Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ludo Bites @ Royal-T Cafe

This post is soooo totally delayed. I've sorta abandoned my blog as I feel like my camera takes subpar pics in those poorly lit restaurants. Fortunately these pics were taken by WonTuan's SLR. Unfortunately, I can't remember the food as well since this meal took place months ago. But I shall try...

I first heard of Ludo Lefevbre from Top Chef Masters. He was portrayed as the extremely Frenchy and arrogant chef, who ate it pretty hard with his poor rendition of a quesadilla filled with, what was it? pig ears?? Anyways, after that I began to hear of this place called Ludo Bites on a lot of food blogs. It's not a traditional restaurant, but rather a gorilla style restaurant that sets up in restaurant spaces that do not usually operate for dinner. It keeps costs low supposedly, which then get passed on to the customer. So I've been reading on the food blogs about how mindblowingly spectacular the food is @ Ludo Bites. From unique innovative creations to simply delicious food, it's really caught my attention. So when I heard it was making its second round, this time @ Royal-T Cafe, I definitely wanted in on the action.

I don't know about passing on the low costs to the customers, because things were still pricey and we felt underfed. Also, I did not feel the food was consistently spectacular. Lotsa hits and misses.

Tuna sashimi, sushi rice ice cream, soy sauce gelee, and smoked ginger --> HIT!

This was one of my favorite dishes. The sushi rice ice cream added great flavor. I wouldn't say it tasted so much like like rice, but it did have a vinegary sweetness. It was so unique. The little hunks of soy sauce gelee were great little surprises interspersed through all the goodness.

Foie gras beignet and saffron dried apricots --> MISS!

I had read good things about this dish from other bloggers. I was hoping for something like a donut with smooth savory filling. Somehow I always hope foie gras will taste like pate, since they kind of come from the same thing, liver. I love the smooth, creamy, saltiness of pate. I hate the organ taste of foie gras. Once in a while, foie gras will be prepared in such in a way that it tastes like delicious fat without that innards taste. Then, and only then, will I like it. As for pate, I'll eat it any day, any way. On to this dish, it tasted like little lobes of liver (literally you could see the lobes after you broke into it) stuffed in a too thin fried doughy exterior. The apricot sauce was too sweet. I can see how it would add something had the dish been good to begin with. In the end, OVERRATED and DISAPPOINTING.

Braised veal, udon, caramelized onions, kombu dashi, enoki mushrooms --> HIT!

This was probably my favorite dish of the night. I'm not quite sure if I know how umami tastes, but I think this dish would definitely be packed with it. The broth was out of this world flavorful. I really to eat the dish all on my own, but alas, I had to share. You can barely see it, but it came with some sesame paste on the side. I don't know how you were supposed to eat it with the dish but every single element was just DELICIOUS. When I told Ludo that this was my favorite dish, he seemed a little bit disappointed because he didn't feel it was particularly special like the tuna sashimi with sushi rice ice cream dish. Oh Ludo, so hard on yourself!

Crispy confit pork belly, thai coconut foam, plantain, burnt eggplant puree --> MISS

This was another disappointment. The pork belly was on the dry overcooked side, the coconut foam added no dimension or flavor, andthe burnt eggplant really tasted too burned.

Duck breast, orange blossom something, peanuts --> HIT

I particularly liked this dish for being a tender succulent piece of duck breast. It was probably more rare than I would have liked, but it was an intresting blend of sweetness from the orange blossoms and something that was similar to peanut butter. I guess we got too lazy to take this dish over to the lightbox for another spectacular photo.

Some other dishes that we did not get pictures for:

Celery root soup with black truffle parmesan --> MISS

Carmelized endive and grapefruit salad with gingerbread --> MISS

Squid with kimchi puree, chorizo oil, and black olive --> HIT

Fourme dambert tourte, red pear, honey balsamic

--> MISS? HIT?
This was a very interesting savory dessert, if a dessert could ever been savory. I guess I'm not sophisticated enough to appreciate cheese as a dessert. I appreciated the flakey crust, the subtle creaminess of the cheese, and subtle sweetness of the very little honey balsamic that was swirled on the plate. I was trying to mop up as much of it as I possible could to make it feel like I was really eating dessert.

Guacamole, exotic fruits, ginger ice cream
--> HIT? MISS?

This was another interesting dessert because of the guacamole. No joke, it was various ice creams with a dollop of guacamole. It tasted more like a dessert than the cheese tart, so maybe thats why I ate more of this than the other dish. Sorry for the lack of picture.

We topped off the night with some time with The Chef. He came to our table to share with us some of his Frenchy charm. Boy oh boy is he HOT stuff. The accent, the tattoes, the hair, the enthusiasm for food and his patrons. He's such a sport allowing us to get a nice picture with him too! DROOOL. Even though his food that night seemed about ~50% HITS, ~50% MISSES, I would still go back to see what more interesting things he creates.

Ludo Bites @ Royal-T Cafe
8910 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA‎
(310) 559-6300‎

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Las Vegas in SLR Quality!

Courtesy of Running Man, we have Las Vegas in SLR quality AND just 1 day after the trip! So for reasons unclear to me, we decided to fly into Vegas saturday morning. Boy oh boy was it early! We woke up at 5am for a 730am flight. Yeah...ouch. Everyone is pretty tired but we can't check into our room at Planet Hollywood until 3pm. So what does the H.o.P. do to pass the time? Prepare for our next meal. Running Man suggested Pink's Hot Dog. Dumpling Man was not so much a fan, and I was like ehh. I had tried it once many years ago and didn't understand the hype but have been wanting to try it again so I can confirm whether I like it or not. So we just walk around the Miracle Mile Mall shops until Pinks opens. Finally it opens and the cholesterol fest begins!

From what I remember of my last Pink's experience, I didn't want to order anything that had a regular hot dog in it or multiple regular hot dogs. I remember they were dinky, skinny, dry, and unsatisfying. So I opted for the polish sausage variety. This is the Planet Hollywood dog, polish sausage, bacon, grilled onions and mushrooms. The polish sausage is certainly tastey but not the best version of processed meat potpouri. The toppings are all sorta whatevers. Grilled onions and mushrooms were more like steamed onions and mushrooms. Hardly any color or taste.

This was my sister's dog. I don't remember what was in it cuz I never tasted it, but it was just a regular dog so how good could it have been?

What's a hot dog without some greasy accoutrements? The obligatory chili fries. When Running Man first brought it to the table, I was like "It looks like someone took a dump on the fries." After that, everyone just dug in like starving Ethiopians. Honestly, there was something unnatural tasting about the chilli. It had a really gummy texture. Like when it was in your mouth it really stuck to the sides of your mouth and felt really thick and sticky. Not that good, but the fries alone were delicous. Crispy and probably better than McDonald's fries except a tad too salty.

The onion rings were too sweet for my taste.

Now onto some more "refined" food. Five times the price too! Last time we were in Vegas, we went to Michael Mina at Bellagio. This time around we tried to get reservations at L'Atelier De Joel Robuchon, but alas no open spots. So we ended up at Sea Blue by Michael Mina at MGM Grand. It's not as fancy as the other MM restaurant and seafood is supposed to MM's thing so we had high hopes.

Running Man trying to get artistic.

Some buttered flat bread/pita bread. By this time I was pretty hungry so I ate this without much regard for taste and slathered on the following dips.

From left to right: humus, red bell pepper tomato spread?, feta cheese c olive tapanade.

We ordered multiples of the "Raw & Marinated," "Fried & Crusted," and "Grilled" tasting trios.

The "Raw & Marinated" trio was served with some buttered toast and flat bread.

From left to right: tuna tartare, yellowtail crudo, scallop ceviche. I've had better tuna tartare and the ceviche was slightly too sweet and soupy for a ceviche in my opinion. The crudo was DELICIOUS and overall made the dish a winner.

Dumpling Man and I passed on this dish of fried junk. From top and clockwise: lobster corndogs, dungeness crab piquillo peppers, and corn fritters? The crab things were crabby so not so bad, but everything else was just fried junk as I said.

The "Grilled" trio: Shrimp lettuce cups, lamb kebabs, and teriyaki chicken skewer. This dish was just so so, but I did enjoy the shrimp lettuce cups.

I'm still not quite clear what the direction of Sea Blue is aside from seafood. They had a section of "Morrocan Clay Pots" that are invidual sized dishes that come out covered with this dome triangle shaped lid. Whether they are cooked in it or not or if its just for show, I'm not sure. Either way, I'm still not sure if what was cooked in the morrocan clay pot was really morrocan. For instance we have the "Sea Blue Paella" which actually was more seafood than rice! I had a few bites and it was good, nothing spectacular I don't think.

Alaskan King Crab legs. They were hella salty!!! No lemon served on the side either. They were just cut down the middle but a cracker woulda helped out a lot. This dish gets a C for barely passing.

"Dayboat Scallops" Good but I don't think JLin was that impressed.

This was my dish, "bacon-wrapped chilean sea bass." The fish was perfectly cooked, the bacon added a subtle smokey hint, the broth was delicious flavored, and those little sun dried tomatoes were soooo good! There were chickpeas that tasted undercooked to me. Overall I liked my dish a lot, but maybe it was a bit salty too.

On to dessert! It ain't dinner with me at a fancy restaurant until we get dessert! The obligatory "molten chocolate cake." I've had better, but the peppermint ice cream was a nice touch.

Apple tarte tatin. I almost always pass on apple desserts. I think apples just get mushed up in the cooking process and never taste that good. I have to see what the apple dessert looks like before I'd eat it. Some I know might taste good, others will just taste unforgettable. This was my sister's choice and yes, it was forgettable. Some soggy apples on a nicely flakey puff pastry. The ice cream was so terribley melty that I don't think I got a good sample before it ran all over the plate.

Some flavor of creme brulee served with figs and a palmier. It was good but not special.

Overall, the H.o.P. was not that impressed with Sea Blue, but it was certainly more flavorful than the other Michael Mina restaurant. I doubt I'll be returning here any time soon. Michael Mina, please step up your game!!!!!

Pink's Hot Dogs @ Planet Hollywood
3667 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109-4331
(702) 785-5555

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Sea Blue @ MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109-4319
(702) 891-3486

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Random Cooking

So I dunno what they hype about shaking beef is. I've tried all these different recipes and it just tastes like beef with oyster sauce and garlic. Nothing too far off from anything my mom has ever made, except she never used filet mignon which I think is what is supposed to be used. But whatever, I ain't gonna fork out the moola for filet mignon when I don't even like it that much anyways. I tried using the recipe of Charles Phan of the Slanted door. It was totally unimpressive and I'm pretty sure I followed it correctly. I'm sure I'm lacking some element of caramelization since my wok isn't very hot. I dunno. At the end of the day I prefer good ole steak cubes with oyster sauce.

Looks pretty doesn't it? Red rice made from stir frying some garlic and tomato paste. Dumpling man was not doing cartwheels over the dish but he ate it up. Put corn with anything and he'll eat it up.

On another night I had a tofu salad. I found a really great sesame Japanese dressing from Murakai market that I can't seem to find anywhere else. It's a good dressing but can taste heavy. I'm pretty sure its on par with a creamy ranch dressing with regards to fat and calories. Sprinkle on some dried bonito flakes and you have an instant salad that goes well with a bowl of curry or something.

I like beef noodle soup, so I tried making a pork version. Tastewise it was not what I was going for, flavor wise, but it looks pretty complete and appetizing doesn't it? Dumpling man liked it. I used fresh noodles, korean brand. I think they're they type they serve with jajang mien at korean chinese restaurants. They cook very fast and when served in a noodle soup like that, can get overcooked and soggy so be careful. I'd love to be better at cooking noodle soups.

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