Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dumpling 10053

I present to you, Dear Reader, the best damn dumplings in Los Angeles County (if not the entire State of California). The pork, crab, and sea cucumber dumplings at Dumpling 10053:

Does the title refer to how many dumplings you can eat? Or, are the dumplings good to the 10053th degree? Neither, it’s simply the address of this fabulous restaurant (this is not such a bad thing because it makes for finding the restaurant so much easier.) Located on the very western edge of El Monte, Dumpling 10053 is perhaps one of the best dumpling houses in the region.

Although Luscious Dumpling is my personal favorite of the two, Dumpling 10053 has many things about that give it an edge over Luscious Dumpling. Besides being able to seat far more people, Dumpling 10053 has a much bigger, and more varied, menu.

Now, let’s move onto the foodie porn.

Yummy, and nice looking, sesame seaweed salad:

A glistening shrimp and tender leek dumpling:

Fantastic stewed beef and beef tendon soup noodles:

I liked the broth and the noodles better at Dumpling 10053 but the beef was more flavorful at Luscious Dumpling. (Needless to say, this is a great soup to eat when you have a cold. Not pictured are the pickled mustard greens that you sprinkle over the soup.)

This was insanely good! Baby bok choy with meat sauce:

Another great soup for colds, in two parts:

This was a great, and simple, chicken noodle soup. I was really surprised by how well the fried pork chop went with the soup. This is a must order!

My new favorite dessert. Fried “rolls” with condensed milk:

I was amazed by how good this was. Its simplicity was truly brilliant. The condensed milk balanced the yeasty bread really well.

I am obsessed with people tossing noodles:

Dumpling 10053
10053 Valley Blvd.
El Monte, CA 91731

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Hae Jang Chon

Our table is loaded with food but we’ve only just begun…

Hae Jang Chon is my current favorite all-you-can-eat (“AYCE”) Korean bbq. It’s not my favorite Korean bbq place, that spot is reserved for Park’s and/or Sa Rit Gol, but for an AYCE place Hae Jang Chon is pretty good. For $16.99 per person you not only get all of the pork belly, sliced brisket, and marinated kalbi that you want but that price also includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Cold fermented radish soup (this is so refreshing when you are cooking and eating bbq):

Kimchee pancake:

Spicy soybean soup with tofu (complete with the de rigueur chipped vessel):

Kimchee fried rice:

Take a peek at our brisket and the marinated kalbi:

I liked both of these meats. Once most of the fat is rendered off the brisket you don’t feel so guilty eating it. I usually don’t like marinated meats since the marinade is often too sweet and you can end up with candied meat. But at Hae Jang Chang the marinade on the kalbi has a nice balance of sweet and savory.

Considering that this place specializes in pork (I assuming this because of the cartoon of the very happy pig on the sign) I was surprised that the pork belly lacked flavor. It looked good though:

To eat with your meat you receive both pickled daikon radish slices and rice noodle sheets. You also get a really nice salad that has a wasabi dressing on it that complements the meat very well.

Four yummy dipping sauces to choose from: fermented bean paste, sesame oil seasoned with salt and pepper, red chile sauce, and a very nice vinegar based marinated garlic and jalapeno sauce. Note the stone grill. A friend of mine, who is originally from Korea, told me that this is a particular type of grill used in a certain region in Korea. It has been placed on an angle and it has a hole in it at the low end. Every now and then the server comes over and pours marinated radish on the grill to clean it and scrapes all of the liquid waste out through the hole. Another reason why my preference is for charcoal bbq.

Hae Jang Chon
3821 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020

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Monday, February 11, 2008

El Atacor: Potato Taco Madness!

Pop Art Potato Tacos:

Two words: potato tacos. Who doesn’t like, every now and then, to indulge in this carboholics’ and fatlovers’ (yes, they are little fat bombs) dream? There is something about potato tacos that makes people crave them, they just taste so damn good.

I was able to lure several foodies to El Atacor #11 recently on a very cold and soon to be rainy Sat afternoon with the promise of the best, and perhaps the cheapest, potato tacos in town. Said foodies took the bait but surprisingly I was the only person who ordered potato tacos.

An uber-fussy potato taco fanatic eats one of my potato tacos:

Indeed. These potato tacos are fantastic. I just love the fabulous contrast of the crispy taco shell with the creamy, soft potato filling. The tacos are piping hot but are served with cooling avocado sauce, lettuce, and cheese – another great textural combination. Want to know the best part? You can get four potato tacos for $3.29.

Two words: porno burrito. In J. Gold’s review of El Atacor #11 he affectionately refers to the Super Burrito as the Porno Burrito and claims that if one does a Google search of “porno burrito” ten thousand hits for El Atacor will pop up. Surely this is hyperbole, when I followed Mr. Gold’s instructions I just got hits for porn sites.

See the four stages of the burrito’s undress:

Is the porno burrito so named due to its size and shape or because it is true foodie porn? Unfortunately, the former - this burrito is “Super” in size only. I ordered a carne asada porno burrito with rice, beans, cheese, guacamole, onion, cilantro, and salsa (sans lettuce and sour cream). The carne asada tasted more stewed than grilled and there were just mere vestiges of the guac, cheese, ect. The beans dominated, and although they were good, in this case less would have been more since more was no bueno. I would try the porn burrito again but I think that it might be better with carnitas.

Word association:

Chiles rellenos (and Mexican Coke)

Shrimp ceviche

Frickin’ great salsa

El Atacor #11
2622 N. Figeroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90065

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Lucky Devils: Devilishly Delicious!

A preview of coming attractions:

Out of the two, I have always preferred 25 Degrees over Lucky Devils. It’s not so much for the food but for purely emotional reasons: the first time that I went to 25 Degrees I was very sad because my beautiful Mr. Darcy had passed away that day from a heart attack at a very young age. The waiter knew that I was upset, he didn’t know exactly why, and he gave me a free milkshake. I have always remembered his act of kindness.

But nearly two years have past and I can now emotionally jump into the Hollywood Blvd. Burger Battle. I recently revisited Lucky Devils (which is owned by the extremely gorgeous Lucky Vanous from the Diet Coke commercials) with some serious foodies to see which burger place is indeed the best.

My chocolate cake shake:

I was originally going to order the roasted pecan shake (it has reached the notoriety of the date shake) but since I had a migraine that afternoon I thought it prudent to stay away from nuts. My shake was just ok; the whipped cream was certainly delicious but there was too much on it and I pretty much got filled up before I could seriously sip the shake.

We discuss burgers, weight, and chili cheese fries:

A close-up of my perfectly cooked Kobe Blue Bacon burger:

The foodies really liked the burgers but the only complaint was with the bun which most felt wasn’t hardy enough in texture and taste.

Who doesn’t love devilicious chili cheese fries? These are made with Kobe beef chili:

The foodies did not like the plain fries at Lucky Devils. I remember that the last time that I ordered them I didn’t particularly like them either. But with some good chili, cheese, and onions smothered on them how can you go wrong? It’s a definite improvement but it’s going to cost you $$.

So which is place is better? In my opinion the fries (with a zillion dipping sauces) and the shakes (oh, how I dream of the Valrhona Chocolate shake) are better at 25 Degrees but the burgers (and isn’t all about the burgers?) are better at Lucky Devils. You don’t get as much variety in toppings at Lucky Devils as you would at 25 Degrees but what you do get is plentiful, high quality, and very tasty. Also, I’ve always gotten my burgers perfectly cooked at Lucky D’s but the last couple of times that I went to 25 D’s my burgers have been overcooked and dry.

Lucky Devils
6618 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

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