Sunday, April 6, 2008

Name That Fits the Bill @ Tantalizingly Thai (Lakewood)

There is two thing I don't like about naming of the places. It's either you name of the place as the King or Master suggesting you're the best. Even worse, naming a place with a proclamation or adjective of describing the place like "Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada" or "Yummy Cupcakes".

I so much didn't like the name of Tantalizingly (Is this word really exist in the dictionary?) Thai.

I honestly didn't really thought much about the place. It was located across the street from Long Beach Towne Center and facing directly to a Wal Mart Center. This sleepy and pretty much dead silent of a plaza also housed a Casino School and a bartending school. Frankly, I don't know if they were teaching people to become black jack dealer or they are teaching you on how to beat the odds of winning big in a roulette table.

When I walked in, there was a gentleman who resembles Leslie Nielsen in an Ivory Merchant film. I was taken aback a bit because I wasn't expecting him to be a maitre'd. It's only when I found out later in an Elmer Dill article that have a fascinating story about him being a co-owner of this place when he was down here in Long Beach area where he was visiting his mother. One of the few places he liked was this Thai restaurant.

I could see him incorporated some of his touches into the old restaurants. The place was a little bit more remodeled into a bistro look with a finer looking silverware and a white seamless paper on top of white linen table cloth with a cloth napkin. The place still kept some of the Buddha shrine behind the maitre'd stand and some of the old decorations can be seen above the door. It's a nice mixture of things, but you can tell they are trying to mix a little of both with the dinning more towards a modern look.

The food itself is cooked in a Northeastern style Thai food that are very flavorable with herbs and spices mixed with kafffir lime leaves, coconut milk, lemon grass, and some tamarand. You can definitely tasted it in their sauce and smell the aroma of each dish.

One of the few suggestions people made to me about Thai food was that I needed to try curry. I was a fan of Indian and Chinese curry because of their thickness like gravy, but never was a fan of Thai curry because of too much spices going on that burned my tongue with overdoes of spiciness.

What that in mind, I decided to give Duck Curry a shot. Even though it's not listed in the menu I got, our man Jim Brewster (the maitre'd I had mentioned) memorizes everything on the menu and can suggested to me on which dish would suite well on what I had in mind. The curry duck definitely has the chili to show for the spice to go along with thick rich flavors the curry have going for. If I ever had a doubt about what Thai curry can do, it was smashing gone by the time I finished this delicious Curry Duck.

Curry Duck

One of the Chef's specialty on the menu was their seafood sections. I was dying to try out their tamarand prawns was because of the added spice of tamarand which is part of the Northeastern Thai specialties. The portion on these suckers were huge. Not the baby shrimp you would expect from most places.

Choo Chee Prawns

The Pad Prik King are always a dish I like to try at many of the Thai restaurants was because of the simple curry paste with a dash of string beans to go along with either pork or beef. At this case, it would be the pork as the mild chili paste sauce complimented the pork very well with their savory taste.

Pad Prik King (Pork)

I didn't expected the place to do well with their savory taste and excellent blend of spice in their ingredients on their dishes. However, after a few of the dishes I am happy to discover a place like this nearby that incorporated well with many of the dishes that left me happy to try out more.

Thai Fried Rice

Even though the place probably catered more to the local neighborhoods of Long Beach and Lakewood, I have to say that this Thai restaurant had supplanted Thai Corner or any of the nearby Thai restaurants as my go-to place with Thai food. More importantly, there's another place nearby where I don't have to go to Hollywood for Thai food as it is far.

Good to know a place like this exist. Hurray for the Curry Duck!

Tantalizingly Thai
11401 Carson St Ste A
Lakewood, CA 90715
(562) 860-6108


Tantalizingly Thai on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dim Sum that was Mission Impossible @ Mission 261 (San Gabriel)

Going into the places with the word "Mission", I usually just think that it's old time Missionary places like in Santa Barbara or San Diego. I just didn't think it meant "challenge".

Might as well think of it as challenge...or better yet, I should have ordered Mexican food or Spanish tapas if I was there.Going into this beautiful missionary style building where there is an open courtyard patio seating in the middle, there are some history involved with this place. According to some of the people in my group, this used to be a winery that was converted into the restaurant we were dining at.

The dining room used to be a room where they stumped the grapes. Think of the episode in "I Love Lucy".The place have a beautiful private rooms with a fireplace in front that accompany the elegant decor that comes with this charming place. There's also stacks of wine when you enter the place. It gives the reminiscence of its former self as a winery. Please check the photos for details.

This was an A-grade (more upscale) dim sum place where you ordered the dim sum items from the menu instead of having ladies pushing up the cart like you would see in most B-grade dim sum place (more economized specials).

The menu was presented with pictures and gives detailed descriptions of what's in store when you order.

Right off the bat, I already had encountered problems with the staff at Mission 261. We have a large group where we split into two tables. I sit on the second table all by myself so that I can saved the table for guest arriving shortly thereafter. As I was examining some of the items at the menu, the group at the other table were short of menus and need more for their table. Instead of going to the front counter and get the menu, the hostess decided to grab my menu as I was reading it and hand it off to the table next door.

WTF!? The nerve of that person!

Honestly, I didn't know what to think. After all, she knew I was with the group, but why the idiotic notion in that it's OK to grab the menu considering I was using it and not done with it as I was still reading. There's no need to be that friggin' lazy, but the arrogance really dampens my mood.

There were also plenty of times when our late party finally arrives in that we tried to get glasses of water, it would take at least 4 different people to request it before a third different staff would finally brings it. Details and attention seemed to be lacking in the worst way. As much as any bad service in Chinese restaurant, this place was not very busy at all and was half empty in the dining room where it should not be much of the problem.

The types of dishes we ordered are:

(From Left to Right) Sticky Rice Shumai, Haigaw (shrimp dumplings), and Pan Fried Shrimp & Cheves Sten Cakes

(from Left to Right): Steamed Imperial Dumpling (sticky pork rice dumpling) and Steamed Abalone Mushroom Dumplings

For Desserts we had:

Rabbit Dumpling

This was very cute and nicely decorated. It's great right before Easter as this bunny is packed with exploding custard. It was so cute, I'd almost didn't want to eat it.*Sweetened Chrysanthemum with Red Bean Pudding

A yummy desert with red bean (top) paste in the middle covered by gelatin like pudding. Sweetened Sago Pudding with Green Tea Flavor (below)

Nice green tea pudding with tapioca in the middle. Very sweet!The food was very well presented and almost decorated very well. Pricing wise it's one of the more expensive dim sum place you'll encounter in Southern California.

Taste wise, it's a give and take. Not the most impressive and a bit overrated in my opinion. The items seemed to be some dry in some of the dumplings as it can taste bland with lack of flavor at times. Very inconsistent.

The place is very classy and looked elegant. Food are very well presented. It's something I'll give it another shot down the road, but I would throw wind in the caution as the service is very uneven. It's definitely worth the look.

Mission 261
261 S Mission Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 588-1666


Mission 261 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Locations - By Cities

View the "Complete" Larger Map





Beverly Hills

Buena Park


City of Industry


Costa Mesa

Culver City


Dana Point


Garden Grove


Hacienda Heights

Huntington Beach


La Habra




Long Beach

Los Angeles


Manhattan Beach

Monterey Park



Pico Rivera


Rowland Heights

San Gabriel

Santa Ana

Santa Monica


Temple City



West Hollywood

West Los Angeles

Yorba Linda
Michelin Guide Star Ratings:

Locations - By Neighborhood

View the "Complete" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

Beverly Hills to Mid-Wilshire (Mid City)

View the "Mid City" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

Downtown LA

View the "Downtown" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

LA Metro
East LA

View the "Hollywood" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

Santa Monica to Culver City (West LA)

View the "West LA" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

San Gabriel Valley (SGV)

View the "SGV" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

South Bay

View the "South Bay" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

Gateway Cities

View the "Gateway Cities" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner

View the "San Diego" Larger Map by clicking the expand button on top right corner


Locations - Cuisine

Bouchees Bistro (Long Beach) - Closed
Carnitas' Snack Shack (San Diego)
Nickel Diner (Downtown L.A.)
Stonefire Grill (Torrance)

Donut Man (Glendale)
Patisserie Chantilly (Lomita)

BBQ - Chinese
RiceBox (Downtown L.A.)

BBQ - Korean
Hwarosarang (Buena Park) - Closed
Shik Do Rak (Garden Grove)
Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 (Koreatown) - Closed

BBQ - Southern/Cajun
Phillips Barbecue (Jefferson Park)
Prayer Assembly Church of God in Christ (Los Angeles) - Closed

Wood Spoon (Downtown L.A.)

Cafe/Coffee Shop
Cafe (Artesia)
Extraordinary Desserts (San Diego)

Chicken - Chinese
Cluck2Go (Hacienda Heights)
Red Chicken (San Gabriel)

Chicken - Japanese
Pikunico (Art District)

Bon Mar Che Bistro (Monterey Park) - Closed
Chung King (San Gabriel) - Closed
Ding's Garden (San Gabriel) - Changed Ownership
Duck House - Lu Din Gee (Monterey Park)
Hong Kong Fishball House (Rowland Heights)
Mas' Islamic Chinese Restaurant (Anaheim)
Sichuan Impression (Tustin)

Nate N' Al (Beverly Hills)

Bon Gelato (Cerritos) - Closed
Cafe Bora (Koreatown)
Scoops (Little Armenia)

Dim Sum - Chinese
Happy Harbor (Rowland Heights)
Kitchen (Alhambra) - Closed
Mission 261 (San Gabriel)
NBC Seafood (Monterey Park)
Xian Yuan Gourmet (Temple City)

Dumplings - Chinese
Dean Sin World (Monterey Park) - Closed
Din Tai Fung (Arcadia) - Moved
Kingburg Kitchen (San Gabriel)
Mama's Lu Dumpling House (Monterey Park) - Moved
Mei Long Village (San Gabriel)
Noodle House (Monterey Park) - Changed Ownership

Irenia (Santa Ana)

Church & State (Downtown)
Commerson (Mid-Wilshire)
Jean-Georges Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills)
Ortolan (Mid-City) - Closed
Spring (Downtown L.A.)
Petit Trois (South Hollywood)

Fried Chicken
Chicken Box (La Habra)
Crack Shack (Costa Mesa)
Gus's World Famous Chicken (Long Beach)
Howlin' Ray's (Chinatown)
Phat Birds (East L.A.)

IL Chianti (Lomita)
LudoBites II (Mid-City) at 3rd Street Bread Bar
LudoBites III (Culver City) at Royal/T Cafe
PanAsia Sweet And Savory (Alhambra)
Ruby Table (Koreatown) - Closed
Urban Cup Cafe (Cypress)

Lock & Key Social Drinkery + Kitchen (Downey)

Apple Pan (West L.A.)
Big Mike's Restaurant (Bellflower) - Moved
D-Town Burger Bar (Downtown L.A.) - Closed
Father's Office (Santa Monica)
Father's Office 2 (Santa Monica)
Five Guys Burgers & Fries (Cerritos) - Closed
Hawkins House Of Burgers (Watts)
Mom's Burgers (Compton)
Three Bears Bar-B-Q (Los Angeles) - Closed
Wahlburgers (University Park)

Coconut's Fish Cafe (Downtown L.A.)

Hot Dogs
Pink's Hot Dogs (Fairfax)

Al Noor (Lawndale)

Kasih (Los Angeles)

Ar Cucina (Culver City)
Baldoria (Little Tokyo)
Bestia (Downtown L.A.)
Chi Spacca (South Hollywood)
Jon and Vinny's (Fairfax)
Love & Salt (Manhattan Beach)
Rossoblu (Downtown L.A.)

Komatsu Restaurant (Torrance) - Closed

Chin Go Gae (Koreatown) - Closed
Ham Ji Park (Koreatown)

Tropika (Tustin)

Aveo Table + Bar (Dana Point)
Cafe Birdie (Los Angeles)

Border Grill (Santa Monica) - Closed
Cilantro Lime (Los Angeles)
Salazar (Los Angeles)

Tibet Nepal House (Pasadena)

New American
Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails (Irvine)
Animal (Mid-City)
Blacksmiths (Downtown L.A.)
BlueGold (Huntington Beach)
Campanile (Mid-Wilshire) - Closed
FireHouse Hotel (Art District)
Gorbals (Downtown L.A.) - Closed
Here's Looking At You (Koreatown)
Melisse (Santa Monica) - Closed
The Mighty (Downtown L.A.) - Closed
Park Avenue (Stanton)
Simon LA (Mid-City) - Closed

Noodle House - Chinese
Kam Hong Garden (Monterey Park)
Malan Han Noodles (Hacienda Heights)
Mandarin Noodle Deli (Temple City)
Qing Dao Bread Food (Monterey Park)
Wonton Forest (City of Industry) - Closed

Noodle House - Japanese (Soba/Udon)
Ichimian Bamboo Garden (Torrance)
Otafuku (Gardena)

Noodle House - Thai
Rodded Restaurant (Hollywood)

Higo Chicken (La Habra)

Chicago's Pizza With A Twist (Artesia)
Roberta's (Culver City)
Superfine Pizza (Downtown L.A.)
Vito's Pizza (West Hollywood)

Daikokuya (Little Tokyo)
Gardena Ramen (Gardena) - Closed
Mama Ramen (Torrance) - Closed
Mr. Ramen (Little Tokyo)
Orochon Ramen (Little Tokyo)
Santouka Ramen (West L.A.)

Ba Le French Sandwich & Bakery (Alhambra)
Bale Banh M Coffee and Sandwich Shop (San Gabriel) - Closed
Banh Mi & Che Cali (Alhambra)
Banh Mi & Che Cali (Rosemead)
Banh Mi My Tho (Alhambra)
Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery (Santa Monica)
Cole's (Downtown L.A.)
Mr. Baguette (Rosemead)
Philippe The Original (Chinatown)
Saigon's Bakery and Sandwiches (San Gabriel)

Wurstküche (Downtown L.A.)

Fishing With Dynamite (Manhattan Beach)
Geoffrey's Malibu (Malibu)

Shabu Shabu / Hot Pots
Jazz Cat Cafe (Alhambra) - Moved

Soondubu (Korean)
Beverly Soon Tofu House (Koreatown)

Southern / Soul Food
Alta Adams (West Adams)
Mild Sauce (Little Ethiopia)
Preux And Proper (Downtown L.A.)

Cut (Beverly Hills)
Dal Rae (Pico Rivera)
Wolfgang's Steakhouse By Wolfgang Zwenier (Beverly Hills)

Hama Sushi (Little Tokyo)
Sushi Zo (West L.A.) 
Sapporo Sushi & Grill (Buena Park)
Sushi Noguchi (Yorba Linda)
Tsukiji Restaurant (Gardena) - Closed

Kato (West L.A.)
Noodle House (Arcadia) - Closed
Pine & Crane (Silverlake)
Taipei Golden Pork Chop Rice and Noodles (Rowland Heights) - Closed

Tapas - Spanish
Bazaar by José Andrés - Part I (Mid-City)
Bazaar by José Andrés - Part II (Mid-City)
Bazaar by José Andrés - Part III (Mid-City)
Ciudad (Downtown L.A.)

Bahn Thung E-San (Los Felix) - Closed
Cancoon Thai Restaurant (Bellflower)
Jitlada Thai Restaurant (Hollywood)
Renu Nakorn (Norwalk)
Tantalizingly Thai (Lakewood) - Closed

Harissa Restaurant (Beverly Hills)

Erven (Santa Monica) - Closed
Monty's Good Burger (Koreatown)

M Cafe de Chaya (West Hollywood)

Benley: A Vietnamese Kitchen (Long Beach)
Brodard (Garden Grove)
Little Sister (Downtown L.A.)
Phong Dinh (San Gabriel) - Closed
Pho Minh (South El Monte) - Closed
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant (Santa Ana)

Wine Bar
Corkbar (Downtown L.A.) - Closed

Michelin Guide Star Ratings: