March 2009


*cue boyz II men’s “it’s so hard to say goodbye” *

there was a pioneer chicken next to the church I grew up and attended from birth til the end of high school. default kids lunch every sunday was usually this crispy, crunchy, greasy goodness. so sad was the day, pioneer turned into a popeyes. popeyes chicken is still crispy, crunchy,  greasy and good but its so not the same (wah wah wah!) pioneer’s skin is definitely saltier and crunchier (in a good way).

ever since, I’ve seen a few locations here and there in passing and I always tell myself “OH I gotta go back!!” but it wasn’t until we drove by the sunset location and heard they were kicking the bucket (har har har) in a week, we stopped by that instant. I needed to properly say my farewells.

pioneer-sign

it was bittersweet but u can imagine giddy and glee when FINALLY walking into this place. first thing u notice is the smell of that greasy fried goodness thick in the air. oh, just like how I remembered. I could remember the taste of the fried batter almost instantly.

however, looking around, some things had DEFINTELY changed. back in the day, the menu was simple. fried chicken and the usual sides.

NOW, it was sign sensory overload all over the place as the walls and menu boards were filled with signs of menu items like, pastrami sandwiches, shish kabobs, rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes, burritos, fish’n chips?! WTH?!?!?!?

I even saw on the menu buckets of deep fried liver and gizzards. OK, my favorite offals deep fried in that nostalgic greasy batter?? DONE. one bucket of offals, 2 pieces of fried chicken and biscuit coming right up!

smellsgood 

omg, u guys smell just as good as I remember…

 

 

 

 

 

gizzards-and-livers 

offaly deadly delicious- oh yes, the deadly deep fried batter I remembered from so long ago paired with lovely offals were delicious death. the batter was SO DAMN crunchy and greasy! this tastes SO WRONG! (but soooo right :P)

 

fried-chicken 

nostalgic fried chicken wonder- the fried chicken was just as good as I had remembered it from the days of chinese jump rope and slap bracelets. it was almost comedic to see how crunchy and greasy the skin was. the delicious dark meat inside was moist as can be. I would’ve easily been 200 pounds by senior year of high school if pioneer stayed open next to my church and I ate it every sunday.

goodbye

*sniff sniff* goodbye my pretties…

update: ok turns out, its the original location in echo park that is closing. this location I visited on sunset is still open!! w00t!!!! viva la pioneer chicken! let us rejoice in that this deadly fried goodness lives on! ! (but our hearts won’t if we eat this more than once every 15 years..which is when I probably last had it)

pioneer chicken, 4376 w sunset blvd, los angeles, ca 90029, (323) 663-2441

learning to use a d50.  I never thought I’d get sucked into the dslr world bc it looks so hard to take good pics but I must admit practicing and learning has been too much fun.

past few days I’ve been eating around town with just me and the cam. i present to u my uber newb first batch of pics…(hot off the sd card, next I need to learn how to edit pics with photoshop haha)

dutch oven bakery

dsc_3840

blueberry honey muffin

dsc_3842bran and almond honey muffin

both muffins also tasted delicious. per josh’s tweet about these honey muffins being the single best baked dessert in the city, I had to rush over. loved the textures of the caramelized sticky dome outside and the moist inside.

I was sitting alone outside at a table and some man walks by saying “aww, look, the girl’s taking a picture of her cupcake.”

I wanted to give him an evil snarling glare  saying “this is a f’n gorgeous and mouth watering blueberry honey muffin, buddy!” but instead I just coyly smiled back :P

happy hour at fig restaurant

this was a fun yelp event where  25 lucky yelpers were invited to taste and sample fig’s new fig at five happy hour menu (available 5-6pm, each selection is $5)

dsc_3927arugula and olive oil infused butter they’re not joking when they say their menu is market driven. the arugula and olive oil make u feel a leeetle less guilty when spread on top of this crusty goodness…

dsc_3928

scrumptious baguette


gorgeous and divine charcuterie and cheese

dsc_3929omg cashew butter, jelly and blue cheese sammich trust me, the flavors are sheer decadence in ur mouth.

dsc_3930la quercia american proscuitto- heavenly pork shavings

dsc_3946braised beef tongue with tomatillo and radish after reading gourmet pig’s review of this place and this dish, I was so excited to try this. It was even better that I imagined it to be. the beef tongue is one of the most tender preparations I’ve had and the slightly tart tomatillo sauce was just stellar. after seeing how much I enjoyed this dish, the assistant director of food and beverage, matthew, was generous enough to bring out 2 more servings (!)

chef ray garcia was a joy to talk to as he came around to each table explaining his concept and food

dsc_39641my compliments to the chef

needless to say, I was one happy camper. what made the food even better? paired with glasses of their juve y camps cava, lois gruner veltliner, pierre spar gerwurtztraminer, and a delicious cab franc (forgot the name but its the most balanced cab franc ive ever tasted) their happy hour wine list is solid and priced at the oh-so-reasonable $5/glass!

dsc_3956

matthew was kind enough to even bring out their feature draft which is a quadruple dutch ale (not a happy hour special though)

dsc_3963think chimay meets arrogant bastard

later in the evening, the bartender thought I might enjoy this (I apologize for the blurry pic..yes, I am a work in progress :P)

dsc_40001cucumber and lavender cocktail arromatic, light, sweet, refreshing

a wonderful evening and I can’t wait to go back for dinner to try the rest of their menu :)

HELP! not only am I hooked on good food and drink, now I’m hooked on dslrs too :P

dutch oven bakery, 2281 lake ave, altadena, ca 91001. (626) 794-3555

fig restaurant, 101 wilshire blvd, santa monica, ca 90401. (310) 319-3111. www.figsantamonica.com

fear not, I did not single handedly attempt to (and more importantly was not successful at) wiping out 50% of la’s food blogging community in one evening. :P

(the blowfish dinner was actually the least “dangerous”  part of the evening haha details later…)

It started in november when I first read jonathan gold’s absolutely amazing review on dae bok restaurant that got me intrigued about trying korean style “bok” (blowfish). dangerous? maybe. delicious? sounds most definitely.

sign

fast foward to febuary’s gold standard event where matthew and I got a golden opportunity to chat it up with this grand gourmand

gold-standard

just as grand to speak with in person. so I had to inquire about this restaurant once again. sure enough, even in person he waxed poetically about this amazing and underrated restaurant in the seedier part of koreatown. my favorite and most comedic part of the conversation was how he described  (as in his review),

 “So after you persuade the waitress that what you really want is blowfish instead of monkfish, after you have pronounced the words bok jiri a half-dozen times to the best of your ability, puffed out your cheeks, and pointed to the line drawing of the blowfish printed on the chopstick wrapper, you may actually be rewarded with the blowfish stew”

haha poor jonathan but I must commend him on so many levels for being so adventurous to say the least in trying these ethnic restaurants off the beaten trail.

ok, no more wasting time, I wanted to set up a dinner here STAT. invites were emailed within days and come saturday, march 21st, 17 fearless eaters (9 of which were food bloggers, matthew of mattatouille, josh of food gps, fiona of gourmet pigs, eddie of deep end dining, mike of rightwaytoeat, javier of teenage glutster, rickmond of rameniac, danny of kungfoodpanda and yours truly) arrived at dae bok restaurant, ready for some blowfish lovin’. 3 tables with 3 bloggers at each (totally not planned when setting up seat placement), we had the bases (and cameras) covered.

table2

table1

waiting

lots of hungry people waiting for the fury. I must say I expected at most about 8 people to be interested in trying this korean blowfish restaurant (which I would have been more than happy with), but was more than pleasantly surprised and thrilled with the amazing turnout of people who were also excited to try this place.

now onto the menu… there’s 10 (yes, count ‘em TEN) ways this sucker is served. blowfish 10 ways:

mehwoontang (spicy fish stew) $14.99
jiri (non-spicy fish stew) $14.99
soo-yook (steamed fish w/ soybean sprouts) $17.99
jjim (spicy, stirfried with sprouts, etc)  $21.99
bulgogi (bok bbq) $17.99
tempura w/ sweet potato $17.99
tangsooyuk (fried sweet and sour bok) $18.99
bok-katsu $14.99
fish skin w/ spicy sauce/vegetable (cold salad) $16.99
shabu shabu $34.99

WOW. ok but with each table being about 6 people, we consulted with the waitresses and 2 servings of the stew plus 1 or 2 dishes more would be plenty for each table. most popular being the stew and the jjim, each table got these plus one more somethin’ somethin’

first up, banchan

banchan

not too shabby. the standout was definitely the gummy blowfish skin moochim (kinda like salad) tossed with a vinegarette and a korean herb, minari (refreshing and love the bite of the minari). the rest, u’ve got ur run of the mill kimchi, mook (think korean jello), marinated cold seaweed, potato in mayo (not exactly potato salad but seriously whats up with koreans so obsessed with mayo banchan??), and pickled daikon.

next, the long awaited bok- jjim

jjim

sprouty and garlicky galore. blowfish stir-fried with tons of sprouts and chili paste. this was our first taste of the actual blowfish and it was surprisingly very mild in flavor. however, with the garlic and chili paste, there was plenty of punch in this dish (our pulses still going strong)

next, our table ordered the bok-tangsuyok (think chinese style sweet and sour fish) 

bok-tangsuyok

it was aiiiite. nothing too crazy or mind blowing here but we figured it would be  a nice textual contrast. well battered and fried with a good sweet and sour sauce, this tasted just as expected.

one of the tables ordered the bok bulgogi

bok-bulgogi

think blowfish barbeque. they ordered it spicy with gochujang (spicy bean paste). although I didn’t get to actually taste this dish, the consensus from that table was that it was very good. with the firm texture and mild flavor of the blowfish I could definitely see how this fish could stand up to some bbq-in’ and slatherin’ in gochujang.

now onto THE BEST part(s) of the meal, the blowfish stew.

u can order this spicy (mehwoontang) or non spicy (jiri) but when deciding on which, in the “eloquent” words of josh, “whats the point??” :P

naturally, we opted for the spicy mehwoontang. this amazing dish has many glorious and delicious stages.

this is just the beginning…

mehwoontang

 topped with fresh minari and ready to come to a boil at the table

 

mehwoontang2

blowfish stew heaven. the broth is nothing short of amazing. its packed with tons of flavorful with the fish, garlic, chili paste, and freshness from the greens. WOW. the  pieces of blowfish in this were eaten dipped in a soy sauce ponzu with a dab of fiery mustard. delicious.

the fun and deliciousness don’t stop here though. oh no, it just gets even better….next up, they put soojebi (shavings of dough) into the delicious broth

soojebi

YUM!! perfectly al dente shavings of dough with a nice bite and slippery texture are delicious when cooked in the flavorful stew.

and everyone knows how much I love happy endings :)

rice, chopped vegetables and oil are added to the final ladles of soup and dregs left in the pot. when all mixed together and left to cook until there’s a little bit of crispiness at the bottom is the most delicious bokkum-bap (fried rice)

bokkumbap

even when ur busting at the seams, there’s always room for bokkum-bap.   just add a little bit more of the soup or some of the ponzu sauce, and this is a winning finish.

everything was washed down with a final serving of cold shikhae (korean rice drink).

shikhae

sweet and refreshing. the waitresses were generous enough to constantly refill our little cups with pitchers of endless shikae. mmmm lovely.

it was an amazing meal from start to finish. thankfully, everyone still had a pulse and was happy with filled and satiated bellies :)

being the dutiful  hostess, the fun, food, and drink did not stop here. oh no. in true korean fashion, this was just the first stop of many in this dangerously fun filled evening!

next up was scoops for more dessert (pistachio cardamon was my favorite of the night), then crazy hook for bongs (5000 cc’s to be exact) of cold beer, and then finally an epic evening of crazy singing and dance paired with carafes and carafes (and carafes) of yogurt soju at palm tree for norebang (karaoke) fun.

I am telling u now that u have not seen true karaoke until u’ve watched eddie and rickmond sing and dance (tina turner, eat ur heart out) with tambourine, disco ball, and yes, even the fog machine was working that night. hahaha :P

 (and although there was a pact and agreement of no film/video at this part of the evening, there were many violators. *cough* eddie *cough* mike *cough* fiona. sd cards must be rightfully and accordingly confiscated and destroyed :P)

the  night started off with 17 and still ended with a healthy group of 9. a big THANK YOU to all those who attended and participated in this dangerously fun and memorable evening from start to finish :)

love,

choisauce

 

 

 

(and all the gorgeous pics were taken and generously furnished by mattatouille )

 

 

dae bok restaurant. 2010 james m wood bvd, los angeles, ca 90006. (213) 386-6660.

only good reason to wake up early on the weekends?  6 letters: B-R-U-N-C-H)

so on this saturday morning, I roll out of bed, wash my face, throw on clothes and declare “I’ve got a  hankerin for some messican b-fast. hole-in-the-wall style, please. yo quiero huevos rancheros STAT” I remembered having this place in lincoln heights bookmarked forever and today was the morning….oh finally, here we come, el huarachito!

elhuarachito

we walk in and smells delicious. we’re the only asians and non-espanol speakers in the restaurant but no worries, their menus are in english and their bilingual servers are extremely friendly.

first up, some house made chips and salsa

salsa

the chips were fantastic and the smokey salsa kicked us off to a great start

 

guac

holy guacamole. they asked us if it was our first time there (we obviously looked like newbs. haha) and when we said it was, our lovely waitress came out with some complementary guac to welcome us. delicioso!

to drink we ordered a fresh cucumber and lemon juice

cucumber

wow, what a surprise. this was our first time trying cucumber juice and it was extremely refreshing and but also surprisingly kinda savory. maybe they added a leeetle salt (or maybe not). the cucmber and lemon combo in a drink was great and its served in a ginormous cup. it was impossible to finish for even 2.

I love me my mexican soup.

pozole

hearty pozole. I heart soup in general but mexican soups are a great weakness of mine. there were so many to choose from (menudo, caldo de pollo, birria, etc.) I was in mexican soup heaven. after minutes of indecisiveness we opted for the pozole bc matthew had never tried it before. this hearty bowl was packed with tons of hominy, tender soft pork goodness, etc. I loved how they give u a huge plate with all the condiments that u can dump into the soup (cabbage, onions, cilantro, lime, etc). it was devoured with the warm homemade corn tortillas, so good, so good. next time, I must attack the birria or menudo (only served on weekends though)

this bowl took me back to one of my fondest memories of eating pozole at a random pozole/breakfast place off the beaten path in ensenada. no english menus or speakers there but we got by and had the best pozole breakfast ever.

 

huarachito

don’t mess with me and my pozole.  (and on weekend mornings I also don’t mess with any makeup. lol breakfast is literally the FIRST thing on my mind :P)

and because this place IS called el huarachito, we had to order the chorizo huarache.

chorizohuarachehuarache means “sandal” which is thick fried masa dough in the shape of a flip flop. its topped with the meat of your choosing, covered with guac, sprinkled with cotija cheese, cilantro and drizzled with milky crema. the “sandal” is filled with a thin layer of refried beans.

I’ve had this once before at huarache azteca in highland park and must say I liked their version better. this one was good but the fried corn masa bottom was a bit soggy (I like it fried a little harder with more crisp) the chorizo was also a bit salty.

and of course the star of the meal…

loshuevos

the BEST huevos rancheros EVER. wow. the ranchero sauce was stellar and the eggs were cooked oh so perfectly with that runny yolk.  served with excellent refried beans and potatoes. this wonderful dish was also priced ever so reasonably at $4.95!

 u can also get this topped with ur favorite meat of choice (carne asada, pastor, chorizo, etc) and even have a huevos nopales but we decided to just get it plain and simple. wow, this “simple” dish really blew us away. next time, we also gotta try the chilaquiles.

prices are reasonable and portions are generous to say the least (this “breakfast” at 10am carried us well into dinner. lol)  they have quite an extensive menu with not just breakfast but lunch and dinner options also.  this really is delicious mexican comfort food at its best without having to go south of the border and for those us who don’t have a mexican mama or tia to cook for us.

 this wonderful breakfast was followed by a lazy afternoon of watching cooking shows (the best ones are on klcs on saturday afternoons) and then immediately followed by a 2 hour siesta. haha. this is my perfect saturday… :)

 

el huarachito. 3010 n broadway, los angeles, CA 90031. (323) 223-0476

a few weeks ago, i felt adventurous enough to FINALLY venture to the south bay and attack some places I’ve been wanting to check off our list forever.

(on a side note: why does south bay seem like a foreign land so far away? west la is just as far from us but in the last 6 months, I’ve gone to west la a gajillion times but this was my first trek together to the south bay. haha)

first stop, asa ramen.

I’ ve heard so many good things about this place and stories of people in la driving all the way to gardena in the middle of the night to make the 2am cut off time. I couldn’t wait any longer to try it for myself. 

I went and split a large kotteri ramen with extra chashu. the restaurant wasn’t that packed but we noticed it took FOREVER for the food to come out. but when the bowl of noodles finally came out, my eyes widened. FINALLY here it was. was it worth the wait?

asa

in short, it SUCKED.

overly salty, not very pork-rich brothy, dry and shiesty chashu, meh noodles, I could go on and on but I’m going to stop right here before I get too riled up.

ok but c’mon, seriously, are u f-ing kidding me?? all the hype for this??  (gosh, Im sounding a lot like *cough*tony*cough*c. :P)

i was sadly disappointed to say the least. santouka’s shio ramen still reigns supreme as my favorite ramen in the city.

trying to move on, I also heard about the fantastic takoyaki here . we got the mochi cheese one.

takoyaki

not bad. the cheese and mochi give it a tasty crispy outside and ooey gooey texture inside but dont expect too much octopus. the actual octopus was virtually non-existant. this was pretty tasty and it topped off with  “bacon of the sea,” bonito flakes. served with takoyaki sauce and my favorite kewpie mayo, I couldnt complain too much.

 my favorite spot for takoyaki is still sasaya in west la. even though the takoyaki was okay I still left asa utterly disappointed because of the ramen.

this sad panda was even sadder when we found out our next destination, izakaya bincho was closing in 5 minutes at 10:00 pm. :( booooo.

ok, ok, think fast what else is good and open past 10:00 pm in southbay. got it, backup, musha.

I’d been to the santa monica location and tried their heavenly risotto. I was excited for matthew to try this plus there were other menu items I missed last time.

first up, torched mackerel. I’ve read many good things about this dish and was bummed last time when I forgot to order it and saw the fun torch show at the table next to us. it was our turn this time.

mackerel

neat-0 :P

mackerel2

oh my, oh my. this mackerel did NOT disappoint. my mouth is watering now just thinking about this delicately delicious fish. it was cooked perfectly and was melt-in-ur-mouth nothing short of amazing . I savored every little bit of this dish. I just wished there was more of it :(

next dish was a new dish I read from reviews being good, the ebi mayo mayo.

ebi-mayo-mayo

good. battered and fried shrimp covered in thousand island sauce, green onions, tomatoes, mayo, and masago.

whats with japanese/koreans and their love for thousand island? lol but yeah the combination worked.  it was little over battered in my opinion but still good.

and then finally, what I had been so eagerly awaiting, the bacon and brown rice risotto (!!) I was so excited when they finally brought the parmesean cheese wheel out I had to exclaim to the waiter, “OH THIS IS MY FAVORITE!!” he replied with a smile, “its mine too.” I was giddy with glee to say the least :)

cheese-wheel

oh what a glorious sight. they mix the risotto in this baby tableside (they told us one of these wheels lasts them about a month. haha)

and finally….

risotto

ahhhhhhhhh, even more heavenly than I had remembered.

so wrong but so right. this risotto is rich and cheesy to the max. the bacon adds a whole another level of awesomeness. the amazing texture of the brown rice makes this japanese style risotto totally work. I savored every bit of this rich risotto until my plate was cleeeeeeeaaan :)

all was not lost on this trek to the south bay. a rocky start with the ramen let down but the mackerel and risotto definitely saved the day!

oh I just love happy endings :)

 

asa ramen,  18202 s western ave, gardena, CA 90248. (310) 769-1010

musha, 1725 w carson st ste b, torrance, CA 90501. (310) 787-7344

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