Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dumpling Dinner Party

It seems like I've been ho-ing it up with Hobag a lot lately.  Well maybe it's because none of the rest of my so-called "friends" ever asks me to hang out hmmm???  It's likely your loss because if you're not hanging out with me, you're probably not eating all that well.  Hobag's donut and my food baby speak to the very fact that when together, we eat REALLY well.  For a change of pace, Hobag invited me to a little dumpling making party.  The original party was getting out of control with the head count going upwards of 10 people.  So that was scraped and a new party was planned with just 4 of us, 5 if you include the dog.

I missed most of the prep that went into the dumpling filling making.  Hates Food Porno gave me a rough rundown of the ingredients.

Shrimp, Pork, and Chive Dumplings
(makes ~100 dumplings)
2 lbs shrimp
1 lb ground pork shoulder
2 big bunches of Chinese chives
1 egg
1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 of a 16 oz bottle of sesame oil
Salt and chicken bouillon to taste

I've made plenty of dumplings at home, but this by far had to be the best tasting one.  Paucity of ingredients?  I guess most other dumpling recipes have soy sauce, cooking wine, and ginger from what I've noticed.  Ground pork is usually used and the ratio of shrimp to pork is way higher than what I've seen.  Lastly, Hates Food Porno's recipe uses way more sesame oil than I've ever seen before as well.  Though, maybe it was the chicken bouillon powder that added that specialness.  It's a ragtag recipe, but I'm saving it to try on my own one of these days.


I think the tip I picked up here was to stop overstuffing my dumplings.  I think I get super greedy and want to put a ton of stuff in each wrapper.  Each wrapper can only accommodate so much filling and will usually tear when pushed to its limit.


To give you a point of reference, the almighty and ubiquitous Yogurtland spoon was used to fill our dumplings.  Hobag was all out of silver spoons that night.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Canelé

When Hobag invited me to brunch and a hike, I said, "Meh, I don't really like brunch."  Those words are like blasphemy to the majority of people.  People just LOVE breakfast foods.  I'm not sure why I don't go gaga for omelettes and breakfast burritos.  I guess I didn't grow up eating those kinds of things for breakfast.  Heck, I didn't even grow up eating breakfast.  But there are so many things I didn't grow up eating that I love now, so I guess that argument doesn't really work here.  I guess my real issue with brunch is that the waits are just so frickin' long and I'm not a huge fan of egg stuff.  Well I guess if I get to eat other fantastic non egg based brunch foods with a reservation then I am a damn happy camper.  This was my experience at Canele.  Lucky for us, we met their minimum party size of 6 or more for reservations.  The restaurant is small, and your almost elbow to elbow with every unemployed artist/actor/hipster that calls Atwater Village home.

Baked Pancake meyer lemon custard
Holy smokes was this FRICKIN' delicious.  The pancake was fluffy and light, while that Meyer lemon custard brought the decadence.  Hobag being the pig that she is ordered this to share on top of the individual dishes we each ordered.  Deceptively Hapa just ate this by herself.  It's safe to say she was starvin' after our hike.  This is a MUST order.


Apple Waffle fried chicken, honey apple butter foie
Everyone was a fan of this, but I'm somewhat undecided.  I guess it was a play on chicken 'n waffles, with the chicken being more like Japanese karage.  The honey apple butter foie (whose description I'm sort of making up because I failed to snap a shot of the daily specials board).  But it was essentially their take on the butter and maple syrup that enriches and sweetens your waffles.  It obviously had a more savory and slightly offal note to it which Hobag was simply salivating over.  She LOVES anything foie, pate, charcuterie.  We are definitely soul sisters in that regard.  So while I liked all the elements going on here, I couldn't help but feel that something was off.  I kept eating and eating and kept lingering on some familiar taste...hoisin!  This tasted like hoisin flavored whatever.  Overall, it was a favorite dish for many including Foot In Mouth.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Twenty Eight

So I first tried Top Chef finalist Shirley Chung's cooking at her pop up at The Playground 2.0.  I liked most of the food we had there, especially her hand cut noodles.  It was a pricey meal to say the least, but I like to support new talent and understand that sometimes you are paying, not just for the food, but the experience as well.  We all, Teety and Soprano Man included, have been patiently awaiting the opening of her very own restaurant in the strangest of locations, Irvine, California.  It's not in the hippest or happening part of Irvine either.  It's surrounded by offices and businesses.  I guess Shirley is trying to cater to the working crowd?  We convened here on a Friday night, but the restaurant was frankly dead.  BAD sign right?

Twice Cooked Pork Belly Buns steamed then fried, red braised pork belly, condensed milk
Soprano Man and I started out at the bar while we waited for Teety.  I was imagining the open faced white steamed buns with some thick yummy slabs of pork belly sandwiched in between, Momofuku style.  These were the actually buns like at dim sum, but deep fried which was a different twist.  The filling had an anise aroma which was another twist.  I also was not familiar with dipping these savory buns in condensed milk so I passed.  I think when dough is fried, the result should be something light and fluffy but these were too dense.  They weren't bad, but not good enough to order again.



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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Night + Market

I love Thai food.  It's a cuisine that packs so much flavor and punch in every bite.  Salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and your mouth just explodes.  Night + Market makes a point of  making all of that the focus of its food.  It's more tame sister restaurant, Talesai, serves your run of the mill Thai dishes that rings familiar with most dinners.  But at Night + Market, they are slinging dishes that will either get your mouth watering from the bold unfamiliarity or stomach churning from the gastric insult of all the intense flavors.  They are serving Northern Thai food here, and if you don't know what Northern Thai food is, well get familiar with it because the invasion is coming.  Portland's award winning and wildly popular Pok Pok is coming to LA's Chinatown.  So before I brought Ho Bag to Pok Pok, whenever it decides to open, I wanted to try Night + Market to see how it compared.  Joining us was Ho Bag's friend, Queen Sticky Swatches

Fried Pig Tails
Holy crapola, this was sooo derricious!  Crispy on the outside, and drippingly gooey (totally does not sound like an appetizing texture, but it was) from either fat or tendons or both on the inside.  I kinda didn't want to know for obvious reasons.  But real flavor came from the the fishy, salty, sweet, sour, spicy and garlicky vinaigrette that lightly dressed the exterior.  This definitely competes with Pok Pok's famous wings, but ultimately the wings might take the cake.  I wanted to eat this very small dish all to myself.  I didn't even offer the last tail to my fellow diners before scooping it up.  This is a MUST TRY.

Larb Gai minced chicken, lime, fish sauce, rice powder, chili, cilantro, onion
This was your standard larb gai, but amped up with the heat factor.  Hobag could not handle the heat throughout our whole meal.  She kept saying, "God, I'm such a little bitch! This stuff is soooo f*ing spicy" in between gulps of wine and water.  Queen Sticky Swatches and I were like "Hey guuurl, more for us!"  I'm sorta making up the exact conversation, but that was the gist of it.

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