Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Dinner 2010

The H.o.P. usually celebrates the holidays pretty casually.  Some meat, potatoes, greens, and of course, a fruit tart.  Things are changing as the years go by.  Not only is our family growing, but we are all growing up and somehow meat, potatoes, and a salad just doesn't satisfy our palates these days.  In addition, we had some new guests this year: Triple T's brother, Quadruple T (Terror from Toronto and Taiwan Too), and Running Man's whole family.  Smooth Obturator and Triple T finally finished remodeling their pimp pad, including a pretty awesome kitchen.  So it's was only natural that we would eventually take all our culinary experiences and apply them for a new take on a family tradition of Christmas dinner.

Smooth Obturator was proudly showing off his new wine fridge.  He broke out a bottle of Silver Oak for us to enjoy with the evenings meal.  I'm really learning to appreciate good wine these days.

Appetizers black olives, smoked gouda cheese spread, wasabi cashews, multigrain crackers
I was too busy cooking to really enjoy these light appetizers, but the wasabi cashews are my new favorite snack.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Shamshiri Grill

The decision to eat at Shamshiri Grill was riddled with bickering and mudslinging.  Between myself, WonTuan, Tofu, The Face Puncher, and The Communist, we spent a whole afternoon wavering between Indonesian (suggested by The Communist) vs. Persian food (craved by WonTuan and me) for the evening's dinner.  Soprano Man was lucky enough to be ignorant of the whole ordeal.   Under severe pressure and threats of violence against her life, The Communist bowed out and Persian food it was!

I'm not quite sure why Shamshiri Grill only has 3.5 stars on Yelp.  I do rather enjoy the food as have most other people I've brought here.  I may even like its neighbor up the street a bit more, Flame.   In any case, we came, we ate, we conquered!

Shirazi Salad diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, parsley, lemon dressing
The Face Puncher and I took over the reigns when it came to order.  Men are extremely useless sometimes.  I think we did a good job with regard to balance and portions.  I never had this exact salad before, but recognized the flavors.  It reminded me of tabouleh, but with cucumbers.  I really found it refreshing.

Basmati Rice
Soprano Man exclaimed "Oh look, there's cheese on the rice!"  I said no, Soprano Man, that is Saffron infused rice.  The Face Puncher did not believe me, but WonTuan helped me convince the culinary savages that it was not in fact cheese, but saffron infused rice.  There was plenty of basmatic rice to go around.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hakata Ramen Shinsengumi

I'm actually not a fan of Shinsengumi's ramen.  I prefer Santouka by far and Daikokuya is not bad either.  I do like Shinsegumi for the other food options, that in combination with the ramen, make for a delicious meal.

Hakata Ramen
At Shinsegumi, they allow you the option of choosing your level of oil, salt, and noodle texture.  Usually I go medium for all of them, but I wished I had opted for more salt because my bowl of noodles was a bit on the bland side.  I'm not a huge fan of the noodles either.  When I think of ramen, I think of curly thick noodles.  The broth is definitely rich in porky-ness, but somehow lacks that tastiness that I enjoy at Santouka. 

Here the noodles are thinner and straight.  They just don't have that same oomph.  They do allow you to order extra portions of noodles to keep adding to your bowl of soup.  Some obese man sitting at the table behind me was jonesing for some diabetes because he had about 4 or 5 orders for extra noodles.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Luscious Dumplings

I have a love-hate relationship with Luscious Dumpling.  I LOVE the dumplings, and HATE almost everything else about the place.  Ok that last part may be an exaggeration.  I mean, the place is small, but clean, the service is typical for FOB Asian, the prices are cheap, but on par with most everything else in the San Gabriel Valley.   What I really HATE about the place is the hours, the wait, and how they consistently run out of food.  It's like the place doesn't even try to make enough food for all the hungry customers.  You'd think the owner was in the back thinking, "I feel like going home at 7:30pm tonight.  Let's just make 100 dumplings today.  And I only feel like making 3 types.  Don't make too much noodle soup either.  We wouldn't want customers to be happy and satisfied."  It's no joke.  If you don't show up by 7:45pm, you are sh*t outta luck.

Take a good look at this menu.  It may be one of the very few times you won't see half the items crossed off.

Small Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce
The vegetables are fresh fresh fresh.  You won't taste anything chewy or bitter about these bok choy.  They are crisp, and interestingly prepared, or so I think.  It doesn't taste like the bok choy have been stir fried in the traditional fashion, which would result in the bok choy sitting in a pool of its own watery soy sauce.  Perhaps they are blanched, and then just lightly tossed in oil in a skillet?  I can't figure it out, but I do love the veggies here.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Sushi Wasabi

I will have to be frank.  Food in LA is better than OC.  Argue with me all you want, but I stand by that statement.  LA is just bigger with more variety.  This is not to say that you can't find good food in OC.  There are some great eats here and there.  Of course, Vietnamese food is far superior here than anywhere else.  Sushi is just solid, but not amazing.  Taiko in Irvine used to be my usual hot spot, but as of late the sushi is incredibly low quality and inferior.  Although, I have heard that the sushi bar is pretty impressive quality for the price.  Even Mama H.o.P. is a fan!  Anyways, Sushi Wasabi in Tustin had great reviews so I figured it was time to check it off my "to try" list.  They make a big point of emphasizing the "no California rolls, only fresh sushi" policy.  Smooth Obturator, Triple T, Triple F, and I came here for the omakase.

I will be brief in my descriptions because, honestly, I can't think of much to say when it comes to sushi.

Albacore (Canada)
Solid.  Swimming in ponzu, but I enjoyed it.

Red Fin Tuna (front)
The members of my dining party aren't big fans of tuna.  Not because it tastes bad, but mostly because it tastes like nothing.  This tuna was no different.
Toro (Boston)
Usually toro has a rich butteriness that distinguishes it from any other fish.  This version had a pretty subtle richness.  It was still enjoyable, but not impressive.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Totoraku (aka Secret Beef Restaurant)

Totoraku undoubtedly serves up the finest yakiniku this side of the Pacific Ocean.  Dining here is on an invitation-only basis.  If you know the chef/owner, you're in.  If you know someone who knows the chef/owner and brings you, you're in.  If you know someone who's dined here before and was given a business card and brings you, you're in.  I think you get the picture.  So maybe "secret beef restaurant is a misnomer.  I mean the place has its own Yelp page, correct address, phone number and all.  I guess it should be known as the "Dine-By-Invitation-Only Beef Restaurant."   I was told that if you call the restaurant, they will pretend not to be a restaurant.   I don't know if that's still true, but you definitely won't be able to make a reservation being some random Joe off the street. 

Smooth Obturator and Triple T have dined here many times, but always in the company of their friends Tiny T and Oishi Nazi, the latter of whom is personal friends with Oyama-san (chef/owner).  They gathered once again so that Triple F, Running Man, and I could experience beef like we've never had it before.

Before the onslaught of meat, came a dizzying array of appetizers.  Keep in mind, there is no menu, so I'm just going off the very brief descriptions given by our server.

Foie Gras on Quail Egg (left)  A well balanced richness between 2 very rich things.
Tomato on Mozzarella (right)  A light creaminess with a sweet tart finish from the tomato.

Ankimo jellyfish
I don't think I'm a fan of monkfish, it tastes like a fish foie gras.  The jellyfish tasted similar to the kind at dim sum with a slight vinegary tang.   Both elements merried well together in my mouth.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Golden State

Many argue over what is considered "The Best Burger in LA."  Is it Father's Office, Umami, 25 Degrees, Golden State, or some other new bumping burger joint?  While I do enjoy a good burger, I can't quite understand the craze.  As a result, I haven't joined the burger bandwagon to truly see for myself whose burger reigns supreme in LA.  I thought Exile Kiss did a good job chronicling her burger adventure through LA.  She concludes that Father's Office, Rustic Canyon, and Golden State have the best burgers.  While I do agree Fathers Office is amazing, I may have to disagree about Golden State (I haven't been to Rustic Canyon).

Persian Cucumber Salad sliced persian cucumbers, lemon vinaigrette
The cucumbers were fresh and crunchy.  They were tossed in a really simple and light vinagrette with a medley of arrugula.  Nothing too spectacular but the refreshing nature of the dish helped cut the grease through the meal.

French Fries
Crispy.  Golden.  Fried.   The ketchup here is very special.  Sorry no picture!  It is a curry ketchup that has all the tomato-ey goodness of ketchup, but the kicked up spiciness of curry.  It really is something, and I scooped up as much as I could.  I even slathered it all over my burger.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Pecan Crescent Cookies

So I've always thought about which direction to take the blog.  Do I want to be focus on high end dining like kevinEats, cooking and recipes like Ravenous Couple, or have a blend of dining, cooking, foodie events like Gastronomy?  Lately, I've fallen into the genre of a dining out blog, but eventually I would like to incorporate more cooking.  I'm slowly learning that documenting my adventures in the kitchen is a whole different beast with a different set of challenges.  In restaurants, proper lighting is the biggest enemy.  At home, dressing up the food to make it look beautiful is a struggle for me.  I've always cooked to eat.  I don't use garnishes.  I don't have havc fancy dinner/cook/serving ware.  Everything in my ktichen is a mish mosh of cheap junk.  Anyways, I plan to jazz my kitchen up someday when the finances permit.  In the meantime, stick with me as I manage with what I got.

My sister's old roommate had these cookies sent to her by her mom.  I loved them the minute I tried them.  They are really quite light in sweetness, but still rich in flavor from the plentiful helping of pecans.  They would go great with a cup of hot tea.  They would also make a great holiday cookie, because they're like a softer shortbread cookie, and much more interesting than your regular sugar cookies.  You can still eat them year round like I do though.

I will most certainly be investing in a tripod to help take pics while I cook.  For now, you have these sad pictures.

My oven is EVIL.  I hadn't used it in a while and forgot that I needed to adjust the temp and cooking times for any given recipe.  As a result, the first batch of cookies burned!

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beaker & Flask

Apparently Portland has a big happy hour scene as well as a cocktail scene.  People love to get the party started after a long days hard work and they like to get their drink on with some stiff cocktails.  What I find strange is that a lot of the happy hours only go until 6pm.  What's up with that??  Not everyone gets off work at 4 or 5pm.  I find this pretty discriminatory for the people that have jobs with longer work hours.  I guess not everyone gets to be happy after work.  As a result I have not been able to hit up many happy hours.  I have been able to experience this wonderful cocktail scene everyone is talking about. 

Beaker & Flask is really popular for not just the food, but for the cocktails.  I'm not much a fan of cocktails because they don't go well with food in my opinion and I'm such a lightweight so I can't handle these stiff cocktails everyone likes.  We ordered some cocktails here and I really did not like them.  Maybe we ordered wrong, but we just went with the waiter's suggestions.  They tasted horrible in my opinion, but I'm sure any ole lush woulda loved them.  They were damn strong, and after 2 cocktails, Dumpling Man was passed out asleep after dinner.  The food on the other hand was a bit more palatable.

Prawns & Mussels poached in fennel broth, fingerling potato, celery and frisee salad
This sounded a lot better than it actually tasted.  The quality of the prawns and mussels were just average.  The whole dish was remarkable under-seasoned.  The concept was there because I did enjoy the potato, celery, and frisee salad in combination with this subtle creamy broth and seafood.  It was just too darn bland.

Mustard Grilled Rabbit bacon, chanterelle, apple crepe, crispy pork, grilled leek vinaigrette
This dish was alllll over the place, but it was still delicious.  Every element was independently flavorful and interesting.  The rabbit had a piquant mustard sauce that was well balanced with some sweet notes.  The apple crepe was soft and just slightly sweet, and perhaps the most out of place element.  The crispy pork was fried and salty.  Everything else just mashed together.  There was certainly A LOT going on in the plate, and while that usually works against the success of the dish, I really appreciated the craziness.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SUGARFISH by sushi nozawa

Sugarfish has been on my radar for a while but I never got around to trying it.  I was reminded of this by the many recent blogger posts on the new Sugarfish that recently opened in Downtown LA.  So I feel like a bit of a bandwagoner with this, but perhaps I can stand apart because I did not dine in Downtown, but rather Marina Del Rey at the original Sugarfish.   My dining companions for the evening, Miss Rheeee and Me So Hairy! decided on this more central location.

Sugarfish is an offshoot of Kazunori Nozawa's original and more traditional sushi restaurant in Studio City, Sushi Nozawa.  His mission at Sugarfish is to provide similarly high quality sushi, but at an affordable price by cutting out the sushi bar, and streamlining service.   At both locales, Chef Nozawa aka "Sushi Nazi" serves his infamous "Trust Me" style of sushi, where we, as diners, basically trust that he is going to serve you the best damn sushi without the frills and distraction of fancy sauces, rolls, or fusion flavors.   Also, Chef Nozawa hand picks the sushi to be served in all his restaurants, so the quality is consistent throughout.

In addition to ordering a la carte, you have the option of 3 pre-set menus: The Nozawa ($35-$38), Trust Me ($28.50), andTrust Me/Lite ($19.50).  As most diners go with the pre-set menus, we all opted for the "Trust Me" while I added an order of the "Daily Special" which happened to be large scallop.

The most notable thing about the sushi here, aside from the fresh high quality fish, is the rice.  It's served pretty warm.  While I have experienced the "warm sushi rice" style at Sushi Sasabune and found it utterly unappetizing, I thoroughly enjoyed it here.   The main difference was that the fish didn't taste like it was being cooked while sitting atop the rice.  The contrast of the chilled fish and the warm rice made for a nice little party in my mouth!   The rice was also seasoned deliciously.  Probably the tastiest sushi rice I've had.

Organic Edamame
Edamame isn't something terrible special, but this version was pretty good.  It was chilled, perfectly salted, and with each little bean soft and substantial.

Tuna Sashimi big eye
The fish was fresh and perfectly complimented by the home made ponzu and sprinkling of green onions.  I can't pinpoint what was so special about the ponzu, but it was very tasty and I really wanted to get every last drop in my mouth.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Sea Harbour Seafood

I was fortunate enough to work with a family medicine physician in the San Gabriel Valley back in the day.  It was great, because I went home at noon everyday and on some days I got to taste some of the best food in the SGV at the expense of some pharm reps.  Sea Harbour Seafood (or as I like to call it, Seafood Harbour, because that's the name I was told and it's stuck ever since) was one of the restaurants I was fortunate enough to try.  It has to be one of the BEST dim sum restaurants in Southern California.  Please correct me if you think there is something better out there.  But when you serve fresh meaty shrimps bigger than my eyeballs, you can only be known as the BEST in my opinion.  Even Ludo Lefevbre and his wife are fans.  I saw them take a gigantic bag of takeout from here one Sunday.   It's a wise decision to get take out, because the wait here is RIDICULOUS.  A few years ago, I'd wait for over an hour to get a table.  Nowadays, the wait isn't as bad, probably because the place is pretty pricey and times have changed.

Chinese Greens in brine
You just can't beat the vegetables from the good Chinese restaurants.  It's like they get the pick of the crop and the rest of the mid quality vegetables goes to market.  Whenever I try to make vegetables at home, they never have that same freshness or clean taste.  Here, they are cooked in a tasty brine with some slivered radishes.  Today's version was a bit olier than usual, but still delicious.

Chicken Feet
I never really eat these, but not because I don't like it.  I do, but it is just a lot of trouble to eat with all those little bones.  Mama H.o.P. and Smooth Obturator love chicken feet so they gobbled it all up.  Smooth Obturator says "This is the BEST chicken feet I've ever eaten!"  I forgot to ask why, but he's pretty critical.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Soowon Galbi

I haven't traveled the world. I have barely even traveled the country, but I'm just gonna put it out there.  Where is there better Korean food, or at least as wide a selection of Korean food, than LA?  Of course, I'm excluding Korea obviously.  Good food is born out of fierce competition to be the best.  There is a lot of that going in LA's Koreatown.   Korean bbq joints are a dime a dozen in Ktown.  You'll find one on every block.  I always wonder how any of them stay afloat.  I guess one could say the same about Pho restaurants in Little Saigon.  They're everywhere!  I guess everyone just has their personal favorite.  My favorite Korean bbq joints are Soowon Galbi and Shik Do Rak.  I haven't been to Shik Do Rak in a while, favoring the newer cleaner Soowon Galbi.  I'm pretty sure there are better bbq places, but I haven't been motivated to find any new ones.  Once you eat the galbi here, you'll be satisfied to make this place your own too.

It was an occasion to dine here, because Zhu Zhu Hamster was in town.  I called up The Communist to make it a girl's night out.  By that, I mean eating till we drop, not drinking or partying because I'm so boring like that.  The Communist invited Soprano Man.  I was like, "Oh fine, I see how it is!"  So then I called out Wontuan who begrudgingly drove his pale ass up from the LBC.  It turns out Zhu Zhu Hamster called out #1 Fan to join as well.  What started out as a private 3 person affair turned out to be a mish mosh group of 6.  Anymore and I would have been annoyed.  I do not dine in groups large than 6 when I intend to enjoy the food and specific company of the people around me.  In any case, it turned out to be a really fun night and I'm glad everyone brought a date.

The spread...

Hae Mul Pa Jun seafood pancake
Pretty standard.  Packed with seafood, onions, and crispy goodness.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two Tarts Bakery

I love a good cookie.  I like cookies more than brownies, ice cream, and cake.  Pies and tarts are a close second.  I had a craving for something sweet and buttery.  Two Tarts Bakery is popular for the variety of mini cookies they bake up daily.   They just have a case filled with many mini delights.

You might think its a bargain that everything is just 75cents, but the cookies are pretty darn small.  It would be better if the cookies were normal sized and 75cents, but oh well.  I still ended up buying 5.

Lil' Mama
This was probably one of my favorite cookies, because it is their version of an Oreo.  I love Oreos, but only the cookie part.  I'll buy a package of Oreos and cut out all the frosting and place all the cookies back to be eaten later.  It's just unnecessary unwanted fat and sugar that does not taste good.  This version has similar great cookie taste but with a delicious frosting center.  It gets sorta messy because the frosting is much softer so it all squishes out with each bite.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I'm not usually into to trying brand new restaurants.  I like to allow the reviews and word of mouth to build up before I go jump in.  My stomach space is precious real estate these days!  I can't be wasting it on some bad caloric investments.  But when it came to Roy Choi (Chef/owner of Kogi and Chego) and his newest venture, A-frame, which just opened a few days ago, I thought "This is a risk I'm willing to take!"  After reading Grubstreet's review outloud for Smooth Obturator and Triple T to hear, we decided it would be a good choice for a Sunday night.  Smooth Obturator is really particular about eating certain foods on certain days of the week after reading Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.  I've learned to be wary of ordering mussels at less than reputable establishments because there is a good chance they are sitting in their own urine, and not to eat the "fish special" on Mondays.

We could smell delicious Asian aromas wafting from the restaurant as we approached, a mix of grilled/fried deliciousness with notes of tangy, sweet, savory, and spicy.  The hostess was super friendly and introduced me to Roy himself, at the nudging of my brother.  I got the whole "I'm a foodblogger" introduction.  Somehow that seems to change things a bit to chefs.  I think they understand the power of foodblogs.  We can make you or break you.  I probably can't because I only have 5 readers.  In any case, he seemed to relate to the name of my blog!!

I could regurgitate the concept summary from A-Frame's menu, but in short, A-Frame = MAN FOOD.  A-Frame = GRUBBIN'.

Kitchen Fries purple okinawan sweet potatoes, yam, korean sweet potato, kimchi sour cream, sea salt
Before I even got my introduction, Roy served us these, on the house!  It was pretty dark, and they honestly looked like ugly black logs.  Of course, they tasted just fine.  A mix of sweet potatoes but I really couldn't tell them all apart.  They lacked that additional battering on the exterior but still had a light crunch.  The kimchi sour cream was a nice departure from you're regular ketchup or mayo based dip.  The kimchi flavor was quite subtle.

Moooooo Kimchee cubed white radishes, pickled
We went pretty heavy on the proteins and only had these pickled radishes as our side dish/palate cleansers.  They were refreshing and perfectly pickled.  Smooth Obturator kept insisting there was some sort of herb or spice that added a different flavor.  Cinnamon?  Cloves?  Nutmeg?  I don't know.  I would have appreciated bigger pieces.  They were hard to fork or even scoop, so I was forced to use my fingers to pop them in my mouth.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Beijing Hot Pot

What do you crave on a cold rainy day?  Usually something hot and soupy right?  I turned to my trusty Yelp to find something that would hit the spot on this cold rainy Portland night.  I came up with 2 hot pot spots, one all you can eat (AYCE) and one traditional pay as you go.  One always has to be wary of AYCE: low quality ingredients, poor preparation, etc.  Just to be safe, we opted for the traditional spot.  We were quite pleased with our choice, since everything was fresh, service was friendly, and we ended up paying less than the AYCE place and we were pretty full.

The decor left much to be desired.  I hate whitewash color walls.  It's so harsh yet so dull. 

Pickled Cucumbers
Very tasty.  Lightly pickled with the unique added ingredient of sesame oil.  Maybe that's how it's supposed to taste, but I never picked up on it before.  I'll have to try making this at home.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Maneki is Seattle's oldest Japanese restaurant at over 100 years old.  Hard to believe a restaurant could be that old huh?  The restaurant is typical for a lot of Japanese restaurants in my experience, small with limited seats.  This place goes so far as to deny anybody without reservations a chance to dine.  The first thing you will be greeted with when you walk in is not a "hello" or "how are you doing," but "Do you have reservations?"  Dumpling Man was not so lucky last time since he did not know about their strict "reservations only policy.  He insisted we try this place on this visit.  It's reputation simply preceeds itself.

I was suspicious about how good this restaurant could be.  It serves everything Japanese from sushi, teriyaki, udon, and small plates izakaya style.  I can't remember the last time I went to a restaurant with a gigantic menu and no focus on a specific specialty cuisine that was outstanding.  Most people agree that when a restaurant spreads itself to thin, the food suffers.  The best restaurants usually have small menus and focus on making a few things really really good.  The prime example is In N Out, damn I wish I could have one right now.

Potato Dengaku miso glazed, roasted
I usually prefer nasu dengaku which is the eggplant version of this dish, but Dumpling Man does not like eggplant.  It was a last minute choice that I really regret.  I'm not sure if they don't do dengaku well or the potato was the wrong choice.  The potato was just too starchy and the glaze was too sweet.  The dish fell really flat.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010


So in Seattle, Tom Douglas is King.  You may ask why?  Well when you own 6 restaurants and 1 bakery that garners outstanding reviews and is wildly loved by the masses, then you can be king too.  Oh, when you stick all those restaurants within a 1 mile radius of each other, that just shows people your royal attitude.  "Hey I own this town, and if I want to stick all the restaurants right next to each other, well goddamit I'm gonna do it!"  Seriously though, Serious Pie, Dahlia Lounge, Dahlia Bakery, Lola, and Palace Kitchen are all in the same block in Belltown!!  Etta and Seatown are also right next to each other but by Pike Place Market.

Anyways, when you're looking for good brunch, there seems no shortage of it in this town.  I decided on Lola for their Mediterranean/Greek inspired brunch fare. Good thing we had reservations because the place was pretty packed.  It's connected to a pretty nice hotel so we had a comfortable and warm place to wait since we showed up early.

Ginger Mint Spritzer housemade ginger syrup, mint, lemon, soda
A bright start to brunch.  The ginger taste was stronger than expected but much appreciated.

Roasted Sweet Red Pepper freshly grilled pita bread
The pita were especially fresh, soft, and fluffy.  The pita were sitting in a little pool of rich high quality olive oil.  This subtle touch really added some oomph to the pita bread.  There was a good selection of spreads to choose from, but we went with the red pepper one.  It was bright, lightly tangy and sweet. 

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Restaurant Zoë

So for our first dinner in Seattle, we decided to go with Restaurant Zoë.  This was Dumpling Man's choice, and what a nice choice it was.  I wouldn't go so far as to say it beats a place like Providence or comes anywhere near it, but it definitely holds its own.  Fresh ingredients, simple but spot on flavors, lovely service and dining ambience.  Perfect for a nice date!

Salmon Tartar (amuse bouche) plums, cucumbers
A quick simple bite of raw salmon, plums, and cucumbers on a crostini.   I'm not a huge fan of salmon, cooked or raw.  If I eat it, it usually has to be the best freaking piece of salmon ever for me to give it my full stamp of approval.  This tasted too salmony for my liking.  Not a bad start though.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sweet Iron Waffles

I used Yelp for the majority of my Seattle eats for this trip, but I also turned to other bloggers.  Namely, The Gastronomer, is a bit of a world traveler and she does a great job documenting all her eats throughout her travels.  Sweet Iron Waffles happened to be the subject of one of her posts.  I think she is a Liège waffle fan.  Liège waffle you ask?  A Liège waffle is a "richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier features chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelizes on the outside of the waffle when baked."

They had many different flavors, but I decided to go with the classic to really get a good taste of a pure Liège waffle.  I will have to say that I was somewhat disappointed.  I think my expectations were just too high because, really, the waffle was served hot off the griddle, soft with a delicate chew and just a hint of sweet.  I could see why people love the waffles but I needed more.  I think I should have gotten a waffle with toppings.  Also there was some distracting flavor on the waffle, I think from the grease they use on the griddle.  I tasted/smelled something glue like?

If you love a Liège waffle then this seems the place to have them in Seattle.  I think I'll keep trying the popular waffle places.  I'm sure I'm bound to find one I like.   How can I resist sweet fluffy carbs??

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Friday, October 29, 2010

I Want Mee Sum Pastry!

Get it??  I usually don't get lame or corny on the blog, but I could not resist with that title.  Today I just saw a Chinese restaurant called Hung Far Low.  I was cracking up.  Sometimes you wonder if the naming is a deliberate process.  Dumpling Man says Mee Sum doesn't mean anything in Chinese, so who knows.  But yeah, a Chinese bakery specializing in char siu bao smack in the middle of touristy Seattle?  It can't be all that good.  After reading some of the reviews on Yelp, some people said that the baos in LA and SF are much better.  So I wasn't that interested in trying baos pandering to the tastebuds of the American masses.  But since Dumpling Man already tried Pike Place Chowder I told him to go get some baos while I waited in line for soup.

It's strange, but they call their goods "hom bow" instead of bao.  Dumpling Man put on his best Chinese face and asked why they were called "hom bow" but the lady working the counter was not so interested in conversing with her fellow brethren.  She just mumbled something like hom bows are the same thing.  They have many varieties including the traditional bbq pork, chicken, beef curry.  They also have the steamed versions and potstickers and eggrolls.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pike Place Chowder

If you think about Seattle, 2 things probably come to mind: endless rain and GREAT food.  When we decided to make a weekend trip to Seattle, I immediately started looking up places to eat.  What is good travel without good food?  That's my philosophy anyways.  I'll probably never visit a place for the sole reason of visiting unless its got something good too eat.

Pike Place Market has to be one of the main tourist attractions in Seattle.  I don't know why it's so famous exactly because it seems like any other farmer's market, fresh produce, meat, seafood, handmade goods, and ready made eats.  Maybe its the fish tossing?  Missed any of that action.  Pike Place Chowder happens to be a great little attraction in the market for its award winning chowder and crab roll.

Instead of going with just the famous New England clam chowder, I opted for the 4 chowder sampler.  Four  5 oz cups of any 4 chowders of your choosing for $10.95.   I went with all the chowders except the salmon chowder, and swapped it out for the seafood bisque instead.  All of the soups were good but nothing to write home about it.  They certainly hit the spot on the cold rainy day we were having.

Southwestern Chicken & Corn Chowder grilled chicken, corn, assorted vegetables, creamy southwestern style broth
Creamy with a great grilled chicken flavor, accented by sweet kernels of corn in every bite. 

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Davis Street Tavern

I haven't had a bad dining experience in Portland.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that Portland is a "total foodie town" but it's fair to say it does well for itself.  It's size and limited diversity will always be the limiting factor in its rise to greatness like the cities of LA, SF, and NYC.  I think there are probably more restaurants out there that are solid, but it doesn't seem like a lot of people Yelp about it enough.  So that also limits my ability to come across the good finds.

Davis Street Tavern is a well reviewed good little find in Portland.  Solid New American cuisine that's not too fancy, but probably pricier than most would be willing to shell out.  Nice, spacious, and pretty happening for a Friday night with a live bluesy rock band.   Dumpling Man opted for the 5 course tasting menu at $48 while I choose some things a la carte.

Kunamoto Oyster fresh cucumber, pickled shallot, rainbow trout roe *tasting menu*
I've never quite acquired the love for oysters.  It's just one of those things that taste too much like the ocean for my liking.  But I certainly can appreciate people's love for this raw shellfish.  In fact, I've had a wonderful oyster or two and they were fresh, perfectly chilled, briney, and always highlighted by some wonderful flavors.  This version for instance had the pickled shallots for that contrasting flavor and crunchy texture also enhanced by the cucumbers.  

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Red Onion

It's official, I LOVE Thai food.  I love the harmonious interplay of bold flavors: sour, sweet, spicy, salty.  It's probably the food I crave the most when I've gone a period of time without it.  It's a good thing Dumpling Man also likes Thai food, but his version of Thai food is limited to Thai curries and pad se ew.  Anything beyond those staple dishes is all on me, meaning I'm the only one who's gonna eat it.  That is why I jump at any opportunity to eat Thai food with other larger groups of people so I can try other Thai dishes I'm sure I will also love.  Alas, this rarely happens, so I'm stucking eating the same things.  It's not really all that bad because I always leave a Thai restaurant satisfied.

I was worried that Portland would be lacking in the Asian food.  While I have been underwhelmed by the dim sum, the Thai food has well exceeded my expectations.  I would easily say the Thai food here is better than any Thai food you could find in LA, excluding the Hollywood area where Thai Town thrives. 

Tom Mamuang & Pla Trout Tod Krob shredded green mango, carrot, mint, cilantro, cashew nut, crispy rainbow trout, sweet spicy lime juice
I will not belabor the point I've made before about my love for Thai salads.  This was an interesting variation with the addition of crispy trout as the protein.   The shredded mango and carrots were not overly sour or sweet.  They took up the dressing without imparting too much of their own strong flavors, like a really really sour green mango can.  The dish was of course brightened up with the use of mint and cilantro.  It was all rounded out with the earthy soft flavors of cashews sprinkled throughout.  I can't complain about this salad.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Built to Grill

Another trip to Portland would not be complete without more visits to the Portland food carts.  I ventured out to the 3rd & Stark food carts which are about 10 blocks away from where I'm staying.  I didn't go here last time because my little delicate LA feet thought it was too far to walk.  I manned up and went trekking for good eats.  After a quick walk, maybe 10 minutes, I arrived to another block teeming with food carts.  I had to try Built to Grill, the only food cart rated on yelp with 5 stars!

You'd think Built To Grill specialized in burgers or meat of some sort with a name like that.  Stand corrected, because Buil to Grill is all about Italian, pastas and paninis.

The downside of the majority of the food carts are the limited hours.  They target the working lunch crowd, so if you happen not to work in the area then its probable that you'll never get to experience the wonders of the food carts.  Lucky for me, I have all the time in the world when I'm here in Portland.  The only limiting factor is the size of my stomach and the fact I'm usually going by myself so I can't order that much food.  Or can I?

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Whiskey Soda Lounge

I think Portland has a lot of Vietnamese and Thai people.  I could be wrong, but that is just my initial assessment just based on the type of Asian eating establishments.  There just seems to be a lot more good Vietnamese and Thai places.  Ironically, the most popular Thai restaurant happens to be owned and operated by a white guy.  What does a white guy know about Thai food?  How authentic could this food be?  People wait 1-2 hours just to be seated at Pok Pok Restaurant.   Andy Ricker even opened up a bar across the street, The Whiskey Soda Lounge, to deal with the overflow.  It offers many of the same dishes, including the famous chicken wings.

Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
Can you say "crack wings"?  Holy Jesus!  These wings are DELICIOUS!  DELECTABLE!  FANTASTIC!  WONDERFUL!   They really pack a punch of flavor with a strong salty sweet tang from a blend of fish sauce, sugar, lime, garlic, chillies.  They were served hot and crispy from the fryer, with a golden crusty layer of caramelized sugar from the savory marinade.  I actually found the recipe online so will one day attempt to make them.  If you make just one trip to Portland and eat only one thing, I suggest you make it these wings!  BEST WINGS EVER!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kobawoo House

Since we had such a gay ole time at K-Zo, our gang of 3 (Me, Lo-Ma Linda, and Bighead Talksalot) decided to make another dining trip.   It was my chance to show Lo-Ma Linda that there is more to Korean food than just tofu and bbq.   It was Bighead's chance to eat something more than tofu and bbq.  After listing off all the Korean food I know that did not consist of the aforementioned foods, we decided on Kobawoo House.  I know of no other restaurant in Ktown that is as popular as Kobawoo is for bossam.  Ssam literally means "wrapped" and refers to a dish where meat (specifically pork at Kobawoo) is wrapped in leafy vegetables traditionally.  At Kobawoo, pork is taken to a whole new level.

First, the banchan...

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