Taiwanese Cold Dishes & Noodles at Cindy’s Kitchen 金葫蘆煄醬滷味 in Hacienda Heights, CA

Taiwanese Cold Dishes & Noodles at Cindy’s Kitchen 金葫蘆煄醬滷味 in Hacienda Heights, CA

This is the place to go for a great variety of cold appetizers you can choose from, and the appetizers run from $5.00 to $12.00 per order.  With most being under $8, it was easy to order a huge variety of dishes to share.  Aside from the tasty cold appetizers, Cindy’s Kitchen serves up some decent pan fried noodles and noodle soups as well.

Some of the better cold appetizers we noshed on included their Smoked Duck, Spiced Chicken, and Spicy Chicken Gizzards (which I somehow missed taking a photo of).  The flavors were quite pronounced.  The smokiness of the duck was enhanced throughout the dish.  Every bite was a nice bite of smokiness and savoriness.

At $23 per person (which includes tax and 20% gratuity), it was considered inexpensive, and it may contain exotic herbs and spices from around world, in their dishes.  Such a bargain, and we were stuffed to the gills afterward.  Even with a party of 8, we barely made a dent in the number of dishes they have offer on their menu.  So, we’re going to head back in late September, and hope to be able to sample more dishes from their dinner menu.

As always, click on the thumbnail to enlarged the picture.

 

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Dinner at Moon House Chinese Cuisine 福滿樓 in West Los Angeles, CA

Dinner at Moon House Chinese Cuisine 福滿樓 in West Los Angeles, CA

For the last 2 years, Moon House has been the “go to” place for solid Chinese (mainly Cantonese) food on the Westside, and for the most part, the food is excellent.  This place has also been packed in the past Chinese students from UCLA, as well as those who live out on the Westside.  However, during this time, prices have been slowly creeping up.  What used to be inexpensive and reasonable is now getting to the point of being moderately pricey.   Lunch Specials that used to cost $8 or $9 a dish, and a Buy 4 Lunch Special Entrees and Get 1 Free promo, now run about $12 to $14.  And that Buy 4 and Get 1 Free promo is no more.

In addition to the higher prices, their Health Inspection Rating dropped, for the first time ever, from an “A” rating.  Worse, the rating dropped to a “C.”  It makes one wonder if the 2 issues may be the cause for their foot traffic to noticeably drop off some?  So, we wonder if the offering of a 40% Off Facebook Discount was in response to the decline in sales?  Whatever the reason was, we took advantage of it and dined on 16 different dishes, most of which were prepared well and were tasty.

The most luxurious item they had available was the Peking (Beijing) Duck.  Though it may not have been the best preparation, it was more than adequate to satiate our palates.

The one true disappointment of the evening was the Salt & Pepper Calamari.  The flour coating on the outside could have used a few more seconds frying in oil, so that the calamari would be nice and crispy.  Instead, it was a little gummy, and there was a off taste to the calamari.

Service was good here.  With the discount, we saved about $120 on our dinner, and with the cost of $23 per person, this meal was quite a steal.

If you can read Chinese or use a translator app, you may want to ask for the Chinese only menu to order dishes non-Chinese readers don’t know about.

As always, click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photos.

Brunch at Kali Restaurant in Hollywood, CA

Brunch at Kali Restaurant in Hollywood, CA

Chef Kevin Meehan started Sunday brunch service at Kali at the earlier this year; and aside from some of the more popular brunch staples, Kali offers some of their lunch time entrees, including their very popular and delicious Black Barley Risotto.  Here, the food is well presented, and the offerings are perfect for these warm, sunny summer days.

In addition, you can finish off your brunch with a dessert course.  Their signature dessert of Meringue Gelato with Candied Yolk Shaving is a nice light way to finish brunch.  Their Meyer Lemon & Olive Oil Flan offered a rollercoaster of flavors in your mouth.  You start off tasting the sweetness from the flan, then the saltiness from the cheese crisp on top, and lastly, the citric tartness from Meyer lemon finishes off the bite.  Quite a combination.

Brunch Menu:  https://www.kalirestaurant.com/brunch/

酸菜魚 Dinner at Tai 2 太二 Chinese Sauerkraut Fish in City of Industry

酸菜魚 Dinner at Tai 2 太二 Chinese Sauerkraut Fish in City of Industry

Sichuan style restaurant that specializes in spicy whole fish cooked in a spicy broth made with sour pickled vegetables (aka Chinese sauerkraut), dried red chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns.  The dish is can be quite spicy depending on the level of heat you choose.  We went with Medium Spice level, and it was quite spicy for our table.   The Sichuan peppercorns gave that nice numbing effect that somewhat neutralizes the burn from the chiles.  Unfortunately, the dish was quite salty.  In fact, almost all of their dishes were over-seasoned.

The fish used was tilapia.  In our Extra Large sized order, the used 2 loosely filleted tilapia.  I say “loosely filleted” because the skin is not remove, and you would definitely encounter bones that are still inside each chunk of fish meat.  So, eat with care.

Pricing here seemed rather high for the quality of the dishes, and their sizes.  Even a bowl of steamed white rice costs $2 per bowl.

Service here is typical of restaurant from Mainland China.  The staff is nice, but other than serving you your dishes, and provide you with the basics, they don’t do anything extra, such as refilling water glasses.

The best dishes of the night were the chicken feet and the vegetable dishes as well.

We did enjoy quirky English names given for their dishes, almost literal translations from the quirky Chinese names.

Dim Sum and More at Longo Seafood Restaurant 鴻德品位 in Rosemead, CA

Dim Sum and More at Longo Seafood Restaurant 鴻德品位 in Rosemead, CA

Longo Seafood sits in the space that once was Sun City Seafood Restaurant, which also served traditional, but inexpensive, dim sum where you order from various carts that roam about the dining area continuously.   Sun City lasted for about 6 years before going through a change in management.  Sun City then closed and reopened as Crown Palace.  Dim sum wasn’t any better than its predecessor, and after 9 months, Crown Palace shuttered its doors.

Fast forward to over a year later, and the space went through a complete renovation inside and out, but mostly inside.  It was lavishly decorated to give a feel of a higher end Chinese dim sum palace.  More importantly, the food has improved substantially, with offerings of specialty dim sum that are made from high end quality ingredients such as black truffles, foie gras, and wagyu beef.

However, without proper execution, or even proper development of recipes, adding higher end ingredients to traditional dim sum dishes doesn’t necessarily mean that dish will work.

Foie gras used in a steamed dumpling was first done by the original owners of Lunasia in Alhambra when it opened about 10 years ago.  The one item that was to be their signature dish was their Foie Gras Dumpling, which was a roundish steamed dumpling with a shrimp filling, topped with a small piece of foie.  Unfortunately, for the most part, these dumplings were overcooked, so when you bit into one you, you bit into a piece of overcooked duck liver as well, leaving your mouth with this dry, gritty muddy taste that overpowered the shrimp filling.

Longo, though, does do a better job at presenting foie gras in a steamed dumpling.  With a clean palate, you can get that subtle hint of foie from your first bite into their dumpling.  The problem was that, it was just a hint.  Unless you’re able to identify the flavor, you’ll easily miss it.  For many at my table, it was not worth paying the extra money for that.

More successful are Longo’s Black Truffle Siu Mai.  I taste finely shaved black truffles placed on top of their siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings).  You do get that truffle flavor with every bite.  At about $3 per dumpling, it’s a better deal (and taste) than the Black Truffle XLBs at Din Tai Fung (which run about $4.50 per mini-XLB).

Having Wagyu Beef in rice rolls (cheung fun) is like making a hamburger patty out of Kobe beef, a seemingly waste.  The beef in these rice rolls come across as overcooked.  I prefer the traditional beef rice rolls made with a marinated ground beef filling.

And while the Longo Lobster Dumplings weren’t bad, ordering the Longo Shrimp Dumpling will give you the same experience.  Only a small piece of lobster meat is placed on top of the shrimp filling inside the Longo Lobster Dumpling, and the flavor and texture of the lobster disappear when it becomes overcooked in a dumpling that’s 80% shrimp inside.

Service is typical as to what you expect from other dim sum palaces.  Just because they look higher end in decor inside, and offer fancy dim sum dishes, you’re not going to be treated as you would while dining at Patina.

And did anyone leave here with a dry mouth?  Whenever I get that dreadful feeling, it’s usually because the food has been seasoned with too much salt.

As always, click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

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.

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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