Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hole-In-the-Wall Handmade Noodles

I found this place from reading Jonathan Gold's article about it, where he raves about the Bao there. But I'm surprised he neglected to mention the handmade noodles, which I think is better and more unique than the bao (hence their name, Noodle House!) - he did not seem to like them though.

Their handmade noodle is made from scratch, and made from spinach. Although their simple menu does not say "handmade noodles" anywhere and you can't know what kind of noodles you will be getting from the names along, you can study the full picture menu on the wall. If the noodle is greenish, that's your handmade spinach noodle.
The dish pictured above is the "beef stewed noodle" (in Chinese, niu ru mien). You can get niu ru mien at other places, but not with this kind of noodle! The noodle is chewy and has a distinctive flavor. It is firm and never overcooked. The broth is rather spicy and is a particularly good niu ru mien broth, but it is not too spicy (which may have led to Jonathan Gold complaining that it was "not as intense" as other shops). The mustard greens in the soup adds another layer of flavor.

The place is small, with such a generic name: "Noodle House". The waitress speaks almost no English, even less than the cook, Linda, who speaks broken English. She is awesome and always seems very happy that you're there. She'll give you cold appetizers and sweet tea with dates for free.

Noodle House
46 W. Las Tunas Dr., Arcadia
(626) 821-2088.

Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Forget Your Wallet at Sasabune

As soon as I sat down at the sushi bar at Sasabune, I saw their sign saying sushi bar patrons must get the omakase, and one of those "Trust Me" signs. What that means to me: 1) it'll most likely be very good food and 2)my wallet will suffer ..

Sasabune used to be located in a small house on Sawtelle, with no sign outside except one neon sign that just said "Sushi". I've always wanted to try it then, and I'm glad I finally get to go to their new location (former Todai).

Five of us took a corner of the sushi bar and left our fates in the sushi chef's hands. They serve fresh wasabi, so I had faith that they know what they're doing. They started us with assorted sashimi dishes including abalone and scallops. The others managed to get to them before I can take a picture, so here's a picture of a half-eaten scallop sashimi.

Next is some blue fin tuna and yummy yummy melt-in-your-mouth toro.
Salmon and hamachi. The sesame seeds on top of the salmon really gives it a nice flavor. The hamachi was good and fatty although it can't beat the hamachi belly Asakuma gives me.

Then they served us delicious mushroom soup, very soothing and nutritious.

At some point I've lost track of what we ate ... all I know is we had 15 pieces of sushi, plus the sashimi and soup, and a hand roll.

We had some japanese snapper, and Ono (which was delicious).

Not to forget the ikura and uni :) Although knowing I could have gotten toro instead of uni ... tough choice but I think I like toro better.
Then at some point there were some fresh oysters.

And a deliciously fresh scallop sushi.

Towards the end we got these ice toro and anago sushi. A very nice hot and cold plate :) First time having ice toro, it was interesting because of the iciness but I think it was chopped up, making it melt in your mouth even more.Ending with a kani roll. The crab inside was just outstanding!

The damage? $98pp including tax and tips. We were all happy and full and had a just-ate-great-food high, so it didn't matter (that's why you have credit cards ...)

Sushi Sasabune
12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 820-3596

Sushi Sasabune on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Tried and True Sushi

Undeniably Los Angeles has an excess of sushi restaurants, and it can take quite a few miserable trips to filter through and find those good, reasonably-priced places that you can return to over and over again.

Among these good ones, Asakuma is my favorite. A bit more expensive than Hide, but without the wait and hassle and bad service (the sushi chefs at Hide are great but the waitstaff is ... meh...). In all my experience sitting at the sushi bar at Asakuma, I have never gone wrong.
I typically come in towards the end of the night, so it's pretty quiet usually. I always start with my standard favorites, hamachi and salmon. My regular sushi chef always gives generous portions (generous fish!, not rice as in other places) of the fattiest freshest fish :)
After these two, I suddenly have to decide what to order next. I usually ask for live scallops if they have any (at the end of the night they usually don't :( ). This time I opted for the Tai.
I like to eat my sushi in two bites: one bite to eat the fish with all the rice, another bite is the hanging tail end of just the fish itself. Asakuma's fish-to-rice ratio is perfect for me.

Ended the sushi meal with the sweet unagi, delicious as usual.Finish off the meal with some refreshing oranges, on the house.

11701 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 826-0013

Asakuma on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When I Eat Spicy

Just to get it out there, I CANNOT eat spicy food. Yes, I am Indonesian. Call me weird. Call me weak-sauce. Call me whatever. I just can't handle it. Occasionally though, I will sit through and suffer and drink gallons of water so I can have a particular dish.

Soon tofu is one of them. I always ask for Mild, but it ends up too spicy for me anyway. But plain would just be WRONG! Favorite soon tofu place in LA? That'd be Beverly Soon Tofu.

Your meal here starts with the regular and not so regular banchan: a silky smooth tofu with sesame, plus the usual plates of kim chi, bean sprouts, etc. Barley tea is served in metal bowls free of charge.

Then the soon tofu comes sizzling hot into which you immediately add an egg, rice, and then mix things up.
The ingredients used at Beverly Soon Tofu is higher quality than most and you can taste it, especially in the tofu and meat.
I personally prefer the small bowl (which comes with the kalbi or bulgogi combo), because that size is just perfect for one egg. 2 eggs in the bigger bowl is too much. On a good day the mild is not so spicy and I can finish it pretty quickly :P otherwise it's bite and drink for me ...

Still, every so often I want some "comfort food" and for some reason I feel like going to this place and suffer through the spice so I can have this bowl of goodness :P

Beverly Soon Tofu
2717 W Olympic Blvd Ste 108
Los Angeles, CA 90006-2642
Phone: (213) 380-1113

Beverly Soontofu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Things to Slurp - Part 1 (Ma Dang Gook So)

It doesn't matter who first invented noodles/pasta anymore. Nowadays every culture has their own specialty noodle dish(es). The Korean Gook So is said to be the equivalent of pho to Vietnamese, but then pho is just the equivalent of some other soup-based noodle dish somewhere else. But like I said, it doesn't really matter.

Ma Dang Gook So is one of those small, homey restaurants in Korea town, and it specializes in Korean noodle dishes, one of them being (naturally) the gook so. This item is identified simply as "handmade noodles" in the menu.

Being weak to spice, I avoided the kim chee gook so and opted for the anchovy instead. The noodles were bathed in beef broth that has the taste and flavor of anchovies. Two slices of potatoes are hidden inside, and most believe these potatoes are the secret ingredient to their broth's subtle taste and body.
Halfway through the bowl I was completely bloated as I couldn't stop drinking the soup. The one bad thing about the dish is that I do occasionally miss my protein (there was no actual anchovy inside). To actually get real meat, one could opt for the chicken gook so.
The chicken gook so uses instead chicken broth, but it still hides the potato slices and hence still has the same body as the beef broth. The chicken shreds are definitely a plus, but I still prefer the beef broth better myself (I'm a red meat eater!).

Ma Dang Gook So gets steady business early in the morning. It does seem like a good meal to have after a late night. Or a hangover.

Ma Dang Gook So
869 S Western Ave Ste 1
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 487-6008

Ma Dang Gook So on Urbanspoon

Ma Dang Gook Soo in Los Angeles

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Lobster Hall of Fame!

1. The blue Lobster at L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
5-7, rue de Montalembert, Hôtel Pont-Royal
Paris, France 75007 · 01 42 22 56 56

2. The lobster curry at Chinois on Main
2709 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 392-3037
3. The "2 on a Plate Special" at the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Quiet Italian

The few bad things about Angelini Osteria (and these are not necessarily "bad" things, depending on how you look at it) are that it's hard to get reservations and it is always crowded. We think that this was probably the main reason Gino Angelini decided to open La Terza. And while La Terza with its white tablecloths and high ceiling seems much more formal than its Osteria counterpart, it actually feels more casual and relaxed (probably because you're not surrounded by dozens of Beverly Hill-ers).

We started with some bruschetta compliments of the chef. The bread at La Terza was drizzled with olive oil and black peppers, delicious and the peppers gave it a kick.

For appetizers we got mussels and clams in polenta. I never have imagined mussels, clams, and polenta together but they went very, very well with each other. The mussels were not on the huge side, but nonetheless the taste was excellent and we scraped the polenta off this dish.
In between we had some risotto with parmesan and artichokes, again, compliments from the chef.
For our main course, we had spaghetti with lobster and fried artichokes, and the rotisserie duck with swiss chard and dried figs.
Not enough lobster in the spaghetti, but the taste was nothing to complain about :)

The duck was juicy and tasty and the skin was crispy but not burned, just the way I like it. It goes very well with the chard and figs.
For dessert we had the Cioccolato which was a Piemonte's bunet. The bunet was excellent! with a strong chocolate taste. Highly recommended.
We also had the Affogato which is served at Angelini Osteria also.

All in all, the food was on par with Angelini, although the pasta dishes are probably better at the Osteria (the desserts are better at La Terza though). However, La Terza makes for more of a relaxed and pleasant dining experience.

La Terza Restaurant
8384 West Third St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

La Terza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Eat Lots A Fish!

Lately I have been driving down to Orange County way too many times to appease a friend of mine who keeps complaining about me never visiting (I don't know why she says that, I visit ALL the time ..)
But at any rate, being stuck in OC where I think there's always not that much to do, we have to keep coming up with potential good places to eat.

Recently, my friend suggested the Crab Cooker (with their motto Eat Lots A Fish!), either the one in Newport Beach or the restaurant in Tustin. I didn't need any additional reason to cut my driving time if at all possible, so I obviously picked Tustin. So, this review is only of the Crab Cooker Restaurant and I don't know how representative it will be of the Newport Beach location.

We came in with high expectation since apparently this place had raving reviews and supposed to have best crab cakes.

The Crab Cooker Restaurant is tacky in a charming way. The outside is painted all red, and the inside is decorated with various ocean-related knick knacks.

We started with the famous Maryland crab cakes ($9 for 2)
The crab cakes were good, but they weren't anything special. I guess they were cheaper than if we had gone to an upscale seafood restaurant? Anyway, the taste was good, but it wasn't as chock full of crabs as we would have preferred.

We ordered that day's special appetizer: Sweet Spotted Shrimp.

In my opinion, fresh seafood is best when prepared very simply :)
This was followed by some King Crabs
They look very fresh and delicious, don't they? :) They were.

For our main meal we ordered the Australian Lobster, Crab Cooker style.
The lobster was a little chewy, but fresh and tasty nonetheless. The sauce was pretty good, but I think I still prefer it the plain and simple way. (Or steamed with ginger, garlic, and scallions the Chinese way :P )

All in all, I think the main reason I posted this review is because the pictures turned out so well. The seafood they had was definitely fresh and good, but I don't think it's worth driving down from Pasadena just for that. If you happen to live/find yourself in the Tustin area though, and can't seem to find a good place to go to, I would definitely recommend the Crab Cooker.

The Crab Cooker
17260 E. 17th Street
Tustin, CA
(714) 573-1077

Crab Cooker on Urbanspoon

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