Thursday, September 30, 2010


In anticipation of many future trips to Portland, I became worried that I wouldn't find any good food.  People told me over and over how the food is AMAZING.   How amazing could it really be?  I mean, I hail from LA.  While haters from NYC or SF may turn their noses at the food scene here, I'm pretty happy with the LA's depth and breadth of prices, qualities, flavors, cuisines, and scenes.  So I looked to Portland with a lot of foodie hesistation.  And now, while I have not been amazed, I have been pleasantly surprised by all my outings so far.

Dumpling Man, Big Spoon, Zhu Zhu Hamster and her friend, and I came upon Serrato in hopes of a nice Italian meal.  The restaurant itself is quite spacious and wasn't terribly crowded for a Saturday night.  It has a pretty standard menu for Italian.  I wasn't expecting any tricks here.

Beet Salad bosc pear, chevre, baby organic greens, dijon-tarragon vinaigrette, fried garlic
I don't know if beets are just native to Portland and therefore taste fresher and better, but these were again very delicious.  The beets were sweet and juicy and were well complimented by the crunchy sweetness from the pears, and the creamy sharpness of the chevre, or goat cheese, and the tanginess of the vinaigrette.  I thought the fried garlic was an interesting touch, which I really liked.  More beets please!!

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mother's Bistro & Bar

I like brunch.  I don't love brunch.  Aside from Norma's in NYC, I can't say I've had a mind blowing experience when it comes to this very popular meal.  Granted, most of the places I've tried are not in the same price range as Norma's so it may be an unfair comparison.  I've done Doughboys, Blu Jam Cafe, Toast, etc.  My problem is that when I eat brunch, I never order the brunch items.  I love the idea of pancakes and waffles but cannot stand to have that as my meal.  I'd prefer to have that as dessert, but then that just seems excessive.  So this time I compromised and ordered my sweet with a side of savory.

Mother's Bistro is a pretty popular brunch place in Portland.  There are few restaurants that have hundreds of reviews on Portland Yelp, Mother's Bistro just happens to be one of them.  It's actually quite a big place with multiple dining rooms.  I couldn't tell if they served different things.  In any case, we came at ~1pm on a Saturday and were seated immediately. 

Fresh Oregon Blueberry Pancakes made-from-scratch tender cakes, local berries, pork apple sausages
After hearing our total order, the waitress suggested we order just 1 pancake instead of the standard 2.  We were like "Don't worry, we'll be fine."  Uhh, maybe we shoulda listened.  The cakes were huge!  They were also PERFECT.  Soft, fluffy, with just the right amount of chew.  My favorite part were the fresh blueberries.  They were large, sweet, and full of berry flavor.  Most of the time, blueberry baked/breakfast goods tend to have very tasteless berries.  These were the complete opposite.  They totally made the pancakes.  The sausage were whatevers, but it was nice to have real meat in the meal. 

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010


You know how they post those warming signs on big rollercoasters, "If you have a heart condition or a seizure disorder, do not get on this ride."   They should post a sign like that outside of Animal.  "Those with known coronary artery disease or coronary artery disease risk equivalents should not dine at this establishment."   This place is unabashedly carnivorous.  And what is meat's best friend, but fat?  Some places you go for "meat and potatoes," but this place is a "meat and fat" type of place.  Ok, enough!  Because I think I'm scaring everyone, but I'm just being frank.  Don't bother coming here if you're not ready to indulge.   Triple T, Triple F, Running Man, Smooth Obturator, and I were all ready to do just that.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010


Mo-Chica is just one of those places you hear so much about, but never get a chance to go.  Well, I finally went and now I feel like I'm part of the "The Club."  I think MC Bowtie, Hates Asian Food, and Brown Bear (who has now joined our forces) and myself were a bit put off by the set up of the place.  I think it would be an understatement to say the ambience, decor, and location of Mo-Chica is underwhelming.  I was in such a state of surprise when I walked into the "restaurant" that I didn't really get a good picture that conveys the setup of the place. 

I suggest you squint very hard and imagine that Peruvian flag to be replaced by an emblem of a panda encircled in red and the color scheme to be more warm, like orange and red.  Yes folks, I'm trying to get you to see what I saw, a Panda Express turned into a Peruvian sit down restaurant.  I was waiting for someone to ask me if I liked a sample of some orange chicken.  The goddamn "restaurant" is in a food court/cafeteria!  The guy at the table next to us looked like he was eating pad thai.  I dunno where he got that from, but it was noodles!

I felt embarassed walking in and telling the cashier that I had a reservation for 4 people.  It really felt like a grab and go place than the wildly lauded and talked about restaurant boasting delicious Peruvian cuisine. 

See all the awards?  This place is no joke.  How a restaurant like this, located where it is, can garner so much attention is proof that all it takes is solid and affordable food to bring the masses. 

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Kalbi Burger

To my lucky readers, we have another guest blogger!  Care Bear has so willingly offered her authorship for today's post about the very popular Kalbi Burger.
Well hello everyone!  Let me introduce myself, I’m sometimes referred to as Care Bear but don’t let the name fool you, I could still be a lethal assassin like Nikta, my new TV show interest. Anyhoo, today I am honored to be a guest writer for Overworked’s blog (aka BO per WonTuan).
The target of the week: Kalbi Burger.
The top secret mission: To gather intel on this new Asian infused burger joint and to annihilate some burgers while we’re at it.
The elite undercover burger tasting agents (and yes, everyone will be bears): Overworked Bear, Hates Asian Food Bear, Panda and Little Bear, Bowtie Bear, Buff bear, Hawaiian bears consisting of Luau and Macadamia Nut Bear. Luau brought Farm Bear. And then there’s me and Token Bear. 

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Farm Cafe

If you haven't noticed by now, I am a proud carnivore.  How can one live without meat?  The juicey tenderness of a perfectly roasted chicken?  The marbled succulence of a cut of rib eye steak?  The hearty homey taste of your mom's pork stew?  I won't even delve into seafood.  It's safe to say, I could NEVER live as a vegetarian.  I probably would not date a vegetarian either.   Sorry vegetarians, it's nothing personal!

So as I was looking at Farm Cafe's menu online, I noticed there were no meat dishes.  Fish, shellfish, yes, but meat, no.  I looked at the pictures on yelp and I saw pictures of chicken.  I still don't understand the deal with Farm Cafe, but I think they only do certain days with meat.  While Dumpling Man welcomes vegan/vegetarian places with open, unprejudiced arms.  I, on the other hand, look at those places with a disgruntled, dissatisfactory cold shoulder.  But it's Portland, and maybe I just need to embrace the Portland ways.  Who knows, maybe one day I'll be a crunchy granola tree hugger.

Clams & Mussels sauteed in golden ale, garlic, butter, red chilli flakes, served with grilled bread
I won't say too much about this dish, except that it was solid.  The seafood was fresh, the broth was delicious, the portion was generous.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Angelini Osteria

Ever since Osteria Mozza, Italian food has made its way back into my life.  It's not that I disliked Italian, it's just that I never had GOOD Italian food.  It all tasted the same.  It was all a lot of carbs and tomato sauce.  Dumpling Man, having many preferences above Italian, was also a contributing factor.   But now, I've been on Italian adventure, and I'm loving it!  Smooth Obturator and Triple T had been here before and felt it a solid Italian eat worth revisiting.  

Duck Prosciutto arugula, apple salad
I LOVE prosciutto.  My mom and Miss Rhee could probably attest to my LOVE for this Italian cured meat.  At Costco they sell a package of prosciutto of pretty decent quality.  I'm not sure how much the package weighs, but it's from Costco, so you know it's a good size.  I can eat the whole thing in a week.  Everyday I'd just eat a couple slices.  By itself!  I eat it like its potato chips.   If I could have a whole Costco sized package of this, I'd be in heaven.   I know how to share, since I grew up with 2 siblings, but sometimes I just DON'T LIKE to share.  This was one of those moments.

The problem with poor quality prosciutto is that it just tastes like salt.  This however was mindblowingly cured to perfection.  It had such an interesting flavor, probably from the duck aspect, as prosciutto is usually made from pork.   Paired with the apple arugula salad, it was a winning combination.  The peppery arrugula played perfectly off of the tart apple slices.   My mouth is watering just remembering the dish.  I also loved the next 2 appetizers, however, they were not as AMAZING.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Break of Dawn

In an attempt to be more adventurous in the OC, my family and I tried a Vietnamese fusion restaurant in Laguna Hills for brunch.  All of those descriptors are totally atypical for the H.o.P.  We don't eat "Vietnamese fusion."  We certainly don't do brunch.  And who the heck eats in Laguna Hills?

The chef/owner of Break of Dawn has a very sad/interesting/inspiring story.   Perhaps for some, it makes the food taste better knowing how hard the chef/owner had to work to get where he is.   For others, it probably doesn't make a lick of difference.  I suppose I fall in the middle.  I admire the guy, but I wish the food was a bit better.

Kabocha Squash creamy soup, crispy lobster & shrimp roll
The soup was quite watery, not the thick heartiness I expect from anything containing squash.    As a result it was on the bland side.   It was creamy sweetness, but not the good kind.

The shrimp roll was a nice addition.  Flavors were light for any Vietnamese egg roll.  I don't think I tasted much lobster.  A good eggroll in the end, but pretty standard.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Magnolia Bakery

Why oh why is there such a cupcake craze?  Why not cookies (my personal favorite)?  Why not brownies?  Why not donuts?  I guess I'm not much of a cake person surprisingly.  I prefer a good pie or tart.  In any case, when it comes to cupcakes, I am a follower and I agree that Sprinkles Red Velvet Cupcake is the best.  Granted, I have not tried many other cupcake places, but I generally use it as my baseline for comparison. 

Once upon a time, Magnolia held a special place in my heart-stomach.  This was back in the day, when my heart-stomach was young and naive.  It was also during a time when a cupcake was just a cupcake.  Fast forward like 8 years and my heart-stomach has matured into a discerning individual, unwelcoming to the dull and flavorless.  Magnolia is now in LA, but is no match for the hipster cupcake scene here.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Test Kitchen: Young Team

This food blog has become both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing because I am reconnecting with old friends and also making new friends.  People are just coming out of the wood work wanting to eat and try new places with me.  It is a curse because dining at this level is burning a hole in my wallet and unless I start moonlighting or robbing banks, I'm gonna be showing up to LA Free Clinic for my medical care.  Also, I'm starting to feel waaay unhealthy and my GERD is acting up.  Oh, this blog also takes a lot of time to maintain!   The witty writing and dazzling photos don't just magically spill onto the page.  In any case, I plan to stay the course for now because making new friendships and keeping up the old ones over some good food is too much fun.

Case in point.  I haven't talked to Hungry Douche since graduation probably.  But he discovered a fellow "food-liking" (Hungry Douche dislikes the word foodie) friend in me and was excited to have some new dining companions.  He already had been to Test Kitchen for Michael Voltaggio, Starry Kitchen, and some other ones that I forgot.  He found it hilarious that almost EVERYONE, save himself and his sister, busted out their SLR cameras for the Voltaggio night.  So he was amused to find out that I had a food blog and that I obnoxiously snapped photos of my food in the same way.

When he invited me to "Young Team" night at Test Kitchen, I was curious.  Sous chefs collectively from Bastide, Water Grill, L'Orangeries, Ludobites, and the Bazaar were to be cooking up a surprise menu which later on was revealed to include foie gras donuts.  At that sound of foie gras donuts, I immediately said yes.    Then we were hypothesizing who these "mystery chefs" could be.  We thought one of them had to be Marcel from Top Chef since he works at the Bazaar.  We found out there would be no Marcel, but instead there would be Amanda from this season's Top Chef.  Sorry Amanda, but I found you really annoying on the show and it really seemed like your food sucked.  Tom Colicchio told you to go to Italy to learn what Italian food tastes like.  Plus you had what looked like a cold sore on your face for a good deal of those interviews.  So not only was Ed dripping his personally seasoned sweat into all the food, you were shedding viruses into the food.  I kid, but these are the things we joke about sometimes.  Enough of this since I'm beginning to drone on like some other people.

Foie Gras Powdered Donuts shallot jelly dressing (Dan Moody of Ludobites)
The most anticipated dish of the night turned out to be the most disappointing.  Don't put the words "foie gras" into the title and not present any "foie gras" that any of my senses can pick up because thats just criminal.  Apparently they took tapioca starch with rendered foie gras to make the "powder." 

It didn't even taste like a donut either, more like a dinner roll.  And it wasn't even warm!  The filling was more interesting, slightly sweet from beets and figs, but with hints of savory from the shallots and leeks  It had more of a paste texture than a jelly texture.   I really liked it and wished there were more of it to go around.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I often don't get too many opportunities to try small portioned foods such as izakaya, yakitori, or tapas (somehow dim sum does not fall under this category) because Dumpling Man likes his food in large sizable quantities.  My sister on the other hand, Triple F (for Food, Fun, and Frivolity),  not to be confused with my sister-in-law, Triple T, loves small portioned little eats.   So we went to Musha, a very popular izakaya/fusion type place in Santa Monica.  I overslept and almost didn't go to meet my family, but I am glad I did.  This place was fantastic!

Spicy Tuna Dip with crispy rice crackers
As sisters, Triple F and I naturally share a love for many things, Tea Station Green Milk Tea, anything shrimp, men who are poor communicators, and spicy tuna!  We both agreed this dish was Mmm Mmm Good!  For once, spicy tuna was NOT served on some stinking "cruchy" rice ball, like at Katsu-Ya and many other Japanese fusion joints.  This was like eat chips and dip, but like 100x better!

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Monday, September 13, 2010


I have a special treat for all my dedicated readers!  Today's entry has been written by my foodie friend, WonTuan.   Unlike my guest writer, I'll keep it BRIEF, and let him explain the why's, who's, and what's.


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Thursday, September 9, 2010


So Andina has to be one of the most popular restaurants in Portland.   It serves modern Peruvian cuisine.  It was just a regular weekday and the place was paaaaaaacked.  There seems to be 2 parts to the restaurant.  A quieter sit down part, where all the old stuffy people were hanging out, and then a place adjacent to the bar where it was loud and crowded.  I don't think they mean to separate the restaurant like that, but what do you expect to happen when you're near the bar?  In the central part there was a cool guy playing ethnic tunes.   The vibe was really energetic.

The amuse bouche was a fried cheesy risotto ball.  It was lightly crunchy on the outside, and deeply unctuous on the inside.   A good amuse bouche, always says a lot about the meal to come.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Boy was I looking forward to trying Jitlada. Care Bear really hyped it up for me. Alas, as we all know, hype goes hand in hand with disappointment. Don't get me wrong, most of the food was good. I just don't know why people think it is soooooo good. I mean, it was on FoodTV's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Hot & Spicy" episode. Apparently, Chef Curtis Stone thought the crying tiger pork dish was the best hot & spicy thing he ever ate. Who is Chef Curtis Stone?

This is Chef Curtis Stone:

Do I trust Curtis Stone's opinion? Much less so after this experience.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Taste of Beverly Hills 2010 (a.k.a. Disneyland for Adults)

It was my luck day when Cathy of Gastronomyblog let me know that I was the (randomly selected) lucky winner of her 2 tickets to Taste of Beverly Hills, a weekend long celebration of great wine and fantastic food from local restaurants in the Beverly Hills/Los Angeles Area, hosted by Food & Wine magazine.  I'm sure you could imagine my reaction.   I had just won $300 worth of foodie fun festitivites!  I am usually aware of the various food festivals taking place around LA, but usually do not attend because of cost and crowds.  I'd hate to fork out money when I can't guarantee the food will be good, or when I can anticipate being elbow to elbow with other obsessive foodies.

I took Miss Nancy Rheeeee, and she brought The Millionaire Man, who obviously purchased his own ticket but at a discounted price.   I was planning on being uber cheap and parking at the Century City Mall and walking over to the shuttle stop nearby, instead of parking in the $15 lot.  I got lazy and parked there anyways.  They had shuttle buses, but they also had these cute little trolleys, which I got to ride. 

Everything went smoothly from parking, to shuttle busing, to will call line, to entering to the festival.  It was pretty well organized and set up, as you can see below.  There were two large tents like these with all the food & wine stations, and various smaller tents and tables with cocktail, beer, beverage, and demo stations.

Wide-eyed, hungry, and camera-ready, I made my way through as many stations as possible.  Big thanks to Nancy Rheee and Millionaire Man for being so patient with me and my photography.  I managed to do a decent job with the pictures considering I was eating and fighting crowds at the same time.  

Foie Gras Duo brioche crouton, honeycomb, strawberry marmalade, spiced duck jus - One Pico @ Shutters on the Beach Hotel, Santa Monica.
I should have enjoyed this in two bites to appreciate the cool, smooth, creaminess of the foie in contrast to the marmalade.  The marmalade was probably a little too overwhelming for the subtle flavors surrounding it.  It was a good bite in the end.

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