Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cafe Du Monde

Cafe Du Monde

My last day in New Orleans had to include a stop at Cafe Du Monde, the famous coffee shop established in 1862, known especially for its beignets, which are described on their site as "square French-style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar."

Beignets & cafe au lait

So, even though it was mind-numbingly hot, I sat outside on their (covered) patio and ordered beignets and a cafe au lait; yes, I was sweating a lot, but had to drink hot coffee because I wanted the total experience.


So airy and perfectly sweet. These beauties made time stop for me.

Cafe au lait
Moments of true happiness may be fleeting, but they can be recreated easily at Cafe Du Monde. Although beignets are available elsewhere in the country, I have never been interested because I wanted to try them in New Orleans. As it turns out, I made the right decision.

Cafe Du Monde
French Market
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Ph: 504-525-4544

Thursday, August 25, 2011


New Orleans is like no other city. I could give you a long list of adjectives to describe its spirit, but you won't get it until you go. I visited for the first time recently and loved spending the weekend taking in the city with friends (old and new), eating well and laughing a lot. I hope you will make a serious effort to visit New Orleans, it's worth it.

NOLA sign

Now, onto NOLA, Emeril Lagasse's restaurant in the French Quarter where we had a ladylike lunch.

NOLA Pimm's Cup
Pimm's Cup, we finally meet. And fall in love. Why have I let so many summers go by without knowing the joy of this drink? I used to say I wasn't a fan of gin, but then a cocktail comes along and changes everything.

NOLA Duck Livers
I chose the crispy duck liver as my starter; it was served with greens, caramelized onions and Creole mustard aioli. The dish did not lack in flavor: it was, in fact, a tad too salty. However, New Orleans cuisine does not do subtle, so that's that.

NOLA Chicken Wings
We also shared Miss Hay's stuffed chicken wings with homemade Hoisin dipping sauce, which had a surprising Asian-inspired filling of cabbage, cellophane noodles, and a whole mess of other stuff (look at this recipe; there is seriously a lot going on). I loved the fried exterior of the wings, but the stuffing was just confusing.

NOLA shrimp and grits
My entree was "shrimp and grits," which was one flavor notch too intense. Between shrimp, bacon, cheddar grits and red chili-Abita butter sauce (Abita is a local brewery), that plate of food was overwhelming. Sometimes, bacon is not needed. It hurt me to say that, but it's the truth.

NOLA's food wasn't perfect, but the overall experience was excellent because of the stellar service and honestly, we were on vacation in New Orleans. I would happily eat at NOLA again the next time I'm in town.

534 St. Louis Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dean Sin World

I work at a snail's pace when it comes to trying new-to-me restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley of Deliciousness. Let's not get into all the reasons, but instead rejoice in the fact that I recently stopped in at Dean Sin World for the very first time!

The ladies who work there were very friendly and despite the fact that I don't speak Chinese, I made it through the meal without too much trouble.

The best thing I ate here: leek (or as the menu delightfully notes, "leak") pork dumplings ($4.25).

deansinworld pork dumplings
When the plate arrived at the table, I was a little bummed because I had meant to order something more potsticker-like (I apologize to my fellow bloggers who have written about Dean Sin World and know the exact names of the must order stuff, but I wasn't able to research beforehand that day). Then, I bit into one and it was a done deal. Their dumplings are juicy, full of flavor and disappear at an astounding rate. I polished off the plate easily.

deansinworld smoked fish
Smoked fish ($5.50): cold with a lot of bones. I don't mind eating fish this way (Koreans prepare most of their fish on the bone, so it's what I grew up eating), but these pieces required a good amount of work! Just wasn't what I was expecting.

deansinworld pancake
Pancake with green onion ($2.75): I have a thing for savory "pancakes," as they are called on English menus at Asian restaurants. This dish was fine, but lacked a bit in flavor for me.

Dean Sin World is a teeny tiny shop that holds the key to dumpling happiness. On my next visit, though, I will go prepared with a list of their best dishes. Or I could just see how many leek pork dumplings I can consume.

Dean Sin World
306 N Garfield Ave, #2
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Ph:(626) 571-063

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wildwood Ovens & BBQ’s

I was recently invited to a free hosted event at Wildwood Ovens & BBQ’s, a laid back spot in Eagle Rock where you can do a lot of things: buy a wood fired oven or Brazilian barbeque grill, take a cooking class or throw a party for you and yours to enjoy pizza or churrasco (grilled meat). We got to sample more than a few items from the owner, Michael Gerard, and his team.

roast pork
Roast pork. There was some beautiful fat, which is the best way to enjoy pork in my opinion.

Asparagus is magical when prepared properly. I could have eaten the whole plate.

mushroom pizza
Mushroom pizza straight from the (heat) source. Life would be better if every time I reached for frozen pizza, a pie from their wood fired oven would appear instead.

I can easily imagine spending a summer afternoon on the their patio with friends, consuming a lot of pizza dough, grilled meat and cold beverages. I really dug the very Californian vibe at Wildwood and think it'd be a great spot for a party, especially for those who want good grub.

Wildwood Ovens & BBQ's
5020 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wako Donkasu

Koreans love donkatsu (Japanese fried pork cutlet), and I am no exception. Most of the donkatsu I've eaten has been prepared by my mom and enjoyed in my parents' kitchen with rice, shredded cabbage and kimchi. But, out here in LA, I must fend for myself (yes, I can make it, but I loathe frying food in my apartment as the smell insists on lingering).

Enter Wako Donkasu, a tucked away spot in Koreatown, where the main attraction is their pork cutlet, but with various riffs offered as well, such as steak, curry and even cheese. I find it difficult to resist combination sets at Asian restaurants, so I ordered the udon and pork katsu duo ($12.95).

wako pork and udon combo

The pork was juicy, but the breading wasn't as crisp as I had hoped and even falling off a little on the bottom of a couple pieces. The dipping sauce was tonkatsu sauce and ground sesame seeds. (Note: after you order, the server brings sesame seeds for you to grind up with a mortar and pestle of sorts. I wasn't sure what to do really, so I asked my server about it when she dropped off my food and she did it for me.)

The dressing on the cabbage was like the slightly sweeter version of the carrot and ginger version found in Japanese restaurants here in the U.S. I liked that it was a departure from the blob of ketchup and mayo found in so many Korean restaurants.

wako udon

The udon broth was flavorful enough, but it lacked the special touch that makes addicts out of people who just came here for the katsu in the first place (I love when restaurants have that supporting cast dish or side that unexpectedly becomes habit-forming); the noodles were standard and did not stand out.

Wako Donkasu did not take the pork cutlet to new heights for me, but my meal was more than satisfactory. I'm willing to see if everything is a little better next time around.

Wako Donkasu
3377 Wilshire Blvd
Suite 112
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 381-9256

*Other location:
2904 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 387-9256

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cham Bistro - CHAMtail Hour

Well, I finally did it. I ate at Cham Bistro, the Korean darling of the Pasadena food scene, but instead of a full meal, I stopped in for their weekday CHAMtail Hour when their tapas, beer and wine are 15% off (regular prices noted below - the tapas are part of their full menu)!

Cham Toppoki
Bulgogi beef topokki ($5): loved how tender the rice cakes were, but the beef and sauce packed quite the salty wallop.

Cham Pork belly
Crispy pork belly with fingerling potatoes ($5): the pork belly worked well with the gochujang sauce and potatoes, but the dish was served lukewarm. I would order it again in the hopes of it being served at a hotter temperature.

I had wanted to try the kimchi and cheese pouch, but they were sadly unavailable, so I ordered the spicy chicken and arugula steamed bun, which isn't part of the tapas section, but as they gave me 15% off my entire check, this item was discounted, too. When there was a mixup and I didn't get my steamed bun with my first two dishes, the staff gave me free spicy tuna tofu pockets while I waited!

Cham spicy tuna tofu pocket
Loved every single component, even the seasoned rice, which is sometimes given short shrift. I've stopped ordering spicy tuna rolls in restaurants in an attempt to make sustainable fish choices (some places may use albacore tuna for those rolls, but I just decided to cover my bases by not ordering unless noted as such), but these were gifts and already on the table. So, I ate them and they were awesome.

Cham Spicy chicken arugula steamed bun
Spicy chicken BBQ and arugula steamed bun ($3): I was pretty stuffed by this point, so I focused my efforts on the chicken, which actually lived up to its name on the spice level (color me surprised!).

Cham Bistro has got two things going for it: the dishes aren't diluted past the point of recognition, so the integrity of the Korean cuisine hasn't completely left the building, and the order-at-the-counter setup is easy breezy, allowing people to take a moment to enjoy their meal or grab their food and go, which has to be appealing to the college students and families alike in the neighborhood. I really enjoyed my Korean tapas (admittedly, I am not used to throwing this phrase around yet) and can't wait to go back for lunch or dinner.

Cham Bistro
*CHAMtail Hour (Mon - Fri: 3pm - 6:30pm)
851 Cordova St
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 792-2474

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Adam WarRock - Mon, April 11th

You know those friends who you haven't talked to in five months, but you can call them out of the blue to discuss a major life decision and it's like no problem? My friend, Eugene, is one of those people for me. And he is finally coming to LA! Not to visit me, though, but to perform a series of shows as his lawyer-turned-rapper-about-all-things-comic-books-and-geek alter ego Adam WarRock. His LA show will be at Meltdown Comics (with comedian Baron Vaughn) on Monday, April 11th at 8pm.


Tickets can be purchased through the event link here. I will be having a glass of wine beforehand at Vintage Enoteca (practically next door) and would love to buy a drink for any of my readers/fellow bloggers/indie music supporters who will be attending the show. So, please comment or drop me a line at if you think you'll be there!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Paris Christmas: Part 5

And at long last, here we are at the final installment of my Paris series. My family and I absolutely love seafood. I grew up eating sushi, sashimi, oysters, crabs, lobsters: you name it, we've probably tried it, if not harbored an undying obsession with it. During our time in Paris, there were two notable seafood meals.

The first was at Huitrerie Regis, a magical tiny oyster shop with a handful of tables and a small counter. I apologize for no photos, but the couple I snapped turned out woefully blurry. The menu here is tres simple: oysters, shrimp and a few other items. We ordered four dozen oysters and a bottle of Sancerre, which were shucked by the same person who took our order (note: there were maybe two employees running things, which included a stream of to-go customers who seemed to be regulars at carting off massive platters of raw oysters to their holiday soirees). We had a variety of local oysters, which were impeccably fresh, briny and different from what I've had in the U.S. I recommend Huitrerie Regis with all my seafood-devoted heart. They've made it onto all sorts of "Best Of" lists, so you may want to employ our strategy of arriving right when they open up for dinner.

And now onto the second meal, which took place on our last night in Paris. We opted for Le Bar a Huitres (the Saint-Germain location) for our special end-of-the-trip dinner. We were not disappointed.

Le Bar platter
Yes, this raw platter really happened. Breathtaking. Oysters, mussels, crab, cockles and such. Truthfully, I am not entirely sure of all that we consumed on this bad boy.

Le bar scallops
My sister ordered scallops again. From what I remember, they were buttery excellence. The French really know their way around a scallop (okay, and a million other food items, too).

Le bar crab
I got a crab dish, which caught my eye because the crabmeat was already shelled and required nothing of me, but lifting fork to mouth. I took the photo before I turned over the shell, which was stuffed with crab meat. Light luxury with a side of potatoes, carrots and peas.

Le Bar prawns
My dad's dinner. Prawns need very little adornment on the flavor side, but they did feel the need to spruce things up visually with seaweed.

As seafood-centric people, this meal really wrapped things up on a high note. Thank you for reading about our time in Paris. If you think you don't need to visit the city because it's been touted by too many to possibly be that remarkable and amazing, I would say, you need to go there first. Then we'll talk.

Huitrerie Régis
3 Rue Montfaucon
75006 Paris, France
Phone: 01 44 41 10 07

Le Bar a Huitres (St. Germain)
33 Rue Saint-Jacques
75005 Paris, France
Phone: 01 44 07 27 37

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Paris Christmas: Part 4

Brunch appears to be big in France, too. We tried to eat at Le Vin Qui Danse, a cozy restaurant with an emphasis on wine, during the weekend and was told the restaurant was booked up! Thankfully, we were able to return for dinner later that week with reservation in hand.

My sister ordered scallops and as I recall, they were lovely.

I ordered the duck, which is one of my favorite proteins,. And of course, it was paired nicely with fruit (the entire clementine was interesting).

Choc dessert
A chocolate trio of a brownie (or whatever the French equivalent would be called) and a couple ice cream type desserts.

Tiramisu! Intense and really good.

We also enjoyed a bottle of red wine, which gave us the warmth to brave the cold walk home. This dinner was one of our favorite meals in Paris and I hope to eat there again next time I'm in the city.

A few days later, it was Christmas Day and we had a fantastic dinner of items picked up at the neighborhood cheese, sausage and seafood shops. And wine, of course.

paris shrimp
We bought this pre-cooked shrimp at the seafood supplier down the street and oh my God, it was so sweet and amazing. Later that day, I was daydreaming about the shrimp and to this day, I still think of it. Seriously.

paris cheese sausage
A beautiful plate that is signature France: cheese, sausage and bread. Just perfection with wine.

An unusual Christmas Day dinner that I will always remember. Especially that shrimp.

Le Vin Qui Danse
4 rue des Fossés Saint Jacques
75005, Paris
Phone: 01 4354 8081

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Paris Christmas: Part 3

In the weeks leading up to our trip, I wondered if we, particularly my parents, would make it for 10 days without Asian food. Well, as it turns out, I was the one who led the charge for Japanese food, not because of strong cravings, but I didn't feel like settling for easier options close-by that didn't require multiple Metro line changes (sometimes, I like to prove simple things to myself).

So, we arrived at Higuma on Rue Sainte-Anne, a street chock full of Japanese (and some Korean) restaurants. We had a very brief wait before being seated and I have to tell you, readers, some things are the same the world over: our Asian lady server was as no nonsense and a bit brusque as her American counterparts... but in French! Same thing with the guy at the register where you pay your bill after your meal; I found it amusing that young people's cheery au revoirs went unacknowledged. Of course, I did the same farewell when we left and yes, there was no response, which was strangely kind of comforting. Anyway, onto the food!

Higuma gyoza
I got a ramen and gyoza set and these came out first: slightly crispy on the outside, greasy all over (pretty sure it was a pork filling). An especially welcome sight after having trudged through cold weather. Comfort food, bonjour?!

Higuma ramen
My dad ordered a set, too, and I think his ramen was the jjam-bbong (which is a spicy seafood and pork noodle soup served up in Korean-Chinese restaurants). I didn't try it, but clearly the spice level is nowhere near the oily red hellish quality we are used to. Still, I think he enjoyed it.

Higuma miso ramen
I believe this is my miso ramen. The broth was solid and I assume it was made with pork, but the noodles were much more interesting: springy and very slurpable. We also ordered donkatsu curry and kimchi ramen, which were both pretty good, but at that point, I was too involved in eating to keep up with the photos.

We ate Japanese food on a couple other occasions, but Higuma is the only place I documented. But, I will tell you that we had udon and sushi as a second dinner one night in a different part of the city, and returned to Sainte-Anne on Christmas Eve to try a Korean place, but they were closed, so we improvised and settled in at a small Japanese place where we ate donburi, udon (again), sushi, and even kimchi. In retrospect, that dinner was rather fitting as all the other December 24ths of my life were spent with a side of kimchi and surrounded by these three people. Travel poignancy, it happens when you're not noticing.

32 bis Rue Sainte-Anne
75001 Paris
Phone: 01 47 03 38 59

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Paris Christmas: Part 2

I don't know how often the average French person eats escargot (or snails), but as Americans visiting France, you know we had to order some. I had tried escargot in the U.S., but they were a first for my family. On a cold night, we stopped in at a restaurant which I'm 99% sure was Grand Bar Cluny (sorry, I was foolish enough to think I'd be able to remember everything from our trip with laser accuracy) and lo and behold, escargot were on the menu. The snails arrived on table with special utensils to get them out of their shells (smart French people and their utensils); while an entire meal consisting of escargot would have been too much, my family and I enjoyed trying this well-known dish in real, live Paris.

paris escargot

The rest of the food didn't photograph well, but the picture of my smoked duck salad came out all right. The slightly bitter endive was a nice counterpart to the rich smoked duck; the salad felt very French (okay, through an American perspective) to me.

paris smoked duck salad

More Paris food to come, dear readers! Next up is the Asian food! Yes, you read that correctly.

Grand Bar Cluny
82 Boulevard Saint-Germain
75005 Paris

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Paris Christmas: Part 1

I always spend Christmas with my family, but this year was quite different as we headed to Paris for the holiday! Having never been to Europe before, I had a lot of anxiety and excitement in the months leading up to the big trip. Once in Paris, though, my family and I hit the ground running and ended up having a very memorable and special trip. And as it turns out, most everything I had heard about Paris and French food turned out to be true (the bread! the cheese! the charcuterie!) and the wines were affordable and lovely. I didn't document all of our meals, but did manage to come home with a good amount of food photos. First up is Les Fontaines, a bistrot near the Pantheon that we stumbled upon after our brunch destination, Le Vin Qui Danse, was full.

paris foie gras terrine
Foie gras terrine: creamy and oh so French. Apologies for my hazy memory, but I wasn't in the mood for taking notes while on vacation.

paris charcuterie 003
Charcuterie plate: all my little heart ever dreamed of in terms of cured meats! Heavy on the flavor and the portions; one of the best starters we ate while in Paris. We also had a few other dishes, but these were the only photos taken. Check my next post for our obligatory ordering of escargot!

Les Fontaines
9 Rue Soufflot, 75005
Paris, France
Phone: +33 1 43 26 42 80 ‎