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.


Celebrating My 50th at 3 Michelin Starred “Quince”

Celebrating My 50th at 3 Michelin Starred “Quince”

I discovered Quince a few years back when I was doing research, planning for a wine trip with a few friends.  Quince never made it to the final itinerary, so I bookmarked them for a future trip.

Cut to October 2016, when the new Michelin ratings were published.  Quince gained their third Michelin star.  Quite a huge accomplishment, which placed them in a list with other SF Bay Area 3 Michelin starred restaurants which include The French Laundry, Restaurant at The Meadowood, Manresa, Benu, and Saison.

After reading about this, I knew I just had to pay a visit to them.  And with my 50th birthday coming up in February, I thought this would be the perfect time to experience the pleasures of top notch fine dining.  I originally had planned to dine here on my birthday day, but with untimely illness and predicted stormy weather, I had to postpone my trip to the first weekend of March.

The dinner at Quince was simply the best dining experience I ever had, even outperforming my LA favorite, n/naka.  The staff was impeccably dressed.  The service was top notch and highly attentive.   The food was gorgeously plated, and it was bite after bite of deliciousness.

Being a milestone birthday, I was treated by Chef Michael Tusk to additional courses that were masterfully prepared, as well as a pour of the 1967 vintage of Travaglini Gattinara.

Chef Tusk and his staff have made this evening a truly unforgettable one.  Dinner here at Quince was near 4 hours long, but they more than exceeded my expectations.  Time to save up and hope to dine with them again…


Monkey Town: 5-Course Dinner, Visual Art Installation and Musical Performance in a Cube, September 18, 2016

Visual Art Installation curated by Montgomery Knott, and 5-Course Tasting by Chef Nick Montgomery, with music performance by Rachel Mason. A fun evening of having all of your senses stimulated. It was even more fun to be there with a large group of friends.

Unfortunately, this is one environment where the iPhone 6S camera really shows it’s deficiencies. Can’t wait to get the 7Plus for better pictures and videos in the future.

Lemonade Cocktail (made with vodka?) refresher to enjoy as you enter the building

Entering into the main space viewing the cube from the outside

Obviously, the tasting menu
Tasting Menu comes with Wine Pairing
Seating inside the cube

Lightly Cured Hamachii | kohlrabi, cilantro, yuzu dashi

Heirloom Tomato Salad | torpedo onion, baby squash, wakame

Gnocchetti Tirolesi | pork ragout, cauliflower, almond pesto

Braised Beef Short Rib | confit potatoes, pumpkin seeds, tomatillo romesco 

Caramelized Chocolate Pot De Creme
pistachio brittle, candied orange, whipped creme fraiche

Rachel Mason performed during the dinner

Montgomery Knott thanking all for attending

One last glance at the cube while on the out

3-Course Dinner at 71 Above, atop the U.S. Bank Tower, August 28, 2016

The highly anticipated 71 Above opened at the end of July, and back in late August, my friends and I were able to enjoy dinner with amazing views and wonderful ambiance.  Chef Vartan Abgaryan helmed the kitchen, after having left Cliff’s Edge several months ago.

It was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable dinners I’ve had in a long time, mainly because of the way the dining rooms were constructed, to absorb noise.  That kept the noise level relatively low, despite the fact all the tables were filled.  In addition, the pacing of the service and those amazing views also helped.

Entrance to elevators to 71 Above from the OUE Skyspace level.
 The breathtaking views you get from your table by the windows

Amuse: Savory Canele with pecorino cheese and rosemary 

King Crab | Mango, Avocado, Fresno Chile, Sorrel, Chicharrón

Fig | Purslane, Red Onion, Goat Feta, Honey Vinegar, Lemon, Sumac Crisp

Octopus | Grilled, Peach, Lemon, Mustards, Pickled Pearl Onion, Herbs

Raviolo | Egg, Corn, Black Truffle
Perfectly cooked with a nice runny egg yolk.
Farm Egg | Crispy Potato, Chorizo, Finger Lime, Cilantro 

Strawberry Gazpacho | Strawberry Ice, Pickled Green Strawberries, Black Pepper, Shiso

Oyster | Poached, Uni, Caviar, Tarragon, Champagne
Steak Tartare | Farm Yolk, Mustard, Truffle, Chives, Pommes Maxim

Young Chicken | Breast, Thigh, Foie Gras, Black Truffle, Asparagus, Vin Jaune, Jus Gras
Prime Rib Eye | Dry-Aged, Eggplant, Black Garlic Miso, Onion, Cipollini Jus 

Scallop | Carrot, Vadouvan Curry, Coconut, Barrel-Aged Fish Sauce
Suckling Pig | Loin, Belly, Confit Pressé, Young Lettuces, Cherry, Mustard
DESSERT: Lemon Curd
 Beautiful main dining room with views of Los Angeles all around.
Your view of the City of Angels at night.