Delicious Food Corner – The Name Says it All

 

After discovering the opening of this already quite popular Hong Kong style restaurant in another part of town, we have since gone back there no less than five times within the span of one month.

It is puzzling how so many people already know about this third location when the place was only so recently opened. There were usually quite a bit of people waiting even though the actual wait time had not been very long – tonight was the only time that we did not have to wait to get seated. The waiters and waitresses were all very efficient and some were especially friendly toward us. I was told that a few came from a restaurant that I had liked, and that the place has been closed recently.

The inside seating are comfortable though some of the tables are a bit closed to each other. This particular branch offers some Chef’s Specialty dishes that are not in the other locations. The one dish that attracted me originally was the Lobster stirred fry with rice cake. However, they did not have it the first time, nor the second time we were there. Instead, the waitress suggested the Sea Cucumbers with Mushrooms which turned out to be the best dish so far. The Pork Ribs was excellent too, with a tangy glaze that was absolutely delicious. There was a Stir Fry Milk with Seafood dish that was decent, and the vegetables in the Bok Choy with Mushroom and Dried Beancurd was fresh and crunchy. As it turned out, my most anticipated dish –  Lobster with rice cake, was probably our least favorite due to the overly saltiness of the dish.

So when we were there last week for the fourth time, we decided on the two dishes that we enjoyed the most – the sea cucumbers and the pork ribs, and it was not difficult at all cleaning off everthing on those two plates.

Delicious Food Corner – 545 W Las Tunas Dr. San Gabriel, CA 91776  Phone: 626-325-8838

 

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Belvedere at The Peninsula – Simple and Elegant

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It had been so manys years since I had the good fortune of dining at the Belvedere, before the restaurant was renovated to its current state.

I remembered the food to be superb, service excellent, but most of all, I felt really comfortable and at ease in its elegant surrounding. When DineLA came along, I was very thankful that Belvedere was brought up as one of the option – it was a little answered prayer.

The updated version of the restaurant looked not too different from what we remembered the place to be. Seemed a little bit more airy, perhaps due to the fact that I was seated facing the large windows with a very serene view of the garden-like setting.

This time, however, I did not feel as at ease as the previous. It might had been that the table was a smaller one situated in between two other tables that were placed rather closed to ours. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the people watching part since I could see very much of the whole dining room area from where I was.

The food was as good as I had hoped. We both ordered the French Onioin Soup to start. It was probably the only version that I had tasted that was not too salty – I do not understand why every single one I tried in the past had always been extremely salty. It was rich and flavorful with the largest piece of cheese topping that eventually filled us up so much that I was not even able to finish my entree.

The Duck Confit Orecchiette that I picked, though tasty, had a bit too much pasta in proportion to the duck. I actually found the Pork Belly with the Sweet Breads to be more enjoyable and satisfying, with the pork reminiscent of the Chinese roasted pork that I so adore.

 

Dessert was a perfect looking Chocolate Souffle of which I did not try since I was not having chocolate for that day. I opted for a simple Vanilla Ice Cream which did provide a soothing finish to a most pleasant and gratifying afternoon.

The Belvedere at the Peninsula Hotel: 9882 S Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212  Phone: 310-975-2736

 

 

 

71 Above

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Blessings come in many different forms – to have my birthday celebrated in such a georgous setting was certainly one, and to be able to watch the sky changed its colors slowly and leisurely was another.

Having a birthday close to Christmas does have its perks of always being in the midst of festivities and an air of celebration and joyfulness. Even though the days leading up to the dinner had been challenging, soul searching and filled with heart wrenching revelations, life moves ahead and one can only look at the moment and decide how to live that moment, while wondering if ignorance is indeed sometimes better.

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I was told that the food is good here despite the beautiful interior and exquisite view. Skeptical but full of anticipation, I was thankful that the dishes exceeded my expectations. The “Duck”, a roasted breast was done to perfection, with accompaniments and sauce that heightened the dish to the top level. The “Garganelli”, with mascarpone and Pecorino butter was hearty and enjoyable. My grilled Maitake mushroom came out exactly as I asked for, not a least bit charred. The poached “Oyster” with uni and caviar looked incredibly luscious even though I did not try it. The ribeye, though tasty, was the only dish that needed improvement due to a bit of chewiness of the meat.

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Suprisingly, we were somewhat full after the three courses and the amuse-bouche.

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The second blessing took place within two weeks – same location but at different hours of the day. Arrived at around 3pm, the bartender reccommended a riesling from Germany (Weingut Robert Weil), fruity and refreshing, just the way I like my wine. The “Dates” wrapped with bacon, and blue cheese was the star of that afternoon. The photography enthusiasts in us took shots of the still life (the sumptuous bar offerings),  the elegant interior with the best lighting that one could ask for, and the unparalleled view of the sunset that adorned the sky with a multitude of reds, oranges, and yellows. If one can focus only on the simple elements in life – food, beauty, and art…….

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71 Above – 633 W 5th St. 71 Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071  Phone: 213-712-2683

 

A True Gem – Simple, Elegant

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Not that I do not enjoy eating raw fish – I had actually worked in a very nice Japanese restaurant many sushi ago. Yet, over the years, due to increasing amount of phobias, I have lessen my consumption of raw fish.

Nevertheless, I do ocassionally indulge myself just a tiny bit in what I believe to be higher quality sushi/sashimi. Just like the time I had dinner with my boss and the uni in her platter of sashimi was just too tempting to resist. And of course, during my recent trip to Japan, it would be regretable if I did not try the raw delicacy there.

What prompted the visit to this gem in the old town in Torrance was started with a conversation about finding fresh uni. Someone had mentioned that a restaurant in this part of town offers fresh uni and quality raw fish. So I began to search, and found the restaurant in this very quiet part of town.

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I was instantly impressed with the simple, airy and minimalist look of the interior, and that the Japanese sushi chefs gave the impression of seriousness about their craft. There is no turning back now, there is no doubt that I will be eating raw fish today.

 

 

I also realized that day, that I will not be having fresh uni in shell as I cannot bare eating them while the flesh would be still moving. We did order the “Uni Aglio e Olio” (Garlic, olive oil and red chili spaghetti with uni – cooked). The dish was simply and elegantly prepared with just the right flavor.

Between the two of us, we ordered the “Lunch Miyabi Kaisen” and “Chef’s Select Sushi”. I don’t recall having tasted such fresh fish and such exqusitely prepared sushi in recent years, even better than what I had in Japan near Tokyo’s famous Tsukji fish market.

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As I looked wishfully above our table where there was a menu displaying their “Prix Fixe Six Course Dinner with Pairings” on certain nights during each month, I realized that I can indeed truly enjoy great sushi when quality, freshness, and excellent preparation are part of the key ingredients.

Miyabi Uni – 1231 Cabrillo Ave, Suite 101, Torrance, CA 90501  Phone: 424-376-5135

 

Cold and Spicy – Hangari Bajirik Kalgooksoo

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I was yearning for a bowl of Korean cold noodle, after much searching and looking through hundreds of photos of noodles on the net,  three places stood out.  I proceeded to try two out of the three, and concluded that the Bibim Milmyeon at Hangari Bajirik Kalgooksoo is perhaps one of the most addictive and satisfying cold noodle I have tried.

After tasting the Bibim Milmyeon a few weeks ago, I could not get it out of my head. I have been thinking about how good it was almost daily, and I would play back my memory of eating the noodle over and over again. I told myself that I needed to go back soon. I could not wait any longer. After finishing an errand with my son, I more or less told him that we are heading Koreatown to have some noodle. Quite surprisingly, he did not object (he usually does not like to go too far for food).

The first time I was there, I waited for quite a while even at 2pm on a Sunday.  This time, around 4:30 in the afternoon, there was no wait. Hungry from not having breakfast nor lunch for the both of us, I ordered the cold noodle for myself and the Chicken Kalguksu for my son.

The bachan here is simple but yet one of freshiest –  what it lacks in varieties, is more than made up with the perfect flavor that was not overly seasoned. I mixed all three of the kimchis into the little bowl of barley – so good!

The milmyeong is just perfection for me. Chewy strands of noodles, mixed in a slightly spicy sauce with hips of sliced radishes, and a bit of julienne cucumbers and egg and a slice of meat.

The Chicken Kalguksu, according to my son, is very good, especially on this chilly day. Though I did not try it myself, the abundance of squash and daikon inside was quite appealing to me.

I would probably order a bigger bowl of barley to go with the kimchis the next time. The dumplings, though decent, were probably the only thing that did not stand out for me.

Hangari Kalguksu – 3470 W. 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020  Phone: 213-388-2326

Patina

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Have read some good reviews about this restaurant,  so finally decided to visit since it was DineLA few weeks ago. The five courses that the menu offered seemed enticing enough, especially the course with the maine lobster.

We chose Sunday for the dinner because of the lighter traffic to downtown, and partly because I was determined to find street parking there. I did circled around a few times before landing one of best spot about 1/2 block from the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Was early, got seated at a table near the window. The decor is very simple and casual. I asked for some bread and an elder gentleman came with a tray of about 5 different types of bread. The brioche bread tasted decent even though they were not warm.

The amuse bouche was an artistically presented smoked salmon cone, very light and tasty. The first of 5 courses was a Dungeness crab, delicious. Followed by Hamachi, scallop, octopus crudo which were all extremely fresh and had just the right flavor. Then came a pasta course which was not on the menu, probably one of the best I’ve had. The maine lobster was delightfull. Finally the Wagyu beef, oxtail, potato were all excellently prepared. The oxtail was tender, the beef was just the right size for me, even though some might feel that it was a tad small. The potato looked more like a dessert than a side of potato.

 

The dessert was an “Ivory Chocolate” with persimmon. Again, presentation was exquisite, but because I personally prefer dark chocolate, I found the white chocolate to be bit too sweet.

A tray with some candies came with the bill, however, I found that the candy had the taste of the raw rice since they were sitting on a bed of rice.

Patina – 141 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012  Phone: 213-972-3331

 

 

 

 

Fun in Eataly

Wow! That is what came into my mind as I strolled through this food lovers’ “Disneyland” (as my friend had called it). It is rather like that of an amusement park in that there were lines everywhere.

Not sure that I really wanted to fight the crowd when my friend mentioned this place that had just opened less than a few weeks ago. I was told the wait would be more than an hour to get into the restaurants. I finally relented since I did not have much to do that Saturday, and had plenty of time for waiting in lines.

My friend got there around 10:30am, and me around 11:15am, so we did not need to wait outside in order just to get in. However, there was a line already for “La Pizza, La Pasta”. The food looked really good at “La Piazza” while we were waiting in line, and I was told that the “ll Pesce Cucina” serves very good seafood. I noticed that for people who came later on that day, there was a line just to get inside Eataly.

First of all, I was glad that I registered online for “Smart Parking” which allows the car to enter straight into the garage without having to get a ticket, and that it also automatically bills the credit card on file without having to pay at the station before leaving (there is a 50% discount from now until end of the year for parking once registered).

It was exhilarating for me to walk around such a wonderful, happy place with lots of fresh and quality food. There is a station where fresh mozzarella is being made, another where doughs for fresh bread were being kneaded, and another where a lady was making fresh pasta.

There are lots of cheeses, beautiful cuts of meat, and seafood, produce, fruits and all different food products form Italy.

We were finally seated after lining up for over an hour for La Pizza, La Pasta. The hostess was telling me how much she enjoys working there since she loves food. I would not mind working there part-time as well, especially at the “Venchi Cioccolato” where one can purchase individually wrapped chocolates by the pound.

The pizza that we had ordered, “Tartufo”, with porchini mushroom puree and black truffle was quite light and flavorful, not salty as most other pizzas tend to be. The “Tagliatelle al Ragu” with brasied brisket was tasty, with the pasta being made daily on premise. I also liked the housemade mozzarella with a choice of 3 side accompaniments.

I was not full after those 3 plates, but my friend was stuffed. So instead of getting a Panigacci(a flatbread imported from Tuscany)as we had wanted to, we decided to wait, and get some sweets instead.

We purchased these 3 small bite size pastries at the “Venchi Ciocolate”, and the pastries were put into a beautiful box with ribbons which in itself looked rather fancy and expensive.  I really wanted to keep the box, but it got a bit soiled by the pastries, so I had to let it go. I exercised strong self control when I only picked two pieces of the individually wrapped chocolates that one can purchase by the pound. One of them was probably the best piece of chocolate I had ever had, with depth of flavors that were complex and rich. The other 3 pieces of pastries of which I ate all by myself were not as special, probably because I had them very soon after having a medium gelato (hazel nut and pistachio flavors), and an Italian hot chocolate with whipped cream!

We finally made it outside Eataly several hours later. The “Disneyland” of food was quite a fitting analogy and it certainly was a happy place for me.

Eataly: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90067  Phone: 213-310-8000

 

 

 

 

Pastries Galore

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I had wanted to get together with a friend over tea or coffee and perhaps some pastries as well. I suggested a place that I have been to for years, but my friend came up with a place in Hermosa Beach that has opened recently called Kirari West Bake Shop. 

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I must say I was just a tad unsure whether I wanted to go because I wanted something that I will definitely like. My friend said the place has very good reviews, so as much as I was skeptical, I decided to give it a try.

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The shop is located inside a somewhat unremarkable looking strip mall, close to a Vegetarian restaurant that I had been to long time ago. The decor inside is very simple and  yet cozy and inviting. There are a few tables outside as well. There is a big black board with drawings of different types of coffees and teas. The Matcha Latte grabbed my attention. The latte, though good, had a bit too much milk in it, thus diluted the taste of the matcha. On the subsequent visit, I requested less milk, and the Matcha Latte was perfect.

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The signature pastry would be the Almond Butter Brioche. It seemed like everyone was getting this particular pastry. My friend got one, and I tried it. It was really, really good! Somewhat crunchy on the outside and soft inside,  especially since they had warmed it up for her.

I was so impressed with this place that I had been back about 3 times in a just a few weeks. I managed to try a very fresh tasting and not-too-sweet Mango Tarte, and a Sweet Butter Brioche. Everything were delicious and top quality.

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I found out later that their products are gluten free. The original Kirari was opened in Japan in 2011 by the father and the older brother. This new “Kirari West” is a collaboration between the younger brother who has been living in the US, and the family.

Kirari West Bake Shop – 707 N. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, CA 90277   Phone: 310-376-5313 Continue reading

“That little restaurant”- Bistro Na’s

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“That little restaurant” was what I originally thought is the English translation of the name of this fairly new Peking restaurant in Temple City. However, I read somewhere  that “Na” is actually a Manchu surname, so therefore, literally, the name translates to “Na’s little restaurant”.

Enough about the name. I stumbled across this place after finishing dessert at “Meet Fresh”, which is just a few doors down. The outside does not reflect what one would expect to find inside. It is actually quite a large restaurant. The decor is very elegant, since the cuisine is focusing on Chinese “Imperial court” cuisine.

I was told that I would need to make a reservation even for lunch. I did some research at home regarding the menu and its prices. The price did not seem too extravagant, so we made a reservation for lunch on a weekday.

I arrived when the restaurant just opened, so I was pretty much the only one there. So I had a chance to inquire about the food with the waitress. The main dining room was open and comfortable, while the decor is classy and not overly opulent.

We ordered the highly recommended “Crispy Shrimp”, the “Stewed Fish Combo”, “Traditional Beijing Noodle”, the “Vegetable in the Box”, “Dry Cooked Stuffed Mushroom”, and “Stuffed Lotus Root”.

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Originally, I did not want to order the shrimp, but it turned out that the shrimp dish was the best overall dish. The flavor was very distinctive, and the shell was fried to perfection, and I ended up eating a lot of it.

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However, all the rest of the dishes did not impress me. I did like the “Stuffed Lotus Root”, it is more like a dessert since it was a bit sweet.

I have mixed feelings about this restaurant. While I really enjoy the atmosphere of this place, I wish the dishes can be as good as one would expect given that it is supposed to be “Imperial Court” cuisine.

Bistro Na’s: 9055 E. Las Tunas Dr. #105, Temple City, CA 91780  Phone: 626-286-1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Fresh

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After walking around for a couple of hours at the Lunar New Year Festival in Monterey Park a while back, a friend and I were trying to decide where to go for dinner. However, since it was still quite early, probably around 4pm or so, my friend suggested maybe dessert first before dinner. She mentioned that there is this really popular place in Temple City, and that there is usually a long line of people waiting. Being it was still early in the day, we figured that the line might not be as long. So we decided to head over to check out the place.

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This eatery is located in a fairly new strip mall at the corner of Las Tunas and Rosemead Blvd. The dessert revolves around Taro Balls, Herbal Jelly, Shaved Ice, Tofu Pudding, and Teas. 

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After trying to decipher the menu on the wall, we decided to share one order since it was quite big of a bowl. It was Herbal Jelly with kidney beans, rice balls, boba. It took a long, long time before it was finally ready. I did enjoy what we had ordered, though. Everything tasted fresh and most importantly, the items were not that sweet.

Subsequently, I had gone back one more time a week or so later. I made a special order that was not on the menu. I ordered the Taro ball with taro, barley, beans, and rice balls. For some reason, there was shaved ice at the bottom. It was quite huge, and tasted even better than the one last time. It was not cheap, more than $9 for that bowl.

I do really like this type of dessert, I like the chewiest of the rice balls, taro balls, and slightly bitter taste of the grass jelly. I just wish that it was not so expensive.

Meet Fresh: 9055 E. Las Tunas Dr. #100, Temple City, CA 91780  Phone: 626-537-1715