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Petrossian: Make Way for Benjamin Bailly [dineLA 2009 Review w/ Pics]

During dineLA 2009 I decided to swing by Petrossian in West Hollywood and was pleasantly surprised to find great food and even greater chef. I've delayed writing so majority of my post is pictures that can be found in the link below. Petrossian is participating in dineLA 2010 and I'd definitely recommend putting this on your list.

Full review with pictures: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/1...

Text Review:

Ah, after a bit of a hiatus we're back and just in time! dinaLA 2010 is just around the corner and I'd like to share my favorite dineLA 2009 experience at Petrossian in West Hollywood. This will be primarily a photo post because it has been a while and the notes I have are vague.

I joined a group at Petrossian gathered by Jo of MyLastBite, which included Danny of KungFoodPanda, Kate of FollowPK, and several of Jo's friends. My party decided to run the gamut of the dineLA menu with pre-game courses.

Chef Benjamin Bailly has been with Petrossian since May 2009. Before that he was a sous chef at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Vegas and Chef de Partie at Joël Robuchon in Paris. With his extensive past at top rated restaurants, I was optimistic and set high standards for the meal to come.

Caviar, Trout, and Salmon Roe served with Blinis and Créme fraiche

Cantaloupe and Beet Soup

Crispy Shrimp "Papillotte" - Passion Fruit, Sweet Chili Ginger Sauce

Seared scallops with a butternut squash and bacon emulsion

Foie Gras Creme Brulée

Note on the Foie Gras Creme Brulée: This was a first for me and the flavors were awkward at first - think of a creamy and sweet Creme Brulée mixed in with a buttery meaty undertone. As I continued to take few more bites, I began to realize the delicate balance between the contrasting flavors. A very intriguing dish.

This is where our courses from the Dine LA Restaurant Week begins:

Foie Gras Salad - Haricot verts, toasted walnut, black truffle vinaigrette.

For the record: Petrossian isn't stingy with their foie gras. With that said, the foie gras was huge! For me, the foie gras is too rich on its own, so the green bean salad is a nice complement.

Hand Sliced Smoked Salmon - Toast points, créme fraiche

Black Truffle "Mac n' Cheese" - Orrenchiette, bacon, parmesan

This was my favorite dish of the night and possibly the best mac n' cheese I've ever had. The orrenchiette is thicker than regular macaroni and offered a nice chewy texture. Smothered in Parmesan cheese and bacon, I savored every bite. On top, a black truffle slice which added a great earthy flavor. This is one dish that everyone needs to order at Petrossian.

Napoléon Tartare - Hand sliced steak tartare with a layer of caviar

Again with the generous portions! The amount of caviar stuffed in the tartare amazes me. The steak was fresh and the small explosions of caviar offered a nice salty ocean-like taste.

Carnaroli Risotto - Sautéed wild mushrooms, artichokes, toasted pine nuts

This is no little kid's risotto. This risotto was chunky, rich, and full of heartiness unlike the many mundane variations I've had in the past. The risotto was a tad salty but that could be easily adjusted.

Braised Short Ribs - Yukon Gold mash potatoes, braising jus

Chef Bailly prepping our brulée.

Petrossian Chocolate Moelleux

Sicilian Pistachio Créme Brulée

Vanilla Panna Cotta - white peach espuma

Chef Bailly didn't disappoint. This is the one of the my favorite meals of 2009, so there's no doubt that I have plans to revisit it this year. The food was excellent and offered a comfortable homelike feeling. During dinner I couldn't help but to think of how creative and on-point Chef Bailly was and, the bright future he has ahead of him.

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Petrossian
321 N Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA

Jan 27, 2010
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Extremely classy recovery by Chef Ludo and Royal/T on an "off" night - Bravo! [REVIEW]

Great review!

Glad that they were able to recover from such a disaster. I'm still giddy about the grilled baby corn with the husk on (first time I've seen it that way).

Dec 10, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Betty Fraser's Grub: Grub'bin In a Hollywood Oasis [Breakfast review w/ pics!]

I'm glad I didn't order tea then. I like how comfortable it feels. I'm trying to make time to head there for lunch for their after school special sandwich.

Dec 09, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

New BBQ Place in Pasadena: Bonnie B's Smokin' Barbeque Heaven

Nice. Going to check this place out!

Dec 08, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Betty Fraser's Grub: Grub'bin In a Hollywood Oasis [Breakfast review w/ pics!]

Recently went to Betty Fraser's Grub which was voted #1 for breakfast on Citysearch. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day so we had to check it out.

Full review formatted with pictures: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/1...

Text Review:

Located in the middle of the Hollywood's grimy, old post-production district, Grub is an oasis. The metal fence and garden surrounding the little house on Seward Street. shines with yellow and green accents. The bush archway entrance led us to something like an adult version of Pooh's Hundred Acre Woods. We were having brunch on the patio of the most darling little house in the country.

After we ordered from Grub's extensive brunch menu, some of which includes omelets, sandwiches, scrambles, and pancakes, our waiter brought us a bowl of mixed cereal to munch on. For us, it was all about those little marshmallow Lucky Charms!
San Francisco Roasted Coffee. Nice and dark. We had the "Wicked Weekend Appetizer" for starts. The Spicy Crab and Artichoke Dip ($9.95) had a crusty pepperjack cheese top, which we broke through with the limey, Coriander-dusted tortilla chips. The proportion of crab pieces was very generous and the dip itself was just spicy enough (from the jalapenos) to wake us up that morning.

We each ordered two different Grub Signature Mix-It Up Scrambles. Wes had the Chicken Pesto Sausage, Roasted Onion, Red Pepper and Mozzarella Cheese (13.95).A colorful scramble with a meaty heart of deliciously seasoned chicken. The potatoes were crispy on the outside and so soft and warm on the inside.
Evelina had the Corn, Tomatoes, Fresh Basil and Pepperjack Cheese (10.95). The corn added a sweetness to the runny combination of scramble eggs and pepper jack cheese. The star of this dish was the melted cheese complemented by the basil. Again, potatoes were crispy and well-seasoned.

Comfort food inside a comfortable environment. Grub looks almost to be a mirage amongst the other old, colorless buildings. It's definitely hidden away in Hollywood, but we promise that the search for their brunch is well-worth it.

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Grub
911 Seward St, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Dec 08, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

REVIEW: Giang Nan, Monterey Park

I love Giang Nan. My girlfriend and I frequent this place. However, right down the plaza (at the lot entrance) you will see a restaurant called Dean Sin World which supplies Giang Nan with their XLB. Give them a try next time.

Here are some photos from Dean Sin World on my flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/twohungr...

Dec 05, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Mo-Chica: Contemporary Peruvian [Review w/ Pics]

Review formated with pictures here: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/1...

Text Review:

After hearing the raves Mo-Chica was getting around the foodie community (Jonathan's Gold Essential 99, Ravenous Couple, Gastronomy, kevinEats), we had high expectations for this contemporary Peruvian eatery.

Unexpectedly located across from USC in the Mercado La Paloma marketplace, a development of the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, the eatery was bright and festive even though the surrounding storefronts were closed when we arrived for dinner. A live band put us in the mood to dance while the big chalk board menu and tiled seats reminded us of a brasserie.

Every month, Chef Ricardo Zarate comes out with a new tasting menu. To really get a grasp of the variety of foods Mo-Chica has to offer, we decided to go for November's six-course tasting menu ($35 regular price; $30 if reservations were made).

We started off with drinks. No alcohol is served, but they do offer three specialty drinks, the Cebada ($2) or barley tea, the Maracuya ($2) or passion-fruit tea, and the Chicha Morada ($2), or purple corn tea. We had the latter two drinks. Both were not too sweet, with the Maracuya having a slight passion fruit blast and the Chica Morada a pineapple tinge. One huge complaint (a pet peeve of Evelina's) is that both drinks did not have enough ice and were not cold enough. Perhaps the drinks would've been more refreshing and seconds rounds would've been in order if it was properly chilled.
Our taste buds did awaken, though, with the Cauliflower Soup, an unexpectedly multi-flavored creamy soup. The waitress told us to "drink" the soup, implying that no utensils will be given, so our first taste consisted of the feta cheese dressing, a mildly sour complement to the cauliflower. Slurping further, we caught bits of the smokey and crispy pancetta.

The Spicy Rock Shrimp Causa, a popular Peruvian potato and seafood dish, arrived next and we almost thought we were at some fancy, expensive restaurant in West L.A. As you can see from the picture, Chef Zarate, who is also executive chef of Wabi-Sabi in Venice, pays attention to detail and presentation.

According to the Los Angeles Magazine review, most of Chef Zarate's training and experience is in Japanese cuisine, having worked under Tetsuya Wakuda, an esteemed chef from Sydney before coming to Los Angeles. The Crispy Squid and Sea Bass Ceviche is a clear example of Chef Zarate's expertise in fish. The high quality cubes of sea bass is soft and citrus-y. Combined with the fried squid, it's as if the we're eating fried sea bass.

After the ceviche, we're disappointed to report that the latter half of the tasting menu was underwhelming:

The Alaskan Halibut with Spicy Seafood and Peruvian Chowder Sauce, our first entree of the night, was unflavorful, especially in comparison to the ceviche and causa. The halibut was also on the dry side.

The Grilled Chicken with Hot Ceviche Sauce and Yucca Frita made our seemingly extravagant dinner feel cheap. Chicken, especially chicken breast, is rarely appealing and chicken strips don't exactly translate to classy. The dish was also way too spicy.

Having had such a great initial impression of Mo-Chica, we hoped dessert, a Kiwicha Pudding, would save the dinner. At last, all we can say is the pudding, which also included walnuts and purple corn pudding was good, but not enough to make up for the halibut and chicken.

Overall, the tasting menu revealed Mo-Chica's strength, raw and lightly fried seafood. With that said, we definitely plan to make another trip to Mo-Chica in the near future to have a full serving of the highlights ($4-$13).

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Mo-Chica
3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Dec 03, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

The Counter: Where YOU Decie (Burgers) [Review w/ Pictures]

That sounds like a great combination!

Yea I had to go big with the 2/3 which was huge and the 1lb was described to me as "cartoony big."

Oct 18, 2009
wesleywong in Chains

The Counter: Where YOU Decie (Burgers) [Review w/ Pictures]

Recently went to the counter in Santa Monica for the first time. Had a nice burger with all the fixings+more.

Formatted with pictures here: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/1...

Text Review:

We built the burger of our dreams (or what we think is our dream burger) that night at The Counter, a hip, futuristic looking diner in Santa Monica. More than your typical burger joint, The Counter offers "custom built burgers" that would whet the burger craving of anybody--from your carnivores to herbivores. Our panda mouths were opened.

Upon being seated, we had some decisions to make. The waitress handed us a pencil and a checkoff list. We had the choice of four types of meat: beef, turkey, veggie, and grilled chicken and how much extra weight we'd liked to gain. The Counter's burgers range from 1/3 lb to 1 whole pound after being cooked and we had to check off how heavy we want our burger. Ten different types of cheese were also available from Danish Blue Cheese to Horseradish Cheddar, to the good ol' Yellow America. We could choose up to four toppings, some of which include grilled pineapple, spicy pepperoncinis, and grilled onions. Premium Toppings ($1 extra) which included fried egg, black forest ham, chili, were also available. Last two steps involved selecting from their 18 different sauces and choosing a bun: English Muffin, Hamburger Bun, Honey Wheat Bun.

Topped with a fried egg (+1) and some mean grilled onions, Wesley's 2/3 lb beef burger ($10.25) with gruyere cheese, roasted chilies, roasted red peppers, honey cured bacon (+$1) and roasted garlic aioli was massive. To make his traditional burger even less traditional, the burger was wrapped in an English muffin. Juicy and to say the least, satisfyingly filling.

Evelina's burger was really too big for her. What was she thinking when she decided she wanted to consume a 2/3 lb burger?! Going crazy for horseradish that night, Evelina ordered a beef 2/3 lb burger, with horseradish cheddar, grilled onions, and Horseradish Mayo on a hamburger bun. The horseradish cheddar and mayo was delicious and really stood out against the juicy, thick burger. If she could do it again, she would order a smaller burger that could be eaten without being cut. Otherwise, she fulfilled her burger quota for the month.

On top of our burgers, we ordered a "Fifty-Fifty" of Sweet Fries and Onion Strings ($6.25). we didn't care for the onion strings, but the sweet potato fries were addicting.

The Counter would satisfy every picky eater with its juicy burgers and large selection of cheeses, toppings, and sauces. Such a versatile and somewhat affordable diner means repeat visits whenever we're in the area.

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Counter
2901 Ocean Park Blvd Ste 102, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Oct 15, 2009
wesleywong in Chains

Lunasia: Does expensive dim sum mean better quality and taste? [Review w/ Pics]

Here is the comparison shot: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_B5YLLhfkSuA...

Elite is on the left and Lunasia on the right. The pork at Elite was dry, overcooked, and burnt. The sui mai at Lunasia embodied more flavor at Lunasia. The durian cake looks undercooked at Elite. The Egg tarts are prepared in different styles so its hard to say.

Sep 24, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Lunasia: Does expensive dim sum mean better quality and taste? [Review w/ Pics]

It was a combination of bad service and "meh" food. The food came out fast but trying to get a cup of water or our check proved to be a complicated task. Also they were slow (really slow) to clear empty dishes off the table. I will post a comparison picture of dishes at Lunasia vs Dishes of Elite later on this thread later on today.

Sep 24, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Latest W SGV Openings & Closings

Tony, thanks for the update!

Sep 22, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Best French Food in L.A. or the S.F. Valley

I second Church & State. The menu offers a good selection for all appetites and the pricing is very reasonable. There is also a good wine selection and bar.

Check out my Church & State review here: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

Sep 22, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Lunasia: Does expensive dim sum mean better quality and taste? [Review w/ Pics]

I think the waiters were just busy talking to each other. The food was awesome but the service was so-so. That alone wont deter me from going to this place as Lunasia is my current favorite.

Sep 22, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Lunasia: Does expensive dim sum mean better quality and taste? [Review w/ Pics]

I don't mind paying extra for dim sum and I do agree that it is reasonably priced for the quality. However I can't spoil myself too much. I remember as a child when a mere 10 cents a dish price difference would decide which dim sum place we would eat at.

Its like boba milk tea - I just to buy a cup for $1 now it cost me $4.50.

Sep 22, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Best Dim Sum, Best Cupcake joint in LA

My last visit to Elite was disappointing. I've lived in the SGV for 16 years and have tried most if not all of the local dim sum joints. My current favorite is Lunasia in Alhambra.

Link to Lunasia Review: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

Sep 22, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Lunasia: Does expensive dim sum mean better quality and taste? [Review w/ Pics]

Full review formatted with photos: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

Text Review:

For dim sum, we usually hit up the always reliable and affordable Capital Seafood. The other day, though, we decided to mix it up and live on the edge by hitting up a fancier and higher priced (too expensive according to our Chinese parents) restaurant. One of these "tai gway" places is Lunasia where the cheapest plate is $1.88 . We're moderately firm believers that prices = better quality in foods, so we decided to gel out the extra money and move our expectation meters up.

Walking into Lunasia, we immediately noticed a difference from the traditional dim sum atmosphere. No loud cart ladies pushing giant pieces of metals. Instead, we had to order from a list that was somewhat well translated into English. Chatter was kept at a moderately low level. The clean, serene decor, better china, and the addition of an orchid centerpiece (which is taken away when you arrive at the table) made the place feel classy and relaxed. The beautiful sunlight also radiated through the tall windows. We were beginning to like what we're seeing.

After going through the list of dim sums and orderly mostly from the $3.08 section, we eagerly waited for our food.

MACAO ROASTED PORK BELLY ($6.88) is categorized under the Chef Specialty section. The delicately sliced pork had a crispy skin and a small amount of fat that balanced with the meat and skin.

Since Evelina loves durian, the DURIAN CAKE ($3.08) was a must try. As you can see by the picture, it isn't exactly a cake but a flaky pastry with a durian filling. Evelina wasn't too impressed because it was too oily, and there wasn't enough durian filling to balance the flakes.

Lunasia's EGG CUSTARDS ($2.08) have a rich egg custard filling and a delightfully toasty crust.

The B.B.Q PORK BUNS ($2.08) had a sticky, sweet top and a generous amount of BBQ pork filling. It meets the BBQ pork bun standard.

The BEEF TRIPE WITH SCALLIONS ($3.08) was pleasantly not too oily. The taste of scallions is deliciously infused into the tripe, which was chewy, but tender enough.
The SOFT SHELL CRAB ($6.88), also a chef specialty, is not your typical dim sum dish, but we like to order the untypical. The fried soft shell crab was spicy and salty, but, like the other dishes, not too oily.

PEA-TIP SCALLOP DUMPLING ($4.08) had a soft skin, chewy toppings, and warm insides. A delectable, different type of dumpling.

What we're beginning to notice about Lunasia that their dishes are not too oily or fatty. This consistency was also seen in the BLACK BEAN SPARERIBS ($3.08), which usually has really fatty pieces of spareribs that are drench in a bed of oil. Lunasia stood out with this popular and simple dish. The pork pieces were lean and the sauce was not mostly oil.

The SHRIMP RICE NOODLE ($3.08) had huge pieces of shrimp that were NOT overcooked. Evelina loves shrimp, but overcooked shrimp, which is typical at most dim sum restaurants, disgusts her. This time she actually consumed the shrimp.

The BEEF RICE NOODLE ($3.08)'s herbs complemented the meat very well. A standard, well made dish.

HONG KONG ROASTED DUCK ($5.88) was our last chef specialty item. The top pieces of the duck were a bit fatty, but the rest seem like quality pieces of the bird, which also had a crispy skin.

The SHRIMP HAR GOW ($3.08) was larger than what is usually served. The shrimp was huge and the outer skin was soft but still able to hold well.

The grand finale of the dim sum meal was the huge PORK SIU-MAI ($3.08) packed with pieces of pork and shrimp with tiny pieces of mushroom and a sprinkle of fish eggs.

Aside from the spotty service, we thought Lunasia had good quality dim sum. We're definitely coming back to this place when we're craving huge siu-mai and har gow. Otherwise, we'll regularly stick to our affordable dim sum places, which also have a bigger selection of food (many of our favorite dishes were not on the menu). Our Chinese parents would be proud.

Sep 21, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Chili Cheese EGG fries??

Wow. that sounds like a great combination. I'm going to have to give this one a try.

Sep 03, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

For a hot Summer day, dragging into Fall, Arcadia may be the place to be...

I second your recommendations.

Got to love that brown sugar they use in the shaved ice at Sin Bala.

Sep 03, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

The Open Door: A Wonderland of Food (Monterey Park) [Review w/ Pictures]

They are but the preparation makes a whole lot of difference (in this case truffle oil and curry powder). They would go really well with beer.

However, I do feel that the chef should be able to make the sweet potato fries in house.

Sep 03, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

The Open Door: A Wonderland of Food (Monterey Park) [Review w/ Pictures]

Yea, I saw that. We have eaten with Tony before. People have different taste.

Sep 02, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Toros Fusion Seafood (Review + Pics) - Alhambra

Reporting back on Sorafune:

I have been to Sorafune twice - once on half price Thursday (anniversary special) and a full price Saturday. The place has potential but the quality and melt-in-your-mouth-goodness wasn't there. I'll stick to Toros.

Sep 01, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Thai in Alhambra

You are referring to Thai World - that place is a no go.

If you want don't want to drive all the way down to Thai Town then I'd suggest giving Thai Paradise a try (review found here: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...). Thai Paradise is on Las Tunas in San Gabriel (about 100ft from the Alhambra/SG border).

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Thai Paradise
909 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

Sep 01, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Soleil: How Many Mussels Do You Have in Your Stomach? [Review w/ Pictures]

Recently visited Soleil for their all you can eat mussels and fries for $15! Soleil does this every Wednesday and reservations are required.

Review formatted with pictures: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

Text Review:
Perhaps all-you-can-eat Mussels and French Fries wasn't the greatest idea...

But we didn't know better.

Every Wednesday night, Westwood's Soleil, a French-Canadian restaurant, offers all-you-can-eat mussels and french fries for $14.99. All the mussels we can eat? Woot, the Pandas are there and so were our friends Riley and Serena. Boy were we ready to conquer those mussels and get every dollars worth of our money.

FIRST SERVING: Steaming bowls of mussels are set in front of each of us. Minced garlic sparsely covers the fairly large mussels in a traditional white wine and butter soup. The meat is just as huge. On top of that, we have a basket of crispy shoestring fries. This is going to be a good meal.

SECOND SERVING: After waiting a good 10 minutes, our waiter finally comes over with our next helping. To avoid losing precious eating time, we proudly ask the waiter to put in another round. Steam again rises into our faces. We consume our new bowls of mussels, but begin noticing small, "dwarf" sized meat in big mussels. Riley announces that four of his had no meat. No worries, we have another serving.

THIRD SERVING: Right after clearing our second serving plates, the third serving comes in. Naturally, we ask the waiter to have the next one ready. That's when mussel-overload began to kick in. Riley declares that this is probably going to be his last one. Wesley, never the one to leave his buddies behind, reassures Riley that he'll take over his plate if he can't finish. Evelina and Serena begin creating conspiracy theories that the restaurant may have used to justify why they're "feeling it" at the third plate. "That's why the restaurant serves bread." "That's why they serve french fries." THIS IS HOW THEY GOT US.

FOURTH SERVING: Serena, Riley, and Evelina declare it to be the last. Before even digging in, Wes orders another one. "Ha, I'm still on top of it." Serena and Riley finish their plates and are "satisfied." Half way through, the mussels start to smell wretched to Evelina. She hands the plate over to Wesley. As he finishes up, the waiter comes over to grab our plates.Out of curiosity, we ask, "What's the record for the most plates of mussels consumed?" "Seven," says the waiter. Well, that's a surprisingly small number.

FIFTH SERVING: Wesley contemplates beating the 7 bowl record. "I can probably do it. I've already consumed four and a half." Plate #5 is placed in front of him. He's doing well in the beginning, but half way through, he too meets his faith as the mussels become to "seafood-e." He finishes his fifth plate, but calls it quit. KO.

At the end of our howmanymusselswillittaketokillus feast, we realized that, yes, all-you-can-eat mussels probably wasn't that great of an idea. But just because we couldn't conquer the cheapest shellfish in the sea, doesn't mean we're crossing off Soleil. Since Evelina will be living a block away from this "star-lit" restaurant when school starts, we'll be back to try the other entries before giving our final verdict.

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Soleil
1386 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Sep 01, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Sapp vs. Ord: Thai Boat Noodle Showdown [Review w/ Pics] - Thai Town, LA

I found out Sapp was featured on No Reservations after my first visit. Anthony Bourdain does not lie!

Aug 17, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Sapp vs. Ord: Thai Boat Noodle Showdown [Review w/ Pics] - Thai Town, LA

Formatted with pictures: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

Text Review:

The best Thai Boat Noodles in town? After going through two rounds of competition, Sapp Coffee Shop in Hollywood reigns supreme over Ord Noodles just three blocks over. Here's the breakdown of the restaurants and some other items on their menu.

Sapp Coffee Shop
Sapp Coffee Shop isn't really a coffee shop. It's a hole in the wall Thai restaurant that may not look appealing from the outside, but don't judge a restaurant by its cover. Don't judge it by the inside either--it's minimally decorated with custard-colored walls. Located in Hollywood's Thai Town, this little hole is the place to go for some great Thai food.

Unlike the Thai teas served in the San Gabriel Valley, Sapp's version is dominated by a stronger tea rather than milk flavor. It was refreshing to actually taste the tea part of Thai tea.

Within minutes, the Thai Boat Noodles ($5.50) came out. Immediately, we noticed the dark and rich looking broth, and gave it a sip. Four different flavors came of the few sips. The warm soup starts out salty and then sweet and ends with a sour and spicy aftertaste. The noodle soup was as murky and complex as it looked. The intense flavors were balanced by the strong and chewy white noodles and the tender slices of beef, tendons, and liver.

The green Jade Noodles ($6.25) was served without a broth, but with a sweet ginger sauce that we use to mix the bowl's ingredients, which included bbq pork, crab meat, and chili flakes. Like the boat noodles, this dish was sour, but not as overwhelming. The noodles were of the same quality, though he broth's absence really allowed us to appreciate the noodles' taste, strength, and chewiness.

The Seasoned Duck Noodle Soup ($5.50) has a lighter broth than the Thai Boat Noodles. Again, very flavorful, but we wished there were more duck slices and that the slices were thicker.

Ord Noodles
After finishing Sapp, we headed over to Ord Noodles and waited ten minutes for a table. Immediately, we noticed the differences between Ord and Sapp. While Sapp's wall are barely decorated, Ord's is filled with cheesy female model posters. Wesley thought it looked like a yogurt shop.
The Boat Noodles at Ord ($3.50 for a small bowl) looked very similar to Sapps, but the flavors were completely different. The murky broth was less complex, more salty and sweet than sour.If you let the broth sit, the oil begins to separate. The soggy white noodles were limped and melted in our mouths. The meat was overcooked probably because it's been sitting under a fire all day. Ord didn't taste like it offered the freshest ingredients, so when it comes to the boat noodle battle, Sapp triumphs.

The Hoy Kha included fat noodles with ground pork, BBQ pork, pork ball, and dried shrimp in a clear broth. The soup was a slightly sour and sweet--a nice balance. A good, slightly spicy dish.

Conclusion
As announced earlier, we concluded that Sapp's Thai Boat Noodles trumps Ord's. Ord's had soggy noodles and overcooked meat. We say, go for Sapp's strong noodles, tasty broth, and perfectly cooked, tender meat.

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Ord Noodles
5401 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Aug 16, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Alhambra

Not sure if both of you are vegetarian but here is my small list (I live in Alhambra)

Savoy - order the Hainan chicken. It's under $7.50 including tax and it can fill you for the whole day.

Banh Mi Che Cali - Vietnamese food (particularly rice dishes, sandwiches, and rolls). Good and cheap.

The Hat - good pastrami dip and chili cheese fries (review: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

)

Aloha Food Factory - for some quality home style Hawaiian cuisine (review: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

)

Toros Japanese Fusion for a nice selection of quality sushi (review: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

)

There are many more to list. Don't limit yourself to Alhambra. San Gabriel, Monterey Park, and Pasadena can be a 5 minute drive. My girlfriend and I run a flood blog (www.twohungrypandas.com) and we like to review around the SGV so check it out and maybe you'll see food that may interest you.

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Toros Japanese Fusion Seafood
500 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

Banh Mi & Che Cali
647 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803

Savoy Kitchen
138 E Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801

Aug 08, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Bottega Louie - an Italian heaven? [Review + Pics]

I went there in the middle of lunch and didn't really find it loud. Then again - I'm Chinese and we have a reputation for loud restaurants. Maybe I've adapted?

Next time I'm there I'll give the asparagus a try.

Aug 07, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

LA's Sidewalk Cafeteria: Breed Street [Review w/ Pics]

If you love street food then you have got to give this place a try!

Full review with photos here: http://www.twohungrypandas.com/2009/0...

Text Review:

In what can be seen as Los Angeles’ cafeteria, Latino families from all over the southland come out to Breed Street in East Los Angeles to open their kitchens to the community and serve some street food at insanely cheap prices. This gathering happens on a nightly basis, but it is bustling on Fridays and Saturdays. Jocie, our new pal and Breed Street tour guide, organized a get-together with other food bloggers one of those Fridays and gave us the low-down on Breed Street.

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

Going through the tour was not easy. Everything looked so good and we couldn’t get our dollar bills out till after we have been torturously teased by the food. But the wait was worth it! The first item we tackled were the Pupusas, handmade, thick fried corn tortillas stuffed with pork, beans, and cheese with some shredded cabbage drizzled with a spicy sauce on the side. The pupusas, made by a lady from Guatemala were delicious. The dough that encased the fillings was chewy, but slightly crispy and the hot sauce gave it a spicy and slightly sour bang.

That spicy bang left Evelina running to one of the many Horchata stands. At $2 a cup, she winded up gulping down another round of the sweet rice water later on.

Like we said, choosing what to eat was hard because everything looked so delicious. What wheeled us in to the Pamboza, though, was the show a woman was putting on by simply preparing the dipped sandwich. She didn’t speak English, but we could tell by her concentration and from the praises of the people around her that these sandwiches, dipped in a slightly spicy red sauce, were going to be juicy and good. To add to the flavor the sandwich also had shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, potatoes, and sour cream.

Next, we headed to the Barbacoa stand, where two men dressed in blue aprons and white hats happily chopped up Hidalgo-styled pit roast mutton for tacos ($3). We put a lot of cilantro, onions, and lime on our tacos plus a red sauce for Wesley, which is supposed to be really spicy and a green sauce for Evelina. The meat of the mutton is tender and somewhat fatty. The red marinated mutton had a horrible bitter taste to Evelina, but Wesley insists that it was good. We later learned that the taco meat was lamb intestines. Otherwise, the other lamb meat taco . The green sauce actually turned out to be spicier so back to the horchata stand Evelina went!

Our last meal before our desserts was Huarache ($2.50), which is like a blown up fried quesadilla, from Nina’s Catering. Nina’s is very popular on Breed Street. They have the biggest stand, the most extensive menu, and the longest line—we waited twenty minutes for this chicken huarache. The wait was worth it, though, because it was the tastiest item we had that night. Jocie told us that Nina was also very famous for her sauces, so we top it with a smooth guacamole-based sauce. Delicious.

For dessert we had churros and a crepe. We watched with our eyes widely opened as the crepe lady added a block of cream cheese on the crepe and rolled it up. The crepe was nothing to rave about at $5. Looking back, it was pretty gross that we consumed a BLOCK of cream cheese on top of the sugary fruit cocktail and whipped cream.

What saved the dessert portion from being a disaster were the Churros. Shaped and fried in front of our eyes, these churros were crispy with just the right amount of sugar.

We were definitely looking for a food adventure that night, and we found it at Breed Street, where those familiar ABCs are nowhere to be found. Yes, these street vendors are not regulated by the Health Department, but we didn’t have any fear of getting sick. Competition between vendors is very high on Breed Street, so if any customer got sick, that would mean the end of the vendor’s street food career at this community-organized gathering. None of us got sick that night and the food was great, so we’ll definitely be making more trips down for some authentic Mexican/Latin American food.

Street Food on Breed Street
At Breed Street and Caesar Chavez Blvd.
East Los Angeles, CA

Aug 07, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area

Bottega Louie - an Italian heaven? [Review + Pics]

Thanks! There were times where I felt dishes should be cleared - on the other hand a worker would fold our napkins everytime someone got out of their seats.

I will have to give that asparagus a try!

Jul 31, 2009
wesleywong in Los Angeles Area