Saturday, October 31, 2009

Eva Restaurant: Sunday Family Dinner, and Free Wine?

It's not everyday you walk into a restaurant greeted by the chef and his baby girl in his arm. Plus that baby girl is the restaurant's namesake herself, Eva.

Between receiving LAist's Sam Kim's email saying "What are you doing for dinner?" and us joining him and MyLastBite + hubby at Eva was about 40 minutes. We were there for Eva's Sunday Family Dinner - a $35 family-style prix fixe that included, yes, included, wine.

Here's what we had for dinner:

Heirloom Tomatoes with Crushed Basil
Delicious, juicy heirloom tomatoes lightly dressed to accentuate the natural flavors of the tomatoes.

Risotto with Shrimp Scampi
Good texture on the risotto and good flavor on the shrimp.

Fried Chicken
These are great fried chicken with crispy skin and the meat is tender and juicy. "Succulent" is a great way of describing it. I did want more ... maybe I should've asked for another piece.

Creamed Corn
Quite the addictive side dish, creamy and the sweetness of the corn really came through.

Braised Short Ribs
The braised short ribs were quite good, tender and flavorful. I did, however, at that point feel that the meal was overall too heavy and wasn't perfectly tied together. I thought that the fried chicken and the short ribs belonged to two separate meals.

Chef Gold came by and asked us if we wanted some egg cream. Egg cream? We had no idea what an egg cream was, but sure, we'll take 3.
According to Wikipedia, it apparently contains neither eggs nor cream, but instead is a concoction made of milk, chocolate syrup, and soda.

For desserts: chocolate and banana cupcakes.

Probably because we were sitting with MyLastBite who knows the chef well now, Chef Gold brought to us a plate of Cuttlefish with Matsutake Mushrooms & Kyoho Grapes
Eating cuttlefish apres-dessert is strange, perhaps, but it matters not because the cuttlefish was delicious and wonderfully chewy.

Eva Restaurant
7458 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 634-0700
Eva Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Eva Restaurant in Los Angeles

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Indonesian Street Food: Popiah Tiong Sim in Jakarta

Jakarta, like all other Indonesian cities, are filled with food carts and hawkers, and Pluit street is known for their selection of Medan/Hokkianese food.

Being from Medan, one of my grandma's favorite cart is Tiong Sim which sells popiah, a Fujian/Chaozhou-style spring roll made with a thin, crepe-like buckwheat skin.
Every popiah here is made to order, and it's quite something to watch the guy expertly, and very rapidly, build your popiahs.

The popiah skin is first brushed with hoisin sauce, then filled with lettuce, ground chicken (or any meat would work too - we're in Indonesia here so it has to be halal), fried shallots, and pickled jicama. Some places also add crushed peanuts.

Then he rolls, rolls, rolls, and voila!
The skin is so thin but the popiah does not fall apart. The flavor of the buckwheat skin really complements all the filling. Dip in chili sauce or chili-ed fish paste and you won't be able to stop eating. Unless you're eating with your cousins and all the popiahs are gone within 5 minutes.

Tiong Sim
Jl Pluit Sakti Raya no. 42
Jakarta, Indonesia

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gyenari: Korean (and Cocktails) for the Masses

Gyenari is that Korean-fusion restaurant in Culver City backed up by Debbie Lee of the Next Food Network Star. The result of two long lost cousins finding each other and opening up a restaurant (true story) and is also one of the very few Korean bbq joints on the westside (the only one if you take out West Hollywood).

I've heard of quite a few bloggers liking their happy hour and the food here, so when a press invite came from their PR person, I took up the chance to try the place out.

I actually got to Culver City in time but since I missed the turn for the parking structure (right behind BofA, 2 hours free) and the no-u-turn-everywhere I ended up being late after all. Bah.

The night started out on the patio for cocktails and skewer appetizers.
I believe I had the ginger soy beef which turned out to be pretty spicy. I don't know how the rest of the skewers are since I came in a bit late and they were all gone.

While on the patio we also got some Duk Boki (pan fried rice cylinders in onions and korean chile paste)
I was surprised to find this item since I don't think their typical clientele would order dukbokki. The version here is not spicy but flavorful enough, and the rice cylinders had a good texture. I wonder if they ever get new customers trying this out?

Gyenari also has a surprisingly good selection of cocktails, with an Asian slant, priced pretty reasonably at $9-11.
A couple of the cocktails I enjoyed were the Soju Caipirinha (though it shouldn't be called a caipirinha w/o cachaca ... Caipisoju?) and Mango Mojito
Between all of us, we managed to try almost the entire cocktail menu. Another one that I liked a lot that I managed to get a sip of was the St. Gyenari.

After the appetizers, we moved inside for our dinner. We were seated in front of a series of lighted panels depicting "gyenari", a yellow Korean flower.

Assorted Jeon Plate (mung bean, shrimp, fresh vegetables)
I liked these as they used fresh ingredients and the batter wasn't as greasy. I particularly liked the shrimp.

Apparently their bbq dinners typically comes with some porridge which we also got that night:
Pumpkin Porridge (toasted pine nuts, soju sauteed dates)
The porridge (more like a soup) was a lightly sweet, smooth, and creamy.

Pear and Shiso salad with Flashed Rib Eye and Shabu Sesame dressing
There was talk amongst my table-mates about why Gyenari decided to use the word shiso and not the Korean word, but if you ask me salad isn't really that Korean anyway, right? I like this salad and especially the use of the pear. Flashed rib eye was also good (although I can't help but imagine how good it would be with steak tartar!)

We were served the G1 set from the menu which came with japchae
The japchae was most definitely sweeter than usual and I think we all missed that garlicky oniony that is japchae.

The G1 meat selection included Gyenari Galbee, bulgogi, aged pork belly, and Gyenari Flower Chicken
Table-top grill, of course.
All the meats were good quality, much fresher than what you'd find in an AYCE place, naturally, and the marinades were pretty flavorful.
I was missing the rice paper or even the lettuce to wrap my grilled meats in, although I did love the rice they had here.

The banchans also did not disappoint. Kimchi was pretty good, and I love the bean sprouts and could not stop munching on them.

To finish off the savories we had a stonepot of Kimchee Chigae
The kimchee chigae was rather bland and the tofu was also unflavorful. I thought they definitely could've made this richer and spicier and cook the tofu inside the broth. Even though they're perhaps trying to appeal to a Korean-food-beginner audience, they're not doing the food justice in this case. Considering their skewers were spicy, why tone down the spice here?

For dessert we tried their Spicy Chocolate Creme Brulee with bacon shortbread and almond cream, and the Green Tea Beignets with chocolate mint drizzle.
Although the spicy chocolate creme brulee was a pretty good brulee, it was nowhere near spicy. The creme brulee would definitely benefit from more spice to make it more interesting. The green tea beignets had a stronger green tea flavor but was too dry (I did hear some of us got firmer ones). I wonder if the ones on the regular menu are bigger and more moist inside ...
As they were, though, vanilla ice cream or something would be good.

Overall I had a good meal (complimented by some tasty cocktails): the shiso and pear salad and pumpkin porridge stood out, and the barbecue meats were all good. On the other hand they need to be bolder with their traditional korean menu items like japchae and kimchee chigae. I would be interested in trying some of their fusion "Seoulful" items later though since they were supposed to be Debbie Lee's specialty. Galbee pot pie, anyone?

9540 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 838-3131
Gyenari on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 26, 2009

On Video: Make Jalapeno Chocolate Mousse with Chef Ludo!

Before I start blogging about LA Mag's The Food Event that happened yesterday, I thought I'd give you guys a sneak preview.

Besides plenty of food and wine, we also had the pleasure of watching celebrity chefs giving cooking demonstrations, including Chef Ludo Lefebvre (remember how many of your bloggers loved Ludobites?)

Well, I know you all would want to see this, so here you go: Chef Ludo showing you how to make his spicy jalapeno chocolate mousse, "good for Valentine's", and talking about French girls. Oh and sorry about the cuts, my arm got tired.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tijuana: Villa Saverios, Baja Med with a Touch of Italy

Finishing up the first day of our Baja FAM food decathlon, we ended up at Villa Saverios, an elegant restaurant headed by Chef Javier Plascencia with cuisine featuring Mediterranean influences and Baja California ingredients.

Despite having had many delicious tamarind cocktails throughout the day, the one at Villa Saverios was instantly my favorite.
The slightly tart cocktails was made with mezcal and Damiana (an herbal liqueur made with the damiana herb) and garnished with a tamarind pod. This cocktail proved the most well balanced of the day. The texture was quite icy and similar to a slushee, but more watery.
(The next visit we tried ordering their tamarind margarita, but I don't think it was the same ..)

Pulpo (octopus) carpaccio with arugula, tomatoes, nopales, olive oil, and grapefruit.
A nice light start, to the delight of our extremely stuffed stomachs. The pulpo had a wonderful texture and the use of grapefruit here was quite refreshing.

Next we were served a sampler of their signature dishes. From the right: Mijillon (mussel) cappuccino, pulpo encebollado, and "Tacos de Fideo"

Grandma's "Taco de Fideo." Think spaghetti taco. Corn tortilla is filled with sausage, spaghetti, salsa verde, greens, cheese, habanero, and Mexican cream
An impressive dish, not only on the creativity front but also the taste.

Braised short rib with Oaxaca mole, black Mission figs, port wine, and mascarpone mashed potato.
A lovely dish with very tender short ribs, the rich and sweet mole and a nice texture contrast from the fig half.

Chef Plascencia surprised us with his dessert also: blackberry tamale
Using corn masa, the dessert had a nice light sweetness and a prominent blackberry flavor. Despite tamale being a rather heavy dessert, I can definitely have a lot of this.

Even though we were already so full, I was glad we had this 'dinner'. Chef Plascencia's cuisine is innovative and well executed with restrained and balanced flavors across the board. Villa Saverios is lauded as one of the best fine dining establishments in Tijuana, and I can definitely see why.

Villa Saverios
Blvd Sanches Taboada
Esq. Escuadron 201
Zona Rio, Tijuana, Mexico

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chocolate Salon 09

October 11th was a day of various food events around town, one of them being the 2nd Chocolate Salon held in the Pasadena Convention Center. Alas, instead of eating chocolates and drinking wine all day long, I was slated to walk 17 miles up and down the Half Dome. Yeah, tell me about it. Since Chocolate Salon had sent me a press pass, I dispatched fellow blogger Kung Food Panda to cover the event for me. So, I present to you:

2009 Chocolate Salon, as reported by: Kung Food Panda

Howdy ya'll! This is Kung Food Panda reporting for KTWN at the Chocolate Salon at the Pasadena Convention Center. Gourmet Pigs is out on assignment in San Francisco.

Once a year, hundreds of chocolate aficionados gather upon Chocolate Salon a la those geeky Trekkie's bound for those yearly Star Trek conventions. Admittedly, I'm not a Chocolate Connoisseur. In fact, eating a Ferrero Rocher or even a Snickers bar often hits the spot for me. Upon arrival at 11AM in the morning, I was ready to get my chocolate on! All in the name of reporting for!

The first chocolate that I tried was a white chocolate "creme brulee" from The Chocolate Traveler. Although quite tasty, this particular chocolate didn't quite stand out, but regardless, I was able to whet my chocolate appetite.

Next stop, I saw chocolate spa treatment products by Sweet Beauty. Interesting, but that's a bit out of my comfort zone!

Next, probably the most unique chocolate I had during the convention, a Bacon Chocolate bar made by Christopher Michael.
Bacon Bar
The mix of bacon, sea salt, and pop rocks (yes, pop rocks!) within the chocolate resulted in a combination of taste, texture, and that damn pop rocks almost created a party in my mouth. Now, I don't necessarily love the bacon in the bar, as it had too much of a bacon flavor (TOO much sometimes is not a good thing), but I can definitely dig it. NEXT!!

The next stand I visited had a variety of 7 different chocolates by Chocoveda. With flavors ranging from Green Tea to Ginger Lemongrass, it definitely had some of the most interesting flavors I had during the day.
The lemongrass flavor in fact was one of my favorites as the flavor was intense, yet meshed well with the subtle bitterness of the chocolate. I like! Mmmmmm

From one of the most unique flavors of the day to probably my favorite chocolate bar of the event, Sterling Collections' truffle bars nabbed the top prize.
The two bars I tried were both fantastic! The Strawberry Orange Liqueur had a great blend of strawberries and oranges within the French vanilla ganache . Delicious! The Banana Honey Caramel was also quite delicious. White chocolate that was infused with caramel mixed with dark chocolate and honey, the symphony of flavors meshed beautifully. I loved it!

Another winner for me were chocolates made by Amano Artisan Chocolates. Although simple, the dark chocolates with a slight bitterness were simply fantastic. My favorite from their tasting was the Montanya.
Made from rare cacao from the Venezuelan mountain range, the chocolate was rich, bitter, but simply what chocolate was all about. There's a reason why Amano wins numerous awards for their chocolates.

Another delicious concoction was the "Root Beer Float" made by Choclatique.
The root beer and cream within the milk chocolate was a heavenly mix. Root beer floats were one of my favorite childhood treats whenever I visited A&W back in my hometown, and this chocolate DEFINITELY had the taste of the delicious cold treat.

I'll close out the chocolate review with chocolates from Neapolitan Print & Co. from Portland Oregon. A few flavors I enjoyed were the "celery" infused chocolate and the mango/chipotle chocolate. However, one of the more interesting things I saw was the Chocolate Moustache on a stick from a dude with a killer mustache!

All in all, Chocolate Salon was a fantastic event. From what I've heard, it was a much better event than the one held previously as more companies came to show off their chocolates. Although I was quite "chocolated out" by the end of the day, I had a great time trying out chocolates from various companies. Although there were many chocolates I was not able to try, I hope the lovely Gourmet Pigs will allow me to attend the event again next year as her +1. I had a lot of fun covering the Chocolate Salon and I thank Gourmet Pigs for this opportunity. This is Kung Food Panda, saying goodbye from Pasadena.

Until next time, too all of you chocolate lovers out there keep doing what you do, but ask yourself this......are you ready for the Chocolate Salon???

For even more photos, here's KFP's photo slideshow:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Offaly Indonesian: Brains, Lungs, and Feet

It all started with Sinosoul's comment on my IndoKitchen post. "Where are the brains?" he asked, so I shot him a quick email. I know just the place for Indonesian cow brains.

Sinosoul and his lady, Wandering Chopsticks, Kung Food Panda, and Food Marathon joined me at Raso Minang, a food court outpost in the Hong Kong Plaza all the way in West Covina.
Raso Minang is the only place in the area I know of that specializes in this regional cusine from Padang in West Sumatra. Padang food is typically known for its spicy dishes (although here it is of course - to the dismay of some - toned down some). Padang food is also usually cooked at the beginning of the day, and left out in small portions on display so that the customers can grab and pay for what they want. Raso Minang being at a food court though, does it the typical food court way. Cooked items are on the display case and you order a "combo" served with rice and cucumber:
1 item $ 6.99
2 items $ 8.50
3 items $ 9.75

I got a typical Indonesian dessert drink while waiting, Es Doger ($3.50)
It is typically shaved ice with condensed milk, syrup, cassava, and coconut but here the ice and syrup has been blended into a smoothie.
Raso Minang also sells whole coconut (in the shell).

What we all came for: Beef Brain Curry (Gulai Otak)
Pieces of beef brain in flavorful yellow curry. This dish is full of spice but not spicy, the curry is rich and creamy from the coconut milk, and the brain ... well, think sweetbreads. Did I think of mad cow when I was eating this? Of course. But that won't hit til years from now :P

The other items we got was the Beef Rendang (left) and Beef Feet Curry (Gulai tunjang).
These are both spicier than the brain curry, although not as spicy as Food Marathon wanted it to be :P I quite like the rendang here, it's pretty tender and spicy and doused in curry as it should be.

I also got a side order of one of my favorite Indonesian dishes: pempek (fish cakes with vinegar sauce)
This is quite a good rendition of pempek, with chewy and flavorful fish cake with crispy fried skin. A hit with the table and perhaps the best version I've found in LA to date.

West Covina is pretty far, so I wouldn't come here often, but if you're looking for good Padang food in the LA area, or have been dying to try brain curry, well now you know where to go!

Raso Minang
989 S Glendora Ave #15
West Covina, CA 91790
(626) 939-3333
Raso Minang on Urbanspoon
Raso Minang in Los Angeles

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SF: Lunching at Pizzeria Delfina

Even before they opened at noon, people were already waiting in front of Pizzeria Delfina. The good thing about being there as they opened though, is that you get seated pretty much immediately. The crowd filled up seats minutes after the door opened, both inside and on the sidewalk of 18th St.

Then again, that also means they're suddenly starting to cook for a full house, so we waited for food staring at our condiments plate in anticipation. Can't wait til I can put this stuff on my pie.

The fried sand dabs we got as appetizer (special of the day) came out first.
Piping hot and crispy sand dabs were topped with crisped spinach. A drizzle of lemon made these pieces of fish amazing. Definitely a great start to my Delfina meal. I would watch out for these babies on the menu next time and will definitely get them again.

The first pie: Napoletana (tomato, anchovies, capers, hot peppers, olives, and oregano - $10)
Delfina's pizza is a saucy thin crust pizza - thin enough to put the focus on the sauce and toppings but not too thin that the pizza would fall apart.
The Napoletana here is a great representation of the classic where great ingredients are put together well. My only complaint with this pie is that it was pretty burnt at parts. Luckily this didn't happen on our second order.

The second pie: The Purgatorio (spicy tomato sauce, pecorino romano cheese, 2 eggs)
Everything with eggs is good I'd say and this is quite an interesting pizza. The runny yolk does well at cutting the spiciness of the tomato sauce and sopping up the remaining yolk with their delightful crust was pretty amazing. Not burnt either. We were all quite happy with this pizza.

It was a very satisfying lunch on a Sunday afternoon. They had desserts and they probably would've been good, but with Bi-Rite across the street ... tough choice but this time around we opted for Bi-Rite.

Pizzeria Delfina
3611 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 437-6800
Pizzeria Delfina on Urbanspoon
Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco

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