Friday, July 31, 2009

Breed Street

First of all, I totally missed my 1 year blog anniversary by almost a month (my "debut" was July 9th, 2008)! Although a belated announcement, I'm very pleased to have kept up with blogging for a full year. I've had a fantastic time along the way sharing my food experiences and meeting people both online and in person. Here's to another starchy year!

And now for Breed Street, a Mexican foodapalooza where I tucked a horchata under one arm, ate messily with the other and enjoyed this oh-so-LA (but in an East LA way, not like big sunglasses and spray tanned) meetup with Charles, our friend Seve and a bunch of fellow bloggers.

Breed St gordita
My gordita with the illustrious protein, chicharron (pork skin)! The man in charge made the tortillas by hand to order, which made them chewier, more substantial and noticeably higher in quality than what I'm used to (i.e. mainstream Mexican food). I ladled on some salsa and avocado sauce; loved the pickled red onions: vinegary and spicy (a stellar combo)!

Breed St quesadilla
Seve's FRIED quesadilla with chicharron. The same man in charge slid this treat into a vat of oil where it floated happily until it was ready for Seve to tear into it.

Breed St sope
Charles got a chicken sope. He is a big fan of sopes, I still haven't had one. By the way, all three items above were from Nina's. We had to wait a bit, but those folks have got their system down pat. It's worth the wait.

Breed St chicken necks
Seve and I split these fried chicken necks. Still dreaming of them. Sigh. I love the waste not want not mentality of eating necks.

Breed St hotdog
Both guys got bacon wrapped hot dogs. Here is Seve's before he demolished it. Sad to report that I was weak sauce and could not rally to try my first bacon wrapped. But, it's gonna happen, do not worry.

Breed St churro
Churros. I feel like I never really had them before Breed Street. A small bag of them for $2. Best money spent in a while! I wish the sweet (no pun intended) churro man could set up shop right outside my front door. These things will make you exclaim something loud.

Breed Street is a place where a sense of community makes it possible for so much delicious food to be brought to the public. The food is humble, most of it made to order and so unbelievably cheap. It can be a bit overwhelming in a dizzying way and if you're like me, you'll be disappointed in yourself for not powering through and making the rounds to all the vendors and their flavorful wares. But, it's a positive thing actually because as you drive home, you'll already be scheming for your next visit.

Thanks to my new pal Jocie for organizing this event!

Breed Street Food Fair
E. Cesar Chavez and Breed Street
Cash only (small bills are helpful and nice)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ira's Gourmet

Indonesian food has always been a bit of a mystery to me, so I was delighted when Cathy of Gastronomy invited me to a dinner featuring dishes by Ira's Gourmet, an Indonesian caterer based in Pasadena. Charles and I were ready to be wowed when we arrived in Ira's darling backyard and we were not disappointed!

Ira bacem tempe
Bacem tempe: fried tempeh seasoned with onion, garlic, coriander and sweet soy sauce. I did not realize at the time that this dish was tempeh, although I do recall being perplexed by what this ingredient could be.

Ira ayam goreng
Ayam goreng: fried chicken (my favorite item of the evening). Ira's chicken will make you lose any sense of decorum; I made a mental note to order a tub of this stuff sometime for a party.

Ira bakmi goreng
Bakmi goreng: fried noodle. Charles liked this dish the most; I see an unsurprising pattern emerging of fried delights being the stars of the show. Although, let the record show that he really loved the lemper (sticky rice filled with chicken in coconut gravy), which I failed to photograph.

Ira bafem tahu
Bacem tahu: tofu. I love a simple tofu dish that doesn't skimp on flavor; this was prepared like the tempeh.

Ira empal
Empal: sweet fried beef. I remember thinking of it as almost a beef jerky, but not dehydrated. Another good one in my book!

Ira sambel goreng terong
Sambel goreng terong: eggplant in chili sauce. I know I had some of this, but I cannot remember much besides "spicy," sorry!

Ira telor baldo
Telor balado: egg in balado sauce (a tangy tomato topping of sorts with some chile heat).

Ira dessert
Dessert: fruit in coconut condensed milk. A refreshing ending to a laid-back summer meal.

I thoroughly enjoyed having authentic Indonesian fare made with that homemade touch; I would, in fact, call Ira's food "Indonesian soul food!" Big thanks to Cathy and Ira for a lovely night!

To read more about Ira's Gourmet, see Cathy's post about Ira's lunch boxes and menu here.

Ira's Gourmet
704 W. Howard Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
(626) 345-9931
Cell: (805)708-9888

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zankou Chicken

Zankou Chicken makes me supremely happy. Their grade A hummus and any of their chicken dishes dressed with their garlic sauce make my heart sing something operatic. Now, I realize it's a local chain with multiple locations, so it's not one of those charming Mom-and-Pop operations. But, sometimes I want delicious food that's consistent and efficient, which is what you'll get with Zankou. Charles had never eaten here before, so I was delighted to introduce him to the awesomeness.

Zankou falafel wrap
Charles got the falafel wrap. It seemed to be exactly what he expected. While the plate options come with a bunch of stuff, the wraps fly solo.

Zankou chicken tarna
I got the chicken tarna plate, which we shared (okay, I was mighty possessive of the hummus). The tarna was full of flavor, but my usual rotisserie chicken is a better vehicle for the garlic sauce (the foiled container in the bottom right). Next time, I'm going to have to return to the standby!

I had never encountered pickled turnips before Zankou and in fact, I thought it was jicama before reading the menu on their website (whoops!). But, now that they're in my life, I am all about these bright pink beauties and find them to be the perfect accompaniment to round out the chicken goodness. On this particular night, I ate a lot of them because I got Charles's portion, too. Score.

Zankou Chicken

10760 Riverside Dr.
North Hollywood, CA 91602
(818) 655-0469

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sapp Coffee Shop (Take 2)

I usually drive straight home after work, but last week I indulged in a solo dinner at Sapp Coffee Shop, a spot I've written about before . This time, I ordered some different stuff.

Sapp Thai iced tea
Thai iced tea: The best I've had maybe ever. I think this was only $2, but came in a generous-sized mug! Gotta love that value.

Sapp duck noodle soup
Duck noodle soup: I added hot sauce and vinegared chiles, which upped the delicious level of the broth even further. I could've used a bit more duck meat, but it's so darn cheap, I can deal with it!

Sapp tasty sauce
I was given this tasty sauce, which was tart and spicy (could be pureed vinegared chiles?).

Sapp papaya salad
Papaya salad: I wasn't crazy about their version because it was salty without the zing of lime. And I need the zing!

Sapp Coffee Shop is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to stop and unwind for some Thai comfort food; they've got great noodle soups, very affordable prices (my meal was under $15) and an attentive staff. I was surprised that there was only one other table occupied during dinner time. Maybe I stopped in before the boat-noodles-demanding masses descended for the evening?

Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 665-1035
Cash only

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saigon Flavor

I happen to like pho a lot, but rarely eat it because of the 17 mile drive to San Gabriel (and surrounding areas). But, on this lazy Sunday, I woke up with the hankering for something cheap, satisfying and authentic. We looked around on Yelp and came up with Saigon Flavor, a small and bustling restaurant which is apparently owned by the Golden Deli folks.

Saigon Flavor cha gio
Cha gio (egg rolls): I love Vietnamese egg rolls. They are on another level entirely from the kind you might be used to with Chinese takeout. Should have gotten an inside shot; it's packed with pork and veggies. They've got a really good version.

Saigon Flavor pho
My camera chose to focus on the plant being reflected than my pho! Oh well. The broth was flavorful with thin slices of beef and tendon, which I might have confused with another cut of beef because it was more gelatinous than I expected.

Saigon Flavor Mi Tom
Charles ordered a shrimp noodle soup, which was called Mi Tom on the menu. A very good broth with a bright cilantro flavor and a fair amount of shrimp.

All together, the bill was only $14.49! A feel good way to celebrate the last day of the long holiday weekend. I plan on making it over to Golden Deli at some point, but I was pleased enough with Saigon Flavor that it seems a more appealing, less hectic option for me. We did have to put our name on a list, but only waited about 10 minutes. I can't wait to come back and try some of their rice plates because I was definitely eying what the other patrons ordered!

Saigon Flavor
208 E. Valley Blvd, #B
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 572-6036