Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine Expands Menu with Hokkienese Food and More

When Little London Fish and Chips first converted into Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine, they were only serving a small menu of Kalimantan style Indonesian and Chinese Indonesian food. Now, they've expanded the menu considerably, and I am most excited for the Hokkianese noodles on the first page.

My dad grew up in Medan, where the largest Chinese population are Hokkianese, and they are very proud of their food. Their noodles, especially. When my aunt has a layover in LA coming from Indonesia, she would ask for kwetiauw (large, flat noodles like the ones used in the Thai Pad See Ew). Never mind that she was just in Indonesia, that's still what she wants to eat! I'm partial to Kwetiauw Sirem, where the noodles are topped with a type of gravy, and Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine has it! 

What I had to get: Mi Karet Hokkian
Borneo serves a thick, curly, chewy style of noodles called "Mi Karet' which literally means "rubber noodle."
The only times I've had this style of noodle is at a Hokkianese hole in the wall in Jakarta. Borneo serves this noodle in a few different preparations, but of course I have to get the Hokkian style, topped with char siu, chicken and mushroom, egg, etc. The other preparations include Hakka style mi karet, which has different toppings. 

The noodles are served with a small bowl of chicken broth on the side, which you can add to your noodle to your own taste. The mi karet here was quite good, pretty close to what I had in Jakarta! Many complained that the food here tasted just like Chinese food. Well, don't get the Mi Hokkian, then, because it is Chinese food. But if you don't mind that, this is a great bowl of noodles!

If you want something more Southeast Asian on the new menu, they are also serving Borneo style laksa, a spicy curry noodle soup. We tried the laksa with shrimp:
The broth was spicy and packs a lot of flavor! This style is pretty close to the Singaporean laksa (although the noodle type and what they put in the soup differs) and may be one of the best versions in town.

Borneo Kalimantan Cuisine
19 S Garfield Ave
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 282-4477
Little London Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 25, 2013

Planned Parenthood's Cocktail Pairing at The Corner Door

Planned Parenthood is one of the more controversial nonprofit organizations, sadly. Each year, PPLA Food Fare receives their share of anti-abortion protesters in front of their event, even though the majority of PPLA's services (97%) include cancer screenings, STD treatments and testings, and contraceptive services.

PPLA Food Fare is the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year. It started 34 years ago with a simple cooking demo from Julia Child but now draws 1500 attendees to partake in good food and wine from over 100 vendors (see my recap of the 2011 Food Fare). The Food Fare is returning to Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Thursday March 7th. There are two sessions. The daytime session rungs from 10:30am-2pm ($150) and the evening session, which usually have more restaurants participating than the daytime one, runs from 6:30-9:30pm ($225). You can buy tickets on their website or by calling (213) 284-3200x3700.

There are many great restaurants participating including Angelini Osteria, Drago Centro, the new Hart and The Hunter, Joe's Restaurant, and The Corner Door. Libations will be offered by The Beer Chicks, La Fenetre Winery, and more. To promote the PPLA Food Fare, I was invited to a cocktail paired meal at The Corner Door in Culver City. This new restaurant has become a very popular destination in Culver City, with waits up to an hour for a table at dinner time.

The chef at The Corner Door is Luke Reyes, who moved from from Massachussetts to work for Ludo Lefebvre. Since then he had been Chef de Cuisine at Gorbals, then Michael Mina, and most recently, Tasting Kitchen.

Behind the bar program is Beau du Bois. Beau has opened a few bars in the LA area, including MB Post.

The restaurant doesn't want to call itself gastropub because the term has been misused in LA lately. Instead, they emphasize that they offer a "laid back", ingredient driven menu.
olives and rosemary
Bread is made in house, including the foccacia with olive, red onion, rosemary

We started our pairing with Lettuces and Avocado, Bayley Hazen blue cheese, watermelon radish, peppercorn.
The salad has a citrus dressing and was paired with King's Assassin (gin, blanc sweet vermouth, Salers, Cocchi Americano, Cointreau).

The King's Assassin is a play on Negroni with a light, bright, vegetal quality from the Salers, which pairs well with the citrus in the salad. This cocktail is nicely balanced, strong but easy to drink.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room Moves In To The Thompson Hotel (Beverly Hills)

Time flies and apparently it's been over three years since I went to BondSt at The Thompson Hotel for the first time. Now, the restaurant has been replaced with an entirely new concept, Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room. I hardly even recognized the space, which now has an enclosed patio area.Gone are the sushi and Japanese dishes, although Caulfield's "American" concept also encompasses crudo, pasta dishes, and bincho charcoal grilled meats.

Here's what I tried:
Pacific yellowtail crudo, pear, radish, coconut milk, finger lime, ginger ($16).

I like the flavor combination and the crunchiness of the fresh pear, but I did think the pear slices were a bit too big compared to the yellowtail and it covered up the flavor of the fish.

Burrata, butternut squash, dried figs and capers, balsamic vinegar, basil ($12)
This appetizer combined some nice ingredients with the creamy burrata and the sweet roasted squash.

Little angel pasta filled with artichoke, arugula and peas with butter, poppy seeds, Montasio cheese ($24)

From the binchotan grill: Marinated skirt steak, fingerling yams, soy, ginger, anticucho sauce ($31)
I love a skirt steak done right and this was one. Cooked just right so that it's still juicy and tender, this steak had a really nice flavor.

Cocktails here are the products of Jeremy Back, formerly of City Tavern, and are a definite improvement over what was offered at this hotel before. Expect different shrubs, like the one used in the Kentucky Kiwi (Pure Kentucky XO whisky, kiwi shrub, Bitter Truth Boston bitters, $13).

The most interesting one is perhaps the Bar & Dining Room (Maestro Dobel, fig shrub, cracked black pepper foam, finished with prosciutto dust, $15)
Don't be scared away by the pepper and prosciutto. While they gave a subtle savoriness, they don't overwhelm the drink.

For desserts, we decided to go light with the fruit-based desserts. We tried the roasted pear with ginger gelato, which I really enjoyed. Especially the ginger gelato part!
Pear Dessert

Strawberry Pistachio is a popular one that was recommended by our server and it was certainly a good pairing.
Caulfield's brings a breath of fresh air to The Thompson Hotel. I liked what Brian Redzikowski was trying to do at Bond St previously but he was still restricted by what the hotel chain wanted Bond St to serve. Caulfield's is a much livelier and "hip" spot with a more relevant menu. If street parking was easier to find or valet parking was cheaper, I would even come here for Jeremy Back's cocktails.

Caulfield's Bar and Dining Room
9360 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 388-6860
Caulfield's on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: this meal was hosted

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Trivia Nights And a Piece of History: Tam O'Shanter

There are many notable things about Tam O'Shanter in Atwater Village. It's one of the very few Scottish restaurants in town (although some restaurant guide sites will list it under "Irish") and it is also the oldest restaurant in LA that's been constantly owned by a single family (established in 1922 by Lawry's). They were there when Atwater Village had nothing.

Tam O'Shanter
Now it no longer functions as an inn, but the restaurant maintains its old world charm.
 On Tuesdays and Thursdays they also hold Trivia Nights at the bar area hosted by Geeks Who Drink, so I came in to try my hand at trivia while trying out Tam's for the first time. While waiting for the trivia to start, we had some drinks. The Moscow Mule is quite popular here, served in these cool mugs with Cock & Bull ginger beer, and a deal at $7.

The beer list at Tam's is actually quite good as well, with the recently revamped bar. There are 11 beers on draft featuring Brouwerij West, Stone, Great Divide, etc, and quite a few bottled beers.

So, the trivia is done by filling out your answers in these papers each round. Eating LA and I had such a hard time with just the two of us on our team. I didn't get any of the sports questions right! Pat did much better with the music and film questions, but I was jut pretty much useless.

There are two teams who apparently go every week and they tend to take first and second place each time. Next time I'll bring a bigger and more well rounded team!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Theorem: An Experiment in Coffee Tasting by Portola Coffee Lab

Theorem is a unique experience in craft coffee devised by Portola Coffee Lab in Costa Mesa. Once an hour in the late afternoons, the small room with a counter seating only six people opens up for a set menu of one of a kind coffee drinks. You can call or go on their website for reservation.

They want you to focus on the experience so no camera or phone is allowed during the tasting. I only managed to take a photo of the menu before they told me to put my camera away! Though they did let me take quick photos of the setup in between mine and the next tasting.

The menu lists four items and you can order any three for $20.
I started with an Italiano served with candied lemon. This was a play on how Italianos used to be served. Back in the day tap water tasted very mineral-y, so people tend to use lemon rind to get rid of that taste and the oil.

Next is an amazing cappuccino made using milk with 6% butterfat. This milk has a texture like no milk I've had before and it makes for an incredible cappuccino.

The Coffee Sour is an incredible non-alcoholic coffee cocktail made with a cold brew, lemon, orange flower water, orgeat, and honey. When I tasted it I couldn't even tell there was coffee in it, just a balanced, complex mocktail.

The "Enhanced Espresso" must be ordered for the whole table (for $20). Lucky for me someone there was generous enough to order it. The enhanced espresso is coffee infused with various herbs and fruits using a vac-pot (reminiscent of the Rooibos cocktail I had at The Aviary in Chicago).
This one was an extraction of cloves, cinnamon, dried cherries, almond, mint, etc.

A peek into the back room held promise for future tastings. A barrel for aging ... alcoholic coffee cocktails, perhaps?

3313 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(949) 284-0596
Theorem on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 15, 2013

Casa Del Mar's New Lobby Lounge Bites, Barrel Aged Cocktails

Casa Del Mar has been elevating their cocktail program under the radar, inviting renowned bartenders locally and internationally to train their staff and help with new menus. One of the latest such consultant is LA's own Aidan Demarest.

Not only that, now you can age your own 5 liters of cocktails with your name or logo etched into the barrel! Choose from Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Vesper, or consult with the bartenders for your own. Once you finish the contents, you get to take the barrel home as a keepsake. The pricing for this starts around $500 per barrel (it depends on the spirits you use).

Barrel Aged Cocktail
I tried their Barrel aged Vieux Carree (Hudson rye whiskey, Tariquet Armagnac VS, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters, aged 8 1/2 weeks in new American white oak barrels).

The lead bartender, Raymond, has also been coming up with fun new cocktails using fresh produce, like the
Smoky Beets (Alipus mezcal, fresh beet puree, lime juice, Ras El Hanout). This may be my favorite out of the cocktails I tried. The beet flavor wasn't overpowering and the ras el hanout is a unique touch.
Beet Cocktail

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

ScotsFest at The Queen Mary, Feb 16-17

ScotsFest is returning to the Queen Mary in Long Beach this weekend, Saturday-Sunday February 16-17.

There will be a full day of Highland Games competition where you can watch strong men and women throw stones, hammers, cabers, and other ridiculously heavy things over long distances or high up in the air! The people throwing heavy things and the people in costumes will probably not be in the same group, though.

There's also competition for traditional Highland dancing like this Sword Dance from the 15th century, which I got to watch during the ScotsFest preview last week.

The whisky tasting ($15) will feature the lineup from the Edrington Group including The Black Grouse (the smokier version of Famous Grouse), The Macallan Fine Oak series, and Highland Park. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

V-Day? Pfft. Go to Big Bar's Bollywood Prom Instead!

They got me with the promise of a 30-ft elephant. I don't know how Big Bar (which is really not big) is going to fit a 30-ft elephant and a whole party underneath it, but this I have got to see. Everything else sounds much better than an overpriced prix fixe dinner somewhere, anyway.

So, on February 14, head over to Big Bar in Los Feliz for: Henna, eye ball reader (what?), photobooth, and a custom gin and tonic bar.

They will also be offering bites like samosas, kabobs, and a special "far east" inspired cocktail menu ($10 each):
  • Rosie Loves Andy (Bombay Sapphire East, lime, cucumber, rose)
  • Mango Lassi Fizz (Bacardi 1909, Galliano, mango, lassi)
  • Star of India( Bacardi Oakheart, Grey Goose Pear, Martini Rossi Bianco, bubbles)
  • Kashmir Old Fashioned (Masala Chai infused Dewars, date syrup, Miracle Mile orange bitters)
There's no cover charge, just show up and have fun!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Littlefork, Hollywood's New Food and Cocktail Gem

The new Littlefork in Hollywood brings Chef Jason Travi back on the dining scene after Fraiche, with a bar program helmed by Brian Butler (Sunny Spot) and Dino Balocchi, formerly of Longman and Eagle in Chicago. With my fond memories of Longman and Eagle's cocktails, I was pretty excited about Dino moving here! The exterior of Littlefork was a bit out of place - a white corner building with a small "littlefork" painted on the wall - but the inside is a beautiful bar and a spacious, elegant dining room.


Chef Travi makes his own pickles here, and he really goes all out. As you walk in to the restaurant, take a look to your right, behind the hostess stand. There's a whole wall of pickle jars.
From pickled beets to brussels sprouts (my favorite!), he pickles them all.

The cocktail menu here features house-made bitters, house-made tonic and ginger beer (cocktails are $11 each). The El Perdido is made with tequila, lime, chartreuse, cocchi americano, and the house-made strawberry chile bitters.
The house-made ginger beer makes an appearance in the Thai Town Mule (gin, lime, thai basil, peppercorn, house ginger beer). The “Gin and Tonic”'s flavor profile moves away from the classic with the addition of ginger and bonal.

A fun appetizer for the table is the Maple eggs with crispy bacon
Maple Bacon Egg
A little taste of breakfast in egg-shaped cups. No, they're not real egg shells. Yes, I had two of these.

Our multi-course tasting meal continues with the Chowder: clams, bacon, oyster crackers
Clam Chowder
served with a mini bottle of tabasco!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Falling In Love with Longman & Eagle (Chicago, IL)

It was our third meal of the night, but a Michelin-starred gastropub wasn't something we wanted to pass up. In the end, we're so glad we went, because we fell in love with Longman and Eagle.


The cocktails here are excellent and they're only $8 each. I love Chicago! We drank quite a bit that night. There were $2 special Evan Williams shots around the table and conbon found her ultimate Old Fashioned.
That's my excuse for not really remembering what cocktails I had, but I am guessing this was the La Perla with tequila, Cocchi Americano, grapefruit, and habanero shrub.

We decided to just share a few plates since we were already full, and started healthy with the roasted cauliflower with beluga lentil and yogurt curry sauce

Steak and edamame with lobster tater tots. Lobster tater tots!

The desserts sound particularly enticing here. The first was a lightly savory dessert: warm gruyere donuts, fig jam, hazelnut mascarpone, wild flower honey ($9)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Honey, Bees, and Outdoor Dinner at Fairmont Newport

It's a little known fact that some of the Fairmont hotels have started honey bee hives on their rooftops, wherever it was possible. This has included the Fairmont in Newport Beach, Seattle, and San Francisco (where you can also try the honey beers made by a local brewery with their honey). I was invited to a dinner at Fairmont Newport a few months ago and got to check out the rooftop bees with a view of the sunset! The hives at Fairmont Newport and maintained and harvested with the help of Backyard Bees.

Rooftop bee hives
We had a honey tasting in the small room on the rooftop. Little did I know just how different honey can taste, until you compare two side by side. The black pan was harvested from these hives in June. This early summer honey is more floral than the August harvest. Both of them were excellent, by the way, and I'm glad they gave us a little jar to take home.
After some cocktails and arancini, we had an al fresco dinner in their beautiful garden, a picture perfect spot for a small wedding with the white gazebo in the back.

Fairmont Newport

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