Category Archives: Arcadia

The 10 Best Things I Consumed in 2012

Best LA Eats
2012 was a banner year food-wise in the City of Angels. Angelenos have never before had so many amazing restaurant options and I have tried to cover many of them on this blog. Of all the dishes that I wrote about in 2012, the following are my ten favorites; the ones that I happily dream about and crave pretty much all the time. Some of them were introduced at exciting and cutting-edge new local eateries this past year, while others are things that I have loved for years. Most are not “healthy choices,” so if you’re planning to make a New Year’s resolution to watch your weight, get to work; you only have a few days left to indulge!

Beef Roll

10. Beef Roll at 101 Noodle Express I’m crazy about this Northeastern Chinese delicacy made of thinly sliced and braised fatty beef with fresh chopped cilantro and sweet bean sauce rolled in a fried doughy Chinese pancake. It’s salty, crispy, beefy and incredibly delicious!

Papa Rellena

9. Papa Rellena at Porto’s Bakery & Cafe This Cuban treat (which I finally wrote about this past year) is essentially a ball of mashed potatoes which has been filled with seasoned ground beef and deep fried; kind of a spherical mini Shepherd’s Pie. Muy delicioso!

Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuit

8. Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuit with Maple Butter at MB Post Even if you live in the Valley or the Eastside, these biscuits are reason alone to travel to Manhattan Beach. Served hot out of the oven with soft and sweet maple butter, they are outrageously good.

Maple Custard Pie

7. Maple Custard Pie at The Pie Hole The only dessert to make the list, this is possibly the best pie I have ever had. It is the perfect combination of a sublime buttery not-too-sweet crust and an incredible caramelized custardy filling. I only wish they sold it year round!

Fried Clams

6. Fried Clams at Sonny McLean’s Irish Pub I went on a mission this year to find authentic New England-style battered and fried “whole belly” Ipswich clams (not strips!) and was surprised to find the real deal at this little Boston Irish sports bar in Santa Monica. They’re wicked good!

Cuban Torta

5. Cuban Torta with Pork Terrine, Prosciutto, Provolone, Pickled Jalapeno & Mustard at Sunny Spot Of all the amazing dishes at Chef Roy Choi’s creative Caribbean-themed restaurant, this mouth-watering, non-traditional version of a Cuban sandwich is my favorite.

"Philly Cheesesteak"

“Philly Cheesesteak”

4. “Philly Cheesesteak” at The Bazaar The Bazaar is one of my favorite restaurants in the city and my favorite dish is this playful take on the Philadelphia classic sandwich. It’s made with "air bread" and cheddar cheese, and covered with thin slices of Wagyu beef and finely chopped chives.

Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream

3. Steak Tartare and Mustard Ice Cream at Eat Drink Americano Savory and spicy mustard ice cream may not sound appealing on its own, but once mixed with a delectable steak tartare, the resulting flavor combination is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before and out of this world!

"The Toron" Bäco

2. “The Touron” Bäco at Bäco Mercat Each of Chef Josef Centeno’s original sandwich creations called “Bäcos” are works of culinary genius. However, the best in my opinion is The Touron with oxtail hash, pickle, potato & cheddar cheese on Bäco Mercat’s signature flatbread.

Gougere Sliders

Gougere Sliders

1. Gougere Sliders with Fried Oysters, Tartar Sauce, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Arugula” at Little Bear These little sandwiches on Greyere cheese puffs combine cheese, dough, bacon and fried oysters, so it’s not a total surprise that they are my favorite dish of the year. I love them!

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Filed under Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Culver City, Downey, Downtown, Glendale, Manhattan Beach, Mid-City, Santa Monica, Venice

Best Mall Food Ever

Hanging out at a shopping mall is not my idea of a good time, especially during the holiday season. Parking is a pain, most of the chain stores are uninteresting and the food options are terrible. (I’m looking at you, Sbarro and Panda Express.) But lately I have a reason for frequenting the mall, or at least one mall in particular. I am head over heels in love with the Beef Rolls at 101 Noodle Express in Westfield Culver City.

This food court delicacy hails from the Shandong region in Northeastern China and consists of thinly sliced and braised fatty beef with fresh chopped cilantro and sweet bean sauce rolled in a fried doughy Chinese pancake. Salty, crispy and beefy, this dish checks a lot of boxes for me. It can be found not only at the Culver City Mall, but also at 101 Noodle Express’ two other locations in Arcadia and Alhambra.

While Beef Rolls are the standout dish, there are other great things on the menu. The Hot and Sour Soup is surprisingly good and the Soup Dumplings are definitely worth ordering. They’re not as good as the ones at Din Tai Fung, but they’re pretty damn tasty and the ones in Culver City are the best I’ve had without schlepping to the San Gabriel Valley.

101 Noodle Express is located at 6000 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City (in the Westfield Culver City Mall formerly known as the Fox Hills Mall), as well as 1025 Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia, and 1048 E. Valley Blvd. in Alhambra.

Soup Dumplings

Hot and Sour Soup

Food court excellence!

101 Noodle Express on Urbanspoon
101 Noodle Express on Urbanspoon
101 Noodle Express on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Alhambra, Arcadia, Culver City

Super Soup Dumplings

A soup dumpling is a wonderful thing. For the uninitiated, a soup dumpling is not a dumpling that is found in soup like a kreplach or wonton. It’s the reverse; the soup is actually inside the dumpling. Soup Dumplings, also known as Shanghai Soup Dumplings or Xiao Long Bao, are a Chinese delicacy that were traditionally part of a Jiangnan-style morning tea. Nowadays, you can get them throughout the day and at restaurants located in places like Alhambra, Arcadia, Monterey Park and San Gabriel. My favorite place for soup dumplings is Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. Din Tai Fung serves over a dozen different kinds of dumplings, including chicken, melon & shrimp, shrimp & pork, vegetarian, sweet taro and red beans, but my favorite by far is the Juicy Pork Dumplings. These dumplings have a chewy and moist skin, which is wrapped around hot savory soup and delicious minced pork. They arrive at your table by the dozen, freshly steamed and ready to eat with vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce if you are so inclined, and shredded ginger.

For novice soup dumpling explorers, here’s some instructions on how to eat these tasty treats:
Step 1: Use your chopsticks to pick up a soup dumpling by its ridged tip and place it on a Chinese soup spoon.
Step 2: Add a few drop of vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce, as well as a few strands of shredded ginger.
Step 3: Bite a small hole in the top of the dumpling to release steam (so you don’t burn your mouth in Step 4!).
Step 4: Put the whole dumpling in your mouth.
Step 5: Bite into the dumpling, let the savory soup explode in your mouth and enjoy the hot, wet, doughy goodness.
Step 6: Repeat.

Din Tai Fung serves other things besides dumplings. They have pretty good noodles and decent fried rice. But why fill up on other carbs? Just eat more soup dumplings! Din Tai Fung is located at 1108 and 1088 S. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia. UPDATE: Din Tai Fung is opening at the Americana in Glendale in September 2013. Now most of us won’t need to make the long schlep out to Arcadia anymore to get our soup dumpling fix!

Juicy Pork Dumplings

Makin' Dumplings

Noodles with Spicy Sauce

Fried Rice

Packed on the weekends

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐 on Urbanspoon
Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Arcadia