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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chinese Chili Wontons

Chinese Chile Wontons 1

So let's say you have no skills in folding dumplings, don't worry because these Chinese Chili Wontons are dead simple to make. You're not supposed to fold them prettily because the whole point of these wontons is light on the filling to enjoy the doughy wrappers, which have absorbed all the delicious sauce.

I had a craving to make these recently after missing the chili wontons I used to order at Mandarin Noodle Deli - Temple City before it closed, and then at Bamboodles Restaurant - San Gabriel before it closed too. Not that I couldn't find another restaurant to order them, I just haven't yet. And definitely not eight wontons for $1.95. Wah! Wah! Why do all my favorite cheap places close?

If you're tired of making Siu Mai (Chinese Meatball Dumpling) look pretty, just use the leftover filling from that.

Otherwise, it's a simple enough pork and shrimp filling. Boiled wontons. Topped with chopped greens. Dressed with a chili, sesame oil, soy, and vinegar sauce. Since the wontons are sparsely filled, a little filling makes dozens and dozens.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shu / Siu Mai (Chinese Meatball Dumpling)

ShuSiu Mai (Chinese Meatball Dumpling) 1

I brought Siu Mai (Chinese Meatball Dumplings) to my brother's lunar new year dinner. I know, siu mai are usually eaten in the mornings for dim sum, but I needed something quick and easy. And while I'm perfectly happy getting my fix at dim sum restaurants, there's something to be said about making siu mai at home and eating it late at night.

I'm not so skilled with the shaping. The dumplings waffled to and fro in the steamer. After a few misses, I found it easiest to steam them in a mini cupcake pan. It's cheating for sure, but they come out much nicer if you're not so skilled in shaping them either.

Make them for breakfast, if you want Chinese dim sum at home. Or make them for a late night snack.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Ate What? 2009 Eating Out Roundup

I started off 2009 posting about my cousin's wedding, which really occurred near the end of 2008, but when I started my Dining: Best Of lists, it was too confusing to mention meals I ate that year if I hadn't blogged about it yet. Plus, since it's now taking me years to catch up, not to mention revisits, it's easiest to confine this list to memorable meals that I've blogged about that year. I do try to keep events somewhat in the proper timeline though, even if it takes me a while to write about it. So looking back at the meals I ate in 2009 was also a look back at where I went and what I ate and with whom. There were three trips to Portland (Actually, the first is a belated post about a 2008 visit), two trips to the San Francisco Bay Area, and a trip to the Southwest to see cliff dwellings.

I also ate seven courses of beef twice, filet mignon pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup), fancy dim sum, at my favorite ramen place which opened a location closer to home, a hamburger taco and stuffed sopaipillas, Navajo fry bread, and eight courses of fish. So all in all, not a bad year of eating.

But then there were the highlights. So in no particular order, except chronologically as I come across the posts:

Pearl Chinese Cuisine (Wedding Banquet) - San Diego 16 Most heartwarming has to be cousin Q's older brother's wedding at Pearl Chinese Cuisine (Wedding Banquet) - San Diego. I'd known my cousin's wife for a quite a while before they got married, before they started dating even, back when they were just friends. Since he's one of my closest cousins, it was just a fun wedding to attend. Since then, they've spawned Pablo and Johannes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

2009 Restaurants: Picture Index

Top 9 2009 Most Popular Restaurants
Top 9 2009 Most Popular Restaurants

While my restaurant posts don't get nearly as much traffic as the recipe posts, I always find it interesting which ones you find interesting. A while ago, in an effort to be more organized, I started keeping track of all my recipes and restaurant posts by year. I still need to watermark 2006 to 2008 restaurant pictures, and still need to catch up on 2010 to 2012, so 2009 is the first year that I can actually check to see which restaurant posts were most popular.

Even though I eat much more than just Vietnamese food, out of the top 10 (only 9 would fit in the mosaic picture) restaurant posts, seven of them were Vietnamese. The secret club at Disneyland, Club 33 - Disneyland - Anaheim, snuck in at #2. My cousin's wedding banquet made it to #5, Pearl Chinese Cuisine (Wedding Banquet) - San Diego. And lastly, $9.99 all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue, San Ya Restaurant Korean BBQ & Noodle - Los Angeles (Koreatown), just barely managed to make the list.

What do you think these results mean? What restaurants do you look for when you read my blog? I'll save my most memorable meals for my I Ate What? 2009 Eating Out Roundup, but here you go, a complete index of dining out in 2009. And all I can think is, do I go out to eat that much?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Year of the Snake!

Happy Year of the Snake 1

Happy Year of the Snake everyone!

A few days before the lunar new year, my oldest uncle's wife called to tell me to come pick up a banh tet (Vietnamese sticky rice cake). She also gave me some dua mon (Vietnamese pickles) and mandarin oranges.

My friend DP gave me the Girl Scout cookies and a banh chung, the northern Vietnamese version of the lunar new year sticky rice cake. Banh tet is the central and southern version.

I'm pretty bad about the gift exchange this year and am still working on my half.

This morning I met up with my childhood friend for our annual lunar new year meal. I decided to keep it simple and cheap this year, so we went to my favorite, Luscious Dumplings, Inc. - San Gabriel. We got the beef stew noodles, pork and Szechuan pickles noodles, soup dumplings, and three orders of potstickers. We got the regular pork and the pork, sole, and cabbage potstickers. My friend's friends liked them so much that we got a third order. Mmm. Gotta love starting off the new year with a tried and true favorite.

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Original Tops - Pasadena

While chatting with the owners of Gus's Barbecue - South Pasadena, I found out that their father opened The Original Tops in Pasadena in 1952 shortly after immigrating here from Greece. He was only 19 years old at the time! How cool is that?!

The Gus's Barbecue owners said their father used to make them work at Tops as punishment. And yet, they decided to go into the restaurant business... Up until a few years ago, their father was still working at the restaurant every day. I love a hard-working immigrant story.

The Original Tops - Pasadena 1

Other Tops locations that have spun off from this one were all sold off and are no longer affiliated. So if you want the original owner, go to The Original Tops.

The only nod to their heritage is in the Greek Salad, otherwise, the menu is all American comfort food. The 100% Angus chuck ground beef is fresh, never frozen. The French, sweet potato, and zucchini fries are cut by hand and fried in small batches throughout the day. The pastrami is made in-house. And the kobe beef burger is just as delicious as it sounds.