chezpei.com

Trying to eat something delicious, each and every day.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Liang Fen

We had a few cold dishes today that were a little noteworthy. All these recipes are still being tweaked, but I'll give the gist below:


Liang fen is a Szechuan creation of mung bean (and green bean) starch. The starch, when cooked with water and then chilled, makes a noodle that is very much like Jell-O in consistency, minus the sugar. Traditionally, it is served with chili oil, Szechuan peppercorns, chopped green onions and cilanttro, soy sauce, and (optional) a healthy dose of Chinese black vinegar. Our approximation was pretty good today, but some tweaking is in order before I will post a recipe. 



Simple stir fry of spring asparagus. California asparagus is at its peak this month, and we've been enjoying it a lot as a simple stir fry: flaming hot pan + thinly sliced asparagus + a bare pinch of salt = really good eats!


Lastly, our signature surf clam salad. For most of my life, I had a deep-seated aversion towards surf clams. I viewed them as an extraneous, rubbery, waste of money that always appeared on assorted sashimi plates. But tossed in the proper sauce, the humble surf clam really come to life! We like it with a spoonful of masago, chopped green onions and/or cilantro, a spoonful of soy sauce, and a spoonful of lao gan ma hot sauce.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Braised Pork Belly

Yum. Fat. 


As predicted, the induction cooktop is a braising wonder. Because it holds low temperatures so steadily, it was incredibly easy to get everything started and then just put a lid on the pot and come back a few hours later. No boil overs, no low flame blowing out accidentally, no burn rings on the bottom of the pot where one section was more heated than another. And cleanup was a breeze. So far, cleaning the smooth top has only required light wiping with a soft fabric and occasionally some soap. It's like cleaning a countertop. 


And yes, J was the cook again. He says he loves braising! I think he just likes the new kitchen. It's nice to be able to both work comfortably in one space. Our last two kitchens have really been one-person work stations. 

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Duck Noodle Soup (and Sneak Peak!)

J manned the kitchen again today. I have to admit, he's been doing most of the cooking since we moved, since I'm exhausted after dealing with the house all day and he's been getting home reasonably early from work. It's a good thing we both love to cook. There's usually at least one person willing to man/woman the stove! Today's dinner was a joint venture. But for those who are surprised that J cooks, here he is in action!


Here are J's hands as he busily blanches some bok choy and enoki mushrooms for our bowls of roast duck over noodle soup. And in the background is our new Samsung induction range! It's really amazing. We're both still getting the hang of it, and we've been cooking very simple meals so it hasn't really had a chance to shine. I haven't even used the oven yet, other than to run a short steam clean cycle. But so far, we already love two things about this range. It can boil water for my morning coffee in about two minutes (fast and hot!), and it creates such even heat distribution that an egg dropped in simmering water turns into a beautifully poached egg with no work at all from the cook.  I can't wait to see what else it can do!


Here's a close up of our dinner. Not too shabby. We painted one entire room and got started on the ceiling of our hallway today, in addition to doing laundry, prepping some wall trim for paint, laying contact paper in the kitchen, and trying to clean up a little. 




Soup noodles are hardly enough when you lead a life of hard manual labor, so we added another plate of lu wei to tonight's dinner. I gussied it up with extra chili oil and ground Szechuan peppercorns.And another sneak peak for those who are looking: that's our kitchen countertop to the left, and our finished hardwood to the right! More to come...

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Pot O' Braised Meats

Happiness is having dinner cooked for me after a long day. We did our first big grocery run this morning, and then I spent the afternoon painting while Jimmy slaved away in the kitchen making one of his favorites: lu wei. Roughly translated, lu wei is "braised flavors." Basically, everything is braised in a big pot of soy sauce, star anise, five spice powder, ginger, sugar, and water. It takes some finesse to get everything to come out perfectly cooked, but J was spot on today! I don't know who to credit; him or the new induction stove. Here's a visual:



As for the remodel, we're moved in, unpacking, painting, and arranging. The big reveal keeps getting pushed back, but soon! I promise; I don't want you to see the mess I'm living in right now!

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Assembling a plate of noodles is easy!!

You take a plate of various sliced vegetables. In this case, I used carrots, cucumbers, onions, bean sprouts, and cilantro (not pictured)...


Cook a nice hearty sauce. Recipe forthcoming. Warning: it's a weird one!


Combine artfully on a plate with some cooked thick noodles and toss well before digging in! Now, for the sauce recipe, which for me yielded over a pint of sauce. That should be enough to feed four if not six. These noodles may look like jajang mien, but the flavor and ingredients are definitely not traditional yet surprisingly tasty. This recipe is born of my desperation to use up as many jars as possible before our move. I'd like to get a fresh start, instead of hanging on to things that have been lurking in my cupboards for two years. So here goes:

  • 1/2 pound pork belly, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 bunch spinach (totally optional; I had some to use up)
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 dash cayenne, or more
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1-2 cups water
In a tablespoon of oil (I used duck fat; it's so handy to have some lying around!) sautee the onions and pork belly, adding the zucchini when the edges of the onion start to brown. Toss in the spinach if you had it, then add all the sauces and the cayenne. Stir well. Toss a little to toast the sauces, and when stuff starts sticking to the bottom of the pan add the rice wine and light everything on fire. I love a good cooking fire! Then, add the water and stir well.

Fair warning: at this point my sauce smelled pretty gross. Raw shrimp paste basically smells like the day-old bin at a bad fish market. I turned the flame down to a simmer and covered my pot, hoping for the best. An hour later, all the flavored had melded together and become something quite delicious! And the fat from the pork belly had helped thicken the sauce beautifully. A weird but thankfully delicious meal made from what was essentially kitchen scraps.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Pork Leg Stew

Meltingly fatty, savory, and topped with cilantro and green onions. There aren't many comfort foods better than Chinese pork leg stew. This one was even better because I used pan drippings to cook the rice! That's "brown" rice even J enjoys eating.


Meltingly fatty, savory, and topped with cilantro and green onions. There aren't many comfort foods better than Chinese pork leg stew. This one was even better because I used pan drippings to cook the rice! That's "brown" rice even J enjoys eating.

For one pork leg, which should be enough to feed four if not more:

  • 1 pork leg, bone in or boneless
  • 1/4 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 thick slices ginger
  • 2 cloves star anise
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 3 green onions, sliced or diced however you like
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
In a pot just big enough to fit the pork, heat a tablespoon of oil and sear all sides of the meat over high heat. When the meat is browned on the outside and the pot is very hot, add the rice wine, tip the pot towards the flames of your stove, and watch out! It should spark a burst of flames for several seconds. Return the pot to the flame and add the soy sauce, water, ginger, star anise, onions, sugar, and white pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the flame down and let the pork simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until fork tender.

Remove the meat from the flame and carve the meat off the bones. The pieces should be larger than bite-sized, and each piece of fat or skin should have lean meat attached to it. Meanwhile, remove the ginger and star anise from the liquid and turn the flame up to medium. Reduce the sauce to about 1/3 the original volume.

Return the meat to the sauce, add green onions, and serve when ready. Some people like the onions raw, some people like to cook it until soft. Serve over any kind of rice you wish, and sprinkle cilantro on top! Thai restaurants serve a similar stew with a little dish of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chilis, and finely chopped garlic. With or without the sauce, this is a hearty meal.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Taishan Cafe

Tasty new restaurant alert! That's right, I ate at two good restaurants today. We're eating out more and more as we pack up more of our belongings and eat down more of our fridge and pantry. Today we tried Taishan Cafe on Clement and 12th. We've noticed this place a lot in the past, but never really got curious about it recently. When J realized it might be a great place to eat some regional dishes from his mom's family's region of China, we knew we had to go scope it out for her.

The pig stomach soup with pepper was my favorite dish of the night. You can get this soup at a lot of Chinese places, but Taishan Cafe really kicks the flavor up a notch. The soup, though almost clear, is so gingery and peppery that it's almost spicy, with an undercurrent of herbs that's simultaneously distinctive and subtle. This was the perfect almost-boiling hot soup for a chilly night.

A small plate of chicken's feet was on the house.

A-chai, or Chinese lettuce. This was really good, made with fermented bean curd as well as garlic. See how the broth at the bottom is murky rather than clear? That's some of the fermented bean curd sauce. But buyer beware: Taishan is infamous for overcharging for vegetables! This plate was over $10. And while it was tasty, I probably would not pay for it again; it cost more than anything else we ordered tonight!

Half duck, house special. This tasted of plum sauce and five spice powder. Different, but nice!

Clay pot with pork patty and salted fish. This is the $6.95 "individual" portion. Do not be fooled into getting a larger size! This pot contained enough rice to feed two or three people, but our server insisted that we should upgrade to a "small" pot for $18. I'm so glad we opted for two different individual sized pots instead of one giant one! The pork over rice was very good, and we had fun scraping the burnt rice off the bottom and munching on it.

Since the server insisted that one pot would not be enough for three people, we ordered the lamb pot as well as the pork pot. The lamb is a signature dish, but I didn't find it very exciting. There should have been more sauce, and the meat was not very tender. The flavor was fine, the dish just wasn't as exciting as some of the other things we had.

Taishan is a really great place for cheap eats, seeing how a $6.95 clay pot alone could be dinner for two. Not every dish is a winner, but I think some menu exploration could uncover some real gems. We ended up spending a whopping $44 for three people, with enough leftovers to make lunch tomorrow. We'll definitely be bringing J's mom here next time she visits!

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Mapo Tofu

With Christmas and all, it's been a pretty bad eating week. Lots of food, lots of fat, lots of restaurants (not even all good!) But tonight we got back on the horse with a nice homemade meal.

I made some mabo tofu with leftover ground beef and tofu (duh). I always use a ton of green onions both in the sauce and as a topping, so this isn't completely protein.

Then we had a nice assortment of blanched vegetables. It sounds bland, but if done right the vegetables can be crisp and sweet, needing nothing more than a touch of hoisin.

This was from last night, but it's so colorful I thought I'd include it in tonight's post. This is (mostly) a lovely winter fruit salad. Tangerines, apples, and pears are all at the height of their seasons right now, so enjoy while you can! And excuse me for including the non-seasonal blackberry. They are a weakness.



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Monday, November 30, 2009

Hot Pot

Ah, my first post with my new camera. Obviously I need a little more practice, but this is not bad for a shot on the fly!

I'm super busy getting the remodel underway this week, so J and I decided to eat hot pot for a few days. We had napa, "chrysanthemum" vegetables, carrots, two kinds of mushrooms, fish cakes, and some lamb and pork. That's right, we're still eating mostly veggies and feeling great!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Panda Country Kitchen

Forgive its name, Panda Country Kitchen is actually quite good!

In fact, J and I both think it's the best Szechuan food we've had in SF (sorry Spices I and Z&Y, I promise I still love you both!) We beseiged PCK this morning with six hungry friends, laying waste to 10 large dishes but spending less than $17 per head after tax and tip. The food was tasty overall, and standouts for me included "water cooked" fish (quotes in place because "water" really means "chili oil") and mung bean noodles. " If I had to make one quibble, it would be that the food was not piping hot. However, I was busy chit chatting so maybe it was my fault that the food wasn't sizzling by the time it hit my plate. All in all, we were happy with this authentic, not-too-greasy, very affordable restaurant in the Inner Richmond. We'll definitely be back, hopefully with a new camera!

*photo courtesy of flickr

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Fried Rice


Sorry, all. I really haven't had time to cook anything interesting or document it in saliva-inducing photographs. But we did have comfort food tonight: fried rice! There's nothing like a slightly greasy bowl of rice to sooth the stomach.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Pig Parts

X-rated pig parts for dinner tonight.

Following a recipe from our beloved Szechuan restaurant, Spices I, I tossed the cooked, chilled pig parts in Szechuan peppercorn oil, hot chili oil, salt, sugar, and a dash of soy sauce. A handful of cilantro and a clove of grated garlic and we had a great side dish with dinner.

Apologies for being AWOL. Our big project is really heating up! More to come...

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Vegan Fish

There's a whole style of Chinese cuisine that centers around fake meat products. While I can't say it's a favorite style of mine and I don't think vegetarianism should automatically be equated with meat substitutes, I do really enjoy vegan fish.

I prepare this the way I would prepare real fish filets: sear on both sides, then simmer in a combination of water, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and rice wine. In the last ten seconds, add thinly shredded green onions and toss lightly before plating. The texture of this fake fish is a little stringy and a little chewy, and it actually has a nice savory flavor. The seaweed "skin" is a nice touch.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Henry's Hunan

My gosh, it's been over a week since my last post. It's been a whirlwind of a week. Why, you ask? Well, I'm not ready to jinx anything yet, but big things are (hopefully) coming! But for now, you get to hear about Henry's Hunan. Henry's is a small Chinese chain in San Francisco. It has only about three outposts, the newest of which is on Church Street near 28th. We've never walked in because the name makes it sound like a fast food joint, but we were very pleasantly surprised after stumbling upon Henry's today.

First off, great service! I am not one to complain about the brusque, minimal service at casual Chinese dives. Heck, even fancy Chinese restaurants usually have worse service than your average hamburger joint. But at Henry's, the server (owner?) was welcoming, attentive, and brought us complimentary hot and sour soup. Henry's version is definitely on the sour side, which I like, and the soup had a nice depth of flavor and plenty of fixin's.

J and I shared the salted ham and egg fried rice. It was a huge portion for $7.50! Even greasy spoon Chinese places don't always serve this much for $7.50, and they certainly don't use such delicious, smoky, flavor packed ham cut into such generous pieces. We were prepared to order an appetizer in case one order of rice wasn't enough, but after the soup this was plenty. A pretty incredible lunch for two for under $10. It's too bad Henry's on Church is too out of the way to make a destination, I could really use a great place to order fried rice for those days when cooking just doesn't happen (er...like this week). But I'll happily check out one of their other branches some time.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Apo Apo

Mochi lovers and shaved ice lovers listen up! Hie thee to Apo Apo in Rowland Heights (in the Little Bean/Newport Seafood/Happy Family plaza on Colima and Azusa).

I've always loved shaved ice made with what's known in Taiwan as black sugar. In its best form, black sugar is barely processed cane sugar that is both wet and very dark brown. It has a deep burnt caramel flavor while at the same time not being as saccharine as sugar. The concept has been catching on. And while I'm not sure if places in the US are actually importing black sugar or just cooking down brown sugar, I'm happy that black sugar shaved ice is gaining in popularity.

This weekend, after a morning in the sun, I found myself at Apo Apo for the first time, sitting in front of a gorgeous bowl of shaved ice. Apo Apo's biggest selling point: they do something called hot n' cold ice! The mochi poured into the middle of the mountain of ice is hot, so when the bowl's brought out it's actually steaming quite fiercely. The mochi eventually cools down, but while they're warm the pieces are extra soft and delicious.

The price for a bowl of ice, black sugar, and condensed milk is $3.50, plus fifty cents per topping. My sister and I shared a bowl with pink and white rice mochi, purple and orange taro mochi, peanuts, and red beans. Next time I would add grass jelly, because Apo Apo makes their own mochi instead of using canned.

There was also a bowl of mango shaved ice at our table.

And a plate of fresh mochi rolled in crushed peanuts and sugar ($4). These were amazing. If you order them, eat them as soon as they arrive at the table because they're hot and best before the steam from the mochi makes the peanut powder soggy. I haven't had so much soft, chewy happy making fresh mochi in a long time. Even though I think the black sugar at Life Plaza and the mango snowflake ice at 301 Class are better, Apo Apo wins the blue ribbon for mochi creations.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Stir Fried Tomato and Eggs

I promise, the next post won't be about tomatoes. Cross my heart.

This dish isn't much to look at, but it's easy comfort food that I've been eating since I was a kid. I don't know why it took me so long to realize I should give it a try with heirloom tomatoes. I guess it's usually something people make with tomatoes that aren't too good! The Chinese name of this dish is tomato fried eggs, so it's pretty obvious what the two ingredients are.

To make a big plate, slice two tomatoes into very thin wedges. Some people like to use chunky tomatoese, but I don't like the outside edge of my slices to be thicker than a quarter inch. Sautee the tomatoes over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil, and add a sprinkling of salt along with about a teaspoon of sugar. Yes, sugar! Stir the tomatoes until they are cooked through and the juices that come out of them have started to evaporate off. Then push the tomatoes to the side of the pan so there's a doughnut hole in the middle. Put a teaspoon of oil in the middle and pour in two beaten eggs. Let the eggs cook for five or ten seconds, then scramble them without touching the tomatoes too much. When the eggs are more than halfway cooked, stir the tomatoes back into the center and combine everything evenly. Top with some black pepper, and eat over rice.

Note: there are a million ways to do this. My mom liked to scramble the eggs halfway, set them aside, use the same pan to cook the tomatoes, then add the eggs back in at the last second. I've seen other people do the opposite. I think my mom's way makes for the neatest presentation, and I do it if I have to serve it to other people. But my way really gets the tomato and egg flavors to combine and makes for a great sauce to mash into rice. Try it both ways!

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Biang Biang Noodles (Attempt #1)

Okay, I'm going from no carbs to nothing but in the span of one post. Oh well, let's not pretend I don't love noodles.

During last week's fried chicken bash, E mentioned delicious vinegary noodles he'd had in Xi'an. Of course, I had to investigate. I think he may have had Biang Biang noodles, a local poor man's dish. I snooped around and think this is a decent recipe. However, like most peasant dishes, there's no definitive recipe and I suspect what makes the dish is really the ability to get your hands on a nice, rustic, chewy noodle. I made this bowl with dried noodles and it was pretty tasty though, so this may end up on my list of "mostly from the pantry" dinners.

For enough sauce for two bowls:

  • 1 shot soy sauce
  • 1/2 shot rice wine vinegar (for vinegar lovers like me, make it closer to 3/4th shot)
  • 1/4 shot chili oil (you can always add more later)
  • fresh noodles
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely
  • a very large handful of cilantro, chopped finely
  • white pepper
Cook your noodles, drain well, and combine with the soy sauce and vinegar. Cover with a handful of green onions and cilantro, add a dash of white pepper, combine, and adjust seasoning to your own preferences.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Butterfish Soup

Simple, healthy, and delicious. I really love noodle soups.

I've also decided I'll be buying more butterfish in the future. It's also called sablefish or black cod, but let's face it: butterfish is the best name. In addition to being delicious, it's plentiful and reasonably priced. That's right, the Seafood Watch guide says I can eat it. More fish for me!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cumin "Numbing" Lamb

There were a lot of different things for dinner again tonight. Sometimes I cook a lot of things in one pot; sometimes I'm in the mood for everything being on its own plate.


Blanched bittermelon with soy paste. This is Taiwanese cold dish. The bittermelon is sliced in half the long way, its seeds are scooped out (so it resembles a canoe), and then it's poached until it's just tender. The it's run under cold water or submerged in iced water to stop the cooking, then sliced into diagonal pieces about half an inch thick. The bittermelon is plated, put until the fridge until it's time to be served, and then drizzled with soy paste.

This cold "dish," on the other hand, is not at all Taiwanese. These are roasted banana peppers sprinkled with pico de gallo. It's often found at the salsa bar of Mexican restaurants, but I saw some nice looking ones at the farmers market this week and decided to get them.


And the star of the night, something I've been wanting to make for a long time: Szechuan cumin lamb! The making of this dish is long, involved, and not quite perfected, so I'll dedicate a post to it later. For now, let's just say it involves stir frying lamb slices in Szechuan peppercorn-infused oil, adding cumin, topping with toasted garlic and cilantro, and then topping off with more Szechuan peppercorns and cumin.

And just to get some more vegetables in our diets, I used the leftover oil from the lamb to cook some broccoli and carrots. Plus we had cherry tomatoes and grapes for dessert.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Satin Eggs Over Rice

Satin eggs are a popular dish at Cantonese cafes. It's in the category of foods that's warm, soft, and comforting poured over rice. The dish can be made with any type of meat and/or seafood, but my favorite involves beef.

For enough to eat for several meals:
  • 1/2 pound sliced sirloin, or other sliced steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 pound frozen peas
  • 1 can straw hat mushrooms, halved
  • 1 container silken tofu, cut into large cubes
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 heaping tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with enough water to dissolve it
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 can chicken stock
  • 4 eggs, beaten
Sprinkle beef with baking soda and let sit while you prep the other ingredients. Heat a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in a wok until it's screaming hot. Stir fry the beef, adding the mushrooms and then the peas when the meat is half cooked. Stir fry everything until warmed through, then pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn the flame down to a simmer, add white pepper and rice wine, and cook for three minutes.


With the mixture gently simmering, pour in the cornstarch mixture slowly, stirring continuously. Work slowly or you'll end up with gloppy lumps. You might need to adjust the amount of cornstarch up or down depending how you like it. Stir until the cornstarch is cooked through. It will turn from white to almost completely clear. When the starch is cooked, pour in the beaten eggs in a circle. Let it cook for about thirty seconds, then stir gently to scramble the eggs throughout the mix. Thin with water if necessary, then stir in tofu and warm through. The smooth texture of the cornstarch and eggs is what gives this dish its name, and what makes it a popular comfort food.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Wo's Restaurant

The stars did not align very well tonight, but we ended up having a very satisfactory meal at Wo's Restaurant way out on Judah and 48th (almost to the ocean!). The first restaurant we went to was cash only, and we only had $20. The second one had a wait, and I was starving. So Wo's to the rescue!

I had the slippery beef over rice. Very nicely done, and this enormous portion was only $5.50. I know there's a lot of cheap Chinese food to be had, but Wo's really stood out to me because their food is not greasy. That is incredibly rare for a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant with rock bottom prices. Usually after eating this kind of meal I expect to feel a little queasy, but it's four hours later and I feel fine--still full, but not stuffed. J had a chicken pho in a nice clear broth, and we shared a plate of piping hot deep fried spring rolls. All for $16! Amazing.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

JJ Bakery

Shout out to my long time favorite Chinese Bakery, JJ Bakery in Hacienda Heights. I might have attachment bias because I grew up on JJ, but I really think it would beat out most Chinese bakeries in a blind taste test.

On my last trip there, I picked up this innocuous looking coconut bread. It was a new item, and more interesting than white toast, so I picked up a loaf to try out.

Surprise!!! This is what's so fun about Chinese bakeries: there's often a surprise in the middle! The lightly scented coconut bread is filled with a crumbly butter/sugar nubbin. It's not earth shattering, but it was a clever idea. I appreciate the creativity. I think all the bakeries are a little hot under the collar now that 85 Degrees is offering some stellar competition.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Winter Melon Soup, and Steak

I've been working some jog-hike combinations into my workout routine, the better to take advantage of all the steep hills and great views in SF. After a four-mile loop today, I was starving all day.

Whole Foods meat department to the rescue! Grass-fed ribeyes are on sale for $10/lb today. This steak was just over a pound, and normally it would have been enough for me and J to share. Luckily, he was not very hungry today so I got to eat most of it.

On the lighter side, we also had stewed chicken with winter melon, mushrooms, and gojiberries. There was also a great romaine and cherry tomato salad, but J ate too much of it before I could snap a photo. The mustard dressing included fresh garlic from a friend's vegetable garden and chopped basil from our tiny balcony herb garden!

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hong Kong Lounge and Tajine

Serious good eats alert this weekend! Sadly, I was without a camera at both restaurants, leading me to resort to yelp-stealing for the following photos. I know, it's beneath me, but it was either that or let these amazing meals slide. I could not do that latter.

Hong Kong Lounge is the new name of a dim sum location we've long enjoyed. Lucky for us, the new owners have not only lowered the prices, they have upped the quality! We've only been able to brave the long lines once so far, but dare I say the quality is close to that of Koi Palace in Daly City, with about 2/3 the price tag? Dim sum for two was $30 after tax and tip, and only because we ordered generously off the specials menu. Dishes of note included the coffee-glazed pork ribs, shrimp rice roll (chang fen), and daikon cake. We will be back soon (with a camera!)

And sort of the opposite situation: old favorite Tenderloin spot Tajine re-opened awhile ago in nicer, bigger digs. They share a space with a bar/lounge, but the food is as good as ever. Prices have gone up a few dollars, but portions are also larger. I think because the space now makes more sense for large groups, they've gone the family style route full force. Service was as friendly as ever and the bill for three people (and leftovers) was under $90 after tax and tip. We really enjoyed the white bean tajine, split pea dip, and I thought the cous cous was exceptionally fluffy and flavorful.

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