Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GaJa - okonomiyaki

GaJa Japanese Restaurant
2383 Lomita Blvd
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 534-0153

i only heard about Gaja through my godsister karen and her husband chris.  a week or two ago, they sent me a text of their okonomiyaki and it looked so good, i couldn't stop thinking about it.  i was trying to figure out when i could get out to lomita, which by the way, i've never been to, and had no idea where it even was!  so blessed am i, the food gods were smiling upon me and presented me with a most fortuitous opportunity...i was meeting some old friends for dinner and we were originally going to check out shin sen gumi, but i couldn't stop thinking about gaja and my desire to check this place out! 

so the morning of our dinner, i kept debating with myself about whether i should change the restaurant or not, thinking...would it be inconvenient for everyone, is it a pain for everyone if i changed it?  but i had to seize the moment...so i texted everyone and said, change of venue!  we're going to gaja!  i gotta tell you, i have some of THE greatest friends...everyone was so cool and drove from all over just to meet up and eat.  it took me 45 minutes to get there!  luckily during my drive, when i was about 20 minutes out, i thought...OMG!  i better call for reservations because we had a party of 8!  thank goodness they took my reservation so quickly...chris and john arrived first and were seated immediately. 

john's been here before and knew that this place gets packed!  so we were fortunate because later on...people were waiting!!! another good indicator that this place is authentic is the number of japanese customers...and john also told us that all of his clients from japan always requested to eat here as well.  so you know they are doing something right! 

i'm not a connoisseur of okonomiyaki so this was completely new to me.  the menu was overwhelming and daunting...there were so many choices and i wasn't quite sure what to get. i swear my a.d.d was kickin' in!  i felt totally lost and thankfully my friend john had been here before and all of us looked at the menu collectively, asked the waitress a couple of questions and decided on what to get.

some of you might already be salivating at the thought of eating okonomiyaki, but some of you might be thinking...what the hell is that?  well...according to wikipedia...this is what it is.

Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き?) is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "what you like" or "what you want", and yaki meaning "grilled" or "cooked" (cf. yakitori and yakisoba). Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region.  if you want to read more go to:

the waitress said that the chicken wings were very popular so we picked the spicy mayo wings...

they were ok...the wings seemed a little anorexic and dry.  the spicy mayo was ok...nothing earth shattering.  would i get them again?  probabably not.

remember...gotta have your greens!  Gaja salad...

it had corn, tofu, tuna, tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed greens and shredded cabbage and a creamy japanese dressing.  this was really good and refreshing...we got the regular size and it was huge!  it served 6 adults. 

as you are going through the menu it'll tell you what the ingredients are inside the okonomiyaki...

since my godsister karen had told me that GaJa was one of the only places that has Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, i felt it was important for me to try this one specifically.  we picked the seafood mix.  the difference between the Hiroshima style versus plain okonomiyaki is that the Hiroshima style is layered, each component is cooked then put in between the two layers of egg and pancake and the regular style is all mixed together then griddled/cooked.

this really is gigantic!!!  (not as big as my big ass bowl of pho...but still very big)  its basically the size of the entire griddle underneath...

the top layer is egg, underneath is pancake and in between is all the delicious goodness.

peek a boo!!!  see?  doesn't that look so appetizing?!

my favorite part that i look forward to...what do you think it is?  the yakisoba of course!!  and i really like the chewiness of the pancake underneath. 

you guys know i'm a sauce girl and that i love mayo...ohhhh mama!  i'm seriously in heaven right now! 

let me just say, i was very conservative with the mayo, but the reason why the sauce and mayo is so good on here is because you get this kind of sweet and tart umami-esque sauce mixed with the creamy mayo that mellows it out and you have all kinds of different textures with each bite.  sometimes its all noodles with some egg, or then a piece of thin pork, which honestly isn't super tender or anything, but i just kept on chewing, then maybe a chewy piece of octopus.  it doesn't really matter what happens to land on my fork for the next bite, but its just homey, comforting food.  now that i have experienced the hiroshima style, i think that this would be one of my favorite ways to eating okonomiyaki. 

What i really appreciate about this dish is that you could easily have any of these ingredients in your own home and put it together...its like so many cultures where you have a dish that is just a potpourri of ingredients in your fridge and you put it all together and suddenly someone's created this new dish.  this is food that familiar flavors and textures, not only is it comfort food, but its fun food that you can share with your friends or be a complete pig and eat it yourself.  AND you can cook it yourself if you want!!  think about it...you don't have to prep anything AND someone cleans up after you!!   i think that when people can be a part of the cooking process, that's what makes this place so appealing! 

but if you are lazy and you're still paying the same price...you can have them make it for you!  either way...its still fun.  i really did enjoy this and would eat it again. 

This boy knows how to eat!  GO B!!!

He watched all of us put the okonomiyaki sauce on our servings and just picked up the bottle himself and tried to pour it! SO DAMN SMART! i seriously love his enthusiasm for food and enjoying it as it should be.

don't forget the mayo!

he is too freaking cute!  can you imagine!?  he is eating everything on his plate!!  if only all kids could be this good at the dinner table and eat what's put in front of them!  i know you've already fallen in love with him too as much as i have.

i love how it say "healthy pancake", we chose the pork okonomi...

wow...my nail looks pretty good there...maybe i could be a hand model?!  anyone have an agent they can refer me to?!  maybe i should call mary hart for her agent!  haha

again, we had them prepare it in the kitchen for us...

those golden brown crusty pieces are the pork that's been crisped up during the cooking process...nice and cruncy.

when the make it in the back, it is flattened out much more than how other people made it at their tables.  obviously its because it'll cook faster and they can serve it to us more quickly.

see...it's thin slices of pork,

the flavor of all the ingredients totally melded together, it was mild and i felt like everything kind of got lost, except for the bites of ginger...giving your tastebuds a little jolt.  i did like the crunchy texture of the griddled pork but overall, i felt like it really needed the sauce and the mayo to give it more hmph!

i snuck some secret shots of other people's okonomiyaki...they mixed it all up in a bowl first then put it on the griddle.  there is an assortment of oil and sauces/condiments for you to use as you prepare your own okonomiyaki on the griddle in front of you.

this group of three girls to our left worked as a team...it kind of reminded me of curling!  the quick movements of the spatulas, sliding underneath and out and back and forth...making sure the bottom didn't burn, occasionally adding extra oil if it needed it.  and when it was finally done, they carefully made zigzags of sauce and mayo over the top before they ate it!  everyone can make their own masterpiece.  it was really cool to watch them make it...i can't wait to try it myself next time. 

overall, i really did enjoy eating here...the drive is quite a haul for me...but if i was in the mood for okonomiyaki, i would drive down again.  i will remember to come early because it does get crowded, or else call for reservations.   i would like to check out their extensive menu and try something new next time, but i would definitely order the hiroshima okonomiyaki again.  this is a great place for friends to get together, cook and share a meal.  if you have kids who you feel are old enough to work a griddle, i think its the perfect place to come and let them be a part of the cooking process. 

so instead of ending the evening, we decided to go somewhere for some coffee and dessert...

King's Hawaiian Bakery and Restaurant
2808 Sepulveda Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505 
(310) 530-0050

none of us were quite sure where we should go, and as we were driving king's hawaiian popped in my head, but i had no idea where it was.  but lucky for us, joey and erin thought of it and took us right there!  it's literally like five minutes away.  they must've read my mind!  =)

i am seriously starving right now as i'm writing this post..and wishing i could have some more of that hiroshima okonomiyaki!  for the past 6 hours i have been wishing i had a pint of ice cream in the freezer, i even debated going to the market around 11 pm to get some...but i'm trying to have some self-control.  ok...i just wanted to share the fact that looking at these pictures makes me hungry too!

the cake display case at king's hawaiian bakery.

i love this picture...you can just imagine what he's thinking...perhaps..."ooooohhhh how i wish i could just jam my fingers into those cakes and shove it in my mouth!" or..."is it my birthday yet?!"  (he actually gets one of these cakes on saturday!!  wishes do come true!)

its like the heavens opened and the golden glow of the lights shining on those big beautiful cakes...calling to him...EAT ME!!!  you know he's hoping mommy is going to let him have some.

hmmm...who can resist eating king's hawaiian dinner rolls with softened sweet creamy butter?!

we couldn't!  it doesn't matter that we just had dinner...these sweet rolls are so easy to eat!  i could eat these all day long!  just make sure there's plenty of butter!  (stomach fully growling at this point!)  i sure wish i had bought some from the bakery before we left!

this kid is definitely on my list of people i'd take eating with me. 

AND!  he knows exactly which is the best part of the roll...THE BUTTER!!!  He licks it off first before he shoves the rest of the bread in after it!  i love this little boy!!

Hawaiian Paradise
Three layers (guava, passion, lime) chiffon cake with whipped cream filling and the three fruit nectar glaze on top.

this cake is light and airy and my favorite part of it is actually the nectar glaze on top.  i got the passion fruit, which i love the tartness.  i shared a little bit of my cake with B and he ate it all up!  he was asking for more...but mommy had to say enough.  i can't help but chuckle to myself...i love that he has such a great appetite!

chris ordered the paradise cake in the cheesecake form...

this was very light and not heavy at all.  i actually really liked the taste and would get that over the cake!  and that's kind of big deal for me since i'm not a cheesecake person.  i can't take the heavy, richness of most cheesecakes, but the bite that i had was really nice. 

i want to thank erin, joey, the kids, chris, john and jon for coming out and joining me to for a great evening of food and friends!! 

Friday, March 26, 2010

got pho challenge

Pho Garden
2109 Clement St 
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 379-8677

PHO challenge

if you can't read it, it says...One hour time limit to complete all 2 lbs of noodles and 2 lbs combination beef (rare steak, tripe, well-done flank, brisket, soft-tendon, and beef meatballs).  Winner will take the bowl home as a trophy and a free meal.  Loser will walk away with a t-shirt.  (someone noted on yelp that including the soup and the bowl, the total weight of it all comes out to a whooping 22 lbs)

"T" and i had to fill out a waiver so that pho garden was not liable for anything that could possibly happen to us while attempting the pho challenge.  we looked up at the wall of challengers who defeated the gigantic bowl of pho, and on that wall was only one woman, with a baby sling and a newborn in it.  she happened to be the fastest eater also, about half an hour.  i believe she had an unfair advantage...breast feeding.  you KNOW that burns thousands of calories so she could probably eat a whole cow!  why couldn't i be breast feeding baby so i could become the second women to get on the wall of fame?!  i need to rethink this idea of not having children...all for the sake of competitive eating!!!  should i?!  haha!!  i digress...

my bowl arrives...HOLY CHIT! (yes i know, i said chit)

first of all, i've never done an eating competition of any type...and i certainly wasn't prepared.  my friend "T", who was going to do this competition with me, told me that competitive eaters prepare by eating lots of ice berg lettuce.  unfortunately, i was trapped indoors at my sisters because it was pouring cats and dogs...so i basically tried to starve myself, except for some string cheese (i thought the protein would be good for me without being too filling).  but after awhile i was so ravenous, i broke down and ate half a sandwich and half a bag of furikake chex mix!  bad idea!  i was full and only a couple of hours away from the eating showdown!  DAMN THOSE CHEX MIX!  they were so addicting i couldn't stop myself, plus the fact i was just starving.  i obviously have no self-control when it comes to food. 

anyhow, back to the eating.  i put in tons of hoisin, sirracha and some lemon.  later on, i added some basil.  this bowl was massive and truly intimidating.  i just couldn't get enough flavor into the noodles...which i think was the thing that made this challenge very difficult.  as you all know, i am always on the search for eating GOOD food...not just mediocre food.  When i first started, it didn't taste bad at all, but with each bite, the noodles started to taste starchy and tasteless.  about 15 minutes in, i really started to feel like i was hitting a wall, but i was determined to keep going.  "T" was struggling too...and he barely put any hoisin in his bowl...he used the dipping sauce from some of the spring rolls, which tasted heavenly on the noodles!  great idea "T"!

many people would eat the noodles first because it absorbs all the soup, but i wanted to eat both noodles and beef equally, because i didn't want to be stuck eating all beef in the end.  i do believe one of my downfalls was that i didn't just go for the noodles only, because i swear to God those freaking noodles kept growing and growing! 

i was literally leaning on the bowl as if it was a porcelain god.  many of you know what i'm talking about...there have been many a night in my youth where my wild nights ended in front of one.  i also had to put my hair back so it wouldn't get in my way while i was busy slurping noodles.  let me just say...i was sweating while i was eating away! 

after 36 minutes of eating...we had to call it quits...("T" stopped before i did) i even stood up and jumped around, trying to burn a few extra calories and perhaps make some more room in my stomach.  but honestly, i could've kept eating, but it was the monotonous taste that was starting to make me want to gag.  if it tasted super amazing it would be a different story.  i felt like the quality of the noodle was subpar and that really bugged me.  i couldn't stomach it anymore.  i wanted to save my stomach for some other goodies!

i'm thinking...should i really try and finish this whole freaking bowl?!  is it really worth it?

this means...blech!  no more starchy noodles!

i actually ate about 1/3 of the food, but those dang noodles wouldn't stop replicating themselves and growing!! 

my consolation prize...a t-shirt!  which i gave to my friend mike, who graciously bought my dinner.

man...i don't think i'd ever do another pho challenge.  my friend "T" said this was his first and last time he'll ever eat pho.  haha  i felt so bad i made him a pho hater, hopefully one day he'll be open to eating pho again...just not 2 lbs of it at a time!  everyone else who joined us actually enjoyed their food, so hopefully the next time i return, i can try some of the other delicious foods they had.

i hope to try some other competitive eating challenges...but next time it'll be food that i really love and nothing that involves food in broths!  i would love to do a chicken wing or potsticker challenge! oohhhh...just thinking about it sounds so yummy!  hot sticky wings!  yum!  i think i could do some damage on either of those items...and i will definitely have to prepare myself before i try another competition. 

after my pho challenge defeat...i felt like dessert.

we stopped by mel's drive-in and i got a hot fudge sundae to end the night of eating.  not the greatest ice cream...but it was nice to have something sweet and try and get rid of the taste of bad pho. 

thanks to my friends for joining and supporting me and "T" for our PHO Challenge!  even though we did not prevail, we still had a great time!  lastly, thanks to my friend justin f. for suggesting it! 

if any of you hear of a fun eating challenge and want to try it...let me know!

spicy thai chili veggie chow mein

noodles is one of my favorite things to eat...but everytime i go to the chinese restaurants, they don't usually have the type of noodles that i like to eat (lo mein).  so it is just much easier for me to make it myself at home. 

for the last couple of days i've been craving spicy noodles...something nice and simple.  i decided to make it with just napa cabbage, cha'i-pow-yu (braised gluten) which are these vegetarian gluten globs my mom introduced me to a very long time ago.  they really are quite good, i buy the companion brand and its called cha'i-pow-yu (braised gluten).  lots of green onions and a few thai chilies.  i also add extra spice with a spicy chili paste...more heat! and for added flavor for the noodles, this chinese soy sauce...i'd give you the name but its all in chinese.  my mom used to use it all the time, so its what i use now too.  how i wish i didn't screw around as a kid and actually learned to read and write chinese.  damn it!  i need to get the rosetta stone chinese series!  *sigh*

the noodles were delicious...i love how the heat from the chilies just slowly creeps into your mouth and gets hotter and hotter!  i get bits of crunchy napa cabbage, a little saltiness from the gluten and bright oniony flavor from the green onions. 

if you're ever craving some chow mein (lo mein) you can easily make this at home, you don't need a ton of ingredients and its very inexpensive to make.  if you just don't do vegetarian...then add your favorite meat!  too bad i can't share some of this with you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

luv it frozen custard

Luv It Frozen Custard
505 E Oakey Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89104
(702) 384-6452

i love going to this place, and luckily we got there before closing time!  believe me, i was puttin' the pedal to the metal!  Lord knows there have been many times i've actually tried to go down here and they were closed.  many people might not know where this is located in vegas, but if you are a frequent visitor of olympic gardens (and no, its not a botanical garden) you will be familiar with this area.  just be aware that there are homeless people who hang out around there and will solicit you for money. 

they just gave this place a fresh new coat of purple paint...and it looks cheery and happy.  the way you feel when you eat their custard.

in case you didn't know what the difference is between frozen custard and ice cream...

they are now open 7 days a week!  i'm so happy to see that!

i got the western special, vanilla custard, hot fudge, minus the caramel, salted pecans and a maraschino cherry. 

the frozen yogurt is soooooo smooth and creamy, the texture is so silky on my tongue and the hot fudge...whoa, it is equally as silky.  when i eat it, the textures are exactly the same, but the only way i can tell the difference between the two is the temperature.  i know, you might think, of course the fudge is smooth because it's hot.  But seriously, even long after we got our custard sundaes and i was close to the end of it all, it was still as smooth as it was in the beginning. 

one of my favorite parts of this whole sundae is the salted pecans!  its the perfect bit of salty, crunchiness to mix in with the sweet of the fudge and custard!  and for some odd reason, last night when i finally popped that maraschino cherry half into my mouth along with a bit of custard, fudge and nuts...its was the perfect bite of juicy sweetness.  i could go for another bite right now.

my all-time "bestest" eating buddy...alison.

i swear, i am so lucky!  alison will eat anywhere i want and anything i choose.  she never complains about the non-stop eating excursions and is always such a trooper about it.  she is THE BEST!!  and i am so blessed to have such an amazing friend who will eat with me 24 hours a day...literally!  (i'm still trying to recover from our eating frenzy in san francisco!) 

i know plenty of you come out to vegas...so if you can take some time out of your busy schedules from gambling, sunning, clubbing or whatever crazy thing you're doing (example:  helping the economy by visiting strip clubs like olympic gardens, which you then have no excuse because its so close to luv it's), i definitely recommend you get yourself some frozen custard.  check out their website for daily flavors, tips on how to order and where to find this little vegas gem of a dessert place.  

all i can say is....smmoooooooooth and creamy!  get yourself a sundae today!

woodhouse fish co.

woodhouse fish co.
1914 fillmore street
san francisco, ca 94115
415.437.crab (2722)

open daily
sun-thur 11:30-10pm
fri-sat 11:30-10:30pm
walk-ins only

i had just gotten in from my flight from las vegas and my sister and i were trying to decide what to eat. we asked our friend rob to join us and none of us really had any real preference on what to eat.  just so you know, unless there is something really specific that i'm craving to eat, i'm pretty open to suggestions and trying something that's in the neighborhood i've never tried before.  susan suggested woodhouse and a couple of other places, but we thought we'd just walk and take a look at the menus and choose a place.  we were all pretty hungry...the menu looked like good classic american seafood fare...so we decided to stay and check it out.

"hartford" clam chowder...

you might be asking yourself, "have i ever heard of the "hartford" chowder?"  unless you were in hartford, connecticut and they called it that...or perhaps if you have eaten at a woodhouse fish co., then you might have happened to come upon this particular chowder.  as i was told by our waitress, this is a "made up" chowder their restaurant came up with and its a combination of their regular clam chowder (3/4) and manhattan clam chower (1/4) put right on top.  can you say yum?!  i really liked the combination of the two chowders together.  it really reminds me of how i like to eat my pasta sauce, red sauce with cream.  i like it because it makes the cream cuts the acidity from the tomatoes.  in this case, i love the richness of the regular clam chowder, but the little bit of manhattan just gave it a little zing and burst of extra tomato flavor to the creamy soup.  i loved it!  also, there were large nuggets of tender clam throughout the entire soup...they weren't skimping at all which was terrific!

wedge salad with maytag blue cheese...

nice simple wedge salad, my sister susie q cut it all up and there were some nice little surprises in there...roasted beets!!  i must say, i truly enjoy eating beets.  when i was growing up, my mom never made us beets, and i only remember seeing them at the salad bar, say at a restaurant like sizzler for example, and they were just "those dark red circles" to me.  i never had the inclination to eat them, until i went to culinary school and started to cook them myself and i just fell in love with them.  back to our wedge salad, so they had these wonderfully sweet beets in the salad, i believe they are the chioggia variety, which is a sweet Italian heirloom beet, with beautiful pink and white stripes.  they were perfectly cooked and indeed, very sweet.  when i was eating the combination of the salad and beets, i wasn't sure if i liked it together, (the blue cheese dressing and beets) but the beets were so good, it really didn't matter to me at the moment. they were delicious, and i think that they were THE best part of the entire salad.

split-top dungeness louie roll...

this wasn't my dish so i only had a little bite.  my friend rob ordered this and i didn't want to be miss piggy and start chomping on it.  when i was going through the menu, i wasn't paying attention to everything on it, because i was really excited about certain other dishes...so i didn't realize it had said it was a crab louie roll.  so when i ate it, got a taste of the lettuce with thousand island dressing and crab, i was like...hmmm, this is just like a crab louie salad!  DUH!  if i only read the menu better!  so anyhow...there were giant chunks of fresh crab and the little bite that i had was good.  i actually wish i could've eaten more of this to get a better sense of the whole dish including the roll.  But from the little that i did, it made enough of an impression on me that i would try and get it next time.

split-top maine lobster roll...

the grilled backside...

i love eating lobster, but my favorite part of the lobster is the body more so than the claws.  even though they were so incredibly generous with the lobster claws, which you can see are whole and really just looked terrific.  i don't like the taste of the claw...its almost chalky to me and not my favorite taste.  what's worse is that, i had already gotten a taste of rob's crab louie roll, and i liked the flavor that had so much better.  it was so sad because i was really excited to eat the lobster roll too.  i'm sorry, i can't even speak about the golden toasted roll because i was so not loving the taste of the claws that it really took away from the whole thing for me.

fish & chips - anchor steam beer-battered wild alaskan cod with shoe string fries...

i'm going to jump right into the tartar sauce!  OMG!  fresh, homemade (at least it looked homemade to me!) and soooooo mouth-wateringly good!  i could slather that all over myself and just lick it all up.  j/k...i might get some weird skin reaction.  anyhow...i would go back to eat the tartar sauce alone!  any deep fried seafood item would be delicious with that stuff!  the fish itself was crispy and light.  i would say the fish was more on the drier side, more flaky...as in, not succulent like halibut or something, but it was still very good.  honestly, it was the tartar sauce that did it for me though...it was so damn delicious.  i'd get this again, as long as i get a big ol' side of that DEEEEE-licious tartar sauce!

oh!  i almost forgot to talk about the fries!  i didn't even ask for them to be extra crispy like i normally do, but 2 out of the 3 baskets had some nicely golden, crispy fries already!  so that was really great that they made it that way without having to be asked!  extra points just for the fries!

overall, my favorite items were the hartford chowder, tartar sauce with a side of fish and chips hehe ;), and of course, those big chunks of beautiful pink/white striped chioggia beets!  hmmm....  i love finding places that can make some of my favorite comfort foods...and just make it right.  i was told they also have a killer bread pudding dessert that comes out hot with a large dollop of whipped cream that kind of melts into the hot ramekin and becomes the "sauce".  i have yet to try that...*sigh*

time for dessert...

fraiche yogurt
1910 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115


we actually went next door for dessert at fraiche...organic frozen yogurt.  if you take your receipt from woodhouse, you get one free topping!  i got the organic pomegranate and valrhona chocolate frozen yogurt.  for my toppings i chose the homemade mochi and fresh strawberries.  the fresh mochi was soft and chewy which i thought was excellent.  the store is nicely decorated, wood tables with little vases of branches or unique plants.  its just cool, very san francisco.  not like the frozen yogurt places in l.a., where its almost like a circus and they are super colorful and try to be more "futuristic" in their decor. here, it's just simple, subdued and comfortable.  i liked that.  

hmmm...i liked the square cubes of fresh mochi...

chocolate lovers...how can you resist fresh shavings of callebaut chocolate?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

chinese comfort food @ supreme dragon

Supreme Dragon
18406 Colima Rd Ste E
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
(626) 810-0396

i know i have talked about supreme dragon on facebook but never here on my blog so i wanted to share this with you.  supreme dragon is always an old standard for our family, well...maybe not for everyone in my family.  my dad gets sick of eating here because every time any of us girls come home, we always want to eat something familiar and comforting, and this is where we want to go.  so while my sister, susan, was in town, yes, during that same weekend of the tragic incident at rowland garden cafe.  we came here for lunch the very next day.  all of us girls just love foods that remind of us our childhood...potstickers, buns, and noodley things that remind us of our mom.  she would always make all of these dishes for us because she knew how much we loved eating them!  alright, enough about us...let's get to the food.

one of my favorites...thousand year old duck egg with tofu, special sauce and a special request for a side of fresh cilantro and green onions. 

when we were growing up, we couldn't just buy clean thousand year old duck eggs in the market where they kept all the other eggs.  we'd go to a market in chinatown and walk to the back of the store where there was this huge earthen vase filled with these black ovals covered in some type of mud.  my mom and dad would go through this vase and pick out the eggs.  when we'd get home, we'd gently crack off the outer layer of mud and then get to the shell, then crack and peel of the shell, revealing that beautiful opaquish black egg.

yes, the eggs really are black and the yolk has this green/bluish hue to it.  personally, i like the yolk to be kind of creamy and runny...(no big surprise since i like my regular eggs runny.  haha)  i really just love that texture and i personally feel like the flavor of the yolk tastes better.  the taste of this egg is acquired...it has a very pungent, ammonia aroma...and some people think its disgusting...but I LOVE IT!!

does anyone remember the show fear factor?  remember when they had pureed it and made the contestants eat it?  it was so hilarious because all them were so grossed out by the thought that it was "a thousand years old" and also from the black/blue color.  i was thinking...OMG!  YUM!  even better if they added some shoyu, sesame seed oil and a sprinkling of green onions and cilantro!  i could've easily won that challenge if i had a chance to eat it!  but if it were cow balls or goat eyeballs, i would've barfed. 

anyhow...with the right ingredients...this dish is soooooo delicious. 

here's my daddy-o mixing it all up so every bite has a bit of sauced tofu with some of the eggs.  i swear, there is never enough egg!  there should be at least two whole eggs on there.  oh well.

i like the fresh scallions and cilantro...

not only does it give you the herb and oniony flavor, it also adds a bit of texture to a very "soft" dish.
potstickers!  my nephew brandon loves eating potsickers too! 

i wish that it was left in the pan just a hint longer to give the bottom a bit more golden, crunchy texture.  but it was still good.  i always make my own spicy dipping sauce to eat with my potstickers.

mustard greens, soy beans and tofu sheets...

this was my mom's favorite dish...and has since become a favorite for my sisters and i.  its a very simple dish, i always have to add salt to this because i think its always under seasoned.  no matter, i will always get it...one, because i like it and two, because its good for me.  =)  (remember...its good for your colon!)

my other nephew, justin, is predominantly vegetarian and loves eating tofu.  this is his favorite dish here, tofu with mushrooms in brown sauce. 

it's really cute because justin actually requests eating here because he loves this dish so much.  he's a pretty picky eater, so it makes me happy to know that he enjoys eating here and he even knows how to say the name of the restaurant in mandarin!  when his dish comes out, he'll sit there, spoon out the tofu onto his plate, then he'll go back and get the gravy and let it drip slowly over his rice.  smart boy!  i love gravy on my rice!!!

xiao long bao...

so far, of all the places i have been to and tried xiao long bao, i still love eating it here.  i think the meat is tender and has good flavor, while the texture of the skins have a nice bite and chewiness to it.  i am really liking the ginger with it, which i was never super crazy about when i was younger,  but i feel like my tastes are constantly changing and evolving as i get older.  

rice ovals with pork and veggies...

this is one of my dad's favorite dishes, but he always requests that they use as little oil as possible.  the rice ovals are very sticky so typically they use a lot of oil so they don't stick in the pan and to each other.  its very chewy and takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you use, this is more soy/brown sauce based.  i like the little bits of crunchy veggies in here that contrast with the chewy ovals.

we ALWAYS get green onion pancakes...

theirs is a little thicker than many other restaurants, but i like the doughyness and the crispy texture together.  this is another dish that i always think needs more salt too...so before it even comes out, i always grab the salt shaker from the condiment cart, because salt isn't readily available on every table.  so as soon as it hits the table i salt it so that it has a chance to melt while the pancake is still super hot. 

kung pao chicken...

my other sister, robin, was in the mood for some kung pao chicken.  i remember my parents always ordering this dish when we were kids...and it was a staple dish whenever we went out.  this was fine...tender pieces of chicken, lots of peanuts and onions.  this is not something i crave and would normally order, it's a good basic dish. 
pan fried pork buns...

this is one of susan's favorites...basically its a little pork bao that is pan fried.  i love the crispy texture on the bottom and the soft bao.  the pork is also tender and i think that it's the same pork they use in the potstickers and xiao long bao.  though i never asked them, so i can't be certain, but it sure tastes pretty similar to me. 

i told you we love doughy things!  after all that food, can we say carb coma?!  hahaha  whenever i'm in the mood for some good comfort chinese food, this is where i go.  i'm sure there are other places out there that are better that i have still yet to try, and would love to find and go to one day.  but for now, this is the place that fulfills not only my cravings for comfort food, but that of my family (and its so close to my house!!).  i hope that if you try it too, you'll enjoy some of the things that bring back such fond memories for me about growing up chinese and most importantly, my mom.  miss you momma!