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/

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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.

Beijing  Duck Lunch at Duck House 鹿鼎記 in Monterey Park, CA

Beijing Duck Lunch at Duck House 鹿鼎記 in Monterey Park, CA

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For me, there are only a handful of places in the Greater Los Angeles Area that serves up really good Beijing Duck (aka Peking Duck), and Duck House is one of them.  They have been a staple here for over 15 years, and the quality of their food hasn’t diminished since.  In fact, they’re reaching out to foodies from around the city by participating in their very first DineLA Restaurant Week, which runs from July 13th through July 27th.  In addition, you can now make reservations through Open Table.

After checking out their $25 lunch and $49 dinner menus for DineLA, I thought one can get a better deal buy ordering off their regular menu.  So, for a party of 16 (8 per table), I ordered for each table the $268 set menu for 6 people, an extra half Beijing Duck, and 2 vegetable dishes for each table.  The total for lunch unfortunately came out to be about $20 more per person, tax and gratuity included.

However, for the majority, the food was delicious, and everyone was able to get ample amount of duck.  Shiny, crispy skinned duck, where some pieces had a nice layer of rendered fat on them, giving you more flavor with every bite.  Duck meat is sliced nicely and evenly, making them easy to roll up into a wrap with the raw scallions, cucumbers and a drizzle of hoisin sauce.  Each bite into the wrap was a mouthful of savory, ducky goodness.

The other dishes were solid, and the Baked Truffled Lobster was meaty and juicy, doused in a tasty garlicky and peppery sauce that just screams for a steamed white rice so you can use it to soak up those juices and savor the flavor.

Lunch ended with a plate of Passionfruit Konnyaku Jello, made in molds in the shape of Hello Kitty’s face.  Konnyaku is made from the Amorphophallus konjac and is sometimes referred to as yam, yam cake or yam flour.  It has a firmer texture than agar agar or regular gelatin.  It’s not very flavorful, so you can easily taste the passionfruit flavor.

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Calamari with a spicy and garlicky dipping sauce
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Smoked Flavored Pork
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Beijing Duck with all the fixings
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1 1/2 Orders of Beijing Duck
Shredded Scallions and Cucumbers and Hoisin Sauce
Shredded Scallions and Cucumbers and Hoisin Sauce that accompany the duck
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The Perfect Bite
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Duck Soup with Napa Cabbage and Tofu
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Filet Mignon Cubes with Black Pepper
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Baby Bok Choy with Dried Scallops and Crab Meat
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BBQ Eel with Glutenous Rice
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Sauteed A Choy
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Sizzling Tofu with Basil in Pot
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Baked Truffled Lobster in Black Pepper Sauce
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Passionfruit Konnyaku Jelly

 

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They were made in a Hello Kitty mode!