Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Classic Dish That Is Now Hip at Red Chicken

There's a dish that is making a major comeback.

It seemed not long ago everyone can only named one place to go for the steamed chicken we all tend to love ... Hainan Chicken. The place people would suggest is name of an Italian specialty cafe that can served out this southeast Asian favorite poultry dish.

What's Hainan Chicken and why is it so special?

Hainan Chicken Rice - Steamed Chicken with sauces

Let me break this down. In order to get this dish right, you pretty much have to cook this chicken to be moist and have a silky texture feel. The skin would needed to be in this texture of a taste (it's a blasphemy not to include the skin!). On top of that, the rice need to be steamed with the chicken stock to have that flavor.

Oh, let's not forget about the sauce! That's probably the most important, but yet more ignored part of the whole dining experience of Hainan Chicken. You got have that chili, soy, and ginger sauce to separate the sweet, spicy, and savory taste for that chicken.

It's used to be only south part of China specialty named after the island where it was famous for. However, it was grown be loved by most of southeast Asia like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and any big Chinese populations. For marketing purposes, most Chinese restaurants just simply named it "Hainan Chicken" because people will understand you wanted steamed chicken with all these pou pou involved.

Getting back to it, there used to be only one place that serves in the whole LA as of 2002. I know because that Italian place (Savoy Kitchen) was named the #1 date place for Asian community in LA. They served pizza and pasta, but was ecstatically known for this steamed chicken. I for one, are not a devout follower of this place and was on the look out for a better one.

Singapore Fried Chicken with Rice

Flash forward to present day and time where there is Yelp, Google, Instagram and other online presence that can get you to survey the land for that offerings. There are places like a food court in a supermarket, a hole in the wall restaurant, or even places that is known for other specialties dishes, but serves a bang up chicken like this.

How did I ever wind up in Red Chicken? Long story short, it was because someone I know complained about the service here, but mentioned how good the place was in having this dish. Service be damned.... I would not miss out if this is one of the better steamed chicken I am going to see.

Fried Chicken Wings

It basically looks like family run restaurant where I can see kids are there too during dinner time. I guess people don't mind if the food is good and can ignore this simple fact. My best guess also was that the owners running it has some sense of social media as they keep their taps on it and also update their website regularly. How savvy they are? We'll find out if they can find this post online.

My initial thought about this no frill, limited menu item place was that they are specialized (the name of the place, Red Chicken) was actually pretty good. I do love their wings and their fried chicken rice dish. The one that is where the dish people craves for... the steamed chicken was spot on. All those prerequisites I posted earlier have all been met, so I really am excited for the place to challenge the Italian place a few miles away.

Pink Milk - It does a body good?

This is a pretty straight forward place with not much to entice people to make the long trek for. People usually settles, but I think with the steamed chicken getting more popularized as I have noticed a sizable list was circulated by a few publications... it may be a good alternative finally.

For once, I can honestly say that popularity is catching on during the new Millennial era of SnapChat or Instagram. It was forgotten and underappreciated by the Gen X era of bloggers. Let's hope it doesn't get too crazy as more of these red chicken are popping up. I am noticing they are catering that crowd with those crazy milk drinks. Instagramable?...hardly, but you get the idea.

We all love a good comeback stories, but we also remembered the fizzled forgotten. Xiao Long Bao.
Red Chicken
1001 E. Las Tunas Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Red Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Conquering My Cooking Fears with Chef'd

I have one dread in life. It does involve conquering its own fears.

I never liked cooking.

This particular "chore" was ingrained on me very early in life. From what I remembered, I wanted to say my parents just don't want me to be domesticated or somehow finding me wound up getting a job as a cook or house servant. Too bizarre, but that's how I grew stigmatized in believing cooking is not part of my repertoire.

Two of the selections you can find in Chef'd selections

As I never gotten a cooking lesson and live through life by the take out counter... lo and behold an opportunity exists in our day and age.

Meal prep kit was a ever popular idea growing among the cosmopolitan. In a world that diy (do-it-yourself) has gotten a foothold in everyday of life such as home improvements, car repairs, and now creeping in to cooking.

The step by step guide included in the kit

I had the pleasure of trying out Chef'd, one of the more popular meal prep kit that is widely available in local Costco or Gelson's market. All of the Chef'd meal prep kit comes in a hard shell container with printed instructions on the inner label. Each included ingredients are individually labeled and easily identifiable for you to find them. A much easier task than your usual "assembly required" kits.

Part of the meal kit that is included inside of the container

The only thing not included are obviously kitchenware, utensils/tools, oven or stove, and more importantly anything of necessities you normally would need in a kitchen (ie cooking oil, bowls, kitchen helper etc etc).

The 2nd kit I got

At the end of two kits I had bought, my success of this are determined by how satisfied I was with my cooking and how the taste of the meal turned out by my cooking.

Several factors I wanted to share about this kit. First, I think this do it yourself kit is very helpful for people like myself included that finds cooking to be a challenging, in that these kits were easy to understand. Because of the easy step by step, breakdown instruction on each of the kit, it helps guide these meals from start to finish.

prepping of the additional components

Second, majority of the meal consists of easy to cook protein with a minor sides and a quick blend of seasonings. If it was a massive undertaking of a complex dish, I think it would be a major turn off. Luckily, based on the kits I have purchased, they were all sticking to an easy to make kit.

The making of the sauce and egg in pad thai

Third, which this is important for most people, the ingredients were fresh before the due date. They are widely available on the refrigerated section of the two major chains I have mentioned above. These meal prep kits can be ordered online with no monthly subscription required. It's ordered as you please with no obligation.

Prepping the protein before cooking

So in the end, I asked myself how hard it was to either to make a steak or a pad thai noodle? I had to honestly surmised that it was intimidating to do, but was quite easy when you get a step by step instructions. There were some steps required a google search (ie "blanch" the garlic), but most instructions are clear and easy to understand.

Putting things in pan

It stated it will take 30 minutes to make, but for first timer like me an additional time required in planning and reading the instruction. Once you get a hang of it on what to expect, you can bet that customizing the ingredients for your own liking will be done in the future.

My finish product of the Pad Thai

As I stated before, two things that will determined if the meal prep kit is successful are that if you were satisfied with your own cooking and if you liked the taste of your own cooking: I must say I was a lot more confident at the end and impressed by the taste. Even though the ingredients are provided, I will say that the positive experience will give me an opportunity to adventure out more creations on my own and experience new dishes.

My finished product of the steak

This is highly recommended if you wish to do something on your own at home with a helpful guide.

As in for the question... this kit did conquered my fears of cooking.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Something New Something Old at Cafe Bora

There is a import to LA of a famous desserts shop that was a rage in southeast Asia, predominantly South Korea.

Now, why do I even cared about gushing on a place that maybe just a trend for most people?

Of course, it's all about the social media! Just kidding, but still..... it's pretty to look at.

Purple Yam Tiramisu with drinks

This is the dilemma of course. Majority of our pics always wound up on Instagram, short captions or bylines wound up on twitter or FaceBook, visual videos wound up on YouTube, and paragraphs worth of words would wound up here on personal blog or get reposted on publications.

The question we all faced was that if the materials or contents are worth posting on different segments of social media? (ie does the pic look instagrammable or if we can rave about this on Yelp or on our blog?). I wound up facing the same exact question sometimes because of deluge of photos of the same place. This is where I was promised there'll be new stuffs to post.

Strawberry and Sweet Potato Tiramisu with extra toppings on the side, Purple Sweet Potato Chips

Digress, I waited. It took me some time to think about it if it is worthy to post on here or on my instagram account.

After a year of doing Instagram, I met quite a few new users who are passionate about food and some older users who are more into competitions than anything else. It's funny because I don't feel the difference between this segment of the group than the blogging world that I pretty much abandoned for a decade vs this new wild wild world of capturing the moments.

I was quite relieve to start over and meet a ton of new friendly faces who are eager to shine on a stage that is more suited to them than getting ones who are moving on to here from previous platform, but yet cannot adapt to the new frontier.

Persimmons Patbingsoo (shaved ice)

To see the excitement and enthusiasm was the sole reason it bought me here to Cafe Bora. I can get the feeling of the trend of making something excitable from this newer class of "influencers". We called the previous class "media". Both the words of "media" and "influencers" are now met with funny smirk these days. This is a label being used as though you can differentiate the age group with one of those words. haha

As you can see some of the popular and colorful tiramisu, shaved ice, and soft serve are being presented here from the original location that was made popular in South Korea. This brings up to me is what the current trend is calling for... enticement for the younger generation with visual eye-catcher, while making it classy for the elder crowd.

Which asked another harder question: who better to do it? A "Media" with old style ways or the younger crowd with the new "influencing" ways.

The funny thing was, I can tell the marketing efforts on both are a tad different, but it's something both can strive for and still works out in the end for both of them.

The reason I'm here: Sweet Potato Brick Toast

If you ever visited Cafe Bora in heart of Koreatown on the 3rd floor of a shopping center, you will see the divide on the old vs the youth. With that, there's one thing that can combine them together in the ever popular trend of food halls, expansions of aesthetically pleasing background set for selfies, and other dubious creation of glorify colorful food... 

.... something they can all agree on: As long the food is good, it doesn't matter how beautiful or ugly it looks.

For one afternoon, it was glorious.

Cafe Bora (on 3rd Floor of California Market)
450 S Western Ave #308
Los Angeles, CA 90020

Cafe Bora Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Greatest Backup Find Ever at Baldoria


A weird turn of events..

I was hoping to visit Seoul Sausage Company and quickly found out they were closed (happens quite often in DTLA) where shelves life can are worse than a stale bread in your local supermarket. The expiration date to make it or break it tends to be 6 months after it opens, but Seoul Sausage got a few years. I guessed I was surprised it didn't make it.

For a back up plan on the fly, I got to say that Baldoria was a good fall back if I say so myself. It's conveniently located on the other side of the block where we took a short cut along the apartment drive way path to get there.

Caribbean Spiced Duck Wings - Confit Duck Wings, Mango Salsa & Chives

Baldoria was set up to be more of a social hangout that catered to last minute meet togethers or famously posted on their website as a place for people with no plans. Hilariously, it blend well for people not looking for reservations and completely have no expectations on what to get.

Realistically, it's not going to win out the dining crowd that is expecting big fancy dishes. The street near Baldoria is full of these types of restaurants within walking distances, but maybe the promotion strategy of nonchalant might works out.

In their epic strategy of "don't expect anything" faux pas to happen, they got their stuff together. I was massively impressed on the low key gastropub feel of a decor with a no thrill kind of atmosphere to be so lively. Want to know what's more impressive about this? Their food was actually on point.

Lil Tokyo Steak — Miso marinated flat iron, yuzu kosho, shiitake, shishito, cherry tomato red onion

In a weird classic way, they came up with a pizza that meshed with steak. If you think about it, who actually cooked steak well done or trying to baked it too long with the pizza? You just don't, but their steak was nicely tendered grill to be add on to the every slice of this pie. It's a win for this concoction.

Jack Mortimer - 10 Year WhistlePig Rye, Laird's Apple Jack Brandy, Maple Syrup, Apple

Their drinks may not be the most innovative like some of their mixology that is out there, but suffice to say they are trying to be over the top and just serve the most neat and poignant drink that can be there. No need to outdo a classic drink if you can just serve when people are thirsty for one.

I can honestly say this was the most spectacular luck of turn of events that we really like. It can be a lot worse like going to an original place you wanted to go and turned out bad.


Which does reminds me.... I actually didn't like Seoul Sausage the first time. Why did we decided to go there in the first place?

243 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Baldoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato