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

Hong Kong-Style Curry Squid and Other Chinatown Bites

One of Chinatown’s better street vendors dishes up curry squid and other satisfying Hong Kong-style chow, reports HLing. Her squid ($3 for a good-sized container) is agreeably chewy and comes in thin but rich curry sauce with decent chile kick. The ever-changing lineup might also include fish balls, cheung fun (rice noodle rolls), daikon radish with pork skin, or chow mei fun (pan-fried vermicelli). There’s no English menu; non-Chinese readers can point and ask. Look for her silver cart during the day on Grand near Bowery.

As long as we’re talking portable Chinese bites, several hounds remind us that May May on Pell Street is a favored source for zong zi. These are the southern Chinese “tamales” (as the English sign says) of rice with seasoned pork, mushroom, preserved egg, peanuts, or other stuff, all wrapped in banana leaf. “Very easy to steam and eat,” notes shirlotta, “a yummy meal in a leaf!” Frozen dumplings are good bets, too.

Deluxe Food Market, the block-long one-stop Chinese grocery that stretches from Elizabeth to Mott, also makes fine zong zi, says ary. They’re near the register in the prepared-food area.

Egg Custard King Cafe has opened a second shop at Grand and Forsyth, peddling its signature tarts in many colors. The popular egg white variety is wonderfully light. Other fillings include brightly colored fruit flavors–strawberry, banana, mango, and more–that hounds either love or hate. Chandavkl is partial to the light green honeydew model.

Street vendor [Chinatown]
Grand St. just east of Bowery, outside First American International Bank, Manhattan

May May Gourmet Chinese Bakery [Chinatown]
35 Pell St., between Mott and Doyers, Manhattan,

Deluxe Food Market [Chinatown]
79 Elizabeth St., between Hester and Grand Sts., Manhattan

Egg Custard King Cafe [Chinatown]
271 Grand St., at Forsyth, Manhattan

Egg Custard King Cafe [Chinatown]
formerly Sweet N Tart Cafe
76 Mott St., between Canal and Bayard, Manhattan

Board Links: Looking for other snacks near Dumpling House in Chinatown
Chinese sticky rice in banana leaf–Chiong
Chinese sticky rice in banana leaf–Chiong
1) 2nd location for the curry squid cart…2)venison jerky

New Arrivals in SGV

Mr. Lee has opened a Monterey Park branch for their Vietnamese sandwiches (we believe the report is for Mr. Baguette, per info below), and sickman reports the roast beef banh mi and baguette are great as usual.

When it comes to banh mi, Professor Salt is fond of Banh Mi Cho Cu, adding that most of the top banh mi shops are great at something (bread, iced coffee, desserts) but not everything. Top Baguette, Mr. Baguette, and Banh Mi Che Cali are all good to try.

And coming soon to Valley Boulevard–Beard Papa! In the same shopping mall as Mei Long Village. Soup dumplings and pork pump, then cream puffs. Mmmmm…

Mr Baguette [San Gabriel Valley]
400 S. Atlantic Blvd., at Harding, Monterey Park

Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery [Little Saigon]
14520 Magnolia St. # B, at Hazard, Westminster

Top Baguette [Little Saigon]
9062 Bolsa Ave., at Magnolia, Westminster

Mr Baguette [San Gabriel Valley]
8702 Valley Blvd., between San Gabriel and Rosemead, Rosemead

Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery [Little Saigon]
15551 Brookhurst St., at McFadden, Westminster

Banh Mi Che Cali Bakery [Little Saigon]
13838 Brookhurst St., at Westminster, Garden Grove

Banh Mi Che Cali [San Gabriel Valley]
8450 Valley Blvd., Walnut Grove, Rosemead

Mei Long Village Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
301 W. Valley Blvd., between S Del Mar and S New Aves., San Gabriel

Board Links: New Mr. Baguette opened today in Monterey Park
Beard Pappa coming to Valley Blvd.

Wrapping Up the Farmers’ Market Tour

Dommy has finally finished writing up some hounds’ (sort of) recent tour of the 3rd and Fairfax Farmers’ Market (see link at end for earlier posts):

There are a bunch of bakery stands at the market, but T&Y stands out for its beautiful loaves of rye and other hearty Eastern European breads. Challah is gorgeous, not too soft, and probably would make great French toast…if it lasted that long at home.

Magee’s makes their own peanut butter ($5.50 for a small container), churning it expertly so it never separates. The nut flavor is in-tense! No salt, though…BYO.

Littlejohn’s is one of the reasons the Farmers’ Market is considered one of the city’s most chowish destinations. There’s no better fresh toffee around. Unfortunately, the chocolate that covers it isn’t as high in quality. Pralines are good for some, but oh-so -sweet. English toffee, $16.95/lb. Pralines, $2.35 each.

If you feel the need for picnic fixings while wandering in the Grove of commerce, head to Monsieur Marcel. OK, it’s overpriced, but you can get good cheese ($10-24/lb) and good olives–barely ripe tiny ones, big green ones stuffed with almonds, and shrively oil-cured ones that melt in your mouth ($9/lb). Skip the bready, gummy baguette and get some crackers to go with that cheese.

Bob’s is often named as a doughnut fave, but Dommy found the fried hunks o’dough disappointing. The lauded apple fritters, she says, have hardly any apple and taste fairly standard. Glazed, jelly, and bar doughnuts are Krispy Kreme-esque, light and fluffy. If you like that kind of thing. As for their crumb doughnut, it’s nothing compared to the version Sepulveda and Centinela, she says.

Tbilisi and Yerevan Bakery [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St., at Fairfax, Los Angeles

Magee’s [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 624, Los Angeles

Littlejohn’s English Toffee [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 432, Los Angeles

Mr Marcel Gourmet Market [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 236, Los Angeles

Bob’s Coffee & Donuts [Fairfax Village]
6333 W. 3rd St. # 450, Los Angeles

Board Links: Doing the Farmer’s Market–ALLOF IT!! Pt. 4: Magee’s Nuts, Bob’s, Mr. Marcel, Little Johns and the PROOF!

Cafe Fanny Changes – Perfect Ice Cream and Sorbet

Cafe Fanny has acquired a new pastry chef–and their desserts have drastically improved.

rworange had a few less-than-delicious scoops under their old dessert regime. The new pastry chef has changed everything–the ice creams are truly stunning. Caramel ice cream is smooth and creamy, with an intense caramel taste. It inhabits the soul of the caramel. It is highly, highly recommended.

The mango sorbet is magnificent, especially its silky smooth texture. It’s like an elegant ganache, only full of tart mango.

$5 a scoop, though…

Cafe Fanny [East Bay]
1603 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley

Board Links: Oh MY !!!–Cafe Fanny–Organic Caramel Ice Cream & Mango Sorbet–They got it right … really, really right

Hot Cocoa Hotties

Hot Cocoa Hotties

We like our chocolate rich and a little bitter. Hold the marshmallows. READ MORE

Classic Bran Muffins and Blueberry Pie

FatApple’s serves up stunning pies, and classic bran muffins, says rworange. They currently have fresh blueberry pies. These are serious blueberry pies, just like glazed fresh strawberry pies (with a little custard under the fruit), only with blueberries–good blueberries, tasty ones. The glaze is excellent, and more light than gloppy. It just enhances the blueberry wonder of the pie. There’s some respectable whipped cream on the pie. All their pies are wonderful, says ChowFun-derek.

The bran muffin is nicely balanced, with big chunks of walnuts, plenty of raisins, and a nice, semi-moist texture. The bran itself is nutty.

Karen Schaffer says they make the best rhubarb crisp she’s ever had–a perfect combination of tart rhubarb and crisp, sweet, crunchy topping. If you get it with ice cream, ask for it on the side–otherwise it melts too fast. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, they have rhubarb crisp and forget to put it on their menu or chalkboard. Just ask for it.

FatApple’s Restaurant [East Bay]
1346 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley

FatApple’s Restaurant [East Bay]
7525 Fairmount Ave., El Cerrito

Board Links: FatApples–FRESH blueberry pie, fresh raspberry pie, apricot-ollieberry & the bran muffin

How Fake Meat Is Made

Fungus, soy, and wheat gluten all need styling gel before they're ready to play the part of meat. READ MORE

How Much Does It Cost to Go Organic?

We shopped at large chain stores (Safeway and Albertson's) for most regular and organic groceries and turned to Whole Foods to get harder-to-find organic items like meat and certain condiments. Organic food is invariably packaged in smaller sizes and, as READ MORE

Why Are Shopping Carts So Hard to Steer?

Why Are Shopping Carts So Hard to Steer?

It's not you, it's those pesky wheels. READ MORE

Should Your Wine Guy be Selling Cars?

Andy Besch and Ellen Kaye, authors of _The Wine Guy: Everything You Want to Know About Buying and Enjoying Wine from Someone Who Sells It_ tell you how to grill your wine seller. READ MORE