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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Frozen Sushi

If you’re so inclined, Sam’s Club stores sell frozen sushi made by Ajinomoto. Good as a quick snack or in the lunchbox.

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Frozen sushi anyone?

Milk Frothers

To create a froth of steamed milk for a perfect cappuccino, hot chocolate, or other hot drink, you don’t need an espresso machine.

Nespresso’s Aeroccino (about $90) is completely automatic. Add milk, push a button, and voila! Steamed, frothy milk, in under a minute. btnfood says it’s effortless and makes the best foam he’s ever tasted.

Here’s the website; if you click on “demo” you’ll see it in action.

The Bodum wand frother works beautifully for Procrastibaker, who likes a lot of foam. It’s like a tiny hand blender; it froths right in your cup of warmed milk. The price is very reasonable, under $15.

Back to Basics smoothie makers make good smoothies, grind ice, and, according to EclecticEater, if you pour in milk (hot or cold), will whiz it into a terrific froth. They work especially well with non-fat milk. At the bottom, there’s a handy dispenser valve to dispense the froth.

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Steamed milk without an espresso machine?

100 Lbs of Seafood?

It’s easy to miss 100 LB, not least because they haven’t bothered to take down the signs of its previous incarnation, M D King’s. This is a pretty basic hot pot restaurant, with a buffet of hot pot ingredients including fish fillets, mussels, shrimp squid, various types of fish balls, salmon fillets, imitation crab, thinly sliced pork and beef, vegetables and bean curd sheets.

You go to 100 Lb for the broth, says Chandavkl—you can get spicy tofu, non-spicy, or pickled. The non-spicy broth is exceptionally tasty.

Weekday lunch is about $8; dinner and weekends is about $12.

100 Lb Seafood Hot Pot Buffet [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly M D King’s Buffet
127 N Garfield Ave. # Y, near Garvey, Monterey Park

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100 LB Seafood Hot Pot Buffet in Monterey Park

Z, The Sushi Gen of San Gabriel Valley

Z Sushi in Alhambra is the only place worth recommending in the area for people who are serious about sushi, says tsb, who lists a few reasons this place stands out.

Toshi prepares the anago himself, and somehow makes it almost fluffy in texture. A lot of places serve the commercially processed stuff; by making it himself, he can use the bones to make tsume—the sweet sauce for the eel.

He also prepares his own kohada, which has a smoky tinge that distinguishes it from other places.

Seared salmon with yuzu gosho and tai with yuzu and sea salt aren’t as unusual, but they’re definitely highlights of the repertoire.

He also does a credible version of Osaka-style battera—minus the wooden box—on request.

As for omakase, microtim says, “He started with a big tease followed with a plate of standard sushi. Then each sushi after that increased in quality by one notch until we climaxed at the toro. Then we reminisced on the experience in the warmth of a soup and the finishing touch of dessert. Yes, it was very much like sex.”

Z Sushi [San Gabriel Valley]
1132 N. Garfield Ave., Alhambra

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Omakase at Z-Sushi

A Bunch of Brunch at Harlem’s Pier 2110

Some of the better deals at the otherwise pricey Pier 2110 are at Sunday brunch. Choices top out in the low $20s, but they include a ton of food: Mimosa or Bloody Mary, soup or salad, home fries, toast, and substantial main courses—seared tilapia, New York strip steak, fried chicken and waffles, and a number of egg dishes. All quite good, says mcchowhound, “not Michelin good, but far better than most meals described as ‘brunch.’” The chicken is a standout, flavorful and lightly fried. The fish is fresh and tender.

Weekday lunch is decent, if overpriced, reports Steve R. Seafood bisque is rich with shrimp and lump crab or lobster meat, very tasty and not overly thickened. The pastrami on rye is nice lean meat, warmed up and served on good bread.

Beyond the chow, service is attentive and earnest, the room is huge and decked out in nautical trim, and the mood is upscale in a “we’re trying to be proper” way that hounds will either love or hate, Steve suggests.

Pier 2110 [Harlem]
2110 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. (7th Ave.), between 125th and 126th Sts., Manhattan

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Pier 2110

Inviting New Bistro in Williamsburg

Williamsburg hounds are taking to the solid bistro fare and welcoming vibe at Juliette. Smart orders lean toward the classic—onion soup, mussels, steak au poivre, pate (served with delicious apple chutney)—but less conventional offerings like spicy chicken and paella (an occasional special) are worth a try, too. Also noteworthy: vegetable-goat cheese salad, standout fries and, for brunch, perfectly done French toast, served with roasted potatoes and lardons.

Service is attentive and attitude free—”definitely un-Williamsburg,” observes deancicle—and the soundtrack of Piaf, Jacques Brel et cie sets a suitably Gallic mood.

Juliette [Williamsburg]
135 N. 5th St., near Bedford Ave., Brooklyn

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New french Bistro in Williamsburg, Juliette

Get in the Cauldron

It’s the place whose logo is a happy little lamb wearing a bow tie. He looks happy, doesn’t he? He might not be so happy when he gets sliced paper thin and served alongside a cauldron of bubbling, cumin-scented broth. He may not be happy, but you will be.

There’s not just little lambs, but also fish balls, tofu, mushrooms, winter melon, hand-pulled noodles, and a ton of other uncooked items that show up ready for you to cook in that vat of spiced broth. All items are fresh and delicious, says Martin Strell, and the broth itself is a work of art. Actually, there are multiple broths to try, and you can get your hot pot half-and-half, one side full of spicy Sichuan broth, the other full of a milder broth of cumin, garlic, clove, and other spice treasures. Turns out you may not have to go to China for superior hot pot.

Little Lamb Mongolian Hot Pot [East Bay]
34396 Alvarado Niles Rd., at Decoto, Union City

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Little Lamb Mongolian Hot Pot in Union City

Portobello Mushroom Fritti

Dunkin Donut likes the Lafayette branch of Pizza Antica, both for the goat cheese pizza with a cracker-thin crust, and for the portobello mushroom fritti–like french fries, but made with beautiful strips of portobello mushrooms, served with a great dipping sauce.

The place is packed, so call ahead and put yourself on the wait list.

Pizza Antica [East Bay]

3600 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette



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Pizza Antica

Citizen Cane

As with Cabbage Patch Dolls and Tickle Me Elmo, the unexpected popularity of these seasonal cookies has already caused a shortage.

I learned of Joe-Joe’s in this Chowhound thread. But when I tried to buy a pack at my local Trader Joe’s, I found out a woman had just come in and bought $700 worth, their whole stock.

Are they delicious? Yes. But don’t take my word for it; check out the big big love.

The truly desperate for a Joe-Joe fix can always go to the gray market.

The Tip of the Iceberg

Scallions may be off the hook: It’s looking (registration required) more and more like lettuce is the culprit in the Taco Bell E. coli outbreak. The fast-food chain’s iceberg shreds hail from (where else?) California—specifically Irwindale-based Ready Pac Produce, although Taco Bell canceled its contract with the company last week and hired Taylor Farms of Salinas instead.

The whole story reinforces the growing awareness that something ain’t right with our food-safety regulations. Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser helps explain why in a recent opinion piece (registration required). Hint: it has something to do with fast-food and meatpacking lobbyists, political donations, and Republican elected officials.

But this latest development also raises another, admittedly far more frivolous question: Why use lettuce in Mexican (or even “Mexican”) food in the first place? As plenty of true burritophiles and burrito eaters will tell you, lettuce has no place in a burrito. Ditto for a taco, where in my humble opinion (and in others’ as well), the only garnishes, if any, should be salsa, onion, and cilantro. Shredded lettuce has virtually no taste, and it doesn’t add crunch, no matter what anyone tells you—it gets watery and dilutes flavor, a far cry from the crisp, lovely lettuce cups common in Korean fare. The so-called vegetable doesn’t add any health benefits, either: Iceberg lettuce is a nutritional black hole, and even the other varieties (romaine and Bibb, for example) don’t bring a whole lot more to the table.

If there are any lettuce-in-burrito lovers out there, come forth and defend yourselves!