Showing posts with label lamb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lamb. Show all posts

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Xi'An Hand Pulled Noodles at Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe (Boston, MA)

I've tried a few Chinese restaurants in the Boston area, and I wasn't really wowed by any of them. They're fine and would satisfy cravings, but there wasn't really many shops that specialize in any particular thing. But I kept reading about Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe, and I thought, this would be it. Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe, despite the name, really specializes in Xi'An style hand pulled noodles, also known as biang biang noodles.
Gene's Flatbread
The owner, Gene Wu, hand pulls the noodles every morning. There are a variety of noodle dishes you can try with the hand pulled noodles, but the crowd favorite seems to be the #9, served with cumin lamb. You'd also want to get a side of the cumin lamb skewer for $1.50 each.

The #9 dish consists of a base of chili oil, then hand pulled noodles, thin slices of cumin-seasoned lamb and topped with fresh bean sprouts, carrots, and cilantro.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hall of Famer Pizza at Santarpio's (East Boston, MA)

Established in 1903 (over 111 years ago!). Inducted to the Boston Hall of Fame. Voted Best of Boston at least 9 times. Who else can claim all of those but Santarpio's Pizza? While East Boston remains relatively undeveloped, this is one of the reasons people travel to Eastie.

The pizza at Santarpio's is not like other styles you've had. You can call it more "rustic" with a thicker crust and the Italian cheese baked on top of the toppings.

Santarpio's

The housemade sausage and garlic are popular toppings, but I also like the anchovies that come with The Works. If you like spicy, though, you have to try the pickled hot cherry peppers! The peppers that come with The Works are just green peppers, so remember to ask for the HOT peppers. If you don't want those on your pizza, you can get them with the bbq'd meats also.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 6 LA Bites in 2013

It's almost the end of the year and looking back at 2013, I've certainly had many great meals! Here's a look at what I remembered to be the best bites in Los Angeles in the past year. Because the list only covers LA, it doesn't include the absolutely amazing kouign amann at B Patisserie, but you should definitely try that if you're in San Francisco. These also only include the things I tried for the first time in 2013, so while there are many great dishes in LA they may not be on this list. Also, I'm bound to have missed a few things due to my failing memory, so feel free to add what you think is the best bite in the comments!

In no particular order:

1. Uni Caviar Lobster roll at Petrossian
Uni Lobster Roll
Chef Giselle Wellman has devised the ultimate lobster roll, topped with fresh uni and Petrossian caviar on a brioche roll. While the lobster roll and fries aren't cheap, each bite will assure you that it's worth it.


2. Mandilli di seta at The Factory Kitchen
Almond Pesto
I still dream about this silky smooth handkerchief pasta and that subtle almond basil pesto.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Spicy Lamb Stew at Cui Hua Lou (Monterey Park, CA)

If you like lamb, Cui Hua Lou is a place for you. This corner place in a strip mall (really, everything's in a strip mall in this town). It's a large menu, but luckily Chinese restaurants tend to number the dishes by what they think is their specialty. So, of course, we got the no. 1, "Stewed Lamb in Casserole" ($21.99).

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The lamb stew is large, enough to feed 3-4 people. We tried finishing it with two people but couldn't quite do it, and my friend and I ate a lot! The stew is served in a this electric pot which they plug in after bringing it to your table.
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They'll tell you to wait white the stew boils. Such spicy and flavorful broth, tender lamb meat on the bone, tofu, and cabbage. A very satisfying meal for lamb lovers! It may be kind of hot for the summer nights, but at least the restaurant has air conditioning!
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If that's not enough lamb for you, they do have spiced lamb skewers and many more dishes. In case you need vegetables to feel less guilty or something. The lamb skewers aren't as good as Feng Mao's but they're cheaper.
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食上烤吧 Cui Hua Lou

920 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755
(626) 288-2218
http://cuihualouca.com/
Cui Hua Lou on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Under The Radar: Buffalo Club (Santa Monica, CA)

Buffalo Club is a fine dining restaurant in Santa Monica that's been around for 19 years, and yet not that many people these days seem to know about it.

The exterior looks like a dive bar - that's because it used to be before the current proprietor bought it and reinvented it as a restaurant. Walking in, though, especially after the recent renovation, reveals an interior much different from the outside - an elegant, dimly lit, quiet, dining room. After the latest renovation, there are now two dining areas: the white tablecloth Iroquois dining room and the more casual (and cheaper) Garden Courtyard.

iroquois
The chef and part owner, Patrick Healy, has been at the restaurant since its inception, a rare feat for fine dining chefs in LA these days. Healy trained in France under Alain Ducasse and other 3-star Michelin chefs before opening his own restaurant and later joining Buffalo Club.

We let the sommelier, Brayner Ferry, pair everything for us and he welcomed us with a brut rose from La Maison du Cremant de Bourgogne.
Our dinner was off to a great start with the Dungeness crab salad, avocado wrap, asparagus, Belgian endive, spicy gazpacho ($23). Pictured here is half of the portion, the restaurant split them for us.
crab
The precious crab salad sits atop the gazpacho and covered by fresh, creamy slices of avocado. It's not quite salad, not quite soup. Either way it was a great, light way to whet your appetite. None of the flavors were too strong as to overpower the crab, instead they come together well.

Crisp duck confit, frisee, arugula, red onion, haricot vert, duck fat potatoes, Bing Cherry gastrique ($19).
duck
While I've had duck confit salads before, it's the first that the duck was this crispy. The meat was rich, but nicely by the greens and the gastrique. This was paired with a classic Chardonnay for Carneros, to cut the richness.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Foie Gras Fantasy Comes True at Mistral Kitchen (Seattle, WA)

It was our last night in Seattle, and it dawned on me that I had not had foie gras while eating my way in another state! I suddenly started craving it and convinced everyone else to go eat foie with me. Our Seattleite friend suggested Mistral Kitchen. Seeing they had seared foie gras on the menu and the fact that it was nearby we decided on it.

We originally just wanted to come here for some foie and drinks and ordered some Seared Foie Gras to share ($19)

Seared Foie Gras

We haven't had it in so long and the seared foie was so good! We also had to get the Foie Gras Torchon, black mission fig balsamic compote ($15)
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We were pretty hungry by this point and since both the foie gras dishes were really good, we decided to eat dinner here after all. At this point I was going to order the lamb loin. We were sitting at the bar and I joked to the bartender that it would be awesome if they could put the seared foie on the lamb. Our bartender said that sure we can! They make dreams come true here!
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Woah. So we customized our own dish.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Citrus Lee: French Cuisine in Surabaya (Indonesia)

High end Western cuisine in Surabaya, Indonesia is few and far between and I'm usually pretty skeptical about trying them. Some of my cousins have been talking about a fairly new French place called Citrus Lee, and it looked pretty good. Turns out the chef is a regular at my mom's restaurant, Kogyo, so we decided to go there for my birthday dinner.

The menu at Citrus Lee comes as a set (when he didn't do set menus, some people would make a reservation and come to eat salads - it was all about showing off that you dined here) of three or four courses. The prices vary depending on your choice of main course and you can go as low as a three course chicken dinner for Rp.175,000 (US$19-20) - not bad compared to US prices! But it does go up to about $80 for 3 courses with a lobster entree. With the amuse bouche, palate cleanser, and all, it ended up being a substantial amount of food and a pretty good value.

First came a trio of seafood-centric amuse bouches: smoked salmon, scallop, etc

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Although it's a French restaurant, Citrus Lee incorporates a lot of Chinese flavors. It isn't quite fusion but probably just enough to cater more to the Asian palate.
For my first course I chose the Tiger Prawns with Leek-Potato Bacon Prawn Cream Bisque Soup Infused with Shaoxing (a traditional Chinese rice wine)
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The foie gras addition is expensive compared to the US, though. The seared duck foie gras with apricot vanilla puree and star anise costs an extra Rp.265,000 (about $30) - oh well, it had to travel farther to Indonesia.
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It was a good sized piece of foie gras and nicely done. I was missing foie gras and was glad I could have a good version for my birthday in Surabaya! This was also the first time my mom tried seared foie gras - and she liked it!


Sauteed Wild Mushroom Brule with Brown Butter and Beets-Orange Wedges
IMG_5948
Wild mushrooms are one of the things I miss when I'm in Indonesia, and this was the first time I encountered them here. Turns out he gets them from a small local island, and they were wonderful.

A shot glass of juice and a bowl of granita as palate cleansers follow between courses.

For the entree, my brother ordered the Pan-Roasted Angus Tenderloin with Chinese Aromatic Spices and Bordelaise-Shaoshing Sauce
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Tender, medium rare pieces.

My mom's order: Crispy Duck Margaret Confit with homemade preserved orange navel with duck-bacon spiced dressing
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The duck in Indonesia is decidedly leaner and gamier than  in the US, so I thought the confit is not quite as fatty as what I'm used to - expectedly so and it was still good.

Marinated oven-roasted seabass with sesame-miso and black truffle-infused soy-corn coulis
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Indonesians tend to fry their fishes whole, so the flaky texture of a roasted seabass is a nice break - but really, I ordered this to get a whiff of truffles.

Roasted lamb rack marinated in green curry, garlic mint butter with layu-spices mint chutney
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Tender lamb rack, flavorful "curry" sauce. This was a great dish.

Pan-seared Jumbo Scallops with miso mustard sauce and sauteed Chanterelle mushrooms
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Another thing I tend to miss in Indonesia: scallops. I'm talking jumbo scallops. I mean, sure we have scallops at street stalls but they tend to be tiny. The scallops at Citrus Lee are the ones I miss, and they were seared nicely.IMG_6000

The chef at Citrus Lee is Hendry Sedjahtera whose parents own a Chinese restaurant in a neighboring city, Malang. Hendry studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and worked at a few restaurants there before opening Citrus Lee in 2009.

The desserts at Citrus Lee are all made by his younger brother in Malang and shipped here. A family of chefs who work together! The dessert menu is pretty small here. With the tasting menu you get a choice of two flavors of creme brulee and another item that I can't remember right now ... There's also a flourless chocolate cake and some specials, but they cost extra.
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Happy birthday to me!

IMG_5991 Psst, so at Citrus Lee they serve mini mochis after your dessert as a palate cleanser. Guess who makes these mochis? Yup, my family's shop, Mochiko! So of course we loved this course, hehe. We made them miniature-sized and not as sweet as the ones we normally sell, though.

Since there's no in-house pastry chef, there's no house-made amuse bouche. They gave out Valrhona chocolates instead, which are perfectly fine by me.

I wonder how many people were scared to try Citrus Lee because, like my family, they keep hearing about how expensive it is. Well, it can definitely get expensive depending on what you order (like kobe beef), but you can actually have a great meal and be full with one of the less expensive set menus - especially after all the amuse bouche and palate cleansers. There aren't many French restaurants in Surabaya (actually, I think there may only be two), so Surabaya people, why not be adventurous and give it a try?

Citrus Lee 
Jl. Kutai No.12
Surabaya, Indonesia 60241
031-561-5192

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stones Restaurant at Marriott Marina del Rey

I have been finding myself in Marina del Rey more and more these days. My last visit was to Stones Restaurant at the Marriott Marina del Rey hotel, which recently obtained a new chef and revamped their menu. Instead of ordering a la carte, they sent out a tasting of the dishes they wanted to showcase.

We started with a sampling of two appetizers:
Arugula, grilled peach, pickled red onion, burrata, balsamic glaze

Burrata and Grilled Peach
The burrata was creamy but the flavor was fairly mild and the dish benefits from the crunchy grilled peaches and the sweet and tart pickled onions.

Grilled shrimp, orange marmalade
Grilled Shrimp
This is the chef's riff on shrimp cocktails, where he grills then chills the shrimp. The sweet marmalade is a nice complement, though I'm not sure if I could eat more than two or three pieces of sweet shrimp.

Bread
Warm bread

Since all the entrees are accompanied by something creamy and starchy, we got full pretty fast, but we plowed through! This shouldn't be a problem for a regular diner not eating three entrees in a row :)

John Dory, popcorn crust, sweet corn ravioli, vegetable slaw
Popcorn Crusted Chicken
The popcorn crust was rather interesting (and according to the chef, pretty simple to replicate). The flesh of the john dory remains moist and flaky. I thought the sweet corn ravioli filling could be smoother and creamier, though.

Filet Mignon, yukon mash, cauliflower, demi
Steak
Stones cooks their proteins well, as exemplified by this tender, juicy steak. The mashed potatoes had the potato skins left in, giving it more body and flavor. The cauliflowers were not only colorful and fresh and crisp. This was a solid steak dish, you can't go wrong in ordering this.

The next dish doesn't lose out: New Zealand lamb, bacon, brussel sprouts, green apple risotto
Lamb
Even with my full stomach, I thoroughly enjoyed this lamb, cooked a nice medium rare with that trickle of blood in the middle and nicely charred edges.The tart, crisp green apple slices in the risotto helped digest the other rich and heavy items.

We finished with a dessert sampler: Apple cobbler, Key lime tart, Chocolate ganache, Pineapple Upside Down cake.
Dessert Sampler

My favorite was the dark, spongy chocolate ganache, followed by the apple cobbler.

The libations menu need some work for my personal taste as the cocktails were mostly fruity martinis and the wine by the glass selection is limited. The chef seems to have a liking for rich and creamy sides, but if you're staying nearby, you'd be satisfied with having a nice piece of filet mignon or lamb, or perhaps a moist John Dory here.

Stones Restaurant
Marriott Hotel Marina del Rey
4100 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, California 90292
(310) 301-3000
http://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/restaurant/laxmb-marina-del-rey-marriott/
Stones on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: this meal was hosted.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feng Mao: Mutton, Cumin, Fire.

Feng Mao had been on my to-try list ever since I read about their mutton kebab in cumin galore on FoodGPS and LA Weekly.

Feng Mao is labeled as a Korean-Chinese cuisine, is located in K-town with Korean signage and menu, but the owner Jing Cu Hwa and her husband are actually from China. They hail from Jilin province in Northern China, which borders Korea and explains the heavy Korean influence (technically it also borders Russia, too).

The full name of the restaurant is Feng Mao Mutton Kebab, so obviously we have to get the mutton kebabs.
The meat is covered with spices, including chili powder and cumin. This is a Northern Chinese dish after all, so you can actually find similar lamb kebabs at various Mongolian style hot pot places, like Happy Sheep, but those don't hold a candle to Feng Mao's tender and succulent mutton skewers. For one thing, mutton > lamb!

Just like any other Korean restaurants, they serve pretty typical banchans here, but it also included a typical Chinese one: boiled peanuts!
We love our boiled peanuts.

We also ordered the beef skewers, and while they're also pretty good, the mutton was much better as they were more tender and had a stronger flavor.


An order of quail will get you a whole butterflied quail.
All the skewers are grill-it-yourself on the charcoal grill they provide on each table (though they'll come by and check to see if you're messing up :P).


There's one more thing to note before you eat your grilled skewers. The heap of cumin-dominated spice on that little plate next to each one of you.
Oh, you know what to do ...

Feng Mao also has a list of cooked dishes, though I didn't try any, along with skewers of mutton kidney and bull penis. Yes, that's right. The adventurous might want those. For me that night, though, although I at first wanted to try the other skewers like beef and quail and enjoyed them, I mainly kept thinking: "man, those mutton kebabs were good. I should've just gotten more mutton kebabs."

Feng Mao
3901 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 935-1099
Feng Mao on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grace's OpenTable Appetite Stimulus

Among OpenTable's restaurant lineup for its Appetite Stimulus Plan, Grace is one of the few ones I was excited about and last night I managed to try it out with Mattatouille and his girlfriend.

Besides the 2 choices for each of the three courses, Grace also offered other courses for $6-8 supplemental charge, but we all stuck with the $35 three-course choices.

The first choice for the appetizer was the Fall Squash Soup with duck confit and pistachios.
A delicious and rich soup! The duck confit went very well with the sweetness of the squash soup itself and the pistachios provide a nice crunchy texture along with the smoothness of the soup. Everyone on the table loved it.

The other appetizer choice was House Cured Salmon with roasted beets, heirloom tomatoes, and horseradish creme fraiche.
I thought the presentation was gorgeous - I felt bad destroying it but you gotta do what you gotta do. This again was a hit - the salmon was delicious, and the sweet beets and tomatoes combination worked very well.

Instead of the sand dabs that the website mentioned, the first entree choice was actually Petrole Sole. The preparation and accompaniments are still the same with potato gnocchi, hazelnuts, haricots verts, and sage brown butter.
I only had a bit of this and thought it was solid. The fish wasn't particularly flavorful but Mattatouille seemed to love the brown butter. I loved the potato gnocchi which were very tender.

I had the oven roasted Leg of Colorado Lamb with Byaldi confit and olive infused lamb jus.
The Byaldi confit reminded me of the dish from the movie Ratatouille :) (doesn't it? doesn't it?) (oops, not Rattatouille ... It's all Mattatouille's fault)
The confit may be our favorite part of the dish. The lamb was flavorful but somewhat on the tougher side. Still good, just harder to eat - if only they had given us steak knives.

For dessert the choices were the Apple Upside Down Bread Pudding with buttermilk ice cream, apple cider syrup, cranberries, and brown sugar walnuts
A great dessert. The cranberries didn't add anything for me and I think it even distracted from the rest of the dish, but after putting that aside, I liked everything else.

The other dessert choice was Boca Negra Cake Affogato, which is a dark chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, brandied orange slice, then soaked in espresso.
Very rich! The cake itself was amazingly dense. Delicious but take small bites, it really gets to you! You'll need some hot tea or black coffee to cut it later.

The other thing I love about this restaurant is the small touches they put into their wares. The container for the honey that comes with their tea is a great example:
What a cute bee-shaped honey container! I want to take it home ...

Just like its DineLA menu, Grace's Open Table Appetite Stimulus was a hit for me. I'm glad they continue to participate in these prix-fixe weeks and continue to deliver a solid, worthwhile menu that people can really appreciate (unlike some other restaurants we talked about last night *cough*).

GRACE
7360 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2501
(323) 934-4400
gracerestaurant.com

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