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

Overheard on the Boston Boards

"I'm surprised by how few people know about Symphony Café, located in Symphony Hall. The food is catered by Jules Catering (currently) and is served buffet style. Compared to what's proximitous to the hall, food is decent and can't beat convenience." - PainterGirl on where to eat before a symphony performance

"The coconut cream pie at Myers + Chang is perhaps the best I've ever had- wonderful essence of coconut with a zing of lime, with chantilly cream on top. And even though it's served at a restaurant, I often get pieces to go. It's that good." - Scruffy The Cat

"Highlight for me was the dessert ... a salty caramel cheesecake that was preposterous. Big crystals of salt (Maldon Sea Salt?) cut the sweetness and the creaminess of the cheesecake and pulled the whole thing together for me. I never rave about dessert but this was outstanding. The pastry chef was enjoying a post-shift beverage and I raved at him like the complete nutter I am." - yumyum on dessert at Gargoyles on the Square

How to Raise a Non-Drunk

Let's raise a glass of whatever to BBC star Oz Clarke, who has publicly gone on record suggesting that drinking responsibly is fun, and that teens need practice.

"Learning how to do it is part of growing up," he's quoted as saying in the Telegraph. "Growing up is about risk."

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Kogi Parks It

If you don't know Chef Roy Choi's name, you probably have heard of Kogi, his Korean taco truck empire in Los Angeles that has inspired many people to get into Korean food and flavors. In April, Choi will be opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant called Chego in West Los Angeles, but his signature tacos will not be on the menu. Instead, he will be spooning up another comfort food: the rice bowl. We spoke with Choi about his new restaurant, his passion for making good food accessible to everyone, how he's walking a fine line to not piss off the rest of the restaurant industry, and why there will be no uni or lemongrass foam on his menu. He also shared a recipe for a Sweet Chile Chicken Rice Bowl (pictured), which may change your mind about rice bowls if all you've ever eaten is the microwave kind covered in syrupy teriyaki sauce.

What's on the menu at Chego?

Very simple, like Kogi, with five to seven items, and like Kogi, it will grow weekly with the people. A few appetizers like Korean meatballs, a couple salads, and four rice bowls: a Korean lacquered pork belly, a chicken, a veggie kimchee fried rice, and steak and egg. And one dessert: I'm going to try and reinvent the Rocky Road with marshmallow cream, spicy peanut brittle, and broken-up cookies inside.

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Funnel Cake, Hot Out of the Oil

klyeoh found a truly perfect funnel cake at Funnel House. "Nothing, absolutely NOTHING, beats a freshly-made funnel cake," says klyeoh. Funnel House's version is "perfectly-crisp on the outside, eggy-buttery-hot on the inside, topped with good vanilla ice-cream, and the most luscious strawberry jam ever."

"This place is a GEM!!" says klyeoh.

Funnel House [South Bay]
425 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach
562-901-1835

Discuss: Found – the perfect funnel cake at Funnel House

Fauxtisanal Food Truck Alert

A Belgian waffle truck parked near CHOW, believed by employees to be an artisanal food truck, was revealed through investigative reporting to be a franchise operation. Although the truck is operated by a legit Belgian dude, the tasty, yeasty waffles are in fact baked from premeasured dough supplied by Belgian company So Good Belgian Waffles in egg carton-esque containers.

The truck never claimed to be peddling handmade treats. It basked, quietly, in the warm interest of those who assumed it to be a humble start-up operation in the spirit of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. This is surely not the last fauxtisanal scheme. Is it?

Elegant Artisanal Chocolates

Christopher Michael Chocolates is a lovely little artisanal chocolate maker that really impressed OC Mutt, "this despite the fact that our bar has been set extremely high after a recent chocolate tour of Paris and London."

Christopher Michael's chocolates are "luxurious and silky," and the flavors are "surprisingly, elegantly understated," says OC Mutt. There are a few wilder flavors though, including the really wonderful peanut butter and banana chocolate, which has, says OC Mutt, brilliant flavors, lovely crunchiness, and a nice hint of salt.

This is truly a small artisan's shop. The chocolate maker is always there; when you get chocolates, you talk to him. "And this guy, aside from being a gregarious host, knows his chocolates and knows the culinary world. Check it out, and give your support to a local guy who is bringing artistry to southern CA," says OC Mutt.

Christopher Michael Chocolates [Orange County]
2346 Newport Boulevard, Suite A3, Costa Mesa
949-566-9810

Discuss: Artisan Chocolates – Newport Beach/Costa Mesa

The Truffle Egg: Too Much Truffle?

Jwsel's single favorite dish in this entire city is the truffle egg at Melisse: "$85 for the dish, but it is probably the best thing I have ever eaten."

It's unlike any other egg Jwsel has ever tried. The menu describes it as a "melting organic egg," and the description is quite apt. It's poached. "[T]he white is incredibly light and airy, like the lightest omelet I've ever tried," says Jwsel. There is a light truffle foam, and the egg sits on a bed of truffle sauce, which is earthy, but not heavy, "and everyone at the table tried to sop up every drop." That alone would make it one of the best dishes Jwsel has ever had, "but then they brought out a large black truffle and shaved close to half of it over the top of the egg. I swear they put so much truffle on it that I almost wanted to tell them to stop."

Melisse [Westside - Beaches]
1104 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica
310-395-0881

Discuss: Your single favorite dish in LA

Back to the Olive Garden

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This week's mission: an exotically named ravioli to tempt suburbanites. ... WATCH THE VIDEO

Overheard on the Los Angeles Boards

"The most fabulous item on the menu is a Juarenze tamal. They are huge, and should become legendary." - bentonhs, about Mami's Tacos, Long Beach

"Shakes at Milk are superb, my favorite in the area." - QualityMart

"With the advent of Liang's, this particular unnamed strip mall, with the help of the ancient Yi Mei bakery, is suddenly the Taiwanese hot spot of Monterey Park." - TonyC on the new branch of Liang's Kitchen

Chinese Food and Doughnuts: Why?

Classic American doughnuts and Chinese steam-table food are sold side-by-side in endless locations in California. How did these odd-bedfellow combo shops come to be? The Atlantic delves into the mystery, and finds an economic reason:

"Henry Trang, the owner of Mom's Donuts and Chinese Food to Go, a tiny hut-shaped restaurant in LA's Silverlake neighborhood, told me that when he took over the shop in 1995 it was known as California Donuts, and he focused only on the sweet stuff. Recently, though, 'a lot of [doughnut] places have been closing,' he explained while cleaning up for the night. Not wanting to see his business suffer a similar fate, he expanded his offerings. 'We have to make both. If I don't have food, maybe I don't survive.'

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