travel


Sorry for the long lapse. I hope to start updating this blog again soon since I am back from vacation!

In the meantime, here is a fascinating video of a sushi cam on a conveyor belt sushi place in Hokkaido, Japan. Notice all the people saying “Nani Kore!?”, which translates as “What is that?!?”

Came across this at the wherethehellismatt.com site. Awesome to see Tommy Lee Jones as an otaku hanging out in Akihabara in a maid cafe. Makes me want to have some omurice too.

A while back I went to a restaurant in LA called Macau Street. There they specialize in Macau style cooking, sort of Chinese cuisine with a Portuguese twist. While waiting for the rest of our party to arrive, my wife asked the waiter a question. There were two items of interest, one was duck chin with soy sauce and the other was soy sauce duck chin. He replied that the soy sauce duck chin was a typo and actually it was duck tongue. So she ordered the duck chin. I’m still not sure what she was thinking but what turned out to be duck chin was actually the lower bottom half of the bill. If you’ve ever had really bad Chinese liquor, the kind that smells really bad and comes in a clay bottle, it tastes like it was marinating in that and dirty water. There really isn’t a lot of meat when it comes to the duck chin, and what little there is you have to pick through with your fingers and teeth of the bone like thing that I think was the trachea. Duck-tastic!

Macau Street Duck chin

Duck Tongue snacks from China

Long story short… another friend of mine recently got back from a trip to China and brought back these single packaged morsels. This is authentic Chinese duck tongue. It’s scary how happy the comic duck looks in the packaging. Anyways, I opened one up. Firstly it was covered with what seemed like vaseline. It had a gelatin like sheen that if you squeeze it between your fingers hard enough it would shoot out like a rubber band. All in all the taste wasn’t that bad. It was like a really compressed vienna sausage. The hard part to eat was actually the texture. After you get through the oily marinate, it is like biting into a soft stick of pasta, only in the center is cartilaginous crunchiness, the type that you feel like you are biting into a knuckle. It wasn’t pleasant and I wouldn’t eat it again, but I can now say that I have had both duck chin and duck tongue.

Hawaiian French Bread

grits, eggs, fried chicken, and corned beef hash

We started the morning off early by heading to The Coffee Company” for some Sunday Brunch. We got there early to beat the church crowd. I ordered the corned beef hash, and it was the best on the west coast that I’ve had. Courtney ordered the French Toast on Hawaiian bread. I’m not a breakfast person but this was definitely worth getting up early for.

hollyhock house

After the previous night of eating and eating, and getting up early for breakfast, we weren’t in the mood for any big lunch. We ended up walking around to see the Hollyhock House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. We just missed the tour, but it did lead to great views of the hills.

Courtney finally gets her Pinkberry

Hoon and the giant shaved ice Pinkberry

We ended up getting snack by having the infamous Pink Berry. This was Courtney and my first time. I ended up trying the shaved ice, which was massive. Unfortunately they were out of mochi, but we managed. We decided to just park the car and walk around in LA to build up an appetite. Since we had an early breakfast, a snack during lunch we were ready to eat early.

Burger detail @ Father's Office

Next up, Father’s Office. We had heard that it gets crazy busy with a line out the door, but since we were finally recovering from our full feasts, we were getting hungry around 4pm. We walked right in and ordered, though it still took us some time to procure a table, but getting there early definitely was key. Father’s Office is known for two things, their hamburgers and their beer. Both were spot on. You cannot make any sort of alterations on the hamburger, but IMHO, it doesn’t need any. The onions were seasoned and formed in a fine sweet paste and the burger was cooked perfectly with the inside of the bun soaking up the juices but not breaking away the bread. While the fries were good, there weren’t special, but the sweet potato fries “ala carte” were exceptional. They also had a fine selection of beers and since I had been going to the Trappist in Old Oakland, I’ve been getting slowly familiar with the vast world of Belgian brews and to my surprise recognized some of them. All the beers were delicious.

Sweet Potato Fries "a la cart"

Blueberry cheesecake @ Urth

We tried to rally for a dinner, but we settled for coffee and dessert. At Urth Cafe we got a blueberry cheesecake which looked delicious (but I didn’t have any). We ended the night simply with a new list of places to revisit when back and new places to try.

Well we finally got our act together and went down to LA to visit our friend Margaret. Like me she loves food and was totally prepared to show us the new and old eats for that weekend. It was packed with great food, and even better food.

We arrived Friday night and went immediately to one of her favorite places to eat called Orris. We were in for a ride. Orris specializes in French/Japanese tapas. One after another, not only did we get tasty bite after tasty bite, we also got a wine pairing with every dish.

I can’t remember all the dishes but some things that stood out was the tuna lettuce cups, the orange roughy with a taragon tomato “pomodoro”, the roasted hearts of romaine lettuce, and the tasty beef cubes. The list goes on and on but unfortunately it came so fast and furious I couldn’t remember it all. Oh well, it only means that I may have to go back.

Cake Monkey

The other highlight of the night was that Margaret picked up some cupcakes from a brand new place called Cake Monkey. I’m not the hugest cake fan, but this place had one of the best cakes I’ve have eaten. They were mini cakes, slightly bigger than cupcakes. Some of them had little crunchy dots in them that burst when you bit into the moist cake meat.

Crumbs

The next day was ridiculous. We literally only walked probably the equivalent of about 5 blocks the whole day. In the morning we walked to the car in the garage, then headed over for some morning coffee and pastries. We walked 1 1/2 blocks to another new cupcake place called Crumbs. We ended up ordering a bunch to bring to our friends Matt, Pam, and their new baby, Mason.

Din Tai Fung food

Which brings us to lunch. We met up with Matt, Pam, and Mason at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. They are best known for their soup dumplings or Xiao Long Bao or “XLB”. They are the magical type of dumplings that have a little tiny amount of soup trapped inside the dumplings so that when you bite into them, they burst with flavor in your mouth. Everything else there was delicious as well. There was curry noodles, a very mild, and subtle, flavorful fried rice, some pork chops, and other food.

We weren’t sure how we were going to fare for dinner.

Dinner

Oesteria Mozza exterior

We met up with a few of Margaret’s friends, Jan, Carson, and Joanne at the new Mario Batali restaurant, Osteria Mozza. Unfortunately most of my photos came out blurry.

Raviolo w/ egg.

We happened to be there on one of the 2 special nights of the week when they have a very special mozzarella flown in from Italy. It was a plain ball of cheese with a little olive oil. It was smooth, with a bubbly texture, and screamed out cheese when it hit my tongue. Everyone said to get the Raviolo, so we all tried it. It came with ricotta cheese and an egg yolk inside it. The raviolo was cooked super al dente, just enough to harden the egg yolk to a thickened but not solid sauce. Around the raviolo was a delicious brown butter sauce with sage. I ended up having a second course of pasta with a tagliatelle with oxtail ragout. Great execution on the ragout and pasta. Other people ordered the beef shank, which was fall off the bone, and a roasted half duck which was deliciously presented on your own cutting board.

half duck

Dessert was equally delicious with gelato reminiscent of my trip to Florence, and a cake with bourbon gelato.
cake w/ bourbon gelato

Needless to say we slept very soundly and looked forward to the next day of delicious dishes.

Tastee Diner

I have a backlog of posts to put up but for now I will tell you about my recent trip to Bethesda, MD to see my sister.

Tastee Diner

Tastee Diner

Of course the dining was excellent. There is nothing like exploring a new place to extend your culinary library. My first stop was one of my favorite diners, The Tastee Diner. Located in the heart of downtown Bethesda, it looks out of place from the usual mid-upscale places that downtown Bethesda is infested with. This is your down home diner with counters, interesting workers and patrons, and of course great breakfast food. Now I’m am not a breakfast food person at all, but I do love my corned beef hash. I’ve tried corned beef hash in many different places out on the west coast, but they all try to be too fancy by being either shredded, or niman ranch corned beef, or using home fries, or country potatoes. I like my corned beef to be minced and my hash to be little tiny lego blocks of potatoes.

Curry, Katsu Curry

After walking around the last time that I was in Bethesda, I stumbled across this small little Japanese market called Daruma. Little did I know that they also had a kitchen out of it that served ramen and rice dishes. Here again was a place that you think you wouldn’t find in Bethesda. I was not aware that there was such a Japanese presence in Bethesda that warranted such a finely stocked market, let alone a great katsu place. Whenever faced with Japanese rice dishes, I always go for the katsu curry. Don’t expect fine dining or waiters. This is a order at the counter, and sit in a food court area type of eating. I’m not saying that this is the best katsu curry that I’ve ever had, but if you are in Bethesda and you want something a little different, than this is your place. FYI, for some reason some dishes you can order for take out but some you cannot. Check with the counter before you order.

Crabs

Of course you cannot be in Maryland without crab. 2 people, 12 dozen extra large crabs, probably 2 cups of Old Bay seasoning, $0.50 oysters during happy hour, and beer. There is not much else you can say. Steamers is the place so grab a mallet and start eating. The only downfall is that it takes a lot of effort and a lot of time, but it is worth it.

5 Guys Burger

Finally I noticed that there was a new terminal where Jet Blue flies into in Dulles. They had an interesting food court restaurant that intrigued me. Driving around the edge of Bethesda near Gaithersburg, I came across the same place. It looks like a chain restaurant of burgers. 5 Guys is the east coast equivalent of In N Out burger. It has a double patty and you can order it with special extras such as jalapeno peppers, A1 sauce, etc. They have a special variety of potatoes as well. No extra items to confuse the cooks or the customers, and they do it well. It is probably one of the best semi-fast food burgers that I have had in a long time. Great meaty taste and texture. The fries could have been better. Next time you are in the area or flying out of Dulles, grab a 5 guys burger. You will go home happy.

Not sure how true this actually is but some of the counting practices seemed familiar.

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