[Los Angeles] Lady M Confections

On one of our LA trips, my friend A suggested that we check out Lady M – I’ve heard of their famous mille-crêpes cakes, layers of paper-thin crêpes with pastry cream in between – and have been wanting to try it for a while. So, I jumped at the suggestion and we headed to the Beverly Hills location.

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The shop was quite small and tucked away in a neighborhood-y area. There were only about 3 small tables inside, and several outside on the patio.

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Sorry for the poor picture quality – there’s the menu for the café. Since we were still pretty full from lunch, we chose to just share 1 slice of the original flavor cake.

Signature Mille-Crêpe [$7.50]

Signature Mille-Crêpes [$7.50]

At $7.50 per slice, this was quite pricey – but it was so delicious. The crêpes were soft and slightly chewy, and the cream inside had a rich vanilla flavor. And there 20 layers in this cake, which was quite impressive. The amount of work that it must take to perfect these cakes justifies the price for me (especially since this would be such a rare indulgence!).

We also brought home a couple of slices to enjoy later. If you order their cakes to-go, you can purchase an ice pack and reusable thermos bag. I forgot how much it cost, though.

Green Tea Mille-Crêpe [$8]

Green Tea Mille-Crêpes [$8]

The green tea version of the mille-crêpes was just as good – my friend A likes the green tea more. It has a nice matcha flavor that adds just a hint of bitterness – the good kind of bitterness that’s associated with tea, of course!

Strawberry Mille-Feuilles [$8]

Strawberry Mille-Feuilles [$8]

I wanted to try the mille-feuilles, which is layers of puff pastry and sponge cake filled with pastry cream and strawberries. Unfortunately by the time we ate this, the puff pastry was already slightly softened, but it was still quite delicious. The sponge cake was moist and fluffy.

Since their cakes are so beautiful, I also took some photos of the ones in their display case:

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

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Table No. 10 revisit

Table No. 10 is one of S and my favorite “fine-dining” restaurants in San Diego, with its creative menu and lively atmosphere. So, when our friends visited from out of town, we decided to treat them to a dinner there!

I sort of wanted to sit at the Chef’s Table, but I thought that a regular table would be better for conversation. By the way, I forgot to take a photo of the menu so I can’t quite remember the exact names for all the dishes, but luckily I still remember most of the details.

Flux Capacitor

Flux Capacitor

We started out with a Flux Capacitor cocktail, made with gin, rosewater, violet liquor, lemon, honey, maraschino, and lavender, and it’s served with dry ice to create a “steamy”, bubbly effect. It was lightly sweet and quite tasty.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

S and I liked the deviled eggs a lot last time, so we ordered it again. It was mixed with Dijon mustard and tarragon for a slightly minty taste. This time, though, I felt like while these were good, I didn’t feel like they were special enough to try at a restaurant.

Parker House Rolls w/ Bone Marrow Butter

Parker House Rolls w/ Bone Marrow Butter

I usually get a bit miffed when restaurants don’t offer complimentary bread – I believe this was $4, but my goodness, it was quite worthwhile. The bone marrow butter was so good – it was full of the rich, meaty flavor of marrow but didn’t taste too greasy. It’s funny how impressed I was just by butter! Haha.

Beet Salad

Beet Salad

I love golden beets, and this little salad really brought out the best of them. This was served with cranberries, microbasil, whipped crème fraîche, and a honey vinaigrette. All of the flavors were quite nicely balanced, and this was a really nice and refreshing dish.

Grilled Octopus

Grilled Octopus

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Dumpling Inn

Dumpling Inn, a popular Chinese restaurant specializing in Shanghai cuisine, recently underwent a large expansion and renovation. In addition, the restaurant space will also house Shanghai Saloon, a new concept that features craft beer, a whiskey lounge, and an Asian fusion menu. I’ve never been to the old Dumpling Inn because of the long wait times, but after the new space opened, S and I went to check it out with some friends.

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I really liked the old Chinese village-style decor! It definitely gave the place an old-school feel.

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There were these signs to “separate” Shanghai Saloon and Dumpling Inn. But I don’t really think the seating sections were very clearly separated. Also, I think a lot of customers for Dumpling Inn were confused why they couldn’t be seated at the nearly-empty Shanghai Saloon sections. Clearly, some kinks still needed to be worked out.

We visited Dumpling Inn for a “test visit” and just tried a couple of items…

Pork Potsticker [$8]

Pork Potsticker [$8]

The pork potstickers were decent, although I didn’t really like the wrapper. The pan-fried side could have been crispier, and I thought that the wrapper was overall too thick and dough-y.

Pork Xiaolongbao [$8]

Pork Xiaolongbao [$8]

The pork XLB (soup dumplings) were slightly disappointing to me – but then, it could be because I had visited Din Tai Fung recently. The filling was juicy enough, but the wrappers were too thick… Sounds like a recurring theme, huh.

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The pork filling was pretty good, though, and I did get a decent amount of soup (although fellow blogger Lynn didn’t quite have the same experience).

We left feeling a bit disappointed… but undeterred. I attributed the less-than-impressive food to the fact that they were still adjusting to their new space. So we returned, just a few days later, with a larger group.

Pork Dumplings (boiled) [$8]

Pork Dumplings (boiled) [$8]

This time, instead of the potstickers, we opted for the boiled dumplings. To my surprise, these were much better – the wrapper was about the right thickness, and the filling was quite flavorful.

Garlic Baked Seabass Filet [$12.95]

Garlic Baked Seabass Filet (鍋塌魚片) [$12.95]

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[Pasadena] Gus’s BBQ

On one of our LA food trips, we decided to venture away from our standard Asian food routine and try out a BBQ joint close to where we were staying, in Pasadena. Gus’s menu looked pretty intriguing to us, and we had been craving BBQ and missing the South for quite some time…

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The place was pretty busy for Sunday lunch, but luckily we were able to get a table with just a few minutes of waiting. We studied the menu while waiting and were pretty much ready to order by the time we sat down. 

Ribs & Two Meat Combo w/ Southern Fried Chicken & Carolina-Style Pulled Pork [$23.95]

Ribs & Two Meat Combo w/ Southern Fried Chicken & Carolina-Style Pulled Pork [$23.95]

When we were ordering, the waiter explained to us that they had two different styles of ribs – St. Louis spare ribs, and Memphis baby back ribs. We opted for the St. Louis-style, which is a fattier cut and basted with sauce while it finishes up cooking, to give it a slightly deeper flavor. So, we chose the Ribs & Two-Meat Combo with fried chicken (another one of Gus’s specialties) and Carolina-style pulled pork. 

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The ribs were quite good – plenty smoky, and the sauce (Gus’s original BBQ sauce) was a good balance between sweet, sour, and salty. The fried chicken was decent, but it was chicken breast, and I wish that it was chicken thigh. It was served with an apple cider gravy, which was quite interesting – the tart apple cider vinegar definitely cut some of the “heaviness” of the gravy. 

Our favorite, though, was the Carolina-style pulled pork. Gus’s actually provides a Carolina vinegar-based BBQ sauce that was almost exactly like what we had in NC! 

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Sabor de Vida Brazilian Grill

I’m not familiar at all with Brazilian food, but our friend A recently purchased a Groupon to Sabor de Vida Brazilian Grill in Encinitas and asked if S and I wanted to try it out together. Of course, we happily obliged.

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The place seems like a family-owned business and was quiet for Saturday lunch. There were soccer photos all over the walls, and cute paper decor hanging from the ceilings.

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Looking at the menu, we decided to share two entrées and an order of pao de queijo, a chewy Brazilian cheese bread.

Pao de Queijo [$5]

Pao de Queijo [$5]

Each order comes with five pieces, served piping hot. These mini-buns are made with tapioca flour, giving them a slightly chewy texture, and they’re light, airy, and cheesy. I would have eaten all five of them myself, but I had to share, hehe.

Picanha Plate [$16]

Picanha Plate [$16]

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[Costa Mesa] Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung, a popular Taiwanese chain that specializes in soup dumplings (aka xiaolongbao, or XLB), opened its first Orange County location last year inside South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. S and I are huge fans of DTF, and we actually visited shortly after their grand opening last year (complete with a 3-hour wait for a table, yikes!). Unfortunately, the photos from the initial visit got lost, and even though we’ve been back several times already on various LA/OC trips, I’ve only gotten around to posting about it now…

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As I just mentioned, when DTF first opened in the mall, the waits were 3-4 hours for dinner (on weekends, at least). However, on our most recent visit, the wait times were much more reasonable – about 30 minutes for Saturday dinner. Luckily, it’s located in the mall so we always do some shopping while waiting, and the restaurant will send you a text message when your table is almost ready.

The restaurant is quite modern and even has a full bar. FYI, if you don’t want to wait for a text, you can also wait for a table in the bar area which supposedly has a shorter waiting period. However, most bar area tables seat just two.

Cucumber Salad [$4.3]

Cucumber Salad [$4.3]

The cucumber salad is one of our favorite appetizers – crisp and refreshing, the cukes are served with a sesame oil/soy sauce mix.

Pork Xiaolongbao [$9.5]

Pork Xiaolongbao [$9.5]

Of course, the standard pork XLB (S doesn’t eat shrimp, and I’m allergic to crab, so no seafood allowed in our XLB). One thing that has always impressed me about DTF is their consistent quality. The chain is famous for their precision, of course, in that the wrapper is the same thickness, the filling is the same, and every dumpling has exactly 18 pleats. Somehow, they manage to keep the wrappers thin and elastic, without breaking (usually). The XLB here were really tasty as always, and I love the juicy, flavorful pork filling, especially when mixed with a bit of black vinegar and ginger slice.

Rice & Pork Shao Mai [$10]

Rice & Pork Shao Mai [$10]

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Izakaya Masa

Izakaya Masa, located in Mission Hills, is the latest in our venture in late-night Japanese food. Some of our friends claim that their ramen is the best in SD – S has tried it once before and wasn’t a huge fan, but hey, it’s been a few years and he agreed that his opinions could change. So off we went…

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We had actually studied the menu online before visiting, so we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. Unfortunately there’s no yakitori here, but I was happy to try non-skewered items here as well.

Tuna Carpaccio [$9.95]

Tuna Carpaccio [$9.95]

The tuna carpaccio is served with “Masa’s special garlic olive oil”. The tuna was quite fresh, and I loved the fried garlic slices on top to add crunch and flavor!

Chuka Kurage (Jellyfish) [$3.95]

Chuka Kurage (Jellyfish) [$3.95]

The cold jellyfish salad tasted very similar to the Chinese version of this dish, with a light sesame oil seasoning. This was good, though the portion was quite small.

Agedashi Tofu [$4.95]

Agedashi Tofu [$4.95]

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Polanco Kitchen & Bar

Recently, we were invited to Polanco, the hotel restaurant of the newly-renovated Hilton Mission Valley. Polanco was part of the multi-million dollar renovation project, and I brought along S and our friend A to check it out.

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The restaurant is actually right next to the main lobby doors – there’s no formal entrance, so it really feels like part of the hotel. I’ve never stayed at this Hilton before, but the interior looked really nice.

We were seated at one of the booths along the wall, which had a TV built into the wall. I’ve been to another restaurant which has a TV per booth, and while I appreciate it (since I love TV but don’t have one at home, so I always get excited whenever there’s a TV, haha), I also wondered whether it distracts diners too much from their meal experience. Oh well.

The menu was a bit “fusion” – a lot of classic dishes with a Latin twist.

Chile-Limon French Fries [$6]

Chile-Limon French Fries [$6]

We started off with some chili lemon fries, which were nice and crispy, and served with a banana ketchup. I’m not a huge fan of bananas, but the ketchup actually went pretty well with the chili lemon.

Mexican Corn [$6]

Mexican Corn [$6]

Mexican corn is one of my favorite foods – the pairing of grilled sweet corn with salty and pungent cheese, spicy chili powder, fresh lime juice, and creamy mayonnaise is just perfect to me, as it touches all the senses of taste. Polanco’s version is quite good – the only complaint that I have is that the amount of toppings on the two cobs differed quite a bit. I wish that they had made it more consistent.

Tres Tacos [$15]

Tres Tacos [$15]

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[LA Koreatown] Kang Hodong Baekjeong

I’ll start this post by saying that Kang Hodong Baekjeong is the best Korean BBQ I’ve ever had. Period. And you know that I’ve had a lot of Korean BBQ. Unfortunately (there’s always some bad news), it’s in Los Angeles.

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And boy, is this place popular. We’ve actually visited twice, and both times there was a 2 hour wait for dinner. On our first visit, we simply walked around the neighborhood (there was a Zion market about a block away) to pass the time until we received our call for dinner. The second time around, we were actually in LA for a show, so we signed ourselves up at the restaurant before heading to the show, and by the time we got out, our table was ready!

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The special thing about KHB is the “moat” around the grill. In the photo above, you can see a large section on the right side – that’s actually egg! There’s also corn & cheese, and bell peppers and onions – the idea is that as the meat cooks on surface, the rendered fat and juices will run down to the side and add that extra flavor.

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There are some assorted side dishes for us to enjoy, and salads that could be used to mix with the meat or simply eaten on its own – per the instructions at every table, haha.

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The special dipping sauce that’s mentioned contains wasabi, in addition to the usual yuzu-soy. We really liked the wasabi and thought that it really brought out an extra “kick”!

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On our first visit, we ordered the beef combo ($49.99 for small), which includes marinated boneless short rib, thinly sliced brisket, choice of prime boneless short rib or prime rib eye, and a bean paste stew.

Brisket

Brisket

Prime Ribeye

Prime Ribeye

Prime Ribeye

Prime Ribeye

Boneless Short Rib

Boneless Short Rib

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PizzaRev

PizzaRev is a build-your-own pizza joint (much like Project Pie and Pieology) that recently opened up a couple of locations in San Diego. S and I actually attended their grand opening event, but I have gotten around to posting until now… Oops, haha.

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PizzaRev opened two locations in San Diego – one in Scripps Ranch, and the other in Carmel Valley. We attended the grand opening for the Carmel Valley location, which actually turned out to be quite far from our home – the Scripps Ranch one would have been closer.

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The restaurant was quite packed, since they were offering everyone who had received an invitation (either by mail or email, I suppose) a free pizza and drink! I was pretty surprised at this generous promotion, but I suppose they do need a pretty grand gesture to compete with all the pizza joints already here.

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You can choose their signature or gluten-free crust, and either red, white, or BBQ sauce or olive oil, and a variety of cheeses and toppings. Since it was so crowded, I didn’t get any good pictures of their toppings selections. There’s a full list on their website, though.

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