May 122014
 

Hello! I’m back from my trip and bringing you a quick post today from a recent LA trip – S and I were in town for a wedding, and we decided to visit a few food places in LA as well. (I had posted previously about Mama Lu’s Dumpling House – same trip.)

We were planning to visit Half & Half Tea House in Monterey Park, when I spotted Macchiato and immediately dragged S to visit. I had read about this place through a couple of other blogs (linked at the end of this post) and definitely wanted to try it out.

P1050187-1

The “Grand Opening” was almost two years ago, according to their Facebook page… haha.

The menu features waffles – both sweet and savory, coffee and tea drinks, and macaron ice cream sandwiches. I SO wanted a macaron sandwich, but was way too full from lunch. Sadface.

Brown Sugar Latte with Boba & Pudding [$3.50]

Brown Sugar Latte with Boba & Pudding

Continue reading »

May 022014
 

Recently, S and I were in LA for a friend’s wedding, so we took the chance to hit a few restaurants/spots on our LA “to-do” list. One of them is Mama Lu’s Dumpling House (Chinese name: 一口福), which serves what in Chinese is called mian shi (literally, “flour food” – noodles, dumplings, pancakes, etc – non-rice starchy items). I am a huge fan of rice normally, but I do also love dumplings and am always down to try a new place, hehe. So, when I came across reviews for Mama Lu’s Dumpling House, located in Monterey Park, I added it to my list.

There are actually two locations down the street from each other – one on West Garvey Ave, and the other on East Garvey. I believe we visited the East one. Also, I forgot to take pictures of the place because I was super hungry and too excited. Haha. But it was a pretty clean restaurant, a bit cramped in terms of space, and there wasn’t much of a wait around 1:30PM on a Saturday.

P1050176-1

Complimentary appetizers

We were brought some complimentary pickled cucumbers and roasted peanuts, which I really appreciated since I mentioned that I was quite hungry, haha. The roasted peanuts were quite good – they were sprinkled with sugar, so you get a nice savory-sweet taste.

S and I had a really hard time deciding what we wanted, and in the end, we probably ordered way too much food, but here goes…

Scallion Pancake

Green Onion Pancake 蔥油餅 [$1.99]

This, the green onion pancake, was the reason that I really wanted to come here. I absolutely love green onion pancakes – a good version is crispy and flaky, with plenty of chopped green onions scattered throughout. The one here really lives up to its fame, as it was one of the best green onion pancakes I’ve had in a long time. (My mom’s version is still better, though, haha – nothing can beat that probably.)

Pan-Fried Dumplings 鍋貼 [$4.50]

Pan-Fried Dumplings 鍋貼 [$4.50]

P1050180-4

The pan-fried dumplings, or potstickers, were really yummy. I loved the crispy bottom and the flavor of the pork filling. Continue reading »

Apr 162014
 

When I first heard about Maruhide Uni Club, I immediately added it to my “Restaurant Bookmarks” list since I love uni (sea urchin), and this is a whole restaurant dedicated to it! On a recent trip to LA, I finally got the chance to try it out.

P1050148-1

I heard that the lines for dinner can get pretty long, but I visited for a late lunch (around 1:30pm, half an hour before they stopped serving lunch), and there were plenty of available seats and tables.

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to order, and a quick glance at the menu confirmed my selection: the Nigiyaka Bowl, served with four preparations of uni.

Salad

Salad

Soup

Soup

I was brought some soup and salad to start… the salad was a little sad as you can see – a few pieces of iceberg lettuce and a wedge of tomato, with barely any dressing. I think there was uni incorporated into the dressing, but there was so little of it that it was hard to tell. The soup fared slightly better – there was a sizable piece of uni in the soup, but the overall flavor was quite mild.

My disappointment about the soup and salad quickly faded, though, when this arrived:

Nigiyaka Bowl [$23.95]

Nigiyaka Bowl [$23.95]

Continue reading »

Feb 102014
 

Old Country Cafe (老鄉親 in Chinese) is a Taiwanese restaurant in Los Angeles. S has heard good things about it, and we’ve checked out the Alhambra location on one of our past LA trips (other location is in Temple City). Unfortunately, I forgot to get photos of the restaurant itself, so this will be a “food-only” pics post. Haha. The restaurant itself looked kind of… well, ghetto. It’s located in an empty-ish courtyard on the intersection of Valley Blvd and Garfield Ave, and once inside, the seating is comprised of barstools at the counter. Haha.

Anyway, the first thing that S and I noticed about this place were the prices – as in, they were really cheap. Well, that explains the, erm, simple decor and state of the place… But we’re not complaining. We’re just here for the food.

The menu has really traditional Taiwanese items – rice and noodle dishes, appetizers, etc. We ordered a few of the apps and one “entrée”-type dish for each of us.

Pork Ball 肉丸 [$3.50]

Pork Ball 肉丸 [$3.50]

Not the traditional meatballs that you might be familiar with. There’s a ground pork filling inside, and the “wrapper” is made from glutinous rice flour – sort of like mochi I guess – and the whole thing is fried, then topped with a sweet and sour sauce. When done well, the wrapper/mochi part should be soft yet chewy, and holds together the sauce and the filling. I’d say that this version was done quite well!

Braised Baby Bamboo 筍尖 [$2.25]

Braised Baby Bamboo 筍尖 [$2.25]

S loves bamboo shoots, so I thought we’d try an order. I thought they tasted pretty good, but S thought they were made with canned bamboo shoots. Haha. I guess I just liked the sauce, which was soy-based and mildly spicy.

Pig Blood Cake 豬血糕 [$2.25]

Pig Blood Cake 豬血糕 [$2.25]

Continue reading »

Jan 242014
 

Half & Half Tea House has pretty much become a sensation, thanks to its “Original Hot Honey Boba and Iced Milk Drinks.” The famous Iced Milk Drink is basically sweetened milk blended with ice and flavored with honey syrup from the boba, or whatever toppings that you choose.

P1040085-2

S and I have visited several Half & Half locations, including the original San Gabriel location, but pictured here is the Pasadena location (called an “Express” store).

P1040084-1

I chose the Iced Milk Drink with coffee jelly and pudding as my toppings, since I like those more than boba.

Iced Milk Drink with Coffee Jelly & Pudding

Iced Milk Drink with Coffee Jelly & Pudding [$3.85]

The pudding here is really special – I think it has an extra “eggy” taste, if that makes sense – and for me, that’s what makes this drink really great and stand out among some of its imitators, including San Diego’s Infini Tea.

Continue reading »

Jan 022014
 

Since I’m currently in Taiwan and will be here for another week or so, the posting schedule will be a bit messed up… apologies in advance! I’ll be writing about my travels soon after I get back to the U.S., though!

Anyway, I have a couple more things to share from my past L.A. trips. I wrote about Sushi Go 55 and Beard Papa’s Cafe in downtown LA’s Japan Center – well, before we left the area, my friend recommended that we hit up a popular bakery, Cafe Dulce. 

P1030862-1

We were quite full from all our of food adventures that day, but I wanted to bring some snacks home. The shop sells sandwiches in addition to baked goods and coffee – their coffee is supposedly quite famous, but I don’t drink much coffee anyway…

Cakes

Cakes

Breads on display

Breads

Desserts

Desserts

Continue reading »

Dec 162013
 

On the last day of my mini-college reunion LA trip, we decided to get sushi for lunch. We had originally planned to try out the popular Sushi Gen, only to find out that they are closed on Sundays. My friend found this place using Yelp, so we decided to check it out. It’s located in the Japan Center in downtown LA/Little Tokyo – and as it turns out, it was a great location because there was a Beard Papa’s in the same building, and Ozero Cafe nearby! So even before lunch, we had dessert and afternoon tea/snack figured out… haha. (Actually, there is one more dessert place that we went to in the nearby area – post coming in the future!)

P1030854-6

We were initially worried about not being able to get a table since we had a party of five during lunch hour, and the restaurant was quite tiny, but we were seated right away.

They offer chirashi for $17, which we all thought was a really reasonable price. There’s also a more premium chirashi that includes uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe), for $24. Given my love for uni, I decided to splurge and order that.

Green Tea & Appetizers

Green Tea & Appetizers

To start, I had a cup of green tea, which our waitress kept refilled throughout the meal. We also got some complimentary pickled veggies & seaweed as appetizers, which were nice and refreshing.

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Each of us also got a miso soup, which was also quite good. 

Sashimi Lunch [$16]

Sashimi Lunch [$16]

One of my friends ordered the sashimi set, which came with albacore, whitefish, yellowtail, tuna, octopus, and salmon. It was served with rice.

Chirashi [$17]

Chirashi [$17]

Continue reading »

Dec 092013
 

I am still slowly working my way through posts from the recent LA trips. One of my favorite types of restaurants is Hong Kong-style cafés, which serve both Western-style food such as steaks and pastas, as well as the typical Cantonese fried rice and noodle dishes, in addition to snacks and desserts. I’ve posted previously about a couple of HK cafés that I’ve visited in LA, but on one of my recent trips, I wanted something different. It was around 2AM, so our options were a bit limited, but we decided to check out Garden Cafe, located on Valley Blvd in Alhambra.

The menu was quite extensive, and I forgot to take some pictures of it… Did I mention it was kind of late? Haha. Nevertheless, here are some photos of our meal…

Cantonese-style Borscht Soup

Cantonese-style Borscht Soup

Served with every “set” meal, this is a classic in cafés. I’m not sure why they chose to do a variation on borscht, a Russian soup, but it’s usually pretty good. It’s made with beef broth, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, cabbage, and onions. Sometimes, there will be beef stew meat as well. I actually like the version made by San Diego’s very own A Cafe, but that might be because I like a milder soup. Haha.

Sizzling Ribeye Steak with Black Pepper Sauce

Sizzling Ribeye Steak with Black Pepper Sauce

Not the most flattering photo, but it was actually really delicious. For about $10, you get a sizable ribeye steak cooked in your choice of sauce (S chose black pepper), mashed potatoes, and veggies. Obviously can’t compare with actual steakhouses, but seriously, this was pretty darn good. The black pepper sauce helped with adding some juiciness.

Baked Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce

Baked Bolognese with Spaghetti

P1030840-5

Continue reading »

Nov 202013
 

Sorry to keep flooding you with posts from my L.A. trip, but I haven’t eaten out much in San Diego since we spent so much money and time eating out in L.A. instead. Haha. I’ll consider this my guide for L.A. for now. Also, I’m going to combine some of the posts since we visited quite a few cafés and dessert shops during our short time there (another reason we’re trying to eat out less… har har).

Anyway, we stumbled upon Beard Papa’s in Little Tokyo Shopping Center by accident. Our destination was a sushi restaurant for lunch, and Beard Papa’s happened to be at the entrance of the same shopping center in Little Tokyo. Normally when S and I visit L.A., we eat in the San Gabriel Valley area (for Taiwanese and/or Cantonese food), so this was my first time in Little Tokyo. I actually really liked the large shopping center, which reminded me a bit of Asian department stores – a food court floor, arcade, grocery store, boutiques… Should have taken some photos. Oops. I was too busy window shopping with my friends.

My friend saw the Beard Papa’s and got super excited. Haha. It’s a Japanese franchise that specializes in selling cream puffs – soft and puffy choux pastry filled with pastry cream. I’ve made my own version at home, but Beard Papa’s makes some of the best cream puffs I’ve had. (Keep in mind, I haven’t been to France. Haha.)

P1030855-1

Filling the choux pastry with fresh pastry cream

You order the type of cream puff you want (see next pic for the menu), then it gets filled – this way, the choux pastry stays crisp instead of getting soggy from the cream.

Beard Papa's Menu

Beard Papa’s Menu

I was really tempted to get multiple puffs, but they don’t taste good if they’re not fresh, so I just ordered a regular vanilla cream puff for S, and one vanilla E’clair for myself. The E’clair is just the cream puff dipped in chocolate.

P1030857-3 Continue reading »

Nov 132013
 

Here’s another post from my recent visit to L.A. (Actually, I’m going to L.A. again this weekend, so this month might pretty much be L.A.-focused. Haha.) We were meeting up with some of our college buddies, and we decided to eat something nice. Since one of my friends is pretty familiar with the Torrance area, he took us to a Japanese BBQ restaurant in Lomita. We didn’t have reservations or anything, but luckily they had a table for four available on a Friday night. The place was pretty small, very cute, and reminded me a lot of Tsuruhashi – Japanese “Korean” style BBQ.

2013-11-02 19.49.32

The menu indicates that they have “Special Selected” as well as “High Quality” U.S. Kobe beef. But we decided that U.S. Prime beef was good enough for us (and our wallets), haha.

Salted Beef Tongue [$6.50]

Salted Beef Tongue [$6.50]

Pork Fatty Meat [$5.50]

Pork Fatty Meat [$5.50]

Continue reading »