Showing posts with label asian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label asian. Show all posts

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Croquer: Yatai Ramen Twist @ Breadbar

In a moment when mobile eateries are king, an even more transient trend is burgeoning just under the surface: the pop-up restaurant. Pioneered over the years by underground dinner parties like Portland's Family Supper and high-brow "guerilla" residencies such as LudoBites, pop-ups may not be anything new, just surprisingly rare in this city obsessed with the next best meal. That's why I was so delighted to see West Third bakery/cafe Breadbar's schedule of takeovers throughout the summer. I recently made it to Chefs Kazuo Shimamura and Noriyuki Sugie of Ironnori Concepts' "Yatai Ramen Twist", now in its last week for their classic versions -and modern twists- on the popular Japanese street food.
Through July 24th, (Mondays - Saturdays from 5-10pm), Shimamura will create authentic fresh ramen dishes, from classic Shio Ramen to indulgent Foie Gras Ramen. Also on the menu are Gyoza, Boba Tea, and Sugie's own fair-trade Kuromame ("black bean") coffee.
The summer evening I visited Yatai was rather cool, so soup felt refreshingly appropriate. While I waited for my friends to join (who stopped to pick up beer per my server's suggestion - Breadbar is BYO), I ordered the Kale Gyoza, which were extra crispy and earthy delicious.
From the Twist Ramen menu I chose the Ox tail Ramen, a pungent broth scented with truffle oil, carrying marinated eggs and a sheet of nori atop a massive section of bone-in braised tail. The meat tenderly fell from the bone and was rather lovely, but overall the intense fermented flavor profile of the dish did not win over my palate. I respectfully ordered another ramen, this time the Spicy Pork Curry, a rich consommé broth loaded with delicious shredded pork. Britt's Shoyu Ramen was robust from the aged soy, while Ashley's Tomato Ramen (the one veggie option) was light and somewhat underwhelming.
The stellar service however is what set this experience apart from other bittersweet dining ventures. The two servers running the entire shop were deft, graceful, and light-spirited, casually joking when appropriate, and quick on their feet to satisfy every need of ours. It truly felt like a family supper in the end, all the way to our departure at closing time, catching the two dancing while they tidied up inside. As we stood up from our patio residence chef Shimamura appeared to ask us if we enjoyed ourselves. We had, and with that the scale was tipped. The walk to the car was one of satisfaction, loaded with the added privilege of a glimpse into Yatai's authentic beating heart.

Space is limited for Yatai | Ramen Twist.
Call 310.205.0124 or visit for reservations
Monday-Saturday from 5-10pm until July 24th
8718 West 3rd St. 310.205.0124
Yatai Ramen at Breadbar in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Monday, June 28, 2010

Croquer: Yaki's

Sometimes simplicity is best.
After years of discounting the teriyaki bowl as a Yoshi-no-no, a recent lunch in Burbank rekindled my appreciation for a basic meal of charbroiled protein, veggies, rice, and sauce.
I have no idea how pioneering Yaki's the Original Teriyaki Bowl actually was in the history of the Americanized beef bowl, but I do know that people still LOVE the place. A small booth sitting on the corner of Alameda and Main, Yaki's is fast but hardly menial, with remarkably friendly service. And is seemingly rather health conscious. Their menu touts "Eat lean. It's your body." Further stating that Yaki's uses no MSG, only skinless boneless chicken and lean beef, and that Yaki Sauce & Yaki's Bravo Sauce contain no fat.
The fresh and tasty bowl does hit the spot without overfilling. My favorite is the Suicide bowl - charbroiled chicken over steamed rice and cabbage topped with Yaki's sauce and spicy cilantro-y Bravo sauce. Splurge and add grilled fresh pineapple for fifty cents.
And if I'm feeling naughty... I get the Bull Dog - A hot dog with cheese and mustard wrapped like a spring roll and deep fried. The mayo-ribboned teriyaki dipping sauce makes the treat a truly sinful delight. Because nothing says "eat lean, it's your body" like a cheese-oozing-deep-fried-Asian-pig-n-a-blanket. Also available by the 3-pack with fries, aptly called the Dog Pound. Woof!

904 W Alameda Ave. Burbank; 818.845.1016

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Voyager Bien: Disney World Dining part 1

After a lifetime of waiting, this past May I experienced the quintessential family summer vacation (note: the year of my 30th birthday). Yes, I flew to Orlando and met up with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and two incredible nieces for a week at the Happiest Place on Earth.
But for me, nowadays travel = eating, and as us Southern Californians know Disneyland's culinary level is about as high as the water in It's a Small World. In planning our trip to WDW however I began hearing rumblings of actually the opposite. Could the four parks and countless hotels in Orlando possess some actual restaurants of note?? Would we be able to find them and escape the week unscathed by overpriced junk food? Doubtful, but the Hazard clan was willing to try.
Day one at the Magic Kingdom landed us in.. a crowded lunch hour burger bar. Everything about the park was just like Disneyland actually, but slightly smaller yet little less congested. Not at all what I was expecting. A late dinner at our hotel -the Port Orleans French Quarter- commissary garnered some surprisingly decent Southern fare, but I couldn't help begin to doubt the rumors.
Day two began at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and thankfully things began to turn around. We all agreed that the Asia sector of the park was our collective favorite, Disney Imagineers bypassing the expected Chinoiserie for Tibetan cliffsides, Bengal ruins and Malaysian jungles.
Beside a giant crumbling palace inhabited by acrobatic monkeys, the Anandapur Yak and Yeti Restaurant was our blessedly air-conditioned sit-down lunch destination.
I felt successfully transported to an old Bangkok inn as, in true Disney fashion, every visual detail of the multi-leveled restaurant was thematically considered and pristinely executed. The menu alone separated the recommended Yak & Yeti from previous Disney dining troughs - True menu-speak! A cohesive culinary concept! How very novel.
Per my sister's suggestion, we ordered the Wok-Fried Green Beans, a solid starter of crispy battered green beans served with a sweet Thai chili dipping sauce. Golden lovely and not overly-greasy.
My father and I decided to split 2 dishes, since the Dim Sum Basket caught my eye but seemed a little light. The bamboo steamer basket came filled with pork pot stickers, shrimp siu mai, cha su bao & pork siu
mai, steamed on a banana leaf, with a soy lime dipping sauce. Obviously not quite on par with the killer dim sum around LA, but quite a tasty lunch offering for an Orlando theme park.
We also shared the Maple Tamarind Chicken- a "seared" chicken breast with an Indonesian tamarind glaze, coconut-ginger rice, and a baby bok choy & shiitake mushroom stir-fry. Culturally kitchen-sink, sure, but this was actually a very palatable dish not unlike some I've had at Silver Lake's Gingergrass.
Bizzarely, the Yeti brought me not fear, but hope for the coming week. With a traditional Luau, Norwegian feast and all of Epcot's world showcase yet to come, I needed not be discouraged for my belly. I knew it would be just fine.
Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recettes Secrètes: Street's Kaya Toast

Thank you LATimes for this gift - I just discovered the recipe for one of my favorite dishes in LA posted on Culinary SOS... You may recall my blathering last year over Susan Feniger's exquiste "uniquely Singapore" Kaya Toast. Consisting of lightly toasted Malaysian white bread slices sandwiching slivers of butter and a thick spread of coconut jam, what makes Kaya Toast so magical is its pairing with a soft-fried egg drizzled with dark soy and a dash of white pepper. Breaking the egg yolk with the toasty sweet mini coconut sandwich and melding the soy, pepper, buttery yolk and tropical creamy flavors is, in a word, divine. Definitely make it to Street to sample the dish if you haven't, then use this recipe to tirelessly emulate it at home every weekend morning for the rest of your life.

Street's Kaya toast plate
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: 1

Note: Adapted from Street. Coconut milk will separate; stir well before measuring. Pandan leaves can be found at Thai and many general Asian markets. Dark soy sauce is a slightly thicker soy sauce and is available at Asian markets.

Coconut jam:

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
8 pandan leaves, washed and tied into a knot
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
3 egg yolks

1. In a small sauce pot, mix together the coconut milk and one-half cup sugar. Stir in the pandan leaves and salt and bring to a boil over high heat, keeping the pandan submerged in the milk as the leaves cook and soften. When the milk has come to a boil, remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 10 minutes.

2. Remove the pandan leaves from the milk, squeezing any excess liquid from the leaves into the milk. Discard the leaves.

3. In a medium stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and remaining one-half cup sugar. Whisk in the coconut milk mixture to form a custard base.

4. Place the stainless steel bowl over a medium pot of lightly simmering water. Gently cook the custard, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens, 15 to 20 minutes. The final texture should have a thick custard consistency (a trail of the spatula should remain on the surface of the custard for more than 10 seconds).

5. Immediately remove from heat and strain into a medium bowl set over a larger bowl of ice water. Stir until the custard cools, then cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes about 2 cups coconut jam, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the jam will keep for 1 week, refrigerated.

Kaya toast plate assembly:

2 tablespoons coconut jam
2 slices dense white bread, such as pain de mie or pullman, toasted on 1 side
1 1/2 tablespoons shaved salted butter
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
Dash ground white pepper
1 soft boiled egg, peeled

1. Spread the coconut jam evenly over both slices of bread on the untoasted side, then place a layer of shaved butter over the jam. Place one slice of bread over the other to form a sandwich.

2. Halve the sandwich, then cut each half into thirds to form 6 even wedges.

3. Pour the dark soy sauce over the egg and dash with the pepper. Serve the egg alongside the sandwich wedges.

Each serving: 443 calories; 13 grams protein; 51 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 21 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 282 mg. cholesterol; 1,055 mg. sodium.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Recettes Secrètes: Ginger Crème Brûlée

For my friend Ashley's lightly Asian-themed dinner party last week I decided (surprise, surprise) to make a dessert. Passion fruit crème brûlée immediately came to mind, but after 5 markets (from high-end grocery to Mexican produce marts to the dregs of Thai Town) and still no fresh passion fruit, I grabbed a big knob of ginger and called it a night. Arriving at Ashley's the following evening, she was a hummingbird above a stove top filled with sizzling woks while a rice cooker peufed steam from the full counter nearby. On top of that, she said she had various Japanese jellies she found at her neighborhood Asian market chilling in the fridge. A visual treat as much as palatable, the creamy-sweet grey and dark graphite layered black sesame jelly was the clear exotic winner. In the end, all of our Eastern-inspired dishes and desserts tasted wonderful together, especially paired with Nicolette's delicious Kobai Plum Martinis (one part Kobai plum wine, one part vodka, shaken with ice and strained - floated with an orchid blossom!)

Ginger Crème Brûlée

3 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons (packed) coarsely grated peeled fresh ginger
10 large egg yolks
1 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine cream and ginger in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; let stand 20 minutes. Strain cream into small bowl, pressing on ginger solids in sieve. Seperate eggs. Whisk yolks and 1 cup sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in warm cream. Divide custard among eight 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Place ramekins in large roasting pan. Pour enough warm water into pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.Bake custards just until set in center when pan is gently shaken, about 45 minutes. Remove custards from water bath; chill uncovered until cold, at least 3 hours. Cover and chill overnight.Sprinkle each custard with 1/2 teaspoon of remaining sugar. If you have a butane kitchen torch, use per manufacturer's instructions. Use a flame-retardant glove or oven mitt to hold the ramekin (or else set on a fire/heat proof surface). Caramelize sugar working tip of the flame from the outside in towards the middle keeping the torch in constant circular motion. Sugar should be golden brown. If burnt, let the sugar layer cool a few minutes than peel it away with a paring knife and begin again. May take a bit of practice, but WARNING: Torch is addictive! Torchless? No matter. Preheat broiler and place custards on baking sheet. Broil until sugar melts and caramelizes, turning sheet for even browning. Serve immediately, or refrigerate custards until topping is cold and brittle, about 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gala Parfait: Southeastern Asian.. Baby Shower!

For my sister's baby shower, she decided to make the menu all of the food she's been craving. It happens to be Southeastern Asian pu pu platter type fare, fresh vietnamese and boba tea.
And of course red wine and Dr. Pepper!

The Menu:
BBQ Chicken Satay
Shrimp Toasts
Summer Rolls
Peanut sauce
Pineapple Fried Rice
Thai 3 Cabbage Slaw
Orange Cup Cakes
Boba Thai Iced Tea

Here are the recipes the chefs (my mother, sister and her friend Abbey) shared with me:

BBQ Chicken Satay

8 skinless/boneless chicken breasts , cut into small pieces or strips
1 package wooden skewers
2-3 stalks lemongrass, fresh or frozen (approx ¼ Cup minced)
1 small onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, peeled and sliced
1 ½ tsp. dried turmeric
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. cumin
4 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
5 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
For complete instructions on how to buy and cook fresh lemongrass, go here. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while you prepare the meat. This will prevent them from burning (I find the kitchen sink works well for this).
Cut chicken or beef into thin pieces or strips (small enough to easily skewer). Place in a bowl.
Combine all marinade ingredients in a food processor (discard the upper stalk of lemongrass, if using fresh). Process well.
Taste-test the marinade - you will taste sweet, spicy, and salty. The strongest tastes should be SWEET and SALTY in order for the finished satay to taste its best. If necessary, add more sugar or more fish sauce (instead of salt) to adjust the taste.
Add the marinade to the meat and stir well to combine. Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, or longer (up to 24 hours).
When ready to cook, slide the pieces of meat onto the wooden skewers. TIP: Fill only the upper half of the skewer, leaving the lower half empty so that the person barbecuing has a "handle" to work with. This makes it easier to turn the satay during cooking.
Barbecue the satay, OR grill on an indoor grill, OR broil it in the oven on a broiling pan or baking sheet with the oven set to "broil" (Place satay close beneath the heating element and turn the meat every 5 minutes until cooked). Depending on how thin your meat is, the satay will cook in 10 to 20 minutes.
Serve with rice and peanut sauce for dipping.Shrimp Toasts

16 ounces cooked shrimp, peeled and tails removed
2 large egg whites
1 scallion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
12 slices day-old white bread, crusts removed
Optional: cilantro leaves for garnish
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse shrimp till finely chopped. Add egg whites, scallion, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, salt, sugar; process until mixture forms a smooth paste.
Spray baking tray with cooking spray (vegetable or peanut oil). Spray each piece of bread (top side). Spread an even layer of shrimp paste on each slice. Cut each slice of bread diagonally to make four triangles; you should end up with 48 triangles all together.
Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Garnish with cilantro and serve with peanut dipping sauce.Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls
Makes 8 rolls
Give yourself plenty of time (and counter space) to make these. And be sure to have a few extra rice paper wrappers on hand—it may take a few tries before you’re rolling like a pro.
Look for medium-size shrimp. Rice sticks and rice paper wrappers can be found in most Asian grocery stores.

12 medium shrimp in their shells
2 ounces dried rice sticks or rice vermicelli (I used bean threads)
8 (8-1/4-inch) round rice paper wrappers
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, rinsed
24 small mint leaves
Pickled ginger
16 basil or Thai basil leaves
8 small sprigs cilantro
Julienned carrots
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4" x 1/4" x 2" sticks
2 large scallions, trimmed, halved, and sliced into 3" lengths
4 Boston lettuce leaves, cut in half

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until they are bright orange and just cooked. Drain shrimp in a colander and run cold water over them until they are cool. Peel shrimp and halve them lengthwise down the center. Cover and refrigerate.
Cook the rice sticks according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Clear a work surface, such as a large wooden cutting board, for rolling the summer rolls and prepare a pan that is roomy enough to hold the finished rolls in a single layer. Place all filling ingredients in separate containers, and arrange them in the following order around the board: rice paper wrappers, shrimp, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cilantro, hot pepper, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce. Put shrimps down, then leaf of lettuce and placed everything else in the lettuce, to enable tighter wrapping with no rips
Fill a wide, shallow dish, large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers, with hot water. Evenly submerge one rice paper in the water for about 30 seconds, or until it is soft and pliable. Remove from the water and place on the work surface.
Working quickly, lay three shrimp halves in a row, cut side up, just above the center of the wrapper. Layer a scant 1/4 cup of noodles over the shrimp, followed by a few bean sprouts, 3 mint leaves, 2 basil leaves, 1 sprig of cilantro, and 2 pieces of the hot pepper (if using). Place 3 to 4 cucumber sticks and 3 to 4 scallion pieces on either side of the noodle pile. Roll one piece of lettuce into a cigar shape, and place it on top of the noodle pile. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding it firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire pile up to close the top. (Don’t despair, this takes some practice!)
Turn each roll so that the rice paper seam faces downward and the row of shrimp faces up.
Serve summer rolls with Peanut Sauce.

Peanut Sauce
You can make this sauce a day ahead. Just keep it refrigerated in a covered container. Let it sit for a bit at room temperature before serving.

1/2 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1 teaspoon chile-garlic paste
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until well combined, adding more water to thin the sauce if necessary.

Thai 3 Cabbage Slaw
with spicy red curry vinaigrette
From the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook

½ small head sui choy (or napa cabbage)
½ small head green cabbage
½ small head purple cabbage
2 carrots
2 peppers, red and yellow
1 small red onion
½ bunch cilantro or Thai basil (or cilantro)
2-3 scallions
roasted peanuts and fresh lime wedges for garnish
Core and finely shred the cabbages. Peel carrots, thinly slice diagonal coins and then julienne each coin into thin, long matchsticks (or just shred them!). Finely julienne the red onion and the sweet pe ppers. Mince scallions on the bias. Stem cilantro and roughly chop the leaves.
Toss together all of the vegetables with enough dressing to coat. Garnish with roasted peanuts and serve fresh lime wedges on the side.

Dressing (yields 2 1/3 cups):
¼ cup chopped shallots
2 tbsp chopped ginger
1 serrano chile, seeded
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
¾ tsp Thai red curry paste (Thai Kitchen brand)
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ cup peanut oil
¼ tsp salt
Pulse shallots, ginger, garlic and chiles in the bowl of a food processor. Add the next seven ingredients and blend until smooth. Season to taste, but not that the chile heat will continue to develop as it sits.

Pineapple Fried Rice
Cook Jasmine rice a day or two before, the rest can be made entirely the night before or morning of and then reheated in a fry pan.

1 pineapple, fruit removed and cut into chunks - to prepare pineapple and use as “boats” for serving go here.
4 cups of cooked Jasmine rice
2 chicken breasts – trimmed and cut in thin strips
1 lb uncooked shrimps – cleaned, peeled and cut in half
1 small onion – diced
3 cloves of garlic – minced
2 scallions– thinly sliced (reserve 1 Tbsp for garnish)
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
2 teaspoons of curry powder
2 Tbsp of fish sauce
2 Tbsp of soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 Tbsp oil
In a small bowl, mix together curry powder, soy sauce and fish sauce. Set aside. In a wok or a large pan, heat up about 3 tbsp of oil over high heat. Add in onions and garlic and stir-fry until lightly brown and fragrant. Add in chicken, stir-fry just until it changes color, add in shrimps. Stir fry for another minute or two. Add cashews, raisins and pineapple and stir fry another 30 sec to 1 minute and add sauce mixture. Add in rice. Stir-fry until everything is well combined and hot. Check seasoning and add salt if necessary. Add in spring onions and stir.
Serve rice in pineapple boat or serving dish and garnish with reserved scallions.

This site has several recipes for making your own boba (or bubble) tea at home.