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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thanh Tam Bakery - Garden Grove (Little Saigon)

After we left Ngu Binh Restaurant - Westminster, I asked my dad's friend's daughter if she wanted some che (Vietnamese pudding) since were passing by Thach Che Hien Khanh - Garden Grove. She wavered, but in the end, decided she might as well maximize her eating experience while she was in town. So after getting some dessert to-go, I headed further east because my friend DP told me her current favorite Vietnamese sandwich shop was Thanh Tam Bakery.

Thanh Tam Bakery - Garden Grove (Little Saigon) 1

On the Westminster Avenue side though, all I saw was Thanh Tam Billiards. My friend sent me to a pool hall for banh mi? This couldn't be right? Or could it?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra

Kang Kang Food Court - Alhambra 1

Remember when Won Ton Time used to be in this strip mall? How about further back when Kang Kang Food Court used to be Shau May? Or even further back when the Chinese movie theater used to be here?

Oh! Oh!

Speaking of the theater, does anyone know the name of the Chinese movie where these two boys were raised like brothers, except one of the boy's fathers was head of a mafia? I think one of them grows up to take over for his dad? And then there was a train and he climbed in through a window and surprised a woman, and they ended up falling in love? Except she was on her way to marry the other one? Or something like that. Mafias, love triangles, love on a speeding train.

C'mon! Does anyone know which movie I'm talking about? My second-cousin took me to see it at the Chinese theater that used to be here and I don't remember the name, but I really, really want to find it again.

Anyway, back to Kang Kang and reminiscing. Remember when shaved ice was only $1.50 for three ingredients? I know! Darn inflation!

Even at $3.25, it's still the best shaved ice deal in town. My cousins and I are here almost every week during the summer.

Monday, March 29, 2010

ID Cha House - San Gabriel

Shortly after 85 Degrees C Tea House - San Gabriel changed its name to ID Cha House, I went with Gourmet Pigs to see if it was still the same.

ID Cha House - San Gabriel 1

Same horoscope drinks and hot tea. I can't even remember which tea we got, but they're $4.95 for a pot and can be refilled with hot water upon request.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Class 302 Taiwanese Cuisine - Rowland Heights

After our dinner at Centro Basco - Chino, it was still relatively early. Since it was such a drive out there, I wanted to make it worth my while. We were really too full at this point to eat anything much so I suggested shaved ice at Class 302 Taiwanese Cuisine in Rowland Heights.

Class 302 Taiwanese Cuisine - Rowland Heights 1

Guess everyone else had the same bright idea because Gourmet Pigs, Starchy Marie, and I ended up waiting at least half an hour for a table. So, we went next door to 99 Ranch and I picked up a few groceries.

I have no idea why the restaurant chose a school theme. Beats the toilet-themed restaurant in Taiwan though!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Basque Family-Style Dining at Centro Basco Restaurant - Chino

Long ago when I used to work in this area, I'd occasionally drive past Centro Basco Restaurant in Chino and wonder.

Centro Basco Restaurant - Chino 1

What did I know of the Basques?

Very little.

I met one when I was 15 and won a speech and essay contest from the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows United Nations Educational Pilgrimage for Youth, Inc. for a three-week cross-country bus trip from Oregon to the East Coast. From him, I learned about the Basque population in Eastern Oregon who came to work as sheepherders and that the Basque language, Euskera, was unlike any other.

In drawings that I've seen of the Indo-European language tree, where similar languages such as Spanish, Italian, and French would be shown as branching off from the main one such as Latin, Basque comes in as a random bird flying in from the horizon, unrelated to anything else.

And then there was the hunky Basque Nick, who won Delaney's heart in "Truly Madly Yours" by Rachel Gibson.

But, you probably want something a little more academic? In which case, I would defer to "The Basque History of the World" by Mark Kurlansky, but I'm only on page 62. So instead of trying to condense way too much history into too small of a space, I defer to Wikipedia's entry on the history of the Basque people and their entry on Basque-Americans.

I'm rather stuck on page 16. That's where Kurlansky discusses the Gateau Basque, a cake filled with cherry jam and/or pastry cream that originated in the Nivelle River valley, which includes the town of Itxassou, famous for its black cherries. Gateau Basque, I vow to make it one of these days.

Kurlansky also discusses the high numbers of Basques with O Rh negative blood, which can fatally poison a fetus who has positive blood, and may be a reason why the Basque population is not as high as it could be. According to Wikipedia, there are an estimated 18 million Basques world-wide, 57,793 Basque Americans, and 20,868 Basques in California.

Which brings us back to Centro Basco Restaurant in Chino, which opened in 1940 as a boarding house to serve the Basque sheepherders in the Chino Valley. Since 1970, the restaurant has been operated by the Berterretche family, whose hometown is St. Jean Pied de Port, France.

Certainly you could visit the restaurant at any time and sit in their normal dining room to try the French Basque dishes. But how much more fun is to sit at one of the communal tables and dine with others? Thanks to my advertiser, Foodbuzz's 24, 24, 24, I was able to treat Gourmet Pigs and Starchy Marie to the most charming dining experience we've had in a while.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 7

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 7

Not much going on the blog this month. Was busy with my parents in town. Then got the sniffles so visits to snuggle with my new niece have been curtailed for the time being. :(

Isn't she darling?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kim Lien Produce - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Kim Lien Produce - Westminster (Little Saigon) 1

While waiting for our table at Ngu Binh Restaurant - Westminster, we went a few doors down to check out the tropical fruit at Kim Lien Produce. I've noticed more of these shops that specialize in selling only fruit cropping up in the last year or so.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ngu Binh Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Ngu Binh Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 1

Last fall, I got an email from someone who claimed not to be a stalker. (Ha! That's what they all say! :P ) She had been reading my blog for a few months and my post about Burgerville, a hamburger chain in the Pacific Northwest, caught her attention. Might I be an Oregonian? So she started reading and reading and realized, she knows who I am!

She asked, are you chu (Vietnamese for younger male uncle on father's side) [my dad]'s daughter? If not, sorry for bothering you. If yes, "Why hello chi (Vietnamese for older female) [my real name]!" This is [dad's friend]'s daughter, or you might remember me as [dad's friend's daughter's real name].

Bwhaha! I thought I was pretty good at the incognito thing, but I guess if you know me in real life, even if it's been 20 years, I'm pretty easy to figure out. Seriously, I hadn't seen my dad's friend's daughter since she was 5 years old. Anyway, she found lil' sis via our oldest nephew's best friend and befriended her on Facebook. So I stalked her back and befriended her too.

And last month when she was in town and needed a place to stay, I offered up my home. After picking her up from Long Beach airport, I took her to Ngu Binh Restaurant in Westminster for lunch. The last time I was here was nearly four years ago. I told you I don't go down to Little Saigon as often as I used to!

That's it! That's the whole menu! It's really not even 18 dishes, half that, as the specials are just larger sizes or they're combos of various dishes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gluten-Free Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls)

Gluten-Free Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring  Egg Rolls) 1

Poor little Pablo has been suffering from eczema that makes him so itchy he scratches himself raw. Cousin Q's older brother's wife got him tested and it turns out the little guy is allergic to wheat, soy, egg whites, shrimp, and peanuts. Since she's still breastfeeding him, she's had to eliminate those foods from her diet as well.

So the other day while I was making Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls), I decided to do a minimalist version without shrimp, eggs, or wheat wrappers. It wasn't hard. I just went back to my roots.

Traditionally, Vietnamese spring rolls are made with fried rice paper so they've always been naturally gluten-free. :P Bwahaha! It's a Vietnamese American adaptation to use Chinese egg roll wrappers because rice paper wasn't available when the refugees first arrived. Now, egg roll wrappers are often used for ease and convenience.

Even though I mentioned using rice paper in my regular cha gio recipe, sometimes it's nice to have a new post for the specific ingredients I have in mind. Plus, old recipe posts benefit from improved photography. If you're not allergic to shrimp, by all means, add some in if you wish. I'd normally add tree ear fungus too, but didn't realize I didn't have any in the pantry. The filling was simply pork, vermicelli noodles, and grated carrots and onions. Easy peasy.

Don't be deceived by the color. Even though the spring rolls are still mostly white, the natural color of the rice paper, they're still crispy on the outside. The inner part of the wrappers will be chewy. The crisp chewy texture is just the natural difference between rice paper versus egg roll wrappers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chinese Lettuce Wraps with Chicken, Water Chestnuts, and Bell Peppers

Chinese Lettuce Wraps with Chicken, Water Chestnuts, and Bell Peppers 1

Two of my students' mom gave me a bag of lettuce she had grown in her garden. Fresh, organic, tender, and sweet green lettuce. I didn't want to waste it all on just a salad. I used some to wrap around my Gluten-Free Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls).

Then, I rummaged around in my freezer and found a few frozen de-boned chicken thighs. Add a red bell pepper and a zucchini for some color, some water chestnuts for crunch, and this was a quick and easy meal. Or you could serve it as an appetizer if you so wish.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cu Sen Chien (Vietnamese Fried Lotus Root Chips)

Cu Sen Chien (Vietnamese Fried Lotus Root Chips) 1

Lotus roots are so pretty that they just beg to be used as a garnish. So, remembering my long ago fancy traditional Chinese medicine luncheon sponsored by Wing Hop Fung, I simply peeled, sliced, and fried the lotus roots.

Eat them plain or garnish like at my luncheon in the photo below.

Wing Hop Fung Traditional Chinese Medicine Luncheon 3

Monday, March 08, 2010

Canh Cu Sen (Vietnamese Lotus Root Soup)

Canh Cu Sen (Vietnamese Lotus Root Soup) 1

After boiling pork to make Goi Cu Sen Non Tom Thit (Vietnamese Young Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork) I like to use the porky broth to make a simple soup. If you're not already boiling pork for another recipe, then I suggest using pork spare ribs instead.

I like the crunchy starchiness of lotus roots and don't need anything else besides salt and fish sauce to taste. Maybe I'll add a dried date for sweetness, but that's about it. A very basic soup for sure. Guess that's why these photos have been sitting around since June 2008.

Perhaps if I were to photograph this soup again I would add more ingredients. Or perhaps not. Canh isn't supposed to be hearty enough to make a meal. Just a light starter before the main course.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Goi Cu Sen Non Tom Thit (Vietnamese Young Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork)

I finally finished adding in all the thumbnail images to my Vietnamese Recipes with Pictures index. That's nearly 150 Vietnamese recipes by yours truly! It's not quite confetti, but its vivid colors felt celebratory, so I thought I'd finally blog my recipe for Goi Cu Sen Non Tom Thit (Vietnamese Young Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork).

Goi Cu Sen Non Tom Thit (Vietnamese Young Lotus Root Salad with Shrimp and Pork) 1

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Introducing "Tiberia"

Introducing the newest grandbaby in the WC clan, my brother's daughter "Tiberia." Not her real name, but you get bonus points if you can figure out the reference. There's a geeky connection to her real name too. :P

Isn't she darling?

Introducing "Tiberia" 1

My niece was born at 4:19 a.m. She's 20 inches long and weighs 6 pounds, 6 ounces.