Monday, November 29, 2010

"Talk to me Chef" with Chef Kris Morningstar @ Test Kitchen Part Deux

I had the pleasure and honor of working with Chef Kris Morningstar on his final night at Test Kitchen on Sunday, November 21, 2010.  

Here's a clip of us after dinner service was done and he shares more information about the type of food he is passionate about making.  

Chef Roy Arendse, Chef Kris Morningstar and Chef Mikey Esteban 
(my camera man from video one)
I wish that all of you could have been there to see and experience the food with your own palettes!  One of my favorite things that I got a chance to try was the Truffled Chicken Liver Pate...OMG!  To die for!!!  Seriously...of all the food that I saw and had a chance to taste...you can taste Chef Kris's passion in it.
Here's the menu and some pictures I was able to capture during service.  I wish I had a chance to get more, but work comes first!

Crispy pork bites...

House smoked trout cakes, quail egg, creme fraiche, horseradish, dill...

Local yellow tail, carlsbad clams, octopus, charmoula, peanut romesco...

Beef tendon...

Kuri Squash Agnolotti, hen of the wood mushrooms, lime brown butter, hazelnuts...

House made garlic sausage, lentils de puy, grapes, brussel sprouts, whole grain mustard...
Duck breast & galantine, salted oatmeal, apples, baby turnips, hoja santa (there might be more to that last part...but I can't see or remember)...
The rest of the kitchen crew...some people are missing...but it was a great group of chefs to work with.

From left to right:
Chef James Trees, Chef Ashley Kato, Chef Elderoy Arendse, Lynda Kim, Chef Lance Biggers and Chef Kris Morningstar.

Thank you Chef Kris...for sharing your passion for beautiful and flavorful food.  I look forward to the day I can dine on your delicious food...again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Talk to me Chef" with Chef Christian Page of Daily Dose

That's right...it's already time for another segment of "Talk to me Chef"!  This time I had a chance to sit down with Chef Christian Page who is going to be opening his restaurant Daily Dose on January 15, 2011! 

Check out the inside scoop I got about the restaurant, food and ambiance that you have to look forward to! 

Chef Page was so much fun to work with and very charming to say the least...ladies...keep a look out for this handsome chef!  

I am really excited for the opening of his restaurant on January 15, 2011, which happens to be the same day as my cousin, Linda's engagement party to her wonderful fiance Cary.  And my sister Susie Q's bday, but I am crossing my fingers...depending on the time of each event, I will be able to be there to celebrate Chef Page's opening and wish him a ton of success. 

Thanks for the interview and all the great information about Daily Dose!  Wishing you all the best Chef Christian!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bringing back the old school...sloppy joe's

I haven't had a sloppy joe in, oh...I don't know...decades?  But recently I got to eat one...and it was so tasty!!  I think I'll have to start making it myself!  I loved the idea that we were eating sloppy joe's so much, that I wanted to "flip" it and share it with you guys! 

This is a fun, inexpensive, super easy meal to prepare for yourself or your family and friends!  It is definitely something that makes everyone reminisce about the "old days"!  

Here's a close up!  The melted cheese was like the "glue" that kind of held the meat together so it wasn't falling out all over the place.

We used shredded mexican cheese and used seasoning salt on our extra crispy Ore Ida fries.  Check out the inside of the top of the bun, it was buttery, golden and crisped up!  It was huge...and even though I was so full, I still ate the whole thing! 

It's so funny how simple this is...and I had this video for over a week and finally got a chance to put it up.  Today, I felt like taking a stroll through Williams Sonoma and look what I found in the jarred sauce area...


Seriously, I haven't thought about sloppy joe's in forever, and after having it at Stephanie's I just thought what a great thing for people to prepare at home. What's even better is that you can totally make it your own!  Use turkey if you don't want to use fatty beef (hmmm...fatty beef), make it with veggie meat if you're a vegetarian (Esther, you know what veggie meat I'm talking about)...or whatever else you can think of...buffalo meat?!  You can buy the sloppy joe seasoning mix, make your own blend or buy a jar...whatever your fancy.

Thank you Stephanie for re-introducing this back to me!

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Talk to me Chef" with Chef Kris Morningstar @ Test Kitchen

Hey everyone!

I know...you have all been asking me why haven't I had a chance to write more restaurant reviews...things have been totally crazy, but I promise I will again soon. 

But I want to share something fun with you guys..I'm starting a new segment called...(drum roll)  "Talk to me Chef"!!  It's an inside scoop on what's going on with chefs, their current or future projects and maybe a little more behind the scenes tid bits!  

My first chef I'm going to feature is Chef Kris Morningstar of Blue Velvet and District fame.  He will be doing his own culinary creations at Test Kitchen starting tomorrow (well today) Friday, November 19 - Sunday, November 21st.  His menu already sounds amazing!! Check out my little chat with him...and you can decide for yourself. 

To make your reservations you can go to:

But wait, before you do...I will be there to work in the kitchen on Sunday...so if you want to see me sweatin' in the kitchen...make sure you come on Sunday night!

Here's all your info


for additional info

9575 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles
(310) 277-0133

I'm giving you all the info I possibly can to make it that much easier to go check it out.  The menu is also up on the Test Kitchen website!

If you are looking for something new and delicious to try...come down!  I'll be working the dinner service for Chef Kris on Sunday!

Thanks Chef Kris for taking time to chat with me and I'm going to remember that towel trick!

Wishing you all the best on a super successful three nights at Test Kitchen!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Round 3 - Fukada for handmade noodles

8683 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618


Tue-Sun 11:30 am - 2 pm
Tue-Sun 5 pm - 9 pm

It had been an awesome Sunday afternoon...it was around 5:30p and we had eaten a full lunch, tons of pastries at Cream Pan, then saw a movie and stuffed our faces with popcorn and candy.  So, no...no one was particularly starving at this point.  We were still cruising around the Irvine Spectrum and when we finally decided to head out, Karen brought up the idea of going to this one ramen house in Costa Mesa, but none of us were super hungry.  Chris then said that he didn't like that place enough to drive over there, BUT!  If we were to go to Fukada then he would totally be down for that!  I have never been there, so they proceeded to tell me about the handmade noodles, which of course made me salivate and it didn't really matter whether or not I was super hungry because the more we talked about it, the more I'll become hungry.  That's just how it works for me.

Just the mere mention of handmade noodles was THE ultimate way to perk the interest of my belly and my palette.  And so it was decided and we took off in our cars to head over to Fukada.  Chris literally ran into the restaurant to get our names written down on the wait list.  Lucky for us, we had gotten there early.  I'd say there were about 6 or 8 groups of us that just made the turn and so the following guests had a bit of await ahead of them.
I loved the simplicity of the decor, the community table in the middle and the two banquettes lined with little two toppers that can easily be put together or separated for smaller parties of one or two. A counter is also available to eat at. 

Audrey had ordered a chicken teriyaki dinner and she was the lucky winner of these wonderfully blanched, seasoned green beans.  Lots of terrific sesame flavor, shoyu and I don't know, perhaps mirin or sugar too?  It was tasty and I would order a bowl of just that.  I really wanted to eat her entire bowl of green beans, but of course that would be totally rude of me and that kind of behavior is just unacceptable! haha  (what kind of adult would take a kids bowl of veggies?!)

Karen is the sweetest!  She loves salmon and wanted to share one of her favorite salads, the Salmon Skin Salad...

I love my Karen more than you know, and for years I had never confessed to her that cooked salmon is not my favorite thing...at least not until tonight.  I still feel bad...she has made me cooked salmon dishes many a dinner...but I always eat it because I totally appreciate her cooking for me and for Karen, I'd do anything.  She's my sister and I love her!   Anyhow...I did eat this, and I can see how delicious it can be, but most likely not a future item I'd order. =) But I know she loved it...so for all you crunchy salmon skin lovers...get this salad.

One of favorite dishes, nasumiso (eggplant with miso).

This was tasty, a little sweet from the miso, a little charred from the grill and just a really nice softer consistency.  Audrey, 12, is always such a sport.  She is not a huge fan of eggplant, but she was will to take a bite. I always say, Just try it one!  If you hate it, you'll never had to eat it again!  What's the worse thing that can happen right?!  You gotta try it and be open and Audrey is doing so fabulous for a 12 year old!  I'm so proud of her!

Oh yeah...looking down the specials menu, my eyes did not have to travel far before it reached one of my most sought after menu items that always capture my heart and palette!  (besides chocolate or ice cream!)
Yes, you are right...the stewed pork belly baby!!  awww....yah!  I even asked the waiter...has the pork belly been cooked forever so that it is falling apart tender?!  And he of course looked at me like a crazy person, smiled and said yes...it is.  (a short scream of delight was emitted from my lips and I said I'd take an order of it.)

Oh, yes...that's my stewed pork! 

Just a brief reaction to some of the food below...

That first piece of pork I ate on camera was out of this world!  The big chunk I ate later, was not as tender as the first, but still very tasty.  But it could have been cooked a little longer like the other piece.  Oh Lord, that first piece was seriously "melt in your mouth" good!

Vegetable tempura with my udon.  The batter wasn't super crunchy or light per se...but still good.  My favorite piece was the lotus root...because of the crunchy texture of the lotus root itself.  That was really good.

The udon was awesome! 

Loved the silky, bouncy texture of the noodles between my teeth.  It had plenty of body and wasn't mushy at all.  I would love to learn how to make noodles!  They have their noodle making room in the back on the way to the bathroom, but at that time, no one was making them.  Perhaps they only make them earlier in the day...I would have to ask next time I'm there.  Many of you out there seem to be frequent patrons of Fukada, so if any of you know when they typically make them, please feel free to share that info so everyone else can be informed as well.

I walked into this restaurant not even really super hungry...(can you say piggie?) but because it was well known for the handmade noodles, I was down to eat.  The menu itself made me want to order everything on it, but the few things that we did, made my palette and belly very happy.  In fact, I ate everything I ordered.  *sigh...oink oink*  Those of you who have a love affair with food like me...I know you totally understand how I feel.  You can be totally full, but the mere thought of the next meal or something delicious, will just get those stomach juices flowing and you're hungry at the thought of the next piece of food that will go past your lips and touch your tongue...bursting with flavor...and bringing you pure joy!

Anyhow...noodle lovers...come check out Fukada if you haven't already!  I'm ready to go back again and again and again!

Dessert @ Cream Pan in Tustin

Cream Pan
602 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780


Tue-Sun 7 am - 4 pm 

My God sister told me that her hubby Chris LOOOOOOOVES these strawberry croissants, so we decided to center our visit around this flaky, creamy, fruit filled creation.  We actually had lunch first at the Japonaise Bakery & Cafe (which is a part of the bakery).

These are the large ones...

 The minis come in a 6-pack and have only two slices of strawberries in it.

As I said in the video...I would've loved more cream and berry slices...but it was still yummy!  I was thinking what would be even more awesome is if the croissant wasn't cold and they were able to fill them to order and put the cold cream and slices in, but I know that there is no way to do that with THE most popular item in the bakery. 

Banana croissant...

Karen, Chris and Audrey thought this was awesome.  Not as awesome as the strawberry croissant but still 2nd in line to the rest of the desserts so far.  The bananas were perfectly ripe, there was plenty of them and the cream so they loved the flavor.

The rest of the pastries we had were ok.  What made me really sad was the cake donut, which both Karen and I were super excited to try.  Unfortunately it tasted kind of like tempura!  Think that's weird?  Well...not so strange since they share a kitchen with the Japonaise Bakery & Cafe...so perhaps they share the same oil.  I hope that this isn't the case...but I don't think our taste buds were off.  

Thank you Karen for suggesting and introducing Cream Pan and the delicious strawberry croissants to me! 

Thank you Chris for loving these so much!  I don't typically drink coffee, but that iced coffee was so good!  When I do drink coffee though, I put lots of cream and sugar to make it sweet and creamy.  I would drink a whole cup of this!

This was such a great Sunday spending it with family...and eating!  (It didn't stop here...more food to come!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Water Grill for Dine L.A. - Yay or Nay

Water Grill
544 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 891-0900

Yes, Dine L.A. has already passed weeks ago, and I am finally just getting to this post.  My bad.  But whatever the case, I still wanted to talk about it.  

My thoughts about Dine L.A. are that, for me...it's not necessarily the best thing after all.  Yes, you can try some very exotic or expensive restaurants for a lesser price, but is the food necessarily the best that they have to offer?!  So far, from most of my past experiences, they aren't selling me on coming back.  I don't think these few choice prix fixe dinners are truly showcasing some of these restaurants full potential for great food .  Or at least it hasn't made any of them live up to the hype they have been given in past reviews.  With that said,  I'd almost rather pay full price and see what some of these places can really make and wow my palette.  

In this case, I did talk to Chef David LeFevre about our meal after all was said and done....but I will tell you what happened....AFTER I got through our three course meal.  Well, four if you count the amuse bouche.

This was a nice little starter...I believe it was tuna tartar in cucumber, grapefruit, creme, cilantro sprout and wasabi caviar, but it wasn't super strong or overpowering in anyway.

a little close up....

The warm bread was good....my favorite was the onion ciabatta roll.  So much oniony flavor...I of course had to slather it with lots of butter.  After we finished our meal, we asked for more bread.  hehe

For my first course, I had the Water Grill Clam Chowder with Weiser Farm potatoes and Niman Ranch bacon.

This is not your typical chunky style clam chowder.  This was very elegant, smooth and refined.  I really enjoyed this dish, it had just clean, pure flavors and it was just flavorful and delicious.  This was my favorite dish...I would in fact go back just to get a big bowl of this and have some hot buttered bread...and maybe a salad.  Especially on a cold day!  But obviously not like a day today!  Can you believe how hot it is?!  It was 90 freaking degrees!!  I swear....global warming!  I don't ever remember a day in November where it was 90 degrees in Southern California.  Anyhow...

Second course...Wild Jumbo Pacific Shrimp & Kurobuta Pork Belly with black miso glaze and cashew forbidden rice.

I know!  It's a seafood restaurant!  Why did I pick pork belly?!  Hey!  Ravi and Jo-An did too!  Everything else look so-so to me and you know how much I love the piggy!  How can you resist it when you read Kurobuta Belly?!  Anyhow...the miso glaze on the pork was lovely and I really enjoyed the flavor.  The pork belly was a little tougher than I normally like it.  According to Chef David, I can't remember exactly but, he said that the belly was sous vide for either 28, 34 maybe 48 hours.  I'm having a brain fart right now...but whatever the case, it was a long time.  He also said that some people like it when the belly has a bit more texture and so thus the consistency that it had. 

The most unappetizing part of my dish was the overcooked, burnt shrimp...which was incredibly disappointing to me.  Since the flavor of charcoal on my tongue is one of my least favorite things, it was difficult to eat without having the acrid taste overwhelm my entire mouth.  Jo-An generously offered to exchange my last shrimp with hers.  That shrimp, was better, but still lacked flavor like its counter part the pork belly.  This in itself was again disappointing because I expected more when it came to the seafood aspect of this restaurant. 

My favorite part of this course was actually the cashew forbidden rice!  It was so delicious!!  It was packed with flavor and I couldn't get enough of it!  I forgot to tell Chef David how much I loved it, but I felt like that went so well with the flavor of the pork and thought that they complimented each other so well.

This was Kerri's Copper Shoals Red fish...

I personally love really fatty fishes, I know...big surprise!  Coming from the person who loves butter and slathers over every square inch of my bread.  Chilean seabass is one of my favorites or butter fish, but since Chilean seabass is going extinct, I can't eat it anymore.  

Desserts...this was the Fromage blanc cheesecake, Ravi enjoyed it.

Yup, the ice cream trio was mine.  Milk chocolate, malt and black cherry.

Red velvet pudding cake with raspberries and mascarpone ice cream...

Additional jelly candies and peanut butter chocolates were brought out and were delicious!!  

I wanted to get back to my conversation with Chef David.  When he asked me how our meal was and what dishes stood out, I told him how much I enjoyed the clam chowder and we discussed the flavors and how simple and clean it was and he told me how he made it.  Then he asked if there was anything else, and you know...I had to pause because I was debating in my head if I should just be polite and say everything was great or be forthright and give my, what I believe to be, constructive criticism of my meal.

So I went with #2.  I said...well, to be honest, my shrimp was overcooked and charred, and then we discussed the pork...which I already recounted to you the hours spent cooking it.  I did tell him my own personal preference to having my pork belly to be super tender...but again, that is just my preference.  He was very cool about it and he told me that he really appreciated my candor.  I like to believe that he was more receptive of my thoughts because I wasn't straight up bashing the food because certain elements were not to my liking, but more so because the conversation came of a place of understanding food and cooking techniques etc...  
Now, my overall feelings about the restaurant and Dine L.A.?  I think the service was excellent, friendly, personable and attentive.  The food, I liked certain elements...but would like to go back to try some more of its seafood fare in order to give a true assessment of what they offer.  I think that is only fair.  As for Dine L.A. I don't know if I'm totally crazy about it...honestly.  Yes you can get food at a cheaper price...but like I said in the beginning...is it up to par with what they normally serve?  Last year, Gordon Ramsay's...we were disappointed.  I say we because foodies and non-foodies alike had the same consensus...so it's not me just being super picky or a food snob...which Lord knows I'm SO not.  

Anyhow...Water Grill...I'll be back.  Chef David, if you read this...thanks for listening to my humble critique regarding your food.  I appreciate the fact that you took the time to ask and listen to what I had to say.  And I really do love that clam chowder!  =)