Insatiable Girl

SAN GABRIEL: Liang’s Kitchen

Posted in food, los angeles, recommended, restaurants by sue on January 21, 2011

227 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 281-1898

Price: Cheap
Rating: Great
Directions: Get off at Del Mar Ave on the 10
Reservations: Not accepted
Must Get: Spicy wontons, beef roll, oxtail, beef noodle soup

This is now my new favorite Taiwanese spot in LA. The food here is pretty amazing. I loved the spicy wontons. The beef roll was delicious, but could have done with more cilantro inside. I got their oxtail noodles (pictured above) which I loved because it was garlicky, but I think I would rather get a side of oxtail and their beef noodle soup next time. I didn’t have their beef noodles this trip, but I had a sip of Ally’s broth and liked it. The only disappointing thing we got was their scallion pancake which lacked scallions! There were barely any in the pancake, so the flavor was just not there. Ally, John, and I went late, so there were plenty of empty tables, but I hear the wait is usually long. And the servers were really nice. I’m bringing my momma here next time!

p.s. They have locations in Rowland Heights, Arcadia, and Irvine too.

LOS ANGELES: Robata Jinya

Posted in food, los angeles, restaurants by sue on January 20, 2011

www.jinya-la.com
8050 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
323 653 8877

Price: Reasonable
Rating: Good
Directions: Get off at Venice Blvd on the 10
Reservations: I assume you would need them for the weekend.
Must Get: Hakata Tonkotsu Ramen

Overall, this izakaya is pretty good. It’s a cute place with nice decor and good food. Nothing was mind-blowing, but nothing was disappointing either. Albert and I ordered their shrimp toast, agedashi, enoki mushroom and bacon skewers, black cod, LaBrea roll, and hakata tonkotsu ramen. If I were to go back, I would definitely not order the shrimp toast or agedashi again. The shrimp toast was fine, but nothing special. And the agedashi was good, but it only had two pieces of tofu! The shrimp and eggplant it came with lacked flavor. And while the black cod was good, neither Albert nor I thought it was worth the $12. It was just too small.

However, the hakata tonkotsu ramen beat out Ippudo’s for me, especially with its less than $10 price tag (Ippudo’s is usually about $14). I liked the broth and chashu pork, but I don’t understand why they only serve 20 bowls of this particular ramen a day. I would go back just for their ramen, but if they ran out of the hakata tonkotsu one, I’d try their Kyoto spicy ramen next.

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CITY OF INDUSTRY: Ramen Yukino Ya

Posted in food, los angeles, not recommended, restaurants by sue on January 18, 2011

18230 E. Gale Ave.
City of Industry, CA 91748
626 581 8420

Price: Cheap
Rating: Ehhh
Directions: Get off at Fullerton on the 60
Reservations: They don’t take them
Must Get: Organic Egg

This is the first time Yelp and its Yelpers have disappointed me. Ramen Yukino Ya received an average of 4 stars based off 100+ reviews, so I was excited. What the hell were these people thinking? The only thing this place has going for them is their organic egg. Their tonkotsu ramen is NOT good. At first bite/sip, it seems alright, but the more I ate it, the more I just couldn’t stand the taste. And it wasn’t just me, my friend Howard and his girlfriend also were not fans of this place. I bet the people on Yelp who think this place is amazing are just comparing Ramen Yukino Ya to the ramen packs you buy at grocery stores like 99 Ranch or M2M because, seriously, I have never been that disappointed by ramen.

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HACIENDA HEIGHTS: Tasty Noodle House

Posted in food, los angeles, not recommended, restaurants by sue on January 12, 2011

1611 S. Azusa Ave
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

Price: Cheap
Rating: Horrible
Directions: Get off at Azusa on the 60
Reservations: Unneccessary
Must Get: Nothing

Their spicy wontons were not good. The sauce left a weird after taste in my mouth, but I imagine the wontons themselves would be decent. They’re a pretty decent size and filled with lots of veggies.

The pork chop noodles were a joke. The broth reminded me of used hot pot soup, a bunch of flavors that just didn’t really go together. I had to douse my noodles in soy sauce and chili sauce to give it some edible flavor. The pork chop itself was more breading than meat. Worst part is it really needed that ketchup that came on the side.

My brother said their pan-fried dumplings were decent though, but I doubt I’ll come back to find out.

Do not bother trying this place. Save the $10 and an hour of your life.

LOS ANGELES: Santouka

Posted in food, los angeles, restaurants by sue on January 8, 2011

www.santouka.co.jp
3760 S Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066
310 391 1101
(It’s in the Mitsuwa food court.)

Price: Cheap
Rating: Great
Directions: Get off at Bundy on the 10
Reservations: Unnecessary, but good luck getting a table
Must Get: Salt Ramen with extra pork

Thank you Mari for introducing me to this place. I will definitely be coming back. For about $12-14 (sorry, my memory is a bit faulty), I got a medium bowl of salt (shio) ramen, a boiled egg, and a bowl of salmon roe over rice. What an amazing, delicious deal. The ramen was great, a bit on the oilier side, but still no complaints. The pork is delicious, but on the fattier side. The salmon roe was fresh and the egg which was boiled in soy sauce had just the right amount of saltiness.

One of the things I love about this place is their different ramen bowl sizes. You can get a small, medium, or large bowl of ramen, even for their set meals. I loveeeee that. It’s a great idea since everyone’s appetite is different. I want to come back for their spicy ramen, so if you’re in LA and craving ramen, let me know!

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HOMEMADE: Dan Zai Mein

Posted in food by sue on December 16, 2010

So now that you know how to make Taiwanese minced meat, here’s a recipe for Dan Zai Mein. Just heat up some noodles (I suggest you buy fresh noodles which can be found in the refrigerated section of an Asian market; do not buy dried noodles!) and the minced meat in separate pots/containers. After the noodles are ready, put them in a bowl and then cook some spinach in the same pot. After the meat is reheated thoroughly, add scoops of the meat and soup (from the meat) in the bowl with noodles. Then add the cooked spinach and cook some shrimp in that same pot if you want as well. After the shrimp is done, add it to the bowl with all the other ingredients. Since the soup from the meat will probably be too salty, you can add some hot water, soup from the noodles (I suggest scooping some out before you cooked the spinach and shrimp in there), or add chicken broth. Chicken broth would probably make it taste much better, but I think hot water is good enough. And then, you know me, I always top it off with some cilantro and green onions.

If you’re looking at the egg (soy egg, lu dan, 滷蛋, whatever you know it as) in the picture and wondering how to make it, it’s quite easy but you’ll have to make it while you are making the minced meat. Just add hard-boiled, already de-shelled eggs in after you add the water and the shallots. After 30 minutes, there will be some flavor on the eggs. Personally, I think this is when the flavor is perfect, but my parents prefer it more saturated with soy sauce. If you want heavily flavored, just cook everything longer. 45-60 minutes should do it.

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TAIPEI: Old Wang Ji’s Beef Noodles Shop 老王記牛肉麵大王

Posted in food, restaurants, taipei, taiwan by sue on December 13, 2010

台北市桃源街15號
No. 15, TaoYuan Street, Jhongjheng District, Taipei City
0937-860050、0910-074193

Price: Reasonable/Expensive
Rating: Good
Directions: Take the MRT to Ximen
Reservations: Unnecessary

Every time my dad goes to Taiwan, he has to eat here. EVERY TIME. WITHOUT FAIL. This past trip, he rushed us there 1.5 hours before we were supposed to have dinner with my mom’s friends because it was our last day in Taipei and we would not be returning. We cabbed it over there and cabbed it back just so he could get his beef noodles, steamed spareribs, and pig’s knuckle. The food is pretty good here, but I think it’s more for nostalgia for him.

The beef noodles aren’t the best beef noodles I’ve ever had, but it would probably be in one of my top five places (most likely number 4 or 5). The meat and broth though is quite good. Well, there braised broth anyway. They also offer their beef noodles in a light broth (清燉牛肉麵), but I would never get that. The steamed spareribs and pig’s knuckle are good, but out of the two, I definitely prefer the spareribs.

This place is worth trying if you are in Taipei. It’s always packed, so you know they’re doing something right. There’s only a handful of items on their menu, but early warning there is no English menu. Don’t expect courteous waiters; expect to sit with random folks. The tables are large and they have a lot of clients to feed.

TAIPEI: Tainan Dan Zai Mein 台南担仔麵

Posted in food, restaurants, taichung, taipei, taiwan by sue on December 10, 2010

www.tainan-seafood.com.tw
台北市華西街31號
No. 31, Huaxi Street, Taipei City
02 2308 1123

Price: Expensive, but worth it
Rating: Delicious
Directions: You can walk from the Longshan Temple MRT Station or just hail a cab, I recommend the latter at night unless you want weirdos to approach you.
Reservations: Unnecessary
Must Get: Any kind of seafood you like that they have and, of course, their namesake– the dan zai mein (read below)

So, this place is a completely unexpected find. It’s in the middle of this creepy night market filled with snakes, dirty old men, and, apparently, prostitutes. It’s also one of the nicest restaurants in Taiwan with their Wedgewood tableware, Christofle silverware, and unique dining rooms. The seafood is amazing here which is how my parents know about it. They import/export seafood, but they have been coming here since back in the days of when they used to live in Taipei and owned an electronics company.

You order out in front. There’s a man who stands by the seafood and you just tell him what you want. There’s no menu, but if you tell him that you want crab, shrimp, etc., he’ll tell you the best way to prepare it. You can, of course, disagree and tell him you want it fried, steamed, etc. instead. Make sure you get your favorite things and, of course, an order of their dan zai noodles for each person at your table. Their dan zai noodles are simple, but so delicious. It’s just noodles in broth with tiny bits of pork, some vegetables, and one shrimp.

And since there’s no menu and the seafood changes all the time, there’s nothing I can really tell you that you have to get, although I’m sure there will always be steamed fish available, so I’m just going to leave you with pictures of the restaurant and some of the dishes we got here:

Most of the dishes here are served per person, unlike most Chinese restaurants where they put it all on one big plate and make everyone share. One bad thing about this place is the fact that there’s no menu means there are no prices. The first time I went we easily spent over $100/person– US$100/person! This past trip we ran into one of my dad’s clients here at the end of our meal who turned out to sell seafood to this place, so we got a free meal! I was happy about that, but my parents weren’t, of course. Oh Chinese people…

Anyway, bottom line… this is a great restaurant, but not a place you can go to everyday unless you are rolling in dough. It’s a great place to go if you are trying to impress someone/people. There are branches in Taichung and Kaoshiung too, but my dad claims the one in Taipei is the best. It’s also good for weddings as my cousin just got married in the one in Taichung this past week. Congratulations again to him!

TAIPEI: Chun Sui Tang 春水堂

Posted in food, restaurants, taichung, taipei, taiwan by sue on December 10, 2010

chunshuitang.com.tw
105台北市松山區慶城街1號2樓
2F, Urban One, Qingcheng St., Songshan Dist., Taipei City 105
02 25469493

Price: Reasonable/Expensive
Rating: Good
Directions: It’s right behind the Nanjing East Road MRT Station
Reservations: Unnecessary
Must Get: 蘿蔔糕 Radish Cake (luo bu gao), 工夫麵 Kung Fu Noodles (gong fu mian), 牛肉麵 Beef Noodle Soup (niu ruo mian), 排骨酥麵 Pork Chop Noodle Soup (pi gu mian)

While this post is basically about the restaurant in Taipei’s Urban One, I can vouch that this chain is good overall. There’s a reason why there are so many locations throughout Taiwan– the food is consistently good despite the branch you go to and I’ve been to more than a handful of them.

I used to sit at the one in Chung Yo (above Starbucks) in Taichung quite often, grading homework or practicing writing Chinese characters, so I’ve tried a number of their dishes. The ones that stick out the most are: 蘿蔔糕 Radish Cake (luo bu gao), 工夫麵 Kung Fu Noodles (gong fu mian), 牛肉麵 Beef Noodle Soup (niu ruo mian), and 排骨酥麵 Pork Chop Noodle Soup (pai gu su mian). The radish cakes, pictured above, are tiny rectangular pieces here which are fried and not just grilled liked most places in Taiwan, so they have a crispy outer skin. The Kung Fu Noodles (I still snicker at the name) are dry noodles (meaning no soup) with pieces of pork, green onions, and bean sprouts. It’s probably my favorite noodle dish here– it’s tasty and just the right size for before class. (I used to eat breakfast, lunch, a snack before class, and dinner after class when I lived in Taiwan. And somehow I managed to lose weight!) The beef noodle soup is comparable to the taste of my mom’s, but not nearly as good of course. It’s a decent replacement for when I was starving and already heading towards work. The pork chop noodle soup consists of spareribs that were fried and then added to soup, so they lose the crispiness but retain the flavor.

This place offers a number of small dishes like shui mai, fried chicken, chicken wings, fried octopus balls, etc. They are decent overall, but I usually stuck to the noodles. There is one mushroom dish that I would stay clear of though.

And, of course, tea… it is a tea place afterall. The tea here is great, but costs you an arm and a leg if you are comparing it to places you’ll find off the street like 50 Tea (50嵐), Dodo, Asir, etc. I guess the added cost goes to supplying you with some seats and a table to sit and chat with your friends. They make up for it by giving you an enormous cup though which if you don’t finish, you can ask for it to go.

——

This place is comparable to 水舞饌 (shui wu zhuan), another tea shop found commonly in Taichung. The name literally translates into Water Dancing Gala, or so Google Translate says… The food is similar (水舞饌 offers hotpot as well) and the prices are about the same. Remind me to write up a post about this place another day…

And please no one kill me for the bad pin yin. =X

Beef Noodle Soup

Posted in cooking, food by sue on July 13, 2010

Taiwanese folks are so proud of their beef noodle soup (牛肉麵) there’s a competition in Taipei over who makes the best one.   I think my mom’s beef noodle soup is off the charts.  It’s been over six months since I last had it, so I decided to make it tonight for dinner and share the recipe with you folks.

First off, you need beef (I use ribeye steak), green onion, anise, black pepper balls, salt, ginger, garlic, chili bean sauce, olive oil, water, and rice wine… which I was out of, so I used rum in this recipe.  Slice 4 or 5 pieces of ginger, peel 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, tie one whole green onion, and dice the beef into cubes.

Heat some olive oil in a big pot and then add the chili bean sauce.  This is not the chili bean sauce that my mom uses back in LA, but it was the best one we could find here in New York.  The chili bean sauce makes a HUGE difference in this recipe.  If it’s not a good sauce, this is not going to be a good recipe.  I’d say this one is alright, whatever my mom gets back at home though is the best.  (I’ll try to find out what it is for you the next time I go home… if I remember.)  I used 2 to 3 tablespoons of this sauce and it still wasn’t spicy at the end, but it does the trick.

Stir the chili bean sauce until it becomes really fragrant and looks grainy.

Then add in the garlic and ginger pieces.  Stir some more.

After you really begin to smell that, add in your beef and stir until all the beef edges are cooked.

Add a bit of rice wine to the edges of the pot.  (Or in this case, rum!)  Why the edges?  Don’t ask me, that’s what my mom does!  You only need a bit, but if you are like me and dump in too much liquor, all you have to do is cook it for longer.

Then add in as much water as you want, 1 or 2 anises, 8 to 10 black pepper balls, and your green onion stick.

Let it all come to a boil and then put it on medium hot for 30 minutes.  If you use tougher pieces of beef or bigger chunks of beef, you have to add more time for this recipe.  The longer you cook it, the softer/more tender the beef will get.

Salt to taste and remove the wilted green onion.  Then add noodles, cilantro, veggies, whatever you want… Ta da!  It’s done.