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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.