Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pal Cabron: Cemitas & Clayudas Cabronas

Pal Cabron is the brainchild of siblings Bricia and Fernando Lopez, whose family own the Guelaguetza restaurants. Pal Cabron is also perhaps the only restaurant in town serving Cemita Poblana, the sandwich that is the street food staple of Puebla.
Pal Cabron generously offered to donate a bunch of gift certificates for Bid and Eat when I was doing a fundraising for Haiti, so one Sunday I drove over to pick them up. And have lunch, of course.

Javier Cabral, aka The Glutster, was an early discovered of Pal Cabron and his blog post brought bloggers' attention to the place. They even added a painting of him on the wall.

Even though it was only lunch time and on a Sunday, I couldn't skip the much-praised Michelada.
Spicy and savory! Worcestershire sauce and a little Piquin chile is topped with Pacifico beer. A strong wake-upper here.

I dragged a friend of mine from East LA here. My friend asked me what he should get, and I recommended the one thing I've had (during Glutster's bday wine tasting trip) which I really enjoyed before: La de Barbacha ($5.95) which is Barbacoa de Borrego Enchilado (Seasoned Lamb)
Cemita Poblana here is made with a freshly baked roll sprinkled with sesame seeds and stuffed with the meat you ordered, avocado, onions, quesillo, milanesa, queso panela ... all that good stuff. When I had it during our lunch picnic, I really enjoyed all the flavors that went in and the tender meat itself.

Since I've had their cemita before, I wanted to try their clayuda this time. I was still full so I avoided meat and went with the basic with black beans and Oaxacan string cheese, Quesillo ($5.95).
It may look like a pizza to you at first, but don't be expecting similar flavors. The large and crispy tortilla is spread with pork fat, black bean paste and topped with cheese. It's crunchy, it's rich and fatty and cheesy. Very satisfying. Next time I'll add some chorizo on top.

Even though I was full, as we were leaving I gave in and got a horchata after all. The horchata here, just like the one at Guelaguetza, is topped with pecan bits, melons, and tuna (cactus) puree.
The perfectly refreshing end.

Cemitas y Clayudas Pal Cabron
2560 E Gage Ave
Huntington Park, CA 90255
(323) 277-9899
Pal Cabron on Urbanspoon
Cemitas and Clayudas Pal Cabron in Los Angeles

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lazy Ox Canteen

I probably don't really need to introduce Lazy Ox Canteen. This new baby of Josef Centeno (formerly of Meson G and Opus) recently got a three-star review from SIV at La Times and parking around Little Tokyo has been harder to find than ever.

And if you're wondering right off the bat how I like this place, I'd like to point out that this review is based on 3 visits. Not that the place is perfect, but just how many places do I visit three times in two months? Not many, not many. The fact that they have a routinely rotating menu helps.

The place got packed following the LA Times review but you can still walk in and wait for spots at the bar or community table.
Cancha, a Peruvian corn, toasted and tossed with chili powder, salt, and lime. A good snack, although I've realized from my Peru trip that I don't like Peruvian big, starchy but bland corn as much as the sweet corn variety.

Lazy Ox carries a selection of sodas with sugar cane including Bundaberg ginger beer, etc. I've always loved root beer so I gave the Abita Root Beer a try.
The first soft drink made by a microbrewery, this root beer is produced by Abita Brewing company which specializes in microbrewed lager, the root beer is made from Lousiana sugar cane. A notable step up from your typical canned root beers at the grocery store.

Lazy Ox Canteen has a semi- permanent printed menu and a large rotating blackboard specials. If you don't pay attention to the blackboard, you're missing out.

New Zealand salmon crudo with Tabil
This salmon was fresh, meaty, and had a lot more flavor than most. The Tabil sauce was nice and added a nice richness but you really only needed a bit of it as the salmon itself gave you most of the flavor you'd need.

Creamy farro grain with sunchoke puree ($13)
A good, risotto-like creamy dish.

Hand-torn egg pasta with sunny-side up egg, brown butter, herbs ($11)
My first thought was that it was rather thin and thus mushy, but then I quickly started loving it. By the end, it was my favorite dish here (I also have a long standing love affair with eggs, which should explain my love of weekend brunches). The flavors are a more subdued and restrained here and I can imagine some people saying that it is bland, but I find it to be nicely balanced. The herbs provided the appropriate kick and neither that or the butter was overwhelming. If there is a dish to make me come back over and over, it's certainly this one.

Lamb Cheeks w/ Pickled Red Onions ($14)
Good flavors, pretty tender. A good combo with the mashed potato and greens.

Whole roasted quail, stuffed with golden raisins.
A bit on the small side of an "entree" and feels a little overpriced (over $20). I did like the quail but personally felt the stuffing to be a bit distracting.

Chilled Rice Pudding w/ caramel, hazelnut brittle ($7)
This was a recommended dessert that seemed to have made its way as a permanent addition to the blackboard. Denser and firmer than your typical rice pudding, but the caramel and hazelnut brittle are definitely a welcomed addition.


My second visit to Lazy Ox was thank to LAist's Sam Kim coaxing me with their fried chicken dinner ... no, wait. I think it was the other way around.

The fried chicken dinner for two was a weekly special, and I believe it cost $28 or so?

I also had a Peche Lambic. They have a nice selection of beers although it's a bit pricey especially for the pour sizes.

The chicken dinner might or might not have come with salad ... Sam Kim arrived earlier and received a salad with his order but we did not until we had to ask for it (and the bartender we talked to wasn't sure if we were supposed to receive one).
The salad was actually on the bitter side, but seeing how rich our other dishes were, it was a necessary side on the table.

The Fried Chicken for two consisted of about 6-7 pieces total.
The chicken meat was undoubtedly moist, but the breading was a little too thick for my taste.

The dinner also came with a biscuit with gravy.
Buttery biscuit, creamy gravy with bacon, and I really love the combination of the collard greens soaked in the gravy.

Because I heard so many people talking about the pork trotters, I ordered some too.
It was a perfectly good dish, tender and flavorful and my friend thought it was his favorite dish of the night, but I suppose I was just a bit disappointed since the preparation is similar to the lamb cheeks I had on my last visit.

The three of us shared what we thought would be a fairly light dessert: Lemon Trifle ($7)
It didn't end up being light, but was instead pretty dense and rich. It did have a nice tart flavor.


A week or two ago I felt like I needed a really good meal, but didn't want to drive too far. So we ended up at Lazy Ox Canteen again. We were seated outside this time, having called ahead 30 minutes before arriving.

We started our meal with the Hand-torn Egg Pasta again. Still as great as I remembered. Just this dish was worth our trip.

Farro w/ Beet Puree & Yogurt ($9)
Rich and creamy but that acidity of the yogurt cut the richness nicely. A great dish.

Suckling Pig Pork Rack ($18)
Tender, though small (I mean, it was a suckling pig ...). Was it that much better than, say, rack of lamb? Not particularly I suppose. That doesn't mean it wasn't great.

What ended being the next highlight was in fact the Lamb Roast.
Perfectly cooked for my taste. Medium rare, so tender. See for yourself:

If they can consistently produce a lamb like this, I would definitely be here all the time.

For dessert I got the Chocolate Pate w/ fleur de sel
A decadent chocolate dessert that's helped by both the brittleness of the candied seeds and the ice cream.

Lazy Ox Canteen provided overall good meals, with a few outstanding dishes that are enough to bring me back again. The rotating menu is always interesting and doesn't get old. Your meals here can easily tend towards the heavy side, though, so either order very carefully or ... just let go for a night.

Lazy Ox Canteen
241 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-5299
Lazy Ox Canteen on Urbanspoon
Lazy Ox Canteen in Los Angeles

My 2010 Book A Week Project (Or .. My Attempt)

**Updated list on 6/20/10, if anyone's actually keeping track or care :P
As you can see, I am way behind.

Oh, heck. Why not? Yes, sure I'll join the crazy aim of reading 52 weeks in 2010.

Well, let's just see how far this goes :P
And of course, I'm taking suggestions as to what to read next.

PS. My recommended books are highlighted in bold ;)


1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Haruki Murakami) - 01/10/2010
2. Heaven's Net is Wide (The Tales of the Otori) (Lian Hearn) - 01/19/2010
3. What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (Malcolm Gladwell) - 02/14/2010. I finished the audiobook actually. Too much driving, as always.
4. Midnight's Children: A Novel (Salman Rushdie) - 02/15/2010. A bit slow going in the beginning, but an amazing book.
5.In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (Michael Pollan) -02/25/2010. Actually I listened to the audiobook. Maybe it's because the reader sounds like Reverend Lovejoy but the book seems a lot more judgmental and confrontational than Omnivore's Dilemma. Didn't enjoy it as much.
6. The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma (Marc Kirschner, John Gerhart) - 03/5/2010. Very interesting and insightful theory of how phenotypic variability can evolve, though the authors spend a tad too much time arguing against intelligent design.
7. A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel (Haruki Murakami) - finished the audiobook on 3/17/2010. The readers were ... okay. Some of the character's tone and accent bothered me a bit.
8. When We Were Orphans (Kazuo Ishiguro) - finished 4/2/2010. A really easy read. Not as "shocking" as Never Let Me Go, but still complex enough.
9. Love (Toni Morrison)
10. Women of the Brewster Place (Gloria Naylor)
11. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
12. Singularities: Landmarks on the Pathways of Life (Christian de Duve)
13. The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
14. Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins)
15. Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)
16. Persuasian (Jane Austen)
17. The Duchess of Padua (Oscar Wilde)
18. Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease (Sharon Moalem)
19. Children of Hurin (J.R.R. Tolkien)
20. The Valley of Fear (Conan Doyle)
21. The Sign of the Four (Conan Doyle)


On the List:
Underworld: A Novel (Don DeLillo)

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (Seth Godin)

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