series. Does Don Draper eat a lot of it or something?

I love mixed lettuce salads, but they can be pretty expensive. So recently when Fresh&Easy had a sale, two bags of arugula lettuce salad for $3, I bought two. I ate one bag with my usual balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing, but then figured maybe I should gussy up the other for the blog.

I last made this wilted lettuce salad three years ago, but that early photo just wasn't up to par. Of course, I also have a bad habit of hanging on to too many photos anyway so there it sat in my queue year after year after year. You can see how horrendous that photo looks at the end of this post. While updating the photos for my Angel Hair Pasta with Balsamic Chicken, Bacon, and Diced Tomatoes recipe, I figured it was time I finally blogged this recipe too.

You could use this same dressing for a baby spinach salad too. The key is to use a few tablespoons of bacon grease to make into a vinaigrette and then to quickly toss while it's still warm. The vinegar and brown sugar nicely mellow out the fattiness of the bacon grease. It's obviously not something you want to eat on a regular basis so once every three years sounds about right. :P

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler and Giveaway

Berry Bible by Janie Hibler 1

Earlier this summer, I was contacted by Sarah at AmazonEncore, who asked if I would like to review a copy of “The Berry Bible: With 175 Recipes Using Cultivated and Wild, Fresh and Frozen Berries” by Janie Hibler. She won the James Beard award for a single subject for her other cookbook, "Wild About Game: 150 Recipes for Farm-Raised and Wild Game - From Alligator and Antelope to Venison and Wild Turkey."

I love berries so I was quite excited there was a whole book on just berries. In “The Berry Bible,” Hibler talks about picking berries after she moved to Oregon, which immediately reminded me of my childhood when I sometimes tagged along as my parents picked berries on weekends to supplement their income. Hibler traveled the world to learn about all kinds of berries from the Saskatoon berry found on the Canadian prairie to the best strawberries at markets in Europe.