Nov 29, 2007

Individual Cakes with Melted Chocolate Chips


I can finally sit down, relax, and munch on my cakes here....
You have no idea how much effort I put in order to get this final result.

So what happened?
Everything were good until I started to make the sugary topping.
I guess 8 hours of work earlier just burned out my eyes,
Suppose to use brown sugar for the topping,
I mistaken it with butter.
As I spread the semi-watery mixture on top of the cakes,
I didn't even notice that something looks wrong....

Guess what,
The butter started to melt inside the oven,
So not only my cakes have semi-watery topping,
My oven got it too, it's flooding everywhere.
But how did I find out about it?
My smoke detector.
Biiiiiiiiii Biiiiiiiiiii Biiiiiiiiiiiiii.
And it was way up there on the ceiling,
I had to pull a chair underneath with a long wooden stick in my hand to turn that noisy thing off.
So the detector's down, I looked at the mess in the kitchen,
A big sigh......

Let's do it all over again then,
Brown sugar, brown sugar, Cindy Lo,
Remember to use brown sugar this time instead of butter.

Individual Cakes with Melted Chocolate Chips-

*You can see my biggest helper of the night on the side: Wooden Stick.

Ingredients (makes about 5 large individual cakes)?

Cake part:
1 1/3 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

No longer watery topping:
1/8 cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup of 60% dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit first.

Let's make the cake part first,
In a big bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In another big bowl, blend the remaining cake ingredients till smooth.
Transfer the wet ingredient to the dry ingredient and mix well.
Align 5 muffin cups inside the muffin pan,
Pour in the mixture evenly into those 5 muffin cups.
Into the oven for about 10 minutes,
Take it out and let it cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

While baking the cake part,
We can start working on the sugary topping,
"No Butter!"

Simply mix everything well first except the chocolate chips,
Blend in the chips till the end.
Spread the topping on the cakes and back to the oven for another 12 minutes.
Take them out and let it cool a little bit before serving.

Thank God that this time the cupcakes turned out well...
I don't wanna climb on the chair waving the wooden stick in the air anymore.

Cindy's Rating: 6

Nov 28, 2007

Pretty Sky to Smooth Out My Rough Day at Work

After a stressful 8 hours working day,
I decided to move my head away from the laptop for a little bit,

Then I saw this beautiful cloud with the reflection from the sunset-

Smile on my face.

Nov 27, 2007

Shin Sen Gumi Ramen 新撰組

Craving for Ramen?
I did last week, so I came to this place for some Hakata style ramen.
Shin Sen Gumi Ramen Restaurant-

They have stores in Fountain Valley, Gardena, LA County,
And of course the original place is in Tokyo, Japan.

I went to the one in Fountain Valley, the ramen side-

(I had to quickly take a picture when no customers were by the counter)

The restaurant is separated into two areas here in Fountain Valley,
One side is for ramen,
The other side is for yakitori.
I usually try to go to the ramen side for dinner because you can also order dishes from the yakitori side,
Because the yakitori side only opens at night.

Ordering sheet-

Besides picking out the set and extra toppings you want,
You can also choose the hardness of the noodles, amount of oil, and the strength of the soup.
I guess from the picture,
You can kind of figured out what I like in Shin Sen Gumi.
Sometimes I do prefer hard noodles though.
It's all depend on my mood.

And here it comes my order-

Spicy miso matches my ramen so well,
There wasn't any drop of soup left in my bowl.

My friend's order, with extra chashu (pork slice)-

Takana fried rice and gyoza-

These comes with the sets we picked,
Told you I eat a lot.

If you ever decide to dine here,
Remember the wait is usually around 30 minutes or longer.
Don't forget to give the yakitori side a try sometime,
That place tastes pretty good,
Probably Cindy's Rating 7.

By the way,
I always order chicken karaage (Japanese style fried chicken) when I'm having dinner at the ramen side.
Imagine that tender chicken, crunchy skin, and mayonnaise all together in your mouth,
I'm in heaven.

Overall Rating: 6

Shin Sen Gumi 新撰組
18315 Brookhurst Street #1
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(714) 962-8971

Nov 25, 2007

Rasa Malaysia - Authentic Penang Style Cuisine

So this is where I had my last meal in NoCal for my Thanksgiving trip,

Rasa Malaysia-

This place is across the street from Costco in Santa Clara,
Who will ever find this wooden structure that serves authentic Penang style cuisine,
Thanks to my friend's brother,
I had a wonderful experience here.

Nasi Lemak Chicken-

"Coconut rice flavored with cloves and Pandan.
Served with crushed peanuts, curry chicken, fresh cucumber and hard boiled egg."
I have to say that I really really love coconut rice,
Especially when the curry sauce is around.
It'll be gone in seconds.

Cindy's Rating: 5

Kangkung Sambal-

"Sauteed kangkung with sambal belacan shrimp paste."
Strong flavors coming from the shrimp paste,
I like it.
*Sambal usually contains various kinds of peppers. One spicy sauce.

Cindy's Rating: 6

Char Koay Teow (Stir-fried noodles)-

This one is ok, average taste, nothing too surprising.

Cindy's Rating: 5

Tumis Asam Shrimp-

"Shrimps in sour tamarind sauce with cucumber."
The shrimps were very fresh and it goes really well with this sour and spicy sauce.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Cendol (Pronounce as Chendol)-

"Shaved ice with red beans, fresh coconut milk, and palm sugar."
Suppose to have Pandan strips on top of it,
But the owner couldn't get a hold of fresh Pandan leafs that day.
Even though we're missing one main ingredient here,
This dessert still rocks,
Not only it tastes good in your mouth,
The aroma of palm sugar and fresh coconut milk just won't stop penetrating into your nose.

Cindy's Rating: 8

Rasa Malaysia is not a very busy joint,
As we talked to the owner,
Seemed like he is totally fine with small amount of customers.
He likes to have regular customers coming back to the restaurants all the time,
Chatting with them, Making sure that everyone gets the proper service.
Don't get me wrong,
This place can definitely attracts more business if it wants to,
Are you kidding me? Their food is awesome!

Nice people, wonderful service,
You can feel that the owner enjoys his life to its fullest point,
And this can surely affects the mood of the customers who chose to dine there.
This place makes me feel like home,
I'll definitely come back again whenever I stop by NoCal.

Overall Rating: 7

Rasa Malaysia
1290 Coleman Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050
(408) 980-0668

Nov 24, 2007

The Slanted Door

It was a hectic journey for me to eat at this well-known modern Vietnamese restaurant.
First I called their number for the reservation,
Accidentally, I dialed 8023 instead of 8032,

The Lady: San Francisco Police Station.
Me: Hello, is it Slanted Door?
The Lady:'s San Francisco Police Station...
Me: So you guys are not a restaurant?..Oh..Ohhhhhh...Sorry.
Then I quickly hung up.
I wonder how many phone calls they get for reserving a table..

Anyways, so I finally got a table for 3 at 9:30 p.m.,
And the search begins.
The front door of the restaurant is actually hidden behind the Ferry Plaza,
Took us a while trying to figure out where in the world the restaurant is.
After walking in the cold for about 15 minutes (fine...15 minutes is not that bad),

Here we are, The Slanted Door-

The tables on our left-

The tables on our right-

The view from the window seats-

So you basically get an idea of the design for the place,
Hip and modern.
When you first enter the place,
There's a lounge area on the left with a full bar in the middle;
To the right is the dining space,
Located in between the open kitchen and the ocean view seats.
Enough about the layout, how about the food?

Spanish Mackerel with Fresh Ginger Scallion Oil-

Mackerel is actually fresher than I expected,
And the dressing tastes really familiar to me,
It's like the sauce you eat with Chinese boiled chicken,
The sauce you use for Hainan chicken rice.
An interesting combination.
I like it.

Cindy's Rating: 6

New Zealand Cockles with Thai Basils, Crispy Pork Belly and Fresh Chilies-

The sauce is also a good match with their brown rice.

Cindy's Rating: 6

Prather Ranch Beef Carpaccio with Roasted Peanuts, Rau Ram and Fresh Lime Juice-

No special feeling for this dish.
*Rau Ram is also known as Vietnamese Coriander.

Cindy's Rating: 5
Cellophane Noodles with Fresh Dungeness Crab Meat-

I'm not a fan for this dish,
Basically only the ingredients are above average,
Flavor-wise....maybe I can do a better job than that.

Cindy's Rating: 4

Oven Roasted South Carolina Stone Bass with Spicy Ginger Fish Sauce-

This one is goooooood,
The fish is tender and flavorful,
Together with the sauce,
I'll have to order one more rice!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding-

Very disappointed,
Probably the worst chocolate bread pudding I've ever had,
First of all, it wasn't "warm" enough,
And the texture was harder than it supposed to be.

Cindy's Rating: 3 (ice cream added one more point for the bread pudding)

There are many other authentic Vietnamese restaurants out there on the streets,
Just you probably won't see them with trendy interior, hip music, ocean view, and excellent service.
If you take out the above factors,
The Slanted Door won't really stand out among the crowd.
It's hard....
This place has its goods and bads,
I wouldn't mind coming back for a few cocktails at the lounge area,
But most likely I won't be here again for the food.

*I do want to applause to The Slanted Door for the use of organic or local ingredients though.
(claps claps)
Overall Rating: 5

The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 861-8032

Nov 23, 2007

Taiwanese Style Thanksgiving Dinner

While you guys are enjoying your Thanksgiving turkey,
I'm having my very own Asian style Thanksgiving dinner here.

Taiwanese Style Hot Pot-

(It was still cooking so I had to quickly take a picture,
Otherwise the heat will run out,
And no one has the patience to wait for another 5 minutes)

Basically what we do is cooking all the ingredients together with light chicken stock,
And those ingredients can be quite different and adventurous base on your own preference:
Cabbage, corn, enoki mushrooms,
Pork, beef, chicken, lamb,
Egg dumplings, shrimp dumplings, fish dumplings,
Intestine, stomach, tendon,
Ramen, udon, instant noodles,
Pork balls, Beef balls, fish balls,
Crab, Scallops, Lobsters,
Mochi, cheese balls,
You name it.

Here's our not so fat beef of the night-

People sometimes are confused between hot pot and shabu shabu,
Here are the two biggest differences:
Shabu shabu usually use water or water with conbo (dried seaweed) as their soup base;
Whereas Taiwanese style hot pot use flavored stock for it.
Also there are some differences for the dipping sauce,
Shabu shabu usually comes with sesame/miso sauce and ponzu sauce;
Whereas Taiwanese style hot pot uses Chinese Barbecue (Sa Cha 沙茶) or soy sauce.

Egg dumplings and scallops-

Ingredients Parade-

Most of the people just buy the pre-made chicken stock from the grocery store,
What can I say? It surely saves a lot of time and energy.
But this year,
My friend's brother actually made the soup by stewing the chicken meat and bones for hours,
It tastes pretty good,
Fresh and healthy.

So when I was glad that I don't have to chow down thousands of calories this year with turkeys, gravy, mashed potatoes, and pies,
Cupcakes and red bean soup showed up in front of my face all the sudden....
Oh well,
We only have one Thanksgiving a year,
Just let me eat.

Nov 20, 2007

Chicken and Vegetable Soup - Healthy Level 9

I usually cook on Sundays just to make sure that I'll have enough food to sustain my tummy throughout the week,
(I can eat the same food over and over again).
Last weekend,
I was too busy hanging around with my friends,
So I had to figure something nice and fast on Monday night,
And here's what I came up with,

Chicken and Vegetable Soup-

(I won't show you what's under that lid after you read this recipe!)

Ingredients (for a big pot) ?

1 big carrot (cubed)
1/2 small cabbage (chopped)
1 onion (chopped)
20 dried shitake mushrooms
1 small radish (cubed)
2 stalks of scallion
1 small ginger (about the size of a ping pong)
1 can of diced tomatoes
8 small chicken thighs (boneless and skinless, cubed)
1 qt of organic chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil


Let's get the dried shitake mushrooms ready first,
Soak them in the water for about 5 minutes and drain it,
That should do the trick.
I usually soak them again till needed, which is about 15 extra minutes.
The dried mushrooms is always good for making Chinese soup,
Because the aroma is stronger and thus more flavorful.

Prepare a big pot, drizzle some olive oil.
Toss in the chopped onion and about a tablespoon of salt,
Cook till the color turned transparent, about 4 minutes.

Toss in 2 stalks of scallion and ginger,
Keep cooking for about 2 minutes, or until the aroma of ginger comes out.

Add the cubed chicken along with about 2 tablespoons of mirin and some black pepper,
Cook till semi-golden brown on the sides.

Now it's time to really fill up the pot with mountains of vegetables,
Toss toss toss!
Toss in the cubed radish, cubed carrot, chopped cabbage, and mushrooms,
Don't forget to add more salt and pepper,
Stir fry for about 5 minutes,
Pour in the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, and about 5 to 7 cups of water.

Bring to a boil and turn to medium heat,
Cover with lid and just let it simmer for at least an hour.
Remember to stir the soup once a while and check the flavor,
You can always add more salt or black pepper if needed.
I usually let the soup to sit overnight,
The flavor is always better the next day.

So here's the final product, still boiling-

You can eat it with noodles,
You can eat it with rice,
You can eat it with biscuits,
How easy can it be?
The soup will have a hint of spiciness from the ginger,
With a natural sweet taste from all the vegetables,
Very healthy, very delicious.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Nov 19, 2007

Foggy Days...No Rain

It's been really foggy these days,
And I see no sign of a drop of water-

Which means no more snowboard for my Thanksgiving break...
Words can't even express my sorrow now....
So what's the backup plan?
Maybe Vegas?
Maybe San Francisco?

For sure I'll show you guys some good food from my snowless trip in the near future.

Nov 16, 2007

Noodles with Braised Pork and Preserved Vegetable 梅干燒肉麵

Simplified version of traditional braised pork with preserved vegetable,
And it tastes just as wonderful.
The meat was so tender that a slight pressure from the chopsticks can easily break it apart.

Noodles with Braised Pork and Preserved Vegetable-


Fresh Chinese ramen noodles (dry one works too)
1.5 lbs of pork tenderloin 五花肉
2 small packages/2 cups of preserved vegetable 梅干菜
10 cloves of garlic
Soy sauce
Brown sugar
Extra virgin olive oil


First, let's cut the pork into big pieces of meat,
Bring a pot of water to a boil,
Toss the chunks of meat in and boil for about 1 minute,
Drain the water, set the pork aside.
(This step is for "cleaning" the pork)

Soak the preserved vegetable in the water for at least 5 minutes,
Drain the water, repeat the same step.
Drain the water once again and set it aside.

Prepare a big pot,
Drizzle some olive oil,
Toss in the garlic cloves (without the skin).
Wait till slightly brown on the sides, toss in the pork.
Cook for about 2 minutes.

Add about 5 cups of water, 1 cup of soy sauce, and the preserved vegetable.
Also add about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.
Bring to a boil then turn to medium heat.
Cover and cook for at least 2 hours.

Remember to open the lid and stir it once a while,
You can add more soy sauce or brown sugar later according to your own taste.

Have another pot of water to cook the noodles.
Mix the braised pork, preserved vegetable, and noodles together.
There you have it,
One easy and delicious meal.

*Sometimes you don't need all that hassle in the kitchen to make good food.

Cindy's Rating: 7
(My friend gave me the same rating too, don't wanna make you guys feel that I'm bragging)

Nov 14, 2007

Korean House Barbeque Buffet

I'm in the mood of munching on meat.

Korean House Barbeque Buffet-

They have one aisle dedicated for salads and banchan (Korean small dishes),
Another aisle for all kinds of marinated meat,
One section for soups,
Another section for desserts.

Meat Meat and More Meat-

Chicken, beef, pork, squid, you name it.

Pork chop-

After it's done, the whole thing (except the bone) went directly to my stomach.
Yes I finished it.
Especially when your friend cant stop saying "I wanna see you finish that."
As a food monger,
Of course I have to down it.


I did try to balance out my diet with some greens,
Does is even help at all at this point?

Creamy Yogurt-

Very good,
It doesn't tastes that great with that sugary flavor,
But somehow it was delicious to me,
Plus the texture was creamy and milky,
I'm a big fan of creamy and milky things.

Not a bad place when you're in the mood for meat without letting your wallet loosing some weights.
*Note: but for sure you'll gain some weights instead.
*About $20 per person.

Overall Rating: 5

Korean House Barbeque Buffet
12118 Brookhurst Street
Garden Grove, CA 92840
(714) 636-1700

Nov 13, 2007

Spring Rolls for the First Try

Open the fridge,
Look on the top, look on the bottom....
What's on my left? What on my right?
Leftover spring roll skin that I originally used for fried shrimp pancakes,
Half cabbage,
Mmm....Let me go to the grocery store and grab something really quick,
I should be able to come up with a yummy snack.

Spring Rolls for the First Time-

Ingredients (for 20 spring rolls)?

20 spring roll skin
1 pound of ground pork
1/2 carrot (minced)
1/4 small cabbage (minced)
2 shallots (minced)
2 stalks of scallion (minced)
1/2 tablespoon of grated ginger
4 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of white pepper
Oil for frying
Corn starch
Thai chili sauce


It should be fairly simple,
Just a lot of work on chopping all the ingredients,
Time to sharpen you knife skills!

So first we simply combine all the ingredients and mix them well.
(ginger, scallion, salt, white pepper, carrot, cabbage, ground pork, and shallots)

Prepare a flat surface,
Lay one spring roll skin on the surface,
Scoop up about 2 tablespoonful of the pork mixture,
Place it on the middle top portion of the skin, remember to leave about 1 cm on the edges.
Fold the left and right edges in, then the fold the top edge.
Roll down the pork mixture together with the skin,
Seal the end with corn starch and water mixture.

They should looks something like this-

As you can see in the background of that picture,
We have to prepare a pot of oil for frying.
You can start tossing in the spring rolls when the oil starts to bubble.
About 3 minutes on each sides or till gold brown.

Careful, it's very hot!-

I always turn to high heat right before I'm done frying my food,
It helps to "kick out" the excess oil from the food.

Transfer to a big plate with paper towel on the bottom to absorb the excess oil.
Serve with Thai chili sauce.

Cindy's Rating: 6

Nov 11, 2007

Maki - Zushi

Another better than average sushi joint around Orange County,
But one point that I have to clarify up front,
It's just better than "average,"
Doesn't mean that this place is great or very good.

Maki - Zushi -

Sushi Bar Area-

Soy sauce and Tea Cup-

I went there around 1:30 p.m.,
Didn't see that much traffic inside the restaurant,
Plus the sign of the restaurant says "California" Japanese cuisine,
I started to worry...

But since I'm here already,
I should just be a courageous woman, make up my mind and order a lot of food,
I am starving.

Hamachi Nigiri (Bottom) and Hamachi Toro Nigiri (Up)-

It's actually pretty good,
Very fresh,
Just that Hacachi (yellow tail) toro weren't fat enough.

Seared Tuna Nigiri-

Topped with ponzu sauce,
The acidity from the citrus brings up the natural flavor of tuna,
I like it.

Uni Nigiri-

Not as good as I expected,
Not sweet enough, and not "creamy" enough.
However, it was pretty fresh.

Ankimo (monkfish liver) Nigiri-

Big fan of ankimo.
I went to a Japanese supermarket a while ago and saw a can of ankimo,
So I got too excited and brought it home without a second thought.
Right now I'm just having a headache of what to do with it,
Have to figure out a way to make it as good as the ones from a restaurant.

Otoro Nigiri-

Pretty good,
I can't be too picky about it since it's not the season for otoro at the moment.
For your information,
This order was $13.

Crunch Roll-

Nothing special.

Spicy Tuna Roll-

Topped with deep fried onion,
The overall flavor is too intense for me.

Philadelphia Roll-

I love cream cheese.

Tamago Nigiri-

I always like to finish my sushi meal with this order.
Something simple,
Something sweet.

The overall experience at Maki - Zushi was not bad.
Even though they are kind of Americanized in some dishes,
Maki - Zushi still serves some rare-find ingredients for their sushi,
Such as Sayori (Japanese needle fish) and Sazae (sea snail),
And the waiter was very nice and friendly to me and my friend.

So will I come back in the future?
I think I should just pack my chopsticks and move on to the next stop.
Overall Rating: 6
Maki - Zushi
1641 Edinger Avenue
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 259-0783