Wednesday, December 30, 2009

After hearing so many things about Bittersweet in SF, I have been wanting to try them out. Sadly I couldn't get Ms. Lin to go because she has been and didn't really want to go back with me. =*( Luckily I took a trip with PK up to SF and she was willing to try all different places in SF with me. ^_^ Parking was murder around this area. We drove around for a while on Fillmore St. looking for a spot. Eventually we were able to find one, but we had to keep running back to fill the meter. They had a 2 hour time limit and was super expensive for each hour. C'est la vie, what can you expect when you are in SF? lol
The set up of the store is very laid back. It's a self-serve "chocolate cafe" where you just place your order, find a seat, and enjoy. They have a wide selection of chocolates in the front to look at and a few delectables at the counter you can order. If you need water there's a place near the counter for you to grab it yourself and a place for you to return your cup after you are done. They are supposedly known for their hot chocolates so I had to come here to try some since it was a cold week when we went up. I ordered the The Bittersweet that's non-dairy and vegan. The hot chocolate was thick and rich. I actually found it to be super sweet and I grabbed a glass of water to drink in between sips. It's not bad hot chocolate but I really needed something salty to balance it out or something else to cleanse my palate before I munched on my sweet snacks.
PK decided to try Spicy! that has a kick of pepper, a hint of cinnamon, and rose. It was a lighter hot chocolate since it was not made with dark chocolate. There was a slight hint of rose mixed in with the spices. She enjoyed her drink and mixture of flavors.
What really caught my eye at the counter was the Milk Chocolate Truffle Fleur de Sel for $1.50. How can I resist a savory treat that has a bit of both worlds, salty and sweet. The chocolate was very rich and velvety. There was only a slight contrast of the saltiness. I think it would've been better to enjoy this with just water than with my "Bittersweet" hot chocolate since they are both so sweet that I ended up being sweetened out. @_@
I saw that they a Gianduja Chocolate Macaron and I had to try it. Ever since Paris I have been looking all over the US to satisfy my craving. Did I find it here? Nah, but it was still good. The macaron had a nice chewy texture and flavor. It was nothing special or out of the ordinary, but it was still a good snack. Again, water was a better pair than the rich hot chocolate that takes away from the flavor.
The snack that PK chose resembled the Magic Bar you could get at Nordstrom Cafe. It's Coconut, Chocolate Chips, and Nuts atop a crust. I thought it wasn't bad but super sweet so the water helped a lot. You can get this at most cafes.
All in all it was a nice experience. It was windy and cold outside so a nice cup of hot chocolate could really hit the spot. Was this the best hot chocolate I have had in SF? Nope, I prefer the hot chocolate at XOX Truffles than here. Still, it's a very nice ambiance and an experience. You really feel the SF setting there. I am glad I got to try it so I can get it out of my system.

2123 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 346-8715
Bittersweet - a Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 21, 2009

It was about time for met to try something new in Garden Grove. Since a friend suggested that Brodard had the best Shaken Beef, Bò Lúc Lắc, I had to try it. This location is so hard to find even with a GPS. Here is my tip of the day if you ever want to find this place: It's located in the back of the shopping center where you think there was nothing there. I went into the main plaza and drove all around looking for Brodard but to no avail. Keep following the plaza around the 99 Cent store until it rounds into the back and you will see the signs. I think you can enter from the other side into the "Mall" and just follow it all the way back for the restaurant. Best of luck! lol
A typical drink to get at Vietnamese restaurants for me is the Vietnamese Iced Coffee. The one they serve here was strong and tasty, but filled with ice. I know that normally they are filled with ice but this one was to the brim. Still it was good and the price was reasonable. The coffee beans they use are pretty aromatic.

One thing I love is Nem Nướng Cuốn, Pork Spring Rolls. It's grilled Pork Paste wrapped in Rice Paper with Lettuce, Cucumber, Carrot, Daikon, and Mint served with the House Special Sauce. I remember reading that they had pretty good Nem Nướng Cuốn so I got an order to try. They are a bit pricier than what I am used to, 4 for $6 but worth it. We ordered one but they brought us another tray. At first I was going to say something but I decided to keep it because it was that good! lol The meat was very flavorful and I love that they also have the Fried Egg Roll Skin inside to add to the texture. All the flavors just pop in the mouth and to make it even better was their sauce. I will give them credit that they have one of the best sauces around. It's not your typical cheap peanut sauce you get in a lot of places. They stew the sauce into a delicious mixture that can even be drank as soup! lol All parts work well together or even separately. In fact, I just brought the "soup" for my Aunt the other day. lol
Another favorite of mine is the Chả Giò, Vietnamese Egg Rolls. How can I not love something that is fried?? lol It's crispy egg rolls filled with Pork, Shrimp, Crab Meat, Clear Vermicelli, and Vegetables. This is served with Asian Greens and Lime Chili Fish Sauce. To eat this properly, remember to take the huge Lettuce leaf and wrap all the ingredients together before you dip the new "egg roll" into the sauce then take a big bite. The love for their egg rolls were definitely not as great as the spring rolls. I thought these were just normal at best. If I knew, I would've definitely skipped this and just paid more for the spring rolls. O=9
For my main dish I had to try the Bò Lúc Lắc since it came so highly recommended. It's chunks of Filet Mignon cooked with Onion, Mushroom, Scallion, and Spices. You can choose Steamed Rice or Fried Rice and I chose the latter. They also give a Salad to accompany the dish. Maybe it was just an off day but I was not feeling this dish. I have never seen Bò Lúc Lắc like this. It was gravy like and didn't carry out the strong flavor of the spices used. For me, the dish should not be on the wet side or gooey gravy side. The chunks should be packed full of flavor and black pepper that would only be enhanced by the Lime mixture on the side. Sadly, this dish was a huge let down and I didn't care for the assortment of veggies. As you know I don't like veggies but this was not the reason why I didn't like them. Normally I have only seen this dish to have raw Onions on the bottom of this dish. My Aunt enjoyed the Fried Rice that came with this dish. For $11.25, I was definitely not satisfied. =*( Should have just stuck with the spring rolls! lol
The dish that I chose for my Aunt was a Cơm Tấm Bì, Chả, Tàu Hũ Ky, Tôm, Tthịt Nướng because I thought it would be a simple and safe choice. It's Broken Rice with Grilled Shrimp, BBQ Pork, Shredded Pork, Eggloaf, Shrimp Paste in Tofu Wrap served with House Special Sauce & Leek Pickle. Don't be deceived by my pretty pictures because things are not always as they seem. Presentation is not everything. I ordered this dish because I really wanted the Shrimp Paste wrapped in Tofu, but the one here was a bit over fried and too oily. Somehow the strong flavor of the Shrimp Paste was drained away by the oil. The BBQ Pork was a bit different from what I expected. It appeared more like a pressed meat than thin slices of pork grilled. This was $10.95, which is a bit pricey for Cơm Tấm INMO and it wasn't even that good. Needless to say, we took a lot of stuff home and I wasn't the one who ate the leftovers =P.
All in all it was not what I expected it to be and that was not what I call a Shaken Beef, but... their Spring Roll was superb and worth the price of $1.50 each. Of course this could be that I ordered the wrong main dishes. The outside of Brodard looks really shoddy but once you walk through the doors you will notice that it's really nice inside. They are pretty clean and spacious. It's obvious that they are well received and people can still find this place even though it is tucked away and hidden in the back of the shopping center. I still highly recommend the Spring Rolls to everyone and I had recently gone back to discover some new items. Of course you will just have to keep tuning in to find out about it! ^_-

9892 Westminster Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 530-1744
Brodard on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Be sure to come early and beat the rush. There are a lot of companies nearby so they tend to get filled fast for lunch. You can find tons of executives here enjoying lunch. **hint hint, bring your resume!** lol Ms. Lin and I arrived early for lunch so we got a seat immediately. It's a small quaint place. Keep in mind that the noise level can get high as it gets more and more crowded. The menu wasn't too big for lunch. If you are in a hurry to get back to work, I would recommend that you call ahead for a pick up.
Of course they bring your complimentary bread to start. Ms. Lin and I decided to share the Lahmajun, which is a stuffed Armenian Pizza. Aside from the ground meat inside, they have some fresh tomatoes and onions stuffed inside that add to the texture. They came out folded like a taco. I thought these were just okay when we had it.
For our main course we both got the Chicken Kebab. The difference was that I chose to just get the chicken by itself and Ms. Lin ordered it with the salad. I asked the server what she recommended and she suggested the chicken or I would have thought about getting another dish so that we can try more things. The reason that I didn't get it with salad was that you get an extra piece of chicken by itself and it was 50 cent cheaper. So I thought, "Why would I pay more for salad and lose a piece of meat!" lol Mine was marinated and charbroiled skinless chicken breast that's served on a bed of rice pilaf. For some reason I got the short end of the stick again. My chicken was a bit dry and overcooked. I wasn't too thrilled with my choice... then...
As always, Ms. Lin has the better dish! lol This is one of the rare times that I will say this... I wish I got it with the salad! lol The salad that comes with the chicken is their Gourmet Salad composed of tossed green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, feta cheese, and black olives. This was actually very refreshing and really helped make the flavors pop in your mouth. I stole quite a few bites to enhance my own dry chicken. Ms. Lin was kind enough to share some of her chicken with me. Her chicken was actually moist and I gave her a bite of my dry chicken to see what I mean. They are not very consistent. I would have enjoyed my meal a lot more if I had her dish! =P lol
Since I was not completely satisfied with my meal, I opted to try their Baklava. I am always a sucker for Baklava. Just thinking about the flaky filo dough crust makes me drool. Unfortunately the one they served here was made with walnuts. I am not a big fan of walnuts to begin with. =*( The Baklava was a bit on the sweet side for me though.
All in all it was aiight and I would come here for lunch if I worked nearby too... but only with the salad now. lol The consistency was not the greatest but I think if you get the good batches it would be a nice refreshing lunch. It's $10 for the Chicken Kebab with Salad, which wouldn't be too bad for lunch. I think that would be the only thing I'd get next time. It makes a hearty and healthy meal. The good thing is I have Jack's Bakery down here for great Armenian food too. ^_^

The Armenian Gourmet
929 E Duane Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 732-3910
Armenian Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I have been meaning to post about Ami Sushi for a while, but I am one lazy gal... I know. O=9 This is really near my school and the prices are actually pretty fair. Is the food the best in town? Nah, not even close but it will do in a quick fix and won't cost you an arm & a leg. It's a little bit harder to find as it is not really visible from the street. If you see the Brazilian Jujitsu place, then you are in the right plaza. I have never eaten inside because I am always short on time so I take out instead. The interior seems pretty clean and it's a small cozy place.
Some days I was more adventurous and ordered a bit more to try more items out. Normally I am not one for rolls but if I am in the mood for a quick fix or to save a few bucks, I am definitely not going to spend $10 on one roll. At that rate I might as well spring for some sushi or sashimi. Ami Sushi has a really great price on their California Roll. For 12 pieces it is less than $6, which is not a bad deal in my opinion. You can get 8 pieces or get the super size of 12 pieces. The rolls are a decent size and they do their job. I have yet to find a better price in this vicinity or even near my hometown MV.
Another great deal they have there is the Shrimp Tempura Roll. You can get it regular size or super sized as well. I am all about the best bang for the buck so it's all about the 12 pieces. This is under $8, which is an awesome price as well. I am really drawn here more for the prices. O=9 In this order I got the 8 pieces because I wanted to buy a 3rd roll and two super sized rolls plus another sounded a bit much. Their roll is a mix of a California Roll added with a Shrimp Tempura to make it look bigger and seem more filling.
Once in a while I will add the Salmon Tempura Roll into the mix because I love fried fish too and it sounded interesting me. The price is pretty reasonable at $6.50 so why not. This roll is also a mix of California Roll with a piece Salmon Tempura stuffed inside. It is good to have variety at times and to change it up. I have yet to have them fresh since I always just pick up. The tempura is never crisp but that could be the time it takes for me to drive back and eat it.
All in all I like coming here for take out when I am nearby. After having gone to them, I refuse to eat rolls elsewhere because they all charge a lot more for less. Now that I am use to these prices, I feel that it is blasphemous to pay more! lol Darn Ami Sushi for ruining me! I call around locally and all the prices make me scoff. Can't even try to satisfy the minimal cravings anymore. Sigh! At least I now know all the local prices for California Roll around MV. lol For Shrimp Tempura the discrepancy is even higher! =*( Like I've said, it's not really about the quality or tastiness of their rolls but for the price... it's all good. O=9 They also give a million soy sauce packets that I just keep around at home later on. lol

Ami Sushi
1804 N Tustin Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 567-0018
Ami Sushi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Before Strawberry Fest, Burumun and I got up to grab breakfast/lunch. 3 Square Cafe & Bakery is located on Abbott Kinney, where it is a very laid back and anti-conglomerate/support the local small shops kind of place. There really is no big sign for this place so it was kind of hard to tell which restaurant I was eating in. lol The dining style had a very European feel where you watch people go by as you eat. It's also the kind of place where you can bring your dog in. Technically, it's outside dining area since it is basically an open area of sorts so pets would be okay. I thought there were some cute dogs around. =p
Apparently this place is "known" for their Pretzel Burger with Swiss Cheese, Caramelized Onions, and French Fries. I debated for a while on what to order. In the end, I chose what they are most famous for... The burger looked promising but it was dry! It needed more flavor or some sort of sauce. I felt the meat was overcooked and had way too much of a burnt grill flavor on the meat. Maybe they need to clean the grills so there isn't remnant burnt flavor. I was very disappointed by the burger. =**( In the end, it felt like torture to try and finish it. The pretzel bun was unique and cute, but such a thick bun really needs a juicy and saucy burger to compliment it well. I had to give up eating the bun because I just found it hard to swallow towards the end. To make matters worse, the burger took forever to come because they were cooking it for so long.
Burumun made a wise choice to get the Potato-Leek Quiche with Smoked Salmon and Poached Eggs. Maybe she tricked me! She was the one who convinced me to get the burger... **shakes fist in the air** lol Her quiche was nice and light. The flavors were simple but came together well. I thought the individual components helped bring out the natural flavor of the opposing dish. The plate was nicely presented. Burumun kept with the light and healthy theme by ordering a Fresh-Squeezed OJ. At first the idea of a vegetarian quiche didn't sound too appealing, but pairing it with smoked salmon and salad was a nice take. This dish saved my opinion of this place. =9
All in all I really didn't like what I ordered. Burumun's dish helped save the day and allowed me to say that this place is nice and quaint. I normally like coming down to Abbott Kinney for the environment and of course Jin patisserie, which we went to afterwards. O=) As we were sitting there that day, we were goofing off with our cameras and camera phones. I think I was paying a little more attention to our environment because I suddenly heard BooM! Right across the street a guy opened his car door and a bicyclist ran right into it. The ambulance was called and the whole street was almost blocked off. Burumun didn't even know it happened! It was a crazy day. I think that person was fine, it was just a crazy hectic moment. Hey it is LA... anything can happen. lol In retrospect, I think I would give this place a second chance. I definitely would not recommend the burger, but I would like to try some of their other dishes. Besides, it is just nice to be on Abbott Kinney. ^_^

3 Square Cafe & Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291

(310) 399-6504
3 Square Café + Bakery on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I apologize again for being so behind on my posts. The delicious meal at Ludo Bites on 12/02/09 has motivated me to post ASAP. I was very fortunate to be invited by Holly join Will & Eddie from and to see Diane again. =) Holly was able to pull off a last minute miracle to get in opening night. Krissy was so wonderful and sweet to squeeze us in. It was a great honor and pleasure to see them again and enjoy/devour a great meal. =9 I got a last minute invite to join the group and jumped at the chance to go to Ludo Bites again even though I have not slept more than 10 hours in 3-4 days. O=) It was worth it though! The ambiance was wonderful, company was spectacular, and to the "power couple" again was grand.
This time Ludo Bites has taken over Royal/T. I've been to Royal/T for an event a while ago, which I'll get to... ummm... one day. O=) There is a lot of cute stuff sold in the store and unique artworks are displayed throughout the place. Right now the theme is "In the bed together". There are many glassed areas where the artists display their work. I always enjoy the different unique pieces. Another great thing about this place is the cute servers! The women wear an adorable main uniform like those that you find in cosplay cafes in Japan, well that is the theme of Royal/T. =)
I really enjoyed their Winter Wonderland display. Okay, I will admit that I am a sucker for cute stuff. And.... I use to be obsessed with Hello Kitty/Sanrio. O=9 I welcome any gifts **cough cought** or Tokidoki or Hello Kitty + Tokidoki! Woot Woot! lol The tree they had set up was very adorable and inviting.
Now onto the food! Everything looked so delicious that we decided to just have one of everything to start, but 3 of the Foie Gras Beignets! lol We just went down the line in order of the menu. The first dish was the Caramelized Peanuts with Curry. It was a great starter dish to stimulate the tastebuds. This was bad because it inspired the table to order some beer to go perfectly with the nuts! lol Let the drinking commence. Will brought 3 bottles of wine; Chablis, Bordeaux, and a Riesling. Thanks again Will! We all enjoyed the crunchy texture and coating of the nuts. There is a nice slight kick of the curry at the end.
Next up was the amazing Scallop with Brown Butter, Pineapple cubes and Black Powder. I loved the way the scallops were cooked or the lack off. They were so tender, fresh, and sweet. The pineapple accentuated the natural flavors with its acid and enhance the sweetness. It was almost like scallop sashimi/ceviche. We were devouring this dish and added a 2nd order at the end! =)

The photos for the 1st 3 dishes are all with natural lighting.

A really unique thing they added was a photo tent/box where they have all the lights set up for the ease of foodies who want to take great pictures. We were fortunate enough to sit right next to the photo area so we were totally absorbed in taking photos that we almost forgot to eat... I said almost. =9 Normally we are not so lucky and have to depend on natural lighting to film, but why not use the set up to our advantage. ^_^ I'm going to post the 2 different photos to show a comparison. Using the box makes photo editing much easier so I ended up taking photos only in the box so that we can just eat faster. lol
Scallops in the photo box.

The five of us shared the Bread Soup with a Poached Egg ad Gruyère Marshmallow. At first I thought the soup was in a bread bowl but it is actually a soup that tastes like bread. Hey had me at Gruyère marshmallow! The soup's texture was very interesting. It was a thick liquid soup that tasted like bread and was enhanced nicely by the poached egg. We broke the egg and mixed in the egg yolk. It was a nice tribute to breakfast.
Diane loved the Monterey Squid with Chorizo Oil, Kimchi Puree, and Grilled Sweet Jalapenos. The squid was extremely tender and light. I enjoyed the bits of crisps in the sauce that added to the texture. There was a nice kick from the kimchi puree. The portion and presentation was very nice.
I was amazed by the Veal Udon with Kombu Dashi, Mushrooms, and Sesame Seed Miso. Normally I don't like veal but the meat was so tender, moist, and flavorful. The soups aroma was very fragrant and appetizing. It was hearty, as in full of flavor, but very light. We were all saying that we could have this to eat at home all the time. It's great to have since the weather has been so cold these days. =) I could taste the slight hint of ginger, which I disdain, but the ginger here really helped bring the veal and soup to perfect harmony.
Mmmmm Foie Gras Beignets with Yellow Celery Roots Remoulade. There is about 2 oz. of foie gras in each beignets. Right off the bat we ordered 3 orders because everyone is such a big fan of foie gras. The beignet had a nice glaze on the outside to give it a slight crunchy texture whilst the inside was super moist... and full of juicy foie gras! ^_^ When you cut into it, you will see all the juice and foie gras oozing out. The dough to foie gras ratio was very low so each bite was full of bliss. Even though the beignet was delicious, it is always about the foie gras. =9 Will and I were joking around about what will happen if he ate the last piece of foie gras. He said he'd die for foie gras and I said that I would kill for it. I told him that this would work out perfectly, a win win situation! lol
Just when you think it couldn't get any better... the Confit Pork Belly with Pickles, Mustard Tartine, Frisée came out. I guess they didn't have the pork belly the night before and boy did they miss out! Luckily we were able to try this. You would never think that anything can beat foie gras for me but this was the definite winner of the night! ^_^ The pork belly had just the right balance of meat and fat. There was a delightful crispy bite to the meat area. **drool drool** I really enjoyed the chewy bread with a hard bite on the crust. It worked wonderfully with the mustard grains and pork belly. I love the texture of mustard grains. They remind me of perfectly cooked tiny tapioca pearls. The fatty flavor of the pork belly, which is a good thing IMHO, was wonderfully balanced out by the sauce's flavors, the bread, and the frisée. I wish I could have this everyday! It has inspired me to try some new techniques and flavors with the pork belly I have at home.
The Wild Striped Bass with Garden Vegetables and Yuzu Aoili came at just the right time. It was super light and delectable. The bass was super fresh and poached in salt water. They said that the fish should be in its own natural environment. I thought it was flavored just right. It was slightly pink inside and the fish just melted in your mouth. We loved the vegetable medley and the color palette was wonderful. I actually really enjoyed all the vegetables on the plate with the sauce. Everything tasted great on its own and came together in harmony as well.
Apparently Chef Lefebvre just learned how to make Mole a few weeks ago from Javier's mom. The Hanger Steak with Crunchy Escargot, Baby Corn, Bok Choy, and Black Olive Mole was divine. Everyone was raving about the mole and how wonderful it was. You wouldn't have known that he just learned how to make it. The best part is h made it his own by adding unexpected elements while maintaining the true essence of mole. I really liked the hanger steak. It was super tender and flavorful by itself. The out layer was nicely cooked and had a slight tougher texture, which I loved, and the inside was beautifully cooked. The smoky flavor reminded me a little bit of beef jerky but as a whole the meat just melted in your mouth. I loved the baby corn! It was so adorable and delicious! Even the husk was delicious! O=9
Instead of serving a cheese course, the offer a Fourme d'Ambert Tourte with Red Pear and Honey-Balsamic. The pear is marinated in red beets. It is a savory tourte so the touch of fruit really brought out the flavor. Will was telling us how he had it for breakfast cold and it was still delicious! =) We were jealous that he had one all to himself! lol Still, fresh and warn has its benefits. Mmm flaky crust!
We finally finished having seconds and thirds of everything to get to dessert! lol First to bat was the Chocolate Cake with a Coconut Sorbet Soup and Pink Pepper Meringue. This was not your normal cake. It was like a silky smooth thick chocolate mousse. The coconut sorbet soup really complimented the chocolate with its own rich creamy flavor. Mmmm, I could go for some now. Even though it might sound like a heavy dessert, it is surprisingly light.
Last but not least was the Pistachio Rice Milk and Pound Cake. It was a very interesting take to rice pudding. The flavor reminded me of wasabi peas because I felt that there was a slight kick in the taste. The pound cake was very tasty and moist. I was tempted to eat the whole slice before they realize it was gone. O=)
All in all everything was delicious. I was very happy that I decided to come on a whim. Good thing I am crazy! I recommend that if you get the chance, you should follow Chef Lefebrve on his adventures and hunt him down for some great food. O=9 It is too bad Ms. Lin was not around and I don't think she will around in time to catch him this time around again. I swear I did think about you when I went! You can live vicariously through my site. O=P There was word about the Croque Monsieur coming back... **drool drool** If so, I will have to beg to come back or sneak in... to go, please? lol Did I mention that I live over an hour away and I drove in LA traffic hour to get there.... for those of you who live in SoCal, you know that is a lot... but it was worth it! Loved the people I was with, the food, Krissy and Ludo of course! Thanks again Holly for the invite, thanks Will for the wine, and a tremendous gratitude to Krissy for letting us in opening night! **I'm hungry for more right now! lol**
Porta-Party, this was in the back and it is so funny! I just had to take a photo to show! You can actually go inside. ^_^

Ludo Bites @ Royal/T
8910 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 559-6300
Ludo Bites at Royal/T in Los Angeles

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