Archive for November, 2008

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鹿鼎記 duck house (monterey park)

November 27, 2008

鹿鼎記 duck house – 北京烤鴨專門店
501 s. atlantic blvd
monterey park, ca 91754
(626) 284-3227
www.pearlcatering.com

(please excuse all the blur photos on this blog entry…these were taken with my iphone.)
i’ve always missed those crispy and delectable roasted peking duck dish from the famous “peking garden” (which has the best peking duck!) in hong kong where, growing up, my dad used to take us for dinner every once in awhile when he was back in town. for thanksgiving dinner this year, my friend suggested to try the “duck house” where he’s heard that they specialize in roasted peking duck dish. there are two locations, and we visited the one in monterey park…

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it was around 8:30pm when we arrived. the place was pretty packed, but there were still few available tables. the first thing the hostess asked was if we had reservations, and told us that peking ducks were sold out for the night. when we were about to turn around and leave, another hostess confirmed that their famous dish was actually still available, and so we got seated right away.  (we later realized that there’s usually a one-hour wait for the peking duck, and you’re supposed to make reservations if you want the peking duck dish.)  once seated, menu was handed to us immediately.  hoisin sauce, spring onions + cucumber (both for the anticipated roast duck dish), a cold dish appetizer of duck feet + sliced duck neck, and pot of tea were served soon after.  we ordered the roasted peking duck #3 on the menu, which is “烤鴨三吃: 荷葉餅夾烤鴨, 銀芽鴨絲, 白菜豆腐鴨架湯 roast peking duck in three ways (including stir-fried bean sprout with duck meats & duck bones soup)” priced at $47.95, and #20 under their “healthy konnyaku” section, which is the “麻辣豆腐蒟蒻魚片 stir fried fish fillet, tofu & konnyaku with spicy sauce, ginger & garlic” priced at $14.95. in case you’re wondering what “konyaku” is, this is how they described it on their menu…”the konnyaku is a type of plant similar to the yam, and it’s high fiber, no saturated fat, no cholesterol & low calorie.”  this dish didn’t take very long before it was served to us.  the color of the dish was beautiful, but we reached for the konnyaku first as we were curious of the taste.  these were thinly sliced, almost translucent, and tasted like chewy jelly fish…they were really good!  since “duck house” claimed to use “only the best ingredients”, we expected the filet fish to be fresh, but they tasted like they were frozen earlier.  i actually like the sauteed fried tofu, but my friend wasn’t too crazy about it.

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now to the main attraction (the reason we were there for!)…the roasted peking duck finally came (authentic peking duck dishes are usually being presented in whole, then the skin are carefully sliced by trained chef in front of the customers, so when i first had peking duck here in LA some years ago, i was surprised how the ones here are being served sliced ready.)  the presentation was beautiful (as shown in the photo), but at the sight of the dull color of the skins, and the steamed thin pancake (used for wrapping the sliced duck and skin, kinda like a taco or burrito skin,  but the ones they served were alot thinner and drier than the usual ones i’ve had…they were probably not steamed long enough), my excitement kinda stunk abit.  still, we couldn’t wait to dig in.  hehe, sure enough, after the first bite, we were greatly disappointed…the sliced duck were too dry, and the skin would’ve been more crunchy and tasty if they had roasted it more thoroughly (it tasted more like it was pouched)…it just wasn’t crispy enough to be called ‘roasted’ and was very blended.

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the sprouts dish with sliced duck was almost homemade style, and the “duck bone soup” with tofu and cabbage was a tad bit too salty for our taste.  but since i really craved and missed the roasted peking duck in hongkong, i was still happy and grateful to be able to have this dish, especially on thanksgiving.

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overall experience of the food was appreciative.  ambient was typical chinese restaurant with abit of upgraded modernized decor, perhaps in an attempt to catogorize themselves as ‘upscale’.  the food network channel was playing on the flat screen tv hanging in the corner on which we thought was abit out of place (after that first bite, whatever showing on the food network we were watching looked way much more delicious than our dishes :p)  service was okay (very polite, but not too attentive to customer needs as we had to ask for our tea refills twice, and i caught a server checking out the window right after a table of customers left, and overheard her replying to her colleague that she wanted to “check out what car they drove”!), cleaniness was fine on the surface, but our chopsticks were served to us wet.  they did, however, allow a customer to bring in her dog and dine with them in the restaurant.  while waiting for our check, we also spotted a little kid (i think he’s a family member of the owner or staffs there) chilling at one of the empty tables next to us ‘cleaning’ his nose for the longest time and wiping his fingers on the table cloth.  yikes!  i wouldn’t say the overall experience was a total bad one, but we were greatly disappointed and don’t think we’ll be coming back anytime soon.  although, we would like to try their san gabriel location before we totally cross them off the list. ;)

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whole foods bakery’s fresh berries fruit tart (el segundo)

November 13, 2008

whole foods bakery (el segundo branch)
760 south sepulveda blvd
el segundo, ca 90245
(310) 333-1900
7am-10pm daily
www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/elsegundo

my friend and i had a quick dinner at the el segundo’s whole foods market, and we just had to check out their pastry department before heading out. :P few months ago, i haven’t been feeling too well, both physically and emotionally, so my friend wanted to cheer me up abit. knowing how much a berries lover i am, he got me a whole fresh berries fruit tart to go! :p

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the size is good for 4-5 small slices, but this would easily take us couple days to finish it! :D look at how gorgeous the colors are! the raspberries, blueberries, and starwberries are fairly fresh, sweet and plump, and the rich, buttery crust of the tart just melt in your mouth… hmm hmm hmm ;) i think i’ve just satisfied my fresh berries tart craving to last me the rest of the year! :P
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uni don (home kitchen)

November 2, 2008

ikitchen
marina del rey, ca 90295
yumyuminthetumtum’s home kitchen

i prepared myself a quick and simple dinner-for-one. :)

ingredients used: uni (sea urchin) + aonori-ko (seaweed flakes) + ichimi togarashi (ground red chili pepper) atop multi grain rice with wasabi

itadakimasu ~ ;)

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park’s bbq (korean town)

November 1, 2008

park’s bbq
955 s vermont ave
los angeles, ca 90005
(213) 380-1717
open daily 11am-10pm
www.parksbbq.com

after spending an afternoon at lacma, we headed to korean town for some grocery shopping at the galleria supermarket. my friend suggested to have dinner at park’s bbq where he’s heard good reviews of. having not really eaten for the whole day, and with the drizzling rain, it was the perfect choice to end the cold evening…plus, we both love k-bbq! :)

it didn’t take us too long to find the place, but it was impossible to find a space to park in the complex. so after some time of driving around the block to find one, my friend got abit impatient and decided we should come back at another time. i asked him to drive around once more before giving up, and sure enough, how lucky we were that a couple just finished their meal and got into the car, so there, we got a nice street parking space. :) once we got inside, we were greeted by the staff and were told to wait at the seating area along the entrance for 30-40mins. sure, no problem! ;)

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when we were seated to our table, service was pretty fast. got our menu, water, variety of yummy panchan (small dish appetizers), placed our order, got our salads, and the dipping sauce. the panchan consisted of the usual assortments such as kimchi, steamed egg, pureed squash and many more. we had the marinated prime beef short rib (양념갈비), and my favorite prime beef tongue (혀밑구이). the meats were tender and juicy, and of premium quality. but i didn’t realize that my friend also ordered a prime beef short rib soup with ginseng (영양갈비탕), which was actually really good!! i love soups, and it was perfectly flavored (sorry i forgot to take a picture of it :p)

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at the end of the night, we were both really full, but gastronomically happily satisfied. :) to date, i would say this is one of the top best korean bbq places i’ve eaten in LA! service was fast and efficient. they were very attentive and almost throughout the whole dinner, we didn’t really need to cook anything ourselves. (hmm, i actually prefer to be able to cook most of the food ourselves, so we could take the time and choose what we want to eat first. :p) they use traditional charcoal for the bbq here, which is rare these days but a really nice touch. :) glass and steel modern decor throughout the interior. prices are on the higher ends, but you really pay for the excellent service and premium quality of the food. highly recommended if you don’t mind the price and parking, and don’t forget to make reservations if you don’t want to wait! ;)

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garlic fried rice (home kitchen)

November 1, 2008

ikitchen
marina del rey, ca 90295
yumyuminthetumtum’s home kitchen

when my dad was ill and had lost his appetite, one day, he asked if i could cook some garlic fried rice for him.  though i’d never cooked it before, but i remember the ones i had observed a numerous times of those teppanyaki chefs at the japanese restaurants dad used to take us when we were kids.  while the chefs were cooking in front of us, i used to imagine myself being their apprentice and cooked those dishes in my head. :D  so, when presented with the random request, i tried my best and whipped up this dish from memory.

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…so, this was my dad’s favorite garlic fried rice that i used to cook for him alot, back in sydney few years ago… ^^ (i had not cooked this again since, …until this one, which i cooked back in may) … a simple dish if you want a quick meal and love garlic. ^^

ingredients used ~
– chopped onions
– lotsa finely chopped garlic (for this portion, i used only one whole bulb)
– spring onions
– olive (or veggie/corn) oil
– egg
– ground pepper
– sukiyaki sauce (sometimes i use soba sauce, or terriyaki sauce which is abit stronger/saltier in taste if you prefer)
– multigrain rice
… served in green bell pepper as bowl (i eat that, too… no food being wasted :p) and alfalfa sprouts (leftover from homemade sandwich :p) atop as garnish

(…after you’ve heated the pan/oil, start with the garlic first, then onions… the eggs and spring onions last after the rice)

bon appetit! enjoy ~ ;)

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matcha tiramisu (home kitchen)

November 1, 2008

ikitchen
marina del rey, ca 90295
yumyuminthetumtum’s home kitchen

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when i was still living in hong kong, i used to scout out the best tiramisu in town, and the ones at the peak was my favorite! :)   though there are so many tiramisu recipes around, some time years ago, i accidentally came across one that was simple to follow from a magazine i browsed through while getting my hair cut.  from someone who doesn’t like following recipes, i usually just did it my way.  since i have some matcha (green tea powder) laying around in my kitchen cupboard, this time, i decided to make a matcha tiramisu.  i’ve always enjoyed making tiramisu for friends, but had not made one in awhile.   while getting too excited with my matcha experiment, i forgot to add the green tea powder when whipping the mascarpone, so the only green tea powder you would find was on top of the dessert in substitution of the cocoa powder. a regular size cookie cutter is not deep enough for the tiramisu, so i traced the shape and cut it with a knife instead to form this cute little heart shape. a sweet way to celebrate your next valentine’s day if you wanna give this a try. :)