Monday, August 25, 2008


Degustation: a careful, appreciative tasting of various foods

I spent the weekend in NYC with Amando. More than the shopping, museums, and shows, my favorite thing about the city was the FOOD. Every meal we had was amazing, even the street gyros. My favorite meal was at Degustation, a swanky tapas bar in the lower east side. There is no sign. The entrance is simply a door with its name emblazoned upon it. Inside is a bar that seats only 18 people, surrounding the small kitchen. You sit down and watch as the chefs prepare your dishes. They offer tapas sold individually, or you can opt for a 5 or 10 dish tasting menu. We opted for 10 and it was amazing. The above photos are of each dish plus a palate cleanser before dessert. We didn't realize it, but they gave us a bonus dish! The service was excellent under the circumstances – we arrived at 10pm and dinner lasted 2 hours. However, we never felt rushed and everyone was extremely kind, even though we were the last patrons.

Descriptions (as best I can remember):
Row 1: Fried Croquette and Ravioli, Fish Carpaccio (I ate it before I remembered to take the photo), Fairytale Eggplants (these were TINY, like the size of my thumb!)
Row 2: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Sardine Stuffed with Bacon + Sardine "Sandwich" + Sardine Sashimi with Smoked Watermelon, Scallops with Scallop Roe on top of Risotto
Row 3: Duck Egg with Duck Bacon Soup in a Duck Egg, Radish Soup, Spicy Sweetbread
Row 4: Beef "Cheesecake" (Thin slices of rare beef with sun-dried tomatoes on top of toasted bread and a cheese spread), Ginger and (something) sorbet with fresh strawberries (a palate cleanser), Spanish Caramelized Torija

Everything was delicious, but I think my favorite was the sardine sandwich (and I don't even like sardines!!). Amando's favorite was the scallops ("This is my favorite thing EVER")

Even though each dish was tiny, put together it was a huge meal. Near the end I could hardly finish my food and I probably would have enjoyed the last few dishes more if I hadn't been so stuffed, but all-in-all it was an amazing meal. I want to go back to New York =(

239 E 5th St
New York, NY 10003

Next time: Bouchon Bakery and Momofuku Noodle Bar

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Flour Power

For those of you who don't know me or haven't read my blog, I am grad. student studying Computer Education and Technology. Anyway, one of my classes this quarter was on Video Editing. Our final project was to create a 5 minute video about any subject that we liked. Being foodie, and keeping this blog in mind, I created a instructional video of how to make wonton, entitled Flour Power. Check it out:

I know it's choppy, but I had to do lots of editing due to the time constraints. Let me know what you all think, and if I should make another segment to Flour Power.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Buko-Pandan Ice Cream

So I went on a trip to 168 today and discovered the most amazing ice cream brand: Magnolia. They specialize in tropical ice cream flavors, most of them hailing from Southeast Asia. They had flavors such as Avocado, Green Tea, Ube, and even Halo-Halo! They also had one called Maiz con Queso. Um...yummy...?

It was hard to pick but I eventually settled on Buko-Pandan, which is based on a Filipino dessert consisting of coconut milk, pandan flavored gelatin, and other yummy goodness. It actually tastes a lot like various Vietnamese desserts such as Che Ba Mau.

The ice cream is pretty good! I thought it'd be too sweet, but it had a nice light flavor. There are even little bits of coconut in it which were a delightful surprise. Overall, pleasantly surprising, but not as good as the actual dessert. I really want to try the Avocado flavor next.

Green Tea Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

These are a combination of two recipes: the green tea recipe is from Raspberry Eggplant and the frosting recipe is from Cupcake Bakeshop. I made the pomegranate frosting before during my first try at green tea cupcakes and wanted to try something less tart this time around. The sweet honey worked well with the mild green tea and the cake was super moist. Success!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pa Pa Walk :: San Gabriel

It's been disgustingly hot here in LA recently. We decided to take advantage of the weather and spent a lovely Friday at the beach with the mission of getting cute boys to buy us ice cream. Well...that didn't happen, so we decided the perfect way to end the day would be to have some dinner and mango shaved ice at Pa Pa Walk back home in Alhambra. And if you didn't know, the large mango shaved ice there is HUGE. But we'll get to that in a bit.

This place is a pretty low key place. It's small and basically your run of the mill casual Chinese place. I want to say it's Taiwanese or Shanghainese, but I'm not 100% sure of that.

The decor here is fab (and by fab, I mean not at all). However, I can never get enough of these amazing giant feet. I think more restaurants need to utilize bathroom mats as wallpieces.

And have you ever wondered what Comic Sans would look like in Chinese?

We ordered 4 dishes for dinner: Stinky Tofu, Popcorn Chicken, Pan Fried Rice Cakes, and the Steamed Pork Dumplings (not pictured).

First, the stinky tofu: I keep hearing how amazing stinky tofu is from friends who have traveled to Asia, so I was really excited to see it on the menu. I convinced everyone to be adventurous with me, which I now feel very guilty about. It was everyone's first time trying the stinky tofu and the general consensus was rather unenthusiastic. When they say this stuff is stinky they aren't kidding. It has a penetrating, unavoidable, and nauseating odor. The tofu itself tasted like fried tofu, so it was nothing special, but not bad either. However, after a while, the smell got to us and definitely affected the taste in a negative way. I'm sure the stinky tofu in China is much better, but for now we'll have to say no to stinky tofu at Pa Pa Walk.

The rest of the food was pretty decent. The popcorn chicken is delicious - crispy and crunchy. It actually reminds me of the base fried chicken bits they use at Chinese restaurants for General Tso's, Orange Chicken, etc. The dumplings were good, but not very soupy and the skins were really weak and broke pretty often when we tried to pick them up with our chopsticks. Overall, not as good as Din Tai Fung. I wasn't personally a fan of the rice cake stir fry. The titular rice cakes are thin, starchy, chewy slices of rice cake loaf. Everyone else enjoyed the dish, though. I have a feeling that I would have loved this dish as a child.

Now on to the main event:

Mango Shaved Ice!! This thing is seriously the size of my head. Maybe bigger. It's a gargantuan ambrosia consisting of shaved ice, condensed milk, fresh mango, and mango ice cream. Kellie and I were excited to finally have enough people to justify ordering the large size. They also offer a serving that is half this size and it's served in a pretty seashell dish. I had never appreciated the beauty of shaved ice until I had this spectacular dessert. This is going to be my official summer dessert.

All in all, dinner was $12 per person (4 people total) including tip and we were very, very full and content.

Pa Pa Walk
227 W Valley Blvd
Suite 148-B
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 281-3889

Friday, May 16, 2008


To kick off this blog, I thought I'd start off with something that's a combination of both cooking and a review. What better way, then to review a cooking class? For Christmas, I had looked up cooking classes to give a friend as a gift, and stumbled upon Hipcooks. The instructors seem to be dedicated to making the classes fun, and have imaginative class titles like, "Oh my God, Dinner for 15 PEOPLE?!", "My Big Fat Greek Cooking Class", and "A Romantic Dinner for Two". Going to a class, regardless of how much fun it may sound, is always better to do in groups, so I made the supreme sacrifice to go with her (sarcasm anybody?). The class we signed up for "A Spring Brunch" was held at their relatively new West LA location. On a Sunday, we had no problems finding street parking, which if you know LA, is an important commodity. We had a total of 11 students (I believe the limit is 15), our instructor Bonny, and her Assistant.

The class was taught whole group, with us clustered around a large table in the center of the kitchen, and we took turns mixing, chopping, tasting, etc. In the 3 hour class period we made a cocktail, an appetizer, 2 entré
es, and a dessert. Here are some pics of our hardwork:

Pomegranate Bellinis

Chevre-Stuffed Grapes with Pistachio

Smoked Salmon Potato Pancakes with Lemon Crème Fraiche

Poached Egg Cups Wrapped in Ham with Mushrooms and Hollandaise

Hazelnut, Lemon, and Ricotta Cake

Bonny, our instructor, was extremely knowledgeable about cooking and explained the recipes as we went a long. Most importantly our food was DELISH! Our poached eggs were a little over done, and the consistency of the Hazelnut cake could have been more refined, but overall these dishes weren't too difficult to make, and definately worth repeating. If you're interested in learning more about the technical side of cooking, this class is not for you. If you're like me, and just looking for a fun activity to do with friends and family, Hipcooks is a wonderful place. Just as a word of caution, the West LA classes are a little more expensive of $65 versus the East LA classes of $55. Why the price difference? I'd assume that rent for West LA is higher because the offered classes are the same. Anyway, you'll see this foodie returning, in fact, I've already signed up for my next class!