Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm In the Mood for Dim Sum

I'm in the mood for dim sum! So let's share a delicious dish together.
Does anything below catch your fancy?

Shrimp Dumplings
from Sea Harbor in Rosemead, CA

Steamed Taro Cake with Black Olives
from Happy Harbour in Rowland Heights, CA

Steamed Sticky Rice Sui Mui
from Mission 261 in San Gabriel, CA

Chilled Coconut and Taro Pudding
from Sea Harbor in Rosemead, CA

Custard Rabbit Dumplings
from Mission 261 in San Gabriel, CA

To check out my Flickr Photos (foodie and otherwise), please click here!

Monday, February 23, 2009

If I Could Cook...Eggplant

If I could cook aka if I had the patience in general and I was in the mood for eggplant, below are some recipes that might actually get me in the kitchen, courtesy of images I saw on Foodgawker!

Eggplant Bake
- Tasty Palattes

Eggplant and Turkey Lasagna
- Rainy Days and Sundays

Manolla's Venezuelan Pickled Eggplant Salad
- Palachinka

Eggplant Mousse with Butifarra Negra
- Spanish Recipes

Stuffed Eggplant

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Discover LA: Estouric Black Dahlia Tour

Other than being a great foodie town, LA has much to offer and while this blog will still be primarily about my culinary experiences, I also wanted to share with you other things about LA that have definitely made me smile, think, chuckle, appreciate and so much more and hopefully, they'll also help you discover an LA you've never known before and may want to know better.

For years, I've heard about the "Black Dahlia", but what or who it was about, I was never quite sure. Of course, I've heard bits and pieces about a bizzare unsolved murder of a woman found in the middle of the fields in the 1940s, but I was never interested enough to find out more. Then one day, I boarded "The Black Dahlia Tour" led by Estouric and I could finally understand the fascination many had with this case.

Before I go into the tour itself, I should mention that the name of the victim was Elizabeth Short and at only 24, her body was found mutilated, severed in half and drained of blood. Her face was also slashed from the corners of her mouth toward her ears. This is pretty gruesome stuff. Unfortunately, in our world today, mutilated bodies are becoming more commonplace than they should be, which can definitely lead to a lot of desensitization.

In 1947, when Elizabeth's body was found in that state, it sent shock waves through Los Angeles and eventually launched a manhunt unlike any other. Interestingly enough, the Esotouric Tour was more than just about the sensational aspect of this grizzly murder. It really touched on walking in the steps of Elizabeth Short up to when she disappeared.

From the time we boarded the bus and while en route to the Greyhound Station, either Richard or Kim, our guides, started giving us some of Elizabeth's biographical history. For example, she was raised back East and had 4 sisters. At a young age, she had a thing for fly boys (military pilots). She was even engaged to one who unfortunately died.

Jump forward a bit to where she was staying in San Diego with the French Family and eventually was able to get a ride from Red Manley, an acquaintance. After listening to this background, we went to our first destination, the Greyhound Bus Terminal.

Red brought Elizabeth to the the terminal because Elizabeth wanted to check in her luggage until she was able to get her bearings. At the terminal, Richard read one of the many letters found in Elizabeth's luggage, some of which were written, but never sent to a fly boy she was seeing at the time. There was something poignant about that letter, almost wistful, as she talked about the meaning of love.

After checking in her luggage, Elizabeth asked to be dropped off at the Biltmore Hotel. Not wanting to leave her alone, Red Manley waited for over 2 hours with her at the lobby before Elizabeth got him to leave by telling him her sister was coming to pick her up. Reluctantly, Red left her and soon after, Elizabeth walked over to the Crown Grill, diner by day and gay bar by night.

Like Elizabeth, our tour also took us to Crown Grill, now known as Club Galaxy. Crown Grill is the last place anyone saw her alive. A few weeks later, her body was found in front of a residential area in Leimert Park right in the middle of a field.

Visiting the location of her body dump was towards the end of the tour. As we made our way to Leimert Park from Downtown LA, we made other stops that had more to do with getting a feel of the life Elizabeth Short was living and also how life was like in LA in the 40s for young women in general, where perhaps the only meal you're going to get that day is the one you'll get on a date, whether that date was single or married, it didn't matter. Unfortunately, there would be times when you'd have to provide more than just company over a meal.

As we finally made our way to those famous fields, both Richard and Kim, founder of Esotouric Tours, would in turn discuss the actual investigation itself and also mentioned some of the suspects, one of which was Red Manley. Even with all theories and questioning of witnesses and suspects, this mystery was never solved and to this day is still a fascination for murder mystery buffs of all ages.

The fields right now are houses with only the fire hydrant a few feet away being the only original thing left from that era. It was quite peaceful, but you're left wondering if Elizabeth's restless spirit still lingers. By the way, "Black Dahlia" was the nickname friends gave her, after a screenplay called "The Blue Dahlia" with the words "black" replacing blue since she tended to wear a lot of black.

On the way to our final stop for snacks at Krispy Kreme, Kim, talked about a new theory that actually is one that sounds really plausible. Do you know what to know what it is? Then you better take the tour. :) I can't tell you everything.

Overall, I learned a lot and believe me, you'll get more detailed info about "The Black Dahlia" on the tour than I can give you here, but if and when you ever want to delve more into the story behind the "Black Dahlia", taking this tour is a great start.

To see photos I took while I was on the tour, go to:

To get information on the Black Dhalia Tour and other tours, please visit:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Mysterious, But Delicious Dishes of Little Dhaka

Using the word "Mysterious" as part of the title of this blog entry is probably not as mysterious as it may seem, but heck, it made you look, didn't it? Seriously, I'll tell you about the mystery later, but before I go into that, let me tell you how I ended up at Little Dhaka, a Bangladesh restaurant and market in Artesia.

It all started with an episode on Bizarre Foods where Andrew Zimmerman did a show on Indian cuisine. The part of the show that perked my interest was when he sampled Bengali cuisine. Go figure that I once had a Bengali college roommate, who if I had the same culinary interests as I did now, may have opened my eyes and my palate to this type of regional Indian cooking. You can read about the show by clicking here. What interested me in particular about Bengali cuisine was the utilization of mustard oil as a main ingredient. I've never had any food where mustard oil was used, at least not that I know of, so I was curious.

In my quest, I decided to ask the opinion of Smita, owner of an Indian ice cream shop, Saffron Spot, in Artesia. I previously had done a couple of ice cream tastings at her shop, so I figured, she'd steer me in the right direction. She directed me to Little Dhaka, which was also in Artesia. When I looked it up, I noticed that it was a Bangladesh restaurant, which also served as a small market. Confused, I thought maybe she made a mistake, but after some more investigation, I found out that Bangladesh means "Country of Bengal" in Bengali. To find out how Bangladesh and Bengal are connected, click here.

Finally, it was time to check out Little Dhaka and with Smita's help, the owner of Little Dhaka gave my dining group a nice meal deal where for $10 we got a salad, a choice of two entrees, naan, paratha bread, rice, a rasmala dessert and a soft drink. Even without that special lunch price, great cheap eats can still be had. Little Dhaka has steam tables and each of the entrees run around $3.00 to $4.00. Realistically, you can have a tasty meal for between $10 to $20, depending on what you order and there's great variety since they switch out the dishes they serve every day. Luckily, my group likes to dine family-style, so we broke up into smaller groups, sat at different tables and proceeded to share our bounty.

First up was a simple, but fresh salad. Nothing to it but cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and a slice of lemon. Interestingly enough, I used these veggies almost as a palate cleanser (except for the red onions) in between the entrees. The thing about the entrees was that they were just so flavorful. However, since I was unfamiliar with the spices being used for this cuisine, the "Mysterious" thing about these dishes was that I couldn't really describe what I tasted. I felt like I could taste the tang of mustard oil, but maybe I was imagining it? Of course, there were probably a myriad of other seasonings included in everything we sampled. The strange thing was that I asked the owner briefly about his use of mustard oil in his dishes and he told me that Bangladesh cuisine is actually all about the usage of poppyseed oil. Huh? Now, I was totally confused.

In any case, regardless of what spices or seasonings were used, I just really enjoyed the food at Little Dhaka. Unfortunately, I left the notes I made about the actual names of the dishes at the restaurant, but based on the photos and my general descriptions, you should be able to order them on your own. So as for the only other veggie dish we ordered, I'll simply refer to it as sauteed potatoes that were cut in spears and cooked with chili. It had a nice kick to it and I appreciated the fact that the potatoes weren't over cooked and mushy.

The entree sampling started with the Beef Curry. The beef was tender and the sauce it was cooked in tasted great spooned on my rice and the addition of green chilis hiding under the sauce gave this dish some heat.

Next was the fried fish, which in retrospect, would have been better if it came straight out of the fryer, especially if you're someone who likes crispy fish skin, like me. At least, the fish meat was delicately tender.

My favorite dish was the mutton with lentils with a sauce that also went well poured over my rice and I liked the fact that the mutton wasn't gamey.

Although their lamb curry was a little more oily than I would have liked, this bone-in tender lamb still had great flavor.

I think the only entree that didn't do it for me was the roasted chicken with spices. The sauce was just too thick for my taste and of all the entrees didn't seem seasoned enough.

As for the rasmalai dessert, I didn't really know what it was until I Googled it when I got home. It's basically cottage or ricotta cheese dumplings soaked in a sweet, thickened milk flavored with cardammon. I liked the texture and the flavor of the cardamon, but the milk was just way too sweet for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed my meal at Little Dhaka. These days, whenever you can find affordable dining where the food also tastes good, it's definitely a good thing and I think Little Dhaka offers both.

To see pics, go to:

Little Dhaka
18159 Pioneer Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
(562) 865-5230

Little Dhaka on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"The Great Pizza Hunt" at Tony's Little Italy Pizza

A while back, I decided to start a new restaurant series for my dining group, Pleasure Palate, revolving around pizza. Considering how many pizza joints are in Los Angeles, I knew that this would be a dining series that would probably take me into infinity, but you gotta do, what you gotta do sometimes, so "The Great Pizza Hunt" was on.

First up was Tony's Little Italy Pizza in Placentia. The reason I decided to start with Tony's is that their specialty is Chicago-Style Pizza. My only experience with Chicago pizza was actually in Chicago at Giordano's, where their pizza is referred to as a stuffed pizza. I found out later that the main difference between a stuffed pizza and a deep dish pizza is that the stuffed pizza has a layer of dough that goes on top of the pizza and the deep dish version doesn't. If there are any Chicagoans reading this review, please correct me if I'm wrong. Although I'm more of a thin crust pizza kind of gal, I did enjoy my foray into Chicago Pizza and was hoping to find something similar in LA; hence, Tony's Little Italy Pizza.

Walking into Tony's, I could definitely tell that the owners loved their Chicago sports teams with one wall devoted to the Chicago Bears and the other wall that was all about the Chicago Cubs. Since I had been running late due to an accident on the freeway, my group was already there and took the initiative to order two deep dish pies, although stuffed pies were also on the menu. Lunch was going to consist of Tony's Special with sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and one pizza that was half with pepperoni/sausage and half olives/bell peppers and onions.

When both pizzas arrived, our eyes widened with wonderment. Wow, these pizzas weren't delicate little darlings. They looked substantial.

I tried a slice of the half pepperoni/sausage pizza first and than a smaller slice of the bell pepper/olive/onions pizza.

Then I had a slice of Tony's Special.

Do you know what words came to mind after each slice? Disappointment soon followed by More Disappointment. Granted, it's been several years since I've had that pizza at Giordano's, but I remember it being a thing of beauty. The ingredients were nicely layered and they weren't drowning in a sea of tomato sauce and cheese. In fact, I could even tell where all the ingredients were laid out.

Both the pizzas I tried at Tony's were literally a "Hot Mess." Just like I mentioned above, it was a spillage of tomato sauce and cheese, all mixed up together. At one point, I couldn't even tell that the sausage/pepperoni pizza even had pepperoni until I looked more closely at a cross-section of one of the slices and saw pepperoni just above the crust and underneath the cheese. It just felt like there wasn't any restraint. Also, I felt that they really limited the quantity of toppings. If you got any of the toppings on any of your pizza slices, you were pretty lucky. At times, it felt like all I was eating was crust, tomato sauce and cheese.

When you add to all this, a crust that was a little burnt at the edges, which made it harder to chew and ingredients that should have been more flavorful, neither of the pizzas at Tony's were the Chicago pizza of my dreams. Come on, how can pepperoni and sausage not have any flavor??? As for the sauce, it was okay, although a little sweeter than I would have liked and at least the cheese was ooey and gooey, so that's one positive thing to note. Overall, as I mentioned earlier, I was pretty disappointed and definitely have no plans to make a return visit to Tony's.

To see pics, go to:

Tony's Little Italy Pizza
1808 N. Placentia Avenue, Unit B
Placentia, CA 92870
(714) 528-2159

Tony's Little Italy on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm In the Mood for Seafood!

I'm in the mood for seafood! So let's share a delicious dish together.
Does anything below catch your fancy?

Pacific Roasted Pacific Red Snapper Fillet, Black Rice & Charred Jalapeno Vinaigrette
from Traxx in Los Angeles, CA

Sashimi Rice Bowl
from Chiba in North Hollywood, CA

The Mayflower Lobster Special
from Mayflower Seafood in Los Angeles, CA

Ginataang Hipon (shrimp in creamy coconut sauce with string beans)
from Alejandro's in Eagle Rock, CA (Now Closed)

Octopus Carpaccio with Tomatoes in Pizzaiola
from All'Angelo in Los Angeles, CA

To check out my Flickr Photos (foodie and otherwise), please click here!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

If I Could Cook...Duck

If I could cook aka if I had the patience in general and I was in the mood for duck, below are some recipes that might actually get me in the kitchen, courtesy of images I saw on Foodgawker!

Crispy Roast Duck with Spicy Molasses Soy Glaze
- The Hungry Mouse

Home-Cured Duck Prosciutto
- The Hungry Engineer

Duck Sheperd's Pie
- [eating club] vancouver

Duck and Cognac Rillettes

- wrightfood

Duck Pot Pie with Cranberries and Orange
-the single cook

Bon Appetit!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Discover LA: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Other than being a great foodie town, LA has much to offer and while this blog will still be primarily about my culinary experiences, I also wanted to share with you other things about LA that have definitely made me smile, think, chuckle, appreciate and so much more and hopefully, they'll also help you discover an LA you've never known before and may want to know better.

When I first heard about a Cathedral being built in Los Angeles, I admit to having visions of a Cathedral more baroque in regards to design and architectural style. So when I first saw pictures of the new cathedral, I thought it quite plain and uninteresting.

However, after taking a docent tour last year, I completely did a 180. The Cathedral is actually quite beautiful. Modern. Minimalist. The ornateness you normally associate with Cathedrals is definitely not there; yet, it's not missed.

I really love the clean lines, the interesting architectural shapes, the natural lighting that is filtered through alabaster windows inside the Cathedral. There's just something so calming about its simplicity in the form and feel of this space. I actually took over 100 pictures during this tour, so take a look below and hopefully, you'll find the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels as breathtaking as I did.

To see pics, go to:

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 W Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-5200

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Honduran Deliciousness in Sherman Oaks

I've never had Honduran cuisine before so when I read a review awhile back about a Honduran restaurant, called El Katracho located in Sherman Oaks, I decided to check it out for myself. I'm just going to talk about the food itself, but if you'd like to read more about Honduran Cuisine in general, click here!

One thing to mention right away is that if you're bringing a large group who will be ordering a la carte off the menu, expect slower service. Although I made reservations for 14 ahead of time, having to wait on so many people did result in a service that while friendly and gracious, was also a little spotty. You may want to go with a smaller group or set up a pre-set menu with El Katracho to move things along a little quicker.

As my group was settling in and looking over the menu, we were served baskets of tortilla chips that weren't your standard chips and salsa combo. Instead, a light tomato/chile sauce was poured over the chips and than topped with cotija cheese. Those chips were quite tasty and a great starter.

Some people also went ahead ordered drinks while trying to decide what to order. A couple of mango margaritas, made with a fresh mango puree topped with little Honduran flags, soon came out and were enjoyed by the recipients who asked for them.

Orders were finally placed and eventually food started coming out in spurts. Now when I was reading that review earlier, one thing caught my attention and it was in reference to a street food that Hondurans are known for called baleadas. Basically, a baleada is a flour tortilla, that is folded and filled with refried mashed beans, quesillo or Parmesan cheese and sour cream. This is basically a no-frills baleada. There are baleadas that can have any number of fillings depending on your preference from eggs to sausage to hot sauce to avocado and probably much more.

I ordered a baleada as a side dish to my main entree which was a shrimp and conch soup. My baleada arrived first and I definitely enjoyed it. I enjoyed the thickness of the tortilla itself and I liked the earthiness of the beans mixed with the saltiness of the cheese and the slight sweetness of the sour cream. I could easily just have had a few of the baleadas, a margarita and called it night, but I still had a big bowl of soup coming my way.

My soup soon arrived and after my first spoonful, I was happy that I stuck around. The broth itself was made up of coconut milk and was chock full of shrimp, conch, chayote and green plantains. I have to admit to being a bit surprised at the addition of the plantains because I've never had them in soup before, but I liked how they added a meatiness to the soup without the addition of actual meat. The broth was addicting. I loved its sweetness, which went well with the sweetness of the shrimp. My only real issue with the soup was the conch. They were a little chewy, which meant that they were probably canned, but sometimes you can only work with what you have.

For me, dinner at El Katracho was a hit and I look forward to a return visit where I can check out even more of their dishes. I actually even foresee a Honduran breakfast in my near future.

To see pics, go to:

El Katracho
14838 Burbank Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91411
(818) 780-7044

El Katracho on Urbanspoon