Ordering Off the Chinese Only Menu at Embassy Kitchen 彌敦閣 in San Gabriel, CA

Ordering Off the Chinese Only Menu at Embassy Kitchen 彌敦閣 in San Gabriel, CA

If you’re able to order off their Chinese only menu, then you open yourself up to a culinary adventure you don’t find in many Hong Kong style Cantonese restaurants.  Some of these dishes require extra time to prepare, and therefor need to be ordered in advanced.

The best of these dishes is the Crispy Boneless Chicken Stuffed with Shrimp Paste.  The skin was crispy, and the shrimp paste was flavorful, making every bite delicious.  With a larger party, we had 1 1/2 orders of the chicken on the plate, and that amount made for an impressive presentation

There is another Crispy Boneless Chicken that’s stuffed with sticky rice instead.  While the presentation was nice, it wasn’t as enjoyable to eat.  The sticky rice didn’t add much flavor to the the chicken.

Both of these chicken dishes, as well as the Stuffed Chicken Wings and the Tilapia Rolls, need to be ordered 24 hours in advance as these dishes are more labor intensive.  Each of these dishes is around $40-$50.

Tilapia Rolls were unique to me, as you bite into pickled red ginger along with thousand year old egg.  The sulfuric flavor of the egg could be somewhat offputting to some, especially when combined with the tart and spiciness of the ginger.

Aside from preparing these elaborate dishes well, they’re good at the simpler dishes as well such as the Scrambled Egg with Shrimp.  The scrambled egg is well seasoned and is cooked to the point where the eggs remain wet, which prevents it from overcooking and drying out when it sits on the plate for a few minutes.

The pricing is on the higher side when compared to other restaurants such as Sam Woo and Sham Tseng.

 

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Yunnan & Sichuan Dishes at Yunnan Restaurant 雲南過橋園 in Monterey Park, CA

Yunnan & Sichuan Dishes at Yunnan Restaurant 雲南過橋園 in Monterey Park, CA

When eating Chinese food in the San Gabriel Valley of Greater Los Angeles, there are only a few Chinese restaurants that specialize Yunnan cuisine.  It’s probably not easy to offer considering it’s province of China that features over dozens and dozens of minority ethnic groups, such as the Miao, Dai and Bai peoples, and many of the dishes are made with regional ingredients we most likely don’t have in the U.S.

From what little research I have done, I found that Yunnan Restaurant offer at least a half dozen of dishes that are popular within that region of China, such as the every so popular Yunnan House Special (Crossing Bridges) Rice Noodle Soup with boned-in Chicken, and square slices of sandwich ham meat.   This dish was served table side, where a server will bring out all the ingredients on a compartmental tray and then start mixing them into the broth, followed by the long thick strands of rice noodles.  It was hearty but a light dish as well.

The Cured Pork with Leeks was tasty, but was too salty.  The same can be said for the Yunnan Dried Beef, which was a little salty and chewy.

We supplemented the rest of dinner by ordering some of the more Sichuan dishes such as the Kung Pao Chicken and the Chungking Style Spicy Shrimp (it’s normally whole shrimps with shells deep fried, but they offered to prepare a version with shelled shrimps.  I wonder if that was suggested to us since our table was half non-Chinese.  We opted for the shelled version).  These 2 dishes were stand outs for me.   We enjoyed the slight sweetness in the Kung Pao Chicken.  So much so, that we finished the dish in minutes.

Though the rest of the dishes ordered were good, they didn’t have enough Sichuan peppercorns nor the ma-la flavor profile to make the dishes sing.  Nevertheless, price-wise, you get ample amounts of food for your money, and that Cold Appetizers Bar at the front of the restaurant is a much try.

 

Dim Sum Dinner at Lunasia Chinese Cuisine 金凱旋宮 in Alhambra, CA

Dim Sum Dinner at Lunasia Chinese Cuisine 金凱旋宮 in Alhambra

These days, if you can’t make it for a dim sum brunch early weekend hours, then having dim sum for dinner is becoming a more and more of an option here in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Lunasia’s current dim sum menu offers the traditional items as well as some fancier dim sum dishes such as the Scallop Dumplings with Squid Ink Wrap, Baked Abalone Tarts, and the Pan Fried Pork Bun with added Crab Meat.  While we loved the Scallop Dumplings and the Pan Fried Pork & Crab baos, we didn’t feel the same with the Baked Abalone Tart, as the abalone was quite hard.

Dim sum, for the most part, is priced the same for both lunch and dinner hours, and the execution of many of the items we ordered were quite good.  The only dishes that didn’t work for us were the rice noodle rolls.  Both types we ordered were overcooked.

Another plus about having dim sum at this location at night?  Less crowds, ample parking, and there’s no feeling rushed to finish your meal so that they can flip the table quickly for the next party.

Chef Laurent Quenioux’s LQ Fooding “Fall Series @ MaMaison 2018” in Topanga, CA

Chef Laurent Quenioux’s LQ Fooding “Fall Series @ MaMaison 2018” in Topanga, CA

The owners of this lovely property in the mountains just north of the Topanga Village opened their amazing property to Chef Quenioux and his LQ Foodings team to host a multi-course dinner this weekend.  It was a beautiful night, with lovely views, and the weather was perfect for an outdoor dinner.

And what a dinner it was, considered a bargain by many of the diners, as you get 7 courses plus a glass of apertif: Dijon Cassis Kir, for only $80 plus tax, gratuity and a processing fee for purchasing your tickets online.

Cold/room temperature appetizers were the perfect dishes to serve on this night to start the dinner with, leading up to three delicious main course including the seafood course, garnished with a delicious bouillabase broth, to beef short ribs served with cordyceps mushrooms.

It was a wonderful progression of dishes, and this is certainly one of the better pop-up dinners around these days in the LA area.  It’s the type of dining I enjoy:  gradual progression of dishes, relaxed atmosphere, not excessively loud, and no loud music blaring away.  Instead, contemporary jazz was played in the background, at a volume that did not make it difficult for one to carry a conversation with dinner mates nearby.

Website:  http://bistrolq.com/lq-foodings

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures.

Ruiji Sichuan Restaurant 瑞吉川菜 in Lomita, CA

Ruiji Sichuan Restaurant 瑞吉川菜 in Lomita, CA

Hard to believe that there’s been a true Sichuan restaurant in the South Bay area of Los Angeles (communities south of LAX) for almost 2 years now before I finally discovered them.  The prices here are slightly higher than the Sichuan restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, but the quality of their food pretty much rival the excellent ones in San Gabriel Valley.

The menu is huge and offers a wonderful variety of Sichuan dishes and more.  The dishes offer a good enough of a kick but not to the point where the spiciness would overpower the layers of flavors that exude from every dish from the very first bite.  And while most of the dishes were delicious, there were a couple of under-performing dishes, such as the Corn laced with Salted Egg Yolk and the Wontons in Spicy Chili Oil.  The corn was too sweet and had too much of the salted duck egg yolks dusted over them.  It ate more like a dessert than savory goodness.  The wontons tasted one dimensional, especially from the sauce the wontons were served with.

Other than that, it was a great dinner.  With so many offerings on their menu, we would have to make a couple of return visits in the future.

 

Atlantic Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant 黃金閣海鮮酒樓 in Monterey Park, CA

Atlantic Seafood & Dim Sum Restaurant 黃金閣海鮮酒樓 in Monterey Park, CA

One of the more popular places in the San Gabriel Valley for dim sum because of its pricing (it is one of the less expensive places for dim sum these days).  Most of the dim sum items are priced at $3.18 per item (specialty items such as Roast Pork Belly and Roast Duck cost $6.32 each), and these prices are good for weekends and holidays.  However, if you are able to have dim sum during the weekdays, then pricing is substantially lower at $2.78 per item, or $5.56 for the specialty items.

Dim sum is served in carts that weave through rows of tables throughout the restaurant.  If you come during the peak dim sum brunch hours of 11:00am and 1:00pm, then you will be able to order any dim sum listed on their dim sum menu.  During the rest of the time, the less traditional dim sum items such as the Deep Fried Green Tea Balls with Pumpkin and Pan Fried Fish Cake with Corn are not offered.

Two of the dishes that are a stand out for me are their Pan Fried Stuffed Bell Peppers made with shrimp pasted and a black bean sauce, and the Pan Fried Turnip Cake.  Both are delicious, and the Pan Fried Stuffed Bell Peppers are a rarity these days as not all dim sum palaces serve this dish anymore, and for some who do, they would use jalapeno peppers instead.  Jalapenos give the dish a slightly different flavor profile, and the spiciness of the jalapenos overpower the delicate flavor of the shrimp past.

Service here is attentive and responsive, and the quality of most dim sum is quite good.  Sometimes you may get items such as the Har Gow and the Shrimp Rice Noodle Rolls overcooked, and the rice flour wrap becomes gummy and soggy.

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photo.

9th Annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade at UCLA

9th Annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade at UCLA

This is perhaps the best food festival one can attend in Los Angeles, and all proceeds raised will be go to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.  This is one of the few local food festivals that have chefs from other parts of the country participate, such as Jonathan Waxman, Marc Vetri, and Donald Link, just to name a few.  They, along with top chefs in the LA area, graciously donate all of their time, effort and food for a wonderful cause.

Added the amazing prizes that were being auctioned off during the Live Auction (a week’s trip to Rome and Tuscany for 4 with dinner at Nancy Silverton’s Tuscany home, plus wine tasting throughout the region fetched a whopping $100,000 from one bidder; and dinner for 8 at Jimmy Kimmel’s home with chefs Josiah Citrin, Michael Cimarusti and others, also fetched $100,000 from each of the 3 winning bidders).

Tickets to this event cost $195 for general admission, but it was 4 hours of culinary and liquor bliss as the food spread offered by the chefs were delicious.  However, another way to be able to attend the event and be able to sample of the offers was to volunteer for the event.  The middle of September is usually the start of the hottest time of the year for Los Angeles, and yesterday, it was no different.  While it wasn’t extremely hot, walking around for hours in the sun and heat drained me out completely.  In the end, I only had enough time and energy to hit a few of the stands.

My two favorites out of the bunch were Stephanie Mutz’s Sea Urchins and Sea Urchin Shooters, Kevin Meehan’s Beef Tartare with Charcoal Chip & Yolk Aioli, and Jeremy Fox & Andy Doubrava’s Bone Marrow Fried Farro Verde.  Both made my palate sing.

Perhaps next year, I’ll attend the event as a regular ticketholder and hope to be able to maximize the experience of this event, an event which, I’m quite sure, easily raised over a million dollars to fight pediatric cancer.