Sunday, February 28, 2010

the hot pot formally known as little fat sheep...baaaa

a cold rainy day is the perfect setting for bubbly hot pot! and how serendipitious it was that marie suggested a foodie outing and i counter-suggested with a lunch visit to little fat sheep....that is, until i found out that little fat sheep turned into hot pot, hot pot! which made me do a double take in the rain. when one does a double take as heaven pours down its cats and dogs, it meant getting face whipped with wet hair. *ouch*

the dining area was rather empty since only a few brave souls ventured out to eat during such a tempermentally rainy day. one minute, the skies would open up and a ray of light would touch your face, and the next minute, you get doused with cold water like a cat in heat. man, how happy was i to finally run for cover and settle myself in little mongolia, as the atmosphere suggested with the sheep and yurt wall pictures.

a "yurt" (mongolian shelter).

some "sheeps" (those fluffy things that go baaaa).

the "complimentary appetizer" (cuz you're damn hungry).

while i waited for marie to make her grand entrance, i eavesdropped on a cantonese conversation that was occurring at the next table. it went something like this:

woman: "wasn't this place called little fat sheep?"
man: "yeah it was. now it's called four seasons hot pot."
very old woman: "i think it sounds a lot better now."
woman: "yeah, little fat sheep, little fat sounds like you're eating a baby sheep. that's not good."
very old woman: "besides, who wants to be fat by eating a fat sheep? hahahaha...."

so yes, little fat sheep has renamed itself as "hot pot, hot pot!," but the literal translation of the chinese characters is four seasons hot pot. anyways, everything is still the same, but different.

once marie arrived, we massively ordered more than our bellies could hold. big eyes, small stomaches, fat ass (mine that is)...there's always some over-ordering i suppose. we started off with a ying yang pot that held a regular broth base (for wimps like me) while marie got the "medium" spicy one. i advise you to go moderate with the spice level of your broth. although there's 10 levels to choose from, marie's broth, which was a medium, was quite red with all the dried red chillis floating in it. besides, for a korean gal, she mentioned that her lips stung a bit at the end of the meal. so imagine if you're not thanks. hot cheetos be my spice limit.

if you look closely, both broth bases have herbs floating in it which flavored it deliciously well. there's also a medicinal quality that's emmitted, a smell most familiar to those that grew up drinking eastern style medicine. though traumatic to my nose because of all those icky medicinal brews that i was forced to drink during my childhood, i found the broth to be quite flavorful and pleasant.

we ordered the scallion pancake appetizer which was done quite well here. flakey and crispy rather than soft and soggy. i really liked it a lot...mmm....

we also ordered a ton of things: squid, hand cut noodles, shitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, fish balls, bamboo shoots, beef, and pork kidneys. the massive amount of food we ordered meant it was placed on a push cart which was then set to the side of your table. marie pointed out to me that they reminded her of the carts you see at morgues. ewwww.....

the kidneys were good, but like most delicate innards to be consumed, overcooking them makes them tough/hard/elasticky to eat so you have to be vigilant while cooking them. alas, i was not too vigilant since there was so much going on. it's like korean bbq but with a lot of water and these poor kidneys turned into kidney stones on my side. aigh.

remember, you dump in as much or as little of the items as you can manage cooking because anything boiling in broth too long becomes overcooked or disintegrates to mush. the slow paced nature of this meal allowed the gorge fest to last for two hours. we were done when our hair smelled like broth and our bellies were bursting from overeating.

anyways, whether you're called "prince" or "the artist formally known as prince," or "little fat sheep" or "hot pot, hot pot!" (with the exclamation point), it is still a wonderfully delicious place to stay warm inside and out while you stuff face. thank you marie for your lovely company!

Hot Pot, Hot Pot!
120 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 282-1089

price: $$
verdict: tasty, try it!
Hot Pot, Hot Pot! in Los Angeles

Thursday, February 25, 2010

belly bites a banh mi at mr. baguette

when the banh mi crave hits hard, even if you're in kansas, you try to catch the first twister that will take you to the nearest banh mi shop to break some crusty bread smeared with pate. if you live in silverlake, you get on the 10 east and exit atlantic to head over to mr. baguette. why mr. baguette you might wonder? mr. baguette is quite yummy and touts itself as a "house of quality" so who am i to ignore what people say about themselves.

the shop is engrish friendly with a lot of pictures and descriptions posted (thought i'd mention that especially if you're a banh mi newb). it's a super clean place and i believe they have wi-fi because i always see people there with their laptops. if not, it's still a good place to catch a breather or to use as a study area while you munch. they don't care if you sit there forever...not that i would recommend that since you're probably important and busy.

their banh mis are not THE cheapest by far, but it's still rather cheap hovering around the $3+ mark. i'm also a big fan of their crusty bread which is soft in the middle and super flakey on the outside. you literally hear your bite resonate in your being as little crust pieces cling to the corners of your mouth after the destruction caused by your pearly whites. and if you're a sesame lova as well, then holla, you can get your preferred banh mi fillings in a long crusty sesame bread.

i don't stray too far from the banh mi dac biet which in my opinion is the best banh mi in the universe. the savory harmony of zaw, vietnamese head cheese, and pate creates the most robust bite in your mouth, making it difficult for me to choose anything else. THAT'S WHY you get two, one dac biet and something else and save whatever that's left over for later. the good thing about mr. baguette is the conscious decision to separate the pickled carrots and daikon from the sandwich to prevent soggy bread action. you put the rest of the contents in when you're ready...and baby, shouldn't you always be ready for some banh mi lovin'?

i find it funny that they layer the meats like shingles.

i sometimes pick up a box of their "garlic croustillant" which is tasty if you like snacking on croutons like i do. and i admire their efforts in making a profit with days old bread.

but if you just want to pick up a tasty banh mi, then mr. baguette won't disappoint. it is, after all, made in a house of quality and it will shoot your tastebuds to the moon.

Mr. Baguette
400 S Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
price: $
verdict: tasty, try it!
Mr Baguette on Urbanspoon
Mr. Baguette in Los Angeles

Sunday, February 21, 2010

mochi + pizza = mochizza @ strawberry cones

mochi is so versatile! you can make boobs out of them (reference to a previous post), eat them with all kinds of fillings inside, celebrate the new year with them, pile a few powdery bites on your froyo, or put them on pizza. PIZZA?! yes. pizza. enter strawberry cones in san gabriel, a japanese pizza shop that specializes in japanese style pizza now available for your consumption in our very own sgv.

when i was told about this place, i was puzzled but intrigued. mochi + pizza? as if pizza wasn't fattening enough on its own, now you have glutinous rice cakes on it to really kill you. anyways, i wasn't deterred by the not so healthy aspects of this mochizza so a few friends and i went there last night for dinner. the menu is rather extensive (click on the pic to get a better look at the offerings and the pricing). they also offer a few competitively priced combo meals if you're totally over the golden arches but only have a few bucks to spare for a meal.

we started off with their karaage (fried chicken) appetizer ($3.75). the fried chicken had a thick breading to chicken ratio. the ranch dressing that was provided for dipping was light and airy, almost like a whipped ranch dressing which was nice, but overall, i found the whole thing to be a tad oily and not yummy enough for a repeat order.

we also decided to share a small teriyaki mochi chicken pizza ($11). the toppings consisted of chicken, mochi pieces, red onion, nori strips, mozzarella cheese, teriyaki sauce, and MAYO. yes, MAYO. the initial bite was tasty and the mochi chunks provided a fun, chewy texture to the pizza bite. but after the first slice, i decided the overly sweet teriyaki sauce spoiled it's potential. not to mention the oily mayo pools that you found on top. i don't understand the love affair japanese folks have with's everywhere!

the box.

the teriyaki chicken mochizza.

here's a close up of a piece of mochi in the pizza.

we also ordered a half and half pizza with avocado and salmon on one half and margherita on the other half. this is where some spicy tomato sauce would have been nice because the margherita side tasted bland. there's not much of a flavor profile when it's just a wedge of tomato and basil leaf on cheese. i could have skipped this combo pizza entirely.

we ended the meal with one of their desserts, the california walnut and raisin pizza ($9.80), which is made with chikutan dough (bamboo charcoal mixed in the rice flour pizza dough). the crust looked a little off putting because it had a gray/blackish color to it which if you cook enough in general would instinctively make you wonder if it's burnt. i found my first bite to be tasty, but subsequent bites revealed a rather dry and overly sweet dessert pizza. i was done.

another look at the blackened chikutan crust.

i appreciated the complimentary green tea and coffee you got there, but no matter how much green tea i drank, i could not wash away the heavy and greasy mochizza ball i had in my belly. the hook of having mochi on the pizza brought me in, but the toppings and taste in general failed. i WOULD NOT come back again and that's my story and i'm sticking to it like mochi to teeth.

Strawberry Cones
227 W Valley Blvd #118-B
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 293-1852

price: $$
verdict: not worth my time
Strawberry Cones Japanese Pizza & Pasta on Urbanspoon
Strawberry Cones in Los Angeles

Thursday, February 18, 2010

l.a. street food fest was a no, the coffee table in silverlake was a go

going to the l.a. street food fest and seeing the long ass line of people waiting to get in transported me back to my college days when my friends and i stood in line for a club or bar waiting to get in (and yes, we weren't skankalicious enough to bypass the line...sad face). coinky dinky enough, both the club line and the l.a. street food one will put you into contact with some form of meat, but the one at the l.a. street food fest was about 2.5 hours long and you risked a possible heat stroke from it. even though my friends and i had plans to meet other friends that were already inside, a quick survey of the crowd still waiting to get in yielded this formula x + y/ 4x-z= SUCKA. oh hell no. it was clear to me (but not to other people i guess) that the line was way too long so you ran the possibility of not getting in AT ALL or worse yet, you get in and they RUN OUT OF FOOD. come on now, how much food can these trucks hold anyways? i doubt people were running in to replenish the food. the formula works...try it.

oh no. :(

oh hell no. *shakes head*

since we didn't pay for parking, the decision to leave was made easier so i texted my friends to bid them adieu and off we went to the coffee table in silverlake.

holy hell i was hungry by then! the pavement pounding, sweat wiping, horror on my face, and sadness in my heart only meant that i HAD to have a burger. you might not know this, but put a little burger in your heart and it does wonders for your soul. so i did. i ordered a tuna burger and when i was offered cheese for it, i actually had to think about it...hmm...ahi tuna and cheese...NO. it was rather delicious just the way it is! even though the buns were nothing special, i enjoyed the spicy seasoning on my medium rare tuna hunk. the side of pineapple slaw was also refreshingly different just like mango salsa is on a chip.

my friend also needed a burger pick me up and got the los feliz beef burger with a side of mashies. nothing special, but still tasty.

but my thick ole tuna steak masquerading as a burger trumps it all. it was thick, juicy, and tender. i guess i still got my fill of "meat" after all.

the meal ended on a sweet note. two mini cupcakes (red velvet and banana walnut) were consumed. the frosting was spot on with its cream cheese frosting, but the mini cupcakes were dry....another reason not to order a mini i guess.

my sweet tooth DID NOT stop there. we also shared a vanilla creme brulee cheesecake. HEAVENLY. MOUTH WATERING. MUFFIN TOP INDUCING. creamy, dreamy, i want you again. please?

so there you have it. although we did not participate in the l.a. street food fest (which i heard was a nightmare of lines, inside and out) we still managed to have a grand ole belly loving time at the coffee table. like everything in life, there's always a silver lining (not to go all fortune cookie on your butts) but yes, everything was all good after all, if not better.
The Coffee Table
2930 Rowena Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 644-8111
price: $$
verdict: tasty, try it!
Coffee Table on Urbanspoon
The Coffee Table in Los Angeles

Monday, February 15, 2010

my chinese new year

first of all, i'm proud to say i'm a super delicious fob. i have my traditions, i LOVE my traditions, and even though i have my own home, i still adhere to my traditions and all the rituals that i've grown up with even if it's somewhat diluted. so on lunar new year's eve (which i will now call chinese new year's/tet cuz that's what it means to me), i did mad cleaning of the abode. like madness. dusting, sorting, washing, wiping, drying, spraying....ack. i even gave charlie a bath and bought him a new red collar to celebrate chinese new years! of course my dear dog had to participate.

the sexy boy was tired from getting gussied up for new year's. love that red collar!

and of course i had to get my haircut, to tame the fro that's on my head. if you didn't know this already, the word "hair" in chinese can mean "hair" or "fortune," depending on the tonation of the spoken word. it is no wonder that if you're planning on getting a haircut that you get it done before the new years. you wouldn't want to "lose" any fortune by cutting it off now do you? i sure know i can't afford to.

after cleaning the whole day and getting a haircut, we go over to my parent's place for our chinese new year's eve dinner. both my parents were chefs at one point or another and even tried owning a few restaurants between them. needless to say, my parent's cooking can rival a few of the great ones out there. here's my dad's infamous squab. crispy, with honey glazed skin. the perfect dipping for this bird is rather simple; roasted salt granules, pepper, and lemon juice. delicious! we tear them up in seconds.

sliced lotus root stir-fried with sliced carrots, snow peas, and leeks. the lotus root has a snap to it and is fun to eat. one of my favorite dishes as well.

stewed sea cucumber, abalone, and shitake mushrooms. i really hated this dish as a kid because of the gelatinous, at times rubbery, texture of the sea cucumber. but of course, since it's an expensive item, my mom would nag me until i ate a few pieces. as i've matured, i've learned to appreciate the interesting taste and texture of this really ugly sea creature...and yes, it's a creature and not a sea veggie as it's name implies. it doesn't sit well with many folks, but you should give it a try if you get a chance. nothing like challenging your tastebuds right?

shark fin's soup. my mom makes it for all the major holidays and is a real treat in our household. she's perfected the soup and i've yet to taste any other versions that can rival hers.

stir-fried snow fungus, asparagus, carrots, and snow peas. delicious as well. the fungus is crunchy and makes it fun to eat.

fried fish. i'm not too fond of looking at fish heads, but every table must have one since the word "fish" also connotates luck and fortune. fortunate for us, not fortunate for the dead fish. we usually dip the fried fish in fish sauce mixed with lemon juice.

stir-fried glass noodles with wood ear and shitake mushrooms. another "lucky" dish for the meal.

and here's our new year's table in all its glory. believe you me, if i had 2 stomaches, both would have been filled up. my belly is quite lucky to have such a delicious spread every year. and yes, we still fob it up with the newspaper lining as our "table cloth." don't tell me you don't.

then we go home to shower and clean up so we can wash the old year away. at about 11:30 p.m., my dad, sis, and i head out to the temple to pray while my mom stays home to pray to our ancestors. the year "opens" once it strikes 12 a.m. it's an auspicious time to start praying to all the deities and wish for health, happiness, luck, and fortune for yourself and your family. every year, it gets rather cold and the line gets rather long to go into the smoke filled temple, but it's tradition and i feel my year starts off right when i do it.

then we head back to my parents to light incense and to pray to our ancestors and to eat some "tong sui" which are rice flour balls in a sugary ginger soup. pretty yummy but at about 1 a.m. in the morning, eating is the last thing on my mind.

and then "gong hey fat choi, gong hey fat choi...." lookie here, what's this?! for me, really for me? score! yes, i still get excited when i get my lai si even though i have a full time job that pays me alright.

i hope you had a great new year's and that the year of the tiger treats you well. gong hey fat choi everybody!
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