Asian


Asian Night Market hosted by Chef Masaharu Morimoto was a success with plenty to eat and drink. Chef Morimoto’s dumplings were plenty. The peppery and somewhat acidic tartness was delicious on top. The dumplings seemed endless. Team Morimoto was like a well oiled machine. The dumplings just kept coming, as others’ lines just grew and grew. This event definitely had more people. I guess when Morimoto hosts LA Food and Wine, people notice.

Asian tacos were huge in this Asian Night Market. Chef Jet Tila was the first and last thing I ate that night, and for good reason too. His pork belly taco was quite delicious. He is slowly gaining presence on TV and Food Network. Phorage’s fried drunkenness crab and shrimp cakes were quite memorable. When shrimp and crab come together, its always a beautiful thing. Chef Tin Vuong from Little Sister Manhattan Beach did a wonderful charcoal grilled shrimp in a nice sauce.

Definitely, seafood played a large part in the Asian Night Market. From snails, fish, scallops, to octopus, seafood, in the addition to pork is what Asians do well. The night was amazing with a lot of Asian variations and cuisine. It was good to see Asian food lifted up and taken to an extreme level. The food preparation was quite impressive and the dishes the chefs were producing was impeccable.

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Chengdu Taste hit #46 on the top 75 best restaurants in LA inside Los Angeles Magazine’s May 2014 issue. That is pretty impressive considering the list doesn’t have many Asian restaurants and none from Alhambra. SGV is officially on the map! Prepare to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour for a table. The Boiling Crab wait times can get a bit boring, but the wait is definitely worth it. We almost gave in to go to some cafe, but out patience was rewarded greatly. Chengdu, China is the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China and is a huge food city. I am happy to know that a little piece of it made it out to Alhambra. Score!

Mung bean noodles are slippery, taste like nothing, and has a consistency of hardened jello. It was the perfect vessel and blanks slate of all things flavor. This seemed to have been a favorite among diners as far as starters go. The house made chili sauce wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. Bite on the wrong pepper, and your mouth is in for a real surprise. The mixture of oil, Sichuan peppercorns, chili peppers, and a handful of other ingredients made this such a tasty dish. A little sweet, spicy, and tangy, this was a fiery component that was a little teaser of what was to come.

The cumin lamb is probably the most popular dish at the restaurant, and I could see why. The dish is generously coated in cumin and chili peppers. The lamb was tender to the point of almost the texture of ground meat. Some pieces were slightly fatty which was very unctuous in flavor. Some were saltier than others, and fatty too — not complaining really. It’s just the luck of the draw. These cumin lamb bites were incredible and would probably order them at every visit. I had a pile of toothpicks at the end of it all — a large pile.

The boiled sliced fish in hot sauce was a doozy. Albeit quite salty, this chili on chili molested dish was interesting and honestly delicious. The fish was delicate and quite mild in flavor. The soup/sauce that it swam in was quite the contrary. The heat from this dish is like no other. Hot wings and sauces like Tabasco give a little pinch on the tongue kind of heat. Red sauce from King Taco or green sauce from Mario’s is more of a mouth full of fire. This dish though, was more of a tongue numbing feeling. The sensation was interesting, and at a certain point, I was worried I was reacting to an allergy. The Chinese peppercorns really do a good job in numbing your tongue. It tingles and the feeling leaves you a bit on a high level.

The double cooked pork fried rice was a let down. Not that it didn’t taste good, and not that it was cheap. I just felt like I could make this at home. Honestly, the dishes we ordered would have went well with just plain white rice. This fried rice though, had nice slices of pork belly. I guess it wasn’t all for nothing.

The last dish of boiled vegetables, meats, in a Sichuan style special hot sauce was interesting. It was similar to a Korean budae jjigae that includes almost anything in the fridge and pantry into a pot of soup. This hot pot had duck blood, intestine, stomach, beef, and Spam. I can live with the duck blood, intestine, and stomach, but the sight of the Spam made this feel like home. The intestine had a nice texture but the funk level was higher than usual. The duck blood had a nice soft texture and subtle flavor. I didn’t really like the soup base for this. It didn’t have that kick in the face heat or bold flavor. This would be pretty nice on a cold winter night. It was warm, comforting, and that Spam just hit the spot.

The lines are long, and everyone in the area and maybe beyond want to eat at Chengdu Taste. After my experience here, I can see why. The flavors are powerful and daring. The spice levels are out of this world! I had such a good time dining here.

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As someone who fancies authentic Chinese cuisine form the SGV, I don’t know how I ended up here. Maybe it was the intrigue, or the feeling of homesickness. Ultimately, I just wanted something completely different. I really don’t remember the last time I ate Chinese food or even a bowl of noodles in Vegas, if ever even. It’s always burger this or pizza that, and don’t even get me stated on the number of steakhouses. I took a chance on Noodles at the Bellagio, and I was pleasantly surprised. The prices were definitely not SGV cheap — the “Vegas Tax” essay evident. In the end, I was happy for my changing up the system.

After the Raku agedashi experience, I find myself ordering more and more. As an appetizer, and to be somewhat earthy, we decided to order the agedashi tofu. Theirs were fired in little nugget forms. The texture was quite nice. The warm pockets of hot tofu were silky smooth. Dipping it in the light soy sauce blend was all I needed. Nothing beats the agedashi at Raku, but this little appetizer did just fine.

Comfort food for me is either something really fatty and cheesy, like mac and cheese or a nice loaded quesadilla. Otherwise, comfort food comes in soup form. It has to have meat inside of course. The wanton soup at Noodles was surprisingly delicious. The broth was the star. I wasn’t sure if it had MSG in it or not, but the deliciousness of the broth indicates that it indeed did. The broth was warm, umamic (yes, there’s that word again), and quite savory. It wasn’t necessarily salty, but it had a nice quality to it. The wontons were nothing short of spectacular. Fatty and meaty, the shui mai like dumplings gave this soup bowl some substance. Even the noodles had a nice bite to them. This bowl of wantons and noodles was surprisingly the real deal.

We were on a protein frenzy, so we ordered the BBQ pork and duck. This to me was a mistake. The pork was overly sweet and jerky like. Too much crust and not enough actual tender meat made it difficult to enjoy. The duck, though nicely tender was a bit of a miss. It didn’t have that fatty/salty characteristic I’m familiar with duck. It was mild and a bit boring.


We ordered a bowl of congee to go with our meat. The congee itself was good on it own. The bland taste and blank canvas made it go well with everything. This was indeed a comforting bowl. For dessert, we ordered Thai tea. Milky, and somewhat strong, it was enjoyable — nothing worth mentioning further though.

All this Asian food and I started to wonder why we ate here. I mean, I could have this back home in the SGV, and it would be legit — it would be the good stuff. Why did I just spend almost double the amount for something that wouldn’t even hold a candle to the good stuff? Maybe I was feeling a little home sick. Or maybe I just needed to give it a try to see if I can really find SGV in the heart of Vegas. For a second though, I did forget I was even seconds away from the casino floor. That’s gotta count for something. Basically, I went to Vegas to step away from the SGV, and went to Bellagio’s Noodle to step away from Vegas.

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Koreatown Night Market

by Franklin on February 28, 2014

The night market makes its way to Koreatown! Presented by the City of Los Angeles, The inaugural festival will be help on Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19. The event will be held at Robert F Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles. The event is free to the public and will feature over 100 food and merchandise vendors representing the multi-ethnic street cuisine from Los Angeles and Orange County. Seoul Sausage Company will be the curators of the festival’s food truck line up. KTOWN Night Market will also feature various activities, carnival games, and live entertainment.

The event should be a huge one, with almost 40,000 guests estimated to be in attendance. Friday’s event is from 4PM – Midnight, Saturday’s event is from 2PM – Midnight. Yelp is even hosting a KTOWN Bar Crawl that continues through the night. It should be a fun-filled event!

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Lotus of Siam is a bit off the strip, and sits in a sketchy area. There is nothing special about this place, inside and out. After reading so much about it, and hearing Andrew Zimmern rave about this place, it was on top of my list for my last Vegas trip. It goes to show, all of the top restaurants aren’t inside the popular casinos and resorts. Most of them are all commercialized and owned by restaurant groups. Lotus of Siam is one of one. It makes it unique and special, and is a part of Vegas as much as any of the popular resorts.

We started things off with something exciting and new. The Koong char num plar, raw prawns marinated in seasoned fish sauce was a favorite of ours. With the spicy fish sauce, fresh garlic and roasted chili paste, the dish definitely had flavor. Ironically, I used a bunch of that fish sauce to get rid of the rawness and “fishy” flavor. Spiciness met sweetness from the shrimp. The texture of this was spectacular. A bit on the sticky side, the texture took some getting used to. Still a great way to start.

My personal favorite was the Nam Kao Tod. It was a crispy rice mixed with minced sour sausage, green onion, fresh chili, ginger, peanuts, and lime juice. Texturally different from the raw shrimp, this had a nice crunch, and the crunch played a great role in this dish. The ginger flavor popped and the citrus was key. It was delicious and refreshing.

The dish of all dishes–the one to get here always Is the Drunken Noodle Prawn. Thick rice noodles are on fried with deep fried prawns. The shell I kept on and the frying process makes the skins edible. The special blend of garlic sauce and Thai basil was perfect. The prawns were cooked perfectly and the crunch of the skin was amazing. This dish is pretty hard to pass up — a definite must order here.

To end everything, we ordered the coconut ice cream with sticky rice. It was a great neutralizer form all that garlic, shrimp, and spices. The coconut flavor was mild and not too overpowering. My favorite was the sticky rice. Everything just had such a delicate flavor and nothing was overbearing.

Back home in Los Angeles, there are a bunch of Ktown style Chinese restaurants that have pretty good food. From spicy seafood noodles to fried pork and beef dishes, they are all delicious, but you won’t find any of these in China. The menu hasn’t changed ever since the first time I went, and that is the quality of the places. You know what you will get, and its the same no matter when you go. Lotus of Siam is kind of like that. The menu hasn’t changed in forever, and the food, though may not be genuine Thai renditions is delicious.

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Shin Sen Gumi is one of those places that I always pass by on the corner of Atlantic and Garvey, but never gave it a thought. It might be the location, or it might be the quite plain writing, but I never thought twice about it. I do remember passing by it often though. After hearing good things about the Little Tokyo property, I decided to jump on it.

We started off with the yakitori– pork belly of course. The taste was pure as can be. The taste of the pork was so clean. This was achieved by cooking this over hot coals. Pork, amongst other meats is great with that burnt charcoal taste. Something about it is so primal and delicious!

The bacon wrapped quail eggs was such a great idea. As a person who eats and loves eggs in general, this was definitely a treat. One of my favorite breakfast items is bacon and eggs. The salty bacon with the quite universal egg was a perfect match. The green onion was also a nice touch.

When I saw chicken skin on the menu, it was a must order. Though not as crispy as I’d like, the chicken skin was still tasty. It just isn’t the same if it wasn’t deep fried. That crunch is really lost, and really why we love chicken skin.

It was a cold day, so shabu shabu was in the mix. I didn’t really care for the vegetables, but the pork was fresh. The broth was the best part. It wasn’t too salty and had a very clean flavor.

To end our night, we ordered the green tea crème brûlée. Honestly, I could barely taste the green tea. It was more of a traditional crème brûlée with a green tea essence. As a true green tea fanatic, I wasn’t pleased with this. I like my green tea strong and very pronounced. (On a related note, next time you are at Starbucks, order the iced green tea, old school. (You will thank me later.)

Shin Sen Gumi was a great experience. Finally after all these years and passing by it all the time, it is off the list. If you like yakitori, this is a great stop. Unfortunately, I did not try their ramen, but I am not expecting anything amazing. I’ll possibly try it one of these days. It is getting colder by the day. Until then, the yakitori will do.

Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori & Shabu Shabu on Urbanspoon

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Is it? Is it the best burger in Las Vegas? On the strip, you are definitely not going to find the best burger in Las Vegas. Trust me. I tried looking — this means I spent a lot of cash paying for subpar burgers. Luckily, just before you hit Vegas on the 15, exiting East Windmill Lane, you have Bachi Burger. The Asian inspired burger joint was showcased on Diners, Drive-In, and Dives, and I immediately made plans for a Vegas trip — I made it my first stop.

We started things off with the oxtail chili cheese fries. Most times, chili cheese fries or poutine has fries that are left soggy from the sauce. I liked how the fries were still intact and crisp. The ox tail was tender and was almost chili like — cooking for hours helped make it into a mush of things. The garlic aioli and fried egg made everything so creamy and smooth. I liked the edition of the cilantro. It gave the dish such a freshness and helped with the richness of the oxtail. With the help of the jalapenos which were quite spicy, the dish was complete.

Though the oxtail fries were good, we all came here for the burger. Morse specifically, I came here for the Ronin burger. This burger had angus beef, caramelized onions, jalapenos, coleslaw, miso goma dressing, fried egg, katsu bbq, and yuzu citrus aioli. I know that seems like a lot of ingredients, but all of the flavors worked. I am a firm believer that a good burger has to have gooey melted cheese or a strong cheese presence — cheese is always a must. I was surprised that this Asian inspired burger, with no cheese was so delicious. The beef patty was cooked perfectly medium rare with a nice crust and pink in the middle. The spicy jalapenos and the sweet bbq and citric aioli all bounced around and filled my mouth with flavor. If you were to get one burger at Bachi, this is the one to get.

Not feeling like another burger, we decided on the pork belly steamed buns. Filled with an irresistable duroc pork belly, the meat was cut thick. The skin and fat on the pork melted in your mouth and created such an unctuous flavor. The boiled egg added more richness to the steam bun. The cilantro, scallions, and radish helped balance the rich fatty pork belly. Interestingly, the chinese black vinegarrete and hoisin bbq sauce gave the salty and sweet flavor of the mini sandwich.

As a dessert, and to send us off in a proper manner, we ordered the malasadas. To me, the Portuguese fried donut balls were out of place. To go along with the Asian style burgers, they should have an Asian style dessert. To me, the fried donut balls were a bit stale and not “melt in your mouth” enough. With the help of the delicious coffee gelato though, the dessert was passable. I wouldn’t have minded if it were just the coffee gelato by itself.

Bachi Burger is a Las Vegas pit stop for sure. Next time, I will have to give the decadent Shogun Burger a try. That one has foie gras and is $25. Though not on the strip, it is a perfect spot to eat for lunch on the way in or on the way out of Las Vegas. Even if you want to kind of step away from the busy strip, it’s not far of a drive to go to Bachi Burger. The inside has all tables and no booths. You just find a seat, grab a beer, maybe a nice sake to compliment your burger, and have an awesome meal.

For those who are in Los Angeles, well, Bachi Burger is coming! It will be in West LA, on Sawtelle. Not quite sure when it will open, but I will keep an eye out for you.

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The Spice Table was on my radar last year, and I was fortunate to have finally eaten here. Thanks to Dine LA, I had a chance to try a lot of their items. Bryant Ng, chef and owner of The Spice Table explores his Singaporean roots with traditional dishes. Arguably one of the best new restaurants in recent years, the restaurant has seen great success. Though I am totally late in the game, it was my turn to give The Spice Table a try.

We started things off with Kaya toast. It is a buttered toast filled with coconut jam. This is all dipped in a sauce made with slow a cooked egg, soy sauce, and white pepper. The mixture of the soy sauce and the nearly raw egg made a goop of sludge that went perfectly with the kaya toast. The sweetness of the coconut jam and the saltiness of the sauce came together harmoniously. At times, the soy sauce egg mixture was a bit salty, but that was due to my over dunking. This was a perfect start nonetheless.

Another starter was the peanuts & fried baby anchovies. The wok-fried peanuts were perfect texturally. Again, the soy sauce and spiced sugar made a perfect meld of flavors. The addition of baby anchovies gave the dish a nice accented salty and seafood flavor. The baby anchovies were actually my favorite part. I wish it had more of the anchovies and less of the peanuts.

To me, the grilled beef salad was refreshing. The hangar steak was good but didn’t have much. The addition of the watercress with onion and slightly picked cucumbers made the dish quite crisp and refreshing. The housemade shrimp chips were impressive. I liked that the vinaigrette was light and not over powering.

One of my favorites was the raw yellowtail. Being a fan of sashimi, it was naturally a best-of for me. The fish was fresh and so delicate. The mixture of scallions, sesame, and chilies came together to make an amazing flavor profile. My favorite addition to the dish was the fried ginger and fried shallots. The intense aromatics gave the delicate fish a great taste without overpowering it.

For the table, we shared the Laksa. It wasn’t on the Dine LA menu, but we still wanted to try it. The rice noodles inside were cooked perfectly. The soft yet doughy noodles were a perfect vessel for the flavorful spicy coconut seafood gravy. More of like a thick red curry, the thick sauce went perfectly with the noodles. Mixed in with laksa leaves, shrimp and the perfectly cooked egg, the dish was a complete success.

For me, the duck rice was comfort food for me. Anything consisting of rice with meat over it is comfort food. The ground duck mixed with mushrooms, Asian basil, and crackling was so simple and familiar. The bed of white rice was a perfect blank slate for all the other flavors to come through. The not too spicy peppers chopped up sealed the deal for me. It gave it enough heat and flavor to finish everything off.

The kon loh mee was a great noodle dish. The egg noodles were buoyant and reminded me of noodles in ramen. The mix of choy sum and green onions gave the dish nice color and flavor. With ground pork and rich pork belly char siu, the bowl of noodles was full of porky goodness. Eating everything with a touch of the chili sauce was perfect.

We ended the meal with their kaffir lime custard. With a lychee whipped cream on top, the dessert was tart and sweet. The tartness and acidic flavors helped cleanse all the spices and oily flavors in my mouth. I feel anything with lime or lemon helps neutralize all those Asian spices; perfect end with our meal at The Spice Table.

Bryant Ng has something special here in Little Tokyo. With a modern feel and the vision of bringing everyone together, the restaurant has a great balance of new and old. The food is classic dishes made so perfectly. Gathering here was a perfect idea. Sharing good times over food is my idea of coming together. The Spice Table does it right.

The Spice Table on Urbanspoon

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Like most good restaurants, Din Tai Fung has humble beginnings. In 1958, Bingyi Yang and his wife, workers of a former oil company decided to start their own oil business. After much hardships and trying to make their business grow, they expanded in the 1980s by selling steamed dumplings. Word got out of their delicious dumplings and gained popularity. They soon stopped selling oil and became a full fledged restaurant. Today, Din Tai Fung is an international legend. On March of 2000, they opened up their first Din Tai Fung in California. From then, they opened multiple restaurants around the world, including Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Japan, among others. To me, Din Tai Fung in Arcadia was a place to go for the best Xiao Long Bao — juicy pork dumplings. There always is a wait, unless you get there really early. My wait this time was only about 15 minutes. Score!

First and foremost, we started off with the juicy pork dumplings (XLB). The reason why DTF XLB is superior to others’ is because of the quality and taste. The soup inside is quite perfect. It has the perfect amount of saltiness and pork flavor is unmatched. Not only is the soup good, but the skin does a great job holding everything in. It doesn’t rip or break, and to me, this is the most important factor why the DTF XLB is the best. The worst is when steamed dumplings have a wet bottom due to the steaming process. I love how the ones at DTF are dry all around, yet filled with an amazing soup inside. They are perfect in every way. All other XLB does, and will get compared to the ones at DTF.

We also had to try the shui mai. Being one of my dim sum favorites, I ordered this just to see if it far superior to other shui mai. Also, the presentation with the shrimp on top was spectacular. The flavor was good, and the skin was better than most. After one though, I was already sick of it. I kept finding myself going back to the XLB.

I am an avid fan of beef noodle soup. I wanted to find something that was just as good as the XLB. Though the noodles in the beef noodle soup were good, the broth wasn’t exceptional. It was more oily than it should and the depth of flavor was just not there. My favorite place to get beef noodle soup is still Ding’s Garden in Rowland Heights.

With all this meat, we decided to get a vegetable dish. The green beans were really good, considering they were vegetables. Yuck! All kidding aside, they were snappy, crisp, and tasted really fresh. It wasn’t too oily, and the pure taste of the green beans really shined through.

After our meal, I ordered a taro bun and red bean bun to-go. I did find these quite nice. The mellow flavor of the bun and subtle sweetness of the bean was great. This would have been perfect with a honey green tea from Ten Ren. Of the two though, I think I liked the red bean the best. As a Korean, the red bean just spoke to me more.

Eating at DTF is always a good time. The XLB is a must. Honestly, I do feel at times DTF is a one trick pony. Not to say that their other food items suck, but that the XLB is that superior. Everything is made from scratch and the attention to detail is of most importance. With a rich history and a passion for good food and superior service makes DTF stand out from the rest.

Din Tai Fung ??? Branch 1 on Urbanspoon

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When it comes to Filipino food, there isn’t much selection in Los Angeles. Though more than most cities, my go to Filipino restaurants are slim to none. You have Max’s, though very much a chain, still produce pretty good fried chicken and traditional dishes. One little gem I found in Hollywood is LA Rose Cafe. It is a not so small, not so big Filipino restaurant that doesn’t look like one on the inside or outside. The name hints a small breakfast joint, and the inside looks somewhat like a hotel lobby. The food though, was classic and hit the spot.

To me, tocino and garlic fried rice is comfort food. Though I didn’t grow up in a Filipino home, I still had meat and rice almost daily. The sweet caramelized port goes so well with the garlic rice. The tomato and onion vinegar slaw helped cut down the richness of the pork so perfectly. I just wish it had eggplant in it as well. The egg, mixed in with the rice was a perfect “breakfast” component. This was classically prepared and oh so delicious.

For our “lunch” portion, I had the classic pork adobo. I remember as child, my grandpa would make this whole vat of chopped up pork bits, simmering in a bath of soy sauce and sugar. The end result was a seemingly endless amount of pork and rice. This dish was just like that. The pork wasn’t dry at all form the long cooking process. It kinda just pulled away from each other. It seemed like it was missing something. This dish did need a Korean element — kimchi.

As a treat, we finished off with their bread pudding. This was an impressive and delicious bread pudding to say the least. It was perfect! Soft custard inside, nice crisp crust outside, caramel all over, and strawberries on top – scrumptious. Did I also mention, no raisins FTW! With each bite, I made sure to have some caramel on it. Instead of having whipped cream as the “lube”, it sat on top of a pool of pudding/custard. It was all so sweet and wonderful.

LA Rose Cafe was affordable, and the experience was just pleasant. The servers were so nice and friendly and I just felt comfortable. The decor and design of it all needed a little updating, but I think it gave it a nice charm. I am a sucker for meat and rice, and LA Rose Cafe gave me what I wanted.

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Salo Salo – Lechon is All I Need

by Franklin on June 4, 2013

Most people don’t appreciate Filipino food enough. Of all the Asian cuisine, Filipino food is the most underrated, and for me, is one of my favorites and my least favorites. I know that makes little sense, but bear with it. As Korean, Thai, Chinese, and Japanese food all have their signature items, so does Filipino food. Often grease laden, soy sauce and fish sauce and pastes of some kind are nearly in every dish. Sometimes though, Filipino food is comfort food for me. Visiting my soon to be in-laws during celebrations and holidays, Filipino food is always there. A once foreign genre of food is now something I look forward to all the time. Salo Salo in Walnut is my place to go for some tasty Filipino food.

My favorite thing of all time is lechon. Something about fried pork with skin is amazing. The meat becomes super tender and crispy, and the skin turns into candy. Salo Salo’s lechon sa kawali was just what I was looking for. The wok fried pork with crackling rind was a perfect thing. Definitely not the healthiest thing in the world, but it is a treat. Eating with adobo rice, a stir fried rice with pork and chicken adobo bits, I was completely satisfied. Served with Mang Tomas, a peppery lechon sauce, I was satisfied.

Pinakbet, on paper sounds like an off mix — A mix of vegetables in shrimp paste with pork and shrimp. Honestly though, this stuff with some rice is like comfort food. With bitter melon, string beans, squash, and eggplant, it is more of a vegetable stew than anything else. What makes this dish for me is the fishy shrimp paste mixed in with the eggplant. The squash is nice, but the eggplant to me is the main part of this dish. One word of advice is to not eat the bitter melon. It is called bitter melon for a reason, and I can tell you first hand that it is not meant to be eaten. My curiosity got the best of me — that thing stung my taste buds. I can see though how that hint of bitter melon in the broth helps round out the flavors well. Homemade is always best, but theirs was quite close to it.

Salo Salo is your every day Filipino food restaurant. It reminded me a lot of what Thai Original BBQ is for Thai food. It isn’t your hole in the wall kind of joint, but good food with nice portions is what you get. Whenever I feel like dining out Asian, Filipino food rarely comes to mind. It’s always sushi, Korean BBQ, or Thai food. When I do crave Filipino food though, I always have to have it — I can’t go on without it. Sometimes, it’s the most comforting food of all.

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Night markets in Asia are ridiculous, so I hear. Lines and lines with no end, crowds from should to shoulder, moving along in a slow manner. Food of every kind, from the typical to the not so typical. This is what night markets are, and I think this is what the 626 Night Market brings to Los Angeles — more specifically, Pasadena City Hall. July 28, 2012 was the date, 4PM – 11:30PM was the time. After much debate on whether to go to this event or not, I was conflicted. Do I really want to pay a lot in the hot sun for small bites of food? Do I want to be stuck among a crowd of people? After reading horrible Yelp reviews on the 626 Night Market, I decided it was an obvious choice not to attend. I kept reading, “Worse event ever!”, “Tooooooo crowded.”, “Took 1 hours looking for parking, 5 blocks away!”, “EPIC FAIL!”… The list went on and on. Convinced this was going to suck, we headed to Pasadena anyways. We went to Arclight to catch a movie and decided to catch a flick. “If we have time, we will check out the night market,” we thought to ourselves.

I don’t know how the event was during the day, but when I went for the latter part of the event, it was quite nice! I think it is safe to say this event turned out a lot better. The venue was a lot bigger and accommodating. There were people skateboarding, dancing, walking freely — there was so much space! I didn’t know what everyone was talking about, but it looked like the new venue worked.

Walking around, you can tell the event was near the end. At around 11:00 PM, everyone was hustling and trying to get their last sales in. To do away with excess, most of the vendors were even selling everything for a dollar, if not, nearly half price. Everyone was screaming, “One dollar!”, “Sale!”. I appeared to me that I came at the perfect time. Everyone was desparate to sell everything, and I took advantage. I got some awesome fried french toast donuts for cheap. I got some expensive yakitori, $3 a stick — they threw in an extra stick for us. I even got to sample some of the free stuff too. The best was the bowl of noodles for a dollar. It was a cream based sauce with onions and nori strips on top. The massago inside gave it a nice familiar flavor. Tasty for a dollar, not for $5 though.

It was fun walking around at night and seeing all the food vendors. We got some real food at the Lobsta Truck. Though there were other truck at the event, Lobsta Truck was the best one. Honestly, the reviews on Yelp are crap. Those reflect the first event. There was no way of predicting how many people would show up to it. They learned from their mistakes and made this one a spectacular one. Huge space was what they were looking for, and that is what they got. The thing about the food here is, it is a luck of the lottery. Since most of the vendors are not really popular, you don’t quite know if a certain booth will have good food or not. You just have to trust your gut, and stomach and hope for the best. I can say the second time around was an EPIC WIN. I look forward to the next one.

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How often do I eat Taiwanese food? Not often. When I heard of SimBaLa in Rowland Heights, I made it my duty to give it a try. Looking at the picture of the sausage and rice online, I was looking forward to trying this place. Sometimes, going into foreign restaurants scare me, but this time around was more exciting. I actually tried going one day, but sadly it was closed. For some reason, they are closed on Tuesdays. The second time around, we were successful. Walking in already knowing what to order, we were ready to eat!

Of course, I ordered the sausage and rice. I saw it all over yelp and for all I knew, Simbala was the sausage and rice place. Their sausage, though sweeter than I though, was great with the rice. Sometimes, sausage and rice is all I need. The sausage and rice mix was great together, and the corn slurry mix just added to the texture. This is what I came for, and it was almost exactly what I expected.

I ordered the beef soup because it seemed like everyone was ordering it. Honestly, most people will not like this. At first sniff, it smelled terrible. Food does not smell like this. The spices they use for the base was strong and spicy. It had a sour smell that I could not quite get used to — think of hot smelly feet. Being brave, and knowing that it was actually tastier than it smelled, I took a bite. The noodles inside were normal, but the beef was the star. The beef cooked in that broth made is so tender and beefy. If you get over the smell, the taste is quite unique and spectacular.

When you think of pancakes, the thought of oysters don’t really come into play. Interestingly, Simbala serves up a mean oyster pancake, but it isn’t quite what you think. Their oyster pancake is a large circular fried egg mixture with whole oysters inside. The make it a little under cooked so that its runny on the inside. The oysters are somewhat cooked, but somewhat in its raw state. The flavor of eggs, onions, and oysters was an interesting mix, but it worked! Oysters are such a delicate flavor, but this dish would have been perfect with some hot sauce.

We ended the meal with some milk pudding iced tea. I mean, it wasn’t as good as Half & Half, but still good. Simbala was an interesting and new experience. The sausage and rice is what I came for, but I got so much more than what I expected. Some of the flavors were bold, some were familiar. At any rate, Simbala was a perfect spot to give Taiwanese cuisine a try.

Simbala Restaurant ??? on Urbanspoon

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Palm’s Thai restaurant wasn’t what I expected at all. Their infatuation with Elivs itself is weird to me. No they are not in Thai Town, but yes they are in Hollywood. Maybe the Hollywood in them gives them the urge and need to be a little out there. Hollywood is full of surprises, and this is clearly one of them. A Thai Elvis in Hollywood I guess shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. Aside from the wacky, their food is what is most important. This is a food blog after all.

I ordered the Kee Mau Noodle. It is a rice noodle pan fried in chili, bell peppers, basil leaves, tomato, and beef slices. It is similar to pad see ew but spicier, and in my opinion better. The spicy taste really popped in this dish and the flavors worked perfectly. Pouring some of the vinegary pepper juice from the condiments tray helped cut the greasiness and added some tang. It’s the only way to eat this stuff if you ask me.

I was feeling like curry and rice so I ordered the green curry. I already had the spice from the noodles, so this mellow and sweet curry was perfect to tame the spiciness. Made with coconut milk, the curry was really sweet, maybe too sweet. It had bamboo shoots, bell peppers, basil leaves, and chicken. The best part were the bamboo shoots. They were fresh and crisp and some of the best bamboo shoots I ever had — I’m not even a bamboo shoots loving kind of guy, but these were great. I would have liked less bell peppers and more basil, but this still was a great green curry. The taste is so complex and flavorful. Eating this with rice, I always think to myself that this is all I need to survive.

Palm’s Thai Restaurant was an interesting experience. Coming here late at night, it was fun to be here. I was sad to not have experienced the live performances by Asian Elvis himself, but it was still a fun vibe. The dining area is large and I can only imagine how crazy it gets with a full house with live Elvis music playing. Valet parking is 2 bucks, and is indoors — not bad for Hollywood and a little convenience. All in all, it was a good Thai restaurant — next time, I’m coming for the show.

Palms Thai on Urbanspoon

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Dim Sum Express – Get Your Shui Mai and Pork Buns Really Fast

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Jazz Cat Cafe – Jammin’ Asian Style

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The San Gabriel Valley has an over population of Asian cuisine. Anything you are in the mood for, or anything you can think of, it’s available for you. At the city of Industry, there is Jazz Cat Cafe. This is a shabu shabu restaurant that has great soup bases along with other popular side items. […]

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Cha Cha Chili – Korean Tacos And Burritos Test My Patience

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