Ikura over rice, mentaiko stired into bowl of hot, buttered noodles (thin spaghetti, soba, ramen noodles, I’ve done them all, and they’re all good). It isn’t “cooking” really, more of a quick and easy snack or dinner. These are two of my favorite things.
Steamed rice is how we enjoy everything ready-to-eat from Yamacho. @Bookwich is obviously a fiend!
Quick trip yesterday to Mitsuwa Torrance for the gourmet fair led to dinner last night (see dish of the month thread for fishcake on a stick) and lunch today. Tried the “stamina don” for sale in the grocery store’s prepared case. It caught my eye because I love the slime…natto and okra together! Plus tuna, a few strands of seaweed, and radish (the latter 2 ingredients not listed on the label for whatever reason), all on a bed of rice. I added some pickled gobo, also purchased at Mitsuwa. The tuna was flavorless and the rice hard. Oh well. Still got my dose of slime for the day. $5.80 for the bowl.
A couple shots from the Hokkaido seafood stall at the gourmet fair
tuscan style chicken liver pate - cherries, aged balsamic
Cherries were too tart, need some more sweetness with this dish.
wood roasted prawns - calabrian chili butter, calamari, venetian black rice
Highlight of the night, great snappy shrimp with toothsome black rice. The chili butter gave everything some nice heat.
black torchietti alle vongole - clams, fresno chilies, cherry tomatoes, basil breadcrumbs
My favorite pasta of the night. Chewy, spicy, crunchy.
pasta al pomodoro
Solid, but didn’t live up to the hype.
braised duck agnolotti - foie gras emulsion, english peas, pickled spring onions
I was looking forward to this the most, but didn’t taste much foie and the flavor just didn’t pop.
spring vegetables - celery root puree, pickled leek vinaigrette
@PorkyBelly the spaghetti looks over-sauced. I don’t remember that much sauce being on it previously.
Continuing on with the weekend and the previous post…
Made famous by Jonathan Gold a few years back, this Bossam (Korean Boiled Pork Belly) specialist has been consistently packed for years.
These were OK. Their Napa Cabbage Kimchi was extremely spicy for those chili-heads out there.
Haemul Pajun (Sizzling Seafood Pancake with a Mixture of Shrimp, Mussel, Squid and Crab Meat with Green Onions):
I’m always looking out for a nice Seafood Pancake, so we ordered one of these to try. I remember we ordered this before on our last visit (about 3+ years ago), but I forgot if it was good or not. Visually, this looked enticing - a nice golden brown - but ultimately it was a bit too thick.
The outer crust was slightly crisped and had a little bit of crunch, but it the Pancake was so thick that the inside was mushy. My Korean co-worker who joined us agreed, saying it wasn’t “done right,” like the way he and his family enjoy it at home and the way he prefers it (more crisped).
Wang Bosam (Napa Cabbage Wraps with Boiled Pork, (Steamed Skate), and Glazed Pork Feet):
It normally comes with Steamed Skate, but our server noted that if we were here for the Bossam (Boiled Pork Belly) and their Jokbal (Boiled Pork Foot)), then they have an option to remove the Skate, and they’ll add more of the Pork to the dish (he said it was very popular that way), so we went with that option).
It is a massive mound of Boiled Pork, chilled then thinly sliced. It looked great and we dug in, taking a slice of their Pickled Radish as a “wrap,” adding a piece of the Pork Belly, and some of their Kimchi to taste.
The Bossam was lightly seasoned, and tasted OK. It wasn’t bad, but slightly chilled / cold Pork Belly slices with some spicy Kimchi wrapped up just came across as underwhelming after enjoying the warmed up Bossam (and Jokbal) at Myung Ga.
In addition, the Bossam was dry. Just by itself, it was only lightly seasoned, and the Raw Oyster that @PorkyBelly had before seems to be missing now.
Their Jokbal (Boiled Pork Feet) is also served chilled and thinly sliced:
This had more flavor than the Bossam, but we all had similar reactions: That it was fine, but after having enjoyed Jokbal at both of the other two Jokbal specialists, there was no comparison: They were both far more enjoyable.
Kobawoo is still doing brisk business (with a 30+ minute wait when we arrived), and people still waiting when we left. Their Bossam was generally “traditional,” according to my Korean friend, but we all felt that the taste was more enjoyable at Myung Ga, especially warmed up and more tender and succulent. And for Jokbal, Jang Choong and Myung Ga were places we’d rather go back to.
698 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: (213) 389-7300
Sul and Beans
Parking for this plaza is a madhouse! But we decided to get something tasty after Kobawoo, and stopped by Sul and Beans, a Korean Shaved Ice Dessert specialist.
Fresh Mango Bingsoo:
This is the first time we tried Korean Shaved Ice, which tasted like a really refined version (super thinly shaved, soft Ice) of Taiwanese Shaved Ice Desserts.
Their Fresh Mango Bingsoo is essentially a giant bowl of finely Shaved Ice topped with a massive amount of Fresh Mango in a Sugary Syrup and Condensed Milk.
It was pretty tasty, but really like eating Mango but slightly sweetened and with some cool, refreshing Shaved Ice.
Black Sesame + Red Bean Bingsoo:
But the winner this evening was their Black Sesame + Red Bean Bingsoo! This had @paranoidgarliclover written all over it! A nice nutty, fragrant Black Sesame flavor was coming through with each bite, not overpowered by the Red Bean (thankfully), and with a nice crunchy textural contrast from the Toasted Almonds and Toasted Dates. It was delicious!
This wasn’t even the best Black Sesame Dessert we had this weekend, but that’s for another post.
Sul and Beans
621 S. Western Ave., #208
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: (213) 385-5510
A few years ago, Elite and Sea Harbour were the top Dim Sum restaurants and on our old board, we had fans in both camps. We could always count on @Porthos to chime in with a follow-up report on how it was doing, if we didn’t make it out for another visit, but times change.
We were curious how Elite was since our last visit (maybe 3 - 4 years ago?), and it felt like a nice Dim Sum Sunday to give it a try.
Iron Goddess Tea:
We chose Iron Goddess Tea for this visit, and this had a beautiful aroma, with good Tea Leaves. It went downhill from here.
Pork Shui Mai:
As you can see in the picture, the Roe was spilled and toppled over because our server decided to fling the Siu Mai onto the table.
Besides that, these were the largest sized Siu Mai we’ve seen at a Dim Sum place yet, but biting into it, I saw the reason why: Large chunks of pure Pork Fat (unrendered) was used as filler for this dish. It was chewy Fat, not even tender or succulent, and the overall taste was pretty average.
Crystal Shrimp Har Gow:
Their Shrimp Har Gow was disappointing as well: The Dumpling Skin was pasty and stuck together. It also fell apart easily, and they didn’t clean out the Shrimp, as there was a muddy / dirt taste to the Shrimp.
Deep Fried Taro Cakes:
Deep frying anything makes it better, right? The Deep Fried Taro Cakes were fragrant and easily the best dish we had at Elite. It was a touch oily, but overall, the warm, soft (almost Baked Potato-like) texture and aromatic Taro made this quite appealing.
Pan Fried Turnip Cakes in X.O. Sauce:
Our favorite Sauteed Turnip/Radish Cakes usually have a slight crisped texture to the exterior after being pan-seared fresh to order. These were pasty, doughy, and you could barely taste any Turnip at all (as if it was mainly filler). The X.O. Sauce was also pretty average, providing a barely there Seafood brininess (probably more ruined after having the excellent X.O. Noodles at Corner Beef Noodle House (thanks again @ipsedixit!)).
Sticky Rice Lotus Leaf Wrap:
As if the Dim Sum couldn’t get worse, it did: Their Sticky Rice Lotus Leaf Wrap was wrapped in parchment paper first (a sad trend by some of the Dim Sum houses around the SGV), which really blocks any Lotus Leaf infusion into the Rice). Besides that, the Glutinous Rice was really dense and really stuck together (abnormally). It was also really salty.
Tripe with Ginger and Onion:
This was overcooked, with the Tripe being really chewy, and the Sauce tasted pretty one note (mainly salty).
We’re used to “service” for most SGV Chinese restaurants , but for a restaurant that used to pride themselves on being, well, “elite” / one of the best Dim Sum / HK Seafood restaurants, Elite’s service today was the worst we’ve ever seen:
They never refilled our Tea once (we had to try and flag down someone for a long while before someone finally stopped by). They never replaced our dirty plates. Even asking for the bill was a chore of asking 3 different servers before getting it. Contrast this to Sea Harbour, in all of our visits, where we always had Tea and Water refilled multiple times without asking, new plates rotated in periodically, etc. and it was even more disappointing.
Beyond the horrendous service, Elite’s Dim Sum has become really mediocre. It was even worse than Lunasia, and probably on par with 888 Seafood. We left hungry but were glad we cut our losses (this was $21 per person at this juncture of a partial meal). I should’ve known that when the SGV experts like @ipsedixit @chandavkl @raytamsgv @J_L and others aren’t talking about Elite these days, there must’ve been a reason.
There was nothing that made us feel like we wanted to return. We’ll be sticking with Sea Harbour at this point.
700 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Tel: (626) 282-9998
Ichimian Bamboo Garden
So at this point, we felt it best to finish things off on a brighter note, so off we went to get some nice, refreshing Handmade Soba.
One thing that gave us pause when we walked in: The entire staff was new. We didn’t recognize anyone from the front or back of the house (you can see straight into the small kitchen), but we kept up hope that things were still great…
Mentai Oroshi Soba (Spicy Pollock Roe, Grated Daikon Radish + Handmade Soba Noodles):
Firstly, the inherent combination of Mentaiko and Grated Daikon was fantastic and so refreshing! One of my favorite combinations for Chilled Soba Noodles.
Ume Shiso Soba (Japanese Plum, Shiso Leaf + Handmade Soba Noodles):
But their Ume Shiso flavors are even better! That burst of piquant from the Japanese Plum and the fragrant, aromatic Shiso Leaf, mixed in with the Chilled Soba Noodles. So good!
Their very thin-style Soba Noodles still had excellent chew and body to them, thankfully, and the staff confirmed they still make their Soba Noodles fresh every day.
The one quibble by the new staff would be that the amount of Soba Sauce and toppings might’ve been too much (excessive). While I love Ume, they really gave a huge dollop of Ume for this bowl (more than we’ve ever seen in the past), which slightly overwhelmed this dish.
The original staff seemed to get things right, but the Soba Noodles overall were still quite good.
Ichimian is the only one of the South Bay Soba specialists that opens for lunch on Sundays, so if you’re in the mood for some great Soba, you probably have only one choice. Outside of that time table, we’ll probably head over to Otafuku or Inaba first, especially if in the mood for some Tempura.
Ichimian (or Ichimi Ann) Bamboo Garden
1618 Cravens Ave.
Torrance, CA 90501
Tel: (310) 328-1323
I love your reports, and I love that you go to places that are new, and not the usual FTC favorites.
When you go somewhere (like Elite) and you get food that is not very good, do you still eat it, or do you take a bite or two, then push it aside?
When the food is just not good (really salty, or just bad), we’ll take a bite or two, but then politely leave the rest. Like many, I don’t like wasting food, but I also don’t want to intake a bunch of excessive salt or fat or force myself to eat something that’s plain bad.
If it can be salvaged, then we’ll try and take it back (or our friends will). Like the Seafood Pancake at Kobawoo… if it was cooked a bit more, crisped up and the inside was more done, I think it would’ve been very good, so our friends gladly took it back (and we would’ve as well, if they didn’t).
Like how you salvage some dishes as well in some of the previous posts! Love that.
Thanks @PorkyBelly. Great report.
Some of the pastas sounded like they were real winners. Do you think it’s worth visiting? Or other places are just a better experience? Thanks.
Elite has really upped their game for dinner. Call ahead and reserve the market specials.
And that said, they still make the best rendition of Buddha Jumps Over the Wall in California. Again, have to call ahead.
Ah, good to know dinner is still good there. Thanks @ipsedixit. We’ll just avoid them for Dim Sum then.
If you haven’t been to scarpetta or the patio at terrine it might be worth a visit, other than that it’s a nice safe place to take the parents.
Okay, so there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be able to catch up w/ May’s rundown, but I think I can keep up w/ June. @Chowseeker1999: that dessert looks right up my alley! And I have a non-expired pack of the mochi sesame balls in my freezer, so I’m going to boil up some later this wk.
Tried North Italia on Friday (SaMo location). The place has been open for only a wk, and it was packed. From the same people behind True Food Kitchen and Flower Child. Food and atmosphere is very corporate, but it’s like Houston’s in the sense that it’s very well-done. Pastas are housemade (I assume from a central location). Mussels were DELICIOUS. Bolognese was fine but can’t touch the depth and richness of Pasta Sisters. The pesto pasta was good but a bit oversauced (and say this as someone who LOVES pesto). Place isn’t particularly cheap, but the portions are generous, and I’d be happy to go back. Bar is “double sided” and a pleasant place to sit.
Lunch yesterday at Surfas. The roast beef is surprisingly good (mainly b/c of the spread).
Did some resisting this morning, and since we were in the area and since partner had not yet been to Bludso’s Bar & Que, we stopped in for lunch. Absolutely delicious. Wonderful smokiness.
Mrs. Chandavkl went to Elite recently and didn’t have a nice thing to say about the dim sum. This proves it wasn’t a fluke.
Good to know. Thanks @chandavkl.
My husband decided to throw me a surprise dinner at our house and (since it was the same crowd) we recognized the boys’ school promotion ceremonies from the beginning of the month. The spread was some of my favorite things…spicy tuna rolls and various sushi rolls; shawarma (chicken and beef) lamb kebabs, rice, hummus, salad, and garlic sauce; rolls from Broadard; strawberry croissants from Cream Pan; he subcontracted my Mom for House Special Lobster and lobster noodles; chips, salsa, and guacamole; and a lovely and clever cake from Rossmoor Pastries. It was a lovely and thoughtful surprise, indeed…and I have an insane amount of leftovers for the week.
Ran out to Portsmouth with some friends for dinner, and only managed to snag a picture of their salmon poké tostada…new menu item, but a nice riff on the original inspired by the chef’s most recent vacation to Hawaii. They’ve also added a lovely cioppino to the menu that I think is more a Manhattan chowder-bisque with seafood than cioppino…but still very good.
The unicorn was sighted (and consumed):
Ollalieberry pie from Mother Moo.
Eating this pie is heaven on Earth. Bless whoever farmers hybridized (yes, that also mean genetically manipulated) blackberry/dewberry/raspberry lines to create this wondrous fruit, for it is perfectly sweet for pie filling, while retaining just the right amount of tart “berriness”…
man that pie looks so not gloppy. and not gloppy is good.
in other news, went to belle vie and tacos los anaya this weekend.
would return happily – well i never really do anything happily, but knowhutimeanright?-- to both.
Hybrid or cross breeding is not genetically modifying. It’s no different that what created the Labradoodle (Or any dog over the course of thousands of years of human interference) Genetic modification starts at the cellular level, not “Lets put one branch of this tree on this other one”
What the heck does botanical grafting have to do with what I said?
BTW I specifically did NOT use the word modification. I said manipulation. What Gregor Mendel did with pea plants back in the 1800s (which formed the basis for all current biology teachings on basic genetics and Mendelian inheritance) was manipulating plant lines (and not grafting of branches either). And those genetic changes happen at the plant DNA (cellular/molecular) levels.
As someone who has spent a fair share of my time in an academic virology lab (and has been published), I’m kinda comfortable with my knowledge of biology…