Monday, January 25, 2010

Rush Street

My love affair with the Bloody Mary only started a couple years ago. I never disliked this "anything goes" cocktail; I just hadn't made the time to get well acquainted. I weep on the inside when I think about how much time I squandered. Now in the short time since I saw the spicy-tomato-vodka light, I've had some that were pitch perfect and others that were really terrible and should not have been allowed to see the light of day. (Note: the definition of a good Bloody Mary is a highly subjective matter, much like what is love or what is the best recipe for chili?)

I took matters into my own hands over the weekend at Rush Street, where they offer a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar ($10 for one, $20 for bottomless) at brunch. I opted for the single glass of the vodka they hand to you before letting you loose on the spread; Campbell's and Clamato tomato juice, an assortment of hot sauces, a few different olives, pickled veggies (they had okra, yesss!), carrot and celery sticks, Worcestershire and A1 (not trying to judge with this ingredient, I guess someone out there must like it). My illustrious partners in crime were Yutjangsah and HungryHungryHanh and we brunched for 3 hours!

Rush Street Bloody Mary
My Bloody Mary in all its splendor. The glass the vodka came in was much smaller, but the nice bartender offered us these bigger vessels to carry our bounty. It tasted awesome, but I wish I had put more veggies in. Considering I had to sip some down while preparing it, I think I didn't want to risk an overflow situation. I do like how the carrot and celery look like they're cuddling.

Rush Street Jumbo Herb Shrimp Salad
Yutjangsah was super virtuous and ordered the jumbo herb shrimp salad. Very pretty and a bigger-than-expected portion.

Rush Street Fried Egg Sandwich
My fried egg sandwich with prosciutto, tomato and three cheeses (I am guessing one was cheddar, I don't know, it was all melted together when it came out).

Rush Street Fried Egg Sandwich inside
Inside shot. A bit too cheesy, but overall it was a satisfying hearty breakfast and I took half of it and the tots home.

Rush Street Blackened Red-Eye Burger
Hanh opted for the blackened red-eye burger. Intense! Fried egg, bacon and a burger patty are not for the weak. I can't tell from the picture, but according to the menu, there were also caramelized onions, arugula and HOLLANDAISE.

Rush Street Truffle Asiago Fries
And we shared a basket of the truffle asiago fries. Approach with caution: they are harrowingly addictive.

Rush Street can be very crowded and loud at night, but it was very serene (read: empty) when we came in for brunch on a Saturday. Thanks to Yutjangsah and Hanh for their company and the non-stop laughs!

Rush Street
9546 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 837-9546

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stuffed Mushrooms


A motif has emerged in my recent cooking exploits: many recipes are much easier than I think. Today's case in point: beloved appetizer of yesteryear, stuffed mushrooms. As I'm reminded again and again, preparation is key; well, that and good time management, which I failed to utilize yesterday, but do as I say, not as I do, okay? For the record, when one is already behind the "stuffed mushrooms for Golden Globes party" schedule, do not wander around the grocery store trying to figure out if it's cheaper to buy bread crumbs or saltines to crush into cracker crumbs (they turned out to be pretty much the same price, but who was I kidding thinking I would have time to bother with the latter?).

The internet overfloweth with recipes for stuffed mushrooms; crab, sausage and spinach are big favorites, but I was looking for a vegetarian version and settled on this one as my starting point. Lately, it seems like there may be folks who want to know the details of my half-assed cooking, so here's what I actually ended up doing:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook half an onion finely chopped in canola or olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Throw in some salt and pepper.

Remove stems from the mushrooms and chop finely; do the same for a clove of garlic. After the onion is translucent, throw in the mushroom stems and add a bit more oil. Wait until the stems are cooked through before salting and adding chopped garlic.

After garlic is almost golden, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly. Then add to a bowl of softened cream cheese (about 3/4 of one package), a good amount of breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese. Mix together until incorporated.

Grease a foil lined baking dish (or cookie sheet). Put filling into mushroom caps and place in baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the caps. Put in oven for 15 min, until the filling is golden brown.

I was in such a hurry that I committed the cardinal sin of cooks: I didn't taste them! In a great stroke of luck, they turned out well and I wasn't forced to eat them all myself to spare the other partygoers. I would make these stuffed mushrooms again in a heartbeat. Looks like I have a successful appetizer to add to my arsenal!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yum Cha Cafe

I've been craving dim sum for most of 2010 so far. Yesterday, when I picked up The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee at the library, I knew I had to take care of my Chinese food urges before starting it or it'd get real ugly/pathetic, especially if I was going to be reading late at night (isn't it agony when food cravings hit after you've already gotten ready for bed?). So, this morning, I decided to get breakfast at Yum Cha Cafe, a place that landed on my radar via Wandering Chopsticks and Gastronomy.

As a food stall, there are no carts or anything one expects with the traditional dim sum experience, which is why it's so cheap! The pre-made items are on display, much like a bakery or a cafeteria, and you point-and-choose what you'd like (in my case, I had to gesture a lot because I do not possess any Chinese language skills).

yumcha turnip cake
Pan fried turnip cake: this was my favorite and something I order whenever I have dim sum. I love how the humble turnip shines in this preparation that doesn't seem like it has much in it, but packs great flavor.

yumcha shrimp rice noodles
Shrimp rice noodles (or cheong fun): Another go-to item for me usually and while the flavor was okay, the noodles sat too long and were cold and not very silky.
yumcha fried taro
Fried taro with pork filling: Another old pal, the dear fried taro thing! The filling was very basic and I am 99% sure it was pork. My heart sank a little bit because this version wasn't amazing, but I was still thrilled to be reacquainted with it.

yumcha pork bun
BBQ pork buns: too dry and could have used more filling, but they will be a-okay as a late night snack!

I had been curious about Yum Cha Cafe for ages, so was glad to relieve myself of its mystery. Although I would stop in for a shopping break or as a hold-over between meals, I wasn't blown away by its quality, so wouldn't make the drive solely for it. If I happen to be in the neighborhood, though, I'd like to try their roasted meats, particularly the duck. Here's what I imagine keeps the customers coming back: everything above came to about 5 dollars. YEP.

Yum Cha Cafe
421 N. Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 289-6287
Multiple locations
Cash only

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ma Dang Gook Soo

Back in the saddle again with a shiny brand new year! For my first post of 2010, I have chosen a restaurant with a name that will likely have you non-Korean speaking folks scratching your heads. It's nothing offensive, I promise! It means, at least as I literally translate it, "patio noodles."

madang kalgooksoo

I got the chicken kal gook soo ("knife" noodles): full-of-chicken-flavor broth with chewy handmade noodles and shredded chicken. The huge potato slices didn't bring much flavor to the party, so I left most of those alone, but enjoyed the zucchini and green onion. I liked the touch of seaweed and cooked egg strips (this is probably not the best description) on top. And most important, don't forget to mix a few scoops of the house chili and green onion mixture into your soup before digging in!

madang 001
A few pickled items: thinly sliced pickled daikon radish, kimchi and non-spicy kimchi. Nothing to note in particular, except the fact that I greeted them like long lost friends, since it had been 5 long days since the last time I ate kimchi.

Considering its large portion, I don't know that the calorie count was low for my bowl of noodles, but it tasted healthy! Kal gook soo is a mild domesticated beast, when compared to other Asian noodle soups. But, its pristine simplicity has a rightful place in the noodle kingdom, especially if you conjure up images of snowy white Christmases like the one South Korea just had!

Eating Korean food is an activity that I associate deeply with my family. Although there are a million places for great Korean grub in LA, I am always a bit sad I can't share the experience with my parents and my sister; my meal at Ma Dang Gook Soo was no different. I'll stop being a downer now. Happy New Year and I'm looking forward to another year of good food and fun!

By the way, check out Eat Drink & Be Merry's write up of Ma Dang Gook Soo, which is where I first heard about this place!

Ma Dang Gook Soo
869 S. Western Ave
Suite 1
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 487-6008
Cash only