Soft-Opening:  Chef’s Tasting Menu at Chengdu Impression

I read about Chengdu Impression’s soft-opening on  Chengdu Impression (not to be confused with Chicago’s Chengdu Impression, which is unrelated) is a restaurant chain in China, that, like Meizhou Dongpo and Hai Di Lao, has opened its first location in the United States.  CI is known for being a more upscale Sichuan restaurant, providing an elegant and tastefully designed and decorated space for diners to enjoy elevated versions of Sichuan favorites such as Kung Pao Shrimp, Ma Po Tofu, and Fish with Pickled Green Peppers.

The service here is very attentive and polite, with a majority of the staff being bilingual (Mandarin and English) and even trilingual (Mandarin, Cantonese and English).  They have some issues to work on, such as the timing of the service of each course (at times they were ready to serve the next course just as soon as half of the table finished with the current course).

The food itself is a good representation as to the style of the Sichuan dishes they serve, and it was tasty, with some dishes packing a good bit of heat.  At $45 per person plus tax and gratuity, it seemed to be a good bargain for those who are accustomed to tasting menus from having dined at the likes of Maude, Patina, or even Papilles.  But for those who mainly dine at Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, the price is a bit high for the amount of food served.

The tasting menu is being offered during dinner hours and on weekends.  A separate lunch menu is available only during weekdays, and that’s where you have the ability to order a la carte as well as being able to try dishes that are not featured in the tasting menu.  I will definitely go back for that.

Chengdu Impression, 21 East Huntington Drive, Arcadia, California 91006, Telephone: (626) 462-9999.  No website as of this posting.  Generally open from 11:30 am to 2:00pm and 5:3opm.  Call for exact hours.  Parking in the rear.  Reservations highly recommended.

Cantonese Style Banquet Dinner at King Hua Restaurant Celebrating My 50th

I organized 12-course Cantonese style banquet dinner to celebrate my big 5-0 with friends earlier this month, and I chose King Hua Restaurant in Alhambra because I enjoyed the food and the service in my previous visits to the restaurant both for similar dinners, as well as during dim sum.

While the service was very attentive, and the servers were extremely helpful in serving the 3 different cakes at the of the banquet, I found the preparations of many of the courses could have been done better.

However, what was most important was that everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.

King Hua Restaurant Website

Jin Patisserie Website


Roasted Pork Combination Platter (Roast Pork with Crispy Skin, Barbeque Pork, Pork Hock, Jellyfish
Peking Duck with Steamed Buns
Sliced Cucumbers and Shredded Scallions (and Hoisin Sauce, not pictured) for the Peking Duck
Remainder of Peking Duck Served Later During Dinner
Scallops and Beef Cubes in Bird’s Nest

Scallops & Beef Cubes in Bird’s Nest – This was a good dish with the exception that the nest itself tasted like a fortune cookie.  This combination of savory and sweet was not appealing to many in my group.  I wished they would have done traditional preparation by creating a nest out of long strands of shredded potatoes and then deep fry it.  Would have been lighter, just as crunchy, but without that sweetness.

Crab and Fish Maw Soup

Crab & Fish Maw Soup – This was the less expensive of the 2 versions on their menu.  But even at $52 (I needed 2 orders per table), it was pretty much a disappointment.  Sure, there was ample crab meat, but not as much fish maw.  Worse was the fact the soup lacked any seasoning, and the fish maw pieces were just bland.

Chayote with Pork
Steamed Chicken with Ham and Mushrooms

Steamed Chicken with Ham & Mushroom – This dish was hampered from the chicken, ham and mushrooms sitting in too much sauce.  Traditionally, there’s only a little bit of sauce underneath to provide flavor.  The ham and shitake mushrooms were too salty as well.

Stir Fried Mixed Mushrooms
Lobster, Seafood Palace Style

Seafood Palace (formerly Seafood Village) Style Garlic Lobster – Good flavor but lobster got overcooked rendering some of the meat dry.

Pea Shoot Leaves with Abalone Mushrooms
Steamed Red Rock Cod (fresh from their tanks)
Stuffed Deep Fried Egg Tofu Stuffed with Diced Vegetables

Stuffed Deep Fried Egg Tofu with Diced Vegetables was not prepared as well as the last time had this dish.  Some of the tofu was only hollowed out 1/3 way deep, so there was’nt enough room to stuff them with diced vegetables.   I originally requested 2 orders of this dish so that each person can have a whole piece of the stuffed tofu, but that request was missed, so we had to cut these pieces in half in order to serve everyone at the table.

Seafood Chow Mein, Hong Kong Style

Seafood Chow Mein, HK Style with crispy noodles, but the preparation was lacking in that much of the noodles were not deep fried to a nice golden crisp, leaving a soggy mess in the middle.

Natsu Cake from Jin Patisserie

Natsu Cake from Jin Patisserie: Kumquat Compote, Vanilla Sponge Cake, Yuzu Creme Brulee and Marscapone. Continue reading “Cantonese Style Banquet Dinner at King Hua Restaurant Celebrating My 50th”

Modern Indonesian Fusion and Bone Broth Noodle Soups at Bone Kettle

Modern Indonesian Fusion and Bone Broth Noodle Soups at Bone Kettle

Nicely plated dishes that tasted lovely, but nothing special.  The bone broth soup with noodles was good, but it was just too much of a production for a bowl of bone broth that was poured over a batch of ramen egg noodles.


Complimentary Roasted Peanuts and Pickled Shredded Palm Root
Gado Gado – Indonesian fried rice cake salad tossed with creamy tamarind-peanut sauce
Short Rib Rendang – Indonesian curry, fried peanuts, roasted pearl onions, cream of avocado & fried leeks
Steamed Oxtail Dumpkings – Oxtail tips, mushrooms and San Bai Su sauce
Ube Gnocchi – Duck confit, apricot cubes, crushed pecans, roasted mushrooms and spiced coconut sauce
Ube Gnocchi – Duck confit, apricot cubes, crushed pecans, roasted mushrooms and spiced coconut sauce
Mie Goreng Pedas – Traditional Indonesian spicy, wok-fried noodle with sous-vide egg
Mie Goreng Pedas – Traditional Indonesian spicy, wok-fried noodle with sous-vide egg
Bone Kettle Ramen
Bone Kettle Ramen
Bone Kettle Broth Pour Over
Braised Ox Tail Protein Choice for the Bone Kettle Ramen Soup
Braised Ox Tail
Result, The Bone Kettle Ramen Soup with Braised Ox Tail
Ramen served very al dente. Let the broth soak in the cook the noodles.
Pear and Sugarcane Tea
They offer Vegan and Vegetarian Options


Le Menu
Eating at the Bar

SHUTTERED: Fried Chicken at Fritzi’s Coop, Plus January’s Fried Chicken Crawl

During January’s DineLA Restaurant Week, I wanted to try Neal Frazier’s Fritzi in the Downtown LA’s Arts District, just east of Little Tokyo but wasn’t able to.  Soon thereafter, it was reported that Fritzi was renamed Fritzi’s Coop, which focuses on fried chicken (buttermilk battered or skinless).  One night, I realized that I was going to be passing by here and decided to grab dinner here.

There are options for a quarter chicken or a half chicken.  At only $4 more, I opted for the half buttermilk fried chicken.  This meal included a choice of starch, and a side dish.  I chose tater tots and cauliflower.  I added a side of gravy for $2.50 more.

Let me say, the chicken was huge, especially the breast piece.  There was more than enough to feed 2 people with this meal.  The chicken was nice and crunchy, moist, and seasoned well.  Smothering the breast filet with the gravy adds extra depth of flavor.  I’d love to go back and try the skinless fried chicken.

Also, since I’m discussing about fried chicken, I’m posting pics of places where my friends and I have sampled fried chicken.

Half Buttermilk Fried Chicken with a starch and a side, plus a side of gravy.
Chicken breast is huge and is boneless. Perfect for smothering it with that gravy.
Starch: Tater Tots, Side: Roasted Cauliflower (Cold)

Desserts look so tempting, especially the chocolate layer cake.


Craft Pizza n Chicken in the DTLA Fashion District.  Address:  735 East 12th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Family owned food stand at the food court located on the very top floor.

OG Fried Chicken

Adobo Fried Chicken Wings

SECOND LOCAT ION:  Birdie’s in South Park of DTLA.  Address:  314 West Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Unless you call to order in advanced, they may not have enough chicken brined, battered and ready to be cooked on the spot.  That was the situation we encountered duringour visit.  For a group of 8 of us, obviously we needed to order one piece per person.  Unfortunately, they only had 6 pieces of chicken ready for deep frying – 4 pieces of white and 2 pieces of dark.  In order to compensate for the shortage, we ordered some a chicken strips as well.

What was interesting was that we were not amazed by the regular fried chicken.  We actually, preferred the chicken tenders instead as the batter was more evenly distributed.  It was also nice and crunchy as well.  The regular fried chicken wasn’t as crispy as it can get, and some of the batter separated from the chicken during deep frying

And they also have house made decadent donuts!

THIRD STOP:  HoHo Chicken near MacArthur Park.  Address:  2625 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90057

Located just east and outside of Koreatown is this KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) place that serves up solid fried chicken as well as offering a good variety of flavored/sauces wings.  With so many to choose from, and being partially full, we opted to get only the original fried chicken along with the Parmesan wings, sweet chili wings, and curry wings (a flavor I’ve encounter here only, thus far.

Parmesan Wings
OG Fried Chicken
Curry Wings
Sweet Chili Wings (partial order; they were finished up the rest but wanted us to be able to start eating since the rest of the order was ready)