Sep 29, 2014

Oyster Paradise at a Bargained Price - EMC Seafood & Raw Bar

Don't you just love downtown LA for its vibrant food scenes and broad selection of multinational cuisines? Chinese, Indian, Burmese, French, Costa Rican, even African and Ethiopian restaurants are happening in such a small area just to name a few. 

There are also a number of seafood oriented restaurants, and this one - EMC Seafood & Raw Bar is still quite new in the K-town neighborhood. What makes it stand out from the others? Freshness is a must and pretty much standard applied to all restaurants. Wide selection of seafood offering at a bargained price is definitely a plus. However, the best thing about EMC is that you can also get your hands on seafood dishes with an Asian flare such as uni pasta and abalone congee. 

*The congee here at EMC tastes even better than the infamous late night munch that opened for years in Korea Town (party people, you should know which place I'm talking about).

Pardon the grainy pictures. I already knew this meal requires digging in with both hands, so the big Canon was taking a break at home and my handy iPhone 5S took over the mission. 

Two entrances, one on the street and the other one can be accessed directly through the shopping center -

EMC does not take reservations for party under 10 people. To avoid the waiting crowd, we got there way ahead of regular dinner hours. Hey! Oysters can also be a good late afternoon munch besides tea and cakes.

Pretty small table with not so comfy bar stools for a party of six. EMC does have regular dining tables with seats that you can lean your back on in the other area, but even when we got there early, the back section was already packed with seafood craving customers.

A round of icy cold water first -

Menu (click for enlarged view) -

Some cooked dishes -

Drink menu -

Wine, beer, and non-alcoholic choices -

Sake bomb using Tozai, "Typhoon" and Sapporo $3/each -

Bucket for the shells -

Zucchini fries with yogurt ranch dipping sauce $7 -

Underneath the medium thickness coasting is fully cooked zucchini that melts in your mouth slightly. 

Happy hour oyster - Eastern from Delaware, Chesapeake area, $1/each -

Clean, not much distinct taste.

My glass of Riesling, goes well with oysters -

Here's the big boy, a giant plate full of oysters -

The tiny ones inside are Kumamoto oysters from Humboldt Bay, Northern California. Strong and crisp, packed with umami taste, my favorite of the day. 

Outer layer clockwise from the top right corner: 
Kusshi from Vancouver Island, BC, Canada - Fattier than Kumamoto, also packed with ocean aroma, second favorite of the day.

Fat Bastard from Seattle, WA -Not too much taste but definitely a whopping, satisfying bite.

Naked Cowboy from Long Island, NY - pretty plain compared to above options.

Mini lobster roll $9 -

Regular size lobster roll $18 -

Tarragon butter, sea salt, brioche bun, plus extra clarified butter on the side if the already buttery brioche bun is not enough. The lobster roll here is not as refined as the one from Son of a Gun but the quality is definitely up to par.

Uni pasta $20 -

Creamy goodness. The dried seaweed adds a little saltiness to the dish. A must order item here especially after numerous oysters. The uni cream provides a sense of warmth and comfort to the stomach.

Garlic noodles $8 -

Just wanted to give it a try. By far Crustacean still has the best garlic noodles that I've ever tasted.

The plan was having raw oysters and end with warm dishes, but I guess that bad ass plate of oysters wasn't enough, so here we go again -

Hokkaido scallop carpaccio $12 -

Seasoned with yuzu kosho, ponzu, extra virgin olive oil, and smoked salt.

Very condensed aroma, it's like the essence of two scallops packed into one. A little bit spicy, overall better than expected.

Oyster shooter $8 -

Quail egg, uni, ikura, ponzu, Tabasco, chives, and soju. The oyster shooter is slightly different here. The customer has to do the assembling work.

Squeeze the lemon -

Pour in the uni, oyster, and ikura -

Then it goes the quail egg -

Nearly overflowed -

Personally speaking, I think the oyster shooter was too big to finish in one gulp. Satisfying it was but also kind of painful for me with such big shot, all my other friends enjoyed it though. I dare I even complain about large portion seafood and soju..

After rounds of oysters, hot dishes, oysters again, even more oyster shots, now we are finally back on track with one last satisfying hot food, congee with abalone $16 -

Add in the ginger and scallion for extra kick, and warmth. For sure the abalone congee from EMC is a better version of the late night munch joint in K-town.

EMC actually stands for Eat More Clams, but apparently we didn't get any clams, not even the tables around us. Everyone was here for the oysters and all other Asian influenced seafood dishes. Los Angeles is good to you.

Cindy's Rating: 8

EMC Seafood & Raw Bar
3500 West 6th Street. #101
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 351-9988

*Do not take reservations except for large party with 10 or more people 
*2 hours dining limit

Other Seafood Restaurants in Los Angeles:
Son of a Gun
The Hungry Cat

Sep 22, 2014

Southeastern Style Pork Stew Using Galangal, Kaffir Lime Leaves, and Lemon Grass

The recipe posts from the past three weeks have all been western food related dishes - oven roasted sword fish fillet, ravioli with sage brown butter sauce, and summer salad with watermelon and feta. Needless to say, it's about time for a comforting and rice-perfect Asian recipe. This Southeastern style pork stew has a sourish taste from the tomatoes, sweetness from palm sugar, and a slightly spicy kick from the dangerous red chilies. Let's get cookin'!

Southeastern style pork stew using galangal, Kaffir lime leaves, and lemon grass -


  • 1.5 lbs of semi-fatty pork chunks
  • 2 big ripe tomatoes
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of chicken soup
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 big bundle of shallot
  • 8 pieces of dried Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 pieces of dried galangal
  • 2 red chilies
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons of dried lemon grass
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • Some salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper
  • Some chopped scallion (for garnish)


Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the pork chunks. The foamy brownish/grayish bits will start to emerge, takes about 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside for later use. This step helps eliminating odors and removing dirty bits that can cause unpleasant bitterness taste for the stew. 

Peel and give the garlic cloves a few chops. Peel and slice the shallots. Discard the stems and finely chop the red chilies. Dice the fresh tomatoes.

Take a big non-stick pot and drizzle enough oil to evenly coat the bottom. Turn to medium heat and add in the garlic, shallots, chilies along with some salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir. Cook till the shallots turned slightly browned but not burning the garlic pieces.

Add in the pork and sear for about 2 minutes then add in fresh diced tomatoes. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Turn up the heat and add in all the remaining ingredients. For the dried herbs, I had a circular container with tiny holes, designed to keep the seasonings and herbs intact when used in soup or stew dishes. Otherwise you might want to wrap the lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves, and star anise using a cloth and tide up with twine. 

Bring to a boil and lower the heat a little to keep it bubbling gently. Make sure to scoop out any floating foamy bits, especially during the first hour of simmering. Let it cook for around 2.5 hours or until nearly all the juice has been reduced.

Sprinkle with some chopped scallion before serving. You must have steamed rice to go along with this pork stew. Otherwise, have some bread at least.

Sep 16, 2014

Oven Roasted Sword Fish Fillet with Smoked Paprika Infused Garlic Aioli Sauce

It's a versatile recipe that you can swap out the main ingredients at your own preference. The sword fish fillet can be substitute with other types of hearty fish such as salmon and tuna. As for the roasted vegetables, instead of the cauliflower and carrot, you can swap with broccoli, zucchini, pearl onions, etc. However, try to keep the pumpkin because its warming sweetness can further compliment the seafood, the aroma also pairs well with smoked paprika used in the aioli sauce.

Oven roasted sword fish fillet with smoked paprika infused garlic aioli sauce -

Ingredients (3 to 4 portions)?

  • 3 to 4 medium thickness sword fish fillet (or other hearty fish)
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 medium sized carrot
  • 1 big slice pumpkin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 lime
  • Some parsley
  • Some olive oil
  • Some balsamic vinegar
  • Some sea salt
  • Some freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with foil. Chop the cauliflower, pumpkin, and carrot into medium size cubes and move to the baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil throughout and sprinkle over some salt and pepper. Also use half of the lime juice and evenly pour over the veggies. 

Into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or till the tips of the cauliflower turns slightly golden browned. You can check if the veggies are ready by poking a fork into the center of the pumpkin cube. It should be fairly easy to do so without much resistant, unless a harder texture is preferred. Once ready, remove from heat and lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper over the fish fillet. Transfer onto another baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, or till desired rareness. The fillet used here took about 12 minutes and was just about well done. 

In the meantime, peel and give the garlic cloves a few chops, add to the food processor. Also add the mayonnaise, smoked paprika, olive oil and start blending. If the processor doesn't blend, just pour a little bit more oil to get it going. The mixing action can separate the oil and fatty content from the mayo, but I do like such liquid form sauce for my fish fillet. 

You can also finely chop the garlic and simply mix all the sauce ingredients with less amount of olive oil in a small bowl. By doing so, you'll get a more mayo-like consistency for the aioli sauce. Again, it's a very flexible recipe and you can always twist the process based on what you want.

Remove the fillets from heat once done. Arrange some roasted veggies onto the plate, top with fish fillet, drizzle some aioli sauce all over, sprinkle some finely chopped parsley for fresh herbal aroma and color pop. Last two steps, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on the veggies and add a slice of lime on the side. 

If you didn't blend the mayo, simply drop a dollop of aioli sauce on the side and put the lime wedge over.

Easy prep and no fuss cleaning recipe. For a less garlicky version, roast the garlic together with the vegetables. Use those cooked cloves to blend with the mayo to make the aioli sauce instead. 

Sep 10, 2014

Spinach....Not! Taiwanese Arden Lettuce and Ricotta Ravioli Served in Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Once a while when I get a full day off without worrying about work and other miscellaneous stuff in life, I'd like to prepare some make ahead food and store them in the freezer. Meat balls, dumplings, chicken stock, homemade pasta, etc. It's quite therapeutic working in the kitchen at a slower pace. Sipping a cup of tea, chopping, kneading, taking food pictures, and of course, with music playing in the background. 

Make ahead recipe can also save a lot of hassles down the road, especially when busy schedule creeps in, preventing you from having a comforting homemade meal. This ravioli recipe can be prepared and stored in the fridge up to months. You can simply cook the ravioli in boiling water for few minutes and pop them in either brown butter or pomodoro sauce. A homemade meal can be done in 10 minutes even leaving you plenty of time to grate the cheese.

Ingredients for ravioli (makes about 50)?

  • 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

  • 3 bundles of arden lettuce or 4 bundles of spinach
  • 2 cups/450 grams of ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Small pinch of black pepper

Ingredients for sage brown butter sauce (for 2 portions)?

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 sprig of sage 
  • 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Some grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Simply use the stainless steel bowl from the mixer, add in the flour and try to leave an empty hole in the center. Add the eggs to the center and mix together with the flour using a fork, just blend a little bit. Lastly, turn on the machine and blend till fully incorporated. That's the basic dough for the ravioli. 

Form the dough into few smaller balls and use a pasta machine to shape them into 1/8 inch pasta sheets.

I couldn't find spinach so used Taiwanese arden lettuce (A菜) as a substitute. Of course spinach works the best and is the most classic ingredient for this recipe. Cook the green vegetable in boiling water seasoned with a little bit of salt. Cook till wilted. Drain well and soak in cold water filled with ice cubes. Once cools down, drain well and squeeze dry with a towel, leaving no moisture if possible. 

Chop the vegetable into fine pieces or blend in food processor, transfer to a big bowl. Also add in the ricotta cheese, egg, heavy cream, Parmigiano, nutmeg, black pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon of salt. Mix well.

Lay one ravioli sheet on a floured surface. Use a smaller spoon and scoop the filling mixture onto the sheet, leaving some space in between. Take another sheet and fold over gently, seal the edges with your finger and cut into individual squares. Use the tines of a fork to press down the edges of each individual ravioli. 

I freeze each ravioli un-stacked on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in the freezer. Wait for about 30 minutes or till hardened. This will prevent the ravioli from sticking to each other. Once ready, I separate the ravioli in 2 to 3 batches and store in Ziploc bags. The ravioli should stay fresh up to 6 months in the freezer. You can also sprinkle some cornmeal throughout to prevent from sticking.

As for the ravioli that will be devoured right away, prepare a pot of salted boiling water and cook the ravioli till flow up to the surface. If cooking frozen ravioli, cook for about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Here's the recipe for simple sage brown butter sauce:

Heat up the butter in a skillet. Add in sage, nutmeg and cook for 2 minutes in medium heat. The sage leaves will become crunchy and resembles a crumbling texture. Add in cooked and drained ravioli, mix well and transfer onto a serving plate.

Garnish with sage leaves and top with generous amount of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. I forgot to add the cheese in the beginning but glad I finally realized something was missing when I still have 2 ravioli left on my plate.

Make sure to use good quality Parmigiano Reggiano instead of pre-grated Parmesan cheese. 

Sep 4, 2014

Summer Salad with Watermelon, Feta, Okra, Cherry Tomato, Balsamic Reduction, and Cilantro Dressing

This summer salad recipe was created with the intention of getting rid of leftover ingredients in the fridge. It may not look as precise and refined especially all of the ingredients were previously used or cut for other dishes. 

Take the watermelon for instance, my dad pre-cut the melon into bite size pieces in order to save me some troubles eating the fruit. He didn't know that I was going to use the watermelon as one of the salad ingredients. That's why the melon cubes on the plate were kind of..jagged. Not even mention the numerous black seeds scattered throughout.

Ok, I also admit that my knife skill sucks.

Summer salad with watermelon, feta, okra, cherry tomato, balsamic reduction, and cilantro dressing - 

Ingredients (for 1 to 2 small portions)?

  • Some watermelon
  • Some feta cheese
  • Some cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Okra
  • Small bundle of cilantro
  • Some extra virgin olive oil
  • Some sea salt
  • Some balsamic vinegar


Take a food processor and add in one small bundle of roughly chopped cilantro. Add a small pinch of sea salt and blend with just enough extra virgin olive in order for the machine to mix well.

Pre-cut and remove the seeds from the watermelon. Also cut feta cheese into same size cubes, well, at least I tried. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Slice the okra.

Take a small pot and pour in some balsamic vinegar. Turn to medium heat and reduce the balsamic vinegar till thickens a little, about 1/3.

The rest of the work is just careful plating. Arrange the watermelon and feta so they form a checkered pattern. Drizzle some cilantro dressing and balsamic reduction on the side. Decorate with okra, tomatoes, and cilantro leaves.

Use more balsamic reduction if a sourish taste is preferred. Try to take it easy on the salt since there's already some saltiness from the feta. You can always sprinkle the salad with salt flakes afterwards if needed.

Other salad recipe:

Fancy salad is not as hard as it looks - utilizing store bought ingredients to create restaurant quality greens