Feb 29, 2008

Shik Do Rak 食道樂

Once in a while I feel like indulging myself with a table-full of barbecue meat,
Especially Korean barbecue.
Forget about calorie count, forget about any kind of specialty diets,
Let's just stuff our stomach with piles of meat,
It's time to dig in!

Here's where I went for my barbecue meat preys!-

Petite victims first, some banchan on the table-

There were a few more banchan (small side dishes),
But it was really hard for me to take a picture that includes everything,
My left hand wanted to take a high quality picture,
My right hand only wanted to grab those food and jam into my mouth,
I ought to seek a way to make them corporate together.
*As far as I remembered, there were kimchi, fish cakes, pickled radish, seaweed, steamed eggs, pickled cucumber, and possibly potatoes.

Our victim number 6-2 on the menu,
"Black Angus deckle + choice of short ribs + Aragic & Song-i broiled mushroom + boiled soy bean paste soup + duk bo sam"

Here are the pictures. When we first started-

10 minutes after-

This is how you supposed to eat it-

Wrapped the meat and maybe some banchan with duk bo sam.
Duk bo sam is the rice wrapping you see here,
They also give you some thin pickled radish slices,
You can choose your wrappings between the two.
I personally prefer the radish one,
It's a little bit sweet, a little bit sourish, which makes a perfect combination with my barbecue meat dipped with sesame sauce.
I lava it!

But you all know how much I can eat,
I have to order extra Mandu Kuk (dumpling soup) to satisfy my greedy stomach-

The soup was great,
They added a lot of white pepper in it,
It helps to bring out the flavor of the soup.
I was full after those gigantic dumplings,
FULLLLLL......but highly satisfied.

Overall Rating: 7

Shik Do Rak 食道樂
9691 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 534-7668

Feb 26, 2008

The True OC Life

The very next day,
I got up around 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning,
Ready for a wonderful day on a yacht with my host parents and their business moderator.
*Host parents? Read this then you'll understand.

We first went to the moderator's house in Newport Beach,
It's still in the building process, but I can foreseen how beautiful the house will be already,
The whole place is completely build with environmentally friendly materials,
Green certified wood, cabinet made with sunflower seeds, recycled rooftops,
And this,
There's no single nails used in the house, everything is either screwed in or glued together,
How wonderful.

Here's the picture of my lovely host parents on the roof-

What an amazing view.
After everybody arrived at the house,
We walked out the patio, and here's the yacht,
How nice, you literally "parked" your yacht in the back of your house.
And off we go,

Approximately 10 minutes later,
We bumped into some local residents in the middle of the ocean-

Other friends with wings-

Fun time always passed by quickly,
It's already time for lunch.
I was wondering where we gonna stop by for food,
I guess it's not my turn to worry about this problem,
They just pulled into one of the harbor and "parked" the yacht in the back of the restaurant,

Wait! How about dessert?
No problemo,
We hopped back to the yacht, took a ride to Coney Island for some frozen bananas.
I was speechless.
On the way back to Newport Beach,
One jet skier caught our waves and started doing his freestyle thingy,
He was jumping around here and there,
Too bad I didn't get any pictures of him in the air,

This is what I got-

It's like a mutual relationship,
We gave him the waves,
In return,
He gave us a marvelous jet ski show.
I really had fun that Saturday,
Thanks to my host parents, they gave me a chance to get a taste of OC life style.
Also special thanks to the moderator, he was an amazing host.

Feb 24, 2008

The Cannery - Good Service and Awesome Food

3 hours and 30 minutes flight from Minnesota to California,
My host parents arrived in Orange County last Wednesday.

Host parents?
Let me give you a brief explanation of my life here,
I was a little high school girl in Taiwan,
One day I decided to apply for a study abroad program,
That means spending the next one year somewhere in America with a host family.
It wasn't a hard decision to make,
My parents asked me if I wanna do that,
I probably thought about it for 5 minutes, then I nodded my head.
I ended up in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes.
Spent a wonderful year with my lovely host mom, host dad, one younger brother, one younger sister, and other charming family members.
After that year,
I have another family from another continent.

Enough said,
I finally got to see them on Friday night,
Took them out for a nice dinner at The Cannery in Newport Beach.

Their unique jelly fish lighting in the waiting area-

Looking out-

The hostess gave us a patio table,
Where you can enjoy the freshest seafood and oversee the ocean at the same time.

Menu in the dark-

The candle wasn't bright enough for us to figure out the menu,
So our waitress brought us a pocket light,
These little lights do come in handy sometimes.
Me being so clumsy, I broke her light by accidentally dropping it on the floor,
I'm on a mission of finding a new pocket light for her.

Assorted sushi platter-

Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, albacore, and crab meat maki,
I didn't get a taste of every single sushi,
But my yellowtail was very fresh,
It melted in my mouth, so good!

Seared ahi with watercress and mashed potatoes-

It's not the name from the menu,
I couldn't remember the exact name for this dish.
Either way, that's not important,
The important thing is, it was so delicious!
Especially the mashed potatoes,
It was creamy, smooth, and with a hint of wasabi,
Yes you hear me, wasabi!
I'm officially in love with their mashed potatoes.

We also ordered sea bass and lamb shanks,
The pictures didn't turn out well,
It was too hard to take a good quality photo in the dark,
Plus there were so many things I needed to catch up with my host parents,
No time for pictures!

While waiting for our desserts-

Took a picture of our tiny orchid on the talbe.
White chocolate cream tart with banana-

The dessert was good, but not outstanding,
The Cannery is famous for their seafood, so no complaints here.
We also had chocolate molten cake,
It was very chocolaty.

So I started out my "reunion" with a good old dinner,
Everything went well,
My host parents love the food, and so do I.
My host dad said that he'll definitely come back and dine here,
Me too!

Overall Rating: 8

The Cannery
3010 Lafayette Road
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 566-0060

Feb 20, 2008

New Capital Seafood Restaurant 半島海鮮酒家

I had an appointment with my tax lady last weekend in Rowland Heights,
After 30 minutes consultation about how to file tax return,
I've never filed any tax returns before,
Not mentioning my current visa status which makes the whole process even harder.
I ought to seek out some food to sooth my stressful mind.
*Fine, it's just my excuse, I was HUNGRY!

I ended up in Diamond Plaza, where the tea place is at,
I developed a habit of having a cup of boba tea after my meal over time.
There was a big time tug-of-war in my head,
I couldn't decide whether I should go to Little Tokyo Shabu Shabu,
Or the dim sum place I've never tried before on the second floor.

Stomach growling,
I rushed upstairs, trying to take a sneak peak of the restaurant first.
At the waiting section,
Me: Hello, we have two people here, how long is the wait?
Lady: No no wait, come with me.
She quickly grabbed the menu and disappeared among the crowds...
I was just checking this place out....
I was too weak to turn around, sorry shabu shabu, this lady is too powerful,
I surrendered.

Pretty cheap for dim sum,
I guess coming here during weekdays is not a bad idea,
*Only if the food is good enough for returning business.

Ladies with Dim Sum Carts-

That's how they serve their food in a dim sum eatery,
Ladies pushing the carts around with different kinds of small dishes,
You can stop them anytime and pick the ones you want.
Most of the ladies we talked to are pretty nice,
But there was a bad one.
I was asking what she has in the cart,
After the lady "put so much efforts" telling me about the dishes, I ordered nothing,
Immediately, I saw a shitty face.
Forget about the shitty face,
Let's talk about food.
Pork and Vegetables Wrapped in Fried Tofu Skin-

I always order this dish in a dim sum place,
I think the combination of crunchy skin and smooth gravy is like heaven!


I really don't know how to translate this one,
To be honest,
I just don't want to scare you guys away if I type out the name,
This dish has almost everything that a quite amount of people doesn't dare to eat,
Radish (so far so good)
Ox liver (ew...)
Ox tripe (please stop...!)
And who knows what else was in it.
But it doesn't matter,
I'm standing tall here and unafraid to announce that "I LOVE IT!"

We also ordered Portuguese egg tart, sesame balls, shrimp dumplings, steamed rice rolls with shrimp, and beef balls.
Didn't take good pictures of them,
Please use your imagination first, I'll come back with more quality pictures later.

As we left the restaurant with giant stomach sticking out of our pants,
I saw these-

I have to say that it's disgusting (to me),
So many fish crowding together in this limited space,
At first I couldn't even tell if they're dead or alive,
So glad that I didn't order any fish dishes.
Feeling bad for the semi-dead fish,
I turned to the stair way,
There were more than 5 waiters scattering around, sitting on the floor, smoking, chatting,
Not a pleasant scene.

I think I won't come back to this restaurant in the near future.

Overall Rating: 4
*But a few ladies with the carts were really nice, they contributed at least 2 points here.

New Capital Seafood Restaurant 半島海鮮酒家
1330 South Fullerton Road #207
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
(626) 581-9813

Feb 17, 2008

Happy Belated Valentine's Day

On the day of February 14th,
I saw these at work,

Valentine's Day Treats from my coworker-

How cute,
The miniature cupcake was like the size of a ping pong ball,
A wee bit smaller than that.

Wish you guys all had a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Feb 13, 2008

Panna Cotta Sandwich

If you've been reading my blog,
You'll know that I made red bean soup during Chinese New Year's Eve,
In addition,
I also made some red bean filling from it.

Because of my greediness,
I ended up with way too much red beans,
It's over-flowing my fridge.
I ought to come up with something to finish up those beans,
As a result, besides red bean soup, I also made red bean pastry shells the other day,

But it's not enough,
1..2..3..10...20...50...100....200...I have no idea how many "beans" I still have left,
So I came up with this,

Panna Cotta Sandwich-


1 can of coconut milk (about 400ml)
2% skim milk
2/3 envelope of gelatin
Vanilla extract


First lets mix up 2/3 envelope of gelatin and about 1 tablespoon of 2% milk,
Set aside.
Have a small pot ready,
Turn to medium heat and pour in:
3/4 cup of coconut milk, gelatin/milk mixture, 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
Keep stirring it and bring to a boil,
Turn off the heat, set aside, don't stop stirring it.
Add about few drops of vanilla extract, only a few drops, KEEP STIRRING it,
Don't get lazy, you and switch hands, it's fine.
Pour that into a medium/large size ramekin.
Let it cool for about 1 hour, transfer to the fridge for at least 4 hours,
Preferably overnight.

For the red bean filling,
Have about 3/4 cup of red bean filling ready,
Mix it well with about 2 tablespoons of coconut milk,
Spread it over our first layer of panna cotta.
Back to the fridge,
Let's start working on our final layer of panna cotta.
For the final layer, just repeat the same steps as you're making the first layer.
If you're running short on coconut milk,
Just replace it with regular milk. No worries.
Pour the mixture on top of the red bean filling,
Let it cool and transfer to the fridge overnight.

Simply serve it with the ramekin,
I don't know if the whole thing can turn out nicely if you try to pour it onto the plate,
We've done so much work already, I don't wanna see my final product collapse in front of me,
Been there, done that! >_<.

By the way,
Happy Valentine's Day!

Talking about Valentine's Day,
You know red bean also has another name "miss bean?"
*miss here = long for, thinking about someone
Once there was a poet in China who wrote about red beans as "miss beans,"

Here it goes (written by Wang Wei 王維, a male poet)

Red beans is growing in the southern countries, from far far away,
It's sprouting when spring comes (implies opportunities and chances)
Wishing you to pick more red beans (opportunities, chances, etc)
This is the thing that I missed the most (expressing how much the poet misses and thinks about his friend)

Interesting huh?
*Cross fingers that my English/Chinese didn't scare you away.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Feb 10, 2008

Red Bean Pastry Shells with Honey Cream Sauce

I made red bean soup on Chinese New Year's Eve,
As usual, I was too greedy that I used up a whole package of red beans...
I have to come up with a solution,
There's no way I can finish a gigantic pot of red bean soup by myself.
Let me use a more statistical way to describe how big it was,
If I have a medium bowl of red bean soup everyday,
It'll take me at least 20 days to finish it....at least..it's just a rough estimate.

During the process of making red bean soup,
I've decided to scoop out some beans and make them into other kind of dessert,
Hopefully by doing so,
Me and my friends won't get sick of having red bean soup everyday.

For the red bean soup,
I slightly wash the beans first and soak them in the water overnight.
You'll see the bigger beans the very next day,
They surely can absorb a lot of water.

I boil a small pot of water and toss in the beans,
Simply let it boil for couple minutes,
Dump the water.
Transfer the drained beans into a big pot,
Add a lot of water (since it's for red bean "soup")
Bring to a boil, turn to medium low heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add a pinch of salt afterwards, it helps to bring up the flavor,
Also add lots of brown sugar till desired sweetness level.
I mean lots of brown sugar,
I kept adding it and I lost counts of how many tablespoons I used.
But be careful here,
DO NOT add sugar before the beans turn soft,
It prevents the beans from cooking through if you add it too early in time.

So when did I scoop out some beans for other dessert?
After simmering it for 30 minutes.
I took out some beans, actually a lot of beans....
Drain out the liquid and place them to another pot.

Turn that pot to medium heat,
Add granulated sugar and honey, about 1:1 ratio.
Keep stirring it till the sugar and honey are all incorporated with the beans.
Give it a taste once a while and see if you need to add more sugar or honey.
Stirring, stirring, stirring,
You don't want burned red bean filling so please keep stirring it.
It's fairly simple,
All that stirring gives you a wonderful simplified "red bean filling."
*Which gives you two textures: half paste and half whole beans.

So here's what I came up with,
Red Bean Pastry Shells with Honey Cream Dressing-


1 package of frozen puff pastry shells (6 in one package)
12 tablespoons of red bean filling
3 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/3 cup of 2% milk
2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 egg yolks (beaten)


Prepare the frozen puff pastry shells according to the instruction on the box,
*You can find this product in the frozen food aisle.

In the mean time,
Have a small pot ready and turn to medium heat.
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of honey, corn starch, 1/3 cup of milk, and 2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream.
Constantly stirring the mixture and bring it to a boil,
You should have a thicker sauce now.

Remove from heat,
Keep stirring it and gradually add in the beaten egg yolks.
About one minute, the honey cream sauce is ready.

When the pastry shells are ready,
Discard the top part to create a hollow center.
Put about 2 tablespoons of red bean filling in the shell and drizzle some honey cream sauce.
If you just take out the red bean filling from the fridge,
Just put it in the shells first,
And then simply pop that back to the oven for another minute or so,
Don't have to do any extra steps to heat up the filling first.

After this dessert and a gigantic pot of red bean soup,
I still have a LOT of red bean filling left,
Please expect a red bean related post in a near future.

Cindy's Rating: 7 (Simple, delicious, and cleans up my excess red beans!)

Feb 6, 2008

Ground Pork with Pickled Melon over Rice - 瓜仔肉飯

My all time comfort food.

Ground Pork with Pickled Melon over Rice 瓜仔肉飯-


Cooked white rice
1.5 lbs of ground pork (or two packages from the grocery store)
1/2 cup of Chinese pickled melon (chopped)
1/2 cup of Chinese pickled melon juice
2 stalks of scallion (chopped)
2 big shallots (chopped)
Extra virgin olive oil
Brown sugar
Soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper


Prepare a deep pot, drizzle some olive oil and turn the heat up.
Toss in chopped shallots and sprinkle some salt over it,
Cook till the color turned translucent, toss in chopped scallions.
Keep cooking till the shallots turned a little bit brown on the sides.

Add the ground pork,
Do not use lean pork, we want semi-fat meat for this dish.
Traditionally, some people even use lard instead of olive oil,
I kind of modified that part for health concerns,
But don't get me wrong, the taste is still wonderful.

Add some freshly ground black pepper while searing the ground pork,
Keep stirring till the pork is fully cooked,
Now we add chopped pickled melon and the juice from the jar,
You can find it in Chinese grocery store, in the canned food aisle.

Also add about 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1 1/2 cups of water, and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar,
Give it a stir and bring to a boil,
Turn the heat to medium low and simmer it for 30 to 45 minutes.

Don't forget to taste it,
See if you need to add more soy sauce, brown sugar, or water.
Some people like it dry,
Just keep simmering it till all the juice is absorbed by the pork,
Then you'll have a "condensed" ground pork with pickled melon.
I like it with a lot of sauce,
Not only for drizzling it over the rice,
I can also use it as a sauce base for noodles.

Besides rice and noodles,
There's also an alternative way to enjoy this dish.
Simply boil the green vegetables (preferably bak choy) and drizzle the sauce over it.

Hope you like it!

Cindy's Rating: 7

Feb 2, 2008

Lu's Garden Restaurant - 小陸子清粥店

I was sick for the past two weeks,
Stuffed nose, endless phlegm, no voice, you name it (still awesome appetite though).
After taking anti-biotic, I can finally announce that I am fully recovered,
But I wonder if it's truly the reason why I can sing again with my scary high pitch voice,
Because my friend is sick now,
I have a feeling that I just passed along my virus to him...
Sorryyyyyyyy >_<.
So upon my sick friend's request,
We've decided to eat porridge.
By all means,
He was using his body language pointing at the restaurant while we drove pass by it,
No voice for him.

Inside the Restaurant-

The smiley figure in the picture is Maitreya Buddha,
It's a pretty common display in a Taiwanese restaurant,
Just like Japanese restaurants, which you can find maneki neko most of the time.
*maneki neko, cats that call for fortune and luck.

Sweet Potato Porridge-

My mom told me this when I was little,
People back then were very poor, only a few can afford eating rice at home,
In order to feel full,
They came up with an ultimate solution.
They put more water while cooking a small amount of rice,
In addition, they added sweet potatoes because it's abundant and cheap.

Now that everyone's able to afford eating rice,
We seemed to forget the story behind this sweet potato porridge..

Our Five Dishes-

From left to right:
Spicy double cooked pork 回鍋肉
Sour Bamboo 酸筍
Stewed pork 滷肉
Baked bran 烤麩 = flour, after steaming and other cooking processes.
Stewed minced pork with melon 瓜仔肉

How much we spent for this meal?
Five dishes for $31?!?!
I don't know about you,
But for porridge, I think it's too much.

End Note~
The service was good though,
The lady kept coming back asking if we need more porridge...
I guess everywhere I go....people know that I eat a lot...
My friend still has good appetite despite the fact that he is sick,
No wonder we are friends.

Overall Rating: 5

Lu's Garden Restaurant 小陸子清粥店
17829 Colima Road
City of Industry, CA 91748
(626) 964-5709