Aug 29, 2010

No Time to Cook? How About This 10 Minutes Noodles?

I love instant noodles!
Especially the spicy Korean kind, with an extra semi-cooked egg, it's divine!
Sadly we can never get all the good things in life,
Some instant noodles are heavenly, but they can also be a be a huge headache for our health,
Processed food, yes; overly-salted, yes; and most of the noodles are fried....
Not sure if it's the case for you, I also get pimples after instant noodles...
Worst nightmare ever!

As a result, I shuffled all the instant noodles away and came up with this recipe -

Ingredients (for one)?

Noodles for one serving
(Chinese yellow/oil noodles preferably, otherwise use something that is thin and round)
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of soup base (flavored soy sauce)
1 tablespoon of black vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of chili sauce/sriracha sauce
Few drops of sesame oil


Super duper easy recipe,
Just cook the noodles till desired hardness,
Even for Asian dishes, I still like mine "al dente."

In the mean time, pour in all the remaining ingredients in the serving bowl,
Once the noodles is done, drain it and mix well with the sauce,
You can definitely adjust the seasoning according to your preference,
Sometimes I made it extra sourish and spicy, the noodles were like coated in chili sauce...

This dish only takes few more minutes than instant noodles,
Plus you can jazz it up by adding sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, fried shallots, or my favorite > semi-cooked egg!
Farewell my instant noodles pimples!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Aug 26, 2010

Lu Dumpling House (on Garfield) 一口福

My friend and I drove pass by a dumpling house the other day,
The place was crowded, packed with people munching on tiny doughy goodies,
Immediately, I've decided to come here for lunch next time!
While that thought lingered in my head,
I forced my friend to repeat the Chinese name of that eatery several times so I can search online for the exact location later,
一口福 (E - KO - FU), means one bite of happiness/goodness,
I ought to have my own bite of happiness soon.

Weeks later,
We did manage to get to the dumpling place as planned,
However, it looks a wee bit different from my memory....

My friend pointed at the chicken soup picture printed on the table mat and asked the waitress if they serve it,
Sadly no, which put us in an even deeper doubt...did we come to the right place?...
The lady kind of sensed our worries and further explained that the dumpling place on Garfield was the second location,
The original one is on Garvey, which is just 2 or 3 blocks away,
And luckily, I went there on a Wednesday, the original place closed on Wednesdays,
Well, I guess eventually things just worked out fine?

Beef wrap 牛肉捲餅 $4.99 -

The wrap itself was good, crunchy and flavorful,
Especially the dough itself, a wee bit buttery taste, but I'm sure they used something even oilier instead of butter (but so good!).
They also put some kind of melon inside the wrap, which is different compared to other beef wraps I had.

Spicy dumplings 紅油炒手 $3 -

Not spicy at all, nothing outstanding, not recommended.

Fennel and pork dumplings 茴香豬肉水餃 -

I love having fennel (only the thin leaves part) in my dumplings,
Somehow the aroma matches really well with Chinese seasonings.

Juicy pork and crab dumplings 蟹粉小籠湯包 $8.99 -

Not as good as the ones from Din Tai Fung,
And I didn't get that juices "burst in my mouth" sensation after the first bite.
But one reason that I tried to explore other dumpling places so hard other than just going to Din Tai Fung is because I'm "sick of it!"
Please please, if you know any place that can beat Din Tai Fung, let me know!

Overall the service was good but a little bit slow towards lunch rush hours,
There were only two ladies at the front serving customers,
We did wait for quite some time to get their attention and asked for our bill.

I do like their smaller portion dishes,
Usually when you order dumplings, it comes in a set of 10 to a dozen,
But Lu Dumpling House serves it in about 6 little dumplings,
So trying out more flavors won't result in bursting stomaches! ( > _.< )P

The overall rating might be on the lower end,
But if you like beef wraps,
I think Lu Dumpling House's is pretty good, definitely worth a try for that wrap!

Cindy's Rating: 5

Lu Dumpling House
330 North Garfield Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 307-2700

Mama's Lu Dumpling House
153 East Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755
(626) 307-5700

Aug 22, 2010

Summer's Risotto

What a weekend full of dinner events,
Some friends came over and make some ""A LOT"" of food on Friday,
The very next day I was still full from piles of meat and macaroni....
But no, there is no room for taking a break from food,
Because a pre-arranged Korean BBQ dinner has already been set on Saturday for a friend's move-away gathering,
I can see a circle of fluffy fat glowing around my waist..and thighs..
( > 口.< )""""""""""

These few days, when I open the fridge, all I see is boxes of food, meat, and some leftover ingredients from that Friday night cookout...
I've never been so "shocked" by looking at the fridge in my life,
I've got to do something to clean up this giant icy box,
Maybe a healthy summer's risotto help a wee bit.

Ingredients (feeds 2 to 3 people)?

1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup of salmon flakes (freshly baked or store bought)
1/4 onion
1 small carrot
1 small green squash
1 small yellow squash
2 tablespoons of butter
Olive oil
Garnish (optional): 1 endive, parsley leaves


Dice up the onion, carrot, green/yellow squash and set aside for later use.

For the chicken stock,
It's better if you bring it to a simmer before use,
However, I didn't want to wash another pot so I just left it in room temperature.

For the salmon flakes,
I got mine from a Japanese grocery store,
If you can't find it,
Simply sprinkle some salt and pepper on both sides of the salmon fillet (skin on),
Roast it till fully cooked through,
Take the fish out, let it cool down a little bit,
Remove the skin and use a fork to make the fillet into flakes.

So all the preparation works are done,
Now put 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan and drizzle some olive oil,
Toss in chopped onions and sprinkle some salt,
Cook till the onions turned translucent, add the diced carrots,
Cook for about 30 seconds, add the remaining vegetables,
Sprinkle a little bit more salt and give it a quick stir,
The butter and olive oil should all be absorbed by the vegetables by now,
Before we toss in the rice, add 1 more tablespoon of butter into the mixture.

You can cook the veggies and the rice separately,
But I want my vegetables to be soft when the dish is done, that's why I stir fried them first and cooked with rice all together.
So toss in the rice, give them a quick stir,
Make sure every grain is coated with that lovely butter.

There's no secret in making risotto,
Just remember to give it a lot of attention during the process,
Add about 1/2 cup of stock at a time,
Give it a quick stir and just let it simmer till the juice are almost fully absorbed by the rice,
Once that happened, add another 1/2 cup of stock, repeat the steps till the rice are cooked "al dente."
You might need 1 more cup of stock if you prefer softer texture for the rice.

Add the salmon flakes when the rice is about 2/3 done,
By doing so, the flavor from the fish can permeate into the risotto mixture and won't turn into a mushy mess over time.
Taste it and see if more salt are needed.

There were some endives and parsley left in the fridge so might as well use them to make a pretty presentation for my risotto -

(so my food coma continues...)

Cindy's Rating: 8

Aug 19, 2010

The Way Rice Should be Cooked - Torafuku USA 寅福

The food monger's legs are officially "disabled"

And please don't let the chance slip away,
This is your perfect and only opportunity to call me "WEAK SAUCE!"

I just got back from Yosemite National Park,
Man oh man...hiking for one full day really drains all my energy away,
Surely the scenery was a feast for my eyes, but to get up there...that's whole other story...
And I'm truly blend in with the nature now,
Because my thighs are as tough and stiff as the giant sequoia trees in the park!

My disability is currently restricting my moving radius,
All I can do, or prefer to do is to lay on the couch and organize piles of food pictures that was taken before the muscle-squeezing trip,
Then I came across this folder - Torafuku USA,
The images from Torafuku are making me hungry, and I don't even want to move an inch just to grab some food for my rumbling tummy,
Well, maybe I can make you guys hungry too? So we can all suffer from hunger together, Muahahahhahah (evil laugh)! 

Torafuku -

This place is famous for its rice,
Some might not understand that the deliciousness can varied even for such a basic thing,
It's just like spaghetti,
Sloppy spaghetti can be mushy and dull,
In the other hand, 
Well prepared spaghetti can give you that al dente texture, with noodles bouncing between your tongue and teeth,
It might even come with a hint of sea salt or olive oil aroma. 

They use "Kamado," a metal pot that is over 500lbs to cook their rice,
Pardon me that I didn't get an action picture of the chefs making rice with Kamado,
Once again, my shyness had gotten in the way,
But here's the link where you can learn more about Kamado.

Small bite first, homemade tofu -

"Made daily, served warm with fresh grated ginger and soy sauce."
Tastes really good when it's still warm, so eat it fast!

I ordered kurobuta pork cutlet set for lunch,
$12, comes with salad, small appetizer, miso soup, and all you can eat Kamado rice,
Here is the salad -

The dressing is on the light side, maybe a wee bit too tasteless.

Pork cutlet -

Very yummy!
High quality pork with flavorful and crunchy coating,
The portion is generous,
I noticed that because usually I'm crying for more pork cutlets,
But this time, I actually had 2 pieces left (hurray)!

Side order of jidori onsen tamago -

"Poached free-range egg served with soy sauce broth"
I just dumped the whole thing onto my rice and devour it all at once,
Love the yolk.
By the way, in addition to white rice, you can also get Kamado brown rice from Torafuku.

Furikake was also provided at the restaurant -

$1 mini draft beer (empty glass) -

Can't make it on time for the picture...
Apparently someone drank it right away before the shot....

The service was good,
The place was comfortable and clean,
There were some really delicious dishes but also some normal ones,
For sure the onsen tamago and the pork cutlet is a must,
I'll definitely go back to try out other yummy-looking things on the menu!

*I just come I didn't take any picture of their rice???
Arghhhh stupid! Either way, trust me, the rice was good!
Maybe it gives me an excuse to go back right away and eat all the stuff they have on the menu take some more pictures!

Torafuku USA 寅福
10914 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 470-0014

*Not open for lunch on Sundays
Cindy's Rating: 6
However, Torafuku has the potential to earn a higher grade of 7,
I'll modify and post the review once I get to devour more dishes ( ^ _.^ )b

Aug 13, 2010

Irvine, Where I Called It My....Second Home?

As an international student here in the United States,
Certainly, I've been away from home for so long, maybe too long,
7 years, I can't even belive myself,
Don't get me wrong, I ain't a slacker in college ( > _.< )"
4 years undergrad, 1.5 year job training,
And now my MBA program, which will end this December.

Irvine, this charming city in Orance County, California,
The place where I spent years - learning, growing, and maturing (hopefully) - has gradually becoming my second home,
There is a relunctancy in me to say good-bye after graduation,
Well, life is full of choices,
At least I can try my best making decisions that will leave no regrets in the future yep?

One of the minor things that I can do now, is making/recording memories of Irvine with pictures,
And here are some photos around the lake area druing early night hours.

Canadian goose -

Canadian geese, with one "visitor" in their group -

The person on my right was tossing bread crumbs, so there he went.... -

Sunset (Orange) -

Sunset (Blue) -

What a peaceful place -

I'll try to take more pictures of my "second home" when I get a chance,
Making memories bit by bit.

Aug 8, 2010

My Sweet Escape from the Sizzling Hot Summer Afternoon

The weather is killing me here in California,
Sizzling hot during day time and chilly at night,
It's like I was just enjoying my icee slush in the afternoon and few hours later...I was wearing a light jacket and sipping a cup of hot Oolong tea...

Can't complain much,
At least I don't get blizzard storms or pouring rains here in sunny California.

So what can I do to cope with this extreme summer heat?
How about a scoop of Japanese green tea (matcha) ice cream?
What? Not enough?
Well, how about this jazzed up version of matcha ice cream dessert?


Green tea ice cream (or whichever flavor of your liking)
Chocolate sauce (or homemade ganache) 
Toasted almonds
3 egg whites
3/4 cup of confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup of all purpose flour
4 tablespoons of butter (melted)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract


Let's start out with "tulipes," or baked tulip-shaped cookie cups.
Whisk the egg whites till frothy, add the confectioner's sugar and blend till smooth,
Sift in flour and whisk till combined,
Pour in 4/5 of the melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract,
Keep mixing till fully incorporated,
Cover with foil and leave in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.

Let's get other preparation works ready while waiting.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
We need 2 different sized molds to make the tulip-shaped cups,
A large fluted mold and a smaller one will do the trick.
However, I don't even have that many molds in my kitchen shelf,
So I actually used individual tart molds and some small mugs to shape the tulipes,
As long as it works right?

Remember to brush the molds with the remaining 1/5 melted butter we saved earlier,
This will prevent the baked batter from sticking onto the molds.
Also get a baking sheet ready and lined it with parchment paper.

Take out the batter once it is done chilling in the fridge,
Use about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter for each tulipe,
Evenly spread it out with a spoon or fork,
Make a large, round, thin layer for each tulipe on the baking sheet,
Once that's done, into the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or till the edges turned slightly brown.

After baking, take it out from the oven and peel the baked cookie layer off immediately,
Don't get burned! 
I actually used some tissue as my finger cover while peeling off the baked batter (not funny when my finger tips are burned).
Gently pushed the baked batter onto the large mold and top it with a smaller mold,
Once the shape is set, gently remove the molds and transfer the tulipe to a rack to cool down completely.

Left: Wonderful! Right: Failure! (So I took a few bites "just" to make sure if it tastes alright) 

A successful tulipe should come with slightly brown color on the edges,
The texture should be crunchy, but don't leave it out for too long since it can get soggy over time.  

Now scoop some of your favorite ice cream onto the cookie cups,
Drizzle some chocolate sauce and top with crunchy nuts.
This is an easy party dessert,
The cookies cups can be baked right before the party,
Simply lay out various flavored ice cream, toasted nuts, chocolate chips, cookie crumbles, even fresh fruits,
Let your guests to be creative, mix and match the dessert themselves!

One plus point,
If the dessert is not good enough for your guests,
Well, it's their own fault mixing the wrong items together!!

Cindy's Rating: 8 (Fun!)

Aug 3, 2010

Hearty Brunch Dish: Stir Fry Potatoes with Ground Turkey

It's only the first few days of the week,
But I'm already thinking about a lovely weekend brunch meal,
Preferably on a little porch by the beach,
What's in front of me will be a big plate of hearty salty food,
(Potatoes, bacon, eggs, toasts, and the list goes on and on and on...),
On the right, a big cup of freshly blended carrot and apple juice,
On the left, a giant slice of Godiva cheese cake with extra whipping cream.

Ahhhh please don't pull me out from my lovely yummy dream,
What can I do?
No matter how hard I beg and pray, my weekend just won't come anytime sooner,
Maybe I'll cook something "brunch-y" to make my weekdays a wee bit resemblance of a lovely weekend brunch meal.


1 Idaho potato
1/4 onion
1 cup of chicken stock
1 lb of ground turkey
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
Tabasco sauce
Olive oil
Black pepper


Thoroughly clean the potato, peel it, and cut into small cubes,
Chop the onion into similar sized pieces.

Drizzle some olive oil in the pan, turn to high heat,
Toss in chopped onion, sprinkle some salt and pepper,
Add the ground turkey once the onion turns translucent.

Give it a quick stir and cook for about 30 seconds, add the Italian seasoning,
When the meat is about 70% cooked through, toss in potato cubes,
Sprinkle more salt in,
Don't forget about Tabasco sauce, add as much as you want,
I love Tabasco sauce so I probably poured about 1 ....mmm maybe 2 teaspoons of it into the mixture.

After a while, the potatoes will get a little bit sticky and might even stick onto the pan,
When that happens, pour in 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and let it cooked through,
Once the liquid has been absorbed by the potatoes, pour in the remaining stock,
Repeat previous step, taste it, see if more salt are needed.

Serve with ketchup or even more Tabasco sauce,
Spice up your day!

So enough is done,
Now it's time to enjoy this dish with some butter toasts, sunny side up eggs, and maybe a few slices of maple glazed bacon,
And what? Counting down the days, waiting for my REAL weekend to come!

Cindy's Rating: 7