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sinosoul
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6 years ago

The chickie + I were just talking about how much we really love Jar, and how we don't go enough these days. But the drive to Jar, from DTLA, can be pretty heinous. Cut is even further (but that's also a Puck place).

I've had really horrible luck at nearly ALL of Josef Centenos place(s) -- Baco Mercat, Bar Alma, etc. I always feel the food is terribly priced while the cocktails are fairly interesting and decent. Ama is probably the worse of the two offenders.

In downtown, tasty, inoffensive bistro-y food can be had at Church & State. WP24 is known for the view than anything else. Bestia can be fantastic, and the vibe is convivial (read: really loud). Maccheronir Republic has since fixed their hospitality issues, and is just a fantastic pasta house at very reasonable prices. Drago Centro has a beautiful bar, great quite patio, and the food is solidly Italian-inflected Cal-American.

You'd be very close to Patina, where I just had a really fantastic 4-course $45 "paleo" menu of gazpacho, duck 3-way, beef tongue "a la plancha" and chocolate cremeux. Sadly, Patina isn't open Sundays, but that menu was a BANGING BARGAIN (amuse, mignardises, full bread service ala Bouchon), and the service here is always, always top notch.

For something quicker and simpler, try Blue Cow Kitchen. Thoughful sit-down sandwiches and roasts, salads, apps with locally sourced ingredients that won't break the bank.

You can consider staying around Breeder's Cup. A previous CH thread on this can be found here.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Oh, man, I need to start doing some research or I'm going to have no plan come next Monday. We're going to be in the house of the mouse and I plan on escaping nightly once everybody else has crashed. Any midweek late night joints that are tickling anybody's fancy recently?

Looks like El Coraloense isn't open very late, which is killing me because it's fairly close and chilled seafood of all stripes is about one of my favorite things in the world. (I'm eyeballing that naem sod khao todd at Thai Cuisine Express, though.)

Sinosoul, I'm looking at you since we share a lot of tastes. I know there's awesome Vietnamese nearby -- and I want to look into that -- but I'll also drive anywhere. I like driving.

Also, Wok Coco is pretty close, so I think I have a pretty good shot at that, even though it's only open until 9:00. Any faves there? Is Thai Nakorn worthwhile?
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
PHXeater
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6 years ago

Darn, wish i could help more but I never do midweek late night spots and as you know I am no ethnic expert. I don't see how you could skip the Vietnamese options though. I know next to nothing about Vietnamese food but am loving stumbling into CH recommended spots and exploring.

I actually will be at a conference every day in Anaheim next week so if you and sinosoul want to do a LA PHX food nerds meet up I'd definitely be interested depending on the spot, and would definitely be nice after crappy hotel banquet food all day.
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The Cosmic Jester
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6 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:Oh, man, I need to start doing some research or I'm going to have no plan come next Monday. We're going to be in the house of the mouse and I plan on escaping nightly once everybody else has crashed. Any midweek late night joints that are tickling anybody's fancy recently?
The last time I was in the area (four and a half years ago), I was utterly tickled by Honda-Ya in Tustin, a 10-mile shot directly down the 5 from the park. It's open until 1 every day but Sunday when they close at midnight. I remember the food was outstanding, especially after a bustling day at the park. I'm looking over their online menu, and I know there's a LOT more yakitori than what's listed. I remember seeing almost every part of the chicken but the squawk available.

http://www.izakayahondaya.com/wp-conten ... ustin1.pdf

Oh, also, while at the park, stop at Trader Sam's on the Disneyland Hotel property and have an over-the-top tiki drink for me, will ya?
Desert Gal
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6 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote: We're going to be in the house of the mouse and I plan on escaping nightly once everybody else has crashed.
In the Mouse House and not directing Tuesday & Friday Food Nerd Traffic back here in PHX. /Cries a bit.
sinosoul
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6 years ago

PHXeater wrote:I actually will be at a conference every day in Anaheim next week so if you and sinosoul want to do a LA PHX food nerds meet up I'd definitely be interested depending on the spot, and would definitely be nice after crappy hotel banquet food all day.
uhh, I would wee in my pants if this actually happens. Let's make it so.
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6 years ago

sinosoul wrote:
PHXeater wrote:I actually will be at a conference every day in Anaheim next week so if you and sinosoul want to do a LA PHX food nerds meet up I'd definitely be interested depending on the spot, and would definitely be nice after crappy hotel banquet food all day.
uhh, I would wee in my pants if this actually happens. Let's make it so.
I have two demands: dry pants and no boobie coffee shops unless I'm 5 drinks deep :D (for those not in on the joke: http://phxfoodnerds.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1088#p1084). Otherwise will wait and follow Dom's lead. Monday or Tuesday would be great for me.
sinosoul
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6 years ago

Liz,
it'll probably be after 9:30 Tues/Wed (or both!). I'll let SD suss it out with you over PMs.

We can probably find some dingy Hue near the Muose House, and then some hookah up on Brookhurst since you won't do b00bie coffee w/ us.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my discomfort with boobie coffee.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my amazement that "boobie coffee" has managed to sneak its way into the PHXfn vernacular :-)
Dominic Armato
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Well, that was fun.

You can only do so much damage whilst shepherding two kids plus grandma and grandpa through Disney, but I managed to sneak in a few good eats.

The first night in, I snuck out to a Korean fried chicken joint that sinosoul's fond of called Country Koko Chicken, but I got a bad listing of the hours, and they were closed by the time I got there. One thing I love about this town? No problem. There's another open-past-midnight Korean fried chicken joint just down the road. I ended up at BBQ Chicken, which is completely confusing because there's no BBQ involved. Rather, it stands for Best of the Best Quality, and though I didn't realize it at the time, apparently it's one of the biggest fried chicken chains in Korea. Their hook is that they fry in olive oil, supposedly making it lighter and healthier (those both being relative terms).
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Corn Salad
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I can't say the corn salad was anything to write home about. Just vaguely mayonnaise-y and plain.
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Olive Chicken - Extra Spicy Sauce
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The chicken was pretty tasty, though. This is half a chicken, broken down into very small pieces. The only intact piece was the leg. Upside, more surface area for sauce. Downside, it got kind of dry. This was pretty good! Coating's a little heavy, but again, grabbing more sauce is not necessarily a bad thing. The sauce is intense. And it's actually spicy. By my standards. Which means the regular will probably do for most people. It's a sweet and vinegary gochujang-based sauce, and I really just want to drink it. They also make a "sweet and spicy" that's sickeningly sweet. I say stick with the regular -- it's plenty sweet. If I could put this sauce on Charleen's chicken, I'd be in heaven.

The next night, I managed to hook up with sinosoul and his lady at one of their favorite late night places in Thai Town, Darabar. It's a little loungey, but totally chill, and the food is dynamite.
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Khao Soi
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Khao Soi Accoutrements
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Whoa, man. So, so good... depth and layers, a light coconut curry soup, complex spicing, this beautiful fermented sour flavor... just killer. Beautiful silken, fresh noodles, pickled vegetables, fresh shallots and toasted chiles... wow. Sinosoul requested all of the noodles and accoutrements on the side, which was especially nice for keeping the fried ones crispy.
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Khao Pad Pha Kem (?)
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See, this is Thai to me... a simple but delicious fried rice, salted fish, a funky/spicy/sour nam prik (not sure if this one was fish or shrimp), salted egg, and some crudite.
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I don't remember what this one was called. Hopefully sinosoul will jump in. But it was a large fish -- bass, I think she said -- fried and dressed with all manner of vegetables and aromatics, and served with a bowl of non-coconut curry, heavy on tamarind, sour but not overpowering, and it was freaking delicious. Someday we're going to have this stuff. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

That same night I did a little drive around town for nostalgia's sake, and dropped by one of my old haunts.
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The oldest standing Bob's Big Boy in the country, opened in 1949 in Burbank, and three blocks from where I lived for five years. Unsurprisingly, not a damn thing has changed in the near 15 years since I moved away. Not even my order. "Could I have a side salad with bleu, a tuna melt -- could you melt a little cheddar on the fries for me? -- and a Diet Coke... thanks!"
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Tuna Melt
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It's maybe not quite the sandwich I remember. No seasoning salt, for starters. But still a pretty good tuna melt. And there's no beating the surroundings.

Speaking of surroundings, I'm kind of a sucker for Blue Bayou in the park. It's astoundingly overpriced, and the food's mostly pretty bad, but man, that faux nighttime bayou tableau is actually a really, really welcome respite in the middle of a day standing in lines, fighting crowds, and wrangling kids. The food in the park is almost universally mediocre to horrible, but if you're going to go, you might as well go big, I figure.
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Monte Cristo Sandwich
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Seriously... nobody has any business eating this thing. I shudder to think of what the nutritional information label would look like. It's basically ham, turkey, and swiss sandwiched between what essentially amounts to french toast, batter dipped and fried, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with two types of preserves and creme anglaise for dipping. In that sense, I suppose it's the perfect slice of Americana for the quintessential American theme park. Provided that you're resigned to the absurdity of it all, it's kind of awesome... even if it's less awesome 4-5 hours later.

Later that night, though I had late-night plans, the family was seeking burgers, and I might have snuck a little bit of a pre-dinner snack:
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Chili Cheeseburger
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Tommy's is a Los Angeles institution, and their thing is that all of the burgers come with chili by default. It's that really greasy, slick chili that kind of clings and drips and is completely awesome. And this is exactly what it looks like. And this is a good thing.

Actual dinner later that night was the first official remote PHXfn meetup (woo!), and sinosoul scoped out a late night Vietnamese beer house Cafe Artist that I was sold on the moment I saw piles of razor clams. Apparently, it's a pre- and post-clubbing type of place, and we mercifully hit the sweet spot right in between, because the place was pretty much jam-packed. Upon sitting down, I had this amusing exchange with phxeater:

PE: "Wow... everybody's smoking. I thought that was illegal in California?"
SD: "This isn't California. It's Little Saigon."

Yeah, we stuck out a bit. It seemed like 90% of the crowd was aging Vietnamese men and young Vietnamese women, all chain-smoking and drinking Heineken. And the musical selection was hilariously heavy on '80s arena rock. It's a big menu, but I steered us towards piles of seafood.
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Kumamoto Oysters
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Scallops
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Surf Clams
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Starting with the raw, we had sweet kumamoto oysters with minced scallions and lemongrass and too much soy and piles of tobiko, and they were kind of overdressed, and I didn't care. I loved them. The scallops were not overdressed, and were so perfect, cool and delicious. The surf clams were an accidental order -- we were trying to get razor clams -- but we ate them anyway. And they were hilariously over the top, dressed with fish sauce, tons of sugar, an abusive chile sauce, and piles of basil. And after eating about half, we decided to save the rest for last, because it completely blew everything else out. Nothing subtle going on here. It was kind of like a tacit admission that, yeah, this is booze food. And if I could get stuff like this around here at midnight, I'd eat it twice a week.
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Razor Clams
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Blood Clams
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Garlic Noodles with Shrimp and Andouille
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We got some hot dishes too, starting with the razor clams we'd initially meant to order.

"Excuse me! We ordered the razor clams, not the surf clams."
"Oh... you want the real razor clams?"
"Uh... yes?"


No, we meant the fake razor clams. *facepalm* Anyway, as noted above, the error turned out just fine. But we still wanted the razor clams, and we got them -- grilled and served with lime, salt, and pepper. Done. Big, juicy, meaty tangles of them served up on the shell. We also got into a conversation about blood clams and how their liquor is a deep red, and through a bit of miscommunication got them grilled rather than raw (hence, no blood red liquor), butI still dug 'em -- chewy and flavorful with chopped peanut and cilantro. And the last hot dish probably requires a little explanation that sinosoul can elucidate upon. Andouille may seem like an odd inclusion on a Vietnamese menu, but one of the specialties of the house (which we didn't get) is steamed crawfish. Apparently there was a Vietnamese couple that moved up to SoCal from Louisiana, and in looking for some way to differentiate themselves, started offering steamed crawfish with Vietnamese-influenced sauces. And they were a big hit. So among the SoCal Vietnamese late night beer drinking crowd, apparently Vietnamese crawfish is a thing, now. Which explains the andouille connection. And again, this was over-the-top booze food -- really, really garlicky, with big juicy shrimp and piles of andouille sausage. I totally dug it as it was. I can't imagine how much I would have loved it after a few more drinks. I loved this place so, so much. It's not the most refined way to eat seafood, and that's part of what I love about it. It's just piles of bivalves meant for slurping down along with beer.

The last night, it was late, I was driving the next morning, and as much as I wanted to do a Thai Town crawl, I decided to stick with the Vietnamese bounty just out the back door. Another place passed along by sinosoul was Pho Quang Trung, a pho ga specialist...
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Phở Gà
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...so that's what I got! Dark meat, skinless, with liver, gizzard, blood, and unlaid eggs. And you'd think from the description that it's some crazy funky, offal-y bowl, but it's not at all. It's a very clear, clean bowl of beautiful, beautiful chicken broth, with the occasional bite of something with a touch of funk. I'm trying to remember, but this might be the first time I've had unlaid eggs, and I really enjoyed them -- they almost have the texture of dense meatballs, with a light egg flavor that hasn't quite fully developed. Delicate noodles, tender chicken, some onion and cilantro, a little bite of offal every now and again... just perfect. It also came with a ginger sauce for dipping the chicken, which could have easily been overkill but was quite restrained. Lovely sauce. Though I didn't use more than just the lightest dip on a few occasions.
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Bánh Bột Chiên
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Sinosoul also mentioned being a big fan of this dish in general, so I tried it (having never had it before). It's a rice cake omelet, slices of spongy glutinous rice cake griddled to a light crisp and cooked into an egg omelet, with lightly pickled vegetables and a vinegary, gingery soy sauce for dipping. Late night comfort food at its best.

It's so torturous. There's so, so, so much, and a couple of late nights is a total tease. But thanks to sinosoul's tips, I managed to squeeze in some pretty amazing stuff into a mouse vacation.

BBQ Chicken
www.bbqchickenusa.com
9622 Garden Grove Boulevard
Garden Grove, CA 92844
714.590.9833

Darabar Secret Thai Cuisine
www.darabarsecretthaicuisine.com
5112 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
323.668.2717

Bob's Big Boy '49
4211 W. Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
818.843-9334

Blue Bayou
Disneyland
1313 S. Harbor Boulevard
Anaheim, CA 92802
714.781.3463

Original Tommy's Hamburgers
www.originaltommys.com
7000 Westminster Boulevard
Westminster, CA 92683
714.895.4320

Cafe Artist
14281 Brookhurst Street
Garden Grove, CA 92843
714.839.2200

Pho Quang Trung
www.phoquangtrung.com
9211 Bolsa Avenue
Westminster, CA 92683
714.891.2800
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
sinosoul
Posts: 126
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6 years ago

Skillet Doux wrote:
darabarfish.jpg
I don't remember what this one was called. Hopefully sinosoul will jump in. But it was a large fish -- bass, I think she said -- fried and dressed with all manner of vegetables and aromatics, and served with a bowl of non-coconut curry, heavy on tamarind, sour but not overpowering, and it was freaking delicious. Someday we're going to have this stuff. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.
kaeng som pe sa, mistakenlyl marked as "prawns" on the menu. You can get it with prawns, or cha-om egg omelette, or the bass. Litreally one my fave Thai town dishes.

Yeah, we stuck out a bit.
speak for yourself :lol:
And the last hot dish probably requires a little explanation that sinosoul can elucidate upon. Andouille may seem like an odd inclusion on a Vietnamese menu, but one of the specialties of the house (which we didn't get) is steamed crawfish. Apparently there was a Vietnamese couple that moved up to SoCal from Louisiana, and in looking for some way to differentiate themselves, started offering steamed crawfish with Vietnamese-influenced sauces. And they were a big hit. So among the SoCal Vietnamese late night beer drinking crowd, apparently Vietnamese crawfish is a thing, now. Which explains the andouille connection.
I'm sorry I muffed the story SD, it's been years since they wrote about the fam. LA Times article from '08 here.
Apparently Cafe Artist was the first, even as far back as 2004. The Boiling Crab family came AFTER, and they were from Texas, not even from the Gulf Coast. Found out a friend knows the sister of the guy who started Cafe Artist, and they've been bitter about BC ripping them off for the last 10 years.

It was just a brilliant meal. No b00bie coffee, but b00bie seafood. I'll take b00bie clams over cafe sua da any day. Every time in town you somehow walk into these little snippets ethnic noir restaurant scenes. It just comes to you, man. Amazes me every time.
Tallen234
Posts: 38
Joined: 7 years ago

6 years ago

Thanks for the tips (and sorry for the long delay in responding). I was gravitating toward Bestia, but they don't have availability at our desired times. So, on Friday night, I think we are going to try Spice Table.

On Sat night, I am still trying to find a decent steakhouse that either is (1) really worth the drive after the races or (2) close enough to downtown, but still "good".

Does anyone have any experience with Nick and Stephs or Pacific Dining Car? Or should we just suck it up and go to Jar or Cut, etc.? Any other options?


Thanks!
sinosoul wrote:The chickie + I were just talking about how much we really love Jar, and how we don't go enough these days. But the drive to Jar, from DTLA, can be pretty heinous. Cut is even further (but that's also a Puck place).

I've had really horrible luck at nearly ALL of Josef Centenos place(s) -- Baco Mercat, Bar Alma, etc. I always feel the food is terribly priced while the cocktails are fairly interesting and decent. Ama is probably the worse of the two offenders.

In downtown, tasty, inoffensive bistro-y food can be had at Church & State. WP24 is known for the view than anything else. Bestia can be fantastic, and the vibe is convivial (read: really loud). Maccheronir Republic has since fixed their hospitality issues, and is just a fantastic pasta house at very reasonable prices. Drago Centro has a beautiful bar, great quite patio, and the food is solidly Italian-inflected Cal-American.

You'd be very close to Patina, where I just had a really fantastic 4-course $45 "paleo" menu of gazpacho, duck 3-way, beef tongue "a la plancha" and chocolate cremeux. Sadly, Patina isn't open Sundays, but that menu was a BANGING BARGAIN (amuse, mignardises, full bread service ala Bouchon), and the service here is always, always top notch.

For something quicker and simpler, try Blue Cow Kitchen. Thoughful sit-down sandwiches and roasts, salads, apps with locally sourced ingredients that won't break the bank.

You can consider staying around Breeder's Cup. A previous CH thread on this can be found here.
Tallen234
Posts: 38
Joined: 7 years ago

6 years ago

Or maybe we will go to Park's BBQ.....it's only a couple miles from hotel....
sinosoul
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6 years ago

Tallen,
Weren't the Chowhound LA responses pretty comprehensive?

I (mostly) love the Patina Group, but Nick+Stef gave me a really bad meal last year. The time befor that, it was tremendous, so I'm doing the love-and-hate. Steakhouse in DTLA is hard, IMO, but if you want meaty things done up the Cali-French bistro way (pig ear, bone marrow, steak frite, potted charcuterie). Current menu here.

Can't go wrong with Park's. Also can't go wrong w/ Church and State. :D
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LaPan
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Location: Chandler, AZ
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6 years ago

Ny daughter lives in LA in Koreatown. And if you like Korean BBQ the two places to go are:

Hae Jang Chon

Kogi King

And don't forget to go HUNGRY!
sinosoul
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6 years ago

SD,

another "nhau" food joint just opened in Garden Grove. They specialize in snails (and hot pot):
http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/oc-and-l ... fBtUJmtpzg

maybe it'll still be around in 3 years.
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Y'know, there's enough of a Viet community in Phoenix that I wonder if these might actually make their way over here. I'd be okay with that :-)
Dominic Armato
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Dapuma
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Location: Scottsdale

6 years ago

Had a pretty terrible meal at Providence that was very pricey

Would avoid that place with the plague
sinosoul
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6 years ago

Dapuma wrote:Had a pretty terrible meal at Providence that was very pricey

Would avoid that place with the plague
:o really? deets, please? I've only been a few times, I can't imagine it being "pretty terrible", but... gdamn it is pricey for what it is.

I much prefer Patina at that price level.
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Tim H
Posts: 280
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Location: Gilbert, AZ

6 years ago

My wife and I visited the Huntington Gardens over the weekend and ate at several restaurants in San Gabriel Valley we found via Jonathan Gold and the usual websites.

Din Tai Fung
This is a dumpling place run with the precision and intensity of an aircraft carrier flight deck. You check in, leave your cell phone number, and are texted when your table is ready. You place your order on a checklist as you wait. There’s a window to the kitchen where a dozen cooks in immaculate whites prepare dumplings. The waiters wear crisp uniforms and sleek headsets. Complimentary hot tea is waiting at your table as you sit down. A printout of your order is placed on the table, and each dish is ticked off as it arrives. The dishes arrive in the correct order, and your table is never empty for more than a moment. And yet it feels comfortable, there’s a happy hum of Chinese chattering, and the food is delicious. I loved this place.
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Juicy pork dumplings (xiao long bao)
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Juicy and porky
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The xiao long bao were nearly perfect. Thin wrapper, steaming hot broth inside, soft pork, but they needed salt. I tried XLB at three places in Vancouver in October, and all of them were just slightly better than this one. Still very very good though.
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Bean sprout and tofu salad
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This bean sprout and tofu salad was dressed with sesame oil and hint of chili oil. Simple and delicious, something we want to replicate at home.
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Pork chop
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Just a breaded pork chop, but tender and perfectly seasoned with a strong hit of pepper. We had other dishes, but these were the hits.

Newport Tan Cang
The menu is an odd mix of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai dishes, but this restaurant is on a couple of Jonathan Gold lists and was nearby, so we went. The two of us couldn't manage the 5-6 pound house special lobster Gold recommends, so we went with the smaller house special crab instead.
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Newport special crab
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Amazing. Lovely fresh crab in a spicy sauce.
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Beef Loc Lac (French Style)
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The flavor of the Beef Loc Lac (their spelling) reminded me of my mom’s 1970s chop suey, but this is the platonic ideal of that dish. Incredibly tender. I'd love to know the cut of meat and how they keep it so tender. My first thought was beef tenderloin, but I don't see how they could serve that much tenderloin for $12. I've never had bo luc lac before, but it's going to be a regular from now on.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
This dim sum place makes you realize how sadly perfunctory our local joints are. No trolleys, just tick the boxes and your dim sum comes out steaming hot. These are just a few of the several we tried.
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Celery and chive dumpling
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Fried tofu in abalone sauce
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Xiao long bao
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The xiao long bao were the only (minor) disappointment. They placed them in tin cups, which seemed to indicate a disturbing lack of faith in their integrity, and indeed one of the four was leaking. Also, they weren't as pretty or tasty as the XLB at Din Tai Fung. But still good.

Hakata Ramen Shin Sen Gumi
I've finally had a proper tonkotsu ramen! They open for dinner at 6:00, and there were more than 40 people waiting outside at that point. The staff chant the obligatory slogans in Japanese before they open and belt out “irasshaimase” as each new customer is allowed through the doors. This borders on being annoying, but I liked it. They give a crap here, and it’s obvious in everything they do. The servers weren't just cheerful, they were zealous. The two cooks were slammed from the moment they opened, and they seemed to relish it.

They serve only Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, and you decide how rich you want your broth, how much fat, and how al dente the noodles are served. I went with rich broth, extra fat, firm noodles, and extra pork. The broth is over-the-top rich, and I get why tonkostu is the soup-du-jour of ramen geeks these days. Still, I’ll always prefer a clear-broth shoyu ramen. Neither my wife nor I were big fans the thin, dense Hakata-style noodles, but I liked them more as they softened up. The pork was fatty, tender, and flavorful; it’s worth ordering extra.
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Hakata tonkotsu ramen
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Not a great picture, but it shows the richness of the broth and the tenderness of the pork.

Huntington Gardens
Even better than the food. Perfect for a walk between meals. This is the Japanese garden.
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Last edited by Tim H 6 years ago, edited 3 times in total.
There is nothing either good or bad but gravy makes it so. - Kevin Hearne
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