Oaxacan Brunch at Conrad’s Restaurant in San Pedro

Oaxacan Brunch at Conrad’s Restaurant in San Pedro

Chef/Owner Conrad Aguilar recently opened up this quaint neighborhood “farm to table” eatery serving dishes from his native Oaxaca to traditional Mexican and American fare.  In addition, the chef hopes to slowly incorporate more dishes from different parts of Central and South Americas.  Sourcing ingredients from local farms, Chef Aguilar prides himself in serving up delicious food from these ingredients.

A group of us shared some of the dishes he highly recommended, which included his take on Oaxacan dishes such as his Empanadas Oaxaca, which is made with a “corn dough” (as he called it) and stuffed with zucchini and topped with avocado salsa.  These empanadas are then deep fried, yielding a crispy exterior and a lighter interior than what you get from empanadas made from flour that are either baked or deep fried.  Nice touch.  A style of empanada I’ve never experienced before.  The avocado salsa is flavorful and pairs well with the empanadas and the greens that come on the side.

Dark Mole Oaxaca has that nice, rich and smoky flavor from the roasted guajillo peppers used in the mole sauce and the sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

The Carnitas Plate was quite tasty, and I enjoy the crispiness of the exterior of the chunks of carnitas.

The chef makes a nice version of lomo saltado.  Order some rice to stir in some of that tasty sauce.

Of course, a meal is not complete without dessert, and we noshed on a flan and the arroz con leche, which is really good.  We couldn’t stop digging into it.

Really enjoyed the food here, and the staff is very attentive.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

Website:  http://conradssp.com/

 

 

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Shanghainese Food at Southern Mini Town 小南國 in San Gabriel

Shanghainese Food at Southern Mini Town 小南國 in San Gabriel

Little hole-in-the-wall in the same mini-mall with the ever so popular Golden Deli.  The food it tasty; the prices are fair; but compared to other similar restaurants, the portion sizes for some of the dishes were on the paltry side.

One of their popular dishes is this huge pork hock, served over a bed of greens and a dark sauce made with soy sauce and honey.  The hock is cooked down well, the meat just falls off the bone at the slightest touch.

Though their Pan Fried Shanghai Rice Cakes were tasty, the soup dumpling (xiao long bao) and the pan fried pork buns were decent, but you can easily get them better elsewhere…

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the picture.

Dinner at Sichuan Impression 镍城里 in Alhambra

Dinner at Sichuan Impression 镍城里 in Alhambra

Though their sign still reads Szechuan Impression, somehow, over the years, they’ve decided to stop using the American romanization of 四川 and started using the Pinyin spelling instead.  And you can see that on their claimed Yelp page and Facebook pages.

The food here was solid but not as good as when they first opened, and Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold was patiently waiting outside for a table with his son.

While the highlights of the dinner were the Bobo Chicken of Leshan (bowl of skewers of chicken innards, seafood and vegetables), Fish Filet with Rattan Peppers (spicy and mouth numbing – so good, my dinner mates kept fishing through the broth for any last bits of fish meat), and, especially the Tea Smoked Pork Ribs (which was wonderfully seasoned with a nice smoky flavor – heavy on the garlic but not the spiciness), there were some dishes that disappointed me.

Their cold jelly noodles had a nice touch of heat, but there was a bit too much vinegar in the sauce.  In my first bite, I got this huge hit of tartness from it.  Only when it subsided did the spiciness rolled in a little.

Another disappointment was their Wontons in Chili Oil.  Though it was a little spicy, but that was overshadowed by overly sweetness of the sauce.  Similar issue with the Kong Pao Chicken.  It was just a tad too sweet.  Ironically, what wasn’t sweet enough was the Cinderella’s Pumpkin Rides.  Pumpkin cakes filled with red beans, and not a lot of red beans, nor sugar.  Had they used sweet red bean paste instead, that might have made the difference.

Lastly, the Sauteed Shredded Potatoes were bland.  It was the only dish that hardly anyone at our table opted for a second serving.  Upon leaving the restaurant, I notice the same dish at the next table.  Only theirs had red and green chilis pieces stir fried with the potatoes, whereas our order only had scallions.  I found it odd that they would make such error preparing our order.  No wonder it was plain bland.

For the number of really good dish, there were equally the number of disappointing ones for me.  Even so, there’s so much more of the menu to explore.  So, another visit will be warranted.  However, there are newer hole-in-the-wall Sichuanese places that have popped up around the San Gabriel Valley over the last year that are making much more flavor forward dishes than this place now…

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

Beijing Cuisine at Bistro Na’s 那家小館 in Temple City

Beijing Cuisine at Bistro Na’s 那家小館 in Temple City

Nice elegantly decorated restaurant transporting one to Beijing for elevated Beijing cuisine.  Service is very attentive, and food is good if you pick the right dishes.  For the most part, the dishes ordered were very good.  I wasn’t crazy with the Crispy Lamb as it was greasy from the deep fry, and the lamb was excessively gamey.  Food here on the pricier side but still competitively priced.  Dishes that stood out to me were the Crispy Prawns, Honey Black Pepper Beef, and the Beijing Noodles.

https://www.bistronas.com/

TEMPORARILY CLOSED: Delicious Sichuan Fare at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead

TEMPORARILY CLOSED: Delicious Sichuan Fare at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead

A true hole-in-the-wall found on the eastern end of the city of Rosemead where Valley Boulevard and Mission Road intersects, where the food is mouth-numbing from the aggressive use of Sichuan peppercorns as well as the spiciness from the dried Sichuan red chili peppers and chili oil.  Then tastes the layers of flavors found in each dish, and you have a delicious meal, and for me, it’s some of the best Sichuan food in the Los Angeles area, and at a price point that’s lower than many of the well known Sichuan restaurants such as Chengdu Taste and Szechuan Impression.

Place is CASH ONLY, and their servers speak Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

 

Dinner at the Mezzanine Restaurant at The NoMad Hotel in DTLA

Dinner at the Mezzanine Restaurant at The NoMad Hotel in DTLA

Click on photos to enlarge.

Dinner was back in early April 2018.  Different dining experience here than that at The NoMad Hotel in the Flatiron/Nomad District in New York, as the lighting is dimmed for a more romantic type of setting.  But with the low ceilings, it can get quite loud.

The service here is wondering and, for the most part, so was the food.  Outstanding was their signature Roast Chicken stuffed with foie gras, black truffle and brioche crumbs under the skin, and roasted with butter and rosemary.  It is presented tableside before being returned to the kitchen to be plated.  The breast cuts are served on plates with a sauce containing foie gras and black truffle.  The dark meat is served in small cast iron cocottes with turnips and a cream sauce.  It was very decadent, moist, flavor-forward and delicious.  Their Dungeness Crab Salad and Foie Gras Torchon were delicious as well.

https://www.thenomadhotel.com/los-angeles/dining/mezzanine

Buffet Lunch at Nanking Indo-Chinese Restaurant in Artesia

Buffet Lunch at Nanking Indo-Chinese Restaurant in Artesia

Indo-Chinese (aka Desi-Chinese) cuisine has originated from the Hakka Chinese of Kolkata, the only city that has its own Chinatown. However, many dishes of modern Indian Chinese cuisine bear little resemblance to traditional Chinese cuisine.

Foods tend to be flavored with spices such as cumin, coriander seeds, tumeric. chile, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, dry red chilis, black peppercorns and yogurt are frequently used in dishes. Dishes look like familiar Chinese dishes but with the incorporation of a lot of Indian flavors and spices.

Nanking offers a Lunch Buffet for $12.99 per person on the weekends, which is a great bargain.  They also have their regular menu available as well, which has a slightly larger offerings of Indo-Chinese dishes, as well as traditional Northern Indian cuisine and Nepalese dishes.

Buffet is has solid dishes that are aggressively seasoned with spices as well as salt, on occasion.  It’s a shame Wok N Tandoor is no longer in business.  I actually found their Indo-Chinese dishes to be more on point with preparation and flavors.

 

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Dal
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Goat Curry (Left), Chicken Tikka Masala (Right)
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Tandoori Chicken
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Vegetable Biryani
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Hot & Sour Soup
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Mushroom Curry (Left), Paneer Masala (Right)
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Kung Pao Vegetable (Left), Manchurian Vegetable Balls (Right)
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Chow Mein (Left), Fried Rice (Right)
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Samosas (Left), Vegetable Pakora (Right)
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Chinese Bhel
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Mango Souffle (Left), Galub Jamun (Right)
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Naan
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Chicken Momos
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Hakka Noodles
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Shrimp & Cashew Curry

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