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Why are they standing in line ?

Which place?

Mr Holmes?
State Bird Provisions?
Swan Oyster Depot?
Hot popular brunch spot?
Sushi Sam's?
Orenchi?
Food trucks?

2 days ago
K K in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice appreciated re: Chinese Food 101 class for HS students

For those adventurous might want to try the Shunde specialty (preorder a must), pan fried stuffed fish. Normally done with Dace but because that cannot be obtained fresh, Chef Yum uses black bass instead.

順德煎釀盲鰽

Tasty but not one of the tip top best dishes, though a nice rendition.

First pic came from their old photo website under Chef's recommendations

https://picasaweb.google.com/10464474...

and the second and third pic are ones I took from last year.

Just a heads up that I've had preorder requests turned down before, particularly the labor intensive items. The restaurant kitchen is very small and when things get unpredictable (even in advance) they may tell you their ability and capacity to deliver (or not). Chances of getting some of the more exotic labor intensive dishes done on the weekends are smaller.

2 days ago
K K in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice appreciated re: Chinese Food 101 class for HS students

Re: Yum's Bistro

There are far too many things to preorder that are wonderful and unique. My advice to you is to reserve tables and when you call also preorder all the dishes. Try the following

Double boiled soup (pick any one):
-Watercress, dried scallop, dried duck gizzard in double boiled chicken soup. 西洋菜瑶柱陳腎燉雞湯 (on the preorder section of the menu).
- 准山杞子螺頭燉雞湯 - dried mountain yam, goji berries, conch and chicken stewed soup (there's tons of other material inside as well. Not listed on the menu but they can do it)
- whole winter melon soup (this is on the back page of their menu)
- Snake soup (subject to season/availability, may not have it anymore)

Roasted squab 紅燒乳鴿 (as appetizer). This they always have.

Crab dishes depending on the size of your party. The more people you have the more things you can try:
- Under Bridge spicy crab (standard menu offering)
- Soy sauce supreme stir fried crab (excellent) 豉油王炒蟹, not listed on the menu. The lobster version of this is also very good.
- 蒸蟹糯米飯 - steamed crab over glutinous rice. The rice is gold here as it absorbs the crab fat and juices. Get the largest sized crab you can get, no brainer. Not listed on the menu.
- "Shanghainese" style crab (made with real crab) Large dungie two ways: crab meat stir fried with egg whites, and salt pepper legs and claws. Koi Palace has this dish as well, but Yum's does it too.
- Jakarta chili crab (very good, but can be messy to eat), no preorder needed.

If you are feeling like lobster, either the soy sauce supreme, or the salted egg yolk batter version are quite excellent.

Empress/Pacific clams:
(XO 醬)韮皇銀牙炒貴妃蚌 - sliced clams stir fried with young yellow chives and bean sprouts. To kick it up a notch ask for it stir fried with his house made XO sauce. With or without XO sauce is splendid. You could preorder it as geoduck too and have the head salt pepper fried or in soup.

Must must try for first time:

脆皮糯米雞 (glutinous rice stuffed crispy skin chicken)

Carb dish (choose one, only if you don't get the glutinous rice stuffed crispy skin chicken):

- 肉絲煎麵 (pan fried noodles with yellow chives, mushrooms, pork strips, bean sprouts) a very respectable rendition
- 生炒糯米飯 - stir fried glutinous rice. Done the classic "risotto" way from raw grains, not steamed first and stir fried like dim sum restaurants
- salted fish, dried scallops, egg white stir fried rice

Dessert (must preorder):
Grounded Chinese almond egg white dessert soup - 杏汁蛋白露. Thick, glorious and frankly maybe the best in town.

The stuff on the white board can be pretty good as well.

- Steamed egg custard with clams in shaoxing wine sauce (huadiao liquor sauce) is quite divine.
- stir fried belachan pork neck meat with four seasons beans (or black pepper instead of belachan)
- when mango is in season, go crazy on the mango beef tenderloin stir fry, so good
- the stock menu sweet & sour pork is also quite good, though is not crispy
- typhoon shelter pork intestines are fantastic with a cold Tsing Tao beer.

Steamed pork patty with salted fish is also quite good, though you will need bowls of rice to go with it.

As far as vegetables go, just ask to see what they have in stock.
Some recommendations

- gai lan stir fried with salted fish
- garlic stir fried large pea sprout (or cooked in superior stock of chicken and smoked ham)
- shrimp paste hollow stem veg (not in season now)

This will be an excellent intro to mid to high end banquet style Cantonese food for your students. Here you can experience wok hay/wok breath, drawing out natural flavors through skill, knowledge, experience, the spirit of traditional refined Cantonese (some very classical) from probably the most experienced chef in town.

Allow yourself more than 2 hours to dine and maybe even bring some wine to enjoy. Beaujolais Cru (Morgon) 2013 worked great for me recently though I've seen people bring in crazy varieties before.

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

(Edited)

Feb 24, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Thanks! Yes I think after JL's comment I'll stick with Sinbala and Arcadia DTF flagship and hit them in one go, vs Glendale or Costa Mesa (and if I am at CM, it will be Taco Maria time which might work after some Hue Vietnamese in Westminster).

Feb 24, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Great list! Thanks so much!

Pretty sure we will get to Grand Central Market at least once (maybe two to three times). We have Belcampo in Northern California, though I have not visited yet (San Francisco and Palo Alto).

Feb 24, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Mission Impossible : Good Cantonese food in Chinatown ?

I rarely eat wonton noodle soup anywhere in SF Bay Area and save my fix which I also rarely have if I were to visit Hong Kong (and even their local top places vary). If you get 2 out of 3 satisfactory, you are already ahead (wontons, noodles, broth).

In SF, you'd be lucky if one out of 3 components are done acceptably.
Maybe 1.35 but that is pushing it.

Hon's - wontons are great if you get them freshly made, and if you do not fuss over pork to shrimp ratio. They are smaller and bite sized, unlike the standard "golf ball" siu mai-esque versions around. Broth and noodles are poor.

The one at Smile Cafe (Taraval) is acceptable if you keep your expectations low, but their other signature dishes tastes much better and is the best HK cafe around.

To be honest you might get better mileage if you focus on shui gow instead of wontons. In the city, maybe Ming Tai on Noriega does it best though their standards have slipped quite a lot. When Cooking Papa (Foster City) does shui gow great, it's awesome (though can be inconsistent), but you need to get them in broth (no noodles, unless you need carb filler, for both Ming Tai and Cooking Papa). Next best option would be Fat Wong's in San Bruno, maybe.

King Wonton on Irving...they may have barely acceptable bamboo pole noodles if you lower your standards but the last time I went there and ordered lo mein (broth on the side) they overcooked it! Even went within a couple months of another...beef brisket and wonton lo mein, and ja jeung (sweet and spicy pork strip and mushrooms) lo mein....really disappointing. They are trying to do a wide menu without nailing down the basics.

Hate to say this, but the best egg noodle experience for almost a pseudo Cantonese noodle soup experience are at the Vietnamese Chinese noodle shops Hai Ky Mi Gia (SF) or Thai Nghiep Ky Mi Gia (SF), and they do brothless noodles (wide egg noodles are best) superbly well. Caveat, their wontons are all pork and can be very tasty if you use tableside condiments to kick things up a notch, but it's far more satisfying than the very disappointing Cantonese won ton noodle soups in town.

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Thanks so much!

Good to know I'm headed in the right direction, but always a pleasure getting feedback from this board for further fine tuning! I know I will be in good hands with all these killer tips :-). Now if only I could have multiple stomachs and more time.

For Si Hai, I located their website and learned they had multiple locations. Guessing Hacienda Heights (flagship) is a safer bet then?

Feb 22, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Where to find in SGV a bowl of brisket noodle soup like HK's Kau Kee?

There are Taiwanese clear broth beef noodle soups where medicinal and/or Chinese herbs are added, but those are restricted to Taiwan. 72 Beef Noodles in Taipei uses a special Shandong family recipe of simmering ox knee bones for 72 hours into a milky broth, the closest thing that comes to that broth in California would be something like a Korean Seolleongtang or Dogani Soo Yuk complete with the tendons and beef shank (at your favorite K-town Gomtang specialist shop). Add a pinch of Himalayan rose salt and it will be good enough, though you might have to bring in your own noodles.

The best "clear broth brisket" ho fun noodles for me in NorCal surprisingly was at Pho Y 1 San Jose, a southern style pho shop where you can actually get Northern style fresh ho fun instead of the traditional thinner Southern noodles (and their brisket/fatty brisket thin slices are so damn good). Yes it is co-mingling North vs South, but it works for me better than most Cantonese clear broth brisket interpretations. Not sure if you can pull something like this off in Westminster.

Feb 22, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area
1

Where to find in SGV a bowl of brisket noodle soup like HK's Kau Kee?

九記 Kau Kee's broth is cooked with various cuts of brisket, some unheard of by name outside of Hong Kong, as well as some medicinal and Chinese herbs. Closely guarded secret. The best cut is called Soong Lam 爽腩 and is not always available (and if it is you can only order it a la carte in a bowl). I believe you can order egg noodle,

Feb 22, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Where to find in SGV a bowl of brisket noodle soup like HK's Kau Kee?

九記 Kau Kee's broth is cooked with various cuts of brisket, some unheard of by name outside of Hong Kong, as well as some medicinal and Chinese herbs. Closely guarded secret. The best cut is called Soong Lam 爽腩 and is not always available (and if it is you can only order it a la carte in a bowl). I believe you can order egg noodle, Ho fun, and E-fu noodles, maybe rice noodles vermicelli. Egg noodles are not a good pairing per local foodies, due to alkali water content in the egg noodles affecting the broth flavor.

Maybe most upscale version is going to dim sum seafood restaurant and ordering plain clear broth brisket with daikon in clay pot.

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

A million thank you's JL for all your wisdom and tips! Really excited about this trip, it's going to be a killer foodcation (apart from the recent Hong Kong/Kyoto/Osaka one haha) and one to remember!

We don't have cutting edge solid kappo ryori up in NorCal (though have some chefs who can pull it off, but it's not the restaurant's bread and butter), so Shunji will help cure that ailment for us.

Will definitely give Si Hai a go! Is this the one at 713 W Duarte in Arcadia, not Four Sea Restaurant in Hacienda Heights? Last time I had a solid SoCal TW brekkie was Yi Mei Deli Rowland Heights several years back (after snacking at Tofu King nearby) which I adored so much, all their sesame seed roasted carb goods were decadent. Heck any TW brekkie in SoCal blows away what I have access to...

On a similar note, where can one find a solid TW rendition of 割包 with the fixins (perfectly braised pork belly 五花肉, pungent pickled mustard greens 梅干菜, cilantro, and shaved peanut powder with a delectable fluffy steamed bun that's not reheated via microwave?)

I will stick with DTF Arcadia/flagship then (unless we are not overly stuffed from Central Vietnamese in the OC and hobble over to Costa Mesa). A few steamers of XLB and shrimp and loofah, and a plate of Sinbala sliced sausage sounds like heaven right now (maybe I should bring some JP mustard to try it out with).

Thanks again so much to you and all the others who have chimed in! Lots of choices, time to narrow down...

Feb 22, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

I definitely have Taco Maria on the radar but it was more for the next extended OC visit. The pix on Yelp look uber sexy though. Thanks for the heads up on Fourth Street Market! Reminds me of Anaheim Packing House a little bit (which I also like but seems a bit small).

Feb 22, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area
1

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Thanks so much!!

Feb 22, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

無言感激 ipse!!!

Thanks for the heads up on Kinjiro! Beef Tendon, Tongue, Sinew & Tripe Miso Stew 牛アキレス、タン、スジとハチノス味噌煮込み 12 is calling me! I think I am so hauling ass there. Then carb fill it at Marugame Monzo afterwards!

By the way if you are ever in Northern California, hit up Gum Kuo in Oakland (Chinatown) and get the roasted chicken gizzards (the sauce 燒汁 they use I swear tastes like roasted chicken liver goodness), you can check the deli window before you sit down. It's not listed on the menu and damn good. Some very decent Cantonese style 滷味, particularly the large intestines!

Feb 20, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Thanks blimpbinge! 潤餅 seems to be a harder one to come by, I understand. I believe Ay Chung TW withdrew its permission to have its name/logo being used overseas and the guy who ran the franchises maybe didn't want to pay royalties anymore? I miss that dope ass chili sauce too.

Yes I too have used Y3lp to find individual Shinya Shokudo-esque dishes. Amazing how I cannot get good match results for tonjiru at least for LA that is remotely interesting, guess there's no guts or glory for doing comfort food at an extreme high level (aka the norm in Japan).

Feb 20, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Thanks so much! :-) Will try to plan the trip so it overlaps on a weekend.

Feb 20, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Hello LA Hounds,

Doing some initial planning for an upcoming eating trip to LA. Thinking of 5 to 6 days. Undecided on where to stay but will have a rental car to go around to Eastern side (SGV/Hacienda Heights if need be), South Bay (Torrance/Gardena) and OC (Westminster).

Hit list:

- Shunji (will focus more on cooked food)
- Mori Sushi
- Grand Central Market
- Huge Tree Pastry (need one TW breakfast fix)
- Din Tai Fung (likely Glendale)
- OC for Central Vietnamese (Ngu Binh very likely)
- Bulgarino (Pasadena)
- at least one Korean meal

Mulling over

- Republique (any other nice brunch places?)
- Rustic Canyon (because of Jeremy Fox)
- Connie & Ted's

One "fine dining" maybe from this lot
- Providence
- Hinoki and the Bird
- Animal
- Son Of A Gun
- Maude
- others?

Some questions and sorry for the randomness of it all:

- Would love to find one decent Taiwanese meal. I know that's super broad but from what I've seen online the selections seem a tad more dismal. Old Country Cafe looks fine for pork chop but maybe not everything else. I've been to Keelung Night Market and Ningxia Road Night Market in Taipei (favorites) and years ago Ay Chung Noodle (NorCal had a branch) came close enough for my liking to the street food experience. Where can I go (SGV or Eastern side) to find half decent oyster noodle/oyster pancake? I would also go to great lengths if someone in town does a killer TW/Fujian style Ren Bing 潤餅 or Singaporean/Malaysian/Fujianese popiah 薄饼.

- Haven't been to Dai Ho in Temple City for the marinated eats and noodles (beef noodle soup) since 2007. Still worth the trek? Don't mind still if the beef noodles are $$$ as long as it is solid. How about Cindy's Deli / Cindy's Kitchen 16409 Colima Rd Hacienda Heights in general?

- On which day(s) do Shunji and Mori get their fish shipments?

- For Shunji I know they have an omakase option that includes nigiri and cooked food. Are the cooked dishes mostly from the specials board (that includes the special fish for sashimi/nigiri) or are there off menu delights?

- Are there other places similar to Grand Central Market?

- what's the largest farmers market in town that also has good food available for snacking?

- For those who have seen/watched the Japanese gourmet drama Shinya Shokudo 深夜食堂 will know of those izakaya delicious comfort food dishes. Where in LA to Torrance/Gardena, can I find really awesome tonjiru, chikuzenni, oden, menchi katsu, that sort of thing? Torihei in Torrance looks good and their oden seems interesting....anything else beyond yakitori that is worth getting there? Where do Japanese expats go if they are not splurging on raw fish and sushi?

- love raw oysters, particularly Pacific NW variety. Shigoku are current favorites. Where's a good place to go (Happy Hour would be nice too)? L&E Oyster Bar? Connie & Ted's?

- Other than Din Tai Fung, where else in town can one find a decent rendition of si gua tang bao (loofah and shrimp xiao long bao). I know I know...DTF, WTF. I actually enjoyed my visit to the Costa Mesa store, is Glendale's execution similar?

- Is Sinbala Arcadia still worth the trek for their TW sausages? If not where's a good place for that? (Our NorCal branch of Sinbala in Cupertino shut down a while ago, it downgraded to half the quality of Arcadia prior to its demise).

- Very hard to decide on a Korean meal. Thus far the unique Korean seafood BBQ options seem more enticing than slabs of kalbi or pork belly (which I enjoyed Eight Korean BBQ in Buena Park last Oct). If so, what is the consensus between Jae Boo Do, Get Bbul, or Haeundae Seafood Restaurant?) Want something I cannot get in NorCal (Oakland or Santa Clara). Is Seoul Sausage Company still good for a snack? Definitely not doing Kogi truck.

- where can I find the best selection of sake to purchase (not a restaurant)?

- any recommended Japanese/French style pastisseries? Patisserie Chantilly seems interesting enough (anything better?) Got spoiled by Patisserie Gregory Collet in the Kitashinchi area of Osaka back in January where they also pulled a killer espresso that brought me back to Italy...(any place in town that can come close?)

Thanks so so so much!

Feb 20, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area
1

[Hong Kong] One day gastronomic itinerary

Just a note that Shui Kee's menu is a placard only in Chinese. For places that offer no English translations of the menu, what I would recommend is that you go to openrice.com, search for the restaurant name on their English page, then click on photos. See something interesting, then show the staff and point. The folks at Shui Kee (and frankly other dai pai dongs) are very hard working and wake up very early to procure fresh materials. On off hours I've seen the owner sit on a stool and hose down beef tripe with water to rinse the gunk out. The tripe has absolutely no gamey or funky taste and is ridiculously clean and smooth. If you try beef tripe at other places, they are braised with a heavier marinade/paste. Take a small dab of the table chili sauce (incredibly fragrant) and apply it to the tripe and noodles if you like things a little spicier.

Yue Hing's menus are in English and Chinese. Basically you pick either the sandwich sets or the instant noodle sets. They do not do substitutions. It's basically picking one or two toppings for either, and choice of one drink.

Charles mentioned Mak An Kee in Central, that is also a very good won ton noodle house. I had something called 甫魚撈麵 there (Po Yu Lo Meen) which is a plate of noodles (broth on the side) with a small portion of dried shaved tilefish (this fish is dried, roasted/grilled then typically used to make won ton noodle broth). Think of it kind of like Cantonese version of spaghetti alla bottarga, but it's a lot drier. So you would want to ask for either some oyster sauce, or better yet braised beef brisket gravy to mix a little in, toss it up, and enjoy. This shaved dried tilefish lo meen is not available anywhere else, and only this won ton noodle shop to my knowledge offers it. If you still want won tons you can get a bowl in broth to try.

Feb 09, 2015
K K in China & Southeast Asia

[Hong Kong] One day gastronomic itinerary

On my last night in HK with friends traveling with me, we did a dai pai dong munchie run.

Started off at Shui Kee which is a stone's throw away from Sing Kee (Stanley Street). Shui Kee does beef tripe pretty well, and we got one with rice noodles in broth. They close before 6 pm, so it may be better go earlier, particularly if you want the better cuts of tripe and a sought after cut of beef brisket. Sing Kee is not bad for stir fry (they are dinner only from 6 pm onwards) but it is not the greatest...but they are highly visitor friendly and have English names on the menu. Best thing to do is try a few dishes then move on with other stomach filling experiences. Then you can take a walk up the hill till you hit Hollywood Road, turn right and look for Man Yuen noodles next to the 7-Eleven (not bad but not great though my point is what's across), and across the street from there is a must try Leaf Desserts, a dai pai dong specializing in Cantonese dessert soup (green bean soup with kelp is my favorite) and their peanut mochi with shaved coconut is also very good. Leaf also supposedly does a nice beef brisket brothless noodle (or pork knuckle).

Yue Hing is another awesome dai pai dong on Stanley Street in Central, though they do the breakfast business only. Very nicely executed sandwiches on thin toast, interesting combinations, but very HK style and unique. The pairing of cabbage and peanut butter is whacky but it works so well. You can also get instant noodles there, which the chef puts in some extra care to it. Ex CH Peech is also a huge fan of this stall. Yue Hing's milk tea, coffee, and milk tea/coffee mix is solid. The only caveat is that they do not stock condensed milk, so sugar is the only sweetening option.

The best milk tea and milk tea/coffee I had on my trip was at Cheong Kee in Happy Valley, upstairs in the wet market food court. Their pickled greens pork strip rice vermicelli noodle soup is out of this world, and they are extremely famous for their thick toast. Far more satisfying than when you go to a cha chaan teng that does jack of all trades. (When you walk through the door into the food court do not be lulled by waitstaff by the adjacent stall, else you might end up sitting down at Tai Kee instead of Cheong Kee). The menu is in Chinese, but you can probably get some help from waitstaff.

I really like For Kee (also off Hollywood Road, closer to Sheung Wan side), though one of the most expensive cha chaan tengs in town...but their satay beef onion sandwich is great, and supposedly one of the best marinated grilled pork chops which you can have in a bun or over rice. Strong milk tea too.

Roast goose...Yat Lok in Central. The weird thing is that they have a cha chaan teng like setting and menu yet has a one Michelin star which baffles me. The goose is on the lean and skinny side when I had it a month ago, but still very solid and juicy.

In Central, you can get preserved meat (lap cheong) and smoked duck liver sausage/pork belly at Ser Wong Fun in Central, but they really taste so much better in a claypot rice where the rice has a bottom crispy burnt layer that is so fragrantly smokey and aromatic. Ask for preserved oysters ("golden oysters" in Cantonese) in addition to the cured meats for the claypot rice. At Ser Wong Fun, it would be better to get their double boiled soups than their snake soup.

Hawthorne Sweet and Sour Pork, Tak Lung Restaurant in Sun Po Kong, which is about a 10 to 15 min walk from Diamond Hill MTR station. Splendid rendition, and they use pork belly instead of pork shoulder that everyone else uses (very classic approach). Luk Yu Tea House in Central also does a nice version but theirs is less on hawthorne and more on the sugar, vinegar, sour plum.

Hong Kong trip report (thus far)

Cool! Where did you go eat this time?

Feb 02, 2015
K K in China & Southeast Asia

Negitoro don vs toro sushi

I was in Osaka and Kyoto about 3 weeks ago, and I don't think I even saw "negi toro" on the menus of the lower end Japanese restaurants (even the ones that serve sushi) or even the high end sushi I went to in Osaka, nor the fish themed izakaya chains where I dined in one (e.g. the ones that are categorized as sakana ryori). Then again the locals probably consider them as scraps, not suitable for serving customers considering the shops sell sashimi and kaisendon as staples.

There are places in Japan (e.g. outskirts of Tsukiji Tokyo Fish Market area) that sell real bluefin meat scraped off the carcass and put into sashimi or sashimi over rice, some might even serve the carcass and let you scrape it off yourself, though they look more even/appealling/sellable and not chopped up like minced/ground meat, and certainly not mixed with scallions.

Unless the restaurant is very reputable (locally here), what is being served as negi-toro is typically questionable as to what part of the tuna was used (and what type of tuna).

Jan 30, 2015
K K in San Francisco Bay Area

Favorite Asian-Style pastries in/around SGV?

I have a firm weakness for hot dog buns/baos/croissants/phyllo dough thingies.

The rendition at 85C is not bad, but gets a tad too much sweet and has this Asian style Italian feel to it, though the nori powder is a nice touch

Paris Baguette does a really awesome hot dog version where it is cased in some trapezoid shaped bun (on both sides) and could benefit from kimchi, gochujang and shredded nori (already very tasty). The croissant hot dog I really like, plus this other variant with cheese (see attached pic) and the curry sausage pastry ain't shabby (the corn one with mayo and sausage slices not shabby).

Can't remember if I had the one at Kee Wah. Seems not as remarkable.

Are there far tastier renditions at SGV bakeries (mom and pop/non chain) and other Korean bakeries even further out?

Jan 27, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Ramen Manichi (Little Tokyo): A Pictorial Essay

Yes! And the addicting self help pickled crunchy sweet and sour daikon in the jars on the tables, to aid in digestion of the noodles (made with alkali water), stroke of old school genius! Not to mention the baseline lard added to the bottom of the noodle bowls and that whacky looking tasty orange chili sauce that is so classic Cantonese noodle shop.

Jan 18, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Ramen Manichi (Little Tokyo): A Pictorial Essay

It's typically "QQ" which is a Taiwanese slang term. JL explained it better. I have seen/heard it described by Taiwanese food/travel documentaries for other food items like boba/tapioca, squid sashimi in addition to noodles. The Cantonese term similar to it may be 彈牙 ("bounces off the tooth") which was overused by food show hosts a decade back to describe perfectly cooked instant noodles and bamboo pole kneaded egg noodles...

By the way the chahan and yaki gyoza looks damn legit. Reminded me of some of the killer Chuka Ryori and gyoza specialist places during my most recent trip to Osaka.

Jan 17, 2015
K K in Los Angeles Area

Hong Kong trip report (thus far)

That I don't know but Urban Bakery has several croissants to choose from. Bottom line still is that these two places make some of the better renditions compared to other places in town. Then it is just a matter of personal preference as there are camps of people who like one over the other.

Kansai trip report (Kyoto/Osaka)

Just being lazy!

It's not just the price to quality ratio, the level of cooking talent (just a higher standard), ridiculous competition and density of restaurants (and variety) contribute to what is perceived value for us as vistors and outsiders. In a way Hong Kong is like that for Cantonese food vs in the States, but it is a completely different food culture in Japan. I don't like ramen in the States, but had Kinguemon 3 times downstairs from the condo.

I just learned that one of the izakayas I went to near Awaza station is a chain, yet I enjoyed the meal very much. The average rating in tabelog was 3.02, but yet easily better than most places back home.

At Kuromon market, the most popular stalls were the fish markets also offering sashimi and kaisendon (I heard too much Cantonese and Mandarin just within one shop). The wild toro vendor hardly had any customers in the same hour. So close to Nipponbashi station, it's a no brainer for Asian tourists. For us we really enjoyed looking at everything and appreciating the freshness and quality of local produce (particularly the fruit and vegetables). I think I enjoyed exploring Nishiki Market in Kyoto more for some specialized items, though Kuromon had a more local feel to it.

Jan 14, 2015
K K in Japan

Kansai trip report (Kyoto/Osaka)

You can explore Dontobori, Shinsaibashi-suhi, Ebi-suji and surrounding areas inclusive of the alleyways. There isn't any set formula...I'm sure if you stumble around and see something interesting, chances are it will blow away whatever you have access to normally. We went somewhere that was very close to Osaka Takashimaya (which is very near Namba station's Nankai line which goes to the airport), I think it was Okonomiyaki Yukari. Not busy past 11 am, but we were extremely pleased with our okonomiyaki (the Hiroshima yaki was damn good, though the Mentaiko yaki wasn't bad either). It makes me sad remembering the Monja yaki I had from a visiting LA vendor at SF Japantown for some festival...they couldn't even get the batter consistency down, and that version was considered better than Izumiya in SF J-town...

There is a cafe in Shinsabashi called Dalloyau that does macarons and has French names for menu dishes and drinks (instead of English). I do not recommend that place as service is spotty and the quality is not very good. I do highly recommend Patisserie Gregory Collet in the Kitashinchi area. Really solid cappuccino that reminded me of Italy.

For Dotonbori, despite how touristy it can be, even the places Anthony Bourdain went to are very good. Don't eat inside of Kani Doraku, but feel free to spend a few coins and try the charcoal grilled crab legs (out of this world) and buy a few food souvenirs. I tasted the crab paste (kani miso) and found it to be very good. Wish I bought the crab crackers and senbei. Takoyaki....just go to the places where the lines are longest (if you don't mind waiting). My favorite was one that was actually a stand (takoyaki juuhachiban たこ焼十八番 • タコヤキジュウハチバン) and they sell either in 6 or 10 pieces. Do not pass up the stomach quota for yaki gyoza, 大阪王将 道頓堀本店 (Osaka Osho) flagship is also right there on Dotonbori, look for the big giant gyoza icon hanging from the front. If you are really hungry try their Japanese Chinese stir fry, fantastic beer food. Also Kushi Katsu Daruma is very very good (Bourdain went there too). Ask for the English menu and just sample a few skewers (signature is beef). I loved the scallops and wild prawn.

There is a subway station called Tsuruhashi, and right outside is an alleyway (yokocho) that has nothing but a ton of Korean BBQ and yakiniku shops that cater to locals, and has this really amazing vibe from the outside. Had a deja vu from researching a trip to Southern California and I believe there is a yakiniku restaurant in Fountain Valley (Orange County) also called Tsuruhashi, so maybe that is where the eatery got its name from.

Jan 14, 2015
K K in Japan

Kansai trip report (Kyoto/Osaka)

Everything about Kichisen stood out, and extremely enjoyable

The small sample of house sake poured into the small dish was outstanding. We also had the Kokuryu Daiginjo that was really good, but found the Bisuikosen from Hyogo Prefecture to be more refreshing.

The first course had a killer preparation of black beans, of which the liquid that it was soaked in was addicting. Chef Yoshimi Tanigawa presented the small bowl of dashi to us (course #2) which you can taste the difference in quality between Kichisen's dashi vs Hana Kitcho. Now I know what good dashi should taste like.

The sashimi course was sublime. The otoro was ridiculously good, from Amami Oshimi 奄美大島 (such a blessing that I got to try this, and the kama toro which was much less fattening from Oma Aomori Prefecture a day or two later at Kuromon market, on this trip), and a small portion of delectable engawa slices with ikura and daikon oroshi. I think there was also a piece of kuruma ebi sashimi (no head) and madai.

The gohan course that followed was equally interesting, where it tasted like glutinous rice with some red beans, a seasoning containing crushed nori and sesame seeds, along with a piece of roasted chestnut. My friends and I laughed as we saw a significantly cheaper variant at the local 7-Eleven.

For the nimono course, it was a stewed piece of fish (forgot what it was) with finely sliced yuzu peel. Very enjoyable. At the bottom was a "sausage" slice that was tarako. Surreal.

The yakimono course was one of the highlights. A stone grilled fish (I think it was mutsu), saikyo yaki (white miso sake marinated). A very thin slice of pineapple lined the stone grill.

There was one other course, then followed by a claypot rice where there was a layer of shirasu on top. Very simple and delicious

Next was a green citrus fruit (sous chef introduced it as sanpokan or sampokan) with patches of orange, where a section of the top was removed and acted as the "lid". The insides of the bottom half acting as the container were removed, and the skin served as a container. The contents were made into a jello, bursting with flavor. Sous chef poured a little brandy over the jello for us to taste, and asked us to squeeze the "lid" over. So delicious!

Then a plate of 3 Japanese strawberries, followed by a room temperature/warm piece of wagashi (forgot the name) where it had to be picked up with the cherry blossom leaf and eaten together.

There were a party of two Malaysian visitors to our right at the counter, they paid for the more expensive courses where better ingredients were used. They had a beautiful osechi course, and another course with Matsuba gani (snow crab), where the legs were arranged in way that looked like a bamboo plant or forest. Absolutely stunning.

Jan 14, 2015
K K in Japan
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Hong Kong trip report (thus far)

That's the problem, not good and fresh to begin with. Heating it up lightly should not affect the taste and texture in any way. Urban Bakery toasted without asking and this was not an issue at all. When you do this taste test comparison side by side, you can tell the difference. HK Foodie knows exactly what I am talking about.

Jan 14, 2015
K K in China & Southeast Asia