Return Visit for More Sichuan at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead, CA

Return Visit for More Sichuan at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead, CA

Second dinner here revisiting some of the dishes that we enjoyed during the last dinner and trying a few new dishes as well.  Most of the dishes were excellent.  Aside from the dried red chiles and Sichuan peppercorns, their usage of a chile bean paste (combination of red chiles and broad beans) was what made many of their dishes stand out, particularly with their Szechuan Dumplings.

The chile bean paste also provided a very bold and rich flavor to the broth that was served with their wontons.  Every drop of that broth was devoured.

Their Spicy Cold Jelly (noodles) were good as well.  The only fault with the execution of this dish is the temperature of the jelly.  Would be perfect if the jelly was cold and firm to the bite, but it was room temperature, giving it a less pleasurable taste.

Their Kung Pao Chicken had a great flavor with a hint of sweetness from the sauce, and a bit of crispiness from the flash fry of the chicken cubes.  Wished they had used a better quality of roasted peanuts as the ones in the dish didn’t have the crunchiness I’ve experienced with Kung Pao from other restaurants.

If you want that good smokiness from the Mala flavor (combination of the spiciness from the dried red chiles and the numbing effect from the Sichuan peppercorns), then the Lamb Chops have that.

We ended dinner with what appears to be the only dessert offered on the menu:  Black Sugar Ice Jelly.  Clear gelatin cubes in a slightly sweet broth made with black sugar, which is an unrefined sugar that has a darker brown color than brown sugar, and fermented rice that floats on top of the broth.  Nice palate cleanser and very refreshing.

If decide to eat at Best Noodle House, bring CASH, or arrange to pay them via PayPal or Venmo.

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photo.

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Xian Kitchen 西安食府 in City of Industry, CA

Xian Kitchen 西安食府 in City of Industry, CA

Small restaurant that opened back in 2014, serving up regional cuisine from Shaanxi Province (陝西) in North Central China, where hand-pulled noodles are popular, as well as flavor-forward dishes incorporating the use of ingredients such as cumin, garlic, green onions, dried red chiles, and vinegar.  Bordering the Sichuan Province to the north, it’s understandable why the last 2 pages of their menu feature many of the dishes you would find in Sichuan cuisine such as Mapo Tofu, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, and Kungpao Chicken.  However, the most noteworthy dishes are the rou jia mo (肉夹馍, the Chinese style hamburger of baked buns made with fermented dough), lamb pao mo (羊肉泡馍, a lamb soup with rice vermicelli and pieces of bread made from fermented dough, often described as Chinese pita bread), and qi shan ground pork noodle (岐山臊子面, made with a rich, bright red broth using red chiles and vinegar.  Noodles, bean curd, egg, and green onions were featured in this noodle soup.)

The most of the dishes we ordered were delicious and quite distinct in flavor.  Popular with our table were the lamb pao mo, rou jia mo, and the qi shan ground pork noodles.  Quite a hearty dish was the Big Plate Chicken, which is a Uyghur dish (Xinjiang being not too far west of Shaanxi) made of hand pulled noodles, sautéed chicken, fried potatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic and cumin.  The dish was so big, it can easily feed up to 5 on its own.  Even a simple dish as stir fried cabbage with dried red chiles and black vinegar came out to be very flavorful.

Unfortunately, dumplings were the weakest part of the meal.  Though they’re popular in Southern and Northeastern China, the ones offered here were just not well seasoned at all.  Quite bland.

Service is here is “no frills” and may come across rude and flippant, but that’s how most Chinese restaurants are that don’t specifically cater to a Western audience.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.

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Cha-Bones Steakhouse & Tapas Bar in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Cha-Bones Steakhouse & Tapas Bar in Lake Havasu City, AZ

Popular eatery that serves up refreshing blended margaritas, steaks and array of small plates that allows for one to be able to enjoy a variety of food with friends, rather than to be limited to just one entree.  Another great thing about this place is that they close at 10pm (last seating), which is later than some of the other eateries in the area (if you don’t count fast food and chains like Denny’s and IHOP).  And there aren’t that many options for dining late into the evening.

Food here was satisfying, though I believe the Chicken Lettuce Wrap could be made better.  The chicken meat is cubed and sauteed in a teriyaki/soy sauce based sauce that was a bit on the salty side.  With the carrot slaw tossed in a sesame-based dressing placed inside the top butter lettuce cup (in a stack of 5 lettuce cups), and a sweet chile and a peanut dipping sauces served with the dish, there were just too many flavors that didn’t compliment each other, but contrasted.

Click on the thumbnail below to enlarge.

Another Sichuan Feast at Hop Woo 合和 in West LA

Another Sichuan Feast at Hop Woo 合和 in West LA

Came back for a hedonistic feast with a group of about 22.  This time, we wanted to sample more dishes on their Sichuan menu, as well as offering a couple of familiar Cantonese dishes to give our palates a rest from the barrage of spicy, mouth numbing food.  And in this meal we got quite a bit of that numbing quality from the Sichuan peppercorns used in the Boiled Fish with Rattan Peppers, and Rock Cod Fish.

Food was excellent as before, but many in our group enjoyed the shrimp, cauliflower and eggplant dishes a lot.

So glad that the former owner of Meet in Chengdu in Monterey Park sold off the restaurant in order to join forces at Hop Woo, bringing with him one of his better chefs.

Cantonese Banquet Style Dinner at Xiang Yuan Gourmet 湘緣美食 in Temple City, CA

Cantonese Banquet Style Dinner at Xiang Yuan Gourmet 湘緣美食 in Temple City, CA

In celebrating a good friend’s 60th birthday, we ordered the $388 set banquet menu which includes 10 courses, much of them being nice seafood dishes.  And with one vegetarian at the table, we supplemented the dinner with a couple of extra courses of vegetable dishes.

We decided to give Xiang Yuan a try for dinner since we enjoyed their dim sum, and their dinner items, though tasty and solid, were unfortunately not mind-blowing.

The service was excellent, and corkage was waived for our party of 20 that had one of their private rooms reserved.  These two factors helped made the dinner more enjoyable.

If anything can easily be improved, it would be their lobster entree.  For these banquet menus, they should have on hand 2 to 3 lb lobsters to serve.  Instead, we seemed to have gotten two and a half 1-pound lobsters arranged on the plate.  And with the lobsters chopped into tiny pieces, it made it a bit challenging to find the pieces that contain lobster meat.

Another thing that can be improved up would be to balance the menu a bit better.  Outside of the soup and appetizer course, there was no other meat (beef or pork) nor poultry dish on the menu.

The Ultimate in Small Plates: Rock House Sliders in West Hollywood, CA

The Ultimate in Small Plates: Rock House Sliders in West Hollywood, CA

Learned about this place on Facebook and decided to check them out last night after dinner at The Counter nearby was kiboshed when the kitchen staff accidentally killed off the pilot light to the grills, and they weren’t able to restore it, forcing them to shut down early for the night.

I wanted so much to like Rock House Sliders, but as soon as I stepped inside, I hated everything about it:  The somewhat limited menu, the wasted space not used properly for more dining tables and seating, the huge kitchen with so much equipment and so many employees.

With such a large kitchen and large staff, you’d expect them to churn out orders relatively quickly, and well made.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  My friend’s order of 2 simple sliders plus an order of French fries took about 30 minutes to prepare, whereas my order took over 45 minutes.  I know they have growing pains for being a new establishment, but there was literally no order in the kitchen, despite the manager, running back and forth, trying to serve people their food.

There problems reading and executing orders that appear on that screen.  Unfortunately, a handful of orders, like mine were lost in their system.  One of the grill cooks stepped and took charge in trying to expedite the backed up orders.  It wasn’t until a couple of apologies and 20 minutes later before I got my food.

When things are smaller, the preparation has to be more precise, especially that for the burger patties, fried chicken patties and onion rings.   The onion was thin for the onion rings, so they were easily to overcook and make the breading extra crispy while drying out the onion itself.  I wasn’t able to taste the onion, just the seasoned breading that was dipped into the spicy ghost ranch dressing.

The same can be said about the fried chicken burger.  It had a thin slice of chicken that was breaded night and thick.  The result was a nice and crunchy exterior with a slightly dry piece of chicken.

The Boston Mushroom slider looked impressive as the burger patty extended beyond the edge of the bun.  But the bun itself was a bit dry, giving me that sense that it was not fresh.  That taste and texture detracted my enjoyment of the burger itself.

One saving grace was their ice cream (or soft serve).  It was rich and tasty.  Can easily taste the chocolate hazelnut.  Activated charcoal?  Not so much.

Not a fan of this concept.  I’m one who likes to take a nice big bite into a thick, juicy meat patty.  These sliders just did not satiate my taste buds.

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Full Menu.  Queue up and order at the register. Then grab a table, and your number will be called out when it’s ready, or it may be delivered to your table.  Everything is a smaller size, including the sides and shakes.  You may need to order multiple items in order to satiate your hunger.
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$15 for this spread of 2 sliders and 2 sides.
Original Chicken Slider
Original Chicken Slider with RHS Original Sauce, Cheddar Cheese, Pickles & Shredded Lettuce
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Boston Mushroom Slider with 2 oz. Angus patty, truffle sauce, Swiss cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions and relish
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Bun was a bit dry.  Didn’t feel or taste fresh.
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Cheesy Tots served with Chipotle dip
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Cheddar Cheese inside the Potato Tots
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Crispy Onion Rings served with Spicy Ghost (Pepper) Ranch Dip
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Spicy Ghost (Pepper) Ranch Dip had a good amount of heat but still is not spicy enough to make your eyes water
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My friend’s order of the Original Crispy Chicken Slider, Chipotle BBQ Ranch Slider, and French Fries
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Kind of a sad looking Chipotle BBQ Ranch Slider
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Kind of a sad looking Crispy Chicken Slider
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Huge Kitchen, Lots of Staff, Equal Amounts of Chaos
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Can’t believe it takes this many people to work in the kitchen, and they still can’t expedite the orders quickly.
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Their unique offering of the Red Lava Ice Cream
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Ice Cream made of activated black charcoal and chocolate hazelnut.  Comped order of ice cream for waiting over 45 minutes for my food

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DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Farsi Cafe in Westwood

DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Farsi Cafe in Westwood

Farsi Cafe sits in the location where the original and famous Shamshiri Restaurant (not to be confused with Shamshiri Grille up the street) operated for years before the original owner closed the restaurant in the mid-1990’s.

Farsi Cafe is participating in DineLA Restaurant Week, which runs from July 13th through July 27th.  They are offering a $15 2-course lunch or a $29 3-course dinner (actually, more like 4 courses as you get to choose 2 items from the appetizer section), and it is a lot of food.  Persian restaurants are known for serving large platters of food:  kabobs or stewed proteins served with a huge amount of basmati rice, and here it was no different.  By the time you finish you appetizers, some lavash bread and the plate of raw white onions, mint, basil and tarragon leaves (used with butter to wrap in the lavash for a pre-meal nibble), you’re almost full.

The food was excellent, and the service was solid.  The Tahdig & Stews were nice and hearty.  The lamb shank was huge and could easily feed 2 or 3 people.  Tachin (crusted rice mixed with yogurt, eggs and saffron with layer of boiled chicken at the middle served with sautéed barberries on the top) is also offered on their DineLA menu, but only until 7pm, that is if they don’t run out of it earlier in the evening,  as was the case during our visit.

The Persian Ice Cream dessert was probably the most interesting of the 3 options, as the ice cream is made with the combination of saffron, rose water and pistachios, sandwiched in between 2 waffle wafer layers.  Unfortunately, the combination of flavors were more muddled than distinct, and the waffle wafer layers were just soggy from being a pre-packaged item.

DineLA Restaurant Week Menu, July 2018
DineLA Restaurant Week Menu, July 2018
Naz Khaton
Naz Khaton – Yogurt blended with grilled eggplant, walnuts and herbs
Olovieh Salad
Olovieh Salad – Chicken and potato salad mixed with egg whites, peas and pickles
Tahdig and Stew
Tahdig & Stew – Default choice was Gheymeh, chunks of beef shoulder cooked in tomato paste with split yellow peas and crispy potato strips.
Tahdig & Stew
Tahdig & Stew are served separately. Here, I poured my Gheymeh all over the crispy basmati rice.
Mirza Ghazemi
Mirza Ghazemi – Grilled Eggplants mixed with tomatoes, scrambled eggs, and sauteed garlic
Soup & Salad
Soup & Salad – Split Yellow Pea
Soup & Salad
Soup & Salad – Side salad.
Chicken Breast Kabob
Chicken Breast Kabob with saffron basmati rice, grilled tomato and grilled serrano chile
Grilled Salmon
Grilled Salmon with Baghala Polo, lima bean and dill infused basmati rice
Lamb Shank
Lamb Shank, served with a side of Baghala Polo
Lamb Shank
Seasoned, Boiled Lamb Shank
Baghala Polo
Koobideh
Ground Beef Kabob (Koobideh)

Tahdig & Stew – Stew choice here was the Ghormeh Sabzi, made with parsley, spinach, fenugreek and chives (vegetarian version) Black Chocolate – Three Layer Chocolate Cake Persian Ice Cream – Saffron, rose water and pistachios Persian Ice Cream (Sandwich)