Monday, February 28, 2011

The Royce at The Langham (Pasadena)

Lobster, Pomegranate
Last year, The Dining Room at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena obtained a lot of attention with Top Chef champion Michael Voltaggio heading the kitchen.

Chef David FeauThe restaurant then closed temporarily while undergoing a major renovation and recently reopened as The Royce (named after the late Stephen Royce who was the hotel's owner), with David Féau as their new executive chef.
Féau trained under Guy Savoy and was most recently the executive chef of the Patina Group's west coast operations.

I was lucky enough to be invited for a tasting dinner, complete with wine paired by the general manager and sommelier, Eric Espuny. The difference in the interior is striking. The Royce's dining room seems to be separated into sections of different themes and color schemes which I don't quite get, but the modern look and white leather chairs are definitely better than the old Dining Room.
The Royce Dining Room

Each diner is started with a glass of sparkling Moscato d'Asti to prep the palate. This is chosen by Espuny because of its low alcohol content. Its approachability makes it a good starter.
For me, I love the refreshing, light sweetness so much that I can just drink it all night long.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Top Chef Korean Food Challenge: from OC to Tijuana

Tteok bokki
In a campaign to increase exposure about Korea in the US, the Korean Tourism Organization sponsored a Korean cooking challenge, pitting top non-korean chefs from OC, La Jolla, and Tijuana to see who has the best interpretation of classic korean dishes. The contest was hosted by Cathlyn Choi (from the TV cooking show Cathlyn's Korean Kitchen), and sponsored by buzz KOREA, the tourism organization's global campaign.
Competing chefs: Javier Plascencia and Adria Montano (Villa Sorriso, Tijuana), Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver (Marine Room, La Jolla), Brian Hirsty (Bluewater Grill Tustin) and Graham Norton (Bluewater Grill Redondo Beach).

The show will air on SoCal PBS station KOCE April 7 at 9 pm and starting the first week of March, you can vote for the chefs team that you think should win on the Buzz Korea website. To help you decide on who should win, below is a recap of my experience during the shooting, tasting the different dishes, etc. I can't tell you who won though.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lotus of Siam (Las Vegas, NV)

Lotus of Siam has been touted as the best Thai restaurant in America, thanks to Jonathan Gold's review in Gourmet Magazine, although some blog reviews say that it does not live up to the hype. By chance, Gastronomy Blog reviewed the restaurant right before my trip to Vegas with friends, and it sounded so good that we decided to go there for dinner and see for myself.

The restaurant looked small and sketchy from the outside but was actually big. We did have to wait half an hour for a table even though there were about half a dozen empty tables. Well, once we got seated things moved along smoothly.

Lotus of Siam has an extensive menu with some pretty unusual specialties and hard-to-find Northern Thai dishes, so we had a hard time choosing even with the six of us. With popular vote, we first settled with the Nam Kao Tod ($7.95)
Crispy rice mixed with minced sour sausage, green onion, fresh chili, ginger, peanuts, and lime juice

Nam Kao Tod

A nice mix of flavors and textures makes it a great light appetizer. Crispy and crunchy, tangy and spicy.

Tom Kah Kai ($13.95)
chicken, coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, lime juice
Tom Kah Kai

I like tom kah kai better than tom yum because of the richness that coconut milk adds.

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