If you’ve followed me long enough, you know that I’m such a huge supporter of Happy Garden on Valley Blvd and New Ave. It’s classic Taiwanese fare and they’re no longer selling the place — at least not yet.
I’ll admit I’m usually not the biggest fan of offal but there is something magical about the boiled, rubbery intestines mixed with a fragrant broth of vegetables, sliced ginger, scallions and dried shallots. This was one the places I brought Andrew Zimmern to during our brief SGV food crawl and of course, the dish I choose to highlight was the intestines.
1277 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, CA
So I just recently was introduced to the fabulous world of Indonesian food. I won’t pretend to be an expert but I did eat at enough places to round-up Five Great Indonesian Restaurants in Los Angeles.
Chicky’s BBQ saw my post and invited me over for dinner and part of the evening’s tasting was their siomay dish, the Indonesian equivalent of shumai. It’s fish cakes drenched in peanut sauce paired with tofu and sliced eggs. Now I’ve tried siomay before at Indo Kitchen but found myself enjoying Chicky’s version far more.
Indo Kitchen’s version (right), while admittedly gorgeous, was layered with a buttery peanut sauce. The texture was almost too creamy. My suspicion is that they mix in actual peanut butter.
But at Chicky’s (left), the peanuts are freshly grounded and the sauce isn’t as heavy as Indo. It mixes well and the taste of the fish cakes is much more prominent.
1206 Huntington Dr.,
Duarte, CA 91010
5 N 4th St
Alhambra, CA 91801
A family friend recently reached out to me about a catering business she started. It’s called Meal4Mom and it’s a pre-cooked meal service that targets pregnant moms. All the meals are Chinese and have herbal bases.
She sent over her Confinement Diet (藥膳養生餐), a total of 12 dishes, which goes up to only 2000 calories. It came with two breakfast dishes, four for lunch, four for dinner, an herbal soup and one dessert. It’s designed for people with special needs (especially after-labor, menopause or after-surgey).
Now — disclaimer — at 21-years-old, I suffer from none of the above (knock on wood) but it didn’t stop me for eating every single dish. Dishes ranged from chicken with beans, liver soup, eggs, soba noodles, assorted vegetables and herbal chicken broth.
The price range is around $70-90 but well worth it especially if you’re confined at home and don’t want to settle for mediocre microwavable foods. The herbal components are comforting — especially when it’s freezing outside. And truth be told, unless you’re a heavy eater, these twelve dishes are good for multiple days. You don’t need to be pregnant to order these meals (god knows I’m not) and it’s just an all-around solid catering company. They’re based in the San Gabriel Valley and will hand-deliver the food to you at your front door. All meals are made the morning of.
Their website is all in Chinese but email firstname.lastname@example.org for details and ordering information (yes, they’ll respond in English).
I was at dinner at N/Naka the other day, and my acquaintance and I got to talking about how there’s a stigma among our “non-foodie” friends on spending hefty bucks on food. Propose a AYCE KBBQ joint for $9.99 and everyone with the time will be down. Suggest a five-course tasting menu for a reasonable $50 and people who aren’t self-proclamined foodists will gasp in horror.
It’s an understandable phenomenon. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a mediocre meal for outrageous prices (Jean-Georges in Shanghai, Yamashiro, Momofuku fried chicken dinner, I’m looking at you guys). But pick the right place, and I guarantee you, that money will be worth your time. And personally, I’d rather spend good money on amazing food than tickets to a Broadway show. Or these days — a Vegas trip plus a carload of booze.
These dinners are rare occasions and though I’ve personally never paid more than $80 for a meal, (I wish I could afford the $150-$250 range) the stand-outs (Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison, Mr. & Mrs. Bund) have all been well worth it.
That’s what a tasting menu is all about. It’s a show, divided up into various acts. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to sample Niki Nakayama’s $55 five course kaiseki for the restaurant’s benefit dinner. 100% of proceeds from the series went to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
We started off with Sakizuke, a pairing of something common and something unique. I’m assuming that something common was the bigeye tuna and the unique element was the pool of avocado dashi nestled on the bottom. Additions included jalapeño, cilantro, tempura soy paper and a drop of citrus ponzu sauce on top of the tuna tartar.
Next, Nakayama followed with a beautifully plated slab of san ten mori, pan-seared beef teres major, mixed baby greens, miso pepper dressing plus a succulent Fanny Bay oyster with sesame aioli and a hamachi carpaccio in the middle with sweet sesame ponzu. I wasn’t too hot about the beef (was it supposed to be served cold?) but of the three, my favorite was the oyster.
The hearty mushimino (steamed dish) and agemono (fried dish) was a steamed lobster chawanmushi and a vegetable kaki-age tempura, respectively. The chawanmushi, essentially steamed egg, included lobster bits and black prince tomatoes. The kaki-age was impressively constructed in one piece with gobo, maitake, carrots and onions.
Fourth came a perfectly al dente pasta dish cooked in abalone broth with mentaiko and Italian summer truffles.
My absolutely personal favorite (but that’s just because I’m partial to sashimi) was the chirashi-zushi. Standouts included the buttery uni (sea urchin) and creamy East Coast scallops.
We finished it all off with a sesame panna cotta with okinawan black sugar syrup. The bowl was painted with black sesame paste and it was all topped off with a sesame tuille.
Address: 3455 Overland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90034
Phone: (310) 836-6252
The province of Yunnan in southwest China is as beautiful as the fiction makes it out to be. It is the home of Shangri-La, a term synonymous with paradise à la a 1933 novel by British author James Hilton. Yunnan also boasts the highest concentration of ethnic minorities in China, matriarchal societies where the women, dressed from head-to-toe in bright, bold colors, are the head of the households. Nature is looked upon in favor. It’s a place that’s exclusive to particular breeds of funghi because the air is just that clear. The region’s lake waters are so pristine you can drink out of them. At Lugu Lake, anything but man-powered water transportation is prohibited.
Sit still and quietly at one of the province’s rural ethnic enclaves and you can hear the faint singing of a woman, vocalizing the ancient folksongs of her tribe. It’s not Chinese. It’s Mosuo.
When we landed in Lijiang, the first order of business was to try the province’s Crossing Over Bridge Noodles and for less than $5 USD, we truly got more than we bargained for.
Hot, oily chicken broth with rice noodles and a plethora of fresh vegetables, mushrooms, tempura, fish and pickled vegetables. Add a dollop of their house-made hot sauce for a extra kick.
The whole meal comes with a platter of ingredients, a large bowl of broth and hot sauce condiments on the side. And according to the instructions, you put in the raw quail egg and meat in first and the noodles last. Now I’ve done quite a number of pieces on Crossing Over Bridge Noodles in the past. And though the serving methods are consistent with the New York locations (Lotus Blue and Yunnan Kitchen), the taste was much more similar to the Los Angeles versions.
Address：丽江 古城区 福慧路565