Dec 30, 2008

Vosges Haute Chocolat - My Sweet Treat from Las Vegas

I'm back from Vegas!
Haven't been to Las Vegas for more than 2.5 years,
Now I have discovered even more yummy joints in this dessert city,
I'll post up some local restaurants in the future, but let's start with something sweet first!

Vosges, the chocolate boutique located on the first floor of Caesars Palace's Forum Shop.
My friend told me about this place before the trip,
However, after shopping for hours, I completely forgot about it..
I was like a busy bee, flying here and there to search for the best bargain,
My hands got sore carrying the legs got tired...then all the sudden, I saw this purple cute space,

Without a second thoughts,
I used up my last energy, hasted to the store, and shopped even more.

Exotic truffle collection 16pc-

Close up for the Viola truffle-

I think this is the cutest one among all other truffles in the box,
Haven't tasted it yet, figured I'd better take a nice picture before I devour it.

Here is the description from the website for Viola:
Made with "milk chocolate + candied violet flower. A classic combination of milk chocolate and fresh cream, topped with a touch of Provence, France. In Victorian times, candied violets adorned cakes, pastries and puddings."

So far I only tried the bacon one (yes, you heard me, I said BACON!) and the yam one.

One night I was in a hurry rushing to leave my place and meet up with my friend,
Didn't even have time to read the description, I just picked one truffle from the box and ate it on the way.

I am so glad that I didn't read the description.
I was guessing what in the world were the ingredients inside that little black sphere.
In my mind, there were caramel and pepper,
Because the first thing that hit my palate was the creamy and silky texture inside the truffle,
Quickly after that,
I tasted a few small bits of spicy "objects,"
It's like biting into tiny peppercorns.

When I got home, I couldn't wait to open the box again to read the description,
The name of the truffle is "Field Songs," made with roasted yams, maple syrup, and African grains of paradise.
Wow! I was wayyyyyyy off!

And here is the close up picture for the bacon truffle I had-

After taking one bite-

I'm in love with those exotic truffles,
They look good, taste good, and fun to play with!

The name for the bacon truffle I had is "Blues."
The bacon was "slow-roasted on steaming applewood embers, imparting a rich, sultry smoke flavor that gently emerges beneath the milk chocolate."
The description from the box tells it all!

When I was in the boutique, they also have honey flavored truffle as one of the seasonal items.
Too bad I'm the only one who really enjoy chocolate in the household,
Otherwise there won't be one box of truffles, but tons of them sitting in my bags right now!

That is a good thing or a bad thing?
Cindy's Rating: 7

Vosges Haute Chocolat - Las Vegas
Located in Caesars Palace

3500 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Forum Shops, Suite R04
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 836-9866

Dec 22, 2008

White Chocolate Chips and Macadamia Cookies? Scones?

Can I call that cookies? Maybe fat cookies will do?
Or I can disguise it as a scone?

This is what happened...
In my head,
There was a image of a dozen perfectly round, flat cookies lining up on the baking sheet.
And everything seems right during the "cookie" making process,

When I lid up the light in the oven,
I saw a dozen fat...scones?
What is that!?

Starring at those fatties...
I gradually transferring them to the rack,
Hoping that as the heat dissipates, the cookies will miraculously loose some of the weights..

Nope, that did not happen.

Kinda disappointed..(very I should say)..
I took a bite of my over weighted cookie,
Not bad at all!
Oh well, I guess having supersized cookies once a while isn't a bad idea.

Ingredients (for 15 fat ones or 20 skinny ones)?

1/2 cup of butter (room temperature)
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of honey
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of white chocolate chips
1/2 cup of chopped macadamia


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheits.

Mix the melted butter and the brown sugar till well blended.
Add the egg and beat till soft and fluffy.
Then pour in few drops of vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of honey, and mix for a little bit longer.

Have another bowl ready,
Mix the all purpose flour, salt, and baking soda,
Then transfer those ingredients to the other bowl, mix everything till well combined.
Stir in the white chocolate chips and macadamia.

Have a parchment paper line up on the baking sheet,
Scoop the mixture as little balls onto the sheet,

Here's where my mistake happened,
Make sure you don't get too greedy and scoop a gigantic portion to the baking sheet,
Just a little bit will do, melon baller will be a good tool here,
Maybe press it down a bit can help also.

Set those mixture about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or till slightly brown on the top.

Cindy's Rating: 7
(Even though it's fat, my "scone" still tastes pretty good!)

By the way,
I gonna go to Vegas for the holiday, probably won't be online for a few days,
So before I get back to my blog, I would like to wish you guys....

Merry Christmas !!!
Ho ho ho ho~~~!

Dec 16, 2008

Pork and Pickled Cabbage Hot Pot - 酸菜白肉鍋

Snow alert!
I'm so happy that my snowboard season is finally here!
It's been too long since the last time I set my feet on the board,
The snow season has been delayed every year,
We really need to do something to solve this global warming crisis!

(Cough cough) I got carried away there,
Let's save the global warming talk later yep?

So with happy tears circling in my eyes,
I finally got on my board last weekend at Mammoth Lakes,
It was freezinnnnnggggggggg, but I absolutely loved it!

Sadly, happiness can never last too long,
I had to drag my sore legs, aching muscle, and empty stomach back to real life.
There is nothing I can do about my exhausted body,
I can make something to warm up my stomach!

- Simplified pork and pickled cabbage hot pot -

20 slices of thin sliced semi-fat pork (I used shabu pork from Mitsuwa)
2 bundles of pickled cabbage (I used nearly two bags from Ranch 99)
12 shitake mushroom (stemmed)
1 box of grilled tofu (medium firm tofu works too)
2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 fermented bean curd 豆腐乳
2 tablespoons of sesame sauce
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of hot water
(You can use the soup to replace the water. However, remember to use less soy sauce since the soup is salty already)


Take out the pickled cabbage from the package,
You can make it yourself, but I'm talking about simplified version of the hot pot here.
Rinse it with water and soak for at least 10 minutes.
Chop it into thin slices and drain the water before putting into the pot.

Have a medium soup pot ready,
I use ceramic cooking pot (砂鍋) for this dish,
It's like one of the must haves cooking ware for Chinese food, love it.
So pour in the water till about 70% full,
Bring to a boil,
Turn to medium heat and toss in 2 chicken bouillon cubes,
Give it a stir so the cubes can melt evenly in the pot.

Add all the ingredients except pork slices to the soup,
Bring to a boil again then let it simmer afterwards.

Remember to taste the soup before serving,
I like it really sourish, so I add lots of pickled cabbage into the pot,
You and adjust the flavor by the using different amount of pickled cabbage.

For the pork slices,
It'll be wonderful if you have an induction cooker,
The soup will remain its temperature,
And you can "shabu" the meat and eat it immediately after the color turned white.
However, if you don't have an induction cooker, it's no big deal,
Just toss in all the pork slices and serve the dish right after the meat is cooked.

Oh, don't forget to dip the pork slices with the sauce!

For the sauce, just mix all the sauce ingredients together and stir it well.

The whole dish can be done in less than 30 minutes,
(I feel like Rachel Ray here)
Feeling cold there?
This dish will definitely do the job!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Dec 10, 2008

Veggies with Black Bean Soy Sauce 蔭醬油炒時蔬

Got veggies?


4 bundles of bok choy 青江菜
2 small bamboo shoot (You can buy the peeled, packaged ones from Chinese supermarket)
1 small onion
12 shitake mushroom
Black bean soy sauce
Soy sauce
Extra virgin olive oil


Let's prepare the veggies first.
If you are using the fresh bamboo, peel off the outer tough skin,
The outer skin has a dark brown color and lots of fiber,
Just remove it till the the white center part is showing.
Cut the bamboo into thin slices,
Remember to discard the very bottom slice.

For other veggies,
Simple chop the onion into thin slices,
Remove the root part for the bok choy,
And pick out the stems for the mushroom, gently rinse it or clean it with a damp kitchen towel.

Now let's move on to the real cooking part.
Have a pot of boiling water ready,
Toss in the mushroom, bok choy, and bamboo slices,
Let it boil for about 10 seconds, drain it well and set aside.

In the meantime,
Drizzle some olive oil in the pan,
Toss in the onion and sprinkle some salt,
Cook till the onion turns translucent.
Add about 4 tablespoons of black bean soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons of water,
Bring to a boil,
Transfer all the veggies back into the pan,
Give it a quick stir, cook for another minute,
This healthy veggie dish is ready to go!

Cindy's Rating: 7

I love to have one bite of bamboo first and then eat the whole mushroom right after,
The crunchiness from the bamboo plus the soft texture from the mushroom always make my palate very happy!

Dec 1, 2008

General Tao's Chicken - 左宗棠雞

Update for my wisdom tooth trauma.

So I went to the dentist the day before Thanksgiving,
Yes, smart me,
What a way to avoid a feast, an opportunity to munch on roasted turkey by visiting the dentist right before Thanksgiving.

I even brought Sprinkles cupcakes to the clinic as a way to "bribe" the nurses there,
Hoping that my journey of popping out the wisdom tooth will be less painful,
Did it work? Well, I hope so.
To make long story short,
Basically, in order to get rid of my stubborn tooth, the dentist had to knock it into 3 pieces.
All that hard work is because of my crooked tooth,
It shapes like a little hook on the bottom,
Think about Captain Hook, get the idea?

Ended up I was on the bed/or on the sofa the whole day on Thanksgiving.

But I'm glad that everything is over,
I can't wait to chew on some meat after eating days of soft food,
Let's have General Tao's Chicken for dinner!


1 lb of boneless chicken thigh meat (cut into bite sizes)
Few red chili peppers (remove the seeds and cut into slices)
*I use 5 small chilies, spicy food rules!
5 to 8 cloves of garlic (peeled, sliced)

For the marinate:

2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
2 teaspoons of corn starch 太白粉

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of ketchup
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of black vinegar
2 teaspoons of Chinese cooking wine


First let's marinade the chicken for at least 30 minutes.

Heat up some frying oil in the pan,
Wait until it turns very hot, toss in the chicken,
Fry the chicken till the sides turned slight brown, remove the chicken and set aside.

Pour out some oil from the pan, but make sure there's at least 3 tablespoons of oil left,
Toss in the chili and garlic, cook till the aroma comes out,
Make sure you don't burn the garlic!
So before that happens, pour all the ingredients for the sauce into the pan.
About 10 seconds then pour the chicken back to the pan,
Cook till the sauce is reduced to half,
This dish is done!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Nov 25, 2008

Hearty Ma La (Spicy) Soup with Korean Chili Paste

Eating never seemed so hard to me in my life.
I have to carefully open my mouth half wide,
Slowly grinding the food with my left side of teeth, and then painfully swallowing half-chewed food down.
What happened?
My bottom right wisdom tooth is popping out of my flesh,
Well, I have no problem if my tiny tooth wants to come out and say hi to me,
But its surrounding gum is swollen,
I guess the little guy was too excited to see the world and hurt my gum...

In order to make myself feel better,
I made some soup so that I don't have to exhaust myself chewing on things-


12 pork belly slice
15 medium sized shrimps (deveined and peeled)
1 onion (chopped into long strips)
3 stalks of scallion (chopped into approximately 2 inches in length)
10 dry chili
1 small chunk of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb)
2 cups of bean sprouts
2 small bundles of enoki mushroom
1 box of medium firm tofu (diced into bite size pieces)
4 tablespoons of Korean chili paste 韓式辣醬
2 tablespoons of Chinese bean paste 豆瓣醬
2 tablespoon of Japanese spicy miso paste
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
Extra virgin olive oil (regular olive oil is fine too)
6 cups of water
4 cups of unsalted chicken stock


Drizzle some olive oil in a soup pot and toss in one whole chopped onion,
Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of salt, stir and cook for about 1 minute.
After that, add the dry chili, ginger, and chopped scallions and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the Korean chili paste, Chinese bean paste, and Japanese spicy miso paste into the pot,
Cook till the aroma comes out, about 2 minutes.
Remember to stir constantly, otherwise the sauce will get burned on the bottom of the pot.

Pour in 4 cups of chicken stock and 6 cups of water,
Bring to a boil and turn to medium heat.
Scoop out the excess red chili oil and the foamy bubbles before adding more ingredients.

After that step is done, add the tofu, bean sprouts, and enoki mushroom into the pot.
Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remember to constantly check on the soup, scoop out all the excess oil and foam.
Be careful here, don't keep the soup boiling after adding the ingredients,
Just let it simmer.

Add the pork belly slices into the soup,
When the pork is cooked through, toss in the shrimps,
The soup is ready when the shrimps turned red.

Noodles or rice can be a good option that goes along with this soup.
I personally prefer making it into a soup noodles dish,
Udon, ramen, or glass noodle are all good candidates,
Please enjoy!

So how do I feel now?
Let's put it this way,
Everything just got better after few doses of antibiotics.
But tomorrow is the real deal though,
My dentist is going to pull that naughty little guy out,
Wish me luck..

*As a result, I gonna have my early Thanksgiving dinner tonight.
I'll post the pictures after recovering from wisdom tooth trauma!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Nov 19, 2008

Classic Chinese Dish - Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐

I was surprised that after more than one year of writing this blog,
There is no single recipe about mapo tofu!
What a shame for me (well, cz I eat like at least twice a month),
So here you go,
Cindy's homemade mapo tofu!-


1 box of organic soft tofu (or silken)
1 lb of ground pork
2 stalks of scallion (chopped)
5 garlic cloves (minced)
1 teaspoon of grounded Sichuan peppercorn
(I used 2 teaspoons cz I love that numbness sensation when it touches my tongue)
1 tablespoon of chili paste (any kind of Chinese chili paste will do)
3 tablespoons of spicy bean paste 豆瓣醬
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
Some freshly grounded black pepper
Corn starch
Olive oil


Drizzle some olive oil in the pan, toss in about 3/4 of the chopped scallion,
Let it cook for a little bit, about 20 seconds, toss in the Sichuan peppercorn and garlic.

Careful don't let the garlic get burned,
Before the tragedy happens, let's add the spicy bean paste, chili sauce, and soy sauce.
Give it a quick stir then toss in the meat.
Stir it once a while and let it cook till at least 2/3 of the sauce is absorbed by the pork.

Meanwhile, take the tofu out and cut into 1 cm cubes,
Sometimes I get lazy then I'll just cut them during the cooking process,
Kind of fun to break them apart with my spatula!

Transfer the cubed tofu (if you decided not to perform the spatula massacre) into the mixture,
Add hot water till all the ingredients are submerged under the liquid.
Bring to a boil then turn to medium/low heat.

Have a small bowl ready, pour some corn starch in it.
Add some water, I only added about 3 tablespoons of water for lots of corn starch.
Mix it well so no lumps are present.

Slowly pour the corn starch mixture into your almost finished mapo tofu,
Keep stirring there,
If you get lazy and stop stirring, you gonna get mapo tofu lumps for dinner!

Everything looks good now,
Sprinkle some black pepper and chopped scallion before serving.
Some people also add some sesame oil, I'm not a big fan of that though.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Nov 11, 2008

Kimchi Hambagu - 泡菜肉餅

The weather's getting cold!
Ok, maybe I don't have the right to complain about the dropping temperature,
What do I know about winter time?
I live in California, all Californians are not allowed to complain about cold weather!
I can try to keep my mouth shut, but my body is shaking,
Getting out the house is getting rougher and tougher each day (am I being too dramatic here?)
I ought to figure something to feed on that will warm up my stomach.
Kimchi it is.

Ingredients? (for 8)

1 lb of ground pork
1/2 medium size onion (finely chopped)
2 stalks of scallion (finely chopped)
1 1/3 cup of kimchi (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon of roasted sesame
1 egg
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper


Have a big bowl ready,
Please pay attention here, I mean BIG bowl.
I was running out of clean big container while making this dish,
Mysteriously, I managed a way to convince myself that this medium sized bowl will still be a good candidate for me to stir in the ingredients,
And yes,...I know I can simply head to another direction and wash the dishes,
But somehow that thought didn't even come across my mind,Or maybe I was just being lazy,
I Ended up having bits of kimchi..ground pork..and scallion flying everywhere..
Lesson learned.

So let's have a big bowl here,
Mix in the scallion, onion, ground pork, kimchi, all purpose flour, roasted sesame, soy sauce, small pinch of salt, some black pepper, and one egg.

Combine all the ingredients till well blended.

This is our main ingredient that makes this dish spicy. Perfect snack during this cold weather!-

Turn on your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use your palm and form the mixture into oval shaped patties,
You might want to "slap" them around,
I mean by tossing the meat patties back and forth between your palms,
This helps to get rid of the air inside the patties.
Prepare a skillet and drizzle some olive oil,
Turn to high heat and sear both sides of burger patties till slightly brown,
About 2 minutes each side.

Have a baking dish ready,
Drizzle some olive oil and transfer the patties onto the baking dish.
In to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or till the top turns slightly brown color.
After taking the backing dish out from the oven,
Remember to let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Final product!-

Those burger patties have a slightly sourish hint from the kimchi,
And they sure are pretty SPICY!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Nov 3, 2008

West Hollywood Halloween Carnival 2008

How was your Halloween night?
Trick or treat? Clubbing? House party?
I went to West Hollywood for its annual Halloween parade.

It wasn't an easy task to get there,
First, we had to deal with the infamous California traffic,
Second, there were tons of people heading to Los Angeles for their Halloween parties.
So after driving for more than 3 hours and walking for more than 15 blocks,
We're finally there,
Santa Monica Boulevard!
Walking next to us were thousands and thousands of...
Monsters..cartoon characters..politicians..cheer leaders..entertainers..anything you can think of!

Here we were,
Ash, one friendly stranger, and Pikachu-

And let's look at some PG-13 pictures of the night,

Uma Thurman from Kill Bill-

2 Pac-

Keanu Reeves from Matrix-

Michael Phelp-

Since it's a food blog,
Of course we need to see some food related costumes.

Our all time favorite fast food icons-

Sashimi couple-


Frylock and Master Shake-

Let me know if you guys wanna see the whole album for this Halloween parade,
However, one condition must be met,
You have to be 18 years or older!
(Shoot me an email for the album)

Oct 28, 2008

Double Cooked Pork - 回鍋肉

That's the amount of money I spent on my car this month...
Two break roters..water pump...battery...those are not even that expensive,
At least half of that $1000 goes to labor...
Arghhh I'm stressed...
I need foood food FOOOOOOODDDDD!


1 lb of pork belly (sliced)
1 box of stewed bean curd 豆干 (sliced)
1 stalk of scallion (chop into 2 inches in length)
1 teaspoon of Sichuan pepper (grinded)
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
1 tablespoon of spicy bean paste 辣豆瓣醬
3 teaspoons of fermented flour paste 甜麵醬
2 teaspoons of sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
Sesame oil


Drizzle some olive oil in the skillet,
Toss in chopped scallions and cook for about 1 minute,
Pour the pork slices in after the oil turned sizzling hot,
When the pork slices are semi-cooked, transfer them to another plate.

Using the same oil in the skillet,
Add grated ginger, spicy bean pastes, grinded Sichuan pepper, fermented flour paste, sugar, and cook till the aroma comes out,
This should take less than 10 seconds.
Add the sliced bean curd and cook till it turned slightly brown color (from absorbing the sauce).

It's time to pour the pork slices back in,
Now you know why this dish is called "double cooked."
Give it a quick stir, let the meat absorb the sauce for a little bit too,
Drizzle a tiny bit of sesame oil over it,

I can eat at least two bowls of rice with this dish,
Food makes me happy,
Let's hope that this double cooked pork can ease my pain from staring at the skinny wallet on the table.

Time to dig in!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Oct 20, 2008

Western Dumplings - with Sausage, Cheese, and Corn!

What do you eat when you don't have time to cook?
Why do I ask?
Because things are getting busier and busier for me,
There's no way that I'll have time to cook a big meal every time my stomach grumbles.
(Big meal to me = 3 dishes with rice or noodles)

I have to stock up some "instant" food at home to solve my empty stomach crisis,
Of course I can just drive somewhere for food,
But sometimes the only thing I wanna do after 8 hours of work is staying at home, doing nothing.
So starving or not,
I'd rather lay down on the couch with my soft and comfortable pajamas instead of driving around preying for a meal.

So what are my options?
Instant noodles? Mmmm I'm not sure if this is a health choice for me.
Canned soup? Sure, but only when it's on sale. Call me cheap if you want, but I don't feel like spending $4 on a small bowl of liquid.
What about frozen food? I don't mind munching on no preservative kind of frozen food once a while,
But there is one issue here,
It seems like that little box of frozen food can never fill me up,
The container is always huge...and it comes with almost invisible portion of food sitting in the middle..

So that's it? Nothing else?
How about dumplings?
That sounds like a good idea,
I can make the filling myself so that there's no need to worry about eating unhealthy ingredients,
What's even better is that I can just make a whole bunch and freeze them all,
Whenever I'm hungry, I'll just pop a few in a pot of boiling water,
My instant dinner can be ready in no time!
You can see my previous post for dumpling recipe here.

After making 80 dumplings, all my fillings are gone, but there are 10 more dumpling skin left,
---Taking a peek of my fridge---
You can see a light bulb suddenly popped out on the top of my head,
Let's use those leftover skin and make something....interesting!

Western dumplings with sausage, cheese, and corn filling-

Ingredients (for 10)?

10 dumpling skin
1 sausage (choose the flavor of your preference)
2 spoonful of corn
1 palmful of shredded mozzarella
1 palmful of shredded Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil


First we remove the casing from the sausage,
Mix the meat with mozzarella, Parmesan, and corn till well blended.

You know how to make dumplings right?
If not, well, here's one video I found one on YouTube that might be a good help for you.

After making all 10 dumplings,
Let's prepare a skillet (use the one that comes with a lid),
Drizzle some olive oil and brush it evenly inside the skillet,
Place all the dumplings to the skillet, make sure they're not sticking with each other.
Now let's pour some water till about 1/3 of the dumpling is submerge in the water,
Turn the heat on and wait until it boils,
Once it starts boiling, put the lid back on, turn to medium heat, cook till no more water is present.
Make sure you use a spatula to scoop out the dumplings from the bottom,
That way You can be sure that the dumpling won't break,
So that you keep all the melted cheese safely inside,
And you can also get a crusty bottom!

It's an interesting use of Chinese dumpling skin,
Spring roll/egg roll skin can be used this way too,
Actually it's even better,
Give it a try sometime, I think it makes a perfect snack for kids!

Cindy's Rating: 6

Oct 8, 2008

Energy Boost Vegetable Stir Fry

*** Cough Cough ***
I've been sick for the past few mean weeks...
I don't know why I get sick so easily, something must be wrong with my immune system.
What's even worse?
I got my friends sick least 5 of them...
I'm poisonous.

By the way,
Do you know this one Chinese saying about food?
You gain more energy from the food you eat,
Mmmm hard to explain it here, let me give you some examples.

Let's say...
If I eat more brains, I'll be smarter.
If I eat more fish eyes, my eye sight will be better,
If I eat more fats, my skin will be smoother,
Got the idea?
I wonder what should I eat in order to make my sickness go away?
Eat more "throats" so I won't cough anymore?
That sounds I have no idea where can I buy "throats."

Let me just cook some fresh veggies and see if those more conservative ingredients will do the trick-


6 stalks of asparagus (angel sliced, remember to peel off the tough part around the stem)
1 medium size carrot (angel sliced)
1 medium size onion (sliced)
4 to 6 shitake mushroom (sliced)
2 stalks of scallion (just a few chops)
2 to 3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 chicken breast (sliced)
Soy sauce
Ponzu flavored soy sauce (or half lemon juice)
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper


Let's marinate the chicken breast (cut into slices) first.
Use 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoons of mirin for the marinade,
Make sure you marinate the chicken slices for at least 15 minutes.

In the meantime,
Drizzle some olive oil in the pan and toss in diced onions,
While waiting for the oil to heat up, sprinkle some salt and freshly grounded black pepper over the onions.
Give it a quick stir and cook till the onion turns translucent.

Toss in the chicken slices, minced garlic, scallions and cook for about 2 minutes,
Add the carrot, asparagus, shitake mushroom,
Sprinkle more salt (about 2 teaspoons) and pepper.
The key ingredient for this dish is black pepper,
The more the merrier as long as you can take the heat!

Cook for 3 minutes, or till all the veggies are cooked down,
Drizzle some ponzu flavored soy sauce, about 2 tablespoons.
The acidity helps to bring out the natural sweet taste from the carrot and onion.
If you can't find ponzu flavored soy sauce,
Simply add about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce with half lemon juice.

This so called energy boost dish is done,
We'll see if it'll heal my throat later,
If not..maybe I'll try harder and seek out some "throat" to be tossed into my pot.

Cindy's Rating: 7 (healthy and yummy!)

Oct 3, 2008

Tokyo Table 東京食堂 - Irvine Location

People used to categorize Irvine as a "residential area."
The place has nothing but a bunch of expensive houses and apartments,
With a few grocery stores and restaurants scattering here and there.
Well, things have been changed because of this recently opened plaza,
---Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center---
It's similar to Diamond Plaza located in Rowland Heights,
But of course it's bigger and better.

Basically I can simply use three words to give you an overall image about this shopping center,
Asian, Asian, Asian.
I think at least 70% of the Asian population has been hanging out in this plaza since its grand opening.
I'm not complaining here because I contributed my small part for that 70%.

There are so many Asian stores in the plaza,
It's like a gigantic Asian magnet monster that keeps sucking Asian people into its stomach.
There's a Korean grocery store with a interesting name called H,
There are also several already famous restaurants like Tokyo Table, Guppy House, CeFiore, and 85 Degrees C,
What's even better? Spa, kareoke, and who knows what other goodies gonna move in and become part of the Asian magnet!

So this is where I went for dinner the other night in this Asian invaded plaza-

Immediately after I walked into the restaurant,
I see a bar area on the left,
You know, the area where you can watch sports and get wasted at the same time,
And then the dining area is on the right-

Here's where we were seated-

Me and my friend were impressed by the atmosphere that Tokyo Table created there,
Well, of course you can find tons of places like that in Los Angeles,
But we're talking about Irvine!
Can you give me the name of another restaurant that has this sort of vibe and mood in Irvine?

Here's the menu (cover)-

Inside the menu-

Menu with lots of pictures are always welcome.

We decided to start our night with Asahi and mango infused sake-

I was very pleased with the bottle and the container for sake,
They were so cute!
The mango infused sake was pretty sweet with minimal alcohol taste,
I think it makes a perfect drink for light weighted girls.

Chicken karaage with spicy tartar sauce-

I can never resist the temptation of ordering fried chicken in a Japanese restaurant,
Especially the ones that come with tartar or mayonnaise flavored sauce.
The one from Tokyo Table was good, but not outstanding,
So far my number one chicken karaage still goes to Shin Sen Gumi.

Yuzu hamachi carpaccio-

Probably the best dish we ordered that night.
Kinda spicy because of that green little thing in the middle,
I don't know the name for that,
So if anybody here knows the name, please drop a line and let me know!
(Shishito maybe?)
This dish also has this tangy flavor from the yuzu sauce,
Spicy + tangy = great appetizer.

Beef tataki on balsamic sushi rice-

Not a good choice,
I was "mesmerized" by the word tataki there and ordered this item, just tastes like seared beef on's that simple.

Garlic shrimp with rice (ishiyaki)-

Our waitress came and cooked the shrimps with this sizzling hot stone pot,
After the ingredients got cooked through,
A bowl of rice was poured into the pot and blended with the shrimps.
Very simple dish and the rice surely tastes wonderful (and buttery).

The overall experience was pretty good,
The service was excellent,
The environment was trendy yet subtle,
The food was mediocre though,
I mean, we did have a few nice dishes, but they weren't outstanding,
Will I come back again?
Yeah, there are still a few items I would like to try,
Maybe my rating will be higher for Tokyo Table after trying those dishes.
(Mochi cheese gratin, Yuzu pepper chicken, Fresh homemade tofu)

Overall Rating: 5 for the food and place alone but 6 if counting their excellent service

Tokyo Table 東京食堂 - Irvine
2710 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606

Sep 22, 2008

A Trip to Getty Villa

It's just one of those days that I don't feel like writing a food related post,
No recipe, no restaurant review,
Simply pictures.

Pictures of where I've been and what I've seen,
I would like to show you the images that were captured through my camera, and through my eyes.

This is the very first thing that caught my attention-

His name is Silenos-

Fig, well, I guess there is still a slightly food-related picture in this blog entry-

Absolutely love love LOVE this picture-

Lotus after photoshop-

C'est moi.
I can still feel the breeze flowing between my fingers and the sun shining on my face just by looking at this picture-

Getty Villa

Sep 15, 2008

Chocolate and Blueberry Bread Pudding

I don't know if it has anything to do with my sickness these few days,
(coughing, sneezing, running nose, nasal congestion....the list goes on and on...
Yes, I was one of the victims during this flu season.
Somehow I wonder,
How in the world I can suffer from running nose and nasal congestion at the same time?)
But I've been craving for chocolate dessert like crazy,
Especially the warm and gooey kind of chocolate dessert.

It's time to make something sweet to boost up my immune system again!
Ok I admit, it's just one of my excuses to enjoy a simply and delicious dessert..
Come on...I was sick!

Chocolate and Blueberry Bread Pudding-


Half loaf of filone bread (cubed)
*According to the package, "this bread has a hearty crust surrounding a full-bodied, slightly tangy interior." *Brioche or ciabatta are other two ideal alternatives
2 palmful of fresh blueberries
3 eggs
3 ounces of 60% cacao dark chocolate
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of honey
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Small pinch of salt
Optional: chocolate sauce
Optional: vanilla bean ice cream


Let's do the preparation work first,
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheits.
In the meantime, melt the chocolate in a double boiler and set aside.

Prepare a big bowl,
Whisk the eggs for about 2 minutes,
Add milk, whipping cream, vanilla extract, honey, and melted chocolate into the bowl,
Mix till well blended.

In another container,
Mix the sugar and salt and pour them into the big bowl,
Whisk them well, add the blueberries and give it a gentle, quick stir.

Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish,
Put the cubed bread into the mixture,
Make sure the mixture is absorbed by all the bread cubes before transfer the baking dish into the oven.
Bake for about 55 minutes to an hour,
You can stick a knife in the middle of the bread,
If it comes out clean that means your bread pudding is done.

Served with chocolate sauce and vanilla bean ice cream if desired.
Note that these two optional ingredients do make a big difference for the bread pudding!

Cindy's Rating: 6 (one bread pudding a day, keeps the doctors away!)

Sep 9, 2008

Salmon and Seaweed Onigiri - My Delicious First Try

I have a confession to make,
This post was supposed to be "pork slice wrapped enoki mushroom and ohba,"
But....I screwed that dish up...
In the beginning, everything looked so good in my head,
First, I'll lay out the thinly sliced pork on the working surface,
Gentally, I'll pick up a few enoki mushroom and ohba leaves and place them on top of the pork slices,
Then I'll dip those yummy looking rolls with flour, eggs, and then panko,
Heat up my skillet with some butter and olive oil,
Sear those soon to be eaten pork rolls, transfer to the oven for 10 or 20 more minutes,
In the meantime,
I'll grate the daikon (radish) and soak it with few dashes of ponzu sauce,
The final step,
I'll pour the sauce all over the cruchy yet juicy pork rolls....


My grated daikon with ponzu sauce turned out a disaster,
It was bitter and spicy,
Only tastes a wee bit better than the powder inside your flu capsule.
Let's put it this way,
If you can compare food with movies,
It's like.....Mariah Carey's Glitter or Nicolas Cage's Wicker Man,
There were only two options left for me,
One, write about it and show you guys my disastrous dish on the blog,
Second, swallow my pain and make something else, something edible.
One way or another,
I decided to embrace my sorrow and made this onirigi (rice ball) today-

If you can compare food with movies,
This onirigi is like a good old Japanese film Tokyo Story,
Or Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki,
Ok maybe it's not THAT good, but for sure it's one tasty dish!

Ingredients (for 3 medium sized onigiri)?

1 cup of steamed rice
4 tablespoons of salmon flakes
(You can find it in Japanese market or just buy a salmon fillet and make it yourself)
2 tablespoons of dried seaweed
1 tablespoons of roasted sesame
Sea salt


We have to cook the rice first,
Use a little bit, only a little bit less amount of water while steaming the rice,
We want to have a chewier rice for our rice balls.
Another good alternative is to cook the rice with dashi,
It might sound like a lot of work,
But it'll definitely worth it once you have the very first bite of onigiri.

After the rice is ready,
Give it a nice stir so the steam can evaporate before we add other ingredients.
Stir in the salmon flakes, dried seaweed, and roasted sesame.
If you can't find salmon flakes,
Simply sprinkle some nice sea salt on the salmon flakes and bake it till cooked through,
Additional seasoning is optional,
I personally think good quality sea salt can do the job perfectly.
Please don't remove the skin while baking the salmon fillet,
Trust me, your salmon fillet will tastes way better that way.
Separate the fillet into little pieces with a fork, discard the skin.
Your instant salmon flake is ready to go!

Have a small bowl of water and a small plate of salt ready,
It's time to make the rice ball.
First dip your palms into the water, just a little bit is fine,
Then dip your palms with some sea salt,
You can rub your palms together to have a more even distribution of salt.
Now have a big palmful of onigiri mixture on your left hand and gently forming it into a ball shape with your right hand,
After the rice stop falling apart here and there,
Give it more pressure and gradually making the mixture into a triangle shaped rice ball.

The dish is done,
Very simple yeah?
I gonna bring some to work tomorrow,
Onirigi makes a perfect lunch for me,
It's also a nice alternative for picnic meals,
(Kick out those sandwiches, we want something new!)
I gonna come up with more onigiri recipe and post them up here for you guys!

Cindy's Rating: 8!! (Come on, it's not bad for a first try)

Sep 4, 2008

Casa De Reyes - Old Town San Diego

Where did you guys go for Labor Day weekend?
I ended up spending my holiday with Shamu, manatees, and other lovely marine animals,
Sounds like I was in SeaWorld yep?
But which one? San Diego? Orlando? San Antonio?
Well, I don't think it's a good idea to travel far far away during one of the busiest weekend throughout the year in America,
That crossed out two of the three options,
I was in San Diego!

The whole trip was fun and we had lots of food,
(I think the food part applies to all my trips..)
Before I bore you guys with endless scenic pictures,
Let's talk about food first.

On the second day of my trip,
Me and my friends paid a visit to Old Town San Diego and had a nice late lunch in one of the restaurants in Plaza del Pasado.
The place we dined at called Casa de Reyes.
Look at the line here, it was around 2 p.m....still lots of people (or tourists?),

There's this lady making fresh tortillas in the back of the line-

Basically the tortillas are free of charge,
But of course people pitch in one or two dollars for the food.
You can add salsa and butter inside the tortilla.
I'm not a big fan of tortillas,
But after having one bite, ok two bites, of my friend's tortilla,
My subjective opinion has been proven once more,
Nothing beats food that is freshly made from the kitchen and served immediately.
After waiting in the line and getting a nice tan for nearly 30 minutes,
We finally got our table,
First thing first,
Let's have some ice cold mixed fruit margaritas!-

The alcohol content is really low,
I can barely taste any alcohol in this drink,
Am I complaining? No no no, the drink was very refreshing!
And I noticed there's a well inside the restaurant-

I think by the time we sat at our table, it was nearly 2:30 p.m.
We were having lunch at 2:30 p.m....good lord I had some dessert earlier that day,
Otherwise you'll see an Asian chick fainting in the middle of a Mexican restaurant,
Calling for food.
Did I mention we probably waited for another 30 minutes for our food to come?

Menudo sopa-

"Traditional Mexican style stew with hominy served with oregano, onion, cilantro, lime, and red crushed peppers."
Very very good,
I think I'm in love with any Mexican food that uses lime and cilantro,
The more the merrier.

Shrimp ceviche-

I only had a few small bites,
Nothing special, it simply tastes like cooked shrimps with salsa.

Chicken fajita-

We also ordered beef fajita and shrimp fajita,
By far beef was the best of all,
Chicken was on the dry side.

Enchiladas de mole (with shredded chicken)-

Thanks to Wikipedia,
I don't know how am I suppose to learn bits of knowledge here and there without it,
There's no need for me to explain what mole is, just click here for detailed explanation.
Since there's chocolate in the sauce,
You can imagine that it was a little bit sweet with a hint of chocolate aroma.

Half way through our meal-

Lots of food.
What can I say?
Food makes me happy!
Generally speaking,
The food was average,
Our waitress was great but slow,
The ambience was awesome,
The great outdoor sunlight, live band or mariachi on the side,
It's a place where you can look for some fun but not truly authentic Mexican food.

Overall Rating: 6

Plaza del Pasado - Casa De Reyes
2754 Calhoun Street
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 220-5040