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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

March Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 5th -Tuesday, March 8th
Mardi Gras at Dominick's and Little Dom's
Celebrate Mardi Gras at Dominick's or Little Dom's with New Orleans native Chef Brandon Boudet. There will be a special menu which includes $5 gumbo, $5 crayfish pie, $8 Muffaletta sandwiches, and $4 mini king cakes.
Dominick’s, 8715 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Little Dom’s, 2128 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Sunday, March 6
Gold Standard
This is the 3rd annual LA Weekly's Gold Standard event featuring 40 restaurants hand picked by Jonathan Gold, including A Frame, Bistro LQ, Jitlada, La Casita Mexicana, Manilla Machine, and more, paired with Bulleit Bourbon.
$60 general admission, $80 VIP (early entry + swag bag).
1-5pm. Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Boulevard. Los Angeles, CA 90036.

Sunday, March 6
TruckIt Fest
A monthly event at Union Station featuring 40 of LA's best food trucks, 200 local designers and artisans.
$5 General Admission; $45 V.I.P. Ticket (includes valet parking, access to a private lounge, $10 voucher, and menu service, so guests can order and receive their food from the lounge instead of standing in line.)
11am - 5pm. Los Angeles Union Station, 800 N Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Wednesday, March 9 and March 23
Beer Freek Tasting at The Yard
Taste four rare beers paired with chef "CJ" Jacobson's food every other Wednesday. March 9 features Hair of the Dog brewing company with food like rabbit stew croquette, grilled pork sate, and more. March 23 features The Bruery's beers including Black Tuesday and Chocolate Rain.
5-10pm.The Yard, 119 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA. 310.395.6037

Thursday, March 10
PPLA Food Fare
This event benefits Planned Parenthood LA and will include some great restaurants like Blue Plate Oysterette, Foundry on Melrose, Lucques, Joe's Restaurant, Clementine, and more. Since Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken are the PPLA chefs of the year, their ventures will also be on hand.
Tickets are $150 in advance ($175 at the door) for the afternoon session (10:30AM-2PM) and $225 ($250 at the door) for the evening session (6:30-9:30 PM)
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Night+Market: Thai Street Food on Sunset

The palace and the streets are separated by a mere gate. In Los Angeles, Talesai which serves royal palace-style (or close to it) Thai cuisine, is conjoined by Night+Market, serving street food from North to Southern Thailand.

Kua Gling (border beef)
beef tendertail, wok-fried with mortar pounded southern chile paste

To say that they're neighbors is an understatement. Talesai and Night+Market actually shares a kitchen and 28 year old Chef Kris Yenbamroong, the son of the Talesai proprietors.
Chef Kris Yenbamroong
Fooddigger recently organized a tasting dinner for bloggers (as a disclosure, while the dinner was not free, the price was heavily subsidized) and we got to try a selection of dishes - some we've seen before, and others completely new, like the Isaan sour pork sausage, made in-house.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Craigie on Main (Boston): Cocktails, Fried Pig's Tails

One of the best meals I had in Boston was at Craigie on Main. The James Beard Finalist's website reads like a list of food trends of the year: locavore, seasonal, sustainable, nose-to-tail. Though some have gotten jaded with these terms, the bottom line is the menu sounds, looks, smells, and tastes great.

Local Forest Mushroom, farm-fresh poached egg, herbs, flowers

Walking in the front door, you run right into the kitchen and you see all the actions immediately.

There are a lot of ordering options here from the seasonal tasting menu, the reasonably priced prix-fixe, the a la carte menu, or the bar menu. We ended up ordering a mix of the a la carte and bar menu.

Northern Lights cocktailSince Craigie was recommended to me by LushAngeles I knew their cocktails had to be at least pretty good. Well, the one drink I had was perfect and balanced:  

Northern Lights (St. Germain, scotch, citrus, Craigie Tiki bitters) - $11

If you hadn't noticed from the list of ingredients, yes, they make their own bitters (and infusions).

Boston Restaurant Reviews (Boston, MA)

75 on Courthouse Square (Seaport)

Abby Park (Milton, MA)
Alden and Harlow (Cambridge)
Ames Street Deli (Cambridge)
Amorino (Back Bay)
Amsterdam Falafel Shop (Davis Square, Somerville)
Anna's Taqueria (multiple locations)
Area Four (Cambridge)
Artu (North End)

B & G Oysters (South End)
Backbar (Somerville)
The Baldwin Bar (Woburn)
Bar Boulud (Back Bay)
Barking Crab (Fort Point)
Beat Brasserie (Cambridge)
Bel Ari (Leather District)
Belle Isle Seafood (Winthrop)
Beta Burger (Roxbury)
BISq (Inman Square, Cambridge)
Blue Dragon (Fort Point)
Boston Chops (SoWa)
Bostonia Public House
Brelundi (Waltham)
Brick and Mortar (Cambridge)
The Brook Kitchen and Tap (Holbrook, South Shore)
BurgerFi (West Roxbury)
by CHLOE (Seaport)

Cafe Sushi (Cambridge)
Cambridge Brewing Company (Cambridge)
Clio (Back Bay)
Club Passim (Cambridge)
Coppa (South End)
Craigie on Main (Cambridge)

Del Frisco's Grille (Burlington)
Drink (Fort Point)

Earl's Kitchen + Bar at Prudential Center (Back Bay)
East by Northeast (Cambridge) - CLOSED
Ebi Sushi (Somerville)
The Elephant Walk (Cambridge)
Estragon (South End) - $1 tapas

Fiorella's (Newton)
Fleming's Steakhouse (Back Bay) - late night happy hour
Freshii (Back Bay)
Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe (Chinatown)
Gourmet Dumpling House (Chinatown)

Hojoko (Fenway Kenmore)
The Hourly (Harvard Square)
Island Creek Oyster Bar (Fenway Kenmore)
Izakaya Ittoku (Allston)

Kareem's (Watertown)
The Kinsale (downtown / Government Center)
Kirkland Tap and Trotter (Somerville)
KO Catering and Pies (South Boston)

LA Burdick (Cambridge)
Lansdowne Pub (Fenway)
Les Zygomates (Leather District)
Loretta's Last Call Tavern (Fenway)
Lucky's Lounge (Fort Point)
Lulu's (Allston)

Max and Leo's (Fenway)
Mission on the Bay (North Shore / Swampscott)
Muqueca (Cambridge)
Myers and Chang (South End)
Nebo (Waterfront)
Neptune Oyster (North End)

OAK Long Bar + Kitchen (Back Bay)
Odyssey Cruise: champagne brunch cruise
Ogawa Coffee (Downtown)
Ostra (Back Bay)
O Ya (Leather District)

Pabu (Downtown)
Post 390 (Back Bay)

Ribelle (Brookline)
Rino's Place (East Boston)
Russell House Tavern (Cambridge)

Santarpio's Pizza (East Boston)
Sarma (Somerville)
Select Oyster Bar (Back Bay)
Shake Shack (Cambridge)
Shojo (Chinatown)
Sichuan Garden II (Woburn)
State Park (Cambridge / Kendall Square)
Sumiao Hunan Kitchen (Cambridge / Kendall Square)
Summer Shack (Back Bay)
Sweet Cheeks Q (Fenway/Kenmore)

The Reserve at The Langham - afternoon tea (Financial District)
The Tasting Room at 51 Lincoln (Newton)
Tavern Road (Fort Point)
Ten Tables (Cambridge)
Teranga (South End)
Toro (South End)

Union Square Donuts (Somerville)

VERTS Mediterranean Grill (Downtown)

Wagamama (Seaport)
Waxy's Modern Bar + Kitchen (Brookline)
Waypoint (Harvard Square)
WHISK at Fazenda Cafe (Jamaica Plain)
Wink and Nod (South End)
Wu Er by Wow Barbecue (Brookline)
Yume wo Katare (Porter Square, Cambridge)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chef Ben Bailly Takes Over Fraiche Culver City

As I've mentioned in my recent Petrossian post, Chef Benjamin Bailly recently moved to helm the kitchen at Fraiche in Culver City. Kung Food Panda, an avid fan of Ben's, organized multiple tasting dinners for friends and I was able to join one of them. The meal consisted of a belly-stretching amount of food, so instead of going through every dish, I'll just tell you about some of them.

Our multi-course meal started with two jars of  Smoked trout rillette and chicken(?) pate.

It was hard to stop eating the pate, but after my last tasting at Petrossian with Chef Bailly, I've learned that I've had to pace myself.

Then, pretending to be healthy for a bit, we had a course of three salads. Never mind that one of the salads was topped with bacon and blue cheese ..

Frisee aux Lardons (Oeuf Pane, Bacon, Blue Cheese)
Frisee aux Lardons

Belgian Endives - (Coppa, Apples, Pecan, Goat Cheese, Truffle Vinaigrette)
Belgian Endives
This was the first hint of the multitude of truffled dishes to come. As you can imagine, the whole table went gaga sniffing the dishes.

The truffle spaghetti smelled amazing with tons of black truffles shaved on top, but I found the pasta to be too tough to really enjoy the dish. The creamy Sunchoke Risotto with Black Truffles fared much better.
Sunchoke Risotto with Truffles

Friday, February 11, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Tamale in Green Sauce from Mama Hot Tamales

Being a graduate student has its perks. Sometimes it's pretty random, like the time Mama from Mama Hot Tamales came to Caltech show us how to make tamales.

Chicken Tamales with Green Sauce (Salsa Verde)

Chicken Tamale

IMG_4503Masa Recipe:
1 - 5lb bag of Maseca
1 ltr of corn oil
1 tbsp baking soda
3 tsp of salt
Enough chicken broth to bring the masa to the consistency of cookie dough

To prepare the masa/dough: combine the maseca, baking powder, and salt. Add chicken broth, knead well with your hands to form dough. In a separate bowl pour cooking oil and add dough, 1/2 cup at a time, to the cooking oil, and mix until thoroughly combined.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Dining For $60 and Under

Nick+Stef's V-day dessert

Hamamori: $47 for three courses
Prix fixe menu selection includes wagyu beef tartare, cured yellowtail, and housemade ravioli with lobster.
South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bear St # 320, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. (714) 850-0880
Friday, February 11th to Monday, February 14th.

Nick + Stef's Steakhouse: $59 for three courses ($69 for four courses).
Selections include yellowtail sashimi, poached loup de mer, braised Kurobuta pork belly, and oak grilled filet mignon. The pictured dessert above is Rose petal macaroon, lychee sorbet and fresh raspberry sauce.
330 S. Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071. 213 680 0330
Friday, February 11th to Monday, February 14th.

Pinot Bistro: $55 for three courses ($65 for four)
Menu choices include caviar, roasted beet salad, wild forest mushroom risotto, duo of beef and chocolate sable cake.
12969 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604. (818) 990-0500

The Raymond: $55 for three courses ($65 for four)
Menu choices include Alaskan king crab salad, sashimi, New Zealand lamb, and flexible chocolate ganache.
1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105. (626) 441-3136
Sunday, February 13th and Monday, February 14th.

RH Restaurant: $120 per couple ($60 pp) for five courses
Menu includes roasted lobster and split pea bisque vinaigrette, homemade foie gras terrine with grape marmalade, slow braised beef cheek.
8401 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 785-6090

SUGARFISH by Sushi Nozawa: $90 for two ($45 pp)
The special V-day menu has more than the usual Nozawa menu and includes a variety of nigiri sushi, sweet shrimp, and two pieces each of toro, crab, and yellowtail handrolls. See the full menu.
Multiple Locations.

Vertical Wine Bistro: $49 for three courses
Selections include crab cakes, pan seared monkfish, beef wellington, and lemon souffle tart.
70 N. Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103. (626) 795-3999

Vū Restaurant: $120 per couple ($60 pp)
A 7-course tasting including a tasting of crudos, bison carpaccio, bone marrow, King Cole duck, and dark chocolate mousse.
14160 Palawan Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292. (310) 439-3033

Waterloo and City: $55 for three courses
12517 West Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066. (310) 391-4222

The Yard: $50 for three courses (includes a glass of champagne).
Your main course selection is a Roasted Cote de Boeuf for two or a whole roasted loup de mer, and chocolate truffle tart for dessert.
119 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-6037

Zucca Ristorante: $55 for three courses ($65 for four)
Menu choices include squid ink risotto and lobster, bone-in pork loin, and rose petal macaroon.
801 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017. (213) 614 7800.
Friday, February 11th to Monday, February 14th.

And while Petrossian did not make this under $60 list, their $75 pp menu is tempting as it includes 30g caviar to share per couple!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Petrossian: Staying Strong with New Executive Chef Giselle Wellman

Bloggers' beloved chef Ben Bailly may have left Petrossian for Fraiche, but that doesn't mean we should all forget about Petrossian. Their new executive chef, Giselle Wellman, is keeping the West Hollywood restaurant going strong.

Chef Giselle Wellman
Giselle is one of a few female executive chefs in Los Angeles and previously worked at Bouchon, Jean Georges and Del Posto in New York, and Jack's La Jolla. Savory Hunter and I were lucky enough to be invite to try the new menu at Petrossian.

First thing's first: prosecco and caviar blinis.
Not that the blinis have really changed with the changing of chefs, but being at Petrossian we felt that we should start with some anyway. They're great as always.
Caviar Blinis
Blinis (Caviar, Trout Roe, Salmon Roe) -$18

Then a delightful little surprise came: Egg Royal (Scrambled Egg, Vodka Whipped Cream, Caviar) -$14
Egg Royal
Although we hadn't thought of ordering it, we're so glad Giselle decided to bring this out. This dish is somewhat rare in LA, and I usually find it at places like Providence and Melisse as a part of the tasting menu. It's good to know I can get it here without spending the dough for a whole tasting menu. It's quite different compared to the others, though. The scrambled egg was incredibly light, especially combined with the vodka whipped cream.

We mainly tasted the new items that Giselle had put on the menu, like the Smoked Sturgeon Risotto (Pressed Caviar, Chive, Crème Fraîche) -$22
Smoked Sturgeon Risotto
An unusual flavor for a risotto (at least for me) and another table favorite. The creme fraiche balances the smoked sturgeon, and you get pleasant bursts of surprise as you encounter the caviar. The crisp apple slices act like a palate cleanser at the end of each bite.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Giveaway: Pinkberry Swirlygram Gift Card, for Your Valentine

Now you can send the Pinkberry-lover in your life a special Valentine's delivery. From Feb 11-14, Pinkberry will hand deliver their famous frozen yogurt with toppings, gift card, or a take-home container of fro-yo complete with special V-day wrapping, balloons, and a note.
Candygram? It's Swirlygram.
All you have to do is go to a Pinkberry store and place your order (delivery is available within a certain radius of each store). You can also order online here, but that one doesn't come with balloons.

To get you going, Pinkberry is giving away a $10 Swirlygram gift card!

$10 is good for one Cupid's Swirl (prices include delivery), or pay the difference for anything else. I recommend the Blood Orange Pinkberry topped with blood orange slices.

I thought about making you tell me who you're sending it to, but I don't want to embarass people, so all you have to do is leave a comment with your contact info below.

Contest will end at NOON on Tuesday Feb 8th, leaving plenty of time for the gift card to be mailed to you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Molecular Gastronomy Meets Southern Cooking at Vu Restaurant (Marina del Rey)

Pork Belly, Root Beer Jello
Pork Belly, crispy grits, root beer jello -$9

Vu Restaurant, Chef
Executive Chef Kyle Schutte
Executive Chef Kyle Schutte calls it "progressive comfort food." His background of training in the South is apparent in his cuisine, but Schutte was also the first chef in North Carolina to incorporate molecular gastronomy techniques into his cooking before moving to California to head the kitchen at Vu Restaurant.

His pork belly dish is a good example. The pork belly is sandwiched by both sides: crispy grits on one and root beer jello on the other.

Marina del Rey seems an unlikely place for this type of restaurant and I probably wouldn't have paid much attention to it if it wasn't for a recent media dinner held there.

Our night started at the bar, where Luke the bartender made us some cocktails.
I started with the Mojo ($12) made with Death’s Door whisky, Dimmi, peppermint, honey, fresh lemon. Now, a bit on Death's Door whisky: it's a white whisky. A what now?
Mojo cocktail at Vu
Death's Door Whisky comes from a Wisconsin-based spirit startup. It is double-distilled so it's clear and is 160-proof (that's 80% ABV btw). The Mojo had an herbal aftertaste - not sure if it was the white whisky or the Dimmi as I've never had either before.

The first "molecular" dish we had was probably my favorite: the“Reconstructed” Caprese Salad
balsamic-injected cherry tomatoes, basil-infused fresh mozzarella, red hawaiian sea salt, micro basil
The cherry tomato is encased in the basil-infused mozzarella. Pop everything in for a nice little bite as the juicy tomato bursts inside your mouth.

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