Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yummy Thai Squared: Ruen Pair and Bhan Kanom Thai

Starchy Marie wrote about our visit to Ruen Pair with Delicious Coma, Eat Sip Chew, and Wandering Chopsticks ages ago. What can I say? I'm a lagger.

But I have a big yellow arrow showing you which sign is Ruen Pair's at this popular Thai Town strip mall. That's got to count for something.
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Just in case you forget where you are while you're eating, this back wall reminds you very clearly. Thanks, Ruen Pair!

Stir-fried morning glory with soy bean sauce (market price).
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A solid version of my favorite green vegetable.

Papaya salad -- sliced papaya mixed with green bean, tomato, dried shrimp, lime juice, ground peanuts, and fresh crab ($5.95).
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After having many papaya salads, I can now say this with confidence -- I don't like papaya salad. Yes, I habitually eat things that I don't really love multiple times before I kick them out of my rotation; I like to give all foods a fair shake. But, as far as papaya salads go, this one was a good and spicy one.

Salty vegetable and ground pork in clear soup ($5.95).
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This reminded me of soups that my mom used to make when I was a kid. Simple but magically perfectly salty.

Deep-fried pompano with spicy chili dressing (market price).
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The best dish of the night for me. It's fried fish! With a humongous dish of chili sauce! What's not to like?

Green curry chicken with bamboo shoots, basil, and coconut milk ($5.95).
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Pleasant and calming after a fairly fiery papaya salad.

Stew[ed] duck noodles ($5.95) (ordered dry).
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Loved this. My second-fave dish. It has duck in it. Duh.

After dinner, we crossed the parking lot to Bhan Kanom Thai for dessert.
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Ever wonder what a Thai sweets store is like? Wonder no more.

Panchi -- taro, corn, shredded coconut, sugar (6 for $2.50 or 10 for $4). Grilled sticky rice with banana -- banana, sticky rice, coconut milk, sugar ($1.25).
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This is a prime example of why I try things that I don't like. I don't like taro. I don't like coconut. But guess what? I effing love panchi! Paaaaanchi! Hot and golden and crunchy and not too sweet. Super good.

The grilled sticky rice was lovely, too. Mr. Monkey was very happy that I brought it home for him.

The panchi stole my heart, though. I thought about it all night, even after all the wonderful dishes at Ruen Pair.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make Mo' Room for Mo-Chica

The media and blogosphere have raved about Mo-Chica the past few months, so Brother Monkey and I were excited when Papa Monkey suggested we go there for lunch.
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Mo-Chica is in the Mercado la Paloma building near USC. The food court vibe is deceptive. Notwithstanding its gaudy plastic tablecloths, Mo-Chica is a far cry from food court fare.

Chicha morada (purple corn tea), cebada (barley iced tea with herbs and ginger root), maracuya (passion fruit juice) ($2 each).
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I love interesting drinks. Funny enough, we each liked our own drink the most. Mine was the chicha morada.

Complimentary pumpkin soup.
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Lovely beginning to what would be a superb meal.

Ceviche del dia -- seabass ceviche ($5).
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So fresh and so good and so plentiful. Everything about this wowed me. The tang. The spice. The luscious texture. The crunch of the corn nuts. The tender crispness of the giant corn. Yes. You want this.

Papa ala huacaina -- roasted potatoes, boiled egg, huancaina sauce ($4).
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This was my least favorite dish of the meal, but even this was good! Huancaina rocks.

Causa del dia -- crab potato salad ($5).
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One of the best cold appetizers I've had in awhile. Creamy yet not heavy. Mo-Chica doesn't skimp on the crab, and that is a beautiful thing. Isn't this dish pretty? Tastes as good as it looks!

Seco de cordero -- lamb shank, canario beans, salsa criolla, cilantro, beer sauce ($13).
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Literally fall-off-the-bone good. Rich and savory and precisely what every lamb shank wants to be when it grows up.

Oxtail risotto -- braised oxtail, barley-huancaina risotto ($13).
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Incredible. To die for. Worthy of hyperbole. The meat melts in your mouth. This is a big smile in cheesy buttery risotto form. My absolute favorite of this meal.

Arroz con mariscos -- mixed seafood, shrimp, mussels, salsa madre, sauteed rice ($12).
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Not particularly special but still expertly prepared.

Mo-Chica is terrific. You should go. Now.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Yoma, A Burmese Restaurant, Not a Cellist

My co-worker asked if I wanted to try Burmese food. You know what my answer was.
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Yoma (713 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 280-8655) doesn't look like much from the outside. Frankly, it doesn't look like much inside either. Luckily, the food is superior to the decor.

Fried samusa ($5.50).
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Similar to Indian samosas but less pyramidal and more triangular, thus providing a higher golden crunchy surface-area-to-filling ratio. Great start.

Beef curry ($6.50).
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Don't let this unappetizing poo-like photo fool you. This was tasty.

Burmese thick noodle salad with chicken ($5.50).
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Meh. Bland, mushy, and unimpressive.

Accompanying soup.
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Forgettable.

Burmese shrimp salad ($7.50).
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Nice tang and a bit of kick.

Shan hkat ($5.50).
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This spicy mix of several different vegetables was a winner.

Complimentary coconut jello.
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A sweet cool contrast to our meal.

Yoma didn't knock my socks off. It would take some coaxing to get me back.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Did It All for the Nookie

Nook is more than aptly named. It hides in the corner of a strip mall.
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The modern American bistro features comfort food with some international twists.

Complimentary boiled peanuts.
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Giggles had never had boiled peanuts before, but these reminded me of my childhood.

Crispy calamari tossed with citrus-soy vinaigrette and wasabi dipping sauce ($10).
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Fine but nothing special.

Shiitake and Gruyere bread pudding ($7).
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insomniac, Giggles, and I were all very excited to try this, and it didn't disappoint. It was the first savory bread pudding I'd ever tasted, and I hope it won't be the last. I don't even like mushrooms, and I loved this. Cheese? Bread? Mixed up together and baked hot? Yes, please.

Sauteed brown rice bowl with oven-dried tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, organic chicken ($12).
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Good for your body. Only ok for your taste buds. Perfect for that health-conscious friend that we all have. Let her eat this while you nosh on the next item.

Nook Burger -- Sterling Silver beef with Gruyere cheese, red onion jam, baby arugula on grilled rustic bread served with fries and a homemade pickle ($12).
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This juicy, flavorful, hand-held delight made up for the bland rice bowl and gives me hope for a return visit.

I see Nook's duck rillettes, semolina-dusted soft shell crab, Kurobuta pork belly, and spicy shrimp and grits in my future. No more brown rice for me. I'm going with fellow fatties next time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Brisket and Beans Brought to You by Barbie's Q

I love when food trucks visit my neighborhood. I'm too lazy to track them on Twitter, but I'm not too lazy to run down the street if I happen to see them nearby.
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Barbie's Q is barbecue on wheels. The menu is simple.

"Q" Sampler -- pulled pork, BBQ beef, and smoked chicken served with your choice of Barbie's homemade side dishes ($8).
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This was a good way to try several meats in one dish. I chose barbecued beans as my side, which were excellent. Surprisingly, I liked the chicken the most. Pork came in second, and beef was a more distant third. The chicken was extremely tender, juicy, and flavorful.

Cheesy Grits ($4).
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Don't let the plastic-lid-flattened top fool you. These grits were pretty tasty.

Mac & Jack ($4).
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Very good. Quite cheesy. Not mushy. Thumbs up.

Peach cobbler ($4).
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Nice sweet end.

Barbie's Q didn't inspire me to start tracking trucks, but I'm happy to have spotted it and liked my mobile meal.
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