We love Asian food, but the San Gabriel Valley seems so intimidating — and with good reason, as our tour guide informed us that the “626″ area code has it’s own business bureau.  We learned a lot from our friendly and knowledgeable tour guide – Mike.

Six Taste offers 6 tours – from Downtown to Thai Town to Santa Monica.  http://www.sixtaste.com/index.php

We met outside the first stop – near New Capital Seafood at 9:30am.  There were 2 other couples.  We all introduced ourselves and talked about what our favorite foods were, and what we would never eat again.  We all got a reusable “Six Taste” bag for leftovers…and in the bag included maps, menus, etc. of all 5 places we would be trying.

New Capital Seafood was already packed at 10am.  Food was immediately delivered to the table along with 2 pots of tea.  We learned that the host should pour tea for everyone first and then someone else needs to pour the hosts first cup.  When the pot is empty, tilt the lid to signify to the server you need more water.

Now the Dim Sum!

We started with Shrimp Har Pow, BBQ Pork Buns (steamed and baked), Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf…

Next items included: Xiang Sui Gok, BBQ Pork Rice Noodles and CHICKEN FEET! Yes, we tried them.

I loved the Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf.  The rice was moist and had a smoky flavor – apparently the rice is raw when it is wrapped in the leaf.  The Chicken Feet had a good flavor, but texture reminded me of Jell-O (which I hate).  Mike told us how to eat them – put the entire foot in your mouth then spit out the tiny bones.

Next we had Pork Siu Mai and these Sesame Seed Fried things, with sweet paste inside (I can’t remember the name)…these were Casey’s favorites:

Next stop – Sam Woo BBQ, which was in the same plaza.  We sat at a table, but Mike explained this place was good for pick-up/take-out…you just order at the counter by weight:

At Sam Woo, we had BBQ Duck – it was moist and very flavorful.

It was served with “Duck Sauce” — the sauce that I know from being served with Egg Rolls.  Mike told us it got it’s name because it is supposed to be served with duck. Makes sense.

We also had Chow Phun Noodles with Beef at Sam Woo.  They were a bit greasy, but tasty.  Tea is served to help counter the oil.

Kee Wah Bakery was the next stop – here we learned about the intricate Moon Pies and sampled Pineapple Bread, which doesn’t even have pineapple in it.  It’s called that because it looks like a pineapple.  It was sweet and crunchy on the top.

The other baked items also looked amazing….

We were all definitely getting pretty stuffed…but forged on to Happy Kitchen.  This is a mom-and-pop shop and the owners were so friendly and welcoming.  “Mom” was shy, but she still have us a super quick demonstration on how she makes her homemade dumplings.  If you blinked, you missed the demonstration!  She even makes the wrapping from scratch…and makes over 500 a day!

“Pop” was so proud of the restaurant and the food he serves…poor Mike had to translate for close to an hour as “Pop” described his favorite things on the menu and some of the health benefits of some ingredients – specifically the lamb & snail soups that you are supposed to have in the summer to get the fulls benefits.

At Happy Kitchen we sampled his Tea Smoked Chicken Leg (which “Pop” himself picked out the chicken from a local farm), Beef Roll and, of course, some of those wonderful Dumplings (“Mom” said she puts a full shrimp in each one)!

The Beef Roll was amazing!  Flavorful beef wrapped in tortilla-like dough, lightly fried and stuffed with tons of fresh cilantro:

It was getting pretty hot out…so the final stop at Tasty was a welcome treat.  Here we had dessert – a delicious “sundae” of black sticky sweet rice, coconut milk and ice, fresh mango and mango ice – served over-flowing in a huge bowl.

The tour was a great introduction to the San Gabriel Valley and I can’t wait to try the Dumpling Tour!

Petrossian Paris

April 26, 2010

Last night we had a great meal at Petrossian Paris in West Hollywood.

It was a gorgeous evening and I read that they had a Happy Hour so we decided to check it out early (around 5pm).   We were seated outside and brought a variety of menus – Caviar Brunch, Specials, Dinner – but no Happy Hour menu.  We asked for it and the waitress reluctantly brought it.  When we asked what the beer & wine specials were ($5 and $6 respectively) she said she needed to check.  A little strange, but I suppose that ‘s what you get in that neighborhood.

I ordered a Malbec and Casey got a Stella (the happy hour specials).

We started with the charcuterie platter ($10 from the HH menu) and Caviar Dip with Sweet Potato Chips ($14 from the Specials menu). The charcuterie platter included 2 different house-made pates, salami and olives served with crostini.  It was decent.

The Caviar Dip was amazing…and reminded me of an appetizer my mom used to make.  Creamy and salty and garnished with chopped egg.

We decided to order something more hearty next – we each picked an item to share.  At this point, the sun was going down & it was getting chilly, so we asked to move inside.  I felt I was being high maintenance, I mean, we are in LA and it was probably only 65 degrees.  The waitress was really nice about moving us inside – I think only after we ordered entrees tho.

Of course, I had to get the Truffle Mac & Cheese.  O-M-G!!!!!!!!  That’s all I can say.

Casey went the alternate route and got Jidori Chicken Paillard with Arugula Salad.

I love when restaurants go the extra step and split the entrees for you…makes for a prettier presentation.  The chef did this here and it was definitely appreciated.  The 2 items we got complimented each other perfectly.

Overall, it was a really nice and low key evening.  I would definitely go back again.

Westside Tavern

April 13, 2010

Finally, we checked out Westside Tavern over the weekend.  It was a long overdue trip!

We already had breakfast at House Cafe but were shopping at Westside Pavilion so made a pit stop for a drink & snack at the bar.  Lucky for Casey, the Masters was on TV.

I knew we’d be there  for awhile so I ordered a carafe of Cotes Du Rhone while Casey stuck to sampling the beer selection.

The bar seemed to go on forever:

We weren’t super hungry due to the aforementioned breakfast, but I wanted to sample something so we ordered the Pulled Pork and Leek Flatbread.  It was delicious – salty and sweet and perfectly crunchy:

We were sitting next to some older ladies who were having the best time…flirting with the bartender and throwing back fancy cocktails.  Next time I will try the Basil Gimlet – the ladies drink of choice which looked amazing.

Matthew told me the Donuts were a must try and he was right!  They were sugary and cinnamony on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. They were served with Lemon Meyer Custard and Chocolate Sauce.  The Lemon Meyer Custard Sauce was the clear winner…and I couldn’t stop eating it!

We paired the Donuts with a Side Car – it was a perfect pairing that cut the sweetness of the Donuts!


We checked out the new Farmer’s Market at Yamashiro’s this past Thursday.  It wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be, but we got there early around 6:30pm.

I must admit, my pictures don’t do the set-up and view justice, but I thought I would share anyway.

We started – of course – at the bar, where we did a tasting of 4 California wines, including a yummy Zin from Paso Robles ($8 for 4 wines).  There were 2 bartenders, but it wasn’t particularly organized.

We bought glasses of wine and headed down to the Garden.  The views were amazing!

Immediately, I spotted Smart Fish and my friend Jenn.  I met Jenn at the Melrose market last year and only buy fish from her now.  More later about Jenn and her amazing fish.

We did a quick tour — only a few fresh produce stands.  The focus seemed to be on prepared food, which seemed appropriate for this time of the day.

After chatting with Jenn & her hubbie Ali (who was shucking fresh oysters) we stopped at bread stall where we purchased a pretzel roll with jalapeno and melted cheddar cheese.

Next we hit up the Cobbler ladies…and picked a blueberry & peach cobbler.

We ate the cobbler when we got home and it was delicious – full of fresh fruit and not to sweet.  We learned earlier it was sweetened with Agave.

We were getting hungry so decided on sharing tacos from the Yamashiro stall and some German Bratwurst from another stand.

We picked 1 Short Rib and 1 Duck taco – 2 for $6.  They were quite tasty and served with chips and a variety of yummy salsas:

The homemade Bratwurst was flavorful and juicy, served with warm sauerkraut and mustard.  We started talking to the 2 guys working the stand…who told us they were “homemade” but needed a catchier name…I suggested Artisan and they loved it!  I should start charging for my marketing ideas.

We enjoyed our food while watching the sunset:

It was a fun mid-week night outing and we will probably be back.  Not for shopping – I will save that for Melrose market on Sunday.  One note, the parking was not very efficient.  Valet parking was a bargain $2, but it took 15 minutes for our car to come.

Annie’s LA Favorites

March 24, 2010

A co-worker asked for some suggestions on “LA-feel” restaurants to take some out-of-town guests to so I thought I would share some of my favorites.

His requirements were:

- $20-$40 entree range
- Social/active
- Dinner worth remember (friend is proposing a few hours earlier!!!!)
- Unique to LA

No location was specified so I provided a variety of locations…here goes:

The first place that popped into mind was Pizzeria Mozza…with LA celebrity chef Nancy Silverman, this is a must visit for out-of-towners!  They only take reservations for up to 6 people and you need to make it at least a few weeks-1 month in advance.

Across the street from Mozza is Hatfield’s – another great LA restaurant that is run by a couple (Quinn & Karen) who know food.

The Bazaar by Jose Andres is the newest hot spot in LA – it’s tapas style and if you order carefully you could probably be within the top of the budget.

Campanile is an LA landmark and located in an historic structure built in 1929 by architect Roy Sheldon Price for Hollywood legend Charlie Chaplin.  Chef Mark Peel opened the restaurant with Nancy Silverton (now at Mozza) in 1989.

On the Sunset Strip…can’t get anymore LA then this:
- RH in Andaz Hotel
- XIV by Michael Mina

Animal is another new’ish trendy spot that gets a lot of great hype and has amazing food.  Not for non-meat lovers.

Another very LA-style restaurant is A.O.C. Californian – French – Small Plates (I always see celebs here)

In Venice, don’t miss Gjelina.  But be sure to make a reservation for the patio (it is very loud inside…but fun at the communal tables if you are in the mood).

If you feel like venturing downtown, a lot of cool, new places have popped up:
- For Italian go to Drago Centro
- For French, go to Church & State
- Pan Latin/Mexican, check out Rivera.  This may be a good option ’cause we have the best Latin/Mexican food compared to other parts of the US!


Uchi

March 14, 2010

I am so thrilled this fabulous new sushi restaurant opened a few blocks away!

To start, they are located behind the O-Bar parking lot…really cute, but modern space and the staff was very welcoming.  I guess that is expected since they have been open less then 2 weeks.  It was fairly crowded for a new restaurant at 9pm.

They are currently offering opening drink specials – beers & saki are half off all night long!!

We sat at the bar where 3 sushi chefs interchanged helping us.  We started with Yellowtail Sashimi and Jalapeno – it was super fresh with a spicy kick.

Next was salmon sushi and Spanish Mackerel.  An elaborate presentation for the Spanish Mackerel:

Next Sweet Shrimp served with Crunchy Fried Shrimp Heads:

We were starting to get full, but decided to try the Eel with Avocado and Spicy Tuna Roll:

A highlight of the night was when the staff turned off all the lights for Saki Bombs!  A sushi chef lined the beer glasses and saki shots up on the bar and lit them on fire!  It was quite the spectacle, especially when the waiter told everyone to repeat “Bomb” after he said “Saki.”

It was a fun night and we will definitely be back soon!

Ammo

March 14, 2010

I had a delicious lunch at Ammo with my Mother-in-Law and cousin Kate yesterday.  It was my first time to Ammo and I enjoyed the modern atmosphere and appreciated the attentive service.

The meal started with us splitting a Meyer Lemon Muffin with homemade strawberry jam and a Cheddar Cheese Biscuit.  The muffin was zingy and sweet, while the biscuit was savory and ozzed with butter.

Rose had the vegetable sandwich – with hummus, avocado, lettuce, tomato and alfalfa sprouts:

Kate had the lentil salad with roasted beets and humbolt fog cheese.  The lentils had a slight crunch and the beets were tender:

The best for last! I had the Salmon Pizza…it was house-made salmon and served on a crunchy thin crust.  Salmon was amazing – perfectly salty and served with a shaved fennel & radish salad:

House Cafe

March 9, 2010

I was a Sports-Widow on Saturday…so brunch with Noelle was in order!  After reading Irene Virbila’s review in the LA Time House Cafe it was a must try.

Even though it was busy we were seated quickly by the welcoming host. I immediately noticed the big flat screen TV playing the Lakers game and knew this would be a place my DH (Casey) would love.  Although, the blackboard touting the daily specials also listed what was on the TV schedule …Food Network when no games/sports events on!! Fantastic!

I loved the feel and atmosphere of the homey space and wanted to stash the awesome salt & pepper shakers in my  purse (but restrained).

Now on the to the food.  We started with the calamari.  It was delicious, not bready but perfectly cooked and served on a bed of lemon sauce:

I got the Prosciutto Egg Panino…kind of reminded my of a BLT.  It was served with zingy aioli and olive oil french fries ($2 additional price):

Noelle opted for a healthier entry – Ahi Tuna Arugula Salad:

I can’t wait to go back for dinner!

Joe’s Pizza

March 7, 2010

It was a rainy night…and pizza sounded perfect with a bottle of wine (or two)!

We decided on Joe’s Pizza – which rivals my favorite Vito’s – but delivery is much faster and they have famous garlic knots.  Unfortunately, we ate them all before I could snap a picture.  They were warm and butterery and covered with loads of fresh garlic.

Veggies included tomato, garlic, black olives and fresh basil:

We started with a Spanish wine we had never had before.  It was yummy…full-bodied and jammy:

Syrah from Central Coast, CA was next…it was Friday night afterall.

And Girl Scout cookies for dessert!!!!

Porto’s for Lunch

March 2, 2010

Leslie is back…so Christina and I decided to take her to Porto’s to welcome her back and hear about her travels.  Surprisingly, this was my first trip to the Glendale location and it was as delicious as ever.

It was packed, but the three of us squeezed into a cozy table for 2…although the TWO dudes next to us were sprawled out on 2 tables.

Thankfully, Christina shared her “Mariquitas”(a.k.a. homemade plaintain chips) with us; they were crunchy and salty and delicious, especially when dipped in the Cuban garlic sauce:

I opted for the Turkey Melt – with roasted red peppers and provolone cheese:

Since I overindulged on the aforementioned “Mariquitas” I skipped the pastries, but they did look pretty yummy:

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