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For a vegan: Szechuan Impression v. Chengdu Taste. Which?

I don't think it takes _that_ much planning as long as you can communicate in the same language as the staff. I go to restaurants like SI and Chengdu often with my vegan husband, as well as other non-vegan Chinese restaurants on short notice and we've usually done fine just ordering off the menu with modifications (no meat, no chicken broth, no chicken msg, no eggs, etc.)

I guess it's also based on your expectations. If you expect them to make a special vegan dish for you that takes preparation, you'll be disappointed. But if you expect that they can leave off non-vegan stuff in what you order and you don't order meat-central things, you will be satisfied.

alternative to taco catering?

Hong Kong cafe type places (Tasty Garden, etc.) do party trays of chow fun, chow mien, fried rice, etc.

Vietnamese places also do party trays of egg rolls, summer rolls, and salads.

For parties with mostly kids, I try to keep things finger-food friendly since it saves on everyone trying to keep track of their utensils or juggling another kid.

I know you wanted some alternatives to tacos, but if you want some more exciting tacos, Colonia Taco Lounge does party trays of a select handful of their tacos. We did this for my 1-year-old's party and it was a hit. We asked for about 4 trays of filling, and they provided their house-made tortillas in a separate tray along with the different sauces for each type of taco, guac, and chips extra. I highly recommend them.

For a vegan: Szechuan Impression v. Chengdu Taste. Which?

Can someone in your group speak Chinese? If so, both places are equally as good. There's not going to be a whole lot for the vegan to eat, but you can ask for the cold noodles (liang fen) or the dan dan noodles to be made vegan. I believe the noodles are fine for vegan. In favor of Szechuan, the sweet compressed rice and burnt sugar thing is a nice vegan dessert option.

Vinh Loi tofu - good for Vietnamese, or just good for vegan ?

It's good for a vegan/vegetarian place. It won't hold up against any of the omni-viet places but I have to admit that I occasionally get a craving for Vin Loi. Their fried tofu is not as good as before, but their soups are still very, very tasty and savory. He claims no MSG, but man do I get thirsty afterward.

What's a good Shanghai or Family Style restaurant for Lunch in the SGV nowadays?

I hope you threw that back in their face and yelled, "Do you know why that hurt? Because it's all rubbery and hard from the microwave."

What's a good Shanghai or Family Style restaurant for Lunch in the SGV nowadays?

Kind of soulless but still pleasing in the Chinese Cheesecake Factory kind of way, but I like Tasty Garden in the new MPK plaza on Atlantic.

Dosa/South Indian - LA area

I've been to both Udupi and Bhanu. In a pinch, and because of proximity, Bhanu works. But if distance and time were no object, Udupi's dosas are a lot better.

Dosa/South Indian - LA area

I went to Udupi Palace in Artesia again this weekend and it's still as good as ever. Get there early to avoid the crowds. We got there around 11:30 for lunch and it was practically empty. When 12:30 rolled around and we were ready to leave, there was a wait out the door.

I had the thali, but the rest of my party had the some form of dosa or another and they were all pleased with their choices. Everyone else around us seemed to be ordering dosas.

Anyone that has tried n/naka able to offer suggestions?

Another vote for Providence. If you want to make it extra special, request the chef's table. If you're lucky, it will be available. We were lucky and got it once, unprompted, because of a last-minute cancellation. It's nice and secluded most of the time, but with a wonderful view of the plating section in the kitchen, separated by a glass door.

Modan Artisanal Ramen

I prefer Benten ramen in the Golden Deli plaza to Modan.

Modan Artisanal Ramen

I don't think it's the noodles, which I believe they buy.

I had an average experience with them. I got the shoyu and while decent, lacked something. Richness, mouthfeel, who knows. I wasn't expecting the fat-bomb of a tonkotsu broth, but I also wasn't expecting whatever I had. The broth didn't taste like a ramen broth at all. The noodles were also nothing to write home about.

The chashu I had was also unexpected. Instead of two tender, rich slices, what I got was pretty tough and dry. I guess the modern touch is that they grill it because I saw some grill marks on the pieces. It wasn't to tough that I didn't feed it to my toddler though, so there's that.

Maybe I choose poorly in getting the shoyu ramen, but I would expect any choice of ramen on the limited menu to be at least good or else, why offer it?

Service does seem pretty frazzled. I didn't notice till after I dug in to my bowl of noodles that it was missing bamboo AND an egg. Luckily, once I asked the server about it, he brought both out promptly.

I was also disappointed that the earlier iteration of the menu listed the veggie ramen as vegan, but when we got to the restaurant, it turned out it was only vegetarian. The noodles contain egg. One of the reasons we went there in the first place was so that my husband (the vegan) could get some ramen.

Rent must be high in that spot because for the price, I expected a little more ramen in the bowl. As it is, if I were in a quick fix, I'd probably head to Benten Ramen in the area. Modan is a bit farther and the quality isn't so much better that it warrants the extra few minutes in the car.

What's your favorite of the Chipotle-way style fast-food-y pizza joists in town: 800 Degrees, or Blaze Pizza, or Pielogy, or Pizza Rev, or Ugly Pizza Co., there may be a few others ????????????????????

I've gone to 800, Blaze and Pizza Rev and out of them, I like Blaze. Hear me out.

800 -- It's build your own, but it's also Neopolitan style, right? I think they do the neopolitan style a disservice but not limiting the number of toppings you get and I see people with really loaded-down pizzas. I had a fairly simple margherita and wasn't wowed by it. I'd rather spend a few more bucks and get Settebello.

Blaze -- Yes, it's soul-less but sometimes, that's what I'm craving. I like that it's fairly simple to get in and out if you come before the lunch/dinner rush. I like that they offer the vegan cheese. It has this weirdly addictive "this is not food!" flavor that I prefer over the real cheese they have. My recently enjoyed combo was classic sauce, vegan cheese, sausage, oregano, black olives, pesto drizzle at the end.

Pizza Rev -- pretty much like Blaze, but I only went once and did not like it as much as Blaze. Veggies were chopped more finely than at Blaze, which I didn't like. The crust wasn't as good. The sauce wasn't as good. Maybe it's because I kept comparing it to Blaze, but everything fell short.

What's your favorite of the Chipotle-way style fast-food-y pizza joists in town: 800 Degrees, or Blaze Pizza, or Pielogy, or Pizza Rev, or Ugly Pizza Co., there may be a few others ????????????????????

Hear hear, for shop house. Still waiting for the Pasadena location to open.

Handsome Cofffee DTLA , has it finally closed and the changeover took place already ?????

Why get an espresso in a to-go cup? Even at a double, should be easy enough to finish at the counter and be on your way. Isn't that the point of an espresso?

KazuNori: A Pictorial Essay

I have no problem with that. Sometimes I just want to eat sushi but get in and out. If that also includes good quality sushi, yes, please. There's a market for this.

Other times, I want to linger and have the special-snowflake-full-experience. In that case, I'll go to a different restaurant and order omakase.

A beef: "Is this your first time here?"

It doesn't bother me if the menu/restaurant requires explanation, but lately, I've been asked that when there's nothing new or different about the place. The most I've been annoyed is when I was ordering a burger at a burger place (where you place your order at the counter, they bring it out, so very casual). They asked if it was my first time there (yes) and then started to explain how to order a burger. I was annoyed and hungry so I cut them off and said, "Yes, I know how to order a burger." To their defense, it was the restaurant's first week of opening but, come on people, ordering a burger is not a complicated thing!

Aug 05, 2014
PandanExpress in Not About Food

Valley Blvd Eats - looking for eating partners

Yo shi 'no betta.

5 Gallon emergency water supply

Where are you people putting your emergency water? I was just thinking about this the other day and thought that I too would like to keep emergency drinking water around. But I'm wary of leaving it in the house because if there's an earthquake and the house goes down...how do I access the water? Same for the garage.

Do I just hide it in some bushes so that it's shaded?

Jun 30, 2014
PandanExpress in Not About Food

Tacolandia 2014: Post Your Live Commentaries and After-Event Reports Here!

I brought a water bottle with me because I didn't want to stand in line for expensive water.

Tacolandia 2014: Post Your Live Commentaries and After-Event Reports Here!

A wrote up about a handful of tacos on my blog (link on the bottom) with pictures. But the text of it is below. Based on the posts here, I was on the low end of how many tacos I ate. I am impressed by everyone else's taco eating powers. Maybe if I hadn't gone for seconds to some spots...

One of the first tacos I had this Saturday was the bacalao/octopus/seafood salad taco from La Guerrerense of Ensanada. It was so good that I went back to get a second helping. It was so good that both times, I devoured it before taking a picture it. The only bad thing is that I’d have to go to Mexico or wait till next year to try their taco again.

Eggslut’s pork and quail egg taco was perfect: Crispy, flavorful pork underneath a perfectly fried quail egg and a pile of thin-sliced pickles and herbs. I don’t know what that puree under the pork was, but it was tasty. Like their GCM location, the Eggslut tent also had a long, winding line in front of it. I hope this taco makes an appearance on the GCM menu soon.

The surprise of the day was that there was a vegetarian taco stand that was super nice about leaving off the dairy to make a vegan taco. The second surprise was that their taco was really good. Taco Maria’s mushroom chorizo taco with house-made chips on top were so good I almost thought Will got a meat taco by mistake. The best part was that because their taco was vegetarian, there wasn’t that much of a line for it, so it was easy to get seconds. People who avoided that tent because it was vegetarian missed out, but more tacos for us!

Thanks to a tip from a friend, I got in line for a smelt taco from Corazón y Miel. It was artfully plated and tasted as good as it looked. The smelt was full of eggs that popped delightfully between my teeth. This was a different take on a fish taco that I enjoyed.

I had another octopus taco which I believe was from Picca. It was good, but its flavors were nowhere near as good as the one from La Guerrerense. I thought the flavors of Picca’s was a bit muddied and not as bright as what I would expect from them. What a great problem to have: one tasty octopus taco was not as delicious as another one.

The Bad

I really wanted to like the fish taco at Pez Cantina. They had an impressive array of house-made condiments for the fish taco. But no amount of condiment could disguise an over-cooked piece of fish. The batter was nice and crispy, but the fish itself was dry, hard, and tasteless. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by fish tacos from Taco Baja Ensenada, but this one was just not worth the line.

The Ugly

The line to get into the event was pretty slow. Considering most people had printed tickets or tickets on their phone, I would expect the line to get processed pretty quickly, but that wasn’t the case. But that line was nowhere near as bad as the line for drinks.

Whoever decided that alcohol and bottles of water would be bought at the same measly handful of locations needs to re-think that plan. Those lines snaked through several food lines, adding to a lot of confusion. If I were one of the people who bought drink tickets with their ticket and I had to stand in a 30-minute line for a $5 crappy beer or sticky sour mix cocktail, I’d be pretty angry. I didn’t have drink tickets and I’m still angry about that.

From what I hear about the tequila garden, it was similarly disappointing. I get that the Weekly has to make money off of an event like this, but having big soulless tequila vendors and Spearmint Rhino stands in the festival clashed with the better curated food vendors.

http://www.nakedsushi.net/

Tacolandia 2014: Post Your Live Commentaries and After-Event Reports Here!

Yeah those drink lines were ridiculous! And the drinks...eh. I would _not_ stand in such a long line for crappy sour mix.

Tacolandia 2014: Post Your Live Commentaries and After-Event Reports Here!

A pretty good event this year. Certainly better than their LA Weekly Taste or whatever they call the Gold Standard now. I was a bit worried by the long line to get in, but it moved fast enough once they opened the gates.

I found it funny that 3 CH'ers coincidentally were in the same part of the line at La Guerrerense. I went back twice (3x, but I was getting one for a friend!) it was so good.

I thought the taco from Eggslut was really good as well. That quail egg + pork combo was deadly, but made lighter by the pickles on top. I really hope they add that to the menu at their brick and mortar location.

The taco at Taco Maria was surprisingly good. I was a little scared of a vegetarian taco but my vegan husband got one (sans crema) and I had a bite so I went back for more. It was a mushroom chorizo-type thing that was really flavorful and meaty! I'm glad at least one stand had vegetarian offerings.

The most disappointing taco though, was the one from Pez. Their fish taco looked great and the salsas to drizzle on top tasted good, but the fish itself was overdone and dry. If only they had given me a bottle of Pacifico that was in that cooler, maybe I could have washed it down and it wouldn't have been as dry. Maybe making fish tacos at an event like that is more difficult than it looks?

But then the smelt taco at Corazon y Miel was deep fried and leaps better. Hm.

Belcampo Cheeseburger

> My only complaint was the disinterested female working the counter. Seemed a bit of a space cadet.

You must have eaten at the same time I was there on Tuesday because I noticed the same thing about the server! She seemed very out of it. Maybe an off day for her.

I got the burger Med-rare and it was PERFECT. The best burger of 2014 for me. I love that it was juicy and airy without the disgusting falling-apart-from-grease texture some of the higher end burger joints (*cough* umami) are serving.

I also like that things like the cheese and sauce really highlighted the meat instead of overpowering it. One nitpick for me is that I like the cheese below the patty instead of on top so that it's the first thing my tongue touches, but that may just be a weird thing I have with cheeseburgers. Yes, I know I can just turn the burger upside down.

On a separate note: the fried broccoli rabe thing was FANTASTIC. I didn't miss the fries at all after ordering the broccoli rabe.

Proof Croissant...Not Even Close.

I've only had Sugarbloom's pastries (spam masubi, pain chocolate) from Taza, and not sure if it's the way they (Taza) stores it or what, but each time, they were a disappointment if what you're looking for is a flakey, crispy, buttery croissant.

The pastries looked great, but each time, they were not at all flakey or shattery on the outside. More like a pillow soft croissant from Costco in the plastic shrink-wrap thing.

Now I can't imagine that Stumptown DTLA would serve such bad pastries, but each time I go there, I get tempted to carb-overload next door at Breadlounge. I can't convince myself to risk eating a soft, disappointing pain chocolate from Sugarbloom when I can have a flakey, crispy one from Breadlounge.

Szechuan

It comes w/o numbing spice b/c that's not usually how you cook it.

Are the toffee bananas just chunks of banana covered w/ a sticky/hard sugar coating? If so, the Beijing Tasty House in Rosemead (same plaza as The Square) may have that. I know they have the apple and sweet potato variety.

Beijing Tasty House
8118 Garvey Ave
Unit B
Rosemead, CA 91770

Lou Amdur joint next to Squirrel

It was sort-of open last time I went, which was a week or so ago. There's still some construction going on, but there was wine and Lou was set up to sell them to me. It looks like he's keeping the bottles under $25, and I found a couple I was interested in enough to buy. I like that he's stocking some weird wines and he will definitely be happy to talk about where each bottle comes from and the history behind them.

Oh No! Pono!

I tried it on Thursday. I work right next door, so I had been anxiously awaiting its opening. It opened last Wednesday. They're still not set up for take-out yet, but the sit-down space is nice with plenty of outside seating as well as inside the airplane hanger thing. (pics on the blog)

I had the regular Pono burger with raclette cheese and avocado. Overall, it was a very solid burger. I ordered it cooked so it was still pink inside. I like that it tasted like a no-frills, good burger with good ingredients. If you're used to the mouth-explosion that's Umami, this place is probably not for you. This burger is more like a fancier In N Out with a really nice brioche bun.

The sweet potato fries were okay, but I would have liked them a little more crispy.

Another standout is their caramel milkshake (comes with bacon bits but you can also ask for without.) I'm not a big milkshake person, but this one really hit the spot. Very thick and rich and not overly sweet.

The only thing that annoyed me was when the eager workers there asked if I had been there before. I said no and they wanted to "explain" their concept to me. It's a burger place. I think I get it.

http://www.nakedsushi.net/

Veggie burger at UMini westwood (review)

Is this the same as regular Umami's veggie burger? If it is, it's not really vegetarian because it contains fish dashi. I didn't find it that delicious and agree with the off texture and grease. In general, I find most of Umami's burgers full of grease.

Do you eat three meals a day? Or snack continuously? Or (gasp) both?!

I do both. 3 meals a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I tend to eat both on schedule and when I'm hungry. It's just convenient that I'm usually hungry on schedule. I almost always have a snack at 4pm. My co-workers have started calling it "foursies" for me.

Typically, a snack for me would be some fruit and crackers, cheese and crackers, yogurt, a pastry, or when I'm feeling really hungry, a little bit of everything like this.

Mar 25, 2013
PandanExpress in Not About Food

Do Chinese people traditionally put the napkin on their lap when eating at a Chinese restaurant?

I've always put the napkin on my lap if it's cloth, but I don't remember my parents ever teaching me, even though they do it also. I was born in a China, but raised in the US.

Here's a related question: if you don't put the napkin on your lap, where does it go? I'm talking about banquets and dimsum type places, where every space on the table is taken by chopstick, chopstick holder, tea cup, wine cup, plate, condiment dish, etc? It seems like there would be no place to put a napkin.

Feb 20, 2013
PandanExpress in Not About Food