Buttermilk! That’s the flavor I was searching to name in describing Antico’s Strawberry Ice Cream. Has anybody picked up a slight tart inside that sweet, creamy? I thought Yogurt but Buttermilk is more like it.
Funny! Leo said you should have seen the faces of the kids behind the Ice Cream counter at Rite-aid when he told them how many days he spends making his Pistachio Gelato.
Ramayani (Westwood) needs our love. They are not advertising that they do takeout, but it is always a dependable Indonesian joint. Bakmi ayam Jakarta with bakso sapi, and laksa, all made with love…
Toku Unagi & Sushi is quietly offering a delicious bento box ($60), and yes, it contains a portion of Toku’s fantastic unagi-don. Toku’s unagi-don game remains very strong. The freshwater eel rice is great as the weather gets warmer. Do not sleep on their sashimi and sushi either - Tasty as any specialized high-end sushi purveyor out there.
Bulgarini Gelato (Altadena): A funkadelic of FTCers (including @attran99 and @js76wisco - what a pleasure to see you both!) gathered for multiple order pickups from Leo, who was in a jovial mood, and looking forward to when he can debut his open-air Italian feast concept in the courtyard (once the lockdown eases). The tagliatelle con sugo di carne (handcut egg noodle with meat sauce), prepared with Leo’s twice-cooked ragu, and the accompanying housemade focaccia were outstanding!
Il brasato di gronchi (braised short ribs served with summer bean), with ribollita Toscana (white bean soup & seasonal greens)… The meat was so tender, you could eat it with a spoon, along with a superb rich sauce imbuing its magic within the ribs. The soup was a resplendent reminder of the summer to come.
Dessert: One-and-a-half kilos of Bulgarini gelato. Four flavors: Strawberry, pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate. Served with Harry’s Berries gaviota strawberries (with chocolate hazelnut cake from Paris Baguette and my backyard Pakistani mulberries for size comparison). Heavenly!
Didn’t Ramayani in Westwood close? Their Facebook posting says their last day was April 26th.
Ramayani is still open for takeout business. Not sure what their social media situation is - But I’d just call them.
E. Stretto (To-Go)
We had E. Stretto bookmarked for awhile and were finally able to make it out to try their Italian Sandwich.
Ill Papa Sandwich (Mortadella, Capicolla, Chorizo, Manchego, Shredduce, Tomato Giardinara, Dijonnaise):
While none of the ingredients are made in-house, one bite and it was clear that this was quality. I enjoyed the Mortadella and Capicolla, the light funk of the Manchego. However the Italian Sandwich as a whole was merely good, not great. The Bread was sturdy but soft enough inside. But the exterior crust made for a slightly stronger tug and chew than we normally like.
The Dijonnaise, Lettuce, Tomato and Giardinara were OK, but didn’t provide enough of a foil for the meat. Overall, tasty, but we prefer Wax Paper’s Larry Mantle, and Gjusta’s Italian Sandwich.
351 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: (213) 265-7017
We were in the mood for Charcuterie and Cheese and were visiting an elderly relative in the area, so we decided to stop by Milkfarm, happy to see that they were still open during this pandemic.
Social distancing was in place, as they only allowed 4 customers into the store at any time, and they had people helping recommend and grab whatever Cheese and Charcuterie you might be looking for.
We picked up Brillat Savarin (Normandy, France):
This was an incredibly rich Triple Cream Cheese, lightly funky, spreadable, delicious.
The Stanser Schafkase (Switzerland) is a semi-firm Sheep’s Milk Cheese. This was lovely! Only lightly gamey, creamy, buttery in taste (even though it was semi-firm).
We also picked up the Tomme Brulee (Pyrenees, France) this was another Sheep’s Milk Cheese that was a bit nuttier, but still delicious.
They still had a good selection of Charcuterie:
We picked up a few selections as well:
Big Chet - Fennel & Garlic Salami (Minneapolis, U.S.A.): This was a hit for a Christmas Dinner we hosted a while back, and the Big Chet was still delicious. There’s a real Fennel herbal note accenting the porky Salami and subtle Garlic note.
Pork Rilletes (Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.): This was tender hand-chopped Pork Shoulder that’s slow cooked in Pork Fat with Ginger and Thyme. A touch salty, but with a good Baguette and Pickles it was balanced enough.
They also had a variety of Jams and a curated selection of Wine.
2106 Colorado Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Tel: (323) 892-1068
Yazawa Japanese BBQ (To-Go)
Yazawa is a Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) specialist that has been on our try list for awhile. Normally for Yakiniku, you have a grill in front of you and various cuts of meat and veggies are cooked down, similar to Korean BBQ, and you enjoy them as they are ready.
Yazawa specializes in Japanese A5 Wagyu Beef, but how would that translate for Takeout? Only one way to find out.
A5 Wagyu Assorted Bento Box (Sauce-style) (includes Salad, Kimchi and Steamed Rice):
The Kimchi selection they had were limited, but very good quality. Balanced and a great complement for the A5 Wagyu Beef.
Assorted A5 Wagyu Beef:
First, yes, there are only 7 slices of the A5 Wagyu Beef, but they were thick slices, so it was actually pretty satiating.
Unfortunately, only 3 of the 7 slices of A5 Wagyu Beef were still tender and about medium-well(!). The rest of the slices were cooked well-done.
It was shocking: It’s one thing if you overcook the meat at your table for a Yakiniku or Korean BBQ restaurant, but for the actual Chef from the Yakiniku restaurant to overcook the A5 Wagyu Beef? Disappointing.
So for the slices that were medium-well in doneness, there was a real, deep beefiness and a luxurious quality. There was no doubt that it was A5 Wagyu Beef. Even at medium-well.
The well-done pieces? Dried out, tough, a disaster. (@PorkyBelly @TheCookie @A5KOBE @beefnoguy and others.)
The Salad was extremely fresh and bright, crisp Greens and an outstanding Sesame Dressing.
The Steamed Rice was a touch dry, but still plump.
Wagyu Garlic Rice:
The Wagyu Garlic Rice sounded wonderful. In actual taste? Essentially a Garlic Fried Rice with barely a hint of beefiness. It wasn’t bad, but nothing in the taste screamed “A5 Wagyu Beef” as the Garlic was the main taste throughout. (@JeetKuneBao @PorkyBelly)
Wagyu Curry Rice:
We’re always on the hunt for a great Japanese Curry. Yazawa makes theirs from scratch (according to the order taker), but this turned out to be a very bold, heavy on the Garam Masala flavor that dominated everything. This would be fine with a simple Tonkatsu (Fried Pork Cutlet) fillet, or chunks of Stewed Chicken, but for claiming to be A5 Wagyu Curry, the actual Curry spices overpower everything. A5 Wagyu Beef is very subtle and lightly beefy, and it’s all drowned out here.
The only hint that it might be A5 Wagyu Beef in the Curry is that there was a noticeable amount of Fat / Oil in the Curry. (@Dommy @TheCookie @JeetKuneBao @attran99 and others.)
The A5 Wagyu Assorted Bento Box is $60 (+ tax & tip), the Wagyu Garlic Rice is $20 (+ tax & tip) and the Wagyu Curry Rice is $14 (+ tax & tip).
Hearing the positive reports about Yazawa on our board last year, it’s clear dining at the restaurant and having the Wagyu Beef cooked in front of you on the grill is the ideal way to go, so we’ll be glad to give it another chance when the pandemic is over. But in the meantime, it seems everything except the Beef is what’s being executed correctly for Takeout.
Yazawa Japanese BBQ
9669 S. Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Tel: (310) 275-2914
All Day Baby (To-Go)
From the Chef-Owner of Here’s Looking At You, All Day Baby is a more casual spot focusing on Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
ADB Biscuit Sandwich w/ Bacon:
First, as we arrived we saw that they had a bunch of orders already packaged and ready to go. Thankfully our pre-order wasn’t steamed or mushy, as their Housemade Biscuits were still flaky, lightly crumbly and with a nice saline Butter taste.
The Egg and Bacon combination is classic, with their Bacon being of the thick-cut and lightly smoky variety, a nice contrast to the Egg, Jam and Cheese. It was tasty, but the Biscuit being cold / room temperature was a disappointment. Otherwise, we enjoyed this Biscuit Sandwich.
Big Chicken Biscuit (w/ Side B&B Pickles):
All Day Baby’s Biscuit held up well for this Fried Chicken Biscuit: The Biscuit remained sturdy, flaky and with no mushiness or steaming. The Fried Chicken patty within was surprisingly crunchy, really crunchy!, which was a highlight.
But the overall flavor tasted rather basic: Just cold / lukewarm Biscuit (but good quality), a crunchy Fried Chicken patty (that tasted mainly of Salt), and that was it. It needed another flavor component to draw it all together.
We enjoyed the Housemade Biscuits at All Day Baby, but after having been spoiled by fresh Handmade Biscuits piping hot and aromatic, right out of the oven at places like Plow, it’s hard to go back and have cold Biscuits even if they still taste freshly made that day. We’ll be back to try more of their menu when this pandemic is over, but in the meantime, they are releasing a few dishes that change each week, check their Instagram for more details.
All Day Baby
3200 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (323) 741-0082
I love those ADB biscuits!
I’ve been back a few times and the food is hit or miss preCovid. So far, the bacon biscuit sandwich and the mussels toast are the best items along with the pastries. I didn’t love the BBQ nor salads. I got the beef rib and it was decent, same with the porky belly tacos. I was blown away by my first visit and since then, visits have been up and down.
I am thinking the throwback menu items are the play here.
Some catching up to do
Naked lobster roll and lobster corn chowder from New England Lobster Market & Eatery in Burlingame (near SFO). It’s no Connie & Ted’s but it’s the best we have up here. Life saving easy fix during these extraordinary circumstances
A very enjoyable light bodied Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2016 with some Costco lamb chops (not pictured)
Weekly Sushi Yoshizumi fix of zuke Chutoro, ikura shoyu zuke, Hokkaido uni. The futomaki this time is even more spectacular than the previous week. Trying the pairing with a Trimbach Frederic Emile 2009 Riesling (sometimes lovingly known as “Fred”) which I finished the leftovers for Mothers Day dinner
Char siu and roast duck from the legendary R&G Lounge in SF. Spectacular and better than Ming Kee! But you get what you pay for.
A new Japanese curry rice restaurant in Burlingame. They launched right when stay at home directive took place, so went into takeout mode immediately. A very nice chicken katsu curry!
Basque Cultural Center in South SF. Breaded Pork Basquaise and Gateau Basque on Mothers Day
Nani?! R&G Lounge is better than Ming Kee?! Why didn’t you tell me about this place?
So you’re saying the Char Siu and Roast Duck both are better than Ming Kee? That’s crazy talk! I can’t wait to try it, but I the pics of the Char Siu don’t look as appetizing as the wonderful Pork Neck Char Siu you recommended at Ming Kee.
Rossoblu 7 Course Dinner - At $49, really good value. The beef cheeks were a miss, but enjoyed the rest, particularly the sardine.
Holbox Seafood Paella - Huge portions, could feed 5, stuffed to the gills, best paella I’ve had in a while
I think it will be easier to explain it this way.
There are essentially two versions of roasties in general, the blue collar everyday from the neighborhood shop/deli like Ming Kee, and higher end sit down Cantonese restaurant with a built in roasties department. The latter version should almost always be superior in different ways. If it is a high end restaurant the facilities would be far more well invested in equipment and the roasties chef should at the very least have access to better ingredients, and hopefully have experience doing roasties in high end restaurants. In the case of R&G Lounge, the roasties chef is actually a low key legend. I guess the most die hard of fans don’t sing his praises online…
Ming Kee’s char siu is very good in its own way, but he slices them thin which is very anti traditional in nature. His marinade is actually much less complex and you don’t taste the Chinese rose wine (it’s actually a rice wine) that should be part of the flavor profile (and ingredient), and I think he piles on the molasses so it is rather sweet in the end. This is not necessarily a bad thing but for those who prefer a more savory char siu will have to make up for it by eating it with salty ginger scallion oil which people rarely or almost never do in Hong Kong (unless they get a combo rice plate or box that includes soy sauce or empress chicken) as most char siu preps have enough savory with sweetness in the balance but not tipped to one direction notably.
Pork neck is actually very fatty, and while it is tasty, is way too decadent and rich. Kind of like going for kama toro when a properly well done chutoro can be even more amazing. A good piece of char siu should also have excellent mouthfeel and cut with a specific thickness for that additional consideration. Too thick no good, too thin and the mouthfeel is not quite there. Some places can do a killer fatty char siu 80% fat but the technique to do this right is rare and very difficult. In Japan some people don’t like thin katsu, they want a larger mouthfeel…and tonkatsu with too much fat is off putting, to use an additional example.
Also I was only recently told to try R&G roasties, their owners changed some time ago and I have not visited for a very long time, so I had to try it out first for myself. I have dined there a lot during the 90s and early 2000s, but their strengths at the time were mostly in soy sauce chicken, salt pepper crab and other things. I had no clue about roast duck, char siu at the time. With the ownership change I was very wary of going back and there were mixed reviews online.
So…you may or may not like their rendition unless you are OG hardcore traditionalist. I think R&G’s roasties are pretty solid. Some actually prefer their soy sauce chicken over Ming Kee’s but I remember years ago R&G’s version is cloyingly sweet.
Ming Kee was never known amongst the Cantonese gourmets up here for having good duck. It was also a bit too boney and less meat for me, even when I ordered duck thigh upgrade for a rice plate. I do admit that Ming Kee’s duck skin is good and the flavors of the marinade are great too…just not meaty enough for my tastes…more like a skinny free range duck of the few times I went. Eating roast duck should be more than just savoring the skin and gnawing on the bones!
THICCC cut is where it’s at. Higher end restaurants in Hong Kong use better quality pork and/or Spanish Iberico so their char siu is inherently more tender despite the THICCC cuts which gives off an excellent soft, juicy & meaty mouthfeel without the use of baking powder.
Is the use of iberico pork for roasties (instead of local porcine breeds) a recent thing in HK?
It’s been around for better part of the decade IIRC.
Because they’d be ignorant to the fact that Leo travels to Italy to get the ingredients for his Gelato that Italians buy locally. And it’s the reason peeps travel across county lines and pay $35 to eat it. He doesn’t look like he’s getting rich from this biz practice. It seems more like an obsession. But I agree with both sides of this argument. Some folks aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from, but I’ve got a $30 pint of Gelato in my freezer.
P.S. Ignore me if someone already said this I’m late to the May thread.
I’ve been wanting to use that one.
Did some quick research. Earliest known sighting of Iberico char siu was Macau Jade Dragon circa fall 2012 and supposedly roasted with lychee wood, presented as a fancy appetizer and a very small tasting portion. For Hong Kong the first appearance may have been on the Kowloon side in Tsim Sa Tsui’s 2 Michelin star Tin Lung Heen around fall 2013 or thereabouts. As to when it became a bit more wide spread in HK and with international diners, I’d say give it another few years or so after that. While the concept is great and all, it does not translate well here.
Either way, I see these as outliers and extremes of the higher end roasties char siu (pretty much Michelin Cantonese joints that go the way of modern/fusion) but certainly not representative. There are still quite a number of places doing old school style roasties but at a very high and refined level. Even so, finding a good place that does anything close to this (traditional high end non fusion non imported ingredients) that’s worth shoving down our COVID 15 bodies in California is rare.
You also had a good one - “'hounding in the time of Covid!“