The CHOW Blog rss

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

Mad-Scientist Ice Cream

A laboratory for eclectic ice cream flavors, the LA City College-adjacent Scoops has been getting some press lately. Owner Tai Kim uses tropical fruits (mango, ube) as well as wasabi, and chocolate jalapeno. Brown bread, believe it or not, is a popular flavor, and there are also vegan ice creams. You can even write a flavor suggestion on his dry-erase board.

For the less adventurous, pistachio, chocolate, and tiramisu are good bets. Flavors rotate about once a week. Two scoops are $2.

Scoops [East Hollywood]
formerly Taicecream
712 N. Heliotrope Dr., Los Angeles

Board Links
Scoops Ice Cream @ Melrose & Heliotrope?
Scoops on Heliotrope in Silverlake?

Little Owl: Promising Mediterranean Hideaway in the Village

An Italian-leaning menu of simple, seasonal dishes is drawing crowds at the Little Owl, which roosted a month ago on the site of the now-closed bistro Chez Michallet. “I almost don’t want to post because it’s so tiny, but I thought it was great,” says jdm, who loves the meatball sliders and crispy chicken with fried asparagus from chef Joey Campanaro (the Harrison, Pace).

Also recommended: flavorful New York strip steak (served with pancetta, radicchio, and fennel), clean-tasting halibut with an alluring golden-brown crust, and for dessert, brownie cake and baked strawberry custard. Other pluses include warm service, an intimate vibe, and a decent midpriced wine list. The room seats around 30 tops, so expect a wait.

Not everyone is a fan. “Formulaic and lackluster,” sniffs (mp), who finds the food at best acceptable but mostly bland and unremarkable.

The Little Owl [West Village]
formerly Chez Michallet
90 Bedford St., at Grove, Manhattan


Board Links
Little Owl?
Little Owl
Little Owl and Ditch Plains Reviewed
the little owl

Licorice, Anyone?

Licorice comes in black, red, salty, or sugarless varieties. Here are some of the Chowhounds’ favorite online sources.

Economy Candy in NYC’s Lower East Side is a legendary shop that that stocks a large selection of black licorice, including Kookaburra brand, which some folks view with awe! Not many people seem to know these guys sell online, at:

Licorice International, out of Lincoln, Nebraska, has many types of imported licorice. Their Dutch and German selections are particularly worth a try; each has its own distinctive flavor. They sell salty licorice, too, which is very much an acquired taste. If you like red licorice, they offer a very nice sampler. Order at:

For a good selection of sugar free, try Dutch Sweets, at:

Board Links
best black licorice? by mail-order, pls

Homemade “Fudgcicles”

With a set of ice pop molds, you can whip up your own version of the classic chocolaty summer treat, with or without dairy.

Pat Hammond simply stirs enough Ovaltine into whole milk to get a dark chocolate mixture and freezes in molds. These are a little more icy than storebought, but still creamy tasting. For a non-dairy (and rather adult) version, lynn makes sorbet-like pops by cooking 1 part cocoa, 1 part sugar, 2 parts water, and a pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is smooth. Add in some vanilla. Cool, and freeze in popsicle molds. Make them richer by adding chopped bittersweet chocolate while the mixture is still hot, if you like.

Board Links

Fruit and Pepper

Pepper adds an unexpected note to fruit. It works especially well with strawberries, currently at peak season. Pureed strawberries with black pepper stirred in is ambrosia to lil mikey, and strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar and black pepper is an Italian classic that’s just killer served over a simple panna cotta, swoons pinstripeprincess.

Pineapple and pepper also pair well, but don’t be afraid to try it with melons and tropical fruits. babette feasts notes that pink pepper can be nice with fruit, too.

Board Links
black pepper and fruit
Strawberries and Pepper

Perfect Chicken Feet

gordon wing says the best chicken feet in the area are at Joy Luck. They’re just about perfect, fluffy in texture, and all the skin and cartilage come off easily. The seasoning is slightly hot and sublimely savory. They also make the best dry beef chow fun in the neighborhood, adds george. Service is very helpful.

Tai Wu serves similarly wonderful chicken feet, reports Nancy Berry.

Joy Luck Place [Oakland]
327 8th St., Oakland

Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant [Sunset]
(a.k.a Tai Wu)
2578 Noriega St., San Francisco


Board Links: Chicken Feet at Joy Luck/Oakland

Cafe Taiwan

You’ll find lots of unique and lovely little snacks at Cafe Taiwan, many of which are impossible to find elsewhere the Bay Area. And, best of all, they make some magical and rare Hakka specialties.

Ground pork with rice ($3.50) is excellent; a good amount of rice with lots of ground pork, tea egg, and cilantro. Mi tai mu (listed under Hakka Specials, $3) are like Japanese udon noodles, but made with rice flour–and you can really taste the rice. Served with a tea egg, it’s simple goodness.

KK reports on the contents of a Chinese-language blog post on this place, from a Vitomin (Hakkanese-Taiwanese) eater who really digs their Hakka specialties. We learn that the signature dishes are mahn luan ju jiao and mahn luan pig feet. The mahn luan pig feet are marinated for a long time, cooked, cut up, and served with dipping sauce; it is apparently much more delicious than their regular pig feet. So don’t settle for pedestrian pig feet!

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The take-out menu reads “open 7 days,” but they may actually close on Wednesdays, so call first!

Cafe Taiwan [South Bay]
181 W. Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas
(in the Save Mart shopping center behind Burger King)

Board Links: Taiwanese Hakkanese food found in Milpitas–Cafe Taiwan
Cafe Taiwan, Milpitas report (w/ pics)

New Beer Store and Tasting Room

City Beer is a newly opened beer store and tasting room unlike any other beer store around. You’ll find a wide variety of specialty beers from around the world, arranged, interestingly, by style rather than by region. Belgian beers, for example, are grouped into singles, dubbels, trippels, and lambics, with American versions of those styles arranged alongside.

They’ve also got a license to serve beer, so they’ll open any bottle and serve it for a corkage fee of $1! Best of all, prices are surprisingly reasonable. Girardin Geuze lambic costs $9, and is served chilled in the proper stemware.

They’ve got four beers on tap, with 6 oz. tasting pours available. Tap selection rotates.

City Beer [SOMA]
1168 Folsom St., btwn. 7th and 8th, San Francisco

Board Links: City Beer–beer store and tasting room in SF

Hawaiian Food Dream Factory

The cook at Aloha Food Factory says he can make anything you want.


Well, if what you want is along the lines of a burrito stuffed with Spam, pineapple and kalua pork, drenched in teriyaki sauce and spiked with wasabi, yes.

OK, it sounds…odd, but ipse dixit insists, “The nice salty, crunchy feel of the slightly charred spam mixed in with the sweet pineapple and pork…all of it blended in nicely with the wasabi. Oh, and of course, the teri sauce just makes sure it all goes down the windpipe with ease. This was so damn good.”

On the more traditional front, spam musubi is good here, with a good proportion of spam and nori compared to the rice, says AquaW. Fried-to-order sesame chicken is pretty awesome too.

Shaved ice hits the spot on a hot day, but isn’t quite like what you’d get in the islands.

Aloha Food Factory [San Gabriel Valley]
2990 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

Board Links: I have found my reason for living … ALOHA FOOD FACTORY!

Hawaiian Shave Ice

True Hawaiian shave ice can be tough to find on the mainland. Key ingredients: good ice cream, adzuki (sweet red) beans, house-made syrup (and a variety of choices), and powdery, properly shaved ice.

You’re probably best off going to Teri Hawaii, where syrup flavors include strawberry, lilikoi, and pineapple–and you can get them together. Ice cream and adzuki beans are available, and the result is creamy, fruity, and delectable.

Teri is Hawaii-authentic, if not the same quality as Matsumoto, the famed shave-ice spot on Oahu’s North Shore, says ek. Mike Q, though, hands Teri the advantage for serving the shave ice in a good-size cup, not a paper cone. A serving is about $3.

A couple other recommendations: Maui BBQ, where shave ice is served with ice cream and adzuki, and about eight flavors of syrup. And in Simi Valley, of all places, there’s Tutu’s Hawaiian Ice Cream Shack, where they’ve got all the fixings.

Teriyaki Hawaii [South Bay]
a.k.a. Teri Hawaii
1425 W. Artesia Blvd. #34, Gardena

Maui Hawaiian BBQ [North OC]
1323 S. Harbor Blvd., Orangethorpe, Fullerton

Tutu’s Hawaiian Ice Cream Shack [West San Fernando Valley]
4332 Cochran St., Simi Valley


Board Links