PandanExpress's Profile

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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.

Mar 31, 2014
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area


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

Feb 03, 2014
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

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.

Oct 14, 2013
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

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.


May 03, 2013
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

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.

Apr 04, 2013
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

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

Is there an equivalent to Mastering the Art of French Cooking...

It's hard to find one book that's comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of Chinese cooking. There are many variations on dishes and cooking styles depending on region because China is a very large country, after all.

With that said, we've been cooking out of Fuchsia Dunlop's books a lot when we want to cook Chinese food. Her recipes are mainly focussed on Sichuan and Hunan cooking, so in a way it's like Mastering the Art of Sichuan/Hunan cooking. What I like about her books is that they try to stay as authentic as possible, but she also offers alternatives for the more esoteric ingredients that may be harder to procure outside of the region.

I highly recommend her latest: Every Grain of Rice. It's more home-style cooking, which I find easier for beginners since the recipes are not too complicated. Most things are basic dishes that I grew up eating, but no one really thought to write a recipe for, like tomato and eggs.


Feb 07, 2013
PandanExpress in Home Cooking

Wuhan cuisine back in San Gabriel: Tasty Dining opens

I went for dinner tonight and it looks like their dry pots are up and running. Unfortunately, the small size is not available for dinner, so you can only order medium or large. The medium is enough for about four adults with healthy appetites. At least, that's what I thought after ordering the catfish dry pot.

The dry pot itself was flavorful and spicy (ordered it medium spicy). There was some ground spices at top that could be chili pepper and maybe peppercorn, but it wasn't that numbing. Maybe you have to ask for more numbing? The fish was tender, juicy, and flavorful. I was surprised the fish wasn't overcooked after boiling around in the oil. The potatoes and cauliflower picked up the flavors of the pot perfectly.

Pictures of the dish here: http://www.runawaysquirrels.com/2012/...

We also had the wuhan warm-dry noodles which were fine. I'm not a big fan of sesame paste noodles, but my husband seemed to like it okay. The sauce's flavoring was fine, but I found it to be a little too sticky or dry.

We also had the pumpkin cakes, which were what I expected. They were great eaten while hot because they got all soft and chewy, but I can imagine them being like hockey pucks after they cool down.

Overall, a decent place and I'll probably return and try some other type of meat in the hotpot.

Not sure how long this deal is going to go on, but you also get free iced chrysanthemum tea with your order.

Oct 20, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Emperor Noodles Finally Opens

I went back for lunch on Friday and ordered the yellow fish noodles since the man working there was boasting about them to another Chinese customer.

They were really good! Not sure what type of fish it was, but the meat was tender and tasted fresh. They might have been fried beforehand and then added to the soup because they had some crunchy bits on it. The noodles themselves were tasty. Since they were thin, not as much 'q' as knife-shaved ones, but they still had a great fresh-noodle texture. The soup was also nice and savory thanks to the pickled vegetables.

Oct 15, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Emperor Noodles Finally Opens

I went for lunch today and was pleasantly surprised. I had low hopes for it just because that spot has such bad luck, but the food was decent.

I had the vegetarian chicken, which was flavorful and tender. The Shanghai fried rice cakes, which was nice and chewy if not a little bland, but probably because it was ordered without pork or MSG for my husband.

The shen jian bao was one of the best I've had in LA so far. The bottom was nice and crispy while the top was pillowy and soft and not at all soggy. The filling was quite savory and wasn't bland at all, nor sweet. And I thought there was a decent amount of broth in it (see picture in this post: http://www.runawaysquirrels.com/2012/...).

I didn't get a chance to try all their delicious-sounding offal dishes, but maybe next time. The table next to us got the yellow fish noodle soup which looked good. Did anyone try that one out yet?

Oct 05, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Have we forgotten what it is like to be "hungry"?

I don't consciously eat based on the time, but I do find myself getting hangry (hungry AND angry) around the same lunch time each day, so I eat then for the sake of my co-workers so I don't end up being cranky to them. If I try to push lunch off too late, everyone has to stay away from me.

I'm more flexible with dinner though and tend to eat later instead of earlier.

Sep 11, 2012
PandanExpress in Not About Food

Funny scenes at the market

He was a young man and I think the likely scenario was what kattyeyes guessed: he was high off his rocker. I guess if I had a boring job like a bagger, I'd get high too.

Aug 28, 2012
PandanExpress in Not About Food

Funny scenes at the market

I was buying a carton of eggs at the market when the bagger asked me in a really excited voice, "Heeeey! Have you ever had hard boiled eggs?"

I replied, "Yes, and I'll probably hard boil some of these."

Then he said, "They're SOO good, right?"

Yes. Yes they are. I really like eggs, but I've never met someone with so much zeal for a hard boiled egg.

Aug 27, 2012
PandanExpress in Not About Food

Half of the Fujianese Restaurants in Los Angeles Are Gone

I've liked all the dishes I've gotten from Hui Tou Xiang. Some favorites: their crab xlb, the hui tou pork dumplings (#1), fish dumplings (only if you like Chinese leek), pan-fried leek & egg dumplings. Their appetizers are skippable but I do like the soup and sweet kimchi they bring at the beginning.

Aug 03, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

vegetarian thai town

> outside of making a special request from the server/ktichen, can i get vegetarian (no shrimp paste, probably no fish sauce) items by ordering off the menu?

Not unless you order mango sticky rice. Most savory things off of a Thai menu will have shrimp paste, fish sauce, dried shrimp, or all of the above.

My husband sometimes goes to Thai town with me and he's vegan. We've had luck at both sapp, and Jitlada just asking the server/kitchen to leave off the fish sauce, shrimp paste, etc. I know at the Monterey Park Pa Ord, they were able to make fried rice noodles vegetarian without any problems.

If you want something safe, fried noodles will probably be easier to vegetarianize than something like a curry which may already have the animal products in the seasoning.

Aug 03, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

n/naka ? is there sushi bar seating here?

Yes, chef Niki is very accommodating. Just mention it when you make the reservation.

Jun 18, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Cooking from Fuchsia Dunlop's new book, "Every Grain of Rice"

I made three dishes from the book tonight. (page numbers are from my American copy so may not match the British version) Pics here: http://www.runawaysquirrels.com/2012/...

Radishes in chili oil - pg 68
The mustardy spicy of the radish goes surprisingly well with the heat spicy of the chili oil. Easy to make ahead of time. I’d add more salt when salting the radish next time. The amount the book says to add is too little. Pro-tip: to smash the radish, cut in half, then use a hand-held lemon squeezer to smash it. Put the half radish in cut side facing the squeezer’s holes.

Chive with smoked tofu - pg 201
I used spiced baked tofu instead, which I think is what she means when Fucshia Dunlop says “smoked tofu.” The main recipe on the page uses regular Chinese chive with a variation for flowering chive. I like flowering chive better because they’re more tender so all they need is a couple of flips in a hot wok before they’re ready to eat.

Fava bean and snow vegetable soup - pg 244
I used the pre-salted and chopped snow cabbage that comes in plastic tubs from the Chinese market. Not sure if that’s what she means about snow cabbage, but that’s what we usually call snow cabbage at home. The fava beans were frozen, but came out pretty well in the soup. I also added a salted duck egg (adapted from another recipe a few pages back) and bamboo shoots instead of a tomato. Instead of chicken stock, I made a quick, plain stock using water and bean sprouts. I liked the soup the best. It was hearty but simple and pretty easy to make.

Jun 13, 2012
PandanExpress in Home Cooking

Cooking from Fuchsia Dunlop's new book, "Every Grain of Rice"

If you have one of those hand-held lemon squeezers, you can cut a radish in half, put the radish in the squeezer and smash them that way. I find it works best if you put the cut side down, facing the holes.

Jun 13, 2012
PandanExpress in Home Cooking

Thought experiment - What is chow worthy classic "Chinese American" food?

> Your examples of "Chinese American" food is really just Hong Kong style fast food.

That was my point. It's a Chinese take on an American idea. It's not like the Chinese haven't had fast food for centuries (bao zi, anyone?), but this Chinese take on western dishes is what makes Chinese American food.

As for my examples of American Chinese food like kung pao chicken and sweet and sour pork -- yes I realize they do have roots in traditional Chinese food, but are you guys really saying that the gloopy, overly sweet version you get at places like Panda Express is traditional?

Mar 30, 2012
PandanExpress in General Topics

Thought experiment - What is chow worthy classic "Chinese American" food?

Chinese American Food (Chinese take on American food)
- The "french style fillet mignon" they serve at Tasty Garden
- Corn chowder at many HK-style cafes
- Pasta at many HK-style cafes
- Egg Waffle

American Chinese Food (Americanized Chinese Food)
- kung pao chicken
- sweet and sour pork
- gigantic burrito-style eggrolls
- egg foo young

Mar 29, 2012
PandanExpress in General Topics

Gold Standard 2012

I got in during VIP hour and it was still swamped, but definitely not as crowded as it was later. I do wish that this event were earlier in the year just so it wouldn't be so hot. Sweating while waiting in line isn't really conducive to a good appetite.

I thought the budino with the cookie looked wonderful and tasted every bit as good as it does from the restaurant. I liked that more booths were serving finger-foods, since even with the cocktail plate, it gets unwieldy trying to balance a glass, a plate, food, and a utensil.

There should definitely be a ban on all strollers for the event next year. Really, do we need that giant double-wide stroller right in the middle of where people are trying to walk?

I was more annoyed by the people standing around a booth not eating than the people taking pictures. Maybe because I was one of the people taking pictures (seen here: http://www.runawaysquirrels.com/2012/...). I found plenty of time to snap a picture while the people in front of me in line picked up their food and then just STOOD THERE while they ate instead of moving out of the way. It's like being at the free samples counter at Costco.

Mar 06, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Vegan or vegetarian Chinese?

You will not find GOOD Chinese anywhere in WeHo, West LA, or even the Valley, unless you mean the San Gabriel Valley.

With that in mind, if you want average vegetarian Chinese food in the valley, you can try Vegetable Delight in Chatsworth. While it's not bad, I wouldn't be a fan of Chinese food either if I had to eat that as my only Chinese food option.

If you're willing to venture to the San Gabriel Valley, possibilities open up.

Jan 17, 2012
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Poll: Would you eat a dog

I've had dog before. I'd probably eat it again if it were more delicious and legal/available. What I remember of it, it was like tough beef.

I don't really get what's the big deal. If you're willing to eat one animal, you should be willing to eat another. Same for different animal parts like offal.


Nov 08, 2011
PandanExpress in General Topics

TEA HOUNDS! Why are we not talking about Dr. Tea's Tea Garden & Herbal Emporium on Pico/La Brea??

1) WHF = Wing Hop Fung (both the Chinatown and Monterey Park branch)

2.) Ah I did not know that about Ten Ren. Most of the ones I've been at, the people were not that hospitable or patient with letting customers try the tea.

Wing Hop Fung
727 N Broadway 102, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Nov 03, 2011
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

TEA HOUNDS! Why are we not talking about Dr. Tea's Tea Garden & Herbal Emporium on Pico/La Brea??

You're right that WHF (and Bird Pick) and Ten Ren all have teas, but when I said "a good tea shop in LA" I meant more of a place where you can sit down and taste the teas brewed the right way before (maybe) buying them.

I guess in a way, Funnel Mill in Santa Monica provides this service -- where they brew it for you in the pots or show you how to do it yourself.

But with WHF, every time I've gone, they either don't let you try any of the teas, or brew it terribly (too hot water, too long a steep) so you can't really get the right taste of the tea. I haven't been in Bird Pick yet, but it's pretty much the same quality of WHF, but maybe more expensive. I guess with how BP is set up, they do kind of brew the tea for you better.

Funnel Mill
930 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA

Nov 03, 2011
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

TEA HOUNDS! Why are we not talking about Dr. Tea's Tea Garden & Herbal Emporium on Pico/La Brea??

They're not talking about it because the prices are steep, the tea quality is mediocre, and the place seems too much like a snake oil shop. It may be a great introductory place to tea, but definitely where what you'd call a "tea hound" would frequent.

Unfortunately, there really isn't a good tea shop in LA, so most of the tea hounds order online or, like my husband, host tea tastings with other tea-inclined friends.


Nov 02, 2011
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Settebello Pizza in Pas?

pizzaiolo is what you call the man making the pizza

Oct 12, 2011
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Settebello Pizza in Pas?

I went Sunday night and thought it was great. I got the Margherita DOC. The crust was fine, with the right texture between the tomatoey top and the slightly crispy bottom. The tomatoes were great with just the right amount of salt and tang. I think I had the best mouthful of pizza since I could remember when I bit into one part of my pizza and it had the perfect amount of tomato, cheese, and bread.

I didn't have to order my pizza well done and it came out with the right amount of char.

I also liked their arugula salad. There's no false advertisement there, it really is just a plate of arugula, but dressed with a nicely balanced mixture of oil and lemon. The dressing brings out the spiciness of the arugula very well.

Oct 12, 2011
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area

Wilshire DineLA Lunch -- Issue

Did the restaurant give a reason why they could not serve the crab cake for the DineLA menu?

Oct 09, 2011
PandanExpress in Los Angeles Area