December 2016 Weekend Rundown

Happy Holidays everyone.

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Mission Chinese Food.

Mapo Tofu

Great balance.
**Roast Tomato Beef Tartar **

The meat was big dice, not chopped, and very tender. Excellent dressing and the tomatoes were smoked, not roasted. This was the best dish of the night.

We also had vegetarian chow main (fat noodles, great texture), sautéed pumpkin, and chicken fat rice (it didn’t taste chickeny, it was bland greasy rice). Everything but the rice was very well cooked and savory.

Here is a blurry picture of our breakfast, Mission Chinese doesn’t skimp on portion size.

Mission Chinese Food
Mission District
2234 Mission Street, SF

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Al pastor and suadero tacos from Tacos La Guera. I think I’m starting to like the al pastor here better than Leo’s. Plus those spicy marinated onions with the habanero slices give me life. :heart_eyes:

Tacos La Guera
Pico Blvd & Hobart Blvd (right in front of the Smart & Final).

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Nice @thechez5. Glad you liked it. :slight_smile: Yah, we’re really enjoying the Al Pastor from La Guera a lot.

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Yeah, we’ve been going there a while, and then I saw that you reviewed it in your taco thread and was happy to see that you enjoyed it as well. :grinning:

Got Pok Pok delivered by Postmates. As usual, I have mixed feelings, that are encapsulated by one dish. I got the Haa Pet Nam Tok, which is a version of Nam Tok salad with grilled forest mushrooms, fish sauce, lime, chili powder, shallots, lemongrass, mint, cilantro, and toasted rice powder.

It was DELICIOUS. Everything you might want in a thai salad. Meaty, excellent mushrooms, real heat in the sauce, a mix of sweet and funk, and fresh herbs.

On the other hand: This was a small mushroom salad. It is really just mushrooms, herbs, and fish sauce/lime dressing. And it’s $15 plus tax and tip. So in the end you’re paying in the range of $18 for a small side of mushrooms in fish sauce.

There aren’t many restaurants in LA that will charge $15 for a small side of mushrooms. QPR remains the main thing preventing Pok Pok from success. Ricker needs to make the business adjustments necessary so that he can sell a dish like this for $10. If he doesn’t, Pok Pok LA will not survive 2017. Which would be a shame because a lot of the food is quite good.

This isn’t about insisting on eating ethnic food for cheap. I’m happy to pay. But the pricing is just too high for the portions you get here. It feels like there are business inefficiencies being built into these menu prices.

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I was lucky enough to reserve a lonche de panela (Mexican cheese sandwich) from Primera Taza, a coffee house in Boyle Heights. This sandwich is only available once a month because the birote salado (sourdough roll) is procured from a bakery in Guadalajara; the sandwich must be reserved a few days ahead of time. I really liked how the fiery chiles offset the mild panela cheese. The birote salado was very crisp and had a faint hint of salt.

I saw the lonche de lomo (roasted pork sandwich) being served to another customer, and it looked truly appetizing. Here’s Javier Cabral’s photo:

For more info, see Javier Cabral’s article for Munchies: https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/meet-the-mexican-sandwich-that-has-brought-fully-grown-men-to-tears

Primera Taza
1850 1/2 E 1st St (located across the street from Mariachi Plaza)
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 780-3923
*My lonche de panela was $9.

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What did you think about the place?

We need them to come over, great pricing and even awarded 1* recently http://somtumder.com/menu.html

looks amazing (both sandwiches)! Is this available on a specific day each month?

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I don’t think it’s available on a specific day. However, I suggest you follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/primerataza/. They post updates about the availability of their lonches.

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The pictures look pretty good but didn’t see a single dish you can’t get at a good thai town place. I think we’re pretty set on Thai, but I am never opposed to trying somewhere new.

Another example of lunatic pricing at Pok Pok is for their isaan style sausage. You get one link of sausage, nam prik num, and some pork rinds and it’s $15!

Spam & egg musubi and spam fried rice from Rice Man by Koda Farms at the Torrance Farmers Market.

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MIAN

From the Chef-Owner of Chengdu Taste, I remember TonyC and a few others mentioning this place. We remembered the mixed reviews of this place so I was never in a hurry to stop by, but on a recent SGV crawl, we decided to finally try it:

Marinated Pork:

Their Appetizer of “Marinated Pork” was recommended (I think someone mentioned this was Pork Jowl). It was fine. Really fatty, porky, and interesting, but I could only eat a couple slices of this. :sweat_smile:

Steamed Veggies:

Their Steamed Veggies were quite literally, Steamed Vegetables (Boy Choy), with nothing else added. :smile: It was fine to get something green as part of the meal (and to break up the heat), but there’s no seasoning at all (in case you were expecting any).

Chengdu Za Jiang Noodles (Homemade Noodles, Pork, Green Onions):

This is MIAN’s version of the classic Chinese Noodle dish, Zha Jiang Mian, but done Chengdu-style. The difference is that it’s spicy (quite a bit of heat!), not really thick with any “Brown / Soybean Sauce,” and features more of a thinner Sauce.

The flavors were fine - Sauteed Ground Pork, Chili Oil, Green Onions - but if these were truly Homemade Noodles, you wouldn’t be able to tell because they were completely overcooked. :disappointed: Almost mushy. :frowning:

Hot & Sour Noodles (Extra Thin Noodles, Fried Egg, Green Onions):

The flavor profile here was interesting: It tasted like you were eating Noodles in a classic Hot & Sour Soup, albeit in a thinner, Broth-like base. It was slightly piquant, spicy and nutty (with the Bawan Beans and Sesame Seeds).

The heat, though, was very spicy. But it’s a deceptive heat: At first there’s a slight burn, but it builds and builds over time. After a few bites, we noticed that our mouths were on fire! LOL. :smile: :frowning: It felt like Jitlada Level 3+ to us.

But the sad part were the Noodles: Just like the other bowl, these Noodles were totally overcooked! :weary: They were practically melting together, totally mushy.

Bone Soup Chaoshou:

Their Chaoshou Dumplings were recommended by a few people, so we tried these as well. They were better than the Noodles, but also overcooked, with the Dumpling Skin being really soft (almost disintegrating). The inside was a simple Salted Ground Pork filling.

The Bone Soup tasted light, if a bit bland.

MIAN has a TV playing an endless loop of their popular reviews (by various media outlets and Yelp). I guess they’re trying to build the hype train for anyone walking into the restaurant to make them feel like the restaurant is “great” or it’s cool or something.

But with completely overcooked Noodles (really awful), this restaurant claiming to be specializing in Noodles is just a disappointment. We won’t be back.

MIAN
301 W. Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 693-6888

Szechuan Impressions

The famous Szechuan Impressions (I think the second “fancy / modern” Szechuan restaurant to hit L.A. after Chengdu Taste debuted) was another place we stopped by on our SGV food crawl. Their menu names are often silly and ridiculous. :slight_smile:

Classic “Potato Strips on Street Corner”:

This was a recommended dish on FTC, and we could see the appeal. These looked like standard Sysco / mass-produced Crinkle Cut Fries, but they are sauteed with a fiery Szechuan Peppercorn / Chili Blend, which gives you a mouthful of numbing spicy Fries. :smile: They were quite tasty, if a bit salty, and really unique. :slight_smile:

Tea Smoked Ribs

This turns out to be a fantastic rack of Pork Ribs, Smoked with Tea Leaves. The fragrant, succulent Pork Ribs are delicious, with a faint smokiness. :slight_smile:

Garlic Sauteed A Vegetable:

One of their Vegetables of the Day turned out to be “A Vegetable,” that popular green leaf veggie from Taiwan. They were sauteed just right, garlicky, tender and lightly seasoned (not too salty).

Green Pepper Boiled Fish Fillets:

We first experienced the non-red version of “Water Boiled Fish” at Chengdu Taste a while back, so we wanted to see how Szechuan Impressions’ version compared. Szechuan Impressions’ version is light, still packing quite a bit of immediate heat, but isn’t anywhere near as numbing as Chengdu Taste’s version. The Grey Sole Fillets are perfectly cooked (still tender, flaky and moist). Tasty. :slight_smile:

Mapo Tofu:

After having Meizhou Dongpo’s version recently, we could see why some people might enjoy a different version of this famous Szechuan dish. Szechuan Impressions’ Mapo Tofu is brighter, spicier, more full of flavor. Meizhou’s was fine, but Szechuan Impressions’ version tasted more vibrant.

Fried Spicy Pork Rib:

One of the new Seasonal Specials just added to the menu, their Fried Spicy Pork Rib is a fiery saute of Roasted Pork Ribs then wok-fried with Szechuan Peppercorns and fresh and dried Chilies, along with a massive amount of Garlic and Green Onions.

It is quite fragrant, but sadly the Pork Ribs taste a bit old (as if they were leftovers from the night before), and it was a bit too salty. :frowning:

Wonton Chicken Soup:

Their “Wontons” are the Szechaun Chaoshou Dumplings, made in-house. One bite and it was clear how truly Housemade these were compared to MIAN’s version: Each of these Dumplings had a nice bite and chew to them, their Dumpling Skins had heft and density (in a good way), while still being tender (much better than the near mush / overcooked nature of MIAN’s Chashou).

The Chicken Soup however, was a bit too salty (just a touch), while the Marinated Ground Pork filling tasted fine.

Boiled Fish Fillets in Chili Sauce:

This is Szechuan Impressions’ version of the famous Water Boiled Fish dish. As it arrived, you could see how absurdly RED this looked, LOL. :smile: This was “probably” going to be spicy. :wink:

And indeed there was some serious heat here. You can ask the server to make it “Lightly Spicy” (a tip from my friends in the SGV), which is what we did, and it still looked like that. :stuck_out_tongue:

The Grey Sole Fillets are still perfectly cooked (just like the Green Chili version), almost buttery, with a nice flakiness and moistness. The Inferno-colored Sauce / Soup is extremely fragrant, spicy and Steamed Rice is the order of the day to counter that heat.

But it’s wonderful on a chilly Winter day like we have now in Southern California. :slight_smile:

The one complaint our friend had was that she felt there was too much MSG in the cooking (she felt aftereffects after we left on the way back).

Szechuan Impressions
1900 Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91803
Tel: (626) 283-4622

Sawyer

I remember Eater LA talking about a new Silver Lake eatery earlier this year. The space looked bright and fun, and it seemed like a potentially good spot to stop by when visiting our friends in Silver Lake. :slight_smile:

As recently reported by Eater, it seems Sawyer has already lost its original head Chef and has enlisted Chef Sydney Hunter III from its sister restaurant (next door), Kettle Black, to revamp the menu.

It was packed when we stopped by. We started with:

Herman Blume (Scotch, Spice Tea Cordial, Pomegranate, Lemon, Bitters):

This was well-balanced, with the Scotch at the forefront, but smoothed out by the Spice Tea Cordial and Pomegranate. The Bitters and Lemon notes came through as well, to keep things pretty even.

Moscow Mule:

Their Moscow Mule was fine. Nothing spectacular, but a decent version, with the Ginger Beer dominating.

Dungeness Crab Salad (Cucumber Water, Pink Lady Apples, Watercress, Pink Grapefruit):

From the menu description, this sounded really unique and pretty exciting, perhaps a refreshing Watercress Salad with chunks of Dungeness Crab.

Instead this turned out not to be like a traditional “Salad,” but more like a “Tuna Salad”-type of dish, where it’s primarily the Seafood protein mixed with Mayonnaise. :smile:

I was slightly disappointed at first, hoping to get some bright, crisped, herbal Watercress Salad with Crab, but the “Tuna Salad” style “Salad” prep still worked. Sawyer gives a huge amount of Dungeness Crab mixed with Mayo and Herbs, and while it wasn’t Live Dungeness Crab (that would’ve been too labor intensive and much more expensive), it was quite tasty, lightly briny and full of good Crab flavor. The Cucumber Water helped give it a nice Spring note. :slight_smile:

Sawyer Frites (Kennebec Potatoes, Garlic Aioli, Mornay, Sunny Egg):

These felt like a hamster version of Gravy Fries. :stuck_out_tongue: The actual French Fries were moderately crisped, but way oversalted. :frowning: The Mornay Sauce tasted like a buttery version of a standard Gravy, but it, too, had heavy sodium levels, so when you add Salted Fries with Salty Mornay Sauce, it gets exponentially saltier.

The Sunny Side Up Egg was excessive, but delicious (just drowned out by the salt).

Chicken Confit (Dijon Whole Grain Mustard Jus, Lettuce, Potato Mouseline):

I love classic Duck Confit, so seeing a menu item for Chicken Confit had my attention. The Chicken Confit had slightly crispy skin, tender Chicken meat through each piece. However, like the Fries, this was way too salty! :weary: If they seriously cut the sodium back by half this might’ve been just right (that’s how salty it was).

The Potato Mouseline was gorgeously creamy, with a luscious quality. Delicious! :slight_smile:

Loup de Mer (Mediterranean Sea Bass, Leek Veloute, Maitake Mushrooms, Rice Pilaf):

Thankfully, the evening ended on a great note with their stunning Loup de Mer. Truly perfectly seasoned Sea Bass, with crisped outer skin gave each bite of this moist, flaky fish an enticing slight crunch! The salt levels in this dish were perfect (lightly salted) and the Sauteed Maitake Mushrooms with Rice Pilaf were so delicious! :blush:

With Appetizers ranging from $10 - $16, and Mains from $15 - $24, and a relatively small menu, Sawyer seems like the type of fun, casual neighborhood eatery that would be great if it was in your neighborhood. The produce was undeniably fresh, but the excessive Salt issues in some of the dishes derailed what would’ve been a nice dinner experience.

Still with the fantastic Loup de Mer and potential in the Cocktails like the Herman Blume, we’d give it another try the next time we’re in the area.

Sawyer
3709 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (323) 641-3709

http://www.sawyerlosangeles.com/

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Pea soup.

I’ve traveled this road countless times, but the first time we actually stopped. Good soup. :slight_smile:

Pea Soup Andersons
Santa Nella, Highway 33, off I-5

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Must be something lost in translation because that soup did nothing for me.

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Fast food weekend. The Habit, Tommy’s and a flown in Cheesesteak from Phili (for some reason not much cheese or wiz)…

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Well, it wasn’t life altering or anything. But definitely better than a gas-station hot dog. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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The Pizza Shop, 24th Street, Mission District - Pizza with tomatoe, mushroom and onion, I asked for anchovies to be added. Supposedly the “Best Slice in San Francisco”, but though the crust was nice, the toppings had no flavor; not the cheese, the sauce or the vegetables. I couldn’t even detect the sauce.

I don’t know where else to post this, so here is my haul from S.F. this weekend. I drove this time, so no airport carry-on required.

Chocolate croissants (there is only one in the picture because the others got eaten as soon as I walked in the door), Yukon Gold and Russet potatoes, Koda Farm garbanzo beans and green flagelots, a loaf of bread (neighborhood bakery, so much better than Lodge), and Bianco Dinapoli tomatoes ($3.75 for whole tomatoes, the crushed were $3.65).

Almost forgot my favorite thing I ate this weekend. Ham and cheese quiche from Tartine Bakery. (Is quiche considered to be pie?)

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Nice Haul! I carried two can of those tomatoes on a train trip all through Arizona… LOL!!! Worth it!!! You can now get them at Whole Foods and Urban Raddish. So we always have a can at home. :slight_smile:

–Dommy!

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