Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bright and Tasty: Cafe Brasil

Cafe Brasil dishes out delicious Brazilian food in a bright and cheery casual setting.
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Order at the counter and sit down to a great, reasonably priced meal.

Fresh juices, including mango, sugar cane, and passion fruit (maracuja), cost $3.50.
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Side dishes -- including salads, sauteed vegetables, bean, rice, and farofa -- are delectable and range in price from $0.75 to $4.50. Most entrees come with a side or two, so you will likely not need to pay extra for these.
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Pasteis are Brazilian empanadas with cheese, beef, or both ($2.95). They are light and airy and fantastic. Also on this plate are pao de queijo (cheese bread made with yucca root flour and cheese ($0.90)) and empadinhas (petite pies with chicken or heart of palm ($2.00)).
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Picanha steak churrasco -- marinated, grilled, and served with white rice, black beans, salsa, fried plantains, and salad or soup ($15.95).
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Cafe latte ($2.50).
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Beijinho (fresh coconut and caramel) and brigadeiro (chocolate and caramel).
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Apple tart ($4.65).
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Brazilian flan ($2.50).
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Passion fruit mousse ($2.50).
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Homemade pound cake ($2.50).
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Lest you think we consumed this all by ourselves, allow me to inform you that it was Ms. Cruiser who introduced us to Cafe Brasil, and she and Mr. Cruiser helped us demolish this feast.

Good stuff, my friends, made even better because of the pricing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Organic Vegetarian Japanese: Shojin

Nestled in the Little Tokyo Shopping Center is an organic natural oasis of vegetarian Japanese cuisine.
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It's called Shojin, and, if you or your friends are vegetarians, you should really visit.

Cranberry and apple detox ($3.95).
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I'm not really sure how this drink "detoxes," but I found it just sweet enough and rather refreshing. The menu told me it was "pure, raw, natural, unrefined, and chemical-free." Sounds good to me!

Yuzu ponzu seitan -- pan-fried seitan with grated seitan and yuzu citrus soy sauce ($6.95).
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Delightfully chewy.

Pumpkin croquette -- crunchy pumpkin and tofu croquette with Shojin homemade tomato sauce ($6.95).
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It's fried! How can you go wrong? Yummeh!

Okara cake -- deep-fried vegan cake made with soybeans, cashews, shiitake mushrooms, and garlic ($6.95).
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Another fried treat! The texture might not appeal to everyone, but I liked these cakes.

Avocado and tomato soba -- buckwheat noodles in cold soup topped with mixed greens, avocados, tomatoes, kaiware and wasabi mayonnaise ($10.50).
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I'm generally not a fan of cold noodles, but we did have this on a warm day, so it made sense. My friend H.C., who frequents Shojin, liked this a lot.

Spicy roll -- cucumber, avocado, and shiso roll with wasabi mayo and spicy sauce ($5.75).
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Not particularly interesting but fine.

Cheesecake with triple berries ($6.95).
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This looks so cute, right? Sadly, it turns out the vegan desserts suck. Blech.

Shojin Tropico -- yellow sponge cake with a hint of key lime, layered with coconut cream, mango confit, topped with toasted coconut, and served with vanilla ice cream ($7.75).
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Better. But still not worth your time. Go elsewhere for sweets!

Shojin is special. I'm not aware of any other restaurant like it. It's not something I would eat every day because -- let's be real here -- the food is not as flavor-packed as meat-laden meals are.

And you know I like flavor.

It is, however, a great place for a nice light break from eating animals and animal products. Bring your vegetarian and vegan friends here. They'll like it, and you will, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Accessible Real Chinese: Newport Tan Cang Seafood

Newport Tan Cang Seafood is one of our favorite restaurants in San Gabriel. That's saying a lot, considering how much good food is in the area.
Mr. Monkey's father loves this place, and our niece and nephew always enjoy looking at all the live seafood in the tanks.

Beef loc lac French style ($12.95).
This is one of Newport's specialties and a must-get.

Clams with black bean sauce ($11.95).
My husband's family loves all clams at Newport.

Clams with spicy hot sauce ($11.95).
See? They really love the clams. We always get clams.

Newport Special Lobster (seasonal price).
This is another must-order item here. Must.

Deep fried tofu ($9.95).
One of my go-to dishes here. Always good.

Ong choy ($9.95).
My favorite green vegetable.

Fried noodles with chicken ($7.95).
The only thing that Little Monkey Niece will eat.

The above dishes are frequent orders for us. That being said, I have yet to eat anything bad at Newport.

Chinese broccoli with dried fish ($16.95).

Abalone with black mushroom (seasonal price).

Deep fried soft shell crab ($17.95).

Braided crab meat and fish maw soup ($18.95).

Whole fish (seasonal price).

Steamed fish (seasonal price).

Yang chow fried rice ($7.95).

Kung pao chicken ($10.95).

Peking style pork chop ($10.95).

Sauteed pea sprout ($9.95).

Shrimp salad Vietnamese style ($10.95).
Newport Tan Cang Seafood never fails to satisfy. For those who are fearful of the San Gabriel Valley (i.e., scared to be the only non-Asians in the restaurant), fear not! I always see persons of non-Asian descent at Newport Tan Cang Seafood. The menu is in pretty decent English and even has some photos in it.

For those who question the authenticity of places frequented by non-Asians, fear not! This place is legit!
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