Thursday, February 25, 2010


Rejoice! I finally got to knock Lunasia off my must-try list. And I couldn't have picked better partners-in-crime: Wandering Chopsticks, SinoSoul and his lovely wife, and Charles. Boy, did we do some dimsum damage! Preface: everything was seriously good (notes have been provided for particularly memorable dishes).

Lunasia pork dumplings
Pork dumplings

Lunasia shrimp har gow
Shrimp har gow

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Pork siumai: one of the best items. I was too stuffed to enjoy them properly at the time of the meal, but they were incredibly good even as leftovers later that night.

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Fried taro (couldn't find this item on the menu, so SinoSoul just asked our server), beef chow fun and turnip cake.

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BBQ pork bun: they tasted as perfect as they look.

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Spareribs in black bean sauce

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Rice noodle of sorts. We ordered the shrimp, but what arrived involved shrimp egg rolls and it was damn good.

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Panfried potstickers

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Chicken feet: while I wouldn't be able to polish off an order by my lonesome, I'm glad that I made the plunge. Tasted mostly like chicken skin to me.

Lunasia sesame balls
Sesame balls: these were fantastic. I kept marveling at just how good they were.

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Egg custard: good and loved the "charred" top, but the sesame balls stole the show for me in the desserts department.

Lunasia was one big blur that came out to $16 per person (including tip). I was giddy walking away with such a low bill. Dimsum is such a major bargain, though, that Lunasia's prices are considered high compared to their competitors (granted the quality is better here).

Big thanks to Wandering Chopsticks and SinoSoul for being my dimsum guides! I enjoyed our meal immensely and hope to break carbs with you guys soon again!

500 West Main St.
Suite A
Alhambra, CA 91801

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ruen Pair (Take 2)

Although most of my restaurant meals are with Charles or solo missions, I also love to eat family style with a small group. I don't find myself in such settings often, so I took matters into my own hands and organized a dinner date at Ruen Pair, which I've written about before. The lovely ladies who joined me were Delicious Coma, Eat Sip Chew, Weezermonkey and Wandering Chopsticks. We ordered a little bit of everything.

Ruen Pair papaya salad with raw crab
Papaya salad with raw crab: I loved this version. I've had raw crab a la Korean, but never in this dish (I usually order it with dry shrimp). We also opted for what the server called "Thai spicy," which indeed was fiery, but not as unbearable as you'd think.

Ruen Pair salty veg and ground pork soup
Salty vegetable and ground pork soup: I rarely order soup when we go out for Thai unless it is a noodle soup as the main course, but I always WANT to. My wish was fulfilled and I really loved the humble nature of the soup and need I even say how much I adore salty vegetables (i.e. pickled foods)?

Ruen Pair stewed duck noodles
Stewed duck noodles (ordered dry): Duck is my happy food and with the wide noodles, it was an enjoyable mix. We got them dry as it was more conducive to sharing. Thanks to Delicious Coma, who suggested we do so.

Ruen Pair green curry chicken
Green curry chicken: Not particularly outstanding, just a solid dish and a hearty portion, such that I was able to pack the leftovers up only to discover later that I left the box at the restaurant! The dream of a satisfying next day lunch shattered due to my absent-mindedness.

Ruen Pair fried pompano
Fried pompano with spicy chili dressing: My first time having pompano, which was not only tasty, but also had Eat Sip Chew exclaiming how cute the little guy was. Pompano is perhaps the Opie of the fish world.

Ruen Pair spicy chili dressing
And look at all that spicy chili dressing they bestowed upon us! It was comically awesome. And delicious.

Afterwards, we hopped over to Bhan Kanom Thai for some panchi and sticky rice. No pictures, but it is incredibly cheap and I recommend the place with both thumbs up. Thank you to my dinner dates for the fantastic company!

Ruen Pair
5257 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 466-0153
Cash only

Bhan Kanom Thai
5271 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 871-8030

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cook's Tortas

I first read about Cook's Tortas on Rants and Craves and was waiting for the right time to make the drive to Monterey Park. Enter President's Day and a wide open schedule for lunch!

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I like how they scrawl the name of your sandwich on plain white paper.

Charles ordered the Azteca ($6.98, all sandwiches come with a side): chicken, chipotle cream, onions and corn (I think. The website menu does not have this sandwich listed, darn). Please note my new favorite craving: apples and cream. I had never heard of this concoction, but Charles was quite familiar with it. It has become a running joke that Charles has transcended me as a foodie; it is now becoming the truth (I think I am delighted?).

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My Milanesa sandwich ($6.98): breaded steak, jalapeno and tomato. I saved half for dinner and it was even better despite having been in the fridge! Maybe I was more famished the second time around. The potato salad was also pleasing, powered by dill and spared a mushy, overcooked starch fate.

I would say I wish Cook's Tortas was closer to me, but in reality, the prices would be higher and the lines would possibly be dishearteningly long. So, for now, I will just wait for my yearning for apples and cream to reach such a point that I have no choice but to make the very short "roadtrip" east.

Cook's Tortas
1944 South Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Bibimbap is the safe haven of the uninitiated at Korean restaurants; all the components can be visually identified and anything that doesn't jive can be taken out (well, at least, pre-mix up mash stage). In Korean homes, though, bibimbap is like the equivalent of the sandwich: throw in whatever leftovers you got, squeeze on a dose of your favorite condiment and presto!

So, for me, it conjures up casual home meals, such as weekend lunches or anytime my mom was too busy (or not at home) to cook. So, when I go out to eat, my eyes skip over bibimbap on the menu without a second glance. Not the case yesterday, though, when I stopped in at Seungbukdong and was actually in the mood for bibimbap! Before my dolsot bibimbap arrived, the ceremonious delivery of the banchan.

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Japchae, garlic and sesame oil seasoned seaweed, soybeans in a sweet soy sauce, and kimchi. My favorites were the soybeans (you wouldn't think it would be remarkable that they were tender, but in my experience, there's a 50/50 chance they won't be cooked properly) and the kimchi, which was surprisingly good. I loved the bright, sour taste and the delicate, "well-ripened" texture of the cabbage. The bean sprout soup came with the dolsot bibimbap and was a bit weak on flavor.

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Bean sprouts and spicy dried squid. These were fine, take 'em or leave 'em.

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All the stuff on top of the rice: spinach, mushroom, bean sprouts, ground beef, zucchini, gosari (Korean fiddlehead ferns), shredded dried seaweed and a fried egg. Add chogochujang (a slightly sweet and sour red chili pepper sauce) and get to mixing!

Which leads me to my next point: I have a new found love for the dolsot.

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I never cared much for the sizzling stone pot of watch-your-fingers because the browned bits were always too chewy and just got stuck in my teeth. I realize now that those pots must not have been hot enough because that gorgeous rice crust had a crisp bite and made an instant believer out of me.

My dolsot bibimbap was a pretty big portion and I couldn't finish it; maybe some of you bibimbappers could put it away, no problem. According to Yelp, their signature dish seems to be the galbijjim (steamed beef short ribs), which I will try when I'm not flying solo.

Seungbukdong is a small restaurant with only a handful of tables and has a homey feeling with friendly service and food prepared with the level of care that is a step above similarly priced places (my dolsot bibimbap was about $10; I have to get better about writing this kind of stuff down). This place is my new go-to remedy for my Korean cravings because let's face it, one cannot subsist on food court stalls alone.

3303 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 738-8977

Monday, February 1, 2010

Soy and Jalapeno Wings

Buffalo wings are a national treasure and will never go out of style. But, these days, I am more enamored with the Asian variety and decided to try my hand at a soy-based marinade. I threw the following into a sturdy plastic bag with the zip on top: a good amount of soy sauce, a wee bit of mirin and sesame oil, grated ginger, sliced garlic, sliced jalapeno and something like 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

Soy Jalapeno Wings

The wings turned out smashing, but not without a couple hiccups with my method. To avoid my mistakes, do two things:

1. Do not dump the wings and the marinade into the baking dish because it is the easy way out. Your wings will not cook (at least, not at the rate a sane person would desire). Somehow, I conveniently forgot about all those recipes that state "pat dry" when dealing with marinated meats.

2. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 min. 350 degrees is the old reliable 40mph of cooking, but it was too tame for my wings.

One note about the marinade: the jalapeno wasn't present in the end product, so next time I will try a hotter chili. Making wings in the oven (as opposed to fried) is a less fussy alternative and so much cheaper than at a restaurant. Try them for awards parties and/or sports watching!