February 24, 2009

Pho Noodle House

The day after a hard night's drinking. I'm hungover and need some warm beefy soup to dilute all that poison I took in just hours before. My body is tired and miserable...I need PHOOOO! And so off I went to Pho Noodle House on Colima, a relatively new pho place that I had been wanting to try. I came in at their opening hours and found the place empty.

Nem Cuon (pork sausage rolls) $3.49. I had never had these before and decided to try them out. Sausage, cucumber, lettuce, vermicelli wrapped in rice paper. The menu described the sausage as being charbroiled, but it didn't look(where's the marks?) or taste that way to me. The sausage itself had a bit of nuttiness. Otherwise, I found the roll to be fairly bland, although the peanut sauce gave it some flavor.

Standard garnish of lime, jalapeno, basil and sprouts.

Tai Chin (rare steak, well-done brisket) as always for me, regular size for $5.50. (Large for $5.99.) Soup came out hot, which was nice. There was a decent amount of okay quality meat...nothin special. The broth wasn't bad, but I thought there was a little too much fish sauce in it, which was the first time I've ever said that about a bowl of pho I've had. Overall, an average bowl of pho, which didn't really stand out to me from the rest of mediocre pho joints around the area...Still, my stomach thanked me for the pleasant soup.

19756 E. Colima Rd. C & E
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Open 7 days a week, 10:00am - 9:00pm

Taco Tuesday

2 free tacos at Jack in the Box today


courtesy of spoofee.com

February 20, 2009

Kbbq part dool: Korea House

Along came the rain and brought a damn cold. My body is killing me. Still...the fun had over the weekend was worth the pain. Hope no one else is sick. Now, take a seat next to this warm crackling fire I just started, and let's get on to business shall we?

From what I heard, this place had a fire and had to reopen. I've been here twice, and the place was poppin both times. It is an AYCE place, and you choose between different dinners or lunches, which basically goes the more you pay, the more selection of meats you get. Sorry no picture of the menu, but I think the cost was under $20/person.

What you'll need for some Korean bbq...

Greens. The dressing was average. Nothing special or bad about it. Just something I like to have when eating meat.

Sliced garlic, dwenjang, and some dduk bo ssam (top). I always like to ask for more garlic. Grilling it is delicious, and it doesn't smell as much. I love ssam/rice paper. Maybe because it's a chewy medium to hold together your meat, grilled garlic and salad with some sambal sauce so you can stuff everything in your mouth or maybe it's a substitute for rice, I don't know. But I love it!

Sesame oil liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper to serve as a dip (particularly for the unmarinated meats) and some sambal sauce for a kick.

And you're all set. Of course, some sides would liven up the meal too...

Banchan (side dishes) was a simple selection. On the bottom, some kelp mixed with some salt and oil.

From top left and going clockwise: cucumber kimchi, soy bean sprouts, fish cakes with krab, grated horseradish mixed in some vinegar, kimchi. Banchan was okay...nothing special. Cucumber kimchi was the best. The kimchi was too salty...perhaps as a strategy to have customers drink more water. I like to grill the kimchi.

Along with the meal, you also get some geh lan jjeem (steamed egg) and dwenjang jjigae (soy bean paste stew) in the background. These were okay, and if you like them, you can ask for more...I believe they only come with certain combos.

Onto the meat...

There were about 10 things from the menu we could choose. Here we have the galbi (short ribs), the meat to the right I forget what cut..., some tongue, and shrimp. The galbi was a little to sweet for me. The shrimp had also been in a similar marinade, but with a lot more garlic. The quality of the meat was okay, but if you're paying for all you can eat under $20, you can't have high expectations.

Pork belly on top left, with some more shrimp and tongue.

Closer picture of the shrimp cooking alongside some garlic.

First place I've seen where they offer a whole steak as part of the menu...GODDAMN. Also some chadol trying to hopelessly surround the steak(thinly sliced beef brisket). The steak quality wasn't very good though. I wouldn't get it the next time around.

Service notes: No friendly Korean mamas here. You cook and cut everything yourself, which I don't really mind...I think it makes eating more fun, as long as everyone takes turns haha. Service was good, although it did lag sometimes, which was understandable, given that the restaurant was packed. On the second visit, the service was a little bit more attentive because we came early to avoid the dinner rush. You have a little "bell" on your table that you can ring to let the waitresses know that you want something. Or trying to flag them down in the midst of the chaos works sometimes too. Don't forget to ask them to change that grill every once in a while.

I'd come here again. Sure the quality isn't as great as Ong Ga Nae nor the banchan as extensive, but you do get variety for about $18 to $22, and you'll come out stuffed, believe me. They do have lunch specials as well, which I think was around $12. There also are other AYCE places around the area, and I've been to a few. None of them really stand out to me, but my friends like this place for AYCE, and it does seem rather popular with the Rowlies.

18751 Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

Ending note: Parking can be tough here...small lot that insufficiently tries to accommodate a bunch of businesses, so be ready to circle aimlessly around for a while during the peak hours.

February 17, 2009

A Look at Two Korean BBQ places: Ong Ga Nae

I think this place deserves a shoutout...imo probably one of the best places to get some Korean BBQ in the area, if you're looking for quality meat. It is located in the plaza off Fairway and Colima where Happy Wok and Albertson's is.

Roasted Barley Tea.

Some of the panchan you get. Salad consisting of romaine lettuce and green onions to eat with your meat in a sort of asian vinaigrette. Steamed broccoli, fish cakes, soy bean sprouts. One nice thing you get here is geh jang, which is spicy raw crab that has a kind of gelatin-y texture to it, and you suck it all out.

Otherside of the table going bottom left counterclockwise. Kimchi, baby squid with some gochujang(spicy red pepper sauce), another type of kimchi, and a potato salad. Overall, the banchan is not bad here...above average than your standard Korean places.

The grills here are powered by gas, not charcoals.

Grillling some Galbi with oyster mushrooms and onions. The meat here is superior to many other places I've been to, and that difference in quality is definitely reflected in their prices. One order of galbi was around $25, and I'd say one order would feed about a little over 1 person. I was disappointed on this visit because their marinade wasn't very good, and for some reason or other reminded me of peanuts.

Some cold mool neng myun to eat after the meat. Chewy buckwheat noodles garnished with some sliced cucumbers, sliced beer, pickled radish, 1/2 a boiled egg and Korean pear. You also get some vinegar and mustard on the side to add to the vinegary broth. Ong Ga Nae's version here is good, but to be honest, I've never really been a big fan of neng myun.

For dessert, su jung gwa (a punch made with cinnamon, dried persimmons, ginger and sugar with a spicy kick) was served.

Service has been consistent for the most part. The ladies cook the meat for you in a brisk no nonsense sort of fashion. It does get busy here so if you want something, like more water or a refill on the banchan, you're going to have to ask (loudly) for it.

Ong Ga Nae
19745 E Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

Afterwards, we stopped by Pinkberry across the street and shared a shaved ice, which is hidden underneath all that chopped fruit of strawberries, pineapple and kiwi along side some mochi topped with a good dollop of their original yogurt. The ice below was flavored with some condensed milk, which was a bit watered down. It was a good size for 4 people to share without getting too full.

19756 Colima Rd Ste A
Rowland Heights, CA 91748

Next post will take a look at an AYCE Korean BBQ place

February 10, 2009

Free Medium Seasoned Curly Fries

Coupon good for today until 11:59 PM

Thanks to Spoofee.com

snowball effect

It started with some roasted garlic salsa recipe that my cousin in law gave out at the wedding last fall. Broil roast 1/2 head of garlic, a habanero and Serrano pepper in the oven. This was my first trying this cooking method out and when I opened up the oven, I could feel the spiciness from the peppers...they were packing some serious heat. Then blended it with some canned tomatoes(Muir's Fire Roasted), cilantro, onion and Mexican oregano.

End product. I love salsa, and this was no exception. Chips and salsa are so addicting...

This was pretty spicy, but I felt after I added the oregano, the heat level toned down a little bit. The half head came out to be 5 large cloves, but next time I'm going to add more with a little less oregano. The recipe also called for some fresh cilantro to be mixed in at the end, which I forgot to do. I still have some leftover, and will add it tomorrow and see how it tastes.

I don't know what got into me that night. I had a bunch of stuff to do, yet I still wanted to cook. Animal physiology quiz be damned. So I decided to make some vegetable soup. Pan cooked some broccoli, onions, squash, carrots, garlic, pancetta and added it to a pot of vegetable broth. Dumped in some tomatoes, northern beans, fresh basil, and some dried italian herbs. Topped it with mozzarella cheese. I had bought some celery, but forgot to add it.

The "mystery" soup as I liked to call it came out okay. Next time, I will try adding some fresh herbs instead of the dry stuff, as well as some white wine. There is a new produce market in the Chino Hills Shoppes called Farm Boy. Herbs are $.89 and you get the same amount of herbs, if not more than if you were to buy the prepackaged ones at the market, saving you a good buck or two. I know even this is expensive, but it's closer than driving to the farmer's market for now...although there is a nice one in the Ontario/Pomona area.

Still, the soup just wasn't enough. Up to this point, I was listening to Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but now started to zone out, as I entered into a sort of cooking reverie. On my list of things I'd like to cook someday, I had a pumpkin bread recipe found on Allrecipes.com, and found this to be a nice sort of dessert. Along with the prescribed ingredients, I also added some ground ginger and chopped walnuts.

It wasn't bad. I ended up using more than a cup of the pumpkin puree simply because I had some left over and didn't know what to do with it. This did affect the consistency of the bread, making it a little "wet" (for the lack of a better word at the moment) although I tried to compensate for this by cooking it longer. Most of the bread came out okay, but some parts weren't that great. I packed some in my lunch the next day with some pretzels and found later that while the pretzels were soft, the bread was now good haha. Tastewise, the bread had a tad too much going on in the nutmeg department. I should have looked at the ingredients on the can before I rationed out the spices, but I still ate this up, and overall, I liked it.

Some could just call it procrastination in an attempt to avoid the necessary to dos of the day, but I thought it was a fun day in the kitchen, and this sort of thing hasn't happened to me before...I can only compare this feeling to having a great rally in tennis when you're in the "zone," having a grand old time, smacking away at the ball. (And in case your wondering, I gave that quiz a hard spanking it will never forget. For more on spankings, check out my friend's recent trip to Vegas)

To end, here's a picture of my latest obsession. I swear these things are like candy. No sugar added, simply dried pineapple rings, but the chew of these things are so DAMN GOOD! They are like those dried out old Harbio gummy bears you find at the bottom of the candy bin at Ralph's, which have become hardened over time, but give one hell of a chew, like a good aged wine. Now think about those, but thinner. Probably not the best analogy, but give these things a try if you like pineapples.

February 7, 2009

Post 50

Hoot hootums. I've grown a small little garden of posts here, and through the process, I've learned that the more I write about food, the more I realize how little I know about it, and I hope to learn more about food as time goes on. Anyone have suggestions for cookbooks or books about food?

Having this blog has also led to many fun food adventures, which leads me to the main topic of this post:

Kogi BBQ.

The Korean taco truck that's currently the L.A. craze. After a huge disappointment a few weeks ago, I had to have it. You know how it is. If you're denied something, you want it even more. I decided to go on Wednesday night, gambling that since it was was weekday, the lines would be shorter.

They were coming to the Golden Gopher on Hill and 8th in Downtown L.A. at 9, so we got there about an hour early. There were two people waiting at the front of the "line," so we decided to go inside the Gopher and started drinking. Draft beers were $6 and mixed drinks were $8. A pretty nice place to chill and drink while we waited.

I peeked out every so often, and the line slowly started to grow. Around 8:50, we decided to wait to come out of the watering hole, since there were a good amount of people waiting, although this was nowhere comparable to Rosemead's wait.

A little past 9:00, we see a truck slowly creeping up and honking. They were on time! +1 star.

Almost there. We waited about 30 minutes in line, which again, was nothing like our previous Rosemead trip. Plus we were happily buzzing. At least I was. I ordered 4 tacos: tofu, spicy pork, chicken, and short ribs @ 2 bucks each. I asked what their special was for the night and the guy, whose name was Steve, told me Kimchi Quesidilla ($5). Also got a can of Shikhye (korean rice punch) for $2 bucks. All canned drinks are $2. Total came out to be $15-$2 (free taco coupon I got) = $13.

Chef Roy doing his thing.

I'm sorry. I know this picture is ugly and even gross. But this is my only testament to waiting in line twice to get these things, so I had to post it. One jumbled mess because the sides of the box were slanted.

Topped with a salad of cabbage and lettuce a bit like the salad you get at the korean bbq joints. The tofu was pretty good. Honestly, we ate in a darkly lit place, so it was really hard to see what was what. For the others, I felt like I got too much of the salad mix and not enough meat, so the salad dressing pretty much overpowered a lot of the other flavors. I could taste the short ribs however, and it was a bit on the sweet side. As to the chicken and pork, I couldn't tell what was what. The tacos could be eaten in two or three bites. I liked them, but I only wished I could have gotten more meat and less salt.

Kimchi Quesadilla. That's what it was: kimchi and cheese in a tortilla with some of their salsa roja on top. This was something I didn't really like. Yes, there really was kimchi in this thing, and it wasn't bad, but the main problem was that this was way too salty for me.

At the same time, they've only been around for 2-3 months and are probably working the kinks out. I would try them again, but I wouldn't wait two hours again. Hopefully with the second truck that started its rounds, the lines will be shorter. Steve was a pretty friendly guy, and I saw Chef Roy outside talking to a bunch of people. The atmosphere was definitely alive here.

There's some saying about how eating together with friends makes food taste better, and that was definitely the case, as we happily ate, using my friend's car roof as our table.

Overall, it was a fun trip, although I have to admit I was partly disappointed, being sucked into the hype. I really thought this was going to be the best damn thing I've ever had in my LIFE. Still, I'd give it another go sometime.

Kogi goes all over L.A.
Locations can be found on their schedule on www.kogibbq.com

You know me. That meal just wasn't gonna cut it. Stopped by for some post munchies at In N Out on the way home. Cheeseburger with onions, grilled onions and pickles. Delicious.

21133 Golden Springs Dr.
Diamond Bar 91789

February 5, 2009

Cho Dang

I went to this place a while back in a previous post and took some horrible pictures with my phone. I went there again, and here's my story about a place called Cho Dang Soon Dubu.

Standard salad that comes out before your meal...iceberg lettuce and romaine. Maybe some lost pieces of red cabbage or a carrot strand. Their dressing isn't bad. One of those Asian grated dressings. This was a bit towards the vinegary/tart side.

You also get a small yellow corvina with your meal.

The starting lineup from top left going clockwise: Kimchi, cucumber kimchi, soy bean sprouts, jap chae, spicy octopus guts for the lack of a better word at the moment, fish cakes. Decent banchan. I'd say the cucumber kimchi was the best. Jap Chae (yam noodles) are pretty plain and bland as they make em...

Yaki Chicken. I got it as a combo along with the tofu. I think the combo is around $16. The tofu you get is a bit smaller than the regular size, but honestly, the difference is negligible. The chicken came out sizzling hot and cooked well, not dry at all. The teriyaki sauce leaned towards the sweet side, and it tasted a bit burnt. Still, it was pretty good.

Kimchi Tofu Spicy. Came out bubbling and compared to my last visit, the soup tasted better. Lots of kimchi and an okay amount of stringy beef.

Service has always been consistent, but the place does get rather busy.

Don't forget to get some frozen yogurt for dessert on the way out!

ChoDang Soondubu
1155 S. Diamond Bar Blvd. Suite M
Diamond Bar

On an ending note I just came back from a wild adventure in L.A. and got Kogi. Post coming ???

February 1, 2009


February already!

Chili's opened up in Diamond Bar a couple months back, and I've been meaning to check it out for their happy hour. Not that they have a great hh menu, but it's now the only place besides the (Oak Tree Sports Bar) in Diamond Bar that serves drinks late night that I know of at least. It's in the big Target Center on the corner of Grand and Golden Springs. You've probably seen it since it's right off the 57/60.

Amberbock and Hef (I forget which brewing company). A little under 5 bucks for the 22 oz. All drinks are a buck off. I got the Presidente Margarita, which came in a plastic shaker (which you could purchase for 2 bucks lol...) [ lol: another word I hate yet it's just become a disgusting habit of mine over the years through instant messaging] The margarita was too much mix, not enough drink.

Free chips and salsa. The guy gave us a lot of tortilla chips, which were thin, airy, and a bit salty. Salsa was blended, mild, and overall meh.

Bowl of Chili. With a name like Chili's, shouldn't they have a decent bowl of chili? The bowl was 5.99 and although the picture makes it look big, the serving was not. The bowl went in a couple cm at most. If this was the bowl, their cup size of chili must be served in a shot glass. It wasn't very hot either. The server warned me it was hot, but it was just the bowl that was hot, not the chili. Taste wise, it was okay with a lot of pieces of ground beef in it, but it wasn't very spicy and overall, not worth the price.

Chili's only has two items that are happy hour prices. Their queso dip, which is $3.50 and 50 cent buffalo wings. The wings weren't bad, for the price, but nothing really stood out. They didn't have much sauce on it, and the ratio of butter:hot sauce favored the butter a lot more. Like the chili, there was no kick to these wings. Also, the amount of meat on the wing varied from a little to a decent amount.

I've tried their sampler platter, in which you can choose 3 items of your choice. I selected the honey wings(I swear this tasted like a fish stick...wtf), southwestern egg rolls, and the chili wings. None of them were very good...just a bunch of disgusting deep fried crap covered in bland sauce. I've also gotten their steak and fajitas, but both of these failed as well because it was just too buttery/salty for me.

Service on this visit wasn't very good. Do I need to ask for napkins and utensils? Come on now kid. On a previous visit however, our waitress was very attentive, and we really didn't have to ask for anything. So I guess service evens out.

What I don't understand is why someone would want to open up a Chili's here when there's one just a few miles down on Grand in Chino Hills . Do people like this place that much?

707 Grand Ave
Diamond Bar, CA 91765

On an ending note, I'm going to check out Kogibbq again this week, and hopefully this trip will be a more fruitful one than the last. Holla!

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