Monday, March 30, 2009
Since PK just started her own site, Princess Kitty's Lala Land, it's the perfect time to give a shout out to her! She recommended me to try Phúc Lộc for their Cháo. I am a huge fan of Cantonese Congee so I was very interested to try this place out when she recommended it. A large container of Cháo filled with meat and innards is only $3 or $4 if you want extra meats and innards. They open very early every day and closes around 6 or 7 PM. Be sure to call to make sure that they still have the Cháo left if you go towards the end of the day. The first time I went at the end of the day and they told me that they had run out. I drooped my head and walked away sadly. Then I made it my goal that weekend to return with a vengeance! lol
I decided to get 2 containers to go. One regular and one with extra meats to see the difference. Okay, so be prepared... you must be very open to eating "other" parts of the animal or... just do what I do... I only pour what I like into the bowl to eat! lol Inside the Cháo were Pig's Blood, Vietnamese Meat, Tongue, Intestine, Stomach, and more.... I know some of you may be gagging but the Cháo was actually super flavorful. Like I said, just eat the parts you like or just eat the rice parts.
They really know how to stew the rice and meats to create this flavor of explosion. You are also given Bean Sprouts and Limes to spice up the soup. Personally I just love the natural flavor of the Cháo. Be sure to not let it sit in the container too long before consumption because the condensation that builds up could lighten the flavor/tastiness of the Cháo. Also stop by a bakery to pick up some Chinese Doughnut to break off and throw in the Cháo. It's best if it is hot and crispy to give that extra texture. I usually warm/toast it inside a conventional oven. ^_^
While I was there, I saw that they had a stick of Vietnamese Meat that looked good. They also have pre-packed food to buy on the go. I decided to pick up a box of Noodles with an assortment of Meat and Shrimp on top. The Egg Roll was what tempted me the most. Sadly it was not warm and fresh but still good. I went a little overboard that weekend and bough a bunch of food to eat so I ended up giving these to the family. O=9 Still, all in all it was a great deal and great Cháo! I have been back a few times now and it has always been good but not as good as the first time. The flavor is not too consistent but I still really enjoy the Cháo and for the price, why not! lol If only they were closer!Phúc Lộc
14024 Magnolia St
Westminster, CA 92683
Sunday, March 29, 2009
You know how some days you don't know what you would like to eat and you suddenly see a commercial on TV... darn the media! lol It has been ages since I have gone to KFC because the only location in MV closed down a long long time ago! =*( So what is a girl to do when she has a craving? Luckily there was a location nearby. Unfortunately the location in Ladera Ranch is somewhat confusing even with a GPS. I saw the KFC sign and parked to walk in, but the sign says A&W... I was like... ummm where is the entrance to order? It looked like a diner so I was really confused and decided to look for the drive thru. Here's my tip, the KFC in Ladera Ranch is a part of the A&W apparently lol.
I have been meaning to try out their Value Menu. To start off I ordered the KFC Snackers, 99 cents. You can choose from Original, Honey BBQ, and Buffalo. I ordered the Honey BBQ and Buffalo flavor. The Buffalo was more flavorful and savory than the Honey BBQ. It's pretty bite size IMHO. The chicken inside doesn't really fit in the sandwich. From the picture you think it would be filled to the brim but it's lopsided in the bun. Still, for a buck it's not bad and does its job. I always have cravings for Buffalo flavored items, so this will do... now if only they were located closer! lol
What I really enjoyed was the Toasted Wrap, $1.49. This was actually very nicely filled and tasty. Again, these are all bite-size smaller items but still good. I liked this a lot because the component come together very well. The chicken was very juicy and tender. There's not too much carbs to overpower the taste of the chicken.
Since I had to drive out to find myself a KFC, I was going to try as much of the Value Menu as possible. I got the Popcorn Chicken Snack Box, $1.99, to try. This comes with French Fries under. The popcorn chicken was mostly breading and over fried. This was a whole mess of fried goods, lol. Even though I do love my fried food, this wasn't really hitting the spot. I think the Toasted Wrap is a better choice and more well-rounded taste. The Snack Size Bowl for $1.99 consists of Popcorn Chicken, Cheese, Corn, Gravy, and Mashed Potatoes. Be sure to eat this ASAP before the popcorn chicken becomes soggy. It's a mix of flavors and different textures. The best part was that you don't need to de-bone anything. lol
All in all the food was just aiight. Next time I will stick to the Toasted Wrap and Buffalo Snacker. I think they were the most bang for the buck. When you don't know what you want to eat and don't want to waste too much money food when you are blah, then I'd recommend to try their Value Menu. Hmm... doing this post makes me want to stop by again. lol Luckily I have some great leftovers from YunChuan Garden to tide me over. O=)
27622 Antonio Parkway
Ladera Ranch, CA 92694
Saturday, March 28, 2009
So as this weekends schedule turns out, I am flying to Vegas today (6/6/09) just to eat at JoëlRobuchon! It's time I ate there. I have been wanting to go ever since Paris. Going with a great friend and it will be our first "trip" together! lol We are flying out in the afternoon and coming back at night. THEN, I will be going to Providence in LA on Sunday for their 4th Anniversary dinner tasting menu. Thank you KFP for organizing it ^_-. This weekend is full of adventure... and... I will be POOR after it! lol I should start a "donation" for my "addiction" to food lol.
Don't worry, I will take lots of yummy photos and eventually... get to posting it. O=9 My goal now is to first finish The French Laundry and Gary Danko before I move onto the new adventures. I wish everyone a wonderful weekend... that's filled with great food!
Labels: Las Vegas
Sunday, March 22, 2009
What do you do when you have a few hours to kill before picking up family at John Wayne Airport? Since it was a perfect time for a late lunch/lunner, I decided to hide out at South Coast Mall. I was already going to go to an expensive dinner so I didn't want to spend too much or eat too full of a meal. Ever since Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe opened up in South Coast Mall I have been meaning to try them out. In my memory, their Clam Chowder was pretty good but I haven't been since... High School?? lol Things always seem better in memory... sigh...
It's not really a restaurant per se because you walk up to the counter to order and they give you a number so that they can bring your order to you thereafter. The prices are what you expect for being inside the mall. After I looked over the menu for a long time, I came to the conclusion that the Boudin SF Combo would be better than ordering everything separately. I chose Half Sandwich and a Bowl of Soup for $7.39. You can't choose hot sandwiches so I chose the Chicken Pesto with Tomatoes, Arugula, Pesto Mayo, and Vinaigrette in Sourdough Baguette. I don't know if you can see from the picture how tiny that sandwich was! haha Mind you, the bowl was not that big to begin with. The flavor and components of the sandwich came together very well. If you like a creamier Pesto then you would like this sandwich. It's actually very simple to make at home too. The Chicken Breasts were moist but the Baguette was a bit tough on the roof of my mouth.
After seeing the size of the combo, I wondered if this was really a good deal! haha Still, you got to try it to find out for yourself. The sandwich seems so tiny next to the bowl of soup that was shallow. lol It's obvious that the soup comes from a pot so the thickness can vary depending on what time of day you go. Mine was pretty thick and the flavors were decent. I use to think their Clam Chowder was really good and the flavors would just pop in my mouth. Alas, times have changed and I have changed. Their soup was good but nothing special. For the price, I think I would rather get Campbell's or Progresso's Soup for a lot cheaper lol.
All in all the food was not bad but it wasn't that worthwhile for the price. I will probably go back if I was hungry while shopping at South Coast Mall and didn't quite want fast food. lol Somehow I remember the sandwiches to be bigger in the past too. I am glad I went to satisfy the craving and now I know I am not missing much. Still, it's nice to have the Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe inside the mall now versus over at the Metro Point Centre lol. O=P
Boudin Sourdough Bakery & Cafe
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Alright, I have delayed this long enough! This is the monumental 400th post! I was planning on launching The French Laundry, but I am so crunched for times these days with classes. This is my way of cheating O=). Instead of some fancy shmancy place that is a landmark, I am going to do an old favorite. The longer I delay the 400th post, the more backed up I get! It's not fair to my devoted readers to keep waiting. Lu Gi will get this honor of being the 400th post and I made a few collages. Recently I have started loving spicy food and now hot pot. For the longest time I was sick of hot pot and had a strong disdain. This was mainly Ms. Lin's fault because she loves it and I was so sick of eating it for all the special occasions! It is also Ms. Lin's "fault" that I now love it and Ninji for making it so delicious! lol Lu Gi is the best Ma-La Hot Pot in Southern California for now.
It's been long overdue for me to talk about this place. I have been going every other weekend or so after the "addiction" started lol. Now I don't even take any pictures because I have so many and they all know what I like there. O=) The service there varies depending on who is working. I really like the lady that works in the back that only comes out to serve if you are there super super early before the servers arrive. As soon as I walk in, the owner knows to get me 2 orders of Pig Intestines. We always get the Dual Hot Pot so that you can choose to have it spicy or just plain. I haven't progressed to the point where I only eat the Ma-La side. O=)
Can you make this home? Sure, but it is not the same. We have many hot pots at home, both gas and electric. You can buy pre-made packets at 99 Ranch but they are still not quite the same. They are good to tide you over until you have a chance to drive down to SGV to get your fill! I even took TP one time and she is now a super huge fan! You wouldn't think she'd like it and now we have tempted Veggie Girl to join us. Whenever Ms. Lin comes home Lu Gi is always on the itinerary. In fact we are going there again next week! lol They have a small sauce bar for you to spice up your dipping sauce. At the table they give you Satay and freshly chopped Green Onions & Cilantro mix as the base. Normally I add chopped Garlic, Soy Sauce, and Sesame Oil. Some days I play around and make a few sauces to test out. If you have never made your own sauce or have never had hot pot, then take a few bowls and mix around a little bit in each bowl just to taste.
They bring out the pot immediately after you order and turn on the heat. Now comes the waiting time! When we are hungry we start eating the Spicy Tofu on the Ma-La side. Normally I don't like the texture of Tofu that much, but after all the "hot potting" I have been doing it has grown on me. The Tofu here is firm yet spongy. I love how all the spicy flavor soaks in and just make the Tofu pop in your mouth! You can do this at home but their Tofu has a much better texture. It is simply Tofu that is frozen and then cut up to cook in the soup. They probably have a better technique to maintain the firm texture. By freezing the Tofu, you allow air to perforate through creating the spongy texture. Ms. Lin was much happier the first few times we went because I never ate the Tofu, but now I am joining in on the fun! lol
To start off the meal, we always get some Lamb and Beef. The quality of the meat varies daily because of the cut and marbleization of the night. You can get various textures in just one night because they have started slicing from a different cut of meat. I often change which plate of meat I'd like to reorder depending on the initial dish. My way of cooking the meat is to dip the meat in the plain broth first so that it will add a nice meaty flavor to that side and immediately dip it on the spicy side that the meat can soak up the flavor nicely. Of course, I never let my meat overcook so that it will be tender and tasty. You can eat the meat as is or pile on some sauce to give it that extra spicy kick. MmmmmMmMmm goooood. ^_^
The first time we came here Ms. Lin ordered the Beef Tendons, Pork Blood Rice Cakes, Fu Zhou Fish Balls, and her signature Tong Hua. **eww veggies! lol** I just stick to eating my meat and she fills up on her side dishes. O=) If you order tendons, be sure to let them cook for a long time so that they become soft and melt in your mouth. As for the veggies, she actually cooks them on the plain side even though she loves spicy. If you have never had spicy hot pot then I'd recommend testing where you cook your dishes before consumption, just in case you don't like the spicy flavor on certain items.
My favorite item, besides the meat is always the Pig Intestines. I have noticed that when you order 2 sets together you get more! haha Yes, I have been here that many times to take note of that! It's one of the rare times where it probably pays to be greedy and order extra. They take a long time to cook so that it will have the right texture. Beforehand I would put the majority on the non-spicy side but now I dump most of it into the Ma-La side to soak in all the flavor. If you leave them in the soup and take it home for the next day, they tend to become too soggy but definitely full of flavor... maybe even a little too much lol.
All in all it's a great place for Ma-La Hot Pot. I agree with KFP that it's best to eat this during the Winter or when the weather is cold because it just warms you from the inside out. This is just good ole comfort food. You cook everything to your own liking and it's fun with groups, although it can kind of hectic if there are too many people! lol Ms. Lin and I always take home the left over soup filled with goodies to make our own hot pot at home for left overs. It's delicious and you can buy tons of meat at a cheaper price to get your fill! She tries to limit the amount of meat I order by telling me that I can have more the same price by buying meat at the markets and eat the leftover soup. Regardless, I eat it there and at home... for days. O=)Lu Gi
539 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
After a HELLISH experience at Nirvana Grille, both my Mom and I were angry and annoyed. What to do for food? I had told her originally that we should go to The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar for their OC Happy Hour Week special, which they have normally for Happy Hour too. The food looked interesting and I wanted to try them out, but nooo... My Mom was lazy and wanted to go somewhere local, which turned into a completely ridiculous situation. Basically the server decided to step in and say that there MIGHT be a no photo policy that she is not sure of. A whole argument ensued and it was just completely preposterous. If she was a smart server, she would have just kept her mouth shut or say something if she was sure. A similar situation almost happened at Yard House with Ms. Lin but the server there was much smarter and just told us not to take photos in front of her. I have taken so many photos in Yard House that it can't be a rule, but good thing she just blew past it. Nonetheless, we were super upset and fed up with the imbecilic conversation that we just got up and left. So what to do next? I was yelling at my Mom for making me return to such a place and we kept arguing on where to go. She told me to just go to the place I had originally planned to check out that day. We could have solved this whole problem if she just listened to me from the beginning! lol Since their Happy Hour ends at 6PM, I had to haul butt to get there but I made it. In comparison, this place saved the night and service was much better! It's Nirvana Grille's loss because I ended up spending close to $100 for Happy Hour and tipped them very well for changing the mood.
To start off the night, I decided that I needed a drink from the whole day's ordeal and I promised to try out some of the Happy Hour drinks. They had a list of Maritinis featuring Boru Vodka all for $6.95. I chose the Mangolicious with Mango Purée, Sweet & Sour, and 7-Up. The alcohol flavor was light and it went down smoothly. I am not a big fan of alcohol so it was a good light balance.
Needless to say that after the whole ordeal I was upset and starving since I waited so long for some good food. I arrived only shortly before the Happy Hour was going to end so I had to order everything on the menu! lol Being hungry and in a bad mood is not a good mix. I was anxiously awaiting the food to come so I can order a second round and got too greedy about doubling up. It didn't help that my Mom was greedier and I had to stop her too. lol Lets start off with their delicious YG's Alsation "Pizza" with Creme Fraiche, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Gruyere, and Onions on a Flat Bread. This dish was extremely aromatic and tantalizing. Even the left overs the next day made me drool. It might not be the best thing in the world but it was definitely solid. Keep in mind that I was dying of starvation at this point too. lol After reading all the low reviews about this place, I was surprised that they made this delightful snack. It was still delicious the next day. I would definitely come back just for this. This "pizza" was much much better than anything they served me at Pizzeria Ortica. **review coming soon!**
What really made me want to try out this place was when I saw they had an appetizer called Crispy Lobster Red-Wine Risotto Lollipop's with Black Truffle Sauce. First off, they had me at Black Truffles and then lobster... Mmmm lol There really wasn't any Lobster hidden amongst the Risotto but this dish was very fragrant. You can definitely smell the Black Truffles. I loved the presentation and idea. The "lollipops" are lightly coated to add that crisp texture. They fell a little short in execution but I still liked it enough to order another set before the time ran out! lol Being hungry, in a rush, and greedy was not a good combo.
The first dish to come out was the Seared Rare Ahi Tuna that was very nicely presented. It's made with Avocado, Mango, a Cucumber Tower, and a Cilantro-Orange Vinaigrette. This dish was very nicely presented and very eye-catching. I really liked how they are served in perfect bite-sized spoons. The tangy citrus helped bring out the sweetness of the fish. At first I really questioned why we would order another set, but it's actually not a bad deal ($6.95) for Happy Hour. The ingredients work well with one another and is light on the palate.
Another item that caught my eye on the internet for Happy Hour was the Hot Sun-dried Tomato-Arugula Fondue with Goat Cheese, Parmesan, and Grilled Baguettes. This dish comes out piping hot, so be careful that you don't touch the pan or you will get burned. The melted cheese on top looked so inviting because of the top crispy layer. If you love cheese then this is the dish for you. The fondue was packed full of flavor and had a spicy kick to it. We were very greedy and order 2 of this dish as well when we couldn't even finish the first order! lol Be sure to eat this before it starts cooling off and becomes to congealed and the oil starts to separate. I enjoyed the sliced toasted baguettes to add more bite/texture to the fondue. If you love melted cheese then this is definitely the appetizer for you.
Luckily I waited on doubling up my order by trying each dish because the Trio of Beef Sliders were not anything special. They are served with sautéed Mushrooms and melted Brie. The portion was not bad but I felt that this dish lacked any flavor. Nothing popped out for me and I had to steal sauces from other appetizers to wash it down. It's not that the sliders weren't cooked nicely, it was just dry in taste. I probably should have asked for some Ranch to add more flavor.
To my surprise they offered a Domestic and Imported Artisanal Cheeses with Seasonal Accompaniments and Walnut Bread as part of Happy Hour. If you know me, I love cheeses so how could I resist. They offered a Blue Cheese, a Goat Cheese covered with bits of Pistachio, and a type of Brie. The accompaniments were thin sticks of Green Apple, Honey with a Raspberry, Vinegar Reduction, Candied Walnuts, and Grapes. I asked if they had honeycombs but sadly they don't. At least there was honey on the plate to compliment the blue cheese. I didn't really care for the bread because I feel it takes a little away from the cheese. My preference is a simple French bread or baguette so that no flavors are trying to compete with the cheese. I guess I am just a purist. The cheeses were actually pretty good even if they weren't anything special. I had fun playing around with all the elements to find the right combinations of flavors. O=)
All in all I had a good time for Happy Hour here. After the foul experience earlier, this place really shined in service and the food was better than what I thought it would be. They might not be the best dishes in the world but it's a good deal for Happy Hour. Every appetizer and even drink above were all $6.95. I have been thinking about returning here just so I can get that yummy "Pizza" again. It's even good the next day when you reheat it in the oven! Everything else was just okay to be honest. Still, the ambiance and service made it all a good experience.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
2647 Park Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782
Saturday, March 14, 2009
After reading about the deal they have at Bamboodles, how can I not stop by for a "pre-dinner" meal. hehe! We drove up to SGV for hot pot next door to Bamboodles so I suggested that we check them out. Of course I had to call to make sure they still have the $1 noodles!!! lol It was on Thursday around 4:30PM and there wasn't that many people inside so we were seated immediately. I was able to catch a quick photo of the "noodle" guy inside but he was just packing stuff away. =**( I passed by after "real" dinner and saw that he was working again but I felt too guilty to run in for just a photo. =*(
I am normally starving after classes and need to consume some food regardless of taste. Why not save some money while we are at it! lol There was 4 of us and we all had to get the $1 noodle for the day! lol That day it was the Spicy Dan Dan Mien. The portions were very generous and filling, which isn't too good for their own business. My Mom and Aunt were too full to eat more! lol Originally they were going to come back for real dinner here but they were stuffed after the noodles and small snacks we ordered. Luckily they stopped my Aunt who was super greedy and wanted to order another $1 noodle to eat there but luckily I guess it is one per person. It makes sense since they have to make money somehow! lol Besides I gave mine to my Aunt since I ordered a bunch of stuff to eat. The noodles were light and the sauce was not bad. We all agreed that it wasn't spicy at all but for $1 I'm not complaining!!! ^_^
They have some other specials on the menu and one that caught my eye was the Wontons in Spicy Sauce for $1.99! I had to get some regardless of what anyone says. O=) It definitely was not what I expected but still good for the price. There is definitely more filler ingredients than meat as it was fairly green but it tasted fine. I liked that there was a lot of chopped garlic and the sauce had its own kick. My favorite place is Yunchuan Garden, but Ms. Lin commented that she likes it here better. We debated and it is mainly because the price is cheaper here. For her, she never loved the other place as much as I did and for the price she'd choose here. >_< Since I was here, I was going to take advantage of trying more stuff out. I remember seeing people say their Green Tea Slice Pork Noodles is good. So when I saw the combo meal deal, I decided to give them a shot. Hey! They need to make money somehow! =P lol In the combo of it includes a choice of drink and choice of appetizer. I debated between the Bean Sprouts & Bean Curd and the Seaweed with Potato for the appetizer. In the end I chose the Seaweed with Potato. This was more potato with a few slivers of seaweed! The sauce was more tangy than spicy. It's not a bad snack but it is also super cheap to order on its own. So it's not really an appetizer but more like an add-on. I actually really liked the Green Tea Slice Pork Noodles. The broth was very light yet flavorful and really hit the spot. I could drink a bowl of the soup because it was very refreshing. The pork was very tender and nicely cooked. Everything in the bowl came together. I like the fatty cut of the pork. The soup mellows out the heaviness and makes it light & enjoyable. Even though this was not part of the deal, it is definitely worth trying. All in all the food was good, especially for the deal! ^_- With my meal, I got the Lemon Tea. At first I didn't like the flavor, but then they came by to give a refill. Wow, not a bad deal. The second cup was better tasting. Maybe it was because I got refills! lol Call ahead before you come here to make sure that they still have their $1 noodles special so that you can try them out at a good price! Keeping it real, they are not to die for but definitely solid for the price. Hmm maybe I need to stop by and see them again this weekend. O=9 Bamboodles
535 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Friday, March 13, 2009
It was a topsy turvy Friday that week because I had planned to go to check out a new restaurant or hang out with Lil Bel, but they all happened to fall through! lol Of course then I get a call from PK asking what I was doing that day. I said nothing really. O=9 Then she asked if I was up for some Korean BBQ and I said why not! haha She has been so good about doing Hot Yoga and dieting that she had a craving. I was more than happy to meet up with her and we went. Instead of going to the normal places that we frequent, I suggested being adventurous and trying a new place. I did some quick research online and decided that Incheonwon BBQ House looked like a good choice.
Good thing we decided to try something new because we found something new that we loved. They have a smaller selection of Ban Chan but still good. We really liked the side dish that looked like parsley. The flavor was very fragrant and aromatic like an herb, but not quite. lol Kind of hard to describe, so you will have to try it out for yourself. ^_- For their AYCE you have 2 choices. In the $16.99 set you get Marinated Beef, Beef Brisket, Black Pork Belly, Marinated Chicken, Beef Tongue, Beef Tripe, Soybean Paste Stew, and Steamed Egg. If you pay $19.99 you get everything on top plus Marinated Beef Ribs. Of course we chose to have everything. O=9
They are very attentive in service. Almost fighting to grill for you in the beginning! lol I am use to grilling myself and I like my meat more rare, but they grilled the first batch and continued to check up on us. Even though you have scissors at the grill, they will come by and cut the meat for you. I was snapping a lot of pictures and they were very curious at what I was doing. They recommended the Beef Tripe/Intestine. That was one reason why I wanted to come here because I love Pig Intestines... Yes, I am Asian enough for that! lol The Beef Tripe/Intestine was actually really really really really good on the grill! For the first batch we just cooked it and ate it, but I realized that it tasted better when cooked longer. This allows the outer layer to become crispy, adding more complexity to the texture. We ordered many many plates that night because we couldn't get enough of it. O=9
We had many platters of meat and tried everything in the first round then ordered what we liked thereafter. PK recommended that I try the Beef Tongue and it was chewy yet pretty tender. Normally I am not a fan of it but now I might give it another try. It goes best with the Sesame Oil and Salt & Pepper to bring out the natural flavors. Same goes for the Beef Tripe/Intestine. The tongue shouldn't be overcooked though.
Their Marinate Beef Rib comes with no bones, which is convenient. All the meats were nicely flavored but PK didn't care for the Chicken. To me they were all good and I ended up ordering most of everything again. O=9 I bet we scared them with our appetite. lol The Pork Belly comes out unmarinated but they provide the pot of marinade for you to dip it in. At the end of the meal they give you Kabocha Soup that is really good. I kind of wished we could have more! lol Maybe I should have asked. O=)
All in all the food was pretty good and service was very attentive. They changed the grill very often and came by to check up on you all the time. Their grill is a little different from the ones I have seen but still good. I like how they give you the scissors so that you can cut the meat into the size you desire. Although, they do come by quite often to service so it wouldn't have been a problem either way. I think I have found a new place to add to my repertoire. Any takers? lolIncheonwon BBQ House
13321 Brookhurst St