fried

Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. – I’m Guilty

by Franklin on February 4, 2015

It is always good to see a somewhat popular restaurant in Monterey Park that isn’t Chinese or Asian. Even though Tokyo Fried Chicken Company suggests something Asian, I still think of it as southern fried chicken. Though it may have some Japanese influences, it is all about the fried chicken here. Fried chicken was the main event today, and we had a feast indeed.

We started things off with chicken skins. When I saw that on the menu, I knew I needed to have it. I remember as a kid, I was forced to throw the chicken skin away when eating KFC or Pioneer Chicken — my dad was kind of a health nut. Well, I got my revenge with these fried chicken skins. The basket was full of crunchies, almost like a basket of chicharon, I was dipping them and popping them in my mouth. They were delicious and such a guilty pleasure.

The sauces were key. The ponzu was much needed as it did a good job in cutting the fat of the fried goodness. The acidic and the fatty chicken was a great mixture. I wasn’t really a fan of the sweet soy sauce though.

The chicken was the main dish, but sadly the chicken wasn’t the main event. I have had my share of fried chicken (guilty), but their chicken was very different in a way not pleasing to my palate. As a savory and salty lover, their chicken was a bit on the sweet side. The sweetness was a bit off-putting. Even the chicken was a bit tough and seemed like it was more chuncky than juicy. The batter was crunchy though and had good flavors.

Mac and cheese with fried chicken go together like mac, and cheese. Their was quite delicious with the nori on top. The cheesy dish combined with the seafoody seaweed was a nice mix. It was cheesy and macy — delicious!

Dessert was made possible by Quenelle of Burbank. The push pops orange creamsicle of manderine orange and vanilla bean was nostalgic to the max. I remember eating the Flintstone push pops as a kid, and these were just delicious. The ice cream bar, apple pie a la mode was delicious as well. The apple pie ice cream, brown butter glaze, and graham cracker strusel crust was exactly what I imagined. If you were to make an apple strusel crisp pie into an ice cream bar, this would be it. The ice cream was a perfect ending to our fried chicken dinner.

Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. on Urbanspoon

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The Hat (Alhambra) – OG Pastrami

by Franklin on April 24, 2013

To me, The Hat is that place that I remember most. As I mentioned in my blog about The Hat in Monterey Park, it is one of the first food items I remember as a child. Stuff like that is powerful. I’m not talking about remembering my first happy meal or cheeseburger from Mc Donald’s. I’m talking about my first real burger, or real pastrami. For all I knew, the Hat in Monterey Park was the first. Growing up, I realized the OG, the orignal Hat was in Alhambra. A small stand on the north west corner of Valley and Garfield, The Hat is a classic. Started in 1951, Southern California residents have been enjoying their World Famous Pastrami since then.

Your with your friends? Get the chili cheese fries and pastrami dip. Your with a few of your friends? Get the chili cheese fries, wet fries (gravy on the side), pastrami dip, and pastrami burger. And do share a bag of large onion rings. Your by yourself, home alone after a long/bad day? Get the chili cheese fries with pickles and pastrami on top. Just make sure to take a hot shower right after. Whatever the occasion, The Hat is a stop you must take. If you want the OG, the Original, head to Garfield and Valley.

Hat on Urbanspoon

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You are hungry, and you don’t have much money, I know. Same here. A trip to Subway seems too blah, and to tell you the truth, that stuff is too healthy. Eating that submarine sandwich, hold the mayo and cheese, one can feel their heart pumping more efficiently. No. You want something fried, deep fried. You want that gold and light crispy battered protein. If its fried, it has to be salty too. It’s a perfect recipe for high blood pressure. Don’t worry though — it’s delicious. Mama’s Lu in Monterey Park is just the place for this stuff. Serving up good Chinese food, fried is the way to go here.

Spicy salt is the best invention ever. Salty and spicy, the salt pepper chicken wings is every man’s dream. Chicken wings, salty, fried is all we really need in our diet. Their batter is crispy and the flavor is just perfect. Though a little chicken fatty, cutting the fat with a little hot sauce does the trick.

Their spicy salt pork chops are just as delicious. Though it was a bit on the salty side, the batter and crisp of the fried exterior is perfect. The meaty pork goodness on the inside was a bit skimp, but that just made room for more fried batter crunch. It is a tough decision to choose between the pork chops and the chicken wings, so ordering both was the correct protocol.

The beef wraps are a Chinese food staple. I guess I should say, the green onion pancake is. With tasty meed inside, this was even better. Filled with cilantro as well, each bite had a lot of flavor. The beef in its sauce was rich, as well as the fried dough wrapping. The cilantro gave it a nice flavor to balance it all out and helped cut the richness.

It isn’t every day I get to eat Xiao Long Bao. I don’t eat is as much as I should. Dumplings wise, I eat more of the pot stickers and Korean Mandoo kind — pan fried mostly. The Xiao Long bao (pork dumplings) was quite juicy — the steaming process helped keep all the juices in. I never been to the legendary Din Tai Fung in Arcadia due to obvious reasons (I hate waiting). I am sure they make dang good XLB. Mama’s Lu was decent, but I guess one thing they can work on is the dough.

Mama’s Lu is one of my favorites in the SGV. Fried everything is the motto, and a little Xiao Long Bao to keep things fresh. There is a wait most nights, and it is cash only — like all great Chinese restaurants. The atmosphere is cleaner and friendlier than most. A lot, if not most of the items are quite inexpensive, which is another plus. I would love to bring my friends and family and just have a complete feast on the cheap. Until DTF’s lines die down, Mama’s Lu will hold me over until then.

Mama's Lu Dumpling House on Urbanspoon

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Knott’s Berry Farm is know for many things. It really was a farm back in the day — it’s not just a name. Today, kids know it for Snoopy, teens seek thrills on their roller coasters, and adults and old folks know Knott’s for their jams. For me, I am all about the food. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner is a popular spot for people who want fried chicken. The country style interior and waitresses in olden day attire gives Mrs. Knott’s Chicken a certain charm you can’t get anywhere else. Once you enter (possibly after waiting an hour), you are taken back to when Knott’s Berry Farm first opened. It wasn’t about roller coasters, Snoopy, or fun in the sun all access passes. It was all about food.

I may come here for one thing, and one thing only — their home made biscuits! They are tiny little biscuits wrapped in a cloth napkin. They come on a plate by about 10 to 12 at a time. They are warm and fluffy, right out of the oven. I usually put boysenberry jam on it, and is probably the only time I get to eat that delicious jam. I usually over do it and eat about 3 before the the main course. I can eat these with jam all day, and I would be full and satisfied. If you don’t come here for their chicken, you definitely need to come here for the biscuits.

I always get the fried chicken. Why wouldn’t I? They made their mark on this stuff — I have to order it. I got mine with corn, mashed potatoes and gravy, and cabbage with ham. Their chicken is light and the batter isn’t too overwhelming. The seasoning isn’t too overdone either and they llet the juicy chicken shine on its own. The sides were nothing special, though it was a good accompaniment to the chicken. If their fried chicken was a lot more crispy, it would probably be the best fried chicken ever.

With the chicken dinner, you get a choice of chicken noodle soup or rhubarb. At the time, I didn’t know what rhubarb was, so I went with the chicken noodle. Though not a fan of chicken noodle soup, this was probably the best I ever had. Thicker than normal, the chicken broth was hearty and delicious. I wouldn’t mind having a bowl of this when I’m sick, or any regular day for that matter. This was thick and creamy like a chowder more than just soup. Maybe that is why I liked it so much.

At the end, I treated myself to a huge slice of boysenberry pie. Boysenberry is a cross between a blackberry, loganberry, and raspberry. Walter Knott’s, owner of Knott’s Berry Farm, and his partner were responsible for cultivating and growing the boysenberry. Without the help of Walter Knotts and coining the name boysenberry, none of these roller coasters and Snoopy might not even exist today. More importantly, the boysenberry wouldn’t have existed, and the jam, and the pie, all of it might not have been around. That is one important berry. The berry is tart like raspberry but sweet like a blackberry. The pie is warm and the boysenberry filling has a perfect tart and sweet balance. A perfect ending to a great country style meal.

Knott’s Berry Farm is special in that everything associated with it has no credit to food, but food deserves all the credit. The restaurant and pie business grew to Knott’s Berry Farm, and it is great to see that food is the driving force for a business. It is a piece of history that I am happy to take part in, though it is through the consumption of fried chicken. Others may see Knott’s Berry Farm as a theme park, but all I see is pies, biscuits, jam, and fried chicken.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner on Urbanspoon

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Laguna Beach is one of my favorite beach cities. The vibe there is fun and exciting, and you get a sense of history there. One of my favorite spots to grab a bite is at Nick’s Laguna Beach. The decor, menu, and vibe is all very new school among this classic beach city. Centered around the bar, Nick’s is definitely not just a restaurant, but a gastropub located right on South Coast HWY. If you are here for just drinks late at night, or lunch during the sunny day, you are at the right place.

These can possibly be the best deviled eggs I ever had. I know it’s not saying much, but it’s something. The filling had bits of crunchy onion, and was seasoned perfectly. Nothing about the taste was off or imbalanced. It was delicious all around. Frying deviled eggs was a brilliant idea. Eggs in general are soft and the filling is mushy. Frying the eggs, only the egg whites gave it that crunch it needed. Mixed with the creamy filling, it was a nice contrast in textures and taste — a perfect appetizer.

The fried asparagus was not one of my favorites. Yes, it was nicely cooked and the vegetable was fresh as ever, but the spears in itself weren’t special. The batter was very greasy and left my fingers too oily. Without the help of their home made ranch dressing, these wouldn’t have had a second chance.

Their blackened halibut sandwich is one of my favorite fish sandwiches — Imagine the Filet-o-Fish, but replace every ingredient with the best there is. This sandwich included crunchy cabbage slaw, carrots, greens, tomatoes, and fried onion strings. The brioche bun seemed like it was freshly baked and the house made tartar sauce made all the difference. The halibut was perfectly seasoned and meaty. Their fries were addicting, especially dipping it in their home made ranch dipping sauce. Yeah, though could have gone the easy route and just bought the ranch, but they make it themselves. It was a bit on the salty side, which is probably why I liked it so much. The difference was night and day. The thought of hoping it could be a juicy burger didn’t cross my mind once. This was a perfect sandwich and fries combination.

Nick’s is one of my go to spots when I am in Laguna Beach. Being one of my personal favorite beaches in Orange County, I am glad the food is reflective of the area. Fresh and delicious food in a city known for having a beautiful beach scene is what I am all about. What is more perfect than having a nice meal walking distance from the beach in the best weather anyone can ask for. This is the good life.

Nick's Laguna Beach on Urbanspoon

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So a donut shop is a donut shop is a donut shop right?  Donuts from this mom and pop shop is the same as this other one.  Well, in this case, no.  First of all, what kind of donut shop opens only at 9PM?  Kind of sketchy right? On weekends, this Disneyland neighbor opens at 9PM, all the way through the morning till before noon.  What kind of donut shop is this?  Maybe it’s all a front and it actually is a secret CIA hub, or maybe some kind of crack dealing operation.  No, probably not.  Though, the crack dealing operation accusation is only half false.

So what are all these people in cars, and people standing around waiting for?  They all get one thing, the blueberry donut.  Yes, I am one of many who made it an event to wait over 2 hours for donuts.  Before you start to judge me, I would like to say that “everyone was doing it”.

It all started with a tip I got saying that the drive through window is faster.  All lies!  I waited and waited, I was basically stuck.  Not by any means of a disabled car or a road block, but all because of me and my stubbornness. 45 minutes in, I couldn’t leave.  I could have just left, cut my losses and be comfortable at home.  I am the type of person who finishes what I started.  In the end of it all, it was all worth it.

There is no way I am waiting this long and just getting 1 dozen.  I got 2 dozen and a croissant sandwich.  Yeah, random, I got a sandwich too.  I wanted to get more than just donuts.  This was nothing compared to the car behind us who ordered 5 dozen. Yes, if you are thinking crack, we are on the same page.

You get your donuts, in a pizza box of all things.  It is warm and straight right out of the fryer.  I took a bite, and all the stresses of waiting were gone.  It was so crispy on the outside and cakey on the inside.  The donut wasn’t overly sweet and the blueberry flavor was amazing. This tops all other donuts and is in a class of its own.  The best donut I ever had?  Maybe.  Even leftover days later were nice after a little trip to the toaster oven.  Amazing I tell you.  Amazing.

Some people might be turned off by the long lines and wait.  I agree, it’s idiotic and ridiculous to wait that long for donuts. But I promise, after the seemingly never ending wait, there is a glorious donut(s) with your name on it.

M & M Donuts on Urbanspoon

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Slater’s 50/50 – A Pig and a Cow have a Baby

by Franklin on February 18, 2011


Imagine you have in front of you a perfect burger. What condiments are on it? Is the meat cooked rare or medium rare?  You also got to have cheese right?  Is there bacon?  At Slater’s you can have any of that.  This burger joint / bar lets you fill out a form (pencil and paper) and choose from different patty sizes, cheeses, sauces, and extra condiments. They even let you choose what kind of bread you can have that on. With all these combinations, you can have any burger you want, any way you want it. Their beer selection is pretty impressive as well. Having that perfect burger and the perfect brew to go with it is sometimes a difficult endeavor for some.  At Slaters 50/50, it is all there.

What makes this place special is what they do with their patties. You may be wondering to yourself, what is that 50/50 for? The 50/50 is their specialty patty made with 50% ground beef, and 50% ground bacon. You add that with their never ending list of condiments, and you have yourself a hamburger you won’t forget. The meat has that familiar bacon taste; it’s almost like bacon flavored hamburger patty. I think the patty itself won’t be what it is without the condiments.

As for the best burger combination, wrap your taste buds around this one — Take a 2/3 lbs. 50/50 patty on white bread, goat cheese, garlic aioli, sprouts, baby greens, grilled onions, and an over easy egg. Perhaps even adding thick cut bacon on a 50/50 burger would be in the cards (Yes, bacon on top of a bacon infused burger patty.). Well, remember that perfect burger I was talking about before? This should come in pretty close to that for any burger lover.

For some odd and unexplainable reason, some might say this is a bit of over-kill. “Who would want ground bacon in my patty?”, they would ask. For purists, they have a 100% beef patty option. The pure beef is just as good, especially for those who like their patties rare — with that said, the 50/50 is a must for first timers. Where else can you get something like that?

A good burger can’t be enjoyed without some kind of sides — Slater’s got that covered. Fries (sweet potato and regular), fried artichokes, fried pickle chips, vampire dip (melted garlic cheese and fried pita bread), bacon mac and cheese, and the list goes on. Other than the fries and sweet potato fries, the other appetizers seem a bit greasy.  You can’t go wrong with a burger and fries anyways right?  The bacon mac and cheese was bacon(ful), but lacked that cheesiness that everyone loves about mac and cheese. Coming here, stick with what they are good at and known for — their burgers.

If you are in the Anaheim Hills area in California, stop by for lunch or dinner.  They are always friendly and love serving new customers.  This establishment keep growing in popularity by the minute — it is clear as to why this is.  They give you a burger mixed in with arguable one of the best cures meats in the world, and let you have it any way you would like.  Add with some great sides and a plethora of exotic beers and you got yourself a pretty perfect meal.

Slater's 50/50 Burgers By Design on Urbanspoon

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