Drago Centro [Los Angeles]

Located in Downtown LA with an impressive wine collection. I went for the DineLA experience and couldn’t resist their menu degustazione (six course tasting menu). Some of my favorites? The cod served with a balsamic reduction. Duck breast w/ generous portions of truffle atop a creamy bed of polenta. A savory stew that had to be endless cooking hours for the sausage to be as tender as the short ribs. And their petit fours (even better than their dessert trio). Parking is difficult to find. Service is impeccable.

The Open Door

Monterey Park’s own izakaya spot. Opened by two friends from the South Bay that wanted to share their passion for Asian fusion. Menu samplings: albacore tuna sashimi, mini burgers w/ a fantastic reduction, and potato salad w/ fresh made potato chips. Think Asian tapas. I hesitate to share that they have a happy hour Tuesdays thru Sundays because it’s such a best kept secret. If you go, tell Mike that Michi sent you.

Sanuki Udon

  • 湯頭甘甜鮮美(雖然喝到最後幾口,我竟然覺得太鹹?!這樣好像不太對勁)
  • 手工烏龍麵很實在,有彈性,不是我在台北一些餐廳吃的那種略帶透明的烏龍麵條
  • 一片片滷的很入味的白蘿蔔切片,就好像是在吃關東煮的大根似的!愛吃關東煮白蘿蔔的我,吃到這白蘿蔔切片也快要掉眼淚了!
  • 另,那豆腐皮也很夠味,如同是稻香壽司的豆腐皮,加了糖的滋味真是回味無窮。(不過吃到第二片可能就會覺得太甜了些)

The Creator of the Pearl Milk Tea – 春水堂 [Taipei]

On a trip back to Taipei, I was taken to a small tea house called Chun Shui Tang. I was told, that one of the chain in Taichung was responsible for creating the Pearl Milk Tea. The Pearl Milk Tea, also known as the Boba Icea Tea, is the key product in the Lollicup and Tapioca Express shops. I know girls like this place as an afternoon tea choice.

Regardless of the pearl milk tea, which I am not a big fan of, the tea house is a nice little place for . . .tea. They have a large variety of hot and iced teas with fruits, tapioca, etc. Open late, they also serve traditional Taiwanese dishes, that I grew up and love. As you can see from the picture, you can see the nice little side dishes. Chun Shui Tang also has the pork and chicken rice entrees as well as soup noodles. In addition, they have great dumplings, Taiwanese sausage, and others. You can see more pictures of what they have on their website.

You can see a list of their other locations throughout Taiwan, on their website. I am sure I will go there more often in the future. Simple traditional food at a nice little tea shop.

Chun Shui Tang

Japanese Tapas – Musha

Musha is one of the finest Japanese restaurants in Southern California. I have couple of friends that swear by it. This izakaya style restaurant features some of the best presentation around.

The pork belly is probably the most memorable dish that I had. But, of course, there were others. The pork belly was tender and flavorful. I could almost eat it everyday. The friend chicken was good, too. Heck, almost all the little dishes at Musha were good. Probably the best thing about Musha was the presentation of each dish. One thing a good friend told me, “Korean people eat with their tummy’s, Chinese people eat with their mouths, and Japanese people eat with their eyes”. Musha is no different.

Expect about 25 bucks/person without alcohol for a fine Japanese dining experience. Parking is ample, but the wait can potentially be long.

1725 W Carson St
Torrance, CA 90501
(310) 787-7344

Musha on Urbanspoon

Sushi Gen

Sushi Gen is my favorite Japanese Sushi Restaurant in Los Angeles and perhaps the world!!! I’ve been going to Sushi Gen for over 15 years. My favorite Sushi Chef – Kaz is still there and going strong! Nowadays . . .I haven’t been going as much, but Kaz still remembers me.

What I always start with, at any sushi restaurant, is Uni – Sea Urchin. Sometimes, I get it with a raw quail egg yolk on top, to make it extra creamy. Sushi Gen’s uni seems to always be consistently excellent. Another favorite – the halibut with the ponzo sauce is good as well. I also like the cheesy simple ones like Tamago and Inari. I know most people will get the giant clam, the salmon, the tuna, & fatty tuna. I like the ones where you don’t use soy sauce or wasabi.

Make sure when you go to a sushi restaurant, that you sit at the bar. I don’t necessarily like going with a large group, but with a larger group, a table might be better. The sushi bar provides the interaction between you, your friend, and the chef.

I’m sure people will tell me that they like others – such as Matushia, Sasebune, etc. .. but for me. . .Sushi Gen will be my personal favorite.

Anyways. . . My suggestion is, if you are to go to any sushi – get to know your Sushi Chef. And let him get to know you. With some friendly banter, he will let you know what’s good. . . and more importantly what’s not. I used to pour my beer for them to drink and vice versa. . . but sometimes, they are not allowed to drink. But what I do now is, I would buy a couple bottles of the large beers and offer it to them – so that they can drink after work.

When you go to Sushi Gen, expect to wait at least 1/2 hour for a table or seats at the Sushi Bar. Get there early. One of the reasons why I like Sushi Gen is that one time, I saw the Japanese College Sumo team having dinner there. If the Japanese College Sumo team picks Sushi Gen to eat in Los Angeles, then you know it has to be good.

Sushi Gen on Urbanspoon

Sushi Gen
422 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 617-0552

Nathan’s Famous

When you go to New York, there are a couple of street foods that always come to mind. The first one is the New York style pizza, which you can find almost on any street corner. And the 2nd one is a hot dog.

The most famous hot dog in the world is Nathan’s. The popularity of Nathan’s has grown since the July 4th eating contests at Coney Island. So, when I was in New York last August, I made the pilgrimage to Coney Island. I had to see the old style broadwalk and amusement park. I also had to see the famous Nathan’s hot dog stands. There’s a lot of history on these broadwalks.

When you bite into a Nathan’s you want to have the “snap” when the juices flow from the hot dog. You don’t need chili – like the LA dogs. You don’t need tomatoes – like the Chicago style dogs. You just need a little mustard and maybe some kraut and you are good to go. Personally, I like a plain dog with some ketchup.

Nathan’s Famous
Coney Island
1310 Surf Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11224

Nathan's Famous on Urbanspoon

Bamboodles. . . not just noodles

I first heard about this restaurant a few weeks ago on the Podcast – Good Food with Evan Kleiman. She was actually doing her weekly segment with Jonathan Gold. Jonathan Gold is the Pulitzer Prize winning food critic for LA Weekly. So, anything he says and write is “Gold!” Anyways. . .

I was at Bamboodles last week just to try the noodles. I had heard so much about the place that I couldn’t resist trying. I drive by the place at least twice a week and never noticed it. In this small mini-mall, there is Yung Ho, which I just posted about, a speciality Chinese Hot Pot place – one of my personal favorites (i will post this one, hopefully soon), and anchoring the mall is a Cantonese seafood restaurant – which I have never been to. This little mini mall has some great restaurants, but has the worst parking situation. More than half the times I’ve been to this little mini-mall, I’ve had to park on the street, or across the street, or in the bank, after hours. So, when you do go, make sure you get there early to find parking.

Anyways. . .with regards to the food. We ordered 3 main dishes, a shrimp won ton noodle soup, a spare rib over rice, and tan tan noodles. The shrimp won ton noodles, in which they’re known for, was the worst of the bunch. I think they do a better pork won ton noodle soup. Pork, in my opinion, is a better since it seasons the soup better. I am not a big fan of shrimp in general, either. Outside of the won tons and the soup, the noodles were quite good. They weren’t under cooked, or over cooked. Though i know some people like under cooked noodles better, which means it is a little more hard and chewy. Soft ones (over cooked) are soft and can get mushy. To the next dish, the spare ribs over rice was the first to come out – which leads me to believe that they have a big pot already cooked and warming. I enjoyed the this dish the best – a rice dish at a noodle place, go figure. The bamboo serving “bowl” is a great presentation dish that gives the dish an exotic feel. Ordinarily, if you serve pork over rice in a normal porcelain bowl, you wouldn’t get the same reaction. The rice and the spare ribs were cooked just right – but it was the little side dish of savory goodness that made the dish. There needs to be more dishes with savory goodness IMO. On another side note, in China it is known that those from the Northern China prefer noodles and rice is preferred in the South – which means I am from the South. Lastly, the tan tan noodles – which is a Shanghai speciality, is featured for $1 special, if ordered with an entree, was very good. I am a big fan of “dry” noodles, noodles without soup. This noodle dish wasn’t too spicy, but had the right amount of flavor and wasn’t overly wet (with sauce). This noodle dish is similar to Tsa Jiang Mein or in Korea – Ja Ja Mein. Anyways, with or without the special price, i recommend that you order tan tan noodles.

Anyways, just to recap, I would order the tan tan nooodles, the spare ribs rice, and perhaps the pork won ton noodle soup. Get there early, parking is a pain. Except to pay about $10 per head, no alcohol.

You can listen to the original podcast here – http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/gf/gf090425god_in_a_cup_food_an

535 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776

(626) 281-1226

Bamboodles on Urbanspoon

Yung Ho Cafe 永和豆漿 [San Gabriel] – closed

Yung Ho is your typical Taiwan breakfast joint. There are two locations on Valley Blvd, that are not related. Each have similar items.

The thing I love is the Taiwanese Breakfast Burrito – translated in Chinese – Salted Rice Roll with Egg. When I use to live in Taipei, I use to have one of these things about twice a week. These savory handheld meals were Taiwanese comfort foods. They made them first with a nice hefty scoop of rice, then with some dried shredded pork, with some pickled vegetable slices. Then they added a fried egg with oiled roll (hard to describe what this is). Then they rolled it all together – viola!

Unfortunately, there’s only a handful of places in Southern California that can make this. Make sure when you get it, you ask for it salted and with an egg.

Yung Ho (永和豆漿)
533 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 570-0860

Yung Ho on Urbanspoon